Earlier in the year, we covered the announcement of a brand-spanking new set of high-end cinema lenses from Leica. Most of us know about, or have at least heard about Leica's Summilux-C primes, which might very well be the finest cinema lenses known to man. The only caveat to the Summilux line is that you would have to sell a kidney (and maybe some other vital organs) in order to afford a set of your own. Leica's new line of cinema lenses, the Summicron-C Primes, look to offer the same unmatched optical quality of their bigger brothers in a much smaller and slightly more affordable package. Oh, and they're going to start shipping any day now.
[Update: The Summicron-C Primes are now available and shipping from Band Pro.]
For some of the best information available on this new set of lenses, here's the lens wizard himself, Matthew Duclos, from an excellent write-up on his blog. First, Duclos explains what sets the Summicron-C line apart from the Summilux-C's:
The Summicron name from Leica has always implied a maximum aperture of f/2.0. Similarly, in the case of their cinema line of lenses, it refers to a max aperture of T2.0 [the Summilux line is T1.4]. Unlike the Summilux-C primes, the new Summicron-C lenses are strictly spherical elements and lack any of Leica’s superb aspherical, aberration inhibiting designs. Despite the lack of aspherical elements, the Summicron-C primes still hold their own against the likes of other high-end cinema lenses.
In the past year, one of the most pertinent questions on everyone's mind -- especially with the growing size of digital cinema sensors -- is about whether or not our existing s35 lenses will be able to adequately cover these new sensors. RED's new DRAGON sensor has been responsible for a good portion of this questioning. Here's what Duclos had to say about the coverage that the Summicron-C's will provide for larger sensors.
Leica is claiming an image circle of 34mm+. Hah -- That’s modest. As I tested each focal length I found that they’ll cover upwards of 35-36mm even on the wide focal lengths. With a minimum image circle requirement of 34.5mm, the Summicron-C primes will absolutely cover the Dragon sensor without any issues.
One of the best characteristics of the Leica Summicron-C's is their size. Relative to most other high-end cinema lenses, the Summicrons are considerably lighter and more compact, which will make them an ideal choice in certain shooting situations. In any situation where the weight of the camera needs to be kept at a minimum, such as extended handheld shooting, the Leica Summicrons will do just that, all while providing an image quality that you'd expect from much larger cinema lenses.
Now let's talk a little bit about price. The Summicron-C line of cinema lenses, like their big brothers, are not something you're ever likely to own. At roughly $100k for the entire set of six (nearly $17k per lens), these are a rental option for nearly everybody. However, as a cinematographer, it's extremely important to know your options when it comes to optics, because they can make a world of difference in terms of the logistics of the shoot, as well as the aesthetic and of your film.
If you'd like to read more about this fantastic set of cinema lenses, make sure you head on over to the Duclos blog to get the full rundown. The Leica Summicron-C's are to begin shipping by the end of the year.
What do you guys think of these lenses? Have you ever used the Summilux-C's, and if so, are these more compact lenses going to make a splash in the cinematography world for their stellar performance and relatively small form factor? Let us know down in the comments!