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jrc

Let's have it out

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On another thread ("Maybe this is how a future M rangefinder could work?") Alan G said, "So now there is only a small group of people who prefer rangefinders. I'm sure Leica is aware of this and the question will be if that small group will sustain the M platform indefinitely. My opinion is that it won't sustain it for much longer if the entire camera (including framing and focusing) is not upgraded. Leica isn't somehow immune from progress."

 

I don't know if Alan G would agree with what I think, but I'd propose this to the group:

 

1. Leica appears to be failing -- in fact, I don't see how it couldn't be. There is some possibility that the owner will continue to support the company from his own pocket, but even deep-pocket owners will usually put up with a never-ending drain only until it threatens their own financial stability. Leica has to earn tens of millions of dollars a year simply to support its staff, even without making a profit. I don't see how they could possibly be doing this.

 

2. The S2 seems to me to be doomed. The wrong product at the wrong time -- so expensive that only rich amateurs could justify buying it, launched in the middle of the most serious world-wide recession since the 1930s. I'm keeping this statement short, for clarity, because there's a lot more that could be said here, but I think that's the bottom line.

 

3. The only hope for the company seems to me to be an M9. The M9 should at a minimum be FF with better high ISO response and better resolution. If it doesn't do this minimum, why bother? Most of the other M8 deficits don't worry me that much -- like the silly removable bottom. Other minimal enhancements might include a twistable LCD if it didn't make the body thicker, a better top LCD that would provide more information, a quieter shutter, software that would allow for some use of non-Leica M-mount lenses, etc. A major change might include some kind of focus-confirmation indicator.

 

It is very clear to me from reading this forum and other Leica forums that for MOST people (not ALL people), Leicas perform a jewelry function, much in the way that expensive watches and Porsche cars do. That is, people want to be seen as Leica/Rolex/Porsche owners, despite the fact that Leicas are hard to use and are limited in function compared to other cameras, that Rolexes don't keep time as well as Timexes, and that using a Porsche at it's full capability is illegal, unethical and immoral anywhere besides a race track and certain lanes of the autobahn.

 

MOST of these people use Leicas to take snapshots, just as they use Porsches to drive back and forth to the grocery store, so the function is that of jewelry, rather than utility. While some people may not like the jewelry argument, the fact is, many people would not buy Leicas if not for this particular Leica "glow." If Leicas were perceived to cheap and common, the jewelry part of the market would vanish, and this would not be good for Leica.

 

There is a subset of people who buy Leicas for the image quality and handling; call these the "image making" people, where the primary focus is on the print, rather than the camera.

 

Leica needs to keep both the "jewelry" and the "image" people.

 

Here are some questions:

 

1. If Leica produced a less expensive camera, perhaps in cooperation with Panasonic, that had an electronic viewfinder, live-view, and native M-lens capability, would M8 and prospective M9 owners object, **if at the same time Leica produced a tradition-based M9?**

 

2. Does it seem reasonable to anybody else that Leica would want to widen the use of its one really viable product, the M lens? How else would this be done, other than building another body?

 

3. It seems likely to me that the biggest and possibly only market for an M9 would be current M8 and Mx-film owners...and since this is not a large market now, and since not all M8 owners and film owners will buy, it seems likely that the M9 market will shrink from the M8 level. Would this not be a reason a to build some kind of camera with a wider appeal?

 

I really like Leicas, and I think AlanG does too, but there are problems, and taking a trip on an Egyptian river isn't going to help Leica. I hope Leica has been considering all of this; but I'm not confident.

 

JC

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My Leicas are not jewellery. I don't own any jewellery. Nor do I own a Rolex, nor a Porsche.

 

Most of the Leica users I have met would be in the same vein, I would suggest. In fact I can't think of any Leica user I know who would consider their camera as jewellery

 

So, IMHO, a lot of your argument here is somewhat flawed.

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I don't agree with most of this analysis.

 

Firstly, Leica is a privately owned company so please can you direct me to the published financial accounts so I can work out if they are indeed doomed? Secondly, I think they will eventually be purchased by either a private equity company or a trade competitor. In fact, I would have thought the owner's exit strategy has to be some kind of trade sale otherwise why would he buy Leica in the first place?

 

Thirdly, the M camera is a tool. I agree that there are some complete tools using them but I am always impressed by the number of dedicated amateurs and professionals here in the forum who are using them and not just posing with them.

 

Finally, if someone asked me what I want improved in the M DRF, I would always choose sensitivity over, say, full frame. If I could shoot confidently at 3200 or even 6400 even keeping the crop then I'd say that was a winner. A full frame would be a bonus if only because it would suddenly make owning 21, 24 or 28 Elmarit worthwhile (which begs the question, why would Leica invest all the time energy and effort in producing 21 & 24 Luxes?).

 

Just my two cents.

 

LouisB

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I was gonna post a response - then I realized I really couldn't be bothered.

 

I'll just say this - no-one's forcing you to use a Leica. Don't enjoy it? Choose another camera (plenty out there).

 

PS: No Porsche, no Rolex. Apart from a pair of silver rings made for me by a jeweller friend, no jewelry whatsoever, in fact. Including the camera I most enjoy using.

 

And a reminder of what M-users really think:

http://www.rangefinderforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=73239

 

PPS: Look forward to seeing you and Alan bringing this 'killer' camera that you're gonna develop to market - I'm sure it'll be a real hit.

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I have to agree with JC and disagree with Andy. The often unreasonable emotional arguments I see put forth here by many forum members and the fact that Leica builds and sells Safari and other LTD edition versions points to a jewelry market and not a photographer's market. Working pro photographers that I know have several cameras and lens combinations slung around them and quick and rough handling is the norm rather than the exception. On the other hand, collectors and individuals that treat their cameras like fine jewelry may have a Leica. There is nothing wrong with that per se but it is a small market nonetheless.

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Do you know the same people I do then, John?

 

Collectors do not consider their Leicas as jewellery either. It would be interesting to know how many people here bought a Safari M8. Not many, I'd wager.

 

I use my Leicas and I don't care if they get dinted or scratched on the body.

Edited by andybarton

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"It is very clear to me from reading this forum and other Leica forums that for MOST people (not ALL people), Leicas perform a jewelry function, much in the way that expensive watches and Porsche cars do. That is, people want to be seen as Leica/Rolex/Porsche owners, despite the fact that Leicas are hard to use and are limited in function compared to other cameras, that Rolexes don't keep time as well as Timexes, and that using a Porsche at it's full capability is illegal, unethical and immoral anywhere besides a race track and certain lanes of the autobahn."

 

What an absolute total load of crap. I own both a Leica M8, and shoot professionally with it, and I own a Porsche (my first) and it is a complete driving machine that I can utilize and enjoy legally without an autobahn. I can't believe that some people on this forum still believe that an M9 incarnation is going to be the holy grail that saves Leica. Maybe you should stick to a topic you know something about. Whatever that is.

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Sorry but I don't follow the logic of the original post. How is a new design going to keep both subsets on board? Personally I use my cameras (they eventually show it too) so I suppose that I would fit in to the 'image' subset, and whilst higher specs may be useful to me as a user, the M8 already produces excellent images. And just why should a higher spec M9 appeal more to the 'jewelry' subset given their apparent snapshot requirement?

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I think they will eventually be purchased by either a private equity company or a trade competitor. In fact, I would have thought the owner's exit strategy has to be some kind of trade sale otherwise why would he buy Leica in the first place?

 

May well be, but I can tell you right now how that plays out in any Private Equity company's boardroom, from personal experience several times over - "H'mm let's see, valuable brand, proven ability to sell rebadged items at a premium, own R&D efforts very expensive, and results not too great - Answer: Dump all independent R&D, just rebadge other people's products."

 

Sandy

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Do you know the same people I do then, John?

 

Collectors do not consider their Leicas as jewellery either. It would be interesting to know how many people here bought a Safari M8. Not many, I'd wager.

 

I use my Leicas and I don't care if they get dinted or scratched on the body.

 

Andy, are you trying to say that they paid more for the Safari edition because it takes better pictures?

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My Leica M8s are a perfect fit with my old Toyota.

 

Owner's exit strategy? what about making wonderful products at a profit and keeping the company.

 

The only proposals I ever see here are those which make Leica just like any other camera, electronic wizadry introduced all over the place. Get used to the M staying simple and different and appealing to a small niche market which may in fact grow as more new photographers learn to get back to basics. And get used to paying for being part of it.

 

Who cares a jot if you have to take the baseplate off to change the card. A 4gig card holds 360 DNGs. How many photographs are you taking in a session?

 

Jeff

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Guest tvleeskr
Gasp

 

JC

 

How utterly boring this thread is. Any worth while pictures to share JRC?

Edited by tvleeskr

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Andy, are you trying to say that they paid more for the Safari edition because it takes better pictures?

 

Of course not

 

I'm saying that I don't recall anyone on this forum buying one at all. And if they did, they most likely keep it in it's box on a shelf

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Even though I am not a useful user for Leica, I can affirm that none of my Leica stuff is jewelry.

 

Not that I object to jewelry per se since my son tries very hard to earn a living by designing and manufacturing jewelry. **shameless plug** He makes very fine rings out of makume game (sp?) which he manufactures in my basement. PM me if your interested. ** End of plug**

 

All of my five leicas are second hand ones. I bought them for their intrinsic qualities and they are going to replace my film slrs.

 

The M product line does indeed have qualities which are not attainable by many other technologies. Hence, there is a limited but appreciable market.

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ceflynn,

 

Not sure what the point of your post was but having been a watch collector (I like jewelry) I can tell you that with the exception of a few vintage Rolex watches no collector thinks of Rolex as high end high quality watches. Patek Phillip, BlancPain, Breguet, etc. yes for their complicated movement watches.

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To the OP.......I am not sure that I understand why you would post such trash. If you feel that strongly, stop using your camera and quit reading the forum. Who cares why someone buys what they buy? If it is a Rolex, Porsche, or Leica. Let them be and fun with what they are interested in. Who cares if they are motivated by the perceived status symbol of what they use to take pictures or tell time? They are not causing you or anybody else any harm.

 

I am still relatively new to the forum. I enjoy reading about half of what is on here and the other half feels like an utter time waste. It can be helpful for certain questions and concerns, but it seems that more and more of these threads are just about people starting some senseless argument just for the sake of entertainment or to get a rise out of people.

 

All that everyone seems to care about is the M9, which to my knowledge doesn't exist. Who cares if the M8 sensor is cropped? Really? Why is that so terrible that you would consider selling/trading until a FF Leica digital becomes available. I just don't understand the point of debating what either doesn't exist (M9) or ways to change what can't be changed (cropped sensor).

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Here are some questions:

 

1. If Leica produced a less expensive camera, perhaps in cooperation with Panasonic, that had an electronic viewfinder, live-view, and native M-lens capability, would M8 and prospective M9 owners object, **if at the same time Leica produced a tradition-based M9?**

 

If that was the replacement for the M8.x I would not buy it. I already have a D700 as my wiz-bang automated, do everything body and have zero interest in a prosumer EVF body.

 

I want the digital equivalent of the analog M series. This is what we have in the form of the M8.2, but it is too expensive to sell in large enough numbers.

 

What you described already exists and can be purchased for about $1000. It's called a Panasonic G1 or Olympus EP-1.

 

2. Does it seem reasonable to anybody else that Leica would want to widen the use of its one really viable product, the M lens? How else would this be done, other than building another body?

 

Leica needs a tiered product line, like every other camera manufacturer on the planet. If that means that the entry level CL-D is APS and takes APS only lenses, then so it be.

 

If they were smart they would start making Leica-R glass in Nikon F mount and take some of that money from Zeiss.

 

3. It seems likely to me that the biggest and possibly only market for an M9 would be current M8 and Mx-film owners...and since this is not a large market now, and since not all M8 owners and film owners will buy, it seems likely that the M9 market will shrink from the M8 level. Would this not be a reason a to build some kind of camera with a wider appeal?

 

There are plenty of people out there that would buy an M8 or M9 in a heart beat, who are not already Leica owners, but they can not or will not do so at the current prices. I know at least 6 people who want an M8, but can't afford one.

 

Unless Leica can lower their prices and add an affordable entry level model, they are going to be up the creek without a paddle.

 

 

A few more things:

 

A) We do not know the pricing of the S2, so there is no point in pronouncing it D.O.A. (Dead On Arrival).

 

While there are plenty of gear polishers out there in Leicaland, there are also a lot of people out there shooting. 99% of them aren't going to be famous anytime soon, but they have a passion for what they do and that's what really counts.

 

The vast majority of pro shooters are now digital, but it is interesting to note that by far the most popular film camera still being used by this group is the Leica M series. I can only think of two or three other film cameras that are still widely used by pros and that would be the Hasselblad, Mamiya RB/RZ 67 and the Xpan, but their numbers are probably dwarfed by the M shooters.

 

C) I've never thought of any of my cameras as jewelry. The only camera I have ever purchased for aesthetic reasons was a 1946 Leica IIIc mounting a Elmar 3.5/50. It's pretty to look at and fiddle around with, but even it gets used to actually take pictures.

Edited by thrid

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Leica can't make Nikon or Canon mount lenses, due to patent issues

 

Isn't the F-mount now in the public domain?

 

I know that the Canon mount is protected and Zeiss cut a deal with them.

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