m4/3 > leica?

Panasonic GH2 Olympus 50mm f2 macro 20mm f1.7

Leica M9 21mm f2.8 Biogon


Here's something I posted.

Without wishing to get into the usual Leica debates about price, value, etc. there are a few factors that contribute to how much they cost. Since this seems to be the basis for much of the criticism that is levelled at the camera and its owners. I too used to be skeptical about the whole Leica idea, and during my film days, despite being in a position to afford one, always stuck with my Nikons. There are Nikon and Canon cameras which cost the same as a Leica but they and their owners seem to attract less criticism. 

Leicas are hand made in Germany. This increases their cost significantly. Also because of the size of the company, its pretty small compared to most camera maunfacturers, they are never going to mass produce either cameras or lenses. The M9 was introduced in September 2009. Its taken until late last year for them to catch up with orders. As a consequence of this there is apparently a shortage of lenses, at least in the UK. Add to this that all cameras and lenses are individually tested before being released and the cost per unit rises again. Also with the M8 and M9 you get an unconditional warranty. For the M8 its 2 years, for the M9 its 1 year. When I had my M8 I dropped it, smashed the screen and the camera didn't work. This was entirely my fault. I returned it to Leica, they rebuilt it and returned what looked like a brand new camera to me, no quibble, no charge. So there was probably not a lot of profit on that camera. 

You are also paying for longevity. Until recently I used a Leica 135mm lens that was manufactured in 1968. It was optically and mechanically perfect, and produced very sharp images with no distortion or CA or fringing. Though there are problems occasionally with cameras and lenses, Leica will usually fix or replace with them under their warranty. They also make it possible, in certain circumstance, to transfer this warranty if you sell the camera or lens. 

Yes they are expensive and I would be very happy for them to lower the prices on their lenses and cameras. But I do realise that I'm buying a product that uses the best materials they can afford, rather than trying to keep costs down at every stage of manufacture.
Whether you think they are worth the price is a question that can only be answered individually. I think my M9 and Leica lenses are worth it, but not everyone may agree. I do however have the advantage of tax concessions as photography is my job, and I also make an income from the pictures I take with, so the real cost to me is somewhat less than others.

I would love m4/3, or indeed any camera system to come up with the same quality that I see from my M9. Try as I might to convince myself that I have found something that equals the sharpness and resolution, I always have to admit that nothing does. It would save me having so much money tied up in the system, would stop me treating the thing like its fragile beyond belief (My unconditional warranty has now run out!) and would probably be easier to use. There's no doubt that often its a PITA to use, and for that reason I do use m4/3 a good deal of the time. Its a much more user friendly system.

I enjoy using m4/3 and I enjoy the results it gives me. In many of the situations I work in, using the Leica would result in lots of missed picture opportunities, and if I could only have one camera and lens I would probably choose the GH2 and 20mm f/1.7 lens. 

Its perfectly valid to say a system is not for me. Its also perfectly valid to say I'd love that but can't afford it. I can't afford many of the Leica lenses I would love to have, and having used Voigtlander and Zeiss I do feel that many Leica optics are seriously overpriced. However I'm not sure its valid to say I can't afford it therefore it must be not worth it / no good anyway / a waste of money / only bought by idiots with too much money / just male jewellery for people to pose with etc. etc. 

Though this thread is refreshingly free of much of that, I have seen such remarks voiced frequently. We can all say what we think, and I will admit to voicing much of the same in the past. However actually using Leica gear changed my mind and I'm prepared to make a few sacrifices in order to own it. Thats my choice and one that I'm happy with.