Just ahead of the IBC show in Amsterdam, Leitz Cine has unveiled their latest line of cinema lenses, the HUGO Primes. A set of 8 high-speed prime lenses in a fairly compact body. The focal length and maximum aperture may look a bit familiar, and for good reason. Let’s take a closer look at what Leitz has been working on.
So let’s get this cleared up, right away… The Hugo Primes inherit their optical design from the M 0.8 primes which inherited their optical design from the beloved Leica M lenses. There’s no mincing words here and Leitz has the respect and confidence to openly admit that the Hugo lenses are indeed the next evolution of the famous M mount lenses. What this means is that if you’ve ever used a Leica M 0.8 prime, you know exactly what to expect with the new Hugo lenses in terms of image quality. Where you’ll find a drastic difference is the build quality and usability thanks to the all-new mechanical design of the Hugo Primes. It’s also worth noting that the Leica M lenses have an impressive heritage and that not all “50mm Summilux” or “35mm Summilux” are the same, optically. The versions that the M 0.8 and Hugo Primes are based on are the latest designs which feature highly corrected optics with clever aspherical elements, usually noted with the term “ASPH” in the lens name. In short, you would get the exact same image quality, for example, between the Leica 35mm Summilux-M, the Leitz 35mm Summilux-M 0.8, and the Leitz Hugo 35mm T1.5 since they all share the same optics.
The biggest difference that will really set the Hugo apart from the other M-based lenses is their mechanical design and build quality. I’ve not had the opportunity to tear into a Hugo Prime just yet, but I suspect the mechanical build quality will be vastly superior and more robust than your typical Leica M lens. The other obvious difference is the mount. The Hugo Primes will be available in a native LPL mount with an optional Leica M or L mount kit available at a later date. If you’re looking to keep your camera package as small and nimble as possible, the M 0.8 primes are still going to be your best option. But if you love the look of the M glass but don’t want to struggle with an ultra-compact camera rig, then the Hugo Primes, with a 95mm front diameter and 92mm filter thread (that’s odd…) will definitely be a significant upgrade over the micro-sized M 0.8 primes.
On to some more details! Once again, being that these are repurposed from Leica still lenses, their coverage is more than enough for 35mm Full Frame. Specifically, Leitz offers an image circle spec of 43.3mm. Every lens has unified gear placement throughout the set. Focus rotation will be 270° and the iris rotation will be 70.5°. One of the only other opto-mechanical differences between the Hugo and other M lenses is their close focus ability. Thanks to the larger, more spacious housing, the Hugo lenses are capable of focusing approximately 50% closer than their native M counterparts. The set will consist of a 21, 24, 28, 35, 50, 75, 90, all T1.5 and of course, everyone’s favorite – the 50mm T1.0 Noctilux, for a total of eight lenses. Leitz also hinted at a future addition of an 18mm and 135mm!
|Focal Length||21mm||24mm||28mm||35mm||50mm||50mm (N)||75mm||90mm|
|Close Focus||1′||1′||1′ 2″||1′ 2″||1′ 8″||1′ 8″||2′ 6″||2′ 10″|
|Weight||1.8 lb.||1.9 lb.||1.8 lb.||1.7 lb.||1.9 lb||2.4 lb.||3.2 lb.||3.0 lb.|
“Every lens we create is in some way an interpretation of the Leica M look,” said Rainer Hercher, Managing Director at Ernst Leitz Wetzlar. “The Leitz HUGO lenses are a more literal implementation that builds off the popularity of the Leitz M 0.8 series by using the same iconic Leica M optics, while elevating the housing design and build quality to match existing Leitz cinematography lenses in durability, usability, and importantly serviceability.” The Leitz HUGO lenses take their name from esteemed engineer Hugo Wehrenfennig whose work for Leica Camera (then Ernst Leitz GmbH, Wetzlar) included creating the classic Leica M bayonet mount still in use today as well as many of the early M series lenses.
Leitz announced that they will also be offering an upgrade service for owners of the M 0.8 primes who want to transplant their glass into the new Hugo housing. There’s no mention of cost or timeline for this upgrade as of yet. Delivery of the new Hugo lenses is loosely set as Q1 2023 and pricing has been announced at €107,300 for the 7-lens set (individual lens sales will not be an option at launch) and €18,900 for the 50 mm T1.0 alone. (Take note that these prices are in Euros and for any readers outside of the EU, this price will fluctuate after local conversion.) You can pre-order the Leitz Hugo Prime 7-Lens Set and the Leitz Hugo 50mm T1.0 Noctilux from Duclos Lenses.