Monday, September 29, 2008

The Leica S2 Digital SLR

The German camera company, Leica, has been making premium quality 35mm cameras since 1925.  On September 23, 2008, Leica announced their brand new autofocus Digital SLR system, which has been branded the “S” System.  The Leica S2 is the first camera to be released in the S system.  The S2 features a 37.5 megapixel CCD sensor, in a weatherproof camera body that is similar in size to most current DSLR systems that are already available.  The gigantic sensor measures 30x45mm, which is 56% larger than a traditional full-frame sensor, and an industry first.

Although the statistics of the new Leica sensor are impressive, they introduce a few new problems.  The biggest problem created by this relatively massive sensor is also its main selling point.  Traditional lenses are designed to fill a 35mm frame, however, because the Leica sensor is so much bigger, new lenses must be designed to properly focus an image to fill the entire frame.  Because Leica is the only manufacturer of this sensor, and therefore, these lenses; they can charge an astronomical price for the lenses, and professional photographers will have no choice but to pay up if they want to remain competitive in their industry. 

On the topic of price, there’s the camera body itself.  There’s really no gentle way to put this, so I’m just going to say it; this camera costs $45,000.  Once again, because Leica has this unique market all to themselves right now, they can afford to charge this much and still expect to receive a large number of customers.  Although the price is outrageous, and the potential for problems is high, there is unfortunately no compromise for any professional photographer who is in the market for a large-format digital SLR.

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