Friday, November 25, 2016


The one thing Leica is most often criticized for is the cost of their cameras.  Subsequently a lot of photographers chose other makes of cameras because they are so much less expensive.  A lot of them are, without doubt, but let’s take a look at the top models from other manufacturers.  After all, you have to go to the very best to find something that comes at least close to a Leica in terms of performance.

Here is a list of cameras both medium format and full frame, camera body only, from the same major camera dealer in descending order, based on price

1          Hasselblad H5D-200c Multi-Shot Medium Format DSLR   $45,000

2          Mamiya 645DF with Leaf Credo Series 80 digital back   $28,495

3          Leica S (Type 007)   $16,900

4          Leica S-E Medium Format DSLR Camera (Typ 006)   $10,995.00

5          Leica M-P   $8,791.20

6          Canon 1D C   $7,999
7          Leica SL and Leica M Monochrome   $7,450.00

8          Pentax 645Z   $6,996.95

9          Nikon D3x   $6,999

10        Leica M 240   $6,500

11        Nikon D4S DSLR Camera   $5,996.910 

12        Leica M-E   $4,790.00

That makes Leica look quite attractive.  But what about lenses, one might ask?  Without doubt, Leica lenses are among the most expensive on the market.  But they also present the best performing line of lenses on the market.  One reason is the way they are made.  The bench made process, employed by Leica, allows for the implementation of much tighter tolerances which is needed to achieve absolute top performance.  This method of production does not allow for any mass production procedures, all of which is expensive, but it also assures an unsurpassed level of quality.

In comparison, not all competitor lenses are of equal performance.  Most other companies make so called kit lenses which are meant to keep the prices of their camera-lens combinations rather low.  These lenses generally are of a rather poor performance and should not be used for any price comparisons.  Instead, take a competitor lens that is made to much higher quality standards.  Even then you still have a mass produced item with the shortcomings associated with mass production.  Then, if you go beyond that and take a lens that is sold in only relatively low quantities, with other words, a lens that is similar in production numbers to Leica lenses and the cost suddenly rises to similar levels.  For instance, take the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 800mm f/5.6E FL ED VR Lens, and you are looking at $17,997.

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 800mm f/5.6E FL ED VR

But one does not have to go to such extremes.  When it comes to performance, one manufacturer outside of Leica has definitely a very good reputation of their own, the company of Zeiss.  Their 55mm f/1.4 Otus Distagon T* lens sells for $3,990.  In comparison, the Leica 50mm f/1.4 Summilux ASPH has a price of 3,745.

Recent articles on this blog showed some of the advantages of the Leica digital sensors.  Taken any of the Leica cameras equipped with those sensors, combined with a Leica lens, and you have a camera with unsurpassed performance with, what turns out to be a competitive price as well.


In today's global market place, buying cameras in different countries is not difficult at all.

Have you ever wondered what Leicas are selling for in other countries?  It is no secret that prices do vary considerably depending what continent or what country you are in.  I have often compared prices with my sister who lives in Germany and we have come to the conclusion that Leica prices in Germany are roughly the same numerically in euros or dollars.  Considering the exchange rate between the two currencies, that makes Leica equipment definitely more expensive in Germany than in the US.

This is by no means a very scientific comparison, but it does display a certain trend.  To make comparisons between a large number of countries is almost impossible, for a variety of reasons.  The currency exchange rates often differ from one day to the next.  Prices will also vary from dealer to dealer and among cities or areas within a country.

A while ago I got help from a reader of this blog.  Torben Chrona Christiansen publishes the LEICA INDEX (  He did a tremendous amount of research on this topic.  As he explained, it was virtually impossible to include all countries, nor does he consider his results totally accurate because of the problems associated with this.  He decided to compare prices of the Leica X2 in 21 different countries and after researching the prices in those countries, he decided to publish the prices based on one particular day, November 21, 2014 and the prevailing exchange rates for that particular day.  Since these countries do have currencies of their own, he also decided to use the US dollar as the currency for the comparison.

Here are his results from the least expensive to the most expensive country.

1   Indonesia: $1624
2   United States: $1629
3   Malaysia: $1662
4   Sweden: $1689
5   Hong Kong: $1701
6   Canada: $1727
7   Australia: $1730
8   Japan: $1796
9   United Kingdom: $1884
10 Italy: $1912
11 Spain: $1981
12 Croatia: $2000
13 Netherlands: $2107
14 France: $2170
15 Germany: $2170
16 Denmark: $2294
17 Russia: $2310
18 Taiwan: $2368
19 China: $2384
20 South Africa: $2548
21 Brazil: $2788

That makes for a difference of $1164 between the lowest and the highest country, a surprisingly large amount.  It seems to be an easy decision to buy Leica equipment in a country with the lowest prices.  But there is more to consider.  You will need to examine the warranties and how they compare, if they are even valid in your country.  There will also be some extra cost attached to buying in another country, where the main extra costs are tax and shipment. This can in some cases be a very big factor.

You might pay a higher price if you buy locally, but if something goes wrong, you have your dealer service to rely on, and, if you are like me, once I have made the decision to get a new piece of Leica equipment, I want to get my hands on it right away.  Buying locally eliminates the waiting period for the camera to arrive.  Much to consider.

My thanks to Torben Chrona Christiansen for giving me permission to use his data for this article.


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