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.
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.
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.
Originally Posted by donbga
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.
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.
Originally Posted by copake_ham
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".
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.
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.
Read what Bill Pierce has to say about Leica and the M8 - insightful.
Originally Posted by keithwms
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.
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?