Leica's new M-E looks to be the boutique camera maker's "budget" model, an answer to the Fujifilm X-Pro and the Sony RX1 cameras. Only being a Leica, the company has cut back on an already sparse feature-set whilst keeping a ridiculous price. The M-E will cost you $5,450 for the body only when it goes on sale this month.
Let's get some perspective on that. After all, Leica built its reputation on making innovative, high-quality cameras which lasted forever. It was the first company to put 35mm film into a stills camera (sideways, too), and its early models were tiny compared to the other options.
So were they always so overpriced?
Nope. But they were never cheap. The listing in the 1988 U.S Leica catalog had the M3 (the first M-series body) at $288. Plugging that into an inflation calculator gives us $2,434 in 2012 dollars, or less than half price.
What's more, the M-E is decidedly pedestrian in specs. The maximum ISO is just 2,500, the rear panel is a pathetic 2.5-inches and sports only 230,000 dots. It'll be like looking at a free Android phone back there.
Compare this to Apple, the modern-day Leica, a company pushing the limits of technology even on its production lines. The iPhone 5's full retail price is $650, or thereabouts, and that includes a computer, a camera, and a shell as exquisitely engineered as the Leica's.
Not fair? The Leica does have that full-frame sensor, after all, and a whole lot of precision cut metal to add to the price. So let's take a look at the Retina MacBook Pro: $2,200, for arguably the best computer made today. And don't forget, that Leica price doesn't include a lens.
Then again, using a Leica is quite an experience. I used a film M6 for years and it was probably my favorite camera ever. And I must admit I was tempted by this M-E, up until I saw last decade's tech inside it.
Source: Leica Camera AG