Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 2004/05/29

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Subject: [Leica] Re: [Luc] Have Leica prices really increased over time?
From: pdzwig at (Peter Dzwig)
Date: Sat May 29 15:15:11 2004
References: <> <>

I have a feeling that when the Leica "staff" were sent to the US to escape 
persecution in the late '30s (they were sent with cameras in lieu of cash) the 
value of each camera was - according to one version of the story - worth more 
than a top-end Chevrolet.

Perhaps that should set any benchmark based on PPP vis-a-vis Leica. What is the 
comparable cost to-day?

Peter Dzwig

David M. Sueme wrote:
> Stephen Gandy wrote:
>> July 1st Leica USA will increase prices 4%.  I have not kept track of
>> the Leica increases, but Leica seems they have had more than their
>> share.
>> A new 50/1.4 ASPH M lenses will be available in a few months, dealer net
>> about $2300.
> Now lets not be getting defensive here - ok?  You are rightly concerned 
> that the venerable Leica name may price itself out of business.  You are 
> not alone.  But you have to admit that Leica equipment was never 
> anything but dear.  Question is, how dear - in terms of "real money"?
> So what is "real money"?  Karl Marx had an opinion - it was the "labor 
> theory of value".  The English magazine "The Economist"  has a 
> perspective on the issue, go to "" and look up the "Big Mac 
> Index".
> The Big Mac Index is an attempt to find a "real money" value that is 
> independant of local price pressures.  They may actually be closer to 
> Marx's perspective than they care to admit... but this is not what I'm 
> interested in.  I'm looking for a value that is valid over time for the 
> industrialized world, not a value for today over the entire world.  And 
> it's a difficult problem to find this figure.  I suspect that there are 
> two reasons:
> 1.  Exactly what is the base commodity changes with technological 
> progress.  A calorie of food has grown cheaper over time, a BTU 
> fluctuates with the situation the the middle East.
> 2.  Governments confuse this information to conceal our tax burden.
> I'm going to propose a rough base line price figure - the "top line" 
> automobile available in America in 1938 versus the comparible Leica lens.
> The most expensive car avaiable in America in 1938 was the Packard 
> Twelve.  It is not instructive to compare it's price to that of a 
> Ferrari Modena as there simply was no car priced then at 40 times the 
> price of a basic automobile - the spread was more like 15 times.
> 1938 Packard 12's ran from $4135 to 8510 (Packard,, A History... Kimes 
> ed.).  I propose to compare the base Packard 12 to a basic Mercedes S600 
> at about $80,000.
> Price increase over time: 19.35
> F2 Summar at 1938 (per Steve's page): $79.50...
> increased to today...$1538.09 (Leica's best then and today)...
> Compared to the price quoted above:  1.5.  So as I see it, Leica 
> equipment has indeed become more expensive.  About 50% more expensive 
> over the last 60 years.
> I'll grant immediately that I'm making some huge leaps here - so if you 
> can offer a better perspective then let's go for it!
> Dave Sueme
> BTW, "Packard - A History of the Motor Car and the Company", Bevery 
> Kimes Editor is one the the best possible "coffee table books" ever, 
> particularly if you appreciate engineering excellence and manufacturing 
> quality.  You may _not_ borrow my copy.
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