Leica T is out, but for who?

Started 8 months ago | Discussions
Zvonimir Tosic
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Understanding the real price of your camera
In reply to Alxy, 8 months ago

To understand the present, you must first understand the past.

Why are Japanese cameras cheaper?

After the WWII, Germany was stripped of all its intellectual property, its industrial and technology patents made void. It was devastating to German companies who have totally lost momentum, and it created a huge bonanza for manufacturers elsewhere (particularly in the US and Japan).

Many of (then) smaller Japanese companies had actually been repair shops before the war, and were familiar with the construction of the cameras, and most had experience fabricating hard to get parts.

The economic boom following shortly after made Japanese into de-facto holders of 95% of world's photography related patents today. Which Leica must pay for through the nose in various forms, of course, being such a small manufacturer from Germany. When buying any component, because of its small purchasing power, Leica pays many times *more* for same parts than some Japanese camera company.

Once your legacy has been given to others for free and to use as they please, it is hard to start anew.

Economy of scale that was the result of economic boom, enabled Japanese to optimise production in ways unimaginable to small players, reduce prices for components and produce hundreds of millions of system cameras. Sensor wise, they now control the world market and license rights and technologies. So from that perspective — pure sensor’s ability to capture image — Leica can give nothing extra. You may say, “it is mediocre”. Or in film terms, "My camera uses same Kodachrome as yours — what's the difference then"?

The difference is in that they are willing to offer choices and quality in other parts they can influence and do not necessarily pay royalties for. However, does it mean own investment must not be amortised? What one does not pay in royalties to others, must pay in own development. But additions and uniqueness is designed to add value. Those are the new lenses, proprietary imaging and UI software, processing, better warranty, better resale value, also special attention to details and materials in construction of the camera. Little things that add up.

Paying a bit more also has a positive psychological effect; it is more likely a person will use and enjoy the equipment in a more considerate and conscious way, take extra care and think of it as a long-term investment.

Being small means living dangerously

Component manufacturers have different price lists for different players with different buying power. For example, Leica was forced to use Kodak, then Aptina as the source of their FF sensors because they cannot get a deal with Sony — too much $ to pay for a premium product and not enough buying power to reduce that cost.

Leica cannot make enough of FF sales to accept such terms and therefore they have invested into the crop sensor mirrorless T Type concept, that will enable them gain more crop sensors buying power in the future, used across a few lines of products. That lowers the cost for new products and enables faster turnaround, to pace itself favourably with sensor tech development.

A real cost of the camera and lenses

When comparing prices directly, you are talking about economy of scale and deliberate loss some companies are willing to take.

To Olympus, camera business is in loss for years. Buy Olympus does not care much, as their primary business is not photography. They use it as an offset research facility for other profitable ventures of theirs.

Remember the $1800 tag for Fujifilm X-Pro1? That was a realistic price for a new camera with some profit component in it. Now Fujifilm sells cameras at the cost price or less and making no profit so it can make some through the lens sales, but which is nullified through distribution and marketing cost. However, in reality, they don’t care: camera business operations is less than 3% of their activities.

Sony's cameras are same trouble for them, but they get profits from the sensor manufacturing business which is blooming. Pentax and Ricoh apparently make some profit in camera and lens sales, but they don’t care either: their camera business is about 1% of Ricoh’s total operations.

Canon makes profits as well, but not as big as few years ago. Luckily, photography is not everything they do, and they have so many patents used across different industries. Nikon is rapidly losing profits, as their only “egg basket” is photography — all other players play some other acts beside photography business. Or, they have eggs in many baskets.

Who is crazy, actually?

So when you compare the prices, and finally (hopefully) understand that in the whole of camera manufacturing industry 80% of players are consciously and actively losing money on it, are selling products that cannot be sold realistically or sustainably at such low prices, that the whole industry is in fact an economic farce — how much makes sense to condemn or ridicule one small company that manufactures and sells by the manufacturing and marketing book rules?

One that says that a company must also pay taxes on profit, taxes that support functioning of the health system, social services, childcares, etc.

When you consider an answer, please tell,

(1) what values are you comparing actually?,

(2) what business model do you really condemn?, and

(3) which business model and attitude is sustainable, and can ensure healthy future development of the traditional camera industry?

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Edward48
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Re: WRONG on the facts
In reply to Gazeomon, 8 months ago

Gazeomon wrote:

Your pompous lecturing style of communicating here is an acquired taste. You feel the need to speak for others as if they are incapable of responding by themselves. You also seem to be in charge of the 'how to speak in this (my own) forum etiquette. You are of those people who rather choke on their own ceremonial pointlessness than making a useful contribution to a discussion. Keep choking.

Gazeomon, you must have the wrong person here because the Kostas I know is a very friendly, open, humorous and honest person who is more than generous with his time here on the forum.

However, to speak to someone for the first time in the manner you have, strikes me as being rather vulgar and pointless in itself.

Regards
Mike

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Toccata47
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For me!
In reply to Alxy, 8 months ago

I get it. People were hoping for an M with a fuji price tag. In that respect, paying $4,000 for a glorified sony nex is outrageous. If that is all one see's when looking at the T, well, I suppose it's easy to understand why the op has 18 "thumbs up" at this point.

No matter how you look at it, the T is terribly expensive and there are tons of cameras that have similar "specs" and costs multiples less.

Why then did I buy it? Well, for one very simple reason.

I use a medium format camera and a d800 all day. These are wonderful cameras that despite modern advances, behave essentially as they have since the 1960's. Certainly today's technology would seem like science fiction to a photographer 50 years ago. But the principles of how you use a camera are largely the same.

For casual day to day stuff, the mf and and dslrs are about as engaging as pouring sand on your bagel. Like everyone else, I've been looking for something that is simple, quick, practical, unobtrusive and engaging to use. I've settled on the ricoh gr and the iPhone.

The gr is imho one of the best cameras ever made and comes really close to what I want from a camera but it only has one lens (and that's where it should stay). The iPhone distills photography down to it's most basic components and just gets out of the way but it's downsides are obvious.

The T filters much of the same technology that the ricoh uses to make excellent photo's through a user experience that works the way I want it to. It's the first camera that does so. And that's why it's for me.

Bottom line-there are any number of cameras out there that will produce a photos as good or better than the T. But that isn't the point.

I jump through hoops to get what I need from my mf and nikon all day. The T is the only camera that is "good enough" that jumps through hoops for me. That's the theory at least.

Alxy wrote:

Leica T is out.

If this camera would be released by any other company you would think somebody went crazy over there. An APS-C camera for 1850$? With 2 native lenses available. First is the zoom 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6. Looks like the cheap zooms that come for almost nothing with most of the interchangeable lens cameras today. The only difference - it will cost 1700$. That's one extra zero. The second lens is 23mm f/2.0 for 1900$, not a super-fast one by any standard, but super-expensive by the most.

Let's take Canon M system for example. They have very similar camera with 2 lenses, when it was first released. Would anybody take this camera seriously at 1850$ for a body and 1700$ for Canon EF-M 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM? I guess not, sounds like a 1st of April joke. But for Leica the price and mediocrity of the T system looks to be Ok.

What makes Leica special in their niche are small full format cameras with small, fast and sharp lenses. Actually the smallest compared to other lenses for full format, the fastest (50mm f/0.95) and the sharpest with highest images quality. The other niche is the the larger-than-full frame S system, which is well regarded as well for the image quality.

Leica T wants to ride the wave of Leica's success without actually offering anything special. It is like a son of a rich and famous guy, who gets along using connections, money any name of his father. It appears to be an average camera put into an expensive metal body and sold for an astronomical price.

In comparison, in the past years all companies have made significant advances in all areas and some new systems have appear with innovative designs - Sony A7/A7r with Carl Zeiss lenses, Fujifilm X with small and fast lenses, M43rd Olympus E-M1 with really small lenses, may be you can think of some other ones.

This new Leica is not for a gear-head or a photographer. It is for a rich person seeking a point-and-shoot style camera, who does not know what to do with the money and wants to have the label to show-off, to get somehow associated with Leica's past success.

The exact list of mediocrity points of Leica T:

Slow in many regards, according to the reviews.

AF is contrast detect only, no PDAF. A must today for new cameras of this segment. Fujifilm X-E2, X-T1, Sony A7, Sony A6000, Canon M2, Nikon 1, Olympus E-M1 have it. Basically each company now has it.

Sensor size - APS-C. Sony A7/A7r are full frame with Carl Zeiss lenses. Some point-and-shoot are APS-C or close. I would also mention Sony R1 here as an example of innovation.

No image stabilization. All other have it in some way - on sensor or in lenses.

Maximum shutter speed is 1/4000. Many have it up to 1/8000

No weather sealing. Fujifilm X-T1, Sony A7/A7r, Olympus E-M1 have it.

LCD does not tilt - all other companies have a camera with a tillable one.

No built-in EVF. Extra 600$ for it. All other companies have a model with EVF built-in.

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Bhima78
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Re: The cost is of course absurd
In reply to tinternaut, 8 months ago

Hard to call a zoom lens that costs almost two grand a kit zoom. I am a bit dismayed that it is as slow as it is for the money. To be fair though, the image quality is impressive, would still like to have seen a 2.8-4 or 2.8 version just for the extra stops.

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DaveOl
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Re: Leica T is out, but for who?
In reply to sigala1, 8 months ago

If you do macro photography with extension rings or bellows, you have to have aperture rings.  Of course, you're probably not doing macro with a Leica.

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amalric
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Re: Leica T is out, but for who?
In reply to Alxy, 8 months ago

Great (negative) review. In fact I think that it will be an enjoyable camera on the haptic side (touchy-feely).

However it will also justify Sony's veiled contention that it is the true successor to the Leica M  with the A7, in terms of performance and size.  Sony has Zeiss lenses, so it's an even match.

Am.

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cmo56
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Re: Leica T is out, but for who?
In reply to tony field, 8 months ago

Tony,

Actually when I mentioned better quality I was referring to optically and mechanichally. I have never had the opportunity to use a Canon F-1 but I had used Canon lenses in other cameras in the 80's And my personal impression when I began to focus (they were all manual focus) was that there was something wrong with Canon lenses since they were not as smooth as it should be. Later I found out that it was my bad, there was nothing wrong with that, I was just spoiled to how focusing should feel.

Since you mentioned, when I say mechanically built, I am not referring to reliability. Canon F-1 and Nikon F2 with their titanium shutters have a stellar reputation. I had lots of repair issues with Leica M's through the decades from burn shutters to adjustments in the rangefinder and diafragm repairs.

But let me ask. How many of the lenses you used with the F-1 you still use today?

I still use almost all my lenses that I used with the M4. There is only one exception: I have a 35mm Summaron that lasted 41 years of usage. The diafragm went so bad that was beyond repair.

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QuakeO
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Re: Understanding the real price of your camera
In reply to Zvonimir Tosic, 8 months ago

Zvonimir Tosic wrote:

After the WWII, Germany was stripped of all its intellectual property, its industrial and technology patents made void. It was devastating to German companies who have totally lost momentum

How terrible.

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Elden Bishop
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Re: Leica T is out, but for who?
In reply to Alxy, 8 months ago

What is wrong with Sony A6000 with Zeiss 24mm f/1.8 and Zeiss 16-70mm f/4.0 zoom? This is already well developed system with a lot of lenses of high quality from Carl Z.

My NEX system has been great and I have been looking to upgrade the lenses. Your suggestion is the de-facto upgrade path on Sony APSC if you want better lenses. But compare the sony setup at 24mm and zoom lengths.

24mm: http://camerasize.com/compact/#551.419,535.85,da,t

Zoom: http://camerasize.com/compact/#551.418,535.393,da,t

Sony has two kinds of APSC lenses at this point. Small and poor quality or huge w/good quality. The pricing within the Sony ecosystem is terrible as well. For a 35mm(eq)+zoom, the a6000+16-70+24mm and the A7 w/kit + 35mm are around the same price. The a6000 is $2,750 and the A7 is $2,800 (current b&h prices).

Basically, if you want excellent lenses the Leica price is roughly double the Sony pricing but substantially more compact. This has genuine value for me and may be what pushes me into this system.

If I knew for certain Leica would build pdaf and image stabilization into the camera on the next generation I would buy this system in a heartbeat.

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Bhima78
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Re: For me!
In reply to Toccata47, 8 months ago

Good post. I'd be with you on this if only Leica could have perfected the AF speed a bit more to match current mirrorless standards set by the EM-1, EM-10 and even the XT-1.

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Samaistuin
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Re: Leica T is out, but for who?
In reply to sigala1, 8 months ago

sigala1 wrote:

Why does a lens need an aperture ring? This isn't the 1960s. The aperture is set electronically by the camera.

Oh, so you never set the aperture by yourself? This camera could suit you, indeed.

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Mauro.B
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Re: Leica T is out, but for who?
In reply to bosjohn21, 8 months ago

bosjohn21 wrote:

I have been reading the autofocus while not the fastest is quite good. and the image quality superlative but time will tell

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John aka bosjohn21

John,

the T is an X Vario inside a new body with interchangeable lenses. More or less same pro's and con's.

And same slow-paced operations. The T I tested yesterday had beta fw, but it was a nightmare to use, particularly when I tried to shoot as fast as possible (2 seconds to switch from lcd to evf, 4 seconds to save file, 6 taps / swipes to change exposure compensation, ...).

If you liked the XV, you will like the T. After I bought the XV, I kept it only for the time it took to find a buyer.

As a platform for M lenses it would be fine, but mf without focus peaking at only 6x is not going to fly.

Best,

M

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Harold66
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Re: WRONG on the facts
In reply to Alxy, 8 months ago

Alxy wrote:

1. AF of Leica T has no PDAF.

2. All new top-end cameras are coming with on-sensor PDAF. To stay competitive it is a must for new cameras, unless the manufacturer has some other killer feature (or features) or a killer-name, like Leica. PDAF allows for faster AF.

Sony: A6000, A7
Canon: M2, 70D, 650D, 700D
Olympus: E-M1
Fujifilm: X-E2, X-T1
Nikon: 1 System

Again, on-sensor PDAF is the new way and all the manufactures make improvements and advancements in this area. Not having it on a new top-of-the-line mirrorless camera is the past, not the future.

Hello again Alxy

Thank you for your reply and giving me further feedback

First , I would like to say something that is related to all Leica camera products and not simply the new T camera

You did give us a  list of  features that the T misses and that , in your opinion, it should have.

I do not know how much experience you have with Leica products but I think it is obvious that Leica when bringing a new product has never( looks  like people here are going to prefer me underlining instead of capitalizing )  a product that is  really on par with the latest products  of say sony or fuji , or olympus   in terms of technical specs

If you look at the different M digital models you can see how long it took for Leica to adopt new digital features which were at the time available on pretty much any other models

As far as PDAF is concerned , My opinion is that it is not very important for a mirorless  camera to have it unless the camera is aimed  action and sports pictures . In my mind the Leica T is clearly not aimed at this market segment

I think  that the Olympus pro EM1  should not really be on that list because the PDAF that you consider so important only activates when one puts a olympus dslr lens on it . with M4/3 lenses it uses contrast AF only

and yet despite that   it is still reputed to have one of the fastest SAF of all mirorless cameras

I think PDAF is really  useful for constant AF and for CAF , all mirorless cameras cannot come close to dslr in terms of focus speed ( except maybe  the Nikon 1 system ?) ( not sure)

Fujifilm X-E2, X-T1, Sony A7, Sony A6000, Canon M2, Nikon 1, Olympus E-M1 have it. Basically each company now has it.

Sensor size - APS-C. Sony A7/A7r are full frame with Carl Zeiss lenses. Some point-and-shoot are APS-C or close. I would also mention Sony R1 here as an example of innovation.

APS is BY FAR with m4/3rds the dominant sensir size in the mirorless market. Mirorless systems in aps size AND SMALLER represent in volume at least 95% of sales. 35mm sensor for mirorless cameras WITH interchangeable market is a NICHE. Market and will remain that way fir years to come. And not to mention that it would make even LESS sense for Leica to go that road considering the M. Lens line- up

If you say that APS-C is dominant sensor size that it is the mediocrity. No contradiction to what I said. Leica did not make anything new in the ares of the sensor size or quality.

35mm sensor in mirrorless is not a niche - it is a new way. Sony created mirrorless full frame cameras less than year ago. This is commendable and bold step forward.

Maybe so but while it may make sense for Sony , It still would not make any sense for  Leica who has  already a full line of 35mm  manual focus lenses . if they were going that  way , pretty soon , you would have people demanding that  Leica makes AF lenses for its M or using those AF lenses on the M

Not to mention that  making HIGH quality  Autofocus lenses of reasonable size and weight for a 35mm sensor is  very difficult and costly > I mean you can design a 50mm  or q 35mm equivalent like this but for wide angle this is quite  a different story

We have to see what happens in 10 years from now. May be other manufactures will come on-board.

There are rumors of Fuji working on FF camera.

Yes and I am sure we will see a few more compacts with a 35mm sensor but the big mass of sales will remain with sensors APS or smaller

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meagre offerings
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Re: Leica T is out, but for who?
In reply to DaveOl, 8 months ago

DaveOl wrote:

If you do macro photography with extension rings or bellows, you have to have aperture rings. Of course, you're probably not doing macro with a Leica.

correct.

best

pc

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Vinylly
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Re: Leica T is out, but for who?
In reply to Alxy, 8 months ago

Yeah but don't forget the red dot.  No other cameras have the red dot..

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Chris59
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Re: Leica T is out, but for who?
In reply to Alxy, 8 months ago

Leica T wants to ride the wave of Leica's success without actually offering anything special. It is like a son of a rich and famous guy, who gets along using connections, money any name of his father. It appears to be an average camera put into an expensive metal body and sold for an astronomical price.

This has been happening for years and years with all Leica cameras.  Without the cache all you have is a very expensive, very mediocre camera.

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tinternaut
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Re: The trick is to remember
In reply to Bhima78, 8 months ago

For everyone else a fast zoom, starting at 2.8, is really 3.5 because 2.8 is mediocre. For Leica, an f3.5-5.6 lens should be superb at 3.5. Is it worth it?  Well the value is in the eye of the beholder.  Leica can argue that the value proposition comes in the size, compared to a similar lens starting at 2.8.  But then again, Leica doesn't need to argue about value. As I wrote, they are their own distinct market; not to mention a rare European manufacturing success story.

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tony field
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Re: Leica T is out, but for who?
In reply to cmo56, 8 months ago

cmo56 wrote:

Tony,

...  But let me ask. How many of the lenses you used with the F-1 you still use today?

I still use almost all my lenses that I used with the M4. There is only one exception: I have a 35mm Summaron that lasted 41 years of usage. The diafragm went so bad that was beyond repair.

If I used a Nikon, I would still be using the lenses ... however, Canon changed from a Breech Lock to bayonet mount for technical reasons and that made the old lenses incompatible with new cameras.   Nikon maintained the F-mount and a few photographers still use the manual focus lenses.

Leica digital M is unique in that it is still a manual focus system and that makes old lenses often usable in the "modern" lenses.

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David Strachan
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Re: Leica T is out, but for who?
In reply to Alxy, 8 months ago

Hummm? I don't remember a camera with plain metal body???

Could be slippery, and very cool in winter.

Can you think of a metal bodied camera with outside left metal only?

Another very weird camera from Leica. Particularly with such a saturated market.

cheers Dave S

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jrethorst
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Re: Leica T is out, but for who?
In reply to Alxy, 8 months ago
No image stabilization. All other have it in some way - on sensor or in lenses.

No built-in EVF. Extra 600$ for it. All other companies have a model with EVF built-in.

Maybe Leica can get away with it. No one else could. I would want both these features.

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