Leica company in financial trouble

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Tom Duffy

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steve said:
"There is precisely one dslr with a full frame sensor, the $8,000 Canon."

Unless, of course, you don't count the Kodak SLR-n or SLR-c which both have full frame sensors...
I'm sorry, I meant full frame sensor cameras that people actually want to buy... :smile:
 

Tom Duffy

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roteague said:
Based upon calculations I have seen:

Velvia:
36mm x 150 LP/mm = 5400 line pairs horizontally
24mm x 150 LP/mm = 3600 line pairs vertically.

This represents a total of 5400 x 3600 = 19,440,000 pixels.

Still a lot more than all the DSLR's out there.
Yeah, but then you would have to use a Leica lens, anyway, to resolve 150 line pairs.

Just kidding.
 

roteague

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Tom Duffy said:
Yeah, but then you would have to use a Leica lens, anyway, to resolve 150 line pairs.

Just kidding.

I'm sure my Schneider lens will do it as well. :D
 

titrisol

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Cayenne sells like hot cakes!

Flotsam said:
I thought the same thing when I heard that Porsche was building an SUV. I wonder how they are doing with that?
 

imageWIS

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c6h6o3 said:
My analogy only applies to very high end watches, and while Omega makes very good ones (I own a quartz Constellation which I wear quite often) they're not in the class I'm talking about: Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Lange & Sohne, Breguet and certain Cartiers. Hip-hop stars and Silicon Valley nouveau riche don't wear those. They're purchased by people used to the smell of oiled walnut and Lafite Rothschild '45.

Lange & Sohne is an excellent example of a company resurrected to produce a product of the finest old world artistry of manufacture using the latest technology. Maybe Leitz can pull it off, too.

Yes, but Lange has a massive budget behind them, as they are owned by Richemont, the largest luxury goods company in the world. Lange does not use the latest technology to create their watches, that title goes to Rolex and various Swatch-owned brands (Omega being one of them), for the most part Lange watches are still built on 100+ year old machinery, hand finished, including: Saxon stripes done by hand, with a wooden peg and hand rotated and adjusted and hand finished engraving of the balance cock. It’s hardly the latest technology if you have one guy hand engraving each cock, one by one (painstaking hours of work per movement).

I think Leica has gone in the right direction with the digital back they now offer for the R8 / R9’s, but they have to go further. They have to offer more features to compete with the Japanese. Including basic features such as AF! They have to offer AF focus lenses with MF capabilities like Nikon does. As well, they could theoretically also offer Nikkor ‘G’ style lenses, which would allow for more precise aperture adjustment, which is just not possible with lens-based apertures. Not having the ability to do adjustments at 1/3 stops or AF and charging $3300 for a camera and $2100+ for a normal lens is crazy, when you can get an Nikon F6 w/ lens for less than what Leica charges for just an R9 body.

Leica should come out with an R9.2, which should be made to compete with the F6 on a serious level, which would include adding AF and finer aperture adjustment, for starters. The price should somehow compete with the F6 as well. Either by lowering the price of the camera or the price of the lenses ($2100+ is just nuts for a normal 50mm f1.4); but something has got to give…maybe they could make 2 lines of lenses? A lower line and a higher line? The R9.2 should have more than 1 digital back option. Whereas a $5000 16 megapixel digital back is awesome, perhaps a 10 or 8 megapixel digital back for 2/3 of the price would help sales and would cost less to make and would make the camera more accessible to pros and even the more well-to-do prosumers?

The other suggestion post in this thread for a ‘lower’ line Leica camera is also a good idea, however they should not stray too down-market, least they become like Mercedes-Benz, who not only cheapened their products, but also strayed so far down-market (come on, a $20,000 Mercedes?) that the buyers of their higher lines have moved on to other products made by other companies: just see how many CL500 / CL600 owners have given up their cars and bought / are on the waiting list for the Bentley Continental GT / various Porsche 911 models instead.

Leica is the top name in 35mm. Not even the reformed Alpa dared challenge them on 35mm playing field when they re-incorporated back in 98’ (it was 98, right? Or 96? I forget). They have to stay at the top, even if it means creating items for the middle (or god forbid the bottom). You know why Enzo Ferrari produced road cars? So he could afford his racing team.

Jon.
 
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Woolliscroft

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Funny, one of the things I like about Leica is the lack of auto focus. I've always found it a d*** nuisance. I've no intention of getting the digi back, but I've seen quite a few people saying words to the effect of "at last a digital camera you can control properly".

David.
 

David A. Goldfarb

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Any chance they could put a 150/2.8 Summicron cammed for Linhof on that a la carte menu?
 

Andy K

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Why would I want to buy a Leica with all the same features as a Japanese camera? I might as well buy the Japanese camera. Leica is special because of the craftsmanship and dedication to manual controls. I think they could be a little cheaper, but to see a grand old name like Leica go 'techno' would be a sad day indeed.
 

firecracker

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Andy K said:
Why would I want to buy a Leica with all the same features as a Japanese camera? I might as well buy the Japanese camera. Leica is special because of the craftsmanship and dedication to manual controls. I think they could be a little cheaper, but to see a grand old name like Leica go 'techno' would be a sad day indeed.

You know newer Leica products have been handled by the Japanese. Some are made in Japan. Sigma does(at least did) that for the lenses.

And I've been in serious finiacial trouble keeping an old Leica(M3) in good shape because it needs some gentle mechanical treatment every once in a while.
 

imageWIS

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Woolliscroft said:
Funny, one of the things I like about Leica is the lack of auto focus. I've always found it a d*** nuisance. I've no intention of getting the digi back, but I've seen quite a few people saying words to the effect of "at last a digital camera you can control properly".

David.

You can manually focus Nikkor lenses if you wish. Leica (for the money charged) should offer the same option. If someone wants a completely manual camera they can purchase an ALPA.

Leica is making digital cameras now, and many are re-bagged / made by the Japanese. I can understand the ‘purist’ side of the argument, but they have to be practical, or there won’t be a Leica! Then what?

Jon.
 

cvik

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imageWIS said:
You can manually focus Nikkor lenses if you wish. Leica (for the money charged) should offer the same option. If someone wants a completely manual camera they can purchase an ALPA.

Leica is making digital cameras now, and many are re-bagged / made by the Japanese. I can understand the ‘purist’ side of the argument, but they have to be practical, or there won’t be a Leica! Then what?

Jon.

I don't know about Nikon, but manual focusing is a pain with Canon AF-lenses. It seems a lens must be made to be manual focus to actually work well for manual focusing.
 

Mark Layne

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I am going to the LHSA meeting in San Francisco in a weeks time.
Then we will know more. I am willing to bet that Leica is not going to get into auto focus
Mark
 

cvik

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roteague said:
Based upon calculations I have seen:

Velvia:
36mm x 150 LP/mm = 5400 line pairs horizontally
24mm x 150 LP/mm = 3600 line pairs vertically.

This represents a total of 5400 x 3600 = 19,440,000 pixels.

Still a lot more than all the DSLR's out there.

Use Gigabitfilm (B&W) and you will find this to be much higher.
Read and enjoy this newsletter from Carl Zeiss http://www.gigabitfilm.de/download/cln.pdf
 

imageWIS

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cvik said:
I don't know about Nikon, but manual focusing is a pain with Canon AF-lenses. It seems a lens must be made to be manual focus to actually work well for manual focusing.

Well, then they don’t have to make combo lenses. They can make AF lenses and keep the manual R lenses they have now (to ease compatibility, thus the R mount), so there is a choice of either / or.

But an AF is a really good idea, especially when utilizing the digital back. I personally use an all mechanical camera, btw and MF lenses, but I realize the necessity and convenience of an AF lens.

Jon.
 
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Lee L

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David A. Goldfarb said:
Any chance they could put a 150/2.8 Summicron cammed for Linhof on that a la carte menu?
At f:2.8 it wouldn't be a Summicron, would it? Perhaps an Elmarit.

Lee
 

Lee L

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Anyone who's used a Leica R lens knows that it would take a very high powered, high torque motor and a big brake to drive and stop all that heavy brass and glass quickly enough to focus in a reasonable time frame. In addition, I've seen (but can't recall where) an analysis of resolution with the same lens used in AF and manual focus modes. Manual focus significantly increased resolution in this study, and if your aim is resolution and contrast, why throw away the finely tuned optics you paid for with inferior focusing? Leica is known to have tested autofocus systems in the past (rumors and comments from Leica going back at least 25 years that I recall), but they have always said that the results are not up to the optics.

I'd be very surprized to find Leica building lenses for its own R and M bodies that are as light and small as those they produce for autofocus on the Panasonic and Leica P&S and digital cameras anytime soon.

I recommended a Panasonic DMC-FZ20 digital with an autofocus Leica Vario-Elmarit to a friend, and I've looked very closely at the results he's gotten with it, using an image editing program on the 5 megapixel results. In no aspect does it even approach a prime lens on an R or M camera, although it certainly blows away the majority of the digi P&S results I've seen. He's still very happy with the camera.

I think in part, Leica is happy supplying AF lenses for these digi cams because they know that the sensors can't do what film can, and so lesser performance from the lens is not a serious drawback in this application.

Lee
 

Woolliscroft

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imageWIS said:
You can manually focus Nikkor lenses if you wish.

Jon.

True, but AF cameras usually don't come with a focus screen that lets you do it accurately.

David.
 

imageWIS

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Woolliscroft said:
True, but AF cameras usually don't come with a focus screen that lets you do it accurately.

David.

Again, Leica could offer both MF lenses and AF (w/ MF capability) lenses. I still stand by the fact that they need to rethink their position and marketing regarding their 35mm SLR range. Rangefinders are one thing and they make the best in the world, but they are hardly compatible with digital technology (properly…yes I know there are digital rangefinders). But SLR’s with optional high and low-end quality backs would assist remove some of Leica’s current financial problems.

Jon.
 

Andy K

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I would not have, in fact I do not have, any interest at all in a digital Leica. What is the point of brilliant optics which are then limited by CCD resolution? I might as well buy a cheaper camera from Nikon/Canon/Olympus etc.

Let's face it, a digital Leica would bve a piece of crap next to a film Leica.
 

firecracker

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Andy K said:
I would have, in fact I do not have, any interest at all in a digital Leica. What is the point of brilliant optics which are then limited by CCD resolution? I might as well buy a cheaper camera from Nikon/Canon/Olympus etc.

Let's face it, a digital Leica would bve a piece of crap next to a film Leica.

It should be called "Panasonic."
 

Lee L

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imageWIS said:
Rangefinders are one thing and they make the best in the world, but they are hardly compatible with digital technology (properly…yes I know there are digital rangefinders).
Jon.
The Epson RD-1 is a digital rangefinder (same chassis as the CV Bessa R2A) that mounts Leica M lenses and LTM lenses with the standard adapter. It's not selling in great numbers because of price per megapixel, but it gets excellent reviews.

People who want to shoot Leica R glass on digitals are buying Canon DSLRs and mounting their R lenses with an R to EOS adapter.

So there are already paths to shooting any extant Leica mount rangefinder lenses, both thread and bayonet mount, and Leica R glass on digital bodies, all manual focus of course. As a long-term Leica R shooter who has also sold them at a couple of shops, I don't see AF as the necessary path to saving Leica or the R system. The Leica shooters who want the kind of speed that an AF camera provides are shooting M bodies with focus tabbed lenses, and rough focus before they bring the camera up to the eye, then snap in the fine focus with the RF and shoot. Or they've already pre-focused where they want to be in anticipation of the shot.

Another reason I don't see Leica R lenses in AF happening is that there is a core user base that won't want the lighter lenses, and won't trust the AF electronics that Leica might produce (at least in the first generation). That means that retaining the current user base and getting a significant new AF user base requires production of two parallel lines of R lenses and extra expense for the bodies that do AF. I can't see how that would improve the bottom line with Leica's low volume and production methods.

If I were an investor, and Leica approached me with a business plan that included taking Canon, Nikon, etc. head on with an AF SLR, I'd stay far, far away. It's not their comparative advantage.

Lee
 
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Tom Duffy

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Lee L said:
Anyone who's used a Leica R lens knows that it would take a very high powered, high torque motor and a big brake to drive and stop all that heavy brass and glass quickly enough to focus in a reasonable time frame. In addition, I've seen (but can't recall where) an analysis of resolution with the same lens used in AF and manual focus modes. Manual focus significantly increased resolution in this study, and if your aim is resolution and contrast, why throw away the finely tuned optics you paid for with inferior focusing?

Lee
To back up Lee's comments, Zeiss claimed that their AF lenses for the Contax 645 were constructed to meet their standards for AF precision. This may be why the lenses are so heavy and the camera should be nuclear powered. I usually get about 10 rolls of 120 film through the camera in AF mode before replacing the 2CR5 battery. I also don't agree with their assessment of the autofocus precision. For this reason I use the optional microprism focus screen and touch up focus manually whenever conditions permit.

Last summer I shot 9 rolls of 36 exposure film a local fire department "wetdown" of a new truck. Lots of action and lots of water in the air. I shot 1 roll with a Canon 7NE with 135 f2 lens, 2 rolls with an M6TTL with a 35mm and 6 rolls with a Leica R8 with 80mm f1.4. All were shot at about f5.6. Every shot with the rangefinder was in focus, only 4 exposures of the 6 rolls were out of focus with the manually focused R8 and 6 exposures were not well focused on the single roll from the Canon, and I believe the 135 f2, with internal focus, to be an exemplary autofocus performer. And yes, I understand that lens focal length plays a role here, but still...
 

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Cars, cameras, all that jazz...

Craig,

Your Jaguar is one of three things - an antique, too new to be an antique and too old to be QA/QC'd by Ford, and therefore, panel fit is the last of your worries, or it is newer and not by any stretch hand built. What gave you the impression that a upper-mid level luxury vehicle like a Jaguar is hand built in 2005?! Unless you have an XK120 or an E-Type - you are likely looking at a couple of quarter panels made by hand, on an English wheel - and guess what: machine assembled. By the way, that last craftsman in the auto industry "retired" when Ford took control of Jaguar - so, a while back. Sad but true. And I have yet to see any car that can match panel line consistency with new Audis - robot built, all.

Flotsam

I am disgusted to tell you this, deeply wounded to have witnessed it and on the verge of vomiting just typing this, but... Porsche did build an SUV, and it has done remarkably well.


Which leads me to the next point - Porsches, like Leicas and other super high end cameras, are often bought by people who will never even know what their capabilities are, much less use them. The already mentioned "doctors and lawyers"(although I find that generalization a little too broad for my taste). Majority of people who buy a Porsche, or a Ferrari, or a Leica, or a Hasselblad buy the name.
While its a lot simpler to point out with cars, there is a translation to cameras.
I think that Leica going under would be truly sad, for one simple reason: its an institution, a staple - a classic. And we need to hold on to those. On the other hand - they are an animal that has no right to survive. It eats too much and reproduces too slowly and has a lot of nimbler, more verile competition. They, those other animals, will take away their habitat with their more plentiful off-spring, and eat their food from right in front of their noses.
Leica will not need an ice-age or an meteorite, it will simply lumber to its end.
And then you will see their already ridiculously overpriced products shoot through the roof on eBay - after all, it will be a veritable dodo bird! No more will be made - gentleman, start your wallets!
And believe it or not - I dont think that cheapening their offering will help. Actually, I think "bastardizing" the name by slapping it on Panasonic dig-0cams and such will only hasten their demise. They are looking in the wrong direction, and its too bad - sad, actually. I will hate to see the years of tradition go by the way side, but I cant say the current and recent management deserves anything else.
 

Ben Z

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Lee Shively said:
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...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.

I agree completely. Aside from the equipment fetishists who predominantly (or exclusively) take pictures of resolution targets taped to their walls, and for whom owning the theoretical best is the be-all and end-all of photography if not life itself, the majority of actual photographers tend to agree that there is insufficient bang for the astronomical buck that separates the current crop of Leica lenses from their immediate predecessors, which are in plentiful supply on the used market. Leica continues to hemmorhage customers, due in great measure to the company having spent their r&d funds administering to those obsessed lens-testers rather than bring a viable digital body to market, and jacking up prices to unrealistic levels hoping that will buoy revenues as their market base shrinks. A very sad state of affairs for a company that was once respected for its innovation to have devolved into a cult object.
 

firecracker

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about Leica

I just think of a few points in this argument. First, the original price setting of Leica was never so low. In some countries, you could buy a whole house for the price of a Leica camera, and you probably still can. Considering all the necessary cost such as labor, engeering, and manufacturing products in such quality, I could understand why.

Secondly, if you're bitching about the prices set too high, that's the market; you should complain to the (vintage camera) collectors, not the manufacture or the photographers.

And finally, I think there is a technical issue of a rangefinder system accompanied with digital and auto-focusing units, which has to do with the focal length. You look at Epson RD1, and that is so far as good as it gets in terms of the digital rangefinder camera body. You also look at Contax G2 and wonder why its auto-fucusing system had some issues.

If you want to find out more about it, look for the magazine articles on these camera engineers who talked about their products in their interviews. I'm only aware of the ones written in Japanese, which I read some time ago, but I don't know if they are available online in other languages.
 
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