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Leica and Hasselblad Adding 1080p Video to New Camera Lines

09.19.12 @ 7:27PM Tags : , , , ,

Leica, known for its beautifully handbuilt rangefinder full-frame 35mm still cameras, and Hasselblad, known for their high-end medium format camera systems, have both announced new cameras at Photokina. While not terribly exciting news on its own, what is exciting is that for the first time ever, both companies now have cameras capable of video. Is this a turning point for manufacturers, where a stills camera is no longer enough? Will all still cameras be capable of shooting RAW video some day? Better yet, can you even afford these still cameras in the first place? Click through for more details on both.

First, here is Leica’s new M camera, which sheds the CCD in the previous model for a brand new CMOS chip capable of live-view and 1080p video:

Here is Jean Gaumy, who shoots with Leicas for a living:

Leica M specs:

  • 24MP Full-frame LEICA MAX CMOS Sensor
  • Live View with Focus Peaking
  • Optional Electronic Viewfinder
  • Use Leica R lenses natively using Leica R to M Adapter
  • “Leica Look” videos with Full HD video capture (1080p)
  • Enhanced sensitivity range up to ISO 6400
  • 3″ display with 920,000 pixels, Corning® Gorilla® glass screen protector
  • Splash protected body
  • Availability: January 2013
  • Price: $6,950

The M stands for milestone, according to Leica, but really it should stand for money, because it’s going to cost you a lot for image quality you can get elsewhere for cheaper (even using Leica’s lenses). But anyone who is considering this camera knows it’s more about the build quality and the Leica name than it is advanced features. Notably, though, it is the first Leica to feature an electronic viewfinder (at least as an upgrade option), and so for the first time with this high-end camera it’s now possible to actually see what you’re focusing on (yes this was a limitation on previous models). Leica also announced the M-E, which is a far less featured 18MP model that will retail for $5,450.

This is the new Hasselblad Lunar (as in, priced out of this world):

Specs on the Lunar:

  • 24.3 MP APS-C Sony sensor
  • E-mount (A-mount with adapter)
  • 25 autofocus points
  • Ultra-bright 3″ high definition display and revolutionary OLED
  • One-touch instant full HD video recording to shoot in Auto or fully manual mode.
  • External Mic port
  • 10fps max and instant shutter response (0.02 second release time lag)
  • ISO 100 – 16,000
  • Auto HD, DRO and Anti-motion blur mode.
  • Availability: Early 2013
  • Price: $6,530 (roughly)

In reality this is just a Sony NEX camera with some fancy outer parts. Hasselblad has partnered with Sony to produce these cameras, and they are charging at least $3,000 just for the Hasselblad name alone. Hasselblad’s cameras may have gone to the moon, but you could have fooled me into thinking that these new cameras were actually those same models based on the price. OK, sure, I’m being a little unfair on both Leica and Hasselblad, and I have even used Hasselblad’s cameras extensively (and they operate as expensive tools should), but if they anyone outside of the very wealthy to take them seriously (maybe they don’t), prices have to at least be under $4,000 — ideally lower. Even as a professional tool, there are many other options out there with more features and equal, if not better, image quality.

So why even mention these announcements? It’s significant that two of the oldest and most significant photography companies have finally put video into higher-end models. It means everyone and their mother will have a camera capable of shallow depth of field video, so there’s no question the competition will continue to get tighter, and clients will want even more bang for their buck.

What will truly be interesting is if Hasselblad ever develops video in one of their high-end Medium Format cameras. It’s not likely anytime soon (if at all), but if you thought video was shallow now, a Medium Format video camera would give some seriously shallow results — think IMAX shallow. The benefit to that, though, is that you could shoot at very high F-stops in bright daylight will retaining somewhat shallow depth-of-field — and not need any ND filters. At least that’s the only benefit I can think of to having 1080p video on a Hasselblad Medium Format camera. Some day we will see 60 or 80 megapixel video (like their stills cameras can do), but until that time, it’s significant that the slow-moving guys have only come around to putting video technology into their cameras.


[via The Verge and Photography Bay)


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Description image 34 COMMENTS

  • john jeffreys on 09.19.12 @ 7:40PM

    Can’t wait to see all the Leica hate/misunderstanding thats gonna go down in this thread. Y’all dont know shit about good design. Leica bodies outlive you, and your kids end up using them.

    • The bodies maybe, the internal digital technology…not so much. I mean, the Blackmagic Cinema Camera body will technically outlive any of us as well, but these companies are going to have to fight to stay relevant as technology gets better at the lower end.

      • john jeffreys on 09.19.12 @ 7:53PM

        They cater to a particular demographic (the high end/luxury user), and last time I checked Leica makes a shitton of money.

        And they are plenty relevant in the active day to day production world, what with those new C series lenses ;) Now they would really dominate if they made a cinema camera to go with it…

        • Yes, I know who they cater to, and that they are profitable, but the stills camera market is a race to the bottom, and we’ll see if they can sustain the crossover to digital. The Leica cinema lenses represent an extraordinarily low volume compared to Zeiss and Cooke. Granted I would give a limb to shoot with them, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that they hand build literally everything and it’s hard to compete that way forever based on name alone. I actually think it would be smart for them to build a cinema camera. They could get away with high prices by being a rental only 4K or 8K model, and they’ve got the best lenses in the world to put on said camera.

          • john jeffreys on 09.19.12 @ 11:19PM

            It would be pretty insane, like if the camera was well specced and well designed it could totally be like historic

        • What amuses me is that a Leica cine camera wouldn’t be any more overpriced than recent offerings from Canon.

          I was looking at the ME earlier, unfortunately just a re-badged M9. If they’d been able to upgrade the CCD to one with a faster readout and implemented video on that… well that may have been interesting.

    • No need for preemptive flaming here – as Joe said its nice they are coming to the table with video but really no video pro is ever going to drop $6k on a Leica when you can get the same or better video for half the price elsewhere. I don’t give a f@ck what badge is on it or how well its designed or how many years it lasts after I’m dead.

      Speaking of which I’d bet my kids will likely be shooting for 8k delivery in the not too distant future so any bit of 1080 gear, working or not, will be completely redundant.

      • I shoot 35mm on my grandpa’s Leica M3 that he gave me everyday, it works flawlessly. Maybe your kids will want the “Retro 1080″ look :P

        • john jeffreys on 09.20.12 @ 8:22PM

          A lot of people are buying used 80′s and 90′s VHS camcorders en masse lately to get the shitty analog SD look.

          • Really…used 80′s technology that wasn’t built by Leica and yet still works today. Get out of town!

            So your business case is spend $4,000 more today (Leica vs D600) so that in 30 years you can save yourself the $50 it would cost to buy a second hand ‘retro’ D600 from a local pawn shop or ebay.

            Hope you don’t give out financial advice ;-)

    • Gary Simmons on 09.20.12 @ 5:21PM

      I just need it to live till I die My kids can buy their own.

  • If they make the S (medium format) with video let me know…that would potentially be a truly awesome rental.

  • marsupial_1080 on 09.19.12 @ 8:37PM

    Videographers are obviously gearheads. Apparently equipment drives the industry. Perhaps stills reached threshold long ago. Some really nice prints came out of Hasselblad decades ago, but who makes prints anymore, and do stills need 4k? Filmmakers are big spenders, want the latest stuff such as hyper sensors and extreme resolution.

    • john jeffreys on 09.19.12 @ 11:17PM

      “who makes prints”
      magazines? publishing? billboards? vinyls? lol
      medium format thrives in those areas, but red epic’s are also slowly getting popular

  • From my history with both in the the still world, it’s not luxury, but image quality with proven workhorses.

  • I was really hoping that Hasselblad had launched a video capable H5D or something similar. Not that I could ever afford one, it just would have been pretty damn cool.

  • Excuse me? Hasselblad medium format camera? The specs clearly say that the sensor is APS-C.

  • Linuxdanish on 09.19.12 @ 11:00PM

    It is nice though that lieca is implementing manual audio controls(while recording) and focus peaking on their first go. For 6,000 they should, but diffidently still nice:) Also the price seems comparable to 1DX (not that many people will use them over dedicated video cameras).

  • Weird that hasselblad has an aps-c sensor. It’s almost like a Rolls Royce with a Toyota engine… It is half the price of their 2nd cheapest camera … It’s strange. I don’t get it.

  • Great. Now my dentist and my lawyer can shoot video too.

  • Samsara in Digital please Hasselblad! Anybody else notice that the recent H5D design is PERFECT as a video camera!

  • Useless equipment. Useless company.

  • Imagine an old company (like Kodak) going down, absolutely out of his time, trying to put at the market a sort of product, and using maybe 4 or 5 another company affiliated providing specifics parts. Then the result of this strategy is a cosmetic, graceless and obvious, priced product, with no room in DSLR’s market.
    Hasselblad still have a place for some “fine art” photographers, but this Lunar is a joke. An Eclipse.