Photokina 2012 - Interview: Jesko von Oeynhausen of Leica

Jesko von Oeynhausen, product manager of Leica's M-series rangefinders, pictured here after an exclusive interview with dpreview in Cologne during the Photokina 2012 trade show. (Photo: Barnaby Britton)

Photokina 2012 is proving a busy show for Leica, with two new M models, the 'M', which succeeds the M9, and offers live view and movie mode, among other refinements, and the ME - a cut-down model, which offers the same functionality as the M9 at a more affordable price. Barnaby Britton caught up with M product manager Jesko von Oeynhausen at the Leica stand.


Jesko, there is a perception among some photographers that the M-series has up to now been a deliberately old-fashioned product line. The new Leica M features live view and movie mode - what has changed since the M9 was released?

The new M is a camera that extends the possibilities of the M system. With live view you can do things that you couldn't do on an M9-P or on any other M camera. The rangefinder is great for photography with wide-angle or standard tele lenses but it is limited to 135mm, so you cannot use large tele lenses, and to get accurate focus takes experience. These limitations are overcome now that we have live view and an electronic viewfinder option. Also zoom lenses are not possible on a classic M model because you're always dependent on the frame lines, but with live view, now you can use zooms, and macro lenses, too.

This is really a revolution for the M system - you can do everything now.

Are these changes that your customers were asking for?

Yes, they were asking for these functions. But at the same time our customers are asking us not to change the essence and keep M as a pure rangefinder system. This is what we have done with the new M - you can do pure rangefinder photography, you don't need to use the live view or video or anything if you don't want to. But if you need it, it's very easy to access. The design of the camera hasn't changed, basically. Only minor things.

How did you achieve the goal of maintaining a traditional purity but adding features?

In the same way as we always do, when making decisions regarding operation - we always want to have everything available directly, and easy to understand, and we added [the new functionality] in an easy way - we just added two buttons: the live view button, which is very simple, on/off, and the movie button. If you don't use [them] everything is like an M9. You have the same buttons, they might look a little different but they have the same functionality, so if you're used to using an M9 you will immediately find what you're looking for.

If there is something that we think is very nice to have for every customer, like focusing with live view, we add a button. We have a dedicated focusing button now, so if you're in live view, you press this button and you can zoom [for accurate manual focus].

The new M features a movie mode - is this something your customers were asking for, too?

Yes, not every customer, but we know that this function will be very attractive amongst some professional and professional users who want to use M lenses for video. This is such a compact solution, you can remain unobtrusive, shooting video with the M, but maintain professional quality. I think the M is the only solution for people who want to use M lenses for shooting video on a full-frame camera. So if you want to film wide-open on a Noctilux, without a crop factor, the M is the solution.

The new Leica M features a 24MP CMOS sensor, live view, and movie mode. The screen has been upgraded to 920k-dots, and you can also attach an EVF to the hotshoe (which can also accommodate a microphone adapter for video) 

Can you explain the nomenclature change, from M8, M9 to 'M'?

We don't want to give our customers the feeling that when the M10 comes out, for instance, that the M9 is suddenly the 'old' model and they have to buy the new one because the old one isn't good enough anymore. We decided that the continuous numbering concept is not the right thing for us in the long term. The Porsche 911 for instance has always been the Porsche 911. The Leica M is a timeless product, and this is what the naming should express.

What are your biggest challenges in the market now, for M?

To produce enough cameras to meet demand! Also, we know that we have two kinds of professional customers [now]. Most of our customers will love the new features, and love live view and video, and everything else that the new M can do, but there are also customers that really want a camera that is reduced to the essentials of rangefinder photography. Maybe they are critical of [features like] live view and video. So we wanted to have a solution for them, which is the ME. It's a great camera, the M9 has proven that it's a great camera.

So the ME is basically an M9?

Technically yes, it's based on the M9, that's no secret, and because we've produced the M9 for three years, all the tools and jigs exist, and they're paid for. So for that reason we can offer the camera at a lower price - 4800 Euros. The only differences are that it does not have a USB socket, and also not the frame line lever on the front. This is the same as the new M.

Why not just sell the M9 at a lower price?

If we had continued the M9 people would have thought 'OK, that's the old camera, I don't want the old one, I want the new one because the new one is the best' but we want to make a statement that there is room for two [new] models. If you're a purist, you can take the ME, and if you're open to new applications, you can have the new M.

Are your customers changing?

Yes, we have observed this, and since the M9 was released we have seen a lot of new customers stepping into the M system. This is the case in every country but especially in Asia, we've reached a lot of new, young customers. The M system is just very popular. You can see that in fashion, for example, too. Last week I was in London, and I found a fashion store that had Leica T-shirts in the window, with old Leicas. Leica cameras are very popular among young people.

These new customers - how do their expectations differ from those of your existing customer base?

It's the new features - they don't understand why any camera wouldn't have live view - they don't see a reason why a camera would omit that function. Older customers know rangefinders and have always been satisfied [by them] and accept the limitations. But new customers find it hard to understand rangefinder photography and what's so popular about it. The M system is more accessible now that we have these features. But I'm also sure that the new customers, once they've learned how to use the rangefinder they will love it and they will appreciate pure rangefinder photography.

So the new customers are excited about the features of the flagship model, but the enthusiast model, the ME, which is more affordable, lacks these features…

Ah, well now you've got me! Maybe we'll get more new customers with the new M than the ME. We cannot offer M at an entry-level price. We want people to understand that the M system is a family. The M, the ME, and the Monochrom. Three parallel models.

Let's talk about the Monochrom quickly. The obvious question is why did you do it?

Why make the Monochrom? Because it just makes sense. In terms of image quality, we always knew that there would be an advantage and we're very pleased that the increase is so easily visible. You really get such crisp images and fine grain and good noise characteristics. People understand that if you have a monochrome sensor you don't need interpolation, the images are more real - more pure. There are real advantages.

 The Leica Monochrom features the same 18MP CCD as the M9/M9-P but without a color filter array, giving 'true' monochrome images.

How many of your customers shoot exclusively in black and white?

I don't have a precise figure of course, but my perception is that a lot of people set their M cameras to black and white.

Could you quickly summarize the difference between converting color images to black and white in this way, and using the Monochrom?

The characteristics of the detail, and the noise. Regarding the noise, it's not just that the Monochrom has a lower level of noise, but if you have a color camera, each noisy pixel is interpolated and blurred, and with the Monochrom this doesn't happen. So you always have the full sharpness. It just looks better.

Older film Leicas have lifespans stretching into the decades - do you think the same is true of the new digital M models? If someone buys an M today, will they still be using it in 60 years time?

I hope so, yes. It's harder than it was with fully mechanical cameras, but this is a unique selling point, I hope, of Leica cameras, that they are an investment, a product that you can have for your lifetime. I don't know how difficult it might be in twenty years to find batteries for these cameras, for example, but we will do everything possible. It's very important for us. For example, we had a problem with M8 displays, that we couldn't repair or replace anymore. In that case, we exchanged those customers' cameras for M9s. Even after the end of the guarantee period, we do not leave you alone if something like that happens.


See also:

Comments

Total comments: 99
adrian_l
By adrian_l (Sep 26, 2012)

It is a real shame that Leica has chosen to retain the use of the CCD sensor with poor high ISO performance and the 230k pixels 2.5" LCD screen for the M-E, especially since they have recognized the need to upgrade those two important specifications in the new M. Since the M-E is essentially the M9, Leica should have simply lowered the price of the M9, bring in the M-E with the improved sensor and LCD screen for the current new M price and introduce the new M with all the bells and whistles (video, live view, etc) as their premium product at a higher price point. They might find that what many of us really want is just "the essence" of rangefinder photography found in the M-E but with the much needed upgrade to current technical specifications.

2 upvotes
xirik
By xirik (10 months ago)

Much sensible comments. In my opinion, people who go for the Leica M system are mainly for the purity of rangerfinder and the outstanding image quality.

0 upvotes
Rage Joe
By Rage Joe (Sep 21, 2012)

The Beautiful Sound of fellow students

I began to kind of hate Leicas already during my photography studies, when some idiot fellow students who hardly did any shooting were going: "listen to the beautiful sound of that leica-shutter".

A little bit of Rage:)

Lets face it, Leica is just for the snobs and the insecure.

3 upvotes
cjhwang
By cjhwang (Sep 23, 2012)

this site needs a "ignore" button for certain people. And again I say, you only have a right to say anything about something if you tried using an actual rangefinder or a digital rangefinder (there are only 2 digital rangefinder makers ever: Leica, and Epson)

3 upvotes
Rage Joe
By Rage Joe (Sep 23, 2012)

Heheeh! And you really think I never shot with a Leica with that, so it seems to be, so precious mechanical rangefinder? Of course I did. And I really didn't like it. I thought it was ancient. I want to see exactly what I am shooting, that means trough the lens, that means depth of field preview. Just some very very basic requirements there.

But what about you? Have you ever shot with MF Hasselblads, Mamiyas and Large format gear? If not, does that mean that you then have shut up about their qualities? Just shut up, that's what you said. Ignore. But I don't think so. You can always observe things even when you can't afford to try them. Hope you can. Observing things around you is the very basics of all photography.

2 upvotes
vr9
By vr9 (Sep 24, 2012)

So, does it mean that CanKon and others are for plebs and secure? Definitely not. There some fan boys of all brands of cameras. Lots of us Leica users progress to Leica via all sorts of cameras and some (like me) do not use anything else now. You cannot denied that this is the best lens and cameras manufacturer bar none. So if you hate Leica so much what you doing on this site – is someone paying you?

1 upvote
Rage Joe
By Rage Joe (Sep 24, 2012)

"You cannot denied that this is the best lens and cameras manufacturer bar none"

Of course you can disagree with that. You asked what am I doing on this site :)? What do you think, just the same as you, sharing my experiences on different cameras with fellow cameramen and reading what others have to say. Now when it comes to quality, what do you think about Hasselblad's new" ultimate luxury mirrorless camera"? Or should I shut up about that too? A real beauty, isn't it.

3 upvotes
Higuel
By Higuel (Sep 24, 2012)

I have to say Rage Joe has some EXTREMELY GOOD POINTS THERE!!!
We could be lead to a a completely different idea with his first post, a bit like the leica lovers spoke against him: with no valid logical arguments!
BUT his second post spoke two EXTREMELY IMPORTANT POINTS THAT HAVE ALWAYS BEEN BAD IN LEICA M!!! We can even see M users going to Fuji PRECISELY because of that!!!

whoever says that SEEING WHAT YOU ARE PHOTOGRAPHING is not important probably should just give away all his equipment and stop saying ANYTHING about REAL Photography!
...
But naturally those trolls who act like they were payed by this OR that camera maker will keep acting like ones without even a SECOND THOUGH!!!

It is really a PITTY! :/
And mostly for them! (but also for those they attack with nonsense and false arguments!)

1 upvote
TheAmsterdamWhale
By TheAmsterdamWhale (4 months ago)

Taking the bait here and providing even a measured and thoughtful response would be against my better judgement.... so here goes! 'Rage Joe' in his comments has used.... actually, hang on a sec., I have to say this; C'mon 'cjhwan', surely something in the author's username "Rage Joe" must've given you pause to consider the likelihood of a reasoned debate should you respond, n'es pas? One can only assume then that this was meant to be a bar brawl from the outset, troll v. trogolodyte. Ah well... carry on lads, carry on....

0 upvotes
thedips
By thedips (Sep 21, 2012)

I love all these comments ! What's really so hard to understand? Are these same people also on Mercedes forums saying why not buy a Hyundai instead? Or showing up at open houses of some beach side mansion saying "hey u know about 10 mins inland from here u can get a home twice the size for half the price" . There is obviously a market for Leica . Would I want one? Yea . Would I buy one ? Prolly not . But what I do agree has been mentioned . If you are going to make it at such a price I would make sure my camera would include as many technological advantages as possible as sees fits. And truly make it feel like what I'm purchasing is not only the best built but equipped.

3 upvotes
Picturenaut
By Picturenaut (Sep 20, 2012)

Leica makes so great cameras but has one problem now in the age of digital photography: the cameras DO age quickly! It's completely different to a film M3 which is in fact timeless (as long as you get film material). So omitting the numbers from the M system won't help them. You can really see it if you just take a recent M9: it's low resolution screen would have been state of the art - in 2005 or so. And its high ISO performance is no fit anymore for recent FF DSLRs.

So I think Leica would have to go for another radical approach, if technically feasable: a wonderful solid M body with an exchangeable sensor/electronics/LCD screen upgrade unit - a sort of Ricoh GXR system but more in the back side of the system, not on the front side....

Then you could keep your beloved Leica for many years with all its patina but technically be up to date. I think if Leica then'd offer this exchangeable upgrade unit for a decent price this'd be really another unique feature of a new digital M system.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 7 minutes after posting
4 upvotes
valtheWU
By valtheWU (Sep 20, 2012)

erm, suppose it was not so lucrative for leica back then:

http://www.dpreview.com/news/2003/6/25/leicadigitalr9

0 upvotes
EJ2012
By EJ2012 (Sep 20, 2012)

Leica has a real problem going forward. The M is case in point. You have the latest M camera release and the most expensive camera in the world in its class and design it with a USB2.0 port not a USB 3.0 and no HDMI port common ! Purest or not in the designin the file transfer in a digital is all important.This is after all a digital camera and the connective should be state of the art at the time of production.Lens aside the camera body is not state of the art. Sensor updates and exchanging capablity is a requirment for a camera of this nature. Connective interface is another area to allow for updated porting configuration. File Transfer speed is a high priority. Certainly the arguement to remove the memory media and transfer directly to a computer for editing purpose is a solution for this issue but not at this price point.

2 upvotes
AbrasiveReducer
By AbrasiveReducer (Sep 24, 2012)

This is a very good observation. There is no difference in the quality of results between a M3 from 1953 vs. an M7, fifty years later. These cameras retained utility and held value because they did not become obsolete (and their owners could spend their money on lenses, instead of this year's body).

For now, digital image quality is evolving so rapidly that nothing we use today will be a match for what you can get 4 years from now. And even expensive digital equipment won't hold value like the best film cameras did.

0 upvotes
shaiw
By shaiw (Sep 20, 2012)

You left out the most obvious question: "Why are your cameras so bloody expensive?"

I am a Mac person, I love high end stuff and enjoy paying top dollar for supreme quality devices. But M prices are just way too much. I just don't see a justification in spending $10-12K on any camera system if its not your profession.

Jesko von Oeynhausen, do you really believe that there's a new generation of young people becoming Leica M system owners? Dono about you, but my kids can forget about getting a $10k allowance for a camera... :)

Leica could have been the Apple of the camera world by taking their M cameras to a realistic high-end price range of $2000-3000. With such price point, their stores would make sense.

Leica, IMO, if you want to grow beyond a boutique shop, its not by designing your cameras to look like colourful toys (just a defocus). It's only gonna happend by re-examining your business model for the new industry and economy that you're in.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 2 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
cjhwang
By cjhwang (Sep 20, 2012)

I would disagree.
1) $2000+ is currently the base for FF sensor cameras
2) these are hand made. Decreasing price would not help because the increase in demand would make these cameras "out of stock" constantly. People who buy them for say $3000 would easily be able to sell them for say $5000 because of the demand.

When the old school Fuji F31d was out, people were going crazy. Even after 1 year, you could sell your used F31d for the same price you bought it.

The fuji X100 was the same. Demand outweighed supply and people were constantly waiting to buy the camera.

Leica's M's have a high "buying in" price... but it's really about supply/demand. Jesko had an interview last year where he specifically mentioned that he keeps the prices high because he wants to maintain the "luxury" of it.

like high-end canon/nikon lenses... quality = they can charge.

3 upvotes
Photoman
By Photoman (Sep 19, 2012)

Coming from selling Leica cameras, Leica diffently do stand by their customers. On two occasions were the local importer would not cover the repairs under warranty, I sent them to Leica to see what they could do. They did a full service on one lens and replaced a M9 sensor free of charge for my customers. Needless to say, that my customers were very happy with their service.

Regarding the "High Price" of a Leica camera. Until you see what goes in to the camera and the dedication by the staff, it is a high quality tool that you use and appreciate for many years. I have access to high end Canon/Nikon cameras, but I always want to use a Leica rangefinder instead. Unless you have used a rangefinder for a while, it makes you think about photography and not just shoot 100's-1000's photos, then pick the best later. A rangefinder makes you work to get that one good frame.

5 upvotes
Francis Carver
By Francis Carver (Sep 20, 2012)

So, sorry, but you sound like a Leica dealer seriously looking for that year-end performance bonus from Mother Leica.

1 upvote
Photoman
By Photoman (Sep 20, 2012)

Get no bonus for selling anything now. Camera companies are too tight. What Leica did for service (with no pushing or jumping up and down), you would need to get consumer affairs or demand with many, many phone calls/emails/letters before any other camera company would do the same. Have seem enough repairs over the years to see other customers treated as a number, where Leica service (not the local importer though) treats you like a client. Service counts in my books.

4 upvotes
Tom_A
By Tom_A (Sep 20, 2012)

Photoman, don't you worry about Francis's comments. In nearly all threads he complains about any price that is more than say $500.

3 upvotes
Photoman
By Photoman (Sep 20, 2012)

I thought Francis was bit of troll. If he has to ask, he can't afford. If you can't afford, why complain. I wonder what they would say (trolls) if I only offered $500 for them to work for a year. Would they complain I'm too cheap?

1 upvote
Tom_A
By Tom_A (Sep 20, 2012)

I expect that that is indeed his salary, considering all his bitter posts about anything above $500.

1 upvote
AbrasiveReducer
By AbrasiveReducer (Sep 19, 2012)

Those of us who worked for Leitz have to marvel that they are still in the camera business (and we do, frequently). They're fortunate that younger people are interested in Leica because the traditional Leica fan would be pushing 80 by now. Have a look at some meetings of the LHSA or the Nikon RF collectors.

3 upvotes
Gesture
By Gesture (Sep 19, 2012)

Standing by the product is important and one of Leica's appeals. I wish you had had time to ask about the X series and possibility of making it for interchangeable lenses.

Comment edited 11 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
cjhwang
By cjhwang (Sep 19, 2012)

I would really like a more LEVEL HEADED complainer. By that I mean, have you shot a rangefinder in film era or in the digital era, either a Leica M# or an Epson R-D1. (and not only for a week but for 6 months+)

If you have, then I'll give you the right to complain all you want, as you will have had time to get used to the rangefinder shooting style and the "fun" factor of being part of the environment you are shooting in.

it also helps if your shooting style is more "street" (aka candid, casual, non-posed)

EDIT: I've shot for about a year in an Epson R-D1s and I regret the day I sold it, and I am constantly waiting for a more affordable digital rangefinder but as I grow older, I might just have to save and buy one and keep it forever ;D

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
5 upvotes
Francis Carver
By Francis Carver (Sep 20, 2012)

Even the absolute cheapest East German, Czechoslovakian, and Soviet made 8mm and 16mm film cameras I used to use "back in the day" had the type of viewfinders you are talking about.

That's because they were dirt cheap knock-offs and therefore did not have reflex TTL viewing capabilities.

What's the great thing about a "rangefinder" camera in the year 2012 AD, I guess I am not getting it? This is no longer the 1950s, you know.

1 upvote
cjhwang
By cjhwang (Sep 20, 2012)

an optical viewfinder does NOT make a "rangefinder" camera. The compact 35mm film camera's "back in the day" were rangefinder-style cameras with none of the mechanically coupled lens and viewfinder focusing square.

and so it continues in this day. Many rangefinder-style cameras (Fuji X100, etc) but they are not mechanically coupled rangefinder cameras, and they date back to the early 1900's.

you just don't really know what a "rangefinder" camera is. That's the problem. You think an optical viewfinder is a rangefinder camera.

There are currently only 2 companies EVER that made DIGITAL Rangefinders: Leica, and Epson/Cosina.

EDIT: and like I said, you thus proven you never actually used a rangefinder camera. So yeah, you don't get it, move on.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
Tom_A
By Tom_A (Sep 20, 2012)

Indeed Mr. Wang, Francis is criticising something he doesn't fully grasp. In such situations it is better to keep silent, and try to learn.

However Having photographed with M series before, and experimented with the X100 and X1Pro, I would say that when having a decent AF, a "real" rangefinder is not necessary. What is still nice about the Fujis is the "direct" view on the scene where you can see a subject coming "into the frame", which is one of the nicer experiences of a RF.
I also wonder if, with a resolution of 24MP, the mechanical rangefinder will be precise enough. If you need to use the magnification to get the best sharpness where you want it, then a hybrid EVF like the Fuji would be better than the pure RF. I am curious how the tests will be in this respect.

3 upvotes
Joe Pineapples
By Joe Pineapples (Sep 20, 2012)

Errm... just about every decent Japanese compact 35mm film camera from Canon, Ricoh, Olympus, Yashica, etc. had a viewfinder that included a coupled rangefinder and brightline frame. So Mr. Wang I'm afraid your statement is quite incorrect, and I think you are the one who has his facts confused...

2 upvotes
cjhwang
By cjhwang (Sep 20, 2012)

In the 40's to 70's or so all manufacturers had rangefinder cameras, but I was mentioning the non-rangefinder CHEAP point-n-shoot film compacts, like the Contax T3 (a gem of a camera, but not a rangefinder) which only had a viewfinder and not a coupled rangefinder. Just to clarify

EDIT: and yeah, I tryed the X100 (not the X1pro yet) and to me it left me wanting... I think there are a small minority that somehow just "clicks" with the old mechanically coupled rangefinder focusing and handling. To me it's more about the "feel" of photographing with a rangefinder than anything else. It is a niche market and priced accordingly.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Rage Joe
By Rage Joe (Sep 20, 2012)

I have found all the mechanical rangefinder cameras pretty unintuitive to use. Don't really like them.

1 upvote
sansbury
By sansbury (Sep 20, 2012)

>the rangefinder shooting style and the "fun" factor of being part of the environment you are shooting in.

I'll call BS, because I've listed to this for 25 years and it's less true today than ever before. Way back when, an M-series was really less obtrusive than a big SLR, and that conferred some advantages in some situations. It didn't hurt that their glass was objectively among the very best, either.

Today, you can shoot a dSLR from the back screen, or get a mirrorless ILC, or a top-end point-and-shoot, or for the ultimate in stealth, a smartphone.

The only thing rangefinder users know that SLR users do not is how to operate a mechanism whose sole purpose can be done faster and more reliably by a computer chip. There is no artistry whatsoever in that.

Here is the question: Take the logo off, would you still pay $8,000 for it? I suspect most FX dSLR owners would say yes about theirs.

1 upvote
Rage Joe
By Rage Joe (Sep 23, 2012)

@ cjhwang. "then I'll give you the right to complain"

Oh, you give the right! ( well, be it so just gave me the right )

1 upvote
RunningTurtle
By RunningTurtle (Sep 19, 2012)

I'm reminded of Austin Powers for some strange reason.

2 upvotes
ChrisHH
By ChrisHH (Sep 20, 2012)

Your comments could come from a three-year old. Maybe you should hide your quite obvious envy a little better.

0 upvotes
Godfrey
By Godfrey (Sep 19, 2012)

Excellent interview.

I worked with Nikon SLRs and Leica RFs side by side for 32 years ('68 to '01). Since 2002, I've wandered through a bunch of systems trying to find a digital camera that did what I really wanted ... let me use a relatively compact rangefinder for most of my work, but allowed me to use a macro lens or a nice, long tele for the rare occasions that I do something which requires them. All during my Nikon-Leica film days, I kept a double system—two sets of lenses and accessories—when I really only wanted a single system, but couldn't use my favorite Nikkors on my M, nor my favorite M-lenses on my Nikons.

Now, finally, the fusion happens. One set of my favorite lenses (M-bayonet and Nikon F mount), one body, RF AND TTL viewing and focusing. AND—omg!—1080p video too; I've always wanted to work wth motion capture too.

What's not to like? Given the confusion reduction this camera represents, it's easily worth the price.

My pre-order is in. :-)

4 upvotes
rfstudio
By rfstudio (Sep 19, 2012)

why is this brand still expensive when the technology is dirt cheap as it is ? what a hype !!!! you got 10 times better quality from 5D mark 3 then leica for a fraction of a price

3 upvotes
JackM
By JackM (Sep 19, 2012)

Economics 101. They cannot keep up with demand.

3 upvotes
harold1968
By harold1968 (Sep 19, 2012)

at base ISO the M9 is sharper then the 5Diii
not to mention that you don't notice with the M9 that you have been carrying it all day!

3 upvotes
rfstudio
By rfstudio (Sep 19, 2012)

still doesnt justify the price

1 upvote
JackM
By JackM (Sep 19, 2012)

Yes, it does, actually.

2 upvotes
cjhwang
By cjhwang (Sep 19, 2012)

Rangefinder (by that I don't mean "rangerfinder-style" or "rangefinder-like" cameras), there's no other competitor (are they still making the Epson R-D1x?). So they can use whatever price they want, because if you want a DIGITAL rangefinder, then the M series it is.

3 upvotes
STIG PALM
By STIG PALM (Sep 23, 2012)

A price is always 'right' as long customers are willing to pay the price and all items are sold. Can we price a feeling?

1 upvote
JackM
By JackM (Sep 19, 2012)

"If we had continued the M9 people would have thought 'OK, that's the old camera, I don't want the old one, I want the new one because the new one is the best'"

Do you really think we're that dumb? I would much rather have a classic M9 for 4800 Euros than this M-E which is deliberately styled to look second class.

4 upvotes
Fazal Majid
By Fazal Majid (Sep 20, 2012)

Frankly getting rid of the useless USB port on the side gives the M-E cleaner lines than the M9. It has the same brass-and-zinc construction as the M9, which is arguably superior to the M's.

0 upvotes
GabrielZ
By GabrielZ (Sep 21, 2012)

FM both the Leica M and M-E have magnesium alloy bodies with brass top and bottom plates I believe. They're equally well constructed.

1 upvote
Telefoto
By Telefoto (Sep 19, 2012)

The fear I'd have about this is live view might turn this super expensive thing into just another battery-draining gadget. Battery-wise, my D3x shoots better than my F4s did with film, it shoots like my FM2n did, as though it isn't even an electronic device at all, that's how many shots you get per charge. But that seems to be because it doesn't shoot movies and live view is basically useless and unused. It's perfect for the kind of deep-in-the-jungle location shooting I prefer. But, make a camera like this M that for most new buyers will probably run in live view 24/7 and it becomes less like that solid metal object of quality Leica is aiming for and more like just another iGadget that, after only a few hours of heavy use, sits in your hotel room plugged into the wall or drives you on an endless quest for an electrical outlet . Check back in 10, or maybe 30, years when battery tech has advanced?

2 upvotes
JackM
By JackM (Sep 19, 2012)

Psst - don't use live view. Problem solved.

3 upvotes
cjhwang
By cjhwang (Sep 19, 2012)

don't even use photo "review" (shoot, look at photo, shoot, look at photo) just turn the screen off and shoot.

0 upvotes
larrytusaz
By larrytusaz (Sep 19, 2012)

I appreciate that they are concerned enough about people who want the traditional basics for photography, and ONLY PHOTOGRAPHY, to make a solution. Live view is fine, it's still about photography (in fact it apparently improves it) but frankly, I would have REALLY liked it for them to have left the YouTube mode off altogether--but you take what you can get. I guess "the market has changed," but I just don't understand why people now expect even a Leica to do video. Gee whiz. I don't expect my stove to freeze my food. If people don't understand what's great about rangefinder photography, here's a novel idea--***don't buy a rangefinder camera to start with***. They still sell Powershots.

Hopefully you can, as I did with my previous Olympus E-PL1 (and have now done with my E-PM1), re-map the red-dot button to a photography-based function. Regardless, I do appreciate that they haven't forgotten we're not all videographers out here.

Comment edited 14 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
didida do da do da do da
By didida do da do da do da (Sep 19, 2012)

Interesting interview! Thanks!

1 upvote
DMF2
By DMF2 (Sep 19, 2012)

I purchased the M9 primarily for two reasons - in order of importance, size and image quality. I'm not a youngster and I found traveling with my other equipment getting a bit tiring. Now with the M9, I can transport it with ease, even with the 7 lenses I take with it. I sell a lot of images that are enlarged a great deal, and I find the quality of the M9 to be very well accepted by my clients. Not as good as my medium format system, but I'm very pleased with the enlargements.

I get it that this camera is expensive and I would never own it if I couldn’t justify it for my business. If the NEX would offer a full frame sensor, I’d be on it in a heartbeat. Right now the Leica M is the best there is for the size.

5 upvotes
JacquesBalthazar
By JacquesBalthazar (Sep 19, 2012)

There is something to explore in this interview: the idea of non-obsolescence. The idea that you buy a M, and whatever happens, in 3, 5 or 10 years time, when they cannot repair it anymore due to unavailability of spares, they offer you the new model of the time as replacement, either for free (if yours is still under guarantee, and very long term guarantee should be an option), or, at most, for the difference between what you paid new and what current model costs. This would be so sensible, as the accountability for not being able to repair the product clearly lies with the supplier rather than with the customer.

To make this explicit and official would go a long way in justifying the price, which, I agree, is unjustifiable in this digital age, where electronic components have very short lifespans, independently of other camera manufacturing conditions. That promise would only hold for the original buyer of course.

6 upvotes
harold1968
By harold1968 (Sep 19, 2012)

one characteristic of Leica is that the guarantees are fully transferable
they must never change that, and its why I stopped buying a number of other brands

3 upvotes
AbrasiveReducer
By AbrasiveReducer (Sep 19, 2012)

In then US in the 1980s we had the "Passport Program" which initially included a lifetime warantee even if the owner dropped the camera. The purpose was to fight gray market but the whole thing just got too expensive.

2 upvotes
zodiacfml
By zodiacfml (Sep 19, 2012)

To me, its only their Monochrom that makes sense including its price. See, many M9 users convert their photos to BW. It makes sense because the M9 color photos doesn't stand a chance to any competition.
Now I understand why they have live view and video, for rich people who can't properly use a rangefinder.

I guess this is a good direction, they're being less stubborn, and hopefully cater to passionate photographers with reasonable prices in the future which surely translate into more lens sales.

0 upvotes
Valentinian
By Valentinian (Sep 19, 2012)

"Now I understand why they have live view and video, for rich people who can't properly use a rangefinder".
Maybe also to be able to use zooms, macro and tele over 135mm. Wish Mr. Britton asked if such new lenses are planned (not that I can afford to buy any of their products - But I used a film Leica, anyway. wonderful)

Comment edited 3 times, last edit 5 minutes after posting
1 upvote
PrebenR
By PrebenR (Sep 19, 2012)

Which competition? Leica's colours are superior to any system apart from Sigma Foveon.

Wish I had the money to get a Leica now. One day I will...

1 upvote
aris14
By aris14 (Sep 19, 2012)

Jesko von Oeynhausen is a nice story teller for people they like such stories...
No more no less, just that!

0 upvotes
FTW
By FTW (Sep 19, 2012)

If I read this interview, Leica includes in their camera now the same stuff that all other brands have to be able to do what all others do. Now, screw this thing down to 2100$, what it is worth, and I will buy one, promise, even if it has no AF. For me there is already too much in it.

1 upvote
onlooker
By onlooker (Sep 19, 2012)

The problem with this thinking is that lowering the price of the body will significantly lower the price of the system. It won't. You will still have to deal with mind-blowingly expensive lenses (however good they may be).

0 upvotes
PrebenR
By PrebenR (Sep 19, 2012)

Why should they make it affordable to you?

1 upvote
stanislaff
By stanislaff (Sep 19, 2012)

They rather should invent something like "digital film", which will fit every Leica. I mean two "film rolls" with a sensor in-between.

1 upvote
Donnie G
By Donnie G (Sep 19, 2012)

Hey, I get it! Rich people need their status symbols too. Although for me the allure of the Leica rangefinder cameras died alongside film. R.I.P.

2 upvotes
jorgemtrevino
By jorgemtrevino (Apr 27, 2013)

Great comment Donnie! I'm the proud owner of 4 film RF Leicas (IIIf, M2, M6 & MP) plus one Bessa, two Retinas and several other RF's. I loved the RF concept vs SLR's because of light weight and fast operation, even compared to AF-SLR's. Then came digital and turned my world upside down. Gone the darkroom. No longer a need to use the uttermost best in lenses, camera processors correct _everything_ and -sadly- printing becomes a dying art. Nobody hangs their prints anymore.

I want one of the new M's (the 240) and can afford it but if I get it it will be only to put my excelent stable of Leica and Voigtländer lenses to good use.

BTW, since a few years ago, my grab camera (as the M2 used to be) has been a Leica lensed Panasonic LX3-5-7. The backbreaking Nikon D700 gathers dust.

0 upvotes
Nikoniano
By Nikoniano (Sep 19, 2012)

Sorry, the cameras are beautiful, but the price is absolutely unreal, considering the quick obsolescence in the hardware today: it is impossible (or stupid?) to pay that much, also for a legend. Toys for rich people.

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
3 upvotes
brudy
By brudy (Sep 19, 2012)

I don't have a Leica (I have an old Epson R-D1 m-ount). But the toys for rich people comment is just stupid. If you like rangefinders and their awesome lenses, they're the only game in town. I wish it were cheaper, but it is what it is. Whether it's worth it to you or not is up to you, but rich people comments get so old.

1 upvote
cjhwang
By cjhwang (Sep 19, 2012)

same here (Epson R-D1!!). I ended up selling it and getting a GF1, which I now regret greatly. I always carried my R-D1 with me and my friends also comment that they enjoyed my R-D1 shots better. it was just a great camera (even with only 6MP). Now I have sold my GF1 (still holding to my Voigt 40mm F1.4 S.C.) and went through many other cameras trying to find that "fun" but I might have to just go to the Leica and get it over it. I know I'm going to love it, and I know I probably won't need anothor "compact" daily camera for a long long long time. I still have my 5D and 1Ds for wedding, just don't want to carry that around with me...

I seriously agree with the Porsche 911 analogy. And in that sense, it could be said that it is a TOY FOR RICH PEOPLE, but the satisfaction you get on shooting a RANGEFINDER is just priceless (I haven't shot a leica mind you, but if anybody would create an M mount rangefinder cheaper... oh wait... they won't)

0 upvotes
Nikoniano
By Nikoniano (Sep 19, 2012)

Fuji make 1/4 price similar product, so they are not the only gamers in town. If you wish it were cheaper maybe you should agree with me: we won't say it's stupid buy 7k of black and white *only* camera? Ok let's say it's good to loose colors, but you can't say me that that man it's not rich.

Comment edited 56 seconds after posting
1 upvote
Nikoniano
By Nikoniano (Sep 19, 2012)

It's difficult to pay that much just for a feeling. Anyway, I think I can find better way in the "ugly" finder of an EOS 5D Mark III spending the other half of the budget on precious L lenses. The images & performance will be good also imho.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
1 upvote
Carbon111
By Carbon111 (Sep 19, 2012)

Wow! Fuji makes a rangefinder? News to me.

0 upvotes
Nikoniano
By Nikoniano (Sep 19, 2012)

X series, you dislike it?

0 upvotes
Nikoniano
By Nikoniano (Sep 19, 2012)

@Carbon, from dpreview:
"..In a way the X-Pro1 has no direct competitors; its optical viewfinder and traditional stills-focused control layout sets it apart from the likes of the Sony NEX-7, and of course it's much less expensive than the camera it physically most resembles, the Leica M9-P, and operates rather differently too..".

1 upvote
Nikoniano
By Nikoniano (Sep 19, 2012)

Obvius if you want a Leica there's no alternative. But there's no need to find excuses, If you like it buy a Leica and enjoy!

0 upvotes
cjhwang
By cjhwang (Sep 20, 2012)

yeah, too many people look at "rangefinder-like" or "rangefinder-style" cameras and think they know what a Leica Digital or Epson RD1 Digital rangefinder is... that's what baffles me about complainers. And too many people saying there are similar cameras that are 1/4 price.

that's like saying why pay for a V12 AMG Mercedes when a V6 Mercedes is 1/4 the cost.

just by going by sensor size, the cheapest FF SLR goes for more than $2000... I think I gotta stop coming to DPReview expecting logical people.

There are $7000 guitars, there are $5000 laptops (there's one sitting right next to me, a Lenovo W530 with 32G ram, 8G on a NVIDIA Quadro, etc) that's used for CAD, there are $5000 camera bodies, whatever... there are people willing to spend that money, I don't cry about it.

0 upvotes
cjhwang
By cjhwang (Sep 20, 2012)

it's not that people want to buy LEICA... as for me, I just want a company to make a digital rangefinder, I don't care if it's LEICA or EPSON, or SAMSUNG. I paid $2000 for a 6MP APS-C Epson RD-1 because I wanted a Rangefinder. But NOBODY else makes a FF Rangefinder, and they don't need to because they are all invested in SLR lenses (Canon/Nikon). Oly/Pana in m43. Fuji in their own. etc.

and it's a niche market, most people just dont understand the appeal of a rangefinder, so the demand is not going to be as much.

0 upvotes
Nikoniano
By Nikoniano (Sep 21, 2012)

Yep I got the concept, It's like a Ferrari, it is a unique item. I just say it's a very high price (and it is). And, like top end guitars, top end laptops and cars and so on these are more like precious toys than instruments (and they are). And these wonderful cameras are for rich people because if you're a poor man no rangefinder (like it or not).

Comment edited 3 times, last edit 2 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Nikoniano
By Nikoniano (Sep 21, 2012)

and by the way, my opinion is that the demand it's low because the cost of the camera, not because the poor appeal of the old-style rangefinders. Few people can afford these cameras. If in a dream the price of a Leica magically low you'll can see if the people don't understand that appeal: you cannot biuld sufficient cameras for the demand.

0 upvotes
xtoph
By xtoph (Sep 19, 2012)

There is a lot we do not know yet about the m10 (we don't have to follow thier silly naming gambit). For example, does it use the same shutter as the m9, or is it a new one? When using live view or evf, does the shutter have to close again first before opening for exposure, and if so what is the impact on shutter lag? Does the shutter sound the same (sealed/new body could affect sound of even the same shutter)? Does the new sensor incorporate an aa filter, or not? Is the sensor genuinely a unique design, or is it a relative of the new sony sensor (okay, fat chance answering that one)? Are the weather seals up to the same standard as the s2, or not quite? Are the led illuminated framelines dim-able?video codec and rate? Oh, sure, i could go on, but the gist of it is: please finish the camera and let us lay with it.

3 upvotes
xtoph
By xtoph (Sep 20, 2012)

"play with it", that should have read. My, how embarrassing... : p

1 upvote
Tape5
By Tape5 (Sep 19, 2012)

Q: These cameras will work in 60 years?

A: Well we may not have the right battery for them.

Can the front man for Leica be this stupid or just good old Leica dishonesty? 60 years? My guess is every kid will have implanted super-res 3D sensors as well as audio recorders with real time sharing and communication capabilities before then.

Cameras made thirty years from now will be in museums by then. Jesters.

6 upvotes
increments
By increments (Sep 19, 2012)

Q: Do you think it's reasonable to sell a £4,000 camera with a 2.5" 230k dot screen in 2012?

4 upvotes
Peter KT Lim
By Peter KT Lim (Sep 19, 2012)

Yes because on this planet some peoples they still believe the little red dot is the best! They don't believe the same amount of money they can buy a much better camera !

2 upvotes
Trevor G
By Trevor G (Sep 19, 2012)

Great to see that Leica, masters of the niche camera, are actually expanding their range and ideas.

Well done!

The new M changes things so much that I actually thought for a moment about the possiblity of getting one. I'm sure others will be equally moved, and more than ever will part with the cash to do it.

4 upvotes
leventhan
By leventhan (Sep 19, 2012)

same here

0 upvotes
Nishi Drew
By Nishi Drew (Sep 19, 2012)

Don't you mean, finally catching up with every other camera's basic features such as live view and video?

Oh but of course, regardless of the nice traditional design (also known as lack of innovation) they have a full frame sensor. The only real goodness Leica has is the fact that they've got a proper sized sensor to take advantage of their wonderful glass.
Leica can play catch up all they want because people are willing to pay over the price range for outdated cameras... sheesh, I thought Canon was bad with the 6D.

1 upvote
EricAotearoa
By EricAotearoa (Sep 19, 2012)

If it ain't broke, don't fix it. The basic design of both rangefinders and SLR's in the form of say the M9 and the likes of the OM1 and 2, and ME are pretty much the pinnacle of camera evolution. Everything is where you need it, shutter speed, aperture, ASA/ISO. All sensibly layed out and easy to hand. Current and recent Digital cameras have far too many features, knobs and buttons that distract and slow down the creative art of photography. In some cases you almost need a degree in computer sciences to get through the maze of features. By the time you've set, or reset the settings the opportunity has gone, or the settings are wrong and the photo's are stuffed. The only reason I went digital 14 years ago (with a Sony Mavica FD-7, and many since) was because I wanted to get away from using animal based film (gelatine.) If it wasn't for that, I'd still be using film, and probably an OM4 or an ME.

3 upvotes
Gesture
By Gesture (Sep 19, 2012)

Yes, many cameras remind of the command module of the space shuttle.

0 upvotes
Mitch Orra
By Mitch Orra (Sep 19, 2012)

Misleading info about M8's display. They cannot be replaced anymore (only three years after the model was discontinued!!!) and the cameras have not been exchanged: the affected customers have been offered discounted M9s.

Just check the 1000+ message threads in the Leica User Forums.

5 upvotes
Edward Karaa
By Edward Karaa (Sep 19, 2012)

Very nice!

0 upvotes
Lea5
By Lea5 (Sep 19, 2012)

Interesting interview, thanks!

0 upvotes
gustabod
By gustabod (Sep 19, 2012)

didn't ask if they thought their cameras are overpriced?

4 upvotes
love_them_all
By love_them_all (Sep 19, 2012)

You already know the answer. It's worth every penny. :)

4 upvotes
Tom_A
By Tom_A (Sep 19, 2012)

He says that their challenge now is to make enough cameras to satisfy demand.
Which from a business point of view means that it is not overpriced...

10 upvotes
FTW
By FTW (Sep 19, 2012)

Well, it is easy. If you have 20000 customers world wide, you just produce 15000 at beginning to see if your customers follow the trend. If you have more demand you produce more. But. imagine we estimate to sell 15000 and suddenly the demand is bigger at issue, then you will have a problem to deliver it right away and you have no choice than set up a waiting list, a thing that makes you lose some of those interested.
Now, I doubt that the demand for this new Leica is that big when I read the comments on all Leica forums about this new "like other's" camera. But can be that Leica will find new customers that seek for a more modern and common camera with video and manual functions. But then, I do not know why to find that at Leica. The only legend in Leica for me is there overdriven prices, lenses included. But, as long as there are suckers that want to pay .......

1 upvote
cgarrard
By cgarrard (Sep 19, 2012)

Well said Tom, and this says something even more than that too. You either get what Leica is about or you don't. You can either afford them or not. I cannot, but I don't sit around finding reasons to criticize them just as I don't criticize Bentley or Lamborghini etc.

3 upvotes
gustabod
By gustabod (Sep 19, 2012)

I'm a former owner of an M8, I guess that gives me some credibility to criticize? I sold it to get a D3s, far better value. Following that logic I didn't get what Leica is about then. As an industrial design piece I loved it, as a means of taking photos I was underwhelmed. As a statement, they will no doubt sell many.

4 upvotes
EricAotearoa
By EricAotearoa (Sep 19, 2012)

Got to remember, these cameras and lens' are made by hand, every step of the way. They are not mass produced the way most others are. It's like comparing a Rolls Royce or Lambergini with a Chrysler PT, a Ford Fairmont, Toyota Corolla or a Suzuki Alto. A Rolls can't be compared to a Corolla, although they both do the same thing. The Corolla is a heck of a lot cheaper, far far more reliable and far more fuel efficient. But if people can afford a Roller, they'll buy one. Quite simple really. Neither Leicas nor Rollers are made for the masses (you and me,) were as Corollas are. Not that I can afford any sort of car these days, what with petrol being over $2.28 Litre ($9 a gallon).

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Imagemaven
By Imagemaven (Sep 24, 2012)

I had an M8 with 1200 shutter actuations and it "died" Leica wanted $900 to repair. They DO NOT support their customers as the interview said. In fact I have had many new leicas and lenses over the years and they lost a customer with this behavior.

0 upvotes
Total comments: 99