Home Cameras/Lenses Leica Leica C-M or What?: Is a mini SL around the corner?

Leica C-M or What?: Is a mini SL around the corner?

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The article about a possible mini-SL full-frame announcement on Leica Rumors this week is surprising. While I have confidence that at some time in the future Leica must produce a camera to compete in size and technical detail with the Sony A7III, I didn’t see it coming at this time.

From my perspective, it is strange to have something like this coming out of the blue and I find it hard to believe that it has been kept so quiet up to less than a month from launch. It is quite likely, therefore, that this particular rumour is false. What I did think, however, was that the June announcement might cover an M10-based M-D or an M-P. Both seem more likely at this time.

 Does Leica at last have the Sony A7 in its sights? If do, it had better be a good shot
Does Leica at last have the Sony A7 in its sights? If do, it had better be a good shot

According to Leica Rumors, the new mini SL will incorporate an advanced full-frame sensor with higher dynamic range. If true, this could mean that the camera could outperform the SL. In some ways, a smaller full-frame camera does make a lot of sense because many photographers do find the SL heavy and bulky, even with an SL lens attached. Sony, with the A7 range, is leading the charge to more compact but high-performance full-frame cameras.

If Leica did have a smaller full-frame mirrorless camera the SL would be in the same position in relation to the device as is the Sony A9 to the A7. It does make some sense. 

The lens problem is more difficult. The massive construction of the SL matches well the equally robust lens range. But the existing lenses would be unwieldy on a smaller body. There is talk about a new full-frame lens, but a whole range could be necessary.

On the other hand, a C-M (which is what Leica Rumors suggest it could be called) would be a fit for M lenses, especially if Leica were to incorporate five-axis stabilisation in the body. In such a case, it might be a better home for M glass than either the SL or the Sony A7 series.

Over the past few months, I have been calling for a maxi CL, with a slightly larger, grippier body and, again, in-body stabilisation. I would have thought that would have been more likely than a smaller SL at this stage, particularly since Leica’s UK managing director, Jason Heward, told me that there is no new SL on the stocks.

Whatever the detail, it seems certain there will be a new camera announcement in mid-June and it will be interesting to see Leica’s direction and roadmap for both the CL and SL.

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17 COMMENTS

  1. Instead of a smaller version of SL, why don’t they do an evf version of M10? Image stabilization, would be even better. That would be super and have been waiting for that.

  2. The announcement seems to be timed to coincide with the opening of World Cup 2018 in Russia. Dr Kaufmann did a tour of the Zenit premises in the recent past. Could the next Leica be a Leica/Zenit co-operation on a CM, similar to some Sony, Lumix and Fuji mid-sized models, launched in Russia with a special World Cup edition and some new smaller lenses?

    William

    • I forgot to mention image stabilization and a hardy black finish. Then I would sell everything and rebuild my m glass collection.

  3. I am intrigued to see what they have up their proverbial wizards sleeve. Something that is like the Q but with interchangeable lenses then that would interest me.

    But happy to wait and see what they have come up with.
    Dave

  4. Goodness..I am looking at buying a Q to compliment my M9, and to replace the bulkyDSLRs I have sold…I wonder if I should wait to see what is announced, although I intend to use a Q for Street work…food for thought…!!

  5. Would be nice if it is M mount with stabilisation.
    Possibly with an addition of a longer lens or zoom not suitable for range finders.

  6. Mike

    This is an interesting bit of speculation. To which I have a few doubts. Mostly about the desire for in body stabilization.

    Leica has stated in the past that lens based stabilization is superior, so in body would be a change. Plus they have not done in body using a smaller sensor yet. Which makes going directly to a full frame sensor a bigger technical challenge, even if they license the technology from Panasonic.

    What Leica needs is a replacement for the M240 that uses the L-mount to provide a better smaller platform for commercial video. This could be a scaled down and more ergonomic SL (an SLc if you will) or be a scaled up Panasonic GH-5.

    My preference would be the scaled down SL as this would be better for still photo work. Though one feature it must have is a sensor with a minimum of 30MP (36+ preferred), to compete with the Canon 5D IV, and have an EVF as good as the Q. This will also give Leica a good high MP platform for M-lenses going forward, as 24MP is probably the limit for rangefinder focusing. 36 MP or more will probably happen in the refresh of the SL which will probably support 8K video.

    A new lens line would still need to use the L-mount. So if the goal is for smaller or lighter full frame lenses for stills work. We will probably see a new Summicron or Summarit lens series.

    PaulB

    • Paul

      You make some valid points. I had expected a scaled-up CL, mainly because of the existing lens layout. But full frame is making headway, led by Sony, and it could make sense to go that way. I suspect if there is such a camera Leica will use it as a testbed for a new 30/36MP sensor which will eventually find its way into the SL and, possibly, the Q and the M. But the lens problem remains. If a smaller SL is to be successful they will certainly need some smaller lenses. On the other hand, the camera would attract M users even without new AF lenses.

  7. Whatever it is, I reckon it will feature an "L" mount since this was what Dr. Kaufmann was indicating in that LuLa interview with Kevin Raber a few weeks back.

    Leica doesn’t even try to compete with the big boys, they are a niche provider and we punters pay a premium to play.

    I am sure it will be interesting and trigger much chinwagging, whilst simultaneously being a great product.

    If it helps to make s/h SL’s cheaper, I would be tempted.

  8. Mike

    A scaled up CL might work provided the body is big enough and the grip is contoured better than Leica has done in the past.

    Though, since my last post I have been thinking and a very easy thing for Leica to do would be to upgrade the M240 body by removing the rangefinder, replacing it with a built in EVF, upgrade the sensor/electronics, and re-brand this as the SLm (S-E, SLc, etc). If Leica uses a 30MP sensor they could simply continue the previous naming convention M(300). M(xxx) could be used for cameras with the EVF, and M11, etc., could be used for cameras with the rangefinder.

    Finally, considering the possibility of a 36+ MP full frame camera. There is probably very little chance of this happening as long as the Leica S camera is produced without a sensor upgrade. If this is the case We might see 33-34 MP in the SL since this is the minimum for 8K video. But Leica won’t produce something the will take sales from a higher valued product.

    PaulB

  9. Leica should make a mirrorless camera with the auto focus adapter for m lenses build in. That would solve some issues.
    For the next M i want nothing but in body image stabilisation.
    At this point i also doubt that a mini SL will be announced.

    • That’s an interesting proposition — you are thinking of an M with EVF instead of the rangefinder (which would make it much cheaper to produce, perhaps up to £750 less, and with a Techart-style AF mount. It could work. It would attract M users and M-lens owners but no one else, I presume. I am not sure it would be worth it for Leica, although it would certainly put new life into older M lenses.

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