[LRflex] Re: Leica R rumours?

  • From: Alex Hurst <corkflor@xxxxxx>
  • To: leicareflex@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Thu, 31 May 2007 12:43:38 +0100

Douglas wrote in part:

>I use almost everything :-)
>M2, M6, M4-2, CL, CLE (not quite Leica) IIIG, SL(several), SL2
>(several), SL2Mot, R5 and R7, when I have time (usually about 3 to 4
>weeks a year).

Jaysus, Douglas, you're as bad as me! Last count was:

LTM: 1926/27 I converted to III,  1932 Standard, IIIa, IIIf.
M: M2 (2), M3, M4-P, M6, CL.
R: SL, SL2 (2), R3 MOT.

All of these get used in regular rotation, apart from the R3, which I 
don't get on with. Anyone want a nice R3 MOT plus slightly 
temperamental winder? Email me off-list - sorry, it's not Friday.

>The basic problem for Leica is their existing customer base - this
>limits the scope of what they can sell at present, and as I have
>mentioned before, is gradually diminishing through age. The demographic
>factor is the death sentence for Leica in its present form. Leica needs
>a new brand image and identity for a market that has not yet been
>confronted with the qualities and charisma of the Leica we all (most of
>us over 50 - and with perhaps. at the most,  20 to 30 years of potential
>Leica purchasing power ahead of us) know and "love".

This is a problem for the LHSA too - there weren't that many 
youngsters at the Wetzlar meet last year.....

>Whether Leica sinks or swims is a matter of brand management and feeding
>the market where it's hungry, not where it's more or less saturated.
>Leica relies on us for a "professional" view of what Leica tradition
>demands and what "conservative" photographers want, what this means when
>you get down to the hard facts is, we are a bunch of relatively
>"ancient" advisors whose opinions are treasured but only as a guideline
>about what NOT to do. Leica's lack of success is based on the fact that
>the market has been limited to people like us.

Not sure that the sage advice of us ancients is not heeded by Solms. 
After all, most of us seem to have also embraced digital in some 
shape or form, so we look forward as well as back. I went the Nikon 
D200 route, and am very happy I did.

Our problem is that we have a significant investment in the past as 
well as the future of Leica. If they fudge the issue of backward lens 
compatibility for a new DSLR, then there's little incentive for us to 
buy a new body. Nikon have addressed this successfully - I can use 
nearly all my MF Nikon glass on the D200 with focus confirmation and 
matrix metering, and do so frequently. I hope Leica can emulate them.

>It would be interesting to see statistics showing the percentage of
>first-time buyers who purchased an M8 - I expect that it tends towards
>zero. This is NOT a sound basis for sustainable success.

It would indeed. I suspect Leica don't know themselves. OTOH, 
received wisdom is that the M8 is still flying off the shelves 
despite its high price, and I can't believe that this is entirely due 
to the old guard upgrading. If it is, then the future for Leica is 
indeed as bleak as Douglas implies.

>It may be hard for some of us, but for Leica it's a matter of survival
>in a predators market.

That's why I hope that a new digital R will not be too little too 
late, as was the case with the 'flexes. R&D is moving at such a pace 
in the DSLR field that it's going to be very difficult to offer a 
product from scratch that is even competitive, let alone a 
market-leader designwise.


Alex & Carmel Hurst
Near Cork

Tel: +353 21 454 3328
Mobile: +353 87 245 7048 (A)
+353 87 988 9927 (C)

email: corkflor@xxxxxx
Home Pages: http://www.iol.ie/~corkflor
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