It’s now eighteen months since Panasonic launched the S1 series of full-frame mirrorless cameras with L-Mount. Since then, the L world has been growing at a fast pace. This proliferation is mainly in the lens department, however.
When the L-Mount Alliance was announced in the autumn of 2018, few could have imagined the terrific growth of the lens catalogue over the next twenty months. The primary stimulus has come from Sigma, which was able to adapt existing lenses to the new mount quickly.
Yet more new lenses
Sigma’s impressive line-up of L lenses will grow on Thursday this week when more are introduced, including an 85 mm f/1.4 Art optic. The only area where we seem to be relatively poorly served is in smaller, slower lenses. The Sigma f/2.8 45 mm is an outstanding exception, but most of Sigma’s offerings tend to be faster – not in itself a bad thing, but a wider aperture does mean more weight. None of the three new Sigmas is what you might consider a pancake.
But not so many cameras
On the camera front, though, not a lot has happened since Panasonic joined the fray in early 2019. There has been some studious re-arranging of the chess pieces in the form of the SL2 and Panasonic’s additional S1H; and, of course, we mustn’t forget the oddball Sigma fp which, I know, has a faithful following among Macfilos readers.
The fp imperfectly meets the aspiration of many – for a smaller, full-frame camera that is easier to carry around than the S1 and SL. But it undoubtedly falls short, in the eyes of many potential buyers, with its lack of an EVF and the overt emphasis on video.
What we so desperately need in the LMA world is a smaller, full-featured camera, at least as compact as the Sony a7 or Nikon Z6. These cameras, weighing 650g and 675g respectively, are more muscle-friendly than the Panasonic (1021g) and Leica (928g) offerings. While the two latter are perfectly balanced for the heavy high-performance professional primes and zooms, we have at our disposal, and lighter lenses demand a smaller camera.
An S5 by any other name…
The good news is that we might not have to wait long for a competitive smaller L-Mount body. At the time of the S1 launch, Panasonic said it would not rule out the possibility of a smaller L-Mount camera and, since then, there have been persistent rumours of such a beast. Now, it could even have a name.
Recently, a document leaked in Japan appears to name the new camera – the S5, which is no big surprise – and it is said to be a smaller version of the S1. I think we are probably getting nearer to seeing such a camera and it will indeed be a great addition to the range. I suspect many owners of the Leica SL and SL2 will be attracted by the small Penny, whatever it happens to be called, as a second body on which to use some of the new lightweight L primes.
And, who knows, given the beneath-the-skin similarities between the S1 and SL, it wouldn’t stretch the imagination far to find the Panasonic S5 transmogrified into a Leica SL5. Roll on the day.
At the moment, we have five high-resolution L-Mount cameras from Panasonic, Leica and Sigma. Also, we have just one 24MP camera in the form of the Panasonic S1.
The prospects for the L-Mount Alliance continue to grow. It’s only on the APS-C front that things have been too quiet. Leica, the sole current exponent of the genre, has said nothing for a long time and there is absolutely no hint that a new model is on the way. It’s encouraging, however, that Sigma has had the confidence to announce three APS-C primes at a time when there is nothing other than Leica’s rather expensive bodies to complement them. Perhaps Sigma knows more than we do.
At the very least, the new lenses appear to indicate that Sigma, at least, has confidence in the future of the APS-C L-Mount market. We might, for instance, see a Sigma camera. A small, relatively inexpensive crop-frame offering, whether from Sigma or elsewhere, would complement the new fast primes and would put even more impetus into the Alliance as a whole.
The prospect of a Sigma camera is, however, pure speculation because I have seen not a word to indicate that it could be a possibility. Nevertheless, it would be exciting. I’d also like to see an updated CL, ideally with IBIS to put some new life into the current range of TL lenses.
What isn’t in doubt is that the L-Mount Alliance has got off to a cracking start.