Next step of Leica? - Part 2: Full frame M...why not?

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by chris_chung, Sep 6, 2008.

  1. Guess we all know the technical light ray angle problem. Leicaphiles including me definitely hope that this will be
    resolved with technological breakthrough someday. Unfortunately there is only Leica who is keen and urged by
    existing customers to look into addressing this technological issue, with its existing very limited expertise on it…

    So again it’s about money and timing – not technological! And the market already accepted M8 to a certain extent,
    so we could definitely consider a multiple-step approach. Management of Leica should be alert on how they should
    position the M and R lines of products – they must have to make a decision on which one is the focus for

    M is definitely Leica’s core competence, in terms of technological, as well as heritage and market acceptance, but
    M has its current limitations which render the gap to challenge current DSLRs wider and wider. It seems to be more
    like a cash cow than a star. However, there are more competitors than in the past which may signal its future
    market potential.

    R is the love and hate. Seems like to be the future but current business is not so well. It still requires lot of money
    to invest up to the competition while not promising to edge over the competitors. There is general market opinion
    that R-lenses are not comparable to M-lenses in terms of quality. While R offers only incremental functions to M,
    R’s value of market existence is collapsing. Are there more and more competitors enter ‘manual’ DSLR market?
    Answer is definitely no.

    So painful a decision, but it’s Leica’s management job to make and more forwards: M should be the focus, while R’s
    position has to be redefined.

    So how should M be resurrected? M8 to certain extent is a success. Imagine if we could lower the price to
    US1,500 – US2,000, what could happen? Don’t forget before the digitalization of SLR, Rangefinder users are in the
    increasing trend (partially helped by Contax G, Cosina, Votlangder, and new Zeiss Ikon) while Leica’s digital M is
    now the market leader of digital rangefinder sector.

    One may say lowering M8 price may not help as M-lenses are so expensive…but don’t forget other budget brands
    available in the market – Zeiss and Votlangder.

    So what should be the M-strategy. Let’s set it based on long, medium and short terms:

    Long term – has to develop full frame sensor free of light ray angle issue. Also penetration to lower budget M-lenses
    segment should be considered.

    Medium term – modify market-available full frame sensor based on M8 way, and plug it in to produce the first ff leica
    M. Part of the existing lens line may not be compatible, but they could still be supported by M8. M8 should
    therefore still be in production, but with leveraging the production and overhead costs with this new M (called it M9),
    and outsourced to Panasonic, lower its pricing to USD1,500 – USD2,000. There are still a lot of existing lenses
    which have high possibility of compatibility with M9:
    · New ones: 35f2.5, 50f2.5, 75f2.5, 90f2.5
    · Existing ones: 50f2, 90f2AA, 90f4Macro, 75f2AA, 135f3.4A
    · Expired ones: 50f2.8, 90f2.8, 75f1.4, 135f4, 135f2.8
    · Antique: 50f2, 35f2.8, 90f4, 28f5.6??, etc…etc
    So there are still a lot of lenses could be used with M9. New lenses could be developed:
    · 50f1.4 (enhance based on current M-50f1.4A, make it a 55f1.6AA)
    · 35f2, 28f2.8, 24f2.8, 19f2.8, 15f2.8 (try to see if R can be based on for design) – by the way, the current
    M21, 24, 28f2.8 have already been challenged by Zeiss, so the potential conflicts with current offerings of these focal
    lengths are ‘nothing to lose’.

    The strategy should not just focus on ff, but also to modernize the M-concept, to provide a new user experience and
    therefore demand. Management of Leica must be bold enough to take M to next level with the ambition to challenge
    the current DSLRs again.

    Short term – definitely penetrate M8 into the market as much as possible. Fix all bugs and IR issue and outsourcing
    to Panasonic to lower the pricing is a must. Study if 6-bit coding can be offered to other brands’ additional focal
    lengths (12mm, 15mm, 18mm, 43mm, …etc).

  2. Who makes a 43mm for the Leica? Or an 18mm? I know there are CV 15mm and 12mm lenses, but haven't seen the other two.
  3. Any digital RF with an M mount at a $1,500 price point from Leica would kill the M8. Dead. Put an M mount on anything
    digital and inexpensive and it will instantly suck the wind our of the M8 or M9 sales. Making a future M9 to a price point
    would also kill the brand. Leica understands its market. Now, whether that market can keep Leica alive is another question.
    But, they certainly know their market.
  4. There was a grim story in the week's Amateur Photographer which I'm surprised hasn't been mentioned here. Global
    Global Leica sales for the quarter ending in June 2008 were 38% lower compared with the same quarter last year, and
    the group recorded a net loss (for the quarter, I presume) of €3.85m. The loss was partly caused by a 35% rise in R&D
    spending. A UK-specific additional comment said that M8 sales were holding up, thanks to the £400 trade-in promotion.
    (However, we don't know how strong M8 sales were in the UK previously.)

    Lots of caveats, of course: this is only one quarter, we don't know if the 2007 quarter was especially good (but they
    aren't saying it was), spending on all luxury items must be greatly down this year compared with last, etc, etc.
    Nonetheless this suggests that Leica must be under financial pressure again.
  5. I'm very surprised that the Cosina folks haven't made a poor man's M8, ala the Bessa R series?
  6. The CEO of Cosina (Mr. Kobayashi) does not care much for digital cameras so it is doubtful that they will make a digital rangefinder. The Epson RD-1 was a Cosina body that Epson modified with digital sensor etc.
  7. Cosina probably realizes that the market segment is too small to earn a reasonable ROI.
  8. Here I just use "the poor mans M8"; its the RD-1 with -S upgrade! :)
  9. Dear all,

    Leica surely knows about their existing clientele. And surely the existing digital rangefinder market is so small that cast doubt whether it can support Leica to survive. That's why I mean the strategy shuld be to explore new demands and customers.

    Pentax has issued a screw mount 43mm f1.9 lens for Leica L39. Zeiss Ikon has issued an M-mount 18mm f4 or 4.5 (I forgot the exact aperture).

  10. I almost started a thread on part of this topic the other day. If there had been ANY digital M camera available for under $1000 (at the time, I was specifically thinking of the Leica CL) I would still own and be using Leica gear. Basically, multiple thousands of dollars is simply too much to spend for a battleship-built product with a technological lifespan of about five years. When a Leica could be counted on to last multiple decades, it was a fine idea, but that concept is no longer appropriate.

    I think Leica should concentrate on lenses, and build a polycarbonate copy of an M-camera--same design and handling characteristics, and keep it cheap so that when it becomes inevitably out-dated in a couple of years it can be replaced. I would have bought two of them in January, but instead, I sold all of my Leica stuff and completely switched to Nikon, because I couldn't see Leica ever doing such a thing.

    That's what's necessary if Leica intends to stay in business.
  11. The Leica digital body is priced commensurate with its lenses. The Alpa MF camera uses German-made lenses that mirror
    its high price. One can say the same for Hasselblad (price out their lenses and digital bodies and sensors).

    Small market + small scale precision engineering and production + small producer = high priced systems with less frequent
    product change. I visited the former Leica plant in Ontario while on vacation. It is not huge, but the successor company makes a living
    with very high tech optics and systems for military and industrial use. In that specialized market they succeed, but they would never
    consider making P&S cameras or other consumer cameras.

    What ifs are fine, but Leica is in a niche photography segment of the market and has little mobility. It simply cannot produce cameras like
    Toyota or Hyundai produces cars.
  12. RobF- Zeiss makes a 18/4 ZM Distagon and IIRC Pentax or Ricoh made a 43mm/1.9 LTM lens for the Japanese market
  13. Hi Michael,

    Thanks for your ideas. Well don't know Nikon offers full frame body of lower than $1,000!?

    Leica's entry point of 10mp sensor class is quite a wise one. As 4/3 system currently still only offers up to 10mp. The key point is the pricing. Actually Nikon's D3, D70 full frame offers only 20% more in pixel count. In practice, 10mp is actually quite sufficient for producing poster-size prints.

    The problem again is first pricing and second the entire package. As technology advances, the current offering should depreciate in terms of pricing. Don't see Nikon nor Canon's offerings can be different in terms of this, so why Leica has a problem? Major reason is only that Leica's existing customers are collectors and Leica never thought of new customers out of this group.

    So if leica does not take courage to walk out of this, the only value of the entire package is the optics of M lenses and the investment value (not the total customer value), and together with other competitors closing the gap of optical design competence, the ultra thin edge of this single value is not capable of attracting new customers.

    So in contrary, the problem is the total package, not the lenses, and that's where Leica should focus on to turn around the M.

  14. Dear all,

    Thanks but there are too many focuses on current 'limitations' here (e.g. factory size, etc). The key point I think is that Leica has to decide on the direction first and then sort out the limitations. I thought Leica had once done it, otherwise M3 would not exist. The current Leica management lacks that kind of courage.

    Say if AF is the way to go for M. Then should go is totally technically possible...we all saw Contax G which the optical quality is at par or even superior in some focal lengths than Leica!

  15. Contax no longer makes cameras. A point I'm sure isn't lost on Leica. :)
  16. Chris, I think Leica's decision to make the M8 was very much more risky than the M3.

    Despite the M3s new body shape compared to the prior IIIg, it mainly added a fast wind lever, a unified viewfinder rangefinder window (plus
    one more frameline) and bayonet lens mount. The latter was really overdue, as Contax had used one for years by then. The competition
    was mainly from Contax, Nikon and Canon, possibly also the SLR of Exakta. There was very little else on the market of comparable
    quality, so the M3 was not that risky and they had a lot of the market of system cameras.

    The constraints of the M8 (for example, having to accomodate short back focus Leica M lenses) meant that the M8 would have more
    limitations than a full frame Canon or (recent) Nikon DSLR. With the switch to SLRs beginning in the 60s, the RF was to become a small

    Personally, apart from the high prices (due in large part to limited scale and high quality production) I don't think what
    they've done is bad. Otherwise I could not consider using my film Leica lenses with an existing digital body.
  17. Chris, I didn't say full frame. I would have tolerated a smaller frame, as on the D300 that I did buy. And Nikon has digital bodies for under $500, so certainly Leica could make something for less than $4000, I'd think.

    And I think my point was missed, and that is that the day when bodies and lenses travel in tandem and are thrown out together should be over, if that was ever the case. Almost all of the Nikon lenses from the beginning will work on my D300, and that's one reason I bought it, just the same as why I stuck with Leica for so long. The reality, though, is that a digital body is not the same as a film body in terms of expected life span, and I don't support Leica making throwaway bodies with keep-forever technology, at a keep-forever price. This is definitely an area where they are out of step with reality.
  18. Jim, I guess you are aware that Kyocera (Yashica-Contax) gave up film RF and SLR cameras a few years ago. Cosina of
    course makes Zeiss lenses and the Zeiss-Ikon RF camera as well as their Voigtlander line of cameras and lenses and
    seems likely to continue to do so. Had Konica-Minolta not been disbanded and adopted by Sony, we might have continued
    to have the excellent Konica RF camera and lenses. It may be too much to hope for another digital system camera like the
    M8 from Cosina or their associated Zeiss-Ikon partnership.

    Full frame Leica M8. I may be wrong, but I think not, unless they can solve the short back focus dilemna.
  19. I have said this one other time, here, and I'll say it again. Olympus is doing to digital photography what Leica did to film photography about 80 years ago. Olympus is producing high quality optics which can be mounted to relatively smaller cameras which use a smaller imaging format.

    Olympus was not a player in film-based AF camera making. They were able to start a new system from the ground up, without regard to "legacy glass", although they made provisions for mounting MF OM series lenses to their new 4/3 DSLRs. Is the 4/3 sensor good enough to compete with the big guys full frame sensors on very large prints? No. Is it good enough to produce gallery quality images able to be enlarged up to 12 X 16 inches? I think so, and I've done so.

    The original Leica rangefinders came out as a smaller alternative to what would come to be known as medium format cameras. Was the degree of quality enlargement of images to the same print size on par with those larger film format bodies back then? Probably not, but it was easily good enough as Leica went on to establish 35mm as the defacto film format for the duration of the 20th century. The same goes for Olympus, and I think they need not compete with Canon and Nikon so long as they provide smaller DSLRs with image quality that continues to improve at the same rate as those of the bigger players in the market. If a company can produce a new sensor that is less noisy than one of the same size from a previous generation, than that can be done for any size sensor, all other things being equal.

    Where Leica ran into trouble vis-a-vis market share is that it established itself as the photographic equivalent of Wexford china in a market that came to favor the convenience of paper plates. In short, Leica is dying to the sword by which it lived so honorably and for so long. Times and technologies change. Manufacturers (whether in cars or cameras or dinner plates) are faced with the choice either to change or to fade away, like the days of the 20-plus year camera body life expectancy.

    Michael J Hoffman
  20. Appreciated for the sharing of M3 background. Even so, I think M8 is not comparable to M3 in terms of the courage and innovation. Although the creation of M8 required more investment than that of M3, M8 is really a mere migration of the medium. In terms of concept, M8 is actually too small a step compared with M3.

    Also we look back at history, the changes in M3 are very small in the context of current environment, but they were significant in the context of those days. I agreed Leica is bound by its history...but which big brand nowadays did not go through a similar stage?

  21. I have a solution I think is sensible.

    FF sensors cost more than 1.33x crop sensors but let your wide angle lenses perform normally.

    But as you said, this acute angle issue has imposed compromises between what we want and what can be acheived by a non electronics company that Leica is.

    Here goes my solution.

    FF is based on 3:2 aspect ratio, 36mm x 24mm legacy 35mm film frame. This frame becomes cropped to accomediate the 8x10 and 16x 20 inch prints most often the largest prints folks get made up.

    Since some of the 3:2 frame is cropped to 5:4 aspect ratio eventually why not start with native 5:4 sensor.

    What is gained? A sensor with different dimensions that has uses more of the lens circle then the Leica M8.
    A 30mm x 24mm frame sensor is a 1.2x crop comparred to a 35mm frame.

    This has minimal effect on wide angle lenses a 21mm becomes 25mm lens, a 28mm is just shy of a 35mm lens.

    The most important point is you lose nothing to having a FF if you use standard size prints because they are cropped anyway. But the 5:4 frame crops the soft edges, that vignetting area and low resolution edges that trouble lens performance.

    Less is more here and subtracting 6 mm reduces the affects of the acute light angle.
  22. Let's listen up to that famous song,"Don't worry, be happy".

    The M8, without an anti-alliasing filter, gives as good or better results than the full frame Canon 5D, with its 12 MP
    sensor. The only way to improve a Canon 5D digital is to somehow attach Leica lenses (or Zeiss Ikon lenses) to it.

    As for wide angle usage, what percentage of your time is spent shooting with a 21mm lens (re 35mm frame size)? A Leica 16-18-
    21mm trifocal, or a Zeiss 15mm, will get you that in any case, for a price. With but very little sacrifice quality, a 12mm
    VC aspheical will get you down to an effective 16mm on the M8, and they also make a 15mm lens (20mm equivalent).

    What is all this Leica moaning about? If you can justify the price (and anyone using several expensive Leica optics probably can), go for
    it. Or you can waste creative time and choose to sit down and wait for the next miracle, but there is no timetable for that.

    And IF and when an FF sensored Leica body arrives, you may well have to invest in a new lens line (no mean
    expenditure). Even if it has double the pixels, it won't be as good as an MF digital and 45 MP back at perhaps 6-8 times
    the price of the Leica.

    It's all relative and no amount of technological superiority is going to guarantee you a masterpiece of an image. Some
    have done that with bare bones equipment, even Holgas, old TLRs or well-used Speed Graphics.
  23. I have an idea too: to have a full frame sensor. When non-wide angle lenses are used, it is full frame. When wide angle lenses are used, it becomes 1.33 cropped.

  24. Several points:

    1. As an M user who has occasionally used R lenses - it is inaccurate to say the R lenses not as good as the Ms, for the most part
    (maybe a few old holdovers like the 24 and 35 designs). The 90 AA IS an M lens, in a different mount.

    BUT - the M line, especially in digital, has no competitor. Whereas the R is, for most buyers, just another SLR, and does suffer in
    that market.

    You may well be right that the R is a drag on the company - we'll know Leica's thinking on that question after their Sept. 15 pre-
    photokina (PK) press conference.

    2. Something that a lot of people just don't get, in this era of globalization, is that part of Dr. Kauffman's business goal is to
    maintain a EUROPEAN camera company. Keeping expert people employed IN Solms and Wetzlar (and ancilliary places like
    Portugal and Salzburg and wherever Jenoptik is located) making cameras. Preferably without losing money.

    This is not soley a wish to keep the "Made in Germany" branding, nor is it to imply that India or China or Jakarta workers are not
    up to the job (at least with training in the specifics of the products). But unless someone in Solms is earning a wage, who's going
    to keep the Solms grocers in business? etc. etc.

    I don't want to get too bogged down in socio-economic politics on a camera forum - just making the point that the bottom line is not
    the ONLY goal for a company, especially one that is essentially now privately held. And therefore outsourcing more to Panasonic,
    especially in the M line, doesn't seem to contribute to Dr. Kaufmann's business goal.

    3. On the FF issue. Leica is aware of the desire. Purely from the point of view of sensor design, it ain't gonna happen anytime
    soon (and ex-CEO Steve Lee found that out when he jumped the gun on "announcing" a FF sensor and got canned - there were
    other issues but that was the proximate cause of his departure).

    Again, PK will give us some guidance as to Leica's intent. They are going to have new lenses. If those are primarily new
    ultrawides (16, 18mm) then they are going to stick with the 1.33 crop for quite a while to come. If they are redesigns of the current
    excellent wides (21,24,28) to be more digitally friendly, then they are following your idea of trying to meet sensor technology half-
    way by changing their optics at the wide end.

    Based on the apparent accidental web-leak of a distibutors' document last week detailing an "M8.2" that retains the 1.3 crop, I'd
    put my money on more superwides and a longer outlook for full frame. But we shall see in 10 days or so...

    (I didn't notice any mention of the M8.2 "leak" on this forum, but wasn't especially looking. IF it hasn't been mentioned here before,
    I'll start a thread on that separately.)
  25. Harvey wrote: "Since some of the 3:2 frame is cropped to 5:4 aspect ratio eventually, why not start with native
    5:4 sensor? A 30mm x 24mm frame sensor is a 1.2x crop comparred to a 35mm frame. This has minimal effect on wide
    angle lenses a 21mm becomes 25mm lens, a 28mm is just shy of a 35mm lens."

    I'm not sure that for most Leica photographers a 1.2 crop is a lot better than a 1.33 crop, especially if it
    comes at the expense of the 2:3 proportion.

    When I get a digital camera that shoots 4:5 or similar proportions, the first thing I do is change the settings
    so that it's back at 2:3 (even though that means "wasting" part of the sensor). Switching back to 2:3 ratio on a
    1.2x 4:5 sensor camera would take me pretty much back to a 1.33 crop.
  26. True. Since the market is so small, M8 definitely requires a longer payback, so even FF already available, it may not be pushed out to market so soon. But it is a vicious cycle. That's why I still suggests that the evil chain has to be cut by attracting new customers and grow the customers. By successfully implementing this strategy, well some stubborn Leica fans may be lost, but more new customers will join.

    FF or not is an important decision, but only part of the strategy ahead. Bringing new experience should be the majority part of the strategy.

  27. Ralph you have what you want now and so I was addressing those who want better wide angle performance, cheaper than FF sensor cameras and a scheme to lessen the edge of frame effect of the steep acute RF lens angle of light striking the sensor.

    A few mm in lens focal length change has a much greater effect on a wide angle lense than short tele lenses.

    1.33x crop factor makes a 28mm lens a 37mm lens ; and a 21mm lens into a 28mm lens.

    1.2x crop factor makes a 28mm lens 33mm lens : and a 21mm lens into a 25mm lens.

    The difference between making a 28mm lens into a 33mm vs. a 37mm lens is real and same with a 25 vs.28mm lens and its easy to see the in the results.

    Thats why I see the link between losing nothing to cropping in the final print by selecting a 5:4 format with the associated lower crop the format imposes on the lenses effective focal lenght is in the photographers interest.

    Ralph I would just like to know what size prints you use that maintain your 3:2 ratio. 35mm became the frame of choice because of its accessibility to film stock at that time not for its golden frame look. People over decades have chosen 8x10 and 16x20 because they like the look better then Ralph.

    I am glad we have 3:2 for Ralph but a 5:4 choice like Nikon gave the D3 seems to makes sense for RF cameras.
  28. Hi,

    Just seconding Andy Piper's opion on Leica being a European company. In Italy there is a factory making outboard motors for boats. The Silva
    brand is tremendously proud they are the last an only European company doing so. Their main market is the Mediterranean. Here in Northern
    Europe they have few dealers and that makes sales difficult. Canon and Nikon can be bought around every corner. When disregarding internet
    buying, for buying Leica you need to travel when you live in a place smaller than let's say 50.000 inhabitants.
  29. To fix the full-frame issue with the M mount, Leica needs a sensor that doesn't need micro-lenses.

    So why are there micro-lenses? Because the current sensors are unusably slow without them. There would be no digital cameras with useful ISO 1600 without the micro-lenses.

    So what is needed, and I'm sure is wanted by all the sensor designers, is an order of magnitude increase in the fundamental sensitivity of sensors. This might be an incremental change in the CMOS or CCD base design, or might be a dramatically different technology.

    This possible future generation of sensors could provide incredibly high sensitivity with micro-lenses, or much improved image quality without micro-lenses. (The micro-lenses cause a host of problems, such as fringing.)

    Unfortunately, this isn't something where Moore's Law helps -- smaller features aren't going to make more sensitive sensors. Instead, new electro-chemistry is needed.
  30. Thanks John for the technical advice. The total solution is to have a sensor without microlenses....another way could be FF with wide angles redesigned for the time being before that new sensor becomes real.

    We have a lot of discussions about the sensor...but my point is that we need much more on other areas in order to revive the M...or maybe M should evolve into something else...

  31. "we need much more on other areas in order to revive the M..."

    Strongly rumored (even pictures purportedly from the French photo magazine "Chasseur D'Images") are a 21 f/1.4 Summilux ASPH and a 24 f/1.4 Summilux ASPH.

    Rather large, and with fairly long back focus, from the pictures. Tend to support the idea that Leica is backing the 1.3x crop but ALSO moving towards glass that would be more full-frame friendly.

    Pocketbook-friendly, however, they're not....
  32. One point that is being forgotten is that the current distance between the lens flange and the M8 sensor, due to the short
    back focus of Leica M lenses, cannot be changed without scrapping existing Leica M lenses.

    The micro lenses, as far as I can tell, redirect these short and oblique rays from the lens so that they arrive perpendicular to the
    sensor (as it requires). A FF sensor would increase the angle of incidence of these rays to a point which even the micro lenses may not
    be able to adjust. For this reason I don't see a FF sensor in the short term for Leica M. This is not the case for DSLR bodies like the
    Canon or a recent Nikon FF body, which all have longer back focuses (required for mirror lift-up action).
  33. Is the 'sensitive' portion of a digi sensor thicker than film emulsion? Don't silver x-tals (through binder) also 'like' to be struck as directly as possible? More internet bollocks.
  34. Hi Chris:

    you lost me on about the tenth para. pls shorten next for those of us who have day jobs.

    anyhow, we're all waiting for the FF M9. I'll let them figure out the inner workings; only to say lose the magenta cast, lower the noise, bigger screen, and lower the price. If I can use my 35mm Summilux ASPH the way it was intended maybe I'll buy one. Thanks.

  35. jtk


    The easiest way to improve M8 would be to use a better APS sensor. Samsung's 14.6, for example.
  36. Mohir, the "bollocks" also recognize that the silver-base emulsions on film are much, much, flatter (therefore take image-
    forming light from many directions in front of the film plane), whereas the photocells of a sensor, which are like beehive cells, have walls
    (or divisions or whatever they are known as by the technicians) that cut off oblique-arriving image-forming light rays. Therefore,
    the reason for microlenses in the M8 to attempt to re-direct most of the rays.

    If that you consider "Internet bollocks", you are quite welcome not to believe it.
  37. Paul, I hope you have a lot of patience, my friend.

    Leica's new superfast lenses for the M8(.2 and M8, and film bodies) seem to suggest that they will stay with the 18 x 27mm
    sensor, at least for a good while. And why not, even Hasselblad 6 x 6 digital doesn't fill its full frame capabilities with a same-size

    I guess I don't shoot black clothing in colour very much, or not notice very minor vignetting without Lens coding (even
    using my Leica 21mm or VC 12mm lenses), so I do not use the radiation blocking filters or even bother to have these particular lenses
    coded (by Leica or with a template).

    Maybe 0.1% of my photos suffer from that decision, but my normal shooting reject rate is quite a bit higher than that figure!
  38. Next step possibility #1 - Develop, manufacture and sell a high-end enlarger and lens with a Heiland Splitgrade like controller, along with film and paper developing products and chemicals, and redesign the film body M to modern ergonomics. Give up on digital - digital sucks!

    Next step possibility #2 - Get Panasonic to make a digital camera body with a decent rangefinder that takes M-mount lenses. Focus on lenses (no pun intended) for film M bodies and the new Panasonic digital rangefinder.
  39. Possibility no. 1: Ben, check out the Kienzle company in Germany. Have been building enlargers from the late 1800s.
    Made the Focomat IIc for Leitz and presently offer a model virtually identical to the same Focomat with modern (Apo or
    not) Schneider or Rodenstock enlarging lenses (They also do lens upgrades for the Focomat IIc and sell various parts of it).
    Also sell the same enlarger equipped with Mr. Heiland's Splitgrade controller and the Dunco light source.

    Therefore no need for Leica to re-invent the wheel in this case. Film and silver bromide/chloride papers are far from becoming museum
  40. Film is flatter than a clean-room manufactured chip? I was going to add film flatness to my post, but PN does not facilitate editing.
  41. "John Kelly , Sep 10, 2008; 10:51 a.m.
    The easiest way to improve M8 would be to use a better APS sensor. Samsung's 14.6, for example."

    Better in what sense, John? - You LIKE heavy dark corner vignetting - which is what you'd get with any SLR-based sensor behind wide-angle M lenses?

    Arthur and Mohir:

    A sensor is flatter in the macro scale (no curvature caused by the 1-sided gelatin emulsion) - quite right.

    Arthur's point that film can respond to light coming from any direction (including from behind - thus the need for black paper backing for roll film) is also correct, even if "flatter" isn't quite the right word for it.
  42. Mohir, I am not an engineer working on sensor technology, but it has been written that sensors do not SEE non-direct rays
    as easily as film does (even at the micrometer or nanometer level the design of these cells is apparently responsible for this. What
    appeares flat is apparently not - they have sides). Otherwise, Leica might have more easily gone to a full frame sensor like Canon, the
    lenses of which sit farther forward (owing to the the mirror) than M lenses. The outer rays from the Canon lens arrive with
    less of a deviation from the on-axis rays than for the M lens.
  43. I'll revise my scenario #1 - get Kienzle to private label their A35 enlarger under the Leica trademark and sell it with a Leica enlarging lens. Add an introductory camera package for the M that includes the MP or M7 body and a 50 summicron, developing tank, beakers, 8x10 trays, private labeled VC paper, etc.
  44. Leica would certainly have to upgrade the quality of their out of date 60mm and 100mm Focotars, with the possible
    exception of the 100mm which is pretty good.
  45. All Leica had to do to 'fix' the so called angle issue was put a larger dimensioned chip in the body - and there ya go full frame - whatever that means - is delivered. Sure some Leica users who like to shoot Jpegs may have been bothered with having to do post shot cropping out to size of the resultant dead bits - you know the bits outside the image circle of the lens - but hey that would have been a preferable Leica 'feature' to a cropped sensor which makes wides - the reason one presumably buys Leica lenses at exorbitant prices - be wides.<p>


    peole with the cashola who care - can go out and kit up on MFD and Alpa and a couple of 'real' wides and be blown away by the benefits and convenience of large format photography in a handholdable kit - without all the messy and environmentally unfriendly toxic chemical accoutrements associated with traditional processes.<p>

    Still <p>

    TRX <p>rules.
  46. The image circle of the Leica lenses could easily handle a larger sensor, but going from 27mm wide to 36mm wide means a
    more oblique angle for the edge light rays, something we are told is not possible given the short lens to sensor distance in an M
    camera with current Leica RF lenses (used for both film + digital).

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