Unlocking hidden value in Leica cameras
This morning I spent an entertaining hour at the Leica Akademie in London's Mayfair. At long last I had got round to redeeming the free one-hour introductory camera course that comes with all Leica compacts, in this case the Leica X2.
The course turned out to be a one-to-one session with Leica Mayfair's resident expert, John Dooley, seen here in his Leica M video. I came away knowing almost all there is to know about the X2, Leica's APS-C fixed-lens compact. It set me thinking about the hidden value that comes with all Leica cameras.
They are expensive, no doubt about that. When making comparisons with other camera manufacturers, however, many overlook the background support that comes from Leica. All cameras get a two-year warranty and at least one year of "Leica Passport" which covers accidental damage. Drop your A.N.Other camera as you leave the store and the damage is down to you; cast your Leica to the ground and you will get it repaired or replaced.
The more expensive M cameras are also protected with the one-year Leica Passport and, in addition, you get three hours of introduction at Leica Mayfair. One compact in the range, the D-Lux 6, actually comes with two years' accidental damage cover.
With all Leicas you also get a free copy of Adobe Lightroom, another valuable extra if you don't already have your own post-processing software.
These hidden benefits are almost always overlooked when comparing camera specifications and costs. The D-Lux 6, for instance, can be compared directly with the identical (except for cosmetic changes) Panasonic LX-7. The Leica has a recommended price of £600 compared with the Panasonic's £500. The actual difference, though, is much more. The Panasonic is quite heavily discounted (Amazon UK have it at £360) while the lowest price I can find for the Leica D-Lux 6 is £549 (at Red Dot Cameras in London). On the face of things, that is £200 more for a more stylish body and a red dot.
If price is your only consideration the Panasonic is probably a better bet. But that isn't the whole of the story. The Leica version is much more handsome, in my opinion. It has more tactile squared-up buttons, an overall cleaner design and comes with the two-years of accidental damage cover plus the one-hour training course. Take into account the inevitably better resale value and the cost of ownership can be lower or, at least, no more.
This is the same argument I make with Apple products, whether Mac, iPhone or iPad. You pay more, in some cases much more, but the cost of ownership is often lower when you take high resale values into account. And Leica service, like Apple service, is a cut ahead of the pack.
by Mike Evans, 25 March 2013