Leica-m-2012-224x126There 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?