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hammam

Leica stubborness will hurt sales

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OK, here's a proposed solution to all this whining. It gives the whingers what they want, provides Leica with some revenue and requires CV and Zeiss to stop being the parasitic manufacturers they are (let's sell lenses but not bother with the need to develop the imaging platform as well, we'll let Leica do that) and instead bring something to the party.

 

In 1.102, a new feature reads the lens code so that when a WATE is mounted, a menu pops up to ask for the focal length. Similarly, when you select coded lenses in the menu and a WATE is already mounted, you are asked for the focal length. With that background:

 

1. Assign a single lens code to "Zeiss", another to "CV" and potentially codes to other manufacturers.

 

2. Leica licences these manufacturers to include the "manufacturer" code on new lenses and a program to retrofit new mounts to their existing lenses.

 

3. Leica updates the M8 firmware so that when the manufacturer code is read by the camera, a list of supported lenses - chosen by the manufacturer - pops up for the user to select.

 

4. Leica includes support in the M8 for each such lens nominated by the manufacturer, optimised in the same way as for Leica lenses.

 

5. Licence and Services fees to Leica? Let's say €1m to join the party, €100k to modify the firmware to support each lens, €200 for each lens made with the manufacturer code or retrofitted with a new mount.

 

With this scheme, Leica could potentially provide coding support for some of its older lenses not deemed "worthy" of a dedicated code by having their own "manufacturer" code.

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Guest flatfour

Sean - I never said I thought that such sales levels would continue into the future. I hope they will but no product's life is indefinite. My source , which is admittedly third hand at Solms, is that the factory is working flat out to satisfy demand for the M8.

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Your proposal makes a lot of sense, Mark but I don't think Cosina and Zeiss have the expertise to build a digital rangefinder (yet) unless they team up with another company ... with nothing to lose and only sales to boost, they will not bite the royalty charge.

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OK, here's a proposed solution to all this whining.

Mark in reference to you whining about others whining (interesting how one's own contributions should be considered intelligent discourse while anyone who disagrees with you is "whining").

 

Asking for access to profiles via menus is a simple and doable request, that could be implemented by Leica in some reasonable time frame with very little tax on resources since the profiles already reside in the firmware.

 

Arranging complex licensing and business arrangements between companies that will require agreement on fees and whole other range of issues as well as new development? Assuming they are even interested, don't hold your breath waiting for it to appear in any release of firmware in the near term.

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Hank

 

I guess my views net down to the following:

 

1. Leica should exploit the IP embodied in the M8 for commercial return. That's what will fund future developments.

 

2. The idea of using existing lens profiles, however effectively, for other lenses goes against my engineering grain to to do it right.

 

If Leica are to provide in-camera correction for non-Leica lenses, it should be optimised for those lenses and Leica should receive licence and services fees for their trouble.

 

To expect Leica to open the camera up to competitor lenses for no commercial return is hopelessly naieve.

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I am not sure your reasoning is entirely correct. Let's say I'm interested in the M8. First I have to shell out $4,500 for the body. Then I need lenses. Just for the purpose of the discussion, let's just talk wide angles, since this is where the lens coding is important to get rid of the cyan drift in the corners. The three Elmarits (21, 24 and new 28 asph) plus the 35 Summicron amount to roughly $10,000 new. OTH, the four C/Vs (21/4, 25/4, 28/1.9 and 35/1.7) amount to... $1,417. Now, I'm told that to get faultless results with my $4,500 camera, I need to get my lenses coded (or get the ones already coded) but you can't code the C/Vs, and because you cannot enter the lens data via menu, I'm stuck with the Leicas. Do you really think I'm gonna go «Oh, what the heck, let's fork out the $10,000»? I won't, the difference is too huge, and I'll walk away from the M8.

 

Very good lenses at an attractive price to go with my M8? That's good. Being forced to buy those awfully expensive (though fabulous) Leica lenses, sorry, I can't.

 

That's what I mean when I say Leica may lose buyers if they keep their closed system policy.

 

Instead of criticizing everyone else's reasoning maybe you should stop for a moment and think about the flaws in your own reasoning...

 

Most, camera companies make very slim margins on the bodies. The Japanese make more because their scales of economy are greater and they get a much higher return for R&D because they sell a much higher number of cameras.

 

I can't say for sure but my bet would be that Leica makes even less (if anything yet) per M8 sold since R&D costs have to be spread out amongst a much smaller number of camera bodies sold. On top of that, Leica isn't making their own sensors, like Canon, or even some of the electronics and mechanical parts - e.g. shutter. This increases their cost even more since they need to act as a consumer in order to assemble a M8 for market.

 

In a competitive camera market, it is a necessity to price the bodies at a lower price, with slim to no margins, in hopes that consumers will adopt your system and buy the lenses, accessories, etc. as well. It's not news that most of the profit comes from the sales of lenses and accessories. This also explains why you feel that the price of the M8 body is somewhat reasonable but that the lenses are not.

 

In your case, it it perfectly fine for you to want options. There is nothing wrong with that. The options are there and are pretty good from what I have seen. I have seen some amazing shots from the CV 15. The problem is that the options aren't perfect so you feel that it is necessary to demand Leica to accommodate you.

 

Before getting the M8, I had Canon 5D's and used many Contax and Leica R lenses with it. I did this with the full understanding that I would need an adapter, have no camera based aperture control, stopping down would dim the viewfinder, have no AF and not have access to full flash capabilities. Was it perfect...no. But I got great images and never in a million years did I think that it would be reasonable for me to demand Canon to accommodate my use of these third party lenses and provide increased capabilities like those provided to their own lenses. Canon doesn't even accommodate for their own MF lenses much less third party lenses.

 

Like I had already said before...a request for third party lens accommodation is reasonable. A demand is not and I fully believe, IMHO, that it is not in Leica's best interest. Doing so could jeopardize their future in such a competitive camera market in which they are already the underdog.

 

I for one hope to see Leica stick around for a long time so that we can have more options and choices instead of just the gigantic mass-manufactured Asian SLR's. I'm really enjoying the low key profile that my M8 and Leica lenses are providing when doing weddings and candid street photography.

 

Using third party lenses will be harder and will require more post processing but at least the option is available. I apologize if I my comments in previous posts came across as insulting before, but that was not my intention. I'm just hoping that you can see the other side of the coin and hopefully give Leica a little more credit where I think the credit is definitely due. The M8 is an amazing camera and we are all lucky and blessed that it exists.

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Hank

 

I guess my views net down to the following:

 

1. Leica should exploit the IP embodied in the M8 for commercial return. That's what will fund future developments.

 

2. The idea of using existing lens profiles, however effectively, for other lenses goes against my engineering grain to to do it right.

 

If Leica are to provide in-camera correction for non-Leica lenses, it should be optimised for those lenses and Leica should receive licence and services fees for their trouble.

 

To expect Leica to open the camera up to competitor lenses for no commercial return is hopelessly naieve.

 

Mark, I agree with you on number one and Leica coded lenses will still have an advantage even with menu selection of profiles. And I absolutley agree with you on number 2. Ideally that might happen long term.

 

The problem is that now because of the unanticipated effect of the IR problem this is no longer an engineering issue. It's a marketing/customer relations issue. These sorts of problems can be deadly for product oriented, inwardly focused companies but they can be an opportunity for a customer focused company. This requires not engineering rigidity about the ideal process but flexibility and empathy for the customer and potential customer and what is in the mutual interests of the company and its customers. We don't want the perfect to be the enemy of the good in this case.

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Sean - I never said I thought that such sales levels would continue into the future. I hope they will but no product's life is indefinite. My source , which is admittedly third hand at Solms, is that the factory is working flat out to satisfy demand for the M8.

 

The M8 is selling very well and lenses are selling extremely well. But, if past experience is any guide for us, those sales will level off. Adding a lens selection menu system could be good for M8 sales over time and may have little real effect on lens sales. After all, a factory-coded Leica lens gives a degree of convenience and compatibility that no other lens would be able to offer, even with the menu system. The competitive edge, in that respect, is not really lost.

 

Cheers,

 

Sean

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Mark in reference to you whining about others whining (interesting how one's own contributions should be considered intelligent discourse while anyone who disagrees with you is "whining").

 

Asking for access to profiles via menus is a simple and doable request, that could be implemented by Leica in some reasonable time frame with very little tax on resources since the profiles already reside in the firmware.

 

Arranging complex licensing and business arrangements between companies that will require agreement on fees and whole other range of issues as well as new development? Assuming they are even interested, don't hold your breath waiting for it to appear in any release of firmware in the near term.

 

Indeed, "whining" is in the eye of the beholder. Indeed, and speaking generally, some of the self-same people on this forum who accuse others of being whiners have themselves sometimes been called the same. A working forum definition for future reference:

 

Whiner: Person B who values and wants something that Person A does not think is important, proper, correct, righteous, etc.

 

Advocate/Pioneer: Person B who values and wants something that Person A does think is important, proper, etc.

 

With this in mind, I take many such "whiner" comments with a grain of salt. <G>

 

As for Mark Norton's comment about "parasitic" companies, consider the following: Since late 2006, the M8 has been giving some boost to the sales of CV and Zeiss lenses. From 2004 to the present, the Epson R-D1 (made largely by CV) has given a boost to Leica lens sales. And so the world keeps spinning round and one company can end up helping another even when such is not intentional. CV indirectly helped Leica lens sales during some recent crucial years, Leica is helping CV sales (sort of) right now. So Zeiss has to take a turn spinning the merry go round but the fact is that any company who helps to keep the rangefinder market alive and growing ends up helping all the manufacturers involved in that market. So this talk of parasites is mistaken, in kindest terms.

 

By the way, there is nothing in the R-D1 that moves it towards a closed M system even though its mother company makes RF lenses. All lenses have the opportunity to work well or not on the R-D1 and the competition in that system is based purely upon performance, price, size, weight - the usual. Interesting....

 

There is nothing in the Zeiss Ikon that makes it a closed system either. Same for the M3, M4, M6, MP, M7, etc. - in short there's a lot precedent for an open M system. Leica can't easily make the M8 an open system camera (specifically because of the IR and filter problems) but they can take steps in the right direction and should.

 

BTW, I do agree that the M8 came to be a more closed system largely by accident (the discovery of the IR problem, need for filters, camera corrections, etc.) but that doesn't mean it can't be steered back towards being a more open system. The coding was meant to be a perk for Leica lenses, not a necessity. We can read that in various Leica marketing materials. With the IR problem, its become a necessity for wide angle color photography. As such, it has perhaps even drifted from Leica's own intentions with respect to compatibility.

 

Sean

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OK, here's a proposed solution to all this whining. It gives the whingers what they want, provides Leica with some revenue and requires CV and Zeiss to stop being the parasitic manufacturers they are (let's sell lenses but not bother with the need to develop the imaging platform as well, we'll let Leica do that) and instead bring something to the party.

 

In 1.102, a new feature reads the lens code so that when a WATE is mounted, a menu pops up to ask for the focal length. Similarly, when you select coded lenses in the menu and a WATE is already mounted, you are asked for the focal length. With that background:

 

1. Assign a single lens code to "Zeiss", another to "CV" and potentially codes to other manufacturers.

 

2. Leica licences these manufacturers to include the "manufacturer" code on new lenses and a program to retrofit new mounts to their existing lenses.

 

3. Leica updates the M8 firmware so that when the manufacturer code is read by the camera, a list of supported lenses - chosen by the manufacturer - pops up for the user to select.

 

4. Leica includes support in the M8 for each such lens nominated by the manufacturer, optimised in the same way as for Leica lenses.

 

5. Licence and Services fees to Leica? Let's say €1m to join the party, €100k to modify the firmware to support each lens, €200 for each lens made with the manufacturer code or retrofitted with a new mount.

 

With this scheme, Leica could potentially provide coding support for some of its older lenses not deemed "worthy" of a dedicated code by having their own "manufacturer" code.

 

I agree that a license fee structure would be reasonable and not without precedent. Sigma, Tamron, etc. license the mount technology from Canon, Nikon... in producing their third party lenses. The trick is that the Leica M system sells fewer lenses so the licensing fees and other math involved will be tricky and perhaps too much for either side to bear - either too high for CV, Zeiss or too low for Leica. These are the difficulties from smaller scales of economy.

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Guest tummydoc

Honestly, to avoid the need to mutilate some of my valuable collector lenses, I would be happy if Leica simply inserted a menu feature that allowed picking an arbirtrary identifier (such as 01-99) that would appear in the EXIF. No correction, just an identifier. So I could know when I'm downloading my images, that files with "Lens 01" was eg a 21mm Super-Angulon f/3.4 and Lens 02 was eg the 35mm Summilux-ASPHERICAL. That way I could sort them into separate files, and run each batch through a preset Photoshop action with Panotools setings for that lens.

 

Of course it would also be great if C1 came with a cyan drift correction slider!

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... Same for the M3, M4, M6, MP, M7, etc. - in short there's a lot precedent for an open M system... the M8 came to be a more closed system largely by accident...

There is also the precedent of the Leica CL when Wetzlar did what they could to close this new system, stating that the 'cron 40/2 could not be used accurately with M bodies, building its flange in order to bring up 50mm instead of 35mm framelines in the M viewfinder, choosing Series 5 filters and a specific filter thread for CL lenses in order to dissuade photogs to use M filters with them or to use the cute CL's hoods on M lenses...

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I seriously doubt that Leica has any interest in accommodating 3rd party lenses. The fact that someone can buy an M8 for $5K and then populate their kit with CV lenses for $1-2K is an annoyance for them, not a benefit. They don't see CV as their entry level, they see the their own used lenses as their entry level. If you can afford it, great; if you can't, well you have something to aspire to for now. Short of that they want customers to buy in the used market, to keep their resale values up. Given this, they do need to do something to preserve the value of their own used lenses on the M8 and a menu just for Leica lenses is appropriate, particularly since they claim that the coding fee is not much greater than their cost.

 

Other than that, Leica is a premium brand and generally acts like it. If you think you're the best, you don't acknowledge that there are compromises or alternatives (this does require that you be the best by enough objective/subjective measures to satisfy the customer base). Any other attitude actually detracts from their total value and returns as the Leica brand is depreciated. If people think that Leica is not listening to their customers, they should look at how Porsche and Ferrari act to their customers (the bitching on those user forums is worse than here and it has zero impact on Porsche or Ferrari marketing).

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Other than that, Leica is a premium brand and generally acts like it. If you think you're the best, you don't acknowledge that there are compromises or alternatives (this does require that you be the best by enough objective/subjective measures to satisfy the customer base). Any other attitude actually detracts from their total value and returns as the Leica brand is depreciated. If people think that Leica is not listening to their customers, they should look at how Porsche and Ferrari act to their customers (the bitching on those user forums is worse than here and it has zero impact on Porsche or Ferrari marketing).

 

If you believe that Leica should be in the business of making luxury status objects like an Hermes bag or a Ferrari then yes Leica should mimic those companies strategies. If however you believe Leica's new management when they said that Leica would be returning to the mainstream of photography and be making tools for photographers then the luxury brand nonsense should have left the building with Hermes.

 

In the long run discouraging photographers from buying the M8 will reduce the size of Leica's market. Every M8 sold today brings with it a customer who has bought into a long term relationship with Leica and the M platform. Many will be future purchasers of more Leica product. If they sink there money into a Canon or Pentax instead those future sales opportunities are lost. Companies pay big bucks for custromer aquisition and would kill to have a potential client plunk down 5,000 and commit to a long term relationship with their company.

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There is nothing in the Zeiss Ikon that makes it a closed system either. Same for the M3, M4, M6, MP, M7, etc. - in short there's a lot precedent for an open M system.

 

That is not quite true, Sean. The M system was effectively a closed system until the patent on the M mount ran out, enabling Zeiss to adopt it. Even then, Zeiss implemented the frameline notching differently, making their own system not quite closed, but not quite open either.

Interesting will be when Zeiss and CV come out with their own DRF. They must of necessity at some point of time - or get out of the RF market entirely. If they want to implement some kind of coupling which seems logical they have two choices: license Leica's coding or come out with their own effectively closed system. Either way Leica comes out the winner: by financial gain or by being top dog. If they keep their own system closed.

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That is not quite true, Sean. The M system was effectively a closed system until the patent on the M mount ran out, enabling Zeiss to adopt it. Even then, Zeiss implemented the frameline notching differently, making their own system not quite closed, but not quite open either.

Interesting will be when Zeiss and CV come out with their own DRF. They must of necessity at some point of time - or get out of the RF market entirely. If they want to implement some kind of coupling which seems logical they have two choices: license Leica's coding or come out with their own effectively closed system. Either way Leica comes out the winner: by financial gain or by being top dog. If they keep their own system closed.

 

The closest anyone should expect to see from CV, by way of a DRF, is the R-D1. CV doesn't need to make a DRF to stay in the RF market. From Zeiss...perhaps one day. As for the film Ikon, have you used it with Leica lenses? If so, what restrictions did you run into exactly? I tested an Ikon and didn't notice any particular restrictions on M lens use.

 

Long before the M patent ran out, people were able to use all sorts of LTM lenses on M cameras via adapters.

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A truly good "parasite" will NEVER kill the host, as then it is out of both room and board....

 

Besides, it seems odd to think that the Zeiss 15/2.8 lens is any less great than anything Leica has put out.....oh, Leica does not have a 15mm f2.8 lens, nor do they have a 15mm f4.5 like CV. Choices are good for everybody here, and if Leica can help accommodate some of its loyal customer's requests, it will enjoy that loyal customer base a lot longer.

 

As mentioned before, it would be nice to separate the lens correction issues from the cyan contamination issues that Leica introduced to ALL lenses using filters to correct the excessive IR that the sensor reads. So, while having in-camera corrections for vignetting would be nice to have on any lens used, Leica has the perrogative to keep that to themselves for coded lenses only. The cyan contamination is something they created "after the fact", and should merit some serious consideration to help remove when using Leica filters, regardless of what lens is used.

 

LJ

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There is not much 'perfection' in this IR story dare i say but anyway it's not what i meant Tom.

The menus would be as 'perfect' as they could be of course. It's just my results which would be imperfect and that's OK for me. Just my problem not Leica's.

Let me take my Rokkor 28 example again. I am the happy owner of both Cron and Elmarit asph 28 but i like to use the little Minolta as well.

Then suppose that the menu let me choose 3 options between Cron, Elmarit asph and Elmarit pre-asph for instance. I will then choose the Elmarit pre-asph option probably as the latter and the Minolta lens were from the same generation.

You see what i mean. The Leica menus would be 'perfect' this way. Of course my choice would be 'imperfect' but the result would be better than with no menu at all obviously.

Things would be exactly as if i had hand coded the Rokkor like an old Elmarit that's all.

Quite harmless for Leica and reasonably fair for an old Leicaphile like me.

 

 

If implemented I seriously doubt you will see "Cron, Elmarit asph and Elmarit pre-asph" listed as the lens choices. More likely the product number will be used, since this how Leica refers to specific lenses.

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Imperfect pic with an imperfect lens (Rokkor 28) on an imperfect body (Epson R-D1).

I would like to get at least the same result with a 'perfect' Leica.

Fair enough no?

 

Looks rather soft blown up to fill my laptop screen, I get much better with my M8.

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