should leica abandon the r's : LUSENET : Leica Photography : One Thread

there seems to be little demand on ebay, for instance, when compared to the m's.

are the r's against the l philosophy and history?

they could devote more r&d to the m.

what other company does rangefinder and reflex?

-- steve (, May 15, 2002


".....what other company does rangefinder and reflex? "


-- Charles (, May 15, 2002.

Steve: the R system is really a niche SLR. Those in the niche are people who value the quality of the optics and craftsmanship that Leica personifies. Furthermore the R system is far more versatile than the M. They are both great in their own ways. I hope that the wizards in Solms will continue to produce more R lenses (quite a few this past two years) and I look forward to a new R8 with focus confirmation that has been rumored.

-- Albert Knapp MD (, May 15, 2002.

what other company does rangefinder and reflex?

Apparently a number of companies do: in 35 mm - Cosina/Voitlander, Contax, ? Konica (are they making reflex equipment now, they're certainly making RF); in medium format - Bronica and Mamiya. I'm probably leaving some out.

Steve. Given the attention that Leica has been making to introducing new R lenses in recent years, it is doubtful that they intend to discontinue the R line (unless and until it becomes absolutely necessary). Recent lenses include a series of super-fast super- telephotos with APO correction, recent high quality zooms (I can mention 70-180/2.8 APO, 105-280, 35-70/2.8 which they are still producing at very low levels, and the most recent addition: 21-35 zoom). In addition, they just introduced a redesigned super-Elmarit, the 15/2.8.

Based on all of this activity on the R side, it doesn't seem like they plan to discontinue the R line anytime soon. Unless someone has some information that I don't.

-- Eliot (, May 15, 2002.

Steve, the R system could sell again if Leica produce a Digital SLR that uses the existing lenses.

Then, some would buy the second hand lens to put on their new Digital.

Well, FWIW. Xavier.

-- Xavier d'Alfort (, May 16, 2002.

I don't know where you get the idea that R is not selling, at least here in Europe/Netherlans an offered R lens goes pretty quickly for a good price

-- ReinierV (, May 16, 2002.

When I asked a local Leica rep who know what he was talking about last Friday, he denied the possibility of a digital R for cost reasons: decently sized CCD/CMOS sensors plus hardware that lives up to the company's qality standards would make it so expensive that R&D wouldn't be worth it. The same guy cryptically announced a new M last autumn, btw, so he may be a reliable source.

Reinier is correct: the R systems sells pretty well over here. R3 and R4 bodies are the only items that last on the 'used' shelves.
-- -- (, May 16, 2002.

I believe they should continue with their Rs, but make them more mechanically reliable and solid like the Ms, Currently I feel the Rs still feel cheap and clunky. Also being one of the few companies who make manual(ish) SLRs, they will have a niche market like they do with the M system.

-- Karl Yik (, May 16, 2002.

i was talking to the owner of a local photo store (specializing on Leicas) that Leica should put out a film scanner instead of a Digital R...that seems feasible actually, since they have partnership with Panasonic...

-- Dexter Legaspi (, May 16, 2002.

Karl, I believe that Leica has discontinued the R6.2, so they no longer have a mechanical SLR

-- jay goldman (, May 16, 2002.

"Currently I feel the Rs still feel cheap and clunky."

Karl - have you actually handled an R8? It might be clunky (whatever that means - although I think an M is "clunky" as in: somewhat old-fashioned, awkward and unusually designed) but it is as well made as an M to my mind.


I am not sure you should really take ebay as the final arbiter of things R. The problem, as I see it, is that people just ask too much money for R stuff s/h, and they therefore fail to sell. You cannot do what you might do for an M and say -- it cost me "$2000 for X so I will sell it for $1500" You actually have to look and see what the market is saying. It is usually much less. Check out stores selling them internationally and see what they are selling them for. KEH, Don Chatterton, Delta International etc. There is absolutely no point offering for individual sale a s/h R6.2, say, and selling it at the same price as you can get it from Delta International new (albeit gray market) and yet this sort of thing is done all the time. A much better guide is to look at what completed sales prices are. Remember that Ms are very unusual in that they hold their value so well - it is both a blessing and a curse. Rs have never been in the same league (although still better than most).

Having said this: I do sense some real trepidation in R buyers as to whether they need to buy any more lenses if they think they want to go digital soon, as Leica have not said anything about this. This also may account for a slow down in US purchasing of R stuff. I think it only natural that there is a flood of used 180/3.4 APOs on the market, presumably as people have bought the latest 180/2.8. Likewise I would anticipate the s/h wide angle R sales will be depressed too for a while as there is a new, excellent, "affordable" w/a zoom leading to mass of stuff for sale but with few people wanting to buy them. As you notice with the wash of M6TTLs now available, people are very unwilling to reduce the price on these items as they "are Leica and therefore worth more". But the prices will come down and then they will sell.

Remember too that the M camera is also at risk if Cosina decide to upgrade their line, or Contax do a nicer job of the G series, or Konica return to the fray. They may not, but they might. Putting all your eggs in one basket is a more risky investment practice for the future.

-- Robin Smith (, May 16, 2002.

The definitive reason IMO at this time for the depression of R sales is threefold: one, the discontinuation of the R6.2 without an immediate successor. This leaves only the R8 for those wishing to buy new. The R8 has always had a love-it-or-hate-it relationship with consumers. Two, is Leica's silence on the subject of a digital body. 35mm film may not ever disappear (I think it may but let's say it won't)but it will certainly move into the niche market. M users may move there with film and there may be a market for new M equipment, but SLR users will most likely shoot either all digital or a mix of film and digital, and so far Leica is not positioned for either. Three, many R sales are for long lens work, sometimes to people using M's for shorter lenses. AF is still an arguably advantageous technology, but Image Stabilization is undeniably a huge leap forward toward sharper images with long glass, and sharper images has been the selling point for Leica glass.

-- Jay (, May 16, 2002.

The « R » series problem once again surfaces in the forum…

Well, I must confess I like the “R” a lot and after handling one, I consider it probably the best designed 35 mm SLR available today in terms or ergonomics. It is also one of the few retaining the modular concept which owned the fame to the SLR’s during the late 60’s to the early 80’s.

This said, the “R” has two main problems which plagued its career (besides teething troubles):

1- It is a mid 80’s body because it doesn’t incorporate the AF. Something that would hardly bother anybody using most of the classical focal lenses for 35mm format from the widest angles to 180 – 200 mm…

But what is exactly the interest of an SLR when compared to a 35 mm rangefinder camera if you don’t use it for macro-photography or long tele-lens shots ? Very few indeed… So, why bother to buy an expensive system which doesn’t allow you to take advantage of the very long lens AF today and knowing macro-photography will certainly be possible with no great troubles with a much older 35 mm SLR system (or even better a MF SLR) bought second hand without being appreciably slower?

2- The price of the system is on the high end of the market… True the Leica lenses may be better but certainly not as visibly in practice than with a SFRF camera.

In fact, as we all know, it much more difficult to focus precisely a lens wide open (moreover in marginal lighting conditions) with an SLR than with a rangefinder camera, as the image on the ground glass will not be a binary indication. And it is well known, be it a feature to hate or of negligible advantage on shorter lenses, the AF (a fast last generation one) is a true advantage on long tele-lenses over manual focusing.

So be the Leica lenses better, as most of the specific edge of Leica lenses over other makes shows mainly wide open and the longer lenses being devoid of AF will hardly produce in practical conditions better images than high end Nikon or Canon lenses.

Is the R series worthy being developed or continued ?

Adding an AF will lead to the revision of all the present (excellent) lenses with the risk to alter their qualities or spend a high amount of R&D. The result will certainly not be competitive in terms of price on a very disputed market with no decisive advantage over the existing high end AF cameras. So, IMHO, better not to give a try in “modernizing” the R series.

To continue the production of something which is not successful on the market is a financial risk and I don’t think Leica needs to continue spending anything on a looser. So the most obvious solution is to discontinue the R series and not to go again on the classical SLR market…

Classical I said, because Leica can do something less classic and more effective.

For most of us, I think the dream to have both a rangefinder camera and an SLR when needed without going to the expense of two different systems and keeping the same optical fingerprint all the way might be very attractive and most professionals will probably agree too…

So let’s consider the old Visoflex solution… To incorporate to it an all mechanical linkage system to make it works like a modern SLR will be a mechanical nightmare. But as Leica, with the M7, has for the first time committed electronics, the story might be entirely different.

To that purpose, Leica can use their experience in the R8 shutter and metering system to incorporate them in a all new rangefinder camera, just eliminating the useless program option and the cross modes, keeping a simple option in continuous light : manual = spot metering, AE = matrix metering and all the flash modes. Then add as an option good fast motor and a Visoflex IV on the finder of which the same metering capabilities will be automatically transferred when coupled, it will also immediately couples the shutter button of the body to the mirror command (an instant one of course) and you’ll only keep some existing lenses and accessories of the R range: Macro- lens, bellows and but this time AF modified long tele-lenses as the viso should be able to receive AF lenses where this device is really useful. So you’ll get a perfect made of all work, combining all the advantages of a rangefinder camera (and an up to date one) and those of the best AF cameras available in the market in one perfectly modular system with the economical advantage to buy only what is really useful to your work and (or) expand the capabilities of your camera while spreading the investment over a period of time.

This would probably be a much better way to expand the popularity of Leica cameras than try to maintain two separate systems each of them being in fact quite obsolete.


François P. WEILL

-- François P. WEILL (, May 16, 2002.


I have to say that the idea of bringing back the viso with attendent lens system seems to me a very poor one. If you think that the R is challenged in the market place, I think a new viso would be considered a joke. If M people don't like Rs compared to current AF SLRs, why ever would one pick a viso-type solution? Also Leica would have to launch a new series of lenses to fit a new viso when they already have a very good set of R lenses available. This would be hardly cheap for such a bizarre product. I think this is an example of M-thinking gone mad! I have nothing against the viso system, but that is only because I am a Leicaphile. A viso is looked at with blank incomprehension by the SLR crowd already. A new one I think would be destined for a market flop. I really think it is just too weird to have a hope of success. I actually chuckle at the thought of it being launched (or re-launched) at Photokina!

-- Robin Smith (, May 16, 2002.

A New Viso IV is kind of a kinky idea that appeals to me, but I'm sure it would be a tough sell on a justifiable scale. Robin is right, however, about the lens line. Current R lenses would not be able to focus to infinity, assuming the Viso had room for a mirror box. The old Telyt-V lenses have a short mount special to the Viso+M film to flange distance. Any R lens will be too far from the film plane to be anything but a "close focus" lens.

-- Ken (, May 16, 2002.

It's important to remember that Leica's global sales go something like this

1/4 of all sales in Germany 1/4 of all sales in the rest of Europe 1/4 of all sales in Pacific Rim/Australasia slightly LESS than 1/4 of all sales in NAFTA (US PLUS Canada and Mexico) A tiny part to the rest of the world

We Yanks account for maybe 18% of Leica's sales - so don't expect them to do their market planning based on OUR purchasing habits.

It's like the Rollei 6x6 SLRs - they are almost moribund in the US, but outsell Hasselblad in Europe, which is enough to keep them rolling along.

EBay is global, too, but skewed towards tech-savvy people, so it is not necessarily a good barometer of aggregate demand, especially for a camera line that is not state-of-the-art electromechanically (optics aside).

-- Andy Piper (, May 16, 2002.

I think the R will continue for the forseeable future. My problem with it is that (unlike the M), there is nothing reallyGerman about any of the R series cameras. The latest models (including R8), although the body shape is different, are still one off from the R3 which is basically a Minolta design. I liked the Lecaflex SL and SL2 in looks and feel.

But Leica went in another direction with the R3, and continued in that direction. All of these Rs look like typical Japanese bloboid cameras, so why would anyone pay the large premium to own one. I don't doubt that the R8 is a very smooth operating camera, but it is really not unique (although the lenses are quite excellent). Similarly with Contax. They make nice cameras, but they are expensive Japanese cameras, not German designed or manufactured.

-- Eliot (, May 16, 2002.

Robin and Ken,

It seems I was misunderstood about what lenses from the R system should remain:

Only those lenses destined to be used with bellow or extension tubes for macro-photography and the frontal par of long tele-lenses should remain in production… As only the extension tubes and the length of the bellow should be altered there is no problem with them. For the long-tele-lenses, the present focusing + rear parts assembly are to be modified for AF anyway. Only the macro-lens will be redesigned to suit the new distance from the focal plane.

As for the rest of the range, it should whether be discontinued or equipped with interchangeable mounts for other makes.

The old Visoflex apparent awkwardness is due to the very slow way it is to be operated (exactly the same way the SLR’s were operated before the auto-aperture pre-set and, but the Visoflex III, before the instant mirror return). The Visoflex system only became awkward and obsolete when these features were systematically fitted to SLR’s about mid 60’s.

The “new” Visoflex” as I imagine it won’t be more awkward to use than any present SLR as all the coupling problems which precluded it to be operated as a modern SLR will be gone through a set of electronic contacts and chips.

As it will give AF to what lenses it is really relevant (a major reason why the R8 doesn’t sell is it has no AF at all) I see only advantages to have with the same body a rangefinder camera or an SLR when appropriate.

As for the costs and retail price, I assume Leica has anyway to invest into a truly modern facility to get rid of the extra costs their traditional way to produce implies today and be competitive again on the market.


François P. WEILL

-- François P. WEILL (, May 17, 2002.

Robin, I have handled a R8, though well made, it doesnt give the positiveness of action as the Ms do, also the body is huge!, but I must admit I do like the design, a fresh alternative to the standard lump stuck on top SLR designs

-- Karl Yik (, May 17, 2002.


The R8 is a solely Solms design, so it is actually a true German camera in the way that the R3-R7s are not. This in my opinion accounts for its unusual design and fine ergonomics. It is big, but since the whole world of 35mm SLR photography seems to have embraced the idea that bigger is better, it is in tune with the times. As I have said before the R8 is of course more like Japanese cameras than the Ms are like SLRs, but that has to be inevitable. Now of course the Bessas and the Hexars are more like the Ms than SLRs, so the M is no longer as unique as it was.

I think all of us can agree there is an essential similarity between all 35mm SLR cameras - it is only to be expected, I don't think this can be taken as a criticism of the Leica R line.

-- Robin Smith (, May 20, 2002.

Leica probably put a lot of R&D effort in a new autofocus Leica R

-- martin tai (, May 21, 2002.

Robin. I can't speak about the ergonomics, but to me the R8 is just a big blobflex, contours slightly different but essentially in the same class as Japanese blobflexes. I like the body design of the SL2 or many of the Alpas (Swiss), but Leica chose to go in another direction, away from the SL2, a long time ago. Make no mistake, their camera did not have to look like a one-off from the typical Japanese SLR, they chose to make it so. So if it looks like a Japanese SLR and has similar features, why wwould someone buy an R8 as opposed to a top of the line Japanese autofocus SLR with more features. As I say, I'm sure it's a great camera, but there's nothing really unique.

-- Eliot (, May 21, 2002.

A new autofocus Leica was mentioned in an interview by China Photo magazine with greater China district manager 1p76.html

> Interview held in 2001 Main points: Kuni brought along Leica 0 series and Minox Leica IIIf as demonstration. In first 2 month after introduction, 8000 Minox Leica IIIf were ordered from Japan. New products " new rangefinder,called M7 " "Competition from Konica, Voiglander helped leica M sales to surge from less than 10,000 M6 per year for previous years to 15,000 M6" " Autofocus Leica R in the work "

-- martin tai (, May 22, 2002.

Primarily i want to say that Leica r's are a uniqe, high quality slr segment. The fact that certain R items arent as wanted as others doesnt mean they all suck!!!!. Personally i value the R4s with standard lens above anything else. I also have a R6.2 with 35mm/2 and 90mm/2, which i only use when i really need backup. On ebay my R4s wont bring more then $400-500 if im lucky. But idont give a damn about that, im not going to sell it anyway. Ebay is NOT the criterium for the succes of the R-series. If it were so, we would all have M's. And then R's would be priceless. Making such a suggestion is kinda stupid e????

-- Henk (, May 22, 2002.

Rangefinder has many limitations, while SLR has many advantages

-- martin tai (, May 25, 2002.

The R7 looks like a nice camera, I've always thought, but I'd never get leica R again after the disasters with my R6's. I'm presently playing with one of my wife's F3's + 55 micro-nikkor and the versatility of that makes me wonder how useful my 50/2 M really is.

-- rob (, May 25, 2002.

Rob, I sold my Summicron R 50 f/2, because I seldom use it and instead use Macro Elmarit 60 f/2.8 as my standard lens. When I need f/1.4, I have Carl Zeiss Planar 50mm f/1.4

-- martin tai (, May 25, 2002.

Al Smith's post in

demostrate the advantage of SLR ov RF in precision framing of 3 D scene.

Parallax compensation in RF can only compensate perspective error in a plane, not in 3 D.

-- martin tai (, May 26, 2002.

Al Smith's pictures are very convincing about the advantage of SLR in framing accuracy: one with M6, one with SLR

-- martin tai (, May 26, 2002.

Al, In your two photos of lighthouse through a fence, did you attempt to compensate for the perpective error of rangefinder by moving the M6 to the left ?

If the lighthouse in the M6 viewfinder was framed at the center of the fence, the resulting picture would show the lighhouse cut off by the RIGHT side of the fence bar.

In any case, it does demostrate this scene is difficult for M6 to handle.

-- martin tai (, May 26, 2002.

Sorry Al

Your lighthouse picture was taken with M6 held in vertical position then the viewfinder was at the right hand side of the lens, when the light house appeared centered in the fence, the light house resulted cut off by the left fence bar. You did not move the M6. I thought you held the M6 horizontally.

-- martin tai (, May 26, 2002.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ