Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 2004/09/26

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Subject: [Leica] Leica donation to students
From: leicagalpal at (Kit McChesney)
Date: Sun Sep 26 10:08:25 2004

When I said the following:

"I see most people on this list actually using their M and R cameras, not
about them as though they were expensive pieces of jewelry. I hope I'm

I meant to say:

"I hope I'm NOT wrong." :)


-----Original Message-----
[] On Behalf Of
Kit McChesney
Sent: Sunday, September 26, 2004 10:05 AM
To: 'Leica Users Group'
Subject: RE: [Leica] Leica donation to students


Well, that idea may fly if Leica is around in 10 or 15 years when the 25'ers
become 35'ers and 40'ers. And if film ceases to exist as a viable medium,
and digital is all we have. Maybe Leica will survive in that milieu with a
digital M and a digital R. It's possible. 

I'm not sure as many students know about Leica as you think they do. I
recently sold a camera to a young photographer fresh out of film school, and
he said that very few of his fellow students knew what a Leica was, and this
was in a large school in Los Angeles. We're not talking about somewhere in a
remote corner of Alaska. 

As for 'making people dream' about Leicas, I think to keep the Leica in the
'elitist' Rolls-Royce category will eventually kill it. The recent price
increases have shown that a year ago, there were quite a few people who
could 'almost' afford an M7 or an MP (the M6TTL had hovered in the upper
$1800 range; the M7 and MP immediately hit the $2400+ range when they came
out. When the prices went up by 10%, sales suffered. 

Leica has not always been a prestige, elitist brand of camera. I think that
people who dreamed of being 'like' the professional photographers of the 50s
and 60s who used the camera made it into a mythical beast. It used to be
just a very tough, high quality, rugged and high-performing piece of gear.
It has been relatively recently that the camera prices shot through the
roof. I'd bet that the majority of folks on this list bought their cameras
back when prices were more reasonable than they are now. I'd also bet that
most of the folks on this list, though enamored with their cameras, don't
sit around waxing poetic about some 'myth' about the camera. I see most
people on this list actually using their M and R cameras, not daydreaming
about them as though they were expensive pieces of jewelry. I hope I'm

My clients use their cameras. Yes, they've always dreamed of having a Leica,
but a market can't exist if it has to wait 20 years for a customer to mature
and ripen financially in order to buy the product. Leica will be dead if it
has to wait that long to get a customer! 


-----Original Message-----
[] On Behalf Of
Philippe Orlent
Sent: Sunday, September 26, 2004 9:54 AM
To: Leica Users Group
Subject: Re: [Leica] Leica donation to students

Don't forget that even if we run out of 50-ishers, the now 25 and 30-ishers
will come in when they reach 35 or so.
So it's not that Leica customers are a vanishing species.
In my experience, if someone becomes interested in photography at any age
below the ones you state, he'll know about Leica, sometimes he'll read about
Leica, and maybe he'll dream about Leica. And at a certain time, he'll maybe
have the money to acquire his dream.
When he has this money, it becomes a choice between SLR (less Leica) and RF
(thus Leica), and these days about analog or digital. Lots of other "good"
and cheaper cameras around. After all, how many people notice the difference
between a 90% OK camera and lens, and a 100% OK camera and lens?
And above all, how many people make pictures where these 10% become
Now, about the succes of Leica. Has it ever been succesfull, compared to
mogols like Nikon and Canon? Or has it rather been a niche player since
WWII? I think the latter. And there's nothing wrong with that.
For me, Leica is a myth. And myths only survive if they stay mythical. So
don't give these cameras away, don't sell them at lower prices. Make people
dream about them, and if you market anything, market a few fantastic
photographers that make outstanding photos (which in all honesty could have
been made with other cameras, too, since what makes a photo outstanding, is
the man behind the camera, not the camera itself). These "chosen ones" will
become the examples for many others, that will buy Leica.
It's sad, but you can't have a Rolls Royce for the price of a Lada.
And if you want a Rolls, you have to pay for it.
Those that can, will always be a minority.
> From: "Kit McChesney" <>
> Reply-To: Leica Users Group <>
> Date: Sun, 26 Sep 2004 10:21:06 -0600
> To: "'Leica Users Group'" <>
> Subject: RE: [Leica] Leica donation to students
> Well, what would be really interesting is to examine Leica's consumer
> results that we hope people send back when they purchase cameras and
> Who IS buying? Are there youngish folks buying? My experience with my
> is that the majority of buyers of M and R gear, and the Digilux 2, are
> between about 35 and 65, are male, and have relatively substantial incomes
> (doctors, lawyers, engineers, etc., a demographic not unlike that of the
> LUG-list). Yes, there are a few women in the bunch, a few
> a few younger-than-30 men, but not many. If I were Leica, I'd be looking
> hard at those statistics and trying to find a way to reach the younger
> At some point, you're going to run out of 50-ish men to sell to!
> Kit  
> -----Original Message-----
> From:
> [] On Behalf
> B. D. Colen
> Sent: Sunday, September 26, 2004 9:03 AM
> To: 'Leica Users Group'
> Subject: RE: [Leica] Leica donation to students
> Well you are definitely a downer - BUT - you may also be the realist at
> this party. For all my cynicism about Leica the company, the future of
> film, etc., etc....I am a romantic at heart, and, when all is said and
> done, am as attached to the mythology as the rest of you lug(ers). Were
> that not the case, I would have sold my M gear at least a year ago. But
> thus far I just can't bring myself to do it.
> But your students and mine, and everyone else's for that matter, lack
> the romantic ties to Leitz, Leica, Ms, or, for that matter, to film!
> I am still convinced, however, that selling the Digi back as a loss
> leader WOULD revive the R line and could well be the move that could
> keep Leica alive long enough to develop a digital SLR from the ground up
> that would take the R manual lenses, and a new line of Leica R autofocus
> lenses
> :-)
> B. D.
> -----Original Message-----
> From:
> [] On Behalf Of
> Karen Nakamura
> Sent: Sunday, September 26, 2004 11:33 AM
> To: Leica Users Group
> Subject: RE: [Leica] Leica donation to students
>> I don't know about your students, but I have students who would sell
>> their boyfriend/girlfriend to be able to own a Leica. In fact my most
>> "successful" student thus far - he is now signed up with one of the
>> agencies, shoots major league baseball, and on and on and on - scrimped
>> and saved and bought himself a used M 6 and a couple Cosina lenses. And
>> he's not some pie-in-the-sky nutty art student; his main cameras are
>> Canon EOS digitals.
> My students are pretty cheap -- they steal TacoBell   "salsa" packets
> to put on their 99cent Walmart-brand spaghetti noodles and call it
> spaghetii marinara.  But I think they're typical of 90% of the the
> general undergraduate population.  The *truly* dedicated will get a
> Leica, but that population was already sold. How do you reach the
> not-so-dedicated?
> I don't think that price is the main problem. After all, they can
> always get an M3 for $900 or an M6 TTL for $1500.  The used Leica
> market is effectively the equivalent of what people are talking about
> here.  I don't think that Leica can sell an M7 for $1500 and survive.
> The same with the lenses.  I have to admit I haven't bought any Leica
> lenses new. Why buy them for $3000 when you can get them near-mint
> on the LUG for $1000?  Or an equivalent Cosina for $400?  The
> economics are truly gloomy for Leica but discounting won't help them.
> We're assuming that students don't have access to ebay, where Leica
> prices have plummeted in the past year. This might have flown 5 years
> ago, but I don't see it flying right now.
> The example of your student only proves the point. He bought a used
> Leica and bought Cosina lenses. Net profit for Leica: $0.  If he had
> bought a for-cost Leica and for-cost Leica lens, net profit for
> Leica: -$1000 (or so, whatever we decide overhead is).  If your
> student  goes out and buys an M7 and Summilux 50mm and 35mm  within
> the next year, maybe.
> But that's just one anecdote (along with Ted's donation of a camera)
> involving the apocryphal super-dedicated student. These are pretty
> rare occasions.  Even if I told my students that they could get a
> Leica + lens for $1500 each, I doubt more than one would sign up.
> Most would shrug. The rather-dedicated would rather get a EOS Digital
> Rebel with lens for $1000. The non-dedicated would get a used Canon
> FD for $100 and spend $900 on an iPod and other toys. That's the
> reality of this generation.
> Sorry to be a downer.
> Karen
> -- 
> Karen Nakamura
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Replies: Reply from jon.stanton at (Jon) ([Leica] Leica donation to students)
In reply to: Message from leicagalpal at (Kit McChesney) ([Leica] Leica donation to students)