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Tuesday, 24 February 2015


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Lenny Kravitz is one of the most overrated musicians of all time. If it weren't for the hair and the leather pants, the snakes, the full-length mirrors, the white pianos, and so on...would we care? Do we care? He dresses and acts like a rock star, and that's pretty much it.

As for the camera - it's nowhere near as dumb as the Hasselblad Sonys. But it's pretty dumb. Of course, you can buy expensive reissue guitars with fake belt buckle marks on the back. And jeans that already have holes in them.

Eh, whatever...

The people who buy those are just buying some fancy jewelry. They will use their iPhone to take real photos, just like everybody else.

From the Leica website: Even as a child, the singer, songwriter and rock star, Lenny Kravitz, was fascinated by cameras. But rather than taking photos, he played with them...

Alright...the Leica as a toy. Probably OK in our times as serious photography is now done with cellphones.

At least they are just gussying up their own products, rather than those of other manufactureres, unlike another northern European manufacturer of photo gear I could name...I'm talking to you, Hasselblad! I've got film Leica gear that I truly love, but I'd rather put the wear marks on it myself. Sic gloria mundi.

Thing is, Leica will sell the cameras for a tidy sum. And I do not think we are the targeted segment that Leica is aiming for!

Maybe with the right PR I can sell my badly beat up 1951 Argus C3 for enough to buy a Nikon D810, or at least a D750.....

Why not sell all black Leicas with an emery cloth shooting vest and matching gloves to speed the users own individual brassing process (or on the other hand bleeuch...)

I don't understand your objection. Digital is so unrelentingly sterile that film emulation filters are applied without a second thought. Plastic fantastic digital cameras which rarely show a sign of wear, are bought and discarded with impunity. How are we to obtain that organic zeitgeist that comes with age when age and even time don't exist? Next, a Hugh Hefner version.

Maybe they should call it the Brian Williams commemorative edition.

Peter Lik is a money maker that just happens to use cameras (any which way towards that end); Leica is a money maker that just happens to make them (ibid).

Nah, the screenless Leica M was already jumping the shark in the digital era. The Lenny Kravitz edition seems to be more in the tune of how audacious can one get in parting fools off their money.

The sad part is that Leica still has some good, unique products and good design, something that should influence other companies more. It's unclear to me whether Leica went entirely cynical years ago or whether this is just a pragmatic strategy to fund the cool stuff while keeping the owners happy, but I would feel better if the good design ideas would raise the bar for the industry as a whole.

Isn't the first rule of modern photo journalism to always feign shock at the latest Leica special edition?
As far as I'm concerned, it doesn't hurt anybody, looks kinda cool, and it earns Leica a few Euros. None of these are bad things.

I'll believe it when Leica posts a 45-minute vid of an assembly line tech working on the body with a mildly abrasive cloth, getting the brassing just so.

Leica could just give me a few new cameras and I will take them on a couple of trips. The cameras will be well worn and I won't charge Leica a thing!

Travesty, abomination.
Pass the bucket!
File under "Cameras that shall henceforth never be spoken of again".

Next in line will be a Bentley Continental 'Mark Knopfler' Edition, painstakingly crashed by the artist himself against a brick wall and selling for a million.

It's that time of the year already...?

PS- This compulsion with how many ways you can describe and market greed is one very major reason why I wish the Konost FF much success.

Ugh... Really??!? I am a fan of Lenny Kravitz music, but this just screams irrelevance. I understand the concept of wanting to sell mystique and its role in the history of the Leica, but after shooting with a modern Leica for the past 9 months, its clear that in terms of a "rangefinder" camera, the old Fuji X-Pro1 is a better solution. Don't get me wrong, there is something about the Leica, but if they don't innovate quickly, their history is all they will have left. Hate to say that, I *really* do.

This does not count as innovation. Its marketing, pure and simple designed to sell to people who do not shoot. If it keeps Leica in business, great. But to this photographer, it damages the brand.

I blame Fender. They started the abomination of 'relic-ed' guitars.

Lenny is just transposing the concept to cameras.

The worst part is, they'll have no trouble finding 125 suckers customers to buy these things.

On the flip side, I find the other newly announced special edition, the M-P Safari with 35mm Summicron-M, astoundingly beautiful and understated. And to think this kit costs less than buying the standard-issue camera and lens separately is a wonderful reversal of the usually stratospheric Leica special edition prices.

Leica has the ability to make whatever they choose to make, to a level of quality that very few others can match. That is something I greatly admire.
WHAT they are choosing to make is a different story. Leica has become a Camera / Jewelry company. The 'Jewelry' part is immensely profitable.
To the degree it funds development of things like the S line, we are all better off -- because the S line sets a standard.

One would wish that there was another way, and I have often thought of a modern autofocus Leica to go along side the M (rather than the T's & X's & rebadged Panasonics.

While it is hard for me (and I suspect many others) to view a Lenny Kravitz 'designed' Leica as a camera we would want to own, they will sell them all.
I just hope they realize that it is not a big leap to go from a
Camera / Jewelry Company to a Camera Jewelry company.
There won't be any going back.

In fairness to them, even though many of us deeply dislike this use of Leica's expertise, they are a solidly profitable Camera company which is becoming a rarity . They have managed to survive nearly a hundred years, and have navigated very difficult times before.
Leica has a long tradition of 'special editions' many of which have been silly, we just find THIS one further 'beyond the pale'.
I wonder if Leica would have survived (or been able to develop the S) without them---I surely don't know, but I suspect the economics of being able to sell subsets of your product line at 2x markups are fairly compelling.
And, I AM happy that Leica is still with us even though I REALLY dislike what they have done here.

If I didn't know what it was, I'd want it. Black, well brassed leicas make me weak at the knees.

You look at the brass and imagine all the stories captured while some great photographer wore the paint off slowly over time with their bare hands.

But this Lenny thing is just silly, leica has followed Fonzy over the Shark for sure this time.


Neither one, file it face down under collecting

Leica's "jumped the shark".

What it really needs to reach the heights of pretentiousness is a gnarled wooden grip sourced from an endangered rain forest in Borneo, which is then carefully and deliberately riddled by termites to add to the "authentic" feeling of a device that's endured the rough and tumble adventures of a billionaire playboy.

For the first time, if I were a rich man, I'd actually consider buying a Leica.
Nothing like faux-antique...

Can we have a new category? Cameras: Twit Bait?

Once again, Leica proves that their main market segment is collectors, not photographers. They even create a new category of camera conditions: "NLWU" or "New, Like Well-Used."

Imagine when these cameras go onto the used market, how would a seller describe their conditions? "Like New, and also Like Well-Used"? Plus, "Like a Ripoff!" Feeling like a correspondent is now something money can buy.

Oh, I guess Leica also wears the shutter to some degree according to each camera's appearance. Otherwise, they fail the project.

And no, these camera are not like purposely-antiqued, new violins, which are still made for violin players, not for collectors.

I would humbly submit that we are seeing Leica's last days play out before our disbelieving eyes. It seems this storied company has little new to offer other than trinkets for those with a whole lot of money to spend.

I don't mean to offend Leica's traditional base and all of the people who used these cameras and lenses in the real world for so many decades. But they must know somewhere down deep that they are no longer Leica's target demographic and that I am sadly correct.

Why oh why? This is the kind of thing I hate to see, but can understand makes perfect commercial sense.

Even though my M-E is brassing out very nicely after 2 years of use and abuse, I don't think it will ever brass out to that extent. So I'm confused. They could have just told the Leica dealers to take new Ms, open the box in front of the client, then drop the camera a couple of times out on the pavement for a similar effect.

In closing, this post and camera doesn't deserve a category.


I suppose it's a sign of defeat, but I really can't work up much disgust for this. Perhaps it's years of my resolve against this concept being worn down (sorry) in the pages of music catalogs, eyeing reliced guitars: carefully distressed/abused/tossed about to resemble a vintage guitar that had been abused to the point where most sane people wouldn't want to buy it were it real.

Combine that with the fact that during most of my photography career (recent), Leica has done one-offs, special editions, celebrity-designed and otherwise seemingly pointless cameras that I really don't think I worry about it that much.

Or maybe I haven't a heart.

How about a new category called "Cameras, Stupid"

New Camera News was all over this. See


I clicked the link, and, after reading the description, I glanced at the address bar hoping—praying—to see "www.theonion.com/leica", but to my sadness, it was, in fact, the legitimate Leica site. And it's not even April first.

Reminds me of Flann O'Brien's "book handling". You'd pay to have your books look handled: "Every volume to be well and truly handled, first by a qualified handler and subsequently by a master-handler who shall have to his credit not less than 550 handling hours; suitable passages in not less than fifty per cent of the books to be underlined in good-quality red ink and an appropriate phrase from the following list inserted in the margin"


More evidence that those in control of Leica cater to "collectors" and not photographers. Me? I just bought a Fuji.

Man, what a lame idea. Unlike my pre-torn jeans, which are totally cool.


I'm ill. A Leica I truly won't lust after. As if I could afford one anyway.

Well, if pre-worn jeans just aren't expensive enough for you.

This is the funniest post on TOP ever.

In fact, it was the only thing that made me stop and take a break from the feverish steel-wooling of every piece of camera gear I own.

If it's April 1 then why all the snow outside?

I play the (electric, mostly) guitar. Something that has been fashionable for some time is what are often called 'road worn' guitars. In other words new (but vintage-spec) guitars which have been aggressed in various ways to make them look old.

This is, of course, because everyone wants to have put in the hours in sweaty clubs to have Rory Gallagher's Strat, or Pearly Gates or Old Black, but not all of us actually have done that. So instead we buy beautifully-made simulcra which we casually place, next to our reproduction hand-wired Plexi stack with its oh-so-carefully torn speaker cloth, in our Manhatten loft or London flat. And anyone who doesn't look too closely might perhaps believe that, before our second career in finance, we did indeed put in the hours in the sweaty clubs. Perhaps, in fact, we are Jimmy Page? Perhaps, after a few drinks and lines, we might even believe it ourselves? Certainly we would not want to be seen as the sort of person who owns a new Les Paul, still less a new Leica, because what sort of people buy those? Rich men (yes, men) who work in finance and who when the revoulution comes will, if we are lucky, be the first up against the wall but will more probably be impaled on spikes to await being eaten by nameless tentacled horrors. People, in other words, like us.

The people who buy these things are indeed richly deserving of their inevitable horrible fate. Malcolm Gladwell may be wrong about many things, but he's right about the need to put in the hours: your guitar needs to be worn because you have worn it. But there is slighly more to this than there might first appear to be.

Something that musicians have understood for a long time is that certain old instuments and equipment really were pretty special. The Les Pauls that were made in the late 50s were pretty astonishing instruments, as were some of the amplifiers made in the following two decades. It's not quite so acceptable to say that the loving reproductions (not the investment banker's road-worn ones) that have been made since are, in many cases, as good or better than the originals.

Photographers have not really understood this yet, I think. We still believe that a sharper lens and more pixels are somehow going to result in a better phorograph. Even those of us who prefer vintage equipment (whether it is, in fact vintage, or simply unchanged) have to argue that film has 'more dynamic range' or 'more resolution': perhaps once, this was true. We need to grow up: would HCB's pictures be better if he had had more pixels and a sharper lens? If you have Peter Turnley's (excellent) book of Paris photographs do you really think the digital picture – which unquestionably are sharper and higher resolution – are in any way at all better than the film pictures?

My old Hammond has noisy keyswitches, in the same way that Tri-X has grain and old lenses abberations, and that's what makes them great.

Guess it was inevitable. This has been going on in the electric guitar market for some time now. People pay big bucks for "relic'd" instruments with that vintage look. Fitting that Mr. Kravitz should be the one to bring this nonsense to the camera world...

I don't think I could lift my pant cuff's high enough to wade through that Leica crap.

At a reputed $24,500. Such a deal!

Distressed Leica cameras are no different from distressed blue jeans, and some will pay a premium price for new products that look well-used.

This well-used Leica MP went up for auction with a $47,500 price tag:


I have bought several well-used cameras before, but only because they were deeply discounted and still worked well despite the hard use.

Your thoughts? (And does this post go into our category "Cameras, New" or "Cameras, Old"?)

You need a new category: Cameras for Poseurs

This camera is like those designer “pre-worn out” jeans with holes in the knees. Sorry, but you can’t buy real street cred.

I'm intrigued to know how Leica calculated that there were 125 people in the world stupid enough to buy this.

C.M. Kornbluth uses the idea of sounds played into a vehicle cabin to make the vehicle seem more exciting in his 1951 story "The Marching Morons".

It isn't even the first of April.

I looked at that and could not actually figure out what design elements Kravitz actually did. It looks pretty much stock? But then, I am no expert on the M variants, maybe there's some obvious glaring thing or two that is lost on me.

Well they do that in the guitar world with the "Road Worn" guitar finishes, so maybe it's right up Lenny's alley. Do an image search for John Mayer Black One Relic and you can see racks of new Fender Strats worn down in identical patterns.

I DID have a gag reflex. Twice in fact (second one after I clicked the link).

Thanks for the warning.

Please delete the post.


Appalling! Makes me ashamed to be seen using my own Leicas.
Since this is disguised to look like the person wearing it was a war correspondent in Vietnam etc etc, perhaps it should have been called the "Brian Williams"

Sounds like fun to me. I'll take two. ;<)

With best regards.



Does it come with a bunch of pre taken classic photos as well?

I have only one word for this new Leica venture: PATHETIC


That Lenny Kravitz would have designed a worn-looking Leica is not surprising to me. References to his covering other musicians aside... (Hey, the Byrds covered Pete Seeger's Turn, Turn, Turn; one of a thousand successful covers in modern-ish music)... Mr. Kravitz is a guitar player. It is very popular for guitarists to want instruments that look "road worn" - like they've been on tour for many years. Players are drawn to the axes of their heroes. Stratocasters alone would include those familiar Fenders wielded by Eric Clapton ( Blackie and Brownie ), Bonnie Raitt, John Mayer, the late Stevie Ray Vaughan, and many more. So, besides selling expensive limited editions of exact replicas of those worn old gits, many perfectly-good, newly-made instruments are "Relic'd". Finish is sanded off, with lots of "buckle rash" on the backside. Chrome pieces can be rubbed so brass or other metal shows through (just like the "brassed" Leica). And very commonly, the fretboards on the guitars' necks are worn and discolored like those real examples of 'boards sweat-stained and with riff-dug divots in the wood.

I'm a lifelong newspaper photog, so I've brassed my share of camera bodies the legit way. I also play guitar, just for fun. Personally, I would never buy a purposely relic'd instrument, because I think it's really silly. But, lotsa people think it's cool, and I'm sure that some folks will think Lenny's Leica is, too.

Good shooting,

Jack Foley, The Herald News

I find the whole idea of pre-distressed new product bizarre. As with jeans and furniture, the desire for a 'well-worn' look without any of the actual wearing seems to me a damning indictment of a got-to-have-it-now culture. What is wear if not evidence of the long years of use of experience that have made that item a familiar and comfortable tool? And is it not the very definition of shallowness when you would forego that process of wear and merely pay extra for the appearance of that experience and familiarity? At the very least you could buy a camera whose wear came at the hands of a busy photographer, and not some manufacturing process.

So long as there are people with more dollars than sense who are willing to pay for their "special editions" then I say, go for it Leica!

Aside from the 1% of photographers who are financially successful, no actual real life working stiff photographer without a trust fund or a rich spouse can afford a new Leica, so what the heck.

Leica has become irrelevant to the masses, so why should we care what they do? I don't.

I have the same feeling in a clothing store, women's "fashion" section and see pre-worn jeans with holes and scruff marks on sale for $129.

this has been going on in the guitar world for years, take a new instrument run it through sanders chains and whatever to make it look "vintage" So I am not surprised that it took so long to bring it to cameras. After all us '60s kids all had good stereos, good cameras and a guitar. Now that we have discretionary cash we want ones like they used to make without the effort. ( With that said, I have 3 guitars including a 'strat, a tube amp, a fairly higher end stereo, and aside from my D800, and a Fuji Xpro. I also have a leica IIIc a canon copy of same and an F4 that I had to have because of the shutter sound(so very cool for $80.) So sure If I had lotsa money maybe a pre-washed Leica...

I had to check my calendar to see that it was not April 1st yet. I suppose they decided to put into use the experience they got from handpolishing the T's. Or maybe some new apprentice didn't know better and mistakenly took an M and put that through the 45 minute polish.

This phenomenon is actually quite common in the guitar world. Companies such as Fender produce limited-edition "road worn" guitars for players who want the appearance of owning a 50 year-old instrument without having to wait 50 years or pay $20,000 for one. Unlike Leicas however, such guitars costs no more than $2500, with most selling for $800.

I see it now; pre-worn Domke Reporter bags and vests, signature Polo jeans with just a touch of wear in the knees and well broken in Clark's desert boots. There might also be a store on Fifth Avenue, or Neiman's might have the complete well traveled reporter package in their Christmas catalog. Holy crap, what have we become?

I suppose that if Leica is selling fashion items, and if overpriced pre-torn jeans are the fashion (and a recent trip to Melbourne suggests they might be, again) then I suppose it makes sense.

Note that I have a Leica M and wear jeans. But not pre-torn, pre-worn versions of either. The concept strikes me as silly, but I guess I'm not fashionable.

...Mike F

I am SOOOO happy, now I can get a Leica that will be in keeping with the panache of my new/old blue jeans from Nordstroms. They were only $400...


If you're not going to buy it why would anyone care?

I'm holding out for the Leica M-P Hello Kitty edition. I missed out on the M6 Hello Kitty edition.

Maybe its a clever way of recycling those dud sensors from the M9?

Next year, Leica wraps a leather cover around an A7 with soldered-on M mount adapter and presents it as "Leica Magnum".

This Leica goes in the "Cameras Done in Incrediby Bad Taste" category, along with the French Tricolore Leica "Edition Moncler", the Hello Kitty Leica in pink, and the "Hasselblad" (Hasselblad, ha! Viktor is spinning in his grave) Stellar and Lunar models.

It's marketing. I can already see the next version--black tape on the brass.

Another puke worthy event in the same week, Lik was the first. The whole relic thing is just absurd. Teles are great,btw.

I enjoy how one of the taglines on the Leica website is "EACH IS UNIQUE AND HAS ITS OWN STORY TO TELL" ... except that each camera's story is exactly the same: utter fabrication.

What an idiotic concept!

At the same time, I wonder if they have any job openings for camera-wearers. Send me the camera, and then send us both on a trip so that I can wear in the camera. Then, at least, the camera will have an actual story behind it...

At the end of the day, when Nikon is out of business and Canon only makes office machines, Leica will still be a profitable company.

Recently Leica bought Sinar, the maker of Technical cameras and MF Digital Backs (wonder where the money came from for that purchase 8-D). So at this point in time Leica makes both film and digital Rangefinders, a Medium Format DSLR, 3 MFD backs, and several lines of technical cameras. Also some top-of-the-line Cine lenses. Who else has such a wide range of products?

Every collector who bought a Gucci edition, helped Emmanuel Lubezki win his Academy Award for best Cinematography.

[I presume the money for that purchase you mention came from CEO Kaufmann, who is reportedly worth $800 million and allegedly invested more than $120 million to keep Leica alive. Where else would it come from? 125 copies of a fake brassed camera "designed" by a pop star? --Mike]

I don't understand the accessory briefcase. You'd think they would offer a distressed leather Billingham bag to go with it.

I have a naturally brassed M6....brassed by the constant necessity of upending the camera, resting it upside down on whatever surface was handy to carefully remove the bottom and re-re-re-re-reload the film tongue that would never stay in the "easy load" mechanism the first three or four times. Is it worth more now?

OTOH - when I was involved with Leica clubs & groups & history I always made sure to read Tina Manley's advice, adventures & experiences. Seeing her comment above, reminds me that she always embodied the classic Leica world roaming journalist / photographer. Very much worth a look.


Leica ended far away of photojournalist since the digital era. They produce now cameras for the jet set, dentists or opticians, engineers that are CEO of someplace. And maybe a few Magnum or high income celebrity inside photojournalist world. In some site I saw a graphic about the cameras used by professionals and Leica is head to head with the iPhone. Is too expensive.

Now I finally have something to go with all the acid wash double denim I have.

On the plus side, we've made it to 66 comments without someone dragging out that tired "Veblen goods" reference and letting it go for a walk.

I don't know who Lenny Kravitz is at all, nor am I interested to find out. But I think the camera is fair nice looking, like an antiqued chest of drawers.

I wouldn't pay extra for it, but if it were available as a standard finish I might go for it. Cosmetics are second priority, but eh? Who cares? :-)

I've still got my FE nikon I purchased in 1981.
I still use it weekly, sometimes daily.
trust me, the brassing thereon is well and truly genuine and is well earnt.

Nothing fake and cost nothing like the price of this leica.

Sometimes you just have to smile

Interesting to see this trend hit photo gear. I have been mullin over a larger trend driving the sale of fake authenticity to the stylish masses. When I was a kid, my folks bought shrink to fit Levis 501s and I wore them until they fell apart. Those final stages were great -- faded to a pale blue, comfy, and, best of all, mine.

Nowdays, almost all casual clothes seem to be "garment washed" or pre-faded or otherwise distressed. I guess, in the disposable clothing era, nobody has the patience to buy new and own the wear themselves. About 10 years ago I decided to buy only shrink-to-fit 501's and wear them in myself. I now have two or three pairs that are faded, comfy, and mine. I'm doing the same with other clothing products--buying them stiff and new, and keeping them until they fall apart. I have a Filson canvas roll-aboard suitcase that has traveled 500,000 air miles with me and shows it.

I do have a few "pre-worn" items, but they're vintage watches with real wear, and a couple of old cameras in clean condition. These are actual items with real history behind them. My father's old Zodiac dive watch is a case in point. He bought it at a PX in England. If it had been a Rolex, it would be really valuable. Zodiac, however, is a "fallen brand" so the value is sentimental. It is my most prized watch, however, because the wear on it is my dad's.

What irks me about the pre-worn Leicas is that the wear is fake. They must be feeding some kind of demand, but whose, I wonder? Who wants a camera that looks like a vintage photojournalist tool, but was sandpapered in a factory? I guess maybe the same people who buy pre-distressed replica 1947 Levis 501XX jeans for $260, or Replica Army Air Corps A-2 jackets from The Real McCoys (a Japanese company) for $2000...

Just to comment on some comments, there is a huge difference between pre-torn jeans and a pre-brassed Leica: About $24,000. Wearing pre-torn jeans is a peccadillo of no importance. You could use the $24,000 to quite literally save lives. You could save lives with $14,000, and in addition, buy yourself a new unbrassed Leica and lens, and brass them yourself.

The thing is, they're not really even Veblen Goods -- because if you get caught with one, your status goes down, not up.

Scratches, dings, dents and brass are like stripes on your uniform. You earn them.

The word 'dilettante' comes to mind.


Thought this may be of interest. Safety first!

p.s. the website below is a group site.

Mike, I agree that the new special edition is a mess, but as far as Lenny Kravitz goes, you are wrong. I saw him live at Jazz Fest in New Orleans in 2000. I also saw a warm up gig that same week in a smaller venue, and he turned me into a huge fan. You cannot judge him until you have seen him live.

I have owned and loved a couple of Leicas in my time (an M6 and an M8). They really were wonderful cameras and I learned a great deal from both the film and digital versions. I saw the ridiculous, garish collector's editions happening out the corner of my eye and could always dismiss it as a sideshow that didn't really diminish the main event.

But this ... this is offensive.

The credibility line has been crossed.

Fake brassing may hypnotize
Sparkle someone else's eyes

Faux Leica!
Said get away hay
Faux Leica!
Hear what I say hay

You're no good for me
I'm no for good for you
I'll just use my sweet M3
That's what I'm gonna do

What will they think of next! I have an old 1936 Leica III that is waiting to get "all brassed up" hardly a scratch on it when I got it four years ago....here is a blog post that I wrote about it back then.....http://garynylander.blogspot.ca/2011/12/1936-leica-iii-shelf-queen-or-user.html

From Levi's to Leica.This must be the identical process Lenny uses to distress his jeans in order that he might resemble a rock star.

What, is Lenny Kravitz still a thing, and does he have a following rich enough to buy this tripe? I vaguely remember him as being big in the nineties, but that's a long time ago now!

The silly-consumer continuum runs from pre-worn & torn jeans for us ordinary folks through to this Kravitz Leica for the abundantly (and very likely, bored) rich.

And what a price: Euro 22,500 for Summicron-M 35 mm f/2 Asph, Summilux-M 50 mm f/1,4 Asph, a briefcase and a book.

I wish I had enough time to brass my cams.

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