Home Cameras/Lenses Leica There will never be a Leica M without a rangefinder: Period or...

There will never be a Leica M without a rangefinder: Period or comma?


Of all the Leica rumours of recent years, the one that has had the most traction is the scent of a mirrorless camera capable of mounting M lenses. It makes a lot of sense to many people, and that’s why the idea keeps cropping up.

Many former rangefinder aficionados find aligning the split image rather difficult as their eyes age. They maintain that replacing the rangefinder with an EVF would provide Leica with an additional attractive product to appeal to those who can’t get on with a rangefinder or for whom rangefinder use is in the past.

Leica’s retort is that the M is already capable of mounting an EVF (in the case of the M11 with the much-improved Visoflex 2) and that there would be no real demand for an M without a rangefinder. If you must have a built-in EVF, look at the SL, they say. But fans are quick to point out that it is the form factor, the size and feel of the M, that they love. They don’t want to replace it with a bulky SL, especially when most of the manual lenses they would use are the smallest and lightest full-frame optics on the market.

Hybrid viewfinder

It is common knowledge that Leica has explored the possibility of equipping a future M with a hybrid viewfinder, combining the advantages of the rangefinder with those of an EVF. No doubt they would have wanted to do better than Fuji. X-Pro and X100 users are initially seduced by the prospect of split-image focus but quickly revert to using the EVF exclusively. At least, that was my experience and I have read confirmatory reports.

Stefan Daniel acknowledges that the company has looked at developing a hybrid finder: “We examined this very intensively, but then came to the conclusion that such a solution would firstly require more space and secondly would hardly bring any practical advantages. That’s why we decided on the attachable Visoflex accessory, which can also be tilted upwards by 90 degrees for extreme perspectives.” I am sure, also, they could have ended up pleasing no one, least of all the dedicated M rangefinder fans.

So the hybrid is ruled out. But the tantalising prospect of an M body with EVF instead of the rangefinder still dangles before our eyes. Until this month, that is. Stefan Daniel appears to have quashed all rumours in an interview with a Swiss photography site, Photointern.

Stefan chooses his words very carefully and the comment would appear to knock the final nail in the coffin of an M camera with built-in EVF: “M stands for ‘Messsucher’ and as long as I have any say in Leica policy, the M will always have a rangefinder“.[footnote]Also M steht für Messsucher – und so lange ich bei Leica noch etwas zu sagen habe, wird die M einen Messucher haben[/footnote]

Dun rumourin’

Done. Finished. No more rumours. But what he is actually saying is that there will never be an M camera without a rangefinder because it could no longer be called an M. It stands to reason. M is for Messsucher (range-measuring viewfinder), so an M with an EVF and no rangefinder would be an oxymoron. Note, however, that he didn’t say that there would never be a Leica mirrorless camera with the M Mount.

Here we can kickstart the rumour mill and take a fresh look. Would there be a market for a small (about M size) mirrorless camera with an M mount rather than the L mount? It just wouldn’t be called an M.

I think there would be a ready market for such a camera. The back catalogue of M-mount lenses is huge. If ever there were a shed-load of lenses looking for a camera, then this is it. A smaller camera with EVF to match the vast range of M glass would certainly sell, probably to a surprising extent as did the original Q which was another venture into the unknown.

Just don’t mention the M

Of course, as Stefan rightly and categorically states, this would not be an M. But such a camera (not called an M) could be produced without his having to eat his words. It would simply be called something else. QM springs to mind, but for purity and continuity, Leica E (for Electronic Viewfinder) would complement M for Messsucher.

There are some reasons why such a camera would not get past Leica’s marketing people. One is the risk of cannibalisation of the venerable (and very lucrative) rangefinder. Yet this is unlikely in my view, and any slight tendency would be more than offset by the broadening of the market for M-mount glass.

Macfilos author Jörg-Peter Rau, film rangefinder in hand. Image Julius Rau

Already, adaptors allow M lenses to be used on a wide range of non-Leica mirrorless cameras, for better or worse, and the prospect of a Leica mirrorless home for M glass would have strong allure, especially if compatibility with M lenses became a major priority. For instance, there is evidence that the SL copes better with M lenses (including offering profiles) than, say, an equivalent LUMIX S1. This advantage would surely be incorporated into a small mirrorless M-Mount camera.

The rangefinder would thus not be under threat, but Leica could succeed in expanding the market for the M system as a whole.

Your views welcome

What do you think? Would you be interested in a small mirrorless Leica featuring the M mount?

Or perhaps you think it would be a retrograde step. Would you prefer a smaller camera with the L mount instead, despite the heavier weight of L lenses? This option was discussed last week in our L-squared article. Or are we just playing semantics in the hope of resurrecting a thoroughly attractive rumour? Let’s have a definitive discussion…

Read more articles on rangefinder cameras

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    • I think you mean “screen”, Kevin, and not rangefinder. I love the MD concept because it forces you to use the rangefinder.

  1. I have a Leica M (M6 TTL) despite the viewfinder! It is a lousy way of focusing a camera, and I would much prefer a green LED to light up when I’ve got the focus. However, I also don’t (always) want is a ground glass focusing screen- you can’t really prefocus an SLR, unless you ignore what’s in the viewfinder, hence the Leica M. As for a little laggy TV (aka EVF) to compose my photographs; I checked out the Q2 the other day and almost dropped it forgetting that it has an EVF. A Q2 with an optical viewfinder would be interesting…

  2. I think Leica could keep the SL, Q and M cameras as main products and introduce a companion M-AF camera to the M11 and future M12. Possibility of a range of M-AF lenses too. Panasonic/Sigma have the tech to help with that. What will still be missing is something very small and light like a CL, now remind me again, why are they getting rid of that?

    • I know, why discontinue something that you have no replacement for and that makes you lose the trust of your customers? And that puts the entire L-mount at a disadvantage against Canon, Sony and Nikon. I makes no business sense whatsoever

  3. I think most legacy M lenses will end up on Canon (EF and RF), Fujifilm, Sony, or Leice L mount bodies. A $90 metal adapter with no electrical contacts is all you need; in some cases to repurpose these lenses. Some adapters will even permit close focusing. Witness this B&H description of the 7Artisans adapter:
    “Attach Leica M-mount lenses to your Canon RF-mount mirrorless camera with this Close Focus Adapter from 7artisans. Beyond being a simple, manual adapter for attaching the rangefinder lens to the mirrorless body, this adapter also incorporates a helicoid to permit closer focusing distances than typically possible. The adapter ring will still permit working within the original focusing range of the lens and, since the adapter has no optical components, it will maintain the original qualities of the lens. It is constructed from aluminum and copper and has an anodized finish for high durability and scratch resistance.
    Rangefinder lenses traditionally have longer minimum focusing distances than lenses of the same focal length designed for SLR and mirrorless systems. This adapter ring incorporates a helicoid to improve on this focusing range by essentially becoming an adjustable extension tube in addition to a manual lens adapter ring. Focus adjustment is still possible on the attached lens and, when set to the lens’s minimum focusing distance, the helicoid of the adapter can be extended to achieve closer focusing performance.”
    These adapters don’t permit auto focusing or other “intelligent” functions, but neither do Leica M lenses. The killer product for me would be an “intelligent” Leica L to Canon RF adapter that would permit L lenses to use their auto functions on the new Canon RF cameras. Used on the R7, this would provide an upgrade from the Leica CL that would add a larger sensor, weatherproofing, adjustable screen monitor, eye focusing, and all the other features that L lenses enable on a $1500 APS-C Canon R7 body. The adapter would also work in the Canon full-frame RF bodies just as well.

    • Yes, I have a 7a M-L adapter and it works fine, saving close to a Sigma lens price. The point of L lenses is that they’re bulky or extra bulky in ff, except for Elmarit 18. If you add an intelligent adapter (if that’s possible) you’ll get a very long gun. For me L is a Lost road. I keep my CL and Elmarit and sold my Sigma lens. If I want more Fuji’s there

  4. I think people like M lenses. Most of the owners just dream with an M10. The point of making a M mount Mirrorless instead of rangefinder won’t make price go under Q2 for sure. So, most of those users will keep on taking hand of the adapter and their secondary Mirrorless camera.

  5. I have some sympathy for the view that an camera body about the size of a Leica Q2 but with an M-mount would potentially cannibalise M11 sales. To cover the development costs Leica sales/profit for the M range and the E range would need to be bigger overall than just the M range now. Moving to a Q2 sized camera body with an L-mount would offer more flexibility and a bigger customer base (auto focus as well as manual focus M lenses via adaptor). However, the big constraint here for Leica would be the lack of suitably sized lenses to match an Q2 sized body. None of the L-mount Summicron lenses are anything like the size of the Q2 lens. Leica’s experience with the Summarit f2.5 series of lens for the M-mount suggests the smaller, slower lenses were not selling enough. The Sigma contemporary lenses seem to be about the right size for a smaller body, but why would Leica produce a camera body that is unlikely to generate sales of Leica lenses. Bit of a conundrum in terms of product strategy unless you recycle the Leica CL concept. Produce a CL sized body (we already know the full frame L-mount fits) with say a 54MP full frame sensor (or just the 47MP Q2 sensor). This allows the excellent TL range of lenses to give a 24MP image size when you want to travel light, and a 54MP image when you put one of the SL Summicrons on it. It’s a bit like the Q2 idea of digital cropping from 28mm to 35mm, but achieving it using an APS-C lens.

    I can’t post an image on here to demonstrate but if you go to a site like Camerasize.com you can compare a Leica CL plus 35mm SL Summicron versus a Leica Q2 ….

    • If you read the ongoing (blame me in part!) threads on next cameras from Leica you arrive at one conclusion: it needs to be M or Q sized and have an EVF.

      Where the road forks is whether this camera would be a manual focusing body with an M-mount or an autofocus body with the L-mount. Leica presumably is doing the math to determine viability of both, cannibalization and likely price points/margin to make either work. If it’s an L-mount autofocus camera presumably L2 would jointly develop this. Hopefully the Leica version would continue the CL/SL UI.

      As you say, if it’s an L-mount camera then the range of lenses becomes an issue. The TL lenses would be just fine, but the sumo-sized L lenses would be too big, too heavy and too unbalanced on a smaller camera. That’s a long term project that hopefully the L-Alliance can tackle.

      • Two completely different worlds make the difference:
        Hundreds of M lenses sold by millions looking for a camera vs just a few obstructive L lenses discretely sold looking for another.

        • What I sometimes wonder is where is the market for all those new M-mount lenses that spew out of known and unknown companies. And, of course, Voigtlaender is still developing higher-end M-mount lenses. Presumably they can’t all be going exclusively to rangefinder users, so we are left wondering if most of them are being attached to adapters for use on every shape and size of mirrorless cameras. As George says, there are are tens of thousands of M lenses out there, all looking for a home. In contrast, the only people with L-mount lenses are owners of LMA cameras, of which there are few.

          • The question then is how many of the M lens owners already have a second body and what is it? If you are already using say an M10 and have a system camera from Nikon with an M-adaptor, would you be adding another body to that list, and if so what does it need to do beyond what you already have?

  6. I think you are right that a new Leica (M) with evf can take some of the sales from SL and M.

    But I think that for some, Rangsfinder (M) may not be good anymore due to age and vision. And that group thinks SL is too big and they do not need AF.

    It’s probably bla me in a few years.

    And then Leica risks losing those customers.

    We need to remember that other brands are getting better and better and image quality is not a deciding factor (anymore) for leica.

    A Leica (evf) will be unique. There will be no competition so I think all in all it will be a good thing for leica.

  7. This has been said before here and I have said on previous blogs. I am repeating to get the numbers up on this page, so Leica has a business case to develop “Leica E”.
    When I first saw pictures of the visoflex 2, I thought what a wonderful design. They can just replace the rangefinder part with that exact EVF. Maybe that’s why it is so blocky. Talk about component based design in software.
    I want to understand when people talk about eroding sales of a certain line of camera. I just don’t get it. People who can’t live without rangefinders, they will always buy one. They aren’t going to change overnight, are they? So how is that eroding those sales?
    Also, isn’t that how companies grow? Provide new and exciting tools for a segment of customers or disrupt the market (in this case it is a monopoly). Nobody asked for an ipod but look how Apple grew with that market- eventually “eroded” by expensive iphones that people change every year or two thereby generating more profits.

    • No one is answering the obvious questions. If you have steady growth in profitable sales with the M line, why would you disrupt it? How many people outside of M owners want a manual only focus camera? Would you price this ME above the current M11 or below? If it’s below you will likely cannibalize M sales. If above who will buy it? People new to Leica or current M owners? If you already use an L-mount camera and use an M-adaptor what do you gain from an ME and what does Leica gain? What % of current Leica sales would that represent? I simply don’t see a business case for one. If there was a real business opportunity Leica would have done this years ago.

      • “How many people outside of M owners want a manual only focus camera?”

        What about all those M adapters that people use on almost every ILC mirrorless camera? Those people, along with M owners who fancy a second body with EVF are the target audience. I don’t see such a camera cannibalising sales of the rangefinder. It could even bring in more customers in the medium term.

        • So the people who bought M adaptors like M lenses but have at least one other brand they use, presumably with autofocus lenses. What % of those would buy a Leica manual-only focus body (would it be L-mount or M-mount?) with EVF that took M lenses?

          I have no idea, but maybe you have that information and could share it. I’m sure Leica must have done that calculation many times over and talked to those owners before deciding whether to invest in the “ME” or not.

          • Of course I don’t have that inside knowledge. From talking to many Leica owners I know that there is an interest in such a camera. I don’t think L mount comes into this one. If there were to be a smaller L-mount Leica it wouldn’t be addressing the same market.

            But this is all conjecture at this stage. It’s good to have a few dreams.

      • Cheaper than M11 as we get rid of the expensive range finder mechanism. That would still keep leica’s same profit margin and also reduce the need to service any issues with rangefinders. Some people may not have experienced those but some have.
        People who might buy are those who like Leica lenses, or just small lenses because they are manual focus, who have GAS to try different brands, people who are worried about carrying body costing 7k + (like myself),
        When we say surely Leica would have done that, I doubt marketing departments in many photography companies really understand what customers might want/need/get interested in.
        Not sure what the strategy was behind Leica CL, then the alliance partner sigma launching L mount apsc lenses.. that’s all nuts.

        • Some years ago I was told that the rangefinder mechanism alone cost around €1,000, presumably including the labour of adjustment and making sure everything it working within tolerances. An EVF would clearly be much cheaper, so consumers would expect this camera to be cheaper, possibly in Q2 territory. As you say, this camera could appeal to a wide section if M-Len’s fans since it could offer advantages over all mirrorless cameras other than the SL.

  8. I am a passionate M shooter but I would love a m body camera that has at least the evf from the SL2. People forget that shooting with a rangefinder is an unique image capture experience. However, I would also like a second M camera with evf that offers the value of the alternative evf experience. This would not erode M sales as rangefinder is a unique valued experience. Instead, more cameras would sell. Fire Stephan, and I will cheerfully consult with Leica for a reasonable fee. The CL would be updated, the medium format camera system would be flushed, locked centre focus would be an option, tilting LCD would happen, and Leica would have world domination. I can dream. .

    • If you think “source of business” for this M mount camera with EVF, where is that going to come from? If it’s new to Leica sales which cameras are they moving from and why? If it’s additional sales within Leica, what is the rationale and how many Leica owners both feel that way and have the resources to add this new camera? What would the alternative Leica purchase be?

      If you see cannibalization to existing Leica products, particularly M and SL2, then this is not good business.

  9. But if you remove the rangefinder, why not just make it an L-mount camera of a similar size to the M and Q, and use the existing M-adaptor? Seems like an awful lot of development expense that cuts out a notional 50% of your business which has been developed around the L-mount and autofocus lenses. It also sends a questionable signal about Leica’s future commitment to the L-Alliance, when you currently can charge a premium for the M and the uniqueness of the rangefinder and lose nothing.

  10. It would be a rather delicate balancing act, trying to tap into the heritage of the M without calling it an M and without upsetting conservative M shooters.

    • Hi there
      I don’t think so – I think a hybrid viewfinder might cause problems in that way, but a straightforward alternative of an M camera with a rangefinder or an ‘E’ camera which had an EVF (but was otherwise identical to an M). Why should anyone be upset? I know of several people (myself included) who would love to have both – same menu system, same sensor and image quality. Perfect!

      • Fully agree on that. The fact that owners of M lenses are always looking for the perfect mirrorless camera on which to use them (perhaps wanting to reproduce the SL without the bulk), there is every reason to suppose that a Leica mirrorless would be the go-to option. As you say, it would be great to have the choice between a rangefinder and mirrorless. Two compact bodies, the same bag of lenses.

      • Hi Jonathan, perhaps not then, although I still believe a lot of people would be upset if it were called an M (or with M in the name)…

        • As I said in the article, it is clear that any such new camera wouldn’t be called an M. I will put my bet on Leica E which works in both German and English as a direct antonym of M(esssucher). How exciting! I’ve almost convinced myself that such a camera is in our future.

          • A lot of people have been asking for this for years now, so it would definitely make a lot of people happy, the only question that I would have is whether there is enough space in the body to put the highest quality EVF in there without increasing the size of the body, perhaps there is once the rangefinder has been removed?

          • That is the big question. But maybe it doesn’t need the state-of-the-art viewfinder to compete with the likes of the SL. Maybe a slightly lesser and less bulky EVF would do the trick. That said, the Q2 VF would do. Fingers crossed!

          • Yes indeed. It fits me. But I am not sure it would fit in with Leica’s plans for the rangefinder.

  11. Indeed Mike
    Great article, but language is a tricky beast, and Stefan is very well aware of what he is saying.
    Firstly I’m sure that there will always be a Leica M with a rangefinder (at least whilst Stefan is at Leica).

    “M stands for ‘Messsucher’ and as long as I have any say in Leica policy, the M will always have a rangefinder“

    But that doesn’t quite exclude the possibility that there will also be a Leica M with an EVF . . . does it? even if it isn’t quite called a Leica M (Leica E?).

    Developing a new camera is an expensive option, but creating an “M” with an internal EVF (already developed as an external EVF) would be a much lesser (and much more attractive) development.

    I would like to emphasize that I’m just guessing here

    • Thanks Jonathan, glad we see eye to eye on the possibility of Leica E (as a working title) and I appreciate that you have no inside knowledge. Perhaps it’s just wishful thinking, but it is definitely a possibility.

      Seems to me that this possible Leica E would be a much easier engineering job than making an M-sized body with L mount. Let’s hope that the designers are working on a M-mount camera without the Meßsucher, call it what they will.

      • I quite agree Mike – much easier – it’s fundamentally an engineering problem as the firmware could be the same for both cameras. It would make a pair of them (one with RF one with EVF) a great prospect, (I know I’d have one of each).

        • The discussion is getting more and more exciting. As I write in my very first answer, I think well I could become a buyer for that camera. No matter how much I think L Mount into my workflow, it does not fit. So that it can not use L Mount is ok for me. I also know a number of photographers who have some Leica M lenses lying around that they do not use. Because they think the Leica M is getting very expensive. So they do not have a Leica M. Maybe the Leica E will be for them. But a Leica E (VF) will fit. So I can use my 90 APO more mm. Exciting. I do not know if it can be my only M Mount camera ? But I can certainly see my vision not getting better with age.

  12. If they are going to make a mirrorless camera with an EVF and M-mount, it would be kinda interesting if the mount had a motorized AF helicoid. Like a Nikon Z with a Megadap adapter except the adapter is built integral with the camera. AF of an M lens may be a criticized by some but the focus helicoid gives close focus to rangefinder lenses which would be nice for several uses. Arguably if the idea was any good the Z/Megadap combo would already be successful which I’m not sure it is.

  13. Buying a Leica M11 with an attached Visoflex accessory and never using the rangefinder makes no sense for me.
    Maybe the Visoflex accessory can be built into a new camera as part of the new Panasonic / Leica L-squared cooperation – a new version of the Panasonic GX9 with a tilted upwards EVF.
    The new camera can be sold by both companies; therefore the L-Mount should be used.
    With the L-Mount you get access to all L-Mount lenses, yes you will have autofocus.
    The small M lens can be used with a helicoid L-M adapter to improve the close focus capability of the lenses.
    The camera name will be defined by the marketing departments.

  14. I still have my Sony Alpha 6 camera, and it was a great little system from when they first came out. I got the Leica M to Sony Alpha adapter, and used a number of my M lenses on it. This was before I got my M9. I disliked the format, APS-C, but hated the menus even more! But the size was wonderful. I was always disappointed with the various models of the 7, with their faux-mirror hump and again the menus. Also, the thick sensor stack was another problem.
    The 7c looks like an obvious path to follow for Leica, but Leica is tied into Panasonic so that will probably never happen.
    I still prefer the rangefinder, and at 66 my eyes are still OK to use the M. I just ordered a diopter for my eyesight, and am eagerly awaiting its arrival to see if that helps.
    I still remember my instructor at Leica Akademie, KH Welcker, making us focus with both an SLR and an M, proving that the M was much quicker to focus with.

    • Quite agree that an M is quicker to focus with . . but better than your diopter would be a contact lens for your rangefinder eye (I’ve been doing that for 20 years!)
      All the best

      • The strange thing is, Jonathan, that my view through the M rangefinder is pin sharp following my cataract surgery last year. I find this odd since I do need 1 diopter lenses for reading, but the view through the rangefinder is perfect. Similarly, with EVFs I now need no diopter adjustment. Maybe some ophthalmic expert can explain.

          • Yes, the left eye (which I have always used for viewfinders) now has perfect long-distance vision. The right eye is slight off (by design) so that the reading distance is nearer (purpose designed for the car so I can see both long distance and the dashboard [iPad in my case with the Tesla]) and that is so convenient.

            I don’t know what he did with the short distance visit on, but I can use 1- to 2.5-diopter cheapo glasses for reading. No more expensive prescriptions.

            However, thanks for that information. I find it odd, for instance, that the menus in the EVF are in perfect focus when the distance between the eye and subject is just a few mm. If I try to mimic this with, say, a phone display all the next is blurred. I’m not complaining, just grateful to have no need for glasses any more.

  15. Something like the Sony a7c would be exactly what I would like to see in an M or L mount. Of course, with Leica’s streamlined menus and user interface. Likely not to happen though, since this is Sony. I don’t think Panasonic makes anything in this form factor, which would be more likely for Leica to have a basis to work from.

    • You could be right, Bill. Not that I’m particularly interested in one digital system v another, but I overheard a conversation in Wetzlar last weekend, which implied that Leica regards Sony as one of its main competitors, except for the menu. The other party (not Leica) had said that they regarded Fujifilm as the nearest competitor. The Leica party said that was not the case because of the full frame/crop frame issue.

      Although I have eyesight issues I have always found a rangefinder to be best for manual focus, even better than an SLR with a ground glass screen. I have found that EVFs are fine for autofocus, but are not great for me with manual focus. I do have a cataract in my focussing eye (my right eye) and when I get this fixed, I will try all 3 systems again. My preference generally is manual focus for walking around photography.


      • Absolutely agree with you. I shoot street life mainly and one cannot beat a RF with zone focus not matter how digitally advanced the other camera is. I use SL2S with 24-70 for events and m9+35mm for my street life capture. I tried CL for a while for street shooting with the 18mm lens that comes with it, but it was no way close to a RF when it comes to capture some quick shots.

    • Hi Bill, after Leica discontinued the CL I bought a Ricoh GRiii and a Sony A7c. I still have the CL though as well. About the Sony A7c, for most people the EVF will be very underwhelming. I sincerely wish they had put a better EVF in the body. The body is thicker than an M but length and height are smaller. It definitely showcases what is currently possible size wise. Even more impressive are the latest generation lenses, the 35mm GM f1.4 is a lot more compact than the Summicron-SL, 250g lighter, 1/4th of the price, autofocus is on a different level altogether and it even has an aperture ring! Any edge that the Summicron-SL 35mm (which I also own) might have in image quality does IMHO in no way justify the price difference.

    • Forgot about that. J-P was trying to get a loan camera because it is made quite bear his home, over the border in France. But don’t think anything has been forthcoming.

  16. If you think about “source of business” where will the sales needed to pay for an M-mount non rangefinder camera development come from?

    Which has the greater business potential: an M-mount non rangefinder camera about the size of a Q, or a FF L-mount camera about the size of a Q with ICL and that will take an M adaptor?

    Which has the greater potential to bring new users to the brand?

    Which would create more cannibalization of the M, either in terms of volume and/or margin?

    I know where I would put my money.

  17. I quite frankly don’t see this happening. Leica does not tolerate internal competition to the rangefinder M. And even if they were to do it and even if it were successful they would probably still kill it (as they have killed the film and digital CL). The M is sacred. For the same reason there will never be an M/Q sized FF L-mount body either…

  18. I think the real question for Leica is how they develop their current product lines. L mount is the ‘do everything’ full frame mount with all the bells and whistles like high-end video. However, almost all the Leica lenses are large, as are the bodies, and it now is competing head to head with the Fuji GFX system. M mount is successful in its niche, and still offers the most compact way to carry a full frame sensor system. However, it does not offer ibis, video or focus aids, still less autofocus, which means it has a narrower appeal.

    At the same time, the runaway success of the Leica Q shows that there is a big market for something in the middle – compact but with the usual mod cons. In fact, the generally favourable reception for the M11 has shown many Leica M users are not against incorporating new technology in an appropriate way.

    Leica could offer an L mount body in a smaller size, but the existing Leica L mount lenses would not be a good fit. They could market it for use with M lenses (with an adapter), but it might always seem a workaround. And building new L lenses for it will take time.

    Alternatively, they could build an M mount body without autofocus, but with everything else a modern mirrorless camera is expected to have. It could use M lenses seamlessly, so would suit M photographers who are not looking for the rangefinder experience and who really just want a compact system with exceptional lenses. With the L mount technology, there’s no doubt Leica could do it.

    I don’t really doubt they will go one way or the other, but it will be interesting to see which it is.

    • To me it is clear that Leica (just like everybody else) want to be present in video, so as the SL2-s is the video platform for Leica I would expect there to be an SL3-S in a slightly smaller (S5-sized) body. I am not so sure about an SL3. Leica has confirmed that they are looking into a new medium format camera, if that new medium format camera ever sees the light of day it would directly compete with a high MP SL3, not sure whether that makes sense… That being said, I believe Leica will go wherever Panasonic goes, if Panasonic release a new S2R Leica will probably also get access to that sensor and use it for an SL3… About lenses, I don’t expect many new lenses, if any, the fact that we still do not have the 21mm and 24mm (announced in 2018…) says it all… L-mount lenses are clearly not a priority for Leica…

  19. About a few months ago I was saying on this board that I wanted a new model CL that was more weatherproof, had stabilization, and an articulating screen; and the next thing I know Leica had discontinued the CL rather than upgrading it. Then, Canon announced the R7 which is apparently everything I wanted in an APS-C Leica. I sold two Leica lenses to pay for the R7 which means I’m unlikely to return to Leica. All that I really need at this time is a “smart adapter” that would permit me to use my remaining L-mount lenses on the Canon R7. Sigma would be the most likely suspect to issue an L to RF adapter so that all the folk who are left with L lenses would have a light, modern APS-C camera body on which to mount it. I suspect that by the end of the summer there will be thousands of former Leica enthusiasts who will be in the same situation. Or, Canon might release such an adapter as a means of capturing more Leica owners. I’m pretty sure that a Leica M to Canon RF adapter is already available that permits autofocusing and some stabilization provided through Canon R bodies. I think Leica really blew it by leaving so many CL users in the lurch.

  20. I agree, I think now that the CL is not in the future, there is room in the line-up for a mirror-less camera that can take M lenses in either an M mount or L mount, and use M lenses with the adapter. I agree that the SL and SL2 are way too big for me.
    I suggested an interchangeable Q to Stefan a few years back. The response was that the Q could not be adapted to have a lens mount instead of the fixed lens it has. OK, if you can’t do it, you can’t do it.
    Let’s face it, the M is the main deal for Leica. I understand they don’t want to undermine the M. But call it what you will, I think there would be a huge demand for something Q sized with an interchangeable M mount. I would use it as a companion camera to my M. No rangefinder, no false mirror hump. Full frame sensor. Just a nice clean body, small enough to not take up too much room in the bag. It doesn’t have to be brass. Magnesium would work nicely. Throw IBIS in. Without the mechanical rangefinder, which is the most expensive component of the M camera, you could sell it for quite a bit less than an M, too.
    Make it the entry level camera for the M system. Leica would sell a ton of them! Bring it on! Call it the CL2 and call it a day!

    • Why not just make it a Q-sized FF ILC with an L-mount and add an optional M-adaptor which already exists?

      That way you can make use of two pools of lenses and continue to support the L-Alliance.

    • “If you can’t do it, you can’t do it”.
      Isn’t this the same company that told us they couldn’t make a digital M because there wasn’t space in the body?

    • An ICL Q is not possible as the lens and shutter mechanism are integrated as one. It would take a lot more engineering to make it feasible.

      • That is so. I was using Q as a size reference, not as a basis for easy conversion. But the M would represent a similar size blueprint and would be a more logical foundation. I assume that replacing the rangefinder mechanism with an EVF would be feasible, as Bill points out.

  21. I used a rangefinder a few times when I borrowed my father’s camera 50 years ago. Since then I have used an M a couple of times. I eventually bought a series of SLR’s and had no trouble with split prism focusing, but that has quite a different feel to a rangefinder. And that experience stretches back over 40 years.

    Not only that but an SLR with the split prism focus screen can be used with any lens of any width or length whereas the M’s can only really be used (as intended) with lenses between 35mm and 90mm. I’m sure there will be tut-tutting about this, but if you want to use wider or longer lenses you have to use the EVF mounted on top of the camera to get the most out of them.

    At that point it’s a bit like buying a car with an automatic gearbox and flappy paddles. You ooh at them on the test drive and never use them again, unless it’s a DCT transmission. Too much of a fag and too slow to respond. If you’re going to add an EVF why not have a camera with it built in?

    Where to find one? I think through all this size does matter (no tittering!) and compactness = usability and portability. If the CL is gone then I would like a new similar-sized camera with FF, but also with smaller than SL Sumo-sized lenses and autofocus please. I’m at an age where manual focus sounds appealing but the practice with aging eyesight and slowing reactions may mean I miss more shots than I want to.

    And we come back full circle in that if you want a camera that takes M lenses and is not a rangefinder but has an EVF, you can still add an M adaptor onto your CL and you have what basically you need. Until Leica makes that CL replacement with smaller lenses than the SL’s XXL sized lenses the CL may be the sweet spot. How ironic…

    • This goes back to the S5 debate – I think if they built a smaller FF camera based on the S5, with a Leica shell, and pitched into a similar price point as the former CL – in that route an L mount FF camera, with a decent Leica M Glass accepting sensor is there to fulfil a multitude of options:

      1 – it replaces the CL with an L mount FF equivalent.
      2 – it perhaps lands an FF, EVF M Glass capable camera – removing the discussion of the EVF M.
      3 – if it drops at a reasonable price point – perhaps opens up Leica’s market to more people.
      4 – It would not cannibalise M sales, or SL2 sales – but perhaps could impact on the SL2S, if I was Leica I would quietly drop my production of this camera to make space.

      Just a view, I know my magic lense doesnt see into Leica’s strategy, but it is the way I would do it to sell more camera’s. more lenses (including M ones) and draw in people who are on the borderlines of between other brands, and reaching into Leica stratosphere (this is the area the X sat in).

        • I agree with all of your points. I see no problem with keeping the SL2-S in the line, as it is a variation of the SL2. I don’t see where Leica is going with medium format. I just don’t see the need.
          I have made similar arguments to my friends in Leica management many times, with no positive response.
          Maybe we need to take a poll, and present them with that.

  22. If we can’t have a CL line then let’s have a full frame equivalent. A CL about the size of the M with full frame sensor, L mount and all the electronics from the CL. Call it whatever you like. The Leica L will do.

    Personally I don’t want a rangefinder. And the SL is too big. There is a gap, will Leica or L2 fill it?

  23. That sounds to hesitation. Because Leica was listening users about evf during the comma. And when finished forgot everything about CL, and now say just nothing about an M evf not called M, which actually is not other thing than a M mount CL.
    I agree an M camera with evf makes no sense. Though how much sense does an M not called M?

  24. Maybe one should remind Stefan Daniel that there has been a few Leica M cameras lacking a rangefinder in the past (Leica M1, MD, MDa, MD2…)

  25. That’s an interesting question. My first thought was. Why an electronic M with M Mount ? Why not with L Mount? so could the camera use both L AND M lenses? But the idea of ​​an electronic M I think is well thought out. 1. because you can make the camera smaller because it does not need as much electronics. No AF etc. Good idea I could think of buying it.


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