Home Cameras/Lenses Leica Leica SL price plummets

Leica SL price plummets

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The price of a new Leica SL body is effectively reduced to £3,195 under a special offer valid from now until the end of September. There are also two bundles, one with the 24-90mm SL lens, the other with the 50mm Summilux SL, both at £6,950.

If you trade in any DSLR or compact system camera, in good working order, you will receive £1,300 discount on a new SL body.

A new SL body can now be bought for £3,195, or £6,950 with this 24-90mm zoom lens. You just need to do a bit of jiggerypokery with an old DSLR to get the "trade-in value"
A new SL body can now be bought for £3,195, or £6,950 with this 24-90mm zoom lens. You just need to do a bit of jiggerypokery with an old DSLR to get the “trade-in value”. But make no mistake, this is a thinly veiled discount

All images in this article, other than the Leica product shot above, were taken with the Leica SL and 24-90mm Vario-Elmarit-SL

Repercussions

Most Leica dealers, including Richard Caplan and Red Dot Cameras here in London, and Leica Store Manchester, appear to be taking part in the scheme which started on April 17.

There have been instant repercussions on the prices of used SLs, with around £500 slashed off the tickets already. Dealers will have taken a hit and existing owners will be disappointed, to say the least.

It is now possible to pick up a used SL body for around £2,500 from an authorised dealer, complete with dealer warranty. Private sellers will be lucky to get £2,000, I imagine.

Temptation

Even so, those interested in the SL will be tempted to pay the extra for a new one now they can get it for just under £3,200.

What can we read into this? The most likely explanation is all the new entrants into the full-frame market are making the SL harder to sell. In particular, the announcement of the Panasonic LUMIX S1 with a host of state-of-the-art facilities, including image stabilisation, and the ability to use all the Leica SL lenses, can’t have helped.

Potential SL buyers can read the signs and most had become worried about investing over £4,449 in what they realise is an end-of-line camera. Even if the Panny doesn’t tempt at £2,199, it is clear that the current SL is on borrowed time.

Discounts

And let’s not forget that the Panasonic S1 will soon be discounted, as ever with Panasonic after a short period of stardom. Trade sources I have spoken to tell me that it is not falling off the shelves. I predict that by the end of the summer the S1 will be selling for under £2,000. That’s a lot of camera for the dosh compared with the four-year-old SL design, good as it is.

At the recent Leica Society meeting in Nottingham, Leica MD Jason Heward assured us that there would be no new SL camera “any time soon”. But the date of the ending of the new SL special offer, September 30, perhaps gives us a clue.

Of course, not everyone will instantly desire a more complicated SL2, especially if it is available only with the 47MP sensor seen in the Q2. It will undoubtedly be priced at over £5,000, for starters, and will face stiff competition from the LUMIX models at half the cost.

Both flavours

Without a doubt, the 24MP sensor density of the current model is the sweet spot for many photographers. That’s why Panasonic, Nikon, Sony and Canon offer both flavours.

The 24MP sensor is said to favour videographers but it is also loved by stills photographers who don’t welcome the speed and storage problems associated with today’s ever-growing pixel density. There will be some disappointment if the SL2 doesn’t come in both 47MP and 24MP versions.

If the SL2 turns out to be available only with a 47MP sensor, there are many who will stick with the SL1 or move over to the much cheaper S1. Herein lies a crumb of comfort for the SL fancier.

Time to buy?

All this is a roundabout way of saying that a used SL at £2,500 or even £2,250 which is what it ought to cost, could well be a good buy, especially if you prefer the simplicity of this camera to the complex S1 or a potentially similarly complex SL2.

The SL is still a great photographic tool and features the world’s second-best viewfinder, just beaten by that in the new Panasonics (which will probably also grace the SL2). All it lacks, from an M-lens user point of view, is image stabilisation and we’ve learned to live without that.

All this said, such a huge discount on a current camera well before the introduction of a replacement is unprecedented. It has all the hallmarks of a clearance sale and I do not think it will do Leica’s reputation one bit of good. It will certainly upset a lot of existing owners.

What do you think about this? Have you recently bought an SL body at full retail price? Does this undermine your confidence in Leica as a brand? Should Leica encourage dealers to discount in a free-for-all market?

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30 COMMENTS

  1. Digital cameras should not be regarded as an investment, particularly as the market declines. There will be a lot more of this in the future. Buy to use is only advice that I can give.

    William

    • Indeed, William, but many Leica digitals (M9, M240) retain a greater percentage of their value over time than “lesser makes”. I can’t think of another camera that, in common with the M9, would still be selling at half its original price after eight years. Much of this value is retained because Leica, like Porsche, has had a strong no-discount policy, unlike most camera manufactures who operate a floating retail price policy. I think Leica has shot itself in the Fuss on this and it is a move that could undermine confidence. Why not just go out and buy a Panasonic S1 for £2,200 and have done with it. You can only lose £2,000 in a worst-case situation. The unlucky full-price SL buyer has already lost £2,000 and rising…..

      • I have no real interest in L mount cameras, but I can see the downside effects of the L Mount Alliance operating here. M cameras, being part mechanical, should probably hold their value better than the more electronic models. The only real value holders in the current Leica line up are the M lenses. I bought a 50 M Summilux for € 2,500 9 years ago. A new copy of the exact same lens now sells for €4,000. Most of the vintage cameras in my collection would sell for at least what I paid for them. It is the electronic side of things that depreciates faster. That being said, the depreciation for Leica equipment generally is a lot less than that for any modern car, which falls in value as soon as it is driven off the dealer’s forecourt.

        William

  2. If I had spent £4,500 on an SL body earlier this month I would be spitting feathers. A visit to the offices of Messrs. Sue, Grabbit and Runne would have been on the cards. As it is, Leica has just demolished one of its USPs, value retention. If the SL isn’t selling, they should have put the current models in purdah until the announcement of the SL2. Then they would have had a second wind and become desirable again.

  3. I rather agree with John here – I think the SL will become desirable again – especially if the SL2 only comes with higher resolution.

    I shoot regularly with mine, and I don’t think it has any real limitations for what I do. I certainly wouldn’t consider using a (4 years ‘more advanced’ ) Panasonic S1 instead – the SL has all the features I need, and I don’t need 17 new buttons to press by mistake (or 5 extra menu pages).

    If you were wondering, I would think that buying an SL now would be a good move, I simply can’t believe that the value is going to go much below £2000 secondhand, and it wouldn’t surprise me if it went up again in a few months.

    Although I hear what William says about digital cameras depreciating faster, I feel that was because for year after year the new camera made better pictures, but I don’t think that’s really the case anymore, which also explains why the M9 has held it’s value so well.

    I’m even slightly considering buying a second body myself (at this price why not?!)

    Best to all
    Jono Slack

    • I agree, Jono. But even £2,500 for a used SL is now looking pricey against a new price of £3,200. I think £2,200 is nearer the mark and, at that price, I think I also would buy one just to use with M lenses (and, um, perhaps one of those rather fetching Sigma Arts when they land in the shops).

      • Exactly
        but whether people will bother selling them for that price is an interesting question (I certainly wouldn’t). I would be irritated if I’d just bought one full price I suppose, but it certainly doesn’t bug me (I think I bought mine nearly 4 years ago).

        I’d guess that they have a lot of bodies in stock and would like to shift some of them before the SL2 comes along. . . and that with the advent of the Panasonic sales have rather gone down.

        • I’ve spoken to two dealers who reported that the Panasonics are not selling as well as the company expected. William Fagan also made this point after a chat with a dealer. It’s a crowded marketplace these days and, if it were not for the L-mount and Leica association, I think I would prefer the Nikon Z6 out of all the new full-frame cameras. It’s quite handy, has good ergonomics and is sensibly priced. For any Nikon incumbent with a stock of glass, it’s the perfect choice.

  4. John, you’re right on this. From a PR and marketing point of view this hefty discount, whatever the reason, is a serious mistake which Leica will come to regret. Something is beginning to smell rotten in the State of Hessen…..

    • Definitely some question over this, Ken. Leica cannot afford to let confidence fade or people just will not pay £4,000 or £5,000 for a body that loses value at the same rate as a Sony. The Q-P and Q2 was another strange marketing decision. Why introduce the Q-P (which they could have introduced in, say, 2018 or even earlier last year), just a few months before launching the Q2? It smacks of suckering in the unwary with a smart bit of engraving and no red dot. If this carries on, customers will simply lose their confidence and look elsewhere. Sad.

    • Well Ken – I wonder if it is a mistake – likely it’ll only be for a few weeks (in an attempt to clear some stock) and then it’ll be finished (and like everything else it’ll be quickly forgotten). I think there will be a continuing market for SL bodies (because the Panasonic ones don’t play well with M lenses).

      The only people who remember it will be the relatively few people who take advantage of this offer, and the others who sell their cameras now (probably at the bottom of the market).

  5. I suppose as customers we shouldn’t complain about price reductions. But I feel sorry for existing SL owners, especially those who bought their bodies in the last few months at the full £4,500 asking price. I think I’d be spitting feathers too if this happened to me. Fortunately, I’d already sold my second SL, amazingly at a profit of £200 on the price I paid for it used. As Jono Slack says elsewhere, the price is now looking tempting, especially for anyone who is sure the SL2 will have a 47MP sensor and would prefer to stick with 24MP. There’s nothing wrong with the SL and it will go on for years. It’s actually quite good value now.

  6. I don’t think this trade-in discount on the SL is anything new. I can recall seeing it offered some time previously at Red Dot Cameras. Maybe it is a periodic offer on the SL to try and entice buyers.

    • The term trade-in makes it sound batter than “discount” but it amounts to the same thing. But such a huge discount on a current camera (with the replacement probably six months away at best) is unprecedented and quite worrying for existing owners. Will be interesting to see if similar deals are being offered in Canada and the US.

  7. You could see Leica releasing both a 47mp variant, and keeping a 24mp variant whenever they release the SL2. It would make sense, as 47mp isn’t going to sell by the bucket load, and hence why other brands have both sensor sizes covered off.

    I see 47mp, and think huge storage solutions for my images, and often images that are not dramatically more impressive than a 24mp image when the storage space comes in to the equation.

    As for used camera prices, I have at the moment kept all of my digital stuff, hence why I still own a Nikon D300s, which is worth around about nothing now. But can still produce a decent image, just not as good as my X or Df. So those who have an SL, even if you have just bought it, enjoy the camera, and get out and use it. If it produces what you need, then revel in the images.

  8. Nobody is ever happy when there is a price reduction or sale just after they purchased whether it is a car or something else. Be happy with your purchase and stop focussing on bad luck.
    The camera market is going through a mature technology reduction and rationalism of market. I invest in quality glass since the 1980s and minimise camera body churn where the real losses happen due to new bodies.
    I recently purchased the Leica Q-P knowing full well that the Q2 had to be coming any moment based on knowledge of all prior Leica P releases. I love my Q-P and she is so gorgeous and all I wanted was 24proven MP. I do not feel I over paid due to this camera giving me so much pleasure in haptics and image rendering!
    I owned SL and sold it due to system changes but it had amazing haptics and image rendering including natural colours only surpassed by my Hasselblad X1D that I purchased about 6 months ago at a major discount due to new body coming out at some point.

    No one should buy a camera or car for that matter as a financial investment. For an enthusiast it is an investment in personal growth or in just capturing fleeting moments.

    Anyway, I must go and take my Lady Diana (Leica Q-P ) out on an appreciative date!

  9. Like you’ve said, the DSLR trade-in looks like their strategy to offer a discount and move some stock, without appearing to offer a discount. (Which could harm their premium brand.)

    Expecting a modern camera full of electronics to hold value for 10 years might be an impossible expectation. The M cameras hold value in part because they contain little technology. No autofocus, continuous tracking, EVF, video or other features. Counterintuitively, this means they don’t become outdated as easily. With the SL, Leica attempts to compete with other professional options, which invites direct comparison—a more difficult game to play if you want to charge 2x-3x more for a camera that delivers the same or worse image quality.

    This makes one wonder where Leica will go with their future SL strategy? Perhaps they hooked in Panasonic and Sigma to offer the cheap camera bodies, thinking they will make a lot of money with additional lens sales. And perhaps they will. Zeiss/Voigtlander making cheaper yet excellent M cameras and lenses certainly never killed Leica.

  10. Mike , out of curiosity-I don’t want an SL- if I wanted to do weight training I’d join a gym-I phoned two Aussie Leica dealers today. No deals on SL downunder where the only things higher in the sky than the sun are Leica’s retail prices. In fact at today’s exchange rate I could buy a return economy air ticket to London.Take a train to Red Dot, buy a discounted SL, stay in a reasonable hotel overnight, fly home the next day and still be a couple of hundred dollars ahead than if I had bought the SL locally. Built into this calculation is the assumption that you’d shout me a decent feed and a few drinks to pass the evening in London.

    • Indeed I would. But this disparity can’t be allowed to continue and I would be surprised if it isn’t a world-wide I initiative. If it is a UK-only promotion, which i very much doubt, most of the rest of the word will order their cameras from Red Dot and others. A courier to Australia would be cheaper than an air fare, much as I’d like to entertain you to dinner.

      If it does turn out to be UK only, I cannot imagine the factory being best pleased since it does undermine Leica’s believe in no discounts.

  11. In Vienna (Leicashop) the price is €5900 with no discount = £ 5092 for British readers. In Dublin the price is also €5,900 but less €1400 trade in = €4,500 = £3884 for British readers. As I understand it, the Red Dot price is £3,195. There does not seem to be a consistent international pricing policy and I am sure US readers could throw in some $ prices, but, over there, prices get messy with State and City taxes. In my country (and I am sure other European countries) it is illegal to quote prices to consumers excluding VAT. I have always felt that the SL has not sold as well as Leica had hoped. I remember attending a demo at Leica Mayfair with fellow Leica Society members when the SL was introduced and there was little enthusiasm for the camera from attendees. The M models well outnumber the SL models at TLS and LHSA meets. Perhaps the market for them lies outside the traditional Leica user base. I will be London next month for Photographica and I intend to peruse the new Leica outlet on the day before the event, but I won’t be picking up any SL ‘bargains’. It is generally perfectly legal to have different prices in different markets. Indeed aligning prices in all markets might run more of a risk of illegality. The big issue for Leica is whether UK sellers will sell into other markets leading to complaints from distributors in those markets who are not able to offer the same discounts, which will have to be subsidised by the company anyway. I suspect that many DSLRS traded in will just form part of electronic waste or be passed on to Ebay sellers. The values obtained, if any, are hardly likely to cover the discounts.

    Added to all of this is the ‘L Mount Alliance’ thing which, as yet, is not a fully realised concept. My dealer in Dublin told me that he is having difficulty shifting the Lumix monsters. Sony, Canon and Nikon are well ahead in the market here followed by Fujifilm. My own view is that the market will continue to evolve in a downward direction for the next few years until the ‘next big thing’ comes along. The L mount concept will have to fit into that scenario.

    William

    • In regard to the popularity of the SL, while I have no doubt it is a good quality and capable cameras, I personally have no interest in electronic viewfinders. I would have much rather seen Leica continue the R series in a similar way that they have the M (of which I am a fan). They could have redesigned the R8 as a fully mechanical film model and introduced a new fully digital model similar to the S medium format (but of course less expensive), with a high quality optical viewfinder. Maybe they felt they could not continue a fully manual focus SLR system, but it would have been a unique product in the market, much like the M is unique. Even if they implemented it as autofocus, I would have preferred to see them continue a 35mm-based SLR system.

      • Thanks, Thorsten. I was about to write a little sequel and I hadn’t been aware of the earlier US discount. But from what you say this was a relatively minor arrangement which wouldn’t have raised any eyebrows. The current discount in the UK is a whopping 29% even based on the previous street price of £4,495. I note that Leica Mayfair is still listing at the official rrp of £4,995 and making no mention of the trade in offer. Pity anyone who walks in off the street and buys st that price.

  12. In the past few weeks I have been interested in getting another SL body and being in Australia Im not keen on spending the RRP of AU $8500 with this in mind. If they do these discounts they must be world wide surely .

    • Following on from William’s remarks, it does all seem very odd. If this is happening only in Britain, which I very much doubt, then it would be possible for you to order a courier delivery from a London dealer and make quite a saving. There’s always a possibility that various pressures could result in the trade-in scheme being curtailed, in which case this could be gift horse in whose mouth one might look.

    • Thanks for the heads up on this, Dave. I’ve never taken much interest in the S cameras, partly because they are a specialist product and not something you’d hang on a wrist strap for street photography. Come to think of it, I’ve never actually seen one being used outside a studio. But I know one or two readers so own an S so I should have checked this.

      • I’ve seen a couple on the street round the Knightsbridge/Sloane Sq area near where I work. Not a camera I would want to carry round all day though!

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