February 11, 2013

Leica to Introduce 'Budget' Cinema Lenses, the Summicron-C Primes

For much of its recent history, Leica has been introducing high-end photography gear (with high prices to match). Just a few years ago, however, the company decided to get into the cinema lens game with a brand new set of PL-mount primes designed to go head-to-head with the best cine glass out there -- like the Zeiss Master Primes. Those lenses, the Summilux-C primes, are in high demand, and you've got quite a long waiting list to get them if you're a rental house. They aren't for every budget though, even as a rental, however, because they retail for well over $20,000 per lens. We've got word now that they are working on a less expensive set, but since we're dealing with Leica here, how much cheaper will they actually be?

Thanks to Jon Fauer over at Film and Digital Times, here is what we know so far plus a few more photos of the 25mm and 75mm PL-mount prototype lenses:

Summicron-C lenses are not intended to be replacements for the top-of-the-line Summilux-C lenses, nor should they be expected to have equally jaw-dropping performance–although participants in the tests said performance was superb. Just as Cooke has 5/i, S4/i and Mini S4/i, and ARRI/ZEISS has Master Primes and Ultra Primes, it appears that Leica also seeks to appeal to different production markets.

Summicron-C lenses are T2.0. (Summilux-C lenses are T1.4)
Summilux-C lenses remain the high-end, top of the line.
Summicrons are smaller, and will be less expensive.

 

With newer sensors and cameras being that much more sensitive -- like RED's Dragon and Sony's F5 and F55 -- T/2.0 lenses are plenty fast and/or shallow. It's nice to have the speed when you need it, but a camera sensor that is double the sensitivity makes up for the one stop of light loss between the Summilux and the Summicron lenses. So are these going to be $5K, $10K, or $15,000 a piece? I would put money on them being closer to $15K or more based on the fact that the Summilux-C lenses are around $25,000 per lens. With prices like that, a $10,000 price drop doesn't seem like much, but it means that the Summicron lenses would be a much cheaper rental, maybe $750 to $1,000 depending on the set. [Update: Leica Rumors is saying these will retail $17,000 and will debut at NAB 2013. So it shouldn't be long before we get confirmation on that.]

For example, if you're shooting on the Arri Alexa or Sony F65, you probably have the budget for Master Primes, Cookes, or Summilux-C lenses. But if you're shooting on cameras like the RED EPIC and Sony's new F55, those may be just out of your budget range, and you'll probably be looking at Ultra Primes or Cooke S4i lenses, which are T/1.9 and T/2.0, respectively. Now you'll have a new option in the Summicron-C primes. The lenses may not perform quite as well as the higher end Summilux-Cs, but it's Leica, so there is no question they will be excellent, and most importantly, they will have the "Leica look" that many favor over more sterile lenses, like Masters, Ultras, and CP.2s.

No other information is available just yet, so we'll update you when more details emerge.

Where do you guys think these will fall price-wise? Do these interest anyone over Cookes or Zeiss lenses if they perform nearly as well as the Summilux-Cs?

Link: Sneak Peak: Leica Summicron-C Primes -- FD Times

Your Comment

24 Comments

aaaaaaand where is the video test of Leica Cinema Lenses( Summicron-C Primes)?

February 11, 2013 at 8:37PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Mher Hakobyan

They are still prototypes at this point, that's why we haven't seen any footage from them

February 11, 2013 at 8:42PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Joe Marine
Camera Department

I have a few leica r primes. How do the quality of these compare to the highest end cinema lenses. I dont really care much about ergonomics, breathing, etc. But the image its self. Thanks

February 11, 2013 at 8:39PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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vcrd

The cinema lenses would definitely be better, but how much better is a question we'd only be able to answer once they are actually released. A lot of what you pay for in cinema lenses is exactly what you mentioned - breathing, smooth iris/focus, etc.

February 11, 2013 at 8:44PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Joe Marine
Camera Department

I did 2 full features with Leica R lenses ( one for TV one for Cinema ). I've compared them to CP and picked Leica R. The image is gorgeous. However. Leica R summilux is FAR superior to summicron at least to MY eyes. Summilux 35mm & 80mm is magical ( at least to my eyes) so is 19mm/2.8 or 180mm f2

February 12, 2013 at 7:23AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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If they are even close to their first cinema attempt they will be stunning. Check the red forums for salt 3. they kicked ass all over canon and zeiss glass imo...and well they should considering their price. Competition is good.

February 11, 2013 at 8:49PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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jordan

I saw one of these at the Sony F5/55 announcement event. Extremely small and beautiful lens!

February 11, 2013 at 9:43PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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jmg

Cheaper than Zeiss or RED I'm sure.

February 12, 2013 at 12:06AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Sean

Cheaper than RED? No way

February 12, 2013 at 1:04PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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carlos

Typo: *draw-dropping

February 12, 2013 at 1:12AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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J

Actually, Leica has been producing cine glass for years. The optics at least. Ever heard of a little company called Panavision, and their Primos? Yup. Leica.

Panavisions contract ran out and Leica was free to produce glass for themselves.

February 12, 2013 at 3:26AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Yeah that's right, totally forgot about that.

February 12, 2013 at 6:36AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Joe Marine
Camera Department

Makes me still wonder who maded the RPP's ?

February 12, 2013 at 10:46AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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UniqOptics did the housing/ design for RPP's. The glass came from elsewhere.

February 12, 2013 at 12:40PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Bobby McGee

Cool, I did not know that. I always wondered who made the Panavision lenses because I knew they were "panavising" a lot of different products. I would have guessed they use Zeiss or Cooke glass.

February 16, 2013 at 5:59PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Heiko

They will be great, no doubt about that. Leica R lenses are nice budget option with a character. Pity they are still too expensive for my budget..

February 12, 2013 at 5:25AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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PeterK

Happy with my CP.2's. Forever.

February 12, 2013 at 8:39AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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duane

made*

February 12, 2013 at 10:53AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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RPP's are dumbed down versions of the original design

February 12, 2013 at 2:11PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Bobby McGee

When it comes to Leica photography, the Summilux and Summicron lenses are different, but one is not necessarily better than the other despite the price differences. The summilux glass is obviously faster, but because of this, it has more distortion, among other minor but visible imperfections. They also tend to be a bit dreamier (better bokeh). The summicron lenses tend to appear more "perfect" and "accurate." They have very little barrel distortion or ca or the like. They also have the benefit of being much smaller (more important for photography).

And if the new aspherical summicron 50mm is anything to go by, they can have a much higher resolution and can have an even higher price than summilux glass (around $7,000+ vs about half that for the 50 lux).

Personally, I prefer summicron lenses for photography. They are smaller, (usually) cheaper, and generally have better performance. But who knows how the new summicron-c glass will perform compared to the summilux-c glass.

February 13, 2013 at 1:22PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Jonathan

The term is "jaw-dropping" (as opposed to "draw-dropping") :)

February 14, 2013 at 4:55PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Christian Anderson

Those things happen with direct quotes :) Not the first time I've carried over a typo without noticing.

February 14, 2013 at 4:59PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Joe Marine
Camera Department

Oh damn, I first thought they might be something like 2K $ a piece, a good new alternative to Canon L or Nikon glass... but then I read on and saw that they will probably be like 10-15K $ a piece.
Well, doesn't matter that much because I would not have bought them anyways ;)

February 16, 2013 at 5:57PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Heiko

Do you know if Canon EF Mounts will be available?

September 19, 2013 at 3:22PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Richard