Leicaphile Sneetches had bellies with red dots.
Today, I saw images of the new Leica SL and read the posted specs for the first time. I have actually known of this for a while since I have a friend who is very close with Leica and gives me a few teaser now and then in the hopes of bringing me back to Leica. Unfortunately, he has been failing to do so.
- Leica has not yet offered anything compelling to make me want to ditch the Sony’s, Fuji’s, Nikon’s etc …
- Leica is just not on the same playing field as the others when it comes to affordability.
Needless to say, after seeing the images of the SL and reading the full specs, a phone call was warranted.
Our discussion about the SL started today with my opening line. This has to be a joke. Really? $7500.00 for a body and $5000.00 for the lens? On the surface, this looks like a Sony A7 series camera down to the prism. Then you start reading the details and realize it is lacking much of what the A7 has to offer such as the in body image stabilization, articulating rear display, large assortment of native lenses, 42MP backlit sensor, 399 focus points, the ability to use third party adapters which allow auto focus with third party lenses and mainly, the ability to deliver to the masses. I flat out told him Sony has nothing to worry about. No competition! I went on to say that if any company should be concerned, it should be Nikon and Canon which are still generations behind on delivering a camera based on technology which is obviously the future of photography.
Then it dawned on me. My friend said something that caught me by surprise. Totally unexpected and never saw it coming. He said to me, Leica does not need to compete. Leica is for it’s own niche market. It’s for those who want to wear the label. He went on to say some would never like to be seen with a Sony. They are embarrassed to have one around their neck and would put tape all over it to mask the word Sony.
What Leica does well is to produce cameras which meets the necessary requirements to be considered modern while giving the Leicaphile a way to wear the red badge of honor. A better camera means nothing to the Leicaphile. It’s all about looks and showing off the badge. To my friends credit he is an excellent photographer who has tried many cameras and is always looking for the best shooting experience so I don’t put him 100% in with the rest of the Leicaphile Sneetches that have bellys with red dots. As are many other professionals who use Leica as a working tool. Although I must say, I was surprised to hear his comments.
To those photographers, reviewers and consumers with no red dot upon thar, there is no Sylvester McMonkey Mcbean and no red dot off machine. We have to come to the realization that bringing up Leica to a Leicaphile and comparing them to Sony, Fuji, Nikon, Canon or any other brand is a futile effort. For the Leicaphile and not the regular Leica photographer, there really is no sense in trying to compare one to the other. One is a photographers tool while the other is simply a garment to wear with a built in camera. Analogous to a smart phone. You buy the phone and get a good camera.
No true Leicaphile will take the walk of shame and be seen with no red dot upon their belly. I can’t think of a valid reason why someone would pay the ridiculous inflated price of a Leica other than to say they are the best kind of photographer on the streets. Waving their cameras in hand, they would snap and shoot and have nothing to do with the plain photographer sort!
So when you read comments from the likes of myself, Lloyd Chambers, Ken Rockwell, Matt Grainger, Steve Huff and other who in the past have wondered what Leica is thinking, it is now clear. Leica is genius! They are only interested in catering to those who can afford to pay four times the normal price of a Panasonic and keep the company profitable. It’s not about producing the best camera but it’s all about producing a sleek looking camera with the Leica badge on it regardless of it’s capabilities.
UPDATE. The wife chimes in!
My wife believes this post to be insulting to some. As any good husband knows, they listen to their wife and therefore some clarification is required on my part
This topic addresses the need for Leica to target the Leicaphile who can see no other viable option and will justify even the most ridiculous purchases. Not all Leica shooters nor the majority fall in this category including myself which use to own a large assortment of Leica gear.
For example. Buying a $500.00 EVF for their M240 when you can buy the 250.00 version made by Olympus knowing it is the same viewfinder but with a Leica logo instead. Buying a $200.00 HDMI cable for the SL when you can get one for 19.00 or buying a $255.00 lens hood that is no different than a 20.00 lens hood from another brand.
If you opt for any of the above without considering your options you would fall under the Leicaphile category. If you would consider an alternative and still shoot Leica, then this post does not apply.
I think we can self identify if we are a Leicaphile or not and if you are so be it. But, you are the typical target Leica is going after to sustain them and that is what this article is about. It’s not about Leica being competitive. It’s about Leica marketing and their base.