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Seven years after the initial launch of the Leica Sofort, the luxury camera brand re-enters the instant camera market with the global release of the Leica Sofort 2 scheduled for 9 November 2023. A premium hybrid, the all-new camera combines a digital camera with a mini printer, allowing users to capture images digitally and choose which favorites to print.
Renowned for crafting reliable cameras, Leica occasionally ventures into unconventional camera designs that don't always find commercial success, much like the original digital Sofort, which was discontinued shortly after its release in 2016. While the company's commitment to innovation and precision engineering has turned the Sofort 2 into something new altogether, we can't help but wonder if the option to choose which photos to print runs contrary to the spontaneity—and dare we say, authenticity—of traditional instant and analog film photography.
With the bulky back design and overall concept, the Sofort 2 feels a bit like an early 2000s Digicam with a built-in printer, comparable to the Fujifilm Instax Mini Evo (released in 2021 with a sticker price of just $200), which serves the same film/digital hybrid features such as selective printing. Call it inspiration, but the similarities are uncanny.
Opinions and inspiration aside, the new Sofort 2 does feature some interesting functionality hidden behind the sleek, boxy shape and iconic red dot logo. Dedicated shooting modes include selfie, landscape, macro, and 20 total various lens and film effects (10 each), such as double exposure, vignetting, soft focus, blur, and fisheye, allow the user to experiemnt widely without wasting film frames with each attempt. Users can even print photos from other digital Leica cameras—or a smartphone using the Leica Fotos app.
Functionaly speaking, the Sofort 2 pairs a 5-megapixel sensor (for contrast, the new iPhone 15 Pro features a 48-megapixel sensor) with a Leica Summar 28mm f/2 equivalent lens, a three-inch LCD screen, internal memory storage for up to 45 images (expandable via upgraded microSD card), and a built-in USB rechargeable battery lasting up to 100 instant photographs per charge. An analog-style lever (reminiscent of traditional 35mm cameras) for instant printing on Fujifilm Instax paper or Leica Sofort film.
Although we have yet to test the Leica Sofort 2 ourselves, early images shared on social—including those by Field Mag contributor Christie Fitzpatrick, shown above in the embed—suggest despite low image quality, the camera's clever features, like double exposure, can still produce some very compelling art.
Available in black, white, and red colorways, the new Leica Sofort 2 camera will sell for $389 with Leica dealers rolling out the product on 9 November 2023, along with a host of Leica branded accessories including bags, camera straps, and even bamboo photo covers(?). While nearly double the price of its Fujifilm doppelgänger, the Sofort 2 does offer a chance to step into the Leicaverse without breaking the bank.
We appreciate Leica's effort here to appeal to an audience beyond its core customer base, though one can't help but wonder whether an attempt at turning such a storied brand renowned for premium, precision engineered cameras into a lifestyle brand is perhaps misguided... only time will tell.