September 17, 2014

Leica's Got a New Medium Format Camera & It Shoots 4K Video

Here's our first look at the shaken, not stirred, medium format Leica S (Type 007), courtesy of cinema5D:

Specs:

  • 37.5MP 45mm x 30mm CMOS Sensor (7500 x 5000)
  • No Optical Low-Pass Filter
  • 3.0" 921.6k-Dot LCD Monitor
  • Pentaprism 0.87x-Mag. Optical Viewfinder
  • 4K Super 35mm windowed video at 24 fps (8-bit 4:2:2 MJPEG like the Canon 1D C)
  • 1080p at 24, 25, 30fps (8-bit 4:2:2 MJPEG)
  • Clean 4:2:2 8-bit HDMI Out (Unclear if 4K is possible)
  • ISO 200 to ISO 6400 (ISO 100 pull setting)
  • Up to 3.5 fps Shooting
  • DNG File Format, 16-Bit Color Depth
  • Built-In Wi-Fi and GPS Connectivity
  • Availability: Q2 2015
  • Price: $25,400 Body Only
Leica S Medium Format Front

OK, so the price is a bit much if you're just getting into 4K video, but this is meant as a solid medium format camera first, and a video camera second. As far as medium format cameras go, price-wise this is neither the cheapest nor the most expensive. If you're looking for the medium format video look for a specific job, the Pentax 645Z is much more affordable, and would likely rent for cheaper as well, but the selling point of using this for a specific job is that you've got no downsampling or scaling on the 4K mode, which means it will be as sharp as possible. The 1080p mode is likely a bit softer because it must throw away lots of pixels from the image area of the full sensor.

At 4K, however, it's using a cropped-in window of the full sensor, which means there will be a crop factor for the medium format lenses. Based on my math (assuming this is all correct info), they would be using a 24.58mm width for the 4096 part of the Super 35mm frame, which would mean a 1.83 crop factor from the original medium format frame. For 1080p, it's using the whole sensor, so the field of view will be much wider as compared to full-frame vista-vision 35mm and Super 35mm (something like 0.8 and 0.5 and some change). All of that is a good reason why crop factors are confusing.

Either way, plenty of photographers will find use for the sharp 4K video to complement their stills work, but I think this is an interesting development from a company that hasn't pushed too far into the video world.      

Your Comment

14 Comments

The video is clearly not the goal here, this is for photographers who also happen to make videos and can afford a 25k camera. I would love to see a footage from a medium format digital camera, even at only 1080p: the depth of field, the noise (or lack of it) and... 8-bit color, even at the HDMI signal?

September 17, 2014 at 1:22PM, Edited September 17, 1:22PM

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There is already the Pentax 645Z which does medium format video, it is the first.

I've seen the footage from the 645Z, and while it is an amazingly fantastic stills camera, it is very underwhelming as video camera in terms of quality (i.e. kinda like Canon with DSLRs, part of the first wave of DSLR video... but had many issues with image quality. But give it time and we'll see much better from medium format, just like we did with DSLRs/MILCs with the GH2 and then the GH4/A7S which are now streets ahead of what we had in 2008/2009).

September 17, 2014 at 8:36PM

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David Peterson
Wedding Cinematographer
2302

-_-

September 17, 2014 at 1:38PM

2
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Nigel Thompson
Director / Editor / Producer
252

25 thousand bucks is crazy but I am thrilled at the news of any Medium Format video cameras. I believe it's going to be the next massive trend.

Think about it… Arri is about to produce their 65mm 6K beast and everyone's going to fall in love with it. Eventually, that type of sensor will be in a camera that we can afford.

September 17, 2014 at 2:04PM

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Josh Paul
Most often DP, Direct or Gaff
1092

Is medium format in still mode... In video mode is Super 35mm "4K Super 35mm windowed video" ... 25k for nothing!

September 17, 2014 at 7:28PM, Edited September 17, 7:28PM

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Julian Cortizo
Director / Post-Producer / Composer
155

One of the few things I can appreciate about this, being a former Photographer my self is how few buttons they have on it. Assuming of coarse that functionality hasn't been compromised in that process.

September 17, 2014 at 2:57PM

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David Sharp
Video Editor, Cinematographer, Teacher
405

I'm not expecting much in terms of video from medium format cameras (right now at least) but I'd like to see the whole sensor used regardless of the quality. I've shot with the Phase One system several times and LOVE the images it makes. Shooting with it is pain compared to my D800 but once I'm editing the shots, I see why the pain was worth it.

September 17, 2014 at 7:48PM

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Brooks Reynolds
Director/DOP
475

All companies, all brands have 4K... or almost (Canon i am looking to you...)

September 18, 2014 at 2:17AM

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Ragüel Cremades
Film producer and director
7575

well technically canon has the 1D C, but I know what you mean...

September 18, 2014 at 4:32AM

4
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that's true...

September 18, 2014 at 6:41AM

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Ragüel Cremades
Film producer and director
7575

$25,400? Seriously? Why would you even cover this camera for the 1%? Ridiculous.

September 18, 2014 at 5:11PM

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Drew Staniland
Actor/Videographer/Writer/Director
275

I love Leica, best stills lenses, but it always drives me nuts when they call their funky sized sensor 'Medium format,' I will never acknowledge anything as medium format that's less than 645. Should be, like, Super 645 or something.

I'd love to see some well shot video from this, but for medium format video, I'd go to Pentax first.

September 18, 2014 at 6:50PM

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Wish no film school would stop recycling this wack press release bullshit. Some pretty piss poor articles lately on some pretty unappealing tech.

September 19, 2014 at 4:37PM, Edited September 19, 4:37PM

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matt
901

I think you got the spec wrong, what I read from Red Dot forum "The 4K video is captured at 1:1 on the sensor, meaning that each pixel on the sensor yields one pixel on the final video. So, to this end, the 4K capture area is a cropped section on the larger sensor. While I was pretty excited about the prospect of 4K on such a large sensor, from a quality perspective, this approach is a better one. In 1080p FullHD mode the entire area of the sensor, cropped to 16:9, is used. I imagine video guys everywhere drooling over the prospect of shooting on such a large sensor through the incredible range of S glass.". So there is no waste of pixel, at least not in fullHD.

September 24, 2014 at 1:23AM

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TS Sim
74