Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 2000/10/02

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Subject: [Leica] Photokina LUG report (2)
From: Jem Kime <>
Date: Mon, 2 Oct 2000 09:02:00 +0100

Here's part 2.

Emmanuel - Are you thinking of making some new short focal length lenses 
(like Cosina/Voigtlander)?
Leica - 	that would be a nice addition to the M system but you have to 
calculate lens cost against sales volume and price. It would certainly be a 
nice addition to the range, we're thinking seriously on this topic.
	- How do you think Cosina have achieved all their designs at such low 
	- Perhaps these are only hobby items for the Cosina owner (he can afford 
to indulge himself).

Leica then chose to say something on the changes that were going on within 
the company.
Leica - 	The Leica booth here at Photokina this year is decidedly 
different, and at Solms there will also be changes. The company is being 
rebuilt. Since Herr Cohn arrived there have been many changes made and a 
clearer brand image is being created along with a new strategy. There's a 
new corporate design with a new board of managers looking after the new 
structure of the company. What you see at Photokina represents the same 
inside Leica, hopefully we're more innovative but it will perhaps take two 
years to complete this transition of mind-set at Leica.
	We do not want to throw away our heritage, we have a focus of 'Quality, 
precision and solidity', we know we have to make large inroads into our 
production times to market and we will see distinct progress in that area.

Brian Bower - You've been using Leica's image to get premium price for 
product, is there a danger of debasing the image with APS, Digilux and 
'point and shoot' compact cameras? Should you consider distinguishing 
between your 'professional' and 'consumer' ranges?
Leica - 	This issue was first discussed years ago with the Leica AFC-1, but 
buying in a product is more than that with Leica, there's real design work, 
it's more than just badging someone else's product, we're on the top level 
of the segment.
	- Well could I suggest a 'Pro Division' for the M and R lines then?
	- We're heading in that direction, maybe not with those names, but we 
certainly have to qualify the top end product.

Tom Abrahamsson - The Leica market is 'mature', it's obviously important 
that you should attract young people in to buy, but how?
Leica - 	We are striving for that with new designs and marketing. We are 
seeking to reach them with more modern fresh designs. The new market is for 
modern people wishing to leave auto / digital technologies and lose their 
phones and lap tops etc. They want to do something real, not virtual at the 
weekend, there is a lot of interest in the O Series shown by young people.

Nathan - There's a big difference of presentation between dealers in 
Germany and Belgium, it is hard to find any stock at all in Belgium. But in 
Zurich, where I now live, there are 6 or 7 shops alone that carry a wide 
range. Are you looking to upgrade your distribution channels?
Leica - 	Yes, new distributors will change the situation as soon a s 
possible. The new distributor for Canada is here today, we have also 
appointed a new distributor for the Far East, Taiwan, Singapore and also 
Finland, and these are part of the changes taking place at the company.

Mikiro - Can I ask about craftsmanship? Some people complain Leicas are not 
as good as they used to be, are you happy?
Leica - 	Part of the changes here are to have better project management. 
The better designed things are the less chance there is for error and 
disappointment with the end user. New products are focused on that 
improvement. Perceived quality problems are not always a reality, the black 
paint M6 felt exactly like an M3.
	- But there have been examples of disappointment, I found a lens not 
working, I found dirt in lenses, maybe I had 2 or 3 bad boxes but this 
doesn't seem good.
	- There have been changed made in production, we've had some bad cases and 
they have to be eliminated. We are going to introduce a certificate for 
signature by the people responsible, which will be included with the pro  
duct, so there are changes ahead.

Jem Kime - Do you have specific plans to eventually place all production 
inside Leica or are you happy to continue sourcing lenses, for example, 
outside of your company?
Leica - 	We have an interest in increasing our optical knowledge and we 
wish to keep as much as possible 'in house' but looking at any project we 
need to evaluate the possibilities open to us and work accordingly. We keep 
a close control of any out-sourcing, as we cannot make everything we'd like 
to 'in house'. A topical example is the 15 Super Elmar-R which as you know 
has been made by Zeiss for us, at Photokina it is not here as Zeiss has 
recently stopped production. We will have a new lens to replace it, it will 
not be a Leica lens but very comparable in quality, smaller, lighter and 
faster. There is no point in designing and building at this point.
	- Do you foresee the potential for website development to include the 
direct sale of cameras and lenses?
	- Yes we will expand our website but we have no plans for direct selling, 
the distributors are a key part of the Leica chain. There is also at 
present a 'hook up' between the website and German dealers in terms of 
coupons which can be exchanged for free prints with the new Digilux 4.3.

Lucien - Do you have a list of all the modifications still available at the 
factory? This used to be available in the last website but seems to be 
missing from the present one. For example, are you still willing to convert 
an M1 into an M2?
Leica - 	Yes, we still will update R lenses to ROM and this is feasible for 
other areas as well. In fact all the specifications are on our website.
	- Do you monitor the conversation on the Leica User Group internet list?
	- Unfortunately not, it would take one person all his working day to do 
this! We receive feedback through the Leica Forum on our website, letters 
and we can obviously access the LUG here, both in person, or as necessary 
on our computers. But so many of the questions are the same, they can seem 
repetitive, I think we should put a FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) page 
on our website.

And that was where the meeting concluded, after 2 hours and Erwin noticing 
that some of the ladies were having trouble staying awake! He thanked Leica 
for making this meeting possible and this sentiment was heartily endorsed 
by the listeners. Following this, informal conversation continued for 
another 10-15 minutes while brochures were made available for collection. 
The group then adjourned to re-meet at a restaurant that evening for a wild 
night of non-stop Leica conversation.