PHOTOOG Photography writings by Olivier Giroux

22Feb/090

Leica Talks

I came across a particularly interesting blurb from Mr. Kaufmann:

LFI: Just to be clear, the development of an heir to the R will not lead to the redundancy of the digital M?

Dr Kaufmann: On the contrary. The M system has yet a lot to offer and we're bound to see it evolve. There will probably always be the classic Leica M. Just like there will always be millions of classic Leica M lenses circulating in the world of photography. However, we're also thinking about what else we can do with elements of the Leica M, particularly its bayonet. The possibilities become endless. What would happen if we were to reinvent the viewfinder, moving beyond just optical? What if an automatic lens recognition mode were capable of always displaying the corresponding frame? Suddenly we're thinking zoom lenses. And what would happen if a camera were compatible with both M and R lenses? You see, these are the dreams of the future. You know how it is when you're brainstorming. The imagination goes wild.

This resembles an email exchange I had recently with Sean Reid on the subject of inexpensive rangefinders. One of the things that Mr. Kaufmann describes is also promoted by Sean in his OV1 proposal: project the frame-lines using electronic means rather than mechanical ones.  I think it's very likely that our much-anticipated Digital CL will incorporate something like this.

I’ll attempt decoding the Kaufmann response in more detail:

• There will probably always be the classic Leica M. Just like there will always be millions of classic Leica M lenses circulating in the world of photography. Means: we’re thinking of introducing a new camera which will look like it competes with the M, but it won’t be like the M you know.

• However, we're also thinking about what else we can do with elements of the Leica M, particularly its bayonet. The possibilities become endless. Means: this new camera will be natively compatible with M lenses, but the all-mechanical rangefinder mechanism is probably going to stay with the M.

• What would happen if we were to reinvent the viewfinder, moving beyond just optical? Means: we’re looking to simplify the rangefinder mechanism by replacing delicate parts with simpler electronics, but the viewfinder itself is going to remain optical.

• What if an automatic lens recognition mode were capable of always displaying the corresponding frame. Means: the first mechanical components we’d like to do away with are the frameline indexing cams, the brightline window and its associated optics.

• Suddenly we're thinking zoom lenses. Means: electronic framelines will enable us to offer some lenses with this new camera that won’t be backwards compatible to the M camera, and these will probably include an electronic coupling as well.

• And what would happen if a camera were compatible with both M and R lenses? Means: the electronic coupling will be based on the same protocol that R lenses use, and we will provide an adapter for the mechanical differences.

I'm hoping that Mr. Kaufmann isn't hinting a modified G1, but rather an original Leica design based on optical viewfinders.

Finally, I’m going to leave you today with a visual comparison of the new Super-Elmar and its Elmar sister. Note the rear lens group (4-8) is mostly the same. The front lens group is related but all changed, with stronger converging power in the front group (1-3).

elmar
24 Elmar-M ASPH.

superelmar
18 Super-Elmar-M ASPH.

 


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