Leica needs a grand slam camera announcement in 2012 – will they deliver?
It has now been just about 2 1/2 years since Leica had their big event to announce the full frame M9. FINALLY we all thought at the time! A full frame digital rangefinder by the masters of RF design, we will never ask for anything more we said. When it hit, those of us who were lucky enough to get a hold of one were immediately in love with the familiar design, and of course, the amazingly creamy sensor made by Kodak. I was so excited to get one of my own at the time, I remember it vividly. When I finally did I couldn’t stop shooting it and it never left my side when I left the house! There was an excitement in the air and in my bones when that M9 arrived and it was due to not only the camera itself being my dream machine but the excitement from everyone else who was waiting for this camera. It was Special. Leica actually created a grand slam with the M9/X1/S2 releases and turned their whole business and profit around. Pretty amazing.
Leica succeeded in making 2009 THEIR year and even today they have been enjoying a huge success with M camera sell outs, and lenses that they can not seem to make fast enough. The prices are sky-high but even in this economy (that many say is so bad) Leica continues to sell out $11,000 lenses and $8000 bodies. On the other hand, the little camera that could, the Leica X1, is not doing so well these days. Sales have slumped for the last few months ever since the Fuji X100 release and prices on the used market have dropped quite a bit. Leica will need not only something new in the M line but also the X line. Who knows, maybe they will shock us and release an all new line of camera 🙂
Then again, I am also worried about the $$ situation as they seem to raise prices any chance they get and it is starting to get to the point where I am being priced out of the cameras wether I like it or not, and I know many out there feel the same because I hear it all the time. I am not rich by any stretch of the imagination but I own a Leica M9P and a couple of lenses. Why? Well, mainly because I feel a connection to this brand we call Leica, and I also happen to think the output is still today 2nd to none. Yes, I really do. I have bonded with my M like many of my fellow M shooters who are reading this very article. It has given me the best photos and memories of my life so for me, the M will always be with me but if they release a new M at $10k or $11k, I am out.
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THE REALITY OF TODAY
This is 2012 and it is no longer the “year of the Leica”, 2009. Cameras have evolved so fast over the past three years that many feel that the Leica M9 is now “old tech”. Sure it has a horrible “worst of the worst” LCD and yes it has a painfully slow buffer, and yes it is noisy (but usable) at ISO 2500. BUT what do we get in return when we put up with all of that? We get amazing file quality when using good lenses and that quality on many occasions has rivaled medium format. Slap on a Leica 35mm or 50mm and be amazed at the detail in your images. But then again we have to take a look at costs because we are talking about spending $7000-$8000 on just a camera BODY and spending that kind of cash TODAY, as in RIGHT NOW is tough. Especially when we have all of these new cameras on the way.
Yes! IN 2012 this is getting a bit tricky because we have cameras like the Fuji X-Pro 1, and I have to say that the more I see of it, the more amazing it appears in regards to image quality. The lenses are sharp and the file quality appears to be equaling the M9 in many of the samples I have seen to date. The styling is like an RF, and it even has a modern-day hybrid EVF/VF and a much better LCD. The Fuji IS NOT an RF but you can surely use your Leica glass on it and take advantage of it having no AA filter. The Fuji has even better color than the M9 and at 1/4 the price of an M9, it will be serious competition to those who have not yet gone with a Leica due to cost, but wanted to. Those who bought an M9 and had focus issues or cracked sensors or have become disappointed with the luxury brand for one reason or another will flock to the Fuji X-Pro 1 (or even the new OM-D which also look phenomenal) in droves. Others simply see the X-Pro 1 as a viable alternative to the M9..those who are not diehard rangefinder shooters.
Many have been saving for an M9 or M9-P and I have heard from quite a few that they will take that savings and invest in the Fuji X-Pro 1 instead. Superb IQ, great styling, great lenses, 1/4 the cost. It makes sense. Even cameras like the NEX-7 are capable of amazing output with Leica glass attached. So what does this mean for Leica in 2012?
IT MEANS THEY BETTER ANNOUNCE SOMETHING SPECIAL, AND DO IT SOON.
Leica has not yet made any new product announcements but I am hoping and guessing they will do so very soon. If not, they will be in some big trouble as I predict their M9 sales will eventually slow down to a halt while everyone enjoys the new stuff from Fuji, Sony, and Olympus. There is a genuine excitement in the air about these new generation photographic machines in the photography world. Again, keep in mind I am not talking about die-hard Leica guys switching to Fuji, because people like me LOVE their M and will always have one. I am referring to that group of new customers Leica has not yet attracted and those who even went with an M to find it frustrating. I feel if Leica does not announce something amazingly special that this will NOT be their year and they may even lose some sales.
Will they announce a new X or M soon? I do not know… but one thing I hope for is that there is still someone at Leica with a creative mind and that they are really looking at what we want in a new model. I am not hoping for massive mega pixels or a new design. I am hoping for a more “mature” digital M. One that can focus accurately, one that has an LCD that can let you know if you nailed focus when you look back at your image and one that can possibly have less noise at higher ISO. When you think about it..what CAN Leica do to create a HOME RUN camera?
BTW, I will have a review of the new Pentax K01 by the end of the weekend and the Fuji X-Pro 1 should be arriving to me SOON, so stay tuned! Like I said, this is the calm before the storm 🙂
Give me YOUR thoughts on what you are hoping to see from Leica. Leave your comments below!
I have the ‘9 and the 9P. I am so pleased to see opinions that recommend discarding the screen – although Id like to see on occasion just the histogram. I couldnt care a hoot whether or not there is a HD screen on the back. Nor do I really care too much for sensor ISO that sits at lunar altitudes..BUT – I would love faster buffering. I love the lenses and they return so much more than any sensor might..although – I would have been happier if my M9 sensor didnt crack and that it was out of repair before I retire. ALL that being the case – I am a user by deep sacrifice and by choice. If I want to hold something the size of a watermelon, that promises to do “anything anytime anywhere just dont even think just point and shoot and it will whistle dixie ” the pick up a D3x or mk 2 or whatever. They might provide you with the capability for f22 at midnight in fractions – but they have not advanced camera craft and craftsmanship one millimeter. The files I produce with the M9s have a lower success rate, and at times require more work to produce an optimised final print – but I am engaged, committing and working hard with the Leicas and THATS what I love about them.
When a champion like Steve says Leica needs to make improvements, Leica better listen. I’ve used M3s, M4s, and my latest was the M7. I love the M format. Have been holding off buying the M9. Just cannot justify the price. It ain’t 2X or 3X better than my Nikon DSLRs for what I do. Just got myself the GXR for my Leitz lenses. Looking forward to their announcement tomorrow, or the upcoming Photokina. Yes, Leica needs a “grand slam” as Steve puts it.
Always enjoy Steve’s bubbling enthusiasm over his cameras and lenses. He doesn’t seem to prejudiced but somehow the Leica mystique seems to overwhelm his better judgment. Or is it the sheer quality or Steve’s secret masochistic inclinations or fetish to Leica.
For the record, I love my Leica’s too. Have some great Leica glass and bodies but not the M digitals. Use the glass on my Sony Nex 5, Ricoh GXR and hopefully soon on my Fuji X Pro 1.
Most customizable is the GXR with its colour shift, peripheral lighting correction and snap focus. Best low light is the Fuji XP1. Nex is smallest but dumbest. Widest range of adapters on the market. Flip up LCD screen makes it a true street camera.
Buffer capacity and recording speed on XP1 is simply too short to bother in most shooting instances. Or rather I love this camera for ease of use, film simulation bracketing, Q menu…
Best size for travel incognito, the GXR. Hybrid OVF of XP1 not quite accurate. Optional EVF of GXR works fine though smallish. Menu NEX 5 amateurish.
Instant grab and shoot in ranking Fuji XP1. With 2 GXR bodies, I have an superb option of using Leica manual style and Ricoh auto on the other. Sony NEX 7 issues with peripheral smearing hasn’t gotten my nod so the 5 stays.
So what will attract me to a Leica M digital? The FF which none of the 3 has. Of of course, the red dot.
It will be the perfect camera if only it has the best of the XP1, GXR and the NEX.
Hmm, am sure a 3rd party red dot for my XP may just look the part if the price of the new M10 is still north of USD8,000.
Thanks God we have multiple options to choose from these days. Pick the one you like; Communism is dead.
I want to see more dynamic range, more mp, better way of achieving good focus.
Fuji style EVF would be great. I think that Luminous Landscape open letter to Leica is pretty spot on.
Talking about dynamic range. I just shot a independant feature on a Sony F3 with S-Log on a external recording device. Now that’s dynamic range, truly amazing! You should see some ungraded footage. Of course the sensor is only about 3,3 megapixels 🙂
D800(E) will beat M9 in dynamic range, color depth, iso, and plain reliability all for a lot less money.
I tend to use SLRs for digital and film rangefinders… The cosina rangefinder bodies are good enough: in fact the only upgrade i was thinking of doing was from screw mount lenses to a M body — so I can get a fast 35 mm and and ultra fast 50 mm.
If I want distance, I pull out something heavier. Rangefinders are for street work & scenery.
Now… to make me buy Leica digital, you have to beat a Nikon 800E, but without the need for a menu. Think of an M3 or Voightlander: you can just use the damn thing.
BIG sensor. Slightly larger than FF: Leica lenses can handle this. High pixel count. Rock solid reliability. All the controls on the outside and no menus.
I don’t care about the screen. I want a viewfinder that can handle wide angles — below the 21 mm that the r4a can — and has a long effective range. Variable magnification would help. The longest effective rangefinder distance is currently the ZI: Leica should be able to beat that — and then adjust magnification.
I want all the info in the viewfinder. Something like the Fuji X100.
And it needs to not be @ crazy money. Currently, I could buy a Zeiss Ikon + Nikon 800E for the cost of an M9: it has to be more like 5K US than 10.
Oh, and I want to be able to get the thing, not wait for a year and deal with importers adding huge markups. It is a tool. not an object of desire
$0.02 from someone who has been seriously considering getting a Leica but hasn’t been hooked.
I got into photography about a decade ago, starting out with a Canon Rebel and then bumping up into the 5D series. I’ve made a decent investment in “L” glass, and am extremely pleased with the IQ. However, I’m frustrated with how klunky and heavy the system is, and also by the stares I get from people due to the size of my kit. With an upcoming world trip I have been on the prowl for a better camera solution.
After some research it seemed like digital rangefinders would be the way to go. I find the shooting style compelling and the fact that the lighter form factor will draw less attention. Leica seemed like a natural choice, especially since they prefer a simple feature set. Sadly, none of their products are a good fit for me.
After testing a M8.2 for a few days and looking at many sample M9 images I am underwhelmed with the Leica IQ and technical performance. A particular problem is low light (I am unsurprised that most everyone in here is saying “improve the ISO for a M10”). I find the color contrast to be low or washed out in most situations. The buffering time is ridiculously slow. The Canon 5D mk ii puts the Leica to shame technically, yet the Leica body costs three times as much. This makes absolutely no sense to me.
I am willing to buy into a premium brand if I feel like I’m getting more for my money. I’m an avid Apple user for what I feel to be sound technical and user experience reasons. Leica digital camera bodies do have an excellent experience but don’t seem worth it from a technical standpoint. Maybe if I tended to do most of my shooting in well-lit conditions I’d feel differently.
There really doesn’t seem to be any one product that’s a good fit for what I want now. Epson seemed to be on the right track with their R-D1, but they’ve since discontinued that line. I will probably end up settling on a Sony NEX 7 despite the fact that it has WAY more bells and whistles than I want/need and the glass options are not fantastic.
I am more concerned about making quality images in as high a % of the time as possible. When I had my M9 there were disappointments all around. As well as the technical issues with cards (3 times deleted whole cards of images for no apparent reason), locked up during that time as well, poor high ISO, I could go on. I don’t care about a culture. Some need to have that red dot hanging from their neck to make them feel better. I went back to the dslr…albeit with a bit of a sore neck from the weight. But I am nothing short of extremely happy going back to dslr. The ‘hardcore’ Leica fans will be the ones that drive the company into the ground with their ridiculous demands that the brand go backwards instead of installing options that are useful to 90% of the other photos. Without that 90%….Leica will go into the crapper. So you should thank your lucky stars for their demands or else you would still be shooting a film M9P. Don’t like technology? Go back to your film M3.
BTW…I made a powerpoint presentation to a couple of my editor friends. To see if they could tell which photo was taken with a Leica. They were 0 for 15 on that. Keep drinking the kool aid for an $8000 <mediocre camera.
Leica rangefinders are deeply founded in a certain kind of image culture. I find myself taking completely different kinds of photos with a DSLR than with the M. If you like glossy magazines and advertising imagery then perhaps its not for you.
Look at this photo for example. If you think its badly framed and pointless, then perhaps you are not reading into the image culture it connects to. You look for something else in images. I would never have taken this with a (D)SLR, just would not have been in the mindset for it.
Whatever happened to the M9 is the perfect shooting macine?
Why would Leica need to do anything to improve the perfect shooting machine – unless perhaps it is slightly more lacking than M9 users would have us believe?
Actually regardless of how good (or bad, or mediocre) the M9 is, or quality of the competition I don’t think Leica need to do anything. I believe that most M9 buyers aren’t buying a camera per se, they are buying a fashion statement or status symbol or bragging rights etc.
And Leica don’t need to do a damn thing to have that continue, apart from perhaps revise the price upwards.
There are millions of new millionaires in China and India who will I am sure be happy to fork out $10,000 for an M9 and lenses.
And even in Europe and the US I’m sure that Leica can get a few more sales as rich brats mature and want new toys.
I am old enough to remember very similar discussions as reflected above in the past – the Olympus OM-2 and comparisons being made with it’s then new rival the Canon AE-1 etc etc….Should the dedicated band of Olympus users now desert to the new kid on the block ? Not if producing good photos is your ultimate aim I would suggest ! These comments were mostly being made by people who never produced impressive or even interesting work. I was turned off photography by this mentality. Some years ago I decided to get an M8 and try my hand at digital photography. I was really enthused by it’s simple old world charm and the pure joy of using it. Steve on this site and other users have echoed this very well and I am happy to say I have had some sucessful exhibitions of my work at Local Art festivals. Nothing Earth shattering but I believe the simplicity of the Leica M and the excellent image quality of the Leica lenses are paramount and have helped me achieve my vision.
I like others would like to see some improvements and corrections to obvious failings as outlined very expertly above by contributers. The analogy made with the steady evolution of the Porsche sports is I believe a very apt one. Hope Leica is listening.
great read steve, spot on!
for me the m8 was my 1st and only rangefinder, i loved and hated it. after terrible reliability problems i moved on to dslr. i want a rangefinder but for the price now in 2012 the m9/m9p just doesnt close the deal.
How about an X2–with a combination of the attributes of the X1, the Canon G1X just announced and a D-Lux 5.
I.e: As small as can be and incorporate a half-sized sensor–an approx 4x zoom (24-100 equiv) with highest quality Leica optics and beautifully simple in its appearance…, like a Leica.
Sell this for about $3000 bucks–yes even though the Canon is $800–with a Leica you won’t have those harsh Canon pixels and a yellow green tint to all your photos.
• state of the art, calibrated LCD with swivel action like the Epson had (although I see a problem with the knobs……)
• new CCD with higher dynamic range,
• (much) better ISO specs,
• self cleaning CCD
• weather sealed
• shutter speed of 8000
• built in (fill) flash
• some kind of in-camera stabilization
• no change to a basic design of simplicity!
• (compared to my M6): I still think the body is too thick and the viewfinder feels less ‘open’ and slightly more tunneled than the M6.
• Better end quality/adjustment control/calibration
Built in flash? Stabilization? = design simplicity?
I know I’m probably alone in my crazy pipe dream, but this is what I’d like to see in an M10P, with P really standing for professional (not wedding professional but perhaps journalist professional or jungle / desert documentary professional):
1) Absolutely weatherproof & shockproof… Syrian tank proof if possible. If the pictures survive the journalist in camera then Leica’s on the right track…
2) Mechanical “film advance” lever for shutter cocking and battery elongation. If you want a machine gun get an SLR
3) M3 machined build quality, no cut corners- let others do that
4) Kodak full frame self-cleaning CMOS
5) M3 viewfinder
6) NO LCD. I don’t need it with film, I don’t use it with digital, I don’t want to pay for it, and I’d rather have the battery go to taking more pictures. Eyefi can stream to a retina iPad if I need it anyway for better images than any LCD.
6) Plus any kind of kinetic or advance-level micro charging which could elongate the battery again. How great would it be if the battery could last like a watch battery?
When you’re gone for months in a place where you’re dinner is running around most of the day, having a dead battery is game over. This would be a real game-changer. Maybe it’s not entirely possible, but those things would at least increase battery life drastically. Everyone who doesn’t want it could buy a ‘regular’ M10.
*advance lever* micro charging…
I’ve had the exact same thoughts (dreams) for a Leica M10P. Form factor and looks of the MP. No LCD. Advance lever to cock the shutter. Advance lever also connected to a dynamo that puts a bit of charge back into the battery every time you cock it. Kinetic charger. The ones in watches are very small but then watches don’t need a lot of power. The camera could be fitted with a larger one or several small ones, whichever works best. This together with the advance lever and a mechanical shutter would make the battery last a long time. I also thought that they could add a MP style film winder that’s also connected to a dynamo for emergencies. If your battery is flat and you need just enough power for a few shots you can crank the wind lever to build up enough charge for a few shots. Wouldn’t it be great to a digital M (or any other digital device for that matter) that you only have to recharge a few times a year, or not at all?
Now if two people have been thinking the same thing then are sure to be more. Maybe we should get a petition signed to give to Leica 😉
love it! great thinking
Leica doesn’t need to do that much to keep themselves in the market:
– A newer sensor is inevitable looking at today’s possible performance of electronics.
– Better sealing against the environment – would be a very logical step. Protect that valuable internals!
– Porsche Design 🙂
– Rangefinder focus assist – a simple digital substraction of the two patches – matched with a simple indicator in the viewfinder – in order to help better with very fast lenses – long range lenses – and in available light circumstances.
– A fair “pimp up my leica” policy – a la M9-> M9-P.
My two cents.
For Leica to thrive in today’s market will need to adopt the following,
1. Create a new line of Rangefinders with a new brand
2. Outsource production and assembly to China
3. Outsource lens production to Japan
4. Offer a product in a cost range of $999.00 to $1,499.00 US dollars (possible as this would be a Rangefinder model which would be unique in class likely to support a five year market dominance which will allow to establish itself by own rights.
Here follows the recipe for the invigoration of Leica as a brand,
The new more accessible line is to be “modular-friendly” with the Leica products for this will share the M system and connectivity parameters. This will create a higher demand to the “prime” line accessories, lenses or bodies, and owners of Leica equipment will have the option to acquire from a Leica child company, lenses or other accessories currently going to options like Voigtlander. Of great importance is that this will expand the loyalty towards a greater family of brand advocates.
This is definitely an interesting concept. I like the idea of outsourcing a lot. There is definitely something fashionable about the Made in Germany stamp but that shouldn’t cost an additional 5 grand.
But I’m curious, why would you say outsource to China?
The obvious choice for me seems to move all production to Panasonic in Japan and maintain the Leica brand like they have on their digital P&S cameras like the D-Lux 3. As an LX-3 owner, I would be thrilled!
The relationship between Panasonic and Leica seems to be a strong one. I don’t think that Panasonic would mind stamping the red dot on more products, as they do it already, and Panasonic benefits in gaining stronger Lumix designs and innovation. It’s a match made in heaven! And Leica needs the name to push sales. They can’t afford to create a new brand entirely
Yes it needs to be a rangefinder and it needs to be compatible with the M system. And I think that you’re absolutely right in terms of driving the higher end sales. If you can get the cheaper body, you have the money left over for lenses. So, we can buy M mount Leica branded Panny lenses built like the m4/3 25 1.4 and get on with things, or we can use the left over money to get the nicer lenses.
I’m confident they wouldn’t really compete with themselves. It would be like saying the $115.00 Canon 50 1.8 takes sales out of the $1,500.00 50 1.2L. It just doesn’t. But with Canon, I can buy a 7D instead of a 1Dx and use the same lens. The same thought should be with a lesser expensive Panasonic made, Leica branded, rangefinder. Those who still want the cream of the crop will pay for it, but not everyone has to in order to get the quality standards that Leica has come to be known for. And above all, to have the operation and the usability that Leica is known for.
I think that the D-Lux 3/LX-3 is the perfect example. The D-Lux 3 feels right, it looks right, and the IQ is stellar. Let Leica design it, let Panasonic build it.
I agree. I think Cartier, Patek Philippe and even Tag Heuer should outsorce to China and Japan otherwise they might not make it. LOL Please wait for Sony or Fuji or whoever to make a full frame camera to suit your needs…. And leave Leica alone, they will be just fine without your help. Maybe I can afford a Mercedes Sl 600 when it’s made in Mexico.
haha, then a leica would not be a leica. it would be any other brand like fujifilm, nikon or canon… just like Vacheron Constantin/patek philippe watches would be like any other casio.
As an owner of an m9 right now. the only thing i find that i am not too satisfied with definetely is:
1. LCD (it is funny that i dont have to rely on it most of the time , as i will need to check the results on the PC/mac itself…), a better resolution LCD to fit the quality of the output would have been much better.
2. ISO (i usually dont use any iso over 800 , as the iso is really ridiculous for a FF cam, but i try to make do with it), i hope for something usable at 1600-3200 but not a must.
The above 2 points i can understand from leica’s point of view is that, film shooters dont really need an “LCD”. and they dont really use anything over 800iso or so. but better to have better tech than nothing.. right?
3. SDhc card compatibility as well as the speed of the r/w to it.. it is ridiculously slow at sometimes, even when powering up to check the outputs.
i am fine with the # of megapixels, 18 is quite good for me.
however with all these complains, i am still very satisfied with it, not too much about the price though on m9.
Leica is doing very well. Nothing wrong with their business. “Outsourcing to China” is what greedy companies do.
Your comments are spot on. Leica today finds itself in roughly the same position that Cadillac was in –
a world class reputation with lagging technology and an aging but well healed customer set. They now
need a a new product category that can attract a new audience.. Whatever suggestions I or any of the others of us on this blog are unimportant since product design and timing rest solely with Solms. I can only hope that “tradition” doesn’t come with market blinders and Teutonic arrogance so the next offering
provides some new high quality alternatives (better be better than an X1 with interchangeable lenses!)
What I have to have is better high iso and weather sealing. More mp well at the expense of better high iso no I do not want it. If 22 to 25 is possible fine but 36 no thanks the diffraction will kill it at f11 and would hurt it high iso
They need a digital M4-2. A “cheap” digital M.
Leica says buying an M camera is buying a Leica for life. As their prices steadily and seemingly, inexorably rise, I’d agree, inasmuch as I’ll have to get a mortgage to afford one, just like my home.
The problem is, film is a different hardware situation than film. You could buy an M3 today, have it gone through by a good tech, and keep using it from now on as the software (film) situation is not changing. Digtal is a different can of worms: Who would want a used M9 10 or 20 years from now, or an M8 right now, if it can’t be updated to the current digital norm?
If their prices are no problem for you, my congratulations that your disposable income or business cashflow allows you to enjoy these treasures. But for most of us, they’ve gone into the ‘When I win the Lottery’ category.
I applaud Fuji for once again mining a niche, as they’ve often done before with cameras that no one else seems to have thought of. It’s a big job birthing an entire X-Range, and they have been having a few teething problems in the rush. I expect that to settle down, and look forward to trying the different X’s when possible.
Few basic things will make the new M10 the unbeatable camera for the next generation or two:
1- Higher dynamic range and I mean a 13-14 f stops dynamic range like in the phase one backs, allowing usage in broad daylight without washed out details or underexposed shadows.
2- Faster and larger buffering enabling a shoot of at least 20-25 raws in one sequence at 3 fps.
3- More accurate focusing. the three M9s I had, had to go to Solms for fine focus calibration.
4- Longer life shutter with a cycle of 200.000 shots like the Nikons and Canons’ top gear.
5- A 24-28 mb file output to make the most out of the M lenses since Erwin Putts’ analysis of the M lenses showed that they could easily tackle a 31 mb sensor.
6- Offering back the silver chrome version which is their signature since their beginnings.
7- A better and more reliable LCD and better white balance accuracy.
As many Leica fabs with the obligatory narrow field of view 🙂 appear to have forgotten is that Blackstone has acquired a sizeable stake in Leica. I would expect that investment to result, as I have mentioned before, in more money being available for new models and for quality control, money that was not available before. We will see the results this year, I expect.
I have seenmore or less the same process with MV Agusta, before and after being taken over (and subsequently sold back) by HD Corp.
Noone needs to agree with me of course… 😉
I must confess, I’m considering a combination of both. A Ricoh GXR with the ‘M’ mount, and a couple of lovely old Leica jewels to put on it. Might just fit the bill, you know.
I wonder how much of Leica is the ‘German mystique’. If I popped for $7,000 for a camera body and had to keep getting it repaired, or spent a day shooting and found an empty SD card, the next time I was in Germany, I would go to the Leica factory and hit somebody over the head with it.
Friends of ours bought a Cadillac and a Mercedes 500 series 23 and 22 years ago, respectively. They ride about the same, are about the same size, and both have been maintained by the book. They both have about 150,000 miles on them. The Mercedes was over twice as expensive and over the years has cost almost 6 times as much to keep on the road. They are on a longish road trip right now in the Caddy. The Mercedes won’t run, again, and the automatic transmission had been acting up, again.
The M9 was semi-obsolete when it was introduced, it’s not reliable, and IMO, if Nikon or Canon decide to build a full frame RF tomorrow and sell it for about $3,000, Leica may not need it’s new factory.
I understand the RF ‘feel, but it can’t feel like much when it doesn’t work. Sorry, at that price point, unreliability is inexcusable. In about 8 years of heavy usage, I have never had to get a Canon EOS or a ‘G’ series fixed. That counts for something with a lot of people, including me.
Leica is a small operation that can’t invest in lots of things that larger operations can. I wouldn’t be surprised if some aspects of assembly by Leica are done by hand whereas they’re automated at major camera manufacturers.
As a general rule, German companies have not been able to come up to the reliability level of the Japanese is any field that I am aware of. Apologists will argue that they have more quality than the Japanese- i.e they drive “better”, or they “feel” better, as the present discussion on this blog seems to indicate.
Even the Nikon J1/V1 assembly is done by hand (at least some parts of it) – look here:
I read several places that the assembly of a Nikon D800 takes 4 hours to complete and a D4 takes 5 hours. (The D800 has 1600 parts according to what I read).
Shouldn’t Leica, in a new digital M, concentrate on providing the best basics that digital photography can offer?
It’s a bit like some high end audio: no bells and whistles, just a power switch and a volume control, delivering some really special sound. That’s what Leica should do, and that is what some people are prepared to pay top dollar for.
Just my 2cts.
I don’t get the call for a weather-sealed M10, what’s the point if the lenses aren’t sealed?
Twitch, please read my story with the M9 and you would have a different opinion (see item 2 nearly at the top of this forum). It would have savede me 7,000 bucks.
I recommend having your expensive gear insured.
Was looking at an M9 last year. Would love to have a Leica. But most likely won’t due to the unavailablity of lenses. Doesn’t make any difference if the product is great (and it is) when you can’t buy it.
The X-Pro 1 is indeed a very intriguing camera. But, and I know this may sound a little sacrilege with everyone falling in love with the hybrid viewfinder, but I was actually in B&H today where I finally got to test drive the X100 and while I LOVE the optical view with the LCD overlays, I really am just not a fan of the LCD viewfinders. As good as they get, they just never feel right.
I don’t have a Leica (well, I have an LX-3 so I pretend I do), but an M has always been my dream camera. In a new M I would love to see the LCD overlays on an optical viewfinder. This is a very nice feature that has a great feel. I just want to keep it optical.
I honestly feel though that digital cameras are getting to a turning point. Having seen the 5DmkIII, I feel that the mkII is the first professional digital that people will be living with for longer than a product cycle or two. The mkIII was announced and I feel like most people who use it for stills will probably sit this one out.
Leica says that buying an M is buying a Leica for life. It just needs to be a solid camera, that like the 5DmkII, we would be able to be comfortable with for a long time. Honestly, nothing too fancy. Everything that they put in just needs to work right. Sensor technology has gotten there so that stills look great. How much better can they get? (again, sacrilege I know). Haven’t we surpassed film already? A good LCD, a good viewfinder, solid high ISO performance, reasonable pixel count, fast processing, and classic build quality and styling. Frequent firmware updates.
– The real Glass to protect the LCD shouldn’t cost me an extra $500… Must have!
– Get the Body sealed, I mean: SEALED! I don’t wanna dive with it, but a shoot in the Rain schould cause no worries… Must have!
– I’m fine with 18MP! Crank up the ISO performance… Must have!
– Where are those 16bit DNG’s? I mean Come on, 8bit!?… Must have!
– Shutter Lag could be better… would be nice!
– Better Batteries… Would be nice!
– Increase the IQ of long exposures… Would be nice!
– Faster Imageprocessing/Buffer/Playback… Would be nice!
Personally I don’t care about EVF’s or Live View, but Video would be a nice to have.
Leica has been in bed with Fuji before. Are there any possibilitys that that will happen again? The rangefinder part from Leica meets the new sensors from Fuji for a cheaper “mini-M”. X1 and X100 discontinued. X10, Mini-M, X-Pro1 and M10 will corner this “niche market” helping each other with cred and tech. Any thoughts on that?
Frankly, with Leica’s price point, I just hope for a trouble-free camera. Nothing more and nothing less.
Amen brother. This is critical. Both the M9 and the 35 f2 lens I received were defective. So I sent them back. If a company charging this much can’t get it right first time, I’m not interested.
That is what riddles me. The M9 is praised to the sky and rightly so for IQ due to the great Kodak sensor and Leica glas, but the rest just sucks for the high price point.
I mean for that price it should never fail under any circumstances and the technical features should just be top notch.
Because of this lack of quality the M9 will have close to no value in 5-10 years from now, because nobody would dare to buy it used.
People who have a M9 with Leitz glass will never switch to a Fuji or whatever has an adapter, get a life !
Crappy LCD?… 18MP…. what more do you need ?
Start making Photographs people, that’s why they make camera’s
.. And as soon as the M10 is released all the ‘I need always more’ clowns will start writing about the M11 because the M10 is old news…hahahahhahahahahhahahahhahahahahah
It’s all true, Hans. This year’s model is out two weeks after it’s been released. Then, we’re looking at “even better sensors with film-like quality”, EVF/OVF with 5 mill. dots, etc. etc. It’s all BS. People should, indeed, photograph more. That said, I can’t wait until my OM-D arrives… 🙂
I like my m9 the mega pixels are just right the crappy LCD well it’s sort of like shooting film you don’t know exactly what you’ve got till you look on your high res 27 inch display and i will just stick with this and concentrate on building my glass to exactly where I want it so an upgrade who cares I’m sick of the tech upgrade band wagon I think we’re there already techs just getting more cheaply made I have some speakers they stopped making in 1978 still considered the best audiophile thing of all time so new ain’t necessarily better
It would be especially great if Leica could do the update program, which offered a better lcd-display, and possibly a new sensor. Also, the battery could be updated more powerful.
I think Steve knows more than he is letting on…..:-)
Question is really why did I or anyone buy a Leica?
In my own case I could try to justify it with facts and figures but at the end this is not why I bought a Leica. In almost any comparison the M9 will fall short if you compare spec sheets. I bought my M9 because it gave me a warm fuzzy feeling and because it inspired me to go out shooting. I started and learned on a Leica M3 long time ago and moved on to Olympus OM1 and then to Nikon D70, D200, D3s… the more advanced and better cameras I got and the more lenses i bought the less inspired i was until i almost completely stopped taking photos. The camera i carried around occasionally was the Lumix-LX3. Then came the milestone, I borrowed a Leica M9 from a friend over a few days and I suddenly realized that this was it, the camera I wanted. It did not matter how many pixels or what ISO etc… It was just right and it was again fun and inspiring to take the camera with me again.
Thats why I bought a Leica and I have a feeling that I am not alone buying a Leica for this reason.
I don’t think Leica will be successful battling head to head with the big Japanese companies with automatization or clever software more features. I really wish that Leica stay true to the basics making simple rangefinder cameras with awesome manual lenses. Yes they could have a little bigger LCD with higher resolution and make it faster but to be honest, its not really important because I love my M9 just the way it is.
I am not sure Leica really needs a grand slam. possibly a better X1 with interchangeable lenses.
I have done exactly what your article said, Steve. My M9 was stolen last month. I was devastated. I did collect the insurance money and was about to pull the trigger on an M9-P. Then something came over me. I decided to pre-order the X1-Pro and a fuji lens. I have my Leica glass still and will use that extensively on the fuji. I will be waiting anxiously of course at the same time for the new Leica. I don’t think I will be able to resist if it is anywhere near as amazing as the M9 was for me! I was one with that camera. RIP to my M9.
“It’s more than an idea, you will see something at the next Photokina. The new system will use an “APS-C sized sensor at least”
Read more on LeicaRumors.com: http://leicarumors.com/2011/06/22/leica-to-launch-a-new-compact-mirrorless-system-camera-at-photokina-2012.aspx/#ixzz1oR8pefms
Don’t count on that old info…
Leica is goodin making people buy a 7000 dollars body with a made in Japan sensor. That might last a while longer until someone else come out with a FF compact body. Nevertheless, we all know that, this will happen and the price Leica is charging today will not last. We will see leica being forced to cut its price just like the SD1. Guys, wake up and don’t waste your money on a branding!
I understand Leica wants to keep its quality control for lenses and M high. That is fair. However, Leica was developed for the masses in the 40s and 50s. Only lately have they pushed the luxury envelope. They bang on about HCB using Leica, but that was probably because it was available and useful at the time.
By being at a super high price point and advertising in fashion magazines or as a component of fashion spreads they are leaving photography and moving into luxury. This is no comment on the quality of pictures, which from this site alone, are fantastic. You just need to see where their boutiques are based: Mayfair in London, basically hedge fund-ville, similar to 5th Avenue in NY. I have seen the M9 and 0.95 Noctilux 50mm in fashion spread photos in Vogue.
What is wrong with a reasonably priced camera with good, solid lenses with a full frame sensor to use lenses as they were designed? Consider a 50mm with the correct field of view, not some marketing department of a company producing crop sensors saying they are just as good. The perspective of a 50mm on a 4/3 is not 100mm. That is field of view. Perspective at 50mm is 50mm, which doesn’t change with the sensor. Full frame cameras this day and age are either too big (Nikon, Canon) or too expensive (Leica). Fuji, Olympus, Sony, they are selling us that micro 4/3s are a good replacement for full frame, which everyone had with film.
The fact that you Steve, of all people, are already stating that you will be priced out of the M10 if it comes in at too high a price point should be evidence of Leica’s luxury move rather than its quality photographic heritage. The only people buying cameras will be hedgie, wealthy people, etc to show it off who saw the store in Mayfair or advertised in Vogue (or similar), not those who make photographs, like the aforementioned budding HCBs…
” Leica was developed for the masses”
No, it has always been the ‘two months salaries’ camera throughout history, and even back then many photojournalists could not even it and did resort to cheaper solutions. I think Leica will from now on the full-frame company, even for their X2 or evil cameras. That’s the sort of niche where they can excel, with prices that’ll again be in the ‘two months salaries’ bracket for most of us. With the Fujis and Sonys and others offering asp-c compacts, Leica can only distinguish itself with ff sensors and those justify their great but expensive lenses.
Leica’s analog cameras are and have been about two months salaries for several decades. But the M9 is more like three months salaries. The lenses also are more expensive today than before.
Otherwise I agree completely; Leica’s main niche except the quality of their lenses and the rangefinder focusing on their M-cameras is that they can offer a big sensor in a compact camera. That is why X1 was initially successful as there was no real competition except the user-unfriendly Sigma compacts. But as soon as X100 entered the market it was the beginning of a lost war as Leica can’t compete with price. A X2 with a full frame sensor would occupy another not yet exploited niche. A X2 with interchangeable AF-lenses and and APS-C sensor will on the other hand fail as Fuji and Sony (and even Ricoh) already have camera systems in that market segment.
There’s generally 2 camps of expectations, 1. M9 to revolutionise, 2. M9 to keep it simple.. which one do u belong? for me: revolutionise the insides and keep it old school outside. Can’t WAIT!
They certainly need to come up with something impressive. For the week or so that I owned an M9 I was vivdly reminded of my Nikon D100. It [the M9] was slow, noisy, not as well built as I’d hoped and getting that bottom plate off to access the battery/SD card was plain annoying. And next to a D3 the high ISO was woeful. Don’t even get me started on the LCD screen.
But the images produced in tandem with the 35 f2 were awesome. I only have a few but I still lust over them now and then. Heck, they’re not even perfectly in focus because I was shooting in very low light with low shutter speeds.
And STILL I love those few images. More than my “perfect” D3 files, more than the uber D3x files. There’s just something about it. They just need a camera which is up to this century.
Until then, I’ll suffer with my big old DSLR.
Thankfully my new iPhone 4S [ALWAYS ON HAND] takes some tolerable shots.
I was actually really exited for the x-pro1. But then I got to try i t out. Now I gues I will never be happy with a camera until I get a leica. The camera was extremly light and I actually felt like I held a disposable camera. It might have been that my first impression was a bit off because of high expectations. I also didn’t like that there where NO focus verification in manual focus. I actually had alot more quality feeling holding a nex5n with an old metal pentax 1.4 lense. I gues there’s just something about cameras and lenses that are made in metall 🙂
I hear ya Christian…there’s nothing like the feel of holding am M body…so solid and the cool dense metal….love it.
It’s like holding a polymer Glock vs a Colt 1911… No contest.
Its not so much Leica designers,engineers wont do rather whether Leica has the finances
for a plant to make en masse X2, APSC Mirrorless.
X1 is AFAIK an assembly of parts made by various companies (just as other brands cameras).
APSC Mirrorless Leica would be the same or assembled entirely by another brand rebadged Leica.
Aaaahhhh, Steve you’re driving me crazy. One minute Leica is your favourite camera, the next we’ve all got G.A.S. now we’ve got to ditch our Leica for the latest mirrorless wonder. You’re sending me into a spin, I don’t know know to do next 😉
Sorry, just messing with you. Actually, I’m really glad you made the call on camera costs, because quite frankly it’s getting ridiculous. I have an M9-P and Canon 5DII. The new 5D has gone up from £2,200 (UK money) to £3k. That’s a whopping 36% increase ….. for what? I’m sorry, but the latest 5D is only a next step evolution on from the previous model. This camera price hyper inflation is happening everywhere. Sure, I get supply and demand, and that the Asian markets are significantly adding to this, but it must be pushing most photographers (and I mean most) to the brink of what’s acceptable to pay for a camera. Could we make this the start of our Arab Spring. Is is time for the photographer consumer to be heard and force more senseable pricing?
Keep up the great work.
Never said I was ditching my Leica…said the opposite actually. 🙂 But yea, prices are starting to get a bit out of hand with some of these cameras but I guess it’s a sign of the times. Thanks!
Herman Cain Leica User: If you don’t have a good job and not rich….Blame Yourself!
I really do like that Leica takes its time and does not replace/update products every year.
And I like that they are not jumping quick on every new trend.
I still would say the M9 as well as the x1 beat the Nex or the X100 in regards of IQ. (specially in regards to color and clarity of the images).
The S2 system has been optimized in many small but important steps regarding user interface and AF and as of today works very well.
My wishlist would be:
– Firmware update for S2 to improve 1250 ISO and add 1600 ISO.
– a X2 with a dual focal length lens (28 and 50) which should not much bigger than the x1, same good IQ but include movie. Also offer a X2outdoor version of that camera i a rugged, waterproof body.
– M9 works fine for me, but I wouldnt mind a M10 which should have the same simple user interface, be a little slimmer (like the MP), some kind of weather protection (I guess full protection is not possible because of the lenses), a more silent shutter and a reduced shutter delay. Video wouldnt hurt BUT I only want a CMOS if it offers the same look like the CCD produces.
For me low/medium ISO quality is more important than the really high ISO. So please no compromise in the 100-1000 ISO range just to improve the ISO 1600-6400 output.
Leica needs a second tier line, interchangeable lens camera. Something like the XPro1. Dump in a Sony sensor (or even better, something APSH), AF, EVF and small selection of lenses, including zooms and primes. Have an adaptor for M,S and R lenses. This gives Leica a stepping stone for new people to come into the Leica fold and a path toward the M. Then the M line can continue to be the premium line fulfilling it’s niche as the best digital rangefinder in the world.
Mr Kauffman has already indicated a larger than APSC camera is coming this year. I think you need to be careful when you mess with the dna of the M. Better to introduce a complimentary line and leave the M alone with its incremental and safe upgrades.
Your comment is interesting Steve!
Sure Leica need to do something but who can say what they have in mind? Driving a company is not about launching a product to compete with what was just announced…it is more a long term thinking.
I think we all have to think about what makes Leica so special and unique comparing to other offering.
If Leica comes with a new M which is more a me too product with super High Iso, a lot of electronics, Liveview etc…more or less a M lens dedicated Fuji X Pro 1…then I think they will lose what has made same to be so special comparing to others. Moreover…I do not think they can compete long with the bigs at such “full electronical gimmicks game”.
For me…I just hope Leica stays as it is now: A special product, more into the traditional way of taking photograph, just like the experience of using a film camera…but which is now digital. Yes they could improve high iso a bit…yes they sure have to change that LCD…but…do we REALLY need more than what a M9 can give us today? Do we really need more isos? More resolution? More FPS? HDR modes? All of that to do what? Do we all print huge posters or is it just for the sake of being amazed while doing 200% crop on computer screen?
I think we need to think twice about what make us attracted by Leica.
My wife has a X100…and while it is surely an amazing camera…I can’t help myself but I do not like it. To many buttons, to many features, to many to many to many things everywhere! I feel so much confortable with my old and trusty M8… Yes it’s an old design, yes it is a dynosaur, yes it is so simple…but it is indeed what I was looking for…a little camera…which is far away from the full electronical crazyness which is going out there. I just like to “clic” my M…and this is just what matters to me and don’t want it to change 🙂
I used to have the Leica X1 and I figured out how to use this camera on my own. The X1 is a simple, beautiful camera with great image quality. I now have the Fuji X100 and, I agree with the above, too many buttons, too many features, too much everywhere. It is more of a computer than a camera. With that said, I love the X100 and I believe it is a superior photographic tool compared with the X1. Recently, I bought the book, “Mastering the Fuji X100”, by Michael Diechtierow. Yes, I felt like I needed an extensive tutorial and I wish all of these complicated cameras would come out with books such as this. I am still in the middle of reading this book but I am just amazed with the features the X100 has. I have always been a dedicated RAW shooter but I am now intrigued by shooting in JPEG, despite the lower bit sized files. I am curious to see what kind of photos I can get out of the X100 without having to post-process in Photoshop.
Part of the reason Leica, and any company with products in high demand, will raise prices regularly is as a method to control demand. Generally a company has a good idea of what their product demand will be and how to fill it. Though sometimes a product becomes very popular and demand exceeds the companies wildest dreams and they can’t respond to demand fast enough or big enough. When this happens price becomes the most viable method to control demand. Because, there is always someone that is priced out of the market with each price increase.
Leica is not the only camera company to use this technique to control demand. After the earthquake & tsunami (sp?) in Japan and later the floods in Thailand, Nikon, Canon, and Sony raised prices to reduce demand on the products they had in stock and in the pipeline until they could produce and deliver more product. Nikon and Canon are probably doing a little of this with the prices they have set for their recently announced cameras. Looking at how Nikon has priced the D4 & D800 cameras, the price reductions announced on the D700, and comparing these to Canon’s pricing for the D1X & 5DMKIII, and the price reductions on the 5DMKII, Nikon may believe they can meet the pent up demand for their new products and may also feel they have excess D700 inventory which needs an incentive to help sell. On the other hand Canon may not be in the same position to fill pent up demand, particularly for the 5DMKIII which has a higher price than the D800. The smaller price reduction for the 5DMKII may mean they do not have an excess inventory, or they do not want the inventory to sell out too fast.
Concerning what Leica needs to do this year, is probably not very much. Compared to the latest offerings from Nikon, Canon, and Sony, the M9 is really only out performed by the Nikon D800; but probably not in a really big way. The M9 was never a speed demon, so looking at the competition, the D4 is bringing more resolution to the D3S’ ISO capabilities and the 1DX/5DMKII are bringing better ISO capability to roughly the same resolution as the previous models. The D700 replacement is still several months away; the D800 is replacing the D3X. So a minor upgrade to ISO performance and a new processor may be it, other than a new exterior cover and a new collectable model.
An upgrade or replacement to the X1 is probably past due, but I doubt we will see any support for R-system lenses. The new platform for R-lenses is the Sony NEX cameras.
Oh, one more thing; all cameras in 2012 should have built-in image stablization. Even the new Fuji X-Pro 1 will not have this feature. Along with its auto-focus quirks, the X-Pro 1 might end up being problematic. These couple of points should be food for fodder when Leica develops the M-10 and X2. Somehow I think that Leica will have a mind of its own and disregard Fuji’s progress. It might take a couple of rounds but Fuji just might end up slaying Leica. My advice to Leica: Innovate. My advice to Fuji: Simplify.
Simplify, but add IS. I suppose you want great video too?
Here’s a thought: What if they make no significant changes until forced to by parts availability? Leica already realizes that high-performance sensors are becoming a commodity, so rather than compete on the basis of megapixels and noise, what if they stress stress the handcrafted, Made in Germany aspect instead? Sure why not: A too-noisy sensor with limited dynamic range can be sold as “Uniquely film-like”, and if certain operational bits are too slow and fiddly, it becomes a “Thinking man’s camera”.
To some extent, this has already happened as folks pay a hefty premium for the M9-P which doesn’t even claim any functional improvement over the standard M9!
That’s the essence of the luxury market: Paying more for the same thing or even less. Buy a $6K Swiss automatic wristwatch and get less accuracy and fewer features than a $50 Casio atomic watch for instance. Maybe I shouldn’t say “you get less” but rather, you are paying a premium for intangibles such as the good feeling you get when you look at it, or added niceties which don’t enhance the performance, but which make handling and using the product more enjoyable. Potentially a very lucrative market I think.
For me personally, the higher prices have caused me to cash in most of my Leica gear at what seemed to me like amazing profits, some of which I have put into non-Leica gear.
For the Leica M10; a user interface like the Leica Concept Camera, with an iPhone that snaps into the camera instead of the usual dials. High ISO output, with no noise up to ISO 6400, built in flash, and a hybrid viewfinder, like that on Fuji’s. Smaller size camera while maintaining a full-sized sensor. No cheap vinyl vulcanite. Styling borrowed from the M9 Titanium but without the side hand-grip. Cheaper price. Simple user interface.
For the Leica X2; take a playbook of the Fuji X100, copy it, but make the X2 better. Get rid of the flimsy dials, and cheap plastic (it still hurts me to think that Leica uses cheap plastic on the X1). Include a built-in viewfinder along with the flash. No plastic rear LCD screen (no excuses Leica). Bokeh on the X1 should equal that of the Leica M9. The X1 needs to be built like a tank. It is German so make it solid.
The X1 still has no equal when it comes to IQ in pocketable size and weight. Evolutionary improvement is all it needs, and I’ll buy it again: faster AF, iso up to 6400, MF via lens barrel ring, pop up VF in lieu of pop up flash, dedicated iso wheel, f2.0 if possible without adding bulk (maybe a Summarit f2.4), 36mm equiv. is ok, but I’d prefer 40mm (greetings from the old CM). All black. No video, no face detection, no fancy art filters, panorama mode, tilting-bending-folding-touchytouch screen, or other gadgetry, please.
im hoping leica would make smaller m9 with interchangable lens with M- mount & half price of m9 please. Im too broke to buy M10 hauahahhaha
im hoping leica would make smaller m9 with interchangable lens with M- mount & half price of m9 please. Im too broke to buy another M10 hauahahhaha
You know what? I have faith with Leica. I know that the company will indeed hit a homerun at the Photokina 2012 in Cologne,Germany. I have my $$$ waiting for the X2 or M10!!!
My Leica x1 is a awesome camera and pictures are perfect ,would’nt buy anything else.
Leica M: the only camera system with which I did not loose money. Man did I burn cash with trying this and that over the last couple of years, in and out mft, DSLR FF, high end p&sh etc etc. And as I did so, my Leica MP and Leica m-lenses appreciated in value, some To astounding levels 😉 But it’s not really about the money, as others already mentioned. Shooting a Leica M puts you in a different state of mind as compared to anything else out there. An this experience is of value to me. Others may hace costly hobbies as well.
I think all of the improvements I’d like to see have been mentioned here, I’m sure any change to the design would only be subtle anyway, think we can trust Leica to get that bit right.
I wanted to touch on the price again, I’m sure Leica are very aware of the issues of price. I can tell you now that a significant factor in the price we pay relates to it being “Made in Germany”!!! From cars to cameras some of the most beautifully engineered and crafted items I’ve ever owned bare this mark. Manufacturing labour costs in Germany are I believe the highest in the World, the rates continue to rise.
Is it feasible that at some point there are Leica Lenses made in Germany and a second tier of lenses made in China……or elsewhere for that matter. There are some that will always be prepared and able to buy the German manufactured Leica, others may be happy to purchase a Chinese model at a different price point. Apple is proof that if managed correctly the highest quality manufacture can be achieved in China.
Just a thought….
Dear Jason, I think they are already doing similar things, some new entry level M lenses have a completely different touch when compared with the Noctilux 0.95 or the Lux 21, just rotate the aperture ring and everyone can tell the difference.
I thought Leica was scheduled to announce something in March/April of this year?
How about some very interesting new lenses, like APO Summilux 90 or 75? Or Summilux 16 or 18? Recently my M9 spends most of its time in the dry cabinet, and I often use my M7. I don’t think I would purchase an M10 considering the fact that no handheld sensor can supercede a decent scanner.
Can you elaborate “a decent scanner” and its price point?
Here is a thought… given LCD is not a strong point then get rid of it entirely … shoot like a film MP camera… that will be something no one else has done!!! Find out when you get home, spend more time in the VF than on the LCD!!
I think it is unrealistic to expect top notch technology from Leica (just look at M8 & M9!) but it delivers… isn’t that the point? Price point of the M10 will be crucial… get it wrong and they are really screwed…
That would be a horrible idea. Not only would you not be able to preview your photos to verify errors like blown highlights and histogram assessment, but you would be unable to adjust important settings such as resolution, white balance, JPEG options, bracketing choices, sensor cleaning, date and time, format the SD card, or any of the other many many options available through menus.
I satisfy my rangefinder needs with the simple M3 and Summicron 50.
For digital, I’ve ordered the Nikon D800. Sorry, but I just don’t need a digital rangefinder….I can make wonderful digital photos with my film M3!
Thank you Steve for these true thoughts…
I am a frenetic M6 Fan and still use it to document my life…
I freak out seeing the velvia slide results, getting imediately envolved into the picture, see the feelings while shooting…
I love Leica!
The M9 for sure is a great camera, but has problems that made me wait for the next Generation…
I never thougt that the next Generation is produced by Fuji and if the anouncements come true it will absolutely be mine…
best greetings Ralf
Your argument would hold more water if it were easy to find an M9 or lenses in stock. People, even in 2012, are buying them up almost faster than Leica is making them. I browse Craigslist pretty often, and in the off-chance that a Leica camera or lens even gets listed, it gets snatched up in a hurry.
M9s are easy to come by, maybe not on a local craigslist but certainly everywhere else. Used M9s are very easy to come by now. Check out here or fred miranda sales. You can get an M9 for $5000 now, and a new M9P on this website for under $7k! Now is a great time to buy!
An M10 should at least have much better high ISO performance, the viewfinder of the Titanium (maybe with the X-Pro-style extra magnifier) and finally a better meter indication (maybe something like the M5 had).
Although my personal hope would be for Leica to make a slightly more affordable line for those they are progressively pricing out of the market (like myself) – ideally based on the M8 (maybe an M8x) with a sensor similar to the one in Nikon D7000 (without AA-Filter, but with some IR-Filtration of course) and an upgraded screen. THAT would open Leica to a much larger market. An X2 would not really do anything for me – I want a rangefinder and a built-in viewfinder, as well as being able to use compact M-lenses, not huge R-lenses as some rumors have us believe.
Adding to the first post:
8). Fast duel processors (like the Nikon 1).
9). Whisper quiet operation like Leica M film cameras.
10). Slightly larger buttons like the X1.
Interesting question and discussion here Steve!
As mentioned, for many of the M9 owners an upgrade to a potential M10 will not be appealing.
The M style photography is a lot more than say just Megapixels, DR, etc.
Going from analog (via M8) to FF digital was a major step for the Leica M, but then as in the analog M aera many M photographers will recognize that the camera exceeds their ability as photographers by far (for what it is best intended for) – I do include myself there.
I think, that potential new Leica costumers that never used a RF before should be interested in an M10 as much as in an M9. I doubt, that they will go to Leica looking for video mode on a M10 or 30 MPix.
I guess that they want something different in feel, usage and form of doing photography.
My 2 cents.
The Leica M9 is the worlds first and smallest full frame digital camera, and the worlds only full frame digital rangefinder camera which puts it on a pedestal all of its own, being the first at anything means that their will always be room for improvement and to my mind it doesn’t need a lot – sure better screen res/cover, better buffer, battery life, along with improved ISO and maybe an increase in mega pixels but that’s it.
In my mind all the things that I mentioned above are all easily doable by Leica in an updated M10 and all that’s needed for the next few years.
After coming from a Canon 1D mk3 I really appreciate the freedom and simplicity of the M9 and hopefully the M10 so long as the price does not rocket.
Why do you say it is the worlds first FF digital camera? The Canon 5D came 4 years before the M9
He didn’t , you misquoted him….he said that it is the world’s ‘only full frame digital rangefinder’…there’s a difference.
Qoute: “the worlds first and smallest full frame digital camera”
Sorry Anders,Your right I did say that it was the first FF digital camera, what I ment was the first and smallest FF digital rangefinder camera. Hope that clears things up. Paul Jones
Nothing to be sorry about 🙂
Here we go again for the next thing in “G.A.S”. as you put it in an earlier article, Steve. Gear Acquisition Syndrome! I enjoy looking at the latest & greatest but have reached a point in my photo career that it takes something more to excite. Whether the image is from the latest & greatest or an old Nikon D1 or even an old Olympus OM-1, all I really want to see is the content of the image. For me, I have decided to stay with my old Nikon D2H cameras that I used for most of a decade while I was a staff photojournalist for a little weekly. I am still amazed at the capabilities of these “antiques” and how, for the most part, they satisfy my needs. While my publication goals have changed since being forced out of the industry, my image content goals remain the same – capture something that will get people to look at the image more than once….whether digital or film (I still love the look of Tri-X!).
Thanks for a great site, Steve. It helps me stay grounded when the “G.A.S” bug bites!!!!
Not all is G.A.S. all the time :-)…some of us do need to upgrade from time to time!
For me the new 5D III shows the way, a FF CMOS sensor with a little over 20MP, low noise even at very high ISO. If Leica could produce something like that, they would be on safe ground – and a higher resolution OLED display would not be bad either :-)!
LOL the Canon users (at least the ones that are being truthful and not in denial) are gnashing their teeth at how much of a epic fail the 5DIII is compared to the D800….
So basically either they’re granishing their teeth, or they’re in denial, because the D800 is superior?
Have you stopped hitting your wife, yes or no?
I have an old M3 and a more or less current M9. The M9 is not as useful in its camera context as the M3 was when I got it. The M9 is slow to record files, a bit fiddly in terms of control but unbeatable in providing great, robust files up to ISO around 1200.I would like to see an M9 level Leica with faster file recording and less sensor noise as well as a quicker shutter response. The smaller Leicas have too much competition from the likes of Panasonic, etc.
You are right! Leica do need 2012 to be a stellar year in terms of capturing the imagination of photographers again after an extremely successful launch year 2009. I have been on the cusp of an M9 for a few months but decided to hold off to see what may or may not be announced at Photokina this year. Right now, the sentiments seem to be overwhelmingly in favor of the Fuji X-Pro 1 and the Sony NEX-7 cameras – and with good reason. These are both excellent cameras with good performance and can use Leica’s excellent optics. However, a Leica is still a Leica – there is just not anything close to it.
That being said, just as Porsche has to continually keep updating the 911 to stay relevant, Leica too must keep updating the M series. It is not mandatory to have the latest whiz-bang gizmo in the M series, but they do need to keep pace.
Going forward, for the year 2012, I would personally like to see Leica release the following:
– A full-frame CMOS sensor of around 24-25 MP. Unfortunately, there does not appear to be any decent commercially available CCD sensors (including the DALSA ones) that can quite match up to the noise characteristics and dynamic range of the latest CMOS.
– Native ISO performance of 100 to 6400. A “pull” option to 50 would be good, but push to 12800 or higher is probably more gimmicky and not really needed.
– An updated M-mount (maybe called MA for M-auto focus) which is fully backwards compatible with the current M mount but would allow electronic aperture and focus coupling in the future with new lenses.
– Retain the rangefinder mechanism, but figure out a way to allow lenses of 135mm to 180mm to be used easily (maybe increased base length?)
– Live view on a 3.2 inch LCM with a resolution of at least 1.44 million dots
– Larger capacity battery
– Ditch the shutter cocking sound (or at least, make it less)
– Better thermal insulation of the innards – i.e. battery compartment, electronics, etc.
– A little more weather sealing
– Dedicated ISO wheel
– Improved, auto-zooming viewfinder capable of handling lenses from at least 24mm thru 135mm (this has been done before with the Contax G1/G2)
– Better handling of parallax corrections
– Multi-zone, TTL exposure metering with spot meter functionality
and, Leica X2:
– APS-C sensor of approx. 16 MP (borrow from Sony?)
– Use same MA mount as above (with additional R-mount adapter)
– New range of auto-focus lenses and zooms (eg. 24-70mm Summicron-MA, 50mm Summilux-MA, etc.)
– Ability to use older M and LTM lenses
– Manual focusing via focus peak feature
– Built in EVF with 1.44 million dots resolution
– Dials for setting shutter speed/ISO speed on body
– MA-mount lens should have Aperture ring on lens (including “A” setting)
– 3.2-inch high resolution LCD
– Contrast-detect AF with possible electronic rangefinder assist to speed it up (active assist via Ultrasonic/IR)
– Large capacity battery
– Video recording capability (at least 720p)
– DNG capture
– Keep the size at or below NEX-7
All of the things I’ve mentioned above are technologically feasible. What it will take is for someone to put it together and launch it. That being said, launch at what price? This is where Leica will have some issues. There are a few factors to consider here:
– Leica is comparatively small volume niche manufacturer. Therefore, they will not have the economies of scale as a Sony, Canon or Nikon. However, they still need to recoup their R&D cost in a reasonable time frame.
– Leica manufacturing is an arduous process by hand in a high labor cost area. That means their overheads are considerably higher than their Japanese counterparts that manufacture in Thailand/Malaysia.
– Brand image – Leica is an upscale brand. Lowering costs significantly may gain them some small market share, but in the long run it will not augur well for their brand image and exclusivity. There is a reason that Leica has difficulty keeping pace with orders even in these times – their brand image!
I think if they can, with current exchange rates, keep the M10 at around $8000 and launch the X2 at $2500-3000, they will have a winner on their hands! I am willing to bet that even with their new factory, they are not going to be able to keep up with the demand.
I wish them well, and hope that somewhere in the next year or two, there’s another Leica in my bag 🙂
This digital evolution will never end. Solution. Just make sure the film for film cameras continues to be available because if the film system vanishes, the digital camera world will be like Ipod and Ipad products that come up with a higher designation each year thus putting consumers in bondage. This is capitalism and money will drive everything.
I think with camera technologies like those in the Fuji Pro and Sony NEX-7 (not including traditional pro-DSLRs like Nikon D3s and Canon 5D) there is little justification for Leica’s expensive “body” pricing. Once you reach point where you’re spending north of 9k for a your kit, you have ask yourself is the money being well spent or is it just vanities sake. Don’t get me wrong as an owner of a M9, I love the camera, but more often than not I find myself going with DSLRs and digital medium formats for my professional work. In those instances I can justify the equipment expenditure. I find myself more and more using micro-four thirds cameras and the NEX-7 for street and casual shooting.
Since the M8 is discontinued, there is an opening in the 2k range for high quality replacement. My recommendation would be to split the M9 family into a lower price point M8 replacement and then a Pro-level M9 super shoot to compete with the Nikon D800’s (in terms of ISO performance, quite honestly I’m not that interested in having a M9 with video).
Currently, I don’t believe any camera company has a buisness model that reflects the needs of our modern world. To me, the iPhone( or any other smart phone) best represents the meaning of a modern camera. Today, I rely less on printing, and more on electronic devices to share my photos. Why can’t (or won’t) a camera that has superior optics & image quality also be a communication device? Think of a X1 or a M9 w/ an iPod Touch as it’s LCD. For me, that’s the direction I’d like to see.
I hope for X2 with Sony 36Mp full frame sensor, LV, EVF.
Actually I would not expect a M10 in 2012 as it would silly to do so. 2012 is the Year of Mirrorless System Cameras and Photokina 2012 will all about those. 2013 will be all about M10 for Leica
Thats why I expect a 1.5 Crop Leica Mirrorless which could use all those R lenses. On top one or two new M lenses ( 50mm Summicron F2 ASPH and 28mm Summilux F1.4ASPH) and some cool S2 stuff.
The M9 is a mirrorless camera 🙂
And Fotokina happens only once in two years…
This highlights the central problem of digital cameras for me. Back in the late Jurassic, you had camera bodies, which metered and had shutters, and lenses and film. You bought into one of the good systems, like Leica, Nikon or Canon and you were pretty much set. If someone came out with a hot new film, you merely popped it into your camera started shooting. You got better and better photos as film technology improved.
Fast-forward to today. Film is gone and digital is king. That’s great, except that now the camera body is also your film. If you want a better digital “film” you’ll need a new sensor and that means replacing the camera body itself. It would be nice if someone invented a digital camera body with a modular sensor assembly that you could pop out whenever a newer, better sensor technology came out. But that’s not likely to happen. It is both wonderful and unfortunate that sensor technology is advancing by leaps and bounds every year. For all its considerable benefits, digital photography can lock you into a permanent, and very expensive, game of catch-up.
FILM IS NOT DEAD!
The best emulsion technology the world has ever seen. Film is the best it’s ever been. Get yer’self an MP and an X-Pro1 for digital and put on your happy face.
Film is dead in the sense that its hold on the camera market is now marginal. You only have to see the decline of high street d&p to appreciate just how much. Even the once mighty Kodak has been brought to its knees through the inevitable march of digital. Film is dead, but not extinct – yet!
Whether or not film is dead is besides the point of my post.
I just like to remind people from time to time that film is a viable option. I even use it professionally.
The Leica M digital cameras are something of an anachronism in this day and age. Preferring to stay loyal to its M film camera fraternity, the cameras have very limited appeal i.e. niche market, and are horrendously expensive, both in body prices and optics. Taken all in, they are in something of a time warp, so I would put my money on an evolutionary product rather than something revolutionary.
For it to be revolutionary, it would need something other than an M. An slr? Nope, as with their film camera reflex models, they couldn’t really compete, despite Leica’s legendary optics. And the market is pretty well sewn up by Canon and Nikon for professional use, and Sony and Pentax for the rest.
Anything other than a new model M of sorts, could do for Leica what did it for Minolta who had a good dslr, but deserted its film camera supporters by not accepting any legacy lenses. Does one really think that Leica, would, at one fell swoop, alienate users of its M glass?
So, my money is on another M, but with sensor cleaner, superior dot lcd, and what about a v/f similar to the Fuji. And what about a manual wind on lever to replace the noisy shutter rewind motor?
Heck, why not go the full hog and come out with a red dot Fuji Pro? How many will recall that the first Leica digital compacts were re-badged Fuji’s?
Leica isn’t expensive, it’s practically FREE!
Seriously though…the bodies are expensive but the lenses certainly retain or appreciate in value if you buy smartly. I’ve had an M9, sold it, then bought again because I realized there is no way to replicate the feeling of a rangefinder camera. I’ve had the Fuji X100 and it is NOTHING like a Leica and neither will the XPro be. I wouldn’t buy a Fuji even if it were 1/2 the cost! All of these cameras can produce great images it is the experience of shooting that is different. If you like focus peaking and looking through an EVF with sparkles then go for it! Personally, I think it is distracting and takes away from the experience.
I think Leica needs to do something fast if they want to keep the pixel peepers and GAS junkies happy. That’s not their market though. The M-cameras are about replicating a style of shooting that has been around for decades, and is completely different than a mirrorless cam or DSLR. They will never be the same, and will never be close. Choose what style is right with you, and stop chasing the latest tech worrying about how may MPs your cam has.
Honestly Steve I’m guessing you are disappointed that your camera isn’t the king of IQ now and is replicated by cameras that are much less expensive. Maybe you should go back to Nikon and chase that D800E? It will have IQ and features that will blow away the Leica and any mirrorless that you may have. Oh, and it’s not that much bigger. Do you like shooting with a rangefinder cam? Maybe Leica isn’t for you after all. Who cares if the M10 comes in at $11k…do you need it right away?
Did you not read what I wrote? I clearly stated I feel the M9 is the king of IQ 🙂 Not in those exact words of course. I love the IQ of the 9 and nothing has beaten it yet IMO. You misunderstand what I am saying though. With the M9, Leica enjoyed a surge of NEW m shooters, those who NEVER EVER shot with an M or even knew what one was. MANY of those people have already sold off the M as it was not for them. Some stayed. The die hards like you and me can not support Leica and we saw that during their dark days when BK was a possibility. With all of the press of the M9 and new buyers, they enjoyed huge profits. If they do not do something special, I feel that they will have a not so good year. Again, just my opinions. Those who tried Leica and then sold it…those are the ones who will flock to the Fuji, OM-D, etc. The Fuji IQ is astounding BTW, and even the Fuji X100 came damn close to the M9 in many ways. So it is real. Basically, short version is that the Leica die hards can not sustain the company for the long haul. They need to continue to bring in new people and they did this very well since the M9. To keep that ,they need something new besides an M9 rehash. Me? I’ll always have an M so no worries there.
Good point Steve and I clearly misunderstood. Truthfully I read your note fast as I’m working at the same time haha!
I understand better now…the diehards won’t be able to sustain the company you are correct. I think they will come out with the next iteration but I see Leica as being more like Apple (or at least how Apple used to be with new releases). Apple products never had the latest tech and certainly their release cycle is much less than other makers. Look at the iphone, it is once every 1 to 1.5 years. Other makes are releasing updates every few months as soon as a new processor is out.
However, Apple has a following that accepts this. I do think if one buys into Leica, they are going to have to accept the release cycle of one every 3-4 years probably, and know that there are going to be cameras that perform much better that are released in the interim.
I found myself lusting after the D800 but quickly realized that it will never be an M-camera. Thanks to this site, I discovered shooting with the M system, and it is like nothing else.
D800e is very tempting, indeed. But I can’t imagine myself with one…
I am new to Leica with an M8 (using CV and Zeiss lenses) and hope they come up with something new so M9 prices come down… lol. Anyway, after using a digital rangefinder I don’t want to use anything else. I have used an X100 and the shooting “experience” is nowhere close to my M8. That being said I agree that fanatics and celebrities can’t save Leica.
IMO they need to come up with something relevant to the masses. They have built the brand so people want in but can’t afford it. If the R&D is already done on the M8/9 then market a cheaper version (modern digital CLE) and they would clean house IMO. It would be a dream to have a new Leica (with warranty) priced about the price of the XPro. The CLE saved the company the first time why not do it again but digital?
The CLE almost sank the company. It cannibalized sales from the M line. Leica will not make that mistake again.
I think you’re right, Steve. People like us can not support Leica. It needs to keep winning new customers in order to stay afloat.
Maybe a conservative M10 refresh that satisfies dedicated Leica users won’t be enough to create the same hype as the M9 did, but I think Leica’s management haven’t been blind to the huge ‘alt’ following the NEX and perhaps to a lesser degree the XP1 and GXR have generated. It’s really in this area of the market Leica need to find new buyers willing to spend a bit of a premium on an EVIL style camera with fewer of the compromises found in the NEX, GXR, etc. And, such a system would provide an upgrade path to the M. I would call it the Z system, for the German word zwischen, which means between. Between P&S/m43 and FF M. If they made it APS-H, or at least a bit larger than APS-C (if they can even procure such sensors) it would be even more of a lure for new buyers. I just hope they don’t go m43 with a non-M interchangeable lens system, because no matter what they do, it will be seen as a Leica rebadged Panasonic…
I’m pretty sure Leica will only introduce a system camera similar to the XPRO-1 with an M mount adapter and new APS-C lenses at Photokina, but not an M10 yet. Simply because they are a “one thing at a time” company. By releasing both, most consumers would go with the system camera, which would hurt sales of the M10. The M10 will most probably follow later… January 2013 (CES) or even Photokina 2014.
For me, as a camera junkie, times are tough. As they are for Steve… 🙂 I pre-ordered the OM-D (the 12mm, 45mm Oly and 25mm Panasonic lenses are already here waiting to be used) and am also thinking of ordering the XPRO-1 with the three dedicated lenses. Do I need these other two cameras? No. I have the M9-P with the best lenses available. But… Do I want them? Oh, yes! Call me crazy…
You are crazy.
– The rich folk to buy its cameras for the collectible value
– The diehards to buy it for its photographic value, but above all
– The newbie that needs to be enticed into the Leica fold with a reasonably priced non-Panasonic real Leica!
Leica is German and so is Porsche.
If the Leica people arn’t stupid they should follow the Porsche people and see what they did with the icon, the 911 model? The new 991 replacing the stunning 997 is what the Leica people should do with the M9-P.
Likewise with the 991, keep the price and add more value to the product, e.g. the display on the back.
My new point & shoot, Richo GR IV´, has 1.250.000 p’s and the M9 has 450.000 as an ordinary Cannon P&S for 300 dollars.
The M9 LCD has 230.000 dots.
I disagree that they need a grand slam this year. It’s been a while since the M9 but there’s still no FF rangefinder that can match it (and neither can the NEX-7).
Since Leica can’t come close to producing lenses at a rate that’s even remotely sustainable yet, I think it would actually harm them to come out with a grand slam now until they can fix that backlog.
2013 on the other hand, I think that’s when they’ll need one.
Leica has a creative mind and creative engineers.
But Leica has nothing to prove, too.
As they’re building the new facility, got a new investor in place, they’re clearly preparing for something big.
But, they’ve proved by not following the market creatively, they win, they won with the X1 initially, they win with the M9 and they win with the S2. No need to change that.
Photokina is an event I believe they’re strongly preparing for – to disappoint the forum people and to astonish their clients.
First I want to thank Leica for continuing production in Portugal, those people need that kind of comittment as they’re going through a tough period of financial crisis and job-destruction right now, to rebuild the country. Thank you Leica for that. They’ve been the production backbone for the past camera generations and have done an excellent job.
Second I do not expect Leica to touch the M9 more than necessary – a new Sensor, CPU and a better display.
Third, I am sure Leica knows that the X1 has surpassed it’s peak and is happy to give room for a new line of cameras. Now that the m4/3 have reached a quality you can get quiet decent results, I bet Leica is planning to offer a expensive “low-end” System of m4/3 bodies with Video, Life-View and EVF instead of a real rangefinder made by Leica above 2500USD. Sensor and Software basics coming from Panasonic, but it’ll be a Leica Hardware, not a Panasonic-copy. It will have the Leica-option to mount M-lenses and the Software will accomodate that.
Fourth, I expect, too the S2 to receive an update to be competitive at the Leica-Level against the most recent Phase One Developments, keeping it high enough, not to fear the cheaper mid-format 645 cameras. Similar to the M9, Sensor + CPU + Software would do it I assume.
I am invested in japanese Quality, as I can’t afford a Leica and as I want to have high-end AF, but admire what Leica’s current Management has achieved and is up to. Promising, at minimum I must say.
This photokina I’ll be there…
Interesting theory and I would guess that you are quite accurate, except, I don’t believe that Leica is interested in mico-4/3rds. They have invested too much in APS-Cs with the X1 and I believe the APS-C will be the foundation for future X1 and other non-M cameras.
For me the ergonomics of a camera are as important as the image quality. Especially when it comes to manual focusing. I am still not sure how Fuji addresses that in their new camera. We shall see. There has to be a very reliable and intuitive manual focus confirmation for a camera to make sense to me, regardless of its IQ potential, great LCD and what not. If I can’t shoot with it the way I am comfortable with then what is the use of its other features? Then, on the other hand, I can easily put up with lack of certain features if I can get my preferred type of experience combined with excellent image quality. The M9 is far from perfect but it suits my purpose. I am positive I’ll be drooling over the next M model (which I am sure will turn out greater than its predecessor) but its price will certainly cool me down and I will go back to my trusty beat up M9.
they dont really need, i think. the m will be top if you can take photos with higher iso noise-free, a little bit faster and less energy use. the s is pretty cool. about the others we don’t need to talk. that are experiments.
For me the greatest 2012 announcement would be that Leica eliminate back order of their products. What good is it to come out with a new camera if two years down the road you wont be able to see it stocked in Amazon or B&H?
What good is an M10 that you can’t get??
I recently decided to get an M9, Noctilux and Summilux 35. One week later I had all of them.Things are changing and their new and much bigger production factory will be complete later this year. I expect the new product announcements to be soon before.
I think it depends where you shop. For Leica gear you’re likely much better served by brick & mortar Leica dealers. Or buy direct. Last week I was at the Munich Leica store and they had a decent selection of lenses available. None of the sexy Luxes, but nonetheless, a good selection, including most of the Crons, Summarits, 28 Elmarit and 24 Elmar. And after the VAT discount, Leica’s EU prices are actually lower than in the USA…
What good is an M10 that you can’t get??
The endless evolution of any technology is just that – endless. Ultimately, the market decides what will be sustained in the market. Photography equipment is no different which is the reason, IMHO, that the the never ending comparison of equipment and costs really serves no point. For those who have a clear understanding of what they want to do in photography, all the constant debates become a “high level noise” and detract from the real reason why we are in photography which is to produce images we envision regardless of the tool. I saw my oncologist last week who is an extremely talented photographer and is the epitome of a leica man. He had a picture on a wall in the clinic that awed me. I asked him which of his Leica S2 lens he used to produced the picture. He said it was taken with an Kodak instamatic 33 years ago.
I think a challenging but plausible home run for Leica could involve an M10 with a 30MP FF sensor (without an AA filter of course) and a very decent ISO 6400 cap with a 2 to 3 stop improvement in noise over the M9, a top shutter speed of 1/8000 and a saphire crystal LCD/OLED at least twice the resolution of the M9, and a much improved buffer. Perhaps some of the viewfinder technology in the M9 Titanium could be pushed further? Price point: $5,900/- Hey this may be just my wish list after all!
Add a 16MP autofocus APSC X2 with a built in EVF, and a new small range of interchangeable AF Leica glass (while I’m at it why not a 35-70mm equiv. vario-summicron F/2.0 kit zoom, 21mm + 90mm equiv. Elmarit F/2.8 and a 50mm equiv. F/1.4 Summilux, all quite compact in size). Price point: 2,499/- with kit zoom? A new system Camera? Hmm….
Of course talk is cheap and dreaming is free!
Hatem, I think your wishlist is all reasonable and even likely to be seen in a forthcoming model…except for the price. Don’t expect an M10 to be any less than $9k….
I think this is a realistic upgrade list. I think 28-30 MP, lower noise at Base ISO (the canons and nikons are nearly non existent noise here) 2 stop increase in high ISO and cleaner noise throughout the range. Better DR. Decent screen. Some sort of refinement of the sensor micro lenses for less moire and colour artefact issues.
For me the priority order would be:
– faster image processing with a much deeper buffer.
– no banding
– 2012 LCD display technology
– 1-2 stop high ISO improvement while maintaining the current sensor’s positive characteristics
– lens corrections not baked into the DNG files (not sure though how LR and other RAW converters would deal with this) and lens corrections that could be applied after the fact
– I’m happy with 18MP, so some increase is OK, but not looking for double
– GXR-like silent electronic shutter option
– quieter shutter
– quieter motor
– dedicated flash sync port
– thinner body
Wow, an LCD with double the resolution. That’s 460.000 dots, I’m not sure that is possible on a Leica 🙂
I forgot to add….that if Fuji ever released a full frame version of the X-Pro1 I feel that would be the death nail to Leica for all but the insanely loyal fanbois.
Well…they’d have to improve their MF, but yeah, I think it would would be the ‘Leica killer’ as well. But I don’t see them putting out a FF, atleast not within the next 5 years or so.
Well I hope so. more MP would be nice but I’m really looking for better image quality. Not to say the M9 doesn’t have amazing quality but I’m sure since 2009 it can be even better. For a while there it was the best option and it should remain that. Leica should be the best option especially when their prices reflect that.
I’ve invested a LOT of money in this brand because I believe it to be the best and i expect/demand them to push the boundaries hard with each new model. It’s a premium brand with premium prices and i really expect them to deliver.
You’re right Paul, premium prices should reflect premium quality. Unfortunately for Leica, the current M9 is premium from a build and handling perspective but the internals (processor, sensor etc) are old and outdated given what is currently available out there.
Yes, I agree. at the time of launch they could get away with it with such outstanding image quality. But my old 2006 12MP 5D’s buffer and shooting capacity wipes the floor with the M9.
I have every faith that Leica will step up to the plate and while the other cameras have certainly caught up in image quality I really trust the M10 will knock it out of the park.
I’m getting closer every day to selling my M8 and using the money to buy a X-Pro1 and 35mm lens. Of course I would keep the M lenses I currently own and buy the M adapter for the X-Pro….
The more I think about it the more I feel it would be the right thing to do….yet I find myself having a hard time giving up my antiquated M8. Funny enough, I paid $2000 for my M8 used 2 years ago and I could easily sell it now for $2200….nothing like having what essentially is a free camera for two years!
I feel like I should ditch it now while it will still fetch me so much money…I have a feeling that when the M10 finally gets released I won’t be able to get anywhere near $2k for my M8.
Don’t do it Clint. If you like the way your M8 works, the XP1 may be nice when it works, but as soon as you need all kind of annoying tricks to focus your M-lenses, you won’t take may pictures with it.
Add the ability to switch viewfinder magnification. When fuji added it with their new camera I was amazed that Lecia never thought of it.
I love to use my Nex C3 with my old Leica Lenses, but it is a special feeling to use the M-System. So I will still use my M6 and save my money for a M9 or a modern version of the cam. For me taking pictures with the special rangefinder-feeling can not compared with any optical viewfinders or diplays.
Hi Steve, I don’t agree with this prediction -“If not, they will be in some big trouble as I predict their M9 sales will eventually slow down to a halt while everyone enjoys the new stuff from Fuji, Sony, and Olympus.”. It is not just about IQ. Owning a M9 and, say, Cron 35/50, is a “way of life”. Something which add to the “quality of your life”. IMHO
You are right but that is for those who are already in that “Leica state of mind” – Many are NOT. Me I am. You, I assume you are as well. It is a way of life for some but they sold many more M9’s to those who could care less about a way of life. Those are the ones they stand to lose.
If I remember well, Leica made the largest profit ever last year. Leica is for Leica lovers. It never was a camera for casual shooters or people who want all the bells & whistles. It was the same in the analog days. Far less people bought a Leica than a Nikon, Fuji or Kodak film camera. I don’t care about the screen and never look at it after having taken photos, so I don’t see why it would have to be improved. I don’t want video either. The M9 is 18MP with a full frame sensor and a true rangefinder… no auto focus, which makes me work harder and think a bit more. These are the cores. The X-Pro1 has less MP with an APS-C sensor. The OM-D is Micro 4/3… tiny. How much better should the next M be than it already is? I can’t think of anything. But, of course, these are just my personal feelings.
“..The OM-D is Micro 4/3… tiny..” ..and that’s how the Leica was born. It was tiny, compared with the glass plate and roll film cameras of its day (1924). The original Leica was, indeed, tiny ..but it – and its tiny format film – took over the world. The Leica one-and-a-half-inch by one-inch film frame became the new standard ..which we continue to call “full frame”. And micro-four-thirds is now doing to “full frame” what Leica’s “full frame” did to roll film. It’s miniaturising it.
“..Leica . . . never was a camera for casual shooters or people who want all the bells & whistles. It was the same in the analog days. Far less people bought a Leica than a Nikon, Fuji or Kodak film camera..” ..that’s true: and because people bought fewer Leica SLRs than other brands such as Nikon, Pentax, Canon, Olympus, Minolta, etc, so the Leica SLR died, and isn’t made any more. Leica couldn’t work out how to make an SLR which wasn’t enormous, heavy and cumbersome, and so – despite having great lenses – the Leica SLR was killed off (..on the same day that the M9 was announced).
If Leica can’t create a worthwhile camera body to match their expertise in sharp wide aperture lenses, then the ‘M’ series will die out, too: the ‘M’ is already way past its sell-by date; it’s just a 1954-designed camera with an electronically-controlled shutter, and (instead of Kodak film inside) a Kodak sensor.
Its viewfinder is ridiculous (put a 50mm, 90mm or 135mm lens on it, and you see the view seen by ..a 28mm lens), its double-flash technology still lags behind the single perfect flash capability of the 1976 Olympus OM2 of 36 years ago.. it is a joke. An expensive, “purist’s” joke. Its saving grace is its lenses. (I shot a set of videos last week with a Leica 50mm f1.4 on a Panasonic GX1 body, and they are the sharpest hi-def video I have ever seen!)
But unless Leica puts variable magnification into that creaking 58-year-old viewfinder, and with variable dioptre viewfinder correction, and a CMOS sensor with focus verification, and better low-light behaviour, and less-crude metering, and really squeezes the most, in terms of electronics, from its partnership with Panasonic, then Leica is just going to fizzle out, like Gandolfi, Rollei, Minolta, Pentacon, Zeiss, Contax, Yashica, Mamiya and Konica before it.
Even “niche” buyers won’t buy a M10 if it offers no greater benefit than a few more pixels beyond an M9.
1924 was Leica’s start date. 1954 marked a complete rethink and update. 2004 brought nothing. If they don’t do something remarkable by 2014 they’re dead.
Thanks for your positive input and great insight about the future of Leica.
Wow. Here is the thing guys: Why is it when someone talks positively about a subject, it is a moral good? Conversely, why is it when someone talks negatively about a subject it is a moral wrong? Both of these positions are false dichotomies. Morality has nothing to do with positive and negative thoughts. Only behavior does. I applaud your long and considered response. Your critique of Leica cameras is justified. People may not agree with you but your critique is justified nonetheless. Your position takes courage. I will consider all that you said when Leica introduces the M10. Perhaps by then, Fuji or some other camera manufacturer will have trumped Leica. For some reason, however, I do not think Leica will sit still. When the Leica X1 came out if filled a very contemporary niche and it required forward thought. I sense that Leica still has those forward thinkers in their company. I will be crossing my fingers.
Leica may have made more profit than ever – but not by selling to users. More Leicas are being bought as fashion items (at far higher prices) than ever before.
Ever noticed that one of Leica’s major shareholders is a global fashion brand? Duuur!
That’s why most people (at least outside of the US) prefer manual transmission on their cars – it’s adds a whole lot to the experience of driving.
I do however wish that Leica would add a better grip on the M9s successor…
Interesting point. The shape of the Leica M body was perfect when it had a film winding lever to hook your thumb on. Without that lever it’s like holding a bar of soap. Several companies are profiting by selling add-on devices to improve the M’s “gripability”.
When film cameras got auto-wind and lost their wind levers, they grew grips to compensate.
I’ve had film Leicas since the 70’s, and love them, but I wouldn’t be offended if Leica changed the shape of the body, just a little, to move into the 21st century. A digital camera doesn’t have a roll of film and a takeup spool inside, so there’s no reason for it to be shaped as though it does.
Interesting comments, I will stay away from all the Huffing and Puffing, just to say that on my M8 and now my M9 I have a small 10cent rubber stopper found at most hardware stores. It goes where the rewind lever sat, it holds my thump perfectly. I love my Leica 🙂
I agree Steve. The next offerings better be special, and honestly the bar is so much lower for leica than others that if they don’t come through they can’t blame anyone but themselves. I am going to sell my M9 very soon and will wait on the sidelines for my digital choice fro a while. If the M10 or whatever comes out with improvements where it’s absolutely necessary (LCD, Cocking noise and ISO at the least) then i will probably go with them again. BUT…. if it is anymore than what it is now…well it will be time fro me to say goodbye. At that point they are just taking the piss. Of course my MP will be with me forever 🙂
I doubt it. Leica not really known for major surprises, more for solid evolution (S2 excepted).
I hope to be surprised though.
Sadly, solid evolution (and the high prices Leica conjures up) are at odds with progress within digital photography as a whole.
The pace of change is far too fast for Leica. Their cameras (though not their lenses) are old tech before they hit the market. No matter how much you pay for quality, there is still the nagging doubt you’ve shelled out good money for ‘outdated’ equipment.
The phrase ‘adapt or die’ seems appropriate ….
If you think that way, then Leica isn’t for you. If you chase the gadgets, features, bells and beeps then you are much better off with Nikon or Canon or whatever.
Somehow companies that have a niche product seem to do well, despite the conventional wisdom. I purchased a few years ago a turntable from Clearaudio, a high end German company. They have turntables that range from $1000 to $150,000. How do they make it when vinyl is so hopefully old tech and outdated!?!?!
Totally agree! You hit the nail on the head. And VINYL Rules!!
“I purchased a few years ago a turntable from Clearaudio, a high end German company. They have turntables that range from $1000 to $150,000. How do they make it when vinyl is so hopefully old tech and outdated!?!?”
The same way most high end, niche manufacturers with mystical, unverifiable properties ascribed to their equipment make it. There are enough suckers born every minute.
Totally agree Dr. Nick – I’m with you all the way.
Of course … Leica bodies and lenses could not possibly work as well as they do if they only cost $1000 or so. All true Leica aficionado know this.
Damn Canon/Nikon /Sony/Fuji etc. for turning out the cheap, inferior, stuff they do …. I’m surprised anyone still buys it!
I’m off to play with my ‘rubbish’ X100 ….
The x100 is rubbish. I’ve owned and sold one. They suck. Sorry
So Leica shouldn’t make …. ‘modern’ digital equipment …. that’s your answer to the problem!
Oh, Cool ….
Just because companies like Clearaudio – and Leica – charge exorbitant prices for old technology, (both German makers note) it does not follow that a turntable (or camera etc.) is worth $150,000.
It is just what a limited group of consumers choose to pay ….
If vinyl is so good, then film is too – but no-one is seriously suggesting Leica carries on cranking out new film models – what is it about using modern technology that makes some Leica fans wet their knickers?
Over seventy years ago, Leica were at the forefront of technology. Whilst others were still fannying around with glass slides and wooden box cameras, they were offering small, beautifully engineered – MODERN – cameras.
Today – Leica is playing continual catch-up, with Panasonic, Kodak, Jenoptik, et al owning/developing the real technology it (occasionally) uses!
‘Modern’ does not mean “… gadgets, features, bells and beeps ….” It means being at the leading edge of technology – how it is implemented is up to Leica.
Maybe you just don’t get it. The core group of Leica M-users want a rangefinder camera not an autofocus DSLR. that was my point about the turntable analogy. People that like vinyl like the experience of the record and the unique sound quality.
Sorry but your x100 isn’t a Leica and is a totally different shooting experience. If my Leica was more like your X100, I would ditch the Leica.
Sorry – I do get exactly where you are coming from – only too well!
A small core group of recidivist Leica owners would like an elderly M3 with digital capabilities tagged onto it. What the vast majority of Leica owners actually want is a 21st century camera with many of the ‘rubbish’ X100 or Nex-7 technologies incorporated along with a bit of Leica quality. Most would like the next Leica to be more like it’s rivals.
(Read the posts in this thread very carefully and the numerous calls for Leica technology to be upped significantly – if you don’t believe me)
The sensible Leica owners (like myself) should stick with their old film models if they want a dose of pure engineering nostalgia – nothing beats my M3 or M2 for soul – but as a picture taking instruments par excellence …. well, they and digital Leicas both have their flaws.
I’m not blinded by brand loyalty – happy to say what’s true.
You don’t like the X100 – fine – go play with what turns you on. I’m not stopping you. Ditto, your $150,000 vinyl technology fetish.
(P.S. If it’s a toss-up between vinyl and MP3, I choose live music over both – that’s where the ‘authenticity’ lies, not in the recording method or medium.)
Let me – and others – use ‘better, newer’ technology if we want. We will survive.
The only regrets I ever have about a camera purchase is when it does not do what I need. Sadly, many Leica owners spend much of their life apologizing for, or excusing, their camera’s shortcomings when faced with superior technology.
I’m not going to be one of them.
I still think about how awesome it would be if someone made a new back for my Nikon F3HP, still my favorite camera. I don’t really need or want autofocus just a digital back that can make me smile like those old plastic yellow slide boxes from kodak. Sure, you’re probably thinking it’s time for gramps to take his tablets but heh, a guy can keep hoping right?
Talk about missing the forest for all the trees! Leica do already make a M7 or a MP why would they change them? they are as good as they need to be!
Shooting a fully manual rangefinder is a pure joy, digital or analog! The same thing like turning your vinyl once in a while! not just sit like a sack of potatoes and getting an endless stream of highly compressed mp3´s in your head.
Quality of life is usually in the smaller things like working with your brain and hands! not having it all served up on a platter!
I would much rather prefer to downgrade my M9p to an M8 then any new DSLR or EVIL camera! its not all about the picture quality, but enjoyment in life!
Nobody is missing the forest for the trees. MP, M7, dozens of M models over the years …. film buffs already have as good as it’s gonna get – but digital is a whole new ball game.
But Leica is not gonna survive making sub-standard digital bodies – users are clearly looking for something new.
I’ve already stated that if I want analogue ‘authenticity’ I’ll use a film M3/M2 …. and/or go and see a LIVE band making REAL analogue music.
Leica fanboys seem to think new technology is utterly incompatible with user experience. To misuse your analogy, they need to get their head OUT of a potato sack, and see what the rest of the digital world is doing.
I’d like to see Leica be more like another German niche luxury brand, Porsche. The 911, like the M is timeless. Yet Porsche continually pushes the envelope to design the most technologically advanced sports cars. A product can retain it’s timelessness and specialness while being at the leading edge of technology.
oops… not M9/X2/S2 but M9/X1/S2.
“..one thing I hope for is that there is still someone at Leica with a creative mind..”
Keep hoping, Steve ..but I don’t think there is. As I wrote long ago, the M9 is a “dinosaur”, the X1 was “silly” (sorry, DJDLV) and Leica have simply lost their way.
Oh; you forgot to mention, by the way, how great Leica lenses are on an APS-C Ricoh GXR with an ‘M’ mount. The camera is made for M lenses. It can shoot silently. I prefer that to a NEX-7.
I am shooting now with the GXR M and I think Ricoh has a wide open opportunity if they were to update their body and had a FF module.
You also made an excellent point that the M module was specifically designed for M lenses. We’ve already read about and seen the problems the NEX7 has with adapting M lenses to their body. I would not be too hopeful in buying the new Fuji to mount my Leica lenses would be any different.
And the Fuji has sucky MF: onscreen dof scale which is not so bad or zoom screen which IS sucky. FF mmount NEX7 like body with thé peaking feature. No color shift with WA please
Perhaps the Fuji MF is ‘sucky’ because they really want you to use Fuji AF lenses?
If I was making it too, I would want to sell MY optics, not Leica’s.
On the other hand, I would gladly take cash off those who thought they had to try – hence a marketable Leica lens adaptor.
This is business thinking – not ” …. lets make a camera for Leica lens users and go bust ….” Which is why Fuji are a successful multi-national conglomerate and Leica are ….. not!
Fuji is so close to having an amazing camera line but there are issues like their lack of a usable manual focus and by all accounts, a lack of a dependable autofocus, really getting in the way.
Leica needs to take aim at the xpro-1,nex 7 and revitalize their middle shelf.
Pretty amazing if you really think that the files from X-Pro1 are equaling those of the M9. I would not believe it, but if you say so I’m sure it is correct, so now I think I’m starting to become more interested in the X-Pro1.
Well keep in mind I do not have one yet but from some of the good samples I have seen I was VERY impressed with everything about the IQ.
The files are great, and RAW support isn’t even out yet. Tested the 35/1.4, it’s super sharp. http://bit.ly/AiQcKr
A few thingsI’d like to see.
An M10 should have a lot of the best components in it, if it’s going to cost north of $6500.
1) The best LCD on the market, not necessarily the biggest. High resolution, bright, accurate
2) Weather sealing, the best weatherealing out there.
3) A top notch battery with a quick charger.
4) A move to CMOS and no AA filter to catch up in the ISO performance. Doesn’t have to be leading the field, but above average would be nice.
5) Don’t mess with the ergonomics
6) Focus confirmation (Is it possible? If so, a lot of folks will buy more lenses above 50mm)
7) Live view (If you dont like it, don’t use it)
That’s just off the top of my head. The biggest thing is, keep it a Leica.
1) Better LCD.
2) Weather seal the body.
3) 24-36MP. 18MP does not exploit the resolution of Leica lenses. Just get the Sony sensor used in the D800 and be done with it.
4) Usable 6400 ISO.
5) Improved reliability. Every M9 owner I know seems to spend half his time waiting for his camera to return from repair in Solms.
6) A price hike is inevitable, this being Leica, but anything north of $7500 for a standard body is too much.
7) A return to real chrome instead of “steel grey” paint.
No more SD card problem!
WEATHERSEALING ! ! !
leave everything else the same but skip the LCD an make the body as thin as possible, i rather have an M10 thats more the size of an M6/M7 then an LCD on the back that i never use
NO hybrid viewfinder ! ! ! ! PLEASE
and please let it look like an M8 no experiments, no metal parts and don’t let any famous industrial designer let their hands on it ^^
Alex nailed it …
I agree to every point on his roster … especially on the weathersealing.
And I would pay € 2.000 to 3.000 more for a digital M without a LCD on the back (a puristic version for photographers …)
Can’t agree with you more. In fact I’d like a MP with a sensor. Same dimensions. Mechanical shutter with an advance lever to cock it to save battery life. And weather sealing. No LCD. Have something under the bottom cover to set date and time etc. for EXIF data. A digital MP.
You are so right! Also, please no electric sensor and other newfangled distractions. Maybe they could come up with something using petroleum or boiling quicksilver. I would pay 4000 or 5000 more if they do not use flash memory cards, but magnetic tape or wax.
Weather sealing won’t happen and would be pointless. Leica lens are all-metal constructions. Adding rubber parts would make them less durable and reduce their lifetime.
As an M9 user I fully agree with Craig and David S. regarding the wishes/specs of a future M10. I also cannot stress enough the tremendous importance of Weathersealing. When I was shooting at the Iguazu Waterfalls (Argentina/Brasil) last November an unexpected small glut of water plashed down on my M9 which caused the camera to go completely dead (moisture at RF, behind LCD, moisture in battery compartment, fortunately the Elmarit 2.8/21mm could withstand the water). After having returned to Europe, I sent the camera to Leica Germany repair centre. Their verdict was that they could not repair the camera anymore (which I still have doubts about). The only proposal they gave me was: Buy a new camera and get a 10% discount in exchange of the damaged M9. I call this typical Leica After Sales service. Of course I did not honor their proposal and now I am a happy Leica Lens shooter with the Ricoh combi (GXR + M Mount). This incident is in-line, I think, with Steve’s excellent write-up about Leica’s imminent challenges to deliver state of the art technology products for a not-excessive price. Otherwise Leica will be outclassed by the competition
You were shooting at a waterfall with a non-weathersealed camera and blame the manufacturer?
I think his gripe is more with buying a product that is double the cost of an equivalent SLR, and obviously super-high margin for the manufacturer, and getting anything less than world-beating customer service. Yes technically it’s his own fault for breaking the camera, but in this situation I’m sure a real (not 10%) discount would have resolved the situation, and created a lifetime fan of the brand.