The Epson RD-1 is a digital rangefinder (same chassis as the CV Bessa R2A) that mounts Leica M lenses and LTM lenses with the standard adapter. It's not selling in great numbers because of price per megapixel, but it gets excellent reviews.
Originally Posted by imageWIS
People who want to shoot Leica R glass on digitals are buying Canon DSLRs and mounting their R lenses with an R to EOS adapter.
So there are already paths to shooting any extant Leica mount rangefinder lenses, both thread and bayonet mount, and Leica R glass on digital bodies, all manual focus of course. As a long-term Leica R shooter who has also sold them at a couple of shops, I don't see AF as the necessary path to saving Leica or the R system. The Leica shooters who want the kind of speed that an AF camera provides are shooting M bodies with focus tabbed lenses, and rough focus before they bring the camera up to the eye, then snap in the fine focus with the RF and shoot. Or they've already pre-focused where they want to be in anticipation of the shot.
Another reason I don't see Leica R lenses in AF happening is that there is a core user base that won't want the lighter lenses, and won't trust the AF electronics that Leica might produce (at least in the first generation). That means that retaining the current user base and getting a significant new AF user base requires production of two parallel lines of R lenses and extra expense for the bodies that do AF. I can't see how that would improve the bottom line with Leica's low volume and production methods.
If I were an investor, and Leica approached me with a business plan that included taking Canon, Nikon, etc. head on with an AF SLR, I'd stay far, far away. It's not their comparative advantage.
Last edited by Lee L; 10-18-2005 at 07:50 PM. Click to view previous post history.
To back up Lee's comments, Zeiss claimed that their AF lenses for the Contax 645 were constructed to meet their standards for AF precision. This may be why the lenses are so heavy and the camera should be nuclear powered. I usually get about 10 rolls of 120 film through the camera in AF mode before replacing the 2CR5 battery. I also don't agree with their assessment of the autofocus precision. For this reason I use the optional microprism focus screen and touch up focus manually whenever conditions permit.
Originally Posted by Lee L
Last summer I shot 9 rolls of 36 exposure film a local fire department "wetdown" of a new truck. Lots of action and lots of water in the air. I shot 1 roll with a Canon 7NE with 135 f2 lens, 2 rolls with an M6TTL with a 35mm and 6 rolls with a Leica R8 with 80mm f1.4. All were shot at about f5.6. Every shot with the rangefinder was in focus, only 4 exposures of the 6 rolls were out of focus with the manually focused R8 and 6 exposures were not well focused on the single roll from the Canon, and I believe the 135 f2, with internal focus, to be an exemplary autofocus performer. And yes, I understand that lens focal length plays a role here, but still...
Cars, cameras, all that jazz...
Your Jaguar is one of three things - an antique, too new to be an antique and too old to be QA/QC'd by Ford, and therefore, panel fit is the last of your worries, or it is newer and not by any stretch hand built. What gave you the impression that a upper-mid level luxury vehicle like a Jaguar is hand built in 2005?! Unless you have an XK120 or an E-Type - you are likely looking at a couple of quarter panels made by hand, on an English wheel - and guess what: machine assembled. By the way, that last craftsman in the auto industry "retired" when Ford took control of Jaguar - so, a while back. Sad but true. And I have yet to see any car that can match panel line consistency with new Audis - robot built, all.
I am disgusted to tell you this, deeply wounded to have witnessed it and on the verge of vomiting just typing this, but... Porsche did build an SUV, and it has done remarkably well.
Which leads me to the next point - Porsches, like Leicas and other super high end cameras, are often bought by people who will never even know what their capabilities are, much less use them. The already mentioned "doctors and lawyers"(although I find that generalization a little too broad for my taste). Majority of people who buy a Porsche, or a Ferrari, or a Leica, or a Hasselblad buy the name.
While its a lot simpler to point out with cars, there is a translation to cameras.
I think that Leica going under would be truly sad, for one simple reason: its an institution, a staple - a classic. And we need to hold on to those. On the other hand - they are an animal that has no right to survive. It eats too much and reproduces too slowly and has a lot of nimbler, more verile competition. They, those other animals, will take away their habitat with their more plentiful off-spring, and eat their food from right in front of their noses.
Leica will not need an ice-age or an meteorite, it will simply lumber to its end.
And then you will see their already ridiculously overpriced products shoot through the roof on eBay - after all, it will be a veritable dodo bird! No more will be made - gentleman, start your wallets!
And believe it or not - I dont think that cheapening their offering will help. Actually, I think "bastardizing" the name by slapping it on Panasonic dig-0cams and such will only hasten their demise. They are looking in the wrong direction, and its too bad - sad, actually. I will hate to see the years of tradition go by the way side, but I cant say the current and recent management deserves anything else.
I agree completely. Aside from the equipment fetishists who predominantly (or exclusively) take pictures of resolution targets taped to their walls, and for whom owning the theoretical best is the be-all and end-all of photography if not life itself, the majority of actual photographers tend to agree that there is insufficient bang for the astronomical buck that separates the current crop of Leica lenses from their immediate predecessors, which are in plentiful supply on the used market. Leica continues to hemmorhage customers, due in great measure to the company having spent their r&d funds administering to those obsessed lens-testers rather than bring a viable digital body to market, and jacking up prices to unrealistic levels hoping that will buoy revenues as their market base shrinks. A very sad state of affairs for a company that was once respected for its innovation to have devolved into a cult object.
Originally Posted by Lee Shively
I just think of a few points in this argument. First, the original price setting of Leica was never so low. In some countries, you could buy a whole house for the price of a Leica camera, and you probably still can. Considering all the necessary cost such as labor, engeering, and manufacturing products in such quality, I could understand why.
Secondly, if you're bitching about the prices set too high, that's the market; you should complain to the (vintage camera) collectors, not the manufacture or the photographers.
And finally, I think there is a technical issue of a rangefinder system accompanied with digital and auto-focusing units, which has to do with the focal length. You look at Epson RD1, and that is so far as good as it gets in terms of the digital rangefinder camera body. You also look at Contax G2 and wonder why its auto-fucusing system had some issues.
If you want to find out more about it, look for the magazine articles on these camera engineers who talked about their products in their interviews. I'm only aware of the ones written in Japanese, which I read some time ago, but I don't know if they are available online in other languages.
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The essential problem Leica has is that they were a working photographers camera (never cheap, but not ridiculously expensive, think Nikon F5 or so) and they've priced themselves out of that market. Leica's slide to the current condition began when they killed the CL because it was hurting M sales without considering the fact that perhaps the reason was that people preferred the CL for either price or size reasons.
As it is, there's no way I'd even look at buying a new Leica. If I want craftsmanship, I'll buy used Leica or a Zeiss Ikon. If I want a rangefinder for working photography, it's Cosina Voightlander all the way. Leica has simply priced itself out of the market for mechanical 35mm cameras.
I'd suspect one of the main reasons Leica is hurting so badly is that Cosina is now selling good rangefinders for a reasonable cost, something that was simply not available between the demise of the Minolta CLE and the introduction of the Bessa R for M mount rangefinders, which left the field to the excellent but massively overpriced M series.
Now I'd suspect Leica's lens pricing is a little closer to reality, but even then, they're pricey for what you get (Some of the best glass out there, but so is the new Carl Zeiss stuff)
Imagine an M leica with good auto-focus. Imagine a Leica R with good auto-focus. Imagine that they are selling at the current prices. I magine that it would be no help to them at all.
I so appreciate Leica cameras and lenses. I imagine that they are going to die.
Claire (Ms Anne Thrope is in the darkroom)
Actually, it is built by Volkswagen, to a Porsche specification. Watch for an Audi version this coming model year.
Originally Posted by gnashings
"And then you will see their already ridiculously overpriced products shoot through the roof on eBay - after all, it will be a veritable dodo bird! No more will be made - gentleman, start your wallets!"
It will be sad when they go under... I've owned four M6's over the years, but they don't have enough customers to keep it going and more are leaving than joining in. I don't think the prices are going to jump but instead fall. Once the collectors have a couple M6's they aren't going to keep buying more, just because they're available on ebay. And in time the heirs of the collectors will be happy to dump "dad's old film camera" for whatever they can get.
I loved the M6's but it was time to move on, they are a hard camera to make a living with.... although nice to hold and look at.
My understanding is that Leica has been testing forms of autofocus since at least the late 70's. They said back then that they'd introduce it when it met their standards, presumably able to make their lenses perform to spec. It's not feasable yet, at least not economically (which is a relative term, especially since we're talking Leica here). Besides, who'd want a lightweight Leica lens made of plastic with little motors in it?
Originally Posted by Claire Senft
I imagine that I'll keep using my Leicas until I die.