How Leica Missed the Mark: The Leica M-D
I usually don't write about products I have never used - I mean who wants to hear my opinion of something I have no experience with? But I am making an exception to my own rule to discuss the new Leica M-D. See, I was really excited for this camera - I'd clung onto every rumor and thought this product could totally change the game for Leica. Instead, they delivered a product that I can't begin to comprehend. I have gone from a state of "will buy" to "don't even need to try" - and I want to spend a moment explaining why....
The idea of a stripped down rangefinder with no extra features or fluff has alot of appeal to me; I don't "chimp" and look at the LCD screen all that often and I tend to only use a handful of menu-accessible settings. I could live without a LCD screen except for those times when I need to format a memory card, change ISO, or adjust exposure compensation. I owned a Leica M-P (Type 240) and didn't use the live view or video functions. So when Leica announced the bare bones Leica M (Type 262), I thought it was brilliant. And then rumors of something with more potential started to appear on the internet.
The rumor was that Leica would take the M (Type 262) and strip off the LCD screen and buttons - creating a camera that looked like it was one of the film M bodies, but was actually digital. Awesome! My husband and I literally spent one Saturday lunch discussing how great this would be for Leica - they could convert some film shooters, but also get alot of simplistic "no frills" shooters like myself to adopt a rangefinder body. I also thought that a M-D could become a great hook to draw new shooters into the Leica ecosystem. Get someone to buy a Leica M body, and soon they'll be buying lenses and goodies - adding to Leica's bottom line.
My optimism was all contingent upon the price. When Leica removed live view and video functions from the M (Type 240) to create the M (Type 262), they dropped the price considerably. At $5,195, the stripped down Type 262 is still expensive for Joe Nikon to consider buying on a fling. But take the LCD and remaining fluff features out, and now we should have a camera priced where Joe Nikon might swipe his credit card.
Or so I thought.
My guess was that the Leica M-D should have been priced around $3,995 with the removal of the LCD. At that price, you could hope to create new market - to draw customers who otherwise have dismissed Leica's because of the price point.
Instead, Leica priced the new M-D at $5,995. Yep, they priced it $800 more than the version WITH the screen. I don't understand this decision at all; sure, you are using brass for the top and bottom, but you could have built a camera to sell for under $4k. I may not use the LCD screen or care about setting white balance, but I'm not going to pay MORE for LESS. If I really want to hide the screen, I can spend $3 on electrical tape and cover the back of the camera.
Personally, I am very disappointed with Leica - they priced me out of wanting this camera. They could have gotten me for $4k, but not $6k. And I can't help but wonder how many other folks are thinking the same thing.....
Sorry Leica, you aren't getting me this time.
Do you agree? Are you planning to spend $6k on this camera? Leave me a comment!