[LRFlex] Re: DMR: Hands on

on 11/11/04 7:33 PM, Doug Herr at telyt@xxxxxxxxxxxxx wrote:

> Adam Bridge and I visited Reed's Cameras in Walnut Creek, California today
> where west coast Leica rep Tom Brichta brought an R9 with Digital-Module-R
> for demonstration.  The DMR was demonstrated by a Leica employee who had
> flown in from Germany that morning.
> 
> My impressions: the handling was great, just like an R8 or R9 with a motor
> drive.  The digital back protrudes farther back than the motor drive does
> but it doesn't interfere with my nose - and I'm left-eyed.  The controls
> were easy to manage and with a minute or two of instruction it was all
> intuitive.  Size and weight are also about like the R8/R9 + motor drive.
> 
> The Leica employee said the firmware is still under development so picture
> quality isn't as good as it will be, so he wouldn't print any of the files.
> 
> Other things he said:
> 
> About 1200 have been ordered.  Leica expects to be back-ordered through
> March next year.  Until all orders have been filled the DMR units will be
> allocated to dealers based on their paid (or substantially paid) orders.  No
> dealers will have any on the shelves until all the backorders have been
> filled.
> 
> The hardware is in production.  The DMR will be released once the firmware
> work is complete, still expected to be December.  Firmware can be updated by
> the user.  The updated programming is downloaded to the SD card, then the
> card is put into the DMR.  The DMR will recognize the updated  instructions
> and ask the user if he wants to install the update.
> 
> SD cards from several makers will be available in sizes up to 2 gigs by
> about May next year.
> 
> He's not certain if the entire image capture from sensor to output is
> 16-bit.
> 
> He recommends using RAW file format for maximum image quality.  The RAW
> files are in Imacon format so Photoshop already can handle them well.  RAW
> files are ~21MB which expands to 60 MB TIFF files.  TIFF files may be
> written in LeicaRGB or sRGB color space.  Software included with the camera
> will be for Mac or Windoze.
> 
> The moire filter is in software, not hardware.  The idea behind this is to
> maximize image quality in most situations, and use the software moire filter
> only when nessesary, such as with fabrics or other fine patterns like
> distant picket fences.  Other camera makers use a hardware moire filter
> which softens the image.
> 
> In use, Adam tried ISO 800 with a 1-stop push to check for shadow noise.
> IIRC the noise was mostly in the blue channel.  The noise in the blue
> channel probably will be one of the things that will improve in the release
> firmware.  As it is, the white balance was off (a firmware issue).  Several
> white balance settings are available including Auto and Custom.
> 
> Swapping between the film back and the DMR was quick and simple, but it's
> not something Leica expects the user to do often.  See Adam's comments
> below.  The sensor is protected any time the back is off the camera.
> Cleaning the sensor consists of scrubbing it with a microfiber cloth.  The
> hard coating on the sensor is the same as the coating used on the front
> element of Leica sport optics.
> 
> Here are Adam's comments:
> 
> 
> 
> I feel that the ergonomic design of the the DMR is not just "much
> better" it's "vastly superior" to the D30 and 10D. Setting aside the
> basic shooting controls of aperture and shutter speed selection -
> which are precisely where they "ought" to be, the various digital
> settings are easy to select and not buried beneath layers of menus or
> hidden. The monochrome display on the back panel gives full indication
> of the camera's settings. I like having 3 difference "user modes" -
> one perhaps for black and white, one for vivid color and one for more
> subdued color settings.
> 
> I'm a little wary of the color spaces. "Leica-RGB" doesn't have a
> meaning to me. Does this color space exceed Adobe RGB?
> 
> It's odd to use a digital camera whose shutter and winding sounds are
> precisely those of a film camera.
> 
> I liked the coating over the sensor so it could be easily cleaned.
> 
> The Leica rep said that this is not a product meant to be changed
> "daily" and that if it were changed two or three times a week it would
> require replacement in a couple of years. Why? I'm not sure but the
> idea of shooting between digital and film frequently with the same
> camera on the same day are clearly NOT Leica's intention.
> 
> The software seems to be in a continual state of flux. He pointed out
> that when looking at the noise in the 1600 ASA mode that because
> white-balance software wasn't working properly it was difficult to
> evaluate the noise. I still think there was a lot of blue channel
> noise - but post processing can address some of that.
> 
> I don't have a feeling about the brightness of the color display - you
> definately want to have that be bright enough - the 10D's is just
> bright enough in full sunshine, the jury is out on whether the Leica
> display will be bright enough.
> 
> I'm pleased that the firmware can b e upgraded via the memory card or
> via direct connection between the camera and the computer over the
> FireWire connection. This bodes well for keeping the camera up to date
> -- I have a feeling that over the next year there will be a LOT of
> software upgrades to this puppy.
> [end of Adam's comments]
> 
> Doug Herr
> Birdman of Sacramento
> http://www.wildlightphoto.com
> 
> 
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Doug- Thanks for all the info on the dig back. I have one on order-I guess
we'll see how they have done soon. Stasys

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