Home Cameras/Lenses Leica Leica’s model numbering system returns to logic with the D-Lux 7

Leica’s model numbering system returns to logic with the D-Lux 7

49
14
  The new M10-P. But if it hadn’t been for the unfortunate model numbering glitch it would have been the M11-P. Logic, which flew out of the window in 2012, has now come home to roost (Image Leica Camera AG)
The new M10-P. But if it hadn’t been for the unfortunate model numbering glitch it would have been the M11-P. Logic, which flew out of the window in 2012, has now come home to roost (Image Leica Camera AG)

What’s in a name? According to Japanese industry watcher, Nokishita, the upcoming Leica D-Lux successor will be called the D-Lux 7. I’ve expected this for some time, but it’s good to get confirmation. Unfortunately, the current D-Lux, like the Leica M, could sink into obscurity in the land of Tweeners Limbo, the result of an unfortunate and widely ridiculed marketing policy by Leica.

In retrospect, dropping the model numbering sequence in 2012 in favour of a one-M-fits-all was a mistake and, thankfully, one the factory recognised when it introduced the M10. In the four years of naming anarchy we had the Leica X rather than the X3, the D-Lux rather than the D-Lux 6 and a plethora of other netter Typs, Nice guys, but thoroughly confusing.

  When you knew where you stood: Everything had a clear model number and there was no confusion in describing the product. Image taken with the Leica D-Lux (6.5)
When you knew where you stood: Everything had a clear model number and there was no confusion in describing the product. Image taken with the Leica D-Lux (6.5)

The Leica 911

When the history books come to be extended into the Teens, perhaps we will learn why Leica suddenly attempted to emulate Apple and other manufacturers in creating a series without qualification. Apple has its MacBooks and iPads without an explicit model succession. In most cases, it is necessary to consult the internal small-print to see if you have a “late 2017” or “early 2018” model. It’s a confusing mess. When you come to sell, it can be incredibly difficult to offer a proper explanation.

  The camera that should have been the D-Lux 7 but wasn’t. Now we are about to get another D-Lux 7, leaving the current model as the D-Lux 6.5
The camera that should have been the D-Lux 7 but wasn’t. Now we are about to get another D-Lux 7, leaving the current model as the D-Lux 6.5

Porsche, of course, has made an art of the 911 nomenclature and this is probably the example Leica was most keen to emulate. The German car maker has retained the 911 brand for over 50 years despite a succession of Typ numbers which are mostly the preserve of the cognoscenti. But if you are buying a used 911, you’d better know your 996s from your 997s.

No doubt Leica hoped this would be the case with its cameras. The M or the X or the D-Lux and V-Lux would sail along on calm seas, year after year, decade after decade, while the buyer would (perhaps) not notice the model changes as they happened. An M is an M, as they hoped. But it was not to be. The M was soon called the M240, using its Typ number. It, in turn, spawned the M262, the M246 (Monochrom Mk.II) and others. Confusion reigned for four years and Leica fans struggled to cope.

Common sense returns

Thankfully, back at the Modellnummerabfolgeerfindungskontrollabteilung(1) in Wetzlar, common sense again prevails. The M10 is in the hands of users; the D-Lux 7 is in the bag and, without doubt, we will see an M11 in 2019 or 2020. The Leica buyer, the collector and the historians can again rest easy.

But what of those models launched in the interregnum? What happens to the D-Lux? Is it now to be known to historians as the D-Lux 6½? Or is the M(240), soon to be thought of as the M9½. Or maybe these inconvenient Typs will be quietly airbrushed out of history like some purged Soviet apparatchik. 

  Whatever it’s called, the current D-Lux is a great travel companion, capable of excellent results and, like the X1 and X2, will continue to please over many years
Whatever it’s called, the current D-Lux is a great travel companion, capable of excellent results and, like the X1 and X2, will continue to please over many years

I believe it could well have been more logical to baptise the link cameras posthumously, with the M240 renamed for the record books as the M10, and the D-Lux as the D-Lux 7. Leica could have unveiled its new M as the M11 and the new D-Lux as the D-Lux 8. The sequence would remain unbroken, and OCD sufferers among us would be appeased. A place for everything and everything in its place, that’s the best way. And it would have been easier to explain in the marque’s history books. 

I will leave you with a thought…..

Ours not to reason why,

Ours but to do and buy

(with apologies to Alfred, Lord Tennyson)

(1) Model Number Invention and Checking Department, known internally as M10.

14 COMMENTS

  1. New Leicas should only be made available to people who know the difference between the Leica III Model F and the Leica IIIf.

    William

  2. I had not realized that the stupidity spread beyond the Leica M family. I assume the business manager was allowed to find new career opportunities after he had caused mass confusion – I hear he was planted by the jealous competition….nice to see clarity and common sense returning but I agree they should have updated the M10 to M11 and so on for less future confusion. On a positive personal note, I am taking delivery of a Leica Q-P in a few days. According to popular internet opinion, I am an idiot but I know the real truth and will take her everywhere with me and enjoy my passion of photography. I like to name my favourite glass ( I realize my credibility is dropping but I am an artist at heart) and since this camera has built in glass it will need a name. Does anyone have any suggestions? The name has to represent the character of the camera/lens.

  3. Very well described, your suggestions to posthumously remain a product is not new. The Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost was called the 40/50 during nineteen years of production. Once the run was complete it was given that name when the Phantom I was launched.

    The the answer to the problem that was never previously ask, namely that that M10 should in fact be the M11 seems ideal. I find my OCD scratch now itches more than usual!

    Great article, thank you.

  4. I love my little “D Lux sechs komma funf”.
    A great travel camera, even if it doesn’t fit the count-on-your-fingers nomenclature.

  5. When Apple’s Tim Cook introduced the iPad Mark whatever-it-was, and said that it would actually be called just the “new iPad”, Leica simply couldn’t resist, as, under Andreas Kaufmann, they’d wanted to BE Apple, or the Apple of cameras all along.

    So the next M became the “new M” ..without a number ..except that there was no way to identify it, of course, except by calling it “the new M” ..until the next “new M” came along.

    Leica had slavishly followed Apple by opening Leica Stores (..though the first were offshoots of Meister Camera in Berlin..) and then slavishly copied Apple’s “hewn-from-a-solid-block-of-alumin(i)um” MacBook Air by producing their behaves-like-an-iPhone-touchscreen-interface “hewn-from-a-solid-block-of-alumin(i)um” Leica T ..remember?

    Just as Steve Jobs had said that his phone was beautiful “like an old Leica” ..so Leica wanted to say that their products were “as beautiful as an Apple device..” but I think they’ve now left behind that desperate wanting to be Apple, and have realised that if Apple looks up to Leica, then Leica doesn’t want to demean itself by looking up to Apple.

    Leica, I think, is now back to steering its own course through consumer gadgetry, and – with a few changes of management – has become rather more confident of itself.

    (..But the M11 is a road between London and Cambridge, isn’t it? Perhaps future cameras will be the A316, or maybe the Exeter Bypass..”

    • David B
    • This is also my understanding and thank you for expanding the article in this way. I knew that Dr Kaufmann has been a strong admirer of Apple. I am sure that if Apple did third-party cooperation there would have been an iPhone with Leica camera. HauWei were more amenable, obviously.

      • My earlier point indicates two different Leica cameras from the 1930s and 1950s respectively with very similar names. I once met an experienced Leica photographer who had been using Leica cameras since 1954 who did not understand the distinction between the two models. There was nothing wrong with his photography, however, and that was all that mattered.

        As for Apple, despite some superficial similarities, it is quite a different company to Leica. Leica AG has show a willingness to engage in joint ventures with other industry players, whereas Apple adopts an ‘all or nothing at all’ approach. Leicas are but tools, whereas Apple wants to engage with the ‘lifestyles’ of loyal customers and regularly makes changes which impact on how its devices may be used for lifestyle purposes.

        Finally, as regards ridiculous names, nobody can beat the car manufactures with X litre DOHC Turbo Injection etc models. Thankfully, that is now dying and an option being offered by some manufacturers is an ‘anonymised package’, whereby all evidence of the car engine size, turbo diesel etc can be removed. Comedian Harry Enfield played a character some years ago who could do the supreme ‘pub bore’ on such car designations.

        What’s in a name? Much ado?

        William

        • “Leicas are but tools, whereas Apple wants to engage with the ‘lifestyles’ of loyal customers..”

          William!

          “Leica’s are but tools”? ..You mean like the Lenny Kravitz M-P ’pre-brassed’ ”Correspondent” Edition? (..excuse my chuckle..) and the “Limited Edition Paul Smith Leica X2 Edition” ..those are not ‘lifestyle accessories’, then?

          Oh, I nearly forgot: the “strictly limited Leica M10 Edition Zagato with a Leica Summilux-M 35 mm f/1.4 ASPH. lens..” which “..unites the finest German craftsmanship with Italian design”. As demonstrated by, er, our ageing Austrian hipster-with-shades Andreas, here:

          http://us.leica-camera.com/Photography/Leica-M/Leica-M-Special-Editions/Zagato

          Zagato himself says in that video, at about 2 mins 44 seconds into it – scroll down that page for the video – “The opportunity was extraordinary ..producing a collectable item (my italics) from an industrial product”.

          That’s what he calls it ..not a “tool”, but a “collectable item” lifestyle accessory. US$21,000.

          For a tool, of course, just buy the plain M10 ..or, better still, the almost-silent M10-P.

          But for a lifestyle statement ..that’s what the Zagato is for, and so is the Lenny Kravitz, and the Paul Smith ..etc, etc.

          “Tools”? ..no, I don’t think so; show-off lifestyle trinkets, I think, William. (I’ve got nothing against that, if anyone wants to splash the cash, although I can think of some more worthwhile things to pay for..)

          • David B
          • I think you have misread my post, David. I have no interest in special editions and I was just talking about Leica cameras per se. You on the other hand seem to have encyclopaedic knowledge of such special editions. I was somewhat disturbed to find draft mock up models for the Zagato sitting in boxes in the Leica Archive in Wetzlar. To my mind the finest work by Zagato was in respect of some wonderful Lancia cars from the 1950s and 1960s – search for Lancia Flaminia Zagato to see what I mean. The Zagato Leica is an ugly thing by comparison. My reference to ‘lifestyle’ in respect of Apple had nothing to do with any fashion nonsense. It was to do with calendars, diaries, cloud services etc which Apple regularly alters to is own advantage without consulting with its customers many of whom now base their lifestyles on such features.

            I have no interest in the fashion side of Leica as represented by boutiques, Leica Stores, special editions and straps and bags of many colours etc. My interest in Leica mainly relates to the items which the company made between the 1920s and the1950s. I do use a modern digital M camera, but my interest more or less ends there.

            William

      • Mike , having just spent a few hours making a photo book for a friend who took all the excellent photos with a late model Apple iPhone I can understand why Apple rejected Leica’s suggestions of co-operation-they knew that they could do it very well by themselves.
        John Shingleton

        • As far as I’m concerned, the 2018 iPhone XS camera does a great job and I wouldn’t knock it at all. But for me, the camera is a nice thing to have but not what I would see as a necessary thing. I use is sparingly, usually only when I don’t have a camera to hand or when I want to do a quick scan. However, if I wanted to use it as a serious photographic tool I think I would be very happy. I wouldn’t be tempted to change to HuaWei just because the camera has a Leica badge.

  6. To Brian Nicol, I also name my X’s since you are an artist at heart why not name after the great German actor, with his monocle (your glass) Conrad Veidt! Just a thought.

  7. after some years away from the leica scene (the m8 is the last with which I am familiar and have tried) I noticed it is quite difficult to make sense of the lineup hopefully this stops

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.