What to expect from Leica next week: M9-M, X2, 50mm Cron lens (updated)

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This is an update to my previous post on my expectations and rumors for the Leica announcement in Berlin next week.

Leica M9-M Monochrome rangefinder:

  • All black camera body with no red dot or any other markings on the front, there will only be a Leica Monochrome engraving on the top plate (similar to the M9-P). The M9-M will  basically be a M9-P but with a monochrome sensor.
  • The price of the new M9-M will be slightly higher than the M9-P ($8000) - my guess is $8,500 or $9,000.

Leica X2:

  • Probably with a new 16MP or 18MP sensor (I assume APS-C, not full frame).
  • The new X2 is rumored to have a Summilux 35mm f/1.4 lens (the X1 had a 24mm Elmarit f/2.8 lens).
  • The price is expected to be $1000 more than the current X1 (or around $3000).
  • Update: the Leica X2 may have an optional EVF. Expected also: improved AF and better LCD screen.

Leica 50mm f/2 Summicron-M lens:

  • The new lens is expected to cost $1000 more than its predecessor (or around $3,300.00).

Leica V-Lux 40:

  • Next week Leica may also announce the V-Lux 40 which will replace the current V-Lux 30 point and shoot model. My only concern is that a point and shoot camera introduction will not fit with the other three new products.

There is again some talk about two new Hermes Limited Edition kits - the first one will have 1 camera + 1 lens, the other one will have 1 camera + 2 or 3 lenses and will probably include a silver Noctilux with a price tag of €40.000. I don't think those will be announced next week. Update: I've heard also that buyers may have to sign an agreement not to sell the unit within 2 years of purchase.

The Leica M10, S3 and the new mirrorless solution will all be introduced during the 2012 Photokina show in September.

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  • andy

    How the hell can the new X2 have a 35 lux and sell for 3k? The leicarumors guy has been smoking crack again…..

    • Sina

      How? Because people will pay for them. Do not underestimate the 1% of the world population with too much money on their hands.

      • MJr

        lol, you must have misunderstood. He meant that it’s cheap ! For a Summilux.

    • http://www.flickr.com/genotypewriter genotypewriter

      This is APS-C, so this 35mm is not a wide-angle lens… it’s a normal lens. The 50 Summilux-M is cheaper than the 35 Summilux-M. So this is more like a smaller version of the 50, than the 35 which is why a lower price is not that surprising.

      Also, M lenses are overpriced :D

    • António

      As this camera will be a fixed lens one, the only thing they need to do is to build a lens with the indicated focal and aperture and label it as “Summilux”, that is the name Leica gives to their F:1.4 lenses.

  • http://yycstreet.tumblr.com Pierre

    So Leica will never announce a product that is less expensive than the last, even if it does less than the previous model…

  • elnoma

    Well it’s safe to say that if these rumours are true then the folks over at Leica either have their heads completely buried in the sand or they have made a decision to stick to a niche strategy. I mean look at all of the exciting models from all kinds of manufacturers that have been released this year – up to and including DLSR’s
    That big new hq building must signify something so I guess we’ll have to wait until photokina

    • J Shin

      I guess the “niche strategy” is working well for them. This is a company that has coasted on the principle that the lack of features (like AF) is the feature. I do like the lack of features, or, more precisely, the presence of only the essential features—just me and the lens and the shutter, some focusing tools and some metering tools—but they have been extending the logic to the point that lack of cost-effectiveness is also a feature. Just like back when skim milk was more expensive than whole milk. It’s a principle that works very well for many boutique operations, so can we really be angry?

      Sad and pouty and whiny, for sure. Wanting a Leica is not like wanting a Fendi or a Maserati. Leicas actually do things other handbags cannot do, but they do not have excess horsepower, just a very reliable and precise and thoughtful engineering that means that, if anything goes wrong, usually it’s totally your fault. Like a Volvo. Is it so bad for someone like me to want that? To have a few of them and love them and be sad that they may soon be completely obsolete?

      Is this how people who owned 620 cameras felt? Or did they move right on to a 135 and felt no grief? Is this how people will feel when parts for 240s are no longer available? Screwmount users did not have to suffer that much, did they?

      Am I crazy to want a full-frame DMR that will also work on M or X bodies? Oh, probably, but all the other grief is reasonable, I think.

      I can only really afford one system, and it took me 22 years to build what I have. Yes, I got into this when Summicrons were sold in the hundreds of dollars, as were the M3s, and when people considered M5s paper weights, even though mercury batteries were cheap and quite popular. Even if I switch to another system, it will be gone by the time I’m done rebuilding it.

      By then, I will be too weak and feeble anyway. What is the point?

      :-(

    • El Aura

      Leica shrank into a niche already 25 years ago. They don’t have the luxury to decide whether they want to be a niche manufacturer or not. They don’t have the money nor the expertise to produce something like a Fuji X-100 (most of the X-1 technology is purchased that is why it is not exactly cutting edge). Nor do they the ability to produce cheap and in large volume (again the X-1 is largely manufactured under contract).

      Even when they completely outsource everything (D-Lux), to make any profit at all (on top of the profit Panasonic makes with the D-Lux), they have to have a serious markup.

      Aston Martin could not produce a 4-door sedan at a competitive price either. They did not decide to stick to a niche, they have no choice but to stay in their niche. They don’t have the volume to be competitive and they are not competitive enough to gain that volume.

      • Huggs

        Very true! This and many other factors add into the cost. Too bad they cost as much as cameras that out perform in many ways.

      • jerzek

        “They don’t have the money nor the expertise to produce something like a Fuji X-100″

        the x1 may not be cutting edge, but the fuji x100 doesn’t do any better in terms of usability. this camera is a toy but sure no reference, sorry…

  • Denis

    Still hope for the M10 announcement.

    • Athlon

      And I’m still hoping for the R10 announcement… some day.

  • I should be shooting

    Thanks for this info. GXR for me it is…

  • Camaman

    What will justify another $1000 increase in 50mm Summicron?

    • Dave

      It appears to be a price hike under the guise of a new version. Keep in mind that the 50 cron has never changed all that much, at least not in the last 30 years.

      Unless it’s truly a brand new design, it’s just a price hike.

  • Chipmunk

    I have it from a very reliable source that the Mono M9 is definitely real. Interested to see how it sells. Well probably

    • Regular

      I bought my M9 some time ago, from a very wealthy woman who was shooting jpeg only, no post-processing whatsoever and cropping from 50mm.

      Basically she bought a M9 in place of a compact camera, because she was so wealthy (I am still curious how she heard about M9 In the fist place). She grew fed up with the low-fidelity low-res LCD (and maybe manual focus) and sold the camera.

      Anyway, I am not sure this type of rich people will consider a black&white camera, at any price. Especially with a 230k pixel LCD.

      Leica would have sold much more B&W camera if it was aimed at a sensible price, for photo amateurs.

      • ceebee

        Digital b/w doesn’t make sense in the first place!

    • John

      I for one would be very disappointed if there is no M10 but a B/W only M9/10.

      In my opinion what a waste of a camera!

      I see in colour, I want to record in colour and my clients want colour. However I do agree that B/W is great for impact in some shots but not all. In fact look here at the Leica Rumors site, most shots are posted in full colour. It will be interesting to see, if Leica do produce a B/W only camera, what the secondhand prices will be. I suspect they would be a lot less than the M9!

      John

  • andy

    Would be interesting to see what the high iso performance is like on the M9-M. Should have a big advantage. No bayer filter automatically gives 3 x the light transmission, no antialiasing filter, no interpolation algorithms needed. Far simpler raw processing – in fact raw would not really be necessary at all, you could just use 16-bit greyscale TIFF. There are no white balance issues as well to worry about.

    Basically a simpler cheaper to make camera sold for a higher price. I guess if no one else makes one, they can sell it for whatever they like.

    • Banksie

      What you might not understand is that when you produce a specialty item in smaller quantities, it actually costs more to make. That’s a fundamental in manufacturing and production. It’s partly why a Porsche GT2 with less amenities (the interior has been gutted) costs more. It was a smaller production version that’s outside of the standard assembly run of regular 997s. It’s all part of the economies of scale.

      • j Shin

        You are, in turn, assuming that prices are set by cost, rather than by the interplay of supply and demand. For instance, the price of oil is set not just by how much it costs to produce it, but by how badly people want it, to consume or to speculate on. In fact, the cost of producing oil is determined by market price, rather than vice versa, because people pursue more expensive production methods as the price goes up. A company can set their prices artificially high if they believe that demand will be high. Sigma bet on that with the SD-1 and lost the bet. Same with HP TouchPad. If people do not buy the M9-M, no matter the cost, Leica will have to cut the price.

        Or, it could be like the iPad, which sells at about twice the cost. I do not believe that it costs anywhere near $7,000 to make an M9, so I do not believe that the inflated price of M9-P or the M9-M has much to do with cost related to economy of scale. It is that expensive because that is the price point at which Leica can maximize its profit; if more expensive, and demand will drop, and if less expensive, the demand will not increase enough to make up for lost profit-per-unit. They found the sweet spot, apparently, and will not budge much.

        In other words, these prices, as ridiculous as they are, are high because they help the company survive, and hopefully some day fund the production of some things that us mere mortals can afford. But, then, remember the CL fiasco. They will not go cheap again so hastily, so they will for now remain a boutique brand.

        • Banksie

          “You are, in turn, assuming that prices are set by cost, rather than by the interplay of supply and demand.”

          No, I was simply answering his comment about the camera being cheaper to build just because it has a monochrome sensor. Both cost and supply/demand are always part of the equation. If the demand for oil drops, the prices drop but the cost of exploration and drilling becomes a higher expense because of the lowered demand. And in assembly production, to pull labor and materials aside to build a specialty product costs time and money. He had said, “basically a simpler cheaper to make camera sold for a higher price.” But there’s more to making a product then just the materials invested in it. It costs to build, distribute, and market on top of those same expenses that are part of the existing product line.

          Both Kodak and Fuji have raised their film prices in the midst of decreasing demand. The demand isn’t high and yet they have set their prices high. Because the expense of running a coating factory is now more costly. They are selling less product but still have to maintain a labor force and run the factory but all the while selling less product. Even if they shut down the factory for two days of each week, that is costly since the factory sits idle and doesn’t produce product. It still costs money. It’s why when companies do close down production facilities, it’s often permanently.

          And one needs to add in the production levels that a company can fulfill. Does a Rolls Royce really cost that much to build? Of course not. But at the same time they need to maintain an automobile factory and a labor force. If they’re only building a small amount of product per year then the price has to be set accordingly. And if demand drops, they sell for less while making a cheaper automobile or reducing net profit. But maximizing profit while still maintaining demand is the name of the game, Leica and everybody else included. And shareholders get really angry when profitability drops.

        • Sandersoni

          I agree with J Shin. However, in a way there is also some truth in Banksie’s comment.
          I believe that Leica is trying to maintain its profit margin on the new monochrome camera (similar or higher than the M9, because otherwise why use up production capacity when you can sell more profitable M9s instead?)
          So if, you produce less, which will have higher production cost as Banksie says, then to maintain their profit margin, this will lead to a higher price (compared to the feature-richer M9).

          • J Shin

            I guess this is not an either/or thing. Marketing psychology, supply and demand, and cost of production all work together. Only Leica big wigs know how much each of these is at work… or maybe they don’t, either, and it’s all magic. :-)

  • Nobody Special

    With complete and absolute respect – I hope you are wrong, Leica Rumors……

    WTF!!!!????? The X2 for $3K????? What’s the cost of the Nikon D800 again????

    The M9-m – how much???? Really??? That much??? Well for that much it should have the grey scale/gradation of an 8×10 B&W neg., and I’ve said this before as well – the new Summicron up in price by 30% ????? Just what the heck are they smokin’ in the ‘Motherland these days?????

    It is of course possible they will have some big and spankin’ new something or other at photokina, and they are getting this ‘stuff’ out of the way – or not – still, weren’t they going to introduce ‘new system products’ in May???? So is this really it????

    Where are the matches!!!!????

    • santela

      I think it’s 50% increase for the Summicron…

      • http://leicarumors.com LR admin

        Some rumors point that the Summicron may be even more expensive than the 50mm Summilux.

  • khorne

    X2 for $3000. hahahahahahahaha

  • Banksie

    I’m certainly not condoning their pricing structure, but if they are selling product at these prices then they’re being smarter than anybody here. Why would you reduce prices if your goods are selling? That would be nice for us, but kind of dumb on their part.

    And anyway, Leica can’t produce on the scale of Nikon or Canon. So they can’t survive with the ‘smaller profits per unit but more total units’ formula. They simply can’t produce on that scale. If you’re making 100 widgets a year compared to 100,000 then you simply have to charge more or you won’t survive nor have any funds for R+D, etc..

    And anyway, all these companies are for-profit companies first and foremost. Do you think Nikon isn’t floating in profit? Of course they are, they’re a very successful company. And a huge company: http://www.nikon.com/about/info/group/index.htm

    In reality you could also say that Nikon and Canon charge too much, too. But they simply make a lot more product and so they can charge a lesser asking pricing. $3k for a D800? How much does a per unit D800 cost them? And how many do they build and sell per month?

    It all comes out to the same sort of profitability.

  • Regular

    Certainly the bad influence of the new investors (44% of shares), US bank Blackstone. Leveraged buyouts, hedge funds, not the type of guys you would like to invest in the company your working for.

  • Fed4-user

    For people who concerned with price, let me remind you the price of summilux 35mm 1.4 is around 3,000 used. So if the lens in x2 is equvalent to real summilux, like in x1 ( was equivalent to elmarit 2.8) then 3,000 is a reasonable price. I hope they will not make it collapsable.

    • Regular

      Because it is named summilux does not mean it will perform like a M-Summilux.

      The f/2 lens in the X100 outperforms in sharpness the so-called f/2.8 elmarit of the X1.

      • http://leicarumors.com LR admin

        I am not 100% sure about this 35mm Summilux lens rumor – the X2 may just have the same 24mm lens like in the X1.

  • http://www.mrtso.com/blog/ tso

    whatever Leica, whatever…

  • tim

    well, the sub-2000$ price-range is now occupied by Fuji (and they’re aiming for the same “luxury-item-niche” with special editions etc.)
    So Leica just bumped the X2 into a higher price-range, to make it desirable again for their main customers…

    Worked very well for Leica as a company so far. They’re too small to innovate and compete on a technical level, so this is the business model for them…

    It’s a shame, but they’re a company and not a charity. They have to do what they have to do to make money and survive…

    • Harold Ellis

      they can do whatever they want, but unless fuji, they will not get burned doing it.
      people with too much moneys and little sense will buy it (not many fujis though) and it helps the world and mainly german economy

      i lol at leica but i lol more at all leica buyers because

      I AM PROUD GERMAN and i am happy, that you invest in our country and not anywhere else, reason or not.

      • Banksie

        Actually we’re investing in the Portuguese where Leicas have been made since 1973. :)

        • hexx

          nice one ;) and very true

    • http://www.flickr.com/genotypewriter genotypewriter

      Does Leica finish their own optics? Or do they get them to spec by another company?

      • Nobody Special

        Some glass and element grinding is done, or has been done in the past to their spec’s, and I’m pretty sure it still is. They do buy glass from other companies (to their spec’ or formula) and other companies do as well.

        Reading along – some of the comments about building products in small numbers and that causes them to cost more isn’t ncessarily true. It really depends on whether the materials used in making the product are unique, and thus more money. Then again, once a ‘price-structure’ and market is decided upon, even those products that are cheaper to build in small numbers can be priced up to fit a companies ‘price structure’ and real or imaginary cachet.

        • jeff

          Perhaps you should read the following:

          http://www.imx.nl/photo/leica/lenses/lenses/page57.html

          especially the sections headed ‘New Approaches’, ‘The Size Problem’, and ‘Glass Types.’ While the article is about the 50 Summilux asph, the general points about engineering issues may enlighten you regarding the challenges of making some of these lenses in the first place.

          Just the fact that one glass element in the current lens costs more than all seven elements in the prior version, yet keeping prices relatively constant at the time, was impossible without new engineering techniques.

          • http://www.flickr.com/genotypewriter genotypewriter

            “What are the more subjective differences between the old and new versions of the Summilux-M? If you are familiar with Dutch painting, one could say that the older Summilux paints as Rembrandt, where the new one paints like Vermeer. This is an especially apt comparison as both painters lived in the same period. Rembrandt has been famous for his atmospheric and emotionally charged paintings. Vermeer on the other hand has been called the first optical painter as he painstakingly captured the finest possible detail with his fine brushes and used special techniques to bring the specular high lights to life.”

            ROFL

          • Nobody Special

            Yes, I understand how certain glass contains rare earth elements that when combined with others can create new, higher definition optical formulas.

            Nothing new. New grinding techniques are used quite a bit now-a-days, and in some cases, certain physical design characteristics can be accomplished w/o having the need for ultra exotic glass formulas – so it can work both ways.

            The quote that ‘geno’ posted below; I like the look of van Gogh – Leica wants us to believe one lens is better than before – I prefer the ‘look’ of the earlier Mandler design lenses form years ago – and they aren’t as ‘sharp’.

          • http://www.flickr.com/genotypewriter genotypewriter

            @ ‘Nobody Special’

            Comparing a lens to a painter is like comparing coconut to a bowling ball.

            I look forward to the day when we can enjoy photography without pretentious Putsnian Leicaniacs ruining its good name.

  • Robert Coles

    Sure the price is high, but they deliver the quality and the resale value is excellent especially for the lenses. I don’t understand all the negative feelings toward Leica my current system did not cost more than my Nikon system and I am having more fun.

  • CRB

    X2 with 35mm? why?…the X1 is an unfinished product….stupid decision….

  • petermarshall

    my humble opinion…
    Leica does not price them for making money. Leica prices them so very few people can own them and lots of people can wish for them. If everyone had a Leica, Leica would lose it’s identity. This is what they are more concerned about over profit, keeping their status.

  • tim

    another question: why should the X2 need an electronic viewfinder (EVF)?

    For a fixed-focal-length camera surely an optical viewfinder would be better (or more “Leica-like”)?

    So maybe some of the rumor is not correct(?) Or I’m just wrong :)
    Well, we’ll know soon enough.

    • http://leicarumors.com LR admin

      Some of the rumored details are probably wrong, I just don’t know which ones.

  • I should be shooting

    For me as a business, that’s too much money to take into the field and streets. I know I’m not their market anymore, but you’d think you’d want pros using your products if your products happened to be cameras.

    Used to be if you had a beat-up M6 around your neck, you were a real working photographer. That was the best, smallest, quietest, toughest, most reliable gear you could have. Now if you have a Leica around your neck, you more apt to be taken for a foolish want -to-be with way too much disposable income.

    Leica survives on its legacy, but as time marches on, that will be less and less appreciated. I’m a bridge generation that shot and loved film, and have now accepted digital. Those behind me will not appreciate what Leica was, wonder what it is compared to its competition, and scoff at why it’s priced as such for less IQ. Leica may be making money today, but long term I don’t think this business model will last. They need to prepare for the future as well as surviving today if it’s their plan to continue the company.

    I can (maybe) understand the pricing of the lenses. They need cheaper bodies to get people into the line. Even one affordable M body for $3,000, no bells and whistles. Even just a simple digital focus confirmation dot if the rangefinder mechanism is too expensive to produce. Or no finder; if the X2 had an M mount and could handle wides, I’d seriously look at it for $3,000.

    When asked “Why Leica?,” I used to be able to readily tick off a list of solid answers. I can’t do that anymore.

    It makes me sad, because I do love Leica and what it used to be. It’s silly how emotional we get over things, and what we’ll pay for them; that’s why I sold my two beautiful M6s. They were things no longer helping me pay the mortgage and feed my family.

    • Nobody Special

      The main reason they got to the situation they are in today – like it or not – is they basically invented autofocus in the early/mid 1970′s and walked away from it. Minolta started to run with the idea and in fact were ‘partners of sorts’ with Leica then and made some of the R lenses (glass) to spec’.

      There really isn’t a whole lot to it after that decision – they stumbled along with well meaning owners that either didn’t understand how to save part of the company for the ‘traditionalists’ while developing a more high tech product line. When there’s a will, there’s a way.

      Now, we’re talking about human beings with gobs of cash that own Leica that really never understood what the ‘feeling’ of Leica was or is. So they’ve gone along stumbling – playing catch-up with their products. Now they’re in the position of exercising a bit of ‘product development imagination’ – and it seems we’ll all have to wait until Photokina to see the direction they’ll end up taking.

      I feel that IF they really want to start something – a FF camera – maybe mirrorless – would be a great place for them to start. Or better still, have a ‘bridge camera’ that is up-tech, FF, that can take R and M glass and that has it’s own lens lineup……again, When there’s a will, there’s a way. We’ll see at Photoknia.

      • I should be shooting

        Good point. I used and loved a Minolta CLE for years, and I’m still selling stock I took with that. It’s been said before, but if they stuck a FF sensor in that body, I’d take out a loan. GXR is the closest I’ve found; Ricoh’s about to get my money, I was giving Leica one more chance until May 10…

    • ceebee

      Well, prices need to be high. ACM/Kaufmann want their investment back (before dropping out).

  • George Washington

    Looks like I’ll stick to shooting my film M bodies, as Leica drives their prices further in to the stratosphere.

    This is just plain silly if it is true.

  • Regular

    an optical viewfinder must be built-in, and has parallax issues when shooting close-up.

    An electronic viewfinder displays the image captured through the lens (TTL). And it can be offered as an optional accessory ($$$).

  • Never Geneate

    My wet dream for May 10 is Leica is to be acquired by say Panasonic. For first THEN they can launch revolutionary new products and/by still paying respect to their legacy…

  • Carl

    Black and white sensors are specialty items which cost more than the colour versions. The recently announced B&W ikonoskop is $500 more than the colour version, it’s not surprising that the leica will cost more either. It’s a shame though, I was still hoping for a slightly cheaper monochrome version with no LCD (loved that rumor) and the same thickness of the film bodies.

    I wonder if it does have an LCD, if it will be a monochrome LCD? If they use the same colour LCD as the colour version I would be greatly disappointed in their lack of commitment to the concept.

    They could release a digital version of the M1:
    - no lcd
    - no rangefinder
    - same sensor as m9 (or m10 when released)
    Such a camera would not threaten the main M camera as the functionality would be severely limited, but it would be a great option for enthusiasts.

  • Nobody Special

    Just thinking a bit off topic but not really………

    Leica has the chance to upgrade the (maybe) M10 form factor – but I doubt they will. They could have an M mount body that would finally address the need for external finders for the w i d e lenses by designing a new finder that would show the specific frame line of which-ever lens was being used – no more external finders. Then they could also make the eyepiece BIGGER and thus easier to use. Then they could have ALL relevant exposure and other info in the FINDER, you know, a new display. Have a sequence capable body up to 5 or 6 fps, I mean, really Leica, crap or get off the pot.

    Just redesign the dang camera for once – have the traditional M body for those that think it’s perfect and like squinting their eyes while looking into the finder or guessing if the wide lens is lined up exactly like the external finder,,,etc., etc., etc. Bring me a camera for the same cost as the over-priced for what you get M9 that has the features/upgrades I mention and Ill buy it – for the same price.

    • Nobody Special

      Oh, please, please, put ALL the controls in easy to reach places that are big enough to grasp easily in cold weather – a clustered design like the M5 is a place to start.

      Anything would be better than the existing layout.

  • Daryl

    Somehow many posters/comments forget that a manufacturer sets the price of the product and not the purchaser. It is their product to do as they wish, just as it is each consumers prerogative to decide what to purchase. Free markets and capitalism is what they call it I believe. Leica has always been expensive and (this may come as news) they will always be expensive. Fortunately there is a thriving used market in Leica, lenses are plentiful, certain focal lengths can be had for a small percentage of new yet deliver 80-90% of the quality of new. For all those that sit-and-post telling the world how Leica is making poor decisions you might have a look at the company financials but more importantly look at unsold product inventory on dealers shelves.

    • Banksie

      I agree. The fact remains that Leica has always been an expensive product. The film M cameras were always priced much higher than all the rest of the available rangefinders. And they cost more than the existing film SLRs by Nikon, Minolta, Pentax, Miranda, Canon, etc.. The only camera that was equally expensive (and as an SLR) was Alpa. Hasselblad, Linhof, and Arca-Swiss were also very expensive and people would argue that Mamiya or Pentax were ‘better choices’ because of the price.

      And I remember when the Japanese started the Leica lens collection craze and the prices for lenses and cameras skyrocketed. Eventually (after the Asian bubble burst) the prices came back down. And now with demand from China, Singapore, and the UAE, the prices/demand have increased once again.

      Leica prices seem to always be at the center of attention. If they didn’t cost as much as they do, nobody would be complaining. It’s the price that’s the issue for people. The same thing happens when people bring up Mercedes, BMW, or Porsche. There will always be complaints that a Mercedes is no better than a Lexus and is just overpriced. (Although Toyota has copied Mercedes for decades to build the Lexus and perfected their assembly line production expenses.)

      There will always be high end products that are unobtainable for many people. I can’t afford to buy a Bentley Mulsanne but that doesn’t mean I think the company sucks for charging so much and that the product is no good.

      Anyway, none of this is new. It’s been like this since day one. People need to quit complaining and accept it. There are lots of goods that are always going to be out of reach. In the meantime, you have options. But no reason to constantly make yourself feel good by saying the less expensive option is so much better and that the expensive choice is only for ‘stupid wealthy people.’

      • Peter

        Nice summary of a regular cycle of bitching and moaning on the leica rumors site!

      • Nobody Special

        Not all of us are cncerned about the pricing – I am more concerned by the feet-stuck-in mud attitude at Leica. Well I’ll correct that – I DO have an issue with the $23K S2 body….the lens prices for the S don’t.

        It could always be explained away in years past by Leica owners and bad – or no product decisions. Now what’s the issue keeping them from challenging their own ‘product design’s and upgrading the M body for example with an up-tech, sculpted body alongside of the traditional M design???? You see, it’s not all black & white.

        • Daryl

          23k for the S2 is crazy expensive, agreed, but not unlike Hasselblad and Phase One for the similar imaging capabilities. The sad part of this is that the body will be rendered obsolete with time. Medium format is not for everyone, a Phase One P45+ back was once $30k but can be had for $12-14K today. But here’s the upside, those beautiful S lenses are gorgeous, if the system survives the body will decrease in value and those lenses can be accessed and used to their potential, I would take these lenses over the Fuji or Mamiya lenses but the body is currently the weak link and a very expensive one at that.

          • Nobody Special

            Fortuneately there are other MF lenses worth using – Zeiss, even some of the Pentax 67 are fine, the Mamiya 7 glass is fine as well – so there are both film and digital options.

            The S body is so ridiculous to make it not even a consideration – the comments of it’s excellent ergonomics are nice – but Leica had the SL/SL2 series that were even better – which does show Leica HAS the capacity/ability to design and build.

  • http://www.echotext.com GH

    The problem is that Leica is pawning off what is essentially an 8 year old sensor design for 7K. Sure, the Leica lenses are great, and the mechanical build of the M9 is beautiful, but the electronics are subpar.

    • Daryl

      The 18mp sensor in the Leica M9 is one I could live with the rest of my life, it is only exceeded by one or two cameras (for it’s time) and it matches up well with my Phase One back, so I am not sure what is so outdated about it. The real value of the M9 is the size/quality, small size with outstanding lenses gives medium format results handheld and I dare say it approaches 4×5 quality when tripod mounted. btw- one of the lenses that is superb by today’s standards is the 135mm tele-elmar of the 1960′s, $400.00 and you can buy these all day long.

      • Nobody Special

        Medium format results??? Handheld???

        Sure, maybe, if you’re using fast shutter speeds…….but even then, using a MF with a tripod will surpass the M9.

    • Banksie

      Why didn’t Fuji use a FF sensor in their rangefinder? That was one of the biggest challenges for Leica, to put a FF sensor in the same M form factor. Leica succeeded while also allowing the use of legacy Leica lenses on the M9.

      In addition, their main concern was the look of the image that the sensor produced in combination with their lenses. When they built the M8 they officially had said that they wanted a “Kodachrome look” to the files. When I compare M9 files to other camera files there is a definite difference in the look. Whether this is important to you, is up to you. As Daryl also said, it produces a file I can live with forever. I have no complaints. Any improvement of the sensor or electronics will not make for better images. Making better images is now up to me, not the electronics.

      Leica was also trying to make a seamless move from the film M cameras to a digital M. They succeeded in that with the M9. The M9 may not be of value to someone who never used a film M camera, but for longtime users of the M system, this was very important. I can use a film M and a digital M back and forth easily and with the same lenses. I carry both a film and a digital M with me most of the time. I don’t chimp and I know proper exposure (can’t chimp with film so why start now?) The bells and whistles don’t matter to me (I prefer less.) I never use higher than ISO 800 film, so I don’t need high ISO digital. Just like I advance film one frame at a time, I take a digital image one frame at a time. And what I’m most concerned about is the final image. The M9 just works for people like myself. But it doesn’t work for everybody.

  • BC

    I love how people here sound like they are complaining about a popular restaurant: it’s too expensive and it’s impossible to get a table!

    Leica was always niche/expensive. My uncle told me that a Leica was almost one year’s salary when he was a young engineer in the 1950s. That’s roughly what an S2 kit costs now (same as a Hasselblad or PhaseOne kit, by the way).

    The fact is that the typical Leica buyer isn’t really rich. A friend has been a top Leica salesman for years, and his customers are the same people who buy new motorcycles, sports cars, or expensive stereos: mid-career professionals, predominently male, with some disposable income and a passion for the hobby. In other words, the same people who don’t mind paying a little extra for a good meal in a nice restaurant (even if you can get a cheaper meal somewhere else). They know exactly what they are getting into, and they are well aware of the fact that the latest Canon/Nikon offers more “features.”

    • regular

      “2 weeks wages for a new college grad in 1966″

      http://www.l-camera-forum.com/leica-forum/customer-forum/128510-leica-m3-price.html

      Puts’s compendium has a chapter about the affordability of the M camera back then. AFAIR, a new M was always about something like a month of salary of a Leica factory employee.

      Puts also mentions that many US soldiers stationed in West Germany would buy a Leica and bring it back home. I am not sure US soldiers were payed that much.

    • ribou

      “The price of an M3 as 2 weeks wages for a new college grad in 1966.”

      http://www.l-camera-forum.com/leica-forum/customer-forum/128510-leica-m3-price.html

      The Leica Compendium book has a chapter about the affordability of Leica cameras. It used to be about a MONTH salary of a Leica factory employee.

      In 1955, a M3 is priced 288$. The same year, a Fender Strat guitar was $249, and a Gibson Les Paul was $325.

      • BC

        That link compares 1955 NY prices with 1966 wages, which is a bit “off the wall,” to put it mildly. I was comparing non-US 1950 prices with contemporary non-US wages.

        The fact is that if you were buying a camera in 1950 outside of the US, you probably didn’t care how affordable it would become 16 years later in another country.

        We would all love to buy new Leicas at prices from 16 years ago, but that’s not realistic or relevant.

  • http://blogg.hogbergphotography.com Danonino

    Hm.. I´ve been drooling over Leicas for so many years.. Now I can afford one.. but no matter how hard I try I cannot justify the cost. And then theres the Fujis, with everything I want at an obscenely cheap price.. Im holding out for the Fuji X200 with faster AF and better batterylife. Then Im set for life. Thats all I could ever need. Maybee I´ll upgrade to Fuji X400 FF version in the same series when that one is released at an crazy low price compared to the Leica X5 or whatever it will be called..

    • Banksie

      Why were you drooling over something you didn’t actually want or need in the first place? It’s clear that you prefer what Fuji offers. There’s nothing wrong with that. But to use it to imply that the M9 is inferior is wrong. It’s not inferior. It’s only inferior to your own needs and desires. This is exactly what I mean when I say people always feel the need to make themselves feel good about their own consumerism. Buy what you want and quit rationalizing it out loud to the rest of the world.

      • Nobody Special

        Last time I checked – if he’s human and has a brain, he can say what he wants – just like you do.

        • Daryl

          Agreed, we are just sharing thoughts as though we are sitting around a table and talking cameras, all contributions welcome.

        • Banksie

          Yeah, you’re both right. It did come off too strong. I suppose it’s partly a reaction to the ‘drooling over Leica’ aspect. People who haven’t previously owned Leica tend to ‘drool’ because of the mythology and the marketing. But in the end the reality is that it may just not be the right choice for them.

          And when it’s realized that the tool doesn’t live up to that person’s expectations and their own cost comfort zone, they feel kind of let down. Then they’ll often rationalize the choice of not buying by saying derogatory things about the product. I guess maybe that’s what irks me. I try to not put down the other options that people have to choose from. They’re all good and they fit each individual for various reasons.

          I may personally not like driving a particular car, and so it may not be something I’d buy (and especially if it costs a lot), but I don’t think I’d pick it apart and say it’s too expensive and rationalize it all of that by pointing out its shortcomings. I think that’s being way too subjective. I’ll state the reasons why something works for me but always with the caveat that it may not work for others. Never ‘bad mouth’ the competition, which I believe is one of the golden rules in good salesmanship. :)

          • Nobody Special

            You know for myself, I built a portfolio 75% of which was with the R system and the rest was with the M. I also shoot with MF – which I actually prefer.

            The R gave me the glass preference from Leica in a body that frankly was just as easy to use as an M – did the same things and much more than an M, BUT when Kaufmann changed the Leica R paradigm with the ridiculous $$$ S2; there isn’t a digital LEICA alternative.

            That left me out of an updated RDSLR; I CAN still use the R leneses for film, so I don’t want to ‘adapt’ the mount for a N or C body. It has been a big letdown after using Leica for many years and supporting the company. I can say that IF I had a crystal ball years ago and saw Kaufmann coming, I would have dumped most of my Leica system.

            I’m a bit surprised that more people/users haven’t seen Kaufmann as the reason for what’s gone on at Leica – I would absolutely love to give him a piece of my mind – and in fact I have sent emails to the ‘proper channels’, for whatever that is or was worth. I find the attitude coming out of Leica towards the R base as being borderline offensive from a marketing customer and user standpoint.

            Two days to see if I can say FINALLY or Photokina before I send him a swift kick in the arse’ !!!

  • CHD

    Great news on the new Summicron lens and the crazy price. I can’t see how they improved on what was already a perfect lens, but this all but guarantees that my 50mm Summicron just went up in value again.

    • Daryl

      Aspherics will improve sharpness wide open but may or may not improve mid apertures. Bokeh is better with nice spherical aberrations of older lenses, although exceptions do occur. That Leica is just now releasing an Asph lens to improve the 50 Summicron is a testament to it’s phenomenal quality, I believe it is the last of the Summicrons to get this.

  • Peter

    All these comments make is sound like Leica is a “value proposition” company. That is like looking at Bentley and comparing their cars based on features and wondering why it does not cost the same as a Toyota.

    Leica has a following, one they are milking as they have a specific niche.

    The problem is that Fuji is targeting their niche. If Fuji were to fix the horrible electronics in their cameras and come out with a Full Frame versions (which they are clearly planning on doing), then Leica would be in real, real trouble.

    There is an appeal to the rangefinder camera, and currently, Leica has the obvious advantage of no competition. Therefore, they can price their system wherever they want, and do.

    As for me, I am really hoping for an M10 in a couple of days. I see no reason for a B&W Leica as it makes very little to no sense at al. Let’s keep hoping that the current set of rumors are nothing but smoke, and that the M10 is announced and is as revolutionary an announcement as it needs to be.

    Thinking about it, if I were Leica, why would I announce a major new camera at Photokina and compete with all of the noise from the other “main-stream” manufacturers? It would make much more sense to announce the M10 now, and a B&W specialty version of it at Photokina.

    We shall see…

  • http://www.bophoto.typepad.com Bo

    Mjah, I would probably spring for a incrementally improved M9 called a M10… but as much as I love monochrome, I guess somehow I still like having color raw DNG files… just saying.

  • http://www.agniusdigital.com Agnius

    The talks of “last camera I’ll ever need” are highly overrated. But this logic does help justify high price items ;)

  • ras

    the x2 isn’t going to have a built-in evf in the corner like the sony nex-7? =(

  • Dennis Van Patten

    Honestly,

    After owning M2,M3,M6,M7,M8,M9 and Mp as well as the X1, I think it’s time Leica just remakes the Leica M3 with the same quality no plastic and made in Wetzlar.

    I thought M9 was my goodbye to film , but the photographs ended up being dull and the whole process felt unnatural.

    Leica had it right perfectly with the M3 and ever since then they tried to improve on it , or tried to make a better version of it (MP) but failed.

    I am going back to film.

    • Dean Silliman

      Exactly, Dennis. I’ll grab my M3 almost every time over my M7, except when I need in-camera metering (almost never). The M3 is perfection in look, feel, and action … and a viewfinder without equal. The post-time at a scanner is a small price to pay for enjoying the M3 and not worrying about “the next camera.”

      I only differ with Dennis on the recommendation to reintroduce an M3. Leica would never put the same workmanship and materials into it and Leica could never come close to the $1,000 price for which M3s can be found endlessly.

      And why would Leica ever introduce a B&W M9?? Does any B&W shooter want a B&W DNG or JPEG file over a Tri-X or Delta negative scanned? What would he do, then add fake digital grain ? Or complain about the plastic look of the DNG and hunt for the right preset filter in LR or PS or Nik?

      Color photography is where Leica needs to move the ball forward to beat its historic offerings for shooting film (improved ISO, etc.).

      Dean

      • Nobody Special

        I agree with you both – as most of my work was/is the R system, the best by far, and absolutely heaven to use were the late edition SL and then SL2 camera’s. They were very expensive to build, as were the M’s.

        But now, with automated machining, I wonder just how much they would cost to make. What I see as a cost hinderence is the focal plane shutters they used – which I prefer(ed) especially for ‘motion’ or blurring of in-motion subjects. Mt favorite M was/is the M4. Scanning is a perfectly acceptable alternative to digital – I feel Leica (seemingly) lacks the imagination – or they won’t let the imagination of those at Leica who know – loose to create new ideas.

  • http://www.arnd.nl Arnd Bronkhorst

    I own three film Leicas, a bunch of lenses, have shot with an M9 and own an x100. If this rumor is true, Leica is dead, at least for me, to use it as a professional tool. If they could make something that makes the same great images that film Leicas did, then the price doesn’t matter, but the issue is that their digital M cameras are way behind the curve, and that is a great pity. I really regret that Leica is not able to make a difference anymore, so I am hoping for an M10.

    • Banksie

      Arnd says: “If they could make something that makes the same great images that film Leicas did, then the price doesn’t matter, but the issue is that their digital M cameras are way behind the curve, and that is a great pity.”

      I still use my M4 and M6 a lot. Fortunately I have access to a modern commercial drum scanner and an Oce Lightjet to print the files onto analog RA-4 paper (a close friend of mine owns a service bureau.)

      I’m happy with my film workflow from the M cameras, and so when I finally bought the M9 I had a lot of anxiety about it and what to expect. I wasn’t that impressed right away. But after getting to understand and working with the files it produces, I now have ended up really appreciating it. The color is pretty extraordinary (much like Kodachrome.) And in the end the files print better and easier than drum scanned 35mm film. The resolution is better and the look is definitely much like film. And much more so than the Nikon system I own and any other current 35mm FF digital system I’ve rented.

      So I would have agreed with your statement before I really started using the M9 in earnest. But I would have to disagree now. (I still use film but for other reasons; and a drum scanned 4×5 or 5×7 piece of film produces an extraordinary file to work with. )

  • Carl

    I find it so annoying that everyone is complaining about this monochrome camera, mainly because I know all the complainers will buy one after they read how good it is, while I will still be saving up for one :(

    I do find it hard to justify the price though, the amount of b&w film I could shoot for the same money would be insane!!! I also wouldn’t have to worry about my precious photos being stored on something as fragile as a hard drive.

    • http://www.alexandremaller.com Maller

      “I also wouldn’t have to worry about my precious photos being stored on something as fragile as a hard drive.”
      I’m working with film, and for me the reliability of the digital archive is a dream: if my house and my negatives burn a day, I would have lost everything! If my hard drive die, I have a back up and I don’t lost anything at all!

  • Daryl

    Just speculating that Leica might have a very good reason for producing a monochrome digital: dynamic range is a very limiting factor faced in many situations, if the Leica sensor could produce 15-20 stops of DR they would have a camera that is unique and valuable to many photographers.

  • Stephen B

    I am sure the monochrome M will be amazing. That said, I use 2 film M’s (MP and M7) and am still blown away by the quality of a good scan. Just the other day I got a request for a print of an image I shot on Ektachrome a few years ago. I had scanned it back then so the question was where the heck was it? I was looking through my file and my my external drives and then I thought, you know what, I will just rescan it, so I got out my film box, found it in about 30 seconds and scanned a tif. Not sure why I am saying this but I suppose the point is that I had a request for a print from a few years ago and without using a drive/disk etc, I found the film, scanned it and provided the file within a few minutes, probably about the same speed as if I had to go though my external drives to find it.

    • Nobody Special

      Sounds like an excellent set-up that you have and an important note for those that don’t think film and scanning is relevant.

      The mono M would be of interest if it has the tonal gradation of an 8×10 neg.

    • Daryl

      Thanks Stephen, I am motivated to load up my film camera and shoot some Velvia stored in the freezer, it is way past it’s expiration but should be okay, I am not sure where to get it developed. You are right about the workflow for film, in many ways it is easier.

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