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?