Leica M8 dRF: Upgrade... a paradigm shift?

Discussion in 'Photography Equipment & Products' started by Iron Flatline, Jan 31, 2008.

  1. Hi all.

    I know most of you don't obsess about Leica the way some of us do...

    (*ahem*... read: you=Philistines, us=Chosen People)

    J/k...

    ... but anyway, Leica has announced a different way of doing things. Their flagship camera (the M8 digital Rangefinder) will have optional upgrades every once in a while, I'm assuming every 18-24 months or so. The first one, announced yesterday, includes a new shutter assembly, sapphire glass for the LCD, and some other changes. There's also new firmware available to all.

    The upgrades costs money, but it means that the camera is not obsolete due to a new model, and retains more of its value. I hope other manufacturers pursue this route soon - the constant new models seem designed primarily to occupy cover space on review magazines, but don't really offer a quantum leap in technology... but it DOES mean that a Canon 350 is suddenly two models out-of-date, without actually being a bad camera!

    I personally am not interested in the upgrades being offered for my M8, but I like that it exists as an option. I hope some other brands focused on value introduce the same. I could see Pentax benefiting from something like this, for instance.
     
  2. Alex_B

    Alex_B No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    those upgrades actually seem to be a very neat idea! If this also included sensor upgrades at some point, that would justify even a higher price for a camera for me personally.

    but i doubt canon or nikon would ever adapt such a policy.
     
  3. Leica have stated on their website that a sensor upgrade is a possibility in the future.
     
  4. Digital Matt

    Digital Matt alter ego: Analog Matt

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    If you are one of those people that constantly needs to upgrade to every new camera, then you are missing the point of photography I think. The Canon 350D is not obsolete or out of date, and any time someone wants to upgrade it they can put some new glass in front of it. I don't know what sapphire glass for the lcd is, nor why on earth I would need to spend money for it. To me, it sounds like buying a new case for your cell phone.

    The idea of being able to upgrade a camera is nice, but the kinds of upgrades that would be useful, like more fps, bigger sensor/more resolution, are not the kind of upgrades you can do yourself. They also aren't cheap. If the camera is $5k or more, it might make some sense, but certainly not for a $800 dSLR, so I think the comparison is out of place.
     
  5. Sw1tchFX

    Sw1tchFX TPF Noob!

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    So if say, a larger LCD is an upgrade, would they have to put a new rear assembly on?
     
  6. Antithesis

    Antithesis No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I hate to even mention Ken Rockwell, but his article on obsolescence is pretty spot-on. In a lot of cases, the cost of upgrading this or that individual part of a camera usually doesn't justify the expense when a whole new body would only be so much more. This probably doesn't work on the (far) more expensive cameras like a Leica, but for a Nikon or Canon it makes sense. I think with the more consumer minded cameras, it's easier to look at the entire body as one part of the system, rather than the sum of its parts. By the time you had upgraded the whole system to be on par with a newer camera, you would probably have spent just as much as buying a whole camera that would have been engineered to work together from the factory.

    I don't know if a paradigm shift is the proper word, but it might be a good idea for someone using an extremely high-end camera like a Hasselblad or Leica.
     
  7. usayit

    usayit No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    * I think the idea is a good idea... it fits right in with Leica. They don't release new products often, they are pretty conservative when it comes to overall design (M8 still shares similar design/shape to the M3), and it allows them to keep refreshing the camera while maintaining its loyal base in between products.
    * I DON"T like the first upgrade. Quietened shutter at a downgrade to 1/4000 and the scratch proof saphire crystal display. Now yeh... saphire glass is expensive but not $1800 US expensive. I'm passing this round and I sure hope future upgrades bring a bit more "value" to the Leica table. (hehehe lol.. I used "value" and "Leica in the same sentence"
    * I sure hope that the cost of the upgrade isn't compounding. #1 before #2 before #3. If the new sensor comes in at upgrade #3, the cost of #1 and #2 could easily equal that of another camera.

    What I find interesting is how this upgrade program will fit into their program now. A fully upgraded M8 is now 5500+1800 which is pretty hard to swallow. A person buying their M8 will already be faced with the decision to send it back to Solms for an upgrade..... doesn't really make for a good experience (especially for a first time Leica buyer).

    I will give Leica one thing... it is a brave decision. (not sure it is out of necessity or that was their intention from day 1)


    Iron.. I did a brave thing the other day. My M8 was backfocusing a bit at the factory spec. After a shot of Crown Royal Whiskey, I took an allen wrench and followed instructions I found to adjust the rangefinder. It took 6 incremental adjustments but WOW... the Nocti is as sharp as I remember on film.

    btw... the new firmware is in... so far so good.
     
  8. usayit

    usayit No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Actually the other way around... it is all about photography but it is still a business that has to survive.. This is the reason why the Leica cameras of yesteryear were so "bare" and went through very long long long life. Typical M models had a running of 5- 10 years at a time rather than a new model each year or two (Canon and Nikon dragging their customers along for the ride) . I think Leica was stuck between the world of analog photography when you could have a single design run of 5-10 years and the world of electronics when you were faced with a 1-2 year life span. (Remember the M8 is compatible with M-mounts dating back to 1954 and screwmounts prior using a simple adapter.)

    The other more skeptical side of me sees this as a move on Leica's part to bring a bit of comfort to those early M8 adopters (including me) that are a bit concern with some of the short comings. Still a wonderful camera and an achievement for a company with a mastery of mechanical design and very little in electronics/digital.

    Yes.. I agree... I certainly can see Canon and Nikon doing it for their high end cameras. A canon 1ds-MarkII user could spend $2000 for an upgrade equivalent to 1ds-MarkIII. I personally hope that Leica upgrades bring more to the table... I will have to wait and see.
     
  9. usayit

    usayit No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Of course.. but judging from the postings on a leica forum, the LCD is the least of their wants. Most postings basically want the M8 to be the digital version of the legendary M3... Many actually wished it didn't have an LCD. Things they want are continued improvements to IQ and UI.


    btw... if you think about it.... Hasselblad/phase one has been doing this all along. New interchangable digital backs.
     
  10. usayit

    usayit No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I agree.. .for most consumer cameras, this paradigm just won't work. Even repairing these cameras cost more than the camera itself. I think it will work for Leica because of the initial investment. I think it will work for Canon and their 1 series. I think it will work for Nikon and thei high end too. I think the key is that the cameras should be designed with "upgrade" in mind... which means interchangable parts...

    Now did Leica design the M8 with "upgradable" in mind. I don't know but I sure wish they would have been open with the idea if they had. Otherwise... I think it is a bold move for a company that needs bold ideas in how to bring digital to a group of extremely conservative, stubborn, and critical but loyal customer base.

    I still feel my 1950s M3 still has the feel of quality unsurpassed by anything Leica has released... even the M8. I'm relatively new to Leica but I'm starting to realize why their customer base is so resistant to change.
     
  11. Antithesis

    Antithesis No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I don't think anybody in their right mind would pay a grand or two to upgrade the shutter or LCD cover on a D2Xs when they could sell it for a decent amount and pick up a brand new D3 with a whole bunch of new goodies on it. For a Leica where there isn't a new model to upgrade to, it seems like the only real option. Still, $1800 for a piece of nifty scratch-proof glass seems pretty ludicrous...
     
  12. usayit

    usayit No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Don't forget... an additional 2 year warranty.. Do you think a D2Xs professional with a high shutter actuation count not be interested in a new shutter assembly + 2 year warranty? (i'm not being sarcastic.. serious.... not sure) Does that same D2Xs fetch $4400 used ($6000 for D3 - $1800)?

    but yeh.. the first upgrade seems little value. BUT a statement from a company stating that "planned obsolesce" is not what they want and a future upgrade of things more important (IQ, sensor, etc) is a big bold step.

    If they provide a path to an upgraded sensor (among other possibilities) for that same price, I'm all over it. Kinda reminds me of the digital version of getting an M3 CLA'd after years of heavy use.
     

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