I inquired at Leica about the delay with the new Leica 50mm f/2 APO-Summicron-M ASPH, which I had been eagerly awaiting for testing.
The official reply from Leica PR:
Leica Camera is dedicated to producing products that exhibit mastery in optics and mechanics, high-quality design and outstanding craftsmanship. Our engineers and designers constantly strive to meet the challenges set by those with the highest expectations and only after extensive testing and quality control exercises is a product deemed worthy to enter the marketplace.
Due to the extraordinary technical requirements of the new APO-Summicron-M 50mm/f2 ASPH. lens, the manufacturing processes are complex and sensitive. We regret to share that the first shipment of the APO-Summicron-M 50mm/f2 ASPH has been delayed due to technical reasons as we actively work to determine a stable production process for this new lens.
At the present time, we are unable to announce a new shipment date. As soon as an updated ship date is determined, we will share this information with our valued customers.
It would not be the first time that Leica has had to work out production issues for ultra high performance lens designs; some designs are superlative but also extremely demanding of tolerances and very hard to produce. My speculation is that Leica found too much variability in producing the first batch of lenses, forcing time consuming QA and redo work (“stable production process”).
There are really two paths Leica can follow here:
- Leica will keep the design identical, but work out means of reliably producing lenses that meet specification without unduly high production costs. This is a time and effort trial-and-error ramp-up.
- Leica could modify the design slightly, making it less sensitive to production tolerances, and thus possibly down-specing the performance. Given the high specs for this lens, this is a real concern, but my sense is that Leica will avoid this route.