Finding interest in the Micro Four Thirds cameras, I have often wished that Leica (the crème de la crème camera manufacturer) would release an M43rd camera. Putting the puzzles together, I predict that this will be the year for Leica to finally release one.
1. Panasonics Connection to Leica
2. M43rd Success
It seems that Panasonic and Olympus learned from their experiences with 43rds and has created a format with broader appeal, a format that other manufacturers must copy not to miss out on a large market opportunity. Samsung and Sony already followed track, Canon and Nikon are expected to release their hybrid cameras soon. Will Leica get involved?
3. Basic Lenses Covered
The m43rds lens offering has grown gradually and are now (January 2011) covering a selection of wide angel, standard, fisheye, fast pancake, super zoom, macro and tele lenses. The format has enjoyed commercial success and has a good base of users and supporters. The next natural step for the format is delivering sharp premium big aperture lenses, which happens to be Leicas speciality.
4. The Leica 45mm Macro Lens
Leica 45mm f2.8 Macro Lens for M43rd. Which shows that they are not dismissing the format. A macro lens is a speciality lens that needs to be sharp with good contrast, which is why they released the premium (Leica) lens at once, without any intermediate solution.
5. Panasonics Missing Roadmap
6. Leicas Missing Segment
The premium Leica camera M9 including lenses is extremely expensive, and only for especially interested. Their intermediate offering today is the X1, which is similar in size to the M43rd cameras, but without interchangeable lenses and only one focal length. An M43rd Leica to replace the odd (but good) X1 would make perfect sense from both a user and marketing perspective.
7. Leica M Mount Lenses good fit on M43
8. M43rds Sensor Development
Leica VP of marketing Christian Erhardt said this about Micro Four Thirds:
"One reason why we've decided not to move into Micro Four Thirds is that we have looked at the sensor size and realized that it cannot produce the image quality that we need. Therefore we decided to stick with the full format in addition to APS-C. It's all about the ratios"
Many were disappointed with his comment. The sensor is only marginally smaller then the APS-C and they sell many Leica branded models with smaller sensors. There could be many motivations for saying this, including tactical reasons, like selling more X1. Olympus has proven that getting great Jpeg quality of the 12MPx sensor is totally achievable with their E5.
The new multi-aspect GH2 sensor shows that the M43rd sensor technology is evolving with increased ISO sensitivity, increased megapixels and reducing noise. Maybe Leica is finding the sensor up to standards today?
9. Increased Competition
M43rds has the first mover advantage to the hybrid camera market., their camera and lens selection are more developed and better then the competitions. They have the goodwill from many supporters now, but only as long as they stay ahead of the curve. Some have been tempted by the Sony NEX smaller form factor (the camera body, not the lenses) and bigger sensor. Getting Leica onboard the M43rds format will create a lot of buzz and give the format the boost it needs to keep the big train in front of the pack.
10. The Lumix GF2 Release
GF1 was an extremely well received camera by enthusiast and critics. Its good buttons and knobs setup, large aperture 20mm lens and big sensor in a small package created much joy. It is the camera that got me really interested in photography and is still my favourite. Many were curios what the second generation GF2 would bring.
The answer was the GF2, a nice and small camera, but very different to the GF1. It is targeted at the “point & shoot” users/mass market with focus on the touch screen and a blue intelligent auto button. Its small size and gimmicky features make it an obvious competitor to the Sony NEX, but the enthusiasts who had expected the next GF1 was left wanting more.
The GF1 is discontinued and there is a room in the market for a premium compact hybrid camera, so I predict to you the spiritual successor of the GF1:
The Leica M43rd Camera
EVF, the multi-aspect GH2 sensor and Leicas great Jpeg engine. Released with the Leica 25mm f1.4 and/or the Leica 14-75 f2.8 bright zoom lens. The pictured camera is the Leica X1.
Do you think this is realistic? Would you buy the camera? What would you pay for it?