The T1.4 prime lenses have identical external dimensions, with focus and iris rings in exactly the same place, for ease of swapping, with a 95mm threaded lens front (they each weigh between 1.6-1.8kg). They also boast ultra high resolution and optimization for new digital sensors, which reveal more lens imperfections than traditional film.
The first lenses shipped recently from Leica's new factory in Germany, with Otto Nemenz International in Hollywood taking several sets of the initial eight lenses. It costs about $180,000 for the set of 18mm, 21mm, 25mm, 35mm, 40mm, 50mm, 75mm, and 100mm (a 16mm and 65mm are also planned). "The lenses are already out working on productions," said Nemenz. "Everyone that has used the lenses likes them and the demand for the Leicas is very high."
"In the world of digital cinematography with its clean, sharp images, there is an increased spotlight on the choice of lenses," added cinematographer Florian Ballhaus, who tested them on his recent movie, Gambit (CBS Films).
"The Leicas have a wonderful character while being perfectly predictable with their gentle Leica look that one expects from the still lenses we all know and love. They are as sharp as you want them to be but the focus falls off quite gently. I found myself using less filtration with them because they render skin tones so beautifully. I was very impressed with how uniquely they handled highlights and flairs."
"These are in every way the lenses that we've been waiting for. When Leica first approached us with this project they had some very high design and performance ambitions for these lenses. All I can say is they've delivered," commented Amnon Band, President and CEO, Band Pro - exclusive distributor for the lenses.
By David Fox