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hassiman

The beginng of the end for Leica

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I have been a Leica M/R owner since 1970. I have long loved their cameras and lenses but I have come to the realization that in today's digital world the time of the Leica camera as we know it may just about be at an end.

 

In the days of film it was a good rational that even if you were not well-heeled a Leica camera was worth saving for, and that goal once attained would give one the most finely-built pieces of photographic equipment on the planet, one that would probably outlast its owner even after decades of heavy use. When a newer, faster, better ISO color or B&W film came out we just loaded it into the camera and it worked. No other adjustment necessary.

 

We now live in a world where newer better detectors (senors) are always just around the corner. The product life on a particular camera body as state-of-the-art is now measured in months.

Canon has been able to sell not so finely made DSLR bodies for $5,000 - $8,000 only because they had a lock on the full-frame sensor market. Given recent developments this is no longer true and because Canon has competition prices on high end DSLR bodies will soon be falling.

 

The day of the hand-made finely machined German camera body selling for thousands of dollars is Kaput.

Photographers will no longer be willing to pay that kind of money for a camera... no matter what its brand, that will be obsolete with a year of purchase. This is the harsh reality that Leitz now faces. Yes, Leitz will always be able to market limited edition pieces to the wealthy collectors, but that market is not big enough to sustain a large corporation.

 

The REAL value that Leitz needs to concentrate on are the pieces that DON'T become outmoded every 6 months... Leitz lenses... not the designs they have branded for panasonic... but the Brass and steel hand-fitted wonders that are as good today as they were 40 years ago ( My 40 tear old 50mm F2 Summicron will still hold its own against anything built today) If they can find a way to mass produce the rangefinder and build an M body that sells for $1,500 that will accept the M mount lenses they will have a chance. If they don't.... Leica will go the way of Agfa... and I will mourn their passing.

 

By the way Guy.. I still have the Leicas and the years have been kinder to them than me!

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I have been a Leica M/R owner since 1970. I have long loved their cameras and lenses but I have come to the realization that in today's digital world the time of the Leica camera as we know it may just about be at an end.

 

In the days of film it was a good rational that even if you were not well-heeled a Leica camera was worth saving for, and that goal once attained would give one the most finely-built pieces of photographic equipment on the planet, one that would probably outlast its owner even after decades of heavy use. When a newer, faster, better ISO color or B&W film came out we just loaded it into the camera and it worked. No other adjustment necessary.

 

We now live in a world where newer better detectors (senors) are always just around the corner. The product life on a particular camera body as state-of-the-art is now measured in months.

Canon has been able to sell not so finely made DSLR bodies for $5,000 - $8,000 only because they had a lock on the full-frame sensor market. Given recent developments this is no longer true and because Canon has competition prices on high end DSLR bodies will soon be falling.

 

The day of the hand-made finely machined German camera body selling for thousands of dollars is Kaput.

Photographers will no longer be willing to pay that kind of money for a camera... no matter what its brand, that will be obsolete with a year of purchase. This is the harsh reality that Leitz now faces. Yes, Leitz will always be able to market limited edition pieces to the wealthy collectors, but that market is not big enough to sustain a large corporation.

 

The REAL value that Leitz needs to concentrate on are the pieces that DON'T become outmoded every 6 months... Leitz lenses... not the designs they have branded for panasonic... but the Brass and steel hand-fitted wonders that are as good today as they were 40 years ago ( My 40 tear old 50mm F2 Summicron will still hold its own against anything built today) If they can find a way to mass produce the rangefinder and build an M body that sells for $1,500 that will accept the M mount lenses they will have a chance. If they don't.... Leica will go the way of Agfa... and I will mourn their passing.

 

By the way Guy.. I still have the Leicas and the years have been kinder to them than me!

 

Oh so boring - Oh so yesterday

 

Or should I say it differently - S*d off

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Curious this post from you (an unfrequent poster) just in the day in which the quick and rude FIRING of Leica boss has sprouted an enormous flow of posts on the event in itself, and its consequences on Leica future...

 

You say :

" REAL value that Leitz needs to concentrate on are the pieces that DON'T become outmoded every 6 months... Leitz lenses... "

but they cannot make new lenses without marketable BODIES to mount on... and the fact is that they simply MUST BE digital bodies... it's a no return trend. So they tried their way with M8... a difficult start, then, it seems, a discrete success for a company that is anyway a little one: I enjoy my M8... and so will be next year and the year after I think... then.. who knows? It can be that in 2011-12 10 MPixels look ridicolus for a decent camera... If they'll find a way to follow the tech trends, working with their sensor supplier to make it possible upgrades, can be that M8 proves to be a long standing success (into a niche market, anyway), and a camera on which passionate users can count for years and years as it was for my M2-M4. I'd like it will be so... but really could also happen that they'll go to a sad end

... well, it would be not the first time that a brand who represented a legend for many people reaches the day of its death.

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Your opinion is well thought out, but with all kindness, I simply disagree with it. I think there will always be a place for high build quality. Leica is really onto something special with the M line, and my opinion is that it will continue to make more money along this upgrade path. There are many who are tired of the constant waste associated with Nikon and Canon - and who long to hold something of quality in our hands. Leica has some challenges, but in my opinion it's on the right path. Stick to the upgrade plan - fix the turn around time on repairs, and remember that people will gladly pay a high price for overall quality - but it requires excellent testing and post-purchase experience to justify. That's what's holding Leica back.

 

I love my M8 - if the world at large is happy with plasticized consumer cameras, so be it. But the rabid loyalty Leica sees is by those of us who want more in our tools.

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We now live in a world where newer better detectors (senors) are always just around the corner. The product life on a particular camera body as state-of-the-art is now measured in months. Canon has been able to sell not so finely made DSLR bodies for $5,000 - $8,000 only because they had a lock on the full-frame sensor market. Given recent developments this is no longer true and because Canon has competition prices on high end DSLR bodies will soon be falling

 

A couple of thoughts. The Canon 5D is full frame and costs a lot less than $5000. Also it's been on the market for a couple of years, not a couple of months.

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:confused: You must have missed the part about the first (except for Kodak's false start) upgradable digital camera. Carrying the Leica tradition into the digital age, hopefully. Personally I hope to be shooting my M8's for at least ten years or more, providing the supply of batteries holds out (that being the weak spot). The concept of newest is best is alien to most traditional Leica users. It goes for a fair proportion of M8 owners as well.

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I have been a Leica M/R owner since 1970. I have long loved their cameras and lenses but I have come to the realization that in today's digital world the time of the Leica camera as we know it may just about be at an end.

 

In the days of film it was a good rational that even if you were not well-heeled a Leica camera was worth saving for, and that goal once attained would give one the most finely-built pieces of photographic equipment on the planet, one that would probably outlast its owner even after decades of heavy use. When a newer, faster, better ISO color or B&W film came out we just loaded it into the camera and it worked. No other adjustment necessary.

 

We now live in a world where newer better detectors (senors) are always just around the corner. The product life on a particular camera body as state-of-the-art is now measured in months.

Canon has been able to sell not so finely made DSLR bodies for $5,000 - $8,000 only because they had a lock on the full-frame sensor market. Given recent developments this is no longer true and because Canon has competition prices on high end DSLR bodies will soon be falling.

 

The day of the hand-made finely machined German camera body selling for thousands of dollars is Kaput.

Photographers will no longer be willing to pay that kind of money for a camera... no matter what its brand, that will be obsolete with a year of purchase. This is the harsh reality that Leitz now faces. Yes, Leitz will always be able to market limited edition pieces to the wealthy collectors, but that market is not big enough to sustain a large corporation.

 

The REAL value that Leitz needs to concentrate on are the pieces that DON'T become outmoded every 6 months... Leitz lenses... not the designs they have branded for panasonic... but the Brass and steel hand-fitted wonders that are as good today as they were 40 years ago ( My 40 tear old 50mm F2 Summicron will still hold its own against anything built today) If they can find a way to mass produce the rangefinder and build an M body that sells for $1,500 that will accept the M mount lenses they will have a chance. If they don't.... Leica will go the way of Agfa... and I will mourn their passing.

 

By the way Guy.. I still have the Leicas and the years have been kinder to them than me!

Strange that a Leica camera has been the "dream becomes truth" of so many phtographers after more than a century. I hope I will offer my M8 and its lenses to my grand grandson in three decades, I'm sure he will love it, and naturally sure that his friends will be jealous, since they were obliged to pay for so many dead Nikanopus that cost them more than the next Leica M12, full frame, 40 Mb file, simply with two buttons on the top and two rings on the lens. When the day will come there is only one second hand camera shop in the world, I mean in Germany, it will be only Leica cameras inside the shop wimdow, and dozens of japanese photographers outside. This is only the easy way to appreciate the global business for cameras at the end of 21st century. Because minded people know what is the cost of the eternal jewel. There will be Leica cameras built as long as there will be wallnut wood in the doors of Rolls Royce cars

 

Cheers,

Michel

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I think he has a point, however, one problem is there is no other camera that fits into the M8 slot. If you want a decent quality, discrete camera that has some truly stunning glass for it then you have to buy an M8.

 

I do agree that buying into an M8 now at £3400 without any guarantee of there being an upgrade, and by that I don't mean a FF sensor as such, but I would like to see the next gen sensor in there that can handle noise better, is a big ask of anyone, it is a big outlay.

 

 

I think that Leica will become primarily a lens maker, having Nikon and Canon fit lenses will get the product out there and in turn may get people to start hankering after a Leica body too.

 

 

Problem now is you have things like the Nikon D3 out there for the same money, or you can buy a 5D with a 50 f/1.2L, a lovely 24-70 f/2.8L and still have change.

I am not saying that is the right decision for everyone, but it is a choice that is out there and one that people have to make.

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I think he has a point, however, one problem is there is no other camera that fits into the M8 slot. If you want a decent quality, discrete camera that has some truly stunning glass for it then you have to buy an M8.

 

 

Wrong.

 

You could buy an M7 or MP. Who said you have to buy a camera with a chip?

 

I do agree that buying into an M8 now at £3400 without any guarantee of there being an upgrade, and by that I don't mean a FF sensor as such, but I would like to see the next gen sensor in there that can handle noise better, is a big ask of anyone, it is a big outlay.

 

And how many Canon or Nikon or any other manufacturers have even hinted at any kind of upgrade to their wares? Let's keep some kind of perspective here. Until PMA no one even thought about upgrades to their hardware that didn't involve new bodies.

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Not the beginning of the end, but the end of the beginning of the end of the beginning of the end.

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Guest Cordell

There's a precept in business to the effect that if you're not moving ahead, you're dying. But I have to admit, Leica either has more lives than a house full of cats, or theirs is the longest deathbed scene ever played out in the history of business. Given the number of ill-fated product designs, marketing gaffes, public-relations fiascos, and management turnovers and shakeups, by all rights Leica should have been an historical footnote long ago, or at best a name licensed to be silk screened in a nostalgic-looking font onto a Japanese camera. And yet... So some of you may want to give Leica the count but I wouldn't bet my last dollar they haven't got another round in them.

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There's a precept in business to the effect that if you're not moving ahead, you're dying

 

In fairness to Leica they were a camera manufacturer that were firmly focused on film cameras but have introduced a digital SLR that sold all of the available bodies, and a digital rangefinder that probably saved the company. Seems reasonable to me.

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Wrong.

 

You could buy an M7 or MP. Who said you have to buy a camera with a chip?

 

I think you missed my point, I was saying that the Leica is the only digital rangefinder, and as such will always have a market.

 

And how many Canon or Nikon or any other manufacturers have even hinted at any kind of upgrade to their wares? Let's keep some kind of perspective here. Until PMA no one even thought about upgrades to their hardware that didn't involve new bodies.

 

I know, but it is a given that after 2 years you start to think about selling it on to someone else who will get another couple of years out of it and get ready for the next thing that has seriously moved the game on image wise.

 

My point is, they are now asking £550 more, for a digital product 2, years after it was released, every other brand tend to offer the same quality, if not better, for around a third of the price!

 

 

Please don't think I am knocking the M8, I'm not, and I will have one by the summer, but after playing with a D3 Nikon the other day it makes you realise that the others have moved the game on in a big way.

 

 

Edit: This is just to show what the new sensors are capable of...

 

D3 at iso 25,600

 

 

 

iso 6,400

 

Link

 

You guys telling me you wouldn't like that sensor in a rangefinder body??

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There's a precept in business to the effect that if you're not moving ahead, you're dying.

 

And its a precept that is increasingly questioned; and that some of us in business think has had its time and is - in the words of my esteemed Lancastrian grandfather "A load of tripe". Well - actually he didn't say that but what he said was not for this polite forum

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Guest stnami
Oh so boring - Oh so yesterday

 

Or should I say it differently - S*d off

. Maybe it is time for you to drop the er off your surname !

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I think you missed my point, I was saying that the Leica is the only digital rangefinder, and as such will always have a market.

 

You said that "If you want a decent quality, discrete camera that has some truly stunning glass for it then you have to buy an M8". Well, there are two new cameras that fit that bill, plus 55 years worth of old ones. You didn't mention anything about digital cameras.

 

You did mention the M8 in the previous sentence, though.

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...

The REAL value that Leitz needs to concentrate on are the pieces that DON'T become outmoded every 6 months... Leitz lenses... not the designs they have branded for panasonic... but the Brass and steel hand-fitted wonders that are as good today as they were 40 years ago ( My 40 tear old 50mm F2 Summicron will still hold its own against anything built today) If they can find a way to mass produce the rangefinder and build an M body that sells for $1,500 that will accept the M mount lenses they will have a chance. If they don't.... Leica will go the way of Agfa... and I will mourn their passing.:...

 

Your post betrays an absolute misunderstanding of the basic principles of business. Creating a single product that lasts a lifetime is a death knoll to the manufacturer. By contrast, creating a product line that is varied and replenishable, and attractive to a customer base that is expanding, not static, is the holy grail.

 

Leica's problems were rooted in the very model you describe - they produced excellent, non-obsolete products that while attractive and highly valued, were unable to develop into a volume market based on repeat customers. Ironically, the transition to a digital introduces Leica into a business model where market expectations are baselined on the premise that a product has a limited shelf life, and in order to be effective, a consumer must buy more.

 

I'm not arguing that this model is rational or ethically sound, but the fact that it exists is the single thing most likely to resurrect Leica from the ignominy of being a failed manufacturer of a niche premium product line. There's a reason Canon and Nikon have such market dominance. It's not that their cameras or optics are better; it's simply that they sell more, and have a continually expanding market. For them every customer this year is a guaranteed customer next year too.

 

If you want Leica to survive and develop into a 21st century brand then you better hope they get a slice of the same pie.

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Hassiman, you're really lucky these guys can't get at you with a baseball bat.

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