#839. Monday Post (01 April 2019) – Leica and Zeiss to merge!

By philberphoto | Monday Post

Apr 01

In my last post of 2018, I forecasted that, due to the continuing contraction of the market for cameras, and thus for lenses, there would be mergers between competitors and/or companies exiting the market.

Frankly, my suppositions were that, for example, Panasonic and Olympus could/would merge their camera divisions as they shared the Micro 4/3 format. Or that weaker players (by market share) might exit the industry, perhaps Ricoh/Pentax.

But the bombshell has exploded, and, while the forecast was correct, the companies involved are a total surprise. Zeiss and Leica are to merge their camera divisions! Obviously one might refer to the “German meets German” component, but it was/is thought that there is more rivalry than camaraderie between the two firms.

Still, with the benefit of what is now 20/20 hindsight, it makes total sense. Zeiss own Schott, a premier manufacturer of exotic grades of glass, of which Leica is an eager customer. The merger will give Leica an inside into Schott.

Also, it was thought that the Zeiss connection with Sony would run opposite to Leica’s with Panasonic. Yet Sony are a major shareholder in Olympus, who in turn are major partners with Panasonic. So, Japan-side, it is all “in the family”.

Then the much-anticipated Zeiss ZX1 appears to be delayed. This conveniently leaves a window of opportunity for the launch of the Leica Q2, targeted at the same customers. It might even be that the delay of the ZX1 would be to take time to commonalize parts of the two designs.

Lastly, people wondered who is the manufacturer of the Zeiss ZX1. The sleek, stark black look of the camera evokes Sigma more than anyone else. Yet Sigma are partners with Leica in the L-mount alliance, which would have, without this merger, made it quite uncomfortable for them to work for both German rivals. But now no more!

Where is this going? The announcement is still fresh, so not much detail is available. The name remains to be announced, whether it is Leiss or Zeica. Leica’s expertise in designing compact lenses of high speed and performance opens the door to new f:1.4 Loxias, to be called Loxilux, whereas the existing ones will become Loxiar, a contraction of Loxia and Elmar. Similarly, the mooted range of Zeiss mini-Otus (f:2.0) will now be Otucron, and will be available also with an L-mount.

Conversely, because Zeiss already have expertise in adapting its lenses on third-party mounts (Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Sony), this will open new commercial avenues for Leica, and there are rumours (as yet unconfirmed) that the ZX1 concept will now be applied to MF on a Leica S-system foundation.

As you can see, once one gets past the initial shock of such an unlikely combination, it makes total sense, as this merger offers far, far more than just the standard cost savings. That said, there are many cultural issues with mergers, and both management teams need to be proactive to avoid this cause of many downfalls.

I, for one, have already informed my friends at Zeiss that I want the first Loxilux 50 f:1.4, and possibly a MF ZX1 as well, with their 35mm f:2.0 acting like a 28mm f:1.4

Yummeee. Who is with me on that?


  [Pascal Adds :] Well, I’m not sure that I’m with you on that. A medium format ZX1? Sure, yes please!! And all the other product benefits as well, obviously. But, as a marketing consultant, I hate seeing these brands merge. Both carry a lot of history and symbolise very different things. These purely financial mergers may end up helping profits but they destroy our emotional “bonding” with those legendary manufacturers. And that’s just sad. Can we really imagine a world without Zeiss and Leica ?

 
 

On another, unrelated, topic, I’ll be posting the results of the Visual Haiku challenge very soon. If you haven’t submitted yours, please do so today or tomorrow. Thanks!

Also, the X1D rolling review has been updated with issues with the silent shutter, auto-ISO setting and Phocus adjustment layers.

 
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  • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

    Well – blow me down! And I’ve been a Zeiss fan all my life!

    I get one laugh out of this – my useless brother has spent a lifetime imagining Leica is somehow superior and now, it seems, they’re the same.

    Can we really imagine a world without Zeiss and Leica? Pascal – a few short years ago, people were asking questions like that about Kodak – and Agfa – and while they might or might not have had the same status as Z & L, they certainly had a huge share of the market.

    Maybe this will give even more of a chance to SIGMA’s Foveon sensor – wouldn’t it be fun to find one in a Leica?

  • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

    Philippe, are you certain your source for this information wasn’t a poisson?

  • Pascal B. says:

    This is indeed a bombshell.
    The ultimate brand name will have some importance, and I would hope they would draw on the vas experience and knowlege of Pascal J. to guide them.
    As one might imagine, should they want to combine the existing brands to benefit from the huge visibility, Zeica would work better than Leiss in the British speaking world.

  • Tim Ball says:

    Haha. I just wish you hadn’t made the date so prominent in the heading, it gave it away much too soon! Great fun anyway.

  • Vlad. says:

    1st of April.

  • Chris says:

    A hahaha. You almost got me. April Fools! πŸ™‚

  • Dave says:

    Ah, yes. Today is April 1st

  • Pascal Ravach says:

    Ok, even knowing the date, I believed it!!
    Unconscious wish or what?? For that merge ? What a pervert thinking πŸ™

    Beside, modern “lines” are not my cup of tea, but your pics are amazing… the 8th one is a jewel… an emerald and a sapphire, let’ say πŸ™‚
    And I like a lot the last abstract one… very “atmosphΓ¨re”, as we say…
    Well done on both counts πŸ˜€
    Then, you cheated a bit about my regular dose of bicycles… this is not πŸ™‚

  • Dave says:

    Ah, yes. Today is April 1st!

  • Sean says:

    Pascal: Ah ha hah harrr!! Snorting whilst inhaling, whilst overbalancing backwards only to experience a terminal thud on my back, on the floor. Your clever title “… #839. Monday Post (01 April 2019) – Leica and Zeiss to merge! …” – it says it all …

  • Dean G Austin says:

    Nice writing. I appreciate your work

  • Kristian Wannebo says:

    Pascal,
    Well done, and well written! πŸ™‚
    But when I came to your preordering of the
    “first Loxilux 50 f:1.4”,
    that gave you away!

  • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

    OK guys – here’s one that ISN’T un poisson d’avril – China’s answer to selfie sticks! – I LOVE it – keep them all at home!

    https://www.nationalgeographic.com/travel/destinations/asia/china/tianducheng-paris-of-the-east-replica/?cmpid=org=ngp::mc=crm-email::src=ngp::cmp=editorial::add=Travel_20190402::rid=15710437

    Yeah OK – that wasn’t “politically correct” – it’s just my revenge for being elbowed out of the way by one of them in Place du TrocadΓ©ro – shortly before the foolish man discovered I have bigger, heavier, stronger elbows!

  • Kristian Wannebo says:

    There’s more…
    https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/original-copies-architectural-mimicry-in-contemporary-china

    Have some easy fun:
    https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2017/mar/30/fake-views-quiz-copycat-real-city-china

    ( There was a lot of talk in Sweden about a Chinese copy of our oldest town Sigtuna, but the supposed copy turns out to be a Scandinavian (hm) inspired conglomerate.)

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