The Leica S Typ 007: An Introduction and Review

Intro

It has been no secret that an update to the S 006 camera has been in the works.   It has really been an exciting week here and there is a lot to say about the 007 camera, so expect to see more articles published here in the future.  To start, the New S 007 has quite a few highly anticipated features.  To us, the most exciting highlights are as follows:

  • Improved ISO Performance
  • Improved Dynamic Range
  • Increased Focusing Speed, Processing Speed and Shooting Speed
  • Live View with Focus Peaking
  • 4k Video in Super 35 Format
  • WiFi Connectivity with Download App
  • Updated Battery Rated up to 1000 Shots
  • USB 3 Interface

 

There are many more enhancements to the 007, which are noted on the LeicastoreSF.com web site as well as Leica’s own factory site.

We were fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to test an advanced copy of the 007, prior to its release.  Here at Camera West and Leica Store San Francisco, we have a lot of in house photography talent.  While we were very tempted to take the camera out to make some fine landscape images, I felt that some images, which focused on the 007’s enhancements, were in order.  We were able to get this into the hands of three of our photographers for an initial review and here are their impressions.

Pre-Order your Leica S Typ 007 here.

Please click on the images inorder to see full res files or right click and select "save image as" to save an image to your desktop. These images are rather large in size due to the vast amounts of resolution created by the Leica S.


 

Sean Cranor, President/CEO – ISO Range Check and Overall Impressions.

I have been using Leica Digital cameras since the R9 and Digital Modul-R.  I have enjoyed every M digital camera and have always anticipated the next model.  I am currently shooting the M-P 240 Safari.  The M 240 was such a significant improvement over the M9, primarily for its CMOS sensor and the flexibility of the ISO range that it allows me to work in.   For me, the S was a natural progression from my R series cameras, so I have also had a lot of experience shooting the S2 and the S 006.  Knowing that one of the main differences on the 007 was the upgrade to the CMOS sensor, I really wanted to check out the ISO performance of the camera and see what its operational limits would be.

Before taking the camera out, I set up custom hot keys for ISO, Mirror Lock, Drive Mode and Focus setting.  I made sure that the camera was set for DNG, that the date and time were correct and headed out.  I had a couple of night views in mind after dark, so I had mounted my 180mm3.5 Apo for the late afternoon and evening images.  To get to know the camera a bit, I made a few shots right outside of the Leica Store, on Bush St.  I immediately noticed how quick the focus was and the responsiveness of the shutter.  It was very fast and reminded me of my R9 with the Motor Drive.  Satisfied that the camera was set up properly, I headed towards my apartment, detouring through Chinatown.   It was close to 7pm when I left and the sun was already down, so I started out at ISO 800 and made some handheld shots.  I shot wide open to keep the shutter speed high.  The S cameras have so much resolution, that even at 1/250th sec, you can typically see some movement in the camera position that you do not see on a smaller format.  Shooting handheld, after sunset, is something that I never would have counted on doing with the 006, as I never really shoot it any higher than ISO 640 and not frequently without a tripod. 

After making a few detail shots of some trinkets on Grant Street, I then raised my ISO to 1600, to photograph a small group of people, waiting to cross the street. 

I made another image of the lanterns above Grant Street and thought about hanging around until they turned the lights on. 

I decided that my real goal as an ISO range check in lower light, so I headed on up the hill, to my apartment and grabbed a final image before dinner.  

Upon arrival to the apartment, I reviewed my images.  I was very impressed of the sharpness of my hand held shots.  The color was right on the mark and the image quality at ISO 800 was easily as good as my 006 at ISO 200.  My initial impression was that ISO 1600 looked better than my 006 at ISO 400.  I was getting even more excited about this camera. 

After dinner, I headed back out for my ISO test.  I picked a street corner a few blocks from home.  A nearby market made for a great first target.  It has a big highlight to shadow range and interesting color.  I set up my tripod and made a series of exposures at f5.6, ISO 100 through ISO 12500.  

ISO 100

ISO 200

ISO 400

ISO 800

ISO 1600

ISO 3200

ISO 6400

ISO 12500

After this stop, I walked back up the hill for some skyline shots.  

ISO 100

ISO 800

After making these images, I feel that the 007 is every bit as good at ISO performance as the M 240 camera.   In fact, this intrigues me enough that I think that it will merit further testing.  In some regards, the S 007 may be a bit better than the M 240.   The ISO 12500 setting is grainy, but totally useable.  This really opens the S system for handheld photography for me and will change how I approach using the S camera.  The next morning, heading back to the office, I made a couple more images at ISO 400.

At first glance, these at ISO 400 look as good as my S 006 at ISO 100, which is really amazing.  I will be doing some side by side images with the 006 and 007 myself as soon as cameras start shipping and I am very excited to start taking delivery of the S 007.  In conclusion, this camera is an amazing update.  The 15 stop dynamic range with the ISO flexibility is a game changer.  For tripod use, I will still shoot this at ISO 100, but I’ll not ever be concerned to use this system without a tripod.  This system has matured greatly and with the current price, it is even more exciting.  Thank you Leica! 


 

Alex Ramos, Leica Store San Francisco Gallery Director – Environmental Study

The Leica S (007) is top of the line and an incredible camera to photograph with. It is more than capable of taking on any type of shooting assignment from studio portraiture to documentary projects on location.

Knowing that an S (007) camera would be visiting San Francisco, my colleague and I set up an appointment with a friend to photograph his store, Tailors Keep, with the intent of capturing the space and testing out this new medium format digital system. Time was limited to one hour of photographing so I decided to keep things simple and bring a 100mm Summicron as well as a couple of wide angles lenses (24mm and 35mm). I had never visited this space before so it was a treat to be able to capture some of the charm and character of a new business in a classic setting nestled in between the Northbeach and Financial Districts of San Francisco.

Having some experience with the earlier versions of the Leica S I knew what to expect in terms of form, functionality, and image quality. The Leica aesthetic lives on through this upgraded version. The S (007) feels solid in the hands, about the size, or slightly larger than your standard full frame DSLR but packs amazing image quality and offers a channel into the amazing Leica optics. Minimal menu settings and no distractions. Perfect.

The setting I was photographing offered many subjects to capture from the tailors in the shop to the tools they use so I did my best to take advantage of all focal lengths that I brought with me and with the speed of the new system I felt like I didn’t miss a beat. The autofocus was spot on and it nailed every photograph that I took. Sharp and clean. Coming from a traditional M system, I was ready to manually focus but with a camera like this with the speed and versatility, I couldn’t skip out on the feature of AF and that way, I could put more energy towards the composition of the scenes I captured.

For a photographer like myself, I’m not one to bring flashes or strobes with me to a shoot. I use pre existing and ambient light so one of the biggest things that I pay attention to are the ISO capabilities of a camera. This is where the S (007) really shined. The high ISO capabilities of this camera are far better than its predecessor. I was extremely comfortable at ISO 800 and in some situations I set the camera to 3200 and 6400, although the lighting didin’t necessarily call for it, just to see how it responds. The images shot at the higher ISO’s  far exceeded my expectations.

I’m very excited for anyone that decides to transition into this camera. Being able to use a weather sealed body such at this, would make for a great travel companion but also be great indoors for studio sessions. I just wish that I had more than an hour to photograph with it!


 

Gary Faye, Internationally Published Photographer and Leica Specialist – S006 vs. S007

The left hand picture in this series are from the -006, the right ones are from the -007.

In pictures that display a higher dynamic range, the 007 does appear to contain additional tonality in the lighter values.

This shadowed area allowed higher ISOs so both cameras were set to 1600.

These enlargements are at 100% to allow a better view of noise presence.

In the evening I wanted to briefly try these cameras with strobe lighting. Although the DNG files allowed a more dramatic result, this pair shows a subtle, richer, punchier color with the 007. Exposure was set with a flash meter, camera on manual. The point of focus was the metal rim edge of the candle holder near the flame.

There were numerous positive impressions from this camera. This shutter has a very crisp, precise feel with a new sound. Although the camera looks very similar to the last generation, it is indeed a big step forward. The autofocus is quicker and very selective. Programmable tabs surround the rear LCD screen allowing rapid menu navigation. They are comfortable and convenient. This camera has been a joy to use, the time together too brief. The only uncomfortable experience I had was the new reduced price. This clearly forces me to think about trading in my 006 and adopting this new member of the Leica family.

Warm regards, g a r y


Conclusion

In summary, I think that we can conclude that the S camera has been vastly improved and was worth the wait.  The remarkable price point of $16,900.00 is very aggressive for the feature set offered and is sure to open this system up to a wide variety of users.   I have my camera ordered and my large format printer is stocked with ink and paper.  I am looking forward to giving this camera a good workout.  We have a lot more to share about this camera and more topics to cover.  We hope that you have found this information useful and we look forward to more details to follow!

To Pre-Order your Leica S 007 visit the Leica SF webstore here.

Sean Cranor -  President/CEO Camera West Inc. Leica Store San Francisco