The prices Rob quotes are in Euros, which translates to $1400 to $1700 US. Is that a low cost range for Leica? Wow.
I very carefully composed my post to indicate that I wanted to know more - certainly more than a translated press release would tell me. Press releases are not known to be fully "informative". Oh, and "spin" is usually the name of the game with PR's.
Further, I am fully aware of the limitations of internet translators (in this case - Google's), which is why I added the post-script.
So, I really don't need, nor am I interested in, nor do I care about, nor would I ever care about what you have to say on this or anything else.
I really don't like to use the Ignore User function here - so won't. But how about this - you just never, never, ever, ever respond to one of my posts - and I'll give you the same courtesy?
But what's struck me as a bit "odd" is that these new Summarits are at the traditional film focal lengths - rather than "adjusted" for the M8's lens factor. (Best of all possible world's - or maybe compromise?)
This is why I think a secondary consideration is to "blunt" CZ's attempt to grab the mid-price range M-mount lens market.
I don't shoot M-mount so I'm only an observer. But M-mount folk are very "blessed" right now. They have the lower cost CV's, the mid-range CZ's (and these new Summarits) and then the top of the line traditional Leitz's.
Quite a renaissance of gear for RF photography.
Here is the Leica web page in English.
"...the red button on the lens mount is now true to the original color used on Leitz lenses..."
Leaving aside to return of the glorious "true" red button - this raises an interesting question.
If these new lenses are made in Germany, presumably by the same gnomes that make the "good stuff", how "compromised" are they in terms of materials and construction from the top of the line?
Since it means your labor costs are fixed, you don't come out with a "comparable" line of lenses at half-price, made in the same factory without some kind of compromises.
This is a good marketing move to "blunt" the CZ inroad to the mid-market for M-mount lenses - but it remains to be seen what qualities these lenses offer beyond an "official" red button over the competition. ;)
I think this is exactly what Leica needs. If Leica cameras and lenses cost $500 it would be hard to find a photographer without one. The problem is the price, and that problem dramatically worsened in the last few years. Reducing the prices will attract new customers. And of course the established Leica tifosi will buy a couple of these for their M8 as an impulse purchase.
I think the sales success of the M8 despite its high price surprised Leica, putting a bit of fight back into the company and making it realise that the game isn't up just yet. There is no natural law that says Leica must inevitably die a slow, graceful death, with prices spiralling and collectors replacing photographers. The 28 mm Elmarit-M Asph and these new lenses make the company once again interesting to the photographer of strong interest but moderate means.
It's also great for film lovers because, even though I assume most new Leica lenses will eventually sell to digital owners, the lenses will work fine with all those used and affordable M2/3/4/6/7/P bodies out there, of which there are enough to last us several lifetimes even if Leica pulled the plug on film camera production today. A $1k M6 and a brand new 50 mm Summarit-M would be a very pleasant introduction to rangefinder photography, and the price of that combo isn't wildly out of reach of the determined amateur.
My only concern is that the new lenses may cannibalise sales of the faster designs to the point that some of them become untenable. I don't think Leica has ever in its history had such a fat lens catalogue, and while that diversity is wonderful for us, I wonder if it is sustainable. It seems that Leica keeps adding lenses while rarely discontinuing old ones. In November there will be five 50 mm lenses alone!
Anyway, I'm looking forward to the MTF and distortion curves for these new lenses.
P.S. I would caution against viewing the nods to "heritage" -- the red button and traditional font -- as a lack of serious market intent on Leica's part. Similarly retro design elements form the basis of the entire high-street fashion scene and many other current successful products like the BMW Mini. I think the prices of these new lenses demonstrate that Leica means business this time.
Given the essentially hand-made nature of Leicas and Leica lenses, there's no real need to discontinue any camera or lens as long as it has its unique advantages: the sheer speed of the 50/1, the low cost of the 50/2,5, etc. They can just make a small batch from time to time.
In many ways the 50/1 would be the obvious candidate for the chop: modern fast films and an ISO 2500 equivalent on the M8 mean that there's less need for the speed, it's hellish expensive, there's some focus shift on stopping down, and inevitably quality suffers slightly when you build an f/1. It would be possible to redesign it and make a better lens, but I'd be surprised if they bothered. As long as people buy 'em, they'll make 'em: both Leitz and Zeiss say that very small batches -- 25 or fewer -- are feasible, as long as the lens costs enough.
And I'll second your comments about the red dot and the font. Why not go back to the original, after all?
As for collectors replacing photographers, before the M8 came out Leica reckoned they were selling maybe 50/50 to photographers and collectors. The M8 seems to be selling pretty much to photographers.
I suppose their big advantage is that for the rich amateur who wants the best point-and-shoot in the world -- and Leica sold to that market well into the 1960s -- the new lenses make a conveniently compact package and might even be impulse buys.
There's only one thing for it: I'll have to go to Solms again, and ask them. I reckon I can get there in a day on the BMW, but it won't be until September.