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Could Leica's New Full-Frame Mirrorless Camera Be Shooting Your Next Movie?

03.25.13 @ 7:58PM Tags : , , , ,

There were rumors that Leica would be announcing a new camera with video capabilities, and sure enough, with their new $7,000 full-frame 24 Megapixel Leica M, they added a video function. There is a lot of love for Leica out there thanks to their sharp and bokeh-licious lenses, and their simple but high-quality digital cameras, and while their pricing is a bit high, adding a video mode means another possible option for those looking for compact and impressive image quality. But what does the video look like? Johnnie Behiri over at cinema5D recently took the Lecia M for a spin. Check out his results as well as some other Leica M videos below.

Here is a little bit from his review at cinema5D:

Spending a day with the camera left me wondering, was Leica ever talking to any professional cameraman before implementing HD recording for this unit or just decided to “join a trend” without really meaning this camera to be a capable working video tool?

In my opinion the video quality coming out of the camera is very disappointing and its operation in video mode is not easy/logical. I hope features/video quality can be enhanced with a firmware update.

The settings used for the test video below:

ISO: 800 indoor, outdoor 200
White balance set to Kelvin values

Picture profile: “Film Mode off” (for the entire video but sec 2:01-2:12 when I used smooth color film) 
Contrast: Low
Saturation: Low
Sharpness: Off

Firmware version

There are also some other videos floating around showing the video quality:

It seems clear that the Leica M doesn’t quite match some of the other DSLR/Mirrorless cameras in video quality and usability (though they did manage to include peaking). While Canon, Nikon, Sony, and Panasonic have been putting video into their cameras for some time, this is Leica’s first attempt at putting it into their high-end full-frame cameras. If you look at it that way, they aren’t off to a terrible start, but for a company that prides itself on quality above all else, it is a bit surprising they couldn’t squeeze more capability out of the video mode.

I’m a big fan of the way this camera renders colors, so it would be interesting to see what the video would look like at a much higher bit rate internally. While that’s not the only issue with the video quality, it’s probably one of the few things that could actually be fixed in firmware.

Even though this probably isn’t going to be good enough to shoot your next movie (though if you got your hands on one you could certainly try), it definitely opens up the possibility of Leica producing a camera with better video quality, or maybe even a digital cinema camera. It may still be too expensive for the masses, but I could see video rental houses carrying it if the quality and usability improved significantly.

Be sure to head on over to cinema5D for the rest of the review.

What do you think? Forgetting price for a moment, would you like to see Leica produce a digital cinema camera?



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Description image 40 COMMENTS

  • FFS, for 7K you could be setup with a REAL video camera. Can we stop forcing digital still cameras into these frankenrigs?

  • I don’t really see why Leica would want to get into the video world. They hold such a coveted position in photography, that any efforts to try and catch up with what canon/nikon/etc started 5 years ago would just be a waste of resources on their part.

    • Wow, I wonder how you ever achieved anything in your life with that attitude!
      “There are so many people making films for a really long time, so what’s the point of trying, I can never be that good!” LOL

  • Mher Hakobyan on 03.25.13 @ 8:13PM

    if this camera will shoot RAW 16-24 bit depth 5k-6k resolution in video, and will have 300-500 fps in FULL HD res., 120 fps 4k res., i will pay for this camera 7000$ for body, if no then i will buy GH3, 2nd time i will buy 5dm3, BMCC, Digi Bollex…. 3000$ for body

  • Chris Quevedo on 03.25.13 @ 8:19PM

    could it shoot my next movie? doubt it. not after the glowing review of the other day :-/ sounds like a lot of oversight was planned into this camera

  • GOpro Black + Leica mount sounds better than this and you will still have change about $3000 left, thats if you have “money to blow”

  • geez, they could have cleaned up the audio at least a little bit. with headphones on, you can really hear the hiss. the video quality is nothing to write home about, but the low quality audio took me out of it right away.

    • Not only with headphones. I actually couldn’t watch this video about the dress lady because of the awful noise level in the interview parts.

      • ditto, I’m playing this on some cheapie pc speakers (absolutely nothing special about them, typical low end 2.1 sound) and I found that particular video AWFUL!! (wondered if it was just me… clearly not)

  • Film genius on 03.25.13 @ 11:47PM

    They call me three lenses because I have three lenses. The 5D Mark 8 is better than the GH3. But not as good as the black magical cinema style like camera with super raw mode just like in the movies. Bam wham thank you ma’am.

  • $7K? Hahahahaha. Oh wait, they’re serious. Hahahahahaha.

    • john jeffreys on 03.26.13 @ 12:40AM

      You poor thing, you’ve probably never even seen a leica product before, let alone use one and realize why they cost what they cost.

  • Film genius on 03.26.13 @ 12:00AM

    I shot some sweet footage my dogs playing today. It looks extra cinema quality because of the super raw mode on the black magical camera. I also pointed my BMCC at some buildings and flowers put some sweet ass “mood music” that I download for free from Vimeo. 7 months of waiting + $3000 for the camera, plus the two grand I dropped on a couple lenses and a rig. But in the end i achieved true sharpness and cinema style quality in my dogs eyes which is worth every penny.

  • I watch these videos and I shake my head—why hasn’t GoPro made a line of cams with changeable lenses—at least with a zoom lens? The resolution would be better than all of these cams. Yeah, there might be some wash out from bright sunlight that wouldn’t be in some of these other cams. But the resolution would more than compensate for its shortcomings—at least it seems it would. It will be interesting if they do make a line of cameras with changeable lenses, and, if their goal (as I have heard told) is 8k at 120 fps. Everyone could make their own TimeScape type movies then which would have better resolution than TimeScape itself. :-)

    • pray tell where you ‘heard’ this, i would love to take a gander :]

      • Couldn’t be found on the internets. I’d tell you the super, double secret way how but then I’d have to take you to Siberia and shoot you. That’s the protocol, and all. ;-)

  • No Film School is definitely a glass is half full place. The video mode on this expensive camera is exceedingly poor, but good news – it’s so bad that it ‘opens up the opportunity for Leica producing a camera with better video quality’ in the future, woohoo! :)

    • Chris Quevedo on 03.26.13 @ 7:01PM

      i know. seriously Leica?! are we REALLY playing this game? first we had to deal with it from Nikon, but maybe if Leica would have had a few years to prepare while other camera developers made all the mistakes with their video DSLR’s, Leica could have gotten it right on the first try.

      oh i’m sorry, i should have used my sarcasm font, LOL

      • You can be sarcastic and all, but it is still true. Leica just started putting a video option in their stills camera – that makes it possible for them to become better at it. Which would be great because they already make great lenses and more competition is always good.

        Up until now, nobody thought Leica was even interested in making video cameras, but this has now changed. So yes, it is kind of positive news! :)

  • We really shouldnt forget that this is a Leica Stills camera! And 7000 is OK for the Leica digital FF. It shoots video, too! Cool! Who expected it to be suoer awesome?

    • Chris Quevedo on 03.28.13 @ 3:49PM

      While this is true, the primary function of this site is focused around film, so when runs an article on this camera, i feel that those here who are being critical don’t care about the photo capabilities of this camera. thats especially true of me. but you are right and your points are valid, i just feel that in the context of this site and its intentions, these criticisms are valid as well, since i only come here for film. and with this in mind, this camera (at least in its current state) would be more or less useless to me to do my job.

    • That’s the point. I own an Eos 7D and despite the fact that its video is not really top notch anymore I don’t care because it is still a great photo camera and that was the main reason I bought it. It still shoots useable video, which is nice. Same with the Leica. Up until now they didn’t even have a video function and a lot of people bought it anyways!

  • What’s a real video camera nowadays? I can shoot video better on my phone than you can with your “real” camera. This is closed minded thinking

  • So much conversation around a myth that is no more than that : an outdated myth. Without Lartigue and Bresson no one should know what a Leica was…

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