Danish scanner and digital camera back manufacturer, Imacon have partnered with
leading German camera manufacturer, Leica Camera AG, and Kodak's Division for Imaging Sensor Solutions, and will develop a revolutionary new digital camera back for Leica's single lens reflex R8 and R9 camera series. The Leica Digital Module R is to be introduced to the industry at photokina 2004, and will be
the world's first hybrid 35mm SLR camera with the option for either digital
or analogue photography.
Says Christian Poulsen, founder and joint managing director, Imacon, "We
were approached by Leica at photokina 2002, following the launch of our new
Ixpress high-end digital camera back. They were impressed with the digital technology
in the Ixpress and expressed an interest in Imacon developing a digital solution
for their 35mm SLR products in the photo professional and photo enthusiast market.
Imacon is the first company to develop a digital back for this market and I
believe it will revolutionise the future of 35mm SLR cameras, as we have done
with the Ixpress' digital back technology in the high-end professional photographic
"We are extremely pleased to be working with Leica Cameras AG and Kodak
I.S.S, as they both share our vision of developing solutions to provide the
photographer with high quality and flexible products. What is particularly exciting
about this new partnership is it will enable Imacon to introduce our digital
back technology to completely new market sectors."
The new Leica Digital Module R is being designed by Imacon to fit easily and
quickly onto the back of regular production Leica R8 and R9 cameras, enabling
photographers to change from analogue to digital and back again immediately,
thus providing real flexibility on location or in the studio. As the two R series
cameras are already designed to function with digital solutions, the new digital
back module will communicate directly with the camera's controls.
Imacon's FlexColor software, which incorporates a common ICC platform across
its range of digital camera backs and scanners, will also be built into the
Leica Module R, enabling a seamless transition of digital and analogue images
and a fully integrated colour and image management facility for those photographers
currently using Imacon's Flextight range of scanners.
The image sensor will consist of a 10 million pixel CCD sensor, developed and
manufactured by Kodak I.S.S. especially for the Leica Digital Module R. As the
integration of the sensor into an existing camera concept requires that the
sensor and its housing be positioned at the film gate of the Leica R8 or R9
camera, the active surface of the sensor is smaller than the area of the film
gate, with the focal length extension factor limited to 1.37x.
The pixels on the surface of the sensor, which measure 6.8 m, are optimised
to meet the stringent requirements of a digital stills camera. The effective
imaging area of the sensors measures 26.4 x 17.6 mm and encompasses 10 million
picture points. The range of sensitivity can also be extended from ISO 100 to
With the newDigital Module R, the photographer will be able to control sensitivity
settings, resolution, compression, white balance, self-timer, and exposure corrections
(over-ride). A colour monitor on the digital back can be used for evaluating
the images stored after each exposure with a histogram providing detailed information
on each shot for analysis.
The dimensions of the camera with an attached Leica Digital Module R and its
power unit are similar to those of a Leica R8 / R9 with an attached Motor-Drive
R. This is approximately equivalent to (width x height x depth) 158 x 140 x
89 millimetres (6 x 5 x 3 inches). Power will be supplied by a lithium-ion battery
currently being developed especially for the Leica Digital Module R. Interface
will be via a Firewire and image storage on SD cards.