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Thursday, 05 March 2009


This video of Leica's Maike Harberts is worth watching: http://leicarumors.com/2008/10/11/interview-with-maike-harberts-of-leica-camera-ag-about-the-new-leica-s2-and-the-upcoming-leica-r10.aspx/

The optimist in me says they're going autofocus. I wonder if a Panasonic alliance is in the future.

Give me a digital M for under $2000 and I'll forget about the R system though.

Let's hope Leica and Pentax have deep pockets. Dark clouds on the horizon.

You know... I'm consistently amazed at photographers that would put themselves through this - and Doug Herr is a perfect example. He's doing amazing wildlife work with some of the most basic (although high quality) equipment out there. I have trouble doing this stuff with the technological marvels like the Canon 1D Mark II and Mark III - and I would stumble over myself trying to go full manual on the focus... maybe that's why this stuff never sold like they wanted: the new(er) generation of photographers (like me) want the easier way out, quality be damned.

Sounds like things may have changed since Photokina.

But nothing is very certain, of course, because we never seem to get definitive information. The way Maike was making it sound, the R10 would be an AF digital SLR. But if it's still to be backwards-compatible with existing R lenses, there would seem to be no reason for Leica to terminate its stocks of R lenses. But maybe that's the story. We'll have to wait and see--as always.


The Leica M system is limited by its focal length maximum of 135mm. Because of this, I use my R8 more than 75% of the time and thus my M6 TTL only 25% of the time. The last R lens I bought new was the 90mm APO/ASPH Summicron which is an absolutely stunning image capturer. My R8 has been performing flawlessly for me during the last 10 years and it is one of my most cherished pieces of camera equipment. If Leica releases an R10 digital camera, it better be compatible with all of my numerous R lenses because I will be furious if it is not.

Honestly, this is totally off topic, but, wow, that dude looks awesome in that photo. That beard is really amazing.

These things always come in threes; so after Rollei, and the Leica R, I guess we can expect to hear Hasselblad or Zeiss will kill off or discontinue something near and dear to us all...

For what it's worth, the newest Leica catalogue, 08/09, doesn't show the R cameras or lenses.

My Leicaflex SL lasted 35 years before a "too expensive to repair" shutter problem laid it low. A used R8, bulkier, but a much better camera, has filled the gap. Here's to another 35 years with the R8! Of course I'll be 92 by then and probably need autofocus.

When they were talking about the future of Leica a year or two ago, they said they would have an R10 with a 35mm sensor. Among the lenses to be made were R-lenses.

They decided to come out with S2 at PHotokina apparently in order not to compete with 35mm cameras from Nikon, Canon and Sony.

So it may be they are deciding to implement autofocus. Or it may be they are deciding to skip the semi-officially announced 35mm camera for now in order to focus on what they already have in this crisis. Battening the hatches and all that.

Speaking of the R system, Pentax users can get a taste of it if they so desire:


I think my next round of LBA (Lens Buying Addiction) is going to involve an R lens converted to K mount. Any suggestions on which lens to try first?

I'd love to know which lens was used to take the picture of Doug Herr, above.....

I had been hoping for an AF R-system, but i will not be interested if it doesn't include a way to shoot film with those lenses. And, since all accounts have it that any new R-camera will be digital, i can't imagine it will be a system i will adopt.

I used to have an R8. I liked it, but didn't really find the R lenses to be better than the Canon lenses i have. I sold it, but a few years later, bought an R7, just because i wanted a solid, small(-ish) film SLR. There just isn't, unfortunately, anything available in the Canon EOS system with those qualities.

But, i can't see myself ever buying into a Leica digital SLR program. The bodies and lenses are likely to be 3x the price of the Canon items, and then a couple of years behind in technology. There will be, of course, the legion of R-digital adopters who say the Leica sensor/technology gives them image quality that surpasses Canon and Nikon's and that if you can't see it, your eye just isn't highly enough attuned....

We shall see. I don't know how Leica can compete in this market, though, especially as they're trying to run/establish two other digital platforms. The other two are 'unique' in some ways. The R is not.


Looks like Hoya is about something. Japan Only, as usual. The S2 may die, and all of a sudden, the 645d re-appears.

I hope Leica can continue to provide the tools that Mr. Herr uses. I have enjoyed his posts at the Manual Focus Forum which led me to his website. His work is phenomenal. However, I am certain that Mr. Herr will be able to find what he needs on the used market for a long time to come.

> maybe that's why this stuff never sold like they wanted: the new(er) generation of photographers (like me) want the easier way out, quality be damned.

I don't doubt there is some truth to that but there is a large contingent of manual focus enthusiasts. I first stumbled upon such groups when I brought a Pentax DSLR. At the time, Pentax had very limited availability on their lens catalog. This resulted in quite a few enthusiasts discovering the high quality manual focus lenses that were available used.

It doesn't hurt that the older manual focus lenses are typically less expensive but after getting sucked in by economics, I discovered that the build quality is often far above what one can buy today. There are of course drawbacks in terms of CA along with the tiny view finders of current DSLRs but these drawbacks are not insurmountable and there is wide variation between lenses.

Eventually, I came across the Manual Focus Forum (http://forum.manualfocus.org/) which has a number of enthuisiasts using all sorts of cameras that are interested in these lenses. I'd highly recommend this group to anyone interested in returning or exploring the manual focus world for the first time. The archive there is a treasure trove of information and examples.

And to return to your point, I write this as a younger photographer. I don't presume my equipment has any reflection in the quality of my work. This is after all just one of many paths. But the path is there!

It's no wonder those R8 and R9's never sold, they were amongst the butt ugliest film SLR's ever made!

Leica had little chance to win, or even compete in, the SLR game with its long culture of denial and resistance to adaptation.

Perhaps Rudolph Spiller, the new chairman announced today, will decide to revive it. But it would be absurd.

See Dow Jones Germany: (http://www.equityanalyst.de/news-2/dowjones/?show_news=20090305LL004092)

well, the m series do make sense for me, the S2 as well. the R series though, never understood why anyone could possibly buy those cameras but a collector or a Leica freak.

don't get me wrong, Leica has made some great cameras (love my m6) in the past but who had the "stick to manual focus" idea I wonder? it might be OK with a rangefinder but not in the highly competetive market of (D)SLR cameras.

"a leica lasts forever, a DSLR does not"

well, who knows? there are still photographers with a D1 and those cameras are still gonna work in some years.

I'm not sad about the end of the Leica R system as for me the R system hast already lost its place in professional photography some years ago.

i'm looking forward to seeing the S2 in action or a M9 with 35mm sensor like the D3/D700 (dreaming is allowed i hope).

Leica made a brave step with the m8 the only thing left now is to continue on the digital path to gain new clients or bring photographers back to the Leica system.

I love my M6 + D700 team and I'm going to use the M6 for several more years until there is a affordable digital rangefinder camera.


Derek Stanton wrote: I'd love to know which lens was used to take the picture of Doug Herr, above.....

It was a 55mm f/2.8 Micro-Nikkor AIS.

I think what Leica is doing is acknowledging the obvious, that the market for manual focus 35mm film SLR cameras is long gone. Leica is expected to have more info about the S2 and R10 at PMA.

"I used to have an R8. I liked it, but didn't really find the R lenses to be better than the Canon lenses i have."

I read an recent lens test at Phototechmag that was clearly conclusive: the best of digital (full format)was a Leica R lens attached to a Canon MK body.

... due to that reason the future R10 camera cannot be very expensive... It has direct competition.

Mike writes: "I'll tell you what I think, and this is purely a guess—I'm going to bet that any future "R10" (or non-S-system digital SLR) will be a Four-Thirds standard camera. That would allow Leica's DSLR offerings to be tiered into small and large sensors; it would allow the camera's buyers to use existing 4/3 lenses from other manufacturers."

Mike if LEICA updated the DIGILUX 3 with an actual usable view finder and more primes (only the panaleica 50mm exists) I would be all in despite the smaller sensor. I own the Panasonic version of the DIGILUX 3. I can be, under the right conditions, a very very good manual shooter. Terrible at auto focus. I bought the LUMIX L-1 based on price and lenses. Why pay LEICA prices for a made in Japan system. Made that mistake with D-LUX 3. Great compact, but the premium for having LEICA on the camera is not worth it.

I had hoped to purchase a R system as the lenses are just stellar. But perhaps not. Sigh. Too bad folks do not purchase on the basis of lenses. And sadly, now I find myself agreeing with Ken Rockwell on what a waste of money digital really is in the end.

"It's no wonder those R8 and R9's never sold, they were amongst the butt ugliest film SLR's ever made!"

The R cameras might be ugly but they make beautiful photos - see any of Doug Herr's, for example.

Anybody who thinks Canon lenses are equal to Leica lenses has never examined their photos at 100%.


The R8 is not the butt ugliest film SLR made! I have exposed thousands of images on film with mine so easily because of its ergonomic perfection. By this I mean that I can adjust the shutter speed ring fantastically easily without moving my eye from the wonderful viewfinder! Additionally, Leica lenses are better than Canon's lenses. When I was a member of a camera club, I forced the club to retire its 40-year-old Kodak projector and use my Leica RT-s projector, and every time my R8-based slides were projected they were much more astounding than those from Canon lens shooters! Both the judges and the members agreed 100%.

Never understood the Leica love-fest. Dad had a Leica R6 once and I didn't get the fuss over Leica. It did have a darn great re-sale price then though!

"Anybody who thinks Canon lenses are equal to Leica lenses has never examined their photos at 100%."

Wow. I wouldn't have expected condescension from you, Tina. Whatever.

I compared the 35Cron-R to the Canon 35/2EF, from f2 to f4 and found them to be equal. One was a hair better in the center and one was a hair better on the perimeter. When i bought the 35L, after i had sold the Summicron 35, i found it clearly superior to the Canon 35/2. So, by extension....

The Canon 85L is far superior to the 85 Summilux from wide open to f4. After that, it was irrelevant to me.

The 50Cron, wide open is better than the Canon 50/1.4 wide open. But, when both are at f2, the Canon was better. I consider that a win for the Canon. Didn't matter to me that i was comparing a wide open lens to a slightly stopped down lens. In use, f2 is f2, and the Canon has 'bonus' apertures.

While i respect your work, Tina (and we've actually corresponded by email about it, years ago), i also think i know a teensy bit about a few things. And, yes, files were examined at 100%.

Again, whatever. I didn't know you even used Leica-R. If you were for some reason referring to Leica-M, then there is no argument. But, since this was a thread about the R-line, a generalization about Leica, including the rangefinder mount seems inappropriate.

About the R8.... For a long time i thought they were hideous. Eventually, i tried one. I found it beautiful and shortly thereafter i bought one. I still think they're beautiful. Too large to not have AF and a winder, but that's beside the point.

I wish this hadn't turned into this kind of thread, but since my eyes were questioned, i'll post photodo's scores:

Leica-R 35/2 :: 3.8
Canon 35/2 :: 3.9
Canon 35L :: 4
Leica-R 50/2 :: 4.5
Canon 50/1.4 :: 4.4
Leica-R 80/1.4 :: N/A
Canon 85/1.2L :: 4.6

I'm sure some will question the validity of the 'scores.' But, i didn't create the testing methodology and the results don't serve me either way. I own/use both Canon and Leica lenses (M and R). I have no dog in the fight.

If only every SLR or DSLR user got a peek through a Leicaflex SL viewfinder. The focusing screen is simply extraordinary and should be a reference point for designers. Leica R (and M) lens printed image quality easily is a reference point for 35mm. Canon L glass may well serve as a reference point, too, for all I know. Leica though, deserves great credit for their lenses consistent look and quality at all the focal lengths they currently manufacture. Their dogs are many decades in the past. Thambar, anyone?

Sad to see photodo scores dragged into this. (No offense meant to you Mr. Stanton.)
Comparing lens qualities is more about numbers. When one says "the Canon lens is better than the Leica lens at F/2", what do you mean? Better how?
Is it technically better, or more pleasing to your eye? It's all subjective. I know when I've shot R glass on Canon DSLR the images definitely look more distinctive and pleasing to me. But I wasn't looking at lines pair per mm, chromatic aberration, distortion...

It seems to me that Leica's over-engineering and self conscious anachrophilism were always self defeating. Why build forever if you have plans for future models with only tiny, incremental changes (or vice-versa)? I owned an R3 way back when, and loved the quality. So much so that I didn't do anything so crass as to soil its perfection (ie, take photographs - I let my crappy Pentax MX do the sordid stuff). I just cradled it in my arms, and told it how much I loved it.

my crystal ball says that if leica does make a 4/3 dslr, it will cost as much as a FF dslr.

however, if leica's head is screwed on straight, they will only ask for a reasonable premium over olympus's products. no more overpriced, rebadged panasonic nonsense, please!

If one more datapoint has any relevance, let me have my say: I think R8/R9 are the most beautiful SLR cameras I know.

-"It's no wonder those R8 and R9's never sold, they were amongst the butt ugliest film SLR's ever made!"

The R cameras might be ugly but they make beautiful photos - see any of Doug Herr's, for example.

Anybody who thinks Canon lenses are equal to Leica lenses has never examined their photos at 100%.


About lenses, brands, and so on.
Were you trying to differenciate lenses, and see the quality of it, definitely, for Leica to shine, see them not definitely at 100 or pixel peeping type. They are -at my experience- not stellar performers for it. I´m not telling that they are bad lenses. They aren´t. But very many of other lenses perform much better at that level.

An example for it is the [recently recovered after being serviced under warranty] 43 1.9f from Pentax.

It is a weird length, it is not a portrait lens per se, has a staggering resolution capability, but, and it is the biggest but, after changing the glass element composition, its forte are none of the above.

Its forte is the staggering resistance to flare, and specially, veiling flare, it presents. That is something you can not measure in a studio, nor at a pixel peeper level.

And that makes this very lens very good.

Why does any mention of "Leica" on the net end up with people arguing ...? Or maybe Canon and Nikon also end up in the same way? Leica does good lenses, and their cameras are ergonomic to my hands.

I look forward to waiting to see what comes out of Solms. The S2 has me salivating but I cant justify it until my R9 totally dies, which I guess will be never :-(


Right now Leica is a sitting dug. The R's dead with no replacement. The M line afflicted with reliability problems. A possible S2 not yet ready - and by far inapt to compete with true MF cameras. Add the financial crisis and a growing reluctance even among hardcore Leica fans to pay their ever-increasing prices and you see what I mean.


Whatever plans any camera manufacturer may have had you may be sure that by the end of this year's economic devastation they will change. That is if they are lucky enough to survive.

It seems to me that Leica already has a full plate with the M and new S system. Just keeping the ever more outlandishly expensive M viable and getting the all new S established (with prices plummetting for MF and 35 FF systems and the photography market like every other market getting creamed) will be an incredible strain on such a small company.

Not matter what they would like to do developing a new AF 35mm frame R system that can compete with what is already out there in this environment sounds totally out of the question.

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