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Leica/LUF @ P'kina in English


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#1 andybarton

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Posted 05 October 2010 - 19:49

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The Leica Forum Meeting with Leica Camera

Photokina 2010

Introduction

At the beginning of the meeting, Mr. Schopf briefly introduced himself. He emphasized that he has spent over half of his professional life in optics/optoelectronics; including the ARRI company.

R-SYSTEM
A digital solution in the form of a R10 was not presentable. Such an investment would have been to great for Leica. The development of the S-System cost €30m. A similar effort for a digital R was not fundable.

What is the digital solution for R-Lenses?
The bad news: there is no current solution. Leica is working on a solution without a mirror, but detailed specifications are currently “open”.
Future announcements will only be made, if the solution is deliverable.
Mr. Schopf emphasized that currently Leica needs time to recover economically.

DMR Service
There is currently a shortage of replacement parts, because the relationship with the vendor, who have been bought by Hasselblad, is bad.

A solution has been found for dying DMR batteries. Failing batteries can be repaired with new cells; information is available from Customer Service.

In general with regard to the development of digital cameras
Mr. Schopf: Leica are evaluating sensors are on the market to find out which solutions are available. New solutions will be worked out in cooperation with the chip manufacturers. This kind of collaboration is vital for Leica.

S-SYSTEM
Leica introduced the fourth S-System lens, a 120mm, at Photokina

Lens shutter
During Photokina, prototypes were tested with a central shutter; they worked without failures. Market introduction is planned for 2011.

Development
The S-System will be developed further. Planned introductions are:

24mm Ultra –Wide-angle
30mm super wide-angle (incl. Optional central shutter)
30-90mm Zoom
a tilt-shift lens has not been decided yet demand is under observation and has to be analyzed.


Firmware
The S2 firmware is programmed by Leica, internally; therefore customer wishes can be actioned quickly.

Market development
The further market-development of digital medium format cameras was questioned with regard to observations, that important competitors had halved the sizes of their Photokina stands in comparison to 2008.

The S2 has sold very well worldwide, Leica still has a backlog in delivery.

Regionally, sales in Europe are going well, the USA is limping a bit behind while in Asia inquiries boom. Currently the camera is bought mostly by amateurs because professionals need a complete system, which can only be delivered slowly.

With regard to delays in the delivery of central shutters states Mr. Schopf:

“The development started with an external vendor; unfortunately it turned out the vendor could not meet our quality requirements. Development costs multiplied and the vendor was insisting on prepayments. Therefore Leica decided to continue the develop by itself. Currently Leica is not satisfied, as satisfactory quality criteria have not yet been met."

COMPACT CAMERAS
The upcoming development concentrates on a successor for the X1.

The cooperation with Panasonic will be continued.

The big media buzz on the Fuji X100 demonstrates the the X1 has set an important trend. The X100 is currently an early prototype for which no clear specifications have been set. Dr. Kaufmann sees the X100 as “a sales promotion” for the X1.

X1 Hyperfocal Mode
By end of 2010 there will be a new firmware for the X1, which will include functionality similar to a hyperfocal mode.

X1 development
Leica sees much room for a further development, with less interest on contemporary features like HD Video or GPS but classical Leica virtues:
- simple handling
- sublime grace design
- outstanding picture quality


X1 Problems
Problems with the coverings will be corrected fast and at no charge

Leica D-LUX 5
The Leica D-Lux5 was highly welcomed and Leica has already taken 14,000 orders.


M-SYSTEM
Role of the M9-Titan
The M9 Titan is not only a special model but also a technology carrier.
With the LED illumination of the Finder frame and the new wearing concept this model would be, in comparison to cars, a “concept car”.

AF Help / Focus confirmation
The question was raised whether it is possible to integrate an AF Help into M9 or successors. The answer was no: The M9 is based on a CCD sensor, who cannot produce a live view. The sensor can only be read out 2 times in a second. In addition the sensor would warm up which would increase noise.

Leica prefers optical focusing over the rangefinder. AF functionality would be possible with a future CMOS sensor, which could be used for upcoming generations.

No statements were given to further developments of the M-System.

Possible variants of the M9
There is a certain demand for chrome Leica M; Leica are analysing whether production makes sense.

Finder variations underneath the current 0,68 magnification are not satisfying with regard to focusing precision, longer magnifications can be principally thought of, but are not planned. Leica refers its customers to magnifying glasses from external vendors.

An a-la-carte program is currently open, a demand for personal engraving is definitely existing.

Delivery situation for lenses
The M9 started much more successfully than planned; after 9 months the number of pieces was reached which was planned for the complete production cycle. This generated an enormous demand for lenses, but production is not easily to be scaled.

In addition, for some of the glass blanks the delivery time is more than 6 months.
Mr Schopf asks for some understanding as no compromises want to be made with regard to quality.

M9 Sensor
Mr. Schopf: the M9 Sensor is most delicate part of the camera, in addition it can only be tested once the camera is completely manufactured.

The reason for cover glass breakages have been extensively analyzed: this was due to the production process of the sensor vendor. The problem is resolved; it if appears again it will be repaired free of charge.

M9 Firmware
The firmware has reached a stable status, there a no severe bugs anymore. Currently it is worked on partially appearing problems like the “magenta cast” and green edges. Stefan Daniel is sure that this will be resolved with a new firmware.

Weather Sealing
The wish for a better sealing of the body is on the wish list but can only be accomplished with a new body.

New M-Lenses
It was indirectly stated that there are minor gaps in the range, but there is an intent to fill these gaps.

Firmware development
Firmware development will remain in Leica's hands and will not be opened to external developers or users. A changed firmware always means a massive intervention into the complete system which can also harm the camera.
There is a group of firmware beta testers and their findings flow into the further development.

LEICA PROJECTOR
The Pradovit D1200 did not reach the intended sales numbers. Leica currently thinking about how to proceed but it is likely that no successor will be planned.

MISCELLANEOUS

Move to the Leitz-Park
The move is delayed as banks in the beginning of 2009 were not willing to fund even though ACM’s financing was very conservative

CRM System
Currently a new Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system is being built up which will collect all data from different company entities (CS, Academy, Marketing) to serve as a common database for a all customer contacts.

Film Cameras
And finally, the question was raised whether Leica continues to produce film cameras.
In short, the answer is “Yes, we build MP and M7 as there is a demand”.

___________

Many thanks to my fellow Mod, Klaus, for doing the first part of this translation.
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#2 stunsworth

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Posted 05 October 2010 - 20:44

Many thanks Andy.
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#3 ozdavid

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Posted 05 October 2010 - 22:32

Andy,

Thank you very much for your hard work in bringing these notes to us in English.

Are you able to add to the phrase "An a-la-carte program is currently open"?

Do you understand that to mean that such a program is under consideration or currently exists? Was there any mention of what it might cover ? for example, was there any reference to sapphire glass screens, perhaps of the type that were available for the M8u and M8.2?

Thanks
David

#4 starwatcher

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Posted 05 October 2010 - 22:43

David,

according to the conference notes this means that the decision to set up an a-la-carte program has not been made yet - thus can be seen as "under consideration".
I would assume that the introduction of this program depends on demand and expectation to be financially successful.

regards - Klaus
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#5 andybarton

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Posted 05 October 2010 - 22:46

Thanks Klaus.

From what I read of your translation, "a-la-carte" in terms of the M9 currently means that one can have "I love Angela", or something similar engraved on the top plate. And that's as far as it goes.

If hundreds of M9 users asked for something specifically, then Leica might consider it in the future.

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#6 starwatcher

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Posted 05 October 2010 - 22:52

yes, Andy, I should have mentioned this.
Although I am not sure how many have asked for "I love Angela" :D
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#7 adan

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Posted 05 October 2010 - 23:24

My specific question originally was, would Leica improve the corrections for the 1980-1998 pre-ASPH 21 Elmarit, which still shows some red-edge compared to the revisions published for the ASPH wide lenses last spring?

Must I read my answer from between the lines of: "The firmware has reached a stable status, there a no severe bugs anymore. Currently it is worked on partially appearing problems like the “magenta cast” and green edges. Stefan Daniel is sure that this will be resolved with a new firmware."

...or was the more specific question asked and answered, but then lumped into the general question?

And, yes, thanks for the translation and all the other work that went into this....

#8 andybarton

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Posted 05 October 2010 - 23:26

I am sure that not every individual question could be asked.

Andy

 

 

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#9 mgcd

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Posted 06 October 2010 - 01:17

Andy, thanks for posting this. As it stands, the R debacle as generated by Leica has now sealed the deal for me. Shame though...
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#10 howard_cummer

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Posted 06 October 2010 - 01:38

Thanks very much Andy for your efforts. I am now going to change the bayonet on my last R lens - the 21 - 35 Vario Elmar to the Leitax Nikon bayonet and move on. Sadly.

#11 mooky

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Posted 06 October 2010 - 02:49

and the R users keep leaving the fold......

Now that's Leica prioritizing, oh and the DMR repair parts are in short supply - boy that makes me want to find one used.....really cheap.

But all is not lost - there is a special edition M9 in Silver Chrome, and sapphire cover glass for the Neiman Marcus crowd for $17,500.00 and it comes with a personally signed letter from CEO Alfred Schopf!!!! Oh, they include the 35mm Summicron Asph.

I wonder of Alfred will send a letter out to DMR owners if any needed repair parts aren't available.
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#12 marknorton

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Posted 06 October 2010 - 04:52

But all is not lost - there is a special edition M9 in Silver Chrome, and sapphire cover glass for the Neiman Marcus crowd for $17,500.00 and it comes with a personally signed letter from CEO Alfred Schopf!!!!


This is just garbage isn't it?

Leica may be interested in bolstering their finances and milking those with more money than sense may be a way to do it but so too would be meeting the order backlog with product which doesn't immediately need to be returned to Solms for them to complete the job.

I just wish they would come clean and admit there is never likely to be a business case for a new R solution because the money it would cost to develop could always be better used on more mainstream products. The R was never that popular and the last figures I saw showed the M outsold it 4:1.

As for the M, a few gaps in the lens range ("value" 21, 28 and 75mm Summiluxes and that's about it), a few special editions. Is that all they can come up with?

You get a bit tired of it all after a while, don't you?
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Posted 06 October 2010 - 10:10

Andy many thanks for the effort in providing this translation to you and your helpers...much appreciated.

I am surprised that Leica did not give a more positive outlook....it reminded me of the doom and gloom pronouncements from UK Govt ministers in power and the opposition.
I read that:
  • They have limited development resources, and cannot raise funding for the new factory site
  • They are going CMOS but dont know with who,
  • They need a mirrorless approach (ie EVIL / Liveview) but dont know when
  • There are holes in the M Lens line up that will be plugged eventually, but no date given or elluded to
  • The S2 that cost 30M€uros to develop is selling well to amtateurs in Asia, not USA and not to professionals as they need a full lens line up
  • The S2 in lens shutter is delayed due to the partner they selected.
  • There appears to be demand for a chrome M but no decision.
I must say that I had hoped for a much more positive set of messages as I really believe that they have a lot that they could say.
  • The Leica shops and boutiques are expanding which will give a better client experience, and differentiated support in collaboration with dealers.
  • There is a move towards centralising after sales support and that will give a chance for better turnaround times etc.
  • The QA of the cameras and lenses have been a problem (They appear to not wish to admit that) but they are on top of it (as I am sure they are) and they had an opportunity to say that this specifically is what they have done....and will do! They missed this opportunity
  • The M9 and its lenses continues to sell well and outstrip production capacity. I am surprised that they have not indicated when dealers will be able to sell ex stock the M9 and its lenses.


#14 stunsworth

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Posted 06 October 2010 - 10:34

They are going CMOS but dont know with who


In fairness to Leica that's not what they said. What they said was a CMOS sensor would be needed to support AF and could be used in a future camera. They didn't say that it would be.

Remember this was a question and answer session not a PR announcement, and the replies from Leica were dependant on the questions asked.
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#15 stunsworth

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Posted 06 October 2010 - 10:37

I am surprised that they have not indicated when dealers will be able to sell ex stock the M9 and its lenses.


The M9 at least is available ex-stock from my local dealer, and has been for at least a couple of weeks.
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#16 stevelap

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Posted 06 October 2010 - 10:42

............But all is not lost - there is a special edition M9 in Silver Chrome, and sapphire cover glass for the Neiman Marcus crowd for $17,500.00 and it comes with a personally signed letter from CEO Alfred Schopf!!!! Oh, they include the 35mm Summicron Asph..........


I saw this elsewhere, oh dear.

This is just garbage isn't it?

Leica may be interested in bolstering their finances and milking those with more money than sense may be a way to do it but so too would be meeting the order backlog with product which doesn't immediately need to be returned to Solms for them to complete the job.

I just wish they would come clean and admit there is never likely to be a business case for a new R solution because the money it would cost to develop could always be better used on more mainstream products. The R was never that popular and the last figures I saw showed the M outsold it 4:1.

As for the M, a few gaps in the lens range ("value" 21, 28 and 75mm Summiluxes and that's about it), a few special editions. Is that all they can come up with?

You get a bit tired of it all after a while, don't you?


Frankly, I tend to agree. By inclination I would usually be a defender of the faith but I am starting to worry again about where exactly Leica are heading.........expensive special editions and, by their own admission, an S2 that's still not selling well to their professional
target market........hopefully the specials at least will be cash cows, but is that it until after the next photokina?

Frustratingly, there is still no sign of development in the M viewfinder/rangefinder implementation (red LED frame line illumination notwithstanding) when even Fuji are attempting to bring something to the table with their opto-electronic X100 vf.
And devastatingly for R users, still no sign of an 'adequate solution for R lenses', EVIL or otherwise, for quite some time, if at all.

So, good news for PanaLeica aficionados and wealthy amateurs, but for professionals or those looking for innovation in other areas, very little.

Edited by stevelap, 06 October 2010 - 10:48.



Regards
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#17 delander †

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Posted 06 October 2010 - 10:54

"The big media buzz on the Fuji X100 demonstrates the the X1 has set an important trend. The X100 is currently an early prototype for which no clear specifications have been set. Dr. Kaufmann sees the X100 as “a sales promotion” for the X1."

I think Kaufi is living in a dream world:rolleyes:

Jeff
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#18 mhoersch

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Posted 06 October 2010 - 11:17

You get a bit tired of it all after a while, don't you?


To put it very mildly, yes.
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#19 andybarton

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Posted 06 October 2010 - 11:54

I'm getting tired of the glass half full sentiment that's been pervading this forum for far too long, IMHO.
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#20 andybarton

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Posted 06 October 2010 - 12:08

Andy many thanks for the effort in providing this translation to you and your helpers...much appreciated.


No problem

I am surprised that Leica did not give a more positive outlook....it reminded me of the doom and gloom pronouncements from UK Govt ministers in power and the opposition.


These people are realists, not fantasists



I read that:

  • They have limited development resources, and cannot raise funding for the new factory site

Perhaps this will help to foster a sense of realism on this forum too. Leica are a small company and they don't have billions of Euro sitting in the bank to invest in Leica-Park or new products






  • They are going CMOS but dont know with who,

That is NOT what is written above.






  • They need a mirrorless approach (ie EVIL / Liveview) but dont know when

In order to provide the R solution, yes. Not for any other specified reason






  • There are holes in the M Lens line up that will be plugged eventually, but no date given or elluded to

Correct. When they are ready, they will tell you. Maybe they will be a bit more circumspect this time, given the problems that they have had with the new 35 Summilux...






  • The S2 that cost 30M€uros to develop is selling well to amtateurs in Asia, not USA and not to professionals as they need a full lens line up

It is selling well to amateurs in Europe too and it should be obvious that pros will need a full system. See the answers above as to why this cannot happen all at once.






  • The S2 in lens shutter is delayed due to the partner they selected.

They have taken the decision on quality grounds to bring the development in house. This will inevitably lead to a delay in delivery.






  • There appears to be demand for a chrome M but no decision.

Correct, although the special edition currently on sale in the US shows that a standard chrome version is probably not far off.






I must say that I had hoped for a much more positive set of messages as I really believe that they have a lot that they could say.

  • The Leica shops and boutiques are expanding which will give a better client experience, and differentiated support in collaboration with dealers.
  • There is a move towards centralising after sales support and that will give a chance for better turnaround times etc.
  • The QA of the cameras and lenses have been a problem (They appear to not wish to admit that) but they are on top of it (as I am sure they are) and they had an opportunity to say that this specifically is what they have done....and will do! They missed this opportunity
  • The M9 and its lenses continues to sell well and outstrip production capacity. I am surprised that they have not indicated when dealers will be able to sell ex stock the M9 and its lenses.


M9s in both colours are free stock across the UK and probably Europe. It would be interesting to see what stocks at Dale, for example, are like.




I would say that in the current economic climate that most of us are living in, this is a very positive set of messages.
  • They haven't gone bust.
  • They are still investing.
  • Their principle product has sold extremely well and they are working on additional lenses for it, and the premium camera at the top of their line.
  • They have plans for the mid-range point and shoot too, as well as continuing to seel their badge-engineered Panasonic cameras.
  • And, they are consolidating their Customer Services and inventory and delivery functions to give a better experience for new and existing customers.

Edited by andybarton, 06 October 2010 - 12:42.

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Andy

 

 

Any comment here is just my opinion. Yours may differ.

Posts made with my Moderator hat on are in Bold Dark Red



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