No Leica

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A sad article at Reuters about how German camera maker Leica is undergoing severe financial problems and is not likely to survive. A rabid fan-base is rallying to save it.
Cult camera maker Leica fights for its life
From Robert Capa's war photos of the D-Day Normandy landings to Henri Cartier-Bresson's elegiac images of 1950s Paris life, some of the most famous photographs in existence have been shot on Leica cameras.

But the German firm whose revolutionary small, light 35mm cameras helped create the new genre of reportage in the 1930s, spawning such magazines as Life and Picture Post, is today fighting for its survival, unthinkable as it seems to devotees.

"The name can't disappear. It's an institution. The British Queen will still exist in 100 years and so will Leica," says photographer Michael Martin, who spent years photographing the world's deserts with his Leica, which he considers a "friend."

Martin is in a minority, though, as a growing number of professional photographers too young to remember photography's "golden age" switch to digital cameras -- a trend that has left Leica far behind the likes of Canon and Sony.

"You could almost say they've missed the boat completely," says Paul Withington, Western Europe camera analyst at market research firm IDC.
Missed the boat is exactly what happened. I used to have an M-4 and loved it. Compact, silent and exceptional quality both fit and finish and optically. Leica has made Digital cameras but they have generally been junk -- underfeatured and very overpriced. The article then goes on to talk about their latest product which will save the company -- a digital back that will fit on their existing film cameras. It sells for 4,600 Euros. I could buy a brand-new D2X and a couple more lenses for that much! I switched to Nikon about 30 years ago after my interests switched to close-up and scientific photography and I started needed to see exactly what was going to be on the frame when it was developed. When I moved to Digital, I stayed with Nikon and as such, was able to use all of my old lenses. The old Leicas were classics though -- minimal and superb.

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