Home Cameras/Lenses Leica Leica: The L mount, stabilisation and the rangefinderless M camera

Leica: The L mount, stabilisation and the rangefinderless M camera

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  The elegant, tiny CL is the direct digital descendant of the first Barnack Leica  —  perhaps the nearest product in feel and appearance to the earliest Leicas.   The (T)L mount, introduced on the Leica T, is sufficiently large to cope with any lens design in the future.
The elegant, tiny CL is the direct digital descendant of the first Barnack Leica — perhaps the nearest product in feel and appearance to the earliest Leicas. The (T)L mount, introduced on the Leica T, is sufficiently large to cope with any lens design in the future.

In-body stabilisation has not been ruled out by Leica, according to Stefan Shultz, global director of the professional business unit. Speaking in the question-and-answer opening session of the LHSA meeting in Wetzlar, he pointed out that, while so far in-lens stabilisation has been favoured — as in the SL zooms — it is relatively difficult to make stabilised high-quality primes. This alone makes a case for IBS, and he doesn’t rule out the possibility of future bodies featuring stabilisation. 

Competitors

Stefan Schultz is the principal architect of the new L-Mount Alliance and sees many new lenses coming from the partners over the next two years. Stefan Daniel, global product director, emphasised that all three partners in the alliance will be making both cameras and lenses and all will remain, competitors, while enjoying the benefit of a standard mount system. “We don’t share details, we don’t know what the other partners are planning.”

Mr Daniel feels enthusiastic about the future of the alliance, although he said that there were no plans to extend membership beyond the original three partners. There would be a period of consolidation, but the overall result of the L-Mount Alliance will be to benefit the consumer, offering a much wider choice and a range of price points. Stefan Shultz pointed out that Leica would continue to provide the highest possible quality. In contrast to “more affordable” lenses offered by some other manufacturers, “Leica lenses are never affordable,” he joked. 

  A mount fit for Leica’s uncompromising full-frame autofocus lenses — here the lavishly proportioned Summilux-SL 50mm f/1,4 ASPH. Leica’s lenses may not be “affordable” but they are built for maximum performance
A mount fit for Leica’s uncompromising full-frame autofocus lenses — here the lavishly proportioned Summilux-SL 50mm f/1,4 ASPH. Leica’s lenses may not be “affordable” but they are built for maximum performance

New lens mount

Stefan Daniel mentioned the role of Peter Karbe, who was also present at the meeting, in developing what was then the T-Mount from its conception in 2010/11. It was designed to be sufficiently large to handle almost any lenses that could be envisaged. Peter Karbe had been very farsighted in identifying the need for a new lens mount that could fully support future generations of digital cameras. There was no secret that Leica had initially considered using the M mount in its digital mirrorless cameras, but that would have been too restrictive. The L mount is a far more capable vehicle for future development.

Will we ever see a Leica M with an EVF in place of the rangefinder, asked one member of the audience. Jesko von Oeynhausen, product manager responsible for the M range, was quite clear in stating that the M would always remain a rangefinder. Leica had looked at the possibility of a hybrid finder but had decided that it would not be possible to incorporate such a device into the M without altering the classic dimensions. There would remain the option of an external EVF, but the central ethos of the rangefinder would continue. Stefan Daniel pointed out that there had been some interest among consumers for an M camera with an EVF in place of the rangefinder. Such a “second M” had not been ruled out.

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11 COMMENTS

  1. You make it very tempting to go back to square one, Mike: sell everything and go for the CL. But there’s still no articulating screen: did no-one raise that in Wetzlar?
    John Nicholson.

  2. Regarding Stefan Daniel’s comment, " … no plans to extend membership beyond the original three partners" … I wonder if Leica would ‘turn down’ other lens makers’ requests to join the LMA? Perhaps it’s a ‘closed shop’? … But I can’t envisage the likes of Samyang and Tamron not wishing to participate when LMA really ‘gets into gear’ once Panasonic FF cameras are flying off dealers’ shelves.

    • I don’t get the impression it will always be a closed shop. I think they want to get the show on the road with partners they can trust and then see how it goes. There are rumours, as you will have seen, that Olympus was invited to the party but turned it down. Eventually, I suppose, it makes sense to have more L-mount lenses in order to broaden the appeal of the system. After all, Zeiss and Voigtländer (and others) have been making M-mount lenses for ages, although I understand they were only able to do so after the expiry of the patent. But it does make sense to broaden the alliance in due course.

  3. Many of us have been pressing from day one of the production CL for Leica to introduce firmware to stop or curb the wandering AF sensor but although the company recently did a CL firmware update they still ignored the one problem so many of us have complained about. Personally I would sooner this was sorted than worry about such as a complete CL re design so as to incorporate a articulating screen.

    • Don, I could not agree with you more on the focus point issue. I’ve been on to Leica about this ever since the CL was announced. As you know, the reacted by issuing firmware which allows the entire camera to be locked down. Whether this is as a result of the misunderstanding of the nature of the problem or in response to some other perceived problem, I do not know. But I have renewed my efforts to get this sorted in the next firmware update and I am quietly confident that something will happen.

      During my recent visit to Wetzlar I tried the lockdown and, provided there is no need to change aperture or ISO it does effectively lock the focus point. But on one occasion I had taken a photo of someone with a Leica manager and he wanted to see the result — so I turned off the lock in order to access Play. Subsequently, someone else asked if I would grab a shot of him with Peter Karbe, which I did. Later, to my horror, I found the camera had focused on the wall behind them — I had forgotten to check the central focus point and then lock down the camera. Incidentally, Jono Slack cannot understand the need for a central focus lockdown. He says most people these days move the focus point around and are happy with that. I don’t agree and I don’t suppose you do.

      As for John’s point about the articulating screen, I did mention this to some of the visitors and nobody seems in any way concerned about this. So I suppose there’s no chance of that being implemented. While it doesn’t particularly worry me, it is something that is occasionally useful, especially for older people who can’t fall to their knees in an instant for that low shot.

      Mike

  4. Hello Mike… I’m confused. At one point there is a mention of M would always remain a rangefinder. Then at the end of the article, Stefan has mentioned that such a “second M” had not been ruled out. I guess Leica has been tasting waters by introducing CL first and then possibly this second M in the future.

    • Hi Mahesh, it’s possible I didn’t express this well. I think the message is that we will always have a rangefinder M but Stefan did ask if anyone would be interested in an alternative (an additional) digital camera with EVF — presumably with the M mount although this wasn’t specified. As you know, there is a lot of interest in using M lenses (with adaptors) on Leica mirrorless cameras and cameras from other manufacturers such as Fuli and Sony. So there is a reasonable assumption that a digital camera specially tuned to M lenses might be successful. On the other hand, how much better would this be than using an adapter on the CL or SL. I don’t know, but it does show that Leica is exploring all possibilities.

      • Hello Mike…I’m waiting eagerly for an M with an evf. That would allow me to use the fantastic lenses without any issues in a smaller package. The SL is too big for me and the range finder gets tricky with the eyesight. I also hope that when they have the M with an evf, there is a small grip similar to the Fujifilm XT series making it more ergonomic.

        • I think we are more likely to see a smaller SL or, even, a slightly larger CL. If you think about it, a full-frame CL would tick a lot of boxes. It’s a beautiful — indeed, inspired — design which harks back to the earliest days.

  5. There had been some interest among consumers for an M camera with an EVF.
    Leica masters the art of understatement. Classic!
    Just make the thing already Leica. I’m getting older! Not possible to fit it into an M body?
    Yeah, they said a similar thing about making a digital M too, but they made one anyway.

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