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The price of Leica photography

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It's not only the current high prices, but it also, in my mind, the tremendous run up in prices in the last several years from what was already extremely high prices. Five years ago, an MP or M7, which had just come out, sold for about $2500; they are now what -- almost $4000. And the Summiluxes were in the same range and now they're cost more then $4000.

 

Leica has to do what it has to do to survive, and I'm glad some of you find the equipment worth every penny. But in my mind, it seems kind of crazy, I just wonder how amateurs can justify the expense.

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How much would it cost to buy into a Leica outfit today? Just curious. Say an M 8.2; a telephoto lens; a fast normal lens and a wide angle lens. And lets say all new.

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Steve,

5 years ago the Eur/USD was 1.08, now it is 1.46

Leica is a German company, go figure...

The Euro prices (certainly of the lenses I 'watch') havnt changed over that period, 3000 Eur for a 35 lux/24/21, or 2000 Eur for a 35 summicron.

 

Your problem is not Leica's doing, they are actually helping by introducing cheaper lenses but your politicians and banks are undermining Leica's efforts

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Back to the thread starters point. Is 6,000 $ a lot of money?

 

Well, no. It was once when the dollar's value equalled that or the Euro 1:1 or something like NOK 9,95. This was back i 2001. Then 6,000 $ was the value of small car. Today it is the value of a rusty wreak. At best.

 

Back then the median income ('typical' income) of people in California was something like 57,000 $ - far more than any 'median' income of any European country, - but before taxes, mind you. Equaling 57.000 euros or 580.000 NOK - it equals the gross salary of people in managerial positions here in Europe, back then. The median income in Norway was something like 280.000 NOK in 2001 - but AFTER taxes, with health care, education for kids through collage and lavish pension funds etc. covered. the 280.000 NOK (28,000 $ in 2001) was for spending - 'consumption' on all the rest.

 

In 2007 the median income in California had sunk to 55,000 $ and the dollar has decreased to € 1,46 (has been a low as € 1,64) and NOK 5,50. I have no idea what the purchasing power of a median Californian can be after health care costs, a pension securing you 66% of your salary etc. will be. It can't be much. Health care cost has soared in USA. The 'California median income' - before taxes, equals something like NOK 302.000 - which equals the gross pay of a governmental pensionaire here in Norway today. Or € 37.700 - a pay of a qualified nurse in Germany. - Or 2/3 of the workers at the Volvo factory in Gothenburg. At the same time the median income here in Norway has increased to 339.000 NOK (ca 62,000 $) AFTER taxes, that is health care costs, lavish pension funds, kid's education through collage etc.

 

Back in 2001 6,000 $ was a lot of money. Today it isn't all that much.

 

Further....

 

I have never felt uncomfortable going out with my camera gear, be it my 1Ds III or the M8. But I frequent places with 'law and order', like Europe and the Far East.

 

What you mean is $6000 today is a lot less then $6000 7-8 years ago. That doesn't mean $6000 is not a lot of money. By using your own stats, $6000 is more than 10% of the average California family gross income. That's a lot.

 

Plus, $6000 only covers the cost of the body. Throw in a couple of lenses and you're in that $10-15k range.

 

Like I said, it's and individual's choice, and maybe I don't shoot enough film to justify the expense, but Leica prices were high to me, even several years ago.

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Steve,

5 years ago the Eur/USD was 1.08, now it is 1.46

Leica is a German company, go figure...

The Euro prices (certainly of the lenses I 'watch') havnt changed over that period, 3000 Eur for a 35 lux/24/21, or 2000 Eur for a 35 summicron.

 

Your problem is not Leica's doing, they are actually helping by introducing cheaper lenses but your politicians and banks are undermining Leica's efforts

 

 

I see.

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The only sensible answer to the OP's assertion is to take account of economics.

 

I'm not about to do the calculation now, but I've seen plenty of purchasing power and inflation adjusted calculations that suggest Leica cameras cost about the same as they always have.

 

"Ah don like when ma beeer costs more", is an emotion we all share but it's meaningless as a statement.

 

Historically, goods have been a lot cheaper for Americans than for other nations because of the dollar's strength. Watch the news and you'll see a couple of reasons why that may change.

 

The outlook for the dollar suggests things are going to get a lot more expensive the US. Not just Leica cameras, Stephen.

 

Peter Schiff's analysis of the factors affecting the global economy - and specifically the US and UK economies - explains this

 

FSO Transcription - "Crash Proof: How to Profit From the Coming Economic Collapse" with Peter Schiff 03/10/2007

 

"They’re basically taxing their own citizens to prop up our currency so that we can afford to buy things that their own citizens do without. But I think once this happens – once the Asian central banks stop this practice and allow the dollar to sink, which it will, what’s going to happen is as the dollar loses purchasing power these other currencies will gain it. It doesn’t evaporate from the planet: whatever goods we can no longer afford to consume will simply be consumed by other people who cannot afford them now, but will be able to afford them when their currencies gain value.

 

"And so this is how Americans will see their standard of living lowered. Their currency will buy a lot less, things will be a lot more expensive for Americans, and so we will be doing without things that many people around the world are doing without right now. And they are doing without them because we have them. You know, there is not an unlimited amount of goods – they’re scarce; and everybody can’t have everything. And so it’s going to change. And so what Americans have to understand is recognize this.

 

"We’re still consuming as if we were producing everything, but we’re not. And when it changes, if people have investments denominated in the currencies that are going to gain the purchasing power that the dollar loses, they can at least preserve their relative standard of living."

 

Regards,

Mark

 

Yes, all true what you summarise, but US based consumers' demand was/is one of the key, if not the #1 driver of global economic growth. If it is going to falter, there will be no save harbor to hide.

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Leica has not gotten into the 'give more for the same (or less) money as the previous model' that is the mainstream philosophy in the digicam world. Even in Euroland they are moving further ahead pricewise from all others. But a Leica M8/8.2 is a unique product with no direct competition.

 

I suppose that if you felt you wanted for financial reasons to step away from Leica then at least their pricing policy helps you get decent money back when you sell up (even for the M8 with new M8.2 priced at 33% more)

 

Jeff

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Leica has not gotten into the 'give more for the same (or less) money as the previous model' that is the mainstream philosophy in the digicam world. Even in Euroland they are moving further ahead pricewise from all others. But a Leica M8/8.2 is a unique product with no direct competition.

 

I suppose that if you felt you wanted for financial reasons to step away from Leica then at least their pricing policy helps you get decent money back when you sell up (even for the M8 with new M8.2 priced at 33% more)

 

Jeff

 

 

Yes, the M8 is the only game in town. If you want a digital rangefinder, then you have to pay their prices. That's a nice position for Leica to be in.

 

But with film rangefinders, which is what I use, and I'm a Leica user for about 12 years now; but for film rangefinders I would go for a Zeiss Ikon if I was building an outfit today. Leicas are nice, they're the best out there, but the bang for your dollar you get with the ZI is just incredible. And quality wise ZI is very good.

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Yes, all true what you summarise, but US based consumers' demand was/is one of the key, if not the #1 driver of global economic growth. If it is going to falter, there will be no save harbor to hide.

 

however US based consumer demand isnt the #1 source of Leica's income, Europe is, followed by Asia, followed by 'The Americas'.

And that after a significant increase in sales in the americas in the last year, despite the parlous state of the dollar

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however US based consumer demand isnt the #1 source of Leica's income, Europe is, followed by Asia, followed by 'The Americas'.

And that after a significant increase in sales in the americas in the last year, despite the parlous state of the dollar

 

Sure, but a lot of the recent years economic growth in Asia and Europe was because of US based consumers' excessive consumption, funded largely through cheap borrowings. I guess there is no need to mention that this source of funding is gone, for probably longer a time period than many are willing to admit. And the impact a faltering US demand will have for the global economy is not something we have experienced before.

"The world is Flat", as Thomas L. Friedman so impressively demonstrated in his remarkable book published in 2004.

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Sure, but a lot of the recent years economic growth in Asia and Europe was because of US based consumers' excessive consumption, funded largely through cheap borrowings. I guess there is no need to mention that this source of funding is gone, for probably longer a time period than many are willing to admit, and the impact a faltering US demand will have for the global economy not something we have experienced before.

"The world is Flat", as Thomas L. Friedman so impressively demonstrated in his remarkable book published in 2004.

 

Needless to say, I don't think a company like Leica can afford a decline in sales in any part of the world. And yes, I do see a slowing of the world economies, and that will spell trouble, not just for Leica. Let's hope I'm wrong, or that any recession is mild, but I don't think it will be.

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It's not only the current high prices, but it also, in my mind, the tremendous run up in prices in the last several years from what was already extremely high prices. Five years ago, an MP or M7, which had just come out, sold for about $2500; they are now what -- almost $4000. And the Summiluxes were in the same range and now they're cost more then $4000.

 

Leica has to do what it has to do to survive, and I'm glad some of you find the equipment worth every penny. But in my mind, it seems kind of crazy, I just wonder how amateurs can justify the expense.

 

The reason is, as we try to explain to you Americans, 'the fall of the US dollar'!

 

To cover their fixed cost in Euro, Leica have to increase their prices in dollars. So far, Leica have to compensate by increase their prices with 46% in dollars to get the same amount in Euros as in 2001.

 

How much has petrol for cars increased in USA since, say, 2001? 300 or 400% More?

 

When it comes to price increases on imported goods, you have seen nothing yet. This Wall Street bail out package - depending on how much dollars they decide to pump out into the market, is going to reduce the value of the dollar even further. Thus inceasing the prices of imported goods even further.

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however US based consumer demand isnt the #1 source of Leica's income, Europe is, followed by Asia, followed by 'The Americas'.

And that after a significant increase in sales in the americas in the last year, despite the parlous state of the dollar

 

The US market 'was' the biggest for Leica if you go back to when the dollar and Euro had about the same value. With the decrease of the dollar value, the sales volume of Leica gear in USA has dropped too. We Europeans have always found Leica very expensive, but thanks to rich Americans that could pay with a strong currency Leica survived.

 

This dollar crisis could spell the end for Leica.

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Back to the thread starters point. Is 6,000 $ a lot of money?...

 

Depending where you live, yes, it is lot of money

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You guys can twist this any way way you want, but it doesn't change the simple fact that Leica has priced itself out of the reach of 90% of the people, who would otherwise buy their gear.

 

Having read this list for quite some time it is obvious that there are a lot of well to do people here, for whom dropping $6,000 on a lens is not a big deal and seem to lack perspective on how the rest of the world lives. It is that or some of us here are living way beyond their means.

 

Ultimately Leica can't survive on sales to a small and financially elite group. They need a tiered product line like everyone else. 'Cheaper' doesn't mean 'crap' and even a $3000 dollar body can hardly be described as a bargain.

 

I think and hope that Kaufmann understands this, but only time will tell.

 

Absolutelly.

 

On the other hand, Leica has every right to decide to be available only to rich people. There are lots of stuff 90% of people on planet can't buy, and Leica can and have every right to be one of them.

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Quite right (IMHO), Haris (And nice to see you posting again

)

 

Ultimately Leica can't survive on sales to a small and financially elite group

 

Why not? Lots of other companies do. I don't see any entry level Rolexes, or Louis Vuitton bags, or any one of the millions of top end products out there that most people can't afford.

 

Life's like that.

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What you mean is $6000 today is a lot less then $6000 7-8 years ago. That doesn't mean $6000 is not a lot of money. By using your own stats, $6000 is more than 10% of the average California family gross income. That's a lot.

 

Plus, $6000 only covers the cost of the body. Throw in a couple of lenses and you're in that $10-15k range.

 

Like I said, it's and individual's choice, and maybe I don't shoot enough film to justify the expense, but Leica prices were high to me, even several years ago.

 

I can assure you that the M8 was the first and only Leica camera I have bought new. To us Europeans the analogue M6, M7 and MP was so expensive that 'only rich Americans with strong dollar really could buy them'.....

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The US market 'was' the biggest for Leica if you go back to when the dollar and Euro had about the same value. With the decrease of the dollar value, the sales volume of Leica gear in USA has dropped too. We Europeans have always found Leica very expensive, but thanks to rich Americans that could pay with a strong currency Leica survived.

 

This dollar crisis could spell the end for Leica.

 

 

late 2003 the Euro and Doller were close to parity.

From Leica's own annual reports (in mEuro, Europe=excluding germany)

 

2003/4

Germany 27.2

Europe 36.6

Asia 25

US, Canada, Mexico 26

 

2006/7

Germany 24.2

Europe 41.9

Asia 40.3

US, Canada, Mexico 37.8

 

2007/8

Germany 21.8

Europe 43.4

Asia 45.4

US, Canada, Mexico 44.9

 

speculating is fun, why let the facts get in the way?

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late 2003 the Euro and Doller were close to parity.

From Leica's own annual reports (in mEuro, Europe=excluding germany)

 

2003/4

Germany 27.2

Europe 36.6

Asia 25

US, Canada, Mexico 26

 

2006/7

Germany 24.2

Europe 41.9

Asia 40.3

US, Canada, Mexico 37.8

 

2007/8

Germany 21.8

Europe 43.4

Asia 45.4

US, Canada, Mexico 44.9

 

speculating is fun, why let the facts get in the way?

 

Sure. (But it is fine to see that the Americans 'are complainin' but they are buyin'...)

 

And how is the Leica sales if you go further back, say to the nineties, seventies, etc...? Leica is an anacronism that should have died long ago, but that survived thanks to 'very good sales in USA'.

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