New Leica M with 1080p out in the wild – and first look at video quality

Catch the EOSHD interview with Leica’s Jesko von Oeynhausenand and hands-on with the Leica M type 240 here

The new Leica M (dubbed type 240) has a CMOSIS full frame sensor, and a first for a Leica camera – video. Not since the Leicina 8mm camera (EOSHD article) has a Leica product been viable for cinema.

The Leica M of course is primarily a photography tool, but it is interesting to see if Leica have taken the same no-compromise approach to image quality in video mode as they have always done with stills.

Furthermore Leica are a company with no high end cinema camera range or video camera market share to protect from themselves (yes – never did make sense that did it?)

The video above is by Thorsten Overgaard. Unfortunately his article contains a nonsensical anti-video rant.

“I learned that to accomplish in moving pictures what you can do in still images, in terms of quality, it takes a lot of good light, sound equipment and planning. And on top of that, editing video is a long and tiring process that require software. I state so without reservation and without the slightest shame – I simply and honestly hate video. Therefore, I say the same for the Leica M. It will be amazing to shoot high quality video with Leica M lenses. But curb your enthusiasm, because before you know of it you will want more microphones, XLR microphones, plugs on the camera, additional battery power, longer recording times, ways to stabilize the camera on tripods and/or devices to pan with it, image stabilization in the camera, external video lights, special shoes perfect for panning, a production van, more hard drive space, a real broadcast monitor and a few more Leica M cameras to get more angles …

For me this overcomplicating of video is kind of unnecessary.

What is necessary is to have a video mode that gets the basics right.

Focus. Image quality. Codec.

The Leica M begins well – it has peaking.

The video Thorsten put up however has me very worried for the image. Put simply it looks utterly dreadful. Compression and banding is the worst I’ve ever seen. We must see the original camera files immediately before we write the Leica M off completely for video. Has the guy just made a mistake in post (he edited with iMovie – oh dear)? Who knows! Leica could have done us a favour and got some cameras out to filmmakers and avoided the doubt, but it isn’t looking good! In other samples I’ve noticed some moire and aliasing, generally muddy detail and tons of macro blocking and noise in the image though.

There’s still not many options on the market for full frame cameras that do very good video, but it seems Leica have not done nearly enough here to tempt filmmakers away from the Canon 5D Mark III and Nikon D800.

If the later samples and original files are any better I’ll update the article.

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