Hi I´m back from my visit at Leica Solms. <br> <br> We visited the productions facilities there, watched a slide show with photograpy tips from the photographer and lecturer and could fondle and try out the new DMR for R8 and R9. <br> <br> My general impressinon was that Leica is a relativly small company (aprox. 500 worker in Solms and 600 in Portugal), not the big company some people imagine here, which distorts their view about the firm and its posibilities.<br> <br> Most interesting facility was the lens making. <br> <br> There is no glass melting by Leica since the late 1980s, so they buy their glass from different makers (there were Schott boxes visible).For Leicas special glass formulation, they have found a company (French Corning?) willing to make it for them. <br> The glass doesn´t come in hughe chunks to be cut in fiting pieces, but is delivered in preformed pieces of cast glass.<br> <br> The spherical lens element grinding and polishing is on modified machines, grindinding only one piece and side a time, for reasons of improved precision. There was nearly as many testing as manufactoring gear. One could see the worker testing the fresh grund lens elements and we were told that every element is tested and reground and repolished until within specs.<br> <br> Making of aspherical lens elements was very interesting and quite different from what I expected. They are made from already polished spherical elements, special machinery will grind the aspherical conture into the polished perfect looking spherical blanks and repolish it and restore the perfect surface in a second turn. <br> Leica uses holographic technics to test the special three dimensional surface of aspherical lens elements.<br> <br> Blackening of the elements border and mounting them together iin the barrel was followed by final tests and programing the ROM. ( R and M lenses were produced side by side).<br> All in all, a complicated and labor intensive work, which shouldn´t scale very well (Well, depending on available founds).<br> <br> We had not much time left, so passed binocular manufactoring and rushed.to the final assembly of R and M camera bodies. They are assemled adjusted and tested there as well as customized in the "A la Carte" programm. .<br> <br> General impression and self description of Leica was that of a "Manufacory" .<br> <br> BTW the DMR was cool and worked smooth, build quality of the new R zoom lenses was beyond doubt and super solid.<br> <br> Unfortunatly, photographing within the production facility wasn`t allowed.