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plasticman

Pity the M8 wasn't maintained as an entry-level digital M

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The biggest difference between the M8.x and M9 is the sensor and I don't think the cost difference of that alone would be enough to lower price of the camera significantly. You still have the same very complex (expensive) RF unit, high build quality etc

 

If Leica was smart they would produce a APS-C or APS-H (x1.33/M8) with a simplified RF, mixed metal/plastic body. Basically a digital CL. Add to that a line up of compact DX type lenses and you have something.

 

But don't hold your breath waiting for this to happen. Leica is on the record saying that they have no interest in building such a camera and if you can't afford an M9, 'too bad, better luck next time'.

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I had thought that they would keep the crop-sensor as an entry level model, but on reflection - the second hand market has always been the best source of entry level M's.

 

I think this is true of film Ms - built to last 100+ years(?) - but less so with regard to digital cameras, imo. This is specially true in terms of M7s and M6s that have possibly had less than 100 rolls of film through them since new, compared to an M8 that has maybe had 20,000+ shutter actuations.

 

The cost of building the M8 - probably roughly equivalent to building an M9 (disregarding the higher cost to Leica of the larger sensor), is the main counter-argument to the tiered system. In my opinion, this would have been offset by the extra number of new users buying lenses and other items (and eventually an M9 or an M12...)

 

EDIT: Thrid - you posted while I was writing

We agree about the cost of building the cameras - but my point is that Leica needs to bring new users into the fold.

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Guest BigSplash

I believe that the cost to produce a M8 could be more than a M9 . Look at the paint finish of M9, or the missing battery indicator window, or the lack of a saphire glass screen. That said I wonder why Leica did not and does not introduce a cost reduced M8/M9 using volume manufacturing techniques.

The idea of fitting minute shims to locate the sensor to achieve proper focus for example seems expensive. The need to have highly trained specialists building 50 a day, adjusting this or that does not suggest IMHO low cost manufacturing.

 

It would be great to see an entry M model and I guess many people would like to see a S2 junior also .

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Have you ever inquired into the cost of a larger sensor vs a smaller one, Frank? The price difference would make any minor things like you mention insignificant. Regarding the paint, the coating on the M9 will probably be about the same price as a chrome finish. You really must visit the factory in Solms. that would put an end to remarks about mass producing techniques.

Edited by jaapv

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That said I wonder why Leica did not and does not introduce a cost reduced M8/M9 using volume manufacturing techniques.

 

They dont sell enough units for it to make the blindest bit of difference.

If canon can save two cents a unit on connecter cords it probably translates into hundreds of thousands a year and worth chasing.

Leica could do something monumental, like weather sealing and they would only have to up the price by the raw cost of components plus margin and it would probably only add ten bucks to the cost and translate to tens of thousands in a years production. Why bother when you can be lazy.

They probably jsut reverse engineer and leave themselves space for model upgrades. Who knows or cares.

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Have you ever inquired into the cost of a larger sensor vs a smaller one, Frank? The price difference would make any minor things like you mention insignificant. Regarding the paint, the coating on the M9 will probably be about the same price as a chrome finish. You really must visit the factory in Solms. that would put an end to remarks about mass producing techniques.

 

They could stick a really good APS-C sensor from Sony in a CL-D, similar to what they did with the X1...

That would be substantially cheaper than the custom, low volume unit that is in the M8/M9

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They could stick a really good APS-C sensor from Sony in a CL-D, similar to what they did with the X1...

That would be substantially cheaper than the custom, low volume unit that is in the M8/M9

 

But without the presence of the micro-lenses the colour fidelity would probably be very poor with wider lenses.

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...The debate about the firmware updates - with so many people apparently saying that Leica should not support superseded cameras - has reminded me how quickly cameras can become obsolete in the digital age...

I dare not say that some people are happy with 5+ years old digicams and 20+ years old Leica lenses. They must be as obsolete as their gear i guess.

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Guest BigSplash
Have you ever inquired into the cost of a larger sensor vs a smaller one, Frank? The price difference would make any minor things like you mention insignificant. Regarding the paint, the coating on the M9 will probably be about the same price as a chrome finish. You really must visit the factory in Solms. that would put an end to remarks about mass producing techniques.

 

Jaapv I used to be in the SC business and I can tell you that an IC price heavily depends on:

  1. Production Volumes ..relatively small for Leica
  2. Who the client is ....how well they have negotiated, what other SC products do they buy, how strategic the relationship is?
  3. Process Yield ...which has improved over the years dramatically throughout the industry to a point that its impact is relatively small compared to say a decade ago. eg. Intel achieve 100% yield for large CPU chips on many wafers
  4. Leadframe and package cost (Likely to be expensive for Kodak sensor)
  5. Packaging cost (This will include the IR filter glass assembly for the Kodak sensor)
  6. Packaging Yield
  7. Final Test Cost (A function of test time, tester capital, and whether the chip has been designed for easy test ...JTAG etc on chip)
  8. Final Test yield
  9. SC Wafer size and process maturity

    1. If it is a small wafer it is expensive per chip ...
    2. If it a mature old process then it could be cheap, unless there are few other chips using the same process and then we are talking end of life purchases,
    3. If it is a fairly new process on large wafers with many similar products using the same wafer fab. it will be cheap

[*]Area of Silicon used

Jaapv the only area of difference between M8 and M9 sensor is the area of silicon used (which may have a marginal effect on yield), and the different IR filter cover, as shown in bold. I do not know if there is an impact due to the microprisms.

 

Basically the M8 chip could be today more expensive than the M9 if the process was being phased out for example and the M9 uses a slightly different process. It is wrong to blindly assume M9 is significantly more expensive.

 

As for Solms handcrafting assembly I have said before I agree that Solms cannot suddenly move to mass production, nor does it mean that the way Solms build things today is correct or OK for the future.

 

Leica needs to be able to get costs down and 50 units a day is not sustainable IMHO long term.

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50 units a day is sustainable if demand is 50 units per day.

 

If demand is 100 units per day, there will be 50 disappointed customers every day, but that may still be sustainable.

 

If demand is 10 units per day and you build 50 units per day, that's not sustainable.

 

What was it that Mr Micawber said?

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But without the presence of the micro-lenses the colour fidelity would probably be very poor with wider lenses.

 

 

I'm not the first to suggest: an M8 sensor in a body of average built quality with an M-mount in front and no RF or any other finder (nor an incorporated flash, but please an M battery):

perfect for lenses of 21mm and shorter. In this respect only the Lux21mm would be difficult to use, except at infinity (in low light). Nobody would think of this combo anyway, since the body would be on a buget (for red dot standards).

Would it need the M8 firmware update, too for manual lens setting? Oh, yes please!

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But without the presence of the micro-lenses the colour fidelity would probably be very poor with wider lenses.

 

APS-C should not be a problem, because it only uses the center of the lens.

(APS-C = x1.5 / APS-H = x1.33 (M8))

 

They could also make a special set of lenses to go along with the camera that only over APS-C/H

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Jaapv I used to be in the SC business and I can tell you that an IC price heavily depends on:
  1. Production Volumes ..relatively small for Leica
  2. Who the client is ....how well they have negotiated, what other SC products do they buy, how strategic the relationship is?
  3. Process Yield ...which has improved over the years dramatically throughout the industry to a point that its impact is relatively small compared to say a decade ago. eg. Intel achieve 100% yield for large CPU chips on many wafers
  4. Leadframe and package cost (Likely to be expensive for Kodak sensor)
  5. Packaging cost (This will include the IR filter glass assembly for the Kodak sensor)
  6. Packaging Yield
  7. Final Test Cost (A function of test time, tester capital, and whether the chip has been designed for easy test ...JTAG etc on chip)
  8. Final Test yield
  9. SC Wafer size and process maturity

    1. If it is a small wafer it is expensive per chip ...
    2. If it a mature old process then it could be cheap, unless there are few other chips using the same process and then we are talking end of life purchases,
    3. If it is a fairly new process on large wafers with many similar products using the same wafer fab. it will be cheap

[*]Area of Silicon used

Jaapv the only area of difference between M8 and M9 sensor is the area of silicon used (which may have a marginal effect on yield), and the different IR filter cover, as shown in bold. I do not know if there is an impact due to the microprisms.

 

Basically the M8 chip could be today more expensive than the M9 if the process was being phased out for example and the M9 uses a slightly different process. It is wrong to blindly assume M9 is significantly more expensive.

 

As for Solms handcrafting assembly I have said before I agree that Solms cannot suddenly move to mass production, nor does it mean that the way Solms build things today is correct or OK for the future.

 

Leica needs to be able to get costs down and 50 units a day is not sustainable IMHO long term.

Frank, the cost of a sensor is not the area of silicon per se, but the accumulation of faults, thus the number of rejects. What make the price go up exponentially is the fact that a higher and higher proportion has to be thrown away. And even if it were just the area, the M9 sensor would cost twice the M8 sensor, as it has double the area.

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They could also make a special set of lenses to go along with the camera that only over APS-C/H

Define “they” … Everyone at Leica who can make lenses is currently making lenses, no? So who do you think could design and manufacture those lenses?

 

I think the main reason the M8 wasn’t kept as an entry-level product was that Leica quite simply wasn’t able to manufacture as many M9 as the market demands and at the same time continue to manufacture the M8. They don’t even manage without keeping the M8 alive. And it wouldn’t be a viable move business-wise as the new M8 units would compete with used M8 units in good condition and at lower prices too.

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In lenses a two-tiered approach was attempted with the Summarit series - there was even a new lenspolishing street set up for the purpose to meet anticipated high production numbers - it was not a succes - because the customers kept preferring the higher-priced lenses. I can imagine Leica is not keen to repeat the experiment - which would be considerably more expensive - with camera bodies, despite posts like Frank's in this thread. I think Mr. Lee might agree with him.

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Define “they” … Everyone at Leica who can make lenses is currently making lenses, no? So who do you think could design and manufacture those lenses?

 

I think the main reason the M8 wasn’t kept as an entry-level product was that Leica quite simply wasn’t able to manufacture as many M9 as the market demands and at the same time continue to manufacture the M8. They don’t even manage without keeping the M8 alive. And it wouldn’t be a viable move business-wise as the new M8 units would compete with used M8 units in good condition and at lower prices too.

 

We are discussing the need for an entry level M body. Not their need to increase their production capacity. That's a given. You are putting the cart before the horse... ;-)

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We are discussing the need for an entry level M body. Not their need to increase their production capacity. That's a given. You are putting the cart before the horse... ;-)[/QUOTe] Ah-you must love those "why do I have to wait six months for my Summilux 50 asph"threads.

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In lenses a two-tiered approach was attempted with the Summarit series - there was even a new lenspolishing street set up for the purpose to meet anticipated high production numbers - it was not a succes - because the customers kept preferring the higher-priced lenses. I can imagine Leica is not keen to repeat the experiment - which would be considerably more expensive - with camera bodies, despite posts like Frank's in this thread. I think Mr. Lee might agree with him.

 

I've heard this before, but I wonder just how true that is... The two dealers I deal with do brisk business with several lenses in the Summarit line up. Mostly the 35 and 50. One of their biggest sellers is the Elmarit ASPH 2.8/28, which is priced like a Summarit... It also depends on how you define a failure. If you hope to sell 50,000 units, but only sell 40,000; that's not exactly a catastrophe.

 

Also consider this. The M8/M9 is priced out of the range of most Summarit buyers.

Those who can afford an M8/M9 can also afford the high priced glass.

 

What are you going to do with a Summarit lens, if you can't afford a body to stick it on?

It's a catch 22 situation... They got the budget lenses, but no budget body to use them on...

 

Part of the problem is also that Leica 'crippled' the Summarit by limiting it to f2.5, so they would not cut in to sales of the Summicron line. If they made a separate line up of low cost lenses that only covered APS-C/H, then they could make them any speed they wanted, without having to worry that they will clash with sales of the Summilux etc for FF.

Edited by thrid

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Well, it was a statement by Stephan Daniel that the Summarits were outsold by the more expensive lenses in a ratio of 2:1. I guess he is in a position to know. And there are budget bodies now - M8, M8.2....

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We are discussing the need for an entry level M body. Not their need to increase their production capacity.

Which they cannot do just like that – even if it made some business sense, which I doubt. Claiming there’s a need for this or that is neither here nor there. Leica isn’t in a position to make it happen, so it won’t happen.

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