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vic vic

identity crisis ... or even worse ?!

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im a leica M user... a young photographer...

beyond the great passion, my first decisive and serious commitment to photography was buying an new MP camera.

 

now i see the recent leica "campaigns" .. starting with one big mess of landing the m8 (a great thing in itself but with horrible handling of issues), then moving into a dangerous zone of "luxury only" etc ...

in other words, with the most basic analyzes of state of affairs and strategies of leica company marketing/labeling/branding, leica has a clear feeling of inferiority in the newly shaped photo-market. leave alone the inferiority in market scene, leica simply feels inferior even in the so-called photo-cultural spheres.

 

among all the campaigns, none of them was seriously addressed to the new generation of photographers (like me for example). on the first stage of m8 landing, it seemed that leica just wants to sell the cameras to the old users, which is good of course, but probably not enough to keep the camera in the long run, especially since the old days of glory are a little irrelevant (like it was with film cameras), and leica makes nothing to make the camera relevant again even in the new age.

 

so what we have now... well, maybe it is too early to judge this new campaign but, i think the direction is quite clear :::::::::::::: INFANTILE ...... in infantile x2 ...

1. this campaign is great for this forum users, which is cool - they take part with uploading photos (masterpieces or not doesnt matter) , but where is real campaign, with reaching new audience, giving strong tone in the photo-market and photo-culture spheres ???

2. leica, or ad company or both are simply blind, cause they ignore two very strong keys for real campaign... besides, even that old film years heritage is starting to fade with those infantile games and inferiority complexes.

 

 

ok, lets see what a new audience that can or may want buy $$$$range camera ... which is more or less equals to top nikons and canons (even the top almost digi medium format format canon version if concidering the expenses of leica lenses outfit).

 

1. how easy is to handle the camera ? easy ...... not true, one should know how to photograph in order to use M camera. give a camera to most photographers ... this is not what they get used to. it takes time and patience to really make it easy, pro/art etc etc.

2. how sharp is your image ? extra sharp .... and ... canon is not sharp, nikon is not sharp ?????????? they even have some cool lenses here and there, nikon even can use zeiss lenses (of the same caliber as leica best ones). film days arguments and legends.... this is how leica campaign wants to feed the new audience ...

3. which exposure can u shoot without tripod ? 1/15 " ... not true... on m3 with good hands and great mood, ya. the other camras that can do it today are mamiya 7 and rolleiflex 80,2.8fx... even the MP/M7 are not that good anymore and so is M8.... besides. this comparison comes from those old film days with noisy not-so-sophisticated bouncing mirrors. today, those jumping slr mirrors are not as bad...

4. which image can u take without flash ? m8 f1.0 50mm.... ya sure, canon also has a cool (high quality) fast 50mm with super high-iso perormance, and nikon d3 doesnt even need fast lenses :-) again, either leica thinks that their "new audiance" is naive, or they simply dont care about that...

5. what does your camera bear ??? what that means... everything ?! sorry, leica mp, almost like many specialized cameras are "everything" for the specialist who deliberately limits himself within his/her speciality... everything doable nicely = dSLR system.

6. how quite is your camera ? 9db ... wow, im impressed..... legend from old days of noisy SLR bouncy mirrors and motor drives of film..... the truth is that leica (especially the M8) is not much quiter (if at all) than best of SLRs today, and it is very far from being discrete in those discrete situations.

7. how lightweit is your camera ? ah, ok , i can put it in the pocket and ... la la la

 

 

wake up.... it seems rediculos and so is the disability to build a real campaign - really addressing to the new audience with strong key points, understanding its needs, desires, motives of decisions etc etc understanding the product u promote, in its own rite and on the bigger market background...

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Hello Vic Vic,

 

You're quite possibly right in every respect, but your heartfelt plea is written in the negative; you describe the problem and offer no solutions.

 

You describe yourself as a young photographer, so let's have a young photographer's reasons for choosing the expensive, traditionalist Leica. Would the origin of your youthful passion for Leica appeal to your contempories? If so, set out your reasons as clearly as you've made your protest.

 

Leica would be pleased indeed to know how to attract the next generation of loyal fans, because we existing ones will be shuffling off this mortal coil sooner than either we or Leica might like!

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To a degree I agree with Vic, if leica were to adopt a marketing strategy around these themes they have set and requested images from users for, it wouldn't attract or interest me.

To my mind a Leica M is a photographers camera, in the sense it requires a knowledge of the fundamentals of photography to be able to use it with any confidence. Perhaps this is one of the endearing qualities, the tangible self satisfaction of understanding the decisions you made at exposure are reflected in the image that lays before you.

 

It's also true that any camera when striped of it's auto functions could give this satisfaction but there is something pure in the M, it's metallic tactile feel, precision and quality, hankering back to a time where I learnt photography and a familiar man machine interface.

 

Another point that interests me with the M is it's ability to utilise all the lenses throughout it's history, each lens brings it's own dynamic in terms of tone, clarity and ambiance. With other camera manufacturers (I shot Canon for the past 25 years) it seems to be the current range from the advent of AF only that is compatible, most of the history of that marque is locked out through lens mount changes or stopped down shooting. Leica seems to have soul in it's history of lenses and as a hobby it's fun to experiment with different looks.

 

The issue I see and I suppose the 64 million dollar question is how to attract new users to the platform. I re entered the M system back in Nov 2006 after the introduction of the M8 and I threw a lot of disposable cash into the love of my hobby. As I look back now I have mixed feelings, I enjoy the compactness of everything, the quality of the images and the amazing soul of the lenses. But and it's a big but, the costs have gone haywire. In nearly 2 years I've seen prices rise to a level which if I were to consider adopting today would pose serious questions in terms of value.

 

Like i said at the start to me the M is a photographers camera, it's soul I believe can only truly be understood by those who have a passion for their art and expression. I think any good photographer can make a stunning image with any camera, but it's the nuances that the photographer sees in his images shot with leica that make it special, that's what Leica is all about IMO my personal satisfaction.

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I totally agree with Vic and some others who have shared critical thoughts about the M campaign. In my opinion it's a typical case of asking the wrong questions of the wrong people at the wrong time. And when the question is wrong the answer is not likely to be very helpful.

 

A rather more grown up campaign might read something like this:

 

Are you tired of

- reading camera manuals the size of a phone book?

- navigating dozens of menus on a tiny screen?

- choosing between scores of exposure programs?

- hoping that the autofocus will guess correctly which part of the image you would like to have in focus?

- peering through a narrow tunnel of a prism viewfinder?

- carrying a brick of a camera around your neck that's heavier than your tripod?

- sporting big white zoom lenses that attract the attention of people you would rather not meet in the dark?

- scare children off the playground with front lenses the size of a frisby disk?

- spend thousands of dollars for a black plastic box that is guaranteed to be out of date next year?

 

Have a look at Leica's M8, the (almost) perfect no nonsense tool for the discerning photographer who knows that it's the photographer that takes the picture, not the camera, and chooses accordingly:

 

With the Leica M8

- everything is so clear and simple that you don't even have to read the manual!

- there are only two menus with a few parameters easily set!

- you work either in aperture priority or completey manual - and that's it!

- you yourself put the focus exactly where you want it - using the world's most accurate precision rangefinder!

- you look through the same wide open window at the world, regardless of the lens you are using!

- you have a camera that is so small and lightweight that you can have it with you everywhere and anytime!

- you can carry the biggest lens in your pocket - easily - and nobody notices!

- children hardly notice you at all, because your camera looks so small and unobtrusive!

- you have a beautifully crafted device made of solid metal which will keep its value for many years - as thousands of longtime loyal customers will certify, and you can use any of the world's best lenses of the 1950s to the present day.

 

And so on.

 

The word "almost" I would probably leave out...

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These are just categories to rubricize the photographs - some of them translated rather fancifully from German too. Nobody has any idea what the campaign will look like - Let's take it to pieces when we know. This seems a bit premature...

I hope it will look like Manfred's suggestion... Not much to criticize there...

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Good discussion. I agree strongly with all the points made here.

 

I can't relate to the new M campaign either. For which reason I haven't contributed any images to it, despite the fact that I've got a large archive of work that would fit many of the categories. My main objection to it is like Vic's - it just doesn't make sense, and doesn't match any of the reasons why I bought into the M system.

 

I'm not a long time M user (only 2 years), but since I first tried one I've bought 3 bodies and 6 lenses. I embraced the system because I found it perfect for what I needed to achieve.

 

Precision glass, precision focusing, limited instrumentation and no unnecessary features are why I use it. I wanted a perfect tool - something that could reduce the art of photographing to the essentials, and place as few barriers between my eye and the light as possible. The M is the closest I've come to this goal.

 

It certainly isn't the lightest camera, or the smallest, or the easiest to use, or the quietest. A generic digital compact would beat the M8 on all these counts. But there's a reason I don't own a digital compact. It's something much closer to Manfred's alternative above.

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Precision glass, precision focusing,.....

=2. SCHARF / SHARP (Leica M -Kampagne)

 

......limited instrumentation and no unnecessary features are why I use it.

=1. EINFACH / EASY TO USE (LEICA M-Kampagne)

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=2. SCHARF / SHARP (Leica M -Kampagne)

 

 

=1. EINFACH / EASY TO USE (LEICA M-Kampagne)

 

Limited instrumentation doesn't necessarily equate with easy to use. In fact, for many people (especially novices), the M is a remarkably difficult camera to use. Contrast the complexities of RF focusing and manual metering with the "just click here" approach of a compact.

 

The part of the M campaign that resonates most with me is the the reference to the lenses. Although basing it on sharpness is also slightly off-target, in my opinion. For instance, one of my favourite lenses is the Noctilux @ f1 which is anything except sharp. Beautifully smooth might be a more accurate description :-)

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Some time ago Nikon had a program in which they went to several small towns across the US and loaned out D40 outfits to amateurs interested in photography. The campaign produced some results that were then turned into an ad campaign that resulted in a spike in sales for the D40. Some of the key points in this campaign were the same as Leica are promoting. The gathering of images may be the initial promotion of a campaign that Leica has an agenda for that we are unaware of. The point is is that it is Leicas campaign and like it or not, participate or not criticize or not it is their campaign and they have every right to do it. It is unfortunate that some critics of the campaign have chosen to openly, and harshly I might add, lambaste those who have chosen to participate. Unless you live in a country that has restrictions it is a free world folks so get used to it and get over yourselves. Two points that are made here I fully agree with. How is Leica going to bring a new generation of photographers into rangefinder photography. Cost is an issue that will be difficult for a small company that does not have the mass production capabilities of their competitors to compete in and keep their quality standards to an acceptable level. Rumors of an affordable under $3K M camera have been circulating but since Leica cannot move quickly enough to get a product out the dollar has weakened and the under $3K camera will now cost well over $3K and most likely not be competitive with other cameras in its price range.

As to how to get a new generation interested in Leicas, well, at least they are trying with the test drive program but that is not enough to convince a young photog on a budget to plunck down more money for a body than they can pay for a body and lens from another company. That is a tough nut for Leica to crack. When I bought my first Leica from an old pro many years ago I had a big knot in my stomach when I plunked down the cash for it. I still remember him telling me rangefinder photography is not for everyone. I think that is still true today and perhaps Leica will have to find a way to survive in a nitch market.

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...The point is is that it is Leicas campaign and like it or not, participate or not criticize or not it is their campaign and they have every right to do it....

 

I don't think anyone is disputing that.

 

Unless you live in a country that has restrictions it is a free world folks so get used to it and get over yourselves

 

Hmm. Are you suggesting that people aren't allowed to have opinions about the campaign? Which would be beautifully ironic, since it rather goes against the grain of your own remark.

 

Fortunately in such a free world the customer is also entitled to have opinions about products and the way they're marketed. In fact it's a healthy sign of customer interest and passion for the product. Nothing is more damning for a marketing campaign than zero noise from the customer base.

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speenth and njambrose... im not necessarily negative but true - criticizing. as it seems now (unless leica hides in parallel some miracles), it is so bad that "negative" critique alone is good enough :-) for me, this campaign denotes a most basic mistakes - a continuation of the same - IDENTITY CRISIS... wrong campaigns make even the once guaranteed "leica" name to fade... lists of questions and feature description (that are so easily debatable, especially for non-leica-m-users) is waste of "attention" (a critical element in building something new through period of time).

 

yes, i do have serious suggestions, a coherent and energetic campaign suggestion and variations. for long run too... leica can drop me a note if they are interested to hear about it :-)

 

eoin and moersch ... i agree with u too.... a photographers camera etc ... but that is not enough to build a campaign... cause leica has no real/relevant IDENTITY in the new zone.

any list u will give is wrong , not necessarily because the questions/answers are wrong but simply because LIST-OF-FEATURES based "promo" is a "lost game" in given situation.... it can hardly grab those who still count on old film days excellence and moved to other cameras long ago. so leica "playing" in the game of the others who will eat leica in one peice.. and that is instead of biting, being thought provoking, with gestures, more charismatic manners etc etc ...

 

all along, leica shows a mental problem, and this campaign seems to be another symptom.

 

besides moersch ...

u dont make the youngs shake with the menus in the camera, especially when menus this days are quite comfortable (look at new nikon and canon improvemnts.. not that i like it so much, but no fear/shake)

autofocus are very good in new cameras... fast (especially when u put on one point) and quite accurate, besides, dont forget to mention that the most accurate rangefinder (actually should be a linhof) is good in theory - in practice u still have to do it menually :-)

narrow tunel prism - well, in price range of leica camera (not to mention system/outfit) we should mention the full frame cameras - so, not that narrow and bad. oh, if u r after real high-digi quality, leica outfit prices touches the new medium format mamiya :-) huuuuuuge prism to compose with in most relaxed way....

plastic box ??? sorry but with some of those cameras u can dive into the river, swimming and having sunbath on gritty beach :-) no way u would do it with digi leica, even with film leicca it is pitty (it is so beautiful) :-)

etc etc .....

 

any list, and u will loose ... not because this is true and that is not true ... but because it is wrong to do lists ... first build IDENTITY, then u can start enhancing it with some lists here and there ...

leica made brave move with makeing the m8, but they handled the IDENTITY so wrongly (not to mention the other horrible issues in public relations etc). it is a mediocre way of thinking that comes from inferiority as i already mentioned... whats now ? lets sell the upgrades or the upgraded camera to more or less the same customers ? they will want upgrade , maybe a full frame like everybody says on the internet leica forums ? even here, im not sure if there is a real thought in depth of how to enhance the camera with new technology possibilities open and how to extended its usability (if possible) .... again - no driving motive that will exceed beyond the given state of affairs.

 

offshore.. again, the thing is that nikon has other goods and other problems ... what works for nikon doesnt necessary works for leica or hassleblad for example...

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Bloody hell.

 

You lot are not only negative, but narrow minded too. Armchair marketing 101 is back in session.

 

For once in their little corporate lives, Leica have reached out to their constituency and asked for contributions. The categories may seem a little obtuse, but does it really matter? What they are doing is encouraging involvement, and in so doing seeking to strengthen the relationship with one of their biggest assets - a strong and passionate user community.

 

Sulk, stand back and throw rocks if you wish

 

Debate, deconstruct and jesuitically nit-pick the categories if that floats your boat

.

Interpret, engage and contribute if you want to be part of the future.

 

Regards,

 

Bill

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Bill, all I'd ad (sorry for the pun), is that as far as I'm aware we have absolutely no idea what form the campaign will take. All I've seen is a request for photographs with some rather vague subject categories.

 

Maybe we should wait and see what materialises before we start throwing brickbats. At the very least, Leica offering their users the opportunity to contribute to the campaign ought to be praised.

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im a leica M user... a young photographer...

beyond the great passion, my first decisive and serious commitment to photography was buying an new MP camera.

 

now i see the recent leica "campaigns" .. starting with one big mess of landing the m8 (a great thing in itself but with horrible handling of issues), then moving into a dangerous zone of "luxury only" etc ...

 

I agree with a lot of points that Vic wrote.

 

I'm too a young Leica user (I wouldn't say photographer, as a simple amateur - and I have tons of photos to prove this!

) and I don't see any effort from Leica to get my age range. In fact, the image of Leica as a luxury item (and then understood as different product, not "professional") usually put a lot of people running away from these cameras...

 

I don't see Leica as a luxury, expensive camera. I believe in those old ads - it is the cheapest! The camera is great, the lenses are outstanding, never has problems (my first, a IIc, has severe use since I bought it, almost ten years ago, and never saw a repair guy), a large amount of good photos for each roll. Make the user to think a little more before pressing the button.

 

A few friends, after talking with me, bought Leicas and are very happy with them. But all bought SM.

 

Anyway, that's my point of view. I don't use M leica, so...

 

Regards

 

Martin

 

PS: I never would buy a M8. But M3 is a temptation... And I WILL buy a Focomat.

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Bill, all I'd ad (sorry for the pun), is that as far as I'm aware we have absolutely no idea what form the campaign will take. All I've seen is a request for photographs with some rather vague subject categories.

 

Maybe we should wait and see what materialises before we start throwing brickbats. At the very least, Leica offering their users the opportunity to contribute to the campaign ought to be praised.

 

 

Precisely.

 

Regards,

 

Bill

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Bill - not sure I understand your response. Or to be clearer, I know what you're saying, but not why.

 

Are people reading this thread the same way as me? As far as I can see there's noone here disputing the value of a targeted marketing campaign, or engaging in armchair marketing.

 

The starting point of this thread was an observation that the request for images supporting the campaign seems to be baselined on comparative features that the Leica M cannot win in the current landscape. I don't think this is an unreasonable observation.

 

And the points following the first one are loose remarks that (i) some people (such as myself) didn't buy their M's for any of those features anyway; (ii) in the current landscape a marketing campaign oriented around intangibles such as identity is likely to be more successful than one based on tangibles; especially so if the tangibles depend on features where the M can be outgunned quite easily.

 

This is all common sense to me. So where's the rock throwing?

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At the very least, Leica offering their users the opportunity to contribute to the campaign ought to be praised.

I couldn't agree more with this statement and Bill's. I was burning up on the way from the gym this morning thinking about this (plus the weather in San francisco was about 90 Fahrenheit at 9AM, very unusual!)

 

The Forums are replete with posts about how Leica has lost track with their customer base and here they go out of their way to include amateurs and pros alike and many are screaming like little ninnies. Grow-up!

 

To Dr. Kauffman and marketing team, I congratulate your foresight and actions.

 

I thinks charlesphoto said let the shooting be done by the pros. Bullocks! Some of the finest images I see on the Forums are from weekend amateurs.

 

Rather than put down the bloody image quality in the download area, take a deep breath and appreciate the art that is there free of charge. Just maybe.... you might learn something!

 

Will take Blood Pressure medication now......

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I'm with Jaap, Bill, Steve and William on this one. Why don't we wait to see what the campaign offers before ripping it?

 

And a couple of points for the OP to consider:

 

1) Leica developed the M8 with current M users in mind. This was an obvious market because it was the group that already had the lenses and was clamoring for a digital M to use them on. Leica has never been a company hell bent on selling to the "new generation," as you call them. Rather, their apporach has been to let the established shooters who use their equipment plant the seed and let the desire to use the M system grow from their example.

 

2) It hardly makes sense to say Leica have an inferiority complex. Look at the history of the company. They have never tried to appeal to a mass market, but have geared their marketing to a select group of seasoned pros and advanced amateurs. They are a small company and I don't think they have any desire to become as big as Canon, or even Nikon. This would destroy their identity and niche in the process. Finally, a camera company with an inferiority complex is hardly going to put a flagship model on the market for $5,000, and lenses that average around $3,000. If anything, that suggests a company that thinks so highly of its products that they can put any price they want on them.

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I'm not sure I understand your point. Are you complaining that Leica is not easy to use for 'everybody'? Leica is not targeting photographers like yourself in this campaign in order to exclude you. But they are, as I've been suggesting on forums for some time now, trying to show the potential consumer how the M rangefinder camera differs from other camera types. Leica manufactures SLR cameras also. It's just that M rangefinder is Mis-understood and the public keeps trying to size up the M camera with an SLR mentality. They are simply not the same thing. Is the M for everybody all the time? Perhaps not but that's true of every type of camera (a camera that I would want anyway) But there's nothing wrong with trying to help the public understand what kind of camera best suits their needs. Is the M camera always going to be easier to use than an SLR. No. There are situations when the SLR is going to outperform the M and visa versa. Perhaps the campaign theme should have been expressed as follows: In what circumstances is the M camera easier to use. But that should be self-explanitory from the photographs taken.

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Everything that the author of this thread mentioned is correct.

M8 is not quieter, easier to use, sharper that the other cameras. It is simply different.

I think some people would use Leica only because it is not a common mass-produced camera. I feel that it is like a status symbol, therefore it should be treated accordingly.

There is a limited number of people who are familiar with this system and have chosen to use it for various reasons. They will continue to use Leica no matter what.

People how are unfamiliar with Leica will never pay at least $10k for a privilege to own one.

 

In my opinion Leica should:

 

1. Sell this cameras directly to people who have money or good credit. ?Malls, luxury hotels, airports, concert halls, major office buildings. How difficult is it to get a knowledgeable sales people and to put some booths (mobile booths) to the above-mentioned locations? Apple did it, Bose did it. Why not Leica?

 

2. Lease the camera and lenses to the same category of people. People pay $250-500/month for their $15k-30k cars. For those who like to be different this amount of money should not be an obstacle.

 

3. Avoid marketing this camera to professional photographers and enthusiasts. These people know what they want/need.

 

Just free advise.

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