Leica Expands SL Functionality With New Adapters

Recently, Leica introduced two new adapters to expand the functionality of their SL camera system. With this most recent audio and optical expansion, Video and studio shooters now have even more reason to consider the SL system.

The new S to T adapter enables the use of S System lenses on the SL body, allowing for a range of autofocus prime lenses to be used. Not only does the S line include some of the finest optics in the world, but several of the lenses feature a leaf shutter. Anyone experienced with the use of off camera flash will immediately recognize the importance of a nice high shutter sync speed in overcoming ambient light, which leaf shutters enable. The combination of a leaf shutter and amazing optics turns the SL into an incredible tool for balancing ambient light with flash.

For the video crowd, a combination microphone/headphone adapter is also available. This all-in-one adapter provides a microphone and headphone jack, eliminating the need for an external audio recorder or reliance on built-in microphones and enabling close monitoring of audio levels.

For more information or to place an order, please call into our Walnut Creek location.

NEW CANON EOS SYSTEMS: 80D, POWERSHOTS, AND MORE!

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Canon has announced several new additions to their EOS system! The EOS 80D kit, with a 24.2 Megapixel (APS-C) CMOS sensor, will be released at the end of March with a choice of 18-55mm or 18-135mm lens. The kits range from $1,350 to $1,799. The EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM, a robust zoom lens, claims a near-silent zoom option and is great for movie making. Pricing for the standalone lens will be $599. The 80D body will be priced about $1,199.

Videographers will be pleased to hear that a new directional microphone, the DM-E1, will be ready for purchase in June. The PZ-E1 Power Zoom adapter will also be available in June for $149.

The power-packed PowerShot G7X Mark II and PowerShot SX720 HS compact cameras will also be rolling out in the next several months. The G7X Mark II boasts a 20.1 Megapixel CMOS sensor with a fast 8 fps and other outstanding features; it will be released in June and is priced at $699. The PowerShot SX720 is the perfect compact camera for travelers with it’s optical zoom of 40x (24-960mm) and built-in wireless connectivity; it will be available for purchase at the end of March with a price of $389.

Contact Camera West today to preorder!

A Visit to the Brewery: Shot Exclusively on the Leica D-Lux 109

The D-Lux 109

It is so easy for us photographers and filmmakers to get carried away with the tools we use rather than getting carried away with the subject matter we are pursuing. I used to regularly shoot Canon DSLRs, Sony cine type cameras and the occasionally RED camera. Sometimes I still use those tools. Are they amazing tools? ABSOLUTELY, but they can slow things down, require extensive rigging, and more times than not they can dampen the aura of a moment. In the work I typically do I am shooting on the fly and trying to capture moments that are not staged. When I point a camera at a person, and they see me I don’t want to disturb them. I also have to get shots while remaining unnoticed, which requires minimal rigging.

I have never encountered a camera that was so capable at taking amazing pictures, and filming than the Leica D-Lux 109.  Per square inch the D-lux 109 packs more power than any other camera. The D-Lux is phenomenal!

My recent visit to the Coachella Valley Brewing Company presented the perfect opportunity to get some spectacular black and whites. I recently visited there, and the only camera I had on me was the D-Lux 109. So, I immediately got to shooting some shots around the brewery and then switched to free handing some 4k shots on the fly. The ability to pull a camera out like that and start shooting some really incredible material was extremely liberating!! 

Not only is the D-Lux inconspicuous, and readily available, but it is also has a GREAT lens. I Love the f1.7 @24mm and the macro mode. The lens is sharp at all focal lengths and apertures. 

Honestly the 4k out of the camera is just outstanding. Below is a frame I pulled out of the video once I had finished grading. Again, this not a photograph, this is one frame of video! I could make a nice print of this frame if I wanted to.

4k frame

The video has low compression at 100mbps @4k 24fps, and since this is a Leica camera (yes, I know they aren’t made in Wetzlar) the color is lovely.  Now, I don’t appreciate 4k for the immense amount of resolution it gives me, but rather for increase in bit rate, grading opportunities as well as reframing capabilities. The D-Lux’s settings do require some tweaking to shoot serious video. I messed with the Gamma curves to get a in camera flat-ish profile, and there are a few other oddities that are required to get the camera from being a “stills” camera to being somewhat of a cine camera. Below is a piece I shot in about 10-15 minutes, all by hand with nothing but my D-Lux 109.

I plan to use the D-Lux 109 for a lot more than just personal projects in the near future. I plan to use it in a couple up coming documentary films I will be heading up. The D-Lux will not simply be used as a B or C camera but as my primary camera. The 4k is absolutely lovely out of this camera and so is the color. Convenience, and great color when paired with a outstanding lens, and nice 4k for 1080 or 2k downscaling makes for the right tool for the job.

Cheers!

About the Author: Ben Carpenter is a photographer and filmmaker originally from the Midwest. Ben now resides in the Coachella Valley where he works as a sales representative at Camera West Rancho Mirage. Ben shoots a variety of films ranging from wedding and commercial films to documentary films in the southern California region. He also enjoys leading a variety of workshops at our Rancho Mirage store.

Leica Taifun, My First Few Days with the New Leica T

I was very fortunate to have received an evaluation sample of the new Leica T, code named “Taifun”. After signing my life away with the non disclosure agreement, I received the new camera, complete with 18-56mm3.5-5.6 zoom lens, Visoflex electronic finder and M lens adapter. Upon opening the box, I had a great smile on my face, getting the new camera in my hands. I had heard that the body was machined out of a solid block of aluminum, but it is hard to anticipate that visceral reaction when you place something of inherent quality of construction in your hands. It really feels good. The body is machined from a 2.2# block of metal down to a piece that weighs only a few ounces.  The feel is unlike anything available on the market today.

The camera size is smaller than an M and about the same as the X Vario body. The lens mounting is similar to the S or the R system, in that the lens release is mounted in a familiar place, about 7 o’clock on the lens mount. The new lenses are auto focus, which will be very nice for most users. The lenses are lighter than M lenses, but mount to the body with the same feeling of precision.  After charging the battery fully, I immediately mounted the Visoflex finder. The first thing that I noticed, is that the finder automatically activates when the finder is placed to your eye. The finder resolution is very high. I did not have an opportunity to do a direct comparison with other finders from Sony, Fuji and Olympus, but my initial impression was that it was at least as good as anything that I have seen or used recently, with good color, contrast and sharpness. The finder has the typical diopter adjustment and it also tilts through 90 degrees, which is really nice for tripod use.

The user interface is typical Leica in concept. Very simple and intuitive, especially if you own a modern smart phone. The hard controls consist of a shutter release and power switch, video start/stop button and two dials.  The rest is controlled from the large touch screen interface.  There are three primary touch screen buttons. One is exposure mode selection, the second is for the menu and the third controls how information is displayed on the screen. The screen is very bright and has high resolution and adjusts automatically to ambient brightness. In use, I had no problem seeing the screen in full sunlight.

I proceeded to learn and set up the menu on the T. The main menu consists of your most important settings, while the settings menu has all of the available settings. You can customize the layout of the menu by simply dragging and dropping each menu icon. I was able to configure the main menu with my most relevant settings, in the order that I preferred them to appear. This was simply a nice feature at first, that with use, I came to really love. Now that I have returned my advance copy to Leica, and am using my M again, I find that I really miss that touch screen menu.

My advance copy Taifun, did not come with a manual, so it took me a quick telephone call to figure out how to play back my images. I was looking for a playback button as my mind was not totally immersed in the touch screen user interface yet. I learned that playback is accessed by touching and dragging your finger down across the back of the screen.  After that, the rest was easy. Touch and swipe to flip between images, pinch to reduce the image or to show a checkerboard of multiple images and spread your fingers to increase the image size. You can go to full magnification with a double tap on the screen. Very quick and intuitive. For auto focus, I like center spot AF, so I immediately turned off the multi point AF. AF is quick and precise. I made a few test shots. Just enough to familiarize myself with the camera. The next morning, with tripod in hand, I was off to a local wind farm to do a few more serious test shots. I found the color to be what I typically expect from Leica, which is very pleasing. The resolution was really fantastic. This is an APS-C sensor size, like the X-Vario, which I also own. I have not done a direct comparison yet, but the ISO range seems similar to the X2 and X-Vario. As good as the X-Vario lens is, this lens somehow seemed better.

On my second outing with the T, I used the M adapter with my 50mm1.4 Asph. This camera does not have contrast focusing, so I was not sure how easy it would be to use the M lenses with the EVF Visoflex. The control dials allow you to adjust F-Stop and shutter speed in manual mode, but since the aperture control is on the lens, the the other control defaults to manual focus assist, by magnifying the image either 3x or 6x. I used the 3x most of the time, but eventually found myself not using any magnification as the finder has enough resolution to do so. I did a lot of shooting with the M lens and had no problem dialing in focus at f1.4, even at minimum focus distance. After using up about 30 minutes of nice, late afternoon light, I decided to try the 18-56mm lens for some informal lens comparisons. Upon viewing the files later that evening, it was apparent to me that the zoom lens, at the 50mm setting, was performing at a level very similar to my M Summilux lens! We have some more formal lens test that we are also publishing, which directly compare the zoom to the M 50mm1.4 Asph, so you will definitely want to check out our results.

Test Raw (DNG) images from Leica T using the 50mm 1.4 Summilux ASPH and 18-56 3/5-5.6 T (Photos provided by Gary Faye: Distinguished Professional Photographer, Camera West Sales Associate)

50mm 1.4 Summilux ASPH @ F5.6

50mm 1.4 Summilux ASPH @ F8

50mm 1.4 Summilux ASPH @ F11

18-56mm 3/5-5.6 T @ F5.6

18-56mm 3/5-5.6 T @ F8

18-56mm 3/5-5.6 T @ F11

Other Sample Images shot with Leica T and 18-56mm T Lens:

 Windmills (Original DNG)

Under the Bridge (Original DNG)

Rails (Original DNG)

The Leica T concept is a collaboration with their partner Audi Design. The camera has several really nice features that are new to this type of camera platform. Other than the materials and construction, the strap system is quite unique in that the strap has pins on each end, which click into the body. This makes changing or removing the strap a breeze.  The strap lugs pivot and swivel and the system is quite intelligent. Also, the battery removes as it does in the S system, so it does not fall out when the battery release lever is actuated. The battery pops out about 4mm and stops. You have to push the battery slightly, until you hear and feel a click, then the battery can be removed.  Another great feature is that the camera has built in WiFi. I have this one set to RAW (DNG) and small JPEG. The small JPEG images transfer nicely to my smartphone camera roll and are perfect for email or further uploading to your favorite web site. This camera also has 16gb of internal storage, so while it does take a standard SD card, it is not necessary.

In conclusion, I think that many, if not most M users will enjoy owning this camera. The camera is placed between the X and the M lines. I feel that it is an excellent balance of workmanship and features, so this camera will appeal to anyone who wishes to own a high performance, interchangeable lens Leica, that does not have the desire to manually focus all of their shots. I only had the camera for about four and a half days and I overwhelmingly want to use the camera more. On Thursday, the day that this article is live, I will be receiving the 23mm 2.0 Summicron lens. I look forward to exploring the performance of that lens as well as other lenses of my M system. Keep an eye on our Blog in the coming weeks for more information on this beautiful new addition to the Leica lineup!

 

Review by Sean Cranor – President and CEO of Camera West Stores

New Video Blog from Nikon

Nikon now has a great resource for all you DSLR video shooters. The new Focus on Cinema blog will help you produce videos you can be proud of. You’ll learn not only  about the gear and how to use it,  but how other accomplished videographers shoot  their videos – complete with interviews and behind the scenes videos.

Regardless of what camera you shoot, this is a great resource that will take the mystery out of shooting moving pictures.

http://cinema.nikonusa.com/blog/