Hi,What Leica needs to do is simply enough to make cameras that earn enough money to keep the company afloat
. This has historically been a major issue for Leica, they are essentially loosing money all the time. What's keeping Leica afloat to my best knowledge are rebadged Panasonics.
Obviously, M9 are selling very well but that may relate to a piled up demand for a FF digital RF-Leica for RF-Leica aficionados, once that market is filled what is going to happen? The S2 is a bold step in a new direction, I hope it will work out for Leica but I have some doubt. It's really a question of cost and benefit. For lovers of image quality cost may not be an objection, but I guess that in the professional market you need a return on investment. It may materialize in one of those ways:
- Customers pay more money because of higher quality
- Photographer can sell more pictures because of higher quality
- The tool is more efficient so productivity is increased (Photographer can sell more pictures because of better productivity.)
One of the great attractions of Leica is it's small size, another is their excellent lenses. One path for Leica to take may be to build a simpler camera, without rangefinder. The RF is a complex mechanical device needing a lot of workmanship. Replacing RF with an EVF may push cost down so Leica could sell about the same price as a lower cost full frame digital camera (like the Sony A 900 or the Canon 5DII). Image quality would be exactly the same as the M9, would that sensor be used. I don't think this camera should be called M9, it would be MD One (M-series Digital first model).
The idea with this suggestion is really that it's to eat the cake and still have it. The user base would be wider, more lenses would be sold, prices for old lenses would increase and no M-series aficionados would be offended.
Finally, just an explanation. Making a "live-view" only camera is much simpler than any other construct. The only thing that needs to be achieved is that the sensor is parallell to the focal plane of the lens. Even flange to sensor distance is less critical even if it may be desirable that infinity focus is at infinity stop. There is no mechanical linkage, relay prisms or pelicular mirrors for focusing.
As a side note. It seems obvious that critical focusing on the Leica is not really easy. Lloyd Chambers has done some extensive shooting with the M9 and had issues with focusing accuracy with the 70 mm lens. He also indicated that some of the Leica lenses did not achieve infinity focus at the infinity mark. Lloyd Chamber tested both Leica and Zeiss lenses and in some cases he found the Zeiss lenses superior (My understanding is that Zeiss has a focus on high MTF in the center of the image but allows more fall of on MTF in the corners. Leica lenses are better corrected in the corners but tend to have a complex field curvature, wavy, to achieve this. Zeiss also seems to have more focus on keeping flare down.)
Erwin Puts also indicated that a viewfinder magnifier is really needed to critically focus the M9.
Mr. Lloyd Chambers Leica pages are here: http://www.diglloyd.com/prem/prot/DAP/LeicaM9/index.html
, this is a pay site but I'd suggest that spending a few dollars on excellent info is a good idea before shelling out seven grand.
Mr. Puts writing on the Leica is here: http://www.imx.nl/photo/
Mr. Puts is both a Leica expert and a Leica aficionado. He owns the first Leica M9 sold to a customer and has built his own Leica M8 which has "zero tolerance". His writing tends to be a bit complex but definitively worth reading.
While I agree with many of Michael's thoughts for a future rangefinder, it is interesting that Leica cannot keep up with current demand for the M9 and S2. I suppose there are enough of us old farts who actually like the anachronistic qualities or at least don't find them to be a hindrance.