Who else thinks Leica needs a more affordable camera?

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by andrew robertson, Nov 6, 2005.

  1. I have been thinking about Leica's continual price increases, and have come to the
    conclusion that this is the exact opposite trend than the one which would lead to greater
    solvency for them.

    Even adjusted for inflation and other common factors, Leica is charging more than twice
    what they were in the 1950s for essentially the same camera. The margins for lenses are
    even larger.

    Clearly there is a market for lower cost M mount alternatives, as Cosina has been tapping
    into that market very successfully for years now. The new Zeiss Ikon seems to be doing
    what Leica should have done a decade ago - making a high quality camera at a less than
    insane price point. Value oriented photographers are either going to choose cheaper but
    equally capable gear, or go for a medium format solution, and either way will come out
    ahead of where they would if they chose Leica (M OR R). I would not put down those that
    buy M gear, but if you're buying it new then you are a collector who isn't really concerned
    with the cost of anything, a dedicated fan, a pro, or you are way over your head in debt. I
    would assert that all the collectors and fans in the world aren't enough to keep Leica in
    business. As I said above, pros are probably going for MF (or digital) instead. Who does
    that leave as Leica's base?

    Sorry if this seems like a rant.
     
  2. I do... for example, Apple has the top of the line stuff like Powerbooks and their lesser line
    like iBooks. Why can't Leica do the same?
     
  3. I would disagree. For more affordable there is the new Zeiss Ikon or the Voigtlander Cosinas. Look what happened when Mercedes Benz started an affordable line----it diluted the brand greatly. BMW stayed strong, high-end and held their reputation and now seem to be eating MB up. Troubles aside I think Leica needs to stay Leica. Cheaper cameras will not save them.
     
  4. Adjusting for inflation, Leica cameras cost less now than in 1954.
     
  5. "Even adjusted for inflation and other common factors, Leica is charging more than twice what they were in the 1950s for essentially the same camera."

    Make that more than twice what they were in 2001. Back then you could pick up a new M6 TTL for $1600 w/ full passport warranty if you bought on a Leica Day (10% off) plus the $200 rebate.

    Leica's pricing policy in the last two years means more and more folks will buy used. That's the only way users will find anything "affordable".
     
  6. Back in the 1970's Leitz and Minolta partnered in the development of the CL, which they both marketed. Some long Leitz telephotos were offered in Minolta mount, and Minolta telephotos were produced in Leicaflex mount. The R4 was essentially a Leicaflex mount Minolta.

    A lot of people who might have otherwise bought an M5 were quite content to buy a CL at about half the price. The M5 was considered by many to be too large, and early production only hung verticaly on the strap. The CL hung that way too but was nice and small. With the re-introduction of the M4 as the Canadian made M4-2, followed by the M4P, Leitz tried to avoid the high cost of German labor. That's still a big factor today. The bigger question now is really whether there's a significant pro market for a film based rangefinder system.
     
  7. rj

    rj

    I personally wouldn't have any interest in a lesser quality and lower price camera or lenses from leica. If I am going to buy new leica stuff I want it to be the best quality they can produce. I will leave the cheaper stuff for zeiss or cosina which seems to be doing quite a job producing rangefinder stuff for a lower cost. A good show by them that gives the rangefinder shooter quite a choice today. Now if you are saying that you want leica to produce the same quality at a lower price and make sure that the cameras and lenses are the same as they are now, well then, I'm all for it, but face reality this aint going to happen outside of dreamland.

    How are these cameras twice what they were in 2000. I just checked b&h and saw that they are around 3200 dollars with a rebate for a free m motor or a leicavit, the motor is around 600 bucks new, probably the same for a leicavit, but didn't check. If you are going to add all the rebates you received in 2000 and use that to argue you should do the same thing for today.

    Not that these cameras haven't gone up in price, I'm not arguing that. I have seen most anything from Europe go up in price the last year though, so I would imagine leica products would too.

    "I would not put down those that buy M gear" - Ya, okay, from the look of your previous posts on this forum I'd say your being less than truthful.
     
  8. Peter, I am not suggesting such a course of action. Leica could use a lot of techniques to
    lower the manufacturing cost of their cameras without necessarily selling Cosinas. Maybe
    they need to be introduced to the concept of random sampling, which revolutionized
    manufacturing more than half a century ago. This step alone could cut costs
    tremendously. I don't think the choice is either Leica or crapola - that's a red herring. If it
    were true than every Leica lens would be the best lens on the market for its specification,
    which is simply not true at all. Obviously one camera and one lens for $2000 is not
    catering to the value oriented customer.

    Richard, I would disagree with you. BMW sells plenty of crappy cars - they have low end
    versions in the 300 and 500 series that are really not very different than a higher end
    Toyota or Honda, but are priced at a $10K premium.

    The point is not to have a lesser quality Leica product, but to use modern technology to
    reduce the price of Leica's goods. Obviously the strategy of continually increasing prices
    and lack of innovation in production (I wouldn't consider issuing an MP that looks like an
    M3, or putting a hammertone finish on a camera to be innovation) is hurting and NOT
    helping Leica.
     
  9. just curious....hard to make tyhe direct comparison because of the switch over to the Euro, but i'm fairly confident that the dollar is significantly weaker compared to the Euro/DM even from a few years ago...this could certainly account for any recent price increases based upon the exchange rate of the currencies...
     
  10. It might account for a 25% increase, but not a 80% increase.
     
  11. Yup, the dollar has slid in relation to the euro, and that probably accounts for a lot of the price increase in the U.S. Does anyone know what the increase has been in euros?
     
  12. Street price of new M3 with 2/50 Summicron in 1954 : $447USD (source Modern Photography Magazine 1954)

    Current equivalent: $3233.68USD (source Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis)

    If you cannot find a new M7 with 2/50 for less than this price I'm sure people on this forum can help you out.

    A new Volkswagen sold in the US for less than $900USD in 1954. That's $6510.78USD today. I'd say that Leica has done a fine job of keeping prices in line for quality handmade goods from Germany.
     
  13. Since Voigtlander and Zeiss Ikon fill out the market, I think it's fine that Leica doesn't make
    an entry level system. What they should do, however, is reintroduce the Leica CL in some
    form or another.
     
  14. For Leica to try to for a mass market camera would just cheapen the name. One doesn't contemplate Rolls Royce producing a "car for averyone".

    Your comments about random sampling suggest that each individual Leica is inspected/tested. As one who has toured the factory, I can tell you it just isn't so. Whilst 1/3rd of production time is in QC, Leica M's are "batch sampled" I.e. models(sampling) are removed at various stages through the assembly process for checking. If something is amiss, then the whole batch is pulled and checked.What is individually checked and matched are the tolerances in the various components. For example, if a certain machined part of a lens shows a "+" tolerance, it will be matched to a part with a "-" tolerance where this is appropriate. Every individual batch is tested NOT every individual item within the batch. That is Random Sampling the Leica way.
    That's what we pay for and I personally wouldn't want it any other way.
     
  15. awahlster

    awahlster Moderator

    Yes but the VW sold today is NOT the same auto as it was in 1954 (by the way when they had virtually no market here for their funny little cars)

    BUT aside from the M7 the Leica today is basically the exact same camera as that 1954 M3 But with a huge drop in build quality, sevice, value everything.

    The VW on the other hand is now a very high quality product competing nicely with the world market.

    The comparison is very flawed.
     
  16. " for example, Apple has the top of the line stuff like Powerbooks and their lesser line like iBooks. Why can't Leica do the same?"

    I just got a B&H catalog in the mail. I see a Leica C2 for $169.95, a C1 for $399.95, a C3 for $429.95, a CM for $1,095.95, a CM Zoom for $1,295.95. Sounds to me like they are doing exactly what you are suggesting.

    I remember once seeing the Amtrak president talking about their pricing. He pointed out if you charge to much, you don't sell anything, if you charge too little, you sell a lot, but don't make any profit. At some point in between, there's a peak-profit point, and it's not chosen for the convenience of customers. If Leica thought they could make more money selling the same thing at twice the price or half the price, I'm sure they'd do so.

    It's amazing to me, to think at a time when it's sort of surprising that anyone still sells a film-based rangefinder, I can look in that B&H catalog and on the same page i find film-based rangefinders made by FIVE different companies.
     
  17. They should have done this with the Minox brand while it was part of their stable...
     
  18. Sorry to be diasgreeable; but, "affordable" cameras (something of course we'd all love) is not what Leica is about. Leica is about "superlative" cameras - design, engineering and finished product.

    So no, I do not think they should... I think they should "stick to their knitting" and simply achieve what they have achieved in film within a range of "superlative" digital cameras. Two ranges of the best in their class should sit side by side.

    What has lead to Leica's financial distress is the fact that they did not embrase the digital era with similar superlative digital media based cameras. Now they should "cut their cloth" to suit their niche markets - again, "superlative" cameras (and, while it goes without saying, optics of course)!
     
  19. I would think that a camera / lens combo for $2K, while not being exactly a 'value'
    purchase, would sell a lot more units than a camera / lens combo that's $6K.

    Do you all think that Leica is incapable of producing a quality camera / lens combination
    for that price point? That's my real question.

    And as others have mentioned, the M7 is not as high quality a product as the M3 was. The
    lens lineup is quite innovative, but spherical elements are a commodity now, and certainly
    cheaper to procure (and higher quality) than the hand ground elements of a half century
    ago.

    Unlike a Rolls Royce, a Leica is a tool. Perhaps the way for Leica to go is to create cameras
    on a one-off basis for $30-50 thousand apiece, and charge $10K for a lens. They could
    cut 90% of their labor force and still probably turn a better profit than they are now.

    When you get a Leica M7 or MP, you aren't getting a substantially higher quality product
    (anymore) than, for example, a Zeiss-Ikon or even a Bessa. Certainly, they aren't
    extremely reliable, or even AS reliable as they used to be. Cost cutting measures have
    been loudly derided - and by the dedicated Leica fan base!

    This isn't me complaining that I can't afford a Leica. I certainly can. This topic relates
    more to getting what you pay for, and I think if Leica was able to make a product that
    targeted a broader audience they would be able to leverage that broader customer base
    into higher profits.
     
  20. I'm fairly sure that (i) this idea has already occurred to Leica, and (ii) nobody in Leica will pay much attention to any suggestions made in this thread.

    What I don't understand is the combination of (i) the insistence above that Leica products are superlative and that Leica QC is rigorous and uncompromising, and (ii) the first-hand accounts in other threads here of things going wrong in nearly new expensive Leicas.

    But what do I know -- after all, I don't have an MBA.
     
  21. As demand shrinks, price must go up, all other things being equal. (Law of Economics)

    The market for film cameras, in general, is shrinking. Hence, unless you are clearing out old stock, newly produced cameras must sell for more.

    Add in the sliding dollar, and I don't see how Leica can charge less.

    Remember I said all other things being equal? Of course, if they could dramatically reduce their cost base, they could charge less.

    But can they? And would people still crave Leica's if they are not made lovingly by hand in Germany, but are instead mass-produced in China?

    Leica is not just about quality, but about luxury. An M is now basically a luxury good. With luxury goods, dropping prices does not increase sales-- on the contrary, it can dilute and destroy the brand.

    We are fortunate to live in these times when it seems things get cheaper each year (PCs, cellular phones, airfares-- just to name a few) so that the concept of price increases is alien.

    But price increases is part and parcel of life, it's basic inflation, and in fact modest inflation is necessary for the economy as a whole.

    Yes, Leica could perhaps produce more affordable M's, but they prob decided they just have no bandwidth to compete with Cosina, and they would rather concentrate their resources on getting the digital M out. They probably realised that with the digital revolution, there's no point making cheap film rangefinders if no one wants to buy them any more...
     
  22. To Andrew:

    The DMR is innovative, although some people feel that it's years too late and too few megapixels.

    But do you see Canon or Nikon trying to protect your investment in film bodies? No, they'd rather you buy new bodies from them every 18-36 months.
     
  23. "But do you see Canon or Nikon trying to protect your investment in film bodies? "

    Nikon F6 and FM3a. Both still compatible with 40 years of lenses.

    Even the new Nikon D200 (due next month) is also compatible with AI/AIs lenses and will meter with them also.
     
  24. Wai-Leong Lee,

    in which way does Leica protect our investment in film bodies? Rollei sells film under their brand, Leica doesn't!

    And a $6000 digital back for a R8/R9 or a $3000 Canon EOS 5d as an adition to a Canon EOS 3? Then you can shoot film and digital without changing backs, just as we did with B&W and color :)

    Not to put down the DMR, it's a great idea and delivers on its promisse.
     
  25. I guess you could just buy second-hand. If indeed the new cameras are the same as the old ones then there's your solution. ;-)

    What Leica needs more than an affordable camera is a *digital* camera (i.e. digital M) - something they should have done two or three years ago.

    I believe in quality - and good design, oh yes indeed - at low price points though. Just look at the value you get from a DSLR or a digital compact these days. Amazing.
     
  26. Wai-Leong makes a good point. In the end one has to determine if the purchase was a
    "value". You can get a value even with Luxury goods ... meaning that you got the
    experience and performance you expected for that kind of money. Then, when you move
    on, the thing for sale isn't worthless to others who perhaps wish to also experience the
    product.

    Paying $3,000. for a then new Canon D30 sans any lens at the same time you could buy a
    M with lens for about the same price points out relative value. The Canon may have been
    worth it for an introduction into digital, but now it is relatively worthless to anyone else.
    I'm still shooting and enjoying the M ... and it isn't worthless. Multiply that when one
    thinks of the relative value of my $8.000. 1DsMKII with-in a few years ... when I will STILL
    be shooting and enjoying the M ... perhaps with all those superb lenses nicely mounted on
    a decent digital body.
     
  27. As somebody who studied philosphy, rather than business, I'm in the unique position of WANTING a Leica, rather than having one. (Thanks, Aristotle!)

    I'll appologize now for what is going to be a long, and hopefully non-rambling post.

    That said, I know enough about business (Thanks King Saud!) to know that as demand goes down, price should also go down accordingly, to stimulate demand. Conversely, as demand goes up, prices go up, rather than down. As such, Canon can easily charge $8-10,000 for a new digital body that will be obsolete in 18 months....the demand is so high, that even if their costs for producing the cameras are only $500, they can pretty well charge what they want. There is hardly any such thing as a company "passing on the savings to the customer" as some people think Zeiss has done with the Zeikon.

    Businesses exist to make profit, rather than to feed the poor, and shelter the destitute. As such, those businesses have to pay attention to what the market is doing, and act either accordingly to the market, or preferably in advance of market change.

    As we all know, Leica has seemed to do neither of those things...they missed the digital swing, even though it was fairly clear that it was coming. Does anybody here really think that Sony and Konica/Minolta only started talking about a cooperation a couple days before they announced it? Leica, as a small and relatively un-financed company should have been in intensive talks with Nikon, Canon and the like. Maybe they were, but I doubt it.

    Leica came out with that superlative S1 (or whatever it was called) several years ago. I don't know how well it sold, but I do know that a lot of museums and institutions bought those things because they were simply the best thing around for what they did. When I saw that camera one time (in the hands of a pro. photographer), I remember thinking that Leica had it's finger on the pulse of things, and was well on the way to the future.

    And then they nearly gave up.

    Now, years too late, they are approaching some sub-standard digital products that will almost all be out too late. There are certainly people who will go to the grave defending the ultimate Ultimateness of the DMR or the future MD, but how "top end" are they really, compared to comparable offerings from Canon, Nikon and Fuji? How hard would it have been to licence autofocus from Minolta or Fuji 10 years ago for the R series? How hard would it be to have weather-sealed their R bodies and added simple focus confirmation? THey stuck to their guns, as it seems many European companies like to do, and they lost their dangerous gamble that things would all come out right in the end. Their cooperations with Panasonic are probablly the only thing really keeping them afloat these days, and as such, I applaud them, and Panni for creating some great products. Was Panasonic the perfect company for a partnership though? Probablly not. That would've been someone of the like of Nikon or Canon, or even, god forbid, Zeiss.

    Comparisons of Leicas as "Rolls Royces" and the like are in large measure inherently flawed for a few reasons. First of all, a Rolls Royce, or any other pure luxury product is a product that is luxurious in and of itself. It has no intrinsic value other than luxury, and it is not designed to accomplish a task. If, like with a Rolls, you can actually use the product (to get somewhere), that is not the ultimate goal. A Rolls will get you there the same as a Hyundai will, but with the Rolls, you'll arrive in style, and you'll enjoy the trip more than you would in a 1950's Beatle.

    A Leica camera is at least designed to be a functional tool, with superlative lenses, with which one can actually accomplish certain tasks better than other similar products. I've never met somebody who didn't admit that Leica lenses were among the best in the world. A Rolls is not the best car in the world because of the way it drives, rather it is (for some people) a luxurious product with the best coach-work, etc.

    If Leica, and their customers, wish to pursue the "luxury camera" chain of thought, then a much more proper analogy of the Leica would be the Ferrari. Ferraris get their engineering straight from F1, and are among the fastest, highest performing cars in the world. (There are always cars that occasionally best Ferrari, like the McLaren F1, but Ferrari wins for consistency and longevity). Only an idiot would buy a Ferrari for longevity or reliability, and until recently, one could not consistantly drive in the rain in one, due to poor weather sealing. The coach-work in one is also not as good as a Rolls, but that isn't why someone buys such a car.

    For the dilletantes, the Ferrari is a status symbol. For connoisseurs on the other hand, no car drives like a Ferrari. The Leica is similar, in that it is neither reliable nor practical, but produces the finest images possible in the format, with its superlative lenses.

    Of course every model of Ferrari has better brakes than the previous model, and the M has had the same shutter for decades. But hey.

    IF Leica indeed wants to limit themselves to boutique status (as they said they did not) then price increases, limited availability, and little to no product development (sorry, but revamping a lens line every ten years doesn't count as dramatic) then they will become something like Morgan Automobiles....if on the other hand, they constantly refine and revamp their products to reach the pinnacle of excellence, then they can be analogous to the Ferrari. Perhaps they should even work out a "Ferrari Leica."

    On the other hand, if they would like to stay active in the photographic world, then they will have to reexamine their tactics. Their lenses are superlative, and if you ask anybody at Leica what they see themselves as, they will say that they are a lens company. Why then limit lens sales by producing increasingly unobtainable, obsolete camera bodies, which are the only true platform for their lenses?

    If Leica is worried about diluting their brand cache, then they can rest easy in the knowledge that in 10 years, some excentric Chinese Billionare will purchase the name, and wipe his rear end with it...

    Porsche took a gamble "diluting" their cache with the Boxter and the Cayenne, and yet.....all the reviews say that the Boxter is a magnificent car, and at the best of its class. Fifth Gear even declared the thing the "worlds greatest sportscar."

    Not to mention the insignificant detail that the Boxter and Cayenne pulled Porsche's loaves out of the fire, and "true afficionados" will be able to buy a REAL Porsche 10 years from now, as a result of their having "diluted the brand."

    Grow or die baby. It's a fact of life. In today's world, quality is no longer any guarantee of longevity; Wal-mart wouldn't be the biggest company in the world if it were. You have to find new reasons for people to buy your products at reasonable (for you and them) prices these days, rather than resting on your laurels, or brand name. There are only so many revolutions of the Earth left until people get sick of buying Louis Vuitton labled bags, for example.
     
  28. And what has happened to Apple's fortunes since the iPod ? Massive profit growth and soaring share value.
     
  29. Andrew, why are you so worried about Leica?s solvency? What is this fascination over the costs of Leica gear. If you appreciate the differences Leica offers in the small format market place then you will find a way of buy what you need.

    Lower cost options for Leica already exist and have always existed.

    One reason for buying into Leica is to access their optics. What is the point of a consumer level Leica (their best effort was the R-E and R4s)

    It's the optics that cost, a camera body is a small percentage of the cost a total system. If Leica made cheaper lenses then they would not be true Leica. If they made more cost effective products they would loose their primary nice in the market and become just another player.

    So Andrew, it's just a matter that you don't really understand Leica's position in the market place. They aint simply another Canon/ Nikon clone and some people appreciate that. If they go bust who cares? Leica is only a corporation like anyother they come an go.
     
  30. http://quote.bloomberg.com/apps/cbuilder?ticker1=aapl
     
  31. Craig,
    I can't speak for other people, but I personally have much less of a problem with Leica's lens pricing than with their body pricing.

    Excellent lenses are excellent lenses, and when you look around, Leica's aren't THAT much more than any other great optics made in Europe. That there should be a price drop with lenses would be preferable of course, but there's always the used market.

    On the other hand, getting into the lenses equals buying an expensive body first. I personally am not a fan of buying $1000 20 year old cameras, especially when CLA's are not cheap. I don't like the Voigtlanders, I haven't put my mits on a Zeikon yet, so for me, the only game in town is the Leica. Even if I had the cash, I'm not foolish enough to spend $3500 on a film camera body.

    If I were able to get into a relatively inexpensive body, then the lenses would gradually follow, especially after I got used to the system. Not being able to touch one however means that I won't be buying many of their lenses to stare at a lamp with.
     
  32. Trevor...I clicked the link, and all I get is a securities chart builder.
     
  33. I live in the Euro zone and am paid in dollars, pounds sterling amd euros. In the last few years (since Clinton left office, roughly) the price of a euro has risen from around 92 cents US to over $1.20 US -- in fact it topped $1.30 at one point. In other words, a 40 per cent rise is needed just to counter the weak dollar, and if an M goes from $2500 (MSRP 2000) to the rumoured $3500 in 2006, it won't be hard to see why.

    As for an 'econo-Leica' I have discussed exactly this with the company; I did a piece for Amateur Photographer a while back about the idea of an 'Ernst Leica' ('Ernst' also means something like 'Austerity'). They convinced me that there is no way to lower the cost of an M-series significantly. Anything less would be, well, less.

    I've used all of the Cosina Voigtlanders except the R2A and I'm currently awaiting delivery of a Zeiss Ikon outfit. The Voigtlanders are great cameras -- so if you can't afford a Leica, buy one of those, rather than asking Leica to drag prices down to what you can afford, which will inevitably mean losing what makes an M an M.

    From what I've seen, and I've only handled prototypes, the ZI is exactly what it appears to be: a better camera than the Voigtlanders (notably because of its longer RF base) but not quite as good as an MP. I hope to know more about that in a week or two.

    Finally, I don't think that those of my friends who drive Rolls Royces (not many, but a few) regard them as 'pure luxury'. If you need a car, and most people do, then why not buy one that is quiet, powerful, and beautifully finished? If, of course, you can afford it. I can't, and find it hard to imagine spending more on a car than I did on my house. But a Leica is a lot more affordable than a Rolls Royce, and if you want a camera and can afford a Leica, why not buy what you believe to be the best? If you can't afford one, how much can you usefully say about their prices?

    Cheers,

    Roger
     
  34. Lawrence as you can tell from the code (AAPL) this was the share performance for Apple over the last year.
     
  35. "One doesn't contemplate Rolls Royce producing a "car for everyone""

    But RR is owned by Volkswagen - The Peoples' Car. Food for thought.
     
  36. I don't know how sophisticated an analysis the Leica management uses to chart their model and pricing strategies, but management tools are almost universally applied these days to evaluate and determine ongoing pricing, even in a rapidly shifting market. I believe that one of Leica's problems has been slow reaction times, thinking that owning a classic marque and a classic product line offers them some sort of shock absorber to all the changes. But this just isn't so when such a huge paradigm shift like film-to-digital is going on. Prediction #1: until they come up with a successful digital model that is "best of breed," they will continue to sell fewer and fewer new cameras each year. Lens sales will also slide, but not as much.

    My understanding of the history of sales of the CL is that the once-mystery of why Leica quit making them has been pretty much cleared up. Although Leica stated that the CL sales were poor, it seems that sales were actually so good that sales of the M cameras dropped quite a bit. Of course, the fact that the most recent M model for sale at the time was the underappreciated M5 didn't help much either. The CL didn't have the profit margin that the Ms had, partly because they had to pay Minolta to manufacture them, so I imagine Leica's balance sheet started to suffer and they decided to can the CL, drop the M5, and get back to classic M manufacturing. Which started them back to a much-needed recovery.

    Today the Voigtlander and Zeicon models cover the territory that the CL did in the '70s, so Leica doesn't need to create such a model, and perhaps these camera's existence and relatively good sales, given the digital state of the world, is giving Leica a CL-like negative hit on their body sales. Prediction #2: there will be no second-class bodies coming out of this incarnation of Leica.

    Prediction #3: Leica will continue to limp along until digital sensors actually have the resolution and other rendering qualities that will make use of the qualities that Leica lenses have to offer. However, I don't know if those sensors will be in Leica bodies or not. That to me is the big question.
     
  37. < I don't think the choice is either Leica or crapola - that's a red herring.>

    Couldnt agree more. I recently sold an M7 and motor m and reinvested the proceeds in a Hexar RF kit with 50 mm, and also 21, 28 and 35 mm VC lens. Sent the Hexar body off to check tolerances etc due to the elusive backfocus issue, and bought a few lens shades and 39 mm filters, and I still have about $300 left from the sale of the M7.

    Granted, I'll always keep an M or 2 around for sentimental reasons, but I've gradually sold off my Leitz/Leica optics and electronic bodies because they just dont make sense financially, certainly not when I can buy a technologically superior camera body (built in motor, 1/4000 shutter etc) and a kit of 4 lenses, all of which are optically the equal of or superior to all but the latest Leica offerings, for less than one M7 body.

    The cache of Leica for me was less their reputed optical excellence than their uncluttered mechanical simplicity. Unlike the enduring charm of an m2 or m4,The m7 is just another electronic camera thats going to be non-functional in 20 years. Leica should price it accordingly, and save the limited availability pricing scheme for the MP.

    As for the optics, Leica should have Cosina produce Leica badged budget lenses for the masses; I'm sure many people would be willing to pay an extra $100 for a VC 28 3.5 rebadged as Leica, and Leica would have a piece of the action which now is the sole possession of Cosina.

    As it stands now, Leica has become a lifestyle product, bought and possessed mainly by people less interested in the camera as a tool than as status symbol or fashion statement. IMO, if Leica wants to remain a viable camera maker, they need to reconnect with their traditional base i.e. serious photographers who want simple, well-made tools to use.
     
  38. Adrian, RR is owned by BMW, as is Mini. So my Mini is the Phantoms smaller brother :)

    Bentley belongs to VW as does Bugatti, Lamborghini is owned by Audi, which belongs to VW ....
     
  39. Even back in 1973 the Leica CL was not a low end affordable camera. It may have been half the price of an M5 but it was well more than double the price of the typical Pentax, Miranda, Minolta, Olympus, etc. thaty the average photographer was likely to purchase. A new CL in today's dollars would equal something around $3,000 with lens, still far more than a Bessa.
     
  40. Volker. ..Makes your head spin, doesn't it. I was thinking of Voigtlander owning Leica, one day but it sounds more likely to be VW. ( not serious ) ?
     
  41. Well... if this thread is going to end with an inanity of mine...

    Ernst Leitz was dedicated to excellence and he wouldn't be disappointed with the Co so far.
     
  42. rj

    rj

    The whole issue of affordability is relative to the individual anyway. What you can afford depends on several factors including income and spending priorities. It seems to me the people who complain about how much things costs are the same people taking out a 5 year note on a new car, or who are over their head in credit card debt. How do I know this, because I used to be one of these people. When your paying 400 bucks a month on a car for five years, 2k for a lens just doesn't seem that much. I would much rather buy a camera that I quite possibly could use for a couple of decades than a new car with leather heated seats and chrome wheels.
     
  43. Who else thinks Leica needs a more affordable camera? I have been thinking about Leica's continual price increases, and have come to the conclusion that this is the exact opposite trend than the one which would lead to greater solvency for them. Leica already has the r&d and tooling for the MP. They could easily and cheaply with today's CNC technology, create an M body with aluminum top/base plates and perhaps even some kind of polycarbonate frame, manually-selected frame masks (a la bessa, but using the existing preview lever), and no meter. They could have it manufactured and assembled offshore, and sell it for $999. Perhaps a simpler way for Leica to cut prices though, would be to disband their worlwide distributor network and sell direct over the internet. They could contract with existing independent repair shops like DAG, Luton, etc. to handle warranty repairs. Keep 10% of the middleman profit savings for their bottom line, pass the other 90% to the customers. Yes, it seems like there are other ways for Leica to handle the effects of "global economics" without committing suicide.
     
  44. Grow or die baby.
    Wrong. I watched my whole industry swallow this advice in the late '90s. You all remember - "dot com"? Small businesses can be very successful for a long time. Big businesses can go out of business fast. Size isn't everything. Speed of growth isn't everything. Good businesses are built not for size, nor for low price, but for the ability to consistently deliver value over the long term, and the ability to manage cost.
    It's a fact of life. In today's world, quality is no longer any guarantee of longevity; Wal-mart wouldn't be the biggest company in the world if it were.
    Wal-Mart isn't the only store in the world, and price is not the only factor people base their decisions on.
    Want to see some other things you can get for about the same price as an M7?
    How about this?
    Or this?
    Or this?
    A small business can make lots of money indefinitely selling luxury goods, if it's well-managed. The conclusion for Leica is obvious...
     
  45. "You would have them dress up crapola with a brand name that stands for excellence in 35mm land."

    What makes you think outsourcing would assure this happening? Trinovid Binocs changed factories to lessen costs as did Colorplan lenses. The quality is the same. There no reason Leica cant maintain a quality standard like Zeiss do.
     
  46. rj

    rj

    Bob has it right. Leica is a boutique camera and lens manufacturer who cater to the people who can afford to spend a bit more for a quality product. Right now it seems that choice for a rangefinder camera is good, on the lower price of the scale you have cosina/voightlander, middle of the road is the zeiss offerings and higher price is leica. Leica must keep its quality up, in my opinion, to justify the companies mission statement and to justify the price. If they haven't, that is another argument entirely, but I think they have, especially with the lenses.
     
  47. Adrian, RR is owned by BMW, as is Mini.

    That's true but BMW only own the motoring brand name which it has licensed from the Aero-engine maker. RR's made today are essentially 'pure' BMW (with arguably no RR heritage) and made at a purpose built factory in Sussex.
     
  48. Devil's advocate argument:

    This might have made more sense back in the 80s, when manual-focus 35mm dominated the quality camera market. Today, they'd be mad to sink development resources into a 'Leica-lite'. Could they realistically sell one for less than a (more desirable) secondhand M6, let alone compete with Cosina? Doesn't their Sports Optics division already bring in about as much revenue as their (rapidly declining) M+R sales combined? And isn't this a lot to do with the small rangefinder niche in the minority manual focus section of the dwindling film camera market that the Leica M occupies? Surely if there's any long-term future in Leica cameras, that future is digital? Assuming, of course, they can figure out a way of persuading their customers to pay Leica prices for products with such short life cycles! (upgradable sensors, anyone?)
     
  49. I think that Andrew's question and lots of the answers here point out that people want Leica-Camera to survive so that 30 years from now, if we are very luck, our children can get one and it will be as good as the ones we have (new).

    I would bet that if Leica had opened a factory in China 20 years ago and looked for a five year ramp up (no pressure on delivering profits), it would be a very different playing field today. There is no magic to manufacturing to the level of Leica. It takes time, education and motivation of your workers. You might need to fire a few who do not learn to follow the model, but not everyone can build a Leica.

    They could have done it, but did not want to.

    What Leica should be doing now is building R lenses in 4/3, Canon and Nikon mounts for use on digitials. IMHO, dump the R bodies as collectors specials. Close down the R body production lines and focus on the Digital M and making digital lenses that kick some butt.

    B2 (;->
     
  50. Leica is a boutique camera and lens manufacturer who cater to the people who can afford to spend a bit more for a quality product. Except that their prices have recently gone way, way, waaaaay beyond "a bit more". What Leica should be doing now is building R lenses in 4/3, Canon and Nikon mounts Outside of internet Leica forums, the majority of people are happy enough with their own brand lenses and think we're puffed-up snobs and stark raving nuts to pay Leica's prices. IMO the only thing Leica would accomplish my making lenses in Nikon and Canon would be to help Nikon and Canon sell bodies to the same people who might otherwise buy a Leica body.
     
  51. OT:

    Ben S. do you not have a bizz to run?:
     
  52. I love Leica glass but as prices keep going up and up I find myself looking into used high quality medium format equipment. I think Andrew is correct in this assumption. I really don't like the idea of using a 4-5K rig for certain applications where I may have my equipment stolen.
     
  53. Stephen, OT FYI I ran several businesses for many years, R&D and manufacturing for the healthcare industry, dental, orthopedic and podiatric. Retired about 5 years ago, but still sit on a couple of corporate boards and do a fair bit of consulting for other businesses as long as it doesn't cut into my golf or travel.
     
  54. But Leica lenses are very, very good, wide open and have a color signature that is distinctive. And as for the Leica M most here know that it sets a standard for quality 'feel' and a type of metal mechanical engineering thats almost vanished now. Why ask for anything less of a benchmark in its class? What use is the Leica brand if it does not stand for the quality it has until low (I'll overlook the embarrassing forays into renting the name to videocam manufacturers and Leica's own compact cameras).

    Charging as much as a mid-line Canon DSLR given the low volumes produced is not exorbitant pricing. And the M lenses easily meet the standard of (say) Canon L lenses, which too are expensive, but compared to Leica, sell by the boatload. And Leicas are useable for decades, delightfully so, in the opinion of most Leica owners.

    I agree with Roger Hicks. There is a natural tendency to overestimate how dear something is if you have to pay for it all at once. That is why hire-purchase or installment payments work as a marketing tool. Few would write a $26,000 check for a car. Many will sign up at $400/month in car payments.

    Staying with that thought for a moment $ 6,000-$7000 Leica kit (M body plus three lenses) amortized over a conservative 15 years of use is very inexpensive indeed. And I'll bet you more than one Leica owner here will attest that they already have, or will most likely in the future, use their Leica for more than 15 years.

    I guess there is more than one way to size up affordability... You may be taking the gloomy view on Leica prices, Andrew, no offense :)
     
  55. Guys PARDON !!! But most of you (who argue Leica is to expensive) are totally wrong.
    Compare at top notch product like a M with top lenses with a top notch product of another industry like the swiss watchmakers - and Leica is exactly that in cameras, what a Patek Calatrava in for Watches.
    Compared to the 10.000eur (12.000USD) of a Calatrava, I get a full BP/MP set with 3 BP lenses + Leicavit ... so what would I take.
    The Watch is totally egoistic as it?s only for the wearer - the camera is more sozi, as you can make pictures of the world around you and have the best gifts in the world.. classical portraits shot wide open with BW film... Leica is damn cheap...!!!
     
  56. If you want an expensive camera, get one of these. It goes for a little under $200,000 - lens and film magazine sold separately, of course.
     
  57. Wai-Leong:

    I agree that cost must increase as demand decreases, if all other factors are equal. I do
    not agree that all other factors are equal now to what they were. Leica cameras are mainly
    produced in Portugal, where labor is quite a bit cheaper than it is in Germany. This is a
    pure cost cutting measure (with no disrespect for the Portugese work force). They are not
    lovingly hand-made in Germany - they are finished in Germany, and only barely just in
    order to apply the Made in Germany mark.

    Leica made its reputation not on luxury, but on fine optical and mechanical craftsmanship.
    Leica's lens quality has climbed since the beginning, but so has the competition - often at
    a greater rate. The fact that Leica is viewed as a luxury brand now has more to do with
    clever marketing by their fashion industry than anything else.

    I'm not arguing that high quality goods can be sold for the same price as cheaper goods.
    My argument is partly rooted in the fact that Leica views its customer base as luxury
    goods consumers rather than photographers.

    I find your second post quite puzzling - because Canon and Nikon and other (primarily
    Japanese) camera producers introduce new cameras, which embody innovation, rather
    regularly does not in any way dilute the value of older cameras. My EOS 10D and 1n don't
    know that they are both 'obsolete' - they both take photographs as well as they day they
    were sold. I think you have a different view of protecting an investment - because Leica
    only comes out with new cameras infrequently, they tend to hold their value on the used
    market for a longer period of time. The flip side is that it takes much longer for actually
    useful innovations to reach the user. Also, once the new model comes out the used value
    of the old model decreases, which is also normal for any camera. I generally don't need to
    upgrade cameras all the time (after I get a 5D I really can't see upgrading again for a good
    long while), so I am rather unconcerned with used values. In fact, I got the 1n for cheap
    because it was obsolete - so much the better for the used market buyer. But unless you
    are buying collector's items, and keeping them in a locked cabinet, cameras are a horrible
    investment by themselves - a guaranteed loss! Any depreciation in a user camera (a tool)
    is offset by the fact that it is for shooting and not accruing worth.


    Lawrence, I think you are right on.

    Trevor, the iPod isn't a sheer luxury item. Neither are other Apple products. Could you
    name a Dell or HP that has a 1.5 GHz bus with dual dual core processors? Of course not.
    How about an operating system and developing environment which competes with Apple
    but is much cheaper? Didn't think so! Apple represents actual innovation brought to the
    market and real value. Most of its competitors are ill though out, not as durable, and
    priced almost as high as the iPod. Many of them lack what many people view as essential
    features such as a real high speed interface (Firewire). If Apple was in the same class as
    Leica, then why is Apple riding on cloud nine while Leica swirls towards the bottom of the
    toilet bowl?


    Craig, I'm not worried. I'm simply curious as to the reasons why Leica will not explore
    options which will benefit photographers, if they are a photography products company. I
    would argue against the assertion that the cost of an M is a small percentage of the
    system cost - it's over $3000! I understand Leica's current place in the market well - it is
    a luxury goods producer, focusing on exclusivity, rather than a camera and optical
    company focusing on photography and photographers. If this discussion is revealing
    unpleasant facts about Leica to you then I think you should reflect on that.


    Roger, it doesn't have to be exactly the same as an M. They could use a modern shutter,
    for instance, which are available as an assembled part that you can slap into a camera
    body and is much more reliable and tougher to boot. As I said above, they could use more
    modern automated testing on the lenses and cameras. There are many other ways that
    Leica could take advantage of innovations to produce a product that offered more value to
    the customer. I don't know if you could accept that if you insist that a Leica needs a cloth
    shutter. I wouldn't be quick to judge the Zeiss-Ikon as being inferior to an MP - heck, I
    read about problems with brand new MPs and M7s all the time! This is something we'll
    only know after they are out for years. The Rolls is sure a fine car, but one could spend a
    lot less money on another car that outperforms the Rolls in every way except touchability
    and looks. For example, the Silver Seraph barely pushes 320 HP - my Olds 98 TS has
    almost as much (about 285 to the wheels after the 4" pipes, better muffler / filter,
    supercharger rebuild, baffle and resonating chamber removal, and MEMCAL 2620), is
    CONSIDERABLY lighter, and has much better bucket seats (by Lear). It also has an all
    leather interior and rose burlwood detailing. Other features are comparable as well - ETC,
    ELC, ESC, suspension, etc. I viewed and sat in a Seraph at the auto show last year, as well
    as a Maybach, and was not overly impressed with either. BTW, it's no redneck Olds - it
    looks identical to a stock 98. It's a rare car that can best the 98, and an even rarer driver
    that would try! So what does the Rolls have on the Olds? Exclusivity.


    Jim, there's only one problem with your view of the situation - Leica LOSES money when
    somebody buys a Bessa or a Zeiss-Ikon instead of an M. The current situation is
    completely unlike old times, when Leica made cash on either an M or a CL sale.


    RJ, this is not an issue of affordability. It's an issue of value, which are two separate
    considerations. See above posts for why.
     
  58. Bob, I do agree with you. The scenario I mentioned above, where M bodies are $30-50
    thousand apiece, and lenses are half that, is where Leica will be in 15 years if they stay
    their current course. If they are around at all. I am interested in seeing them come out
    with products for photographers instead of their trend of producing luxury items. They
    used to justify their prices with mechanical and optical quality that was a clear cut above
    the competition. Now the differences between Leica and the competition in optical
    performance and reliability are not nearly as evident.

    Mani, I would agree with you that Leica lenses HAD a certain signature, but their newest
    optics are almost universally recognized as having less of a Leica glow than their older
    classic lenses, in exchange for greater sharpness and contrast. And I would disagree that
    L lenses are overpriced - they are built solidly and perform (for the most part) as good or
    better than anything else out there. They hold their value as well as Leica lenses, and
    some even appreciate over time (200 f/1.8 and 50 f/1 in particular). I also agree that if
    you amortize the cost of a Leica over a long period (including the cost of CLAs every few
    years) they don't look so expensive. But the person most interested in highest quality will
    be spending that money on a medium format rig, like the Mamiya 7, or considerably less
    money on a Fuji or Bronica RF, and be getting much better quality to boot.

    It seems that there are basically two kinds of opinions here. Those that agree with me,
    who would like to see Leica around in 20 years making products for photographers, and
    others who are more of the opinion that Leica's rightful place is with the Hermes bags and
    Patek Phillipe watches, which are outperformed in every significant way by hordes of
    alternatives which lack the luxury status. I do NOT agree with the thought that Leica has
    always occupied the luxury niche in the market. They used to justify greater prices by
    having a lot of added optical and mechanical utility compared with the competition, which
    they do not have for the most part any more. This luxury branding of Leica, in my
    opinion, is a recent development. I also feel that the current owner has reinforced this
    luxury status to the detriment of Leica.
     
  59. "Who else thinks Leica needs a more affordable camera?"

    A freshly CLA'd M3 or M2 can be gotten for less than $1,000. A mint, like new, M6 (freshly CLA'd) can be easily gotten for less than $1,500.
     
  60. ... finanlly, when I hopefully will die with 99years - there should be some stocks, a rusty 911 (german sportscar) 2-3 nice watches, some old pictures from my wife and me... and of course the well used leica collection... the only real stuff, next generations will be fascinated about... a M is like an egyptian pyramide.. made forever until it is stolen... ahahhah
     
  61. Bill, that's not helping Leica stay around at all.

    And Robert, when I die my Minox B and the Rollei TLR I am thinking about getting will still
    operate... AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

    What's your point? It's a proven fact that the Leica is no more reliable or repairable than any
    other mechanical camera. AHAHAHAHA
     
  62. By the way, just for the record, I don't want Leica to end up producing $30,000 cameras, nor do I think there's much of a market for those.

    On the other hand, a .72 MP with a 75/2 Summicron is "only" about $6000 new, and in my opinion it produces a quality of photograph better (not astronomically better, but still better) than what you get out of any current DSLR kit you can get for ANY price, much less a comparable price - albeit at a significant cost in flexibility. From this point of view, the MP is priced right for today's market - if what you're trying to achieve is the highest possible image quality.

    I'm essentially making a diminishing return argument here - squeezing the last 2% of performance out of any technology drives the price way up. Hence the MP/75 Summicron combination is going to be very expensive compared to cameras which are 95% as good, just as the D2X is going to be very expensive compared to DSLRs which are 95% as good.
     
  63. As an aside, Robert, maybe you could be buried with your Leica. ahahahaha

    But they're not forever. There are many critical injuries that a Leica can sustain.
     
  64. I don't want Leica to make $30K cameras either, but that's the way they're headed. If Leica
    keeps up the price increases, eventually the market for new Leicas will collapse entirely
    and their only option will be to join Patek Phillipe. Make one last giant run of camera
    bodies and lenses, and sock 'em away in a warehouse somewhere. Retain the repair staff
    and of COURSE the executives, and sack everyone else, and then sell thirty cameras and
    fifty lenses a year for $30K per piece.

    This is the track they are on TODAY. Mr Schptig(sp?) is, as I noted in another thread, not
    the bold innovator everyone hoped for, but just another figurehead nailed onto a slowly
    sinking, but beautiful and proud, ship of the line.
     
  65. "... Leica views its customer base as luxury goods consumers rather than photographers."
    This seems more true of the M line that for the the R system. The M system is where Leica has chosen to market artificially-limited special models which differ from mainstream product only in outward apperance. I suspect Leica is now using the luxury models to keep the cash coming in while modern photographic tools are under development and I would hope that the special editions become a footnote in historians' tales of how Leica survived its turn-of-the-century crisis.
    "after I get a 5D I really can't see upgrading again for a good long while"
    You might want to replace it once Canon makes a similar model with a better viewfinder.
    "cameras are a horrible investment by themselves - a guaranteed loss!"
    In most cases I agree wholeheartedly. When I damaged my 280 f/4 APO last January I should have purchased an interim identical lens. When my lens came back from Solms four months later I could have sold the interim lens for $1000 more than its January market value.
    I agree with you re: the M cameras' cloth shutter. Unfortunately because of the M's long tradition Leica got fried in the marketplace when they changed the body shape for the M5; similarly the extra height and reversed SS dial of the TTL and M7 caused quite a fuss among many long-time M users. Modular shutters can be far less expensive than the M's traditional shutter and if the R8's shutter is any indication they can be every bit as quiet as the cloth shutter. Leica's been playing it safe with the M's shutter for too long, and will have to adapt and risk losing traditionalist customers or it's viability as a photographic tool will be further eroded.
    "their newest optics are almost universally recognized as having less of a Leica glow than their older classic lenses, in exchange for greater sharpness and contrast."
    I can't say anything about M optics 'cuz I have never used any - on the R side of the business the current lenses are unsurpassed. Yes there are lenses from other makers that are nearly as good in some ways, or surpass R lenses in some ways, but I'm of the opinion that every lens I carry should fit every camera body I carry so I'm not going to pick one camera and lens from one system 'cuz it's the best in class and one caemra and lens from another system for a different task 'cuz it's also best-in-class. I want one system that gives me best-in-class or nearly so over the range of tasks I ordinarily encounter. That's the appeal of Leica lenses and the R system for me. The lenses have it all together: sharpness, contrast, reasonably good bokeh, close minimum focus distance, full-aperture performance, minimal light fall-off or distortion, first-rate handling and construction. Sure you can get many of these qualities in select lenses from other makers. I can get all these qualities in most of the lenses from one maker, and they all fit my camera bodies.
    "the person most interested in highest quality will be spending that money on a medium format rig, like the Mamiya 7, or considerably less money on a Fuji or Bronica RF, and be getting much better quality to boot"
    For many applications this is true. It's not true where size and weight constrain the choices to 35mm or smaller, or where the medium-format systems don't offer the tools to accomplish the task. Can you imagine what the medium-format equivalent of a 560mm lens would weigh?
    As a previous poster noted IMHO Leica missed an opportunity with the Minox brand: Minox could have been the entry-level Leica system, both M and R. I agree that an entry-level product will benefit the company, but it should not carry the Leica name. The Leica name should be reserved for the top-of-the-line product, only.
     
  66. I mostly agree with you, Doug, but I know you have priced out R gear. It's always four to
    twenty times the cost of the competition. The image quality is usually great, but for most
    people that is too much of a stretch. They are not always unsurpassed, however. Usually
    excellent but not always the best.

    I'm not arguing against purchasing Leica gear. I just question whether or not they can
    survive with their current strategy.
     
  67. Andrew as I see it their current strategy is temporary. They've indicated their direction with R, in particular the DMR, and it's M's turn now with the upcoming digital M. The special editions are a stop-gap strategy... I hope!
     
  68. hey Andrew and all other crowds out there... in the stock market there is a rule, which never fails... and it goes like this...:

    "you never have to sell a good stock" !!!

    In regards to Leica, this means that as long as prices go up, you stay invested in your 8 to 10 M bodies and 35 lenses... as "the trend is your friend" (another broker wording.. hahah) when prices show a overheating..(around 45.000eur per body..) then you better get out... this is when we will take pictures with biochips... you can load your camera with 8year Gauda or Racqulette cheese and have the nicest bookeh in the universe... ahahahhahahha
     
  69. Robert, you are making less sense with each post.

    And Peter, I don't want to spend the $40,000 or so that it would take for me to replace my
    Epson / Cosina and Canon gear with Leica products - if I even could find replacements for
    some gear which I can't! I have used but not owned Leica lenses and an MP. They was very
    nice, but for my money it wasn't 4-20 times as nice.
     
  70. A reality check:
    <p>How many of the above posters have actually bought any NEW Leica M gear in the past 30 years (bodies and lenses only)? Gray market doesn't count.
    <p>As for the rest of the Leica Forum, I would hazard a guess and say that less than ten percent of the economic Einsteins have actually bought NEW non-gray gear. Possibly lower than that.
     
  71. The issue is you want a new product line to get people to by new, to try, without taking out a second and third mortgage to get a camera and a asph lens. Minox could have become a fine entry level system for M and R lenses. You need cash flow to keep a company alive. While Uber-High-End marketing is a fine place, you can not forget your primary market, photographers. Collectors are getting older and older and few are joining the ranks to replace them.

    Building 4/3, Nikon and Canon mount lenses would cost little in R&D money and would generate positive cash and great PR. Leica lenses are unique, special and I would bet, the apple of many photographers eye. They could buy a lens, try it and perhaps become converts.

    So they buy other bodies, get sell them our lenses. Find our niche and own it.

    B2 (;->
     
  72. Peter, now I know you aren't current with Leica's prices.

    Looking in my Canon bag right now, I have a 1n, a 10D (which will soon be supplemented
    by a 5D), a 20-35 f/3.5-4.5, a 50mm f/1.8, a 28-135 IS, a 100 Macro USM, a 135 f/2.8
    SF, a 300 f/4L IS, and 1.4x and 2x TC's. In my RF bag I have the R-D1, a 15mm Heliar, a
    21mm Skopar, a 28mm Skopar, a 40 Nokton, a 55 f/2.8 Industar 61LD, and a APO Lanthar
    90.

    Let's break down the prices, all new from B&H, not including rebates, and all USA
    warrantied (which is how I buy most of my camera gear). Then let's look at what the
    equivalent Leica kits would cost me.

    EF 20-35 f/3.5-4.5: $370

    EF 28-135 IS: $420

    EF 50 f/1.8: $80

    EF 100 f/2.8 Macro: $470

    EF 135 SF: $370

    EF 300 f/4L IS: $1150

    EF 1.4x II: $290

    EF 2x II: $290

    And because the 1n has been replaced by the 1v, and because I'll be using a 5D instead of
    the 10D shortly, I'll use those prices instead. I like to have one dedicated film body, and
    one digital.

    Canon 5D: $3300

    Canon 1V w/PB-E2 and GR-E2: $2000

    My Canon kit comes in at $8740, not including incidentals like batteries and memory
    cards etc. This is a pretty complete setup, and I feel no need for the 300 f/2.8 or the 500
    f/4 or 600 f/4. I may get the 400 f/4 DO because of its compact size, sooner or later. But
    let's leave that out of the picture.
     
  73. Wow, this thread has produced some posters who have nver appeared here before!
     
  74. Next comes my Epson R-D1 kit + lenses.

    15mm Heliar: $345

    21mm Skopar: $335

    28mm Skopar: $290

    40mm Nokton: $380

    55 Industar 61-LD: $20 (from Russia)

    90 APO-Lanthar: $320

    And the R-D1, of course. It's $2800.

    Not including incidentals, my RF kit cost me $4490.

    Now, let's start by pricing an M. I'll go ahead and price out lenses without taking into
    account the FOV, as I hope to replace the R-D1 with something full frame sooner or later.
    I'm also sticking to Leica brand stuff, when available. When it isn't, I'll use a compatible
    higher end lens such as a Zeiss.

    M7: $3300

    For the 15mm length, I'll use the Distagon as it is a notch above the Voigtlander, and Leica
    offers nothing similar.

    15 f/2.8: $3800

    Leica doesn't offer a lower cost 21, so I'll use their 21 f/2.8

    21 f/2.8: $3200

    Leica doesn't offer a 28 f/3.5, so I'll use the 2.8

    28 f/2.8: $2300

    Leica doesn't offer a 40 f/1.4, so I'll use the 35 f/1.4 instead:

    35 f/1.4: $3000

    50 f/2.8: $850

    Leica doesn't offer a 90 f/3.5, so I'll use the 90 f/4:

    90 f/4: $1400

    Giving me a M system cost of $17,850. Even though I am often getting an extra stop with
    the Leicas, I have no choice about this. This is Leica pricing exercise.
     
  75. Leica does not need to make an affordable camera for us. We already own their film camera and lenses. What they need to do is become a partner with a Japanese company that can make a high quality digital camera and then help them build a high quality Leica lens for it, all for $400-$600. And they are. It's Panasonic; it's an aspheric Leica lens of high quality made in Japan (perhaps China), and it's exactly what everyone here is asking them to do. So, go buy one. They also keep coming out with new and better models with higher resolution. What more can they do? Does anyone really expect them to catch up electronically with Panasonic, Sony, Cannon, etc.?
     
  76. Finally, the R kit.

    Since, as I detailed above, I need 2 SLR bodies - one for film and one for digital, I will ahve
    to take that into account. I will also take into account any motor drives, etc that will bring
    the R into the frame rate of the 1v (yeah right!).

    2 Leica R9 cameras: $5600

    Motor winder set: $1100

    DMR: $5950

    21-35 f/3.5-4.0: $2900

    Since there's no 28-135 IS, I would go instead with a 28 prime.

    28 f/2.8: $2500

    50 f/2: $1200

    100 f/2.8 Macro: $3400

    Because the 100 Macro won't reach life size like my Canon, add

    Elpro 1:1 adapter: $470

    Leica doesn't offer a 135 lens in the R system, but I like something between 100 and 300,
    so add the only prime in that range:

    180 f/2.8: $4000

    280 f/4: $5200

    1.4x TC: $1700

    2x TC: $2000

    For a total R system cost of a STAGGERING $36020.

    I feel that I need each of the lenses I priced out in my kit. So, to replace $13250 of Canon
    SLR and Epson / Cosina RF gear with the Leica equivalents I would need $54000 worth of
    Leica gear. This doesn't include incidentals.

    Hardly comparable.
     
  77. I forgot to add in my P&S.

    Fuji Natura: $350.

    Leica CM (although it's not nearly as wide or fast): $1100.

    Damn. So this little exercise should illustrate that the cost of a workable Leica R and a
    complete workable M system, for my needs, is roughly 4x the price.
     
  78. Larry, the question is why would somebody buy the Leica digital when they can get the
    exact same camera with the exact same lens for substantially less from Panasonic? I don't
    think their digicams are a big source of profit. They probably do get some for the Leica
    (really Leica 'approved' and not even necessarily designed) lens on the Panasonic, but this
    isn't a Leica.

    They have done worse every year for years now, despite having digicams available for quite
    some time. That strategy isn't helping them very much.
     
  79. You see, Peter, I was pricing out Leica systems similar to my Canon systems.

    I wasn't shopping around for used gear, I was shopping for new gear with a factory
    warranty. It doesn't help Leica one bit to shop around for used gear, and this isn't how I
    would go for an M system or an R system if I was even remotely interested in the current M/
    R lineups.
     
  80. Andrew, again at the risk of appearing disagreeable, my view is that you are working off a flawed premise:

    <<Do you all think that Leica is incapable of producing a quality camera / lens combination for that price point? That's my real question>>:

    It's not about simple production costs; pricing is about expected forecast sales volumes over a priod of time; recoupment of R&D over time; profitability over time against fluctuations in forecast demand.

    Certainly no film camera maker can have "optomistic" sales forecasts today.

    Just look at Canon's and Nikon's top end film SLR body prices and they have (ceteris paribus) far wider volumes over which to recoup manufacturing and R&D investments; they have far higher mass produced electronic components....... blah blah.

    Do you really think that any manufacturer actually enjoys to raise prices especially in a shrinking market-place?

    No way - Leica should stick to its knitting.

    Next someone will suggest that Porsche should make a "people's car"!
     
  81. Simon, they do. It's called a Boxter.

    I'm not suggesting that Leica go for the $400 market along with Cosina. I'm suggesting that
    they go for the $2000 (camera + 35 / 50 f/2.8 lens) market.

    As I and many others have pointed out before, their current strategy of raising prices is
    steering them away from what should be their focused customer base.
     
  82. Yes, I have bought a modest amount of new, officially imported Leica gear in the last 30 years, and I'm absolutely with Mani: amortize it over the decades and you'll see proof of the old adage that quality doesn't cost, it pays.

    I'm still using the first-ever Leica lens I bought new (35/1.4 last generation pre-aspheric, maybe 20 years ago) and although the current aspheric is better it isn't enough better that I'm willing to change -- and the new lens also a lot bigger and heavier. I'm also still using my 90/2 Summicron of slightly newer vintage -- though I have yo say that I use the new 75/2 a lot more.

    As for Olds vs. Rolls-Royce, if you're happy with an Olds, stick with an Olds. If you want a Rolls-Royce and can afford it, buy a Rolls-Royce. I'd need to be a lot richer before I considered either, but judging from friends' cars and their experiences with them, I'd buy the Rolls if I could.

    I can however afford the occasional bit on Leica kit (not least because it is a professional expense for me) and as it gives me great pleasure for many years it strikes me as a very good buy.

    Cheers,

    Roger (www.rogerandfrances.com)
     
  83. Heh. They don't make Oldsmobiles any more. But I wouldn't turn down an even trade Rolls
    for Olds!
     
  84. Porsche didn't make a "people's car," but they did introduce the Boxter, to the great dismay of many hard-core Porsche enthusiasts.

    And it has saved their rear-ends. And, it is considered "best in class."

    It is ludicrous to assume that Leica simply can not produce a full-featured M for less than they already do. That they are unwilling to do so is fully possible, and that they don't want to is also possible.

    But to say that german workers, among the most efficient and skilled in the world, can not produce a competent, competitive product is simply asinine.

    That the only other alternative would be "watering down" the brand name is also silly. Leica has only recently become a luxury brand...in the past, they were simply a very high quality brand. Granted, in the beginning, they were a luxury company, but that was 70 years ago.

    In fact, there is an important distinction between a luxury item, and a high quality item. Disregarding other possible definitions for the moment, a luxury item makes a particular experience more sensuous, but performs a task no more admirably than a simple version. A high quality item in contrast, performs its task much better than a low quality item, and its reason for being is to accomplish that task reliably and precisely.

    As such, a Hermes Edition Leica is possibly luxurious, but a run of the mill MP or M7 is a tool that performs its designated function better than, for example a Bessa R.

    Anybody familiar with bikes, motorcycles, or any other such field knows that there are a number of very high quality manufacturers, who produce parts often by hand, to very high tolerances, and charge fair prices to keep up with their competition.

    Nobody is advocating for Leica to become Vivitar, rather we are suggesting that to save the sinking ship, there must be some way to plug the gaping hole in the bow.

    This discussion would be all academic if Leica were a healthy, going concern; unfortunately, they are as many people can recognize, at the end of their ropes. They are getting further and further in debt, and since a couple of years ago when they were profitable, serious competitors have emerged to take away their already drastically diminishing market.

    Let's suppose for the moment that not that many people buy the digital M? I can't imagine for a moment that Epson, Cosina and Zeiss will simply stand by and let their products be usurped with noresponse. I also can't imagine that they are keeping close tabs on what Leica will be able to produce, and will be doing their best to equal or best it. Collectors are sure to buy a digi-m or two just for the novelty of it, but if people can get a reliable, high quality digital rangefinder from somebody else, they will do it.

    Likewise, if Leica doesn't update their DMR soon, all those people who insist, swearing on their heart that the DMR is the best DSLR in the world will have to eat their shorts.

    There has to be a meaningful way to cut costs and spur demand for their products, other than making crappy products. For example, is it really necessary to spend $100 to make a shutter speed dial? Is it that much better than a CNC machined speed dial made from magnesium, that would cost on the order of $2-3 and would be to the exact same tolerance?

    Part of the problem in this discussion, and discussions like it is that there are no people that really know the truth about Leica's financial situations and plans....sometimes an "insider" or two pops out of the woodwork, but their comments are inevitably somewhat empty, and not backed up by any specifics.

    Why would an M that costs less not be an M? I've touched the M, I've held the M, I've photographed with the M. Although I have yet to own one, I know that although they are lovely cameras, much of their loveliness comes from their spartan nature....they are a strange thing to call a luxury product. Since I have had the opportunity to use several M's over the years, I can say with some little authority that an M body is realistically no more sensuous to use than, for example a Hasselblad, a Nikon F5 or even the humble (but excellent) Canon 1V. The beauty of the Leica comes from its simplicity, and good design...it is not therefore a luxury item, at least inherently.

    I picked up a Nikon F yesterday that I had lieing around the house, and I marvelled at its ingenuity. Although it may not have quite as close of tolerances as the Leica, it accomplishes its task very admirably, and the damn thing is decades old!

    Except for the meter, modern Leicas have essentially nothing that an original F didn't have in terms of technology...to manufacture something that would accomplish the task admirably, and put more Leicas in the hands of photographers would do more for the brand than any amount of exclusivity imaginable. Nikon has a very storied name, and they not only produce high end film cameras and lenses, but also point and shoots. (so does Leica)

    I say these things not just from the perspective of some foolish debutante, rather as the son of a long family of musicians. I myself am a sculptor. I have touched and felt the most finely crafted things in the history of mankind, and I know that a Stradivarius or a Guarneri is not a luxury product, but rather a tremendously fine instrument.

    Leica's are not Strads, for the simple reason that Strads were individually hand-crafted by the most skilled artisans in history, and they represented the culmination of all artistic and scientific knowledge of what it was to make a violin at the time. Modern Leicas on the other hand are mass-produced in Portugal, with tooling that is decades old, by artisans trained to do the task by people who were trained to do the task, by people who were not considered "masters" at what they did.

    There are only very few cameras these days that can claim to be "hand-crafted," and those are largely large-format cameras and Alpas. Leica's claim to exclusivity is artificial, and is destroying the company by not allowing their products to sell well.

    Few camera shops sell the things anymore, because of Leica's antiquated dealer requirements and high prices...dealers simply can not get rid of the Leicas they have. As a result of poor sales, Leica has created an illusion of exclusivity that is artificial. Nobody in their right mind could say that Leica mad a choice to not sell more cameras than they have...it was a result of astute competition that they went from being a dominant company, to a small, dieing company.

    Perhaps a real issue at work here among some of you is that you would like to possess an exclusive item? Perhaps people like me are simply not good enough to own a Leica, and are more fit to bottom feed with the Nikon and Canon crowd?
     
  85. Maybe Leica should die - they are not very innovative. They've had 50 years to figure out how to make the same mechanical cameras more efficiently. The fact that the cameras are the same price, in real terms, as they were in the 1950's, shows that they can't cut it.

    Leica has missed almost every major movement in the marketplace. They were late getting SLR's to the market. Late adding meters to their cameras. Late in doing anything digital. Autofocus? Not! Unless you buy a Leicasonic. High shutter speeds? No. Elctronic shutters (greater accuracy, even though traditionalist will balk)? No again.

    Leica is a follower, not an leader. Granted, you get old world craftmanship. But that's not going to carry them into this century - unless they find a way to move manufaturing to lower-cost countries and still find a way to keep quality high. But even that will condemn them to a rapidly shrinking niche market.

    Leica isn't going to innovate their way out of this mess. That's not what Leica does.

    Best options? Sell Leica to Panasonic. Then there is at least a chance that the superb Leica lens designs will live on (and be produced in high enough volumes to be affordable). And kill the film cameras - all of the Leica affectionados buy used anyway.

    Robert
     
  86. rj

    rj

    Andrew, value is as subjective as affordability, so the argument is the same.

    I bought a new leica motor m and a 1.25 finder recently, warranty and all. The motor is a blast to use on my used leica m6ttl, too bad it doesn't work with my used m3. I am currently saving up (by selling other gear I don't use) and going to buy a 35mm chrome summicron new. Its my damned money and I can do with it as I please and I certainly don't have to justify the expenditure to anyone but myself and my wife. After years of using it I won't think of how much I paid for it anyway. BTW, I drive used cars for under 5 grand and fix them myselves so I can afford other things in life.
     
  87. Leicas are expensive because of high labor costs in Germany. Did you know a German
    women can take a long term maternity leave and even after three years the company by law
    is obligated to have the same job waiting for her? European socialism is much to blame
    here. Surely Leica can automate the process and outsource like Daimler Chysler and VW.
    The best bet though is to do what Zeiss is doing and find a Japanese partner.
     
  88. Robert -- that's what it costs to make a Leica M, so it's no surprise that the price has remained roughly constant. In those 50 years the cost of skilled labour has risen dramatically, so there HAVE been economies.

    Compare it with a BMW motorcycle: much better designed than 50 years ago, but not as well made. There's not a lot you can change in an M and still leave it as an M.

    Cheers,

    Roger
     
  89. Everyone on the planet has been designing labor out of products. HP printers, for example, are much easier to assemble than laser printers of 10 years ago. and a dell Computer contains about 12 minutes of assembly labor.

    The problem is that an M6 is still an M6.

    Robert
     
  90. Let me rephrase that - it's fine to keep the M6 or M7 in the lineup as there is still some demand at the required price point. But the cameras needed to evolve into something that can be manufactured at lower cost. Leica should have been developing their own Cosina Bessa line 10-15 years ago (although to higher build and quality standards to fit the brand image).

    Manufaturing can survive in high labor countries - you just need to be very efficient and produce exceptional quality.

    All businesses must generate enough profits to reinvest in the product line. Leica can't do that by selling super-priced cameras. They need enough volume to generate cash to fund R&D and to pay investors.

    I'd hate to see the brand disappear. But I don't see how they can keep on the current path and expect to survive.

    Robert
     
  91. Simon, why is Zeiss bothering with the Zeiss-Ikon if they don't expect it to sell?

    Peter, I have said that Leica lenses are very good. Not always unsurpassed, but usually
    very very good and sometimes unsurpassed. But they carry price tags that are much
    higher than competitors that perform just as ably (or so close that one might need an
    optical bench to detect any differences). 'Noted Leica expert' (as his name is always
    preceded) Erwin Puts marvels at the equal level of quality apparent in the new Zeiss M
    lenses, for 1/2 or even 1/3rd the cost of the Leica competition, and he's an admitted Leica
    fanboy. The aspherical elements are not lovingly hand ground by Germans with high
    magnification monocles, they are pressed by Hoya in Japan. The other glass is bought at
    commodity prices from whoever can offer the lowest bid, be it Schott or Hoya or whoever.
    The assembly per lens probably doesn't consume more than a half dozen hours for even
    the most complex design, and I would be surprised if it took more than an hour for the
    easier designs.

    Raymond, Leicas are mass produced in Portugal, where wages are among the lowest in
    western Europe. The amount of German labor is probably inconsequential to the price -
    slapping the red dot on and folding the box over doesn't even really demand extremely
    skilled German labor.

    I have a feeling that a lot of the price of a Leica isn't parts and labor, it's an attempt to
    provide an unrealistic profit margin per item, a bilge pump if you will, for the sinking ship.

    Even those of you who believe that a Leica should continue raising their prices must admit
    that eventually they will be out of reach of everyone except the Sultan of Brunei and other
    such luminaries. I'm pretty sure that, even though there are many well off photo.net
    members, none of us are quite that well off.
     
  92. There was a special Leica M6 produced for the Sultan of Brunei.
    He doesn't need to buy one.

    "Who else thinks Leica needs a more affordable camera"

    When I bought my new Leicaflex SL it cost me $625. This was 10% of my salary.
    When I bought my new M6,for $2800 it was only 3.5% of my salary
    Now that I'm retired, a new MP still only represents 6% of my pension.

    We already have more affordable Leicas!!
     
  93. Robert,

    Yes, an M is still an M -- and that was my point. 'Design out the labour' and you have a very different product. A far bigger problem than an M being an M would be if it WEREN'T an M.

    I'm with Ben on the internet sales -- I canvassed a similar idea for the Ernst Leica in my AP piece, though I proposed camera shows/mail order instead of internet. On the other hand I fear that for some people, being grovelled to when they buy a new Leica may be part of the pleasure of buying one.

    Cheers,

    Roger
     
  94. If you could design out a large portion of the labor, and end up with an identical item, how
    would it be different?
     
  95. You miss the most important point: if Leicas were made more affordable, the riffraffish,
    dirty-fingered hoi polloi would be able to own them.

    Then the snobs and dentists would have to find another camera.
     
  96. Andrew Robertson : "If you could design out a large portion of the labor, and end up with an identical item, how would it be different?"

    It would say 'Made in India' or 'Made in China' or 'Made in the Ukraine'. Would that be different enough?
     
  97. more affordable, the riffraffish, dirty-fingered hoi polloi would be able to own them.

    I'm sure they can afford a secondhand M6,Z. Unfortunatily,as you are aware, they are spending all their cash upgrading to the latest DSLR every 6/12 months

    It's a habit Z which you and they need to get undercontrol.

    Buying the lastest Leica or DSLR will not improve your photography.However, it will give you the buying buzz,and for some a feeling of being a member of the superior elite.

    Concentrate on your photography ,Z,cast aside those fleeting moments of illusion.
     
  98. It's a habit Z which you and they need to get undercontrol.​

    Allen thinks he knows what I spend my money on? I didn't realize that booze makes him psychic. Allen needs to getaspellchecker.
     
  99. It's a habit Z that you and they need to get under control.
    Allen thinks he knows what I spend my money on? I didn't realize that booze makes him psychic. Allen needs to get a spellchecker.

    Okay, under control. My, my Z has become the voice of the riff raffish, dirty-fingered hoi polloi.

    Bet he only drinks tea and sticks he?s little finger out.

    The so-called voice of the riff raffish often do. Bet his some rich knob?bet he is.
     
  100. Bet Z has got a big Zoom.....a big white one so everyone can see it?bet he has.

    Bet he wears white socks.....bet he does.

    Bet he has got a 18 million pixel camera....bet he has.

    Bet he wears a white vest.....bet he does.

    Bet he has counted all the pixels just to make sure.....bet he has.

    Thanks for fun, Z;) all in good humour,Bailey.
     
  101. Allen's gotten into the cooking sherry again.
     

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