I got this e-mail from Leica forum:After the good news regarding the LEICA M8 Firmware, not so positive news about the Leica R-system in this newsletter issue: Leica yesterday informed their sales agencies and dealers, that Leica has no more stock of Leica R9 cameras and Leica R Lenses. A new production is not planned either.
-------- Good Morning, Miha, and all...We know there has been no production of R9 cameras for many years and I suspect that there has been no production of R-series lenses for some considerable time, as well.
Before we panic, let's look at the history....When Canon went to AF, they introduced the EOS lens mount, to simplify the lens/camera interface and lower production costs.
Leica have promised an R10 which will accept R series lenses ... though possibly only via an adapter. (We, OTOH, have hoped for full mount compatibility.)
Prior to the DMR being introduced, I understand they had something like 3,000 unsold R9's in the warehouse ... it was the main reason the DMR was developed ... to build a vehicle which would allow them to sell off that stock. So, only about 3,000 DMRs were ever made. When they were gone, they still had some R9s left, because many people bought them to go with existing R8's & R9s. (Me, for example!).
Without the DMR, film camera sales collapsed. It makes sense to sell off the remaining R9s (probably only a few hundred) at fire-sale prices and take the loss. Better for Leica to do it to one seller and let them deal with it, than sell them themselves and suffer the loss of value to the brand.
The lenses are a similar situation... selling off their remaining stock, cheap (taking a tax loss) will allow them to introduce a new R10, based on S2 technology/thinking, with a brand new lens mount. Without having to ensure compatibility with the old mount (though I hope they will) may allow them to build cameras at lower cost, hopefully ensuring their profitability and thus long term viability. This lower cost would be gained by not having to build all the mechanical "bits" into the R10, to actuate the auto diaphragm, etc. An adapter would likely work in Aperture priority (stop-down) metering mode, only.
Put it this way ... if Leica were to introduce a new, Auto-focus, R10 tomorrow, even if it accepted current R-glass without an adapter, sales of new. existing style R lenses would plummet, as people moved to the new AF glass. Better for Leica to clear their stock before such a camera is introduced, when they can still gain some value from their inventory.
While I think all of this does bode well for a future R10, it does not bode well for those of us who may wish to continue using our current R lenses with the new R10, in other than stop-down mode...as we do now, with Canon and Olympus bodies.
I still think the R10 will, eventually, arrive, for I don't think they can survive on the S2 alone. They need a product with a broader (if still small market) appeal. What it will look like, or accept for lenses, I do not pretend to know.
But this apparent change of direction may have been brought about by the recent collapse of the world economy and the need to rationalize production costs, to avoid failure of the firm. After all, at the moment, Leica is pinning their hopes on two cameras ... the M8.2 (a niche market) and the S2, which may have made marvellous economic sense when they committed to it, but now looks to be an untried, very expensive camera which will appeal to a much smaller percentage of professionals than it might have, just 12 months ago.
Interesting times... --- David Young, Logan Lake, CANADA Limited Edition Prints at: www.furnfeather.net Personal Web-site at: www.main.furnfeather.net