Focus Numerique Interviews Dr. Kaufmann

Must be interview week! Hot on the heels of The Whispered Interviews Stefan Daniel we have another. Focus Numerique offers an exclusive interview with Dr. Andreas Kaufmann (translated into English via Google).

Some bullet points from the interview worth noting:

  • The waiting list for the Leica M type 240 is currently one year. The delivery time will be shorter at year's end.
  • The new plant in Wetzlar will be completed by the end of the year.
  • The next three years will see a lot of "very interesting products in the pipeline."
  • New products will be announced this fall and next spring.
  • Dr. Kaufmann hinted that new Monochrom devices "would make sense."
  • Also, "we are working on many different solutions for the full format."
  • Leica will not release a DSLR camera for R lenses (they have said this multiple times now).
  • The Leica Mini M campaign was a mistake: "Do not play with the M!"

Digital Focus: Tonight, you will present the award Oskar Barnack. Can you tell us the story of this award and why it is named Oskar Barnack?

This is the 33 th edition of the award Oskar Barnack. 4 years now, we have two winners: one for a young photographer under 25 years and the main prize. This year the main prize is awarded to a young photographer Evgenia Arbugaeva for a series called Tiksi. We chose the name Oskar Barnak because he was the man who had the idea of ​​using 35mm film for film photography. He created the first prototype of Leica camera in 1914 and the first picture, we still have in our archives was made with a Kodak film for the cinema, but in reverse. This man is responsible for the use of the 24x36 format photography. The idea was simple: small negative, large picture.

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.

Digital Focus: Do you think that something is missing in the Leica M?

With technology, there's never anything perfect. I think for now this is a perfect device. But we can always think of things you like to do. We have a huge service research and development work to develop the functions of the device. For example even here, the digital cameras are just idiots. In fact, when you take a picture, the camera does not know what we're photographing. The unit should include more. This could solve the problem of archiving. Today for amateurs and professionals, archiving is extremely time consuming. I think the devices can become smarter about this. Another example, it could be interesting and useful to develop video functions, we reflect on the subject.

Digital Focus: For a year and a half, you have launched many products: Monochorm M, M, S, X series, etc.. Will you be able to maintain this pace of new product launches?

He will not break in the launch of new products. For the next three years, we have a lot of very interesting products in the pipeline. We have something in the fall and next spring. For example, in our opinion, it would make sense to develop monochrom devices. This is the best way to shoot in black and white and more and more photographers use black and white.

Digital Focus: Is what we can expect to see in the future a new series of Leica camera: the moment are the X, M and S? My father owns a Leica R and he wondered if one day he will be equipped with a digital R.

Your father can use the Leica M with the ring for R. objectives No longer will never reflex. Since 2004, we have extensively studied the possibility of a digital R, but a technological point of view. The design objectives R is very complicated. On some targets, we lost money and this was one of the points because of which Leica has encountered problems in the past. Today we have technology without a mirror that can do everything a DSLR can do.

Digital Focus: When you started talking about the X Vario, you mentioned Mr. Mini Many people have been frustrated...

It was a mistake. It was not my idea. Leica people have learned one thing with this story: Do not play with the M! This device is an extension of the X series When we look at the goal, it is the most compact that we have created zoom. Create a zoom is compromise: we opted for an f / 3.5 - f6, 3 (which is standard) with remarkable quality and a small footprint. We could incorporate a more objective light, but the device was too big. In the end the X Vario is an excellent device.

Digital Focus: I guess you've heard about the Sony RX1. What do you think and can hope for a compact X-series one day with a sensor 24 x 36 mm Leica?

I should say no comment. But I'll enlighten you on a few points. To begin with, for consumer devices, format APS-C sensor is good. Make larger forces us to go on the 24 x 36 mm. APS-C sensors there are many on the market. In 24 x 36 mm there is much less and therefore we need to develop ourselves. For M we have developed with our sensor CMOSIS in Grenoble, France. Go to full format would probably kill the X dimension, the essence of X. But I can tell you we are working on many different solutions for the full format.

The RX1 is a good device. The problem in this industry is that the Japanese driving prices down (except for the RX1). They do not control the distribution and after 3 months on the market, a unit is already reduced after 9 months one sees a new model. We think it is very difficult to make money with this principle. We believe that only Fuji makes money because they had the good idea to copy us. Fuji's CEO said in an interview to a reporter Reporter: We are devices that resembles Leica because our customers love it!

We believe that Sony has really made a technological leap with the RX1 in a price segment that is interesting for the industry. Unfortunately, consumers are accustomed to cheap equipment and make a cheap device must use good materials market, reduce production costs, etc.. In the end, most devices are built in Vietnam and the Philippines and the final quality is not excellent.

Digital Focus: Last question. What is the Leica camera you prefer?

I usually use 2 or 3 devices. I often Monochrom with me while waiting for a Mr. I love the X Vario and I often also a small X on me that I can put in my pocket. It depends. Often when I want to travel light, I just take the X2.