New Leica S is First Medium Format Camera that Shoots 4K Video

Leica just announced the new Leica S (Typ 007) that is worlds first medium format camera that can shoot 4K video in 24p.

leica_s_007This is the first day at Photokina 2014 in Cologne Germany and Leica just announced a few new cameras updating their range from compact mirrorless up to their flagship Leica S medium format cameras.

leica_s_007_bThis is very intriguing news (with a downside) as the only camera that has been able to record video on a sensor this large was the Pentax 645Z that left a lot to be desired in terms of the video functionality.

The sensor is a 37.5MP 30mm x 45mm CMOS sensor providing a very unique look. Medium Format cameras are often used in high-end photography like billboard shots.
Seeing the new products in photography at Photokina we can make out that more and more manufacturers are going into the video market.

This is a very interesting development creating more competition and bringing more intriguing technologies into the video- and cinematography field in the near future.

Video Features of the Leica S (007)

  • As mentioned the full sensor size is  30mm x 45mm CMOS.
  • The camera can record 4K video, but uses a super35mm sized portion of the sensor for that. Pixel to pixel readout without downsampling for high quality 4K video.
  • HD video 1080p uses the full sensor size (down sampled) and can record framerates of 24,25 and 30p.
  • Unfortunately only MJPEG as an internal codec (same as Canon 1D C).
  • Uncompressed, clean 4:2:2 8bit output via hdmi.
  • Focus and exposure precision, focus peaking and a histogram with exposure clipping display.

Note that there is false information circling the web that the camera can do 60p at 4K. We have spoken directly to the product managers from Leica here at Photokina, so our information comes from the source.

The major downside if you consider working with this camera is the pricepoint of $25k and the expensive medium format lenses required to shoot with it. If however the look is something you are after as a cinematographer this camera might be an interesting and unique tool for your work.

Certainly photographers who already invested in this technology will benefit from the unique video features and we’re looking forward to be testing this camera as soon as we get the first sample at cinema5D. Stay tuned for much more coverage from Photokina 2014.

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pedro September 16, 2014

Leica makes me smile. They enter the market with a huge new product, nice form factor and interesting specs – beside there is no 50frames at least. And they kill there product in advance with the incredible price starting at 25k USD. Leica…. good concept but do your realize what other products you can buy with less money? There is a whole list of professional cameras out there already now and available! Would have been nice to see Leica back in the game

André September 17, 2014

It’s a medium-format camera with a huge 45x30mm sensor.

You can be pretty sure that video is an afterthought in that market. It’s not like you would be able to afford the lenses to match either heh.

Boris Massieux Reply
Boris Massieux November 25, 2014

Pedro, I do not know what you work with. However I doubt that you have a full understanding of the various tools available. I personally shoot fashion photographs and shoot commercial and TV programs as well as art movies. All these on low budgets. And I can tell you that this machine has quite a bit of a lot of interest to me! Ok, in my studio we shoot photos with either 1DS MIII or 5D MIII. So we are always a bit frustrated by a lack of definition, even with our set of pretty good lenses. We would like to shoot with a Medium Format (like Phase One, or the new Pentax 645Z). I shoot art photography with a Leica M9-P. So I already have a pretty good idea of what\’s the picture quality of a Leica (stunning in comparison to…the rest), and the quality of the lenses you can use (either Leica, Zeiss or even Voigtlander). I shoot movies or TV programs with Sony, Canon, Panasonic cameras. Nice results and nice images. But I would so much like to be able to shoot on a Red One, Epic or Dragon. However, I am not able to afford cumulating all this equipment. I can afford to buy a Canon 1D X, a Pentax 645Z (HD video only, and a bit more than average lenses) and a Red One camera (and the very expensive lenses than come with). This Leica Camera look to me really interesting because it might make me a 3 in one camera!

Eric Darling September 16, 2014

$25k and all I get is 8-bit? Next…

MovieFan September 16, 2014

Well said. Might as well go for the Samsung NX1 or Sony A7S.

PiDicus Rex September 17, 2014

“Unfortunately only MJPEG as an internal codec (same as Canon 1D C).”

Err,.. that’s a Plus, not a Negative – Mjpeg has lower processor requirements during editing for the basics of jog n shuttling the footage about.
It also has less issues with Interframe CoDec temporal artifacts.
Yes, it uses more card space, but that’s virtually irrelevant these days.
The only CoDec choices that would be better then Mjpeg are ProRes and CinemaDNG Raw.

Darnell September 17, 2014

Leica has made a great camera. Keep in mind this is a medium format camera and these type of camera typically run in the $25k and up territory–without video. This is for high end photographers. And as we all know, photographers are increasingly taking on video work so this actually works out well to have 4k video and MF stills. The only thing is that the back is not interchangeable like the majority of MF cameras and the 8 bit thing. But who knows, the dynamic range may be outstanding regardless.

Joel Richards Reply
Joel September 18, 2014

For video shooters I don’t really see a big advantage over the A7S. I suspect it will have similar dynamic range and also rolling shutter.

Joel Richards Reply
Joel September 18, 2014

Ok. 1080p from the whole sensor is cool.