Home L-Mount Alliance Panasonic confident in the future of the L-Mount Alliance

Panasonic confident in the future of the L-Mount Alliance

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Lenses such as this Leica DG 12mm f/1.4 (moounted on a Panasonic G9) are a prime example of the anility of squeeze high-quality optincs into a small and light package. According to Mr Yamane, some light lenses now being made for full-frame cameras involve compromises which contrast with the quality-first principles of compact MFT optics

Panasonic’s Imaging Division boss, Yosuke Yamane has expressed strong confidence in the L-Mount Alliance during an interview with Barney Britton of DPReview.com (see link below).

Mr Yamane sees a strong future for the Alliance: “With Leica and Sigma, we hope to be offering L-Mount cameras for ever. If you purchase a camera from another brand, you have to rely solely on that brand. But we are three, and because of that we can give our users the assurance that the L-Mount alliance is not going to disappear.”

Lenses such as this Leica DG 12mm f/1.4 (moounted on a Panasonic G9) are a prime example of the anility of squeeze high-quality optincs into a small and light package. According to Mr Yamane, some light lenses now being made for full-frame cameras involve compromises which contrast with the quality-first principles of compact MFT optics
Lenses such as this Leica DG 12mm f/1.4 Summilux (mounted on a Panasonic G9) are a prime example of the ability to squeeze high-quality optics into a small and light package. According to Mr Yamane, some lighter lenses now being made for full-frame cameras involve compromises which contrast starkly with the quality-first principles of the best compact MFT pro optics

Strong debut

He suggested that promoting the Alliance gives customers confidence in the long-term future. Such promotion could involve joint booths at trade shows and organising touch-and-try in-store events where products from all three manufacturers could be handled and compared.

The members of the Alliance meet periodically to continue the relationship. At the moment, he said, the partners are discussing the wider issues of how to expand the L-Mount system and cooperating on detail such as changes to the communication protocol between cameras and lenses.

The Panasonic S1 and S1R full-frame bodies have been on the market for over a year and, according to Mr Yamane, have made an impressive debut. He claims that Panasonic has already taken a ten-percent share of the over-€3,000 global camera market and that this counts as a strong performance.

He also stated that the number of members of the L-Mount Alliance may increase in the future, something which I believe would reinforce the perceived benefit of the system to consumers.

Micro Four-Thirds

Moving on to Panasonic’s other interchangeable lens system, Micro Four-Thirds, Mr Yamane felt that both systems complement one another. One advantage of MFT, he said, is the deep depth of field which is also good for video. This contrasts with the full-frame system which offers different advantages, particularly for stills photographers. The requirements of the two systems are different and Panasonic satisfies both.

A major benefit of Micro Four-Thirds over full-frame is the opportunity to make compact lenses without sacrificing optical excellent. Another benefit which is especially appreciated by cinematographers is the wider depth of field of the smaller-sensor system. Image by Mike Evans, taken with Panasonic G9 and 25mm Olympus f/1.2 at f/2.8

He touched on the size and weight benefits of Micro Four-Thirds. Since full-frame sensors are four times the size of MFT, lenses also nees to be big in order to take full advantage of the larger format.

However, he conceded that some manufacturers are making very small lenses for the full-frame system and that this could lead to sacrificing lens quality to a certain extent. This means, he said, that such smaller lenses are not utilising the benefit of the full-frame sensor but, “when it comes to Micro Four-Thirds, we can fully utilise the benefits of the sensor and we believe that, as a combination, the overall quality of MFT can be very good”.

Panasonic has previously said that it will not develop an APS-C system and, while Mr Yamane didn’t entirely rule out a move in this direction, he confirmed that there are no current plans. He believes that a Panasonic APS-C system would overlap both the Micro Four Thirds and full-frame systems.

Mr Yamane’s positive view of the L-Mount Alliance mirrors similar confidence we have heard from Leica and Sigma. While Leica may have worried about cannibalisation, particularly following the introduction of much cheaper high-quality lenses such as those from Sigma, the benefits of cooperation — particularly in the confidence it gives to buyers — is an overall advantage.

Read Barney Britton’s full interview here


17 COMMENTS

  1. Panasonic and – especially – Olympus have made some phenomenal lenses for micro-four-thirds: Panasonic’s lightweight, compact 100-300mm; Olympus’ 75mm and 12-100mm lenses are standout brilliant! ..Super-sharp, superfast – and accurate! – focusing, and lightweight, too. (While I prefer the Olympus cameras for stills, the ‘H-suffix’ MFT Panny video cameras are shooting plenty of low-budget cinema movies in mainland Europe.)

    I don’t use an L-mount camera, so I can’t comment on those Panny lenses (nor Leica’s, nor Sigma’s). (The cameras are too big and heavy for me.)

    • But there is a collection of lightweight L-Mount lenses of superb quality — the APS-C TL range. I agree with you on the quality of the “professional” glass from Panasonic and Olympus. The Panasonic guy is implying that if you want a lightweight outfit, you’ll get better image quality with a small but optically excellent MFT lens than from a compromised, light full-frame lens. He could be right, although that Sigma 45mm, while nowhere near perfect, is a very good and reliable companion which does produce good results.

      • “..But there is a collection of lightweight L-Mount lenses of superb quality — the APS-C TL range..”

        1: 11–23 f/3.5–4.5 ..a 2x zoom, equivalent to 17-35mm on full-frame, just about wide enough – at 17mm equivalent – for me.

        2: 18–56 f/3.5–5.6 ..a 3x zoom, equivalent to 28-85mm, 28mm is too narrow for me, and 85mm would be useful, except that it’s only f4.5, with equivalent ‘blur’ to an f6.75 lens on “full-frame” ..so why would I use that? ..Not enough “subject separation”.

        3: 55–135 f/3.5–4.5 ..a 2.5x zoom, equivalent to 80-200mm, with equivalent ‘blur’ at 200mm to an f6.75 lens on “full-frame”, and is there any stabilisation with that 200mm-equivalent lens? ..er, no.

        We’re talking about these barely-zooming APS lenses, and at f3.5 aperture they give the equivalent ‘blur’ or ‘bokeh’ appearance of an f5.25 “full-frame” lens. (And I wouldn’t carry a pocketful of APS fixed-focal-length ‘prime’ lenses.) And I don’t like Leica’s APS cameras, anyway!

        “..you’ll get better image quality with a small but optically excellent MFT lens..” ..like, for instance, that Olympus 75mm f1.8 that’s equivalent to a 150mm with f3.6 ‘bokeh’ on “full-frame” ..and with stabilisation on the MFT cameras! ..Take that, Leica 200mm f6.75 ‘bokeh’!

        (OK, there’s the Leica APO-Macro-Elmarit-TL 60 f/2.8, equivalent to a 90mm with an f4.2 ‘blur’. But that still doesn’t give the smooth “blurry” background of the 150mm with f3.6 ‘bokeh’ of the Olympus ‘prime’. And I’d rather use one of the Leica full-frame 90mm lenses on an M body, than a 60mm “pretend 90mm” f2.8 on an APS body. I really don’t think you can talk me into it, Michael, sorry!)

        • Not trying to talk you into anything, David. I agree that the TL zooms are all rather on the slow side, but that’s one of the reasons they can be made small and light. The 35mm Summilux isn’t slow, though, and is still relatively compact and light. Can’t have it all ways.

          The 75mm aka 150mm Olympus is a wonderful lens, I agree on that.

    • I agree with you! The M43 system is amazing and only falls short in high ISO which is generally not needed anyway with the market leading 5EV 5 axis image stabilization. I find the Oly 12-100 to be the best zoom I have used for full range right to the edges super sharpness. The Pana Leica 12/1.4 is the best 24mm equivalent I have used.
      I believe that for most usages M43 is perfect. Full frame is more ideal for ultra wide glass for large landscape prints due to increased sensor size for details. However, I think M43 is more ideal for zooms and telephotos for dramatic size reduction in lenses and there is plenty of detail. I have a hybrid system of M43 for zoom, and telephoto glass. I have l-mount for 15mm to 100mm glass- mostly m mount for compactness but have Panasonic s 50/1.4 which makes me truly appreciate M43.

  2. I think the L-mount alliance is brilliant and offers a wide range of choice. This was a smart move by Leica as their L-mount glass is still in short supply and the wide angle lenses will be a long time before general availability. Even the SL2 is on wait lists. I just ordered the Sigma fp and am excited to try that with the viewfinder with my m lenses and L- mount glass. I also love my G9 and oly and panny glass.

    • I agree. But the problem Leica faced with the SL and TL lenses was that only the fanboys were prepared to buy them because of the obvious question mark over the future. Leica could have pulled the plug on the system (and may well do on the APS-C front) and where would that have left “investors”? With the Alliance, everyone is now more confident in spending on even Leica’s glass. And the Sigma lenses are a relative bargain.

      • I agree! One can pick and choose from so much glass and cameras from a relatively new system. Sigma has such a large range of exciting specialty glass such as the 105/1.4 at a fraction of Leica price. So it allows a person to buy a couple of core use Expensive lenses and add Sigma and Panasonic lenses to build out a comprehensive system. I wish Panasonic and Sigma would make a range of high quality f/2 and/or f/2.8 primes but this is a problem across all manufacturers focussing and ultra fast aperture glass as if we can carry more than one. I only need one fast lens for 1.4 bokeh as most of the time I am shooting at f/2.8 when shooting “wide open” to ensure adequate depth of field.

  3. I bought the Sigma fp immediately it came out and have taken it around Europe since – I use it with the Sigma 45/2.8 – brilliant and light, as well as with the new Panasonic 16-35 (quite light at 500 grams) and Leica M lenses – I use it with the “large” handgrip – very necessary — and don’t find the lack of the viewfinder that inhibiting – I’m used to the TL2 without the evf. I have compared the image quality with the Leica SL and I can’t really tell the difference. I use the SL and the Panasonic S1R with the Sigma 45 as a lightweight alternative to the heavier Leica L mount lenses.

    • “..I’m used to the TL2 without the elf..” ..we’ve got the elf here in our house ..it’s great for cooking and cleaning. Gets a bit whiny about taking out the dustbins, but we do give him 5 weeks holiday a year, and as much cabbage as he can eat!

      • Sorry, David, but this point is probably lost since I saw “elf” and changed it to “evf” in Tony’s post. You beat me to the line….

        • I was confused about the elf for a bit too-what the hell is an elf. The I thought that Tony must not be Irish. I cannot get along without the elf so I have purchased the somewhat sizable viewfinder. Apparently after you have used that it is hard to go back to the tiny elf on the SL2 and Panasonic S1R. I am a methodical shooter in general so I do not mind something that it a wee bit quirky but captures images at the S1 quality. I am expecting delivery of the Sigma fp in about 10 days so cannot wait. I purchased spare half the price Watson batteries. I also ordered the large handgrip after struggling to find out if Viewfinder fits that and it does. Sigma does not provide information so I had to get store to try fitting one to confirm.
          By the way, how come Mike fixes Tony’s typos and not mine?

  4. I don’t really need gear nowadays but If I were new to photography I think I’d go for a panasonic G9 with a panaleica summilux 15mm and a 10-25 f1.7 panaleica zoom to start. I’ve had the possibility to compare image rendering and I prefer the pana imaging to the oly one. The oly professional lenses are great especially the f1.2 lenses but I guess it’s a matter of taste. The L alliance is a great idea but the whole gear looks to heavy to my eyes and a pana full frame or the SL2 will end up in a heavy camera bag.

  5. Mr. Vidler nice to read you compare iq of yl2 and SL favorably, one of th tl2 reviews I read the author let an American photographer turned painter try TL2 and then American said why do you have an M when you have TL2, so I figure this Painter Photographer also impressed with TL2. Review by that Thurston gentlemen.

  6. Dear Brian Nicol. – and thank you Mike – but after Brexit I’m relying on elves to sustain me… in fact Im thinking of retiring to Ireland (S).
    And John, indeed the TL2 has been wronged in the media – slim and rain proof it makes the most of the weather – although I’m not so sure about the present rains. I took the Fp out in a rainstorm in Saint Petersburg and it doesn’t seem to be harmed. I’m now taking the TL2 and/or the Fp as light companions through the New York nights. And William — I was not able to reach the camera store in Saint Petersburg – but the compensation was the exceptional performance of the Sigma Sp.
    Thanks for your advice though – I will try to get there next time..

    • Good to hear that you might be coming to retire in my green and pleasant land. Do let me know if the decision is made to come here and we can meet up. I’ll show you where the real leprechauns and fairies hang out in Ireland and, whatever you do, don’t disturb a fairy fort. It could bring you many years of bad luck.

      I like small cameras, but I am dabbling now with larger 5×4 film cameras on tripods in order to use some vintage lenses. They are, however, projects rather than purchases. I agree with the sentiments about smaller cameras being just as good for most users as the larger cameras which have come on the market in recent years. I have no interest in L mount cameras. For me, Leicas will always be LTM and M cameras. That Lubitel Store in St Petersburg is part of large Department/Franchise Store which helped to keep my wife patient while we searched for it. The young fellow at the desk was a pleasure to deal with and was really knowledgeable about old FSU and Russian cameras.

      William

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