Sean Reid from ReidReviews.com recently sent out a survey asking what people felt needed to change or needed to stay with the Leica Digitla RangeFinder (DRF) cameras. I answered Sean's survey, but I thought I would record more publicly the core of my argument.
In terms of factual details (like specific knobs, windows) there is nothing that I think must be preserved. There is also nothing specific that want to see added. I'm open to change but I don't ask for it.
Here are the key concepts which I believe must be preserved - concepts, not specific current details - in priority order:
The Future Leica DRF uses M lenses “as intended” : it mounts the lenses physically (directly or via adapter), without any crop factor (1.0x), and introduces no significant image flaws as a result of being combined with M lenses (no undue amounts of light falloff, cyan drift, IR pollution, edge softness). The native mount of the camera is not necessarily the M mount but all meaningful/relevant functions of the camera work as normal when M lenses are mounted.
The Future Leica DRF is a camera that is operated manually by default, for all parameters. Its user interface is not built for manual control to be an option, it is built specifically for manual control. Then, in addition to that, optional automation of any parameter is acceptable if it is discreet and does not distract during manual operation.
The Future Leica DRF is a compact camera which aims to achieve a form factor that is at the minimum limit of what can house the necessary components, be handled comfortably and kept steady. The M3 size and shape need not be preserved at all cost, smaller is possible, larger is possible but not much larger.
The Future Leica DRF preserves the aesthetics of the Leica M lineage, at least in spirit but not in all details. The Future Leica DRF camera is recognizable from across a room as being an M family camera. Beyond this small details do not matter.
This is it - a camera that implements these concepts meets all of my needs.
I had a section about how to lower price at the expense of the ultimate mechanical quality. It is less important than the concepts above, but I do believe there is a point of diminishing returns and the currnet M family is beyond it. A design that is more tolerant of deviations may be needed, even if that means replacing more mechanical parts with electronic ones, and I would welcome that change.