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barjohn

Should Leica Abandon The M8?

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Lothar,

 

Assuming you are correct and Leica builds an R10, whose sensor will it have and will that sensor compete with the FF Nikon or Canon offering? If it can't compete with it, and I assume the body will be as or more expensive than the Nikon or Canon offering, why would anyone want to buy it? I think it needs more than the red dot. I know the R lenses are good but so are the Zeiss lenses for the Nikon. In other word, what features and capabilities must it have to compete in the marketplace?

 

Sorry dear friend,

 

I am not at all a sensor specialist. I do not know....

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Lothar,

 

Assuming you are correct and Leica builds an R10, whose sensor will it have and will that sensor compete with the FF Nikon or Canon offering? If it can't compete with it, and I assume the body will be as or more expensive than the Nikon or Canon offering, why would anyone want to buy it? I think it needs more than the red dot. I know the R lenses are good but so are the Zeiss lenses for the Nikon. In other word, what features and capabilities must it have to compete in the marketplace?

 

 

A few weeks ago they made a rather firm public commitment to Kodak

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Coming back full circle, I just bought John's M8. We've corresponded before and it was nice to get a camera from a friend.

 

I'm getting more gigs and can't work without a backup body (the camera's). Now I'll be able to use 2 lenses more easily.

 

I'd really like to see Sean Reid's flash tether that he uses to hang the off-camera flash from his wrist. Sticking the flash in my armpit while focusing this weekend was a PITA.

 

Thanks, John. Regards to all,

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Sticking the flash in my armpit while focusing this weekend was a PITA.

 

Thanks, John. Regards to all,

 

I'm very familiar with that move.

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I'll just reply as I'm pretty sure some of this relates to me!.

 

.. Just to answer the attacks on my knowledge or expertise, I have been the president of a multi-million dollar software company, I have been the head of marketing for a computer manufacturer, I have been the CIO and corporate counsel for another medium size company and I am currently in charge of R&D for the U.S. Navy in the area of measurement science. I have direct experience with product marketing, sales, product development and product life cycle management. When attacking my statements or credentials you should have at least the same experience or better to back up your statements...

 

Without wishing to appear unimpressed with your credentials, I fail to see where such experience gives you qualified insight into the design of lenses or a marketing strategy of a Company such as Leica. Without wishing to beat my own chest, I to am the MD of a multi million euro food company and have progressed through the company starting from the ground up. Along the way I have been responsible for production, product development, quality, finance, project management in site development, sales, marketing and brand management. I do not pretend to imply I am a master of each field I have been in but rather suggest I have knowledge directly related to the industry/market in which I operate. Some basic principles can be applied across different industries and markets but by in large those different markets are quite unique and without having worked within the industry my views would be no more than a guess.

 

Note that I started this post with a question and I presented some rationale for my answer. .

 

I do take issue with the question asked and the rational you presented,

 

From your first post

In a world of fast changing technology, sooner or later every company faces the dilemma of creating a product that cuts lose from its past or building a new product that is seriously hampered by trying to maintain backward compatibility.

 

No Problem here, but I would have added, in also in trying to maintain backward compatibility... in the interest of customers.

 

You then go on to suggest

 

The M family of lenses is a perfect example of this problem. The M8 was the manifestation of Leica's choice. However, trying to take lenses designed for film and building a digital camera with film like tolerances illustrates why most engineers would have preferred a clean slate. In addition to all of the teething problems Leica has faced trying to move the camera from film to digital, it has tarnished its reputation on lenses too. Issues that might never have shown up on a film camera such as the back focus and front focus errors in brand new lenses are all over this and other web sites.

 

My point is, the above quote is nothing more than supposition on your part, where are your facts to say a lens designed for film is somehow a compromise when used with a digital sensor. Industry practice suggests to me it is normal to use existing film era lenses on digital cameras.

 

Leica had problems with lenses, that I agree with, I myself had reason to return 2 brand new lenses for adjustment. I would suggest the issue lay directly at the QC door. We all remember the 35 Summilux Asph, why some would back focus others would not and in general I was left with the impression older lenses and chrome lenses tended not to exhibit this trait while new (fresh from factory at the time) were giving problems. It's interesting to note this seems to have subsided, I have not seen or read a recent report regarding this issue, that's not to say it doesn't exist but it would suggest to me that after the "rush" things have improved.

 

With regard to back / front focus, it is not a trait limited to leica or RF, I had reason to have Canon adjust lenses of mine in the past. There have been much internet chatter regarding this issue, sensors seem to have less tolerance than film by all reports I have read. But one must also take into consideration the human factor with manual focus lenses, eyesight small view finder and so on. From personal experience my focus accuracy is improving with time while my eyesight is dis-improving. Manual focus is a skill I had to re learn.

 

It is time to stop with the M8, let it die its natural death which will come all too quickly and start with a new RF camera that is modern with lenses that will work with the new body. It should be small (smaller than the M8), far more ergonomic in controls, and far more modern in features such as a FF sensor (or larger if need be), rather than frame lines, adjust image magnification so the frame is constant and accurate for the distance or use electronic frame lines that adjust for distance. Electronically couples lenses so f-stop, focal length and distance to subject are all captured. No sloppy cam and roller constantly needing adjustment. New lighter lenses custom made for the camera. Both camera body and lens body made from carbon composite for light weight with complete weather sealing. ISO as good as the D700 or better. Fast internal processor for fast shooting with a very large buffer.

 

Here I also have an issue, why in the absence of another model or with a new model should leica cease production of the M8, It may, depending on the technical advances and price of a new model find a niche, a cheaper alternative to the flagship model is a position that comes to mind.

 

I have no problem with many of the suggestions you make for improvement, FF, improved RF frame accuracy. However I am curious as to where you came up with the fact that the cam and roller are sloppy and require constant adjustment, I have read reports of people adjusting their own rollers, but once done correctly seems to be a one time adjustment. Again all I can base this on is my own personal experience, self adjusted to taste, no more adjustment needed.

 

New custom lenses made for the camera, I would have no idea of the R&D budget, the retooling budget and associated costs involved in even considering such a move, let alone Leica's ability to fund such a massive project v's the payback, expected sales volume and perhaps even negative customer base reaction to such a move. If this is your idea of rational argument I'd love to see your costings and return projection. It seem to me your suggestion is borne of personal desire of what you want rather than based on rational argument .

 

 

People will pay more for small size, light weight and high tech. You pay much more for a super light weight laptop weighing 3 lbs or less than a 5 lb or greater notebook. Why? People want small and light weight and they know it costs more to miniaturize.

 

Again this may be true for a laptop, but you and others have already complained about the entry price for the M8, now you're suggesting a market exists or will be created for an even more expensive M offering. Put a figure on your imaginary M and it's lenses, recouping the RD and let's see what people here think.

 

Again here talking about weight,

 

.. I see users here that talk about giving up their Canon or Nikon becasue of size and weight. Well, my small DOMKE bag with M8 and 4 lenses weighs over 8 lbs. The new Nikon D700 with a single zoom covering the same focal range weighs considerably less (around 3.5lbs). It is only when you add many lenses that take you far beyond the focal range of the M8 that the SLR kit weighs more. the only way you come out ahead with the M8 is if you only carry it around with a single lens. If the OLY had better IQ and FF it would be way ahead on size and weight and I would buy one.

 

Where is the rational in this comparison?, if it was just about focal range then I'd have no argument, but I have used zooms in the past and image quality off center has always tended to be inferior, not to mention the lower starting aperture. I prefer to use fast primes and I'm guessing here, but I think the M8 + 4 would be a lot lighter and less bulky than the D700 and 4 primes. Just a guess!.

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..I fully understand the reasons people are emotionally attached to the M8. Many have a large investment in lenses and they are RF users and believers to the point of irrationality. I too like RF photography but I also have to face that my eyesight has to struggle far too often to obtain descent focus, especially with longer lenses or fast changing subjects. It's one of those darn gotchas when you finally get old enough to afford the camera your eyesight no longer supports it like it used to...

 

In my own case there is no emotional attachment to the camera. Yes I happen to like it's minimal approach, meter, shutter speed, and sensor output, but the core emotion is one of self satisfaction in creating an image that is special and has meaning to me. I had no prior investment in lenses before the M8 launch and sold every other piece of photographic equipment to fund the purchase. I wanted control of a basic light box, some sweet lenses and a digital output. Perhaps that's irrational in your eyes, but from my own perspective I find I enjoy my photography more now than I did before.

 

I could be wrong, but I think your last 2 sentences give me a better understanding of where you're coming from, rather than your first post. I do genuinely sympathize with the position you find your self in. My own eyesight is less than it was when I took up the M8 and I do struggle sometimes. But I realise it's my own inability than an inability of the camera when I just don't catch the moment.

 

I do apologise if you took things personally, my issue was with your argument to abandon M photography as I know it and understand it and replace it with a new system which for the life of me I can't see being smaller or lighter with all the enhancements you desire.

 

I do not wish to appear to stand in the way of progress, I firmly believe over time many advancements will be made in the DRF market over time. The M8 is proof enough that something considered impossible before has seen the light of day. However I do hope to be able to retain the use of my glass as this progress evolves otherwise I'll be stuck at the last model which used the M mount

 

 

I have put my money where my mouth is by selling the M8 at a loss. I will observe the market for M8s and used M8s for a while and see if I am right or wrong.

 

Again not wishing to appear smart, perhaps the best move considering everything.

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So they come out with the M9 or something with the improvements requested/required, what happens to the flood of M8's that will hit the used market? Not so easy to sell now and harder if an upgrade is available.

 

I would rather return the M8 and have it done over to the new specs and save many problems for the future.

 

I think they have it down in the compact line. I have a D-Lux3 and that is an amazing camera. If they partnered the M camera with say, Panasonic, it could save them.

 

Will Leica abandon the M8?

 

I hope not but I did and 4 times at that...waiting patiently...shooter

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....Sticking the flash in my armpit while focusing this weekend was a PITA...

 

Bodge it Bill - Go to any climbing store, get a suitable length of thin 'shock-cord' plus two toggles, wrap/tie the cord safely around the flash and leave a loop as a wrist strap.

 

Or wait for Sean to go into mass production.

 

.............. Chris

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I am EXTREMELY tired from all the "photographers" non-stop talking about what it takes for Leica to be saved from Bankruptcy. Is this a Photography forum or a Finance forum?

 

Folks, why not concentrate on your photography skills and talent before it goes bankrupt? Isn't this the real point?

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I agree with the BOLD above.

The Leica SLR has never been a big seller, any model.

If I, and most other people interested in photograph, was looking for a SLR there are many makes and models out there, as we all know. But there is only one DRF camera in production at this time.

If Leica did come out with a M9, or M8 II, with better sensor, faster write times, faster shooting in continuous mode, better frame lines, IR blocking built in and longer battery life along with other basic and feature improvements, as has been dicussed many time on this forum, I would seriously think about getting one.

"IF" "I" were thinking about buying a DSLR, I presently don't own one but I have in the past, I certainly wouldn't even think about a R from Leica.

So I think the time and money spent on R&D for the R10, if there even is one in the works, is waisted. Unless Leica can bring it in for under $5000.00. Which is doubtful.

 

Shootist,

 

I think we all agree that competition in the DSLR segment will be dramatically tougher

for Leica than in the RF segment. After all (including all M8 inconveniences which I

firmly believe WILL be further and finally solved) Leica IS the world market leader in

this (RF-) segment, if you consider the M-System as the sum of body+lenses.

 

In the DSLR market Leica is not existing. In the first step Leica's objective would probably

be to deliver the digital body for all owners of analog R bodies. In the second step they

will have to attract new customers for the then new digital R-system. I am deeply

convinced that here they will have to make the difference via lenses rather than the

body, at best with this new R10 body they might reach the level of their competitors.

 

If this reasoning is right then Leica better makes sure (what I think they will), that

existing R lenses will fit on the new DSLR R10 body...

 

With regard to selling prices, those who dream to get the new R10 body for 4000-5000

USD should better make sure that their dream will not be brutally interrupted by reality.

 

I am counting on a body selling price of around 4.500,- Euros, which equals around

7000 USD...

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- And they must try and get the current (abeit not too many) DMR users to upgrade... As for the M8. I find it pretty good for what is is supposed to do - a vastly improved sensor would not do me much good. If I want superior image quality, the DMR is clearly the winner - so I would buy an R10 if it is superior to the DMR before I would buy an M9. Others may differ.

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Guest jimmy pro
- If I want superior image quality, the DMR is clearly the winner

 

Your saying the DMR has better IQ then the M8? Aren't the sensor's pretty close to the same? Same # of pixels, same (almost) crop, same manufacturer? IIRC people were saying the DMR's noise above ISO 400 was not that good. I'm not disputing you, because I don't own a DMR (and wouldn't get back into the R system if they paid me) but I'm curius what about the IQ in perticular you think is better about it then the M8. Why prey tell did you wait to get a DMR until long after it was discontinued vs right off the bat like you got your M8?

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- If I want superior image quality, the DMR is clearly the winner -

 

 

ding ding ding....we have a winner...it's been said in other places on the forum before, and it's visible to me from the images i've seen posted here for the most part. I've maintained from the get-go that the DMR is Leica's halo product in the digital arena....I guess I should say "was." One word....Imacon.

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Imacon- and 16 bits, I guess.... Yes Jimmy, you're right it shows its age in that it is a low-ISO camera. And the order of buying - I had my Leica M system all the time, so the M8 was logical, but when the DMR was delayed, I sold my R kit in despair to go DSLR with Canon

. I had to wait a bit to buy back into the R system, which I am doing now...

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Just to answer the attacks on my knowledge or expertise, I have been the president of a multi-million dollar software company, I have been the head of marketing for a computer manufacturer, I have been the CIO and corporate counsel for another medium size company and I am currently in charge of R&D for the U.S. Navy in the area of measurement science. I have direct experience with product marketing, sales, product development and product life cycle management. When attacking my statements or credentials you should have at least the same experience or better to back up your statements or I suggest you use some other point of attack (like perhaps a sound logical argument).

 

 

 

 

Without wishing to appear unimpressed with your credentials, I fail to see where such experience gives you qualified insight into the design of lenses or a marketing strategy of a Company such as Leica. Without wishing to beat my own chest, I to am the MD of a multi million euro food company and have progressed through the company starting from the ground up. Along the way I have been responsible for production, product development, quality, finance, project management in site development, sales, marketing and brand management. I do not pretend to imply I am a master of each field I have been in but rather suggest I have knowledge directly related to the industry/market in which I operate. Some basic principles can be applied across different industries and markets but by in large those different markets are quite unique and without having worked within the industry my views would be no more than a guess.

 

 

Okay, you guys have succeeded in giving me a massive inferiority complex. I'm just a lowly photographer. Guess I'd better take my chair, go sit in the corner and keep my mouth shut.

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One thing I can't figure out is why everyone here seems to assume that Leica is in major difficulty, see Leica Camera AG - Investor Relations - Financial Reports

 

Bottom line: they are making more profit that the year before and have more financial reserves (which are being invested to introduce new products at Photokina 2008).

 

 

Was it really necessary to burst everyone's bubbles with a dose of reality? How are people supposed to talk about the impending doom at Leica with these facts staring them in the face?

 

Oops, I broke my silence. Back to the corner now.

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My 2 dollars, having skimmed all the above (and despite the occasional "noise", much of it was reasonable statement of differing views):

 

Back in 1954, Leica came out with a NEW rangefinder system - the M. They had a 30-year history with a previous RF system, which had never had a name (we call them "screw-mount" or "Barnack" cameras now, to distinguish them from the M).

 

The Barnack system lasted about another 6-7 years in production, including one new body design (IIIg) that incorporated some M updates (2 framelines in the finder) in a bigger body.

 

There was some backwards compatability - Barnack lenses could be used on the M-series, but M lenses could NOT be used on the Barnack bodies.

 

People still use Barnack bodies today (see Bill's beauty imaged above a few pages) - but within a few years THE Leica RF system was the M, and most people moved up or over to the M-mount lenses - they were where the advances in speed and focal length and image quality could be found. (Ever seen a screw-mount LEICA-made Noctilux, or 15 Hologon, or 24mm f/2.8, or 28 f/2? - A tip of the hat to Cosina, though, for filling some of those gaps 35 years later).

 

It is altogether possible that the M8 is the "IIIg" of the M-series - the capstone to a line that has finally run into some insurmountable limitations.

 

And that it is time for a new, ground-up, RF system designed to accomodate the requirements of digital, just as the M was designed to accomodate faster lenses and faster lens changing and faster film loading etc. etc. over the Barnacks.

 

I'm glad the M8 came along in the form that it did, for the most part, as a way to shoot digital with older lenses. But now that it is here and covers that base, I don't have a problem with Leica starting a NEW RF line with new lenses and a new RANGEFINDER format that is whole-heartedly digital and 21st-century.

 

Perhaps with some limited backwards compatability, as with the Barnack-M transition, but regaining some of the "Leica RF" qualities such as really light weight, silence and low-light capability, that require a complete rethink to do digitally, and that small tweaks to the M8 will never really accomplish.

 

So that in ten years, there are folks who still happily use their M8s and pre 2008 lenses - and those who use this new system, with its own advanced lenses.

 

Preferably well-specced but much more rationalized as to price. I HATE the fact that I had to be nearly 50 to afford a Leica M setup - could have really used it in the previous 25 years if it had been a bit more accessable to a starving young journalist.

 

On specific features: Not a fan of AF rangefinders - tried the Contax G line and got tired of its "OH, you mean you wanted to take the picture NOW?" delays and misfires. I don't mind Leica including it if it has no effect on the price, no effect on the lens build quality, no effect on manual operation, no effect on the viewfinder, and has a switch that will make it go away completely....

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Hoorah!

 

Every so often this thread contains a post from someone that really "gets it" Adan's is one of them. As one who wants to see a digital M that works for me, personally, and is holding off until and unless that happens, I thank you for an injection of common sense. If this truly is a point of inflexion as happened when the Barnack line gave way to the M, I for one look forward to the future with interest and excitement.

 

Regards,

 

Bill

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Okay, you guys have succeeded in giving me a massive inferiority complex. I'm just a lowly photographer. Guess I'd better take my chair, go sit in the corner and keep my mouth shut.

 

Bent, absolutely not my intention, I'm still an aspiring photographer at heart.

I'd rather not have reveled my background but I was called out so to speak, ones life experience must be equal or better than someone else to be in a position to question their logic, I think not.

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Brent, absolutely not my intention, I'm still an aspiring photographer at heart. I'd rather not have reveled my background but I was called out so to speak, ones life experience must be equal or better than someone else to be in a position to question their logic, I think not.

 

Not to worry, my friend. I was all tongue-in-cheek there. I aspire to nothing loftier than what I currently do for a living because I cannot imagine anything that would bring me more pleasure and satisfaction.

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