In a move to focus more on the professional line of products, Leica has created a new business unit. Headed by our longtime friend, Stephan Schulz, the Business Unit Professional will concentrate on the Leica S and SL System, products from medium and large format subsidiary Sinar, as well as work more closely with sister company CW Sonderoptic, that makes the Leica Cine lenses. I first met Schulz at the official launch for the S2 almost exactly eight years ago, held on the eve of Photokina 2008. Stephan has overseen the design and launch of pretty much all of Leica's professional offerings: the S2, S006, S007 and most recently the SL601. So, it seems apt that he should head up the new professional business unit.
This week, I will be sitting down with Stephan to discuss his new role at Leica, what this business unit aims to achieve and Leica's overall focus for pro-level products moving forward. As always, I look forward to our discussion. Stay tuned to Red Dot Forum for details of the interview. If there are any specific issues you'd like to see covered in the interview, please leave a comment or email me at email@example.com.
LEICA INTENSIFIES ITS FOCUS ON THE PROFESSIONAL SEGMENT WITH A NEW BUSINESS UNIT AND AN EXTENSIVE RANGE OF SERVICES
The Leica presence at Photokina 2016 in Cologne focuses primarily on professional photography and the corresponding needs of professional users. With this year’s stand concept, Leica Camera AG intensifies the emphasis on the newly implemented business unit Professional, the objective of which is to expand and bundle integrated product solutions and innovative usage scenarios for professional photography and video production.
With effect from 1 September, Stephan Schulz (55), who has been with Leica Camera AG since 2007, assumed the function of Global Director Business Unit Professional and is now responsible for the activities of this new segment. In his previous function as head of product management for Professional Camera Systems, he supervised the development and market launch of the innovative Leica S-System and the successful launch of the mirrorless Leica SL-Systems in October 2015. Stephan Schulz possesses extensive knowledge of the global camera market and many years of experience gathered in the marketing and sales divisions of international players in the electronics and imaging segment.
The Business Unit Professional bundles marketing and sales activities in the B2B sector. This applies to the Leica S medium format system, the mirrorless Leica SL-System and the entire product portfolio of the Leica Camera AG subsidiary Sinar Photography. Sinar Photography AG is the leading manufacturer of view cameras and offers complete digital solutions comprising cameras, lenses, digital backs and shutter systems to professional workflow software. In addition to this, the newly created business unit will also intensify the strategic collaboration with the Leica affiliate CW Sonderoptic, which manufactures superior quality cine lenses for film and TV production that are marketed under the Leica brand name and have already won numerous international awards.
In the words of Oliver Kaltner, CEO Leica Camera AG: ‘As an innovative provider of premium professional camera products and a future-oriented services portfolio, Leica Camera AG will be taking advantage of its newly created Business Unit Professional for further expansion in the strategically important B2B sector and the intensification of worldwide collaboration with professional photographers and users. I am very pleased that we have an experienced manager and imaging expert of the calibre of Stephan Schultz on board for the newly created business unit, a man whose dedication and commitment will be a powerful motor for the expansion of our business and our worldwide network of professional partners’.
The Leica Camera AG concept will be intensifying its already tight focus on innovative, professional product solutions by the addition of a range of new and extended services. These include the ongoing expansion of the Leica Professional Service portfolio by the addition of further exclusive services such as an even faster worldwide repair and replacement service, optimisation of the already implemented 24-hour service hotline and the successive expansion of the specialised service and repair team.
Financial services in the form of a range of attractive, made-to-measure financing and trade-in models will round off the spectrum of services offered and will make it easier for professional photographers and newcomers to the profession to take their first steps up to the high-quality and enduring value of Leica camera systems.
In addition to this, the multiple-award-winning S-Magazin will provide an international platform on which talented young photographers and established professionals can showcase their work. Every issue presents powerful photography, shows unusual facets of the art and surprisingly new perspectives. Acclaimed photographers like Bruce Gilden, Enrique Badulescu and Rankin, or Ellen von Unwerth in the latest issue, present their works made with the Leica S to an international audience of connoisseurs of what is best in the world of photography.
I really love the concept and design of the SL, but in view of what David is saying about the new lens designs being meant for higher resolution, I am wondering what the time frame for development of a new, higher resolution SL might be. Also are there any plans for improving low light sensitivity? In my testing it’s still noisy at ISOs above 12,000 compared to the Nikon D5.
I really like the design and controls of the SL better than the D5, and I love your various design innovations, but it’s hard for me to make the switch in light of the much higher system price and the worse low light performance.
By the way, thanks for the Q! I’ve been delighted by its performance! Most of my recent Facebook albums were taken with it.
Who knows where the sensor tech will be in 10-15 years. I doubt Leica does. And I wouldn’t be so brave to speculate. By designing lenses that are suited to high resolution digital sensors, now and what might be possible in the future, Leica is essentially protecting your investment in glass. And their investment in R&D and manufacturing. Make it once. Make it the best it can be. Make it that way for years to come.
With regards to low light sensitivity, I don’t personally use this as a measuring stick for most cameras. To me, the fact that the SL can turn out fantastic results at ISO 6400 or 8000 is plenty – for me. The D5 is very much a spot news and sports camera. Absolute image quality is not as important as getting the shot, no matter what condition. I’d wager that your SL shots at low and mid ISO settings look nicer than those from the D5, with more microcontrast, textural nuance, and more pleasing colors. A big part of this are the Leica lenses, no doubt. But, a huge part of the credit needs to be acknowledged, and that is Leica’s digital side. The sensor and processing play an enormous role in meshing up perfectly with the glass and delivering that signature Leica look. The D5 is not a bad camera. Far from it. But, for me, I don’t need heavily noise reduced ISO 100,000 shots. I rarely shoot anything above 6400 even in the darkest conditions. But, I do an awful lot of shooting at ISO 400 – 1600. And here, the SL wins hands down.
Indeed, the Q is fantastic. It shares almost the same exact sensor and image processing as the SL. 🙂
So the good news is that even as the SL is replaced by a SL2, the glass should still be good for many, many years to come. I must say that seems very different from how the Japanese makers do.
The biggest complaints I see about Leica are the times to repair them when sometime goes wrong. I’ve heard from multiple sources that it can take a month or even multiple months to get repairs done. Is this something the new division is going to be working on going forward?
I do feel I get significantly sharper and more attractive results from the Q than the D5, which bears out your assertion about the SL. And I particularly enjoy using manual focus on the Q, which would also work well with the zooms and M lenses. The Q has certainly caused my love for the Leica brand to deepen.
Is there some good resource on understanding how these lens charts work? I notice that Nikon and Leica use completely different measurement systems – if I recall correctly, Nikon uses 30 lines and Leica uses 40 (and, you say, 60 internally). Is there any way to compare the curves when it appears that Nikon is easier on themselves (if I understand this correctly) than Leica?
I really want to try the SL and 90-280 lens on the butterflies at Fairchild Garden (I think about 10 minutes away from your store), perhaps that could be arranged in advance?
Why does the SL require an audio adapter instead of having jacks built into the body?
Is this the same Stephan Schulz who worked at Rollei 15 years ago? If so congratulations, he treated me very well back in the day.
Stephan worked previously at Pentax and Philips Semiconductor before starting at Leica. I’ll have to ask him if he was ever at Rollei.
Great idea, I really welcome it. I’ve recently transitioned from the Canon system to the Leica SL system. While with Canon for the last 15 years, I enjoyed the privileges and support of the CPS (Canon Professional Services) in Sydney, and when I travelled around the world. This included asssitance with repairs and maintenance of gear, and even simple and quick service like cleaning the sensor of the digital Pro camera bodies. It really worked fantastic. Contrast it now with the Leica realities. A month ago, I sent my Vario-Elmarit-SL 90-280 lens for a repair to Leica Germany through Camer Clinic in Melbourne-Australia, the local service provider. The outlook isn’t good. I’ll have to wait another three (3) months for the repair to be completed, as I was told. This is completely ridiculous turn around times for not so complex fix to my lens. I hope the new Business Unit Professional will be empowered to make a change to the current largely disappointing level of support granted to users of the S and SL cameras.