måndag 29 mars 2010

Where is Leica going?

Leica has produced a variety of digital cameras over the years. Most of them have been a joint venture with their partner Panasonic. But nothing like the classic M series appeared until the M8. This model had teething troubles, people were dubious about the sensor, which was about 0.7 x full-size and the cost was around £3,000, which made for slow sales.

Full frame at last

The full size M9 appeared in Autumn 2009, at a staggering £5,000, significantly more in real terms than their 1960s equivalents. Despite the hefty price tag, the factory cannot satisfy demand, because it is the most compact full-frame camera available, when the alternative SLR is about the size of a four-cup teapot.

Is the M9 the last word in camera design? In my view it is not, and on the contrary has exposed a gap in the market. The M9 will not accept zoom lenses, apart from the special Tri-Elmar with three focal lengths. Most of the time, one uses a Leica M with a 35mm or 50mm lens, the latter being available as a f/2.8 collapsible Elmar, which is both compact, sharp and gives excellent colour depth. It seems as if there is room for a simple and robust fixed-lens camera that will do 80% of what the M9 can, at one-third of the cost or less.

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