The full-frame mirrorless market has suddenly become a crowded place, with newcomers Nikon, Canon and Panasonic joining the established brands, Sony and Leica. Sony still leads the pack with its mature system, now supported with a vast arsenal of native and third-party lenses. Leica has somewhat missed the boat.
The SL2 ought to have been launched last year, ahead of Nikon, Canon and Panasonic but, for some reason has been postponed until this autumn, although a date has not been announced. It is more than possible that this delay has been caused by a bottleneck at Panasonic while the S1 and S2 cameras were developed and launched.
It’s a very interesting market and I am excited by the potential of the L-Mount Alliance between Leica, Panasonic and Sigma. it gives me a focus in an otherwise bewildering world. I don’t have to consider Nikon, Canon or Sony because I can realistically stick with LMA partners for a wide potential.
The Leica SL, such a good camera in so many ways, is clearly now past its sell-by date. This is evidenced by the swingeing £1,300 ($1,500/€1.500) “trade-in” price discounts announced recently. To some extent, Leica has always existed in a parallel universe with rarefied prices and the ultra-loyal user base. Some Leica fans, I know, would never dream of even discussing the merits of rival brands and will continue to buy Leicas slavishly come what may. So they will not glance elsewhere, nor will they object to paying whatever is demanded.
Yet they would be wrong to ignore the Panasonic Lumix S1 and S1R cameras which use the same L mount as their existing SL lenses. In so many ways the S1 (not to mention the 47MP S1R) is a better camera than the SL. It ought to be; it has a similar provenance and it is some five years wiser.
The SL2, I feel sure, will mirror the S1R in most crucial aspects and it will put Leica back in the running. But anyone wanting to run with it will face one of those Leicafied price points. The question in many minds will be whether the SL2 is worth twice the price of the Lumix S1R or whether the existing SL is worth 50% more than the S1.
This week we will be having