Someday an AFFORDABLE M mount digital?

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by mark_amos, May 16, 2006.

  1. This has probably been tossed around before, but I'm not sure how
    I'd search for it. I guess the question is, will M lenses be
    manufactured by someone, Leica, Zeiss, Cosina, for long enough that
    somebody will eventually make an affordable (under $1000) M mount
    body even if it takes 5 or 8 years? If they will, our M lenses
    should be "affordable" dual format (film and digital) someday,even
    if its longer from now than we'd like. My investment in M lenses
    will always be worthwhile if film exists at all, but the affordable
    digital would make it more so. I could even see a company making the
    body and just a couple lenses, knowing that the used market of
    lenses would make the body viable.
     
  2. jtk

    jtk

    Answer: No.

    Will you ever see a really good digital M? No.
     
  3. " Will you ever see a really good digital M? No. "

    For such a clear view, your crystal ball must be made from Leica Glass! :))
     
  4. John ,
    I havea lot of respect for you but I think you are wrong .

    Now will we ever see one new for less than a $1000? No. What is high end today will likely be just passable 5-8 years from now. And we are talking about a low demand, low quantity very high tech item.
     
  5. I'm glad we got that resolved.
     
  6. O.K., how about $1200.
     
  7. jtk

    jtk

    OK, I'll expand on "no."

    I don't think the M mount has a future in a digital camera. Epson's already shown why (terrible vignetting, inability to approximate anything like a 35f2, much less fast 21mm).

    Something new is in the wings, beginning with the 4/3 Pana/Oly/Leica with Leica glass. Since zoom, stabalization, and autofocus are so well perfected and so cheap, I think that's the future and the Pana/Oly/Leica mount is the new game.

    Ms began as compact, practical tools, not wildly expensive. Only Saudis collected them, everybody else used them. They devolved into collectables (in many instances).

    The replacement for M needs to be a compact (ie not DSLR) practical tool that's well within the unbridaled, excessive prices of top-end digital Nikons and Canons, and far less physically bloated.

    I think the Pana/Oly/Leica will fill most of the bill, though will still be too big.

    The optical viewfinder aspect of M will be lost...I doubt we'll see it in any practical digital camera (unless you count Epson, lacking as it does any useful W/A capability).

    If Epson introduces 10MP with a full frame chip (allowing WA M lenses), I'll be wrong.
     
  8. Under $1000? Doubtful. Why?

    IMO the owners of Leica M/LTM lenses will always be perceived as high-end consumers and the products produced for them will always be higher-end products.

    Even in 10 years, I doubt whether a digital camera will be as cheap as you want. Maybe $1,500 or $2,000.

    Skip
     
  9. Skip's probably got the price about right. You'll probably see something in the $1,500 or so range from Cosina. They've been pretty innovative over the last decade. I see no reason why that won't continue with them surprising everyone again by producing an "affordable" digital rangefinder in an M mount.
     
  10. John Kelly wrote: "I don't think the M mount has a future in a digital camera. Epson's already shown why (terrible vignetting, inability to approximate anything like a 35f2, much less fast 21mm)."

    I disagree. Epson just didn't do it right. End of story. It can be done right - but like a lot of great TV series and movies that haven't had a DVD release (or took years to get there) it's a shame that as yet it hasn't been.
     
  11. You can probably pick up a used RD-1 for about $500 within 3-5 years, I would guess.
     
  12. To me the real Leica, the Leica of old, the reason why we still love a camera basically from the 1950s, is that they broke new technology. The use of 35mm film, the combined viewfinder/RF, small compact size and uncompromising image quality.

    If I were Leica, or even Cosina, is bring the lens mount a bit farther back and add the ability to control the f/stop from in the camera. Provide an adaptor like the screw-to-M mount adaptor for backward compatibility.

    Maybe the sensor should be 4/3. 35mm film was way smaller than medium format when it started to be used. I have a 20D and 8mp is a good match for most 35mm film.

    DSLRs are just way too big lately, and lenses like the Canon EF lenses are just monsters compared to M mount lenses. If going to 4/3 type sensors means that I can get CL sized camera, I'm all over it.

    I think the standard 4/3 sensor to flange distance is too big, and a digital RF should a shorter distance. Maybe have an adaptor that would allow the use of standard 4/3 lenses with the 4/3RF mount.

    Leica, fuggedaboutit, not going to make a RF anywhere near a price point I can hit. Cosina, Mr. K doesn't seem to like digitial, but maybe RD-1 that is Consina'd. Dark horses? Sony through the KM RF expertise and a try to get street cred'. Out side chance; Nikon. They brought out the S3 remakes. Would be kind of a stick at Canon for all their Uber IS, diffractive lenses, FF sensor technology to bring back an old camera in new clothing.

    Just a thought.
     
  13. I can picture John Kelly's tombstone:

    "He Never Found a Really Good Digital Camera"
     
  14. To me, digital versus film is almost like drawing versus painting, or even singing versus playing an instrument. Kind of similar with the big picture in common, but totally different skill sets for the details. To me digital and film diverge right after the click of the shutter. After that you are down two different paths.

    I have 35mm SLRs, 35mm rangefinders, DSLRs and am looking at adding a medium format film camera. All for different purposes, and actually different end uses.

    The car may have killed the horse&buggy, but it didn't kill the train.

    I wear an autmotatic winding mechanical watch when I could have gotten a Timex quartz that is a 1/100 the price and keeps better time. Why do people pay thousands for Mont Blanc pens, when Bics will do?
     
  15. Because they have more money than sense. They buy them as jewelery, not instruments to write with.

    Draw your own analogies with cameras...

    The Leica M was a classic instument of the first half of the 20th Century. It's been dragged into the late 20th Century with added bells and whistles but putting a digital sensor in it is a bit like putting a Ferrari engine in a Model T Ford Sure you could do it, but wouldn't you be better off taking full advantage of 21st Century technology and engineering and redesigning the whole system from the ground up?
     
  16. If I could only get a $1 for each time that someone made an analogy of Leica with something.....

    Porsche, Mont Blanc, Rolex, whatever. All these product manufacturers are profitable. Leica is not.

    Do people take less pictures today than they did, say, 50 years ago? Or do these people who spend gobs of money on other expensive items not have enough left to spare for a measly little $3K camera body and another grand or two on a lens that they could use to take pictures of all those other wonderful and expensive items that they bought?

    What gives?
     
  17. I hate to agree with our Bob Atkins but what he has to say in his third paragraph of the post above makes perfect sense to me.

    but we shall have to wait and see how the M7d performs.

    I seem to recall loud noises about how the DMR was going to be a complete disaster.

    C.
     
  18. Probably not. I love my R-D1, and will probably buy the digital M when it comes out, but the appeal is limited to those who really appreciate the fondle value of mechanical equipment. Of course it has to be functional and excellent in its own right but the sensual nature of the object of desire can not, nor will not, be denied.
    Thats not to say that Leica can't make it in a Canon world. twenty years ago mechanical watches were good as dead, the Swiss were struggling to maintain ANY presence in the watch world vs the Japanese digital onslaught. Today, Switzerland exports more high end mechanical watches than every. If you know anything about watches you would know that a watch that runs on batteries is not considered a "real" watch be the affecianados.
    In a similar way, I think that a market for a metal bodies, analog, manual, digital camera exist. Not a large one and not one for the working professional. But for the advanced amatuer and for the professional on holiday, an M mount digital would serve a certain need that plastic has never served very well.
    However, AFFORDABLE? I don't think so

    Rex
     
  19. Cameras are modular objects, just like cars. There's no reason why a digital sensor in a 1959 camera body is a bad thing. Just like there's nothing wrong with the Nikon F6 - electronic in every way except for the film you put in the back. The M camera is still relevant (and offers certain advantages for some photographers) whereas the Model T is not.

    Regarding the light fall-off on the RD-1: didn't someone post some images here taken with the RD-1 and some super wide angle lenses? I seem to remember the result as obvious darkening in the corners of the frame.
     
  20. if the leica m digital camera does well , I would bet that there will be some knockoffs..and
    maybe even clever folks to upgrade your existing m camera to digital..a la huw and co.
    I think the 1000 dollar mark is unrealistic..you are buying unlimited film and processing... if
    you only shoot 12 rolls of film a year you should stick to film.. but if you shoot 120 rolls at
    10 bucks a pop for f&p..you do the math.
    I wouldn't mind a perpetual energy source in a model T.. to borrow the analogy from
    bobatkins above..some of us don't want or need autopilot or all the bells and whistles that
    some manufactures extoll.
     
  21. M Mount cameras are expensive, even a Bessa R2m or R2a is very expensive. For the price of a R2m with 50mm you get a Canon 350d with 18-55 Zoom and have money left for a prime.

    When we compare DSLR prices to those of their film counterparts and extrapolate to a digital M Mount the Epson R-D1 might be slightly overpriced but economy of scale works against them so the price might be as low as they can as long as they want to earn money with it.

    Compare the price of a Nikon D200 to a F100 and a Canon 5D to a 3 and you have a starting point for the added price of Sensor and support electronics. Adjust for small numbers and add this to the price of a ZI and you're at something in the $3000 range.

    Given that Zeiss thinks digital is not where they think their customers want it, I don't think they'll build one with a sensor below 12MPixel and 24x36mm size.

    I don't expect a RF camera with M Mount below $3000 anytime soon, if at all.
     
  22. john kelly I don't think the M mount has a future in a digital camera. Epson's already shown why (terrible vignetting, inability to approximate anything like a 35f2, much less fast 21mm).
    John, correct me if I am wrong, but the problems you refer to are due to the narrow angle of acceptance of the digital sensor, correct? (That is, while the outcome is acceptable to consumer cameras, it is not up to Leica quality.)
    Perhaps that issue will be addressed with a different sensor topography. In the meantime, is there a reason Leica cannot use Biogon (later type) designs for wide lenses? Consider a Biogon in which the rear element is larger than the sensor. Yes, it makes for a larger lens thereby obviating the compactness we want, but the outcome could be terrific.
    I can point to exactly that kind of Biogon if you like. It's not a consumer item, but could be.
     
  23. jtk

    jtk

    Pico, I'm sure you're right about new (non-existent) lens designs and new (non-existent) lenses. Maybe we'll see them.

    However, I think the digital M fantasy mostly lives with people who have a few M lenses that they'd like to use into the future, without film.

    Unless one uses a 21mm Zeiss or Leica lens, one does not have a decent "standard" moderate speed 35mm equivalent with the Epson. The CV is slow and not equal. If walking-around-semi-wide and fairly fast is the goal, the only forseeable answer seems to be that pana/leica/oly concept...and that's not even raising price as a question. I'll bet the Leica version is $3000 with lens.
     
  24. The Leica M mount wasn't available during the first half of the 20th Century. A digital sensor in a Leica built M mount will run about a $5000, maybe more given the limited production. With regards to dual format, you really want your cake and to eat it as well.
     
  25. The waiting list for the M8 already exceeds the number of all the DMRs that have been sold to-date. There is absolutely no doubt whatsoever that it will be profitable for Leica. As to "affordability" and an "under $1000" body, at $20 for a roll of 36-exp C41 film, processing and 4x6 prints, a $5000 M8 can be thought of as a free camera and 250 rolls of prepaid film and processing. Assuming someone shoots only 5 rolls a month, that would take a little over 4 years. So to answer Mark's question, the M8 will represent an under-$1000 digital M body and won't take 5-8 years.
     
  26. The digital M will be shown at photokina this year. Some information from a very good source indicates Leica may have a working prototype to show their reps in August.

    Whether anyone buys the camera is up to the market, and not the sages on this website who guess about everything so that they can have an opinion that matches their personal feelings about Leica.

    What has been done previously with digital sensors and Leica M lenses has no bearing on what Leica is doing. For the digital M product, Leica has the DMR learning curve behind them, and the final camera should come out faster as many of the issues have been solved through the DMR development.

    The same people who are giving these uniformed opinions about the Digital M are the same folks who assured us that Leica would NEVER make a digital back for the R system - and, if they did they'd never be able to manufacture or deliver the system in quantity, no one would buy it, the back wouldn't work, etc., etc.
     
  27. Vinay, you cannot compare like that! :)

    The M8 will not come with prints, and film + processing (no prints) is a lot cheaper than $20. My calculation indicates at least 10 years of processing, and that is a long time to write off a digital camera.
     
  28. jtk

    jtk

    Leica's "success" with DMR does not suggest potential for a digital M, unless your definition of digital M includes watermelon size (the DMR being two watermelons)...and that doesn't rival smaller, cheaper Canon or Nikon behemoths? If it DID rival Canon and Nikon, many pros would be using it, of course...not just orthodontists and Saudis.
     
  29. "Leica's "success" with DMR does not suggest potential for a digital M, unless your definition of digital M includes watermelon size (the DMR being two watermelons)...and that doesn't rival smaller, cheaper Canon or Nikon behemoths? If it DID rival Canon and Nikon, many pros would be using it, of course...not just orthodontists and Saudis."


    Total drivel since you obviously have NO knowledge of either the digital M or the DMR - yet you feel compelled to invent negative comments.

    Having used the DMR, I can tell you that it is NO larger than the Canon 1DS. You obviously have a real bias against Leica - for what reason?

    Many pros are using the DMR. Leica SLRs have never been huge sellers in the sports or photo journalism markets - no autofocus. Those pro market segments are not Leica's market. However, many wildlife/nature, magazine, and studio photographers are using the DMR. You really have NO idea what your talking about - why do you even bother to comment?

    As for the DMR success - they're selling every one they can make and have exceeded their 1st year production projections. Whether that constitutes "success" by your definition is inconsequential - Leica has their own internal sales expectations that they are exceeding - that's what counts to Leica.

    As for selling to orthondontists and Saudis - only more of your blatant predjudice showing. You have no point to make with that type of a comment - only more uninformed bloviating

    If your insights/predictions are so prescient with no actual information - can you give me next week's winning PowerBall number?
     
  30. There are advantages to the interchangeable lens rangefinder design that Canon users like Bob don't seem to be able to grasp - there always have been and probably always will be.

    The Canon D5 is a fine, sophisticated camera, great for sport and wildlife, but is clearly not designed for those photographers who like to use a small discreet camera to have with them at all times. It is a cumbersome block and its lenses are worse. If you like it fine - but many people don't. What those that use Leica's, Hexars and Voigtlanders want is a digital equvalent of what they see as a camera designed for their needs. Far from being an obsolete design, mamy, many people see it as an apogee of design and the modern Brick DSLR's as a step backwards.
     
  31. People talk frequently of professional photographers. Let's not be blinded by this term. Most professional photographers, here in London, work for newspapers and magazines, these newspapers and many magazines want cover for their emerging stories, which means hundreds of professionals gathering at certain points to snap politicians, celebrities etc.

    Of course they will choose to have a digital DSLR with a zoom and autofocus and snap away at the fastest rate to grab the image they've been sent to get. The professional camera market needs to take the needs of these hard-working professionals (with good budgets) into account. BUT what does that have to do with the needs of so many other photographers who are not bound by these sqame pressing constraints?

    Why should the heavy, automated instruments these professionals need to use dictate how all high quality cameras are to be? Some people even have the independence of mind to think for themselves and realise they don't need the bulk, don't need the automation, want to focus themselves, and want good viewfinders. They seek out smaller scale manufacturers that cater to that. Unfortunately they have to pay the price for smaller scale production, but that does not mean we are all orthodontists, Saudis or fondlers.
     
  32. <<Vinay, you cannot compare like that! :)

    The M8 will not come with prints, and film + processing (no prints) is a lot cheaper than $20. My calculation indicates at least 10 years of processing, and that is a long time to write off a digital camera.>>

    Maybe there's a language barrier here? I know the M8 won't come with prints. That wasn't my point. My point was that if you buy 250 rolls of C41 film, have it processed and get 4x6 prints (proofs), it will cost around $5000 (true, if you buy film and get it processed at Walmart it won't cost $20, but I was assuming anyone who would pay $3000 for a film Leica would be serious enough to buy "pro" film and have a "pro" lab process it and would most likely get a set of 4x6 prints rather than scan the whole roll just to see what's what...but perhaps this is a wrong assumption). In which case, if it would take you 10 years to amortize the $5000 M8, it means you shoot 2 rolls of film a month. Naturally, the rate of amortization will be directly proportional to how much you shoot. Me, it probably would take 10 yrs also. Fortunately I don't have to be that careful with money so I'll be getting an M8...and an M9 if it comes along.
     
  33. jtk

    jtk

    "Leica has their own internal sales expectations that they are exceeding - that's what counts to Leica." :)

    No doubt.

    They've been, uh, pleasing themselves for quite a while now.

    What does that have to do with "AFFORDABLE M mount digital?"

    "Many pros are using the DMR" :)

    The number of wildlife photographers and studio photographers that use DR hardly constitute "many," much less a representative sample of "professional photographers." The wildlife photographers I know use Canon, but I hear they use Nikon in other parts of the world.

    And then there's the matter of the 10MP Pentax...

    "...you obviously have NO knowledge of either the digital M.." :)

    "Having used the DMR, I can tell you that it is NO larger than the Canon 1DS." Another watermelon...or two, depending on lens.

    Obviously Leica (or some company that licenses their name, such as Panasonic) can design something more resonant to M-shooters than the Epson..they may prove that with the 4/3 Leica...but I doubt they can do it with a rangefinder that you can carry discretely...isn't "compact" part of the Leica M ideal?

    Presumably Leica wants to sell a whole new series of lenses, beginning with the image stabilized 4/3 Elmarit.

    Might be nice in an M mount, configured to cover 2X3...optional autofocus, optional stabalization. They'd sell thousands to current M users and wouldn't even have to manufacture them.

    Think of that: image stabilized/autofocus M. Flip a switch, on/off.

    If cost is no object, as some claim, why would an M user go digital in the first place? Personal incompetence with B&W and scanning? Unwillingness to support local pro labs?
     
  34. ky2

    ky2

    "why would an M user go digital in the first place?" -- you got it all backwards. Users go M because they can afford it, and want it. It makes no difference if it's digital or film, affordable or otherwise. Following this postulate, there will NEVER be an affordable M, film or digital, simply because once an affordable M is made (Re: Epson), it will hardly appeal to the niche consumers that consider themselves M-worthy.
     
  35. > [..] Leica would be serious enough to buy "pro" film and have a "pro" lab process it and would most likely get a set of 4x6 prints rather than scan the whole roll just to see what's what...but perhaps this is a wrong assumption.

    I actually just buy film, have it processed and scan it. Then adjust in Photoshop and print the pictures I really like, same as I would do with an M8.

    I go through some 50+ films each year. I am pretty fed up with scanning at the moment, so I am interested in an affordable M.

    But I have a feeling that I will end up with a small digicam instead, when I can find a model that suits me (we are not there yet) and use that in parallel with film, to reduce the burden of scanning.

    My calculations for my situations indicate that a high end digicam (D-Lux 2 or similar) can pay for itself in 4 years, maybe even less. The M8 would take 10 years, and that is too long, though the ever cheaper getting US$ might help a bit.. :)

    Then there is the saved time on scanning, compared to all the extra costs and routines for backups..
     
  36. >As to "affordability" and an "under $1000" body, at $20 for a roll of 36-exp C41 film,
    processing and 4x6 prints, a $5000 M8 can be thought of as a free camera and 250 rolls
    of prepaid film and processing. Assuming someone shoots only 5 rolls a month, that
    would take a little over 4 years.

    This always seems like a false argument to me. Do you, or anybody else here, really buy
    four years worth of film in one go? I know I don't. Even if you were to double the
    throughput to 10 rolls a month , so it would be two years worth (or to 20 a month, for one
    year's stock), the analogy holds IMHO.
     
  37. Those prices are a bit high. I can usually buy a 4 pack of 24 exp. Fuji or Kodak Gold 200 for $6.99 or less, and get processing with 4x6 prints for $5.99 a roll. Another buck gets it onto a CD more than good enough for web use. That expensive M film body still has a residual value at the end of four years. The typical DSLR will be worth a lot less. Use whatever works for you.
     
  38. An interesting thread so far; thought I would add my two cents worth to the mix.

    Up until recently I used a Panasonic LC1, and although a reasonably decent camera its principle flaw is the EVF and its corresponding abortion of a manual focusing mechanism. If that camera had an optical viewfinder it would have been a gem (apart from the slow RAW write speed); a rangefinder viewfinder would have been even better, but of course that would have either negated or overly complicated the functionality of its remarkable (though flare prone) zoom lens. The cost would have likely gone through the roof also.

    After using the LC1 for awhile I figured out that a digital M would suit my need for a compact and solid small format camera. That of course would depend on its functionality, and whether it retains the physical robustness of the M line. My hope is that they will retain the existing cloth shutter, and perhaps set-up the rangefinder cam so that it would compensate for the crop factor of the sensor -- i.e., if one mounted a 24 mm. lens, then an approx. 35 mm. brightline would be displayed. That would allow a certain continuity in visualization when using digital and film M's in the same session. For all that it matters, the brightlines have always been somewhat of a close approximation anyway.

    I actually wouldn't mind if the digital M did not come with an LCD, particularly if having the latter would otherwise make the camera less dependable. The principle value of Leica rangefinders has always been their physical robustness and reliability, compactness, and the low light/fast manual focusing provided by the rangefinder mechanism. If Leica manages not to compromise those qualities then perhaps a digital M will be worth a reasonably high price tag; if not ...
     
  39. Steve - "Having used the DMR, I can tell you that it is NO larger than the Canon 1DS"

    Actually, the DMR is a couple of mm wider and deeper than a 1Ds, but that's not really the issue, because you're not making a fair comparison.

    The Canon 1Ds is an EOS 1v chassis: with a motor and power supply big enough to blast the camera up to 8.5 frames/sec (as is done in the 1D II) and a 45 point auto focus system, and a weather sealed body, and a 100% frame accurate viewfinder.

    The Modul-R + R9 is better compared to a Canon 5D. Slower motor drive (although still twice as fast as a DMR), lack of sealing, less than 100% finder, more primitive auto focus. 1/2 the weight and considerably smaller than DMR.
     
  40. This is one of the longest threads of late. It's really quite instructive to click on the names of the contributors and see how many (i.e. few) photos they have posted on PN, and what the subject matter is. With a few notable exceptions that is, those being also the least opinionated.
     
  41. "didn't someone post some images here taken with the RD-1 and some super wide angle
    lenses? I seem to remember the result as obvious darkening in the corners of the frame."

    True, there is darkening. However, on film the 12 and 15 CV lenses vignette about three to
    four stops wide open, so I don't understand what the big deal is. At least with the R-D1 you
    don't have to screw around with center gradient filters as the darkening is easily corrected
    in RAW.
     
  42. "I actually wouldn't mind if the digital M did not come with an LCD"

    It'll never, ever, EVER happen though. You can wish for a car with sheet metal instead of
    windows too, but I doubt you'll ever to be able to buy one.

    And LCD screen can be extremely reliable, and just imagine the two or three dozen
    buttons you'd need to have, plastered all over the Digital M, if it didn't have a screen! Turn
    dial A to position C, then slide interlock G into the open position to select JPG - fine.
    Imagine it for yourself.
     

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