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Author Topic: What Leica needs to do...  (Read 10550 times)
JohnBrew
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« on: January 20, 2010, 08:12:06 PM »
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While I agree with many of Michael's thoughts for a future rangefinder, it is interesting that Leica cannot keep up with current demand for the M9 and S2. I suppose there are enough of us old farts who actually like the anachronistic qualities or at least don't find them to be a hindrance.
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jeffok
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« Reply #1 on: January 20, 2010, 09:07:28 PM »
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The whole idea and value proposition of owning a Leica in the digital age is derived, I think, from the traditional craftsmanship, superlative optics, compact design and analog approach. Taking away the optical rangefinder and replacing it with an EVF (hardly a satisfactory replacement at this stage of technology evolution) would be like driving a BMW with a computer screen instead of a windshield. I own a Canon 1Ds3, a Panasonic LX-2, Pentax 67 and just bought a used Leica M6 with a 35mm Summicron ASPH earlier this month. Why would I do that? Because I still like the look that film gives and the Leica produces an image that is almost as good as the MF Pentax, in a small compact form factor. I'd rather see a rangefinder developed that can adapt to a wider variety of lenses, than lose this important feature that hardly any other modern camera retains today.
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rennie12
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« Reply #2 on: January 20, 2010, 09:39:00 PM »
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An interesting subject.   My first real camera was a IIIc, bought with painfully saved money in my late teens.  Since then I have used most everything - Nikons, Hasselblads, Rollei, the first Praktiflex, Speed Graphic, View cameras, etc - ending with the M series Olyumpus - my favorite 35mm.  I switched to Canon when they came out with the first stabilized lenses.  Switched to digital with the Canon Pro90 IS.  Present cameras - Canon M11, Pentax K10D, K20D, and K-x bodies with a modest lens collection, favorite being the 77LTD f1.8 (115mm 35mE).   I used several Leicas until I fell in love with the reflexes.

I take exception to only ONE thing in Michael's list - and it is a VERY STRONG objection.

Leica should use the usual contrast CMOS digicam focussing system and use a full-flex live LCD similar to that on the M11.  (though a full 180 degree fold out would be preferable since money would be no object).   I do believe Leica has enough money to make two models - one as present for real purists, and one as I suggest.  

Then the market can tell them which will sell.

Leica's usual top-of-the-line execution would make the LCD focus quite adequate, and the usual enlarged view would provide for super-accuracy when important.

Despite the enraged howls and whimpers of the purists - the LCD camera would be the one that sells - and will sell more and more by combining the legendary Leica quality and "feel" with a modern, easy to love view/focus system.

Bill Wilson


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rennie12
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« Reply #3 on: January 20, 2010, 09:41:27 PM »
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Quote from: JohnBrew
While I agree with many of Michael's thoughts for a future rangefinder, it is interesting that Leica cannot keep up with current demand for the M9 and S2. I suppose there are enough of us old farts who actually like the anachronistic qualities or at least don't find them to be a hindrance.

True, John - but I think Michael's (specific) point was that as us "old farts" (I am 80!) leave the scene the line will need new blood.   Bill W.
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Anders_HK
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« Reply #4 on: January 20, 2010, 10:59:30 PM »
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I too strongly disagree with MR's desires.

Having gone through SLR's, DSLR's, MFDB, MF, Large Format... the M8/M9 is superb in handling. Lecia, please ignore the open letter and do not change anything of the fundamentals. Newer high-tech is not better than handling of a traditional camera. I am among those who simply do not like DSLRs because too many buttons, selections and electronics. And, that experience has been costly to me personally (also due certain ravings and opinions spelled out on internet). My M8 is a stark contrast to those high tech and is a wonderful camera, why? The M8 is SIMPLE. A camera should be simple to keep mind on photography. The suggested added electronic wiz bang would get between the image and me. No way.

I also do not have a "thumbs right", why? It would add bulk to the camera...

If I can give an open letter to Leica, it would be to keep the eye on photography as they have since the M1. I think more camera companies should take notice: It is not about the gear but about photographic capture.

Regards
Anders

----------------

Added: If Phase One and Leaf have the balls, they would develop a Mamiya 8 on same principles; either larger sensor to match FOV of Mamiya 7 lenses, or adding a 28mm.
« Last Edit: January 20, 2010, 11:18:04 PM by Anders_HK » Logged
dseelig
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« Reply #5 on: January 21, 2010, 12:17:15 AM »
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All I want is better high iso, possibly a focus confirmation, and a wider viewfinder that would show 24 mm frame lines, but keep the current viewfinder model as well.
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ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #6 on: January 21, 2010, 12:22:42 AM »
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Hi,

I enjoyed Michaels article. Some comments:

To begin with I guess that I'm not really a Leica buyer and that relates pretty much to cost, on the other hand I really appreciate optical quality. I also read the article series on the M9 at http://www.diglloyd.com a pay site worth every penny.

Although Michael really enjoys the M9 he admits that there are some issues with the RF concept. One of the issues is clearly focusing, the RF solution used on Leica has some practical limitations. In addition both Diglloyd and Erwin Puts have indicated that a viewfinder loupe is really needed for accurate focusing. The viewfinder concept does also not allow for exact framing.

In my view there is a need for a versatile high performing camera that can easily been carried around using very high quality lenses. Technology is around for a new generation of cameras. Interestingly, Leica's buddy Panasonic has most of the components, except a 24x36 size CMOS sensor. I would not really argue for an M10 along the lines Michael's lines, I would argue for a DL1 with much of the M9 gestalt implemented on todays best technology.

On the other hand, it would be possible to improve the existing M9 with the following features:

1) A live view, full frame sensor (even if this is a serious issue, as now one of Leica's buddies make such a sensor)
2) Contrast sensing focus indicator at arbitrary position on the sensor
3) An add on Electronic View Finder, preferably with a better physical layout than the ones from Panasonic and Olympus
4) This would be a rangefinder camera with an EVF capability
5) It would be possible to add a few contacts for driving AF and possibly have some new lenses sporting AF with internal motors

Best regards
Erik
« Last Edit: January 21, 2010, 12:27:48 AM by ErikKaffehr » Logged

Ben Rubinstein
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« Reply #7 on: January 21, 2010, 12:53:54 AM »
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I'd say, just add live view. That's it. The traditionalists will refuse to use it and people like myself for whom the rangefinder concept just doesn't work (for several reasons) will be able to compose accurately, focus easily, use polarisers, be able to see what we're shooting even with a 75mm lens, etc, etc.

I suppose I'm one of MR's 'under 30's' though only by 6 months. I cannot do what I do (for my walk around/travel work) with a rangefinder. Not without tearing my hair out. I could do it with live view and it would very happily replace my 5D and zoom lens and expensive tripod which I'm using at present for my work.

If the M9 would have had LV, Leica would have had me as a customer.

I really don't see that Leica will have an EVF though, not in this decade!  
« Last Edit: January 21, 2010, 12:55:10 AM by Ben Rubinstein » Logged

aizan
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« Reply #8 on: January 21, 2010, 01:46:08 AM »
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Everything Michael wants can be addressed with the addition of Live View and an accessory EVF to the M9. The direct viewfinder is the best thing about rangefinders. Why throw out the baby with the bathwater?

I don't think the difficulty of focusing on repeating patterns is that much of an issue. To know a Leica is to know how far away something is. You need to practice, though.

If I were to write an open letter to Leica, it would go something like this:

- Design a new direct viewfinder with field-compensating LCD framelines. This alleviates the clutter of multiple framelines in the viewfinder, as well as improves framing accuracy.

- The viewfinder should also be a lower magnification. This would provide better visibility of the most important focal lengths used on rangefinders: 35mm and 28mm. It would be unnecessary to have a higher magnification because...

- Lenses would be autofocus. Contax did it about 15 years ago. No more rangefinder, no more EBL. Autofocus goes hand in hand with the LCD frameline mask, which allows free movement of the focusing spot.

- Use the Leica CL/Minolta CLE/Zeiss Ikon body contour as your inspiration for the left side of the new camera design, but make the right side just like the Konica Hexar RF. You don't need a Thumbs Up on that camera.

- Stop fiddling with the rewind corner. It was just fine on the M3/M2/MP, but it's been a mess ever since.


PS

I've been whining about the lack of folding hoods over LCDs in P&S digicams forever!
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DiaAzul
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« Reply #9 on: January 21, 2010, 03:35:00 AM »
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I would agree with Michael's article that Leica need to become more relevant to today's photographers if they are to survive. The article missed two important developments, image stabilisation and video, which are now standard features on modern compact cameras. It's nice to have high quality optics and build quality, but a poor picture taken with the best quality is still a crap picture, better to be able to take good images with OK quality...something which many cameras such as the Panasonic GF1 are more than capable of achieving.
« Last Edit: January 21, 2010, 03:35:35 AM by DiaAzul » Logged

David Plummer    http://photo.tanzo.org/
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« Reply #10 on: January 21, 2010, 05:22:48 AM »
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I wonder if an optical viewfinder in combination with with a transparent electronic overlay would work such, that information like focus confirmation (like the focus tool in Capture One) could be used inside the optical viewfinder.

Maybe it would be a technical challenge but not entirely impossible - would it ?

I recently had the chance to look through an M9 viewfinder and found the
distance measurement not really comfortable as opposed to the cut-image measurement
I was used to from my old Nikon FE or the microprism systems that existed.
The overlay of the images in the M9 viewfinder confused me.

But I would never want to omit an optical viewfinder.
The EVFs I had a chance to see through so far are horrible to my eyes.
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Pete_G
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« Reply #11 on: January 21, 2010, 05:50:59 AM »
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I had an M8 and couldn't stand the inaccuracy of the optical viewfinder, especially with the 75mm lens, when it was stolen I bought a CFV back for my Hasselblad 503 and am now happy again.

I would agree in general with Michael's feelings about the M series.

I wouldn't want to see the loss of the optical finder but I see a big need for an EVF for accurate focussing and framing. Perhaps Leica could incorporate both in a new camera, side by side, rather
like the old III series Leica's (I think it was). Look in one finder for optical and the other for EVF. The idea of an accessory EVF is not elegant, and I personally don't think live view is important for this kind of camera either.
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Wally
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« Reply #12 on: January 21, 2010, 10:39:51 AM »
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The issue with any current digital camera system DSLR, M8/M9 or MFDB is that it is still tied back to the film world. I love film, I still shoot with a lot of film but why do I need my digital camera to still have one foot in the film world?

I do not own a Leica Ranegfinder but if I did I would just buy a M7 and shoot with film rather than an M9. Michael is right in that Leica seems to want to keep everything the same as the the M7 but with a CCD instead of a roll of film.

Leica or some other camera company (Olympus? Panasonic? Sigma?) would be very smart to make a camera with a 35mm sized sensor that could take M series lenses and be smaller than a DSLR. Using Live View and/or an EVF. It would also not be very hard to make your own brand of lenses to work with the system that could be AF if you were Panasonic, Olympus or Sigma.

In a related note why doesn't Canon or Nikon make a DSLR without a mirror that uses live view and an EVF with the LCD screen on the back that flips out and turns. This could also be made much smaller and lighter than a regular DSLR and would make video much easier.
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bcooter
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« Reply #13 on: January 21, 2010, 10:50:57 AM »
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The $54 dollar question, is would you pay $5,400 to $8,000 for such a camera?

A lot of people always weigh into these discussions but few purchase (see every AFI, HY6 discussion in medium format).

The next question is does Leica make Jewelry or cameras?   I use to think cameras, but sometimes when I see a presentation of all those little cameras on Red boxes with the guy with the sweater I think they might be selling Jewelry and professional photographers don't care about Jewelry.

I was at a store where the sweater guy was behind the counter and I showed him a fashion image from an M8 and he said "most people don't use the cameras for that".  I replied if it was more stable and a little easier to use, maybe more people would.

   

Personally I don't care if Leica uses an EVF, or has live view, but from a professional standpoint I think it's important that they offer autofocus, secure tethering and a whole lot better quality control.  Autofocus ain't perfect but try to shoot at anything moving with a 90mm on an m8 or m9 at 5.6 and
you'll understand quickly the need for autofocus.

I have an M8, love it, love the files, but can't use it everyday, or even for a full project because you just can't trust the thing not to move wb around, or jam or just do something silly.  Will I buy an M9 . . . no . . . just because of these reasons.  Would I buy a reliable M10 with autfocus . . . in a heartbeat, because with it's lack of aa filter, small form factor for traveling (especially with tougher airline restrictions), I think it would be a great medium format alternative.

As far as video, I don't see the point because Panasonic and Canon have that covered, you have to have two complete camera set ups anyway if you shoot a combination of stills and video and honestly why tie up an expensive camera to shoot video when a comparable panasonic cost about a buck fifty?

But we can all discuss this until we're blue in the face and I don't see any of it changing.  Leica has taken the S-2 road for professionals and it's not the money it's the angst of trying and using any new medium format system, the wait for lenses, software, fine tuning, etc. etc. etc.    I just can't see the $50,000 investment it takes to switch or for that matter I think the days of the $50,000 still camera are over.  

BC
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Ben Rubinstein
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« Reply #14 on: January 21, 2010, 10:52:39 AM »
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Quote from: Pete_G
and I personally don't think live view is important for this kind of camera either.

That's the point though. Why should it remain just 'this kind of camera' when it can be so much more?
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image66
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« Reply #15 on: January 21, 2010, 10:55:15 AM »
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If Leica did that it would end up with a modern-day version of the M5.

Leica's success is dependent upon it playing Leica's game. If you want the next Leica to be a glorified Canon G11, then Leica will end up playing against Canon at Canon's game. Leica will lose.

Take the M9, add live-view and a plug-in electronic viewfinder and call it a day.
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soboyle
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« Reply #16 on: January 21, 2010, 12:05:07 PM »
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I recently bought a Leica M8, used it for a month, then sold it.
I really liked the image quality coming off the CCD, and the lenses.

But the difficult focusing is what made me sell the camera, I was missing to
many shots that I would have nailed with my other cameras. I lost interest in carrying the camera because of missed shots, despite the high quality body and lenses.
I probably would have improved my technique with time, but the focus patch on the M is quite small, and difficult to see in many of the shooting situations I find myself in.
I mentioned in a post a few months ago that a M with live view would be a very usable camera for certain types of shooting. Keep the optical rangefinder, but add live view for refining and nailing focus, and previewing depth of field.
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aizan
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« Reply #17 on: January 21, 2010, 12:08:44 PM »
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leica said that the r-system solution isn't going to be an slr, so michael might get his wish after all, sort of.

i hope it has the sony f828's form factor. couple tweaks here and there...


« Last Edit: January 21, 2010, 12:33:36 PM by aizan » Logged
BJL
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« Reply #18 on: January 21, 2010, 02:06:59 PM »
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Michael's idea is intriguing, and I agree that Leica could benefit from adding a truly "designed for digital" mirrorless system, even if it keeps the M9 and M7 product lines too. My one fear is that the current M-mount lenses themselves have too much historical baggage (OK, early 20th century, not 19th century).

I do not mean the lack of auto-focus; I mean the lack of the aperture stop-down mechanism used in lenses designed for through the lens focusing, which allows focusing to be done wide-open, with the lens then rapidly stopped to the selected aperture as part of the shutter release process. Without that, either manually stopping down is needed, or it might be a struggle to focus manually at high f-stops due to the with the dim, high DOF image given by the stopped down lens.

Is anyone here using M-mount lenses on an m4/3 body, and if so, how is the focusing? Am I too pessimistic?


P. S. One of the ideas I relay like is a detachable "modular" EVF, for several reasons.

One is being able to upgrade what is perhaps the weakest link in current mirrorless digital cameras and which is likely to improve rapidly.

Another is being able to reduce bulk at times by leaving it off (for those of us who are mostly happy with two-eyed rear-screen composing when there is no glare on the screen, like indoors)I suspect that the only EVF units small enough to fit in the body without adding a hump or significant bulk do not give adequate image size: EVF's have magnifiers, like SLR OCF's too.

A third is that a modular EVF could be used somewhat remotely with a cable, or at least moved around a bit, like on a tripod with the camera positioned very low.

A fourth is that such EVFs could be attractive accessories for DSLR's too, especially for video shooting where the OVF is useless.
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P Powers
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« Reply #19 on: January 21, 2010, 02:28:44 PM »
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Leica has always been out of my snack bracket so I'm not likely to buy one.  I've lusted for the Leica quality since the mid 50's but ended up with the Contax 139 and AX during the late 70's.  The AX was a monster in weight and size, but it did have 'in camera' focus that blundered along reasonably well but worked with all my Leitz lenses, and even provided a useful macro feature that really worked.  Now there are digital cameras with 'in camera' anti-shake that works will all lenses.  Why can't these processes be combined?  It would be a God-send to those with many excellent lenses [Leica].

Another useful feature I've experienced was the split body of the Nikon 9** or 4500 series.  A useful update might be a removable, bluetooth, hand-held device with a large live-screen and remote camera controls, great for tripod work when detached. All these technologies exist but can be updated.  If the  SLR and RF cameras are past their due-dates, why not design using the best of the best technologies. IMHO of course.

Thanks Michael for providing the food for thought.

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