Leica has made clear its plans regarding a number of its key product lines, spelling out the future of its film and APS-C cameras, and whether its M series cameras will receive mirrorless conveniences like in-body image stabilization (IBIS) and electronic viewfinders (EVF).
There has been plenty of speculation about the Leica line-up, with many suggesting that production of its film cameras was coming to an end, and that recent reductions to the Leica CL (opens in new tab) (which was slashed by $1,495 earlier this year and is now available for just $2,995 (opens in new tab)) likewise spell the end of the manufacturer's APS-C efforts.
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Leica’s global production director, Stefan Daniel, clarified the company's position on these products in recent comments to the International Leica Society, as reported by Macfilos (and spotted by Leica Rumors (opens in new tab)).
With regard to film cameras, Daniel confirmed that Leica is still committed to producing analog bodies. "He emphasized that there is a huge growth in demand for second-hand Leica film bodies and new cameras are on backorder," reported Macfilos (opens in new tab). "This level of interest in film cameras was something that he hadn’t seen since the arrival of the digital Ms over ten years ago."
Similarly, the company's APS-C aspirations are still very much alive despite the price cuts to the CL – which he noted is “far from being discontinued but needs some stimulation”. There has already been some stimulation from Leica's partner in the L-mount Alliance, with Sigma recently announcing a trio of f/1.4 lenses (opens in new tab). While noting that the APS-C market is very competitive, thanks to the efforts of Sony and Fujifilm, Daniel confirmed (opens in new tab) that the format will continue to be part of the Leica range.
Anyone looking for innovations in the rangefinder line may be disappointed, however, as he noted it was unlikely that EVFs or IBIS would be introduced to the Leica M series.
"He said that there had been many discussions on the subject within Leica and there are 'pro-people and con-people'," wrote Macfilos (opens in new tab). "But, he said, the M stands for Messsucher, the traditional rangefinder, and if you take that away it would no longer be an M. An electronic viewfinder would be a nice addition but it can be found on other cameras such as the SL2. The likelihood of a pure EVF M body is 'highly unlikely'. However, he did not mention the possibility of a hybrid finder."
Regarding stabilization, this is again dictated by the integrity of the line. "He said that IBIS is desirable and would work well with M lenses as we have already seen with the SL2. The problem, however, is that IBIS would make the camera bigger, in particular thicker. He said that we would be returning to the dimensions of the M9 and that would be a step backwards after all the efforts that had been made to make the M10 thinner. He did say, however, that if it became feasible to introduce IBIS without increasing size it is something that could be done quickly."
Leica is often criticized for not being the most innovative manufacturer, more focused on reductive products like the monochrome-only Leica M10 Monochrom (opens in new tab) than on cutting-edge tech. However, it's commendable that the company cares so much about the purity of its products that it won't introduce certain features if they betray certain principles.
That said, we'd absolutely love to see a Leica M10 with a hybrid viewfinder like the Fujifilm X-Pro3 (opens in new tab)…
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