Home L-Mount Alliance Sigma L-Mount lenses bring a new dimension for owners of Leica’s SL...

Sigma L-Mount lenses bring a new dimension for owners of Leica’s SL cameras

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The Sigma Art 14-24mm wide-angle constant f/2.8 zoom on the Leica SL2

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.

The Sigma Art 14-24mm wide-angle constant f/2.8 zoom on the Leica SL2
The Sigma Art 14-24mm wide-angle constant f/2.8 zoom on the Leica SL2 (Image Leica Q2)

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.

The Sigma fp is the world's smallest and lightest full-frame mirrorless camera and perfectly complements the 45mm f/2.8 Contemporary lens. All it lacks is a viewfinder, but it is so small that we'll overlook that.
The Sigma fp is the world’s smallest and lightest full-frame mirrorless camera and perfectly complements the 45mm f/2.8 Contemporary lens. All it lacks is a viewfinder, but it is so small that we’ll overlook that.

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.

Tim Perry, Sigma's media and marketing manager with general manager Paul Reynolds, centre, and photographer Mara Kolodzinski
Tim Perry, Sigma’s media and marketing manager with general manager Paul Reynolds, centre, and photographer Marac Kolodzinski

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 is currently using his Sigma lenses on the Leica CL — here the 14-24mm which equates to a useful 21-36mm on the APS-C body. Although bigger than Leica's 11-23mm TL, it doesn't look out of place on the small CL (this image taken with the Leica CL and Sigma 35mm f/1.4
Marac is currently using his Sigma lenses on the Leica CL — here the 14-24mm which equates to a useful 21-36mm on the APS-C body. Although bigger than Leica’s 11-23mm TL, it doesn’t look out of place on the small CL (this image taken with the Leica SL2 and Sigma 35mm f/1.4)

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.

Impulse buy

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.”


More features on Sigma lenses

More on the L-Mount Alliance

21 COMMENTS

  1. If only they would issue more in the Contemporary series for the L mount – that would really complement the Fp; the recent Panasonic 16-35 is nearly there, at a reasonably light 500 grams though.

    • Hi Tony,
      I agree that we need smaller glass for L mount. Hopefully, the fp and the 45mm generate enough sales to convince Sigma that there is a market. I think they would sell a lot of quality f/2 and f/2,8 lenses especially since this market segment seems to overlooked by everyone. It would help if this amazing camera got more attention from the media.

      For the time being, I think I will be okay using some big glass on the fp as I did not have a problem using the Sony A7R with big full frame lenses including the 70-200/2.8.

  2. I am patiently and super excitedly waiting for my Sigma fp system to arrive. Hopefully it will arrive by early next week. It took Sigma at least a week to ship to my dealer.

    I am expecting the Sigma fp and 45mm kit and the large grip and the larger viewfinder. Apparently using the viewfinder with m glass is amazing. Also excited to try it with my L mount Leica 35/2 and Pansasonic S pro 50/1.4 that keen to have a body to be mounted on.
    I am also keen to try out the Sigma 105/1.4 but will wait to see how the Sigma fp fits into my system. If things go super well my may decide not to buy the SL2.
    Certainly the L-mount alliance has put a lot of life into this option at warp speed.

    • I also forgot to mention that Panasonic has promised that a camera model below the S1 is coming so that is definitely going to add more affordable possibilities.
      These are exciting times for L mount. I would be a wee bit concerned about the future of more glass for the CL as the Leica L-mount glass is still coming out very slowly and they have a very hungry audience waiting.

  3. The biggest concern for me looking at the pictures of the SL ans Sigma wide zoom is the massive size of the lens. WHY I must ask do such lenses have to be so massive or often so heavy?

    This factor is a self defeating turn off for me and most especially so when I can do far better in terms of size, weight and price by instead using such as any of several far smaller, lighter and cheaply available Canon EOS EF lenses on any SL simply via my adding a fully auto focusing Novoflex SL/Can adapter.

    Although I have not used one myself I would assume Sigma’s own MC21 adapter likewise would open the same door door to the literally hundreds of more varied focal length and easily available new or secondhand Canon and or Sigma EF lenses at a fraction of the price of anything yet available for the Leica SL or its specific ‘L’ mount.

    Believe me there is nothing wrong or optically lacking either with such as Sigma’s Canon fitting ART lenses or with Canons own, which incidentally is why so many Pro’s use them, and especially any of of Canan’s L series which in my experience are genuinely superb. Don

    • This is also a worry for me, Don. I especially like the 45mm f/2.8 Contemporary lens and, as Brian says, more options from this lightweight range would be welcome.

      The experts, including Peter Karen, tell us that you can’t have optical excellent and fast zooms without accepting the size and weight penalty. The Sigma lenses are indeed just as heavy as their Leica counterparts and, I suspect, there isn’t a lot in it by way of ultimate performance. If the Art lenses had been noticeably smaller, lighter and less well built we could begin to justify the price difference. But I don’t see that.

      There’s no ready answer to this. The 35mm f/1.4 I’ve borrowed is definitely a biggie. I can’t help comparing this lens on the SL2 with the Q2 which has a much more compact, if slightly slower and wider, lens.

    • But the Novoflex SL to EOS, CAN ICES-3 (B)NMB-3(B), ‘smart’ adapter’s AF, has proved to be slow / sluggish and inoperative wth many Canon EF lenses on the SL 601 … and inoperative / incompatible with the SL2 due to ‘hunting’ … and almost useless when extenders are added. I have one but only use it with manual focus Canon tilt/shift lenses on the SL 601. Unfortunately the Sigma MC21 adapter is not compatible with the SL 601 – but it’s fine for use with the SL.

      • Correction : should read “Unfortunately the Sigma MC21 adapter is not compatible with the SL 601 – but it’s fine for use with the SL2.”

      • Sorry but mine works well with my Canon L Lenses on the Leica SL. Perhaps not as fast AF as the same lenses would be on a Canon SLR but fast enough for me.

        Novoflex themselves state the SL/Can adapter works with (over?) 30 Canon Lenses but as far as I know have not specified which 30 thus so as there must be more than 30 varieties I accept there may be some Canon EF Lenses it does not work with.

        What I can confirm is this adapter does work very well with full Auto Focusing with my 70-200 f4 L Lens which is a quite elderly Pre IS lens and even better with my current model 70-300 mm f4-f5.6 L Lens, however with my latest 24-70 f4 IS L Lens the auto focusing is hit and miss, though with this short lens as with all others it is not a problem for me as manual focusing with the SL is so easy.

  4. I have a Leica CL, which I use with a couple of Leica TL lenses and some older M-mount lenses with the M-L Leica converter. I needed a decent macro lens, and have just received the Sigma 70mm f/2.8 DG lens. It’s a bit of a monster compared to the other lenses, and the focussing methods are idiosyncratic, to put it mildly. However, once these are understood, it produces excellent macro results, and works OK as a short telephoto. The build quality is very good. I plan to buy the Sigma 45mm f/2.8 as a day-to-day “walkabout” lens, as the size and weight seem just right for the CL.

    • I handled the 70mm Macro yesterday at Sigma and Marac actually bought one for use on his CL. His initial impressions are that it is excellent, despite the size.

      The 45mm works well also on the CL and its effective 77mm focal length is interesting.

  5. I have just had an update regarding battery drain with the 14-24. There is now a firmware update for the lens on the Sigma website. The first shipment of 45mm C lenses were all ver 1.0 firmware and also had a heavy battery drain (with the CL, I do not own an SL to confirm) My 45mm C now has ver 1.1 FW and is very much improved. I suspect the 14-24 will now be very much improved also.

  6. Hey, my prayers for slower more compact lenses was just answered. Panasonic has just announced compact 24/1.8, 50/1.8 and 85/1.8 glass which is only a third of a stop faster than f/2.

    • Brian, I don’t think we’ve seen the press release on this yet. Where did you see the details? — ah just seen it, the updated lens roadmap. I don’t see any dates, though, and no indication of whether or not they are “Certified by Leica”. Probably not, I assume.

      • The dates are 2020 to 2021 as shown on the roadmap. I expect these to have much faster availability than Leica announcements. There are still waitlists on the SL 2 and the SL glass that was announced a long time ago. Luckily I was on the SL 35/2 preorder list that still has waitlists…Leica L mount would be in death throws if they had not formed the alliance with Panasonic and Sigma. The Panasonic S1R offers more features than the SL2 except for possibly better m glass compatibility due to the thinner sensor stack.

        • You are right on that. The Alliance cane just in the nick of time, I suspect.

          Having owned the S1 for a time, I definitely prefer the more simple interface of the SL2; it helps to have the new level of conformity over the new models.

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