Leica's Nightmare is Sony

We've ignored the casual comparisons until now, but it seems that the German press (more than others) is really focusing on Sony's latest A7/A7R cameras as a direct competitor to Leica. We're of the mindset that yes, the specs are impressive, as are the cameras themselves. But for their own reasons and not as a direct threat to Leica M cameras. We won't get into all the reasons why we believe this as we think our audience understands why already. In any event, this is the latest and most intense comparison yet, published by Die Welt and called "Leica's Nightmare is Sony" (in German).

The usual "awesome" translation (via Google):

Leica's nightmare is Sony

Only the German brand has yet built high-performance sensors in very small cameras - and the price can be expensive. Now Sony wants to conquer this niche.

Normally you know this expectant whispers on the Internet only from Apple. Whenever the iPhone Group presents a new phone buzzes the power of information that are supposed to penetrate the public against the will of the company. The hype is enormous. Apple rival Sony has now hinbekommen similar - but not with mobile phones, but with a digital camera. It has the potential to shake up the global photographic market fundamentally.

Organized the whole thing was obviously military precision. For weeks the website "reported sonyalpharumors.com "always rumors about the appearance of a camera as it has not yet seen the market. Paintings and drawings have been published - initially unclear - from a phone as he is longed for by many photographers all over the world. The photo page diglloyd.com even broke the embargo and published in advance the most information. The excitement in the relevant internet forums because of the two variants was clearly noticeable.

When the devices are two cameras with a sensor such that it corresponds to the extent of the small format of the film era, but with a resolution that look old, almost all SLR cameras. So far, the no competitor had succeeded. A camera, but also is so small and light that it is only half as big and heavy as the SLR racing cars - but still full of modern technology is. A camera that is equally affordable for enthusiasts and professionals. A camera so that would be a nightmare for the rest of the less innovative sector. And also for the German manufacturer Leica tradition, it could be a real problem.

On Wednesday this week against eight clock it was done: Sony, the Japanese technology giant, which in recent years had often very little fortune with its products, the Sony and the Sony A7 A7R presented. "Sony A7 A7R full-frame cameras revealed. Look at you you!" It said on Twitter in English.

What there is to see there, like little sound spectacular for mobile photographers. Sony's competitors but it might shivers down your spine. "Breakthrough in image quality in a compact package," beamed the otherwise always critical Lloyd Chambers, a well known American camera and lens tester.

The technology giant Sony pushes with a unique product called a competitive market. Because it was worldwide for the photo industry ever easier. From the cheap end of the market, the increasingly sophisticated cameras make the traditional printing cameras to mobile phones. Many users do without the heavy equipment, instead take their mobile phones and accept a lower image quality

In the middle segment, the industry as many new devices each year brings to the market that the improvements are only marginal part, however, the prices often do not. Itself was made very clear in the current year just in the numbers SLRs. Sales declined in the double-digit percentage range. And even in the professional sector, the competition is enormous. Accordingly, it went bad in recent years also been some manufacturers.

Traditional names are gone. Minolta about. The company has sold its camera business to Sony. Pentax Ricoh has become one. Olympus, despite some outstanding products, in crisis, is also a serious way. Sony now owns ten percent of the shares. And Hasselblad, the top brand for professionals looking for their financial survival is that it gives a slightly different luxury design cameras of Japanese competitors and moon asking prices - almost as if mahogany spoiler and seats made ​​from crocodile leather from a Golf GTI a Ferrari making.

Leica, Germany's last photo-brand and sometimes due to the expensive prices more of a luxury product as a camera for photographers, has already lived through terrible times more frequently. The entry into the digital age was not easy. And also with the lightning quick innovation cycles in the industry, the company holds more tedious step. Its great advantage was so far that she married German precision and excellent lenses with reasonably good, but especially small cameras - the world famous M-series. With the latest of these cameras, the manufacturer had last successfully placed in a niche. With around 300 million euros in sales, the company is still only a dwarf in the industry.

Against the great as Canon and Nikon with their billion-dollar Leica has always looked tiny. A problem was not. Because the two Japanese camera manufacturers have so far been successful in other markets. Not least, large and medium sized SLR cameras are their core business. Small, so-called system cameras with a Leica comparable quality by the Japanese, but there was not - at least until now.

With Sony's entry into this market, the competitive situation will change radically. Leica now gets from one side headwind, of which it has long no one really expected. The new Sony fits in the Leica niche. It is smaller than the Leica. It is robust. And with Sony's lead in the sensor technology, the image quality will be better with even better technical equipment. Unlike the Germans, Sony also brings with it another autofocus. The camera focuses automatically so sharp. With an aging customer base that is an advantage, because these people simply can not see so well.

Leica has since only a real plus point - the famous tradition. Some buy a Leica, because they provide these to specify in the showcase. Some buy a Leica, because with them have as Henrie Cartier-Bresson made their pictures the old masters of photography. And many professionals will buy these devices because they are so inconspicuous that you just can do with photos unnoticed.

That luxury had been a high price. More than 6000 euro cost the latest Leica - no lens. The cheaper of the two Sony's costs 1500 euros, the top model of 2100 euros. Still expensive, but compared to Leica a bargain. Who is the image of being a Leica owner, waive, will consider whether he really is the German company more money.

Canon and Nikon Sony again shows that nowadays no longer have to lug around huge cameras with them to get professional-quality images. So far, Sony has not arrived well in the professional world, with its products. "Even if Sony would put more energy into the development of digital SLR cameras, lenses, so that they would gain no new customers," says the American industry expert Thom Hogan. No matter what the engineers had been developed by Sony in this area, with the duopoly Canon / Nikon in the professional field they could not compete. If Sony maintains its two new products differently than in the past with good lenses and the continuous upgrading of software, they could roll up the market for the first time. It is a rare opportunity.

Without the benefit is not for Leica. The optically very good and well priced traditional German manufacturer of lenses can be fitted with an adapter to the Sony. Demand for supplies from Solms so there is at least in this area. Especially since Sony has not made too good name in his lenses. But even without the new Sony Leica team comes to the production of expensive optics hardly keep still. Often customers have ordered were on long lenses. Therefore, the Leica team will not welcome the competition in the sector camera happily.

At Zeiss, once a major competitor to Leica, the opposite is true. Also, this German company builds excellent lenses - unlike Leica but in collaboration with Sony and with autofocus. The optics are made in part by Cosina in Japan and in part by Zeiss in Oberkochen. Unlike Leica Zeiss should be really excited about the latest developments at Sony.