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Leica lenses event a success

16 May 2016 3:17 PM | Peter Parnham (Administrator)

A generous host and an engaging speaker combined to make an informative and enjoyable evening at Metro Films new facility in Auckland in early May.


Leica image showing skin tones


A Leica still image illustrating smooth focus fall off

A generous host and an engaging speaker combined to make an informative and enjoyable evening at Metro Films new facility in Auckland in early May.

Rainer Hercher from CW Sonderoptic, who make Leica cine lenses, explained the philosophy behind the Summilux and Summicron lenses and what they lenses designers aim to achieve and the trade-offs they have to make between weight, complexity, manufacturing processes and cost.

CW Sonderoptic was started in 2008 as an offshoot of Leica, and the cine lenses picked up a Technical Academy Award in 2015, for Ian Neill’s optical design. This is more than a little unusual as this is the same optical guru who years ago also won a Technical Academy Award for the original Panavision Primo lenses.

Hercher’s talk was illustrated largely with still images.

“Movement always distracts your eye from the other elements and individual frames are softer,” he says.

First he showed how dioptres can be used on both long lenses where they reduce the minimum focus depth, which can provide additional foreground/background separation. He says all lenses designers approach design in a slightly different way and in Leica’s case they consider

  • Bokeh and focus fall off,
  • Creamy sharpness
  • Skin tone and skin texture
  • Natural colour rendition
  • Color temperature

Creamy sharpeness, was a term many hadn’t heard before and Herscher explained picked it up from a Spanish DP customer who used it to describe the seeming contradiction of providing sharp detail around the eyes yet a smoothness across the skin.

Finally the evening wrapped up with a frank talk about how CW Sonderoptic balance the importance of matched speed and performance across a range of prime lenses, and the difficulties inherent in producing economically viable lenses at the wider and longer end.

There are a lot of questions in the future of lenses, and Hercher acknowledged the sigh of relief of rental houses thankful that there wasn’t another round of new equipment imperatives at NAB this year. He says there has to be some reasonable chance to recoup investments for the industry to prosper, and in that context, 35 mm spherical lenses will remain the workhorse for a good while yet.


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