Meet the New Leica S: The First Ever Medium Format Camera to Shoot 4K Video

by on September 16, 2014

by Stephan Jukic – September 16th, 2014

The famous camera maker Leica has just recently announced their new Leica S Type 007 camera, which is going to be the world’s first medium format camera that’s also capable of shooting 4K video at 24p.

The camera maker made the announcement today while presenting the new camera at the Photokina 2014 event in Cologne, Germany and also unveiled a few new additional cameras that will update their overall line of devices from compact mirrorless right to the new flagship Leica S medium format camera.

On the whole, the Leica announcement really is quite interesting given that up to now, the only other company to produce 4K video on a sensor as big as the Leicas’s was Pentax with its 645Z camera, which however was rather subpar in terms of overall video quality.

The Leica sports a very large 37.5 megapixel 300mm x 45 mm CMOS sensor that has been rather nicely installed in the camera and indicates a growing trend among manufacturers of medium format cameras who are also expanding their products capacities into the video market. Typically, medium format cameras such as the Leica are used more for extremely detailed high end photography such as that which is used in billboards.

Thus, you could say that the new Leica S is something of a pioneer in its niche of the bigger camera market and the overall development in video technology this represents is pretty exciting.

So, we already mentioned that the Leica S has the giant 30mm x45mm CMOS sensor, but as for its actual 4K video capacities, the camera is capable of recording 4K movies at a limited by respectable (especially

underside of the new Leica S 4K medium format camera

underside of the new Leica S 4K medium format camera

for a medium format camera) 24p. The 4K video is shot with the 35mm portion of the cameras sensor and the camera uses a pixel to pixel readout without downsampling for the creation of truly high quality 4K video sequences.

Furthermore, the Leica S can give users Full HD video with the use of the full sensor and downsampling at framerates of 24, 25 and 30p. Unfortunately however, the only internal video codec is the MJPEG format but the camera does put out a very clean uncompressed 4:2:2 8bit output via HDMI 2.0.

Rumors have also circulated about the camera’s ability to shoot 4K at 60p, but according to discussions between the Leica product managers and the website, these turned out to be false. So far at least, 24p is the limit for 4K in a medium format camera like this one.

Finally, we come to the single biggest downside of this otherwise excellent and extremely innovative camera. Its current suggested retail price is a whopping $25 thousand dollars. So you’d better really need it for some unique projects if you’re willing to invest in buying one of these bad boys. Otherwise, you’re much better off with a Panasonic GH4 or maybe Samsung’s new NX1 if you’re just looking for a great 4K camera that can take both Ultra HD video and professional quality photos for general use.

However, at least certain types of professional photographers should really love the unique video features combined with the medium format photographic capacity and enormous sensor of the Leica S.

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