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hassiman

The beginng of the end for Leica

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...er... I think you are wrong. Have you heard of Miele? Washing machines, dishwashers etc that literally last a lifetime. Lots of people buy them because of that promise.

 

 

But that was the point of the thread, we are living in a digital world, Leica was always about buying into something that you used for years and handed down to you children or grandchildren, but it can't work these days because at 3 years old it may be as good as the day you bought it mechanically, but technically it is out of date!

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Guest Robert Belasario
...er... I think you are wrong. Have you heard of Miele? Washing machines, dishwashers etc that literally last a lifetime. Lots of people buy them because of that promise.

 

Or, Rolls Royce cars? Not exactly the kind of investment you change each year.

 

Actually, I seem to recall Volvo running a very successful ad campaign in the UK in the 1980s about the longevity of their product - they claimed 20+ years because of the quality of their construction and they even offered lifetime guarantees on certain parts (whcih I recall benefiting from several times with my old 340).

 

Rolex watches? I've always promised myself that one day I'll own one but then I realised at my age, I'd probably not live long enough to enjoy it!

 

I'd be more than happy to be the marketing director of a company with that particular USP because I can think of dozens of ways to tap into lifestyle and aspirational values of a certain male/female consumers to make my product sell.

 

LouisB

 

Funny you mentioned that, my wife has this Miele bug I even think all out houshold appliences are miele, except for the fridge and I don't exactly know why that is. I would most certainly buy "everlasting" if more were available. With digital cameras however this is different for they will outlive newer technology and therefore become redundant to a certain group of users. 35mm wise; I still have my M4 from 1968, serviced twice now and still a very usable camera, but hardly ever used for the M8 I purchased last year. Now for one thing I am sure I will not be using the M8 in 30 years time, there will be "better" things by then, there will be better things next year etc. etc.

Not starting a rant but I seriously doubt I will ever be buying a Leica again, but this of course is a personal descision. As for quality of the M8, I'v shot some 20K raws and only had to send it back twice (shutter and a total black-out) I wouldn't call this "good quality" however after sending it back for the second time I received a new M8 and this is what I would call good service for which, in all honesty, one pays a "good" price.

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I don't think this is the end of Leica. I do think, it will make many professionals pause about buying into the system. I purchased two M8 bodies last year. Both of them had serious problems. One body was replaced by Leica USA. I was treated fairly by Leica and my repairs were fast and as promised.

 

The M8 requires a lot from a user - dealing with corner fix for some wide-angle lenses, using IR filters and high ISO that was unusable. My files always required significant amounts of color correction in Capture One or PhotoShop.

 

I have used Leicas all of my career and still own an M4 and two M6 bodies. I will continue to shoot with them. My Canons have always been accurate in color and the L lenses are very good. For assignments, the Canon is a much more reliable and easier camera to use - if on a deadline or you need to tether for client approval.

 

Even though I was treated fairly by Leica and I still believe in the company, I decided to sell both of my M8's. They are now in the hands of two fine photographers who will use them well.

 

I am shooting a long-term B&W personal project and will scan my negs when I am finished with the shoot. It is not a big deal to scan selects.

 

I believe that Leica will get their act together. Their kinda chasing the ball with digital and are very behind the curve. They may need to partner up with another manufacturer to stay alive. I hope the next generation of the digital M is better than the M8.

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But that was the point of the thread, we are living in a digital world, Leica was always about buying into something that you used for years and handed down to you children or grandchildren, but it can't work these days because at 3 years old it may be as good as the day you bought it mechanically, but technically it is out of date!

 

This point is often raised on these threads, and I can't fathom why. Yes, I understand that it is, in the most literal sense, true. But what about the practical implications? Does anyone really believe that, in a few years, those who are still shooting with their original M8s, and their even more outdated pre-ASPH Leica lenses, will be at a significant disadvantage to those shooting with the newest, highest resolution gear?

 

Yes, there will be some narrow advantages gained by using the latest devices, but there are many, many people producing stunningly beautiful images with their M8s right now, and they will still be able to do so even when it becomes "outdated".

 

As most everyone knows, many of the greatest images ever captured were done so with equipment that is now be considered to be primitive. So why is anyone worried about the M8 becoming outdated?

 

There's certainly nothing wrong with companies (Leica included) moving forward and improving their digital products. But the idea that such movement – no matter how rapid – will render the earlier versions of those products obsolete, strikes me as ridiculous.

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But that was the point of the thread, we are living in a digital world, Leica was always about buying into something that you used for years and handed down to you children or grandchildren, but it can't work these days because at 3 years old it may be as good as the day you bought it mechanically, but technically it is out of date!

 

You see, that is where this thread and and the thinking is wrong. We do not all live in a digital world. In fact, there are many consumers out there who are complete technophobes. And quite a few who may well buy a camera or a lens and keep it for 20 years. You are applying mass market arguments to a niche market.

 

Doesn't apply to computers and thats what digital cameras are today - computers. A computer company that adopted the Miele or Rolex model would get laughed out of the market. It has been difficult for camera manufacturers because they used to produce mechanical devices that could last a lifetime but they are in a different business now.

 

Leica hasn't "adopted the Miele or Rolex" model, it is the Miele and Rolex model. That's been the whole point of their existence for the last gawd knowns how many years. In any market there will always be some consumers out there who will pay considerably more than others and therefore you can build products that tap into that consumer behaviour. After all, a $5 watch is just as good as a Rolex when it comes to telling time.

 

In fact, it would make sense for someone like Panasonic to buy Leica for that reason alone (That's why Ford bought Jaguar and rebuilt the Mondeo as the X Class because some Ford owners are willing to pay more).

 

Funny you mentioned that, my wife has this Miele bug I even think all out houshold appliences are miele, except for the fridge and I don't exactly know why that is.

 

Incidentally, I remember when I bought my Miele dishwasher (or rather my wife bought it!) that the installer mentioned that the firmware in the processor was upgradeable and that in the future new cycles and improvements could be downloaded into it. This was five years ago when I bought it new. Sound familiar?

 

Not wishing to change the subject but did any UK readers see Panorama this week? Bottled water is the living, breathing epitome of technophobes with disposible income dashing to pay a lot of money for something which is no better than you'd get out of a tap. Not that I'm suggesting a Leica is no better than tapwater but the principle is the same.

 

LouisB

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I agree with you guys, the images coming from an M8 are stunning, and are always going to be stunning, but as other designs move on and get cheaper, the M8 stays the same and gets more expensive.

Are they selling more M8's now than they did in 2007?? I doubt it.

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Blu Ray will be dead much sooner than you think. Solid state media and/or Internet based downloads will reign supreme, and the concept of single purpose media is something that will slowly dissapear. Look at what's happening with CDs and the rise of the MP3. Observe the Japanese market, they take storage devices into a store and have things uploaded to them then and there. Retail doesn't have to disappear, it will simply adapt.

 

I've always thought downloads were a good idea for movies. I mean, the current 'HD' standard isn't going to be a "standard for very long" as they release higher and higher definition displays. What if you downloaded a film, and then were able to 'upgrade' to a higher resolution version later down the line, at minimal cost? Makes good sense for consumers.

 

The world is changing very quickly, and I sincerely hope that Leica can embrace the world's new ideal into their fold. Us "old schoolers" won't be around forever.

 

Josef

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........and WHEN WILL there be a firmware update for my M2??

 

I believe Kodak have just released one - they've called it Tmax 400.

 

Fuji have also released update of _their_ version of the firmware. Fuji's firmware must be a lot more advanced than Kodak's as apparently if allows image capture in colour, rather than Kodak's oh so 19C black and white. It seems obvious to me that Kodak's firmware is now rendered obsolete by the advances made by Fuji.

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I think we are leaving behind a special consideration: the dealer network. While the original Leica was designed to last forever, there was a flow of updates/improvements, none of them in the form of a 'perpetual path of upgrade'. Therefore, Leica dealers always had the incentive to sell more cameras, plus very expensive lenses and accessories.

In this digital era, where margins for dealers have been eroded by the increasingly costly electronic components of the camera, the announcement of Leica-direct-to-customers upgrades cannot be good news for dealers, specially if they interpret it as no new bodies to sell! While that might sound fantastic for the final users, it does not make too much sense, in my humble opinion, to the retail network. Not only do they have to compete with Amazon, B&H et al, but now with Leica itself!

To add insult to injury, new lenses at a $1-1.5K price point, not the $3-4K of the past... I guess somebody was lacking a basic sense of marketing skills.

On the other hand, pre-announcing a hypothetical FF M9/M8-upgrade could badly hurt already depressed M8 sales, who seem to have stalled around 20,000 units after its first year in the market. My guess is for Leica (Camera AG) to continue to improve and remain financially viable, it needs to sell at least 20,000 M8 units per year plus A LOT of lenses.

Let's see what the future brings, but as a customer with a sizable investment in fine lenses that can ONLY work (in the digital world) with the M8, I am indeed concerned at these shifts and changes in the management team.

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...Does anyone really believe that, in a few years, those who are still shooting with their original M8s, and their even more outdated pre-ASPH Leica lenses, will be at a significant disadvantage to those shooting with the newest, highest resolution gear?

 

Depends on WHAT they're shooting. If they're shooting still-lifes, probably not. If they're shooting weddings and debutant balls, etc., they definitely will be at a disadvantage. Of course, anyone trying to shoot a wedding or a debutant ball with a rangefinder these days already is at a disadvantage.

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Of course, anyone trying to shoot a wedding or a debutant ball with a rangefinder these days already is at a disadvantage.

 

The type of clients that commission me to document their wedding respectfully disagree with you... See, most of them hire me over the phone sight unseen and could care less about what I use (I still bring Holgas with me

) since what is important are the images that will be delivered and not the means used to capture them.

 

There are a lot of very talented and in high demand wedding shooters (Jamie Roberts, LaCour, etc...) out there still using (or adopting) rangefinders not because they see the tools as jewelry but because it suits their style and artistic vision.

 

Regards,

 

Riccis

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The success of the M8 sales combined with the fact that Leica cannot produce lenses fast enough to keep up with the demand, make the premise of this thread seem completely ridiculous. Open your eyes.

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I believe Kodak have just released one - they've called it Tmax 400.

 

Fuji have also released update of _their_ version of the firmware. Fuji's firmware must be a lot more advanced than Kodak's as apparently if allows image capture in colour, rather than Kodak's oh so 19C black and white. It seems obvious to me that Kodak's firmware is now rendered obsolete by the advances made by Fuji.

 

I'd download it now if only I could work the fxxx out where to stick the USB !!!

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Don't take the micky out of misspellings on the web. It can be a ghost that comes home to haunt you <grin>.

 

Had to ask my British girlfriend for a translation of taking the micky out of something ;-)

 

Your are quite correct however that spelling is not important:

 

" An egnlish uniervstiy has dertnimed taht the odrer of letetrs is not rlevnet. We raed wrods not leterts. As lnog as the frist and lsat lettres are coercrt. The rset can be a toatl mses and it deos not matetr!"

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Leica public numbers for FY 2007 are as follows: Sales E145m (2006 E106m), COGS E64m (2006 E33m) R&D E9.2m (2006 E7.5m) HR E37.8m (2006 E 36.4m). Inventories in 2007 E 32.6m vs. E 28.7m in FY 2006.

First Q FY 2008 sales are E 38.2m (down from 1Q FY 2007 E 45.4m). Outlook according to the company will be just in the black.

I see the surge due to the M8 in sales, a considerable increase in COGS (almost double while sales just up E 39m vs E 31m in more cost...), increased inventory and sales now nowhere near those initial M8 levels.

I guess Leica claims that production cannot keep up with demand is a little of an overstatement. I definitely smell problems in the very short term, due to massive debt and not very good sales prospects.

If someone has HARD DATA to support otherwise, feel free. Otherwise, it is just good intentions, but the financial results are speaking for themselves. Leica is indeed in financial trouble, and the last statement of direction has worsened things severely. Hence heads are rolling. I hope they can stop the bleed and get back to business.

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The type of clients that commission me to document their wedding respectfully disagree with you... See, most of them hire me over the phone sight unseen and could care less about what I use (I still bring Holgas with me ) since what is important are the images that will be delivered and not the means used to capture them.

 

There are a lot of very talented and in high demand wedding shooters (Jamie Roberts, LaCour, etc...) out there still using (or adopting) rangefinders not because they see the tools as jewelry but because it suits their style and artistic vision.

 

Regards,

 

Riccis

 

Right. There are still people using wet plates too. The Leica is a street camera. The professional DSLR is a wedding camera.

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