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Leica Cine 1 Delivers Class Leading Performance From a Beautiful Package

Posted on September 7, 2023 by Jennifer Mash
Leica Cine 1 Laser TV - Projector Reviews - Image

This year, legendary camera manufacturer Leica will launch a premium 4K laser ultra-short throw smart projector Cinema TV - the Cine 1. In the US, Leica will offer two models – a 100-inch unit that retails for $8,995 and a 120-inch unit that retails for $9,495. You may be wondering why a company famous for ultra-premium cameras and fine optics decided to enter the consumer projection market. You may also be wondering why the Leica Cine 1 will command a higher price point than most Laser TVs currently on the market. Read on...

In this article, sponsored by Leica, we will explain why Leica is leveraging its remarkable experience designing and manufacturing highly coveted cameras, lenses, and binoculars to build arguably the best Cinema TV currently on the market. By the end of the article, you will also understand the justification for the substantial cost. 

If you’re any sort of camera buff, you’ve probably heard of Leica, but let's spend a little time covering the company's history. For more than 100 years, Leica has helped creators capture stunning images. 

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A 100 Year Legacy: The passionate pursuit of capturing and displaying images

Do you know what the most expensive camera ever sold was? It was a vintage Leica camera that was released as a prototype in 1923. On June 11, 2022 it sold at auction for a record $15.1 million. What makes a camera so desired that it sells for such an astronomical sum? Leica cameras are widely considered to be the finest cameras in the world, and they deserve that reputation. Leica has been designing and developing 35mm cameras since 1913 and has a well-respected heritage of innovation, design, and technology.

A fan on the internet whimsically and somewhat irreverently claimed that Leica cameras are “made by nimble-fingered, technically brilliant elves, working deep within the Bavarian Black Forest.” It’s an amusing mental picture, and actually not too far off the mark - Leica cameras aren’t mass-produced, they are elegantly engineered with an exceptional design language and a clear-eyed focus on simplicity, attention to detail, and uncompromising quality.

Leica Cine 1 with Leica Cameras - Projector Reviews - Image
The Leica Cine 1 is built with the same high standards as their world renowned cameras and lenses

While modern lenses can be considered perfect and laboratory clean, a Leica lens is often lovingly described as having an emphasis on “character” – there’s an intangible “something” (like an arty edge detail imperfection) that makes images special. Although not typically selling for millions of dollars, older Leica cameras are often sought after by enthusiasts, like a fine watch, it’s a piece that one aspires to own.

The original founder, Ernst Leitz, was known for high-quality optics, especially microscopes (Leica still produces an exceptional line of binoculars). In the 1920s, a company engineer named Oskar Barnard dreamed of taking 35mm motion picture film and using it in a smaller, compact camera. Up to this time, cameras were too big and heavy and awkward to carry around. Oskar doubled the cinema single-frame format from 18x24 to 24x36 and this advancement in using 35mm film for hand-held cameras led to the birth of modern photojournalism, because the camera was suddenly an easy to tote companion, not a fixed device sitting on a tripod.

The result quickly became the go-to camera of both photojournalists and the upper class, sparking a century-long love affair with the spectacular imagery, iconic design and exceptional build quality. Based on the success of the new camera, the company was rebranded as Leica – formed from the combination of Leitz (the original founder) and camera.

A Leica camera is the ultimate status symbol - renowned by famous photographers like Annie Leibowitz, flaunted by celebrities like Daniel Craig, sturdy enough for photo journalists, quiet enough to snap wild-life shots, collected, and coveted by amateurs and enthusiasts alike. There are some people that buy a Leica just to wear as a statement or as a fashion accessory!

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Alfred Eisenstaedt captured this iconic V-J Day image on a Leica

Although Leica camera design is simple, without a lot of extra features, when it comes to optics, a Leica camera is considered to be best in class – the “Rolls-Royce” of film cameras. Artists, creators, and especially street photographers have delighted in Leica’s signature ability to capture the moment. For example, on August 14, 1945, the day Japan surrendered in WWII, Alfred Eisenstaedt documented the nation-wide, joyful exuberance in just a single, famous photo taken on a Leica camera.

After more than 100 years artfully capturing imagery, Leica wants to ensure that, as an end user, you get to see all of the detail and feel all of that emotion. Leica has determined, based on its technical advancements, now is the time to reenter the image reproduction market. Leica has a long history of capturing what the creators intended and now they are focused on delivering that image quality to you, in your home by way of projector. 

Introducing the Leica Cine 1

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The Cine 1 is Leica's first digital home projector

The Leica brand epitomizes a century-long legacy of unparalleled optical and mechanical prowess, seamlessly merged with iconic German design. While Leica is justifiably famous for cameras, they have also helped creators display their works on massive screens. Their first entry into the projector market was actually in 1926 – it was a projection device specifically made for 35mm film.

After a long history of developing and producing slide and analog film projectors, Leica entered the professional digital projector market in 2008 with the Pradovit line. Nearly 20 years later, Leica is ready to reenter the image reproduction market and has chosen to venture into the home cinema market with the launch of the premium Leica Cine 1 Cinema  TV.

  • Leica Pradovit Slide Projector - Projector Reviews - Image
    Leica Pradovit 35mm Slide Projector
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    Leica Pradovit Video Projector

The Leica Cine 1 is a 4K, triple-laser ultra-short throw smart projector that will be available in two versions, one optimized for 100-inch screen and one optimized for 120-inch screen.  Premium home theater enthusiasts now have the unique opportunity to experience Leica's legendary quality when viewing their favorite content in their own home. 

"Leica has been renowned for our commitment to innovation, design, and technology. With a history in analog projectors under the Pradovit line, this venture into the home cinema domain serves as a natural progression. With the Leica Cine 1, we offer a quintessential Leica aesthetic in the realm of smart projection, ensuring an exceptional home cinematic experience."
Stephan Albrecht
Leica Managing Director.

There are dozens of Laser TVs on the market today and the Leica Cine 1 is targeted towards consumers seeking an ultra-premium solution. There are three reasons why the Leica Cine 1 should be considered an ultra-premium Cinema  TV: beautiful and iconic design, high-performance components, and a well-thought-out user interface.

Uncompromised approach to design, performance and user experience

Stunning Design Blends Seamlessly Into Any Room

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The Cine 1 is a statement piece with a durable aluminum housing and a perforated speaker cover. Leica cameras have a tangible, luxe hand feel, and the Cine 1 shares that characteristic – the chassis is beautifully constructed entirely of aluminum and feels as good as it looks. Thanks to the automatic dust cover, the unit has striking good looks when it’s powered off. The motorized lens cover protects the lens by preventing dust and the sticky fingers of small children and glides open when powered on.

Unlike most projectors that owners want to tuck away into a dedicated projector room, the beautiful, modern Bauhaus-style shape is a true work of art. Thanks to the premium luxury construction, there’s no need to hide the Cine 1 in a piece of furniture or in a closet. The straightforward, purist design with iconic red dot is designed for stylish living spaces and integrates seamlessly into any interior. Sharing the same design aesthetic, the remote is also a heavy, machined device that is a pleasure to hold.

One of the reasons why people aspire to own Leica products is the exceptional fit and finish. The Cine 1 projector’s build quality embodies Leica’s reputation. From the aluminum housing to the automatic dust cover to the perforated speaker cover, right down to the integration of the iconic red dot, the Cine 1 looks and feels like a Leica.

Thanks to ultra-short throw technology, you can place the Cine 1 just inches from the wall and get a massive 100-inch or 120-inch picture, in stunning 4K resolution. That’s nearly twice the size of a 75-inch TV which most people consider a “big TV” but in a stylish unit that looks great in the room.

Premium Components Deliver Premium Performance

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At Leica, technology is a passion and perfection is a simple matter of fact. Compromise is not an option. If you are looking for a budget Laser TV, look elsewhere. If you want the pinnacle of performance wrapped in a beautiful package, the Leica Cine 1 is the Cinema TV for you. 

Leica utilizes the finest optics, laser light source, and audio components to deliver class-leading picture quality. The Cine 1 uses state-of-the-art parts, including a tri-laser light source which can deliver up to 3,000 ANSI lumens brightness and reproduce over 100% in the BT.2020 color space. The Cine 1 can reproduce colors that OLED and LCD flat panels simply cannot.

Triple RGB laser technology is paired with the Leica-engineered Summicron lens to bring the unmistakable Leica look to life. While we don’t have time to cover all the product’s technical details in this article, let's look at one example of Leica’s uncompromising approach to build quality: the projector’s Summincron lens.

The sophisticated Summincron lens with four aspherical elements has been manufactured according to Leica’s exacting standards, optimized and supported down to the supplier results. It’s precisely matched to the projector-rated image size to ensure a stunning image quality with less chromatic aberrations and sharper edge to edge focus.

While these tighter tolerances increase cost, it ensures Cine 1 delivers the crisp, sharp image that Leica customers demand. Also, during our initial testing, we noticed a significant reduction in visible chromatic aberration compared to every other RGB UST we have evaluated.

Many projector manufacturers state their Laser TVs are compatible with a wide range of screen sizes, (for example from 90-130 inches) but the unit’s performance is only truly optimized for one size, for example, 120 inches.

Leica doesn’t compromise picture quality by offering a range of image sizes. The Leica Cine 1 is offering size two models in the US: 100-inch and 120-inch models. Since Europeans typically have smaller homes, Leica also offers 80-inch model exclusively in Europe. Leica Cine 1 sizes are fixed to ensure maximum edge-to-edge focus and detail. Leica is at heart a great photography company with extensive experience with fixed-focus lenses. It is the projector’s fixed-focus lens that provides the optimal sharpness and clarity for each screen size. It’s not possible to shift the projector closer or farther away from the wall to attempt to enlarge or reduce the image – that would just reduce the sharpness and create a flawed image.

While the projector is rated for a fixed screen size, the Cine 1 is not bundled with a screen. Owners will be able to choose the best UST-compatible screen for their environment. To further maximize picture quality, Leica will use its own image processing (Leica Image Optimization or LIO) to optimize picture quality and achieve natural color and contrast ratio.

In addition to supporting HDR10 and HDR10+, to maximize the projector’s HDR picture quality, the Cine 1 also supports Dolby Vision®. This format metadata provides the Cine 1 with information (metadata) about the content's color grading and brightness levels on a scene-by-scene basis. Cine 1 can adjust its settings in real-time, optimizing the HDR viewing experience for each scene.

Since the Cine 1 is a Cinema TV intended to replace a large flat panel TV, it needs a good onboard sound system. The Cine 1 comes equipped with built-in 50W Dolby Atmos® Surround Sound for a truly cinematic experience in the home. Dolby Atmos is an advanced audio technology that enhances the realism of TVs and shows by reflecting the sound off of the ceiling. Dolby Atmos fills a room and flows around the viewer, even overhead, with exceptional realism.

User Interface

Leica Cine 1 Laser Tv Menu - Projector Reviews - Image

For customers used to the convenience of a modern smart TV, the Cine 1 is an all-in-one entertainment system. The integrated menu system is snappy and responsive. It includes a fully functioning Android TV,  capable of supporting popular streaming apps including Netflix. The Cine 1 also boasts an intuitive smart TV interface with voice control, and unlike many laser TVs, the Cine 1 also has an integrated triple tuner and offers Apple Airplay.

The Cine 1 delivers a great picture straight out of the box, but owners will have a full suite of picture adjustments including multi-point White Balance and CMS controls so the image quality can be fully optimized based on exact room conditions.

Focused On Maximizing The Essentials

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Typically, companies may look for shortcuts to keep the cost down or simplify production. However, because of its brand heritage, Leica engineers are given the freedom to build the best product they can.

You may be familiar with the McLaren sports car – as of 2022 it’s the fastest naturally aspirated production car in the world. However, like many other exotic car manufacturers, McLaren doesn’t build the engines in their vehicles. Over the years, they’ve partnered with established auto manufacturers like Tag-Porsche, BMW, and Mercedes Benz. In that same way, the Cine 1 started as a collaboration with Hisense. That company provided Leica with access to several key technologies used in their laser TV models like the tri-laser light source and the TV tuner. Leica bundled those Hisense Laser TV technologies with their own expertise in imaging and optics and exclusive Leica innovations like the Summicron lens to maximize the Cine 1’s performance.

"The Leica brand epitomizes a storied legacy of unparalleled optical and mechanical prowess, seamlessly merged with iconic German design. Our Cine 1 elevates the user experience by marrying intuitive functionality with intentional design, transcending technical specifications to achieve an unparalleled experience. With our new Cinema TV underscored by multiple international accolades, and we are thrilled to introduce Cine 1 to the U.S. market."
Stephan Albrecht
Leica Managing Director.

Designing a laser TV can be compared to creating a great meal. Better ingredients offer more potential, but they don’t guarantee excellence. You could give a home chef saffron, white truffles, or Kobe beef and while there may be the potential to have an amazing dining experience, a home chef may not have the skill to actually deliver. Even with the finest ingredients, the chef’s passion and expertise are just as essential as the ingredients to determine the final result.

Leica’s like an incredible chef that can extract the best possible result from available ingredients. Leica’s high expectations, engineering expertise, and decades of experience capturing stunning imagery help them maximize the chosen components to deliver one of the best-looking images we have seen from a Laser TV.


To summarize, why choose a Leica Cine 1?

  1. The passionate pursuit of capturing and displaying images.
  2. Uncompromised approach to design and performance
  3. Focus on maximizing the essentials

Leica has always strived to make the highest quality products in every category. For more than a hundred years, creators and artists have chosen Leica to capture the moment. This is the first time the unmistakable and brilliant Leica image quality can be experienced at home. With the combination of Leica image quality and Dolby Atmos surround sound, premium home theater enthusiasts can enjoy the most authentic home cinema experience, closest to the creator’s original intent. The invention of the 35mm standard by Oskar Barnack illustrates how closely Leica is linked to cinema - we’re all movie lovers here and our goal is to see content the way the creator wanted us to experience it.

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Leica has been at the forefront of still photography and digital projection for decades and the company is leveraging those years of meticulous construction expertise to craft a product that reflects their famously high standards and impeccable design and build quality. While your Cine 1 probably won’t be auctioned off for millions of dollars sometime next century, Leica has a reputation for products that are reliable and built to last. This durability can make the initial high cost more acceptable in the long run.

Customers choose Leica products because of the brand's history, performance, capabilities, and renowned build quality. Leica has a goal to bring all of the detail captured by award-winning directors and cinematographers to your home. Leica intends to bring that experience right to your living room in a stylish, compact projector that embodies the iconic Leica fit and finish.

Based on our personal experience with the Leica Cine 1, the unit is the best laser TV on the market today. So, while the Leica Cine 1 does command a premium price, its design, construction, user interface, and picture quality make it worth every penny.

To learn more about the Leica Cine 1, check out or check out our detailed review on Projector Reviews.

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