Is Leica in big trouble? New Screwmount Leica?

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by richard s., Feb 17, 2005.

  1. Late in the day with my response I know, hence the new post. But
    anyway ...

    1. Forget competing with Bessas. How about a newly released
    screwmount leica? Not along the Leica 0 series lines. A real full
    production updated IIIg or the like. It has some unique selling
    points: smaller than the M series, can use numerous existing lens
    from leica and new ones from Cosina, would be very cheap to develop
    (just a slight update from the IIIg), could be produced a little
    cheaper perhaps, make it an intro model to the Leica world. I can't
    believe that it would be that difficult to start producing some of
    Leica's bestselling lens in LTM mount as well, say the Summicron
    50/2, 35/2, Summilux 50/1.4, 35/1.4, and leave the rest of the lens
    market to Cosina until they can see whether the new ltm leica becomes
    a hit or not.

    2. From my understanding, sales of non-pro digital cameras have
    plateaued here in Japan. I think that once they reached 3 to 5
    megapixels that was enough for the average user. If leica were to
    introduce a digital M with a full sized sensor that would surely be
    sufficient for the vast majority of users. As for other whizz-bang
    new features that each generation of digital camera seems to have,
    since when did Leica users care? Just give me the ability to set the
    shutter speed, aperature, and depending on the individual a ttl
    meter. All that leica users need surely is an existing M7 with a full
    sized sensor. How does that necessitate a new model every 6 months? I
    apologise if my understanding of the digital needs of leica users is
    over simplistic!

    3. Apple has been on the ropes on several occasions and each time has
    managed to bounce back, mainly thanks to Jobs granted. There is
    absolutely no reason why a small niche player cannot survive in a
    shrinking market. Sooner or later the "dust will settle" and there
    will be a small but potentially profitable film market. If Leica can
    focus it should be able to survive.

    4. In answer to a pervious poster's question, I suspect that the used
    prices of leicas will initially go up if Leica fails. There will be a
    mad scramble to get enough gear to last a perceived life time. After
    that, who knows. Mr. Yasuda (studied at Solms) who overhauled my
    Leica II for me here in Tokyo told me that the camera, with proper
    usage and care and a cla once a decade or so, should outlast me. I'm
    in my 30s.

    Just my 2 cents.
  2. No way, The production processes back then can be repeated today, but at very high cost. Just look at the Swiss watch industry, for example, or any other hand finished, hand assembled, hand adjusted, and hand inspected precision item out there. Labor wage increases have outpaced inflation for decades, hence improved standard of living. More labor went into the IIIG and contemporary M3 than goes into an M7 today.
  3. Good point. But it need not be of the same quality as the original. My thought was along the lines of a rival to the Bessa but not in direct competition to it, i.e., it needs some unique selling point that the Bessa doesn't have, and that does not cannabalise sales of the M series. Just thinking of expanding the Leica universe.

    Surely they can update the manufacturing process. My real thought came from the CM etc. Maybe I am naive, but if they can produce a CM for that price why not a modern version, granted lower quality, of the IIIg? People who buy a CM might defect to digital or elsewhere. If they had a body with interchangable lens, by the time they invest in several lens, rather than defect they might upgrade to an M.

    Think of my idea as a gateway to the Leica world and ultimately the M series, something that the CM is not.
  4. In addition, settling for a LTM would rule out many nice M-mount lenses, and force one to go third party, vintage, or limited edition Leica LTM lenses. A step back, IMHO, as LTM lenses may be used on the M-mount cameras.
  5. There isn't any need at all for any other camera to be made, as you can take all the pictures you want with any given camera that exists already today.
    Think of it, in a perfect world, one mind > one tool.
    It would set the record straight.
  6. Minolta CLE or Leica CL reintroduction, max price $500. They would sell a ton of them. The screw mount is a dead end from a marketing point of view, you want people to upgrade to the Leica glass in M mount.
  7. I can't believe that it would be that difficult to start producing some of Leica's bestselling lens in LTM mount as well, say the Summicron 50/2, 35/2, Summilux 50/1.4, 35/1.4
    Within the last ten (five?) years, Leica has already produced a screwmount 50/2 and 50/1.4. I've seen them in new condition at MAP, heavily discounted but still (by my standards) horribly expensive.
    Apple has been on the ropes on several occasions and each time has managed to bounce back, mainly thanks to Jobs granted.
    As I hazily understand it, Apple has been, and is, sitting on a vast pile of money. (It's dwarfed by Microsoft's pile of money, of course.)
  8. OK, maybe I'm just letting my personal addiction to my screwmount get the better of me :)

    The CL reintroduced at a decent price point, say $500 would serve the purpose just as well. The point is that there needs to be a modern entry level Leica that gets people into Leica glass.

    A little different I know, but Mercedes-Benz did it with the 190 and then the A series. Apple is trying it with the mac mini. Leica needs to do the same.
  9. Apple is to iMac, as Leica is to ________. What could Leica make that'd sell like
  10. "What could Leica make that'd sell like hotcakes?"

    How about Leica R lenses in Nikon and Canon mount?
  11. Selling like hotcakes has never really been the motto of Leica AG. They are a niche
    company that specializes in high end optics. I don't know what a low end model would
    really do for them besides most likely offend the people who covet their M system and
    other high end models, etc. Not to reiterate the common references between Leica's and
    automobiles....but a low end 500.00 Leica rf would be like Ferrari selling a sports car for
    say 50k instead of the current 175k asking price of a 360 modena just to make money or
    increase sales...that's called "selling out."
  12. My point exactly. Mercedes-Benz and Apple both seem to have managed to sell out effectively. What about Armani? People still buy $3000 suits from Armani despite the introduction of A/X and Emporio Armani or whatever right.

    Why not the same with Leica. After all it is the glass that matters most. No one is suggesting cheaper glass!
  13. I still believe the best way to recover from their economic downturn would be an overhaul
    of the interior/ financial ends of the business. Focussing more on who their true
    customers are... not developing cheap camera's as a sales ploy. One thing that attracts me
    towards Leica is their "gimmick free" approach. An Mp/m7 etc. is what it is and nothing
    more. It seems to me the key really is becoming more savvy in how they run their company
    and attracting new markets. Just my opinion... and hey what do I know, Im thousands of
    miles away from Germany where all these decisions are really made lol?
  14. The armani analogy is a good one. Although, I think part of their plan in A X is to attract
    people my age (late teens/ early twenties). I don't necessarily think that Leica has the
    potential to attract mass market film camera's especially from the age brcket that armani
    exchange does. Most people my age are using P + S digitals... i don't think many would
    switch to a RF for the same price! I mean do you really think there is a mass market
    potential for RF camera's in the first place? (Even though it didn't sound like it, that was a
    serious, non sarcastic question)
  15. I think that if Leica could make a $400-$500 Lomo-like camera (but better of course) that
    had a cool retro look and was very portable it would indeed sell.

    It wouldn't be on the sales level of the iPod, but would be a great 'hipster' item.

  16. Well, there must be quite a few people like me who returned to photography via digital. I became disillusioned with the print results and moved back to film. Recently I had a hardcore digital friend around to my apartment for supper. He was impressed by the photos hanging on the walls. The next time we met he had his old slr with him. Last week we met again and he had just come back from the photo lab, two rolls of 36 developed. I suspect that he might be defecting back to film. Like me, early 30s, reasonable salary, would probably give a rangerfinder a go. Likes the SLR, but I think that he'll soon get sick of the size of it compared to digital. Rangefinders are more compact making the transition back to film easier. That said, I guess that not many people in that situation would pony up a couple thousand $ for a new M series. A $500 for a CL like machine (smaller than an M) and $400 for a lens (Elmar etc) is a different story though. Similar price to a high end p&s digital ...

    Do you see what I'm getting at? I think that there is a potential gap in the market. Bessa doesn't quite fill it. Its there for Leica.
  17. There are some good points raised here, and there is room for both products. In a previous post, it was suggested that Leica compete with Bessas with an inexpensive meterless leica - effectively an M4-2"N". But they needn't sacrifice the meter. A reintroduced Leica CL with an M mount and ttl meter would clobber the Bessas in the market. I think Steve Gandy described the R and R2 as upgraded Leica CLs. A reintroduced CL under the Leica brand and with QC superior to Bessas would kill them in the market.

    Further, there's no reason Leica can't produce the same machine in screw mount for smaller production runs to sastify that niche demand. But their manufacturing methods may need a bit of a make-over for this lower-end market. If they can't fill backlogs on 50mm Lux Asphericals, it sounds to me like they don't have buckets of capacity in their high end production. But you don't want elves to hand-craft this new CL. You want a modern assembly line. This is where you have to tread carefully ... Zeiss Ikon being made by Cosina? Leica made by ... ? I don't know. Maybe a special, in-house automated line in Portugal.

    Finally, I totally agree that all the Leica user needs in a digital M is a full sensor M7. That's it. Already, a lot of guys just shoot film and scan to disk. All the digital M would do is take out that intermediate step and save film. For black and white, keep the the film bodies. The digital M won't have to keep pace with the all the consumer doohickeys that drive the mass market. It's not there to compete with cameraphones for goodness sake. And as a really final thought, who says the digital M should be a full sensored M7? Maybe it should be a full sensored CL.
  18. Make 'em in China and then cut 20% from the price, while increasing margin % AND $/

    How bout that?
  19. Assuming Leica is in the kind of trouble we're speculating, and assuming they agree the
    solution is to build the people a New Product dripping with coolness and marketability
    (and also, one hopes, genuine photographic cachet)...

    ...My vote would be for something like a Hexar AF, only a tiny bit more compact (CLE) and
    with switchable AF/manual focus, and switchable AE/Manual exposure with an simple
    compensation dial.

    Two versions, featuring fixed Summicron lenses, one 35mm and one 75mm. Make it $800
    and I'd buy two. Decent bright viewfinder doesn't need to be complex, but should be nice
    to look through. Camera should feel like a Leica (the current Digilux thing is not a good
    example of this)

    Of course, a digital M with a sensor as good as what's in a Canon 1DMkII or (OMG) the 1DS
    MkII full-frame, that takes all or most of the M lenses, well, that'd be just too cool for
    words. Yes please.
  20. Another observation ... speaking with some dealers, they can't give away mint Bessa R's in screw mount sitting on their shelves. The discontinued R2 is another matter entirely. Hence, I wonder how much demand there really would be for that limited production screw mount Leica.
  21. No, fixed lens would defeat the purpose. Just as a cigarette is a nicotine delivery system, so too does a entry level Leica need to be a Leica glass delivery system.

    [Just don't tell people that the Cosina stuff is better value for money!]

    Screwmount, well, I know that they released screwmount Summicrons and Summilux back in 1999. Too expensive, I guess because limited edition and the collectors probably pushed the prices up. If they had a steady production of them the prices would be more reasonable.

    Still, I except that screwmount is my personal fetish. Threadmount would of course be a more realistic option for Leica at this point.
  22. Sorry, meant to say that M mount would be more a realistic option for Leica at this point.
  23. And a new set of lenses to complement the new bodies.
  24. There is no point in making a new screwmount body, it would not sell. I rather have a scarred 50 year old body than a 50 year old lens that is fogged up and/or scratched.

    I think Leica should concentrate on making lenses. Reintroduce old lens designs in LTM and/or M mount. Get a line of light F2.8 or F3.5 lenses. F1.4 are great for low light, but I fail to see the big point in F2 lenses (unless you stick a light stealing filter on it), F2.8 works just fine for me. Bring back the Summicron IV and call it Summicron classic. Introduce the 0-series lens as a separate lens. Start making lenses for the Mamiya 7 or some other MF rangefinder, and why not large format lenses.
  25. I see no possibility of such a camera.Leica has small production run and simply could not have a sudden upturn in sales! They have no production facilities.It is a high end extreme precision company.
    I beleive "they" are having many components built and or assembled elsewhere.The Japanese companies have always worked this way..They Just kept quite.I know a whole series of 300mm Pentax Takumar lenses were assembled by another (small) company.The lenses were defective due to a missing spacer or shim in the lens components.I was part of a service company for Japan's 2nd largest watch company in another country.So don't be offended that your Leica isn't all "made in Solms".The idea though is most tempting.A screw mount camera body is way smaller.Scanners are available.Leica would be insane to try rival Epson or Canon or whatever!I have just purchased a small digital camera for certain "internet" needs.I chose Pentax over the Panasonic
    though it had a Leica design lens.Pentax has more experience with zooms.Anyway camera for very limited applications.
  26. We, in our loosely knit community of Leicaphiles, seem to have an unlimited amount of ideas to save Leica. Make this, Adapt to that,recreate another. The problem is that they can't, or won't, produce items already in demand. It must be that they can't make the new Summilux at the price already quoted.
    If only we had a "mole" inside the factory to find out how mant hundreds, perhaps thousands, of these lenses are on back-order.
    Now in their "ultimate wisdom, they are, by all accounts, going to announce a Summicron 75. Maybe Cosina will build it for them. It's obvious, they can't build it themselves.
  27. The CL idea as an entry level Leica is a good one as long as it didnt send the company to the wall like the last one was rumoured to have done. I dont think you need a screw mount version, just leave an M mount adapter on any M mount camera and its now a screw mount!
  28. Instead of a screwmount leica, they should produce 4/3-system versions of R lenses, and use that as a cash-cow to support the more traditional Leica development. Let some other company concentrate on digital cameras and let Leica continue to make great film cameras.
  29. Make all lenses screw mount and sell cheap M mount adapters. One production line, one set of tooling. But this ain't salvation. The German banking system coupled with the socialist thinking even of their more conservative elements combined with antiquated management structures keep imaginative marketing at minimum efficiency and sometimes even less. Germans have a work ethic that compares to the Japanese, but it is not benefited by the management-banking complexities. It's a problem in economics, not design, production, or marketing isolated from the banking-management structure.
  30. I know what they need to make! lol
  31. jtk


    Leica brand will resurface as a limited partnership controlled by managers from Pansonic or Sony (makers of the new M1 and tied for best of the 8mp prosumer digicams) on it.
  32. Take a look at a Leica screwmount camera or a Contax IIa, for instance. Every knob, dial, metallic component is exquisitely machined. Take a look at a digital SLR or even a film DSR. Every piece except the lens mount is molded, stamped, extruded, not machined. A new Leica screwmount would have to go to the robotic process to produce a reasonably priced body. I sure it would work just as well, but would it be a Leica?

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