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Guest malland

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What you write here Rich is what the mainstream will be doing, thats OK but there are always a number of people who wish to be different. If Leica is just another manufacturer in 'the mainstream' why buy a Leica?...
Jeff, not having a direct way to adjust ISO is a major flaw in the M8, something that is essential on a digital camera, which shows that that the Leica 8 designers were not experienced enough. Providing a direct ISO control is hardly "becoming like everyone else. The same thing goes for better performance at ISO 1250 and 2500.

 

—Mitch/Potomac, MD

Scratching the Surface©

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Also, rather than talking about mainstream photographers and Heather... I want a "modern" digital Leica!

 

Leica and, perhaps, Zeiss, are the only manufacturers likely to make the type of camera I want. If Nikon makes one, say, it will have compromises to make it acceptable to general users (unless designed as a pro camera - unlikely). So, it will probably have "adequate" build quality, "idiot modes", an AA filter (don't want to upset people with moire), etc...

 

One of the reasons I use an M8 is because Leica omit fripperies - albeit they've gone too far me!

 

So, no one (yet) makes the ideal camera for me! The M8 is the closest so far, but I find it far from ideal even after 2 years' ownership...

Edited by RichC

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I hear what you say but for me the M8 is near perfect. If I remember changing iso on the 5d you still had to press a button and rotate a dial. Is that so different to pressing the set button twice, the down arrow until you reach the desired iso and then the set button again?

I dont continually change iso so the M8 arrangment suits me fine. And in fact the arrangment on the 5d where the iso is displayed among a load of other info I did not find that helpful. Also if the 5d can produce a 1 metre wide image so can the M8.

 

To me the M8 is simple and clear.

 

We are all different and the oldies like me are increasing in number, living longer than ever before and have more wealth than ever before. How many oldies are quite happy to take over there kids or grandkids mobile phones that are only just a few months old?

 

There is a real market segment here to be addressed.

 

Jeff

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Guest BigSplash
My friend Heather is the type of photographer that a modernised Leica M would be perfect for. She's a contemporary street shooter who's going places - her Central St Martins final exhibition was taken in nightclub toilets.

 

20 years ago, she would probably be using a Leica M. Instead, in 2009, she used a Canon 5D for this project - the camera of choice of a lot of working/serious photographers these days. She said a more discrete camera would have made shooting in toilets easier (!), but as she was planning on 1 metre prints on Perspex, she needed files that were at least as good as the Canon's.

 

I suggested she try my M8, but she pronounced it unusable compared with the 5D. She said the main problem was complete lack of feedback on camera settings, and inability to change settings quickly at the press of a button. It wasn't any one single problem but an accumulation, which added together made the camera too difficult and awkward to use. She said it's like "an ancient film camera that has simply had a sensor stuck in it", rather than being a usable, modern camera. Example of her complaints: she likes to change ISO and exposure compensation on the fly, and wants a spot metering mode - none of which the M8 can do. The also hated that in the M8's manual mode she had no idea of the shutter speed.

 

She did say that my M8 "had potential", and that if Canon made one it'd be designed properly and fit for its purpose - and she'd definitely buy one!

 

Surely, this type of photographer and project is ideal for Leica? If only Leica made a camera with features that a modern digital photographer could relate to...

 

At a rough guess, I probably know of about 150 serious photographers in real life, in Brighton and London in the UK (as opposed to on the Internet). Close to 100% use digital, and most shoot digital only. Four use a Leica M, two of whom shoot film only; the other two have M8's (one is me!). Not exactly great statistics for Leica...

 

Some photographers, like myself and Mani, will make the leap, but I think we're in the minority. As modern digital cameras evolve, and they will, the Leica M will become increasingly alien to most photographers - not because of its central concepts but because of its flawed implementation, eschewing technological progress. Consider what happened to the Leica R: Leica ignored SLR trends and norms, and that camera line is now dead as not enough people were interested in it (or the DMR) to sustain it.

 

Within a few years, I suspect we'll see small, discrete SLR-type cameras that use APS-size sensors and electronic viewfinders (EVFs are steadily increasing in quality) instead of the bulky mirror ("micro-APS" cameras!?). This is the type of camera that photographers like Heather will be using ... not the successor to the M8 - unless Leica decides to embrace the 21st century. (NB: I'm not suggesting that a Leica M should have an EVF - just that it must be able to at least hold its own against such cameras.)

 

Rich basically I agree with all that you say above, and in the OP plus your subsequent inputs.

I think it a great pity that some members simply do NOT get it, and prefer to get personal towards you and talk about armchair CEO.etc etc. I congratulate you very sincerely for starting this thread and sticking with it....Your points are very valid and many (not all) of the objectors do NOT know what they are talking about.

 

I recognise that you feel passionately about Leica, and your Leica investment (which will drop in value) if Leica yet again fails as a company. You are essentially asking why buy a digital Leica if you are not a Leica owner who has old equipment, and by the way shoots historically and today with film......If this question cannot be answered Leica cannot survive, and I agree with you.

 

Let me comment:

> Dr Kaufmann is the major shareholder of his private equity company that owns 96.5% of Leica Camera AG. He is the guy who can do what he wants with the company and he is the guy who will have to pickup the tab if they need more R&D budget etc.

 

> People have said we do not know the state of Leica finances...This is readily available via Leica's own site and via Google. In fact analyst reports and Dr. Kaufman messages to the financial markets are all available. I would say the financials in the public domain make worying reading.

>> Loss to end march 2008 was 3.85M€

>> Loss to end Mach 2009 was 10M€

>> Annual sales was 150M€ (2008...not sure which period) and sales to June 30 2008 dropped 50% of previous year

>> Dr Kaufmann is quoted as saying they needing 66% sales GROWTH to 250M€ to pay for the increase in R&D.

>> Dr Kaufmann has repeatedly said that he is in for the long haul, and I believe him...however if the 250M$ sales target is not achieved and R&D deliverables are late it will presumably be a painful experience for his pocket

>> The above annual financial reports have been produced June 2007, and 2008 but for some reason the 2008/2009 report has not as yet been published and that in itself I would suggest is well suprising.

 

> Recently Leica settled a long litigation with the previous CEO ....why now? Is this a desire to clean up any outstanding litigation in preparation for an event?

 

Leica see their future as S2 ...??

> The S2 maybe indeed a Hasselblad killer for fashion photographers and if it is I take my hat off to Leica R&D . If successful they will have in 2 years ousted the king of fashion photography who have a cumulative R&D budget going back a long way and presumably much much more than Leica have spent on S2 and digital during the last two years.

 

> Ousting an entrenched competitor requires huge investment (Harvard Business School suggests 20X revenues), and goes beyond just R&D. I would suppose marketing, proper positioning of differentiators and training etc etc are part of the deal

 

> Now that the Phase One alliance seems to be on hold or dead (announced 1 July) where does S2 get its sensors, and related technology? In any case will the 37.5MP match the Hasselblad 50MP?

 

> At a time that Hasselblad et al are dropping prices will that really allow Leica to enter the market with a S2 at £17K and a kit price with lenses at £30 to £50K?

 

The Leica M8 and its future

Rich I agree with you that the future of the M Camera needs to comprehend modern technology and may need to give up on the basic doctrines that I valued with the M4,5,6 that I still own.

 

I just bought the M8 and I like it very much for the following reasons:

> SMALL: size, weight, and volume

> Accuracy of the rangefinder (I think, but technology could i am sure improve this)

> Quality of build reputation (not always the case -see below)

> Quality and speed of the Leica M lenses

> The brand recognition ....not jewellry, but yes it is like a Porsche, or Rolex a valued classic because of its history

I dislike the following:

> The suggestion that I have seen in this Forum that Solms are looking at cutting corners to reduce costs...if this is true they are truly on the wrong track

> Quality control at Leica ....£6700 Noctilux lenses that do not work, and lenses that are out of spec for focussing all have been reported here time after time.

> After sales service takes too long, is very expensive and frequently the camera or lens is not perfect after the service.

> It is not a system camera anymore and I would like to see a modern equivalent of the Visoflex that permits telephoto and macro photography. (This maybe an EVF screen with suitable focussing technology rather than a mirror housing)

> It seems to me that a next gen digital M would have autofocussing lenses.

> Leica are doing a poor job in making available accessories for the M8. I would point to unavailable UVIR filters, and the difficulty of obtaining these from BW (or Leica), and many other items that should be part of their portfolio (made by 3rd party suppliers most probably)

 

Bottom line in my view if Leica do not get the message and react Dr Kaufmann is going to need very deep pockets.

 

Rich I believe that we agree.

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Rich basically I agree with all that you say above, and in the OP plus your subsequent inputs ... I congratulate you very sincerely for starting this thread and sticking with it....Your points are very valid.

 

Actually, I didn't start the thread - that was JP. I just lobbed in a few rather wordy posts...! <grin>

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Guest BigSplash
Actually, I didn't start the thread - that was JP. I just lobbed in a few rather wordy posts...! <grin>

 

I congratulate both JP and yourself ....I really hope the guys at Solms take note and get with it.

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She said the main problem was complete lack of feedback on camera settings, and inability to change settings quickly at the press of a button. It wasn't any one single problem but an accumulation, which added together made the camera too difficult and awkward to use.

 

Interesting and for some, controversial, comment. I am in two minds. On the one hand, DSLRs are in general already too over-"featured" and threaten to get more that way with every product cycle. The amount of time required to really get on top of a camera like a D300 or D700 at this point is considerable and frankly well above most owners' ability or interest. On the other hand, it is true that the M series remains stubbornly minimalist. Whether this is a problem or not really depends on the user and how it is used. For me, that is part of what I want - but I would never consider the M8 (or M7) a general purpose photographic tool - I see it as a (very expensive) niche product. Superb in its niche, not very useful beyond. And then, on the third hand, maybe the bottom line is, well, the bottom line: you listen to buyers, or you perish. The customer is always right, at some level - at least you have to have enough of them to pay the bills.

 

She said it's like "an ancient film camera that has simply had a sensor stuck in it", rather than being a usable, modern camera.

 

Well, that would certainly be true, by design. Again, whether it's a problem or a feature depends on what you want from the camera?

 

Example of her complaints: she likes to change ISO and exposure compensation on the fly, and wants a spot metering mode - none of which the M8 can do. The also hated that in the M8's manual mode she had no idea of the shutter speed.

 

Interesting comment - in film days, the only way to change ISO on the fly was to pick up a second body with a different speed film. Is it so necessary today? If it is, what changed???

 

She did say that my M8 "had potential", and that if Canon made one it'd be designed properly and fit for its purpose - and she'd definitely buy one!

 

Probably true. Leica's budgets for this are probably trivial compared to Nikon, Canon, etc. And they don't get it right every time, either.

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After reading through this entire thread, I am now of the opinion that we should have a meeting somewhere of all M8 owners, dig a huge hole and have a mass burial for our obsolete, hard to use, overpriced cameras.

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Brent,

 

Good point, or maybe alternatively, counseling sessions, as clearly there is a lot of people who just don't understand how this simpleton camera affect their ability to take great pictures, Im guessing if they had a camera which would not "get in the way" and take care of more of the thinking for them..

 

Hi, my name is Bo, and I love my camera... hi Bo.. we know how you feel.

 

.

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@Steve Pope:

 

Sorry, Steve, but from Wikipedia: "Jewellery (pronounced /ˈdʒuːəlri/ or /ˈdʒuːələri/ (UK only)) or jewelry is an item of personal adornment,...."

 

Either spelling is appropriate. Google searches of the two variants give 180 million hits for "Jewelry" vs. 81 million for "Jewellery".

 

Guess which spelling Tiffany's uses: Tiffany & Co. | Home | United States

 

Also Patek Phillipe - scroll over to the March 2009 announcement "Baselworld New Jewelry"

 

PATEK PHILIPPE SA

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Guest malland
...Interesting comment - in film days, the only way to change ISO on the fly was to pick up a second body with a different speed film. Is it so necessary today? If it is, what changed???....
John, what has changed is that on a digital camera it is possible to change ISO by dialing it in. Once it is possible to do this it becomes logical and highly desirable to have a direct way of doing this quickly without having to go into menus. On my Nikon D300 there is a direct control that allows one to change ISO while looking through the viewfinder, where one see the selected ISO displayed.

 

I find that in street photography in Bangkok, where light is often vert contrasty, I often want to change ISO to be able to use a fast enough shutter speed to stop action without motion blur while maintain a relatively small aperture for large depth of field. The way one has to change ISO on the M8 is too cumbersome and too slow.

 

—Mitch/Potomac, MD

Bangkok Hysteria©: Book Project

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ArtZ: ....and once upon a time, Hermés sold their stake in Leica, because they realized that cameras make lousy jewel(le)ry. Thank G*d!

 

RE Features: long-time photographers do not have an issue with the M8's limited feature set because they learned photography at a time when ALL cameras had limited simple controls. Therefore they learned a skill-set that compensated for those limitations - such as being able to focus manually and quickly, being able to set exposure by eye without using (or even having) a meter, being able to recognize faces, and so on.

 

Except for issues of gender-specific access, I could have taken any of the pictures in Heather's portfolio (since it was given as an example) with an M8. Piece of cake - for me - technically. The camera would impose no limitations.

 

I'm sure that I could, with the help of some engineers and some video-targeting technology, develop a set of devices that would allow me to press a button and knock a golf ball 325 yards into a 1-meter circle every time - or hit it 200 yards and produce a hole-in-one every time. Would that make me the equivalent of Tiger Woods? Or (insert nation-specific golfer here)?

 

Who is the better golfer - Rodney Dangerfield with his super-scope laser-sighted equipment - or a guy who can achieve the same thing with a persimmon stick with a lump on the end and his Mk.I eyeball?

 

"Sometimes I sing and dance around my apartment in my underwear. Doesn't make me Madonna; never will." - from Working Girl

 

------

 

Edit - just as a reminder. I don't have a problem with Leica producing a feature-laden M version for those who don't have the skill-set to work with the M8/9, if they see a market for it. Nikon kept selling F2s to the pros who could use them, while also selling Nikkormat ELs to those who needed the help of electronics.

Edited by adan

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Edit - just as a reminder. I don't have a problem with Leica producing a feature-laden M version for those who don't have the skill-set to work with the M8/9, if they see a market for it. Nikon kept selling F2s to the pros who could use them, while also selling Nikkormat ELs to those who needed the help of electronics.

 

Well if Leica makes that then I hope they also make the camera that I would like to buy.

 

Jeff

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I'm only two years into Leica Ms but I don't really see Leica failing in the near future.

 

Your feature requests does seem reasonable:

 

FF - matter of time

 

Better high ISO performance - A really expensive optical upgrade! Summiluxes, I cannot afford this option either ; )

 

Quieter shutter(M8.2 and M8 upgrade)

 

Better resolution - matter of time.

 

Removable bottom - I had to do it from a tripod about 30 times a day for a month. Got used to it. Mind you, a 1DmkIII is still better but the dumb mindless routine thing kicked in.

 

A twistable LCD with high resolution would be nice for me. I do not mind it being much thicker as I prefer a thicker body, cannot seem to handhold it steady enough.

 

In response to the questions.

 

1. I agree a cheaper camera would be helpful to grow market share and I would not object to a separate 1.3x crop EVF, Live view camera. to accompany the "M9" and M8.2.

 

This move would merely complement the system and not dilute its value of being a rangefinder in any way.

 

2. Agree but I think growing in small increments is good strategy. Big businesses are in much bigger trouble than small ones during this time. For Leica, M is their cash cow. Look at all the m lenses launched by zeiss, cosina and leica in the last 12 months. There is a market but it may not be visible and seem viable to us. These manufacturers are not launching into a vacuum.

 

I think Leica selling 100 noctilux or Cosina selling 1000 Nokton f1.1 would make a bigger impact on their profit than Nikon or Canon selling 50,000 D700 or 5DII.

 

What Leica might want is a product that sells consistently a little beyond their ability to produce. That they can service and respond within their abilities. I do wish they can respond as efficiently as Canon or Nikon but then I reckon Canon's superbly practiced response time is built upon the bedrock of QC inadequacies. I love it when they do a turnaround for 2 bodies and 10 lenses in 3 days. Nikon is at least 4 times as long but they are out of the box good to go. I will never run down to the store to buy a replacement lens and use it immediately with a Canon.

 

3. M's market has got to do with the photographer's affinity to the rangefinder rather than simplistically narrowing it to just current M8 and Mx-film owners.

 

Producing a lower price model is conceptually a good idea but is it the issue? Zeiss and Cosina provide low cost alternatives to Leica lenses and are extremely good alternatives. Here is the strange thing, both of them also have rangefinder cameras and there are plenty of camera manufacturers who could produce rangefinders and enough sensor manufacturers keen to supply sensors. Why is the M8 the only digital rangefinder on the market?

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ArtZ: ....and once upon a time, Hermés sold their stake in Leica, because they realized that cameras make lousy jewel(le)ry. Thank G*d!

 

RE Features: long-time photographers do not have an issue with the M8's limited feature set because they learned photography at a time when ALL cameras had limited simple controls. Therefore they learned a skill-set that compensated for those limitations - such as being able to focus manually and quickly, being able to set exposure by eye without using (or even having) a meter, being able to recognize faces, and so on.

 

Except for issues of gender-specific access, I could have taken any of the pictures in Heather's portfolio (since it was given as an example) with an M8. Piece of cake - for me - technically. The camera would impose no limitations.

 

I'm sure that I could, with the help of some engineers and some video-targeting technology, develop a set of devices that would allow me to press a button and knock a golf ball 325 yards into a 1-meter circle every time - or hit it 200 yards and produce a hole-in-one every time. Would that make me the equivalent of Tiger Woods? Or (insert nation-specific golfer here)?

 

Who is the better golfer - Rodney Dangerfield with his super-scope laser-sighted equipment - or a guy who can achieve the same thing with a persimmon stick with a lump on the end and his Mk.I eyeball?

 

"Sometimes I sing and dance around my apartment in my underwear. Doesn't make me Madonna; never will." - from Working Girl

 

------

 

Edit - just as a reminder. I don't have a problem with Leica producing a feature-laden M version for those who don't have the skill-set to work with the M8/9, if they see a market for it. Nikon kept selling F2s to the pros who could use them, while also selling Nikkormat ELs to those who needed the help of electronics.

 

Your post made me laughed. Thanks!

 

Yes, Heather's pictures are not difficult with the M8. In fact, I'm sure you would not even have to put the camera to the eye to frame or focus for most of them.

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Also, rather than talking about mainstream photographers and Heather... I want a "modern" digital Leica!

 

Leica and, perhaps, Zeiss, are the only manufacturers likely to make the type of camera I want. If Nikon makes one, say, it will have compromises to make it acceptable to general users (unless designed as a pro camera - unlikely). So, it will probably have "adequate" build quality, "idiot modes", an AA filter (don't want to upset people with moire), etc...

 

One of the reasons I use an M8 is because Leica omit fripperies - albeit they've gone too far me!

 

So, no one (yet) makes the ideal camera for me! The M8 is the closest so far, but I find it far from ideal even after 2 years' ownership...

 

Perhaps Leica being a small volume manufacturer is able do that. Omit the fripperies I mean.

To do large volume sales you have to appeal to a broad base of the population.

 

I would not mind the AA filter for the moire situations. Its a real pain if you have 1000 images to deal with.

 

Likewise, the M8 is not ideal but with time I have gotten used to most of its quirks. I hope you will be able to get your ideal camera, soon

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Guest BigSplash

This thread seems to be drifting in the direction of :

> Whether or not it is possible to take a quality picture with a Leica in the wide to 135mm range that is good as a Canon or Nikon

> Whether it requires the skill of a pro to take a "TOP quality" picture and would a Pro choose a Canon or Nikon as being a more useful tool for "street" photography because it has data on the viewfinder, autofocus lenses etc.

 

Surely the real issue is the question the OP originally proposed........"Let's have it out!"....can Leica survive with its present business model?

 

Maybe the top two questions have some relevance I agree but:

> the company is throwing its R&D into a S2, which looks very shaky I would suggest as a business

> Leica M9 is late, and unclear as to what we get when?

> Leica M9 may not be driven by photographic driven ideas and embracing the latest technology, but be a tweak of a design that had its origins from the M2 /M3 era and a loyal Leica fraternity that came and still practise film based methodology

 

 

Companies change their fortunes when they sieze the latest technology and exploit them...Apple iPhone, and Apple Mac for graphics based activities. What is Leica doing?

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Also, rather than talking about mainstream photographers and Heather... I want a "modern" digital Leica!

I don't, and moreover I did not buy an M8 because I had a pile of M lenses gathering dust. I bought it because it is the closest thing to taking pictures with a fully non-automated camera in the digital age. It really is brilliant - at least that is my opinion. My only regret is that I did not buy a Leica 30 years ago when I should have, but apparently I was less smart then.

 

If they made a digital R10 without auto anything I would buy it for any price they had in mind. Unfortunately they probably will not.

 

Leica needs to keep itself exclusive with quirky, non-mainstream, products. Aiming for the Nikon & Olympus etc. market would be suicide and would remove the 'aura'. Bad idea.

Edited by SJP

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...

> Leica M9 is late, and unclear as to what we get when?

...

 

Frank, my girlfriend is also late... THAT upsets me more than Leica M9 being late... and it's even more unclear what we get then !

 

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