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07-20-2011, 01:47 AM   #76
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QuoteOriginally posted by Aristophanes Quote
I'm not so sure of that anymore.

Without their philanthropic owner, Leica is effectively bankrupt. They need gross revenues and stable, sales, with some products at lower margins but higher turnover.

They may enter in at lower price points for the over-used "halo" effect. Leica is really the only company in photography for which this is a factor.
I know their financial situation and its really a bit of a catch-22 for leica. if they dip too far into the mainstream consumer market they will lose a lot of their 'niche' appeal. this is bad because with the success (if you can call it that) of the M8 and M9 have brought in a new generation of people who are generally more concerned with simply having a Leica instead of buying the most useful photographic tool. Leica is seen by most today as an expensive niche brand, and in order to survive they need to retain that image as much as possible. their partnership with panasonic is a good one (I LOVE the DLux-5) but I can't see anything Leica develops soley 'in-house' ever being within the reach of most consumers. X-1 anyone? I have nothing against Leica, I will be purchasing a DLux-5 in the coming months and I adore my M3, but the modern Leica image survives on the 'too rich for you' appeal. and in order to survive they need to nurture that for the sake of retaining the common image that Leica=quality. the problem is, that quality comes at a price most can't afford. Leica can't afford to lose that anymore than they can truly afford to retain the high end 'niche' market player.

07-20-2011, 02:46 AM   #77
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Leica is indeed making a lot of money:

- 2010-2011 (1 April 2010 to 31 March 2011) sales: €248.8m; +57% compared to 2009-2010
- 2010-2011 earnings before interest and taxes: €41.5m --> EBIT margin = 16.7%
- 2010-2011 net profit: €36.3m --> net margin = 14.6%.

Source: http://www.corporate.leica-camera.com/assets/file/download.php?filename=cp_file_5827.pdf

No other camera company and very few corporations enjoy reporting such margins.
07-20-2011, 03:40 AM - 1 Like   #78
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I wanted to make the same comment as above.

QuoteOriginally posted by ghelary Quote
according to the lastest info from Leica, their factories are running at full capacity for both bodies and lenses, actualy they are saying that they haven't seen this level of production since the M3.
Recently, Leica is making so much money that within three years, they make enough profit to actually buy Pentax (at the price Ricoh may have paid).

QuoteOriginally posted by séamuis Quote
and such a product will be out of reach to most people who would love to use such a system. just the way Leica likes it.
It's not what Leica likes. After WW2 when the German camera industry lost their patents, that was the only way to survive against the then cheapo Japan competition.

But at their heart, they don't consider themselves a luxory good manufacturer. They consider themselves technophile and perfectionist wanting to deliver good products to photo enthusiasts.

QuoteOriginally posted by ghelary Quote
IMO, Leica is not anymore comparable to any other camera companies. It's a bit like Ferrari for car, people don't buy them as a mean of transportation, it can do it, but that's not the point. They are status objects.
IMHO, Leica is actually more like Porsche, not like Ferrari or Rolls Royce. So, I disagree. After their turn around, Porsche earned so much money that they almost bought Volkswagen and became the biggest automitive corporation worldwide (they aquired some 70% of stock when requiring some 75% to own VW deep pockets; the financial crisis made it though that Volkswagen ended up buying Porsche -- but it doesn't matter because it is the same family anyway).

And Porsche always made cars with acceptable price performance, like the Boxster or Cayenne. A Porsche is a status object, I agree. But not because they are meant to be. Just because they are meant to be technically superior. A bit like Apple for computers. BTW, in Germany, a Porsche isn't a status object in itself. Not more than a BMW M, Audi S or Mercedes SL. But a $100k+ car is a status object. OTOH, you normally get a car which is awesome to drive in return. If you buy it, it is for joy, not for status.

I see Leica going into that same direction: Somewhat expensive cameras but not ridiculously so. Models with EVF and AF to compete with µFT and X100. With more modern production facilities (less hand making) to bring prices down and volume up. They already started doing this because they cannot satisfy the demand even at the current ridiculous level of pricing. This is exactly what Porsche did for their turn around 1993 led by Wiedeking. Personally, I see Leica on the same track now.

OTOH of course, they can make mistakes. But playing right, they may become to cameras what German makers became to cars. At least, I am happy that one German maker survived to this point in time.

QuoteOriginally posted by glanglois Quote
This goes back to an earlier series of posts that I think you and I were involved in, Falk.

If we take this road, we should be looking at a completely different camera design for holding and aiming the camera,
I agree.

Personally, I see a purely mechanical grip (choice of side grip, pistol grip etc.) with embedded EVF looked at from a high eye point ocular. The data (live view, control data and image/movie data after the shot) are transmitted over a short-range wireless connection (as is being developed for flat screens). Some of the data is transmitted to the grip while other is transmitted to a data tank (possibly embedded into one of the grips).

Some may prefer to keep their grips attached permanently while others may prefer to carry less grips than lenses.

The movie "2001" contains a scene with such a camera in use (it contains another scene with an iPad in use -- but that's another story).

QuoteOriginally posted by Aristophanes Quote
Has someone told Leica?
Beautiful video.
But what is the connection to the digital rear cap idea?

Last edited by falconeye; 07-20-2011 at 03:49 AM.
07-20-2011, 04:18 AM   #79
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I just wanted to point out that the appearance of the K1 at the recent blogging event in Japan certainly looks like a hint that a FF model is in the works. And this may be relevant to this thread -- a mirrorless K-mount arguably makes more sense in FF than APS-C. A mirrorless FF at roughly the size of current APS-C SLRs would be a distinctive offering ... and if well executed a very appealing one as well.

07-20-2011, 05:16 AM   #80
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07-20-2011, 05:38 AM   #81
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Nice one Christopher, but please drop the "D"

QuoteOriginally posted by asw66 Quote
I just wanted to point out that the appearance of the K1 at the recent blogging event in Japan certainly looks like a hint that a FF model is in the works. And this may be relevant to this thread -- a mirrorless K-mount arguably makes more sense in FF than APS-C. A mirrorless FF at roughly the size of current APS-C SLRs would be a distinctive offering ... and if well executed a very appealing one as well.
I totally subscribe to this interpretation of an absolutely strange "show of" an old prototype, but newly numbered model...
07-20-2011, 07:14 AM   #82
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QuoteOriginally posted by falconeye Quote
Beautiful video.
But what is the connection to the digital rear cap idea?
What do you hold on to to focus?

The rear lens cap idea is a point and shoot attached to quality optics. Maybe the sensor is bigger.

There are just certain ergonomic aspects that are intrinsic to handheld devices and unavoidable.

There is perhaps too much chatter about the form factor, as if that will be the end-all in development going forward,especially through miniaturization, which has its practical and economic limits.

I actually see classic styled cameras (a la Leica and the Fuji Z100) with wireless transmitting for instant sharing and archiving. We'll mess with the guts, but not so much the externals and ergonomics. A greying population likes bigger buttons, not teeny ones on a touchscreen.
07-20-2011, 08:12 AM   #83
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QuoteOriginally posted by Aristophanes Quote
What do you hold on to to focus?

The rear lens cap idea is a point and shoot attached to quality optics. Maybe the sensor is bigger.
You just need to rethink how you use a camera. I've thought for a while an interesting camera design could be a 4cm long cylinder the diameter of the lens mount (maybe slightly larger). The shutter release would be on top for your index finger. The mode dial on the left side. Perhaps a 4-way controller next to that to navigate the menu's. The rear LCD would have to go bye-bye. So it would have to be an EVF only camera, I don't know how people would feel about that. I personally wouldn't mind, I rarely use the LCD at all on my Panasonic G1; it's simply not a requirement when you have an EVF.

For what it's worth I've never really understood the ergonomic nightmare argument so many people make when talking about large lenses on small cameras. My NEX-3 was perfectly comfortable to use with a Pentax-A 50mm 1.4 + adapter. I just held the lens from the underside with my left hand and used my thumb on the shutter. Worked just fine. Besides, I carry a camera around more then I'm actually taking photos with it. So weight matters to me more than ergonomics. Heck, I spend more time reviewing photos on them then I do in actually shooting mode, so if anything the camera should be comfortable to use for that purpose.

That said, I still want an interchangeable lens Fuji X100, but that's just due to tradition, not because it offers any real advantage from a usability standpoint.

07-20-2011, 08:16 AM   #84
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Comments on Leica:

1) When oil is up, China is hot, and interest rates are low, luxury brands make a killing. When these factors are not in alignment, luxury brands have their very own, self-made liquidity crunches. In particular, they have problems with inventory and price management because their goods are often so durable the consumer takes a buy-and-hold approach to the brand. Leica in particular has suffered from this.

2) Leica is not alone for pro or discretionary $$$ in the photo market. They may have the RF category locked up, but that market is small. The Leica M series as a photojournalist or essayist mainstay among the literati is probably gone as a revenue model necessitating other options for the company. Hence the S2 placed as a medium format shooter competing against Hasselblad and Mamiya/Phase One.

3) Leica is very reliant on external supply now for some critical components, especially the sensor. This has hampered design, quality, and revenues, as with the M8. Leica's products are not all infallible. global supply chains in complex electronics rely on long-term planning horizons for development and sustainable orders.

4) As with Japanese value-laden auto brands moving up in the market (Lexus, etc.) many luxury brands have moved downmarket to ease their boom-and-bust problems by keeping a gross revenue stream across multiple brands, product lines, and/or licensing deals. Clearly this is what Leica has done with first Minolta, and then Panasonic. This does not mean Wal-Mart products, but a top tier mid-range offering. Leica was burned by the "poor man's Leica" RF's of the late 1970's and 80's which killed revenues. Almost any global brand now has to ameliorate those revenue swings both horizontally and vertically to survive.

No company in photography has benefited more than Leica from pixel peeping demonstrating the quality of their optics.

I see Leica offering their brand with APS-C at somewhere near the US$2,000 mark for an ILC kit. It will be the X1 done right. Their main competitor will be Fuji, with maybe Canon looking hard at reviving the Canonet in digital format.
07-20-2011, 08:25 AM   #85
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QuoteOriginally posted by Art Vandelay II Quote
You just need to rethink how you use a camera. I've thought for a while an interesting camera design could be a 4cm long cylinder the diameter of the lens mount (maybe slightly larger). The shutter release would be on top for your index finger. The mode dial on the left side. Perhaps a 4-way controller next to that to navigate the menu's. The rear LCD would have to go bye-bye. So it would have to be an EVF only camera, I don't know how people would feel about that. I personally wouldn't mind, I rarely use the LCD at all on my Panasonic G1; it's simply not a requirement when you have an EVF.
You just describe a classic videocam:



The rear LCD is here to stay. It is simply far too convenient and ingrained in the technical know-how of the consumer. The design tensions between OVF vs. EVF and SLR vs. mirrorless is mirrored in a similar tension between all-LCD control systems vs. tactile controls.

I still say the guts will change far more than the form factor.
07-20-2011, 08:41 AM   #86
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QuoteOriginally posted by Aristophanes Quote
You just describe a classic videocam:
To some degree I suppose, but not exactly (it certainly wouldn't be that bulky). A cylinder shaped camera would only take on that look when using a super telephoto or super zoom. With standard primes or smaller lenses it would be something more like this (sans the tripod mount):



With properly placed controls it would be a perfectly comfortable camera to use I imagine.
07-20-2011, 09:22 AM   #87
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QuoteOriginally posted by Art Vandelay II Quote
With properly placed controls it would be a perfectly comfortable camera to use I imagine.
It's been tried:

Canon Camera Museum | Camera Hall - Film Cameras



‪Canon Photura Commercial‬‏ - YouTube
07-20-2011, 09:35 AM   #88
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Nikon prototypes 2011:

Picture: LCD screen, lens, grip

Related article: New Nikon prototype/concept cameras
07-20-2011, 10:39 AM   #89
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Here's a nice article from DP Now summarizing what us camera nerds have been talking about for, oh, 3 years now:

Camera reviews - Are the days of the SLR camera numbered? - Digital Photography Now

Also a similar post from Digital Camera Info:
Why Compact System Cameras Will Rule The World - DigitalCamerainfo.com

Via: 1001 noisy cameras
07-20-2011, 11:45 AM   #90
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This is the 1968 space odyssey still camera I was mentioning above.

IMHO, cameras will become lens grips with a large choice of viewfinders like the one depicted above. There simply won't be a "form follows functon" constraint and I cannot imagine people will change lenses as soon as sensors become ridiculously cheap. What they will do one day.
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