Image Source: http://us.leica-camera.com/photography/m_system/m_monochrom/
The photography website THEME (the.me) posted an interview with Leica's Product Management Director, Stefan Daniel.
(Click Here) to read the whole interview at THEME.
Among the many points discussed in the interview, I found these most informative:
- Leica continues to make film cameras (the MP and M7) at a low but constant rate.
- Mr. Daniel believes that the reasons that some photographers continue to use film are not technical in nature. Nor are they to avoid the cost of digital equipment. He states that especially with the advent of the new Leica M Monochrom, there is no longer any technical advantage to shooting film. Black and white image quality was one of the last remaining technical benefits of film; now the Monochrom has fixed that.
- When asked if Leica are planning to remake and reissue any of their classic lens designs, Mr. Daniel pretty clearly said that they are not heading in that direction. They don't want to redo what they've already done.
- There is a big Leica factory expansion going on in Wetzlar, Germany.
- In regard to why the M system still offers only manual focus lenses, Mr. Daniel indicated that lens compactness is the driving factor. He basically says (my words, not his) that anyone can achieve compact lens design with small sensors (e.g. Micro 4/3 format), but that the challenge is to pair small lenses with big sensors. Manual focus is currently the only way to achieve that at the level that Leica prefers.
Another personal opinion - Leica would lose a lot of their nostalgic buyers for M system lenses if they shifted to autofocus. I can honestly say that manual focus makes me feel much more of the photographic process. When I think of the photography that I love, my left hand forms the shape of a lens barrel and focus ring.