Sunday, March 15, 2015

WALL STREET JOURNAL ARTICLE ABOUT LEICA



The Wall Street Journal published an article by Ellen Emmerentze Jervelle about Leica titled “Leica Survives the Digital Shift.”  While there were no new revelations about the cameras and the company, it was still quite interesting to read what was being said in some of the paragraphs.

The opening line was quite interesting, where the author states “Booming smartphone sales are eating into the digital camera market, but the inventor of the 35mm film camera isn't blinking.”  This is a significant statement, because it encompasses the entire camera market in one brief sentence.

It is a fact that the camera market as a whole is suffering from the ever increasing sales volume of cell phones with picture taking capability.  The noticeable exception of this trend is Leica, the only major camera manufacturer that is actually experiencing sales increases.  Last year’s turnover was in excess of 337 million euros, an increase of 35 percent over the previous year, and the current fiscal year, which ends at the end of March, promises another increase.

According to the author, “Leica … found a lucrative niche. It continues making small, boxy cameras resembling its old M models—the cameras behind iconic images including the sailor kissing a woman in Times Square at the end of World War II.” 

The original prototype Ur-Leica from 1913,

Leica M3, the first of the M-line of Leica cameras

Leica M (Typ 240), the current top of the line Leica M camera

I find this misleading because I don't see how the Leica M line of cameras, including the current digital models, could possibly be referred to as boxy.  In comparison to professional cameras from other manufacturers the current Leica M series cameras are substantially smaller.  As a matter of fact, elsewhere the article points to the fact that other camera makers, including Sony, Fuji and Olympus, have introduced cameras that follow the basic layout of the Leica M line of cameras.  With other words, these companies obviously recognized the advantages of the Leica’s design, including rangefinder focusing in several of their models. 

This is not a coincidence. Leica photographer Constantine Manos, a professional photographer at photo agency Magnum, was quoted in the article saying, “Leicas are still relevant. Leica’s cameras retain links to their past while keeping pace with the latest technology.”  Another explanation of Leica’s recent success is at the end of the article, which closes with a quote from Bradly Treadaway, digital media coordinator at the International Center of Photography in New York. He said “Leica has diversified its options and offerings, ventured into multiple formats of digital photography and continues to support the M series.”


Read the entire Wall STreet Journal article here.

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6 comments:

  1. Didn't take long for the Leica haters to come out of the woodwork. One of them writes: "Leica could not handle the digital tecnologie and had to do a joint venture with Panasonic to make its digital camera. Traditionally, Germans make EXCELLENT lenses but miserable cameras. The lenses in the Space Shuttle, Hubble Telescope and any other Air Force or military advances lenses are either Carl Zeiss or Leica. Most advanced medical instruments that bear lenses are also German made." Seems to me that this guy needs to check his "facts". Am I right?

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    1. Of course you are right. Maybe the other major camera manufacturers should switch to making miserable cameras because only Leica has been able to point to sales increases. The rest of the industry is in a significant downturn. I wonder what lenses in the space shuttle this guy is pointing to? As far as I know, there aren't any. Nikon cameras are regularly used, they don't have Leica lenses. In the film days, Hasselblad was the camera of choice, They used Zeiss lenses. A few flights were equipped with Rollei medium format cameras. They used Zeiss and Schneider lenses. Nikon also supplied a camera with a specially designed UV lens. This guy's statement is totally false. Hubble? The main mirror was made by Corning. As far as the rest of the optics is concerned, I have no idea who made them. The US Air Force, I assume that is what he is referring to, used a Leica based 35mm system as well as a Leica developed under water system, but they are no longer in use. Facts don't matter, I guess.

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  2. Miserable cameras? This guy is an idiot.

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  3. First off, at least get the source correct - the article appeared in the Wall Street Journal, not the NY Times.

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    1. Damn, I wish you had not pointed this out. I was ready to join the "I NEVER MADE A MISTAKE IN MY LIFE CLUB". Now I don't think I will be able to. ;-)

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  4. Glad to see you've given proper credit to the WSJ

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