Leica I am in touch with the Leica AG CEO

Raid

All-Pro
Hi All,
The Global Director Corporate Communications Manager of Leica AG (for CEO Oliver Kaltner) just sent me an email in which she and he welcome a written exchange of questions and answers "due to his busy schedule". They may have thought that I meant an interview with him in Germany!


See related older thread at RFF: http://www.rangefinderforum.com/foru...=146556&page=4






Translation by Google:

Dear Dr. Amin,

I am writing on behalf of Mr. Kaltner who can greet you warmly and since your German sounds great, I take the liberty to answer you at that language.

Many thanks for your interest in and commitment to the Leica Rangefinder Forum, which we are following with great interest. We are pleased to hear that you have a great passion for our cameras and even your description, I understand that you probably have some Leica M models. The pictures with a rangefinder camera is indeed something very special. Firstly, because there is great joy makes this technique to use, on the other hand requires taking pictures with a Leica M much more concentration and dedication in the selection of the subject and with the careful choice of settings. Nice to have you share this passion with us!

All the more we are happy to answer your questions. To guarantee Due to the high travel activity of Mr. Kaltner and associated time delays and to the greatest possible care in answering your questions, I suggest that we conduct the interview in writing. Please send us all your questions simple and to Mr. Kaltner will respond quickly. So we can also make sure that you have all quotable statements directly in writing and thus an authorized interview.


Stephen has compiled a long list of questions since a few months, so this is your last chance to add any questions that Stephen has not listed.


Anyways, here is what I have received:

Sehr geehrter Herr Dr. Amin,

ich schreibe Ihnen im Auftrag von Herrn Kaltner, der Sie herzlich grüßen lässt und da Ihr Deutsch hervorragend klingt, erlaube ich mir, Ihnen in selbiger Sprache zu antworten.

Besten Dank für Ihr Interesse an Leica und Ihr Engagement für das Rangefinder-Forum, welches wir mit großem Interesse verfolgen. Wir freuen uns sehr zu hören, dass Sie selbst eine große Leidenschaft für unsere Kameras haben und Ihrer Schilderung entnehme ich, dass Sie vermutlich über einige Leica M Modelle verfügen. Das Fotografieren mit einer Messsucherkamera ist in der Tat etwas sehr besonderes. Zum einen, weil es große Freude macht diese Technik zu benutzen, zum anderen erfordert das Fotografieren mit einer Leica M viel mehr Konzentration und Hingabe bei der Auswahl des Motivs sowie bei der sorgfältigen Wahl der Einstellungen. Schön, dass Sie diese Leidenschaft mit uns teilen!

Umso mehr freuen wir uns, Ihre Fragen zu beantworten. Aufgrund der hohen Reisetätigkeit von Herrn Kaltner sowie der damit verbundenen Zeitverschiebungen und um eine möglichst große Sorgfalt bei der Beantwortung Ihrer Fragen gewährleisten zu können, schlage ich vor, dass wir das Interview schriftlich führen. Bitte senden Sie uns gerne ganz unkompliziert Ihre Fragen zu und Herr Kaltner wird Ihnen zügig antworten. So können wir auch sicherstellen, dass Sie alle zitierfähigen Aussagen direkt in schriftlicher Form und somit ein autorisiertes Interview vorliegen haben.

Please don’t hesitate to send your questions in English and Mr. Kaltner will of course answer in English as well, if you wish to avoid any translation work afterwards. We’re looking forward to receiving your questions.

Thanks and kind regards!


cid:image001.png@01D05BC8.34C69240

Silke Bernhardt
Global Director Corporate Communications
__________________
- Raid
 

Raid

All-Pro
These were the questions that I got from RFF :
1) Update on progress to fix the old M9 sensor or create a new one. What is taking so long to solve the problem? M9 owners are getting impatient.

2) His comments on the internet reports of trouble between Blackstone and Leica. Is there any real problems between Blackstone and Leica? How are they being worked out? Might this hold serious problems for Leica in the future?

3) What are his priorities of change as the new CEO?

4) Would he consider enlarging the Leica profit base by bringing back the old R lenses in Nikon F mount - as Leitax lens mount adapters prove it is possible

5) Will Leica improve the existing M240 and M-P by allowing them to mount a new state of the art digital Visoflex ?

6) How soon will we see the replacements or updates for the M240 and MM ?

7) What does he think of the concept of the newly announced Konost digital rangefinder ? Could Leica produce a similar low cost full frame digital M without a meter and optical RF/VF ?

8) Will Leica PR discontinue it present unfair policy of providing "scoops" to favored sites and instead publish ALL new information on the Leica website for ALL to see without any kind of preferential treatment?

9) Will Leica increase its sales base overnight by simply allowing ALL Leica dealers to sell ALL Leica products? Instead of the present policy of limiting some products to being sold at Leica Stores only?

10) In light of the current euro-dollar situation, will Leica lower prices?


I would add:

11) Will Leica introduce a new Leica Q with a different lens? Maybe a 35mm lens?
 
I have one question-

Preface: Leica support for the hardware of older cameras is amazing, the new KAF-18500 with new BG-55 cover glass for cameras with corrosion problems, no other company would do this.

HOWEVER: support for firmware updates is not as good. The Discreet mode for the M Monochrom is the bug that could be corrected in firmware. It worked perfectly in the M9 up to v 1.176. After that, the discreet feature was not reliable in the M9, M-E, and M Monochrom. I would like to see these bugs corrected, ie - same quality support for firmware as there is for hardware.
 
D

dalethorn

Guest
I bought a cheap ugly $13 compact case by Case Logic for my Leica Q, because Leica won't make (or contract) one. I contacted someone at LeicaTime custom cases and got a response 6 weeks ago, but no response to my re-inquiry. I still think it's one of those "don't know, don't care about your request" issues at Leica, who haven't a clue what a compact camera (like the Q) is or how a customer who also has other Leica compact cameras (ex: D-Lux) would like to have a similar case (like the 18821) for the Q.

Maybe, possibly, the reason cameras like the X-Vario, the new X, and the Q are regarded as failures by many critics is the lack of support by Leica for a decent compact case that 1) Looks good everywhere, and 2) Protects the entire camera, and 3) Doesn't require screwing the case onto the tripod socket.
 

rbelyell

All-Pro
Location
NY Mtns
isnt anyone interested in the new auto focus system theyre planning? ive got about a score of questions on that:

what will manual focusing be like? rf, faux rf, peaking, magnification, hybrid?
will it auto focus M lenses?
will it accomodate other system lenses, like mirrorless does? R lenses? leica 4/3 lenses? nikon?
are they planning one cam or multiple?
i could go on, but find these much more impacting than questions about the CEO. ):
 

xdayv

Top Veteran
Location
Tacloban City, Philippines
Real Name
Dave
HOWEVER: support for firmware updates is not as good. The Discreet mode for the M Monochrom is the bug that could be corrected in firmware. It worked perfectly in the M9 up to v 1.176. After that, the discreet feature was not reliable in the M9, M-E, and M Monochrom. I would like to see these bugs corrected, ie - same quality support for firmware as there is for hardware.

Brian, my MM seemed to solve the discreet mode via a firmware upgrade before, am I missing something here?
 
Version 1.008 is better than the original, but the problem can still occur. There seems to be a window of time where the mode works perfectly, and another where the shutter still hangs-up. It never occurs on the M9 at rev 1.176.
 

xdayv

Top Veteran
Location
Tacloban City, Philippines
Real Name
Dave
Version 1.008 is better than the original, but the problem can still occur. There seems to be a window of time where the mode works perfectly, and another where the shutter still hangs-up. It never occurs on the M9 at rev 1.176.

Thanks for the info Brian. I've been using the "Discreet" as my default setting, so far haven't really encountered the hiccups.
 

Raid

All-Pro
The CEO of Leica AG has replied:


Interview “Rangefinder Forum”



1) Update on progress to fix the old M9 sensor or create a new one. What is taking so long to solve the problem? M9 owners are getting impatient.


As a manufacturer of premium products is it our responsibility to deliver best quality and in case of quality issues to solve these as soon as and best way possible. Since the recognition of a corrosion-related problem on the cover glass of the sensors of Leica M9, M9-P, M Monochrom and M-E camera models, we have been working with our sensor supplier on a long-term technical solution. The development phase of a new generation of sensors has now nearly been completed. Currently independent users are testing the new sensor in practical situations to guarantee that the imaging characteristics of the cameras remain unaltered.

After completion and evaluation of this testing phase, we will begin the replacement of corroded sensors by the new-generation sensor.

As the goodwill arrangement for the replacement of affected sensors applies irrespective of the age of the camera and also to sensors already replaced in the above-mentioned camera models, repairs will continue without interruption until the new sensors are available. However, the sensor replacement can only be offered for cameras affected by the concrete problem, a preventive replacement is not possible. However, I’m very confident that we will be able to solve this issue soon.


2) Could you give us some comments on the internet reports of trouble between Blackstone and Leica. Is there any real problem between Blackstone and Leica? How are they being worked out? Might this hold serious problems for Leica in the future?


I can personally assure you that these rumors have definitely no factual basis. The relationship between Leica Camera and Blackstone is based on mutual respect and shaped by a constructive and close collaboration. Both parties share the same basic principles on how to run this company and one of the most important common tasks of our long-term strategy is to open up new and promising growth areas for Leica.



3) What are your priorities of change as the new CEO?


Leica has grown substantially in recent years. To stay on this growth path the company now needs to start a transformation by identifying new growth territories while staying true to its core values. However, companies don’t drive growth, consumers do. Our position in the global imaging segment might be a small one but it is a privilege and responsibility. Therefore growth opportunities need to be sought out carefully. The digital world is not only changing our general behavior and how we handle technology, it affects our business models significantly. Leica products must be an integral part and a driver of the ongoing digitalization in its segment. Smart features in cameras are one important piece in the digital puzzle.


Furthermore I strongly believe in the power of retail. Retail is an experience and a major part in the consumer journey only Leica can provide consumers with. When I joined the company in September 2014, I directly started working on an extensive retail initiative which is currently launched and rolled-out globally. Leica enjoys a premium position across markets and our consumers may rightly expect a premium experience in our stores and across all Leica touchpoints worldwide.


Above all these objectives, I truly believe that Leica’s core asset is and must remain our premium quality and finest craftsmanship. Others may “produce” products, Leica is “manufacturing”.







4) Would you consider enlarging the Leica profit base by bringing back the old R lenses in Nikon F mount - as Leitax lens mount adapters prove it is possible?


There are no such plans for the time being. However, Leica’s brand philosophy is to offer our customers the best product experience and a very unique portfolio consisting of outstanding niche products such as the M Monochrom but also highly innovative cameras with future proofed technology, i.e. our pro camera S007. We always will do both and we are always good for a surprise.



5) Will Leica improve the existing M240 and M-P by allowing them to mount a new state of the art digital Visoflex?


Please understand that we can’t talk about future product roadmap plans in public.



6) How soon will we see the replacements or updates for the M240 and MM?


Regarding M Monochrom we’ve just launched our new model in April this year. This camera is absolutely reduced to the essentials. Featured with a pure black & white sensor, our proven rangefinder system combined with high-quality lenses results into outstanding images. A true Leica product!


Our M240 is a state-of-the-art product, customers are extremely satisfied with its performance and this camera will remain with us for a long time. As always, updates emerge on a regular base.



7) What do you think of the concept of the newly announced Konost digital rangefinder ? Could Leica produce a similar low cost full frame digital M without a meter and optical RF/VF?


Leica is developing and manufacturing rangefinder cameras for 60 years, no other company has such a profound and in-depth expertise as Leica has in this unique segment and we challenge ourselves with the highest expectations of quality. The M system is our core piece within our product portfolio and we will never start compromising on performance or functionality. Our philosophy is to justify the premium rather than offering low cost cameras.



8) Will Leica PR discontinue its present [what might be viewed as] unfair policy of providing "scoops" to favored sites and instead publish ALL new information on the Leica website for ALL to see without any kind of preferential treatment?


We live in a digital world and the internet has changed not only the reception behavior of consumers, it has also enabled everyone to access and share information immediately with the world, irrespective whether this information is official, true or for public use. Means: Leica is not supporting or actively promoting product leaks, we definitely have no interest in such an approach but at the same time we can’t prevent consumers and media from disclosing embargoed and/or confidential information or spread rumors. I’m afraid this has become a part of our fast-moving industry and companies have to accept it.



9) Will Leica increase its sales base overnight by simply allowing ALL Leica dealers to sell ALL Leica products? Instead of the present policy of limiting some products to being sold at Leica Stores only?


All Leica authorized dealers have the right to carry the full assortment of Leica products. However, it is up to our partners to decide what they offer in their stores. Our principle is a balance and a good mix of products dealers have to offer and products they can offer. In case of Limited Editions, Leica decides very carefully which partner will be supplied due to limited units.


10) In light of the current euro-dollar situation, will Leica lower prices?


The world-wide financial and currency market is a big challenge for all companies despite the industries that are dealing on the global market. Change seems to be the new standard. We do our best to ensure that our partners can purchase the Leica products for the right pricing while partners are free to decide which prices they offer to consumers.



11) Would Leica consider a Q Monochrome version, and will there be new Q cameras with 35mm and/or 50mm lenses?


Smart ideas! However, for the time being we concentrate on a proper worldwide distribution of our extremely successful new family member Leica Q. This has set a new milestone in its category of compact full-frame cameras by a unique composition of design and superior technology. At the same time, it continues the Leica brand tradition of pioneering cameras with a large sensor in a compact body.


The decision for the 28mm lens was a conscious one and mainly based on technical considerations. Our aim was to achieve highest performance and speed in a compact body. The 35mm would either have been a slower f-stop or a compromise in quality and size. Therefore, we decided to add the digital frame selector which gives consumers the freedom to switch to 35 or 50 mm.



12) Will Leica produce digital Leica cameras that have “nice small” RF bodies in at least one FF model? Leica users love the Barnack bodies and having digital FF Leica cameras with elegant and small bodies seems to be a wish for users.


We are aware of our consumers’ desire for smaller bodies. However, the bodies of our M cameras are engineered in an extremely compact way considering the concentrated technology inside the camera. However we are constantly monitoring technical options and product improvements while listening to consumers.


13) Leica support for the hardware of older cameras is amazing, the new KAF-18500 with new BG-55 cover glass for cameras with corrosion problems, no other company would do this. However, support for firmware updates is not as good. The Discreet mode for the M Monochrom is the bug that could be corrected in firmware. It worked perfectly in the M9 up to v 1.176. After that, the discreet feature was not reliable in the M9, M-E, and M Monochrom. I would like to see these bugs corrected, i.e. same quality support for firmware as there is for hardware.


Leica strives to improve its product quality constantly. Quality is a key aspect in a Leica consumer journey which starts before the product purchase and - based on our Leica brand philosophy and values - never ends from there. We are self-critically assessing all our quality aspects and truly believe that we can improve ourselves every single minute. Quality is an area you should never feel satisfied as a premium brand.


Regarding the discreet mode bug we worked hard to solve this issue and we’re in close contact with our M customers. The feedback we’ve received is that this error occurs quite rarely in the meantime. However, we will continue to pursue this issue.
 

uhoh7

Regular
"We are aware of our consumers’ desire for smaller bodies. However, the bodies of our M cameras are engineered in an extremely compact way considering the concentrated technology inside the camera."

Well at least he is "aware", but then comes the propaganda LOL "Extremely Compact"? Oh jeez.

Nevertheless, you are actually in communication with the guy, so that's not nothing :)
 

Peter Klein

Regular
Location
Seattle
Real Name
Peter Klein
Raid, thank you for doing this, and thanks to Mr. Kaltner for his answers. As with most corporate communication, some informed interpretation is required. Still, I think he has told us what he believes he can, given his role. We may or may not be completely satisfied with the answers, but I for one am grateful that he will talk to us.
 
D

dalethorn

Guest
I think most of the answers are truthful and reveal the limits of what Leica can do.
 

Raid

All-Pro
Many years ago, I was complaining to a senior colleague at my university about my low salary. I told him that I would request from the VP to meet with me to discuss this "unacceptable situation". His response to me was "Go and meet with the VP. He will say nice things to you. You will feel better after you leave his office. Just don't expect any changes to your salary".
 
D

dalethorn

Guest
I learned a lot about customer service in 7 years of electronics and computer retail sales in Los Angeles and Beverly Hills. Then I went to work as a programmer (developer/software engineer) in a big software company. Thanks to a visit from an outside consulting firm, I learned that the customer service model applies to nearly all jobs - Support asks Development a question, Dev responds, and Support passes it on to the outside/end customer. But Support is Dev's customer, and QA/QC is Dev's customer, and Dev is IT's customer. The better that these relationships are understood and practiced within each organization, the better the organization will function - i.e. when each employee treats each inside 'customer' like they would a cash-paying customer.

A large company that has a reputation for a premium quality product, i.e. Leica, cannot cater (or pander) to customers whose demands, if met, would lower the company's reputation. However, the long-term success of that company requires that they understand their customers' requests, and that they don't take the attitude that a real need for accessory 'xyz' isn't worth addressing just because it's not as profitable as the big-ticket items, and 10 thousand customers aren't demanding it.

Take for example the $4250 Leica Q. Now why should a customer have to carry this expensive camera in a crappy $13 compact carry case, when no compact case exists with the Leica brand name (example, the 18709, 18727, and 18821 compact cases for other Leica compact cameras), and even the custom-case makers like Luigi won't respond to requests for a suitable case? Leica wants to make and sell a full-frame *compact* camera, but intends that customers use a case designed for a system camera, or a case designed for use in WW2 combat zones ('Eveready' case). This is pure laziness on their part, and a symptom of gradual internal decay, in my opinion.
 

Latest posts

Latest threads

Top Bottom