Leica-m-2012-224x126Leica, 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)