Leica’s CEO Andreas Kaufmann insists that the firm is on the up and is firmly committed to avoiding the ‘strategic mistakes’ of the past.

Kaufmann (pictured) was speaking at a meeting held at Photokina in Germany where, two days ago, Leica officially unveiled its new S-system.

He praised Leica’s workforce for their ‘high motivation’ during times of ‘crisis’.

Though he did not elaborate on past mistakes, Kaufmann said that the firm is ‘leaner, more agile, more innovative’ and on a path to success, sparked by the S-system camera announcement.

‘The fireworks have just begun,’ he told journalists, revealing that the top secret plans for the S2 camera were code-named ‘Project AFRica’. The ‘AFR’ stands for Auto-Focus-Reflex.

However, he warned that there is still a ‘long hard haul’ ahead for Leica.

Pledging ‘long term investment’ in the company’s future, he said: ‘Leica is a [personal] passion and a mission at the same time.’

But he stressed that the firm must not seek short term profit at the expense of the high standards it sets itself.

‘Leica will continue towards a digital future but we will not compromise basic brand value,’ he explained, telling invited guests that early digital technology did not satisfy the company’s requirements. ‘Mass is no substitute for class… New technologies have to be mature… We don’t have to be the first at any cost but, for sure, we have to be the best.’

Kaufmann was speaking in German – to a largely German-speaking audience – his comments then translated into English through an interpreter.

For a full report on Mr Kaufmann’s speech, plus more on the proposed Leica R10 and expected M9, see future printed issues of Amateur Photographer (AP). For exclusive stories behind the products on show at this week’s Photokina, held in Cologne, look out for the AP Informer, a free supplement due out next month.


Leica R10 announced at Photokina

Leica S-system unwrapped

Picture credit (below): Chris Cheesman

Andreas KaufmannLeica Camera AG’s CEO Andreas Kaufmann pictured with a working prototype of the S2, which is on show at Photokina in Cologne, Germany

Photokina 2008