Top Leica Expert Says Farewell: ‘Soul of Leica Products Has Been Eradicated’

One of the world’s leading independent experts on Leica has announced that he’s saying “farewell to the Leica world.” He states that because of recent decisions and developments at the company, “the soul of Leica products has been eradicated.”

Erwin Puts is a Dutch photographer who has been involved in the world of Leica for over 35 years, authoring a large number of articles and books on Leica’s history and products.

But as Leica has evolved from film to digital and from focusing on traditional cameras to becoming involved in smartphones and Internet-oriented photography, Puts has watched Leica become a very different company than the one he cheered on for over three decades.

“The most recent event is the evolution from a manufacturing company to a software-based company,” Puts writes in his announcement. “While a commercial success, this change of heart has accomplished a, perhaps not intended, impact: the soul of Leica products has been eradicated.”

Puts believes that Leica is putting its hopes in the SL full-frame mirrorless and Q full-frame compact cameras as well as focusing on its partnerships with the likes of Huawei and Panasonic.

The Leica SL (Typ 601) [on left] and the Leica Q2 [on right].

One of the casualties of the new focus may be the Leica M-mount system, which is now 65 years old after being announced back in 1954. Leica M rangefinders and lenses have played an instrumental role in Leica’s legacy and reputation, but it’s now unclear what position they’ll hold in Leica’s stable moving in the future.

“[W]hile the M-system is still being promoted as the true heir of the Leica lineage, it is now sidelined,” Puts says.

Leica M3 [on left] and Leica Leica M (Typ 240) [on right]. M3 photo by Hannes Grobe and licensed under CC BY 3.0.

Believing that the soul of Leica products is now gone, Puts has no interest in covering the company’s modern products now.

“Once upon a time, Leica followed its own path, guided by gifted and pioneering engineers and keen marketeers,” Puts concludes. “Nowadays its products are as mainstream as every other camera manufacturer.

“The company has sketched a future and follows a path that I am no longer willing to go.”