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Grim times for Leica

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From another list today, a multimedia producer who expects to buy a Canon 5D Mk II for his work:<P>

<I>I totally agree that each has its place and function.<BR>


The 5D is a very nice camera in its price point.<BR>

I love the 24 - 70 2.8 and 70 - 200 2.8 IS on the rare occasion that <BR>

I need auto and IS<BR>

All I'm saying is:<BR>

Put the same Leica glass<BR>

on 5D and DMR<BR>

and you will see a difference in the print<BR>

the DMR will deliver more fine detail, dynamic range and shadow detail.<BR>

I've done the side by side comparison.<BR>


I've also done side by side tests<BR>

using identical view camera lenses<BR>

on 5D, DMR and M8<BR>

same results<BR>

the 5D cannot deliver the fine detail, dynamic range and shadow detail<BR>

that the DMR and M8 deliver<BR>

you can see it on the screen and in the prints<BR>

I attribute it to the CCD versus Cmos<BR>

but I don't have the tech knowledge to really know why they test out <BR>

as they do<BR>

in all tests the cameras are locked down on a rock solid tripod<BR>

focused on same subject with same lighting same f stop<BR>


I also agree that if they're going to press 90% of people will not <BR>

notice a difference<BR>

but I notice and I'm the first one they have to get past<BR>

and I've trained my clients to notice so that they stick with me<BR></I>

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That's great, Doug. Now here's the million dollar question: Can this multimedia producer be persuaded to PUBLISH his test report, with HIS NAME ON IT, with his side by side results from ISO 100 to 1600? If he has conclusive proof that Canon is pulling the biggest con the photographic world has ever seen with their blockbuster 5D, I'll permanently remove myself from the Leica forum, squat over on the Canon forum and laugh at them instead. Deal?
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<i>Francois, how do you propose I get a 6-degree angle of view lens on a medium-format camera, and then climb

mountains with it? How much medium-format equipment are you willing to carry on your back for a backpacking trip,

and how "essential" is high-ISO capability when you're using the camera on a tripod and especially when there is

not just a slight but substantial difference in the raw files? Did you ever seen Galen Rowell hanging from a rope

on the side of the mountain with a medium-format camera, or while he was running to catch the light at the top of

a mountain? If one must define the uses for small-format cameras as narrowly as you have</i>

<p>Mountaineering with a camera (along with a 6-degree angle of view lens, no less) is itself a very, very, VERY

narrow and specialized pursuit. Most of the camera buying public (and even most professionals) aren't planning to

rappel down the side of Mt. Everest in the singular pursuit of a fisheye photo. As for the few who are, I suspect

most of them are still opting for weather-and dust-resistant digital SLRs, not Leica M8s

or DMRs. The original question remains: Aside from satisfying one's own egotistical desire to own the most

expensive gear money can buy, what compelling reason is there to buy a Leica nowadays? This is the question that is

raised by the WSJ report.</p>

<p><i>Leica reported in August that revenue for its fiscal first quarter ended June 30 fell by nearly half to

€26.999 million from the year-earlier quarter, and reported a net loss of €3.85 million. It reiterated that it

expects a loss approaching €10 million for the fiscal year ending March 2009, and break-even or slightly positive

earnings in the following fiscal year <b>IF</b> sales of new products take off.</i></p>


<p>(Bold emphasis mine.) That is a very, very big "if."</p>


<p><i>Mr. Kaufmann estimates that annual sales have to climb by about two-thirds to at least €250 million to

finance the R&D spending for Leica to survive</i></p>


<p>This last statement above is really the most alarming. Does Kaufmann really think that a $10,000 Noctilux and

an S2-which-won't-be-released-until-summer-2009 will increase Leica's annual sales by two thirds?</p>

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<i>Fang, how about you post some of your pictures before you continue any further down the road with your theoretical ramblings?</i>

<p>I'm not entirely certain of the relevance my pictures have to the discussion at hand, which happens to be a Wall Street Journal article in which Leica's own CEO has admitted they need to nearly double their current sales to survive past 2009. If you want to call such discussion "theoretical ramblings" then be my guest.</p>

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Hello Douglas,


You wrote :


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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



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Jay :


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


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


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


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


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


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


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



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


Peter A, You don't think that calling a D3 and IDS Mk III junk isn't a bit of an overstatement? At least they don't require an extra

filter over the lenses to capture correct color. (I have handled and tried Leica but never owned one, and certainly wouldn't even

put myself in the market for a camera that you need an extra filter on your lens just to make it work correctly.)


The S2 looks like a very cool high-end camera. How is bringing it to market going to solve the problem of dramatically increasing

Leica's sales so that they don't go under?


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


Will an R10 do that?


I hope Leica can pull through. the world needs more great cameras. But high end Canon and Nikon stuff junk? Puh-leeze...

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


"Ughhh their colour is JUNK."


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


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


Why do we have to take anyone's word when can can see results via test charts and gallery samples?

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I would imagine that, given the current circumstances, it is unlikely Leica will remain an independent camera

manufacturer for much longer. When they are bought out by a company with adequate financial resources and R+D,

then they may become a viable option for more professioanls and serious amateurs. Economies of scale, poor

management and expensive labor are why Leica cameras cost what they do. It has nothing to do with build quality,

craftsmanship, or superior optics. Fully manual Nikons, Pentaxes, Canons etc. from decades past have proven just

as reliable as fully manual Leicas. There isn't alot of rocket science to making these things. However, anything

after the M6 makes one call into question using the terms "Leica" and "reliable" in the same breath.


I think you could make the argument that the outstanding performance of Leica M lenses has as much or more to do

with the inherent benefits of a rangefinder design (which allows for easier designing of sharper/better

corrected lenses) than any trade secrets of Leica itself. Does anyone think that if Canon or Nikon entered the high-

end RF world that Leica would still be making the best glass? In the MF world, the sharpest optics don't belong to

the trupeted Zeiss/H-Blad combo, but rather the more pedestrian Mamiya 7 rangefinder, proof that the design of

rangefinders itself can make any company look like a master craftsman of lenses. Furthermore, I've never been

under the impression that Leica R lenses are any better than Canon "L" primes or high end Nikon optics.


I'm not anti-Leica and I want the company to survive. I also understand you can't create a perfect formula to equate

a camera system to a monetary value based upon a universally accepted definition of quality. Nevertheless, Leica

products have truly departed from reality in their prices. I fully believe that some sort of significant collapse is

inevitable. The Leica name will live on of course but under the umbrella of a more fully developed, financially-

endowed, imaging company. When you can purchase a digital M body for the price of a Nikon D300 (be honest this


what the thing should really cost) then Leica will truly begin to make inroads and may once again become relevant to

modern photography.

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Grim times, I personally don't believe it.......

Leitz in 1987 bought a few companies we all know.

The big merge: Leitz bought American Optical, B&L Reichart, Wild,Cambridge and a few other giants to become diverse monster. I can't imagine them falling off the planet before some others. Yes a hundred years old managed to bring them to the top of reaseach instrumentation market in the world of optics with confocal Microscopy, surgical microscopes, Loops and general microscopy as well as the medical giant in histology. The list is long with their sucsesses in the world. It's hard to believe that this huge holding company will let a small division go under.

This comany is big now under the name of Leica. One of a few companies that made their own glass.

The top of the line cameras is just the fun part of the company.

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From Dave:


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



From Leica:


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


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


The use of the Leica brand is the only remaining connection between the three companies, on account of the long history and heritage of these now independent companies. Leica Microsystems is the owner of the Leica trade name and trademark and has granted licenses for their use by the other companies."

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Douglas Herr's wildlife photos are a national treasure.


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


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


I admit to being an old curmudgeon, but I still like steel and glass.

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<i>Some people may buy an M8 because they use it as a landscape camera and don't want to bother with a more

obtrusive gear. But it is clear in so doing, they use the M camera a far different way this camera was originally

designed for.</i>

<p>Very true, especially if said landscape photographers are foolish enough to - *gasp* - <a

href="http://www.photo.net/leica-rangefinders-forum/00QTrU" target="_blank">attempt a vertical composition</a>,

resulting in a broken $5,000 camera bouncing down a cliff. Sorry Francois, I couldn't resist! :)</p>


<p><i>For the record. I think Erwin Putz has far more credibility than Fangio.</i></p>


<p>Just where does my credibility play into all of this? Are you saying that the <a

href=" _DSC4491 target="_blank">D70 picture</a> I posted was

doctored? Are you suggesting that I impersonated Michael Kamber in order to write a <a

href="http://web.mac.com/kamberm/Leica_M8_Field_Test,_Iraq/Page_1.html" target="_blank">disparaging M8

review</a>? Or are you suggesting that I somehow planted that <a

href="http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122152103387739231.html" target="_blank">Wall Street Journal article</a>?

There is a name for this problem: it's called <a

href="http://www.webmd.com/schizophrenia/guide/delusional-disorder" target="_blank">delusional disorder</a> and

yes, there is treatment.</p>


<p><i>... but so called high end CaNikon junk ... gimme a break CaNikon is JUNK ... Canon plastic colour ruin the

look ... Ughhh their colour is JUNK ... the over photoshopped look...</i></p>


<p>Ladies and gentlemen, I rest my case.</p>

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<i>I think we can safely conclude that neither Brad or Fang will ever in their life buy an M8 or any other Leica

for that matter.</i>

<p>I *am* a Leica customer, and have been for a long time. I've owned several M6's, an M2, two R6.2's, two R7's,

an R8; and 35/2, 35/1.4, 50/2, 50/1.4 and 90/2.8 lenses, all in both M and R versions. My current Panasonic

compact's lens says "Leica" on it. With the exception of the constantly breaking M6's, dead-out-of-the-box R6.2's

and an erratic meter in one of the R7's, I've been relatively satisfied with Leica film products. The difference

between me and a fanboy is a) I don't call top-of-the-line gear being used by 99% of the world's professionals

"junk", and b) I'm willing to recognize when a company whose products I own has done something stupid, and call

them on it. Leica in my opinion has had its head up its ass since the digital revolution started. This Wall

Street Journal article tends to support that opinion.</p>

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Canon / Nikon are not junk. I happen to love the color from the 5D. Pictures are not a duplicate of reality. You either

prefer the rendering or you don't. There's nothing more to it than that.


Fang, I know a few superb photographers who use the M8. They use them in spite of the camera's imperfections, because

the basic M design is intact and they like the camera, just as many of us have since we first became familiar with it.

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>>> I think we can safely conclude that neither Brad or Fang will ever in their life buy an M8...<P>


True on the M8; bad ergonomics for what I do as I've pointed out before - I could say the same for a 1DSIII, D3, or 'blad as well.<P>


>>> or any other Leica for that matter. Once we've uncovered that mystery it all gets very boring.<P>


Not true on that. I have a leica disto - which I like a lot.<P>


I'm just not into liking or disliking <I>camera companies or brands in general.</i> Or feelings of loyalty towards brands that need to be

publicly defended.

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Fangio - if you quote ONE persons opinion about the M8 - and dont understand the weaknesses in his own review, which merely underscore what a pathetic and stupid opinion it was - then you are just evidencing a less than strong argument. If you refuse to respond to the substantive issue of people's preferences and the lack of a universally applicable utility curve then you are merely evidencing naivety. If you quote a Wall St journal article which preceded Mr K's S2 announcement of a few days ago - you are out of date and your argument is irrelevant. <p> However all this and more is to be expected from a person who continually rants about negatives to do with poor lil old Leica.<p> Ray - when Canon make a body which I can use my M lenses on and is as simple and compact as my M8 or my MP I will take Canon seriously. Sorry but Canon cameras and lenses ad software is JUNK compared to the stuff I do use. I use the word JUNK - to upset Fangio the Canon fanboy - cos really I could care less about what other people use what they like or dont like - I dont care and I dont understand why anyone does care what other people use.<p> and I really dont understand why people would participate in a forum abotu Leica cameras - just to criticse them - that is just plain ...sick.
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