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View Poll Results: Poll: Has Leica alienated photographers?
Yes, I feel alienated by Leica's High Prices 152 39.90%
Maybe, sometimes yes, sometimes no 74 19.42%
No, I want Leica quality and that means Leica prices 102 26.77%
YES, I am alienated by Leica targeting bling marketing (late poll addition) 53 13.91%
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Has Leica alienated photographers?
Old 09-30-2015   #1
bonatto
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Has Leica alienated photographers?

I was thinking today about the prices of Leica bodies and lenses today, and the amount of alternatives available that, when pixel comes to pixel, deliver the image.

In 1969, an M4 with a 35mm and 50mm sum micron set would set you back about $700. In today's dollars, about $4600.

The modern equivalent will cost you just under $12.000 at Adorama.

Leica relies today on a heritage built by working photographers of all different walks in order to sell what can only be understood as luxury products.

In doing so, I wonder if they've not completely alienated a generation of photographers who now turn to alternatives?
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Old 09-30-2015   #2
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But of course, that's exactly what happened.
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Old 09-30-2015   #3
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No need for Leica these days, unless you need an item to show off and to complement your expensive watch, fountain pen, bag and suit. Or maybe if you wanna impress people so you can sell them overpriced workshops. It used to be pros that inspired the 'hobby photographer' to buy Leica, it's the overpriced-workshop folk these days. Pros have moved away, I feel.

Photography wise, there's loads of alternatives that deliver the image just as good or better, with more durability and at a better price. I've taken to DSLRs, none of my clients ask for Leica shots or Leica quality (since it is indistinguishable anyway) and if a camera breaks down, I can at least afford to pick up a replacement while it's in for repair.


If one isn't alienated, it's probably because there is spare money to burn and the pros' requirements don't matter all that much.
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Old 09-30-2015   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ned Bojic View Post
Actually, owning a 1200$ Noctilux when you could own the "super clinically sharp and devoid of any personnality" 50 Lux Asph (again, in this very forum), for 900$.

.

When was the 50 Asph $900??? It came out in 2004 at about $3000
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Old 09-30-2015   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bonatto View Post
I was thinking today about the prices of Leica bodies and lenses today, and the amount of alternatives available that, when pixel comes to pixel, deliver the image.

In 1969, an M4 with a 35mm and 50mm sum micron set would set you back about $700. In today's dollars, about $4600.

The modern equivalent will cost you just under $12.000 at Adorama.

The modern equivalent is the MP + Summicron 50 = $7000

But I agree with you, Leica has been priced for what the luxury market can bear, not the market.
Clue that the avg photographer was being priced out was with the opening of the Leica boutique stores.
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Old 09-30-2015   #6
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I love and own Leica and if anything it has brought me closer to photography but Leica was never the only game in town even in its hay dey. Don't believe the hype.... Photographers have always used a wide range of cameras and brands.
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Old 09-30-2015   #7
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The M240 is priced in the range of Nikon D4s or Canon 1DX. A new Summicron 50 is in the range of Canons 24-70/2.8 L II. What Leica is missing is a budget line. But of course, who wants a "second best" modern Summarit for the price of a used pre asph Lux?
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Old 09-30-2015   #8
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The problem for Leica is that it is under pressure from both sides. High end DSLRs match or beat Leica for IQ albeit at a price in terms of form factor. But simultaneously, mirrorless cameras are cheaper and get close or better on IQ, functionality and form factor. The logical response in such circumstances is to target the luxury goods (as opposed to the pro/serious non pro) market.
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Old 09-30-2015   #9
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Being someone who prefers RF to SLR most of the time, I don't think of Leicas as jewelry, but I've also never bought any piece of my Leica stuff new, so new prices have never meant much to me. My favorite photographers used 50s vintage gear, and so can I, without pain.

There's lots of stuff in this world I can't afford, and I don't resent any of it just because I can't have it. How sick and entitled that whole idea seems!
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Old 09-30-2015   #10
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Originally Posted by Ned Bojic View Post
I'm talking used. Sorry for the confusion.

But let's not forget; just before the M8 came out Leica wasin big trouble. They were offering huge discounts on lenses. Bankruptcy was latent, present.

Kauffman's strategy was a price hike to support an extremely uncertain digital adventure. Back then, a Full Frame M was impossible to make. The official story from Leica was that a FF M leica would simply never exist. The director was fired shortly thereafter.
Source please. There was never any statement from Leica to that effect.
Mr. Lee was fired because of his perpetual upgrade program ideas and for clashing with the corporate culture.
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Old 09-30-2015   #11
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I used to Leika Leica. Now i Hatea Leica.

I started with them when the M7 was released. I was curious prior to that, but always thought the M6's metering system was 'childish.' I bought M7s, and then i met a PJ at the original PhotoVillage location in NYC, and he raved about his R8. I had previously thought the R8 was a ridiculous-looking piece of kit, but i soon after held one, and instantly changed my mind. Bought into that system, as well.

Back then, the prices were high, but they were 'doable.' After Leica went digital, and stopped supporting their older systems and cameras (i had a CM for a while, too), they sorta lost me. I wasn't interested in the digital platform which always seemed like it featured 'last year's sensor.' And, the prices just seemed out of whack for what the cameras could do versus the Canons i was already also using.

They tried to convince us that the DMR was 'magical' in some way, despite specs, and then they stopped making that....

And, now, they're just doing so many silly things, it's hard to take them seriously. They aren't making products for the same people anymore, and i don't want to belong to the 'new club.'

I got into Leica because i loved the look of classic/old images shot with their lenses. Stuff from the 50s and 60s. Completely irrelevant as related to digital.
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Old 09-30-2015   #12
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I am alienated.

And prices are out of whack. It's not just leica.

Today prices for a decent new camera range from about 400 to 7000 dollars. Pro FF's are mostly above 2000.

I wonder how that would have looked in 1985. Or 1975. If I remember well, a months' salary would get you a pretty decent set-up, back then.

But then again, I may have my rose-tinted backwards looking glasses on. When pointed at today, they show an ominous blue-green tint.

cheers
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Old 09-30-2015   #13
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My first system was a used Contaflex a few years back. It came with original purchase receipts and I was always flabbergasted when I converted that to today's money!! So the further you go back it seems the scale on stuff such as Leica was so weighted towards one side that only kings or someone could afford them.

All that being said Leica new stuff is way beyond my means but I still think they are super duper cool and if I had the dough I'd buy a new one in a heartbeat. Really I might just have to settle for a M2 or M3 someday...lol

Alienated...not me and not in the very least. If anything makes me want a M9 and a decent 50 all the more. Kind of like an old girlfriend that played hard to get or something.
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Old 09-30-2015   #14
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Lucky enough I am not a professional photographer. I photograph just for my own enjoyment. Everybody has different financial priorities. I never bought a new car in my life and don't plan to change that. I don't smoke and I'm not a lawyer or a dentist either. For all my Leica equipment I spotted good used or demo deals. The only ever new purchase was my MM. Of course stupidly expensive but no other piece equipment has given me so much joy and inspiration to use over and over again. For me personally totally worth the expense.

If you earn a living on photography and there is no particular reasons that screams for you to work with a digital Leica M, then go for some Canikon D1234 Mk25. If you buy into digital Leica M as a pro and can't afford it, get another job or a better tax adviser

Edit: ... and Zeiss-M lenses work on on a MM too. Doesn't have to be the Apo 50'cron.
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Old 09-30-2015   #15
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According to any of several inflation calculators (google "What is the equivalent value of money today?"), something which cost $700 in 1968 should cost between $4800 and $12,000 today purely due to inflation, depending on which indices are used.

From that, it seems your example of an M4+35+50 lens equivalent costing about $12,000 is right in line with what it should cost, albeit at the high end of the scale.

Not much to complain about there... I remember clearly a Nikon F Photomic FTn selling for about $450-$500 in 1969, which seemed fabulously expensive then, and Leica M and 'Flex cameras being the next tier up price-wise. My brother's new Datsun 510 in 1970 was purchased for $930 out the door.

Today's prices are on a different scale. So are today's incomes, thankfully.

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Old 09-30-2015   #16
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Never has Leica Digital been so affordable used:

M9 2400
M240 4k
MM 4K

There is no alternative if you want a FF digital M glass shooter, except the modded Sony A7.

Used lens prices have fallen alot in the last year as well.

It's as close to 'free' as you may ever see, right now. And for my taste, the best option.

Well, OK, once the new M is announced the 240s will drop to 3k.

Price a nice mountain bike, and it's about the same. These tired complaints really no longer apply, if you look around and see how expensive just plain living is these days.

Not that Leica is perfect, but for many of us, the lesser "EVIL"
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Old 09-30-2015   #17
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A quarter really? Great...now I must study M9's. I've already been studying M2 and M3 here lately.

I'd feel like a person on food stamps who drove around in a Lexus...LOL Just joking gentleman..kind of.
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Old 09-30-2015   #18
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Leica is the club. And as any good club it isn't bunch of crapshooters for $50 per year and you are at the camera club.
Even if you are modern crapshooter, you'll be the one with load of money. And it is good filter from cheap crapshooters.
And you have to feel it. If it feels right for you, no SLR will be good.
This is what GW was saying. He took M4 first and used some cheap wide lens before he could afford wide from Leica, I think.
Plus, wearing Leica in public makes you special. I faced it twice in four days as of now
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Old 09-30-2015   #19
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Just as I wouldn't buy a Ferrari, but enjoy my Mazda Miata instead, I would never buy a new Leica. Instead, I bought a new Fuji XE-1. The argument that "if you want a digital rangefinder....if you want FF in M mount...you have to go Leica" is pretty self serving. If I wanted an Italian rear engined sports car, yeah, I'd have to buy the Ferrari. But I don't have to have those things. I have to take good photos, and comparing how I do it with a $500 Fuji or a $5,000 Leica would reveal little difference. It's the photo. Not the "experience".

I shoot a couple very old Leicas, because I like old school engineering, only. Those 60 year old cameras are cheap enough I don't mind. But not anything made today.
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Old 09-30-2015   #20
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I think the OP starts with a wrong premise. Just check original prices and use an inflation calculator. A Leica M3 in 1954 cost the same as an M4 in 1966, an M5 in 1971, an M6 in 1984 ... around $3,500 to 3,750 in today's 2015 Dollar. Maybe that's 20-30% less than a Leica body today.

When I was a student in 1983 I worked for 4 months and could barely afford a Leica with one of their cheapest lenses. If a student today works as a Starbucks barista for 4 months, the student will make $6,400 which would give him/her an M7 with a cheap (maybe slightly used) lens.

The slight increase compared to "yesteryear" could be explained by 1) Leica having to operate their own stores because almost all camera stores have disappeared, 2) expensive production and labor costs, 3) small production runs, and 4) Leica is fully exploiting their niche market situation, catering to people who don't need but want to own a Leica. That was different in the 40-60s when there wasn't much choice when you wanted to buy a decent camera. Even Cartier Bresson said that the bought a Leica because there wasn't much choice and he admitted that all he could afford was one body and one lens for a long time.

What alienates me are not the prices but their ridiculous special edition models, like the Hermes M9 which was a slap in the face for every serious photographer. On the other hand, they make some of the finest cinema lenses for film makers and do seem to care about professionals.

Instead of bashing Leica, we should appreciate their amazing mechanical devices, acknowledge that they do what they seem to think is best to keep them afloat, which is no easy task in today's throwaway society and overabundance of cheap electronic gadgets. Also, how many companies have three film (!) cameras in their current catalog, have free photo exhibitions in their stores, organize juried exhibitions, publish printed photo books, a fine magazine, and host workshops and photography events right in the middle of your community? Name one other camera manufacturer who does that!

I find it funny that so many photographers complain about Leica's high prices. Have you ever heard a bird watcher saying that he is alienated and offended by the high prices of Leica or Zeiss binoculars? Of course not, they either buy one or they don't and move along without whining about it.
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Old 09-30-2015   #21
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They surely have attraced many new photographers.
It's always the younger folks that stop me and ask if the camera I'm carrying is a Leica (even when it's often a Fuji x100 ).
The brand has awareness for sure. The stores sure help. Leica store Bellevue Square is Faces the apple Store in the Plush Bellevue square Mall.
I'm sure at least a few young photographers pop in there while their GF's and BF's shop.

I've adopted AF for projects that must deliver results. The Fujis are pretty handy beating out the M's I used to carry and the 5D's.
Leica's prices are too high for me but it's not the price as much as what the price brings with it.
The product is premium but the reliability has not been (digital M's ).

I'm very curious about the mirrorless models Leica is bringing.
Technology is mature enough with digital imaging that I could see using a model for a very long time now.
Not like a few years ago where there was hope for a bit cleaner results in low light.
Now we are at a very good quality level.
If Leica brought a few fixed lens models in different focal lengths, I could see making a 10 year investment and go with them until they were beyond service.
my 2c
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Old 09-30-2015   #22
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Just as I wouldn't buy a Ferrari, but enjoy my Mazda Miata instead, I would never buy a new Leica. Instead, I bought a new Fuji XE-1. The argument that "if you want a digital rangefinder....if you want FF in M mount...you have to go Leica" is pretty self serving.
"Self-serving"? Ouch!!!

I can't buy new Leicas either, but I love M and LTM glass and hate auto-focus. Fuji is not in the picture for me. I did note that A7.mod is viable alternative with cost of used body and mod about 1100.

If Leica was priced like Ferrari.....well I think they call that line the S007. Thank god it's too big for me.

To me fuji is toyota. Leica m9 is mini-cooper.

I do own a toyota, but my daily driver is mini.

The mehyota has it's uses:


Listo by unoh7, on Flickr

and both of those devices cost alot more than a good used Leica M digital.

The last war..."Leica is too expensive" is over. But I'm sure many will fight it forever.

and anyway, I thought all photographers were alienated.
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Old 09-30-2015   #23
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Leica has lost me. I never minded the prices, it's the obsolescence. The investment used to last decades, but now they 'last' just a few years.

I owned M2, M3, and M4 from 1973 to the turn of the century, and then I stopped carrying a meter and bought a used M6 from a friend. That's 25 or so years on each mechanical body, and an overhaul for each one every 10-15 years.

Since acquiring an M8 in 2008, I've owned 6 digital Leicas. Though I like the feel of them, they're never very up-to-date in their electronics. I've stayed with them mainly to keep using the lenses. And I've had more defects/repairs on the digital bodies in seven years than on film bodies in 35 years.

I still have an MM and M-E, and probably will keep one of them a long time. But mostly I use WATE and MATE on Sony bodies. I can't see buying a Leica body again.



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Old 09-30-2015   #24
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S007. Thank god it's too big for me.

To me fuji is toyota. Leica m9 is mini-cooper.

Yeah Toyota! I love me some Toyota

The M5 is my favorite Leica I've owned. The M5 (bmw) was my favorite Car I owned also but... I sold it when I got my lowly toyota SR5 pick up!
Just was not driving it anymore. Too much access.

I guess people change yeah ?

PS. Always enjoy seeing your images of Idaho Charlie
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Old 09-30-2015   #25
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I think the OP starts with a wrong premise. Just check original prices and use an inflation calculator. A Leica M3 in 1954 cost the same as an M4 in 1966, an M5 in 1971, an M6 in 1984 ... around $3,500 to 3,750 in today's 2015 Dollar. Maybe that's 20-30% less than a Leica body today.

When I was a student in 1983 I worked for 4 months and could barely afford a Leica with one of their cheapest lenses. If a student today works as a Starbucks barista for 4 months, the student will make $6,400 which would give him/her an M7 with a cheap (maybe slightly used) lens.

The slight increase compared to "yesteryear" could be explained by 1) Leica having to operate their own stores because almost all camera stores have disappeared, 2) expensive production and labor costs, 3) small production runs, and 4) Leica is fully exploiting their niche market situation, catering to people who don't need but want to own a Leica. That was different in the 40-60s when there wasn't much choice when you wanted to buy a decent camera. Even Cartier Bresson said that the bought a Leica because there wasn't much choice and he admitted that all he could afford was one body and one lens for a long time.

What alienates me are not the prices but their ridiculous special edition models, like the Hermes M9 which was a slap in the face for every serious photographer. On the other hand, they make some of the finest cinema lenses for film makers and do seem to care about professionals.

Instead of bashing Leica, we should appreciate their amazing mechanical devices, acknowledge that they do what they seem to think is best to keep them afloat, which is no easy task in today's throwaway society and overabundance of cheap electronic gadgets. Also, how many companies have three film (!) cameras in their current catalog, have free photo exhibitions in their stores, organize juried exhibitions, publish printed photo books, a fine magazine, and host workshops and photography events right in the middle of your community? Name one other camera manufacturer who does that!

I find it funny that so many photographers complain about Leica's high prices. Have you ever heard a bird watcher saying that he is alienated and offended by the high prices of Leica or Zeiss binoculars? Of course not, they either buy one or they don't and move along without whining about it.
I don't mind about special models, although I would never buy one (although I regret never getting a M6J set when they were affordable). It is very much a tradition with the brand, the first ones were the Leica "Luxus" gold plated, lizard and snake skinned ones, 100 pieces each in the early 1930ies.
I don't quite see why they would give up tradition when it brings in extra money or is good for marketing.
Like the presentation copies for celebrities and famous photographers do.
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Old 09-30-2015   #26
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Leica relies today on a heritage built by working photographers of all different walks in order to sell what can only be understood as luxury products.

In doing so, I wonder if they've not completely alienated a generation of photographers who now turn to alternatives?
I personally have a hard time relating to this way of thinking. Leica cameras and lenses have been expensive the whole time I have had interest in them, and it pays no role to me what others have used and what they may have paid.

Leica remains relevant to photographers as long as they build products that provide advantages against competition. If a competitor truly provides the same or better at a lower price point, it seems like the way to go. Leica has been in that boat for a long time. It's anyway a sad fact for many of us that they are expensive products.
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Old 09-30-2015   #27
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"Self-serving"? Ouch!!!

...

The last war..."Leica is too expensive" is over. But I'm sure many will fight it forever.

...
Me? Nah... Don't care, moved on altogether. As I expect many will have.
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Old 10-01-2015   #28
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I have and use a number of Leica film cameras and lenses. I doubt I'll be buying any more Leica digital, with possible exception of an M9. The prices for the rest of it are completely absurd.

Actually I get really good shots with my Fuji X10, X20, X100. And if want to use extreme wide angle lenses or telephoto, or PC lenses, that's what my D700 is for. I don't know that I do any better with my M8.2.
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Old 10-01-2015   #29
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New Leica gear? Nah, no need to spend that kind of green to get into Leica, heck even that silly sale that was supposed to end in May is still on.

Now prices in the used market for Leica have come down a lot, some lenses down to pre-M9 announcement levels. So when I noticed how much the stuff had dropped, I decided to expand past my M3 / 50 combo and build a nice kit I could use for several clients who would appreciate the style of images I could make with the gear. So for not a lot of dough I added a customized M6TTL, clean M240, 28 elmarit asph and 35mm 1.4 FLE to the mix.

Bam!

Big difference in certain kinds of image making, clients love the resulting work, I love the workflow and that nice used M240 I bought in June has seen close to 18,000 faultless clicks through it in my hands.

It's pretty simple, you learn about Leica, you learn what it used to cost, what it now costs and what it could end up costing in the long run and you make your choices.

I'm not going to be one of those folks who can't wait to see what replaces the M240 or just keeps buying lens after lens for it. I have a real simple three lens approach that I love using and find the 240 to be a really solid camera that looks like it will continue to hold up.

I use other cameras in my work but I see no reason to not use Leica if I can afford it and love the images I get from the experience of using it. To me Leica is worth it, especially used.
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Old 10-01-2015   #30
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Didn't the only real competitor for the Leica market just give up a few days ago.

One may like or dislike the Leica Management and pricing policy but they do seem to be right otherwise they would already be history. Leica always and will be a luxury good, pro cameras no matter the mfg are at a premium and so are the lenses.
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Old 10-01-2015   #31
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This year I bought a 58 year old M3 that was in very nice if used condition for $600. I wonder how an M9/240/MM will fare in 58 years?
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Old 10-01-2015   #32
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This year I bought a 58 year old M3 that was in very nice if used condition for $600. I wonder how an M9/240/MM will fare in 58 years?

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Old 10-01-2015   #33
Roger Hicks
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"Has Leica alienated photographers"

As the company appears to be doing quite well at the moment, the only easy way to get a "yes" answer is to restrict "photographers" to "people of whom I approve".

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R.
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Old 10-01-2015   #34
jsrockit
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Niche product catering to a niche crowd made in small quantities. That type of product is always going to be expensive compared to a mass produced consumer product made in large quantities. Catering to a luxury crowd is just smart at this point... it's about selling cameras to those who can afford them, not those who will use them "right."
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Old 10-01-2015   #35
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Old 10-01-2015   #36
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I'm sure Leica have alienated less people than Hasselblad did with those re-badged wooden handled abominations they bought out a while ago!
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Old 10-01-2015   #37
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I don`t think Leica has alienated people.
Still selling plenty of cameras and compared to the cost of other pastimes the cost of a Leica is very reasonable.

Yes ,you can buy cheaper cameras ... so buy them and stop worrying about the price of Leica.
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Old 10-01-2015   #38
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Has photographers alienated Leica, by getting crap wages and buying poor quality, low cost imports?

Or has aliens photographered Leica?
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Old 10-01-2015   #39
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Oh look it's the monthly/weekly Leica is too expensive thread....BRB need to find a dead horse to beat.
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Old 10-01-2015   #40
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In film days, Leica was visually superior in final product.

Not so today as the lens quality gap has closed and digital manipulation has closed it further.

Now there are issues with dead pixels and red line that cost a small fortune to remap and months of downtime. Don`t forget corroded sensors although my M9 is fine. I treat it like a baby. Cosmic ray I CAN NOT HELP.

They need to fix the red line issue either home remap or readout and let PS fix the dead one like all the other cameras.

This stuff is so expensive I am afraid to be in a urban area. A camera and 3 lenses, $20.000 . And it is not easy to hide.

Maybe I`ll keep my M8 and some older lenses for that stuff.
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