Interesting news from one of my fellow Dutch Leica reviewers. Writer and Leica connoisseur Erwin Puts will no longer write about Leica. He released this statement a few days ago on his website:
“For more than 35 years I have been intimately involved in the Leica world, encompassing the history of the company, the analysis of the products and the use of the products, all under the umbrella concept of the Leica World.
I have experienced and discussed in detail with relevant persons in Wetzlar (old), Solms and Wetzlar (again, new) the digital turn and how the company evolved and changed while adopting the digitalization of the photographic process and the changing world of the internet based photography. The most recent event is the evolution from a manufacturing company to a software-based company. While a commercial success, this change of heart has accomplished a, perhaps not intended, impact: the soul of Leica products has been eradicated. A renewed interest in classical products is the result. The SL and Q are currently the hopeful products for the future. The ghosts of Huawei and Panasonic can be seen all over the campus and while the M-system is still being promoted as the true heir of the Leica lineage, it is now sidelined. Once upon a time, Leica followed its own path, guided by gifted and pioneering engineers and keen marketeers. Nowadays its products are as mainstream as every other camera manufacture.
The company has sketched a future and follows a path that I am no longer willing to go.”
Erwin is known for his very, very thorough reviews. He has followed Leica for a couple of decades and knows virtually everything about Leica lenses and cameras.
I’m not really sure I can follow his statement though. Yes, software is getting more important for Leica too, as it does for all other companies. This software doesn’t affect the way I work with my M camera though. At least, not in a bad way. There’s still a shutter speed dial and the same minimalist interface as in the M9 days. Also, the M line still sells a lot better than the SL line. Even better: the M has never been so affordable as with the new M-E.
The SL and CL do feel different than the M. But for me that’s good too. The SL gives me all the flexibility that I need as a pro shooter. The L mount alliance contributes to that. Most important: the M shooter has a choice not to buy the CL or SL.
I’d say that this might be the most exciting times for Leica shooters. There’s an affordable M, lots of lenses, lots of accessories, a choice of AF-cameras and lenses that are compatible with all M-lenses and a professional SL-platform that is compatible with all lenses mentioned before and new lenses, even from different companies.