Leica company in financial trouble

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medform-norm

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I just read in the (german) newspapers that the Leice camera company has announced it has financial problems as some credit lines have been severed by the banks. (this is my literal and awkward translation of the german prose). They are not quite bankrupt, but have suffered severe loss and will only cope for the next months. (Until the shareholders meeting on May 31.)

Now, I don't own a Leica - and I can't forsee what this brings for the future of the Leica company, but it might affect the minds of the people who are not sure what Leica to buy. It would be interesting to hear what y'all have to say about this!

Cheers! Medform-norm
 

NikoSperi

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Yes, it looks like Leica is just starting the painful process that Ilford seems to be coming out of. Hopefully they will come out the other end of the tunnel leaner, but still alive.

So pitch in everyone and order your Leica à la Carte; they just need about 3000 orders!
 

Flotsam

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We should each go out and buy several M7s and lenses to help keep them afloat.
 
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medform-norm

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NikoSperi said:
So pitch in everyone and order your Leica à la Carte; they just need about 3000 orders!

Ah, I forgot to tell you of OUR financial trouble ... preventing us to buy such a lovely a la Carte! I'm sure the bank would sever our credit lines too if we did as much as entertain the vague idea of maybe getting one of those...

Anyone want to back up starving artists and fund our efforts to save Leica?
 

Dave Parker

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Flotsam said:
We should each go out and buy several M7s and lenses to help keep them afloat.

Sorry not my first order of business, it would be to bad to see them gone, but those that don't change to meet the times, won't be around to talk about it, hopufully they have a good team in place to get them through their current situation.

Dave
 

Nicole

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Does this mean I might finally get my dream M7 and array of lenses off EBay for 1/2 price in about 6 months? :D

For their sake I certainly hope they make it through without too much trouble!
 

NikoSperi

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Nicole Boenig-McGrade said:
Does this mean I might finally get my dream M7 and array of lenses off EBay for 1/2 price in about 6 months? :D
Either that, or you'll have to pay four times today's price because it will have reached Collector Status :rolleyes:
 

janké

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Leica in financial troubles

As a Linhof Technika photographer I admire range finder camera's and M Leica's offers the best quality possible in 35mm.
(all the people who says that this is not true, never saw a negative produced by a M Leica or can not handle a camera properly)

The reason I will continue to take pictures the analog way is the quality I can get from film. Digital is just another technique and will never produce the same product you can make with film and vice versa.
I hope Leica will find a way to survive and will produce their fine camera's for ever.

JanKé
 

Dave Parker

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janké said:
(all the people who says that this is not true, never saw a negative produced by a M Leica or can not handle a camera properly)
JanKé


Interesting statement, not that I agree with, but interesting.

Dave
 
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janké said:
As a Linhof Technika photographer I admire range finder camera's and M Leica's offers the best quality possible in 35mm.
(all the people who says that this is not true, never saw a negative produced by a M Leica or can not handle a camera properly)
JanKé
May I present a slightly deviating view? In my time, I have owned a Leica IIIa (2 examples), IIIb, IIIc, IIIf (two examples) and M3 (two examples), not to mention a British Reid III and two Voigtländers which I still have.

What made me give up on Leica was this - I acquired an M3 in good working order, but as it had never been serviced, decided to get this done. Leica UK charged me £400 to replace shutter curtains and carry out a general service, when I received the camera back it seized after 3 exposures. It went back, on its return the shutter was "tapering". It went back again, on its return, the shutter was not lightproof when changing lenses (even in body shadow). I finally got this cured by an independent repairman, was by then feeling very negative about Leica, and in the end decided I did not like the modern iterations of the Summicron lenses (very contrasty, great if you want your slides to look snappy on the screen, murder for b+w work). I actually preferred the 43 mm f1.9 special edition lens on my Pentax, although I did consider spending a lot more money to find good examples of 1960s Summicrons, which I personally prefer.

Through numerous conversations with acquaintances and friends in the trade here in the UK, I learned that I was not the only one to fall foul of this service department. Leicas are in any case hard to service, unlike modern products which are modular and where the offending module is simply removed and replaced. There may be some appeal in using a "good old" camera, but many would rather have a "good new" one.
 

Lee Shively

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Although it's sad to see it happen, you gotta know it was coming.

Leica has been competing with itself for a number of years. The company builds a fine rangefinder camera but the initial new price is too high for most photographers to consider. Then there are lots of used Leicas out there on the market that cost less and, thanks to the plethora of Internet opinions, are often considered to be better built than the new cameras. They make outstanding lenses but they cost so much most photographers consider it to be an abstract concept to consider owning one. Again, there's a lot of used Leitz lenses out there with sterling reputations to compete against the new Leica lenses.

Compound this with the digital thing, the general pessimism surrounding film cameras, rising labor costs and God knows what other factors specific to Leica The Company, your market is sure to shrink.
 

mark

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Can't say I am surprised that any of the highend cameras are going. Just too expensive. Nice to look at but the vast majority of the world would never be able to afford them. I wonder if Sinar will be on the block soon too.

I don't see Leicas decreasing much in value on the used market. Their reputation will keep their resale value pretty high.
 

John Koehrer

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I would certainly disagree that M Leicas are "hard to service" Perhaps the distributor in Britain didn't have the experienced craftsmen needed.
Regarding the "modularity" of newer equipment I guess it is easier to replace a shutter than repair it.
That doesn't neccesarily make it better.
 
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Shaggy said:
I would certainly disagree that M Leicas are "hard to service" Perhaps the distributor in Britain didn't have the experienced craftsmen needed..
He certainly didn't - and this is a situation I find truly alarming!

Shaggy said:
Regarding the "modularity" of newer equipment I guess it is easier to replace a shutter than repair it.
That doesn't necessarily make it better.
Leicas up to and including the M6 are essentially produced to a 19th century philosophy in which parts are standardized but machined to less than perfect tolerances. Assembling or repairing a Leica requires a skilled craftsman who will try numerous examples of small components to fit a best fit and will then fettle his chosen component to make it work perfectly. This may be part of the mystique of Leicas, most working pros would like a camera where, if it breaks, it can go into a workshop where the broken module is removed, a new one fitted and the camera is back in the mail the same day. For me, this is better by a mile! A fair analogy would be with auto-making - a modern mass-produced car built by robots will not have any of the aura of a Ferrari or Aston Martin but will have better panel fit and be much cheaper!

Regards,

David
 

Craig

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A fair analogy would be with auto-making - a modern mass-produced car built by robots will not have any of the aura of a Ferrari or Aston Martin but will have better panel fit and be much cheaper!
Odd, the panel fit on my hand assembled Jaguar is a lot better than I have seen on the cheapo robot assembed cars.

I think that the modern car industry has gone modular, simply because its easier to assemble, and thus cheaper. Not necessarly cheaper to repair, but that cost isn't borne by the car maker, and cars are designed to last the warrenty period so the car maker doesn't have to fix them at their cost.
 

Flotsam

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Judging by the last CLA that I had done at Leica.
If I had kids, I would pull them out of Medical School and encourage them to pursue careers in in Leica repair.
 

arigram

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The current state of Leica was importand enough to be featured in the news service my newspaper subscribes to.
Here's a couple pictures that they gave:
 

Dr.Kollig

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There is still a market for real fountain pens and non-quartz clocks so I would see no reason, why there should be none for mechanical cameras.
Yes, new Leicas are rather pricey, even as Demo unit, which cuts the price by 20 %. One gets at least two serviced M3/M4 for the price of a Demo MP. If you consider the Leica as a tool, you are better off buying second hand and have a CLA done. A lot of M6 are out there at good prices. It is hard to justify buying a new Leica. Which is a problem for Leica.

Lenses, the latest lenses are really good, I had the chance to test the new 50/1.4 M Asph but again you'll find yourself asking is it worth 2250€? (You can get the old 50/1.4 below 1000€) There are lots of used lenses out there, which have hardly seen any use or if they have seen use, they are really cheap, got a 50/2.0 M, latest version at 310€ from a dealer, because tiny nicks on the lensshade! New 1200€.
In Hamburg (Leica by Meister) I picked up a 35/2 goggles for M3 so I longer think of a 40/1.4 to fit my M3, so used market here in Germany competes with new Voigtländer.

Service:
Sending to Solms ain't cheap at all. But I always received excellent service, when I went to Solms myself, having arranged an appointment with a little help from my dealer. Like setting up M3 with Noctilux - just to be almost being driven over by some bloody §$%& Polo driver 200 m later and bike riding with rain dripping thru the damaged skin does not really feel good - the aligment was still o.k. - Crampler bag.

These Leicas are build to last so are people less likely to replace working units and right now people, at least here in Germany, are less likely to part with their money. In Hamburg they told me that 3 out of 5 A la Carte Leicas actually see use and are not collectors item. And silly me thought these are for display only, because leica only sells 1.3 lenses per body (4 million lenses versus 3 million bodies, rough count). So maybe a limited dummy edition could rescue Leica. All other Leicas would have a box sticker "For use only - no display unit!"

Wolfram
 

c6h6o3

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janké said:
I hope Leica will find a way to survive and will produce their fine camera's for ever.

JanKé

I do too. There's nothing else quite like them. No machine of any kind is better built.

There will always be a market for fine things. 30 years ago the Swiss watchmaking industry was devastated by quartz technology. The makers of really fine wris****ches went through some lean years, but today every Patek Philippe watch made is sold before it's even manufactured. You can buy quite a few Leicas for the price of a Patek chronograph. So I'm sure Leica will survive, as long as they don't compromise their quality in any way, no matter how badly they're hurting financially.http://www.alanfurman.com/noframes/patek1.html#mpatek
 

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As a part-time Leica user, I certainly agree with the sentiment of wanting Leica to stay in business - even though it is unlikely that I'll need to buy another M in my lifetime. I have two bodies (M6 TTLs), and all the lenses I'll ever need, so I'm pretty much set, personally. But, I'd still like others to have the opportunity to own and shoot a Leica M in the future.

The problem Leica continues to face, and (like many other older companies) has yet to find a solution for, is that they need to "contemporize" the company, while maintaining quality. To a large extent, they are fighting a market-share, mind-share problem in a world where "good enough" has a majority position. It's just another facet of the analog vs. digital issue. The problem is, I think, that it's tough for the engineer/artisan types to multitask.

And, while there are some parallels with the fine watch market, I'm not sure the parallels hold true far enough through the purchasing cycle. A $12,000 watch may have appeal to a newly-rich twenty-something video-game mogul, but that person may be more likely to buy a digi-whatsis than a Leica.
 

Jorge

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I agree with Ralph and his assesment of the problem. For years I have seen Leica refuse to make an autofocus 35 mm camera, which I thought it was dumb specially with their R line. I always thought the R7 and now the R8 was the most beautiful SLR in the market, and lets face it, while as photographers we use these cameras, a great part of their market, similarly to Hasselbald was doctors and lawyers.
Also, to borrow Jim's example they refuse to make different "grades" of their cameras. For example, I own 5 Omega watches, and while not cheap, the ones that are battery operated with quartz movement are much cheaper than the perpetual automatic movement that are all mechanical. I dont see why Leica cannot so something similar, design a camera that is easier to manufacture but still allows it to use their wonderful lenses. As it stand lets they are just digging a bigger hole, to put it bluntly, what would you buy for $3000 and R8 or a Nikon F6?....To me this is a no brainer, the F6 is a far better camera, but I still love the look of the R8.. :smile:
 
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