Thursday, 29 March 2012

POV: Is May 10 The Day For Leica?

Photo Courtesy GIZMODO

May 10th.

That's when Leica will announce a "whole range of product launches" in Berlin. Am I waiting with bated breath for these new products? Not at all. But having a M9 and very much aware of its strong points and shortcomings, I'm interested in seeing what will Leica come up with. It's more from a business side than from a photographic one since the German company is under assault from Fuji and others that are treading on its turf.

I was recently sent a heads up by Zeyad Gohary on a new all-white $31,770 M9-P model with a Noctilux f/0.95 50mm lens. Ridiculous of course, but perhaps it will sell well amongst the moneyed elites, celebrities and collectors. I had a chuckle imagining it in my grubby hands had I had one and used it during the recent festivals I was at in India. It would have turned black (with yellow turmeric and red stains) very quickly. Maybe the Kardashian sisters and their ilk would buy it, but Leica must've done its market research and concluded that it'll make money peddling this all-white model.

That said, I wonder what a "whole range of product launches" will mean. It's reported that the Fuji X-100 clobbered Leica's X1 model, and I predict that Fuji X-Pro 1 will become a favored tool for photographers who won't shell out $8000 or so to buy a M9 (or more in case of a successor). Leica is run by hard headed businessmen who look at the bottom line, and hopefully look into the future...and the future is for cameras that look, smell, cost and work like the Fuji X-Pro 1. Leica's investors know the future as well, and making white M9-P is a cute gimmick, but will not bring in the kind of cash inflow that satisfies these investors.

The range of new products may mean a successor to the M9, lenses and -if my gut feel is right- a new line of mirrorless cameras to directly compete with the Japanese products. A new M10 (improved focus, better LCD, better ISO, etc) and/or a new range of EVIL-like cameras.

That's my call.