Leica Camera may move their stock listing to Hong Kong

Leica Camera may consider listing their stock in Hong Kong, the Hong Kong Economic Times reported. Alfred Schopf, Chief Executive Officer of Leica Camera AG, was cited as saying that the company will seek to strengthen its brand in the next three to five years following a stock delisting in Germany. He added that getting listed in Hong Kong is a possibility for the company in the future, according to the report.

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  • Why Leica?

    I should disclose that I have never shot with Leica. I do however respect their heritage, build and optical quality.
    But… Why make a camera like M9 that will be technologically redundant in 18 months with a build quality so good it will work great in 100 years or more? If your going to make build quality this good, and expensive, why not have an upgradable sensor? Surely Leica engineers could work this out. They are the best aren’t they? And did they not become the best because of there leading edge innovation back in the day?
    Why did they not digitize there R system slr’s, rendering so much wonderful glass digitaly extinct. How does this show respect to your heritage?,to those that invested so much in you?
    And is the S system really that much greater than say Nikon d800 if you need to be fast in the field or other MF alternatives for the studio?
    I don’t question there lenses, a great lens will always be relevant and worthy of a 100 year build quality. But I think Leica should stop living in the past. H C Bresson would want us to I am sure. And I am sure he would want to fully embrace the latest technology has to offer in photographics. That’s what made him, and Leica great. But that was so long ago….
    How will a Hong Kong listing help them? Innovation I believe is the way forward. Going cheapo ? Let us all hope not!

    • Nobody Special

      Well, they are not the best when it comes to cameras. Though in the film days I had a hard time finding a better easier to use camera than the SL2. They make excellent glass but they are aren’t the only ones. The dead R system and it’s MANY, MANY LOYAL and patient users were dumped quite unceremoniously and that should speak HUGELY to their lack of loyalty to their Heritage and USER base. The S system is a non-factor in the camera imaging world by numbers alone – whether they sell them or not.

      The new owner(s) are not camera innovators, though I’m betting they have a few on staff – and those must have some interesting conversations when they ‘tip a few’ together after a week at work under ‘lord kaufmann’. So even if they are some of the best, if the boss doesn’t understand because he was born with a golden spoon in his mouth and never run or owned a business, it doesn’t mean diddly. The Hong Kong Exchange??? Geese, I could give a rats arse’ about that – and as you say, innovation is the key; in a form people can use and possibly even afford.

    • Harold Ellis

      why for the hell you think they are best?

      they have some good opticians but so does many other companies who just work under little stricter limits.
      nikon, zeiss or schneider industrial optic but even quite often mainstream optic is able to beat most what leica produces and for even better price. that is what i call engineering.
      please show me any shot which some leica shooter shot which would be less valuable when shot with different gear.

      • Why Leica?

        Why do I think they are the best? Because anyone charging that much for equipment must be, right?
        Seriously though I’m sure the M format is ideal for some photographic styles, and I don’t know of a better build quality in any camera shop I ever walked into. But its not the best for me, a passionate non professional for most of my life.
        I strongly suspect you are right Harold, other companies now making sharper optics at a fraction of the price, even if a little plastic. And I for one would not be able say with any confidence, looking at any quality photo published in any quality magazine or large print, what companies gear was used. I could tell you something about the capability of the photographer and the quality, likely format and focal length of the gear… But I would be guessing at brands.

        • Harold Ellis

          yea, if you would be talking about some LF or MF system, then no question, that is real photography, and i could tell from miles distance it was not shot with canikon etc, but leica is still just overblown 135 kinofilm.

          • Why Leica?

            ‘Overblown 135 kinofilm’ indeed. It was a great idea in the 1920’s, when they were about the only ones capable of making a lens sharp enough for the small format.
            For all my carrying on I am trying to say 3 things:

            1. Leica was a once great pioneering company
            2.They have lost there way, now trading as apparel for the rich who wish to live in a bygone fantasy.
            3.Its not to late for them to become a great company again.

            And if the only people that ever read all that I have ranted about are the Leica management then maybe some good could come from it. Somehow I doubt they listen to randoms like me however. Thanks to all those who have however and who contribute and care about photography.

          • Harold Ellis

            i dont think it will ever work for them again. They do not have power to fight japanese on skill, price or performance, yet worse on all three at the same time. Nowadays it is too easy to grab opinions online and they would fail trying.
            Their only way to not become another failed Kodak or Pentax is to make its own market which will work for them. They found it as being jewelery maker and use their name to sell lenses for crappy P&S camera, so good for them.

            Bad for those who once used them or want more and better competition in the market though.

          • Why Leica?

            Its sad to see them reduced to jewellery maker.
            Its less shameful to lend a hand and name designing crappy lenses for cheap P+S for others to make. How much involvement does Leica actual have in the design / production of say a Panasonic point and shoot?
            Is it name only (deeply shameful! ), some design input ? supply material for glass making or coatings ?
            Perhaps Leica should just give up making cameras and be like Zeiss and just make lenses? Or perhaps as you suggest they simply can not fight off the Japanese skill and value, leaving them as a Jewelry company. Sad for the demise of Leica, happy for Japanese techno value. Such is life, maybe in 50 years Samsung will be the leading pro camera maker and Nikon the charmed relic. The first photo of a human on Mars maybe taken through a Samyang lens…

          • Harold Ellis

            so is the life.
            afaik the most leica stuff is not made in germany anymore anyway and all of panasonic stuff is made in china/tchaiwan too. they probably do some part of design, and get some deal out of it for their X1/X2.
            they do not supply glass either. would be too expensive and not worth it to ship, even if they would be able to make such amounts what panasonic sales. beside that lenses are nothing special. as crappy as other P&S lenses.

  • Sahaja

    HK makes sense. Wealthy Chinese are now Leica’s best customers.

    • FED4-user

      I would agree with Sahaja. Leica brand becomes more and more popular in growing chinese upper/middle class (there is no true middle class yet). It also valid with Leica film. Boston used Leica store dealer told me, that all they do with used M cameras now, is put them on Ebay in order to sell them to Chinese customers. With Blackstone looking to the East for many years, the Leica move just makes sense.

      • M6 Fan

        I agree with Sahaja and FED4-user, especially since the Leica brand is becoming less popular in the growing American lower class (there is no true middle class left).

  • Why Leica?

    Sahaja, its great wealthy Chinese wanting to buy the best, I too would love to sell product in Chinese markets if only I could make things so exquisite… I get that.
    I don’t get economics generally, its an abstract world of numbers to me..
    I am just wondering about the future of Leica as company and the products they make.
    Nobody Special, the SL2 must have been a delight to use. Its a camera from the era I discovered photography and reading about it just now reminds me of how wonderful these clock driven cameras were. I really miss using my old Nikon f2, I have a nostalgic love of film but I don’t miss using it. Film still has its place but its a digital world now. You seem to understand where I am coming from and where Leica is at.
    Perhaps you are right about this Mr Kaufmann. I don’t know the first thing about him but I do know that a fish rots from the head down… And something smells a little unpleasant at Leica to me. I see a once great company, still capable of greatness living in a pretend 1930’s Parisian world. Frankly its embarrassing. I mean I love the work of H.C. Bresson but the world has moved on and to remain there is living in a pantomine, not reality. Hasselblad is also a company with a long proud history. And while we all remember and admire there journey to the Moon on Apollo, they don’t carry on as a company like it’s still 1969, like nothing could ever be better than a 500 ELM. No. They innovate, they push the digital envelope while still staying faithful to there heritage and customers. Nikon are the best at this – innovation with respect to your heritage through there continued use of the F mount, despite what limitations there maybe by using a 50+ year old mount design, Nikon do a great job at this.
    So would I want Leica to become like Nikon? No way! I’ve shot Nikon for the last 25 years and there great for me but I want Leica to be better. I want Leica to be something I can aspire to, like it was for me years ago when we were all shooting film.
    The Hermes edition…? WTF? I’m sorry but this is scary. I’m all for collector stuff and limited editions but is this what you call innovation ? A B+W sensor….? is this the best we can do in 1912, sorry 2012?
    Ok, my rant is nearly over…
    Be great again Leica. Innovate. You invented 24*36mm, put one in an SLR with bleeding edge electronics and a re awakened R mount.
    How about user interchangeable sensors for your M system cameras making them truly worthy of there price and build quality. I might even get the Hermes if I know it will still be as good electronically as it is mechanically in a 100 years….
    The more I think about Nobody Specials comment the more I think she/he is right.
    To me it seems like they just don’t care bout photography any more, only branding.

  • Lt

    I will short their stock on day one if they do list in HK.

    • D600=$1499

      Short them hard!

  • Daryl

    Electronics is not the strength of the German camera industry, I believe that can be said about their autos also. Germans build mechanical quality, their progress has always been very slow. To put an interchangeable sensor in a camera would be spectacular, Ricoh has done this with their GXR although slightly different than what I believe is suggested by Why Leica? in his original post. WL?’s point about mechanical excellence with obsolete electronics is very valid, but it is more American/Japanese to see electronic life as limited and proceed to reduce mechanical quality in a product. VCR’s and now Dvd players are examples of this.

    The German camera industry is a ghost of it’s prior dominant self. What’s left is Schneider, Zeiss and Leica. Leica is a small company, I don’t know their R&D budget but would suspect it is a small fraction of Sony, Nikon or Canon. As such they have difficulty bringing new products to market, and it is their history to sell products made by others such as the Zeiss Hologon and the Minolta lenses rebranded as Leica. As they are experiencing a new golden era with their fabulously successful M9 the innovation may be less hampered by finances. Photokina should tell us more about Leica’s current thinking, will the M10 be conservative or innovative? Will there be other products that are new or new to Leica? There is talk of AF lenses to fit the Leica M, live view, electronic viewfinders and other changes. That would be pretty aggressive for Leica, and when I read what Leica Forum posters write about the M10 many will not want a camera that departs from their beloved M’s of the past. These folks are diehards but they could comprise the majority of Leica sales. If so Leica has to be careful not to alienate them. Bad decisions could spell disaster, Kodak is a prime example of horrible decision making and their free-fall from Dow 30 to bankruptcy. Leica is small, it has to proceed carefully or it too will be the next great camera brand to cease existence.

  • Nobody Special

    I’ve said this before at Leica; Innovate, have a camera line that is innovative and relatively M sized with a semi-sculped body that has features many can use and are up-tech, THEN have a ‘Traditional’ line for those that want a standard body.

    But make the up-tech line with a re-designed viewfinder that shows ALL useable M lenses so the ancient finder system doesn’t need to be used, bigger eyepiece, at least 5 frame sequencing, better/faster processor, etc., etc.

    Remember, there is no ‘public’ Leica stock, it’s all owned by Kaufmann/Blackstone; the Chinese market is huge right now – the key word is, right now. China’s continued success is far from guaranteed and Leica may feel confident that all will be well – as many other companies do, but…..

    • Daryl

      NS- 2 separate lines of camera would be satisfying to all concerned. From the past interview it appears Leica may be thinking similar thoughts.

  • EnPassant

    I don’t know if it has anything to do with it, but Hong-Kong was just ranked as the best city in the world: http://www.economist.com/blogs/gulliver/2012/07/city-rankings

    • regular

      I don’t know if it has anything to do with it… but Hong-Kong is a tax haven.

      • drifting by


  • Why Leica?

    Thanks to Daryl and Nobody Special and others for helping me to understand this company. I have no mind for market movements.
    I guess I have failed to take into account the recent success of the M9 series. It really does surprise me it could be that popular beyond a few die hard traditionalists, and if you are one of them wouldn’t you rather shoot film? Or at least have a range of interchangeable sensors for both technological upgrades and different sensor types.
    I see this opportunity as huge for Leica. In Australia an M9 sells for about AU$8,000 (very close to US$). The M10 maybe around $10,000 and will probably be an almost identical body and a little bit better sensor. I and many others will never buy into that. If however the M10 was $10,000 with a sensor choices of around $2k to $6k (imagine a choice of standard, high ISO, high MP, B+W, IR, aa/ no aa filter etc..), that I would buy into knowing my beautifully crafted camera will always stay relevant. I think more people would buy into this system increasing overall sales of camera’s and sensors. Many people would elect to have there authorized service center do this for them and may just get a general camera and lens service while they are at it. All this adds up to increased revenue from sales and service to Leica and lots of really happy Leica users with there cameras always in tip top condition.
    But sales figures speak for themselves and I am at a loss to think how such a compromise of design the M9 is sells so well. It’s a vintage Rolls Royce with a modern Toyota hybrid engine in it, and when that engine is outdated it cant be swapped out! It makes no sense to me. If you want something beautiful get a Rolls, If you want to move your family through today’s traffic get the Toyota. And if you have the money and you want it all, get a new Bentley turbo but why the Rolls with the fixed Toyota motor ? Tradition ?
    I can understand Leica has not the R+D resources of its Japanese giant rivals. So what is wrong with Leica outsourcing components from companies that will always do it better, like imaging chips?
    I agree with NS to have 2 lines – modern and traditional, also develop or get Sony or whoever the best at it is, to develop a range of interchangeable sensors suitable for a range of photographic styles and then many more people would buy an M(x) knowing they have a beautiful camera that will not only be working fabulously well in 30 years but one that will be still be leading the competition for IQ.
    Daryl – You mentioned Kodak, and what a craptacular fall from hero to zero that company has gone through by failing to grasp the modern world it pretty much invented. ( I believe Kodak invented the first digital camera in the 1970’s ?)
    It would be sad to see Leica fade into irrelevance as well buy failing to grasp the modern world. It would be sad to see them alienate the traditionalist and loyal customer as well. There is no need to remind people here of there gigantic contribution to the development of photography. I too would question for how long the Chinese market will remain hot.
    Take out Kodak and Leica from the history of photography and what those two companies alone have contributed and we may be discussing how many plates per minute the latest daguerreotype can shoot at.
    So I join a chorus and say again to Kaufmann/Blackstone or whoever is in charge:
    Look at your history. Alienate and you will make loyal customers angry. Fail to grasp the modern world you created and go the way of Kodak. Innovate and forever be a leader and a company that grows in all markets, not just boom today markets.

    • M-loser

      You (and others) seem to have forgotten that Leica has always been a luxury brand

      Leica isn’t about cutting edge features. The M3 came out in 1954, only to be technically outdated five years later by the first Nikon F. They ‘ve been consistently behind the rest of the industry for the last 55 years; focusing on extreme lens performance in a very small package. I know it’s hard for many to accept this, but Leica has never been about huge volum production and catering to the masses. While most camera manufacturers of the last century are long gone, Leica is still around doing what they master like no one else: making embarrassing limited edition cameras for the super rich.

      Wishing for them to compete with Nikon and Canon’s R&D is futile. The Kodak designed M9 CCD-sensor is incredibly complex, in that Leica had to add micro lenses to its surface, as a way of redirecting a very steep angle of attack from the incomming light. A problem non-existent on film bodys. After spending boatloads of cash researching this, it’ll probably take a decade before Leicas next “big” announcement.
      No third party is going to hand out sensor processing algorithms that can (realistically) compete with giants like Nikon and Canon when it comes to noise performance etc.
      Leica admitted to have spent 6 years writing and perfecting code for the monochrome version of the M9. With that in mind, making a low volum R digital on top of the new (and successful) S2, seems more like a pipe dream. This sadly, for many, isn’t a conspiracy, just basic facts of how to survive in a cut throat industry that has swallowed almost everyone but a few big players.

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