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.
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.