So no 'real' mirrorless from Leica...

Started May 10, 2012 | Discussions thread
kb2zuz
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My take on Leica
In reply to szlevi, May 14, 2012

Couple things. First, nearly all of Leica's current cameras, except the S2, are mirrorless. Yes the new X2 is not an interchangeable lens mirrorless, but it IS mirrorless (all point-and-shoots are). Secondly they do offer an interchangeable lens mirrorless, the M9. Leica doesn't go for the main stream, they shoot for the niche markets, unfortunately the amount of people who need niche products are small, which raises the price... they keep afloat by using that higher price to their advantage and sell the mystique of a luxury product to wealth people.

I'll give you an example. A relative of mine sells very high end acoustic guitars, many cost as much as $25,000. He has basically said he has 3 types of clients:

  1. The very talented musician who needs a very specific sound from a guitar that accompanies their particular style.

  2. The collector who maybe plays a bit but just likes to collect and/or preserve guitars that they feel have a special intrinsic quality.

  3. Wealthy people (often retiring doctors, lawyers, stock brokers) who want to learn guitar.

Now we'd all hope (and I'm certain he does to some extent) that the first group represent most of the sales, but sadly that's not the case. The latter two groups (and there is some over-lap between the two, someone may start playing but never really become a serious player, but then get into collecting) represent the vast majority of his sales. But you know what, all those collectors and wealthy beginners keep him business so that he can be their for the times when a grammy award winning guitarist needs a guitar with just the perfect action and resonance to fit their new album.

I view Leica as exactly the same. How many camera manufacturers are making a true B&W camera? The new Monochrom M9 is the only one I know. If you want maxiumum sharpness in B&W, you have 2 other options... get a Monochrome PhaseOne back and use a medium format camera, or use the Sigma SD-1 (of course Sigma lenses don't have the same reputation for sharpness as Leica Lenses). How many pocket sized cameras have the same sensor as highly praised the D7000 and K-5? Now are these cameras for everyone? Absolutely not. But there are a handful of serious photographers who would go... "wow, there's a lot I could do if I could have something with the image quality of the D7000 but in a much smaller package" or "I only shoot B&W, why can't it be like when I used to shoot Plus-X?"

I know a guy who sells Leicas and I can't count how many pictures I've seen of him sitting in a Ferrari, Lamborghini, or whatever insanely expensive car a client owns... yes those are a lot of their clients, but there are also a number of serious photographers who need something that the other manufacturers don't offer.

I've actually shot with a couple M series camera over the years M4, M6, M8, M9. I have to say that shooting with the M8 and M9, it was one of the most enjoyable times I've had shooting with a camera. You're in control of everything, the camera is insanely responsive, there's no black-out when you press the shutter, you can shoot with both eyes open so you're more aware of what's going on around you and you feel more connected with the scene. Were my pictures much better? Not really... I'm not that great a journalistic-style photographer to begin with, but it was fun and yes if I won the lotto, I'd probably buy an M9 before I bought a Porche.

I work with Hasselblad cameras on a daily basis. We need a 50MP 4-shot camera to produce uninterpolated images of paintings and objects for a museum. Now I the number of people who need this kind of camera are small. But there are a number of lawyers who want to shoot landscapes. I've been to a couple of Hasselblad events/seminars and run into such people and I've gotten frustrated once or twice when I'm trying to find answers to more complex color management and flat-fielding issues and the technical Q&A session got bogged down in questions about aperture and focal length. I would get frustrated for a bit, but then I realized that without these people, Hasselblad wouldn't be around to sell a rather unique type of camera that is idea for my kind of work.

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~K

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