Leica Fires their Chairman

Discussion in 'Rangefinder Forum' started by Karl K, Feb 22, 2008.

  1. Karl K

    Karl K Subscriber

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    Some hours ago the news agencies announced:

    "Steven K. Lee Dismissed as Chairman
    The Supervisory Board of Leica Camera AG today removed Steven K. Lee as Chairman of the Board of Management of Leica Camera AG with immediate effect.

    At the same time the Supervisory Board appointed Dr. Andreas Kaufmann Chairman of the Board of Management for the period until February 28, 2009."


    I wonder why and what this means for the future of the Company. I thought the M8 was a huge financial success for Leica.
     
  2. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    The M8 was a success? I would have guessed the opposite.

    Anyway, I wish Leica well and I hope this was the right move for them.
     
  3. phaedrus

    phaedrus Member

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    Amateur Photographer's editor-in-chief says on their website that an interview he gave them at PMA has something to do with him being removed. In that interview, he announced they were working on a full-frame successor to the Leica M8.
    Somebody on the board of directors must whistfully think back to the times when Leica announced a new model monumentally changed in the shutter speed wheel or the rewind knob every decade or so ...
     
  4. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    I think Leica's whole M8 / DRF philosophy just splits the baby in two, following the logic of Solomon. One the one hand you make it digital to appeal to modern, technologically inclined and well-endowed youth. On the other hand you stuff all that in a body that you really have to be a professional RF user to appreciate fully.

    Now on the digital side, they're up against VR/IS lenses, cameras that recognize a half dozen faces in a scene and adjust exposure accordingly, take lenses from fisheye to 500mm, imprint GPS info on a frame, shoot nutty fps... and can auto or manually focus... and cost a few grand.

    Meanwhile, on the purist/film side, they're up against medium format rangefinders and other established and beloved 35mm platforms like the MP or M7... or ZI...

    So... they satisfy neither camp by attempting to satisfy both, I fear. In the boardroom, I think Leica drew a Venn diagram uniting the gadget-happy aspects of digital and the purist aspects of a manual-focus RF, and thought that would get them somewhere new in a very fast-moving market.

    See, what they should have done is let purists be purists, and let gadget freaks be gadget freaks... and bring out two bodies. They tried to satisfy two masters with the modul-R and we see how that went.
     
  5. mabman

    mabman Member

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    I don't know - bringing out an M-lens compatible digital doesn't seem like a bad idea to me - a lot of "purists" may want (or think they need) digital, but have a lot invested in lenses, and this way Leica doesn't lose customers for those who go in that direction.

    Mind you, with the crop factor of a smaller-than-full-frame sensor, it's not quite the same (and I think Leica did come out with M8-specific lenses as well).

    However, I occasionally read some of the Leica/rangefinder forums eleswhere, and while many Leica fans seem to like it, a decent number complain about it regularly as well - in particular, apparently the M8 has issues with a magenta cast in pictures - "fixable", of course, digitally, but annoying to many who spent quite a bit for the camera.
     
  6. Pinholemaster

    Pinholemaster Member

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    The M8 is a disaster.

    Made with good intentions, but a disaster.

    I'll stick with my M6 TTLs, and film.
     
  7. Peter De Smidt

    Peter De Smidt Member

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    At work a very experienced photographer bought an M8 as a trip camera. The results were very disappointing, with a very magenta cast in the shadows. The interior photographs in particular looked horrible.
     
  8. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    See, my whole reason for working with MF RFs is the ability to do wide and ultrawide with almost no distortion and fantastically sharp lenses.... at reasonable cost. I use slrs for long stuff. I'd have zero reason to get a DRF with a crop factor. What, so I can shoot longer than 135mm? Big deal, I can do that already. Wide is where the money is, as far as I am concerned.

    This business of forcing people to buy other wider lenses, on top of a very expensive body.... Unfortunately I think I will eventally agree with Walt that the M8 has been a regrettable adventure for Leica. Leica is supposed to mean nothing less than a completely luxurious, no-compromise, high-end photographic experience.

    I think the modul-R would have fared much better if they'd simply looked at the market more closely. I was very close to moving on that system because of the family of lenses and, frankly, there are some times I like to do digital even though 90% of what I like to do is still on film. The way Leica discontinued that system made me very leery of their products in general.
     
  9. donbga

    donbga Member

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    For those of you doubting the quality of the Leica M8 you may wish to read this article by Dick Arentz published in Range Finder magazine.

    http://www.rangefindermag.com/magazine/Jan08/86.pdf

    As it happened I shot an M8 today and it is a terrific camera, so I don't think Leica has mis-stepped here.

    Leicas are expensive instruments, and have always had a limited market due to that expense. But the Leicaphile knows what non Leica users don't; the cameras produce distinctive looking images and the quality of their products are unsurpassed in many ways. Their are no MF range finder cameras, other than the Mamiya 7, that can really hold a candle to the quality that the Leica glass and cameras can produce and this quality extends equally well to the M8.

    IMO, the M8 will be a success, in as much as any Leica RF can be. IOW, not everyone will be wearing them but those that can afford the Leica will find their investment worth while and rewarding.
     
  10. Scott Peters

    Scott Peters Member

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    I have an M4 and M6...recently inherited....so, knowing that I really won't use 35mm film, as I am an ULF B&W user and Medium format color (with some 4x5 chromes too) I looked into the M8 as I have several Leica lenses too. So, I tried the M8 and I didn't care for it. Sorry, it didn't work for my type of photography....and I have leica lenses and I could sell the other bodies and with a little cash own an M8....I found it very cumbersome to use for a digital camera, heavy and slow to use with the manual focus (yes I can hyperfocus).

    What I didn't get was where I would use it, honestly. Sports, action photography - NO. fine art - I will stick with ultra large format B&W or medium format color chromes (I do think the Hassy can run quite nicely with the leica btw...). So street photography with no auto focus? maybe - but not what I shoot. Candids of the kids and family? NO, I'll stick with my autofocus slr digital camera for about 20% of the price (really...$700 vs. $4200 for the Leica body alone - soon to be $5K+). Photographing like DA - not my cup of tea.

    So, I will be selling all my Leica gear. Anyone want an M4 or an M6 with lenses? :smile:. I would like them to go to a working photographer and not a collector btw. I would rather see them used...
     
  11. copake_ham

    copake_ham Inactive

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    If the Chairman did prematurely announce a full-frame "M9" then it's no wonder he's been hung out to dry.

    Leica has had a lot of start-up problems with the M8 (IR problems and overall realiability etc.) but has sold a fair number to it's die-hard consumers. To indicate that these folk, having already purchased a somewhat "dodgy" camera are now going to be abandoned is quite a PR faux pas.

    However, I suspect too, that the M8 is just not selling well (the "problems" don't help) and they aren't recouping the R&D costs, much less turning a profit with it.
     
  12. Uncle Bill

    Uncle Bill Subscriber

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    I think Mr Lee was hung out to dry by prematurely announcing product that may or may not be in the pipeline at Leica and perhaps with the mess with the M8 roll out(I am not speculating).

    I think George has hit on something, the M8 was released before all the bugs were worked and if I am dropping upwards of $6000 CAD on a Digital M body, it better be working perfect out of the box. I don't think Leica customers are keen being the beta testers for new product and paying for the privilege. The other heavy duty digital plaform around this price point is the Nikon D3.

    What Leica should have done is left the M platform for the film purists and built a full frame Digital R platform not to be confused with the digital back adventure.

    From what I gather Leica is privately held so it will be a while before the rationale comes out for Mr. Lee's sudden unplanned career change. Right now we are all speculating.

    Bill
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 23, 2008
  13. Don12x20

    Don12x20 Member

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    At Dick's Master's workshop last summer, I had a chance to critically evaluate Dick's 12x18 contact prints generated from Dick's M8 and WATE lens, compared to previous in-camera ULF negative generated prints. Image quality was superb (I use 12x20 with many different modern lenses including Fine Art 550 and 1100 as a comparision). Dick has abandoned wet chemistry entirely...so there is no side-by-side comparision. Apparently those purchasing his prints see no difference in quality either.

    I also own a Canon 40D with a number of L lenses (fixed and zoom). ("L" is the luxury line - IS and special Glass).

    On the basis of discussions with Dick (with the goal to abandon shlepping huge film, lenses and camera on overseas trips), I recently purchased an M8 with a number of lenses including WATE. The M8 sensor is identical in pixel count with the 40D. In a number of comparision images I made indoors and out, the detail present in the M8 images with its lack of some of the AA screens and IR trap puts the 40D to shame. Frankly the M8 is superb in making large ~12x18 inch digitally-generated negatives, which I cannot say about the 40D. Those magenta/pink issues - not seen. OK, I wasn't photographing black synthetic fabric. IF you have this problem, get the UV/IR filter on the lens. But keep it off if you want a superb IR camera (with proper filter also)....no need to have the body specially adapted by small company (then dedicated ONLY to IR)...

    Have I abandoned 12x20? ...no...I just bought another 15 boxes of 12x20 Tri-X.
    have I abandoned the 40D? ...no...its a great point-and-shoot, plus with the longer lenses 100-400, 400/2.8 and 600/4 its a great wildlife photography platform...something that the M8 is not.

    Will I use the M8 to follow in Dick's footsteps on 12x18 contact printed platinum? ...I don't see any question in this - its a great platform for schlepping overseas.

    so I don't believe the M8 is a mis-step either.
     
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  15. Don12x20

    Don12x20 Member

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    Actually, you will find that the M8 is selling quite well -- its caused a resurgence in lens purchasing. The factory cannot keep up with demand for M lenses and M8 -- the M7 sales have dropped through the floor.

    Based upon the actual press annoucement wording in German, there is something going on that won't be made public. This was immediate dismissal with no nice words about "wanting to spend more time with the family, etc".
     
  16. DanielOB

    DanielOB Member

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    M8 sucess for Leica? Funny. To develop digital monster cost much more than whole inventory Leica own. They, most likely copy Japanese... Nikon had to pull nearly whole design stuff from film camera department into digital cameras to speed up development. It drain Nikon to the last drop, Canon too. They just spend millions on developing a new model, than just like Jack pops something new on market, next week if the are with good fortune, and invalidate the whole development. And Leica to fight with Sony, Nikon, Canon, Nokia, Motorola, and other part of the bend? Stupid Leica. As I stated many times more, present generation of engineers and other stuff in Leica worth nothing. They cannot find their own way. Some other companies revolving around art are 500 years in business and still make what they did when they are just formed. Strange to Leica, they are and today well.
    I personally think Leica is shaking legs.
     
  17. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    The word on RFF is that 14000 M8 units have sold. Even if one assumes 100% profit from sales at $5k/unit, I don't see how that pays for getting a new digital model off the ground, including the sensor research and setting up production.

    I sincerely hope that this wasn't the death of Leica that we just witnessed.
     
  18. donbga

    donbga Member

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    Read what Bill Pierce has to say about Leica and the M8 - insightful.

    http://digitaljournalist.org/issue0803/nuts-and-bolts.html
     
  19. Metroman

    Metroman Member

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  20. Removed Account

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    I'm not sure what the problem with the Modul-R was, but I remember when I read about it that I thought it was bloody brilliant. If it worked properly in both film and digital modes, and I could afford one, I would buy it in a heartbeat. Ditto for the M8. I've often mentioned to my coworkers selling dSLRs that I would happily buy a digicam with manual focus, buttons or dials for shutter speed, aperture, white balance and ISO, and menus restricted to functions not essential for shooting, especially if it could share lenses with a film cam. An SLR and/or rangefinder that could handle film and digital, without the incredible cost of an MF back would be terrific, if I could afford it.

    - Justin
     
  21. okto

    okto Member

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    I can't understand the draw of a digital M body at all. If you shoot Leica, you clearly aren't a slave to speed and instant gratification, so what on earth would you want digital for?
    Why not get a Digilux for quick digital output and spend the thousands you save on another lens?
     
  22. Mick Fagan

    Mick Fagan Subscriber

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    Metroman, the Q&A with Andreas Kaufmann was very interesting.

    I didn't know that the company was (or appears to be) controlled by a single major shareholder.

    I like his reply to one question where he states that he comes from a long line of entrepreneurs, with a name like Kaufmann that would be a certainty.

    Kauf in German means to sell or purchase and mann is man, so his family name means he is a salesman, more or less.

    Mick.
     
  23. Mark Layne

    Mark Layne Member

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    As a member of LHSA I can offer this much information. Leica is returning to new premises in Leitz Park back in Wetzlar. Both are owned by the Kaufman family.
    The M8 is successful. A friend of mine who has used the 'other' popular family of digital cameras for years tells me that his M8 outperforms them.
    Mark
     
  24. Mark Layne

    Mark Layne Member

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    The M8 will be factory upgradeable.
    Sensors are supplied by Kodak
    Mark
     
  25. donbga

    donbga Member

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  26. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    Don, regarding that review and the comments on sharpness, this is a simple issue, the M8 has no lowpass filter. Now, I really don't like the idea of letting some canned software do moire removal for me, that should be something one can do externally using a raw camera file. You can inexpensively take the AA filter off a 5D and it will give you more sharpness, and you can also take the raw file and do moire reduction if necessary. Best of both worlds.

    Also, having to use an external hot (and maybe also cold) mirror on the M8 is an immediate disqualifier for me. Especially using premium wide and fast lenses, that is a very bitter pill. It is inexplicable to me that some who know better can't admit that this is a big deal for people who shoot wide angles and/or fast lenses.

    Frankly I think Leica pulled a hoodwink here: if Leica had said upfront that people would sometimes have to put a hot mirror over their prized lenses, how many cameras would have sold? Fewer, far fewer. They knew very well that the camera had major issues, but pushed it to market prematurely. I suspect that this is why their Chairman was fired. Now after all these insults to the intelligence of RFers, Leica has a dodgy upgrade program and they are trying to sell sapphire covers at high cost... What can I say that isn't obvious.

    Anyway enough discussion of digital problems, let the digital sites deal with this stuff. I just hated to see digital pull Leica down.