Mechanische camera's

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M7 discontinued?

f you have to believe the current rumors on the internet, the Leica M7 is no longer ‘in production’. Mr. Farkas says: "Leica will no longer produce any more new M7 cameras, in black or silver.".
This may be true or not. But what does this statement say in reality? Many Leica afficionados have wondered in the past that a product officially discontinued was in the official Leitz/Leica catalogues for many years after the announcement of discontinuance. The basic facts are these:
Leica as a manufacturer of products has spare parts for the repair of that specific product. The parts that are manufactured are primarily used for the production process to manufacture a specific product, say the M7.

The usual process is as follows:
There is a certain sales of a product, say the M7. The number of M7s is set into a graph for the last ten years and a prognosis is made on the sales for the next few years. This prognosis is compared with the number of outstanding orders. The more or less intelligent numerical projection is the number of M7s allocated to be produced over a certain period of time and a new range of production numbers (if the previous one is fully booked) is allocated. The fact is that the number of cartridge loading M cameras is only a fraction of the amount of sensor-equipped M cameras. And within the film-loading M cameras (primarily meant for the East-Asian market) the most popular is the MP and a dwindling fraction is dedicated to the M7. A small production level has some problematic issues: the company can produce a batch of cameras in a short time, assuming that this volume will suffice for several years. The company can also produce the required amount of cameras continuously at a very low level/day and adjust this level depending on the current demand. It is well-known that manual assembly has its problems: a high volume is nice because every worker has the routine and expertise to to the job.
A low, but continuous volume implies that the assembly workers have to get into the flow of assembling the product. And a batch volume once in a period has the problem to find the workers who know how to assemble the product. It depends on the availability of experienced workers and the amount of manufactured parts, The main point is that many parts of the M7 are made by companies outside the Leica factory and they want (obviously!) a certain amount of orders to start their own production cycle. If Leica would say: I want only 100 pieces of a specific component to be delivered at moment X, the third-party manufacturer might say: no way.
There is a complex logistic and manufacturing situation.
Assume for the sake of the argument that the level of sold and ordered M7s falls below a sensible category of production. Then the company may decide to halt production. This does not mean that new M7s are not in the pipeline: the distributor may have a handful of boxes, the dealer may have some.And Leica may have a pile of boxes. It is logical to assume that the company stops the production when sales volumes are below a certain level and the demand can be met with the stock level for the foreseeable future.
The difference between the MP, M-A and M7 are not substantial: the only difference is the addition of solenoid parts for the governing of the shutter. There are no more differences: all other body parts and spare parts are identical.
So stopping the production of the M7 does indicate that only the solenoids are no longer produced presumably because the sales volume of the M7 is too low and Leica has not ordered a new production batch.
We should look at the modern production processes with a fresh eye. My premature announcement of the discontinuance of the AT-135 and the immediate response from Leica that this lens is still available and is being produced does not imply that this lens is actually being manufactured. There may be a number of lenses on stock and the flexible manufacturing that is now standard does a new production run (however small) quite feasible. No one knows what the production managers have planned to do!
There is a clear difference between
being actually produced (on an assembly line)
being in stock and in the catalogue
being out of the catalogue but still in the supply chain
being totally unavailable