Home L-Mount Alliance Taking a closer look at the L-Mount line-up: The comprehensive Macfilos lens...

Taking a closer look at the L-Mount line-up: The comprehensive Macfilos lens database

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Photokina 2018 was the second (and hopefully not last) Photokina I attended. Despite general industry headwinds, there was much to be excited about: Nikon and Canon debuted their full-frame mirrorless systems at packed booths, it was the first opportunity to see the long-awaited Ricoh GR III, Zeiss made the surprise ZX1 announcement (which has to date remained vaporware) and, perhaps most excitingly, given its lack of precedence, Leica, Sigma and Panasonic unveiled the L-mount alliance

At their booth, Panasonic also showed off early concepts for what would become the S1 and S1R – a few months later, at CES 2019 in Las Vegas, I got the chance to go hands-on with close to production-ready models; the mockups in Cologne were strictly hands-off! Sigma shared some insight into their lens roadmap – they’d be adapting many existing E-mount lenses to the L-mount system. 

An APS-C camera, Leica’s TL2, with the smallest full-frame L-Mount lens in the catalogue. It’s Sigma’s brilliant little 45mm f/2.8 and it is just as at home on this camera as it is on an Panasonic S1R or Leica SL2. The beauty of the L-Mount Alliance is the ever-widening range of cameras and lenses within the one system

At their minimalist, but still rather large stand (Germany is Leica territory after all), it was mostly business as usual for the folks from Wetzlar.

In retrospect, I regret not making the pilgrimage, but at the time it felt like too much of a schlep. Some space was devoted to the partnership with Huawei for the P series of high-end smartphones, and there were some graphics that spoke to L-mount (which was, after all, based around Leica technology). 

Primarily, though, it was a chance to go hands-on with their entire range. Part of my motivation in going to Photokina was that I was in-market for a new camera (really, when isn’t one?) and it was a chance to see everything in one place.

From Leica’s range, given it would be my first Leica, I was drawn to the TL2, which was to be my gateway drug. While I ultimately couldn’t overcome the camera’s limitations, the lenses were amazing.

L-Mount promise

Between then and now I bought and sold many different cameras including the CL, original SL and the Nikon Z6. I bring up the Nikon, which is an excellent camera because it underscored how remarkable the first edition of the SL was.

Industrial design aside, the Z6 and the SL are very in many ways very similar: both have 24MP sensors, feature similar continuous shooting rates, are weather-sealed, etc. Where differences exist, they are mostly edge cases: the Z6 features sensor-based stabilization, the SL does not, but the SL has a higher-res EVF (4.4m vs 3.7m dots).

What’s notable is that three years separate the two cameras, with the Leica being the older of the two. Possibly, due to the Leica brand being synonymous with the manual focus rangefinders of the M series, it isn’t often associated with cutting edge technology. The SL (and T/TL/TL2, despite their flaws) prove otherwise.

Panasonic’s Lumix S1 with the Leica-certified 50mm f/1.4

Technology is part of the promise of the L-mount, as is the choice of both lenses and bodies, spanning Full Frame and APS-C sensors – the latter hasn’t seen much action in terms of new bodies, but Sigma just released a trio of crop sensor lenses, the f/1/4 56mm of which is rather tempting. 

The range of bodies isn’t huge, but it is diverse:

  • Leica: the quirky, touchscreen oriented T*, TL* and TL2 (APS-C)
  • Leica: the more conventional, rather delightful CL (APS-C)
  • Panasonic: the general-purpose S1, high-resolution S1R and video focused S1H. Large, true, but soon to be joined by the lightweight S5
  • Sigma: the tiny, modular, video-oriented fp
  • Leica: the masterful SL* and SL2

*discontinued

The lens range, on the other hand, is diverse, quite vast and continues to grow – variety among macro lenses and super-telephoto options remain gaps in the line-up.

To see the above frame in a separate tab:

  • On Mac and Windows, right-click on the panel above and select “Open Frame in New Tab”
  • Not possible on iOS or Android at the moment

To that end, Mike and I thought it would be a good idea to share the currently available selection as an interactive spreadsheet that we will update periodically when changes to the product lines are made. At the moment we are showing UK and US prices but intend to add euro prices soon.

Let us know if there’s data you’d like to see that isn’t here or if you spot any inconsistencies in what is there.

Editor’s Note: I am very grateful to Narain for stepping in and offering to set up this database. It’s something I’ve been meaning to do for several months but hadn’t got round to it. Once Narain offered, we were able to cooperate and improve the original Google Sheet. Also, porting over an interactive sheet is something I’ve never done before and, again, Narain’s advice and assistance were invaluable.

24 COMMENTS

  1. Hi, a great article to showcase the l-mount diversity and value range. The following companies are also supporting the l-mount. TTArtisans, 7Artisans, Venus Optics Laowa, Meiko, Kipon Iberit, Meyer-Optic Gorlitz. Their specific lenses can be found on B&H. I love the 7Artisans 75/1.25.

    • Oh dear, looks like we have our work cut out. I have wondered if these third-party manufacturers have proper permission and a licence.

      • Hi Mike, they have been selling for quite some time. If there were licence issues, I think they would have been trampled by the Leica, Panasonic, Sigma legal teams! Anyway, some of the glass is amazing and the prices are compelling. It was extremely nice to be able to set up my 7Artisans 75/1.25 to be dead on focus on my M9.

    • Thanks for that Brian! Will evaluate adding them. US availability, thanks to B&H is solid but UK looks more fragmented, but will consolidate info as much as possible.
      Bought a 50mm f/1.1 M lens from 7Artisans directly in the UK a few months back and had a mixed experience. They were friendly and responsive, but their inventory systems don’t seem to be great as I’d also bought the 75mm f/1.25 which was in stock on their website, but was in fact out of stock. To their credit they refunded immediately and handled it the right way.

      • I also have the 7Artisans 75mm f1.25 — very enjoyable — although M mount and used with their adapter.

        I have their L mount 55mm ASP-C lens too. I also bought the TTArtisans L mount fisheye (which came with the offer of a free point and shoot film camera!). Good build quality even if the mount itself is a little snug.

        Thanks for the work done on the spreadsheet 🙂

        • My Leica SL 35/2 was so snug when I first received it that I almost returned it. However, with time it is now comfortable to change. It is in such short supply that even a year later that I am glad I kept it.

  2. Thank you Narain and Mike for this convenient and useful database. I had lost track of the Panasonic offerings. Although there is a degree of overlap for some focal lengths, only extremes are in short supply and that should not worry too many owners of L-mount camera bodies. The longest lenses have been adapted from elderly optics by a few very serious photographers. I have no glaring needs.

  3. Great article, thanks for putting this together. I notice you still include the original T Type 701 in the article (which I own), would be good to point out which of the new L lenses are compatible with it. I believe for the most part, compatibility is for the TL onwards, but have seen posts of the Sigma 45mm, for instance, mounted on a T type 701. I sold my CL before the launch of the recent Sigma and Panasonic lenses, and would rather not have to upgrade to a TL or buy a CL again. Thanks, and looking forward to getting clarity on this issue.

    • Thanks, Ed. I wasn’t aware of any compatibility problems with the original T but I will see what I can find out. Might not be easy, though, since I imagine even Leica won’t have the details of compatibility with Panasonic and Signa lenses.

    • Thanks Ed, and fair point. It is indeed non-obvious re the T (Typ 701), though looking at dates for firmware updates indicates that the more recent Sigma and Panasonic lenses might not work on the T (or even the TL for that matter). Looking at EXIF data on Flickr indicates that the Sigma 30mm F1.4 DC DN works on the T, but it is from 2016, whereas the Sigma 45mm F2.8 DG DN is from 2019. The last firmware update (1.9) for the T was in late 2018.

      • Narain – awesome! Thanks a bunch for confirming some of the Sigma lenses available, and looking forward to your additional reviews.

        • Good news, Ed!

          Tested the following lenses with the T (Typ 701) and happy to report that all of them work!

          – Sigma 45mm F2.8 DG DN
          – Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG HSM
          – Panasonic S 24-105mm F4 OIS

          When you mount the lens for the first time a brief dialog pops up that an update is taking place for the lens (looks like there there is firmware in the lens that is transmitted to the body) and thereafter it’s ready to use.

          AF-S works very well, AF-C not so great (has a tendency to drift).

          OIS works on the Panasonic, which is great as this for me was one of the real limitations of the T/TL/TL2.

          The two things that don’t appear to be supported are the AF/MF toggle on the lens barrel, this needs to be set on the body; it’s the same case of the aperture ring on the Sigma 45mm F 2.8, the aperture needs to be set on on the camera.

          • Your experience with the Sigmas on the T is identical to mine on the TL2; good to know for sure there is no difference between the models.

            I have read that Sigma are bringing out an L version of their USB dock that enables firmware updates for the lens. If I get to try that out I post back on whether the limited functionality you mention has been corrected.

          • Narain- thanks a lot for testing and confirming compatibility of these lenses! Much appreciated. Hopefully future updates of your table also show any other lenses that work with the T.

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