Home Cameras/Lenses Leica Leica job losses as company faces the second digital revolution

Leica job losses as company faces the second digital revolution

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Leica has had a difficult time over the past couple of months. For one, the company’s successful partnership with Huawei has come under threat because of the international political situation. But, perhaps of more importance for the crucial Chinese market, the negative publicity generated by the unauthorised Brazilian video has cast a shadow over the company’s future in Asia.

Around 12% of jobs at Leica’s Wetzlar factory are to be lost — mainly in the marketing and development departments. But recruitment is underway to fill some 40 posts in software, connectivity and digital imaging (Image Mike Evans)

Furthermore, the surprise substantial discounts offered on two current cameras, the SL and the Monochrome, have caused some disquiet among dealers and Leica owners. Many believe that Leica has harmed its reputation by undermining the used market in this way. This could dent enthusiasts’ willingness to spend thousands of pounds on a camera when cheaper, more disposable products are available.

These setbacks could not have come at a more difficult time for Leica as the company embarks on a process of restructuring in order to face up to what CEO Matthias Harsch calls the “second digital revolution in the camera market”. There have already been signs that change is underway.

The Giessener Anzeiger reported on June 14 that up to 100 of the 800-strong jobs in Wetzlar, mainly in the development and marketing departments, are to be lost. At the same time, according to the company web site, new positions are being created to expand software engineering capabilities in the field of image processing, connectivity and iOS/Android application development.

New challenges

In an interview last week with German financial newspaper, Handelsblatt, Leica’s CEO Matthias Harsch said that the company is changing rapidly to meet the new challenges in the digital camera market. He told Handelsblatt that the future lies in the optimisation of images through algorithms called computational imaging: “Artificial intelligence is definitely a very hot topic, which will accompany and influence the industry for a long time,” he said.

According to Harsch, Leica sleepwalked through the start of the first digital revolution, with the then Leica boss Hanns-Peter Cohn dismissing it in 2004 as “just an interlude.” This misreading of the situation led Leica almost to the point of bankruptcy. Then investor and camera enthusiast Andreas Kaufmann turned the company back onto the road to success, skilfully combining tradition and brand image with the new digital world.

Leica’s successful partnership with Hauwei is under threat because of politica factors but Weztlar is convinced that the smartphone is crucial to the future pf photographyl

Success story

“Leica is a remarkable success story,” Harsch told Handelsblatt: “In 2008 the turnover was €100m, today it is more than €400m. Now, however, Leica faces similar challenges to those experienced during the emergence of digital cameras.”

According to Harsch, Leica has already learned a great deal in the four years of working with Huawei: “This experience can be used for the further development of our classic cameras. In the future, there will be not just one but several sensors on classic lenses to optimise images. You do not have to be a pro today to take good pictures.”

He cited the Leica Q which he compares with the Porsche 911: “In the 1970s the sports car was the preserve of the experienced driver. Today, thanks to the assistance systems, it has appeal to every average driver.”

Apple is the model

In the future, Harsch says, software and cloud services will become more important to Leica.

He told Handelsblatt that his model is Apple. That company has built an ecosystem around its devices from iCloud to Apple Music, to Apple Pay. “Leica wants to shape the digital ecosystem of photography,” says Harsch. “Software and services will become more important.

The move from being an opto-mechanical to an opto-digital company requires new skills. In addition to a reduction of 100 in the global 1,200 workforce, Leica intends to hire up to 40 digital experts as part of a double-digit million investment.”

According to Handelsblatt, the restructuring is fully supported by Blackstone, the principal outside investor. Blackstone has held around 45 per cent of Leica since 2012 but has been trying to sell its holding since 2017.

However, as reported in the Wetzlarer Neue Zeitung, not all is sweetness and light in the relationship between Leica and Blackstone. In particular, the newspaper says, the high rental costs paid to Leitz-Park GmbH, owned by Dr Kaufmann’s family trust, have caused for concern.

Leica’s CEO says the Q is like a 911 sports car. Assistance systems mean that you no longer need to be a pro to make good photographs, just as the tamed 911 now appeals to a wider market of average drivers

Second digital revolution

Despite the many challenges, Matthias Harsch remains optimistic for the future of Leica as it embarks on this second digital revolution.

Worldwide, Leica has more than 100 own stores at a time when the market for traditional cameras is shrinking:

“We fill the gap with Leica Stores to continue to provide optimum service,” he says. There is even the possibility of a home-grown Leica phone, something with Andreas Kaufmann has been dreaming of for some time. Says Harsch, “The camera function in smartphones is a core part of our future business. The younger generation, especially, is discovering photography through the smartphone and the switch to higher-quality system cameras becomes easier. If customers are already familiar with the Leica brand, they will make the connection.”

“Thanks to their smartphones, people have never taken as many photographs as they do today, he concludes”

My view is that Leica’s market is still very much enthusiast focused. Clearly, however, the company is seeking to expand beyond the traditional market to attract smartphone upgraders who fancy a “proper” camera but expect to have all the new features available. Apple’s portrait mode, which simulates a narrow depth of field, is perhaps the best example of where things are heading in digital image processing.

However, Leica must be careful not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. If traditional users feel alienated by features they do not want, there is a strong risk of losing core customers.

Our thanks to reader Peter Ostlaender for the background information for this article.

43 COMMENTS

  1. This is not good news. Having dropped the M7, I would imagine that the M-A and MP must be under threat now. Indeed, the entire M-series sounds pretty much the antithesis of the new focus…

    OTOH, an updated SL with rangefinder form-factor, modern sensor, stabilisation and processing, plus the ability to mount M-series lenses would be very interesting. It is a camera that I would love to use (and probably I would also love to help develop!).

    • I believe the mechanical film cameras live in a separate universe and, as long as there is a demand, they will continue to be made. The M7 with its greater automation probably appealed more to the very people who are most likely to go digital. The MP and M-A, on the other hand, cater well for the two distinct branches of film camera enthusiasm — spartan no-nonsense M-A and sensible metered MP. I think there is room also for a cheaper version of the MP based on the M6 or M6TTL, but it only makes sense if it were actually cheaper and I suspect this might not be possible.

    • Prices for used Leica M film cameras are increasing a lot, so there doesn’t seem to be less demand yet. The Leica M7 was dropped probably because there was too much overlap with the MP. I’d guess the added automation of the M7 wasn’t really seen as a benefit to most buyers of $5,000 film cameras, like buying a classic convertible that someone has retrofitted an automatic transmission into.

      • This is true about the prices. I touched on this is a recent report on the Bièvres photo fair where the M6 Classic as almost doubled in price in two years.

  2. I was reading an article in a French photo magazine which said that the sales of camera worldwide had dropped by more than 60% over the last year. Leica is not the only company in the eye of a the cyclone. I don’t understand why Leica did not continue its partnership with panasonic and the CM1 camera phone. By the way I’d love a leica smartphone as my camera back up.

  3. I have been saying most of what is contained here for at least two years now. The bottom is falling out of the market for stand alone cameras and only the strong or the quick will survive. Despite the prognostications from certain quarters, the Huawei deal is very good for Leica, particularly as regards the development of computational photography. Despite the cutbacks, Leica is recruiting more people on the software engineering side of things showing the ‘quick’ side of Leica. Leica has an iconic and valuable brand and I believe it will continue to provide rangefinders to maintain its historical legacy. I also hope that the company opens the promised museum next year. As for the SL2, I’m not so sure that will be part of the long term future unless it has very advanced communications functions beyond the rest of the market. There are too many similar cameras from other manufacturers not selling and/or being heavily discounted right now.

    William

    • I would not be surprised if the SL2 was not just a re-skinned Panasonic S-series camera. Put it in a different case and rework the menus and controls to match Leica’s design ethos. But draw the tricky technology (sensor, electronics) from Panasonic and amortise the development costs.

      All digital cameras are to some extent “computational” today. But some of the neat things that you see in cellphones are not going to arrive on enthusiast/professional cameras for a while. For example, the DOF emulations are simply not good enough quality (and usually need multiple optical lenses), while image merging techniques need hyperfast sensor readout that is currently difficult to engineer with high-quality FF silicon (though Olympus is getting close with its 60FPS captures for HiRes and HDR image stacking).

      But does anyone seriously expect Leica to be able to become experts in current computational photography to rival Apple and Google, given the relative engineering resources that the companies have and Leica’s starting position? I suspect that the only way that they could manage it would be via an acquisition or a partnership, and it is unclear to me what Leica would bring to the table other than a red dot. That said, they have to be looking in this direction, and I wish them luck…

      • I feel sure the SL2 will be just that, a reskinned and reworked S1R. After all, much of the internals of the current SL come from Panasonic, I am sure, and the Japanese company will be intimately involved in the development of the SL2. The sensor may well be different, probably based on that in the Q2, but much of the internal gubbins will be similar.

        Another interesting thing is that if you compare the S1 with the SL and strip away all the buttons, the similarities in the basic body shape are unmistakable. The SL, with its straight grip, is just more angular compared with the more rounded (and, in my opinion, ergonomically more compelling) S1/R.

        It makes a lot of sense for Leica to rely on Panasonic for assistance with its digital cameras. Why duplicate resources when you have such an efficient partner? I believe that the only really home-grown products in the Leica line up are the S system and the M system. The rest, including the Q and CL, must rely heavily on Panasonic know-how.

  4. I agree Mark about the resource issue as Leica is a tiny company by comparison with the IT majors. They would still need technical ability on their side of the table to manage the situation from their perspective. In my view, messing around with menus on the SL is real ‘deck chairs on the Titanic’ stuff. The camera needs to be much more cutting edge than that with state of the art communications functions. Whether this is possible in the short term remains to be seen.

    William

  5. Great article Mike! I was just in Wetzlar a few weeks ago with my tour group. We spent an entire week at Leitz Park, and saw and interacted with a number of Leica employees. Nothing specific was said by anyone, but I sensed that something was amiss. Upon our return, the reports from the local press confirmed with the announcement of the impending layoffs.

    This is indeed sad news, but Leica is not alone in dealing with this “second digital revolution”. Canon and Nikon have had and are having an even more difficult time as more people rely on their smartphones to take pictures.

    I always felt that Leica was better positioned to deal with change than the big boys, given they are not as big and should be able to react and be quicker to meet market challenges. Their product line-up is more diverse as well. Hopefully, they can weather the storm and become stronger in the long run. Certainly paying more attention to the software side of things will pay off in the future.

    I have been associated with Leica for over thirty years and I remember well the dark days when their very existence was in question. I was scheduled to interview the new CEO succeeding Hans-Peter Cohn at the PMA show when word came that the banks had pulled Leica’a loans and everyone from Germany abruptly left the trade show. We all remember when Leica was on the brink and even had to resort to selling off most of their collection to a wealthy collector in Asia. This was several years before Andreas Kaufmann turned the company around and no one wants to see the return of those days again!

    Hopefully Herr Harsch can guide the company through the difficult times ahead. One thing is for sure, we will all be watching anxiously!

    • Indeed, I think there are concerns. However, I think Leica is taking the right steps. I just hope that they don’t forget their bread-and-butter opto-mechanical market.

      • On the contrary – I feel they should “..forget their bread-and-butter opto-mechanical market”. Why? It’s obsolete.

        Their reputation has been for great lenses (..forget the smart and handy little cameras of the 1920s, 30s, 40s and 50s ..that era is long gone, despite William’s collection of price-appreciating mementos). Those little mechanical boxes with 35mm movie film inside wouldn’t have sold so well without the desirable lenses which produced terrific photos (..as did the Zeiss-lensed Contaxes, of course).

        Leica hasn’t known where it was going since about 2004, and rushed into digital M cameras with the silly M8. Since then it’s thrashed around between M rangefinder models, the huge – and pointless – S models, the lighter-weight but fixed-lens Q models, the CL models, the Panasonic pocketable models, the massive-lensed SL ..Leica’s had no idea where to go except to stress its ‘heritage’ to eccentric camera users and a wealthy ‘Far East’ ‘collectors’ brigade. Oh, and daft ideas like ‘pre-brassing’ new black-paint cameras.

        Its “..bread-and-butter opto-mechanical market..” is long since gone, except in the movie lens market. Why would anyone ever buy single-focal-length ‘prime’ lenses when the fluidity and versatility of zooms is what everyone wants ..and which is now synthesised by computational photography ..first with the ugly, heavy, huge and silly Light L16 (..a proof of concept ..but hardly what I’d call ‘light’..) and now in a handful of smartphones? (Ah; exception: Thorsten buys a single-focal-length so-called ‘prime’ lens to shoot at f0.9.)

        The future is definitely less glass, less mechanical-glass-shifting focus and glass-shifting focal-length adjustment, more software-controlled computational photography, more sensor stabilisation (not huge, heavy, in-lens opto-mechanical stabilisation), and a future of glass properties which are altered by electric current (à la LCD opacity control).

        Leica’s right to move to smartphones to engage new customers who’ll then progress to a ‘proper’ camera ..and not to be hidebound by tradition and “we’ve always done it this way”, which nearly killed the company. (Well, it did, till Kaufmann took over.)

        Steve Jobs, whom Kaufmann admired, said “never look back”.

        Let the old Leica die, and its collectibles market appreciate. Leitz killed the Barnack camera in 1954; time for another new direction now. Go for NEW markets ..after all, that’s what Leitz did in ’25 when they diversified from microscopes to cameras, and when “the glorious Leica” tradition began. Peter Karbe and his team have done wonders with glass, but the glass-and-mechanics age has come to a close (..and I write this as I’m sitting in Greece, ready to start my photo course, ready to tell people to use a ‘real’ camera instead of a smartphone).

        We’re due for an age of new materials for lenses, new ways of driving light this way and that, new ways of zooming to frame the photo just how we want it (instead of unclipping a lens, dropping it while clipping-on a new one, carrying three separate lenses, and so forth).

        Film’s pretty much dead. We now shoot effortlessly at high ISO in dim light. 10x and 20x zooms are commonplace in pocketable cameras. We ‘process’ photos in software, not in D76, ID11 or E6. Those who’re camera fondlers will shed tears – like for the old Konicas and Bronicas and Veronicas [no, whoops, sorry, got sidetracked!] but Fujifilm re-invented itself when the film market collapsed, and Leica needs to re-invent itself with a completely new KIND of camera, and not flail about trying to catch up with others.

        It’s 1925; create an entirely new kind of camera. It’s 1954; offer a radically redesigned multi-function camera. It’s 2020. Offer something COMPLETELY DIFFERENT, or else bow out and put up the shutters.

  6. I forgot to mention that Leica continues to support its heritage and that the Leitz Photographica Auction (formerly Westlicht) in Wetzlar on 8th June was a major success with a sell rate in excess of 90%. I was a purchaser myself. I don’t believe that Leica will ever walk away from its heritage in the ‘opto-mechanical’ market and will continue to make the M range. Another Leitz Auction is planned for Vienna next November. While these may appear to be disconnected from today’s digital market, the heritage side of Leica is critical for the survival of the brand. I look forward to seeing Bill and LHSA colleagues in Boston next October where we discuss these matters at the AGM of LHSA.

    William

    • William, I have to strongly disagree mate but the heritage side of Leica is completely irrelevant to the survival of the brand. The zillions of consumers worldwide who Leica need to access with exciting innovative products to survive have never heard of Leica and don’t care a fig that Leica invented the 35mm camera. Those of us who are aware of the heritage will have all fallen off the twig in a few more years.
      Leica should put their heriage interests-auction house, museum, whatever into a separate company and adopt Henry Ford’s slogan”history is bunk” as the motto for the core business.

      • Thanks John. I will make this a joint reply to yourself and David B. I have a particular interest in the history of Leica/Leitz and I appreciate that most people, including some around here, feel that what I do is daft. I don’t collect as an investment, but rather because I like the subject and the objects. I also realise, of course, that, over time, a collection might at least hold its value, or even appreciate.

        Today a lot of the emphasis with Leica is on the ‘luxury’ side, but, in truth, Leica should pay as much attention to reliability and customer service. Leica has correctly placed a lot of focus on usability and, indeed, I suspect that if Oscar Barnack were alive today he would love to use a smartphone camera. As for the image quality obtainable from such smartphone cameras, while it is regularly looked upon with scorn by ‘real photographers’, it is more than good enough for 99% of photographers on the planet (most of whom have never heard of Leica) and who rarely have prints made and who use and view photos almost entirely in the online space. For a camera company to have a sustainable future it has to be looking at that space and I am not just talking about making smartphones, but rather genuinely smart cameras with communications functions. In a scenario like this how does Leica distinguish itself from the ‘crowd’ and justify its premium pricing? The answer is through its heritage and by marketing innovative imaging devices alongside some ‘nice dinosaurs’ with wonderful lenses, ie the M range, which can be pointed to as part of what is now completely different but somehow related range. As for the rest of the current Leica range we have, as another blog recently said, gone past ‘peak ILC’ and the digital camera industry model which is based concept-wise on the previous 35mm SLRs will continue to decline until some company produces a really innovative alternative.

        Finally, for David B., the lens that made Leica was not any of the exotic models, but rather the humble and compact 50mm Elmar. There must be a lesson in there, somewhere.

        William

        • Oh I understand that, William; as I said “..Those little mechanical boxes [..of the 1920s, 30s, 40s and 50s..] with 35mm movie film inside wouldn’t have sold so well without the desirable lenses which produced terrific photos”. I didn’t mention the various versions of the little Elmax or Elmar by name, but I agree ..they set the Leica’s status as a tiny pocketable camera, but from which you could produce great prints.

  7. It often feels like a digital carpet bomb of the latest and greatest camera ideas that are rolled out annually, it was bound to burn out even the deepest pockets at some point, and I agree with others about Leica being right to take the change of direction now.

    The other thing that is slowly burning out though is the smartphone annual switch over. That has slowed, and even Apple have sold fewer units on their current generations – something that might linked to the ever increasing costs, and hence why Apple offered incentives to get us in to the current generation of Iphones. I am still using my 7 plus, and I ran this on a two and half year contract to spread the cost interest free, but also I cannot be bothered switching phones annually for the sake of a new thing, or in the case of the iphone the loss of the haptic button. Not sure what I’ll do after my contract expires as they are all going buttonless, and I am not wanting that change on my phone. Perhaps I will eek a full third year out of the 7 plus.

    Some of this technology fatigue, is at least stopping from wasting money on stuff I will hardly use. So there is a positive.

    • There’s a lot of truth in that, Dave. Smartphones have become so expensive they a one-year replacement cycle is becoming more and more unsustainable. There are always incremental improvements but no killer change they would force an upgrade. I am not interested in a phone camera so extra performance and capabilities leave me cold. As far as I am concerned I buy a phone for its productivity apps.

  8. This past week end I had an email from a Leica dealer here in states about deals on Cl, and TL2 couple this with SL and Mono is this the start of a targeted fire sale, clear inventory and raise cash? I ask because I see XP 1k off also. I feel sorry for folks who got their walking papers and hope they get rehired someplace soon. I have basically been out of circulation last six months and started back up with black and white challenge with granddaughter X1 vs X2, so have been thinking of selling d850 photographer wants to buy. So long story short really checked out q on line, can’t really travel any distance yet, but with what going on Leica should I consider Sony rx1r 11 as an alternate.

    • I don’t think there is much to fear with the Q2 but my friend in Germany, Claus Sassenberg, has just sold his new Q2 because he doesn’t like the larger sensor and preferred the Q1 or Q-P. The Sony is cheaper but will not hold its value as well as a Q.

  9. The ‘slow – ish’ release of L mount lenses now begins to make sense. Yes, the second digital photography revolution is here; it will not take prisoners … and casualties may not recover. Last week I bought an M4-P instead of opting for a Panasonic S1. I am wondering for how long the latest digital flagships will be ‘current’ and ‘state of the art’? We all need deep pockets to contain the likely faster £depreciation on flagship digital cameras … and lenses. The new ‘hinted at’ technology could hasten all current digital camera models’ obsolescence. It’s time to stock up with M lenses … and analogue M film cameras. Forget about R cameras … unless treated as unrepairable / no parts available, ‘disposables’. Apologies for the gloom and despondency … but we need to brace ourselves for the consequences of the second digital photography revolution.

    • I read that Adorama in the USA are discounting the M10 (by around $500 which isn’t that much, but offering a free 7 Artisans lens. There also appears to be a softening in CL/TL2 prices in some markets. Currently my only M digital is the M10-D which is perhaps the one to go for — an M4-P with a sensor.

  10. A further thought on the layoffs at Leica. While not knowing any details, German labor laws are very protective of employees, and it is not an easy thing for companies to lay people off. I am sure they will be looking at asking for volunteers, especially those who are near retirement. I can only hope that none of my good friends at Leica who are long timers will be out!

    I recently ran across a video of the bad old days at Leitz (mid Seventies) when the company was in bad straights and laid off a lot of workers. The video showed employees protesting in front of the Old Admin building across the street from the factory. Hopefully, we will never see those days again!

    • It is interesting that marketing was highlighted as one of the areas for layoffs. Perhaps the guys who decided to knock 28% off the price of the SL are on on the list!

  11. I wish people would quit referring to “digital photography”. It doesn’t exist. It is digital imaging. We can only hope this all leads to a further rediscovery of real photography and actual cameras and film. One is reminded of Erwin Puts, “Most people assume that digital photography (a huge misnomer) is simply photography by other means than the use of film and chemicals… This attitude is not only widespread it is the conventional wisdom worldwide. Being universally accepted does not make it true.” Computational imaging has even less to do with photography.

    Of course, as companies scramble to figure how to produce ever more high technology and short-lived products (instead of long-lived durable products) few seem willing to acknowledge the facts of how badly things are going in the natural world thanks to an unwise course in human society, and that most people will be worried about far more pressing matters in two or three decades time than the development of companies and their products.

    • Surely ‘digital imaging’ is very different to ‘digital photography’. A digital image can be created without a camera/lens.

  12. Not sure it’s a good idea to take Apple as a role model. Apple is getting worse ever since they built that giant spaceship of a campus.Ironically the devices that came out of the tiny garage were more interesting. . Their products have such a short shelf life now and all the good features previously introduced, Magsafe, SDXC card slots, multiple slots for connections are suddenly dropped on each new model. And the software? They keep changing the photo filing system’s organization around every single time they introduce a new OS update.No continuity.
    Heaven help us if Leica starts following in their footsteps.We will be buying Leicas ( STILL at eye-watering prices ) with a shelf life of two years at best and software updates every three months.
    Some days I wish the whole market would go back to using film just to put an end to the digital madness!Sorry, bit of a rant, I think Leica has a really solid range of products at the moment, hope they can somehow maintain this and not get lost in the black hole of sales, marketing,, software, firmware or otherware. Minolta disappeared that way and were swallowed up by Sony. An audio company.The photographic universe has become an uncertain place with all spaceships on a quest for survival.

    • I take two points from this. The first is that if Leica moves inexorably towards technology as an essential part of its camera offering we will indeed have to endure short product cycles and, at Leica’s pricing, huge losses. I don’t even bother fiddling with FOTOS and I don’t really want more electronic complications in a camera. I wonder how many of Leica’s core users really want to move in this direction.

      Secondly, I agree wholeheartedly on Apple Photos which I hate with a passion. I use my iPhone for casual stuff, including making notes (such as a location in a car park). I don’t really use it for serious work, but inevitably everything gets cluttered up in Photos. We can look forward to the forthcoming iPadOS where photo uploads can be divorced from Photos and can be imported directly into a folder (for subsequent computer desktop processing) or directly into Lightroom on the iPad.

      On the original point, I remember Stefan Daniel discussing the new Zeiss fixed-lens camera which majors on built in technology to process images, something which will lead inevitably to rapid camera obsolescence. Leica’s alternative, he said, is to divorce the technology from the camera so that the physical body will retain its value for longer but improvements in technology can be applied by means of applications on computers, tablets and smartphones. This approach makes a lot of sense to me and the recent move to employ more experts in applications, image processing and iOS/Android are an indication that this is happening.

      • No: the firm (Leica) shouldn’t rely on third-party processing ..for example Photoshop.. but needs its own in camera processing to provide the distinctive flavour of its own brand.

        “..Leica’s alternative, he said, is to divorce the technology from the camera so that the physical body will retain its value for longer but improvements in technology can be applied by means of applications on computers, tablets and smartphones.”

        NO. That doesn’t distinguish the Leica brand from any other camera which has its photos edited with any 3rd-party software. That REDUCES the value of the camera!

        But developing in-house software is a massive, time-consuming and painful job to start from scratch, and I doubt that Jenoptik, or anyone similar, is up to the rapid development needed. Leica must buy in a proven photo-manipulation company (..as, to follow the Apple analogy, Apple did when buying-in the movie-editing software which became Final Cut Pro and which then drove professional Apple sales ..and when Apple bought-in what became the iTunes ‘digital jukebox’ software which drove iPod sales).

        Leica MUST get its own ‘computational photography’ INSIDE its own new breed of camera; buy it in and stuff it inside and create a new kind of photography achievable only with a Leica. Otherwise shut up shop.

        • Before doing that Leica needs a very good idea as to what they mean by “computational photography” and what the benefits are from introducing it. Lots of computational imaging startups have floundered with good technology that failed to find a killer application.

          More immediately, I suspect that cameras such as the SL, M, and S series are mainly held back by much more prosaic issues such as dated hardware (sensors, image stabilisation, etc) – and price points and reliability that are difficult to square with Leica’s service times and market positioning as the best-of-the-best.

  13. Matthias Hirsch says “The younger generation, especially, is discovering photography through the smartphone and the switch to higher-quality system cameras becomes easier. If customers are already familiar with the Leica brand, they will make the connection.”
    Great optimistic talk but why would they want to switch to a higher quality system camera if their easy to use and carry smartphone already takes really good photos which meet their needs? And the jump from a smartphone to a Leica branded system camera is a very big financial commitment.
    Go to the any of the tourist hot spots in Europe or elsewhere and count the number of tourists using cameras-nowadays they are rarer than rocking horse droppings. Smartphones rule the roost.
    I’m a doomsayer on this. The winds of change are really howling in the camera industry and I see Leica as the next Kodak,Blackberry or Nokia. They have a deep commitment to a market which is shrinking by the day. They have a bloated cost base and their loyal committed customer base is aging. They are between a rock and a very hard place. Employing more software specialsts is not going to save them.

  14. “Smartphones rule the roost”.What if Leica made a smartphone then ( no, not a tie up with a Chinese or Japanese manufacturer ) but a real Leica product with a TL2 type interface and a Q type crop frame system and pixel count? Would you buy it?

    • “..a TL2 type interface..” suggests a large lens, like on a ..well, like on a TL2. There’d be no point to having a large lens, or large lens socket, on what would otherwise be a pocketable telephone. This would have no advantage over anything, and would be a laughing-stock as a phone.

      (On your previous point about “..Minolta disappeared that way and were swallowed up by Sony. An audio company..” I ought to mention that by then Sony’s Broadcast division was the world’s major, or preferred, supplier of broadcast video machines and portable broadcast cameras, and had progressed way beyond being “the Walkman company” ..but recorded, and played back, almost every recorded TV programme worldwide. So, not just audio.)

        • The Huawei has a better camera, but the iPhone has a much better operating system and is much nicer to use in every way. I have both. I am not a fan of either Apple or Google, but I do use their products and services. That is the way the world is today, you always have to do business with people you would not want to invite into your home. As for Leica, they should not produce a phone, but they should produce cameras with some of the features of smartphones and then some.

          William

    • Steve, no I would not buy a Leica speced up phone. My iPhone suits me just fine and I already have too many toys.
      I would not buy a Leica watch either. Now what ever happened to the Leica watch vanity project?
      Talk about fiddling whilst Rome burns…..

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