Home Film Leica’s Kaufmann: We’re not a museum, we will move with the times

Leica’s Kaufmann: We’re not a museum, we will move with the times

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Dr Andreas Kaufmann, chairman of Leica
Dr Andreas Kaufmann, chairman of Leica
Dr Andreas Kaufmann, chairman of Leica (Image Mike Evans)

Speaking to Hong Xinyi of Singapore Tatler, Leica chairman Andreas Kaufmann confirmed that Leica will continue to move with the times…..

In reference to the continued production of film cameras, he said “we are not a museum and we are not state-funded. If customers don’t want these cameras anymore, we will stop producing them. There’s a reason things change. If you look outside today and see only horse carriages, that’s going to be a problem.”

Hope

We are hoping that this is just a statement of fact – if no one buys, there’s no point in manufacturing. However, demand appears to be there for the two current Leica film cameras, the metered MP, based on the M6, and the unmetered M-A which takes Leica cameras back to their roots in the 1950s and early 1960s. Modern film cameras are not cheap (except, perhaps in relation to an M digital) but they are likely to stand the test of time and will be in demand as long as someone continues to manufacture film.

A brand new but retro Leica M-A. Just like the earliest Ms, this camera is entirely manual, without exposure metering. It costs £3,600 but will be around for a lifetime
A brand new but retro Leica M-A. Just like the earliest Ms, this camera is entirely manual, without exposure metering. It costs £3,600 but will be around for a lifetime

Still, even at £3,700 for the MP and £3,600 for the M-A, these hand-built cameras are no more expensive, in real terms, than was the M3 on its introduction in 1953. The M3 may have cost around £125 and may now sell for five times that sum, but £125 in the pocket in 1953 had the buying power of £3,700 today. It’s a sobering thought. Leicas have never been cheap but they do have a knack of surviving. Porsche claim that 70% of all 911s ever built are still on the roads. I wouldn’t mind betting that the percentage is even higher for Leica film cameras. In the hand, that is, and hopefully not on the road.

One for the road

The rather brassed Macfilos MP, a black-paint gem. Based on the M6, the current MP has exposure metering and costs £3,700
The rather brassed-off Macfilos MP made in 2004 and still a current model. It’s a black-paint gem, still in high demand among Leica connoisseurs.. Based on the M6, the current MP does have exposure metering and costs £3,700

The Singapore Tatler article gives some interesting background on Leica’s chairman, from his early left-wing politics (he was a founding member of the Green Party), his career as a teacher, to his inheritance of the family pulp and paper company. It makes a fascinating biography. It was the pulp-paper fortune that enabled his family investment company to rescue the ailing Leica company and achieve the remarkable turnaround in fortune over the past ten years.

Read the full article here

Mike in street mode, captured by Adam Lee on the demonstrator M-A we borrwed for the day from Leica in London
Mike in street mode, captured by Adam Lee on the demonstrator M-A we borrowed for the day from Leica in London

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Yes, let’s hope the MP and M-A continue to be manufactured for a long time. These are great cameras. In other interviews Leica has stated that the film cameras are the only ones to be made start to finish by one person (I assume once they reach Germany from initial stages in Portugal) and that the training of these employees is the longest training in their production team. In 2017 it was said that demand for the film cameras was increasing. I think Leica has also said that Japan is the largest customer of the film cameras.

  2. Interesting. Let’s hope that the promised Leica Museum opens in Wetzlar in 2020. Leica AG now also owns Westlicht Auctions where I acquired a lot of my collection. It will now reappear as Leitz Photographica Auction with the first auction to be held in Wetzlar on 8th June next. The catalogue is now available online. They have a hard act to follow as Westlicht set a very high standard.

    As for current production, Dr Kaufmann has to leave sentiment behind and produce what the market wants. That is why I have said that the deal with Huawei is a good start for future proofing the company. All that being said, Leica AG should never leave its heritage totally behind. Without that it would just be another camera company.

    William

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