Since the announcement of the L-Mount Alliance in the autumn of 2018, the collective selection of cameras and lenses has blossomed. Originally the sole preserve of Leica, with its TL2, CL and SL cameras and a range of complementary optics, the L-Mount has sprouted two new camera systems, the Panasonic S1/R and the Sigma fp, plus an impressive range of lenses at every price point.
Panasonic alone promises 42 L-Mount lenses by the end of 2020. Sigma already fields an exciting collection of lenses and it is growing rapidly. As a result of the combined efforts of all three companies we now have a unique brand-agnostic approach to full-frame photography.
Last year we were hugely impressed with one of the smallest and cheapest full-frame L lenses, the Sigma 45mm f/2.8 Contemporary which offers remarkably good performance in a housing that wouldn’t look out of place on a Micro Four Thirds camera, never mind an SL or S1.
Weighing only 220g, it was designed especially for the world’s smallest and lightest full-frame camera, the Sigma fp. But it is the range of Sigma Art lenses where a lot of interest is being concentrated. These lenses offer professional levels of optical excellence and build at a fraction of the price of Leica’s offerings. The attraction is clear to see.
Earlier today I paid a visit to Sigma Imaging UK in Welwyn Garden City with reader Marac Kolodzinski who lives in the area and has been testing and writing about Sigma lenses for many years. He is also a frequent and knowledgeable contributor to the Leica L-Forum. I am happy to have recruited him to share his knowledge and opinions with Macfilos readers.
We met general manager Paul Reynolds and media and marketing manager Tim Berry who very kindly showed us around the Sigma range and let us play with the new fp camera. I was impressed with the fp because this was the first time I’ve had one in my hands. It seems to be very well built and is incredibly small and light for what it offers. With the 45mm f/2.8 (which is part of the available kit), it presents a very businesslike, compact package. With these levels of miniaturisation, the fp is competing with APS-C cameras on size but offering full-frame performance.
Marac and I took a trio of lenses into the centre of nearby Hitchin and tried a few shots on my SL2 and Marac’s CL — the highly impressive 14-24mm f/2,8 DG HSM zoom, the 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM prime and the 70mm f/2.8 DG Macro. We will be covering the lenses in detail in future articles. I came away with the 35mm f/1.4 for long-term test and I will be putting it through its paces, mounted on the SL2.
As a result of today’s visit, we hope to expand our coverage of Sigma lenses (and, also, the fp camera which Marac will be looking at in more detail) since I believe they offer a very compelling alternative for any SL or SL2 owner.
Here’s a quick preview of one of the first 70mm f/2.8 DG Macro lenses from Sigma dealer, Red Dot Cameras. On the left, the 70mm shows its credentials as a portrait lens while, on the right, an example of the macro capability using an anonymous eye doner (not Ivor in this case). As Ivor says, for (only) just under £500, this lens is something of a bargain: “By Leica standards, it’s almost an impulse buy.”