Retail Manager Shannel Woo,Business Development Manager George Wong, Manager of Marketing & Public Relations Gracia Yap and Sales Manager Mathieu Musnier showing off the new LEICA models
Leica products have since the very beginning of the company’s history had a reputation for the most superior quality and craftsmanship. From when the first Leica prototypes were built by Oskar Barnack in 1913, down to the current models on the market today, one is guaranteed quality, style and substance down to the very last nut and bolt. And if you’re into your retro designs, then Leica will have you reeling, for they have mastered the look down to a tee.
Recently, a select few media representatives were privileged enough to be invited to a multiple launch, including cameras, lenses and an adapter that allows a Hassalblad H-system lens to be mounted on a Leica S2 camera. The piece of kit, however, that stole the limelight from all other units and that took everyone’s breath away was the M9-P ‘Edition Hermès’, the third in a line of premium special edition M-System, created in collaboration with renowned Parisian high-fashion house Hermès. The collaboration sees the marriage of two of the oldest and most respected brands in the world, to form a camera of unparalleled excellence and in many ways the Holy Grail of every photography buff’s desires.
M9-P Hermes 50er
Wrapped in fine ‘Veau Swift’ calfskin leather, the silver chromed body of the limited edition M9-P represents one of the world’s most respected and coveted luxury items and the hefty price tag that comes along with it reflects this and makes owning one a reality that few could ever see. What distinguishes the limited edition from the standard M9-P, apart from the fine leather, is the restyling of the top deck, the base plate, the shutter speed dial, the multifunction wheel and the shutter release. And what would such an exclusive apparatus be without a limited edition serial number, the digits that put this camera in a class of its own. Only 300 sets of the ‘Edition Hermès’, that comes with a silver-anodised Leica Summilux-M 50mm f/1.4 ASPH lens, will ever be in circulation, and if you’re after the Série Limitée Jean-Louis Dumas edition, then you better be as quick as a shutter to snap it up, because only 100 will ever see the light of the day.
This latter edition honours the friendship between Jean-Louis Dumas, the former president of Hermès, and Leica Camera, and comes with three lenses; a Summicron-M 28 mm f/2 ASPH, a Noctilux-M 50 mm f/0.95 ASPH and a APO-Summicron-M 90 mm f/2 ASPH. The value of these items is nothing short of spectacular, with the former fetching upwards of RM80,000, and the Jean-Louis Dumas edition upwards of RM150,000. One starts to appreciate the exclusivity of these items after being presented with these price tags.
What else is new in the Leica camp? Well for one, black and white photography has reached a new standard with the release of the Leica M Monochrome, the world’s first black and white digital rangefinder camera. In a nutshell, the image sensor of the Monochrome does not ‘see’ colours, but instead records true luminance values on every pixel delivering significantly sharper images than comparable exposures on colour sensitive sensors. The iconic retro look of the camera is finished in matte black on the top deck, and wrapped in soft leather trim around the main body for an ideal grip.
Sample picture taken using Leica M Monochrome
Purchase an M Monochrome and you also get a complete version of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, which will give you the full spectrum of tools for management, processing and presentation of digital images. And if that isn’t the icing on the cake, you also get to have your images printed on premium quality-barite paper through Whitewall, the world’s leading photo laboratory, by means of a personal link on the website. This all inclusive package is hard to beat, and if you’re partial to street photography of the black and white kind, than you’ll be hard up to find a camera as outstanding as the M Monochrome.
X Marks the Spot
Next up in line is the Leica X2, the second compact camera model ‘Made in Germany’, aimed at semi-professional and amateur photographers. The autofocus system has been given a significant upgrade, adapting to low light situations with extreme ease and flexibility. Overall, the X2 is characterised by clear lines and a large sensor that allows for shooting in a wide range of available light. The design concept is compact and handy, reminiscent of the Leica M-cameras..
Leica X2 and Viso-Flex high-resolution electronic accessory finder
Need to shoot something in an awkward position and can’t reach the view finder? Not a problem, just attach the Viso-Flex high-resolution electronic accessory finder. The 90 degree swivel function laughs in the face of unusual angles and will enable you to capture those impossible to reach viewpoints.
If what you’re after, however, is a simple point and snap, then the V-Lux 40 is your camera of choice. The 15.3 megapixel CMOS sensor delivers crystal-clear images and with the 20x zoom lens, this new model in the V-Lux range is far more versatile than its predecessor.
You can even switch to super-telephoto mode and capture shots of extreme distance with remarkable clarity. The list of functions is impressive, but one of the standout features is the GPS module which allows you to save geographical coordinates and the local time of every shot. Furthermore, you can also display sightseeing highlights of the immediate are, which can then be used to store in maps as thumbnail images on your computer. Perfect as an entry-level camera with a refined touch, the V-Lux 40 is compact, convenient and resilient.
Sight Beyond Sight
The diehard photographers out there will be delighted to hear that they can now fit Hasselblad lenses onto the S2 without losing any of the lens functions, enabling seamless integration. The combination of lens and camera will help to draw out maximum performance of both units, particularly for portrait photography.
Finally, a lens that has set new standards within the Leica camp and globally, the Leica APO-Summicron-M 50 mm f/2 ASPH. The new lens has achieved the best test results ever recorded in the M-Lens programme and has practically redefined what is possible in its class. Manufactured entirely by hand to ensure excellence at every stage of the process, it has become the group’s flagship lens. In essence, it is the culmination of over 150 years in design and construction of the finest optical instruments and has once again confirmed Leica’s position at the top of the lens making world.
The meticulous research and engineering that goes into a Leica camera and lens combined with the extreme sharpness of images and the reliance of each product go a way to justifying the exorbitant prices that come attached to almost all their products. The retro design and the simplistic yet convenient features make them a pleasure merely to hold, let alone to use. From the pros down to your everyday shutterbugs, Leica caters to all classes and for all ranges. Unfortunately for many, however, obtaining a product with the little red dot on it will always stay a dream rather than a reality. But anything’s possible if you really love Leica and have your heart set on it, so start saving up now for that X2 or M9 and experience photography at its finest.