Leica Refocuses With M 0.8 Primes

Leica is known world-wide for their classic line of M lenses that have been a favorite of photographers for decades. With the worlds of still photography and motion picture becoming less and less defined as time goes on, it’s not uncommon to see a still photo lens being used for motion picture work. Leica took note of this with their extensive catalog of high quality M mount primes and decided to do a bit of blending themselves. 

The new Leica M 0.8 Primes will be an updated option of select current M lenses including the 21mm, 24mm, 28mm, and 35mm Summilux (that’s f/1.4 for those of you who don’t speak Leica). Oh and of course the 50mm f/0.95 Noctilux as well. Rejoice! The M 0.8 lenses will feature a 0.8 module (hence the name), 32-pitch focus and iris gear for use with common motion picture accessories. The engravings will be relocated to the face of the gear for enhanced visibility, and the iris will be smooth and click-less for precision aperture adjustments.

Leica M 0.8 Primes with prototype gears. We did some extensive testing on a range of cameras including the Leica SL, Sony FS100, Sony A7s, and more. The results were magical.

The M mount has been around since the 1950’s and has been used by some of the worlds most respected photographers. Leica has gone through several other lens mounts in the recent history, the Leica R mount, S mount, T mount, etc… But throughout all these other trials, Leica has never stopped making M mount lenses refining and updating the optics. The Leica M lenses are unique in that they provide excellent image quality, but with just enough romance to deem them imperfect.

So why not just get the original M lenses? Because installing one of those clumsy zip gears is near impossible because of the thumb grip on most manual focus M lenses. And let’s face it, if you’re the type that appreciates the heritage and quality associated with Leica, then you’ll certainly appreciate a solution that comes from the exact same factory, made from the same material, with the same anodized finish as the original M lenses. The new M 0.8 primes come from the same assembly line in Wetzlar, Germany and are exposed to the same high standard of quality control as the rest of the M lenses.m1170021

Just what is it about the M lenses that so many lust after? It’s hard to describe, but I’ll let Gerhard Baier, Managing Director of CW Sonderoptic, express his thoughts on the subject:

“Where the lenses will really make their mark is in the look that they will deliver to all cameras regardless of sensor size. The character of the Leica M 0.8 lenses is truly unlike anything else in the cinema world at this time. The way they render light and the way they treat skin tones and highlights and focus roll off – they have an emotional tone that is almost impossible to put into words. We are very excited to bring this new opportunity for creativity to the industry.”

And he’s not wrong at all. Ask anyone that has used Leica M lenses for any amount of time and they’ll tell you that it’s not about the most perfect, accurate image. It’s about the provocation of authentic emotion. It’s about having control of your image in a way other lenses manufacturers can’t afford to attempt, all in the palm of your hand. I’ll give a quick example here, which I have to say, is not indicative of the results one can achieve with these lenses, but rather a tiny sampling. I’m no cinematographer, so this is really just a couple of snap-shots… But if you look at the details in the image, there’s so much difference in the depth of field, vignette, focus falloff, etc., between one photo and the other here, all from the same M 0.8 lens.

So who are these lenses going to work well for? The cinematographer that is looking for a more intimate method. A DP who’s goal is to run a setup that is as light and nimble as possible. The M 0.8 primes will work excellent with just about any Red camera with Red’s Leica M mount, any Sony E mount camera with an M to E mount adapter which Leica manufactures themselves. Or if you want to save a couple bucks you can grab a cheapy “passive” adapter like this one from K&F Concept, or even Leica’s own SL camera which can also accept an M to SL mount adapter.

Focal Length 21mm 24mm 28mm 35mm 50mm
Max Aperture f/1.4 f/1.4 f/1.4 f/1.4 f/0.95
Coverage 35FF/VV 35FF/VV 35FF/VV 35FF/VV 35FF/VV
Lens Mount Leica M Leica M Leica M Leica M Leica M
Weight (g) 580 500 440 320 700
Weight (lb) 1.3 1.1 1.0 0.7 1.5
Length (in) 3.0 3.0 3.2 2.3 2.9
MOD (ft) 2.3 2.3 2.3 2.3 3.3
Filter Thread Series VIII Series VII E49 E46 E60

How much, you ask?

Leica M 0.8 21mm f/1.4 –  $9400
Leica M 0.8 24mm f/1.4 –  $9200
Leica M 0.8 28mm f/1.4 –  $7400
Leica M 0.8 35mm f/1.4 –  $6600
Leica M 0.8 50mm f/0.95 – $15,000

Delivery will begin Q1 2017 from authorized CW Sonderoptic Dealers like Duclos Lenses.

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