The camera industry has needed a massive change for many years now, and he could do it.
When I read the press release and it said, “Leica Camera appoints Mike Giannattasio as President of its North American division, effective July 1,” I was very intrigued. Leica, I feel, has gotten back into their groove in the past few years when it comes to cameras. So when any new president takes over, I think it’s fascinating to wonder about how they could steer the industry. And Mr. Giannattasio is perhaps the one Camera Division President I’m most excited about at the moment. It’s my hope that Mr. Giannattasio will do precisely what I’ve been asking the entire camera industry to do for years. Further, I hope he’s successful in changing the minds of Japanese companies who seem to cater to what I feel is maybe 3% of photographers.
This is an essential part of the press release:
“Mike Giannattasio joins Leica with over 30 years’ experience in the luxury accessory sectors at Montblanc North America, Christian Dior Watches, Breguet, and Swatch Group. Before joining Leica, Giannattasio held the position of President of Silhouette International, a pioneer in the professional eyewear and lens industry.”
If you’re an old-school photographer, then you’re probably most excited by the optical part of all this. I’m even more excited by the watch and luxury part of all this. Like the watch, I feel like the camera needs to become a luxury and aesthetic product to survive. Most people don’t wear watches, they use their phones instead. If they wear a watch, it’s mostly because of the feel. And if they’re seriously in love with watches, then they’re willing to spend lots of money on them. That’s where the photo industry needs to go to. The professional photographers are who need cameras to do their jobs will surely keep having their tools. But the Japanese obsess over it so much to the point that someone can buy a camera and have no excellent reason to upgrade after a while. As always, the NEED is far different from the WANT.
So what would make someone WANT to upgrade? Well, I hope Mr. Giannattasio will be the one to figure that out and to make the best decisions around all that. For me, it’s aesthetics. A Leica is a tactile piece. Fujifilm, which I adore, makes excellent cameras. But the only item currently capturing my heart in the X series is the X Pro 3. The brave decisions they made with that camera make me love them and the camera so much more. The X100V is a close second and the GFX lineup is also sort of there. Sony cameras feel like computers stuffed inside a camera-shaped body. Canon is okay. Nikon is pretty cool. Panasonic is alright. Olympus has wonderful ergonomics but I really just adore the Pen F. See a trend here? I think camera companies need to start thinking more about making someone WANT to buy something instead of NEEDING something. Let’s be honest; most folks these days don’t NEED cameras. A good professional photographer can probably shoot a photo with their phone and use a ton of editing to get the image they need. And most people on social media are way too stupid to know the difference. Yes, I said it.
But the camera industry has faced this problem for a while and hasn’t adapted. Instead, they’ve hyper-focused on pretty stupid things like getting rid of onion bokeh. The innovations they’re making with AI is fantastic. And they should surely be commended and praised. But, they’re not creating products people want.
It’s my hope that Mr. Giannattasio does just that! It makes so much sense that a man who has worked in the watch world (especially the luxury sector) will work on cameras. I personally own a Montblanc watch and I adore what they’re doing with the 1855 nods to Minerva. Breguet and the rest of the Swatch group is also pretty impressive. While I don’t care as much for Hamilton, I think what’s being done at Omega is phenomenal.
So it is my personal wish that Mr. Giannattasio helps lead the charge with changing the industry.