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Jack MacDonough

M8 in Economist

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AlanG it depends on what you think is a minimal set for professional use + how about the concept that a starting pro might actually buy used stuff?????

 

 

I was talking about sales from Leica's perspective. Someone buying used gear is a different story and doesn't help out Leica's bottom line very much. You could buy Canon or Nikon gear used also. Heck, those old Nikon MF lenses are dirt cheap. And yes one can get by with very little gear. When I was 15-16, I shot weddings with a Minolta SR1, a normal lens, and a little flash.

 

"Knowing your stuff" won't help you much if you NEED a long, wide, tilt/shift, or macro lens for the shot and you don't have it.

 

Photojournalists, and commercial pros have to be able to cover a variety of projects and that can require versatility. The 8 lens kit I mentioned is by no means extreme or atypical of the gear an average shooter would use. And that versatility is an important factor in favor of a DSLR. Leica can't do much about this. (Live view on the M8 would help increase the versatility.)

 

The other point you make about gear not becoming redundent is hard to know. But that isn't why most photographers buy gear. How do you know what kind of lenses or camera someone will want to use in 10-20 years? I'm using 30 year old Nikkor PC lenses on my Canons. Who would have guessed 10 years ago that a 14-24 f2.8 Nikkor could be so good?

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Buying used stuff does not help Leica's bottom line. I think they are on the right track with their 28 Elmarit and the Summarits. These prices are only about 20% above Zeiss and Canon L glass. Still, that makes a M8 with a 28 and a 75 just under $9,000. That is about two months salary for a lot of newspaper photographers. (Which is about where a M4 with a 35 and 90 was in 1970.)

What is out of line is the $3,000 plus glass. Nice, if you can afford them but out of reach for many of the guys and gals who need them.

In the end, Leicas are purchased by a small group who appreciate quality and have the money to pay the price. If this group is too small to keep Leica going, then either prices will continue to rise or Leica is out of business.

Again, Leica needs a cash cow and, as things stand, the M8 is not it. A CL type camera might provide buckets of moola if it were priced right - like $2,500 with a lens.

 

Tom

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....just wanted to be devil's advocate regarding the cost of a Canon 5D system / M8. (I own both)

 

When the 5D first came out in 2005 it was expensive, infact I paid $4299 CDN for the body, and Canon couldnt keep up with demand. (vs. $4795 USD for M8)

 

now almost 3 years later Canon has recouped R&D and has slashed prices SIGNIFICANTLY to stay competitive. The M8 is barely a year old, I don't think many people expect the M8 to drop in price, but if Leica can at least offer *GOOD* upgrades/trade-in programs at competitive prices vs. specs. they may have a chance...

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What is out of line is the $3,000 plus glass. Nice, if you can afford them but out of reach for many of the guys and gals who need them.

 

What worries me about Leica pricing is that Nikon can sell a specialist, low-production, optically challenging prime lens in a very complicated mount (the new 24mm PCE, with 13 elements, 3 aspheric surfaces and 101 degree coverage) for less than Leica charge for a simple mainstream lens (the 35mm Summicron, 7 elements and 1 aspheric surface).

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The sudden appearance of Leica prime M lenses with 13 elements would worry me.

 

Leica ploughs its own furrow, the number of lenses made is very low (less 35 summicrons than Nikkor PCs I suspect). It is the only way for Leica to survive.

 

With regard to prices we would all like them to be lower but Leica has to make money as do their dealers. Perhaps they can cut costs without affecting quality? If they did would we be convinced?

 

Jeff

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With regard to prices we would all like them to be lower but Leica has to make money as do their dealers. Perhaps they can cut costs without affecting quality? If they did would we be convinced? Jeff

 

Leica needs to increase the amount of gear they move.

 

A high profit margin on low sales, is a bad way of running a business.

 

Again, Apple in the 80's and 90's is a great example. They were making +40% profit on their machines, but in the longterm their low sales numbers almost killed them and hampered their ability to conduct R&D.

 

Leica needs to streamline the M body production pipeline, as they have done with the Summarit line. There is no reason why they shouldn't be able to maintain the M quality, while lowering the amount of time it takes to assemble one of these units.

 

They also need to introduce a tiered product line, with entry, mid and highend offerings.

 

Frankly, if Leica needs to move the production of the entry and mid level models out of Germany in order to offer these models at a lower cost, then so it be- as long as they maintain a high standard of quality. Nikon does the same thing. The highend bodies like the D3 are made in Japan and everything else offshore.

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Leica needs to increase the amount of gear they move.

 

A high profit margin on low sales, is a bad way of running a business.

 

 

Low sales I agree but high profit margin, somehow I think not. They could go the same way as everyone else, manufacture in the far east, but then they would not be different.

 

Zeiss makes its best M lens in Germany not Japan and prices it accordingly. I would prefer Leica to continue manufacture in Germany. Leica it seems has been starved of investment over the last few years, if they get the funds to sort that out they will have a good, but niche, future.

 

just my Tuppence,

 

Jeff

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Zeiss makes its best M lens in Germany not Japan and prices it accordingly. I would prefer Leica to continue manufacture in Germany.

 

 

For the lenses I could not agree more: Germany it is!

But for the body, as long as it is up to spec and it works, I really would not care where it is made.

 

My Apple I-touch is made in China: it is great!

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Leica is expensive. The question is. . . . Was Leica always *this* expensive compared to other cameras in the marketplace?

 

Here's a key question I've never seen addressed in a thread (and directly plays in here):

 

For each of the following:

 

(1) M3

(2) M4

(3) M5

(4) M6 + M6TTL

-- We already have a very good sense of the M8 vs. the market today.

 

Answer this:

(A) Adjusting for inflation over time (pick your currency) what would today's cost of each camera be?

(

For the year (e.g., for the M3, M4, etc.) what was a "comparable" camera or two--can be an SLR--from another manufacturer and what was the cost of those cameras, adjusted for inflation over time (pick your currency)?

 

Answering 1-4 A gives one a rough sense of whether or not Leicas really have gotten more "expensive" over time, when adjusted for inflation. (And lets the next comparison be made.)

 

Answering 1-4 B gives one a rough sense of whether or not Leicas have gotten more expensive, percentage wise, over a rough sense of market pricing.

 

Looking at 1-4 A and B can give one a rough sense whether Leica is *really* shooting itself in the foot with its pricing today or not, based on historical data.

 

For the purposes of 2-4 A and 2-4 B comparison to popular and capable SLRs would be OK. It's not apples to apples comparison but it IS Leica vs. market and is useful to know.

 

I have a sense that Leicas were always more expensive than their competition. However, I also have a sense that over time the Leicas have become significantly more expensive than competition in the marketplace. Yes, yes. One can make the argument that the Leica is a specialist tool because it's a Leica and a rangefinder. (Nevermind that the M8's great-great-great-grandparent was originally developed to be a point-and-shoot solution to make photography easier!) Apple made the "we're different so you should pay more" kind of argument for years. BUT, overall, the market (and most consumers) sees "camera"--like the market saw (and still sees) "its a computer" when comparing Macs and PCs.

 

I'm hoping somebody here has the data floating around to make this comparison.

 

I think it would inform the discussion in a meaningful way to really know.

 

Thanks,

Will

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For the lenses I could not agree more: Germany it is!

But for the body, as long as it is up to spec and it works, I really would not care where it is made.

 

My Apple I-touch is made in China: it is great!

 

Personally again I would prefer the body was also made in Germany. It differentiates Leica from the rest and should give the company better on the spot control over quality.

 

Jeff

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Without even getting into differences of versatility, features, and build quality, assume that a Canon or Nikon system will produce images that are of acceptable quality for the emerging pro or serious amateur. So why not stop and think what an M8 system costs vs. a 5D system? (I didn't price out a Nikon sytem but it probably will be similar for two D300s and about $6000 more for 2 D3s.) This is more typical of how emerging photographers and many pros will have to look at it.

 

M8 $5500

M8 $5500 (2nd body)

21 2.8 $4000

28 2.8 $3300

35 1.4 $3900

50 1.4 $3300

90 F2 $3200

Total for a basic Leica system of two bodies and 5 lenses: $28,700

 

Canon 5D w/24-105 f 4 IS $2600

Canon 5D body $1900

24 1.4 $1170

35 1.4 $1150

50 1.4 $325

85 1.2 $1825

16-35 2.8 II $1350

70-200 2.8 IS $1574

100-400 IS $1360

Total $13,254 - for a pretty comprehensive Canon system of 2 cameras and 8 lenses. Plus if you sell the 5Ds in a year or two for a new model, you won't lose too much.

 

 

Hi Alan,

 

The one aspect that should be added to your comparison is that one can also get superb results using certain less expensive lenses with the M8. The real difference, then, is in the increased cost of the M8 bodies. With the lenses, one can pick a price point and go from there. Options, of course, include the Summarits, the Zeiss ZMs, certain CVs, etc.

 

Cheers,

 

Sean

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Leica is expensive. The question is. . . . Was Leica always *this* expensive compared to other cameras in the marketplace?

 

I don't have the data to hand. Leica was always expensive, but not vastly more expensive than the competition. In the 30s to 50s, Contaxes cost about as much as Leicas. In in the mid-60s Contarex, Leicaflex and Alpa were in more or less the same bracket with the Nikon F not far behind.

 

Also in the mid-60s then the UK retail price for a M2 with 35mm Summicron would have been GBP 275 or so, while you could get a basic East German or Japanese SLR and prime lens for well under GBP 100.

 

What I think has happened is that since then the competition has (if it has survived) got much cheaper in real terms, while Leicas have not. Adding 40 years inflation takes the 1968 M2+Summicron price up to about GBP 3,600 - which is in the ballpark with current prices - and the GBP 100 SLR up to about GBP 1,300 - which is way out of line with the price of entry-level DSLRs, let alone a basic film SLR + prime.

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Hi Alan,

 

The one aspect that should be added to your comparison is that one can also get superb results using certain less expensive lenses with the M8. The real difference, then, is in the increased cost of the M8 bodies. With the lenses, one can pick a price point and go from there. Options, of course, include the Summarits, the Zeiss ZMs, certain CVs, etc.

 

Cheers,

 

Sean

 

 

Hi Alan (and Sean),

 

I agree with Sean. And a question to Alan: Does the 28/2.8 actually costs $3300?

 

Regards, Svend

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Leica will be making cine lenses soon. I'll say it again, they need a cheaper product line (point and shoot) and sell lots of it. Keep upgrading the M8, because that will keep all of us paying for it (most of us keep wanting the best thing out there) and last but not least, they need some competition in the digital rangefinder market. Zeiss to the rescue. Then they'll either sink or swim.

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Hi Alan,

 

The one aspect that should be added to your comparison is that one can also get superb results using certain less expensive lenses with the M8. The real difference, then, is in the increased cost of the M8 bodies. With the lenses, one can pick a price point and go from there. Options, of course, include the Summarits, the Zeiss ZMs, certain CVs, etc.

 

Cheers,

 

Sean

 

 

Indeed. Say: A cheap alternative to the WATE is the Voigtländer 15 mm Asph. Super Wide, which makes the M8 look cheap and amateur-like. Which can be an advantage sometime. Although not as good as the WATE, by far, it is still a very interesting digital wide angle solution, of which there arn't that many around.

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Indeed. Say: A cheap alternative to the WATE is the Voigtländer 15 mm Asph. Super Wide, which makes the M8 look cheap and amateur-like. Which can be an advantage sometime. Although not as good as the WATE, by far, it is still a very interesting digital wide angle solution, of which there arn't that many around.

 

Hi Olsen,

 

Its interesting that you find the CV 15 to be not as good as the WATE "by far". My experience and testing have suggested otherwise. But...the WATE can be RF-focused which is certainly an advantage if one cares about peak resolution falling at a chosen distance.

 

I'm also not sure why the CV 15 would make the M8 look "cheap" but I don't usually think much about those sorts of things.

 

I think its now fairly common knowledge, or at least it should be, among experienced RF photographers, that we are spoiled with a wide range of exceptional lenses in M and LTM mount. Most of the Leica lenses are wonderful and well worth owning. But there are also lenses from Zeiss and CV that are quite desirable.

 

So, interestingly, the M8 gives one access to some of the best, and most expensive, small format lenses made *as well as* some of the best, and least expensive, lenses made.

 

Cheers,

 

Sean

 

Cheers,

 

Sean

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Hi Alan,

 

The one aspect that should be added to your comparison is that one can also get superb results using certain less expensive lenses with the M8. The real difference, then, is in the increased cost of the M8 bodies. With the lenses, one can pick a price point and go from there. Options, of course, include the Summarits, the Zeiss ZMs, certain CVs, etc.

 

Cheers,

 

Sean

 

I'm not trying to make an argument for the best or most affordable system by any brand. I just posted some obvious price differences between Leica and Canon. I think those who already are invested in the Leica system have a much different perspective of its value than is held by those who are not invested. A lot of people simply like using Leicas. But there isn't some sort of overall consensus in the market that buying an M8 system will make one's photographs better. So the value of spending so much for a single lens surely is questioned.

 

There also are cheaper Nikon and Canon lenses. And cheaper bodies. But I thought the idea was that the M8 sensor was marginal (compared to 5D and D3) for low light work at high iso's, so I priced the fast lenses. A Canon 50 f1.8 is $90, Nikkor 50 F1.8 $110, Nikkor 50 f1.4 $290, and a Leica 50f2 is $1800. Canon 35mm f2 $240, Nikkor 35 F2 $300, Leica 35 F2 $2800 Leica 35 f2.5 $1500. Canon 85 F1.8 $355, Nikkor 85 1.8 $365, Leica 90mm f2.8 $2000, Leica 75mm f2.5 $1500.

 

As for the other M mount brands, again I was talking about income for Leica not the best deal for a photographer. What good does it do Leica if you buy CV or Zeiss lenses?

 

Regarding historic pricing, I have a catalog from 1971. Back then Nikon and Leica lenses were similarly priced. But their prices have sharply diverged since then.

 

This is just an observation. I really have no insight or opinion what is best for Leica. They may be doing things in exactly a manner that is best for them.

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A M8 costs NOK 41.000 (2,860 US$) VAT included. - If you are a pro - have your own company, you can deduct the 20% sales tax. The 1Ds III costs NOK 64.000 (12,800 US$) -and so on.

 

Du kan få en M8 for 37000 NOK fra japanfoto.no

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Hi Olsen,

 

Its interesting that you find the CV 15 to be not as good as the WATE "by far". My experience and testing have suggested otherwise. But...the WATE can be RF-focused which is certainly an advantage if one cares about peak resolution falling at a chosen distance.

 

I'm also not sure why the CV 15 would make the M8 look "cheap" but I don't usually think much about those sorts of things.

 

I think its now fairly common knowledge, or at least it should be, among experienced RF photographers, that we are spoiled with a wide range of exceptional lenses in M and LTM mount. Most of the Leica lenses are wonderful and well worth owning. But there are also lenses from Zeiss and CV that are quite desirable.

 

So, interestingly, the M8 gives one access to some of the best, and most expensive, small format lenses made *as well as* some of the best, and least expensive, lenses made.

 

Cheers,

 

Sean

 

Cheers,

 

Sean

 

Sean,

 

I have read your test with great interest. It shows smaller differences between the WATE and the Voigländer 15 mm 4,0 - compared to my experience. - Well, tests I have done in my own living room. Shiny silverware out in the edges looks far better with the WATE. Even with both lenses focused at the same distance. Which makes a lot since the Voigtländer isn't focusing coupled. In every day practical use the difference in sharpness is even greater due to the focusing coupling of the WATE. - As you state in your test.

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Hi Alan (and Sean),

 

Does the 28/2.8 actually costs $3300?

 

Regards, Svend

 

Sorry, I meant to write 24mm 2.8 - $3300. I was comparing to the 24 f1.4 Canon. The 28 f2.8 is $1600.

 

While I'm posting, here are some select historic prices from my old cataologs:

 

1971 Helix Camera:

 

Leica M4 w/ 50 f2 DR Summicron $519

35 2 $195

50 2 rigid $186

50 1.4 $255

50 1.2 $870

90 2 $195

 

Nikon Ftn w 50 1.4 $458

35 2 $189.50

50 1.4 $148

50 1.2 $199.50

85 1.8 195

______________________

 

1977 PTN Master Buying Guide (not all brands or items prices are listed.) These are list not street prices.

 

Canon FD

Canon F-1 w 50 1.4 $729

24 2.8 $277

24 1.4 $1100

35 2 $290

50 1.4 $185

55 1.2 $285

85 1.8 $260

85 1.2 $700

 

Nikon F2 Photomic w 50 1.4 $815.50

 

No prices for Nikon lenses are listed in the catalog.

 

Leica

M5 f2 $1296

M5 f1.4 $1473

35 2 $270

50 1.4 $531

90 2 $384

 

So clearly Nikon and Canon have held down their lens prices over the years and Leica has not. E.g. the Canon 24 1.4 has only gone up a little bit - $70 (comparing 1977 list to current street price) in 31 years while it now has AF and electronic aperture control. This is probably due to manufacturing efficiency and higher volume, not reduced quality. I think that really is at the heart of the matter in all of this.

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