Grim times for Leica

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by jovan_radakovich|1, Sep 16, 2008.

  1. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122152103387739231.html
     
  2. Loved the WSJ article. I disagree with the writer's assessment of recent losses in revenue. I think it's more a function of declining world economies, specifically the US. There's definitely a high correlation between demand for luxury goods and disposable income. And look Leica's not Lehman Brothers, they haven't leveraged beyond what their capital can maintain. I think Leica will be around for a long time. Thanks...
     
  3. Not a a pretty picture at all. Quarterly sales are down 50% (25 Million Euros) and they're hoping that their new products' sales will "take off". Don't count on those few new products to take off in this economy. Seems Leica is dammned if they do and dammed if they don't. They raise prices and are criticized, then they bring out a more affordable line of Summarit lenses and are criticised.

    Their own commitment to quality is their demise in the end. By building cameras and lenses that so far have lasted 60 or 70 years and will most certainly work fine when they are 100 years old, Leica killed themselves. Leica appeals to us old farts, not the 20 or 30 somethings who have the buying power and the desire to buy new camera products.
     
  4. They raise prices and are criticized, then they bring out a more affordable line of Summarit lenses and are criticised.
    Who criticized Leica for its new Summarit lenses? I honestly don't recall reading of anyone who did. Personally I think that was the smartest move by Leica in decades. The problem is, they failed to a) bring out an entry level rangefinder to go with the lenses, and b) market the lower priced "entry level" set to new photographers. What's the use of (relatively speaking) bargain-priced lenses if the only body you've got is $5,000? If you were 20-something just starting out a career and family, looking at a Leica M8 with all its issues vs. say a digital Rebel, what would you do? Most kids aren't retards, and even if they are, their wives usually aren't.
    Their own commitment to quality is their demise in the end.
    Their demise will be a result of a failure of self-placement in a market where their traditional customers are getting old and dying off. There is, and always will be, a significant market for premium lenses as long as they're not stupid ridiculous (like $10k for a Noct). By most accounts, for example, the Zeiss ZF lenses for Nikon have been very successful, and I predict a likewise outcome for the new ZE (Canon EF mount) versions. But in today's market, you can't bring out a $5,000 body that requires IR filters, has a removable baseplate as an artifact from their irrelevant film bodies and needs to be shipped to Germany for repairs. Not when other manufacturers offer so much more, for so much less.
     
  5. The referenced article gives a wrong impression. There were small cameras before the Leica. Kodak introduced 127
    film in 1912. They introduced a "vest pocket Kodak" line the same year.
     
  6. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    Take a look at the photo in the article. I assume this photo was originally done with Leica's help. It shows exactly what the branding is and why they are where they are. New products aren't as big a problem as the face they present to the world.
     
  7. So I think two factors enter into the loss in this reporting period. The first is that Steven Lee significantly overproduced Summarits - he built twice as many as he sold, which means he's invested a lot of today's money in tomorrow's inventory. It was probably a bad business decision, and must have contributed to his departure. The investment in inventory will probably eventually pay off, but it will take a long time and be a liability on the balance sheet during that time.
    The second factor is that Leica has invested a lot of money in development of new products, some of which we've seen (like the 0.95 Noctilux and the 21 and 24 Summiluxes) and some of which we have not (like AFRika) we haven't. The return on this investment is still in the future.
    This was going to happen sooner or later; Leica had for years made negligible investment in the future. This caused them to fall farther and farther behind the market. Now they're paying the price of that neglect - both in fall-off of sales of traditional products and in the need for investment in new products - all at once.
    The fact that they're paying the price is good news. The uncertainty of the payoff on their investments is the downside.
    In three years, we'll know if they did the right thing.
     
  8. >> Who criticized Leica for its new Summarit lenses? I honestly don't recall reading of anyone who did.


    Maybe not on this forum so much, but on others. And perhaps not really 'criticism', more expressions of disbelief: "if you're going to buy
    a new Leica lens, buy a real one (= Summicron or Summilux); if all you want is f2.5, buy a Voigtlander....". Maybe I'm a bit sensitive
    because I did indeed buy a Summarit 50mm.

    My own feeling is that there has been an enormous shift, and if anything it's getting bigger: you could argue that what we've seen so far
    has been simple digitisation of existing camera-types (SLR & compact). New types will emerge; some already have (e.g. cell phone
    cameras), more are on their way (e.g. Micro Four Thirds, video on DSLRs). Leica is a company wedded to tradition, and expensive to
    boot; I don't think that's a healthy mix in a fast-changing environment.

    Look at Morgan cars: there are some people (a very few) who regard them as the last real car in the world, but most buyers won't go
    near them. Morgan is still in business - they made 630 cars last year. I suspect that Leica will become the Morgan of the photo world.
     
  9. Regardless of the world economy, there will still be those with money to burn, and those people will still look to the prestige
    brands--Porsche, Rolex, Tiffany--to set themselves apart. I doubt Rolex feels the need to produce a quartz watch, and I
    doubt that the Leica brand will benefit from taking their brand down-market. They can and should be creative in other ways.
     
  10. are the summarit lenses that bad?
     
  11. "Regardless of the world economy, there will still be those with money to burn"

    True, but those people with $5-8K to spend on a camera are giving it to Canon or Nikon these days. Leica will always have a devoted wealthy following of course, but it has also relied on people of average economic means who pinch pennies elsewhere in order to afford what they perceive to be the best photo equipment (Leica) and more than a few of them reside in the U.S. With the poor value of the U.S. dollar these days and the increased cost of living I would imagine these people are putting any purchase of new Leica gear on the back burner. The used market and the realization that comparable (perhaps better) results can be achieved with less money elsewhere are both taking their toll on Leica.
     
  12. Consider this, that amongst the population of affluent society, there are far more numbers who appreciate luxury automobiles, watches, stereos, clothing, etc. than who appreciate luxury cameras. Many who will drive Mercedes, wear Patek, buy $5000 suits and $2000 shoes, still consider $6000 for a camera and $7000 for a lens as insanity. By the same reason, as rich people are somewhat affected by slowing economics, they are most likely for the sake of showing off, continue to buy those items (car, watch, clothes) which universally are recognised as status symbols. A camera such as Leica is only a status symbol for other Leica afficionados. Among the population at large, the name Leica has no panache. It is what their grandfather had--maybe. Most likely their grandfather had a Kodak Brownie.
     
  13. I think Daniel Lawton and L DaSousa hit it right on the mark...
     
  14. Leica invented the af lens? Learn something new everyday.
     
  15. Well, anyway, Leica has outlived Lehman Brothers and it is possible we'll all be fondling our M8.2s when AIG is no more.
     
  16. That means the number of guys who can afford the M8.2 are getting smaller every day in this economy.
     
  17. It is obvious there was a big conflict in management style at Leica. Mr. Lee's top-down approach did not go down well. One hopes the new
    management, under Dr. Kaufmann, will continue to focus on high quality products -- not profit above all.
     
  18. I think they'll survive- the new owner guy has coarse wads of old german cash money and seems to love the company and
    want it to succeed. I'd be very surprised if they don't bring out a full frame m (with a sensor upgrade option for current m8/8.2
    owners) in the next couple of years. It doesn't make sense that they'd introduce a lens like that new 50mm noctilux to have it
    used as a 66mm (there's no way they'd go to that expense to offer a lens better suited to a film body). As to the current
    price, it is too high, but the "upgradeable" idea of the m8 is a pretty sensible, modern approach- it works just fine for the
    playstation 3 and the iphone.
    They're never going to have the market share or resources of canonikon, but then they never did. Anything hand made in
    Germany by skilled workers tends to be expensive. I mean, have you seen the price of lederhosen?
     
  19. "Look at Morgan cars..."

    Morgan cars are not expensive. I doubt many people have them as their only car. But for a fairly reasonable amount, it can be a fun car to have on a sunny day. Sure, Leica is cheaper than a Morgan car, but you cannot get 10 Toyotas for the price of one Morgan. You can get ten Canons or Nikons for one M8.2

    "I doubt Rolex feels the need to produce a quartz watch"

    Rolex has a quartz watch, Rolex Oysterquartz. At least it did in the past.
     
  20. what a surprise to learn that they created the autofocus... and then essentially gave it away. or the 1996 $30,000 out of control megapixel camera. i would've never thunk either in a hundred years.

    i saw Canon and Kodak mentioned in the article. yes, they are *competitors*, but i'm not convinced that they are direct competitors. what i mean is when folks consider alternatives to a Leica body, is it really something from Kodak?

    what companies really do go head to head with Leica (without the Panasonic) and how have they been doing over the last 3-5 years...
     
  21. have you seen the price of lederhosen? Excellent shot, very pertinent. Leica is to modern cameras what lederhosen are to modern casual clothes.
     
  22. I just got a complete Mamiya RZ11D kit with 6 lenses and a tilt shift adaptor ( all mint) in exchange for a chrome M 35 lux aspherical. The world is full of weird preference sets. There is no unifying logic or rationale there just is what is. Wouldnt have it any other way - would you?
     
  23. Well, I am sure there is a market for Leica. They just need to concentrate on it. With all the new
    multimedia-computers like the Canon 5D Mark II, Sony A900 and similar monsters, a small, but important niche
    would be the simple, but perfect camera, similar to the M8, but with a full frame sensor.

    Concentrating on full frame sensors, 2 bodies (M8.x and a cheaper alternative), a cheaper line of basic lenses
    (summarit is the way to go) and some highly priced specialties, Leica in my oppinion could earn money for good.
    There ARE enough people around, and the more Nikon, Canon and others computerize there cameras, the more the
    request for something solid and simple will arrise.

    Just concentrate, don't get lost in super-duper-lenses noone really needs. Keep it simple, and perfect. That's
    what Leica has been about in the past, and what it will be about in the future.

    Just my thoughts, enjoy,

    Holger
     
  24. They obviously don't have much of a licensing stream from their badge-engineered products with Panasonic, and their core products' customer base is shrinking. To make up for a lower volume of new bodies and lenses they have been forced to price them ever higher. In a business the size of Leica, revenue is king. That is why you are seeing a $10,000 new lens. They understand that it is a ridiculous product from the standpoint of working photographers, but selling 500 of them to collectors will generate maybe $4M in revenue all based on a slightly re-tooled lens from the 1970's. All this in a company stuck with German employment laws which make it very hard to fire anyone, and, judging from the article, a sense of entitlement from its management. Not to mention that the road in the future for new products will be difficult to navigate from the standpoint of intellectual property. There is an awful lot of technology tied up in Canon, Nikon, Pentax and Olympus patents these days.From a business case perspective it looks like a company that will need at least $100 million in subsidies and R&D investment before you could conceive a decent ROI, and that is not a sure thing-- I think they've already sold most of the M8's that will ever be made....<p>Having said that, I think the most likely downstream path will be one like the old British car companies. Eventually the majority owner will tire of dumping $10 Million or more into the till every year and the company will become someone's deep pockets toy-- think Aston Martin, Bentley, Rolls Royce. If they're lucky someone will dump enough money into it while preserving the brand equity so that a few years hence you'll see a genuinely improved product, like the current Astons. If not, you'll see it turned into Bentley, a bespoke body sitting on top of a VW chassis.
     
  25. Leica has been in and out of financial hot water since I first became interested in photography in the late 1970's. Back then, their product line consisted of M-series rangefinders and an R-series 35mm SLR. Today, their product line consists of M-series rangefinders and an R-series 35mm SLR. In those 30 years, an entire generation has grown to adulthood using cameras with features and functions that Leica has never offered. Realistically, the amazing thing is that they're still around, not that they're once again swimming in red ink. But they'll survive as they have for decades, as a niche company offering fabulous optics wedded to a concept of image-making that's at least an entire generation out of sync. Whether they'll be around in 25 years without some substantial concessions to changing times and changing needs remains to be seen.
     
  26. their core products' customer base is shrinking.
    To make up for a lower volume of new bodies and lenses they have been forced to price them ever higher.

    agreed, and these are very fundamental and serious issues they have to deal with.
    but more fundamentally, and i hope not one reads too much into this, the company (like its consumers) - seem very resistant to change. it simply cannot continue on the path it's on.
    But they'll survive as they have for decades, as a niche company offering fabulous optics wedded to a concept of image-making that's at least an entire generation out of sync.
    i'll buy that they make fabulous optics - but the prices on some of those lenses are eye-popping and far out of reach of folks that aren't loaded.
     
  27. Problem is that Leica is being viewed as a hobby for Mr. Kaufmann and not a company willing to adapt and survive. This comment says it all: "But Mr. Kaufmann is optimistic that Leica will grow again. "I'm a long, long-term investor," he says." Nice statement but it's fluffy and hollow. Where is the strategy? Where is the roadmap? Wishful thinking won't cut it.
     
  28. zml

    zml

    I disagree with the writer's assessment of recent losses in revenue.

    I wonder what will it take for the "Leica faithful" to become reaslistic? The German equivalent of Chapter 7..? Loss is loss, and for a small and mismanaged company such substantial loss is often a kiss of death.
     
  29. ...."Eventually the majority owner will tire of dumping $10 Million or more into the till every year and the company will become someone's deep pockets toy-- ...."

    It already IS someone's toy- Kaufmann's. And his pockets aren't deep enough to keep the company going much longer.
     
  30. If I had to pick one fix for Leica, it would be to team up with Panasonic or something to build a digital body that takes M mount lenses and sell it for $2K or less. Pano can make a great product with Leica's insight and guidance. Leica should (and could) focus on building great lines of optical lenses for prosumers and pros. Add a little salsa to get the youngun's buying the Leica brand, and they'd be off to the races. I'd have no problem paying more for lenses if I could shoot them on affordable camera bodies. But there's just no way I can justify new Leicas in my business.
     
  31. If Leica were ever to reverse course and sell a nice featured digital body for $1K to $2K (which I'm sure they could but would never do) they would instantly have 30,000 (or whatever the number is) piss*d off M8 owners who paid between $4500and $6000 for their probably same featured digital body. They'd rather sell a product to 25,000 happy suckers than a lower priced product to 100,000 happy customers anyway. It's been their way for a long time.
    Don't you think they have discussed their various options over the years (to open their product to more people) in corporate meetings? Sell less but at a higher price. That way you don't have to pay more workers or keep the factory open longer. They are choosing their path with their eyes wide open, don't underestimate them or make excuses for them.
     
  32. A few years ago I pontificated that the last Leica camera, film or digital, will roll off the assembly line between 2010 and 2015. (The thread was from a more irascible time, and I think it was deleted.)

    I still stand by that estimate. All the rangefinder cameras the world will ever need have already been made, and Leica's digital rangefinder enterprise has begun its death spiral. In ten years, I bet Leica will be a manufacturer of high-quality optics, not cameras.
     
  33. With the inexorable rise of digital, I think Leica's core competence has to be optics (they sell a nice line in binoculars and there are a lot of Leitz microscopes out there). The camera business will probably contract to be the lens-design subsidiary of Panasonic.
     
  34. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    While the usual people are cheering the grim news of Leica
    Where's the cheering? Here?
     
  35. "... Where's the cheering? Here? ..."
    No, this forum is full of Leica fans.
     
  36. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    Please show someone "cheering the grim news" so we know what you are talking about.
     
  37. I hope someday someone (Canon maybe) produces a digital rangefinder with a good sensor and an affordable price. I think the best chance of something approximating the rangefinder concept in the modern world may be the micro-4/3rds cameras, maybe a nice panasonic with a Leica lens.
     
  38. If Leica were ever to reverse course and sell a nice featured digital body for $1K to $2K (which I'm sure they could but would never do) they would instantly have 30,000 (or whatever the number is) piss*d off M8 owners who paid between $4500and $6000 for their probably same featured digital body.
    By the same token, Canon would probably have at least as many pissed off 1D owners who paid $6,000 in 2001 when they can buy the much better and faster 1D MkIII for a little over $3k today. But they don't. In fact, many of the same people who shelled out $6k for the original 1D are still shooting Canon. Why? Technology changes. Things improve and get cheaper to produce. People who buy technology realize this. Camera collectors don't.
    They'd rather sell a product to 25,000 happy suckers than a lower priced product to 100,000 happy customers anyway. It's been their way for a long time.
    There is absolutely nothing wrong with this business plan as long as the higher end product offers some value or benefit over its lower-priced counterpart. Back in the film days Leicas were more expensive but were capable of the same or even slightly better results than other 35mm competitors because the medium was film. Leica could even claim to be king of low light. But in this day and age of sensor technology, when you've got stuff like the 5D Mark II that can do 25,600 ISO? Or a digital Rebel that shoots clean ISO 1600, costs $500 and can be repaired locally? What is it, then? Brand recognition? The Rolex analogy doesn't work because unlike the Rolex scenario, your average Joe or Jane on the street has no clue what a "Lee-ka" is.
    Don't you think they have discussed their various options over the years (to open their product to more people) in corporate meetings? Sell less but at a higher price. That way you don't have to pay more workers or keep the factory open longer. They are choosing their path with their eyes wide open, don't underestimate them or make excuses for them.
    It isn't simply a matter of opening their product to more people. It's taking the FLAGSHIP PRODUCT and justifying its premium over, say, a digital Rebel. You want to sell me an M8 for $5k, fine. But what benefits do I get in return for spending $4500 more over a Rebel? Spotty reliability? Poor low-light performance? A baseplate to fumble with and drop? A six-month trip to Germany should any repairs be needed? No thanks. I'm just not that retarded, and judging from the WSJ article, most of the market isn't, either.
     
  39. By the same token, Canon would probably have at least as many pissed off 1D owners who paid $6,000 in 2001 when they can buy the much better and faster 1D MkIII for a little over $3k today.
    i may be off on my assumption, but i would imagine a lot of the folks that got the 1D probably didn't pay for it out of their own pockets, in most cases. i would think these are paid professionals and their companies made the purchase. if they had bought the camera out of their own pockets, they are probably working professional photographer. and yah, there are probably a few folks who are not hired or paid professionals who made the purchase for whatever reason - but in general, with prices like that - i don't think that Canon is marketing to most photographers who have a day job not related to photography.
    i don't think the folks that buy an M8 mirror what i just described above. quite frankly, i get the sense that the folks at Leica haven't improved much or lowered prices (due to economies of scale or other changes in the landscape of technological efficiencies).

    you would think that if the prices stay as high as they do that you'd get a lot more bang for the buck as a consequence.

    based on what i read here - i really have to wonder why this would be a desirable camera - regardless of price.
    http://web.mac.com/kamberm/Leica_M8_Field_Test,_Iraq/Page_1.html

    and despite what some may think in this forum, i'm not rooting for the demise of any company. i'm just very surprised at the rah rah fluff that usually is associated with a camera maker that when examined leaves one wondering what it actually delivers for the hefty price tag other than some sort of nostalgic warm fuzzy.
    re the lenses, yah... from what i've seen, they look super.
     
  40. did the R line die already or was it pushed?

    Rolexquartz = Summarit.
     
  41. I have a lot of trouble with my F430 Fango - but I wouldn't be seen dead driving a Toyota. Some people prefer
    beautiful things to ugly things.If you can't see the difference between a Canon digi file and an M8 file - then
    you may not be a moron - but you are certainly blind. <p> Who cares what situation Leica is in anyway - you
    either like their product or you dont - move on already, no one is forcing anyone to buy or sell anything.<p> I
    have 4 very nice Leica M lenses and I shoot B&W film with them on what you would say is an overpriced MP and digi
    on an M8. If I want to use the best 35mm lenses ever made or ever will be made in a tidy package that I can carry
    in a coat pocket - there is only Leica M. <p> If you dont get this - sorry you are beyond help.<p> flex your
    muscles at teh gym and stp shouting all the time you lil weenie.
     
  42. "flex your muscles at teh gym and stp shouting all the time you lil weenie."

    Peter,

    Did you just channel Allen Herbert?
     
  43. The leica/rangefinder forum's unique in that many of its contributors spend their time constantly deriding leica cameras, and
    by unsubtle extension, the photographers who use them. It's gone far beyond "real photographers not suffering leicaphiles (leica fools, in
    other words) gladly. There's NO other forum
    here where this goes on (or is allowed to). I'm not really given to "good old days" discussions, but it seems to me that not so
    long ago this was somewhere you could find good photo threads on a daily basis(or at least a bunch of photogs in the same
    boat, trying). Now it's just bash bash bash. I'm not a retiree with nothing better to do with my pension, or a collecter with nice shelves and
    some fine chamois, every cent I earn, I earn with a camera. I've done two gigs with an m8 since I got it last week, and the clients didn't
    notice a thing.
     
  44. Vic says "Thank you George Bush, now I can't afford to die, I'll have to work forever"

    You really should have been wise enough to leave politics to the blogs that specialize in such. Mr. Obama was 2nd on a list of politicians who pocketed the most money from the mortgage giants. Not Mr. Bush.
    (moderator if his comment stays so should this one.) Thanks
     
  45. i may be off on my assumption, but i would imagine a lot of the folks that got the 1D probably didn't pay for it out of their own pockets, in most cases.
    You are in fact off, and by quite a margin. Print newspapers and magazines have been in steady decline over the past decade in an almost perfectly inverse relationship with the growth of the internet. They've only finally dropped off a cliff this past year, if you've been keeping up with Sam Zell's takeover of the Tribune Company as well as what's going on at the New York Times as we speak. The almost universal trend of the smaller to medium-sized papers has been to freeze the hiring of new staff photographers and instead hire freelancers, who use their own equipment and therefore eat the depreciation. That trend has since spread to the largest newspapers as well, and many longtime staffers have since accepted buyout packages rather than suffer the humiliation of an outright layoff. Your warm and fuzzy mental image of the cushy staff position with staff gear and a company car is about 10 years out of date.
     
  46. You are in fact off, and by quite a margin.
    no argument on my end... was just an assumption.
    if it is the case, i think it's sad and kindev cruel to be honest.
     
  47. I have a lot of trouble with my F430 Fango - but I wouldn't be seen dead driving a Toyota.
    That's great; I love my Toyota Prius because to me, contributing a little less to pollution when I do have to drive (48mpg actual), and actually getting from point A to point B, are more important than looking cool on my mechanic's driveway. But to each their own. My point is, let's not confuse the issue by claiming that my Prius is faster than your F430, or that your F430 gets better mileage than my Prius. Facts are facts. And the fact is, even disregarding price, the M8 is a worse camera than any entry-level Japanese digital SLR available today, if you want to talk about low-light performance (where Leica used to be "king"), product design and after-sales service.
    To use your F430 as an analogy, sure, a few years ago you could out-accelerate, out-brake and out-corner a Toyota Corolla. But now a 2008 Corolla out-accelerates, out-brakes and out-corners YOU. You're no longer paying a LOT more for a little more performance (as was true in the film days). You're now paying more - for a WORSE product. If you can't see the discrepancy here, then you are the one beyond help.
    If you can't see the difference between a Canon digi file and an M8 file - then you may not be a moron - but you are certainly blind.
    Oh, I see a difference, all right, and that difference only gets more obvious as the ISO gets cranked up.
    Who cares what situation Leica is in anyway - you either like their product or you dont - move on already, no one is forcing anyone to buy or sell anything.
    Obviously, anyone who wants to see Leica still making and supporting cameras in the next 2 or 3 years should care. If you don't, then don't come crying onto the forum when your precious M8 becomes a $5,000 paperweight that even a 6-month trip to Germany won't revive. Or did you not read the WSJ article linked by the original poster of this thread?
     
  48. BTW, I even think the F430 is a better product than the M8 since I'm almost 100% sure you can get most repairs on an F430 done here in the States, or indeed, in any country where the car is officially sold. Or do you have to ship it to Italy if you blow a timing belt?
     
  49. What a pointless argument.
     
  50. Hey guys, Leica has outlived Lehman Brothers. Leica didn't have to be propped up like AIG. It's not up for sale like
    WaMu. At least Leica is selling its stuff to people who can afford it. No problem with sub-prime loans, no foreclosures on
    M8s.

    Okay, Ray, how did Rush get his? Was he hauled in for manslaughter for sitting on Ann Coulter?
     
  51. What a pointless argument.
    Ray... you are absolutely right, and last night i browsed the Leica forum and realized this topic has been discussed to death.
    i really had no idea - and i can see how what some of what i wrote may come off as being somewhat a bash against the company and perhaps even the owners. wasn't intended to be.
    although i can't say i entirely get the ferrari analogy, but i do kindev get how some people just prefer one thing over the other - for whatever reason(s).
    pretty simple i think and pretty fair.
    good shooting all.
    =)
     
  52. shooting a Leica is like driving a Porsche. Leica needs to drastically redefine their marketing strategy, advertising, product lines and markets segmentation for the 21st century.
     
  53. I've been a Leica owner since the mid 1970's, I love my Leica's.
    Leica use to represent technical excellence.

    However, Leica is now permanently positioned as a technological runner-up in the camera body department, because it doesn't have its own sensor product/R&D.

    Outside of this forum, nobody is interested in rangefinder cameras. That market is miniscule.

    Marketing a "new" rangefinder is a terrible business model (although i'd love to see one). It's the hardware equivalent of marketing a new, low speed 35mm film.It's a dead end business model.

    I suspect the future for Leica is in the Panasoninc relationship, and making lenses only.
    Why they don't market lenses for the Canon and Nikon mounts, I'll never know...

    yep, i have a bunch of leica glass, and yes i LOVE a new leica camera body...but that new Canon 5D is looking tempting......and it doesn't cost al that much....
     
  54. How many watches does Patek Phillippe sell in a year? Why would someone want to pay $30,000 for a watch, when you can find high quality ones for $150. You can find a market nitche.

    A seperate point that isn't mentioned: the strong Euro and weak dollar hurts sales to the U.S.
     
  55. Why don't Leica make lenses for Canon and Nikon?
     
  56. I wonder . . . Are the new Summarits considered "sub-prime" lenses?
     
  57. Because lens design is a high tech large R+D endeavour as well and there is little reason to believe that they could seriosuly challenge Canon and Nikon's best offereings in the SLR world. Come to think of it, if Canon and Nikon made RF lenses, Leica might really be in trouble. I've always wondered how much of Leica's outstanding optical quality is due to the inherent advantages of the rangefinder design and how much of it has anything to do with Leica itself.
     
  58. Michael Ferron: "... You really should have been wise enough to leave politics to the blogs that specialize in such. Mr. Obama was 2nd on a list of politicians who pocketed the most money from the mortgage giants. Not Mr. Bush. (moderator if his comment stays so should this one.) Thanks ..."
    By assuming that anyone who thinks Bush is an idiot is an Obama supporter, you should open your eyes, for McCain also thinks Bush is an idiot, to the point of not inviting him or any of his cabinet members to his nomination party.
    The current crisis will affect the camera industry more than most basic industries because cameras are not an essential commodity for 99 percent of their buyers (i.e., non-pros), so a basic understanding of what caused the crisis should be required reading, especially for Alaskans with high aspirations.
    The crisis was caused by the deregulation of CDOs and CDSs, Credit Default Obligations and Credit Default Swaps, CDS's being "insurance" for CDO's. AIG was the biggest insurer for CDO's which is why they got into trouble. Here's some reading, and the third link explains it all (heard it on NPR two days ago):
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Collateralized_debt_obligation
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Credit_default_swap
    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=94686428
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122178318884054675.html
    My Leica lenses have appreciated in price, so Leica is doing some things right. Used lenses for all other manufacturers go DOWN in price.
     
  59. I have a pair of 18 year old Leica Binoculars that are excellent. I have used their Stereo-microscpes, which are also excellent. If you compare the price difference between Leica offerings in both those categories, and their competitors, the price difference is not nearly as pronounced as in looking at their “in-house” (so to speak) cameras.
    With the exception of their licensing out the Red Dot to Panasonic (yes, some of the general public does associate Leica with “quality”), there M & R series is for the most part a luxury brand now. Actually it has been for about 20 years.

    I am aware of some working photographers and advanced amateurs using them, and rightly so. Re the M series, up until quite recently they were the only new production film rangefinder, and are the only new production digital rangefinder. The glass for their M’s has among the best, if not the best contrast and tonality characteristics of any I have seen in small format.

    I would love to be a Leica camera customer. I am not because:
    1. M8 or film-M, they are way outside my price league.
    2. I was not amused by the back totally coming off when changing film (not to mention that being a bizarre affectation on the M8 if I remember correctly).
    3. On the M8, the special filter/magenta cast problem.

    Anyway, Their pricing does relegate them in the “mass market” sense, to luxury along with Monblanc, Louis Vutton, etc. etc.. In fact, isn’t the current owner of the camera “division” actually a luxury goods oriented company?

    The fate of the brand has for decades been very sensitive to what is happening in the broader economy & currency markets. They have already priced themselves for all practical purposes out of the amatuer/enthusiast market.

    Speculation:

    If the luxury market segment keeps experiencing problems though, the Leica brand in cameras will live on. My bet would be the Red Dot being purchased by an Indian start-up, and used on digital EVF bodies, etc.

    Voightlander (Cosina) will carry on the film rangefinder tradition, and may do a digital, FF rangefinder, when the part-cost on the sensors gets low enough to fit in their business model.
     
  60. I am a fine art photographer and although I am of modest means I have in past taken a second job just to own a Leica. In spite of reading online many a tale of woe regarding its reliability I eventually took a chance and bought a grey market R8, which I used for many years without a single problem. I must have been lucky! When I made the decision to switch from digital to film I sold the R8 for a small loss. This experience engendered considerable loyalty to the brand and I eagerly waited for the release of the M8. Aesthetically it turned out to be a beautiful camera with a wonderful feel but after reading every available review, learning its staggering price and other shortcomings I decided it wasn't worth the sacrifice required to buy when its output could barely equal a $500 Canon Rebel.
    My method of working is very deliberate and slow, I don't need a camera capable of shooting 10 fps, 6400 ISO or even auto focus. Nor however do I need the headache of waiting weeks for chronic warranty repairs. As much as I love the concept behind Leica they stagnated. They brought the film rangefinder to a state of perfection and had an exalted place so long as film remained the prevailing format.
    Other small companies have managed to stay competitive against much larger ones with incredible R&D resources. Ducati comes to mind. They are a tiny Italian motorcycle manufacturer compared to Honda and the other Japanese giants but have managed an impressive streak of dominance against them for decades. They make a product which is not only state of the art while retaining elements of his long heritage, but beautiful. All while maintaining an aura of exclusivity. Yes, they too made very expensive limited editions over the years which were never ridden but sat in heated garages of affluent collectors but they also produced entry level bikes within the means of most consumers.
    Like many here I have been carefully following the latest news out of Photokina and have already made the choice to order a Canon 5d mkII with a Zeiss 50mm lens as my next camera. I'm afraid Leica lost what would have been another enthusiastic customer with their recent price increase and underwhelming range of products. $900 for a rebadged panasonic p&s?!?! That's insulting.
    What a pity
     
  61. "...already made the choice to order a Canon 5d mkII with a Zeiss 50mm lens as my next camera."

    You too, huh? I was that close to ordering the 50mm f1.2L when Zeiss announced the ZE mount. I really look forward to trying this lens from what I've been reading about the 50mm f1.4 Planar, and my recent experiences with the stellar 45mm f2 Planar and 90mm f2.8 Sonnar on a G1.

    I hope Leica Camera AG will follow the Zeiss roadmap - stop throwing money away trying to catch up on camera bodies and focus on optics. This is one core competency in which Leica can rightly claim to be competitive. This can only be expected to become increasingly relevant as sensor implementation continues to improve.
     
  62. They can make a film based panoramic camera like the X-pan
     
  63. "I decided it wasn't worth the sacrifice required to buy when its output could barely equal a $500 Canon Rebel."
    Where did you hear this, from a photo.net troll using a pseudonym, who has never used an M8 and bases his image quality judgements on in-camera jpeg files?
    Here's a link to an early M8 user's report, using pre-production firmware: http://leica-users.org/v32/msg15514.html. The start-up bugs the trolls keep reminding us of are things of the past.
    More links:
    http://leica-users.org/v34/msg06780.html
    "the images that come out of the Canon 5D are softer than those that come out of the M8. This is talking about raw files; 'in camera processing' not having anything to do with it in the usual sense. A top quality image from the M8 is always sharper than a top quality image from the 5D."
    http://leica-users.org/v34/msg06413.html
    "the Canon 20D and 5D with Leica R glass were the first to deliver something even close to drum scanned film. The Leica DMR and M8 actually hit a higher water mark in terms of rendering fine detail. In my opinion they actually sit in a place between the 5D and medium format backs (in the 10 - 16 mpixel range) in terms of color rendition - skin tone, dynamic range, and fine detail. They're surpassing drum scanned film of similar ISO and size. "
    Pity those who rely on photo.net for accurate information. There are a few good people here but it's infested with trolls.
     
  64. Vic says "By assuming that anyone who thinks Bush is an idiot is an Obama supporter"

    Vic I really do not care who anyone supports for US President. I do care that blame is thrown on someone who does not control the stock market in a blind attempt to discredit said person.. The Dow is up 34 points for the month and 18% for the past five years. Wow what a disaster. Maybe George should be blamed for folks profits instead?
     
  65. "I wonder . . . Are the new Summarits considered "sub-prime" lenses?"

    That makes my day ;-)
     
  66. "A top quality image from the M8 is always sharper than a top quality image from the 5D.""

    So, why do you suppose professionals use 5D's instead of M8's?
     
  67. From Jovan:
    <p>
    "I decided it wasn't worth the sacrifice required to buy when its output could barely equal a $500 Canon Rebel."
    <p>
    From Doug, quoting someone else who has actually used the M8:
    <p>
    "the images that come out of the Canon 5D are softer than those that come out of the M8."
    <p>
    "A top quality image from the M8 is always sharper than a top quality image from the 5D."
    <p>
    <p>
    From me:
    <p>
    One can always look to subjective evaluations but I prefer objective tests.
    <p>
    From DPReview:
    <p>
    Leica M8 RAW resolution
    <p>
    http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/leicam8/page12.asp
    <p>
    Leica M8 JPEG Resolution
    <p>
    http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/leicam8/page20.asp
    <p>
    Canon EOS 1000d RAW Resolution
    <p>
    http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/canoneos1000d/page18.asp
    <p>
    Canon EOS 1000d JPEG Resolution
    <p>
    http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/canoneos1000d/page33.asp
    <p>
    One can also check color accuracy, noise performance at various ISOs, and dynamic range at various ISOs. One can also download samples from the gallery.
    <p>
    One can look at the tests on other sites that show the same results.
    <p>
    From Doug:
    <p>
    "Pity those who rely on photo.net for accurate information."
    <p>
    From me:
    <p>
    Ain't it the truth?
    <p>
     
  68. Passing judgement on a camera you've never even picked up, let alone spent any time shooting with, and then posting
    your holier than thou judgement on the internet.. Ha. What a joke.
     
  69. comparing the images that come out of a digital rebel, f430 (or whatever) to a leica m8's files means you've never used one
    (m8).
    plain and simple.
     
  70. I am hoping that before too long a full sensor, top of the line M body will be made that preserves the usefulness of my Summicrons. This M would have 12-18 Megapixels for stellar enlargements that really let the wonderful optics do their thing. That seems like such a no-brainer-- even if it is not the same form factor as existing M cameras... it surely would beat the clunky DSLR offerings. By not releasing a product like this they are missing an opportunity solely not to anger the small M8 crowd. It is great to promise upgrade paths on a product, but not at the expense of introducing newer and improved technology. I don't think I am alone in wanting a full frame camera that takes M lenses. This goes to a kind of insensitivity to what the users want and prolongs the problems with the M8 going forward. Cut the cord, roll out a M9 and sell some cameras already.
     
  71. The reason that Leica was so successful during the film days was of course the lenses, but also that they had a product that filled a unique niche that photographers found to be a valuable niche to be filled. How many PJs did you see with a Nikon Fs for long lenses and and a couple Ms for wide angle.

    In the digital era, first off, the quality of Leica's lenses is blunted by the very nature of the medium, and the post-processing abilities. Wide angle today can be covered by FF SLRs, and longer photography by both DX or FX. There is no compelling reason or need to purchase a digital rangefinder. And the fact that these cameras and lenses are so dearly expensive is just the proverbial final nail in the coffin. And I don't even need to bring-up the documented problems with the M8 to make my case.

    Leica digital is like a PDA in the age of the iPhone.
     
  72. Wow, this thread had jumped around quite a bit further up, but going back to the comment that people were "cheering the grim news about Leica", nothing could be further from the truth. I had the distinct pleasure of operating (never owning) an R8 for a short period and was knocked out by the sheer craftmanship and quality of the product. The only other SLR that I found that came close was the Contax RTS. I bring this up because it's hard to go from this level of quality to the recent mishaps like sensor problems with the M8, etc. If Leica cannot right the ship, then we will all lose a significant pillar of the photography world...
     
  73. "There is no compelling reason or need to purchase a digital rangefinder. And the fact that these cameras and lenses are so dearly
    expensive is just the proverbial final nail in the coffin. And I don't even need to bring-up the documented problems with the M8 to make
    my case."

    there ARE clear and compelling reasons to purchase a digital rangefinder... it is difficult to do but we must seperate personal bias from
    fact. there ARE working photographers using digital rangefinders (dah to name one) who have very, very positive things to say. i work
    amongst media/wireservice photographers everyday and the m8 shows up regularly. not just around my neck. the thing is once you
    spend 12-14 hours a day on your feet, go home and color correct, caption and tag all the photo's then dump into the ftp it's time to go to
    sleep. not defend the vitue of the gear you use on the interweb.

    the m8 has a/ been 100% reliable for me (-15-25 for hours on end/numerous drenchings) b/ produced prints that have really, really
    suprised me (coming from an mamiya 7ii) and c/ more than payed for itself in the past two years. that makes it a perfectly viable bit of
    kit in my opinion. nice job leica. what i don't understand is all the folks telling me it isn't on the web?!?
     
  74. Jon, you never said what the "clear and compelling reasons" are to use a digital rangefinder, just that there are clear and compelling reasons. A major reason used to be the imperceptable "snick" of a shutter sound, now they are noisier than some SLRs. What can you do with your M8s that you couldn't accomplish with an SLR? I think you must be the exception with "100% reliability," either that or you're just very lucky.

    Anyway, continued good luck and profitable shooting.
     
  75. I couldn't disagree more with L DaSousa : I roam the streets of my city twice a week with a M3 and a 50mm Summilux ASPH dressed wery casually (read "poorly") and I quite often get hateful glances from the upper-crust, who probably own a M7 "à la carte" and who are like "what is this bum doing with OUR sign of richness".

    So I think Leica's still a name with a symbolic value (means "money at the bank") to the wealthiest.

    And getting a guy from Best Buy to manage Leica is one BIG mistake imo. Like getting Henri Ford, the master of mass-production, to manage Rolls Royce. Two different philosophies....
     
  76. And we should never forget to "thank" the bright mind who separated the photo branch of Leitz from all the others (medical stuff, binoculars) and let it live and fund it by itself. Remember the "Ein Stück" limited M6?

    s
     
  77. Contax. Yashica. Konica. Minolta no longer make cameras. Andy K had an interesting point "They obviously don't
    have much of a licensing stream from their badge-engineered products with Panasonic." Yes, I was surprised that
    the WSJ reporter didn't talk about the profit center for designing/selling brand rights to its Panasonic lenses.
    We see Schneider, Zeiss, Leica, maybe Rodenstock names on digital camera lenses. Does it really mean anything.
    The article was more focused on the CEO's personality. Zeiss, I take it, is a total imaging company like
    Olympus, (Ricoh? Nikon?) with products for many industries. It doesn't look like we are going to see the digital
    RF many would enjoy-what's wrong with prime lenses? Couldn't Leica concentrate on creating lenses for other
    digital SLR mounts. This is what digital photography needs, more variety and idiosyncrasy of lenses.
     
  78. hey jeff,

    i'm really a big, big fan of those big, bright viewfinders. i like viewfinders in general. i shoot A LOT with the 15mm heliar
    and a 21mm finder.... LLLLOOOOOVVVVVEEEE it.

    i spent a lot of time on an m and i'm into the KISS vibe (KeepItSimpleStupid).

    i am not in the position to shoot film. i shoot, i file...

    there have been numerous times an m has gotten me into, next to, close to, in position for, un-noticed by, fill in the rest
    here.

    i have a considerable investment in m stuff, wanna run with it.

    if you've ever carried gear, and i mean GEAR for long periods of time then you don't need me to finish this.

    i love, and i mean LOVE a camera i can stick in a pocket and go... a camera that does what i need it to do. digital point
    and shoots aren't cuttin' it for me yet.

    ^^^a few of my reasons

    there is a lot of noise about and i understand full well how one can get the impression it's an un-reliable camera. all i
    know is that my m8 has not skipped a beat ONCE since i first fired the shuttter and i do not treat it kindly at all. i'm also
    not the only one. im really not a fierce loyalist, or rabid defender of leica. i have had my own very well documented beefs
    with leicausa... what i don't understand is why my, and a few of my friends experience has been so different? i mean
    these are cameras that get worked with a capital W!

    all i can say is this, so far the m8 has been totally 100% reliable for me.

    i do agree with david. leica should focus (pardon the pun) on fast primes for f mount, ef mount etc. make some money
    and expand the resources for bettering the m mount digital rf (in whatever form it takes).

    cheers
    john
     
  79. "i love, and i mean LOVE a camera i can stick in a pocket and go"

    You must have a lot bigger pockets than I have. An M with just about any modern fast lens is too big for a pocket and
    heavier than many digital SLR's. :(
     
  80. Fair enough Jon, thankyou for taking the time.

    It sounds like the digital M is working out for you. You must be the type of shooter the camera was designed for, the viewfinder "fetish" and all. ;) Seriously, continued good luck, and thanks again!
     
  81. Fang
    all these things cameras, cars, they are just - things. Comparing this versus that feature and building up an imaginary utility curve based on price divided by some aggregate set of features and comparing that too another camera with a different price divided over a set of aggregate features and therefore trying to become a value investor with a camera PE and preaching that rationale doesn't make your preference universally rational or even relevant - it is just your way of approaching a decision.
    You seem to dwell on notions like value or rationale or relative performance -when really most people just like this versus that because they do. Oh don't get me wrong , people who think that objects somehow bestow on them some kind of superior standingare just as funny - but criticizing these beliefs is a strange kind of obsession, as if there was some kind of universal moral high ground about such matters...
    all this argument bout not much...
     
  82. jim,
    the m8 and 40mm cron fits into my jacket pocket perfectly.
     
  83. <jim, the m8 and 40mm cron fits into my jacket pocket perfectly.>

    But you M8 shooters have deep pockets. :)
     
  84. during the middle ages serfs would discuss how many angels could fit thru the eye of a needle. this is such a pointless discussion.
     
  85. <during the middle ages serfs would discuss how many angels could fit thru the eye of a needle. this is such a pointless discussion.>

    Pointless how? It's "pointless" to just say it's pointless and then run away without adding something that makes a point.

    Leica is in a fight for its existence as a company, and it's pointless to post that article and discuss it?

    People at this site never cease to disappoint me. I have to wonder where photographers (posters here) come from.
     
  86. Jeffrey, have you ever used a Leica rangefinder or any rangefinder at all? Maybe the question you ask should be posed to
    you.
     
  87. <Jeffrey, have you ever used a Leica rangefinder or any rangefinder at all? Maybe the question you ask should be posed to you.>

    Yes Ray, I have, why do you ask? Do you think this is a pointless thread?

    I had two M6s I bought new in the early to mid 90s: one black, one silver, and a 35 Summicron and 90 Summarit. I sold the whole kit, at a painful loss, to finance a Hasselblad 501CM outfit.

    The 35 Summicron is, without a doubt and without a question, the finest 35mm lens I've ever had the pleasure of using. The creamy bokeh was awe-inspiring. I have a couple pictures hanging in my living room taken with that lens.

    The cameras were lovely too, but I discovered that I'm just not a rangefinder photographer.
     
  88. Wow,

    You guys argue about Leica too much. It's just a camera.

    From the article.

    [Mr. Kaufmann estimates that annual sales have to climb by about two-thirds to at least €250 million to finance the R&D spending
    for Leica to survive in an industry that rolls out improved digital cameras every few months.]

    Do you all think that Leica can increase sales by two thirds?

    and [Henry Posner, communications director at Manhattan-based B&H Photo-Video, says Leica's lenses are "spectacular" and its
    cameras "jewel-like." But he notes that excellent cameras are available for hundreds instead of thousands of dollars. When it
    comes to younger consumers, Leica typically is "not part of the conversation."]

    Indeed they are not a part of any discussion I've had about cameras with anyone... ever... except for the one single die-hard leica
    user I have ever personally known... A guy who shoots his Minolta AF camera when he wants things "easy"...

    I'm curious, if Leica goes down, what will you Leica-philes do? I'm not trying to inflame anyone, I'm genuinely curious! I shoot
    Nikon. If they went away, I'd go right to Canon and feel just fine about it.
     
  89. Where did you hear this, from a photo.net troll using a pseudonym, who has never used an M8 and bases his image quality judgements on in-camera jpeg files?
    What the illustrious Herr is referring to is Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times photographer Michael Kamber's review of the M8 in the field. Again - the review is from the standpoint of a working photojournalist who needs to get his files to his bureau as soon as possible. Speed is of the essence in this day and age of digital in photojournalism, where the wires will run the first pictures to get the exclusive (and therefore the most page hits, and the most advertising revenue, etc.) I've pointed out that this is one of the reasons why the M8 fails as a professional photojournalist's tool - the out-of-camera jpgs require too much work whereas those from even a digital Rebel are almost always ready to use with minimal or no post processing.
    But then, if you're an amateur who can afford to waste hours every shoot polishing RAW files, or a few months twiddling your thumbs while your camera is serviced in Germany, then the M8 may very well be the camera for you.
    Here's a link to an early M8 user's report, using pre-production firmware: http://leica-users.org/v32/msg15514.html. The start-up bugs the trolls keep reminding us of are things of the past.
    To balance things out, here are some links to discussions regarding the M8 by working, published photographers who actually rely on their cameras to get the job done, as opposed the fawning from the Leica User's Group.
    Leica M8 - Is it any good?
    Leica M8.2
    Regarding Kamber's Leica M8 Field Test
    The Leica User's Group is amateur hour, and a biased one at that. Lightstalkers is where real professionals meet to talk about the real working world of photojournalism. Participants include Magnum and VII photographers as well as regular contributors to publications like Time, Newsweek and Stern. There are one or two pros, like Bruno Stevens, who like the camera and make excuses for its shortcomings, but the overwhelming majority of these professionals who have used the M8 don't think of it very highly as a tool, to put it lightly.
     
  90. Hi Peter -- I see your point and it's perfectly valid. If Leica went under, the photo world would not shut down and people would still be shooting photos. Plus, there would still be enough Leica gear on the secondary market to keep afficionados happy. However, it would be a shame to see such a legendary name go away. I guess I'm just nostalgic about these kinds of things. And perhaps this is where Leica belongs...waxing nostalgia...

    Not ready to say RIP yet, but it sure looks like Leica is heading there.
     
  91. Michael Kamber hasn't won a Pulitzer Prize.

    He has been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in both photography and reporting.

    He is a Leica photographer that has violated the Prime Directive. He must be punished. ;<)
     
  92. El Fang wrote: "What the illustrious Herr is referring to is Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times photographer Michael Kamber's review of the M8 in the field"
    Nope. I'm referring to El Fang, the troll who in a recent thread posted a poorly-focused in-camera jpg from his camera and posited that showing photos such as his on the web was how to determine if Camera A's image quality was better than Camera B's.
    El Fang continues: " the review is from the standpoint of a working photojournalist who needs to get his files to his bureau as soon as possible. Speed is of the essence in this day and age of digital in photojournalism, where the wires will run the first pictures to get the exclusive (and therefore the most page hits, and the most advertising revenue, etc.)"
    Exactly correct. Speed to the wires is all and image quality is a distant second.
    Fang continues: "To balance things out, here are some links to discussions regarding the M8 by working, published photographers who actually rely on their cameras to get the job done, as opposed the fawning from the Leica User's Group."
    Apparently Fang hasn't been reading the Leica Users Group postings. Discussion of Leica equipment has at times been heated with many divergent opinions.
    Fang again: "The Leica User's Group is amateur hour, and a biased one at that."
    Try actually reading the posts, Fang. There are many many professional photographers actively participating in the LUG discussions, using every imaginable brand and type of equipment: pinholes, photocopiers, 11x14 view cameras, home-made 4x5 TLR cameras, Pentax, Oly, Rollei, Minolta/Sony, Leica, Hasselblad, Nikon, Panasonic and even Canon. In fact Leica use isn't required, you could even join in if you wished. I'll bet the likes of Ted Grant and TIna Manley would be very surprised to hear that they are amateurs. And, unlike Fang's posts on photo.net, very few are ever insulted for their camera choice no matter what brand, nor for being an amateur.
     
  93. Hmm Looking at my cristal ball I see a digital CL for $1500 restoring the brand to the masses .
     
  94. "But then, if you're an amateur who can afford to waste hours every shoot polishing RAW files, or a few months twiddling your thumbs
    while your camera is serviced in Germany, then the M8 may very well be the camera for you."

    again with the nonsense mr fang... i shoot wire service. i use an m8. since i have owned it i have never had to "polish" raw files or tiddle
    my thumbs. perhaps folks would take you seriously if you stick to the facts and stop with the m8 mis-information station.
     
  95. Hey Fango - looks like Leica has been listening to you and are announcing a new camera and lens range - check it out baby and let your eyeballs bleed! -:0) smile Fango - smile!
     
  96. Guessing you'll have one of the new Leica S2's in your hands within a month after they go on sale, Pete. How can you resist ? :)
     
  97. Petey, just once I ought to act the badass that I am and get me one of those. Just one look at that black bazooka lens and that red dot and the models will be begging for portfolios. Let the whiny liberal decaf sippers play with their retro cropped M cams. Real men want a big sensor.
     
  98. Wow, the S2 KICKS ASS! Man, that is a thing of beauty. Part MF, part 35mm...great concept and nice to see Leica leading into some new territory here. And nine lenses to go with it, too...including a T&S for those architectural types. Rock on!!!!
     
  99. That thing looks like it'd get about 5 miles per gallon.
     
  100. Gentlemen , this system is going to seriously rock the boat of MF manufacturers - a partnership with Phase One will also tick a lot of boxes regarding service and availablity etc etc..in camera native DNG processing removes the proprietory RAW format tango that is such a bother with my Hasselblad files and Phase One files..<p>

    Michael - mine is already on order - I am soooo relieved I ditched all my R stuff 9 months ago - so the cash is already in the bank waiting..!!<p>

    Andy - its about time you stopped being a weenie tightwad with gear/ gave in to your dark side and lashed out..come to the dark side LOL - mine is already on order and I can hook you up with the best Phase One dealer in the States - outstanding service knowledgeable tech heads and nice guys.
     
  101. Heh, this is like Clint Eastwood in 'Unforgiven' when you think he's a goner because he's too old and he doesn't have it
    anymore and he's down for the count. Then all of a sudden he rises up and in a few blinks of an eye all the villains are dead on the
    floor.
     
  102. Regarding the S2... rumors of Leica's death are once again very premature. It's probably not the camera for me ($$$$$) but DANG the thing SERIOUSLY ROCKS.
     
  103. Kudos to the fired Steven Lee.
     
  104. It's going to be grim times for many and not just Leica. Apart from Leica's specific problems there will be many on this forum who will put out of work as a result of the international debt problems. It's easy to blame the banks and the bankers but it is all founded on personal "greed" for want of another word. The market supplying the best of anything is usually the last to feel the pinch as the incomes of the highest earners or richest people are the least affected. So Leica can perhaps gain some comfort from that fact. They have superb products, not just cameras, and history has shown that such companies , normally operating on a small scale, can survive economic turmoil. The people I feel sorry for are the 'normal' hardworking ones who will suffer whilst the bosses who allowed such profligacy will walk away relatively unscathed.
     
  105. wow, talk about grim.
     
  106. Pete, my dark side is usually on, I just play nice. Talk about serious pixel overkill, this thing is badder than a RUF Turbo. I sure hope it comes with a high-powered laser AF assist light to save me the trouble of packing a gun.I just may get one to take pics in the Detroit ghetto.
     
  107. Yeah, it is easy to blame the bankers and the banks for the current crisis. Those greedy creeps caused it. While
    thousands of people will lose their jobs the CEOs will escape financial ruin on golden parachutes.

    How will the meltdown affect Leica? I am sure that a lot of used Leica gear will suddenly on the market. But beyond that
    my crystal ball grows cloudy. With the new S2 system Leica may get a new lease on life. Who knows, they might even
    come out with a trouble-free M8.
     
  108. More grim times for Leica. They'll probably only sell ten S2s.
     
  109. Hmmmmm.

    S series/format.
    Reminds me of the old Pentax 6x7. Of course, an amatuer that was not rich could afford that one.

    Technically kind of interesting.

    Back in those days, I went with the RB67, not the 35mm on steroids layout, like the old Pentax or S format.

    Not being a high-end working photographer, or a rich amatuer, just another roadside attraction in the world of Short Attention Span Theatre.
     
  110. Well Andy pixel overkill is a relative term - I am just about to get a 10 foot by two foot panorama printed up - took 30 overlapping shots on a 39 megapixel machine to make it. You can stand two feet away and look INTO the thing - it is 3 dimensional because of the amount of detail. which is all about resolution which is all about FAT PIXELS. This Leica S2 will sell very well - purely on ergonomic considerations - apparently it is the size of a Nikon D700. So I guess you could take it along with you - for street etc. I mean if you are still into all that jazz<p>

    anyway - enough gearhead talk for me. The thing is a year away from being on market.<p>

    Regarding the big meltdown - it wasnt like it wasnt flagged a long time ago..as soon as a central banker says there is no problem ( last July actually as in July 2007) - well ...thats all I needed to hear and shorts started dominating my book. People shouldnt worry too much - the biggest losers out of all this are already the tens of thousands of Wall St employees and over the next couple of years - hundreds of thousands of Financial service industry jobs gone around the world. I guess the knock on effects on the accounting and legal professions will be large as well.<p>

    Happy snaps all.
     
  111. Imagine if Leica made an affordable line of M cameras, with an affordable line of lenses, and not a Panasonic knock-off, but a real Leica. Instead they're going in the opposite direction with the S2. The S2 would make sense, for this foundering company, if they balanced the ridiculous with the sublime, but instead it's just all ridiculous. From one blunder to the next. Maybe the US Treasury will bail 'em out.
     
  112. The Leica S2 looks like a cool camera. It reminds me of the Mamyia ZD and Digital back that was introduced back in Sept 18, 2004. The Mamiya ZD was supposed to take accept the Mamyia 645 lenses. I saw the prototype at PhotoExpo in NYC back in 2004/2005. I waited, but never saw it come to market. Not sure why it never took off. It took two years from announcement to hit the market. Here some links to the Mamiya ZD:

    http://www.dpreview.com/news/0409/04092902mamiya_zd.asp

    http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/cameras/mamiya-zd-ist.shtml

    http://www.digital-photography.org/22_megapixelmediumformatdigitalcamerabacksreviewscomparepricecom/Mamiya_ZD_medium_format_digital_SLR_camera_evaluations.htm

    http://www.engadget.com/2006/03/09/mamiya-zd-22-megapixel-dslr-is-here-finally/

    http://www.mobilemag.com/content/100/336/C6865/

    Reading the old posts in light of the Leica S2 announcement is interesting. Hopefully, Leica will fair better.
     
  113. Personally, I'm much more concerned about the shrinking choice and availability of films and darkroom accessories than I am about Leica kicking the bucket.
     
  114. Nope. I'm referring to El Fang, the troll who in a recent thread posted a poorly-focused in-camera jpg from his camera and posited that showing photos such as his on the web was how to determine if Camera A's image quality was better than Camera B's.
    Not poorly-focused, but technically lacking because it was shot at 1/90s handheld at the equivalent of 300mm. You're a bird photographer, aren't you? Don't you know what happens to photographs when you shoot telephoto lenses handheld at low shutter speeds? Come on, that's Photo 101. The picture was also taken at ISO 1600 on a bottom-of-the-line Japanese dSLR. The picture wasn't intended to showcase how great the photograph is. I posted it to show how in such adverse lighting conditions, a lowly $350 (today's used price) Nikon D70 produced a usable, publishable picture straight out of the camera while the $5,000 M8 would have fallen flat on its face.
    Exactly correct. Speed to the wires is all and image quality is a distant second.
    Professional photographers don't just need speed, they also need reliability and a professional level of service if something goes wrong. Name the things that a professional working photographer needs, and Leica fails on almost every single point.
    I'll bet the likes of Ted Grant and TIna Manley would be very surprised to hear that they are amateurs.
    Amateurs or not, I'd be far more inclined to take seriously the opinions of people like New York Times photographer Michael Kamber:
    "I have found the Leica M8 to be unreliable, poorly designed, and to deliver substandard results in most of the situations in which I have used it. I can’t think of any camera--or for that matter any electronic device I have recently used--that so thoroughly fails to live up to its potential and its heritage."
    and recent Magnum nominee Peter van Agtmael
    "I agree completely with your assessment. I bought an M8 last year before heading to Afghanistan, and was disgusted with its performance, especially in high ISO’s. I sold it immediately upon my return."
    than a couple of no-namers who hang out on a gear-related mailing list.
     
  115. Hey Fango - looks like Leica has been listening to you and are announcing a new camera and lens range - check it out baby and let your eyeballs bleed!
    Don't get too excited; nobody's seen any files from it and I'm sure I'm not the only one who remembers the fanfare to which the M8 was announced a couple of years ago, only to have the bubble burst when the IR issue and other problems came to light, leading to thousands of written apologies personally signed by the Leica CEO.
     
  116. It's probably not the camera for me ($$$$$) but DANG the thing SERIOUSLY ROCKS.
    Once again you allow your emotions to get the better of you. First, we need to see the files to be certain the "dang" "thing" "seriously rocks;" and second, the S2 will be completely useless "seriously rocking" in the glass display case in the lobby of Leica Solms. They need to actually sell some, and almost a year's lead time from announcement to release (summer 2009) is a very long time in digital terms. Time will tell... we'll see.
     
  117. so what you're saying here mr fang, and correct me if i'm wrong here, is you have never used an m8?

    you continue to spew stuff like "a lowly $350 (today's used price) Nikon D70 produced a usable, publishable picture straight out of the
    camera while the $5,000 M8 would have fallen flat on its face." yet you are REALLY just making this up now aren't you?

    "than a couple of no-namers who hang out on a gear-related mailing list" this one is the icing on the cake. you have never used the
    camera (and i mean USED. not taken snaps of the fella at the local camera shop), you base your merits solely on the reputation of
    others, you continue to sight examples that CLEARLY indicate you have no experience with the camera in question yet you have the
    audacity to call into question the credentials of folks who do use the camera and produce work at the professional level!?!

    and how exactly are we to view this as anything BUT trolling?
     
  118. Fango, here's a tidbit from Ted Grant's website, who you've described as a no-namer:
    "In 1999, Ted Grant and Yousuf Karsh were both presented Lifetime Achievement Awards by the Canadian Association of Photographers and Artists in Communications."
    You really need to get out more.
     
  119. Fang, having compared the DMR's RAW files with the files from my father's D70 I'll concede that there are a limited set of circumstances
    where I'd rather use the D70. For example, when rappelling down a cliff over the ocean while holding the camera in my hand with no strap.
     
  120. "Fang, having compared the DMR's RAW files with the files from my father's D70 I'll concede that there are a limited set of circumstances where I'd rather use the D70. For example, when rappelling down a cliff over the ocean while holding the camera in my hand with no strap."
    Dang Doug - that has to be one of the funniest lines I have read in a long time - thanks, made me spurt my coffee all over my screen! and I am still laughing... LOL
     
  121. I ought to clarify, IMHO the D70 is a nice camera for the price and I wouldn't deliberately destroy it, but given the choice between the D70 and the DMR I'll take the DMR nearly every time.
     
  122. yet you are REALLY just making this up now aren't you?
    It's unbelievable, I know, but I kid you not. Look at the file for yourself, straight out of the camera, unprocessed. Look at the EXIF data. D70, 1/90s, focal length 170mm (about 255 equivalent due to 1.5x crop), ISO 1600, white balance AUTO. It's all there. I'm not even going to embarrass you with a file from a 2008 digital Rebel or a 5D.
    "In 1999, Ted Grant and Yousuf Karsh were both presented Lifetime Achievement Awards by the Canadian Association of Photographers and Artists in Communications."
    Having your name mentioned next to someone recognized the world over as a master, or even standing next to said master in an awards ceremony, does not a second master make. Karsh's portrait of Winston Churchill, for example, is iconic, and Karsh himself is a known pioneer of portrait lighting technique. Ted Grant, on the other hand, is virtually unknown to anyone outside of the Leica User's Group. Besides, it's not like Canada is a major player in photographic awards these days. Personally I'd be more impressed by the Robert Capa Gold Medal, World Press Photo award, NPPA Magazine Photographer of the Year, ICP Infinity Award, heck even the Leica Medal of Excellence - all far more prestigious and well known than some obscure Canadian award few have heard of.
     
  123. Fang, you seem to be star-struck by Famous Names. I'll bet you'd by a Ford Pinto if Michael Kamber said he liked it.
     
  124. repeat after me fang (you might find it kind of liberating...) "I HAVE NEVER MADE A PRINT FROM AN M8, THEREFORE I DON'T
    REALLY KNOW WHAT I'M tALKING ABOUT"
     
  125. LOL, you realize that argument is fallacious, don't you?
     
  126. So where are the controls on this thing? I see 2 knobs. I hope it isn't too dependent on the LCD menu screen. I
    really do hope this camera takes off running but I'm not sure. Pro photographers aren't exactly raking it in these
    days and expecting them to either dump their tried and tested digital Mamiyas/H-Blads or splurge on the Leica as a
    more portable secondary rig might be a little far-fethced. Outside of the devoted Leica fatithful I think the M8 debut
    into the digital realm spooked a few people and its been a while since the idea of Leica durability and reliability
    represented much more than a myth. I take everything with a grain of salt but the Kamber report posted by
    Fang is an eye opener and the S2 represents and equally new leap into the unknown for Leica. Considering they
    don't
    do these "leaps" very well, many possible buyers may sit back at first to see if there are any serious unrealized
    bugs
    from the get-go. I'm sure there will be
    takers, but no one knows on what scale Leica needs to move these things in order to be profitable and that will be
    the interesting part.
     
  127. >>> I'll bet you'd by a Ford Pinto if Michael Kamber said he liked it.

    That would be silly, as he doesn't represent himself as being knowledgeable about cars.

    However, on issues of photojournalism and the level of performance and reliability needed for cameras in the field, and
    especially war zones, his views are extremely relevant.
     
  128. Brad Evans wrote:">>> I'll bet you'd by a Ford Pinto if Michael Kamber said he liked it.
    That would be silly, as he doesn't represent himself as being knowledgeable about cars.
    However, on issues of photojournalism and the level of performance and reliability needed for cameras in the field, and especially war zones, his views are extremely relevant.

    "
    Yes Brad my comment was silly. However Mr. Kamber's needs in a camera are his alone. I am confident enough of my own needs that I don't need to rely on a celebrity's preferences to make my own choices. Evidently Fang is not as confident of his own needs.
    El Fang wrote: "It's unbelievable, I know, but I kid you not. Look at the file for yourself, straight out of the camera, unprocessed. Look at the EXIF data. D70, 1/90s, focal length 170mm (about 255 equivalent due to 1.5x crop), ISO 1600, white balance AUTO. It's all there. I'm not even going to embarrass you with a file from a 2008 digital Rebel or a 5D."
    Straight out of the camera is not un-processed. An unprocessed file is a RAW file, yours was processed by the camera. If image quality is a priority you will process it yourself from the RAW file.
    1/90 sec with 255mm (equivalent) hand-held is not remarkable, if that's the point you were trying to make.
    hand-held 1/125 sec with a 400mm lens, film camera (slightly cropped):
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    same shutter speed and lens, uncropped:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    hand-held 1/60 sec, 400mm lens, film, moderate crop:
    [​IMG]
    hand-held 1/125 sec, 560mm lens, film camera:
    [​IMG]
    1/125 sec, 560mm lens, 1.37 crop factor digital (DMR) with monopod:
    [​IMG]
    Having seen what the DMR and M8 can do the 5D or 2008 Rebel would not embarrass me.
     
  129. >>> Yes Brad my comment was silly. However Mr. Kamber's needs in a camera are his alone. I am confident enough of
    my own needs that I don't need to rely on a celebrity's preferences to make my own choices.

    He's not a celebrity. He's a working pj who has relevant experience with the M8 - with respect to image quality,
    ergonomics, reliability, and service. And wrote extensively about in a clear and concise manner. Something that's missing
    here.
     
  130. kamber doesn't like the m8, harvey does. these are the opinions of folks who have spent time on the system and equally valid.
    however to drone on and on about the perceived shortcomings of a system you haven't used is silly. i believe the m8 suffers from a
    large, vocal group of folks who have never used the system and it is certainly influencing peoples "perception" of the system and the
    company in a negative manner.

    "the m8 is unreliable" - i, and a half dozen people i know, use one daily to shoot in a professional capacity and the camera has proven
    extremely reliable. now ALL I AM SAYING is the "perception" doesn't fit with the "experience".

    "the files need heavy post" - in my "experience", and my success depends on as little post as possible, this is totally false.

    i could go on...

    are comments from fella's like kamber valid? of course! however the constant parroting by folks like fang have taken on a life of their
    own. based entirely on hearsay and largely conjecture. "the $500 digital rebel will produce a file equal to or better than an m8"?!? this is
    NOT BASED ON ANY USER EXPERIENCE. yet on it rolls. copied and pasted at nauseum.
     
  131. >>> Straight out of the camera is not un-processed. An unprocessed file is a RAW file, yours was processed by the camera. If
    image quality is a priority you will process it yourself from the RAW file.

    I think you missed the point on that, as well. He posted a photo out of a camera. It's obvious to even a beginner that to get it to
    display on a browser window *something* processed it - that's what jpeg is. Your original argument that it was a jpeg that displayed, and
    therefore not valid
    for making a point,is odd.

    Are the above photos you just posted in RAW format? If not, by your original logic, one cannot make any points with respect to
    image quality...
     
  132. >>> and the camera has proven extremely reliable. now ALL I AM SAYING is the "perception" doesn't fit with the
    "experience".

    Many M8 *owners* here on this forum have posted about problems with their cams. And the long delays (several months) to
    get problems fixed and the cam back into their hands.

    Are you suggesting that this is merely "perception" and somehow not based on real "experience?"
     
  133. MY experience brad, MY experience. i have never contested a users opinion about the camera, what i do contest is
    assertions by someone who obviously has never used one.

    leica has pro service, it's quick as a rabbit for me thus making it a viable system.

    leica's non-pro service sucks big, i have commented at length about it and feel it is leica's REAL ACHILLE'S HEEL.
     
  134. ps you do good work brad
     
  135. Fang, you seem to be star-struck by Famous Names. I'll bet you'd by a Ford Pinto if Michael Kamber said he liked it.
    I'm simply betting that guys like Michael Kamber, a trained photojournalist, have taken classes on bias, slander and libel, and fair and accurate reporting (Journalism 101) and apply these principles to their everyday work, whether photographic or written. Given Mr. Kamber's background, I find it very, very hard to discredit his written experience with the M8, especially when that experience is supported by images taken nearly at the same time with Canon gear. Now, if the review had been written by somebody like Adnan Hajj or Brian Walski, it would have the opposite effect: I'd find their words hard to believe because, by their actions, they have shown their work to be untrustworthy.
    But then who knows. Maybe Kamber is out to mislead us all, and one day I'll eat my words. However, until that day comes, I consider his review to be the most authoritative and trustworthy review of the Leica M8 with regards to its use professionally in the field, published to date.
    Straight out of the camera is not un-processed.
    Brad's already addressed this. Suffice it to say that most normal people would understand what I was trying to show rather than argue semantics. It's plain as day that even a bottom-of-the-line Japanese dSLR from 2004 could handle tough lighting conditions (mixed tungsten stage lighting in this case) without forcing the photographer to resort to massaging a RAW file. On the other hand it took Leica two years to finally come up with a firmware update to address the M8's AWB issues, and the purported high-ISO noise reduction that was supposedly included in the fix turned out to be nothing more than wishful thinking - by current M8 owners.
    Having seen what the DMR and M8 can do the 5D or 2008 Rebel would not embarrass me.
    Most people wouldn't be embarrassed by any camera if all they did was take pictures in broad daylight. However, the needs of the photojournalist (where Leica made its name) - as well as those of amateur snappers who like to photograph their families (read: young, fast-moving children) in a variety of outdoor and indoor settings - are not well addressed by Leica's current offerings, and Leica's market share and financial reports reflect that better than anything I could say myself.
     
  136. Brad/Fang: what do the working conditions of a production photojournalist have to do with a craftsman photographer
    or an artist photographer? When people take landscape photos do they need a camera that allows them to swap
    memory cards in surreptitiously? How many of us are going to be in such gritty conditions that we'll need to replace
    filters annually? What's the point of comparing in-camera jpg files if the craftsman photographer wants to take the
    time to work each photo to its fullest from the RAW file? And as much as the two of you are in denial, the M8 is
    nowhere near as troublesome now as it was initially. If you persist in believing it's a cranky POS you're living in the
    past.
    <P>
    Brad - Fang was the one making a big deal of his photo being unprocessed, not me. And even after conversion
    to .jpg for web display a photo processed individually by a skilled photographer will demonstrate the camera's
    capabilities for image quality better than the in-camera jpg will, unless your goal is just production. In-camera jpg
    files are for production (i.e., mass production), photos individually-procesessed from RAW files are the domain of the
    craftsman. Different goals, different results.
    <P>
    As for the M cameras supposedly earning their reputation as a photojournalist's tool, you've got blinders on. It's
    reputation stems from its many uses by many kinds of photographers, production, craftsman and artist. That some
    (and not all) production photojournalists reject it means nothing to the users who have found if to be a valuable tool
    for their chosen tasks.
     
  137. >>> Brad/Fang: what do the working conditions of a production photojournalist have to do with a craftsman photographer or an artist
    photographer?

    Well, this is the Leica RF forum. Where everybody talks about and aligns with great photogs of the past, in the field taking photos in
    adverse
    conditions. Coupled with the need for a reliable cam, and until recently, making a big deal about Ms being able to work without a battery in
    case one
    couldn't be found in Fallujah. It's the romanticization and leica mystique about shooters of the past that a lot of people latch onto here.

    I don't think there are many people here doing product and fashion photography with their cams.

    Fast forward to today, where you have an experienced pj, who has put the M8 through its paces, and writes incredibly well. Something no
    one else
    here has been able to approach either in photographic skill, shooting in adverse conditions (what leica is known for), and clear writing.
    Sounds good
    and extremely relevant to me...


    >>> Brad - Fang was the one making a big deal of his photo being unprocessed, not me.

    Not true. You made a big deal out when it was first posted of it being a jpeg, your point being that it was hardly worthy of discussion.

    My counterpoint was, indeed it is a jpeg, like all photos posted here. And in spite of that limitation, it exhibited far better performance in
    dim light
    that what I've seen from an M8.
     
  138. Heh heh...

    I wonder if people would be similarly dismissive of Kamber and the relevancy of his assessment if he instead, heaped
    tons of praise on the M8 based on positive real-world experiences with the cam in the field...

    Sure, no doubt....
     
  139. Brad/Fang: what do the working conditions of a production photojournalist have to do with a craftsman photographer or an artist photographer? When people take landscape photos do they need a camera that allows them to swap memory cards in surreptitiously? How many of us are going to be in such gritty conditions that we'll need to replace filters annually? What's the point of comparing in-camera jpg files if the craftsman photographer wants to take the time to work each photo to its fullest from the RAW file? And as much as the two of you are in denial,
    OK, so the M8 is too good for the "production photojournalist" and its full potential is only realized by "craftsmen" or "artists." Can we say, "elitist snobbery"? Hey, I've got news for you - the finest photographic "craftsmen" and "artists" in the world aren't using M8s. They're using... everything else. If they've got $5k to burn on a body and $3k to burn on a lens, they're spending that money on full-frame digital SLRs. If they're looking to spend more, they're buying Hasselblad H cameras or MF/LF digital backs. I know you still don't believe any of this. Read the WSJ report linked by the original poster. So just who is in denial, exactly?
    the M8 is nowhere near as troublesome now as it was initially. If you persist in believing it's a cranky POS you're living in the past.
    Last I checked, the M8 still needs to be shipped to Germany for even minor repairs, still requires $100 IR blocking filters on the lenses, still has a baseplate to fumble with and drop, and still features the same substandard high-ISO performance. The M8.2 hasn't fixed any of this. So what is in the past, exactly?
    Brad - Fang was the one making a big deal of his photo being unprocessed, not me. And even after conversion to .jpg for web display a photo processed individually by a skilled photographer will demonstrate the camera's capabilities for image quality better than the in-camera jpg will, unless your goal is just production. In-camera jpg files are for production (i.e., mass production), photos individually-procesessed from RAW files are the domain of the craftsman. Different goals, different results.
    All I did was post a simple out-of-camera jpg to show what a lowly 2004 entry-level dSLR is capable of, as a reference to what the M8 should at least be able to do, even disregarding its price and the fact that the dSLR predates it by no less than two years. You're the one making semantic arguments as to what constitutes "processed" and what doesn't. So who is making a big deal, exactly?
    As for the M cameras supposedly earning their reputation as a photojournalist's tool, you've got blinders on. It's reputation stems from its many uses by many kinds of photographers, production, craftsman and artist.
    OK, maybe I'm wrong here. I was under the impression that the "quietness," "small size," "superb low-light capabilities" and other traits made the M camera revolutionary for photojournalists who wanted to shoot as a "fly on the wall" which is why guys like Henri Cartier-Bresson chose it, and that association in turn is how the Leica name became "legendary" among the black-and-white photo literati of the 1950s-60s. In fact I can (or I thought I could) safely say that most average non-photographers who have even heard of the Leica name, heard it mentioned alongside Cartier-Bresson's. So who else am I missing, exactly?
    That some (and not all) production photojournalists reject it means nothing to the users who have found if to be a valuable tool for their chosen tasks.
    What tasks? Because for every genre of photography I can think of, Leica no longer comes to my mind as being the best tool. "Production" photojournalism? (I'd love to see you walk up to James Nachtwey and call his work "production," LOL) AF digital SLRs. Family photography? Well, unless your only family is an arthritic 90-year old who takes the entire afternoon to shuffle across the living room... for everyone else, AF digital SLRs. Sports photography? Self explanatory. Studio photography? Hasselblad or MF/LF digital backs. Landscapes? Ditto. Movie sets? AF digital SLRs in Jacobson sound blimps. Macro photography? AF digital SLRs. Wildlife photography? AF digital SLRs. Portrait photography? Just try to touch a 5D and the 85/1.2L. So what is an M8 good for, exactly?
    Or, I'll ask the question point-blank.
    If you think Leica is so great and doing so well, what is your explanation for Leica's dire financial status as described by the WSJ article that is the topic of this thread?
     
  140. Fang and Douglas,

    I think in this recurrent debate you've - perhaps unintentionally - put the finger on the right problem and the source of all the dispute between unconditionnal Leicaphiles and what the formers consider as Leicaphobes...

    In many earlier messages I've tried to explain the main reason I consider the M8 a "lemon" (and to a lesser extent the R8-9 + DMR combo)...

    I think this everlasting dispute won't end until each party realize it is not talking about the same camera specs.

    I (and I think most photographers with a certain experience in the now past film days) NEVER considered 35mm cameras (SLR's or rangefinders) as efficient tools for the "a craftsman photographer or an artist photographer" looking for the best possible imagery (on the technical side). There were (and there are in our digitalized world) far better tools for that kind of photography. May be the new S2 (price set aside) will conciliate both the medium format quality and the ease of use and reasonable size of a small format camera. May be it will be the forerunner of things to come... But neither the R8-9 + DMR (facing a Hasselblad for example) nor the M8 (or M8-2) are, facing a digital medium format camera.

    Based on EXISTING cameras (not prototypes), a small format digital camera is still something which is a compromise between the image quality of a medium format and a reduction in size and weight when compared to an MF, even if the image quality of small format cameras is ever improving (it was already the case in film times). To put it in simpler terms, you trade a part of the image quality potential to get a smaller, faster, to use camera.

    For me, trading the low light capabilities, the high ISO performance and anything which compromises the fast action recording of an image specific to the small format camera for a better IQ though not good enough to compete with a medium format is a sheer nonsense, moreover when as far as the cost is concerned the difference is so small. I know Douglas, your mileage differs, I respect your point of view, but I fundamentally disagree with you.

    My opinion on the M8 is based on the fundamental assumption a small format rangefinder is CONCEPTUALLY a press and street photographers' camera, not a "fine art" tool.

    In film times I've worked most of the time with multiple systems : SLR's (for their ability to use long tele-lenses and be portable macro-photographic tools) and appreciated their ability (increasing with each generation) to work faster and capture action ; small format rangefinder cameras, I used for their unobtrusivness, silence and their unequalled abilities in low light ; medium format cameras which gave me the ability to reach a far superior IQ when compared to my small format cameras (I'd whish my Hasselblad system was never stolen !) and even large format view cameras for their unequalled IQ and their movements.

    I never expected from one of these systems to perform something as well as what the prime advantages of another authorized. I never envisaged them as competitors but as tools complementary to each other.

    A universal system never existed and even if with digital times it may lay in a near future it doesn't exist today.

    I think El Fang position is perfectly realistic *when you consider the kind of photographic tool he expects to find with a digital rangefinder camera*.

    As is your position *when one considers what you are trying to get from your gear*.

    Let's use an example which doesn't imply Leica...

    Unless proven otherwise if you consider the present strategy of Nikon vs the one of Canon in the small format DSLR world, you see Nikon trying to maximalize the advantages related to a small format camera with the D700 and the D3, while Canon issues as a flagship the 1Ds Mk.III which is more oriented toward definition at the expense of speed, high ISO capabilities and fast AF. These opposed strategies perfectly illustrate the debate between you and El Fang. And, between some other reasons (related to the extended retro-compatibility of the Nikons regarding the lenses), I have chosen to buy a Nikon because their main highlights are just what I expect from a small format DSLR.

    Unfortunately, Leica (nor for all intent and purpose any other manufacturer) offers me the Digital small format rangefinder I'm dreaming of as a perfect tool for the kind of work I practice now... Even if the M8-2 proves more reliable in extreme conditions than the M8, Leica succeeds in providing a reliable and fast service and has a remarkable IQ at low and even medium ISO levels, there are still problems Leica has not addressed which are for ME and MY kind of work and budget definitely deal breakers :

    1 - Format : One of the reason why I don't want an M8 is the fact I can't use my M mount lenses at their nominal FOV (and one of them, the 135mm cannot be used at all) and I would have to buy a wide Tri-Elmar to have my wide angle capabilities back. This last point (as this lens is almost unavailable at a reasonable price second hand) would affect my budget to an unbearable level.

    2 - I.R. filters : At $ 100 each this is something I'm not ready to pay to correct a major flaw, presented as a feature destined to get sharper images. I'm still extremely astonished by the ease with which some Leica diehards which once in film era swore they'll never put a filter which was supposed to diminish the quality of their precious Leica lenses accepted to put such a filter to use their M8 !!!

    3 - The separate baseplate : already obsolete in film times (the last Nikon with a separate baseplate for loading - the F - was discontinued around 1972 with the introduction of the F2 and neither my Hexar RF or the new Zeiss Ikon are affected by this "antique" feature). Some people can arguably defend the loading procedure of a film in an M (I disagree with them but admit this baseplate had an economical reason to be maintained) with a digital M using an SD card this is ridiculous (the fact this M8 baseplate seems unable to allow the use of a tripod notwithstanding).

    4 - The lack of certain modern features regarding auto-exposure which have proven their value for fast "decisive moment" shots : namely some kind of matrix metering light evaluation system and, conversly,the lack of a true spot metering system in manual mode.

    5 - Last but not least, the poor high ISO performance of the M8, which as El Fang put it makes the throne of the M camera as the king of low light fall apart.

    All the Leica legend used to be based on Press photography, this is the legacy of their past. When I judge the M8, I judge it from this point of view. I really don't care if the RAW files are a tad better at low and medium ISO (before post processing) than with a Japanese DSLR, just because this Japanese DSLR (and moreover when it goes to a Nikon D3 or D700) has already reached the threshold of IQ which I consider sufficient for the work I do, the kind of image I take and what I expect from a small format camera. I don't care if I had to loose some potential of Leica glass by using a built on the sensor IR filter, because I did exactly the same in film times, when I pushed the ISOs of my film and when the actual superiority in definiton of these lenses manifested itself only when using the camera on a rock steady tripod when I used my M handheld. To have clean, almost noise free and publishable image at ISO 6400, looking even better than a film image taken at ISO 800 is far more important for my kind of work. And this, the M8 can't do.

    Let's try to talk about the same tool or recongnize we are not talking about the same kind of photography hence we need different tools.

    let's recognize the M8 whatever we may think about it intrinsically is not on par with the old M's of film era as a tool for Press photography.

    And please try to end a dispute which has become meaningless.

    FPW


     
  141. François P. Weill, I feel your post is very thoughtful, and pretty much on point.
    If I must quibble, it would be about this line:

    "My opinion on the M8 is based on the fundamental assumption a small format rangefinder is CONCEPTUALLY a
    press and street photographers' camera, not a "fine art" tool. "

    I would assume you mean landscape and the like. But "fine art" photography can have many subjects. Gary
    Wingogrand, and Cartier-Bresson to name two Leica rangefinder users generally now called artists, not to mention
    the likes of Sebastiao Salgado.

    I myself love rangefinders. But I did not get a used M2 that i could afford, simply because of that darned base plate
    thing :)

    But the Voightlanders still calls my name, and I hope that they (actually, Cosina), if they do not feel too burned by
    the fate of the RD1 (which they made for Epson), will produce the first more widely affordable DRF. Perhaps they are
    waiting for so-called FF sensors to drop in price as part? I have found that like you, many rangefinder folk do not
    appreciate the whole crop factor thing :)

    Your statement "Let's try to talk about the same tool or recongnize we are not talking about the same kind of
    photography hence we need different tools. ", is so true. Some cameras can do alot, but no camera can do
    everything "best", for everybody.
     
  142. Francois, how do you propose I get a 6-degree angle of view lens on a medium-format camera, and then climb
    mountains with it? How much medium-format equipment are you willing to carry on your back for a backpacking trip, and
    how "essential" is high-ISO capability when you're using the camera on a tripod and especially when there is not just a
    slight but substantial difference in the raw files? Did you ever seen Galen Rowell hanging from a rope on the side of the
    mountain with a medium-format camera, or while he was running to catch the light at the top of a mountain? If one must
    define the uses for small-format cameras as narrowly as you have then Fang is right, we should just dump our 1Ds, D3
    and DMR systems, get a digiReb and be happy, but uses for cameras of all sizes are limited only buy the imaginations
    of those who use them. Recall that Barnack's original concept for the camera was "small camera, big picture",
    something he could carry hiking and still get high-quality pictures.
    <P>
    Regarding Kamber's review of the M8, its flaws are not in credibility (though my experience with journalists suggest this
    is a widespread issue) but with applicability. The review as written applies to a very limited set of circumstances,
    Kamber's. A good review tests the camera in a wider scope of conditions and it also specifies the test conditions.
    Kamber did not specify the file format he was using (jpg) nor did he specify the firmware revision, which by now is at
    least two steps removed from current firmware. He didn't work with RAW file output at all. Not only was his review of
    limited applicability when he wrote it, it's now of a camera which, by virtue of updated firmware, to a large degree is of a camera which no
    longer exists.
     
  143. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    leica has pro service, it's quick as a rabbit for me thus making it a viable system.
    leica's non-pro service sucks big, i have commented at length about it and feel it is leica's REAL ACHILLE'S HEEL.

    I'm not going into the camera debate. Neither Mamiya nor Canon ever asked if I was a pro, although I may have signed up for Mamiya's pro program many years before I had any problems. But both turned around the cameras overnight on receipt (with Mamiya it was on receipt of my insurance company's commitment, which added a day), they don't ask, they assume that you need the camera. Interestingly enough, even Konica turned around my Hexar in three days.
    It's ridiculous that a $5000 camera doesn't have overnight service.
     
  144. >>> Not only was his review of limited applicability when he wrote it, it's now of a camera which, by virtue of updated
    firmware, to a large degree is of a camera which no longer exists.


    Are you suggesting he'd come to a totally different conclusion with "todays" M8?
     
  145. Brad, I'm quite surprised that you would go on at such length about a camera you have never used yourself. And that you
    would pick a fight with a fine craftsman like Douglas Herr. Doesn't make any sense at all.
     
  146. From Doug:

    "The review as written applies to a very limited set of circumstances, Kamber's. A good review tests the camera in a wider scope of conditions and it also specifies the test conditions."

    "His report fails on several important principles of the scientific method to discerning the truth. Specifically, he does not explain his test conditions accurately enough that anyone else can reproduce his results,"

    So Doug, can you point us to a test of the Leica M8 that meets both criteria, a wider scope and an accurate explanation of the test criteria?
     
  147. So Doug, can you point us to a test of the Leica M8 that meets both criteria, a wider scope and an accurate explanation of the test criteria?
    It's called get the camera yourself, use it and evaluate it over a period of time, then if you like it keep it, if you don't get rid of it and move on. Very simple.
    This discussion is like arguing that blondes are better than brunettes. Way way out there.
    I think we can safely conclude that neither Brad or Fang will ever in their life buy an M8 or any other Leica for that matter. Once we've uncovered that mystery it all gets very boring.
     
  148. >>> And that you would pick a fight with a fine craftsman like Douglas Herr. Doesn't make any sense at all.

    What fight? Are you suggesting things he says that don't make sense should go undiscussed? Ray, are you free to interpret Kamber's
    report as you see fit? Or do you feel compelled to automatically agree with Doug on everything due to his craftsmanship?

    My interpretation of what Kamber reported matches the conclusions of many others. Doug may have different M8 experiences in the field.
     
  149. A major problem is that Leica is no longer a professional camera - price was part of it but changes in technology
    was most of it.- and is now irrelevant. Please don't rattle off a list of pro Leica users as the Canon and
    Nikon list would put it to shame.

    From SLR to digital Leitz was behind the curve and their late entrees in both fields weren't as good as the
    competition for professional use (and the competition established a user base and grabbed market share,before
    Leica even tried to catchup).

    Without pros and wannabes Leica became a collectors camera and is now not even an object of desire for young
    photographers who really know nothing of this antique..Leitz is now trying to push more aggressively into digital
    but they are alas just a small company and electronics has not been their strong suit. Time will tell but time
    has not been kind to Leitz..
     
  150. I have looked at this site on occasion over the past few years. Have a couple of M4's that see use still. One bought new and one used, both working well.
    I have considered a newer one but never pulled the wallet out as the two I have work fine.
    Digital sounds nice but in seeing problems friends have with it I have held off. Then another friend wrote a piece about his personal experience with the M8.

    http://web.mac.com/kamberm/Leica_M8_Field_Test,_Iraq/Page_1.htm

    He is a long time Leica user and found the camera way below the standard he is used to. Glad I held off.

    If the folks in charge now cannot get it right on a $5000 body I am not buying in. Especially when what I have still works well. I will photograph, develop and scan if I ever get tired of darkroom work.
     
  151. From another list today, a multimedia producer who expects to buy a Canon 5D Mk II for his work:
    I totally agree that each has its place and function.
    The 5D is a very nice camera in its price point.
    I love the 24 - 70 2.8 and 70 - 200 2.8 IS on the rare occasion that
    I need auto and IS
    All I'm saying is:
    Put the same Leica glass
    on 5D and DMR
    and you will see a difference in the print
    the DMR will deliver more fine detail, dynamic range and shadow detail.
    I've done the side by side comparison.
    I've also done side by side tests
    using identical view camera lenses
    on 5D, DMR and M8
    same results
    the 5D cannot deliver the fine detail, dynamic range and shadow detail
    that the DMR and M8 deliver
    you can see it on the screen and in the prints
    I attribute it to the CCD versus Cmos
    but I don't have the tech knowledge to really know why they test out
    as they do
    in all tests the cameras are locked down on a rock solid tripod
    focused on same subject with same lighting same f stop
    I also agree that if they're going to press 90% of people will not
    notice a difference
    but I notice and I'm the first one they have to get past
    and I've trained my clients to notice so that they stick with me
     
  152. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    I love third party web references. The ultimate for making decisions.
     
  153. That's great, Doug. Now here's the million dollar question: Can this multimedia producer be persuaded to PUBLISH his test report, with HIS NAME ON IT, with his side by side results from ISO 100 to 1600? If he has conclusive proof that Canon is pulling the biggest con the photographic world has ever seen with their blockbuster 5D, I'll permanently remove myself from the Leica forum, squat over on the Canon forum and laugh at them instead. Deal?
     
  154. Fang, how about you post some of your pictures before you continue any further down the road with your theoretical ramblings? Got a link
    for us? If not, you sound
    about as credible as Erwin Puts.
     
  155. Francois, how do you propose I get a 6-degree angle of view lens on a medium-format camera, and then climb mountains with it? How much medium-format equipment are you willing to carry on your back for a backpacking trip, and how "essential" is high-ISO capability when you're using the camera on a tripod and especially when there is not just a slight but substantial difference in the raw files? Did you ever seen Galen Rowell hanging from a rope on the side of the mountain with a medium-format camera, or while he was running to catch the light at the top of a mountain? If one must define the uses for small-format cameras as narrowly as you have
    Mountaineering with a camera (along with a 6-degree angle of view lens, no less) is itself a very, very, VERY narrow and specialized pursuit. Most of the camera buying public (and even most professionals) aren't planning to rappel down the side of Mt. Everest in the singular pursuit of a fisheye photo. As for the few who are, I suspect most of them are still opting for weather-and dust-resistant digital SLRs, not Leica M8s or DMRs. The original question remains: Aside from satisfying one's own egotistical desire to own the most expensive gear money can buy, what compelling reason is there to buy a Leica nowadays? This is the question that is raised by the WSJ report.
    Leica reported in August that revenue for its fiscal first quarter ended June 30 fell by nearly half to €26.999 million from the year-earlier quarter, and reported a net loss of €3.85 million. It reiterated that it expects a loss approaching €10 million for the fiscal year ending March 2009, and break-even or slightly positive earnings in the following fiscal year IF sales of new products take off.
    (Bold emphasis mine.) That is a very, very big "if."
    Mr. Kaufmann estimates that annual sales have to climb by about two-thirds to at least €250 million to finance the R&D spending for Leica to survive
    This last statement above is really the most alarming. Does Kaufmann really think that a $10,000 Noctilux and an S2-which-won't-be-released-until-summer-2009 will increase Leica's annual sales by two thirds?
     
  156. Fang, how about you post some of your pictures before you continue any further down the road with your theoretical ramblings?
    I'm not entirely certain of the relevance my pictures have to the discussion at hand, which happens to be a Wall Street Journal article in which Leica's own CEO has admitted they need to nearly double their current sales to survive past 2009. If you want to call such discussion "theoretical ramblings" then be my guest.
     
  157. >>> Does Kaufmann really think that a $10,000 Noctilux and an S2-which-won't-be-released-until-summer-2009 will increase
    Leica's annual sales by two thirds?

    It depends... What kind of box does the Nocti come in?
     
  158. about as credible as Erwin Puts.
    Good one, btw. I lol'ed. :)
     
  159. Hello Douglas,

    You wrote :

    >> Francois, how do you propose I get a 6-degree angle of view lens on a medium-format camera, and then climb mountains with it? <<

    Douglas, I suppose you mean an ultra wide angle (so not a 6-degree FOV but a 6mm focal length...).

    Without reaching such an extreme (and there are some medium format fisheyes available though) I think I'll simply use a SW camera from Hasselblad : very compact, weighs very few (probably less than most contemporary DSLR with a lens of the same field of view). Did you ever tried one ?

    Now if you really mean a tele-lens covering 6-degrees only, let me insist on the fact it is a so heavy and cumbersome lens (if you want a sufficient maximum aperture) that the volume of body itself is simply dwarfed anyway (and you'd better have a somewhat heavy body to balance the weight by the way).

    On a more general point of view, the first pics taken of the Wild West in the 19th century were taken with a 50x60cm "Tourist" view camera using wet collodion glass plates and many landscape photographers even to these days are still using a 4x5 inch view camera and a tripod even on very rough terrains...

    I agree it is simpler to use a small format camera in such situations, but I'm prepared to admit a certain reduction in image quality as a necessary price to pay for this simplification.

    >> How much medium-format equipment are you willing to carry on your back for a backpacking trip, <<

    Currently my MF backpack is composed of a Mamiya 645 1000s with three film inserts and a metered prism with a 55mm, an 80mm, a 150mm, a 250mm and a 500mm, plus films, filters a bunch of accessoriesand a hand held meter should the need arise. When I had the Hassy gear, I had five lenses, two backs and a Polaroid back and a metered prism, a complete set of extension rings, a bunch of accessories to be used on a 553 ELX...

    To answer your question I am used to carry a lot :)

    But I won't carry such a cumbersome gear to cover action situations (but I used to carry no less than three SLR's in film days). And my prefered gear for a close to the subject press action work is obviously a small format rangefinder gear.

    >> and how "essential" is high-ISO capability when you're using the camera on a tripod and especially when there is not just a slight but substantial difference in the raw files? <<

    Part of the high ISO capability is just required by the simple fact I don't want to have to carry a tripod at all by being able to reach a sufficient speed to avoid using a tripod. Weight is not the only problem with a strudy tripod and modern carbon fiber ones can solve this aspect of things but carrying a tripod means to carry a very obtrusive accessory even if it is featherweight. The other side of the problem is you can now use ISO 3200-6400 and obtain a very printable detailed pic you would never have obtained in film era... To the point you can speak of "available darkness" handheld photography moreover with a wide aperture high quality prime... Imagine what the new f/0.95 Noctilux can capture full open at ISO 6400 !!

    >> Did you ever seen Galen Rowell hanging from a rope on the side of the mountain with a medium-format camera, or while he was running to catch the light at the top of a mountain? <<

    I admit no... but what is the end product he (and photographers like him) expects ? Most pictures end printed by offset process and I sincerly doubt even the best printing processes can do justice to the high level reached on a classical or even inkjet print and keep the difference between a Leica made file and a "Nikanon" made one in definition... On the other side, I'm almost sure the smoother tonal transitions characterisitic of Leica lens will still be visible.

    >> If one must define the uses for small-format cameras as narrowly as you have then Fang is right, we should just dump our 1Ds, D3 and DMR systems, get a digiReb and be happy, but uses for cameras of all sizes are limited only buy the imaginations of those who use them. Recall that Barnack's original concept for the camera was "small camera, big picture", something he could carry hiking and still get high-quality pictures. <<

    Try to have a look to early Barnack pics ... Both the flood at Wetzlar and I don't remember what post WW-1 international peace conference taken inside without flash. They are clearly inferior in definition and tonal variation to the ones which could have been obtained with a contemporary large format press gear... For the flood at Wetzlar, though less spontaneous the images would have been of much better quality. Inside the conference building and without a flash (i.e. a magnesium discharge) these pictures should not have been possible to take. Great photographies are not ever the best technically speaking, though I prefer to get both the right subject at the right moment and a high I.Q. ... I think your interpretation of the saying "small camera - great pictures" is largely biased... Great should not be primarily taken as an equivalent of large or extremely defined :) ...

    In many "philosophical" ways, the new world of "available darkness" handheld photography is an evolution which can be legitimately compared to the birth of small format photography. It allows the photographer to take pictures in a way which was deemed impossible before, moreover, it allows it with an IQ threshold which is an important progress versus what used to be the one of very high speed films. To take a picture at slow ISO settings and expect a high quality in defintion is nothing new at all (memories of K 25) and to expect from them not to equal but to approach the MF quality (though the tonal transitions are still less smooth) is nothing new.

    I simply regret Leica is still going farther and farther from Barnack spirit as far as the M's are concerned...

    Now let's see if the S2 will become a landmark combining effectively MF I.Q. quality and the reduced obtrusiveness of a small format camera... It is still a prototype and unfortunately for most of us the stated price level is beyond reach. If this camera keeps its promise, then it will be the perfect one for you :).

    FPW
     
  160. Jay :

    >> ... would assume you mean landscape and the like. But "fine art" photography can have many subjects. Gary Wingogrand, and Cartier-Bresson to name two Leica rangefinder users generally now called artists, not to mention the likes of Sebastiao Salgado. <<

    Jay, like you I consider these people as artists but they don't appear to me linked with what is usually called "fine art photography" and may I attract your attention to what i wrote in the original post :

    << ... "a craftsman photographer or an artist photographer" looking for the best possible imagery (on the technical side) >>

    Emphasize should be put on the words "technical side"...

    Neither Winogrand, Cartier-Bresson or Salgado were particularly trying to extract perfectly "clean" (technically speaking) images (though i'm sure they would have preferred to proceed so). What was their main interest (and still is for Salgado) is the subject itself and the way they show the subject.

    Cartier-Bresson was notorious for working at f/8 in hyperfocal (to speed-up the process of capturing the decisive moment in pre-AF time), he completely f...ed - up the exposure of its May 1968 assignement in Paris by grossly overexposing the pics which were saved - only because it was "Monsieur" Cartier-Bresson - by copying the negatives to obtain a printable film at the laboratory.The result is nonetheless an example of capturing decisive moments but is far from being a technical example of "perfect" photography and a demonstration of Leica lens potential of definition (look for the grain :) ) !

    Our friend Douglas is looking for the best technical quality (at the same time he produces excellent captures of the birds he likes so much). This is not the same kind of needs. Thanks to his good eyes (even with glasses) and dexterity he has proven us time and again he can capture his favourite subjects with manual long tele-lens which are indeed optically superior to the equivalent AF lens of Canon or Nikon. Here the man behind the camera is surely counting a lot in the final results. I would never try to proceed the same way, with a tele lens my poor eyes now need a good AF :) . He is looking for a gear which stays not too much obtrusive though still give him very high quality files almost comparable to a MF file. He chose a certain compromise which suits him. My opinion is this compromise won't suit a majority of photographers for diverse reasons (and this is one of the main reason so few professionals use A Leica R+DMR combo. As far as I know, Douglas doesn't use an M (which is totally unsuited for birding anyway). Some people may buy an M8 because they use it as a landscape camera and don't want to bother with a more obtrusive gear. But it is clear in so doing, they use the M camera a far different way this camera was originally designed for. Few of them are professionals and few professionals will admit the shortcomings of the present M8 for the kind of job they have to perform. I have nothing against the leisure time landscape photographer who choses an M8, though when you examine the problem in a cold objective way the lack of obtrusiveness - despite the file quality - is paid a high price in terms of optimal tool and quality when compared to a MF or large format camera. But I can't accept a "demonstration" of the M8 "quality" based on such an objectively distorted choice when almost every report from Press photographers testing the M8 are totally negative for their kind of job, despite the fact the very concept of a small format rangefinder camera is dedicated to Press and street photography. And I consider unfair from Leica to advertize the M8 mainly by using (explicitely or implicitely) the Leica legend which is based on Press photography. I would have preferred an affordable reliable full format M mount digital rangefinder with a modern card loading system, high performance at high ISO and with matrix and spot metering options even at the expense of "some" image quality. It would have been far more conform to the original "Leica spirit" and Leica legend and far more useful for those who really *need* such a modern digital rangefinder : the Press and street photographers.

    FPW
     
  161. For the record. I think Erwin Putz has far more credibility than Fangio.<p>Also I think the mistake that Kaufman made was hiring a ding bat like Mr Lee who was responsible for the IR filter blunder and the Sumarit lens blunder. Of course it is My K's prerogative to make blunders - he owns over 90% of the company. <p. Since removing Bing Lee - shortly after the fiasco of the new Leica site and the so called M8 upgrade to shutter and LCD screen - sicne cancelled - the company has made one major announcement - the S2. <p> This announcement has literally changed the competitive landscape in MF digital land. Hasselblad dropped its prices for their top of the line camera by 40%. Sinar and Leaf are in strategic joint venture mode ( read merger talks) and Leica has teamed up with Phase One for other developments.<p> I think that times are grim for all camera manufacturers. Grim times a good. They promote innovation and get rid of weak competitors. Consumers usually win. if the S2 makes it to market - and I have no reason to believe that it wont - it looks like not only existing MFD makers are worried - but so called high end CaNikon junk will have competition. <p>. Leica is to be congratulated for coming in late - with what looks like will be a very competitive product. it is a small company. It needs to make the S2 work. the R10 will be its down market realtively cheapo brother and then will follow a better M. But yes it could all go pear shaped - thats business.
     
  162. You Leica-philes crack me up.

    Peter A, You don't think that calling a D3 and IDS Mk III junk isn't a bit of an overstatement? At least they don't require an extra
    filter over the lenses to capture correct color. (I have handled and tried Leica but never owned one, and certainly wouldn't even
    put myself in the market for a camera that you need an extra filter on your lens just to make it work correctly.)

    The S2 looks like a very cool high-end camera. How is bringing it to market going to solve the problem of dramatically increasing
    Leica's sales so that they don't go under?

    The M8 is a great little camera, how are they going to increase sales to solve that same problem.

    Will an R10 do that?

    I hope Leica can pull through. the world needs more great cameras. But high end Canon and Nikon stuff junk? Puh-leeze...
     
  163. Peter - if you like M lenses - what camera would you buy to use the M lenses with? I cant use them on a Canon or a Nikon - so these cameras are junk to me. What I should sell my M lenses ?? - I get nothing I want or need from Canon or Nikon. I dont care about all the gizmos they call 'features' I dont use their 'features'. I shoot for light and if there isnt enough light, like in a STUDIO or in a shoot, I use strobes and if I am using strobes I would rather use my Leaf shutter lenses and my 39 megapixel MF backs . Again - studio shooting - gimme a break CaNikon is JUNK.I cant put em on a view camera they dont resolve high enough for decent large panoramas, I mean what do they do? except excite internet heroes? <p> So for snaps i use my lil M8 or my MP and a few lovely M lenses because I can caryy a whole 3 lens kit in a large pocket or a small over teh shoudler bag if I coudl bebothered.<p> As for filters I would rather use an IR filter than have Canon plastic colour ruin the look of what I am shooting. I dont need Canon to tell me what the world looks like. Ughhh their colour is JUNK. and I am OVER the over photoshopped look that passes for photography on these forums, thats why a lot of people dont care about the camera or the lenses they use - because literally cameras dont matter much - good luck to them - but it isnt how I want to have fun with photography.
     
  164. "Canon plastic colour"

    "Ughhh their colour is JUNK."

    Is this just a personal opinion or can you point to an objective test that shows a Leica M8 or DMR has better color accuracy than a Canon DSLR?

    We are seeing a lot of subjective tests, reviews, and opinions. Why can't we see more links to actual tests? We can test resolution, color accuracy, noise performance at various ISOs, and dynamic range.

    Why do we have to take anyone's word when can can see results via test charts and gallery samples?
     
  165. I would imagine that, given the current circumstances, it is unlikely Leica will remain an independent camera
    manufacturer for much longer. When they are bought out by a company with adequate financial resources and R+D,
    then they may become a viable option for more professioanls and serious amateurs. Economies of scale, poor
    management and expensive labor are why Leica cameras cost what they do. It has nothing to do with build quality,
    craftsmanship, or superior optics. Fully manual Nikons, Pentaxes, Canons etc. from decades past have proven just
    as reliable as fully manual Leicas. There isn't alot of rocket science to making these things. However, anything
    after the M6 makes one call into question using the terms "Leica" and "reliable" in the same breath.

    I think you could make the argument that the outstanding performance of Leica M lenses has as much or more to do
    with the inherent benefits of a rangefinder design (which allows for easier designing of sharper/better
    corrected lenses) than any trade secrets of Leica itself. Does anyone think that if Canon or Nikon entered the high-
    end RF world that Leica would still be making the best glass? In the MF world, the sharpest optics don't belong to
    the trupeted Zeiss/H-Blad combo, but rather the more pedestrian Mamiya 7 rangefinder, proof that the design of
    rangefinders itself can make any company look like a master craftsman of lenses. Furthermore, I've never been
    under the impression that Leica R lenses are any better than Canon "L" primes or high end Nikon optics.

    I'm not anti-Leica and I want the company to survive. I also understand you can't create a perfect formula to equate
    a camera system to a monetary value based upon a universally accepted definition of quality. Nevertheless, Leica
    products have truly departed from reality in their prices. I fully believe that some sort of significant collapse is
    inevitable. The Leica name will live on of course but under the umbrella of a more fully developed, financially-
    endowed, imaging company. When you can purchase a digital M body for the price of a Nikon D300 (be honest this
    is
    what the thing should really cost) then Leica will truly begin to make inroads and may once again become relevant to
    modern photography.
     
  166. Grim times, I personally don't believe it.......
    Leitz in 1987 bought a few companies we all know.
    The big merge: Leitz bought American Optical, B&L Reichart, Wild,Cambridge and a few other giants to become diverse monster. I can't imagine them falling off the planet before some others. Yes a hundred years old managed to bring them to the top of reaseach instrumentation market in the world of optics with confocal Microscopy, surgical microscopes, Loops and general microscopy as well as the medical giant in histology. The list is long with their sucsesses in the world. It's hard to believe that this huge holding company will let a small division go under.
    This comany is big now under the name of Leica. One of a few companies that made their own glass.
    The top of the line cameras is just the fun part of the company.
     
  167. From Dave:

    "It's hard to believe that this huge holding company will let a small division go under. This comany[sic] is big now under the name of Leica."


    From Leica:

    "Leica Microsystems GmbH, Leica Geosystems AG, and Leica Camera AG have been three completely independent companies, for more than nine years, without any remaining legal, operative or financial linkage.

    Leica Camera AG is today listed on the Frankfurt stock exchange, with ACM Projektentwicklung GmbH (Salzburg, Austria) holding more than 96% shares. Leica Geosystems AG is a Swiss company and part of the Swedish Hexagon Group, and Leica Microsystems GmbH is a German company owned by the US concern Danaher Corporation listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

    The use of the Leica brand is the only remaining connection between the three companies, on account of the long history and heritage of these now independent companies. Leica Microsystems is the owner of the Leica trade name and trademark and has granted licenses for their use by the other companies."
     
  168. Leica Camera is a small company (around 1000 employees) now almost completely owned by a rich guy who likes cameras. It'll last until he gets bored, or tired of losing money.
     
  169. Douglas Herr's wildlife photos are a national treasure.

    But the world's attention span is becoming ever shorter. It took Leica 50+ years to go from M3 to M8. Nikon top level SLRs came out about every 10 years. The Browning auto-5 shotgun was in continuous production from 1903 to 1998.

    Nowadays new and improved has a half life of about 6 months. How long before we hear "get a PhD from MIT this weekend".

    I admit to being an old curmudgeon, but I still like steel and glass.
     
  170. Some people may buy an M8 because they use it as a landscape camera and don't want to bother with a more obtrusive gear. But it is clear in so doing, they use the M camera a far different way this camera was originally designed for.
    Very true, especially if said landscape photographers are foolish enough to - *gasp* - attempt a vertical composition, resulting in a broken $5,000 camera bouncing down a cliff. Sorry Francois, I couldn't resist! :)
    For the record. I think Erwin Putz has far more credibility than Fangio.
    Just where does my credibility play into all of this? Are you saying that the D70 picture I posted was doctored? Are you suggesting that I impersonated Michael Kamber in order to write a disparaging M8 review? Or are you suggesting that I somehow planted that Wall Street Journal article? There is a name for this problem: it's called delusional disorder and yes, there is treatment.
    ... but so called high end CaNikon junk ... gimme a break CaNikon is JUNK ... Canon plastic colour ruin the look ... Ughhh their colour is JUNK ... the over photoshopped look...
    Ladies and gentlemen, I rest my case.
     
  171. I think we can safely conclude that neither Brad or Fang will ever in their life buy an M8 or any other Leica for that matter.
    I *am* a Leica customer, and have been for a long time. I've owned several M6's, an M2, two R6.2's, two R7's, an R8; and 35/2, 35/1.4, 50/2, 50/1.4 and 90/2.8 lenses, all in both M and R versions. My current Panasonic compact's lens says "Leica" on it. With the exception of the constantly breaking M6's, dead-out-of-the-box R6.2's and an erratic meter in one of the R7's, I've been relatively satisfied with Leica film products. The difference between me and a fanboy is a) I don't call top-of-the-line gear being used by 99% of the world's professionals "junk", and b) I'm willing to recognize when a company whose products I own has done something stupid, and call them on it. Leica in my opinion has had its head up its ass since the digital revolution started. This Wall Street Journal article tends to support that opinion.
     
  172. Canon / Nikon are not junk. I happen to love the color from the 5D. Pictures are not a duplicate of reality. You either
    prefer the rendering or you don't. There's nothing more to it than that.

    Fang, I know a few superb photographers who use the M8. They use them in spite of the camera's imperfections, because
    the basic M design is intact and they like the camera, just as many of us have since we first became familiar with it.
     
  173. >>> I think we can safely conclude that neither Brad or Fang will ever in their life buy an M8...
    True on the M8; bad ergonomics for what I do as I've pointed out before - I could say the same for a 1DSIII, D3, or 'blad as well.
    >>> or any other Leica for that matter. Once we've uncovered that mystery it all gets very boring.
    Not true on that. I have a leica disto - which I like a lot.
    I'm just not into liking or disliking camera companies or brands in general. Or feelings of loyalty towards brands that need to be publicly defended.
     
  174. Fangio - if you quote ONE persons opinion about the M8 - and dont understand the weaknesses in his own review, which merely underscore what a pathetic and stupid opinion it was - then you are just evidencing a less than strong argument. If you refuse to respond to the substantive issue of people's preferences and the lack of a universally applicable utility curve then you are merely evidencing naivety. If you quote a Wall St journal article which preceded Mr K's S2 announcement of a few days ago - you are out of date and your argument is irrelevant. <p> However all this and more is to be expected from a person who continually rants about negatives to do with poor lil old Leica.<p> Ray - when Canon make a body which I can use my M lenses on and is as simple and compact as my M8 or my MP I will take Canon seriously. Sorry but Canon cameras and lenses ad software is JUNK compared to the stuff I do use. I use the word JUNK - to upset Fangio the Canon fanboy - cos really I could care less about what other people use what they like or dont like - I dont care and I dont understand why anyone does care what other people use.<p> and I really dont understand why people would participate in a forum abotu Leica cameras - just to criticse them - that is just plain ...sick.
     

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