That's why Leicas are so expensive

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by Mainecoonmaniac, Sep 5, 2012.

  1. Mainecoonmaniac

    Mainecoonmaniac Subscriber

    Messages:
    3,960
    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2009
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
  2. Felinik

    Felinik Member

    Messages:
    428
    Joined:
    May 13, 2012
    Shooter:
    35mm
  3. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

    Messages:
    3,925
    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2011
    Location:
    Adirondacks
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
  4. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

    Messages:
    6,536
    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2010
    Location:
    Montreal, Canada
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I've had good experiences with Leica equipment, but in general I don't believe in hand made at this point. I'm sorry but given the level of precision possible in computer controlled machining and assembly, hand made is now much more about marketing and snobbery than the actual performance of the product. I have been very disappointed many times with the quality of premium hand made items with big price tags.
     
  5. Mainecoonmaniac

    Mainecoonmaniac Subscriber

    Messages:
    3,960
    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2009
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    You're probably right

    I was in Vietnam this summer and I saw a Canon plant on a bus to the Ku Chi tunnels. The Vietnamese make about $150 per month. I think also, the Japanese are possibly more automated than German manufacturers.
     
  6. Felinik

    Felinik Member

    Messages:
    428
    Joined:
    May 13, 2012
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Sounds about right, I've heard about salaries that are around 20-30 EUR per week, so that is round about the same then.
     
  7. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

    Messages:
    3,925
    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2011
    Location:
    Adirondacks
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Most "premium hand-made products" exist only in the mind of the ad copywriter. The highest quality products are those made using the highest quality techniques - computer controlled machining to save man-hours, coupled with hand assembly and inspection where applicable. Like Leica does it.....
     
  8. PeteZ8

    PeteZ8 Member

    Messages:
    410
    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2008
    Location:
    Newtown, PA
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    This nails it. I've been in the machining industry for ~20 years, and there is just no match for the speed, precision, or consistency of computerized individual component manufacturing. But having said that, there are still some operations that are just too delicate for anything but skilled human hands. It's that extra 5 or 10% that separates an assembled product from a crafted one, and the difference is often quite noticeable.

    Also, and perhaps more importantly, designing products for hand assembly gives engineers much more latitude in design. When designing for automated assembly, or rapid assembly on a line, the same level of fit and finish simply cannot be held, even if the techniques to make the individual parts would support it. Rapid assembly simply does not allow itself the ability for close tolerances, hand fitting, 100% quality control, complex assemblies, or other fine tuning techniques. Concessions must be made in a more "design for manufacture" environment.
     
  9. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

    Messages:
    3,925
    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2011
    Location:
    Adirondacks
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Your're not very far from Lancaster, where the finest quantity-produced watches ever made anywhere, at any time, at any price, were made. Hamilton used automated machinery coupled with hand assembly and selective fitting to produce (among other things) the Hamilton marine chronometer which is regarded by many as the most accurate portable mechanical timekeeper ever made. And it was made under wartime emergency production. 70 years ago.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 5, 2012
  10. Mainecoonmaniac

    Mainecoonmaniac Subscriber

    Messages:
    3,960
    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2009
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Other than the cache´and the mystique of Leica, are the lenses and cameras that much better? I've never shot with a Leica before. Any opinions?
     
  11. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

    Messages:
    6,536
    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2010
    Location:
    Montreal, Canada
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    That is probably true in theory, but if it is true, then both hand assembly standards and buyers' expectations have gone down the tubes in recent years. Because I guarantee you can give me today's best made hand assembled whatever, and I'll find five flaws in about two seconds. 100% quality control, if it ever existed, is a thing of the past.
     
  12. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

    Messages:
    3,925
    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2011
    Location:
    Adirondacks
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I can guarantee that if you look at a handmade Holland & Holland gun (just one example among many) you won't find any flaws no matter how long you look. Quality control is alive, well, and happy. You're just buying crap.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 5, 2012
  13. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

    Messages:
    3,925
    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2011
    Location:
    Adirondacks
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Define "that much better". First, each Leica camera and lens will perform just like every other Leica camera or lens of the same type. Second, you are paying a fair amount of money for that last, elusive 5% or so of performance. If you understand and value what it takes to attain this last little bit of performance - and also value the performance - then yes they are worth it.

    Hasselblad had very similar QC back in the film days, with very similar results.
     
  14. Sponsored Ad
  15. Kvistgaard

    Kvistgaard Member

    Messages:
    283
    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2005
    Location:
    Svendborg, D
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Depends. If you are unable to hold the camera still, or refuse to put it on a tripod, you're no better off using a Leica than any other camera. I shoot with an M6, and results are regularly good, but never good enough to justify the ridiculuous price tag (I bought mine 7 years ago following a small financial windfall, and have been wondering ever since if that was a wise decision).

    Now, there's a great deal of mythology and romantic lore attached to a Leica. Rest assured that all that stuff sits on the outside of the camera - so it is the first thing to be rubbed off as soon as you start using the camera. What you are then left with is a nice little manual camera, very portable, rock solid, and it has that special feel of a 100% mechanical piece - but judging by results alone, it's not worth the premium outlay, in my opinion.
     
  16. PeteZ8

    PeteZ8 Member

    Messages:
    410
    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2008
    Location:
    Newtown, PA
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Will a $10,000 Rolex tell better time than a $10 Timex?

    At the end of the day you're still shooting a 35mm camera which, no matter the quality of the camera or lens, will never be as good in terms of absolute quality as even a mediocre medium format camera. True there are some shooting environments were a camera like a Leica (although not necessarily a Leica) are preferred, but what you are paying for is of far greater value in terms of intrinsic value than absolute photographic value. And if that is worth the extra cost than I suppose it's all worth the money. Is a negative from a Leica going to be $6,000 better than a Nikon? Not even close.
     
  17. Slixtiesix

    Slixtiesix Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,106
    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2006
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    That´s the reason why I prefer Gitzo over the many chinese copies.

    Perfectly true. That is why I never bought a Leica though I have much sympathy for the company.
     
  18. Mainecoonmaniac

    Mainecoonmaniac Subscriber

    Messages:
    3,960
    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2009
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Again. I never shot with a Leica, but I worked for a photographer that used one. I printed his negs on a Focomat and the prints were brutally sharp. Personally, too sharp for me. I'd imagine some like the sharpness and can pay for it.
     
  19. illumiquest

    illumiquest Member

    Messages:
    915
    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2010
    Location:
    Portland Ore
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Leica's have always been expensive but the prices that their lenses are getting these days are just absurd. I'm sorry but 3500$ for a 35mm lens is stupid and means that people (like me) who would actually use the equipment as it was intended (taking pictures other than ones of your cat) can't come close to affording it. I've owned an M2 for five years and love using it but shoot with Nikon or Canon lenses.

    The demand for even the older Leica lenses is now even bigger with a lot of them going to dingbats (idiots) who stick them on the tiny sensor digital cameras and then take pictures (of their cats) and yammer about the lovely bokeh.

    I'm done with my rant now.
     
  20. Mainecoonmaniac

    Mainecoonmaniac Subscriber

    Messages:
    3,960
    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2009
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I guess it comes down to what people want to spend their money on. I'm a value consumer. Aways trying to find the sweet spot between quality and price. Nikon or Canon fits the bill. I'm perfectly happy with a regular coffee for only $1.50 while some don't have a problem dropping $5 for a Vente, Grande vanilla soy latte with a double shot.
     
  21. Dali

    Dali Subscriber

    Messages:
    729
    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2009
    Location:
    Philadelphia
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I fully agree but a cat shot with a Leitz lens is no more a cat, it is a Leicat. :whistling:
     
  22. Felinik

    Felinik Member

    Messages:
    428
    Joined:
    May 13, 2012
    Shooter:
    35mm
  23. Mainecoonmaniac

    Mainecoonmaniac Subscriber

    Messages:
    3,960
    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2009
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Support German craftsman. Buy a Leica!
     
  24. semi-ambivalent

    semi-ambivalent Subscriber

    Messages:
    701
    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2011
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Show yourself out.
     
  25. summicron1

    summicron1 Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,946
    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2010
    Location:
    Ogden, Utah
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I've always looked at it this way: If you grade lenses on a scale of 1-100, with 100 being perfect (by some universally-agreed on measure, not an easy thing to arrive at) then the best computer designed lenses around might be 97 or 98 and the Leica lenses might be 98 or 99 --- or something.

    Or maybe not.

    Leica lenses are like Leica cameras -- made to higher construction tolerances -- they're designed to have a fit and feel that feels good for a very long time, and this also means that they stay the way they were made for a very long time where a cheaper lens mount might work loose, or get out of line, or something.

    Leica lenses may bench test better than others, especially when it comes to keeping elements in line over a long period of time, but then again, even new they may not. Lens criteria may look good on the bench but suck in real life, and Leica has, in the past, said it pursues operational excellence, not necessarily technical perfection. The new family of apo lenses, I dunno.

    Same with the cameras, which were never hand-made to the point of each part in each camera being carved out of steel by some gnome in Wetzlar, but the parts were produced with the best machine equipment available at the time and then hand-fitted to ensure the best fit and feel. This is the expensive difference. Properly made parts that are made to fit and work together right last longer because they wear less and work better with each other.

    Don Goldberg told me that the Leicaflex SL2 was the last of the really old-school SLR Leicas but even it has some shortcuts -- look inside through the lens mount, he said, and notice that there are small phillips-head screws holding things together (which there are.) Those are to make it easier for the lower-paid workers at the sub-assembly plant in Portugal to put the sections of the cameras together before the final assembly in Germany could be done.

    Shortcuts with a Leica? Oh the humanity! But the SL2 is one hell of a sweet machine.
     
  26. darkosaric

    darkosaric Subscriber

    Messages:
    3,118
    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2008
    Location:
    Hamburg, DE
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    For the price of high end digital SLR or some expensive iphone, ipad, or expensive laptop - you can buy used M body + one Leitz lens that will last you a lifetime (or more probably - multiple lifetimes: your, your kids and so on). New Leica stuff is expensive, but used equipment is still excellent and affordable.