The Leica M-E is the companyu2019s u2018first answeru2019 to the growing compact system camera (CSC) market but bosses admit they will never seek to compete with other manufacturers on price.
Asked if Leica would ever produce an interchangeable-lens camera with a smaller sensor, Leica CEO Alfred Schopf replied: ‘I would never deny that.’
One reader quipped that the £3,900 M-E was at a price comparable with entry-level for a ‘NASA moon rocket’.
Schopf hit back saying some people will always say that a Leica camera is too expensive.
‘But on the other hand, the 55,000 customers of the M-system say a different thing,’ he added.
‘I am sure that the M-E will find its market.’
Stefan Daniel, head of product management at Leica Camera AG explained that, as much as anything, Leica needs to protect the brand investment value of its cameras.
Daniel said there is ‘no way’ Leica would ever produce ‘a billion CSCs’.
‘As a strategy we try and keep prices quite stable,’ he said, adding that Leica has to support its existing users, and not ‘discount [camera prices] after 6 weeks’.
Daniel said Leica also needs to invest the sales revenue earned into research and development programmes for future models.
‘Of course, there’s room for a broader camera portfolio, but we always have to stick to our core brand values,’ he told AP.
‘If we were to try to challenge the big guys (we are still too small) in a price-performance war… we would immediately be in the shark pond with everybody else.’
During at interview at photokina, Schopf hinted that Leica plans to roll out Wi-Fi connectivity to future compact cameras ‘sooner rather than later’.
But, he said the current inability of Wi-Fi to download large image files quickly means the technology will not be making its way into M-cameras anytime soon.
In other Leica news:
• The sensor in the Leica M is ‘developed and produced in Europe’ to Leica’s specifications and is not made by Sony
• The Leica M9 will be phased out
• Leica says there is still demand for film cameras, so they will continue, but Daniel was cagey when asked if Leica plans to buy Kodak’s film business
• The Leica M will not be launched until next year because ‘there is still a lot of work to do’ – debugging, for example
• Leica’s recent financial turnaround means it is ‘coming out of emergency mode and into product planning mode’ – and so is ‘able to take risks’ it previously couldn’t (by launching, for example, the M Monochrom model earlier this year)