Leica Warns of M Delays

It should come as no surprise to anyone that you can't obtain the latest M camera within anything resembling a "reasonable" timeframe, despite the fact that it's been out for months now. In a letter sent to Leica dealers this week, Leica Camera's COO Markus Limberger apologized for the delays, saying it was largely caused by the "elaborate manual process" and "enormous demand." He went on to say that demand has "far exceeded our expectations," resulting in unavoidable delays to deliveries... Leica's pending move to new facilities and the hiring of additional workers should help to alleviate this pressure, but not until next year!

An Amateur Photographer article elaborates:

Leica has warned photographers to expect delays when ordering the Leica M, telling dealers this has been triggered by ‘enormous demand’ for the camera.

In a letter sent to Leica dealers this week, the contents of which have since been confirmed by the firm's UK office, Leica Camera's chief operating officer Markus Limberger apologised for the delays, saying it was largely caused by the ‘elaborate manual process' used to make the Leica M.

He told dealers that demand has ‘far exceeded our expectations', resulting in unavoidable delays to deliveries.

Limberger wrote: ‘Please rest assured that we are investing an enormous amount of time and effort in the sustainable expansion of our production capacities, naturally in full compliance with our commitment to absolute quality.'

In the 10 June letter, he added: ‘Despite the very high demand, particularly of the Leica M, the quality of our products and the high-precision in our production maintains our high standard.' The German company plans to open an ‘ultra-modern' factory in Wetzlar next year to ‘satisfy production demand'.

Leica says it is also recruiting more specialists and trainees.

Limberger continued: ‘The sum total of these measures will relieve pressures in the production process and simultaneously lead to considerably shorter order-fulfilment times.'

David Bell, managing director of Leica Camera Ltd, said that ‘very limited supplies' have started to arrive in the UK, adding that the ‘picture is set to improve into the summer'.

He told Amateur Photographer: ‘The difficulty for us is that we are currently unable to match demand.

‘There will always be waiting times as we are a relatively small company.

'However, this new M is proving a longer wait.'

The Leica M was announced at last year's Photokina trade show in Cologne, Germany.

Update (June 18, 2013) Leica has now given a press release on the matter:

Since its presentation at the photokina 2012, the new Leica M has become extremely popular. The large number of orders we have received shows the outstanding acceptance of the new M-System on the market. The enormous demand has by far exceeded our expectations, with the consequence that delays in deliveries can unfortunately not be avoided.

In the words of Markus Limberger, COO at Leica Camera AG: ‘We are very sorry about these delays and hope you will understand the current situation. Please rest assured that we are investing an enormous amount of time and effort in the sustainable expansion of our production capacities, naturally in full compliance with our commitment to absolute quality. Despite the very high demand, particularly of the Leica M, the quality of our products and the high-precision in our production maintains our high standard. '

A significant cause for the longer waiting times is Leica's uncompromising manufacturing process in accordance with the ‘factory' principle. Just like all other Leica products, the Leica M is manufactured and assembled in an elaborate manual process that must satisfy the most stringent demands on precision engineering, painstaking care and quality. Each Leica M is a handcrafted product in every detail and may only leave the factory after being tested, checked and adjusted for so long until its flawless finish and performance are guaranteed and fulfil the exhaustive quality demands on which the worldwide reputation of Leica is founded. This commitment to precision and quality has been the the core principle of Leica manufacturing for almost a century. The endurance, reliability and perceived value of Leica products have been instrumental in the creation of the Leica legend.

To ensure that we can continue to maintain these uncompromising quality standards and simultaneously reduce order-fulfilment times, Leica Camera AG is currently significantly expanding production capacities, creating job opportunities for additional specialists and trainees, and is building a completely new, ultra-modern factory that will open in Wetzlar in 2014 with facilities to satisfy production demand. The sum total of these measures will relieve pressures in the production process and simultaneously lead to considerably shorter order-fulfilment times.

Update (July 24, 2013) In a recent Interview with Dr. Kaufmann he expands on the matter:


Digital Focus: It's been a few months since the new Leica M is on the market, what are the early returns?

The launch was made at the Photokina 2012. The production was a bit long and we started shipping in March. The early returns are the same as those we received following the announcement. This comes up most often is: "I want this device". The Leica M is set between a device referred telemetry with the possibility, thanks to Live View, use more M lenses produced since 1954, SLR lenses (Leica R, Canon or Nikon) with adapters picture or video! This is an extremely versatile tool for historical users M cameras and newcomers.

We talk to some customers in Asia that does not validate the color rendering of the device but we, Asian see colors slightly differently than Europeans. This is why some silver films or some sensors are not calibrated the same way in Europe and Asia.

Finally, at present, we can not produce enough to fulfill orders, we have a waiting list of one year.

Digital Focus: Is that the new plant will reduce the waiting time?

We opened a new factory in Portugal in March this year and the new plant in Germany will be completed by the end of the year. We will use as and when the various services until the production lines will be operational. This is a delicate operation to the extent that can not abruptly stop production for the move. Anyway, the delivery of the new Leica M will be shorter at the end of the year. We hope to reduce the waiting period to three months.



The Company is both expanding physical facilities and getting more orders for their products than expected!!! Great problem to have in any case!

Yes, that is great news for Leica. The demand for the M haas far exceeded their initial order assessment. The only bad thing out of all of this is that we just have to wait. What do you guys think? The M will be available this summer, meaning July or August? I am just one of the many waiting months for delivery. It's a great thing that we are faithful followers of the RED DOT enterprise. Awaiting anxiously, Glen

We have 3 possibilities here in my opinion, none of them is satisfying as clients, us, have to wait: (1) The company did not plan correctly for the sales, as this message seems to suggest. This is indeed very bad management and can hurt the company's profits/future. Not selling your product means that either (a) client waits, or (b) client goes away. In the case of (a) client satisfaction may become low or damage brand name, and (b) the company is not making as much money as they could. It may sound like a nice problem to have, but the reality is that, in the long run this does not work, and capital goes away where indeed profit is maximized. (2) The company did plan well for this, but had a major set back with product quality. This is what I believe is the case. Well it's bad for the reasons mentioned above and indicates poor product control at one stage of the production. If one is thinking of jumping ship from other manufacturers, one may think twice. (3) The content of the letter is not true, it's only Leica doing some marketing shenanigans. Seems it is the community opinion across a few forums. If it is the case, then let me say that I made a mistake to order a Leica M. When I do business with someone/company, I expect this person to be trustworthy. If the company I am buying from is not trustworthy, then I should not buy the product as I should expect to have surprised, usually bad, in the future. In other words, you can build a good customer franchise on lies. Let me know if you disagree!

Calling Leica liars is unforgivable. This comment should be eliminated from LVL.

I wouldn't go so far as to say Leica is lying or otherwise involved in any sort of deceitful behavior. Poor planning, perhaps... But keep in mind that Leica is a small company, with limited manufacturing capability (until their new factory and workers come online unfortunately). But what are the choices, really? Don't announce anything until X number of bodies are ready? This wouldn't work for multiple reasons. Or announce and trickle them out as fast as they can make them? Leica has typically chosen the latter. I'm sure they're no happier about the situation than you or I.

I am just frustrated... Got an MP for fun, then sold canon gear to get the new M... wait is killing me irrespective of the reason. Love that rangefinder.

I can totally understand the frustration in waiting. I haven't even been looking myself, to be honest. It was only recently that they caught up with the lens demand a fair bit. Seems like we're always waiting... For something. The new factory/workers can't come fast enough! I kind of gave up on Canon gear myself; the bodies do nothing for me - but I might break down and get a 5D Mark III. Either that or sell the rest of my lenses. Just sold the 300/2.8 IS (which hurt).

I sold my 5DIII ! ... anyhow, on the waiting time point, I ordered the M from my local Leica store (not dealer, actual Leica) back in September the day it was announced...

.... I finally got the m240

I ordered the M 240 a couple months ago (3?) from B&H. If I knew where I am in the que, I would be better able to decide if the wait is worth it. I could use the money I've got saved up! Had an M8 and the shortcomings were bugging me, especially knowing there was something better coming, so I sold it as part of a sell-off in preparation. Now when I come across images shot with that camera, I'm really irritated that I have $7K sitting in a bank account waiting for a camera that might never (?) come. Plus, I'm not elated with the XPro-1 I got to replace it -- shutter lag is annoying and I may be a snob, but the IQ just doesn't seem as good to me--maybe because I have to use JPGs because of that RAW file thing (which is another annoyance, BTW). People go crazy over it, so I must be missing something. I'm actually thinking about finding a decent-looking used M9 on the secondary market and maybe using the left over to upgrade a lens or two. I'd probably get something for the XPro-1 as well. What do you guys think?

Jairyhunter. I just got the m240 yesterday. That long wait was killing me too. The first impression was mixed (camera is heavy, I prefer the paint job on the MP), and was getting anxious given the cost and the fact I had sold all my Canon gear for it. Well... after spending a day with it, it became clear there was no mistake. This is indeed a great camera. My recommendation: wait the extra 3-4 months.

Good to hear. If only I could have some assurance that it will "only" be another three or four months....

dear all, I finally got also my camera. I did order it beginning of April to a local dealer in Saintes (France 17). Expert in Leica this person is bright, nice and very reliable. Nicolas Muro and his father, grand father and even above have been Leica expert and resellers since Leica exists. They have got a wonderful collection of the Camera from the first Leica ever design since the new M. A pleasure to dealing with this store and a very nice human experience. Now, It's up to me to produce nice pictures after the ones I made with my M9. Be patient, it worths waiting. Regards Pierre