The news today that Leica has reduced its lens prices by 12% should come as no surprise. Leica has been quietly discounting new lenses and cameras and selling them as “demos” for many months, and those same lenses and cameras have been languishing on dealers’ shelves for at least as long.
Why has Leica, who had trouble meeting demand for its products several years ago, experienced this reversal of fortune?
Simply put, the M240 did not ignite the passion of photographers (or at least camera purchasers) and it didn’t become the blockbuster Leica had hoped. And since camera sales drive lens sales, the lenses are now – figuratively and literally – collecting dust.
People who follow this blog know of my passion for the M9 and of my distaste for the M240 (see my Open Letter to Leica). The reasons for this have been well documented, so I won’t rehash them here.
Even if you put my personal bias aside, the M240 was made obsolete by other CMOS-based cameras (I’m thinking specifically about Sony’s cameras) the moment it hit the streets. The M9 at least offered something different, while remaining true to the Leica ethos.
Whatever Leica does with the next M, I would humbly suggest that they focus on the following:
- superior image quality
- a less-is-more interface
- rangefinder accuracy and precision
- weight and size reduction.
Until then, I’m holding on to my M9P and M9 Monochrom*.
*Incidentally, my good friend Alex here in Toronto (who sells more Leica gear than anyone else in Canada) tells me that he has trouble selling new or used M240s, while used M9s fly off his shelves, despite the very well known sensor corrosion issue.