Leica will unveil a new compact camera system at Photokina 2012, the company's chairman and CEO have revealed today
Author: Olivier Laurent in Paris
22 Jun 2011 Tags: Leica
Speaking to BJP and other representatives of the UK press at a Paris-event, Leica's chairman Dr. Andreas Kaufmann and CEO Alfred Schopf have confirmed that the German company is developing a new compact camera system.
Leica's goal is to create a new market in the Electronic Viewfinder, Interchangeable Lens segment.
"It's more than an idea," says Schopf. "You will see something at the next Photokina [trade show in Cologne]." The new system will use an "APS-C sized sensor at least," says Schopf.
But, Leica says that the camera will differ from what other manufacturers, such as Panasonic, Olympus, Samsung and Sony, are doing in the EVIL market. "We will always do things differently," says Kaufmann. "And we always take our time."
Both executives declined to provide more details about the new system, but hinted that the electronic viewfinder used will depend on the sensor selected.
The new camera would become Leica's fourth system of cameras. Currently, the German company offers the M-system, the S-System and the X1 compact, fixed-lens camera.
Leica used to produce the R-system of cameras, and, in fact, had plans to release a R10 digital model two years ago. However, says Kaufmann, Leica was, at that time, also developing the S-system and "it would not have made sense [to split resources on both]." The R10 has since been scrapped.
Now, as Leica is benefiting from renewed success thanks to its M9, S2 and X1 line-up, "we're in a position to do what we want." The company says that its success is the result of the restructuring it went through more than five years ago, which led to the launch, two years ago of Leica's first full-frame rangefinder - the M9. "We still have a backlog," says Schopf. "We have ramped up production significantly, but you can do that only to a certain extent. The demand is still high and we continue [to have] customers complain about delivery time." But, they don't complain about the quality of the final product, Schopf adds. "We won't make any compromises about quality. We want the customer to get what he anticipates. We want it to be worth to wait."
Leica also revealed that it has already sold more than 1500 M9-P cameras, which was announced yesterday. "We have another 1500 being produced now," says Schopf.
Asked whether Leica ever considered outsourcing the production of its cameras to Asia, Schopf says that the German company had been approached several times about this, but had always declined. "We have specialised people [working on our cameras]," he says. "When they look inside a lens, they know what corrections are needed right away. That's the result of 25 years of experience for our people. It's impossible to teach people about that in six months. It would take at least four or five years, and in that time, what products do you release?"
Kaufmann has also revealed that he plans to launch, later this year, a new company that will be tasked with the publication of photobooks. The company, which will act as an intermediary between Leica and photographers, will feature the work of famous, as well as unknow Leica photographers. Kaufmann hinted that the first book could come in the Autumn featuring Seal's photography. The English singer is renowned for being a Leica ambassador.
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