# 619 Monday-Post-gone-over-to-Tuesday (17-18 July 2017) Is it Likeable, or Leicable.

By philberphoto | Monday Post

Jul 18

Readers of DearSusan know it, not one of our gang is actually fond of Leica. Well that’s not true. We’re all rather fond of Leica actually, but not of Leica cameras. All of us love Leica glass, but the cameras, well… We’d all love for Leica to do well and force us to lust for and covet its latest brainchild so bad we’d eat our words and join the Red Dot bandwagon. Is it happening? Nah! Or not?

The reasons for our preferring other brands hinge on 3 issues. One is performance. Cameras today are electronic gizmos. Meaning crunching data. For that, you need Power. Resolution. Speed. And, in that respect, Leica are behind the power curve. The S, Leica’s medium format flagship, clocking in at 37,5 Mp, when competitors (Hasselblad, Pentax, Fuji) offer 50Mp. The M and SL, stuck at some 24Mp, which for FF is so yesterday. It was the resolution of the groundbreaking Canon 5DII, and is actually the same as the Sony A7, the most affordable FF camera today.

But the worst offender had to be the Leica T. A luxo offering in the APS-C space. Milled from one single metal block, eminently covetable. But equipped with a 16Mp Sony sensor that everyone else had by then ditched for better, more recent designs. With more resolution, but also better DR, less noise, etc…

The second issue with Leica is the pride/vanity of the brand. Yes, luxury is built is built on exclusivity. But does that mean that the rest of the world must be made to feel like crap? That, if you don’t eat, drink, breathe Leica, you just don’t “get” it, because you are too daft, ill-educated, blind? In a word, unworthy? Now that can fly if your products are truly a breed apart. But when you release the Leica T, the world can be forgiven for hitting back.

And the third issue, of course is price. Leica don’t consider themselves camera makers, but a luxury brand involved in photography. A high price is part of its identity, part of what keeps the brand exclusive, part of perceived value. But when the Leica T appears at €1800 and has innards similar to the 450€ Sony NEX from a previous generation…. A 4x premium? Really? No, really?

Well, that could be about to change. The first time I sat back and thought about it was comparing the prices of the Leica Q and the Sony RX-1R and later RII. Now they aren’t specced quite the same, with 28mm Vs. 35mm, and Sony has higher resolution, and Leica has a touch-screen and f:1.7 Vs the Sony’s f:2.0, etc… But the premium against the original RX1 was only 20%, and now, against the newer, high-resolution RX1 RII, it is…O. There are rumors that the Leica Q is actually a Panasonic camera (Leica’s partner in compact cameras), which could explain the “agressive” positioning, but that doesn’t change the fact that both cameras are sold at the same price.

When the important-to-Leica SL was launched, again the price differential to Sony was reviewed and came out at 2x (now, with the price of the Sony slipping, it is more). 2x the price with less power, that is steep, my friends. Basically, you can get a Hassy X1-D medium-format, also a storied, professional-and-luxo-brand for the same price as a FF Leica mirrorless.

Now, the reason I am writing this is not Leica-bashing. On the contrary. Enter the Leica TL2. Successor to the TL, itself successor to the T camera I lambasted earlier. Price in France? 1950€. In the meanwhile, Sony, the leader in the mirrorless space, has been raising prices and specs for its products, wth its flagship APS-C Alpha 6500 clocking in at 1590€ (it can be had cheaper, but not at the same stores as the Leica). Again, a premium of 20%, like the release of the Q. And it keeps its goodies, like the single-block-of-metal construction, the made-in-Germany, etc…

What about the specs? 24Mp, like the Sony. A powerful processor, borrowed from its very recent M10 camera. 4K video. Touch-screen. Wi-fi. Meaning, fully competitive! For a 20% premium? Well, that sounds interesting, because, let’s be fair, it is better built and offers a better shooting experience than the Sony, not the most refined of toys.

There is a caveat. The Sony offers in-body-stabilisation, which the Leica does not. So the closest Sony competitor is the Alpha 6300, the predecessor to the 6500. Everything is the same except for that, and the price which, against the Leica shows a differential of 50%. Still something to be considered seriously. Ever thought of comparing the price of a Mercedes CLK with a Mazda Miata or Fiat 124? Of a Porsche Cayman Vs. the latest hot hatchbacks from VW, Seat, Renault or Peugeot that charge just as fast down the Nurbürgring? We all know a Porsche will keep its value far better than a hot hatch, and the same is true for a Leica. If you sell it, that is, because it is more a built-for-a-long-time part of your toy-box than a Sony, which incorporates obsolescence and shorter life as parts of its design.

Now, I’ve not tried out the TL2. Leica for sure won’t lend one for trials to DearSusan. That is the last remaining objection. The price is right, for a premium product. The specs are right. I have no doubt it is a delightful imagemaker. If only Leica would stop talking down to the rest of the world and get off their high horse….

PS. No doubt there will be objections, because the prices I use for reference are not true in every market. Fair enough. Others will say that Sony are now an also-ran in APS-C Vs. Fuji. So be it, but Fuji prices tell pretty much the same story, the X-Pro II being more expensive than the Sony, and still no Leica fine-art-object. So, please, give me a break. You can argue the details and percentages. But, fact is, the TL2 is a contender, a desirable, likeable, welcome contender. That is more than I could say for multiple Leica launches, and it makes me happy to write this. We would all like Leica to offer Sony, Fuji and others some premium competition.

PPS: This post only contains bicycle pictures, so asking “why bicycles?” comes across as a sane, logical question. The answer is: “cause they have two wheels, that’s why!”

More seriously, bikes are utilitarian products, like cameras, with style, and a distinctive user experience, like cameras. Some of them have gone tremendously upmarket, as a statement of sorts, while others are made en masse in China… Now if only I could find my digital bike with IA…


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  • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

    Pascal, your delightful description of the vanity that goes with the product is a perfect explanation of my revolting brother’s life long obsession with Leica. Thanks – now I can use the money I was setting aside to cover the fees of the psychiatrist I had lined up to analyse him and apply it to something useful to further my own photographic interests. 🙂

    Perhaps I should buy a Nubrella, for shooting in the wet – that seems to be the latest “gadget” for those who already have all the gear they need. And I could put it to good use – infuriating people with selfie sticks, who insist on standing slap bang in the middle of my field of view, when I am trying to photograph something more interesting than the cellphones waving in the air above their heads.

    PS – I love your answer to the question “why bicycles” 🙂

  • Steve says:

    I can’t really comment on Leica; I know nothing about them, although I agree more competition is good. Your images though I can comment on; I love ’em!

  • Bob Kruger says:

    I suppose you’ve heard that sales of the TL2 have been curtailed and units sold will be replaced. Some sort of quality issue:
    “When using the Leica TL2 in combination with the external electronic viewfinder (Visoflex) a possible failure with the camera can occur. If this defect occurs, then it is no longer possible to use the camera.”

  • philberphoto says:

    Steve, Pete, thanks for your comments! Bob, I wasn’t aware of the issue, since I wrote the body of the post before this became public. Thanks for flagging it! But, on the face of it, it seems to be a “simple” electronic problem (using the electronic viewfinder seems sometimes problematic). I have no doubt that Leica can sort it out quickly, and it does not change my assessment. This is one desirable baby!

  • René says:

    Shouldn’t you compare the TL2 to the Sony A5000 as they both lack a viewfinder?

    • philberphoto says:

      Haha, René, good try! Actually, the TL2 is far superior to the Sony Alpha 5000. This oe is already superseded by the 5100, which has a higher resolution sensor (24Mp Vs. 20Mp). But both of these only offer HD video, as opposed to 4K in the 6300 and 6500, and TL2. You do have a point, that the TL2 viewfinder is optional rather than standard, so the price gap is more if you buy it for the Leica. But my intent was not to get into very tight comparisons, because how do you price “luxo feeling”, exclusivity, and “shooting experience”? I just wanted to point out that, with the TL2, you do have to pay more, but the differential is now sensible, and the specs match those of the competition. That was not the case for other Leica roll-outs previously, so I salute the improvement, and hope it bodes well for the future.

      • Adrian says:

        For historical accuracy, the world’s first 24Mp SLR camera was the Sony A900, released at around the same time as Canon’s 21Mp EOS 5Dii.

        The comparison with the Sony A6300 is much fairer, although it has an EVF refresh rate, frame rate, and tracking focus that the Leica cannot match, and the A6500 as mentioned has IBIS and a very deep buffer… and as noted in your comments, the price of the Leica excludes their rather expensive EVF.

        To be totally fair, the mark 1 Leica was by some accounts a good camera, and having looked closely at some full sized jpegs, the image quality looked very nice – although it should be when the same sensor had been fitted in a Sony NEX camera 5 years before at about a quarter of the price. In fact, I laughed out loud when Leica announced it as it seemed so ridiculously over-priced and under-specified – a piece of fancy modern aluminium jewellery for the uninitiated who want “the best”. I remain unconvinced that it’s button-less ergonomics suit serious users.

        Their other cameras are mostly behind the curve, over priced and largely irrelevant, as this pithy article correctly identifies. I know of some disgruntled S system users who feel left out to dry by the lack of development of the system and the introduction of the SL. The lenses for the latter are as large and heavy as medium format, although optically very good if you can accept their modest apertures for their cost, combined with a system with no anti-shake ability. So Ming Thein likes the SL – but that doesn’t mean it isn’t ridiculously over-priced, too large, and with a specification and basic image quality surpassed by cameras costing a quarter of its price. Surely someone as experience as Ming can adapt to the apparently sub-standard ergonomics of it’s cheaper competitors to get a quality image?

        I too cannot bear the pretentious superiority of Leica and many of their users. Their lenses are excellent – they should be when they are unencumbered by making a product that needs to hit a retail price point that most people can actually afford – but their cameras appear mostly to be a cobbled together leftovers from Panasonic and Sony’s parts bin. If Leica were music, they would be jazz – and their fans would tell us that it’s not that the music is rubbish, it’s just that we don’t understand the random parping. How patronising. How any sane person can claim that the M is the ultimate camera is beyond me. It may be for the 0.1% of photographic situations that their owners use them for, but for those of us who need to focus with lenses outside a 28-90mm range, want to use ultra wides, tele zooms, have auto focus, use continuous drive modes that allow us to shoot above 1 frame per second, want to use flash with TTL, or use off camera lighting, or have a viewfinder that shows us the image as it will be shot with accurate framing, or heaven forbid shoot in colour or be able to use our camera in live view from the rear LCD…. well, to each their own.

        As for pricing… granted the “Luxo” TL2 may only be 1000 euros more than a Sony A6500 when it’s EVF cost is included, but at least Sony have 3 other much cheaper cameras with basically the same sensor and basically the same image quality at rather lower price points. Consumer choice is supposed to be a good thing, right?

        Also, what is the point of a luxuriously over-engineered digital camera, when such cameras as not investments but consumables, their sensor and technology outdated in a few years? What about the battery? What about when the memory card format is no longer in production? You only have to look back a decade to see the effect. Who wants a fancy premium second hand camera when you cant turn it on or get media to fit it? Collectors?

        Does anyone apart from me remember the Rollei QZ? According to Rollei it had one foot in the past, and one foot in the future. It was designed by Porsche (that well known specialist in camera ergonomics…) to be both retro and modern, it was beautifully finished in titanium, and it had a very sharp fixed zoom lens with a slow aperture. It was devastatingly expensive, and so exclusive that only the very special should own it. Do you remember it? No, exactly, it has been consigned to the dustbins in the side-streets of history. The only thing that Rollei did wrong was to make the camera without the special brand kudos that is steeped onto Leica by their rich customers. I have never understood why Leica keeps coming top in those brand surveys where the public are asked to name or score the world’s most valuable brands. Valuable to who? Rich poseurs, that’s who.

        Sorry to be so outspoken – but you wouldn’t expect anything less.

        • philberphoto says:

          Adrian, I knew I was going to get some flak for this post, and you do not disappoint! Not that I mind, because part of me agrees with you. But part only, because it would be just as simplistic to be dismissive of all things Leica as Leica are vis-à-vis the rest of the world. Where I strongly disagree with you is when you classify all Leica owners/shooters as rich poseurs. When I look at the work they publish on my usual photo forum (Fred Miranda), that is far from a fair description. Many of them are really serious, talented, committed ‘togs. Besides, I have to confess, I almost became one of them. I once owned a NEX 5 with a couple of Zeiss ZM as my “small system”, and lost it to a thief. I was in the market for a replacement, and my dealer had a second-hand M8. I played with it on a Saturday and thought I’d think it over the Sunday. When I called the shop, I was told he’d sold it minutes after I left. That is how I got a NEX 5N instead, fell in love with the output of modern Sony sensors (the 5N was much better than the 5 in this respect), and this is still ongoing. And yes, the Sony A900 was first past the 20Mp post. And a fine image-maker, too!

          • Adrian says:

            You are absolutely eight that not all Leica owners are rich poseurs – but as a brand they have pandered for years to the rich collectors market with special editions in special colours with special presentation boxes. That comment is mostly aimed at the M. I see the TL as something for consumers with too much money who want a “posh” looking camera. Ming Thein isn’t a rich poseur, but then I cant accept the size, weight, specification and cost of the SL system and that someone like Ming couldn’t take just as good photos with something a lot cheaper. As well as good photos, I have also seen total rubbish produced by Leica owners, who clearly were so seduced by the mythos of he brand and particularly the M system, but didn’t have the artistry or skill. I remember I used to look at a Japanese blog by a photographer who often used very humble film cameras around Tokyo, and produced excellent street photos and the like with a Ricoh R10 (also known as the Elle), a pocket film camera that could be bought for about $10. It’s just all the ridiculous fuddy-duddy mythos particularly piled on the M system, and their owners willful denial that their cameras and stuck in past and entirely unsuitable for 99% of photography.

        • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

          Thanks, Adrian – I’m afraid I have to agree, but only up to a point.

          Some Leica owners really ARE serious Leica enthusiasts, they buy the stuff because it’s what they want, to do what they want to do, and they do it EXTREMELY well. I found that out, because I actually know one of them, and I admire his stuff wholeheartedly. He’s a passionate owner of a Leica M (I think I got that right) because he shoots B&W. And I love his stuff so much I’d buy some of his prints, if I had the wall space available to hang them.

          Others – like my imbecile brother – seem to imagine that red dot turns them into Ansell Adams or Cartier Bresson. It doesn’t. It simply turns them into a complete pain in the ass. The dot is a warning – it’s like measles – see it and run – find the nearest exit!

          Perhaps it’s unfair to lump them all together as rich poseurs – my Leica M friend is actually rather shy and humble, and I’d NEVER think of him in those terms.

          But when I found a pair of them sitting at the next table, in la place du Tertre, Montmartre, I had to leave. They were openly displaying EIGHT Leicas. The thieves and pickpockets could see them from the other side of the square. Being anywhere near them was a health hazard, as well as a wealth hazard. Their attitude to other people’s equipment was EXACTLY what you are saying, Adrian. I can’t comment on the quality of their photos, I never got to see any of them – but their social skills, the degree to which they displayed the symptoms of the most severe attack of GAS I’ve ever come across in over 60 years, and everything else, left me shuddering.

          • Adrian says:

            I think it’s all the Henri Cartier Bresson street photography pretence of the M system that is so unbearable, as if its the *only* camera than can possibly take street photos, and all the fuddy-duddy psycho-babble about connecting you with the scene in the viewfinder etc etc – as I said, it’s the jazz of photography, because M mount fans will merely tell you that you don’t understand! They also wilfully ignore the fact that M cameras are extremely unsuitable for many / most other types of photography – you get into the kind of debate that of course you can use an M for sports, because photographer X used one to shoot the Berlin Olympics in 1936 or something (I am making this up, you get the idea), and therefore ignoring the fact that no professional at the 2012 Olympics used one to photography anything…

            I laughed out loud when it was announced that Leica had solved the problem of focusing the lenses that would fit the rangefinder frame lines… by introducing live view on the rear screen! It had never occurred to me that until recently even the digital M cameras didn’t have a live view feed. Congratulations to them for solving a problem with a feature that every pocket digital camera has had since 1997!

            To be totally fair, I was always interested in Leica’s lenses because of their relationship with Minolta in the 1970s and 80s – most of the R SLR cameras and some lenses were made by Minolta and/or designed by them, and of course Leica commissioned Minolta to make the CL and 3 lenses. Anecdotally this was because Minolta had made it their business to understand and copy some of the attributes of Leica’s best in their own range (plasticity, 3d-rendering, liquid colour etc) and Leica was so impressed that when they wanted a third party to work with, it was obvious who to ask.

  • Bob Hamilton says:

    My experience of selling Leica cameras, in particular the S cameras, is that you can, in relative terms, hardly give them away and, for something priced new in the U.K. at over £13,000 (the top of the line S typ 007) you should expect no more than £6,000 (less than 50%) back for a mint condition example and should also expect the sale process to take several months. I’ve had a similar experience with M cameras and have no reason to think that the rest of their products would be materially different.
    They are little better made than the mainstream competition and the image quality is, in reality, no better, despite the red dot hype.
    Don’t touch Leica with the proverbial barge pole and, if you really feel the need to spend £13,000, buy 5 or 6 Sony A7R2 cameras instead…..!!!!

    • PaulB says:


      It’s hard to argue with your logic, and experience.

      Though, for some reason the emotion is strong. I have been trying to use the same logic to avoid buying a TL, that my local dealer has marked down to a fair price, as a dedicated body for my 135mm APO-Telyt. That is until you add in the cost of the adapter and the EVF, then logic sends emotion back outside.


      • philberphoto says:

        Bob you are in a classic spot! I was there too when I almost bought a marked-down M8. It sold before I made up my mind…:-)

        • Bob Hamilton says:

          The other point I should have made is that, in my experience (and that of many others) of the flagship Leica S system, the equipment is, despite the manufacturer’s claims to the contrary and portrayal of it as a “professional” system, prone to reliability issues.
          My S typ 006 (the last CCD sensor version) had to be returned to Germany for replacement of the sensor as it had, despite tender loving care from one careful owner, cracked at the four corners and, of the three such cameras advertised currently for sale on a well known and extremely reputable used camera seller company website, two, including mine, are described as having new sensors replaced by Leica Germany (mine was, thankfully, replaced free of charge).
          The lenses, particularly the diaphragm and the AF motors, are prone to failure. On a visit to Iceland in 2011, the diaphragm on my 180mm lens failed, meaning that I could only use the lens at it widest aperture. Leica repaired it free of charge. A year later, the same thing happened to my 35mm lens and, again, Leica repaired it free of charge. A couple of years ago, the AF motor failed on my 180mm lens and, again, Leica, despite a bit of toing and froing, repaired it free of charge. Shortly after that, the AF motor failed on my 30-90mm zoom and, yet again, Leica repaired it free of charge. On none of these occasions did Leica admit publicly that there was any issue with the products, although one senior executive in Leica UK did admit to me that the AF motors were not man enough for the job of pushing all that glass around, that the problem was common to all the lenses in the system and that I should expect the other lenses to fail in time. That was one of the main reasons why I decided, after much soul searching, to get out of the system. How could I confidently undertake a photographic trip with the knowledge that an important bit of equipment could fail at any point? Digital cameras are infinitely more complex than their film ancestors but one thing which should be completely bomb proof is a Leica lens and that part of the system was, ironically, the area with which I experienced the most problems.
          The other main reason was that, despite promises that the system would be developed, with a pretty clear roadmap given at its launch in 2008, much of that never materialised, particularly in the longer focal length lenses, and I decided reluctantly that the system would never be just that for me – a “complete system” – and would always lack an element I really needed. It became obvious, with the launch of the SL and its “smart” adaptors for, in particular S system lenses, that that system was the one Leica was backing and developing, albeit slowly, and that the S was dead and, although not admitted by Leica, despite much correspondence with them on the subject of system development, in its end of life cycle. I repeatedly asked them to produce a matched 1.5 times tele-converter for the longest native lens – the 180mm – and eventually received a response from one of the top executives in Leica Germany that there would be no such product as, despite repeated requests for such a product from many users, Leica deemed there to be an insufficient return on investment to justify its development. While, as a retired business man, I could understand fully that business decision, as a long term Leica user, with a huge investment in a system, such “dishonesty” completely pissed me off and, in the end, alienated me. Truth be told also, the image quality is, in reality, little better than the mainstream, full frame competition and soon likely to be completely overtaken by them in terms of IQ.
          A sad day for me as a Leica owner of many, many years but one has to recognise a dead end and move on, even if it means losing a substantial amount of money in the process.
          Rant over.

          • philberphoto says:

            Bob, I feel your pain. It would however be unfair to Leica to brand them the only company that does shutter one of its product lines after it fails to deliver expected market share and financial returns. As an example, I am sure that not all A-mount users are that happy with Sony right now. As regards reliability, there are two sides to your mishaps. On the one hand the products failed all too often, adn that is plain bad. On the other, Leica did fix them at no cost to you, above and beyond strict warranty terms. That at least mitigates the hurt.
            But the worst part, of course, is that you could neither trust the system to operate reliably while on a trip, nor trust the company to give you honest information on the system’s future. Ultimately, though, even if these two factors had been remedied, the advent of Sony-based MF systems at much lower cost (Pentax, Hasselblad, Fuji) make Leica S prices unsustainable. Hence my welcoming of a competitive repositioning in the APS-C space, even if it does nothing for you. And, let’s face it, though not many of us will ever admit it, it gives you/us the opportunity to “justify” getting new toys…:-)

    • philberphoto says:

      Bob, you prove one of my points, which is that, “Red-Dot” perception aside, some of Leica’s more expensive cameras don’t measure up if IQ-for-money is what you’re after. That said, it was clear to me that, as cameras moved towards ever more electronic content, they couldn’t hold their value as well as mechanical Leica cameras of yore. There is this myth (are you listening, Pascal?) that cameras have now reached a point when you can be content with present performance, and expect to keep a camera for many years. We are far from it IMHO. I expect the pace of relevant progress to continue, and the likes of us should be aware of what it cost to trade up every couple of years.

      • Adrian says:

        Agree with all you said. The Leica price/performance ratio is below all other camera makers, and electronic cameras have nowhere near the long term second hand value of their mechanical forebears. In fairness, the M mounts mechanical forebears on kept their value because the cameras basically never really changed for decades. Digital cameras now almost universally have excellent image quality, but will continue to improve – more resolution, dynamic range, colour depth, lower noise, higher frame rates, better video. I believe it is a conceit to say “this camera will.last me a lifetime” – partly because something new and better will ultimately pique your interest, and partly because eventually your camera will develop a fault and will not be serviceable. I know of many Sony/Minolta users who refuse to upgrade their A850/900 SLRs because of their OVF, in spite of image quality that is bettered by a modern £400 camera and lack of parts wth mean that, for example, the shutter/mirror mechanism may not be able to be replaced. I always encourage such users to.upgrade, and certainly never to buy a used one now, not because it was a bad camera for its time but because you are likely to be throwing money away on something with outdated imaging and a relatively short lifespan. My view on cameras and computers is generally to buy the cheapest model that can do what you want, because in 3 years you will want a new one, it will be obsolete, or it will break. That’s my fundamental issue with Leica (apart from all the red dot mythos) – huge prices for sensors that can be had in something at a fifth of the price. A camera should be a tool, not a lifestyle statement, for me anyway.

      • Bob Hamilton says:

        I largely agree with your comments about the manner in which my faulty equipment was dealt with by Leica (although it shouldn’t have been faulty in the first place as none of my equipment is subjected to “professional grade” abuse). It was, however, as I said, only after a bit of correspondence on who would bear the repair cost of the equipment which was well out of warranty, that the repairs were undertaken at no cost to myself and only after, as a last resort, my use of the term “latent defect” in an email to the Leica employee responsible for the S system in the UK. Thankfully, that seemed to do the trick as they were well aware of existence of the inherent fault(s).
        Despite my S system experience, I kept a relatively open mind on Leica products and tested the SL with the 24-90mm zoom. I found it to be nicely made but quite compromised in certain aspects and on comparing its image quality to that of the Fuji X-T2, I found that there was no discernible benefit to be had by buying the SL. The Fuji’s image quality was easily the equal of the SL, the body and lenses were substantially lighter and more compact, despite being almost as well made and sufficiently well made, the selection of lenses and focal length spanned was far greater and I could buy several “complete” X-T2 systems for the price of the SL. I would suspect that most of the same findings would apply to the Leica TL and, although the development capabilities of the full frame SL are undoubtedly greater, in terms of potential sensor resolution, than the APS-C X-T2, my recommendation to prospective buyers of Leica 24mpx cameras would be to try the Fuji, which is meaningfully less expensive and much more flexible and to ask themselves what their real image size needs are.

        • philberphoto says:

          Regarding the identity of the Leica shooter, to me, an outsider, it looks like this.
          The first segment are the legacy shooters who already shot Leica film. Then Leica was (one of) the performance choice(s), used by photo agencies, military ‘togs and HCB of course. Plus, one could use their cameras almost forever, which made them affordable for the true aficionado. Calling them anything other than serious photographers would be more than just a mistake.
          The second segment is made of more recent Leica converts, on the back of the brand’s offering, principally the shooting experience, rangefinder, sublime lenses and all. Add more serious photographers to the count. I suspect that this is where (a) there are many readers of DearSusan, and (b) Leica have lost serious market share because their products don’t always measure up to the price tag.
          The third segment is made of people who flock to buy what is recommended by the rich to the rich. Some of them might be serious photographers as well, by pure coincidence. Most others, I suspect, have their Leica gathering dust because there is more to being HCB than touting his camera in “the right circles”.
          This is the groupe, the quest for which has been most visible in Leica’s marketing, efforts which have turned the previous group off. The success of this wooing has made Leica profitable, just as Louis Vuitton are profitable. Now who would go out on a shoot with a Louis Vuitton photo bag? 🙂

    • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

      The war (“difference of opinion”?) between my idiot brother and me over cameras erupted when I bought my Zeiss Contarex, way back in 1963. He is blessed with that absurd notion that his “opinions” have intrinsic validity and override anyone else’s. Right from the start he hurled abuse at my choice and vanted his Leica – as if I cared (I was also still fooling around with some delightful pre- and post-World War II junk, which I had great fun with – I simply wasn’t in his mindset, so nothing he had to say was of interest to me, although that never stopped the flow of words downgrading Zeiss’s stuff). Then Hasselblad got Zeiss to enlarge its famous Planar lens, to stick on the ‘blad that NASA launched into space, and the Planar became the first lens to be used on the moon – I bet Leica thought that sucked !!! – I know my brother did !!!

      None of this debate is worth having. We each buy and use what suits us. If we got something that didn’t suit us, our photography would suffer as a consequence. Paul Perton will probably be able to illuminate us all on this one, but I really don’t imagine that a person who spends $25 grand on fishing gear catches any more salmon, fly fishing in Scotland, than someone who spent less than half that amount. The same goes for photography. The “greats” said it all YEARS ago – t’ain’t the camera that takes the photo, it’s the person holding it.

  • Adam Bonn says:

    It seems that (in my humblest opinion) Leica somehow realised that many of their customers were supplementing their Leica acquisitions with cameras from lesser brands, because some users occasionally have a need for AF, an EVF that’s actually built into the camera, passable video and an ISO performance that didn’t throw in the towl after late afternoon light

    So they very cleverly (and quite adroitly by most accounts) made some modern cameras, the Q, the SL, and the TL (which they really messed up by not making it FF with an M mount IMO – had they done this, they wouldn’t have been able to make them fast enough, wouldn’t have impacted M sales and would of been beating customers away with a shitty stick, but I digress) so that M owners needn’t sully their Billinghams with the blingless spawn of lesser manufacturers when they fancied owning a camera that was a teeny-tiny bit more versatile

    The weird thing is, Leica haven’t got cheaper, Sony have got more expensive, wanting Q money for an RX1R and SL money for an A9… much like how Grand Seiko watches don’t sell like Rolexes, despite offering more and costing the same, I’ll be keen to see how that pans out for Sony

    The modern Leicas seem to hold up well in the various reviews. They’ve really closed the gap

    But as Bob H points out, another gap that’s been closed is the resale – sure an M9 or even 8 is at the bottom of its depreciation curve but the market for M240s is a buyers paradise

    I think the modern Leicas are truly versatile machines, and stand up well to peer comparisons, but probably still best to wait out a new model for a while, see what faults develop, which of these faults Leica address and let someone else take the from new depreciation hit.

    And is it just me, or does the aesthetic charm of the TL completely evaporate when you stick a native AF lens on it?

    • philberphoto says:

      Adam, according to my sources, the reason why Leica are moving over to AF (think S, SL, TL) is because thie customer base is getting older, and so are their eyes. No coincidence that Zeiss released AF lenses (Batis) at the same time. As for the rest of your point, you should have a fine argument with Adrian, while I sit back and watch sparks fly…:-)

      • Steve says:

        “…getting older, and so are their eyes.” You just nailed the whole manual/auto thing. AF is a must for me as trying to manually focus is a nightmare involving multiple pairs of glasses. With varifocals on I have to tilt my head to untenable angles and if I’m wearing my varifocal polaroid shades the LCD screen goes black, defending on orientation. Looking down at the LCD requires my “computer specs” but if I use the viewfinder wearing them a total blur ensues so i need my reading glasses. And it can only get worse. AF rules my world except for rare combinations of tripod, light, subject and specs.

      • Adrian says:

        I do t disagree with much of what Adam says. The biggest issue I have with Leicas products is their price/performance ratio. As I said, then the TL1 was released I laughed out loud at its years old NEX3 sensor in a £1700 camera. As mentioned elsewhere in these comments, the standard zoom.lens has an f6.3 aperture, so for £1300 it really ought to be good. It’s not hard to make a good lens of such mediocre spec when yoi dont have to hit a £150 retail price point, I’m sure any of the big marques could do it, and then get laughed out of town.

        As for Sony’s, and pricing in general, I think currency and the Japanese earthquake have been factors. Is the A6500 expensive compared to a similar sports APSC SLR with a high frame rate? Not really, it’s just because of its form.factor, we don’t mentally put it in that product bracket. There are plenty of APSC SLRs in its price range.

        Sony have made it clear their financial recovery strategy is based on disruptive technology and innovative products that do things you can’t get elsewhere. From that perspective, the high frame rate continuous shooting, high refresh rate evf, tracking focus ability, 4k/super slow motion video etc put it in a category separate from cameras such as the TL, which cannot compete with those unique features of the A6500.

        One should also remember that Sony’s goals with imaging have been high resolution, high ISO, and high speed – exactly what the A7R, A7S and new 9 offer – and again their opinion is that those capabilities and somewhat unique and therefore come at a premium. Is the A9 expensive? Compared to it’s Canon Nikon sports peers, the price is about right, given it can shoot faster and longer than its competitors – again, Sony probably feel they are offering the consumer something better or unique. It’s telling that we dont compare the SL price to a Canon EOS 1Ds – why not?

        My biggest issue with Leica products is their price performance ratio and their parts bin last years spec. For me, a digital camera is not an investment, it is a tool and the thing that matters more than anything is image quality – a decent photographer should be able to live with some ergonomic frustrations and still get good photographs, provided the image quality is there. Why on earth would I pay £5000 for an SL with a sensor from a £700 Sony A7? Sony price on specification and ability – Leica (to an extent) price on brand position and luxo finish that is irrelevant in a few years when the camera is obsolete and you can’t get a battery for it. I wouldn’t touch a TL2, not because it’s a bad camera, but because it’s simply too expensive for what it can do.

      • Adam Bonn says:

        I’m not sure that Adrian and I would have much to disagree on…

        Although I did delete the part of my post that read something like, “with the M10 Leica have finally managed a FF sensor that outperforms APSC”

        Perhaps I should of left it in!

        I’m not that convinced about the late middle aged disposable income target customer and waning eyesight… (that would be the ILC M mount Q that everybody so desperately wants, the one that would most likely seriously eat into M sales) I think more likely the big red dot are trying to hook lifelong customers at an earlier age, plus they’ve apparently adopted the same supplier for the image sensor across the board which gives them the scope to provide multiple platforms with minimum extra investment

        Much like how Fuji want you to buy a GFX but actually make all their money from Instax, Leica cottoned on to the idea of having “cheaper” more versatile cameras than the M, that could be manufactured relatively cheaply.

        Despite the rhetoric, Leica (like any sensible company) have never shied away from reducing costs, be that lenses made in Canada, Ms made in Portugal or X/X Varios made in (iirc) Korea

        It seems as well that camera updates have slowed throughout the industry.

        There was a struggling motorcycle mag in the UK, legend has it they cut the mag price by half, sold twice as many, but couldn’t understand why they didn’t have any extra money.

        Sony seems to be doing the inverse of this (no new A7R every year, but instead two years later an A9 that costs twice as much)

        This pushes the price into the Leica zone, which suddenly makes Leica look affordable, but that’s actually the tail wagging the dog

        When I bought a XT1 my mrs bought a A6000 and I distinctly remember wondering how the **** could the fuji cost twice as much

        Now the A6500 (or whatever it’s up to) costs more than a XT2 (iirc… more or less anyway)

        I think ultimately the TL is a valid camera… like the rangefinder one offering a unique way, if you want a camera that works like your phone its the only game in town, and in context, not a stupidly expensive cost of ownership to shoot pictures of it with your iPhone, on the table in starbucks, next your Mercedes keys, so you can hashtag it #feelingblessed and upload it to Instagram 😉

        • Adrian says:

          Adam the only thing I don’t agree with are the final comments about pricing. Nobody has said thr EOS 1Dx or Nikon D5 makes the Leica SL look affordable because of their pricing, yet the Sony A9 does. Why single out Sony for making thr SL look affordable? Nikon and Canon have been doing that already – and s I previously said, the A9 is aimed squarely at those competitors,is priced just right, and they all do things the SL simply cannot. If you need a sports camera, the SL isn’t an alternative, and if you don’t need a sports camera the Sony A7ii has a sensor that is slightly better at lower ISO for a quarter of thr price – which makes the SL look decidedly overpriced on my opinion,considering the A7 and SL share a sensor!

          As for thr A6500 compared to the TL (mark 1?), there’s no comparison. I accept the TL mark 2 appears to rival the A6590, but with contrast detect AF only and a “17 fps” mode that doesn’t mention continuous focusing, I think we will find its not competitive at all. Therefore Sony have 2 much cheaper cameras with similar sensors, which I feel are more fair comparisons. Again as mentioned earlier, nobody is commenting on the price of apsc “sports” aimed SLRs making the TL look affordable – why single out Sony, who have priced the A6500 in the same ballpark and Canon and Nikons equivalents.

          The A6000 was a huge bargain t release, and even more so now with price drops. I don’t understand how Fuji et al can sell their “premium” apsc models at their price points, given the pricing of models lile the A6000 and A7ii.

          Personally, I don’t think £3000 for an apsc camera with an f3.5-5.6 standard zoom lens is particularly “affordable”, but I take your pont that depending on what you compare it too, the price gap doesn’t feel as large as it once did.

  • NMc says:

    Regarding competition, well that depends on what they are offering as premium. We need more competition in the market for user experience, ergonomics and haptics. However if the competition is just for designer good looks man-jewelry then nothing to get excited about yet.
    Regards Noel

    • philberphoto says:

      Noel, you are right on! But, as Adrian points out in his comment, even the outdated-and-very-overpriced innards of the Leica T produced some fine images, if you bothered to look past the price tag and the specifications. But you did have to suspend disbelief at some factors. For example, their basic lens was standard zoom except in one respect. Its maximum aperture at the long end was f:6.4. Even slower than plastic kit zooms, which clocked in at f:5.6. f:6.4 at Leica prices, and you had to shake your head in wonderment. What were Leica thunking???

  • Brian Nicol says:

    Greetings! I recently moved from my Leica M240 to the Leica SL. I used to also have a Sony A7R system but have now consolidated down to the SL. I love using my M lenses on it as well as the extra reach of the 24-90. It has an amazing simple user interface when set up to user preference. It has the best user experience that I have enjoyed since digital arrived and I no longer have to scroll through menus. I suspect that the sensor is limited to 24Mp to maximize compatibility with M lenses since there are a dearth of SL lenses yet. However, I have no problem with 24Mp as I can print large enough with the files. By the way, I am not rich and actually take pictures. I am fed up with people bashing the owners of Leica as if they know who buys them and that we are all stupid silly money people with no skills. I have met more than a few Canon owners with pro level cameras with no clue about basics but who cares; they are entitled to buy what they want. As for me, the SL camera and the glass rendering that I have enables me to enjoy getting out and create the images I enjoy. I was never happy with the haptics of other digital cameras and love the simplicity of Leica. Others will like other options depending on personal preferences. We are blessed with a wealth of camera and glass choices today that deliver way beyond adequate for all. I find digital has put a silly emphasis on incompetent spec analysis and incompetent lens analysis instead of the image. How many painters talk about their brush being better because it has 50 Mp of rare Siberian monkey hairs hand assembled by virgins certified daily. The camera and lenses are mere tools to achieve a snapshot or creative end – an evocative image. As for me, I am delighted that Leica has provided me with a choice I love. I would never buy the TL2 unless it had a built in viewfinder but that does not make it a bad camera-it just does not suit me. Anyway, I must go for now as I feel like getting creative….

    • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

      ROTFLMHAO – thanks for your comment, Brian. I don’t really think it means a huge amount to most of us, what gear we choose – the difference comes from what we do with it – and we all (hopefully) end up with something that fits our own comfort zone and suits our own needs.
      Example – a friend of mine is a leading bird photographer and often urges me to come with him on a shoot – but if I did, I’d need a powerful tele lens and really, for the few shots I’d ever use it for, it’s much better for me to enjoy his photos than to take my own.
      I did feel an empathy with your love of the simplicity of Leica – my cams (like so many these days) have zillions of functions, programs etc – and frankly, I generally shoot manual, so most of that stuff is wasted in my case. My selection wasn’t based on those specs anyway – it was all about sensor size, the pixels, the lenses I wanted to be able to use, and so on – no doubt the makers would be mortified by my ingratitude for all the other fairy lights they festooned on their products, but I’m more interested in the photographs I take, than the toys I use to take them with.

  • Adam Bonn says:

    @Adrian, all the comments are completely out of sync (as the order in which they appear is as threaded, but they only appear as they’re approved), so hard to converse really!

    The SL/A9 comparison is because they’re similar tech, you’re righ of course, we should be comparing the SL/A9/etc to things like the D5 – but we tend to try and compare like for like. It’s easy to say “apples and oranges” but yes – fundamentally its all fruit


    Happy you’re happy!

    Not wishing to sound argumentative (and probably failing miserably)

    But a modern fully loaded camera is a complex beast. I doubt there’s many that need everything that their camera can do.

    This means we can either buy a complex camera and ignore the guff we don’t need or buy a less equipped camera that has only the bare bones we do need.

    Leica often produce the latter and that’s commendable. Leica users often site omission as a feature in its own right and that justifies extra expenditure and that’s (IMO) just illogical man maths

    I’m NOT saying that’s you per se Brian (I don’t think it is at all tbh), but a lot of Leica people like to proudly proclaim their camera cost twice as much for half the features.

  • Brian Nicol says:

    Greetings again. I loved this post and enjoyed the bicycle pictures and forgot to mention that when I got irritated at a number of the Leica comments. I also loved that it was a collection of images on one subject which helps explore a theme and show the creative options available on a subject.

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