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Thread: Digital Leica R - Rebadged

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    Senior Member atanabe's Avatar
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    Digital Leica R - Rebadged

    With the Nikon - Canon digital supremacy wars going on and the DSLR proliferation from Sony, Pentax and Olympus is it financially wise for a company (Leica) to invest in a brand new DSLR?

    Step back and think about it from an objective point of view, the success of the M8 was on two major factors, unique to the market and a large installed base of M owners. The R series never had a large installed base and aside from the lenses, did not have any technical advantage over any other brand.

    Would it make more sense for Leica to take an existing DSLR and modify the mount to accept the current R series lenses and most importantly would there be a market for it? It comes as no surprise that a great number of R lenses are being bought for use on Canons via adaptors which show that people are willing to do major workarounds to gain image quality. If Leica were to rebadge a (Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Sony, Olympus, Sigma, Minolta) would you buy it?

    Leica has in it's history, rebadged the Minolta for the R3-7 series manufactured by Leica in Portugal. So what would prevent them from doing the same for the digital Rxx? More importantly would it matter to those wanting to use their existing and future R glass? Does the next generation DSLR from Leica have to be wholey developed and manufactured by Leica to be apealling?

    Just speculation and musings at this point. I am one of those R users sitting on the fence waiting for news (good preferably) and until September have to wait.
    Here is what would be an interesting marriage and why:
    Nikon D700 - (very unlikely) because of the ergonomics (shares the D300 layout), full frame and high ISO
    Sigma SD14 - Foveon sensor - unique and very nice images but limited because of high current draw resulting in heat and shorter battery life, poor high ISO. On the plus side (maybe) Sigma and Leica have had a relationship with the R zoom lenses (35-70 f4 and 28-70).

    Any other interesting combinations and why?

    Would you buy a rebadged (insert manufacturer here) and why?

    What price premium over the existing body would you be willing to pay?

    Have fun with this thread!

    Regards,
    Al
    Al Tanabe my website https://www.altanabe.com

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    Member overgaarcom's Avatar
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    Re: Digital Leica R - Rebadged

    I was thinking exactly along the same lines yesterday as Nikon seem to develop hight ISO, full-frame cameras, and seemingly will be coming out with light-strong prime lenses in near future. See, tat would be a perfect mix. Leica lenses for Nikon cameras. Because we need high ISO, fully open glass and better quality glass than ever seen before.

    I still wonder if Leica will be entering the medium format segment where quality and weight is of more concern than the price. PhaseOne has their new camera in that category which is interesting mainly because of size and handling (compared to Hasselblad) but I know Sinar will come up with some new stuff in September in that segment as well.

    It's really hard to tell what will be happening.

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    Senior Subscriber Member Steen's Avatar
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    Re: Digital Leica R - Rebadged

    I would love to see Leica (and Zeiss as well) partner with a camera manufacturer about making affordable digital cameras for their fabulous optics.

    The problem is that most camera makers prefer to sell their own optics.

    Just look at Sigma.
    When they make a Foveon sensor based SD dSLR they make it for their very own SA mount instead of the open standard Four Thirds mount, where they could probably sell a lot more camera units.
    But they get their major earnings from lens sales.

    Sony prefer to have their own more or less rebadged lens lineup (a mix of Minolta and Zeiss designs).
    And so does Samsung (a mix of Pentax and Schneider designs).

    Fuji seems to be a rare exception.
    Fuji has an interesting sensor technology, and they don't make their own optics !
    But Fuji is apparently already by a contract tied up with Nikon about the F mount.
    So Fuji is probably not available either ?

    And I don't really see any other 35mm dSLR camera manufacturer who would be willing to build a camera for another companys lens mount. I cannot think of anyone else it could be ?

    If only we could have an open standard mount for 35mm ...
    Then there would be no need to rebadge.
    And without rebadging there would be no need to pay a price premium over an existing body.
    And Leica and Zeiss could just concentrate about their optics where they have their strengths.
    Voila !

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    Workshop Member glenerrolrd's Avatar
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    Re: Digital Leica R - Rebadged

    The rumor going around in europe last month was for a joint development with Panasonic probably using the Sony chip (although subsequent discussion seem to focus on Kodak). I used motorized R4 and R4s bodies for years without any need to upgrade . These were a little more than re badged though as Al points out Leica assembled these in portugal. We may see some indication if Panasonic introduces a SLR that might be adapted for a R body.

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    Re: Digital Leica R - Rebadged

    An intersting thought would be a further development of the Digilux 3 (Digilux 2) into an R body.

    Considering how nice the CEO of Leica speak of the D3, as if that was the answer to all dSLR needs till a R10 arrives, and considering Panasonic still show that camera as their dSLR answer ... it's an interesting thought.

    dSLR market is a whole different crowd where guys drag along with two Mark III houses and zooms and tele-lenese, but for my part I love the Digilux 2 simplicity and size, as well as the M size and feel. And would love to - and have considered - if the Digilux 3 could do it for an digital R.

    I don't know what it would require to throw in a full frame sensor in a Digilux house, fix a nice viewfinder and so on. But what a simple solution that would be.

    However, Leica talking about larger than full frame sensor indicate this is not (the only possible) answer to the R market...

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    Re: Digital Leica R - Rebadged

    Sorry guys, but I'm not feeling the whole rebadged thing. Leica is all about clean and simple ergonomonics and no AA filter standing in the way of sharpness. Loook at all the possible contenders here. Nothing in the market meshes with the Leica brand. I did/do find the handling, build, and viewfinder of the R9 to be superior to almost every other SLR out there. The elegant simplicity of design is clear here. Same on the M8. No extra dials, displays, buttons located all over the place. Pick up a Sony A700 and an M8 and you'll see what I mean. The handling of the Nikon D3 is really nice, as was the D2x before it, but it still lacks that Leica feel.

    So, I have to respectfully disagree with this concept. I still believe that we, the loyal R fans, will be duly rewarded with a great new camera in September.

    Let's have some faith.

    David
    David Farkas
    Leica Store Miami

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    Re: Digital Leica R - Rebadged

    Quote Originally Posted by dfarkas View Post
    Sorry guys, but I'm not feeling the whole rebadged thing. Leica is all about clean and simple ergonomonics and no AA filter standing in the way of sharpness. Loook at all the possible contenders here. Nothing in the market meshes with the Leica brand. I did/do find the handling, build, and viewfinder of the R9 to be superior to almost every other SLR out there. The elegant simplicity of design is clear here. Same on the M8. No extra dials, displays, buttons located all over the place. Pick up a Sony A700 and an M8 and you'll see what I mean. The handling of the Nikon D3 is really nice, as was the D2x before it, but it still lacks that Leica feel.

    So, I have to respectfully disagree with this concept. I still believe that we, the loyal R fans, will be duly rewarded with a great new camera in September.

    Let's have some faith.

    David
    David,
    You are correct that there is a certain cleanliness to the Leica design, simple dials and menus. For all of the design superiority is the reality of the digital world that makes it not economical for a small brand to compete with a "me too" DSLR. Nikon and Canon can justify the R&D cost over hundreds of thousands of units and thus keep the price at a reasonable level and return profits for future R&D.

    I am a loyal R fan since the bad old days of the R4s till my last R8. It would have made more sense to me to rework the DMR concept, larger LCD and improved sensor. This would have made some sense in the digital world as we all know with technology, it is always changing and price will go down. An improved body could have been introduced with a new, larger film gate cast in to allow for full frame coverage and existing owners of the DMR could upgrade the back, buy new body or keep using the old DMR with new body. In this way Leica would have indeed had a system different from the rest.

    If Leica does come out with a new R it will have to be a real eye opener for me to buy into the system at this point. I love my M8 for travel and street work and carry it all the time with me but it does have limitations and I personally can not nail 100% of the medium tele work so I heed a SLR. I am currently using a Nikon D1x for that because I like the way the sensor renders the image. I am holding out for the new Leica to replace this but it would have to be competatively priced.

    Keeping fingers, toes, arms and eyes crossed for something good in September.

    Regards,
    Al
    Al Tanabe my website https://www.altanabe.com

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    Workshop Member glenerrolrd's Avatar
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    Re: Digital Leica R - Rebadged

    Hey I really liked my R4 s ! Seriously Leica needs a partner to stay competitive with the R line....they may not have to outsource the assembly (like the do on the Panasonics ) but they need to be able to buy major components. There whole sourcing strategy is exceptionally difficult because there volume is so low. They just aren t important to the component suppliers thats why they have to borrow form the panasonic part bin. I thought the R4-R7 had the same solid Leica feel and a very straightforward design. I hope they keep the mind set of the M user with the new R line..then they don t have to compete with the Nikon/Canon offerings.

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    Re: Digital Leica R - Rebadged

    I loved the ergos, etc of my R8(w/grip). Without the grip, it sucked ergonomically, but add that grip and you just wanted to hold it. The VF and switchology was designed by a photog and it showed.

    A R8/9-esque DSLR, competitively priced with even a 'modest' 12MP FF sensor, MF and feature-weak BUT backed up my an improved service & support structure would have me in line. That said, it's a LOT to be asking for given history and the current state of affairs (re: S&S).

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    Re: Digital Leica R - Rebadged

    Quote Originally Posted by robmac View Post
    I loved the ergos, etc of my R8(w/grip). Without the grip, it sucked ergonomically, but add that grip and you just wanted to hold it. The VF and switchology was designed by a photog and it showed.

    A R8/9-esque DSLR, competitively priced with even a 'modest' 12MP FF sensor, MF and feature-weak BUT backed up my an improved service & support structure would have me in line. That said, it's a LOT to be asking for given history and the current state of affairs (re: S&S).
    Rob,
    I agree with the ergonomics of the R8/9 WITH GRIP. The R8 was a completely new design for Leica and it was a good one. I thought the size of the body made it perfect for digital innards to be put in there.

    Nikon and Leica have shown that a GOOD 10-12 mpx sensor can produce great images.

    Regards,
    Al
    Al Tanabe my website https://www.altanabe.com

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    Re: Digital Leica R - Rebadged

    The only real shortcoming of the R8/9 body were the #$%^ strap lugs. Whoever Ok'd placing them where they did should have been taken out and shot.

    I have the 1Ds2 now, but 12 million clean, fat light buckets (always hate calling them pixels) sans AA filter on a 24x36 sensor would do quite nicely.

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    Re: Digital Leica R - Rebadged

    Quote Originally Posted by robmac View Post
    I loved the ergos, etc of my R8(w/grip). Without the grip, it sucked ergonomically, but add that grip and you just wanted to hold it. The VF and switchology was designed by a photog and it showed.

    A R8/9-esque DSLR, competitively priced with even a 'modest' 12MP FF sensor, MF and feature-weak BUT backed up my an improved service & support structure would have me in line. That said, it's a LOT to be asking for given history and the current state of affairs (re: S&S).
    The problem with this is that why would someone want a moderately priced, modestly spec'ed Leica when the lenses are all over 3000 dollars, with many over 5000 dollars. The Leica R lenses are even more expensive than the Hy6 lenses and the Hasselblad H series lenses. I think that given this, it is a hard sell to give someone a 12mp sensor and a 5000 dollar zoom lens. I can see modest features, but if people are going to be paying a huge premium on the lenses, I think they will need to make the sensor as high rez as possible...they are certainly the best candidates in the 35mm world for a 24mp sensor with no AA filter. 12mp makes sense for a super-fast camera geared for sports and photojournalism, but it seems that the Leica R cameras are more geared towards low-ISO, slower paced photography, given their manual focus and fewer features. Maximum definition and resolution seem to be more the raison d'etre of Leica R..
    Last edited by Stuart Richardson; 4th July 2008 at 10:09.
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    Re: Digital Leica R - Rebadged

    Quote Originally Posted by glenerrolrd View Post
    Hey I really liked my R4 s ! Seriously Leica needs a partner to stay competitive with the R line....they may not have to outsource the assembly (like the do on the Panasonics ) but they need to be able to buy major components. There whole sourcing strategy is exceptionally difficult because there volume is so low. They just aren t important to the component suppliers thats why they have to borrow form the panasonic part bin. I thought the R4-R7 had the same solid Leica feel and a very straightforward design. I hope they keep the mind set of the M user with the new R line..then they don t have to compete with the Nikon/Canon offerings.
    I liked my R7 better, went through some of the electronic teething pains with the R4, it got better with the R5 and perfected with the R7. It was a nice body size and built solidly. This is an example of a good collaboration to cut costs. Leica did a clean sheet design of the R8 and I bet it cost them a bundle to do.
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    Re: Digital Leica R - Rebadged

    You raise an excellent point -which highlights one of the myriad of issues they face with any new R; as much as I think it will never see production (vs a prototype under glass). They will feel compelled to deliver high-res sensors to 'justify' the cost of new glass sales, but will face the issue that (unless they can re-invent the laws of physics) any such sensor will have serious noise issues at what are now considered 'moderate' ISO levels.

    There is also the required price point. Buying small lots of 24MP FF sensors sans AA filters from a fab will not be cheap. Add onto that the pseudo-bespoke manufacturing volumes and a Leica 'name' premium and not only does your potential market get very tiny and saturated quickly but you're now selling 24MP-ish DSLR kit at or above entry-level MFDB prices - and with similar ISO performance, a slow service and support org -- and at least as expensive lenses. Not a very compelling solution for a 'low and slow' pro photog.

    Quote Originally Posted by Stuart Richardson View Post
    The problem with this is that why would someone want a moderately priced, modestly spec'ed Leica when the lenses are all over 3000 dollars, with many over 5000 dollars. The Leica R lenses are even more expensive than the Hy6 lenses and the Hasselblad H series lenses. I think that given this, it is a hard sell to give someone a 12mp sensor and a 5000 dollar zoom lens. I can see modest features, but if people are going to be paying a huge premium on the lenses, I think they will need to make the sensor as high rez as possible...they are certainly the best candidates in the 35mm world for a 24mp sensor with no AA filter. 12mp makes sense for a super-fast camera geared for sports and photojournalism, but it seems that the Leica R cameras are more geared towards low-ISO, slower paced photography, given their manual focus and fewer features. Maximum definition and resolution seem to be more the raison d'etre of Leica R..

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    Re: Digital Leica R - Rebadged

    Quote Originally Posted by Stuart Richardson View Post
    The problem with this is that why would someone want a moderately priced, modestly spec'ed Leica when the lenses are all over 3000 dollars, with many over 5000 dollars. The Leica R lenses are even more expensive than the Hy6 lenses and the Hasselblad H series lenses. I think that given this, it is a hard sell to give someone a 12mp sensor and a 5000 dollar zoom lens. I can see modest features, but if people are going to be paying a huge premium on the lenses, I think they will need to make the sensor as high rez as possible...they are certainly the best candidates in the 35mm world for a 24mp sensor with no AA filter. 12mp makes sense for a super-fast camera geared for sports and photojournalism, but it seems that the Leica R cameras are more geared towards low-ISO, slower paced photography, given their manual focus and fewer features. Maximum definition and resolution seem to be more the raison d'etre of Leica R..
    Stuart,
    I take your answer as a "No".

    Yes, Leica R lenses were and most likely always will be more expensive.

    My point was would you buy a rebadged DSLR that accepted the R lenses and at what premium. There is a market for R lens adapters at $175 but you get no auto aperture features. Yet people were buying Canons and shaving off the mirrors so they could use the 19 Elmarit and reducing the resale of those cameras to a far lower value than if never modified.

    Fuji rebadged a Nikon and put in their own sensor. Would you buy a rebadged Canon 1DsIII that allowed full aperture metering and focus confirmation with an R lens? Or would the entire camera have to be a clean sheet Leica product?

    Regards,
    Al
    Al Tanabe my website https://www.altanabe.com

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    Re: Digital Leica R - Rebadged

    Well, the difference with the Fuji (and the Kodak SLR/N/C before it) is that Fuji does not make their own glass for those cameras. That is very significant, because while the camera body may be Fuji, it sells Nikon lenses. Nikon has a financial incentive because it broadens the market for their lenses. If they rebadged a body to Leica, that would not be the case. They would potentially LOSE lens sales, because they would be selling their good body design to another manufacturer who also makes lenses. That is why I don't think you will see it happen. The case of adapters is another matter since it does not involve either Canon, Nikon or Leica...the adapters are all made by third-party makers.

    Personally, I would be happy to see a D700 or D3x (24mp) get an R mount, but I just don't see it happening. I think that if there is an R10, it will be similar in spirit to the M8 and DMR -- fairly low feature set, but a high-definition imaging system. They will buy the sensor from Kodak, get the firmware from Jenoptik and they will build the body themselves. It will sell for 5000 USD or more. Anything else would really surprise me.
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    Senior Member EH21's Avatar
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    Re: Digital Leica R - Rebadged

    I'd be surprised but very happy if they could get an R10 out for $5000 - I'm expecting it to retail between $8K and $10K (or about the same price you'd have paid were you to have bought both a R9 and DMR when it came out).

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    Re: Digital Leica R - Rebadged

    [QUOTE=Personally, I would be happy to see a D700 or D3x (24mp) get an R mount, but I just don't see it happening.[/QUOTE]

    I agree that either a Nikon D700 or D3x as a starting point for a new reflex Leica would be great. Leica would need to wave their magic wand over the base model a bit, getting rid of the filter and re-allocating some of the buttons perhaps and modifying the lens mount. Fuji uses Nikon lenses on their DSLR's.

    The rumour widely circulating a few months ago about Nikon buying Leica has suddenly gone very cold since the agreement between Leica and Jenoptik.

    Meanwhile some of the new Nikon Fx lenses are no slouches either and catching up very fast with Leica R lenses. I have heard in fact that they are superior to some of the R lenses. Leica have so much catching up to do as N and C will already be working on their next 2 or 3 models/lenses and leica still have to produce a replacement for the R9/DMR!
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    Re: Digital Leica R - Rebadged

    Was thinking about Nikon buying Leica the other day - perfect match. Nikon gets some native APO glass (finally), the primes everyone wants and some sweet zooms (AF Leica/Nikon 70-180/2.8 APO for 1/2 the current price anyone?). They could also market some of the the Leica-based designs as a premium line -- and still undercut current Leica prices. Convert some designs to AF, keep others as manual focus. Leica has no DSLR overlap. The only fly in ointment is if Nikon has, as rumored, a DRF coming. If so, the M8 would be a problem.

    If no Nikon DRF en-route (or if the M_ and it could be positioned at different market segments), instant access not only to a DRF and massive lens line up (not that it would be an issue with own DRF), but can put the Nikon service & support structure behind the new DRF line.

    Leica Solms could stay as design shop and maybe be-spoke a la carte manufacturer. Suggested this awhile ago on another forum and some Zeiss fans went nuts. As for ZF - that's Cosina's problem. Business is business. Cosina/Zeiss can continue to make MF lenses. Todays world is an AF one for vast majority of shooters, but the more people that make F-mount lenses, the more attractive the bodies become. The Jenoptik agreement, if an issue, could easily be unwound with no or minimal 'go away' $$$ as is simple cooperation agreement.

    Right now Nikon's new senior exec suite (if you believe story on LL) has created a real dynamic entity in the DSLR world. Shaking things up, lots of new revolutionary (?) lenses and bodies one after the other, etc. they are kicking C's butt and taking names - and are probably causing some cold sweats at Sony. For them, there would be no better time than now for a properly executed acquisition of Leica. Few questions from 3rd parties as to it being a proper move due to their current and sudden wave of success (being on a roll buys you a LOT of latitude) and it would come across like a Russian artillery salvo to Canon.

    The only caveats would be that they would have to get the new lenses out ASAP and create the unspoken comfort level as to who was firmly in charge. Any carry-over of non-technical Leica execs, while positioned nicely in press releases would be chair-warming, "go do a press conference" positions only.

    Nice idea, but it takes two to tango and I think Leica wants to go it alone (sadly).
    Last edited by robmac; 7th July 2008 at 05:37.

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    Re: Digital Leica R - Rebadged

    Not that it has much to do with it, but I was at the Roskilde Festival few days ago, and in the midst of the press center was a Nikon Pro service desk with five staff servicing customers with free cleaning of cameras - as well as lending out free D700 and D3 with lenses to all interested pro photographers.

    What an intelligent move. I didn't lend any though, because while I'm interested in acquiring a fast AF camera, they didn't bring any fast primes to use with it (only AF zooms). Nikon does nice stuff these days, but Canon takes R lenses but makes boring files.

    Yet another reason to cross fingers that Leica comes up with a great R solution.

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    Re: Digital Leica R - Rebadged

    Quote Originally Posted by atanabe View Post
    Stuart,
    I take your answer as a "No".

    Yes, Leica R lenses were and most likely always will be more expensive.

    My point was would you buy a rebadged DSLR that accepted the R lenses and at what premium. There is a market for R lens adapters at $175 but you get no auto aperture features. Yet people were buying Canons and shaving off the mirrors so they could use the 19 Elmarit and reducing the resale of those cameras to a far lower value than if never modified.

    Fuji rebadged a Nikon and put in their own sensor. Would you buy a rebadged Canon 1DsIII that allowed full aperture metering and focus confirmation with an R lens? Or would the entire camera have to be a clean sheet Leica product?

    Regards,
    Al
    Al

    Just for clarification Canon will put a brand new mirror and mirror box assembly into the 5D for $300. So if you really used the 5D a lot with alternative lenses it was a pretty small price to pay.

    Woody

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