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Leica M Lens Encoding for Digital

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June 12, 2006 – Iconic lens manufacturer Leica Camera AG recently announced that it is tailoring its lenses to the digital camera market. Beginning on July 1, all Leica M lenses will come with 6-bit coding on the bayonet ring to ensure full functionality with digital cameras. The lenses can still be used on analog models, but the new coding will make them digital-specific for the planned digital Leica M camera.

"On account of their legendary quality, nearly all Leica M lenses are ideal for digital use," said Rainer Bültert, product manager for Leica’s M system cameras, in the press release. "However, the new 6-bit coding also uses the performance reserves in the image processing of the camera to give our customers the excellent image result they expect from Leica."

The coding involves six black and white markings in the bayonet ring that represent numbers from 1-64 in binary code. The digital Leica M camera reads this code, identifies the attached lens, and optimizes its image processing for that lens. The planned digital M camera is expected to be released later this year.

The coding will be included on new lenses, but can be added to older lenses as well. For 95 euros, or about $119 USD, Leica lens owners can update the lenses through the company or specialized dealers. There are currently 21 lenses on the market that can be updated, and about 24 more discontinued lenses from 1963 on that can be coded.

Once the lenses receive the 6-bit coding, they are still fully compatible with the analog Leica MP and Leica M7 models as well as classic Leicas manufactured after 1954. Lenses that are not coded will still fit onto the planned digital Leica M camera, but "additional features cannot be used" states the press release.

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