Future of the R System

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Just to stir up the R system debate...

I checked the Leica Chat website and here are two excerpts:

Question. Any R9 body (smaller) in 2001?

Leica Answer. If there is a sister model to the R8, this will be a smaller body with less functions than the R8.

Question. Do I have to be concerned that Leica will discontinue the R8 manufacturing?

Leica Answer. The Leica R system is an important part of the Leica product line. We are definitely not abandoning the system.

In reply to a question on possible new lenses, Leica answered: "Two coming lenses are 21-35mm F3.5 - 4.0 and a faster 15mm. Plus we are planning a high speed portrait telephoto lens".

Surely, such specific commitment is not hot air? C'mon Jay, you can't resist a challenge.

A guy from Australia,

-- wayne murphy (wayne.murphy@publicworks.qld.gov.au), August 05, 2001


To push my neck out further...

Surely with the new capital available from Hermes , Leica can afford to develop a new R camera as well as digital models. Why state repeatedly that new R lenses are coming if the system is about to be discontinued? For a digital model only?

My view is that:

The current R8 will be discontinued and run out, starting soon. An R8 variant (possibly with some cosmetic changes, especially to the top plate) will be introduced with focus confirmation. The R6.2 will be discontinued and run out. The same R8 variant body will be made in a mechanical version.

A completely-new, smaller R body seemsless likely because it would require a whole new line of winders and motors, etc. There is the possibility that Leica could buy in a body and rebadge it, although I understand that this option was cancelled when the new Leica CEO took over.

Leica should run a competition for people to put forward their guess at the specifications for the new models. Closest to the actual result gets the new camera.

-- wayne murphy (wayne.murphy@publicworks.qld.gov.au), August 06, 2001.

Nothing here to challenge. The original brochures for the R8 showed a motor drive, said it took AA batteries. 3 years later a drive actually went on sale, taking only rechargeable packs. Leica has proven that whatever they say, in chats, press-releases or through leaks from its reps, is to be taken with an I'll-believe-it-when-I- see-it attitude by prudent buyers. I bought an R8. I disliked it intensely and I sold it. I currently use 3 R6.2's an R6, and have a rarely-used R7 which I should really sell. I'm not concerned whether Leica makes a new R (film) body or not, as long as they keep servicing the R6.2's. Leica's had a splendid history of long-term service support for their product--let's see if the new management will keep this practice or go the Nikon route. However since the R8 is not a universally-loved body, it might bode better for the future of the R line if Leica offered a real alternative, not just a stripped-down R8 because it is the ergonomics, not the feature set, that has met with mixed emotions. But again, that's not a concern of mine. I doubt if I would buy a digital R either, unless it truly had the resolving capability of film, because I don't believe at even twice the resolution of today's digital cameras that the quality of Leica lenses could be seen above Nikon or Canon who already have digital bodies, and lenses that can out-resolve them.

-- Jay (infinitydt@aol.com), August 06, 2001.

IMO, the R8 is the best reflex camera Leica ever made. In comparison, the ergonomic of the R4-R7 is a joke. Without the thi rd party handgrip or a motor with handle, it's (almost) unusable. ;-)

I hope that, if there is a R9, it will keep that wonderful ergonomic.

BTW, I don't see what can be added to the R8.

Tous les goûts sont dans la nature. It takes all sorts to make a world.

-- lucien (Lucien_vd@yahoo.fr), August 06, 2001.

What didn't you like about the R8 Jay? I have an R7 and R8 and while I wish the R8 was lighter, compared to the R7 it is a joy to use. Much more "Leica feel" in my opinion.

-- Ivor E.Quaggin (iquaggin@home.com), August 06, 2001.

Wayne Murphy;

I bought a R8 & love it. I, for one, hope that Leica changes nothing!

I'm planning to buy another R8 from my dealer at their next "Leica days" in September. $1500.....USA warranty.

I already told my Leica rep to get me in the queue for the 21-35 zoom & that 90 f2 apo....further R optical gems.

BTW, based on my experience, one of the *great* features of the R8 is it's minimal vibration in handheld work. The critical path for getting crisp slides in the *Hail Mary* shutter speed zone appears to be primarily body shake....not it's mirror or shutter vibration!

Ergonomics.....change nothing. I don't use a winder or motor. The R8 fits my hands perfectly; & it's extra mass enhances my ability to minimize body shake!

Thomas Donovan

-- Thomas Donovan (75674.3465@compuserve.com), August 06, 2001.

Ivor asks what I did not like about the R8. I found it very uncomfortable to hold. I don't have small hands, but couldn't reach the shutter release without the neckstrap digging painfully into the skin between my 1st and middle finger. I wished the shutter button was out front like on the motor drive, but I have no need for a motor drive. I do travel photography and I bought one R8 knowing I'd need 3 of them if I was going to use them, to avoid having to carry different motor-winders, flash modules and batteries, because I normally carry 3 SLR bodies (to me they are equivalent to Hassy film backs). 3 R6.2s weigh only 95g/3oz more than 2 R8s and take up about the same space in my bag. I almost always shoot in manual mode with the spot metering. Hence the R6.2 fit my hands and needs better than the R8. I did get an R7 because sometimes a little automation comes in handy, but I barely ever have used it and ought to sell it too. In Nikon I only ever use the "fat" AF bodies for wildlife, all the rest of the time I always preferred the FM2-type, and basically that's what I wanted in the R system, an FM2 with Leica glass.

-- Jay (infinitydt@aol.com), August 06, 2001.

Would you settle for a Nikon F3A with a Leica R mount and a Leica badge if it was backed up by Leica? Isn't this a distinct possibility in that it would have a ready made line of accessories? It would also fit in with Leica's new philosophy of delivering projects in about 12 months. Perhaps it is too logical.

-- wayne M (wayne.murphy@publicworks.qld.gov.au), August 06, 2001.

Would you settle for a Nikon F3A with a Leica R mount and a Leica badge if it was backed up by Leica? Isn't this a distinct possibility in that it would have a ready made line of accessories? It would also fit in with Leica's new philosophy of delivering projects in about 12 months. Perhaps it is too logical..

-- wayne murphy (wayne.murphy@publicworks.qld.gov.au), August 06, 2001.

I guess you mean the FM3A (the one with the hybrid electronic/mechanical shutter). If Nikon, heavy into high-tech AF, digital bodies, VR, etc., is coming out with a manual-loading, manual- winding, low-tech SLR, they must know there's still a market for it...even though most if not all manual-focus Nikkor lenses have been discontinued. So why is it that Leica, whose market is the staunch anti-AF, anti-digital crowd, with a full array of all-manual lenses, would feel that such a retro-body doesn't belong in the R line? But I'm only going to worry about it when all 3 of my R6.2s, my R6 and my Leicaflex SL get stolen or broken beyond repair and I can't find replacements anywhere.

-- Jay (infinitydt@aol.com), August 06, 2001.

I back Jay's opinion. I bought a Leica R 6.2 because of its reliability and supposed long lasting servicing, the latter is something that you cannot get from many other major SLR makers (at least this is my experience). I don't bother too much if Leica release new fully manual body because I am not going to run and buy it. I have everything I need from a manual camera, which is not much, f-stops and reliable shutter speeds into a well-made body plus excellent lenses. I don't believe that Leica will get rid of a fully manual body in its SLR range, I don't think this would be a clever move, simply because the manual system is the essence of Leica.

-- Javier (j_perezbarberia@hotmail.com), August 07, 2001.

You guys ain't heard nothing yet.

Over at www.photonews.net, Bob S. made a comment "that L lenses are now made by K for its R system". Apparently, the M system is spared which means that M lenses remain of genuine L design and manufacture.

Make of it what you will.

-- Erik Eks (hasselbladder@yahoo.com), August 08, 2001.

Old news to Leica users. But it's only 3 lenses in the entire lineup. And 2 of those lenses (35-70 and 80-200 zooms)were designed by Leica and are among the best in the line. BTW, the 1.4XE and 2XE for the Blad (plus of course the entire X-Pan system) are of Japanese origin ; > )

-- Jay (infinitydt@aol.com), August 08, 2001.

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