June 22nd, 2016

Q&A with Michael Hejtmanek, President of Hasselblad Americas on Breaking the Medium Format Mold

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With the X1D, Hasselblad is attempting to redefine the medium format category.

We sat down briefly with U.S. President Michael Hejtmanek for his take on the camera and its place in the Hasselblad universe. What follows is a condensed version of the talk that’s been edited for length and clarity.

On new lenses for the X1D

“We’re going to be very aggressive out of the gate with lenses for the camera,” Hejtmanek says. First up will be a 30mm f/3.5 at Photokina, “then we’ll get feedback to see what’s next.”

On the X1D’s limited video capability at launch

“We want to see how the market will use it for video,”Hejtmanek says. “It’s a still camera with video functions, but we can improve the feature set with feedback from our users. We’re very excited to see what people will do with video—it’s 1080p but it will look and feel very different than what people are used to.”

While some of the X1D’s video features can be changed via firmware, the 1080p video can’t be upgraded to 4K, he adds.

On why Hasselblad built the X1D

The goal wasn’t to build a camera that users would use in lieu of the H6D or other medium format backs but one that would tempt mirrorless shooters to step up to medium format, he says. “This gives them a way to buy a medium format camera that looks and feels like a compact camera.”

What it is not, Hejtmanek stressed, is the Hasselblad name on another manufacturer’s product. “This was conceived by and built by Sweden, through and through. It’s the camera our engineers have wanted to build—it’s the pinnacle of our development. We’ve created the future of medium format. We’ve redefined it.”

Read: Early hands-on with the Hasselblad X1D

June 22nd, 2016

Hasselblad Shakes Up Market with Mirrorless Medium Format X1D

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One of the Internet’s long-running photo gear rumors was that Sony would introduce a medium format mirrorless camera, but it’s fallen to Hasselblad to take the first stab at it. [Update: we’ve published a short hands-on preview below.]

The X1D sports a 50-megapixel medium format CMOS image sensor (43.8mm x 32.9 ) with 14 stops of dynamic range, 14-bit color and an ISO range of 100-12,800 (expandable to 25,600). It’s housed in a compact, lightweight body that promises to handle more like an advanced compact camera than a bulky medium format body.

It will sell for $8,995 and is due to ship by the end of August. It’s available for pre-order now.

Shutter speeds will range from 60 minutes to 1/2000 sec. with flash sync throughout the range. Frame rates clock in at between 1.7 and 2.3 fps in continuous shooting.

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You’ll compose your image through a 3-inch touch display with a 30 fps refresh rate or through an 2.3-million dot EVF.

Key features of the X1D include:

  • contrast-detect AF system
  • Wi-Fi
  • GPS
  • HD video recording at 25 fps (24 fps will be added via firmware)
  • dust and weatherproof build
  • dual SD card slots
  • USB 3 Type-C port
  • mini HDMI out

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The camera will work with a new line of XCD autofocus lenses with full flash synch up to 1/2000th second. Two lenses will be available at launch: a 45mm f/3.5 ($2,295) and a 90mm f/4.5 ($2,695). A 30mm f/3.5 lens will be launched at Photokina in September of this year. Hasselblad will also sell an adapter for use with H system lenses.

UPDATE: We had an opportunity to get a few minutes with a preproduction model–the build was final but the firmware wasn’t. It’s amazingly lightweight but feels incredibly well built. It’s sturdy and the ergonomic grip has a nice, rubberized feel. We don’t have the precise numbers in front of us but we wouldn’t be surprised if it’s lighter than Leica’s SL full frame mirrorless. When Hasselblad calls the camera “compact” they’re not kidding.

The mode dial pops up to allow you to change modes and then pops into the camera body to lock your choice. The rear touch screen is very responsive–you simply swipe down from the top of the screen to bring up a menu with all your shooting settings (shutter speed, ISO, etc.) that can be changed with the press of a finger. All the icons are large and easily manipulated by touching and swiping. There are two dials (one on the front and one on the rear) to adjust exposure settings.

In addition to three custom slots on the mode dial, potentially three more of the camera’s button will be programmable so you can reassign functions if you want to customize the body. There’s no dedicated video recording button.

The EVF isn’t the sharpest we’ve looked through, but is relatively responsive. Live view on the display was fairly crisp. The AF system in the pre-production model is single point but touch focusing and continuous AF should be active in the final model, we were told. Shot to shot time wasn’t blazing–and as suggested by the continuous shooting rate cited above, this isn’t a speed demon (though we’ll reserve judgement until the firmware is finalized).

What’s still to be determined is battery life, which won’t be announced until the company has tested the final firmware.

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April 7th, 2016

Hasselblad Introduces New H6D Medium Format System

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Hasselblad has pulled back the curtain on a new line of medium format camera systems.

The H6D range has been completely rebuilt with new technical components and an all new electronic platform, the company says. It will be compatible with the firm’s H lenses.

The line will include the company’s first 100-megapixel CMOS back, the H6D-100c as well as a 50-megapixel CMOS back, the H6D-50c.

The 100c will offer 16-bit color and up to 16 stops of dynamic range. Native ISO range will be 64-12,800. (Hasselblad hasn’t yet indicated whether it’s using the same Sony CMOS sensor that was first introduced in the Phase One XF IQ3 100MP back, but the specs are identical so it stands to reason the sensor is the same.)

The 100c will also record 4K video at 3840 x 2160 in Hasselblad’s proprietary RAW video format, though frame rate and codec weren’t disclosed. Other highlights include:

* shutter speeds from 60 minutes to 1/2000, depending on lens

* dual card slots for CFast and SD cards

* 3-inch touch display w/ 30 fps live view

* histogram readout on rear display and camera grip display

* USB 3 (Type-C) and HDMI ports

* Wi-Fi

* AF metering with a passive central cross-type sensor, metering range from 1 EV to 19 (ISO 100)

The H6D 50c will share most of the same specs as the 100c only with a lower-resolution, 50-megapixel sensor. It will have less dynamic range, at 14 stops, and a native ISO range of 100-6400. The 50c will only record HD video, not 4K.

Hasselblad says the 50c will have a still photo capture rate of 1.7-2.3 fps. It has yet to publish the spec on the 100c’s capture rate.

Details on the updated camera body weren’t immediately available, but judging from the images released by Hasselblad, there’s a top display screen and a more pronounced handgrip.

Hasselblad is also releasing an updated line of lenses to support shutter speeds up to 1/2000 sec. The new, faster lenses will wear an orange marking to distinguish them from the older versions.

The H6D-50c will retail for $29,995 and the H6D-100c will retail for $32,995.

A video produced by Hasselblad debuting the camera is below.

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January 11th, 2016

Here’s What a 136 Year Old Lens Looks Like on a Modern Digital Camera

Here’s a good reason why you should never, ever, throw out a lens: it may star in some future video.

Photographer Mathieu Stern dug up a large format camera lens that he claims dates back to the 1880s and slapped it (with some modifications) onto his Sony a7 II.

You can peruse a collection of the resulting stills here and check out the video below for the moving picture.

“The lens is incredibly sharp for a 136 years old simple metallic lens, from my test it’s even sharper than most of my modern canon lenses, the results are amazing,” Stern writes. “But it also gives some strange lens flares and light leaks that are pretty dreamy (some would say it’s horrible).”

Judge for yourself:

Read More:

Step Into Photo History: Inside Kodak’s Tech Vault

The Hidden History of the Zoom Lens in Film & History

This Software Promises to Make Cheap Lenses Awesome

 

July 22nd, 2015

A Dream Tool: Erica Kelly Martin’s Passion for Medium Format Goes Digital

Sponsored by Ricoh Imaging America

Erica Kelly Martin’s fascination with medium-format photography can be traced back to a mirror hanging in her childhood bedroom, which echoed the aspect ratio of a medium-format frame, and which she believed had the power to lead her into a “magical world.” As a teenager, she experimented with medium-format box cameras. Her first real camera, she notes, was a Pentax Spotmatic, and later, the quintessential Pentax K1000. In those days, she says, the darkroom was also a magical place.

Today the Los Angeles-based photographer prefers to work on long-term photographic series about “the interior lives” of people. “How they manifest who they are,” she explains, “or what they would like to be.” Trying to cast off some of the more shallow Hollywood culture that she grew up with for authentic images, she makes work that delves deeper into the identities of her subjects to portray what she calls their “grace and inner light.”

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Photo © Erica Kelly Martin

“I believe all photographs are mental constructs, and reflect more about the mind and culture of the artist than about reality,” she explains. “Every picture is in a sense a self-portrait—sometimes we just use surrogates.”

Martin still dusts off her vintage medium-format film cameras on occasion for studio work, but before picking up the Pentax 645Z digital medium-format camera, shooting with a 35mm DSLR was her modus operandi. But now she wonders why she didn’t invest in a medium-format digital camera sooner. “I would like to shoot this way all the time,” she explains. “First of all, because of the optical quality—I just like the way larger format images look. The bokeh (background blur) is so luscious. Second of course is the image quality, which is so fantastic.”

Marissa at Blue Ranch

Photo © Erica Kelly Martin

While the fragility and expense of other digital medium-format cameras were too fragile for her to make the leap, the 645Z checks all the boxes. “It’s the first camera that made medium-format digital photography a possibility for me,” she says.

It’s the camera she takes along with her for activities as disparate as a wedding on a beach, a landscape shoot amongst canyons, or a portrait project in the studio. It’s also the camera she reaches for when she’s simply lounging around the pool.

She says she’s looking forward to trying out the “sturdy and weatherproofed” 645Z in more challenging conditions, like the Burning Man playa in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert—one of her favorite places to shoot. This means exposing it to harsh conditions: “windstorms blowing fine dust are a constant; as are extreme temperatures, knocking around on bicycles, climbing huge art installations, and dancing till dawn,” she says. In the past, she had to wrap her cameras in plastic, put them in waterproof cases, or tape them up to protect them. “All that got in the way of working in a fast-paced and demanding environment.”

“The main thing I look for in a camera system is that it behaves like an extension of my arm,” she continues. “It has to function on an intuitive level, and if things I want to easily accomplish are hidden deep in some menu, it interferes with my creative process.” She explains that her workflow is simplified with this camera. “The crop is right, the color rendition is spot on, and the sharpness and clarity are exceptional. I now realize how much I had to do to get 35mm images to look the way I wanted them.”

In addition, the aspect ratio of the 645Z reminds her of working with a Pentax 6×7 or a vintage 4×5 “and for some reason, I naturally see in that way,” she says. “This camera does it for me perfectly, as the native image aspect ratio is 4:3.” The 645Z also boasts a 51.4 megapixel CMOS sensor, which Martin says has the ability to bring the deepest shadows in an image “back from the dead” and a high ISO range (up to 204,800) for the ability to work in any type of lighting situation.

©EricaKellyMartin-SharonatIndianCanyon

Photo © Erica Kelly Martin

Because the subjects of Martin’s shoots vary—from the street to documentary projects to nature to architecture to portraiture — she needs a variety of lenses, Her glass of choice? “I presently have two of the prime lenses—the 55mm and the 90mm Macro, both of which are f/2.8. [They] are my go-to lenses for what I shoot. I am looking forward to trying out the 120mm Macro and perhaps a zoom of some sort, as well as the 75 mm ‘Pancake’ lens for street work.”

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Martin says she’s feeling greatly inspired while shooting with this camera, and is even considering the transition into the moving image, knowing she now has what she calls, “a creative tool to match my imagination.”

To learn more about Pentax 645z, visit www.us.ricoh-imaging.com/645z/ and see more of Erica Martin’s work, visit www.ericakellymartin.com

 

 

February 5th, 2015

Canon 5Ds Takes Aim at Medium Format with 50-Megapixel Sensor

HR_5DS_5DS_R_COMBINATION_CLAfter making their obligatory appearance on the Internet rumor mill, Canon officially launched the 5Ds and 5Ds R, a pair of high-resolution DSLRs based on the 5D Mark III, in advance of the CP+ Show in Japan.

The new 5Ds and 5Ds R will have mostly the same build and feature set as the 5D Mark III but will use a 50-megapixel full frame CMOS sensor of Canon’s own design. The 5Ds R will have a low pass filter cancellation affect to soak up even more resolution (more on that in a minute).

According to Canon, the cameras will offer a 4.14 micron pixel pitch, giving them roughly the same pixel density as the new 7D Mark II. However, the new 5Ds and 5Ds R won’t offer the low light performance of either the 7D Mark II or the 5D Mark III — instead, they’ll top out at a native ISO of 6400, with  a high setting of 12,800 and a low of 50. Canon says that noise levels in the cameras will fall short of the performance of the 5D Mark III or 1-Ds but be comparable to the 7D Mark II, as will the dynamic range.

Powered by a pair of Digic 6 processors, the 5Ds and 5Ds R will offer 5 frames per second continuous shooting as well as 1080p video recording at 30 fps. However, Canon was quick to emphasize that the video capabilities of the new cameras will be sharply limited compared to the 5D Mark III. They won’t offer movie servo AF, clean HDMI output or headphone jacks.

Movie makers won’t be completely neglected however. Canon is debuting a new time-lapse movie mode in these cameras that lets you select how many frames you want in the movie as well as the interval between those frames.

HR_5DS_EF24-70_3Q_CLBoth models will feature a 3-inch display, a CF and SD card slot (with newly added support for UHS-1 cards), and USB 3.o connectivity. Sharpness settings have also been enhanced. Photographers can now adjust sharpness along three specific vectors — strength, fineness and threshold. Automatic white balance has been improved with the addition of ambience or white priority.

As mentioned above, both the 5Ds and 5Ds R will be built from the 5D Mark III’s body with a few subtle tweaks designed primarily to keep the camera as stable as possible during shooting. The mirror will be motor driven, not spring driven, to soften its impact when it moves internally. The mirror lock setting has also been upgraded. In prior Canon cameras, to lock the mirror you had to tap the shutter twice. While that setting is still available, there’s also a menu to set a delayed automatic second shutter. You can designate the interval between when you lock the mirror and when the shutter releases a second time. The ultimate effect, Canon says, is to reduce vibrations when using a tripod.

Finally, the internal chassis, base plate and tripod socket have been reinforced to make the cameras rest more securely on tripods.

The 5Ds R will have a specialized “low pass filter cancellation effect” that increases the apparent sharpness of its images relative to the 5Ds. Canon didn’t ditch the low pass filter entirely, they said, in order to avoid a costly redesign of the camera body. As such, the 5Ds R will be aimed especially at landscape photographers who want a super-sharp image and who don’t shoot repeating patterns as the lack of a low-pass filter will make the 5Ds R more susceptible to moire, Canon warned.

Both models will arrive in June. The 5Ds will retail for $3,699 and is available for pre-order now. The 5Ds R will set you back $3,899 and is also available for pre-order.

Do these strike you as medium format killers? Let us know what you think.

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January 8th, 2015

Mamiya Leaf Credo 50 in the Wild

The January issue of PDN features a review of the Mamiya Leaf Credo 50 medium format camera system.

You can get a sneak peek in this video starring our frequent co-tester, David Patiño, who used the Credo 50 in a marathon product catalog shoot late last year (among other things). Enjoy!

Special thanks to Generic Brand Human for producing the video.

December 17th, 2014

Phase One Intros A-Series Medium Format Cameras (For Real This Time)

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Phase One and Alpa have officially announced the first products following their September 2014 partnership announcement. News of the A-series had surfaced  earlier this year when Phase One dealer Digital Transitions posted some preliminary details online.

The new Phase One A-series cameras combine an Alpa 12TC mirrorless camera body and a Phase One medium format IQ2 A-series back.

There will be three cameras in the new series.

The A250, for $47,000, uses Phase’s IQ250 50-megapixel CMOS-based camera back and can also display a live view feed on an iOS device for focus assist capabilities. The A260 uses the IQ260 back and will retail for $48,000. Finally, the A280 will use the IQ280 back and will set you back a cool $55,000.

All of the A-series cameras will ship with a 35mm Rodenstock Alpar lens. At launch, there will be two other lenses available for the system: an Alpagon f/5.6 23mm for $9,070 and an Alpa HR Alpagon f5.6 70mm for $4,520.

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All of the A-series lens profiles are factory calibrated and preloaded on the IQ2 A-series digital backs, eliminating the need to manually create and apply LCC profiles. You can select the lens you’re using in the camera menu and corrections are  automatically processed when importing to Capture One Pro 8.1, according to Phase One.

Phase One A-Series systems ship with Capture One Pro 8.1 software as well as Capture Pilot 1.8 for remote viewing on iOS devices. New accessories, such as lens shades, phone mounting hardware and shimming kits will also be available to support the new line.

The A-series is available now.

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September 16th, 2014

Photokina 2014: Hasselblad Adds Wi-Fi to H5D-50c

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Hasselblad will bring a Wi-Fi-equipped version of its H5D-50c medium format camera to market later this month, the company announced at Photokina.

Building off the existing 50c, the new  model uses Wi-Fi to enable remote control and viewfinding through iOS devices.

There will be a few more enhancements to the 50c beyond Wi-Fi including a live view mode when the camera is untethered, an increased capture rate of 50 images per minute and longer exposure times of up to 34 minutes.

The updated 50c will also now accept film magazines and features a spirit level which can be used in tethered mode. ISO and white balance will now be displayed in the viewfinder as well.

Current 50c owners will be gain access to all the new features except Wi-Fi via a firmware upgrade later this month.

The Wi-Fi version of the H5D-50c will command a $1,000 premium over the standard 50c ($27,500, body only) .

H5D-50c owners who want Wi-Fi will be able to upgrade their current camera for the Wi-Fi version for about $650 between January and March 2015, at least in Europe.

September 16th, 2014

Photokina 2014: Leica Reveals 4K-Recording Medium Format Camera

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The newest member of the Leica S-series of medium format cameras, introduced at Photokina 2014, has a fairly novel trick: it can record 4K video.

The Leica S 007 won’t arrive until the spring of 2015, but when it does it will carry a new 37.5-megapixel Leica CMOS sensor and Maestro II image processor  capable of delivering 3.5 frames per second (fps) continuous shooting with a 2GB buffer, full HD video recording using the full sensor area and 4K video capture as well. HD video will be recorded at 30, 25 or 24fps while 4K video will use a Super 35mm crop of the lens and be delivered at 24fps. Uncompressed video can be output to an external recorder via HDMI with 4:2:2 color sampling.

The camera will also feature predictive autofocus, a 3-inch LCD, built-in GPS and Wi-Fi for using mobile devices as remote controls and viewfinders.

The 007 will offer shutter speeds as high as 1/4000 sec. with flash sync available up to 1/1000 sec. It will offer 13 stops of dynamic range, 16-bit color depth and an ISO range of 100 to 6400. Images and video are saved to either CF or SD cards.

Leica won’t deliver the 007 until 2015 and it’s expected to cost $25,400 for the camera body.

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There will also be an entry-level Leica medium format camera: the S-E 006. It will employ a 37.5-megapixel CCD sensor with microlenses to evenly distribute light across the entire surface area of the sensor for improved clarity.

The S-E won’t be as fast as the 007, its continuous shooting mode clocks in at 1.5fps with a 2GB buffer capable of collecting 32 RAW files (DNG) or unlimited JPEGs. It will offer 12 stops of dynamic range and an ISO range of 100 to 1600. You’ll find a 3-inch LCD display and an eye-level pentaprism viewfinder and dual card slots for CF and SD memory cards. It will retail for $16,900.

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Leica X

Switching to advanced compacts, Leica’s new X (Typ 113) sports a 16.2-megapixel APS-C-sized CMOS image sensor and a 23mm f/1.7 prime lens (35mm equivalent).

The X can record full HD video at 30fps and offers ISO sensitivities to 12500. It features a 3-inch (920k pixel) LCD display with 100 percent field of view and a hot shoe that will enable the use of optional viewfinders. It offers continuous shooting at 5fps for up to seven frames.

The X will be available this month for $2,295.

Also joining the Leica X family is the more budget-minded X-E. It will offer the same sensor as the X Typ 113 but a slightly slower 24mm f/2.8 prime lens. Also downsized is the LCD display: it’s 2.7-inches. The X-E will offer continuous shooting at 5fps and will arrive in stores this month for $1,795.

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Lux

Geared for sports and wildlife photographers, the new Leica V-Lux (Typ 114)  sports a 9.1-146mm f/2.8-4 ASPH lens (25-400mm equivalent) with optical image stabilization and a 1-inch, 20-megapixel sensor. It will offer 4K video recording, built-in Wi-Fi, a 2.4-megapixel OLED viewfinder and a 3-inch tiltable LCD.

The V-Lux will be speedy too, capable of continuous shooting at 12fps. Pricing and availability weren’t announced.

The other new member of the Lux family, the D-Lux (Typ 109), will also offer 4K video recording using a 12-megapixel Four Thirds-sized sensor. 4K video is recorded at 30 and 24fps and HD video recording is also available.

The D-Lux will feature a 10.9-34mm f/1.7-2.8 ASPH lens (24-75mm equivalent). ISO sensitivities will reach 25600 and it will offer both Wi-Fi and NFC for wireless remote and viewfinder functions on mobile devices.

It sports a metal housing, a high-resolution, 2.8-megapixel viewfinder and a 3-inch LCD. It won’t offer a pop-up flash but Leica will bundle one in the box. It ships in November for $1,195.

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Leica M-P (Typ 240)

Rangefinder fans rejoice. Leica has updated its rangefinder camera in the M-P (Typ 240). Similar to the Leica M, the M-P features a 24-megapixel CMOS sensor and an expanded buffer of 2GB for continuous shooting at 3fps.

The M-P will feature a native ISO range of 200 to 6400 with the option to decrease to 100. The camera supports HD video recording at 25 and 24fps.

Its 3-inch sapphire glass LCD display is “almost unbreakable” Leica claims. Designed to be discrete, Leica swapped out their iconic red dot logo in favor a small “Leica” engraving to denote brand.

Other new features include a frame selection lever which projects six different focal lengths into the viewfinder. Pricing and availability were not announced.

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60th Anniversary Edition Leica M

The Leica M rangefinder system turns 60 this year and to celebrate, Leica is releasing an anniversary edition of the camera that fuses their M-P digital camera with a 35mm f/1.4 lens. Audi Design gets credit for the exterior styling and Leica said that the bare-bones specs will put the focus on the skill of the photographer (there is, for instance, no LCD display and all images are saved as RAW DNG files).

There will only be 600 of these Anniversary Edition models on the market (engraved, of course, so you know yours is special) and they’ll be available next month for about $20,000.

 

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New Rangefinder Camera: the M-A

The flashbacks continue. Leica also introduced a new 35mm film rangefinder camera at Photokina: the M-A. It’s compatible with M-mount lenses and features a completely mechanical operation that lets you make adjustments to shutter speed (up to 1/1000 sec.) aperture and film speed.

It will ship in October for $4,500.

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New Lenses 

Beyond the new cameras, Leica introduced several new lenses at the show. The Noctilux-M 50mm f/1.4 ASPH, a silver edition version of the 50mm lens already on the market. It ships in October for $11,350. A silver version of the 35mm Summilux-M lens ($5,450) will also be available at the end of October.

There are two new lenses for the T-series: the APO Vario-Elmar 55-135mm f/3.5-4.5 ($1,950) and the Super-Vario-Elmar-T 11-23mm f/3.5-4.5 ASPH ($1,950).

Lenses in the company’s M-series have also gotten a facelift: they’ll be available in black or an anodized silver finish and will now offer maximum apertures of f/2.4. Focal lengths will remain the same at 35, 50, 75 and 90mm.