Stefan Daniel, Leica’s global production director, confirmed the company’s commitment to continuing the manufacture of film cameras during Friday’s discussion with members of the LHSA – the International Leica Society. Together with the chairman of the supervisory board, Dr Andreas Kaufmann, he was taking part in a wide-ranging overview of current and future plans.
Over the past year, there have been rumours that film camera production would cease. However, Mr Daniel said that Leica was committed to continued manufacturing of film cameras. He emphasised that there is a huge growth in demand for second-hand Leica film bodies and new cameras are on backorder. This level of interest in film cameras was something that he hadn’t seen since the arrival of the digital Ms over ten years ago.
He went on to say that the manufacture of film cameras is a highly skilled process and has to be undertaken by trained staff. “They don’t grow on trees”, he said. A film camera contains 1,100 to 1,200 parts and is far more complex than a digital camera. Tooling from the 1960s and 1970s has to be maintained and it isn’t easy simply to ramp up production.
Dr Kaufmann confirmed that demand for film cameras is greater than the production capacity. He pointed out that this interest is largely coming from younger photographers up to, probably, the age of 35. Older customers tend to be “more happy shooting digital”.
Following the discontinuance of the M7, there are just two film bodies currently in production. The metered MP, which is available in black lacquer or silver chrome finish, costs £3,900 in the UK. The un-metered M-A continues the purist approach of the M3 and M4 ranges. It comes in black chrome or silver chrome and costs £3,800 in the UK.