What to expect from Leica at Photokina 2010 (*updated*)

Photokina is the biggest photography equipment show in the world and it takes place every two years in Cologne, Germany. For Leica Camera AG, this is their "home turf" - Solms is 150km/100miles away from Cologne. As Rudi Spiller mentioned on the last financial report, Leica has used Photokina to make some major announcements in the past: in 2008 for example, they announced 9 different products:

  • Leica C-Lux 3
  • Leica Dlux 4
  • Leica M8.2
  • Leica S2
  • Leica Noctilux 50 mm f/0.95 ASPH
  • Leica Summilux 21 mm f/1.4 ASPH
  • Leica Summilux 24 mm f/1.4 ASPH
  • Leica Elmar 24 mm f/3.8 ASPH
  • and the digital projector Leica Pradovit D-1200

Here are the current speculations/rumors/expectations on what Leica will announce at Photokina 2010 (of course some of the listed products may get announced at a later date, others may be completely wrong):

  • Leica D-Lux 5: this is a given, considering previous release patterns and the fact that Panasonic already announced their LX5 version. I do not expect another point and shoot camera from Leica, since the V-Lux 20 was released just few months ago.
  • Leica M9 update (maybe M9.2): similar to the M8.2 update, the M9.2 will probably offer sapphire glass and few other minor improvements. Update: the M9 update could actually be a titanium limited edition.
  • Leica S2: if the rumors are true, an updated Leica S2.2 is expected (no idea what could be included in this update ).
  • Some new M lenses: here the speculation can go wild, basically everything is possible.
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  • Nobody Special

    Just having half of it all happen would be good news. I’m waiting (anxiously) for the R solution and based on what Leica has done since Kaufmann s’ arrival/purchase of Leica Camera I have fairly high expectations.

    If they indeed will bring some new lenses along then I also can’t help but hope that they are re-inventing their own wheel; meaning that if it’s full frame (likely) they will have taken a serious step towards getting in at the front of EVIL FF cameras. Of course, it could be less than what we all might expect and they could lay an egg – which would be a surprise. Who knows, it could be something that uses a whole new range of lenses into the future. I also wonder if it’ll be sealed up like the S2.

    It’s just good to see Leica able to stand up without holes in their pockets and get moving again.

    • The only reason why I allowed myself to lists so many possibilities is because of the number of items they released during the last Photokina – 9!

      • Nobody Special

        Perhaps quietly we are all hoping for a lot!!!!!!!

  • Hopefully an R line. Most likely compatible with R glasses, S glasses and something new. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Leica came out with something completely surprising.

    New glass will be in the direction of Summilux, ASPH and APO. Probably without any considerations about price.

    Don’t believe in a M9.2. The M9 is perfect as is, M10 will be in the future with faster buffer and more megapixel and improved image quality.

    X series will hopefully continue to be fixed lenses, a 75mm portrait camera is my guess. Hopefully with improved speed of operation as well.

    In any case, long waiting lists also in 2011 as well for desirable products.

    And perhaps a Digilux 2.2 😉

    • I started seeing more and more M9 and X1 in stock. If Leica announces M9.2 – this will keep the production lines busy for a while. I don’t really care about sapphire glass, but if they change the LCD display, I may think twice.

  • David

    Summicron 50mm ASPH is my guess; I can’t imagine any other lens needing improvement. M9.2 seems inevitable (that plastic LCD screen is really low rent). It will be really interesting to see what solutions they have for the R lenses. Would it possible to make them compatible with the S system?

  • well…I vote for the R line and some new glass…the D-Lux 5 is a given.

    A new M…don’t think so! It’s still selling very well and it’s great. I know in the US some people are waiting more then six months to get one. They will wait…

  • JJB

    The long-awaited “R solution” would certainly make an impact at Photokina.

    So would an X2 with zoom and other improvements. Sorry to hear that one might not make this show.

    However, I would happily “trade everything behind door #1” for a chance at an upgraded Digilux 2.2, with the vario-summicron and solid construction/ergonomics of the original, but with improvements to sensor, EVF, ISO, etc!

    • David

      Any improvements to the sensor = new camera, and haven’t they released improvements since — the Digilux 3? In any event, seems the X1 with a zoom can accomplish everything the Digilux 2.x would hope to accomplish?

      • No, totally different story in camera ergonomics, simplicity of “classic” operation, viewfinder. And a 28-90mm/f 2.0-2.4 zoom for the X1 sensor format would be huge (one of the main attractions of the D2 is the lightstrong zoom, which is small because the sensor is small; which is why a Digilux 2.2 would have to have the same sensor size, but higher megapixels anddynamic range).

        Also, you see quite many X1 on the secondhand market whereas Digilux 2 users tend to get 1,2 or 3 Digilux 2 cameras. It just has something special about it, very close related to the love for photography.

  • Mike

    The D-Lux 5 is a given, I don’t think they would announce a new iteration of the M9 and a new X-model.

    I would love some accesories for the X-series though:
    1. a moreless CF-22 sized flash-unit with bounce – the X1 flash is a joke, even for fill 🙁
    2. somekind of a filteradapter, taking standard-sized filters unlike the 67mm of the Digilux 2 – sometimes I miss the possibilities of a ND or polarizer
    3. maybe a wideangle adapter – with the Digilux 2 Leica proved they can be made almost without any IQ loss and 24mm/28mm FF-equivalent would be nice at times

    A new firmware would be nice, too. Especialy if they could reduce the power-off time, enhance the AF-speed, allow for RAW capture only and add 1/3 ISO-steps.

  • El Aura

    I think an R-solution is a pipedream. If they could find a sensor manufacturer that would sell them a FF sensor with Liveview (ie, CMOS-based), they could put that into an M10, add an adaptor for R-lenses and possibly an EV, and they would have an R-solution.

    But if they cannot even get a LV-capable sensor for the M-line, why would they suddenly get hold of complete new FF EVIL camera for their R-lenses?

  • fotoharry

    I was at Leica museum last week and could see some old stuff -> @thorsten: digilux 2 and 3 are definitively out – Leica will not continue with small sensors like in FT and mFT cameras – also C-Lux cameras are gone – this is not the segment Leica will focussing in the future, as it is considered as mass consumer market – people in Solms are working an electronic viewfinder solutions – not sure whether for an M10 or a new camera for upcoming photokina – Harald

    • that’s for the EVIL camera that will take R lenses 🙂

  • Small updated that just came in:

    – Leica V-Lux 2 – it will be based on the Panasonic Lumix FZ100.

    – Leica M9 update could actually be a titanium limited edition M9.

    • David

      A titanium M9? I wonder how much lighter would that make the camera . . .

    • I know one who ordered one of those. He would be unhappy share his limited edition with others 😉

  • pix

    There will be no S2 2.2. There will be an announcment of a new lense for the S2 like a 30-90 mm zoom.

    • This is interesting, I thought that they announced their S2 lenses product map.

  • Nobody Special

    Leica has verbally committed to the R solution – who knows what sensor technology and the source it would come from.

    I believe they won’t mess with the existing, traditional M Rangefinder design. That’s not to say they won’t come out with a new M mount live eventually. There just isn’t enough room in the existing M body to change it radically on the inside – anything is possible, but I just don’t think they would upset the current M users that way.

    It does make sense that they could solve the R issue by having a ‘bridge system’ body that could handle the M lenses now, and the R lenses with adapters and bring a whole new concept. The R line could be used, as would the current M lenses and still bring a new camera. That makes sense, but did they have time enough to do all that? Kaufmann has made some vague reference to a zoom that would send a signal to a viewfinder that would adjust automatically to the used focal length. Which would mean a new body of some kind and new lenses.

    The M is the link to Leicas’ past and tradition – they have sold many more M lenses than R, so it would make more sense to build around the M system.

  • Giancarlo Benzina

    don’t see more coming than:
    – new M lenses
    – X1 update
    – M9 update, maybe
    – S2? no
    – R cam or R lenses? no
    Leica is a small company running well on the M-trail, only. All other is a hobby, just S2 is taken serious by Leica as potential (r)evolution.

    • Nobody Special

      Nothing personal,,,but I hope you are incorrect… In Leicas way, they have been throwing hints and historically that has translated to something new – other than lenses.

      Surely, they have to have something other than what they have now in order to survive, and based on the hints they’ve been throwing it seems they have something ‘up their sleeve’ that will keep the R users in the fold – while showing everyone that they are here to stay and bring new users in that is more than X1.

      Time will tell…….. Lets face it, other than the testers out there that have signed agreements to test and not tell, or are privey’ to the facts, none of us really know.

    • My picks are:
      – small M9 updated, either M9.2 or a M9 limited edition
      – R solution, some kind of a EVIl camera
      – D-Lux 5
      – V-Lux 2
      – new M lens or lenses

  • Dave

    Keep in mind that Leica discontinued production of all R lenses.

    This signals that they have no intention of introducing an R-mount camera. Why would they introduce an R-mount camera if they’ve stopped making R-mount lenses? It would cost a fortune to restart production lines.

    It would also be foolish for Leica to try to compete with Canon and Nikon in the 35mm slr space. They lost money for 40 years trying to do that with the R line. If anything, Leica’s future SLR may be the S2, leapfrogging beyond 35mm entirely.

    As many people have pointed out, the future of photography seems like a classic “long tail”. One one end, billions of cheap cellphone cameras that will perform exceptionally well for most users (the iPhone 4 is almost unthinkably advanced by the standards of ten years ago: a 5MP camera with an entire modular postproduction suite built in).

    At the other end a handful of very high-end cameras (like the S2 and M9) for enthusiasts, pros, and status/gadget hounds. The entire middle of the curve — the low-cost digicam market — will be devoured by cellphones. There will be only high and low.

    As such, it makes no sense to produce anything like an R camera, which can’t compete with Canon and Nikon’s offerings today, let alone in the future. No one even understands a DSLR without autofocus.

    However, there may be a modified, lower-cost but still very expensive S2 someday which can use “R” lenses.

    Therefore, I suspect the S2 is the “R” lens solution.

  • JJB

    While I am not an R user, I would appreciate some additional color from Leica management about the R. Maybe they will give some interviews at Photokina.

    On the other hand, it now seems pretty clear that the current S, M, and X families are Leica’s core product families for the foreseeable future, covering the professional, high-consumer, and mid-consumer segments, with the “Pana-Leica” consumer compacts rounding out the entry level consumer category.

    I also recall that Leica once said (roughly 2 years ago) that there is ‘room for maybe two products between the D-Lux4 and the M.’ Sorry I do not remember the exact date or who said this, but I believe it was attributed to one of Leica’s top managers.

    Since then, Leica launched the X1 and it now sits in this space. But this is a big space, and it feels to me like there is still some room for another product or two here, at least whenever Leica’s engineering resources and mfg capabilities permit.

    It is this price-range between the D-Lux and M families that interests me most. As to the X family, it seems that it will now push forward along the vector of “large APS sensor, combined with compact/lightweight body and small/sharp lens.” It seems logical to expect an X2 zoom model soon.

    But while the X family seems like a nice addition, I still prefer a larger and more ergonomic/solid camera like the Digilux 2, combined with its huge fixed zoom, integrated VF, and manual controls – even if this would mean settling for a smaller sensor.

    In as much as a digicam’s performance might be claimed to rest upon two general foundations, 1) the sensor/firmware (aka “engine”), and 2) the optics (lens), I would call the D2 an “optics-leading” camera. Maybe this reflects limitations in sensor technology that existed during the mid 2000s when it was developed. Hence, the reliance on a superb lens over a massive sensor.

    Today, it seems that “sensor-leading” highend compacts are the trend, as that is where the biggest technological advancements will occur in coming years and where cost reductions can still be gained.

    All that said, I still want a Digilux 2.X! Leica, can you at least offer me a “tuner” option, just like for German cars? I love the D2s body and handling just as they are, I just want a little more horsepower/torque!

  • David

    Despite what Leica may have said, coming out with a new camera system (like the R10, for instance) doesn’t seem to make any financial sense. Leica already tried this once, with the DMR solution, and it was a disaster. As Dave said, trying to compete against Nikon and Canon in the DSLR space is not something Leica can handle, just as true that any rangefinder camera from Nikon or Canon would be a distant second to Leica (at leat the lenses would be a distant second). The S system is the rightful replacement of the R system. Leica should just stick with the M. S, and X systems, and move on from there. The S system can benefit from some additional lenses.

    • I agree, if there will be a “R solution”, it will not be a DSLR.

      • Nobody Special

        Leica has made itself clear on the fact that it will not have a new DSLR (Rbased) and that they basically conceded that market to N & C. The flange distance on R lenses is shorter than the S lenses making an adapter for R to S bodies ‘un-doable’.

        But it possible to use an R mount on an M because the Flange/mount distance is greater on the R than the M lenses. Leica has too much pride to dump the R lens owners on the side of the road and it would be a mistake to think they will. They are up to something that will fix the R lens solution. All the DMR’s were sold out – it wasn’t a waste or bad idea, they lost partner support for it and simply couldn’t make any more or profitably. It’s a volatile market in the Digital world and they know it just like C & N know it.

        • David

          IMO the advantage that the R system offered over the M system was only this — the ability to see through the lens. Of course, this advantage is universal to all DSLRs over all rangefinders. Using the R lenses on the M system to me is a silly solution. There is no question the M lenses is gthe best solution on the M cameras (at one point the Zeiss lenses were awesome too (including the (21mm f/4.0), but with the M9 the Zeiss lenses are mostly inferior due to color shifts from the Zeiff lenses). I own the R8 and three lenses that went with it. Certainly, the R system had some terrific lenses, but in my opinion none of them (with the possible exception of the Elmarit 19mm) can beat the quality of the current M lenses (though they can come close). There is no reason for me to use the R lenses on my M bodies just to get inferior or at best equal quality images on my M9 with the M lenses. Furthermore, the R lenses are generally much larger than the M lenses, making finer blockage an issue, another ding for using the R lenses (The R Summilux 50mm is almost as big as the Noc 50mm f/0.95). Finally, one of the elegance of using the M system is its compactness. By using the R lenses I defeat that elegance altogether. If I am going to carry that bulk, I would rather shoot with my Nikon DSLR with AF and much more, using some terrific lenses they’ve recently introduced, than to use my M9 with R lenses. It’s like mating an elephant and a tiger; it makes no sense to me.

          • Nobody Special

            I agree with the notion/fact that the R lenses are physically out of scale with the M system.

            To be clear, the option is there for Leica to introduce a bridge camera of some type which would not be a DSLR, or a rangefinder M as it looks and functions currently. It doesn’t mean that they will. It could be some type of system they’ve developed which simply allows the use of R glass – but, it seems logical that they would not bring a body just for that – it has to make sense financially. Therefore it seems logical that it would support some new lens line.

            Again, Leica has stated more than once that a FF solution for R lens users is inbound. The current M lenses should be a bit better than the discontinued R lenses simply because most of the M lenses have passed through another design cycle over the R.

  • Anonymous

    I bet the delay in M9 firmware availablity is due to inclusion of new lenses in manual settings. No reason to distribute it now and again in a couple months…

  • Maiko

    My guess:

    No M9 update (maybe a display glass but no M9.2 The people buy it as it is now unlike the M8) Maybe a limited edition in chrome.

    Digiscope adapter for the X1, nothing else here.

    It’s far to early for another Pana rebranding. They take OLD Panas and put a dot on it so maybe next year.

    The R9 solution might be an adapter, nothing else. No EVIL between the M and X! They just don’t have the resources for such a camera and a new lens range.

  • Giancarlo Benzina

    S2 needs more presence, X1 a real update and accessories, M9 needs nothing more than firmware update and new lenses. R’s dead. Pana-rebrands? we have that vlux. I believe we’ll get a X1-kind of camera announced, maybe X1s (speed+lens-adapters).
    Whish Leica would think about a WiFi/bluetooth connection to Mobile GPS devices to collect GPS data remote or upload pix via/to phone (Iphone?). Would fit the X1. Maybe that’s to revolutionary for leica, but, who knows.

    • Anonymous

      +1 on a M-body gps capability. Especially given the camera’s ability to travel and the integration of location info in exif data for Aperture “Places”.

  • Dan

    My guess is a “cheaper” M9 is available soon – probably slightly smaller, still M-mount and FF, but M9 going mainstream.

    They won’t be able to produce enough of ’em, trust me.

  • Anders

    Leica will release a version of the new Panasonic FT/MFT cameras that is suitable for the old R lenses. That will be their ´R solution´. Sad, but that is my guess.

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