It would appear you can’t turn around at the moment without some camera manufacturer announcing new products. With Photokina now underway, I thought we’d seen the last of the marketing communications but it would seem Leica were biding their time, until all the other companies had played their cards so they could trump them all. Leica aren’t your average camera manufacturer, the price of their equipment alone should show you this, and aren’t in the tit-fer-tat stakes that Nikon, Canon et al. seem to compete in. A bit like Porsche, they may not change their designs radically but having been around so long, they don’t have to as they’ve reached the zenith of their art and it’s that perfection that draws the buying public in.. well, those that can afford to purchase one of their cameras that is.
Leica’s primary digital product is arguably their M Series rangefinder camera, a gorgeous looking and superbly engineered camera that many other manufacturers try and copy, in the case of Fuji quite blatantly. Such design doesn’t come cheap and the new 24 Megapixel full frame camera costs the same as a Canon 1Dx, though they’re not direct competition for each other. Leica have also released a cheaper camera, the M-E with a smaller sensor, and less functionality but all the looks of it’s bigger brother, though when I say cheap this is a relative term, the M-E still costs nearly £4000 before you start having to purchase lenses etc.
Both of these camera seem relatively inexpensive when compared to the third announcement from Leica, of their new S-System camera. Whereas the M series is based upon old 35mm film standards (in the way most dSLRs are), the S-system lies in that specialist market segment, the one that all the Old School Professional photographers used to use (and a lot still do)… medium format. I have thought many many times over the years about buying myself a medium format film camera, and with most people now working digitally you can now purchase some equipment quite cheaply… if it still relies on film that is, in fact you can purchase a good condition Bronica medium format film camera for less than £300 if you search carefully on eBay. You will, however, have to shell out a little bit more if you want Leica’s new S-system (you know it’s going to be expensive as it’s no longer a “series”, it’s now a “system”) as the System’s body alone will cost you (both eye’s watering at this stage, and possibly hot flushes…) wait for it… wait for it… $22,000! You can buy a nice car with all the extras for that price.. though it might not have the brand kudos that a Leica camera has!