Leica Rumors

Leica Jan 30, 2008

A website in the UK has posted the following information about a rumored update/upgrade to the Leica M8:

NO NEW M9
LEICA M8 UPGRADE
Leica to announce that there will not be an M9 as previously thought. Instead they will offer an Upgrade on all existing M8 cameras with the following modifications:

  1. New Sapphire Viewing Screen (Virtually unscratchable)
  2. Max Shutter speed to 1/4000th
  3. Quieter actuation of Shutter mechanism
  4. New Firmware
  5. 2 Year Warranty with Upgrade

This modification will be available from March 2008 and will be booked through Leica Germany’s Website at a cost to the owner of 1200 Euros.

Leica sees the M8 as being an ongoing camera that can be modified throughout its lifetime.

I have sent out feelers to my contacts at Leica as to the veracity of this rumor. Other notables have done so as well. This rumor has spawned a lot of speculation on the Rangefinderforum and Leica User Forum websites. No press release has been issued by Leica.

The implications of this rumor, if true, are staggering. Leica will be the only camera maker willing to retrofit improvements to already purchased cameras extending the usefulness and warranty. 1200 Euros is not chump change (that’s about $1800 USD – roughly the cost of a Nikon D300) but many Leica users have expressed a willingness to do so.

Is this just more Internet smoke and mirrors or does the site owner really have a scoop on his hands? With PMA starting January 31, 2008 we may not have long to wait to hear a response from Leica.

Stay tuned…

[UPDATE]
Several registered Leica M8 owners have received e-mail from Leica confirming this to be true. I have not received said e-mail, but have included a copy for your perusal:

Dear LEICA M8 customers,
The desire to own a digital camera manufactured by Leica, possessing the identical lifelong value retention associated with every Leica product, was brought to us by many of our customers. Leica Camera AG has now configured the LEICA M8 to meet this demand. With today’s newsletter, we would like to inform you exclusively and in advance of an outstanding innovation regarding your cherished LEICA M8.

Subjects
LEICA M8: An investment in the future
What does the first upgrade kit include?
How do I get the upgrade for my M8?
Firmware update 1.201 available

LEICA M8: An investment in the future

With the introduction of a perpetual upgrade program, every LEICA M8 will forever be a state-of-the-art digital camera. Today’s and tomorrow’s users will always be able to incorporate the latest refinements and developments in handling ease and technology. It is our aim to secure your investment in the LEICA M8 for the future. “While other digital cameras quickly become outdated and are replaced by newer models, our new concept extends the value retention and resistance to obsolescence embodied in the Leica ethos. Over time, we will gradually offer new product features and developments as upgrade options,” declares Steven K. Lee, CEO of Leica Camera AG. “Our customers can therefore still invest in the photographic tools they need without worrying that they will miss out on improvements and technological developments along the way.
This information will be presented during the PMA fair in Las Vegas, beginning January 31st.

What does the first upgrade kit include?

  • Scratch-proof sapphire glass cover for the LCD monitor.
  • Noise-optimized shutter with a fastest speed of 1/4000s.
  • If so desired, the camera will be picked up at your home and sent directly back to you, without any intermediary stage in the process.
  • Health-check and complete adjustment of the camera, testing all its functions.
  • Installation of the newest relevant firmware.
  • New factory warranty of two years covering the same conditions as for a new camera.

How do I get the upgrade for my M8?

  • This offer applies exclusively to all registered M8 users.
  • We will inform you shortly via e-mail when the website is updated with detailed information about the new M8 upgrade program, and will also inform you as soon as possible how to purchase the first upgrade certificates.
  • The fact that you are registered as a M8 owner will give you guaranteed access to an exclusive online area where you will be able to purchase your upgrade certificate.
  • Purchasing the upgrade certificates will be possible as of March 2008 – the actual upgrading will commence as of August 2008.
  • The upgrades will be fulfilled in the same order as the upgrade certificates were purchased. It is therefore advisable to acquire the certificate as quickly as possible.

Firmware update 1.201 available

In keeping with the overall sustainability of the concept of the rangefinder camera system, Leica Camera AG is now offering all LEICA M8 users an updated version of the camera firmware, which can be downloaded free of charge from Friday, February 1st from our website. Among other things, the new firmware version contains new, substantially improved automatic white balance algorithms for natural color rendering in nearly all light conditions. We will send you special information via e-mail which contains a direct link as soon as we post the firmware update on our website.

We would feel very honored if you would be amongst the first to participate in our new program for the lifelong value retention of your M8.

Yours Sincerely,
The Leica internet team

With this announcement, Leica has effectively set the economic model for digital cameras on its ear. This clearly follows Leica’s ideal that one does not buy a Leica, one invests in Leica.

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