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WILL THE L MOUNT RULE? THE L MOUNT ON THE LEICA SL (Typ 601)

All above shot with a Leica SL (Typ 601) and Leica Vario-Elmar-SL 24-90mm f/2.8-4.0 ASPH zoom lens

So we have an L-Mount alliance. Now I've been using this mount for a few years on a Leica T, a Leica TL and a Leica SL (Typ 601). The above four pictures were taken with the SL and the extraordinary Leica Vario-Elmar-SL 24-90mm f/2.8-4.0 ASPH zoom lens. Certainly the best lens I've ever used. Now a mount is just a mount. I cannot say what the optimal lens mount size is for FFMC's and I suspect nobody else can either without doing some extensive long term testing. And of course it may well sound obvious but any mount is only as good as the lenses available for it.

It now seems that Panasonic were the prime movers in this L-Mount Triumvirate. LINK TO L-RUMORS POST.

'In addition, when you invest in a new photo segment, you must also present a beautiful optical range to interest the customers. We know that when you invest in a new segment, there are risks and you can not give up when the market is bad, you have to respect the customers. That's why we looked for an alliance with other companies. At the beginning of 2018, we decided to approach Leica and Sigma. Why did we choose Leica? We have a long history with this brand. Since the launch of the Lumix brand in 2001, we have been working with Leica and since 4 years we have a technical partnership. We were very involved in the development of Leica's L mount and we logically thought that if we were to enter the 24x36 segment, we had to do it with this mount, and Leica of course. For Sigma, we know that this brand offers quality products and a beautiful range of 24x36 optics. We are also convinced by the speech of Kazuto Yamaki, CEO of Sigma, and we have a common philosophy. It was then normal to offer this alliance to Sigma and we thought Sigma could help us improve our system. The two companies were quickly seduced by this alliance and by the synergy that it was possible to create. It was then normal to offer this alliance to Sigma and we thought Sigma could help us improve our system.'

The above is a Google translation from the the Original French Website. Some of the translation is a but dodgy, but the gist of why they decided to approach Leica and Sigma is pretty clear. It's also clear below that Olympus weren't interested.

'Ten years ago, we had the same reflection with Olympus on the future of SLRs. We found them large and heavy and we wanted to create something new and much more accessible with the possibility of having an interchangeable lens system. We really had the same vision on photography. Today with 24x36 boxes, we do not really have the same vision. Our directions are different now, on this format anyway.'

The upshot of all this is that there are already lenses for their FFMC. They are all made by Leica. There are 8 'FF' Lenses available or about to be released. There are also 7 APS-C lenses for the T/TL/CL system. I've used all three zooms and and two primes from the APS-C system and I own the 24-90mm zoom from the SL 'FF' system. And they are all absolutely superb. Now whether any APS-C cameras appears apart from the Leica's, who knows. But if they do they may appear in the future. Personally I'm not sure we will see any from Panasonic, since they have m4/3 and Sigma have their SD Quattros, so maybe it will end up only being Leica.

The Leica lenses are big, heavy and seriously expensive, so the L Mount is destined to be very high end. Panasonic and Sigma are hardly likely to introduce 'cheap and cheerful.' So I wouldn't expect to see any 28-75mm f/3.5-5.6 kit zooms. Panasonic have an aperture unspecified 24-105mm zoom in the works and from past experience I expect it to be a Leica badged f/2.8-4. It will have lens IS to fit with Panasonics dual IS and it won't be cheap. For Sigma I expect to see L-Mount versions of some of their fast ART primes and maybe zooms like the 24-35mm f/2. Again these won't be cheap, though maybe cheaper than the Panasonics and certainly cheaper than the Leicas.

Now all of this means that the three L-Mount companies are going for high end options aimed at professionals and serious (and well heeled !!) enthusiasts. For example I've just registered for the Panasonic PRO service. Nothing is going to happen until the new year on that, but when I know what it's all about in the UK, I'll report back. So, all of this is aimed at taking on Sony, Nikon and Canon. And it certainly seems that they are pretty much ignoring what might be described as the mid-range market. And I think that is probably right. All three companies have their cheaper options anyway, so I see little point in duplicating that. Again it's impossible to know whether Panasonic can penetrate the Canon / Nikon professional market. They will certainly have to prove themselves to working photographers, whose concerns are about reliability and the overall robustness of the system. I'm certainly thinking that we may well be talking about 5 years down the line. However if Panasonic can get a working 8K hybrid camera out for the Tokyo Olympics, then that may speed things up. Lets not forget that 8K provides for 36MP stills, via video 'grabs', which may mean that when that emerges we will all be shooting on video and sorting out the stills later.

But the Olympics are two years away, so there is a while before that happens. I will certainly be getting a Lumix S1R as early as I can and I'm eager to stick my Leica 24-90mm on the front of it. Now I'm a multi format user and very attached to m4/3, but the thought of sticking my SL zoom in front of a 47MP sensor on a FFMC with all the Panasonic 'bells and whistles' is just too mouthwatering to ignore. The said S1R does seem to be what I hoped. A 'Full Frame' G9. So will the L Mount rule? Well for me the answer is yes it will and I suspect that if Panasonic get it right, it will for lot's of other people too.

© DAVID TAYLOR-HUGHES / SOUNDIMAGEPLUS BLOG

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