News Production & Post

Leica to launch 4k Primes

7 January 2010

Legendary German stills camera optics developer Leica is introducing a new brand of PL mount prime lenses designed to deliver optical performance for 4k, writes Adrian Pennington.

The product of three years design and prototyping, the new T1.4 lenses, codenamed ‘Mystery Primes’ until launch at NAB2010, will eventually total 15 different focal lengths, ranging from 12mm to 150mm. Delivery of production models of eight of the lenses (including 16mm, 18mm, 21mm, 25mm, 35mm, 40mm, 50mm, 65mm, 75mm, and 100mm) will begin from June 2010.

The announcement was made by Dr Andreas Kaufmann, managing director for ACM Projektentwicklung, an Austrian venture capital-backed organisation which acquired a controlling share in Leica Camera AG in 2007.

Kaufmann told TVB Europe: “These lenses have cost $10m to develop and are designed to fit the needs of future digital cameras. They can scale up to the demands of next generation digital cameras and are half the size and weight of any existing lenses on the market since they use lightweight high strength titanium materials.

“We want to unveil the Mystery at NAB,” he added.

The entire set features unified distance focus scales, common size and location of focus and iris rings, and a 95mm threaded (for filters) lens front – all allowing quick interchange of lenses in a busy production environment. Another feature is an integrated threaded net ring in the rear of the PL mount. A typical Mystery Prime weighs 1.4kg.

The lenses will be available exclusively worldwide from Burbank, California-based BandPro Film & Digital.

“A unique use of aspheric technology and cutting-edge mechanical cine lens design provides the Mystery Primes with unmatched evenness of illumination across the entire 35mm frame and into the corners with no discernible breathing,” explained Michael Bravin, Band Pro’s chief technologist. “Suppression of colour fringing into the farthest corners of the frame is superior to any lenses I have ever seen.”

The first 25 sets of the lenses have already been sold to LA-based rental house Otto Nemenz International which provided feedback into the product’s development.

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