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Monday, 15 September 2008

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Two questions:

1. Why would anyone want an f/3.8 24mm lens?

2. Why would anyone want an f/3.8 24mm lens enough to pay ~$2400 for it?

I realize that I'm being a pain, but I have to ask: how are you defining "popular" in this context?

Best regards,
Adam

What I do not understand is the utility of an f1.4 21/24mm on a rangefinder.

I was thinking the reason for the 21 & 24 F/1.4 twins was the smaller sensor in the M8. This way you would satisfy the need for fast wide primes between 28-40mm equivalents. These new lens are not going to be able to be bought by many though. It is funny how quickly so much really good photographic equipment has become able to be obtained by many, (a full frame digital for under 2k now) Leica has shot their prices over the moon to the complete opposite end of the unobtainable spectrum. I have always wanted a Leica M camera, but with these new prices and increases and more increases, my dream, I fear, will not be obtainable. I think I am on the road to waiting for the next player (zeiss, cosina) to make a reasonable digital rangefinder.

Pardon the correction, but the Canon 50mm f/0.95 was not an S-mount lens. It attached to the Canon 7 body by a bayonet mount, also used for attaching the Mirror Box II (the Canon equivalent of the Leitz Visoflex).

Peter Marquis-Kyle,
That's true, but technically it's still an S-mount...or at least that's how Canon lists it at the Canon Camera Museum website. Canon states: "The lens mount is clip-on, 3-lug bayonet system like the Mirror Box II (cameras have S mount inside bayonet mount). The edge of the rearmost lens element is cut off to avoid friction with interlocking roller of range finder mechanism."

Mike J.

Almost each new generation of DSLR has significant improvements over its predecessor with similar price if not less. I suppose Leica is not thinking for the “popular” with common sense but for those who may never need to look at the price tag of a camera.

Great lenses. Shame about the body they are meant to go on.

Mike, you didn't mention the D-Lux 4 you mentioned in its Panasonic Lumix LX3 incarnation.

The press release calls it "Son Of M8". If it's the "kind of small, digital M" that was mentioned a while ago in an article in Welt Online, I'm deeply disappointed. I hoped for a micro 4/3 rangefinder camera.

On the other hand, a micro 4/3 rangefinder would compete with the $6,400 M8.2 and come out as a winner.

Although Leica lenses are expensive to initially purchase, they are excellent and typically have a high resale. In fact, if you had purchased a number of Leica lenses in the past few years, especially the Noctilux, you'd see a real appreciation in resale price.

"...Nevertheless it's clear that Leica is acutely drifting into jewelry sales mode with the M8.2."

Actually, that has been clear for years.

Granted, the optics are very good, and it makes one of the only randgefinder lines ( and the only DRF ) and their past cameras are a part of history, etc.

If i could afford one, i would get one, (even with the archaic, and to me irritating total removal back cover :) . I like rangefinders.

But economically, they have been a luxury brand for a long time now, since long before the M8.

I mean geez, who else in the camera market could put their logo on a Panasonic P&S body and sell it at a premium?

I wish someone (Cosina/Voightlander?) would come out with a digital rangefinder.


I see, from a Wall Street Journal article today, that Leica "...expects a loss approaching €10 million for the fiscal year ending March 2009, and break-even or slightly positive earnings in the following fiscal year if sales of new products take off.". The article centers around former CEO Stephen Lee's dismissal and takes the tac that he was tossed for being too aggressive in updating Leica's business. (I personally don't buy that, although he was clearly a poor selection for that post.)

The article also notes:
"Mr. Lee also decided last autumn to boost the price of the M8, which had sold strongly since its 2006 launch but which he judged insufficiently profitable. He raised the suggested retail price to €4,800 from €4,200.

"Customers balked. After Leica's overall sales rose sharply in late 2006 and early last year, largely on M8 sales, they fell 16% to €38.2 million in the final quarter of 2007 from the year-earlier period."

So, in light of Leica's Photokina announcement, I gather that Leica's response to this predicament was to put a different shutter in the camera, a tougher screen on the lcd, call it version 2, and then generously raise prices again?

My advice to anyone who may want a new Leica camera, particularly an M, is to buy it sooner rather than later. Given evidence of such poor business strategy I don't see Leica having a long future.

For WSJ.com subscribers the article is here: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122152103387739231.html

Potentially I see this as a big market opening for Leica.

At the moment I see two trends; the increasing miniaturization of sensors through advancements of technology, noise and signal processing and consumer demand of larger sensors making it feasible to produce such cameras at a price suitable to be purchased by the consumer.

Of the two one feels like an 8 cylinder car and the other a engine equipped with VTEC.

High quality optics capable of resolving ridiculous amounts of detail on tiny sensors. Its a market worth perusing in my opinion.

The problem with most cameras with small sensors are that they are not equipped with the suitable optics which don't give enough resolution. Leica, an optics company of such prestige has the technological know how to over come those problems.

Just my two cents.

To JW and Jay

About the resale value:
Resale values go up because of the rarity of the item. Or the avaliability of them. Good. No problem whatsoever with that. If you want to trade with photographic Edsels.

However, they are not the lenses the ones that fail [dare I say miserably] in the Leica system, but the cameras attached to them.

They are well behind the rest of the world, and almost, a hindrance to use [the R system specifically is bulky, noisy, and not very reliable].

It´s not cool any longer to have a Leica [which, let´s be honest, has been the "it" factor for the last 25 years for them]. For a younger generation, the "icons" using Leica have fallen into somebody you really don´t want to be related to [as popstars turned into photographers].

Thing is: they are nowhere quirky enough to be a rarity [they are still mass-produced items]like the Epson R-d1, nor tooly enough to gain blue collar worker charisma.

Try again, Leica, because others are about to come with the qualities you are luring about, and usually, better manufactured.

BTW:
I have never used a 1.0 or .95 lens. Is it such a big change in practical ways to a 1.4 or a 1.2 [like the Ricoh 55] to justify even the existance of them?

PS: do please find me a very rare Pentax Limited for Screw Mount that appeard some months ago on Ebay. It does exist, but no reference whatsoever.

Cheers

The system remains a bargain vs digital medium format costs of $30,000+. At least that is how I rationalized my purchase of an M8 (partially financed by selling two old M6's and not upgrading my now unused Canon 1Ds) Finally, don't forget that over 5% of this forum said they actually have an M8. Mike, could you next have a survey of how many dentists have an M8? My dentist has a digital H3D-II

"There may not be that many 'dentists' willing to shell out $6,300 for a new neck trinket for a while."

We may be surprised how many people there are with "wild" money. And they may be Leica's last chance, since they can't seem to compete on features in the digital age.

I am so glad I bought all of my Leica M and R equipment in the 1990s because the vast drop in the value of the U.S. dollar. Consequently, I do not need any new Leica bodies or lenses although I yearn for a digital R body but would undoubtedly be aghast at the price Leica would demand for it at this time. Still, I intend to continue to capture the joys of life around me with my M6 TTL and R8 with film loaded, of course, and on mental and emotional bases I intend to continue to capture those joys with film and make prints in my darkroom, listening to Bach, Rachmaninoff, Ravel, and other composers for decades to come, as long as film and chemicals are available.

Mike--
In fact, all of the Noctilux 50/1.0 lenses were labeled as "Made in Canada." (There's even a current thread on the L-Camera Forum "Noctilux mystery: New lens is marked 'Made in Canada'" http://www.l-camera-forum.com/leica-forum/customer-forum/61674-noctilux-mystery-new-lens-marked-made.html?highlight=Noctilux+canada .) German law requires that more than 50% of the value of a finished product be German to get the "Made in Germany" labeling.

Your Noctilux sourcing story seems to be a conflation of two stories: 1) Some products are indeed partially finished in one country and then shipped to Solms for final assembly and "Made in Germany" engraving.

2) At one time, Midland-made lenses were shipped direct to US for North American distribution, and to Germany for distribution to the rest of the world. But sometime in the late 70's or early 80's, Germany took over worldwide distribution of all Canadian product. That meant that the Noctilux 50/1.0 was made in Midland, shipped to Germany, and then shipped from Germany to all Leica agencies including the US agency. For us working for Leica USA, that was an annoyance because it increased both lens cost (Germany round trip) and delivery delay.

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