If you aren't sure what to get your photographer dad, we've got you covered with ideas ranging from equipment and photo storage to a formal critique or cool shades, in a price range from $25 to over...
Ever since the first DSLRs came out people have been asking for a digital back
for their film cameras. Canon, Nikon, Minolta and Pentax haven't answered, but
finally Leica has. For several years now Leica have been talking about the
upcoming digital back for their R8/R9 series cameras (the DMR or Digital Module
R). Well, so much for talk, it's finally hitting the streets. A little late, but
better late than never!
The DMR has a 10MP CCD sensor (made by Kodak) with a 1.37x focal length
multiplier (i.e. it's not full frame, but has a 26.4 x 17.6mm area, slightly
smaller than the 1.3x sensor size of the EOS 1D MkII series). ISO equivalent
sensitivity is 100 to 800 in full stop steps plus a "push" setting which is
equivalent to around ISO 1600, frame rate is 2 frames/sec and it has a 10 frame
buffer. Unusually, the sensor has no anti-aliasing filter, though previous Kodak
DSLRs also didn't use one. This theoretically improves image sharpness, but often
(at least in the case of the Kodak DSLRs) at the cost of some aliasing (false
color patterns) in the final images. Images are stored on an SD (Secure Digital)
flash memory card.
The cost is $5995 in the US.
You asked for it (an interchangeable
digital back for a film camera), but is it what you wanted? Well, for owners of
Leica R8/R9 SLRs and a bag full of lenses, it probably is. Technologically it's
not quite leading edge, but then it was designed several years ago. I don't think
it's something that's going to encourage many (any?) people to actually go out
and buy an R8/R9 plus lenses in order to use it though. Even if you're a die-hard
Leica R lens lover, you can get a Canon 5D for $3300 (saving $2650) or a
Canon 1D MkII N for $4000 (saving $1995), buy a Leica R to EOS adapter and you're
all set. Plus you get autofocus (with Canon lenses), a faster frame rate, a
larger buffer and better battery life thrown in. The usual argument for a digital
SLR back was that it could be upgraded when a better sensor came out. This is
true, but if it costs more than an entire new integrated digital SLR, that
advantage seems to evaporate very quickly.
Field reports so far suggest performance is good, though overall image quality
doesn't seem to be significantly better then a $800 8MP Canon EOS
Digital Rebel XT using the same lens. It may be a little better, but performance
probably lies somewhere between the $800 Digital Rebel XT and the $3300 full
frame EOS 5. I'm sure some will debate that and since I haven't personally shot
with a DMR, I'll defer to their better judgement...
So overall I think the DMR gets a "B" grade. It's something owners of existing
R8/R9 systems can use to "go digital", at a (high) price, but it's not really a
viable alternative to integrated DSLRs from Nikon and Canon for anyone who
doesn't already own a Leica R system. I guess it was never intended to be, so it
does serve its design purpose. Now where's that Leica M digital
Leica DMR Specifications
Interchangeable digital module, fully
compatible with LEICA R8 and R9, can be exchanged by the photographer
All Leica R-lenses as well as those earlier
LEICAFLEX/SL/SL2-lenses that have been modified by adding the R-cam can be used.
3872 x 2576 Pixels (10 MP) CCD-Chip, active
sensor area 26.4 x 17.6 mm
Focal Length Multiplier
ISO 100 to ISO 800 (in full stops) plus "push"
sharpness, color saturation, contrast, frame
number, contrast of color display, brightness of color display, duration of auto
review, histogram on/off, power save options, card formatting, warning signals,
audio histogram on/off, date, time, user-profils, firmware update, reset.
IEEE 1394 Firewire
Proprietary Lithium Ion rechargeable battery
pack. (Good for around 150 shots?)
Image control and menu-controlled settings.
By motor integrated in power unit.
Comparable to LEICA R8/R9 with Motor-Drive (W x
H x D) 158 x 140 x 89 mm.
with Power Unit and Battery: 725 g or complete
with R9: 1395 g
Price (est street)
Where to buy the Leica DMR
Purchasing through the following links helps to support photo.net.