My journal tells me that it is only two years since the remarkable L-Mount Alliance was formed by Leica, Panasonic and Sigma. So much has happened in those two years that it hardly seems possible.
Yet, apart from the launch of the SL2, most of the running so far has been made by the “junior” partners. Panasonic introduced three full-frame cameras, the S1, S1R and S1H, and is now embarking on a range of smaller models, of which the S5 is the first. Sigma, too, took up the camera challenge with the rather oddball but ingenious video-centric fp.
Sigma, however, has gone full-throttle on the lens front. Most of the early introductions, with the exception of the 45mm f/2.8 (which was designed for the fp) are adaptations of familiar lenses which had their beginnings in the DSLR world. Sigma runs a mount-swapping service, so introducing L versions was relatively easy.
Now, however, Sigma is developing lenses specifically for mirrorless cameras, including the recently introduced 85mm f/1.4 DG DN Art and the forthcoming 105mm f/2.8 Macro. These lenses are more compact and lighter than their predecessors and will take full advantage of the capabilities of modern mirrorless cameras, both in L-Mount and E-Mount guise.
All this is highly encouraging. Before the announcement of the LMA, Leica’s L-Mount system was very much in danger of being pushed into a niche. The full-frame SL system is expensive and could hardly be called mainstream.
The LMA has changed all that and, while I don’t have any substantive evidence, it must have put new life into Leica’s system. This works in both directions for Leica.
On the one hand, owners of SL and SL2 cameras now have the benefit of a vast range of lower-priced lenses, from both Sigma and Panasonic, which helps lock them into the system. They also get the chance to buy a second body, such as the Panasonic S5, to go with some of the new, lighter lenses.
On the other hand, wider market customers who have been attracted to the Panasonic S system will be encouraged to try a Leica, perhaps a used SL, to go with their lenses. It’s a win-win situation for all concerned in the LMA and not, as some feared, the thin end of the wedge for Leica.
So much has happened in the L-Mount world in the past two years that it is difficult to grasp. The announcement came as a surprise in September 2018 but developments have been coming thick and fast.
I now believe that the L system has sufficient traction to ensure a bright future. It is unique in that its lenses are not unique to just one manufacturer. It gives buyers options and the confidence to invest in the system.