LFI magazine discusses upcoming Leica Digital M |
(Tuesday, December 27, 2005 - 15:57 EST)
An online teaser for Leica's LFI Magazine (Leica Fotografie International) includes a few quotes that name the Leica Digital M as more than just grist of the rumor mill.
Stefan Daniel, Leica Camera AG's chief of product management, is quoted: "The Digital M will be introduced as a complete package that will include new wide-angle lenses."
In an interview titled "Leica will face the digital age" Gero Furchheim answers a question about what advancing the M and R camera systems means: "We will be complementing and expanding these systems with digital components so that they remain attractive for our customers. At the same time, no one speaks of reducing or discontinuing the M and R analog segment."
February 2004 saw Leica officially announce that they were working on a digital solution for the M series. According to the release, microlens technology now seen in most digital SLRs had advanced sufficiently for Leica rangefinder cameras to incorporate digital technology that would meet Leica standards. Apparently the small space between the lens and film plane that was good for film photography caused too much light falloff in the corners with earlier technology.
The same problem was addressed in Olympus cameras with a complete lens system redesign that collimated the light to be relatively even across the entire image circle, "straightening" the light path. Other manufacturers developed microlenses, one over each pixel, to draw enough light in and direct it precisely onto the sensor area, in addition to introducing short back focus lenses that attempt to do much the same as the Olympus designs.
Because Leica wants to build on their current M-series lens system and offer a body for existing system owners, the company decided to wait until the time was right. Expectations at that time were for a 10 megapixel sensor at least.
Several sites seem to be expecting a September announcement at Photokina 2006 in Germany due to the two-year development cycle expected for the project, but the timing of the LFI article suggests that the system could also be announced at PMA this February in Florida. The original February announcement was made after a Dow Jones Newswire article appeared on February 6, 2004, as cited in the release. Though it is pure speculation, the two-year development cycle may have already been under way.
Some expected specs of the new Digital M include use of SD cards, 10.5 megapixel sensor, 2.5 inch LCD, and a 1.33 crop factor. This latter spec is similar to the Canon EOS 1D Mark IIN, and may disappoint some who were hoping for a full-frame Digital M. (Source: http://leica-users.org/v31/msg00860.html) This same source seems to call for a Photokina release date, saying that Stefan Daniels, quoted above, has said that Digital M prototypes are out shooting already.
Leica Release from February 2004