Announced at Leica’s May 10, 2012 product launch event in Berlin, the Leica S adaptor for Hasselblad H series lenses somehow slipped under most commentator’s radar. TheM Monochrom was the obvious star of the show, and theX2camera and newAPO 50mm Summicronhad their followers. But this small adaptor is actually quite big news for some.
What Leica has done here looks simple, but is far reaching in its implications. The S-H adaptor allows any H series Hasselblad lens to be used on a Leica S2 camera with full auto-everything,including autofocus. The computer built into the adaptor does a complete translation betweenLeica speakandHasselblad speak, so to speak.
As Leica S2 owners well know, Leica has had a hard time ramping up and meeting demand for S2 lenses, especially the CS central shutter models. Though production has increased and the product line offering is expanding, this new €1,500, USD $2,000 adaptor gives S2 owners access to the roughly dozen different model lenses that Hasselblad currently has in production. (The S-H adaptor is apparently immediately available). And, since there are tens of thousands of Hasselblad H lenses currently in use, and many on the used market, this potentially makes the Leica S2 much more appealing to potential buyers. What also makes this so interesting is that Leica has created this adaptor without any cooperation from or approval from Hasselblad.
To my knowledge this is the first time that a major camera and lens maker has made a 100% compatible lens adaptor for another company’s autofocus lenses. In 2011 Leica offered the Leica S-Adapter V for Hasselblad V System lenses, the Leica S-Adapter P67 for Pentax 67 lenses, and the M645 adaptor for Mamiya 645 / Phase One system cameras. But none of these provided autofocus.
An obvious question that one might ask is (and I did) – isn’t there a risk of Leica cannibalizing their own lens sales by opening up the S platform to H series glass with full automation as well as autofocus. The answer seems to be that Leica is confident enough in the superiority of their own lens offerings that they don’t see any downside in this. Good for them.