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Peter Walker

Who are the target customers for the SL?

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Watching these conversations about the Leica SL have been instructive and entertaining.  How a product launch can release so much passion is beyond me.  It's a product.  It might succeed.  It might fail.  The company made its bet and now will see how it fairs in the market.  Being a brand new product, the company owes no allegiance to existing customers of any of their other product ranges.  So there's no need for the passion.  You either like it or you don't.

 

A lot of the discussions seem to revolve around one Question: who are the target customers for this new range?

 

Answer: Me.   And, hopefully, a few others...

 

Why me?  Foremost, I have always enjoyed quality.  It inspires me.  

 

Outside of family and work, I only have two passions: photography and scuba diving (and the combination of the two).  I've worked hard all my life and achieved some level of success.  So, spending some money on quality products to support my passion does not seem unreasonable.

 

For the last 25 years, I have been a Hasselblad user, but, in that whole time, I have only ever used two of their cameras and five lenses.  I believe in buying a system and using it for years so that I become familiar with its every nuance and can know how it'll respond in every circumstance.   (I realise that in today's world that's not so easy anymore, as product cycles are significantly shorter).

 

But, recently two things changed as I become older.  I struggle to carry a huge backpack of camera gear.  And my eyes do not focus as well as they used to, taking longer to determine if an image in the viewfinder is sharp or not.  For a couple of years, I left the Hasselblad in the dehumidifier and I used the Leica M9 but never did get comfortable with RF focusing - nothing wrong with the system - just took me too long to find the focus.

 

I recently tried the Sony A7Rii.  I was very excited at first.  Almost there!  Light weight, AF, EVF, 42 Mp, almost as many as the 'blad.   But the Sony zoom lenses do not match that sensor.   Possibly some good prime lenses coming - if Zeiss ever sort out their production issues.  But, the Sony cameras just feel wrong.  Too much clutter.  Too many useless functions (e.g. detect a smile then automatically take a photo).  Scene modes, yuk!  Buttons all over the place.  Symbols that flashes at you in the viewfinder for no good reason.  Seems like they are trying to be all things to all people.  Yes, you can try to ignore the clutter but that does not appeal to my love of quality and simple design.   The Sony A7Rii is not a bad camera and I have taken some great images with it - but it's not a camera you could ever fall in love with - it feels like the camera you own for a year or two until the Sony A7Riii comes along.

 

Then, just as I was stocking-up on Sony lenses and accessories, I heard about the SL.  Sounded like it fit most of my criteria.  Quality, AF, Weight1, Size2, Lenses3,...

 

1Yes, you read it right, weight. For me, its weight is a positive.  Anyone who has schlepped a backpack with a Hasselblad and 3 lenses around all day will see the SL weight as "reasonable", even with the initial SL lens on-board.  850 grams for a camera body is about right.  2kg for a whole camera system is fine.  Solid enough to be stable.  Light enough to carry all day.

 

2The size is right.  The Hasselblad was big, really big.  But, as it was well designed, I could walk for hours with it in my hand - although it did get a bit heavy with one of the larger lenses on.  For me, the Sony A7Rii is too small.  My little finger slips off the bottom.  The SL is a comfortable size.

 

3And, what a lens, for 95% of my photographs, that one lens will fit the bill.  One body, one lens, one extra battery - total of 2kg - lovely - and light (by comparison to my equipment of the last 25 years).   Will I hanker for some primes, especially for portraits?  Maybe.  Time will tell.

 

So, last week, I went into Leica Store Singapore and touched a Leica SL.   That touch was the tipping point.  The minute I had it in my hands, I knew that I had to have this camera.  Not optional.  Slapped down the card and got myself onto the pre-order list.

 

Will this be my main camera for the next few years?  I hope so.  But, if not, I can always sell it and try something else.  I am not all starry-eyed about the SL.  But I am excited about the next few months of using this new Leica product to see if will become my new camera system for the next few years.  I'll let you know how it works out.

 

Final thought: My advice to anyone who wants to stay angry at Leica for not producing the camera that they wanted, is this: Do not touch one of these SLs.  You'll be sorely tempted to ignore all the grumbling, forget about its affordability and slap down your plastic too.

 

Regards

Peter

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Indeed I would be too if it weren't for the cost!! The A7rII is no leica when it comes too the love that you can feel but it's one hell of a versatile tool

Edited by viramati

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There are three reasons why anyone might want the SL (they apply to any camera really, but we're talking about the SL):

- functionality: will it take photos of the right quality.

- usability: a broad term which I use to cover what it is like to use, including size/weight and construction quality.

- brand affection.

 

The different priorities given to each of these account for the different opinions. And explain why, for example, statements by some that cameras a quarter of the price will take the same pictures carry no weight with others.

 

I have the SL on order because it has the functionality I want. But so does a Sony A7Rii, and so does, almost, my OMD EM5ii. But I also ordered the SL because it also has the simple usability I look for from all Leicas, that makes it easy to just pick up and use (I hope). The Sony and OM just have too many visible options and buttons.

 

I don't have particular brand affection, other than recognising that Leicas typically have the simplicity i want.

Love Leica? No. I have no romantic relationship with my cameras. And I only fondle things that fondle me back.

 

Edit: I should have added price as a criterion, but, with amateurs, that is typically a threshhold issue: if we can afford it, we probably will as long as the other criteria are met.

Edited by LocalHero1953

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Leica targeted The Well Healed.. - After purchasing my X1, XVario & then the Safari Set my GAS has dissapated!!

I'm moving onto cars & timepieces...

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I think it will appeal to many of the same people to whom the M cameras appeal, excepting those who particularly value the RF or its relatively small size, or both.  But even amongst that group, many will be happy to own an SL alongside their M-camera(s).

 

It will also appeal to people who just enjoy using cameras. It's an appealing machine which is sufficiently different from the established DSL offerings to find a good niche in the market, in the recognised Leica fashion.

 

As long as it doesn't in any way impinge on the development of the M line, which I think I am assured it will not,  I hope it achieves huge success.

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I would love to own the SL, was waiting for its release before buying a DSLR, just on the off chance that it would be a bit closer to what I was willing to spend.  

The SL is exactly what I was hoping for equipment-wise, and yes, once touched it is hard to put down.  I'm not a pro and just don't use larger, faster cameras enough to justify it. The Canon 6D I purchased is almost as big and heavy, its optics and AF system are inferior and its optical VF has advantages and disadvantages (more disadvantages) compared to the very impressive EVF on the SL.  It was also only $2000 with a decent zoom, and a wide zoom and long zoom (f/4 class is fine for me) will push that total to $4500, which is much less than the SL body only.

 

Of course the SL is vastly superior, but the M and X remain my primary cameras, with an AF system camera really only for family vacations that are not primarily of photography.  In that situation, making photo books for the family, any modern enthusiast level camera is more than adequate.

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I have been shooting M cameras all my life (M2, M3, M4, M4P, M6, M8, M9, M240, MM), but as technology evolves its time for our cameras to advance. The SL seems to fit all of my needs;

- Allows me to use all of my M lenses and get exceptional results (I own all Summilux lenses + Noctilux, and based on comments by Reid and Puts it looks like these will be perfect companions especially considering I tend to shoot them wide open)

- I have a few R lenses (100mm Macro and 70-180 f2.8 zoom) This satisfy my DSLR requirements.

- There are times when AF lenses are priceless.

- I shoot 4k video- and this seems to be a perfect 2nd unit camera

- I have a large assortment of PL lenses (The SL offers a reasonably priced PL adapter)

- I love shooting with a rangefinder, but find a high quality EVF just as satisfying, and in some applications superior...especially considering all the points above.

 

The SL is the perfect choice for me. I have sold both my M240 and Q and have the SL on order. I still have a Monochrome, it will satisfy all my rangefinder needs.

Edited by digitalfx

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Leica targeted The Well Healed.. - After purchasing my X1, XVario & then the Safari Set my GAS has dissapated!!

I'm moving onto cars & timepieces...

 

Well, my hip surgery is almost well-healed now.  :-)

 

Obviously, they expect the audience that will buy their products has the money to afford them. That doesn't necessarily mean they're all wealthy folks who can write a check for $20,000 without blinking or thinking. I'm certainly not but, with planning and by putting my priorities in the right order, I can afford to write a check for a Leica SL. 

 

I've been waiting for, and planning for, this camera for some time. Even with that, it's a bit of a stretch; but I have made it happen.

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Bank account will need to be well healed as well. 

 

No real answers as to who the target customers are though. Pros or keen amateurs who can afford it? Why buy it over another product? "Passion" or "fascination" will be more of a factor for the amateur than the pro, I suspect, who will make a hard-headed business decision. 

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Bank account will need to be well healed as well. 

 

No real answers as to who the target customers are though. Pros or keen amateurs who can afford it? Why buy it over another product? "Passion" or "fascination" will be more of a factor for the amateur than the pro, I suspect, who will make a hard-headed business decision. 

 

Yeah, my bank account is going to need some time to heal. 

 

But in realistic terms, buying an SL and its 24-90mm lens is right about the same cost as buying a Leica M-P and a Summilux-M 50mm f/1.4 lens. If you can afford the latter, you can afford the former ... and, seriously, you're getting a lot more for your money with the SL and zoom lens in terms of a diversity of focal lengths to work with, AF, etc. 

 

For me, it represents a "hard-headed" business decision to buy into a solidly designed, young system that meets my specs and that has all of its growth and upside in front of it. I'm prepared for it and look forward to working with it. :-)

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Who are the target customers for the SL?

WAG, someone who feels the cost of body and zoom lenses isn't exhorbitant compared to other mirrorless full-frame systems, likes an EVF as well or better than either a rangefinder or a reflex, and doesn't mind the size, weight and bulk of the SL and its zooms.   I happen not to fall in any of those groups so I'm not interested in it whatsoever, but I'm sure it's a dandy camera with great lenses. 

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Well, I guess I'm the lucky one - I've just spent a week in Venice with the SL and the 24-90 . . . . and what's more I was already familiar with it from testing in June and September. The only criticism I have is the strap (I don't like the feel of it, but that's just me) - so I've been carrying it around in my right hand full time, with the 24-90 attached. 

 

At the end of the week it feels like a real friend, it's extremely responsive, and you can grab a shot in no time - the battery lasts all day, even with the camera switched on - the lens is great at all apertures and all focal lengths - the controls are there for you without getting in the way . . . 

 

http://lightroom.adobe.com/shares/611b7dcdadc14ba38fc44250048ae583

 
I won't be cancelling my order!

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Well, I guess I'm the lucky one - I've just spent a week in Venice with the SL and the 24-90 . . . . and what's more I was already familiar with it from testing in June and September. The only criticism I have is the strap (I don't like the feel of it, but that's just me) - so I've been carrying it around in my right hand full time, with the 24-90 attached. 

 

At the end of the week it feels like a real friend, it's extremely responsive, and you can grab a shot in no time - the battery lasts all day, even with the camera switched on - the lens is great at all apertures and all focal lengths - the controls are there for you without getting in the way . . . 

 

http://lightroom.adobe.com/shares/611b7dcdadc14ba38fc44250048ae583

 
I won't be cancelling my order!

 

Great Leica M shots from Venice! 

Because they look like the classic street shots we want the M for.

If you went to Venice in a year's time, not to test a camera or lens, which camera would you take out and about with you? Is the SL growing on you as a M replacement?

 

Edit. To answer my own question, I've just realised that in a year's time you'll take the new M!

Edited by LocalHero1953

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