Home Feature Articles Leica M with EVF: I have the next-best thing

Leica M with EVF: I have the next-best thing

The author sticks his oar into the controversial waters of M-lenses mounted on a camera equipped with an EVF

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If Leica users could make a wish, what new type of camera might they ask for? Reading through the comments section of Macfilos, I think I know the answer. I predict the top request would be an M with EVF. But, using an M-to-L adapter, and an L-Mount body, I have already made that wish come true for myself. Well, sort of.

Leica rangefinder cameras are marvellous devices. And the superb M-lenses they employ set the standard for optical performance.

But, with age, and an accompanying deterioration in visual acuity, focusing with that rangefinder can become a challenge. Hence, within the comments pages of Macfilos, we hear the steady drumbeat of an ‘activist movement’. It’s a groundswell, calling for an M-camera with built-in electronic viewfinder (EVF). Let’s call its proponents the ‘M with EVF’ advocates.

Low light shooting with a Leica Summarit 75mm, f/2.4

Such a device would immediately solve the rangefinder focusing challenge while making full use of those magnificent M-lenses.

What’s my view on a Leica M with EVF?

I am enjoying my Leica rangefinder, and rarely have difficulty focusing my superb M-lenses. But, I can sympathize with those for whom rangefinder focusing is a challenge. I know from personal experience what a pleasure it is to use the outstanding EVF of the Leica SL2. Magnifying the image at the press of a button, and/or using the focus-peaking feature, make focusing a breeze.

I have therefore been wondering how to create the experience of using an M camera equipped with an EVF.

More low light shooting with a Leica Summarit 75mm, f/2.4

It so happens I own a Leica M-to-L adapter. I bought a pre-owned model so that I could use my M-lenses on my TL2. It’s a slim, elegant contraption that transforms an L-Mount camera into an M-Mount camera. Mine is silver, to match the aesthetics of my M-lenses.

So, I tried an experiment. Using the M-to-L adapter, I began using my M-lenses on an L-Mount body with an EVF. Would I find that perfect combination of outstanding lenses and outstanding focus?

The L-Mount body I chose was not a Leica SL2, but a Panasonic Lumix S5.

An M with EVF based upon a Panasonic camera?

Why not a Leica SL-series camera, as Jörg-Peter Rau has proposed previously? As much as I love my SL2, I realize it is not without its detractors. Its size and, in particular, weight (960g, 2.02 lb) are regularly criticized by Macfilos readers. The Lumix S5 is considerably smaller and lighter, hinting at what a slimmed-down SL2 could look like. Although its form factor and ergonomics differ considerably from an M-camera, its dimensions are not that different.

Marbled Godwits, Willets, and Plovers gathered at the beach. Leica Summarit 75mm, f/2.4

In fact, fitted with an M-to-L adapter, the Lumix weighs in at 774g compared to 680g for my M240. Its width and height (133 x 97 mm) are also not so different from the M240 (139 x 80 mm). On paper, it is deeper (82 vs 47 mm). However, this is primarily the result of its protruding grip and its EVF window. Strictly comparing body-to-body depth, it’s a wash.

Like my M240, it has a 24-megapixel sensor. Unlike my M240, the S5 has an EVF, multiple focusing aids, in-body-image-stabilization (IBIS), and an articulating rear screen.

For the price conscious, a used S5 in ‘like-new’ condition comes in under $1,000, and a used Leica M-to-L adapter around $300. Compare that to a used Leica M240, at around $3,000.

Calliandra haematocephala blossom. Leica Summarit 75mm, f/2.4

Clearly, the S5 does not share the Leica minimalist design. Its labelled function buttons are dedicated, and lack the flexibility of an SL2. But, they cover the functions most SL2-users would choose. Thus, ISO, exposure compensation, drive mode, focus aids, and menu are just a button-push away.

So, how does it perform as an ‘M with EVF wannabe’?

The Leica M-adapter L, as it is officially called, does not transmit lens information to the S5. After mounting an M lens and switching on the camera, the user is asked to specify lens focal length. This is accomplished via a panel displayed in the EVF and/or rear screen. It seems this information is necessary to properly calibrate the IBIS system. 

If the camera is switched off and on again, the user is asked to confirm that the current focal length is correct. This is achieved by pressing the ‘set’ button on the camera’s rear.

A patriotic Santa Claus drops in. Leica Summarit 75mm, f/2.4

This lack of communication across the lens-adapter-camera system means that lens information is not captured in the EXIF data. That is a drag, but no different from using non-6-bit-coded lenses on a Leica M-Mount camera. Jörg-Peter reminded us previously that the LensTagger plugin for Lightroom allows this information to be recorded during post-processing.

Looking through the viewfinder, the user brings the scene into focus by rotating the focus ring on the lens. To assist accurate focusing, I press the mini-pad on the rear of the camera. This enlarges, by 5x, either a central area of the image or the entire image. Together with focus-peaking highlights (mine are set to blue), this makes nailing focus effortless.

Brick chimney and very sharp palm trees. Voigtländer Color Skopar 21mm, f/3.5

The 2.36m-dot OLED electronic viewfinder of the S5 is widely regarded as one of its weak points. It is certainly much less impressive than the SL2 or Q2, but I have never found it an issue. The newer S5II model possesses a 3.68m-dot OLED EVF and, if you are intending entering the market, have a close look at the updated MkII model before deciding.

Articulating rear monitor

I chose the S5 rather than the SL2 body for my ‘faux M with EVF’ for size and weight reasons. However, the articulating rear monitor of the S5 is a bonus feature which I now greatly appreciate. Thanks to regular yoga classes, I still have good mobility, but that tilting rear monitor spares me any spine-threatening contortions.

Sunset jogger at the beach. Leica Summilux, 35mm f/1.4

It is perfect for those low-angle shots, for example, capturing sunset reflections in the shallows at the beach. For street photography, taking shots while looking down at the tilted screen is a handy way to remain inconspicuous.

The streets are alive, with the sound of barking… Voigtländer Color Skopar 21mm, f/3.4

The Leica Q3, released earlier this year, incorporates a tilting rear screen, presumably because of customer feedback. Could it be that the typical Leica-user is not as limber as they used to be? Perhaps this useful feature will eventually make its way into future releases of the SL- and M-series cameras.

Super-wide angle antics

One obvious benefit of an M with EVF would be its ability to handle lenses wider than 28mm. These so-called super-wide angle lenses, for example a 21mm focal length, pose a challenge for rangefinders. I would need to attach an auxiliary viewfinder to my M240, compose using Live View, or just wing it. With my ‘pretend M with EVF’, it’s as easy as using any other lens.

December in Coronado, California. Voigtländer Color Skopar 21mm, f/3.4

In fact, the built-in accelerometer, allowing display of both roll and tilt guides in the viewfinder, is especially useful here. I can minimize image distortion in super-wide angle shots by keeping the camera level in the horizontal plane.

My ‘cobbled-together M with EVF’ works really well. It is compact, relatively light, easy to use, and provides a great way to ensure sharp focus with M-lenses. I would recommend it to anyone who would like to use their M-lenses on a camera body with EVF. However, there is no disputing that it does not look or feel like an M-camera.

Potential inferences about an M with EVF from this Frankenstein device

Since the S5 body features a full-frame sensor and EVF, not to mention IBIS, why can’t an  ‘M’ body incorporate these features? The Q2 has an EVF rather than a rangefinder and fits within the general M form factor. As mentioned, the Q3 even has a tilting screen. On the face of it, in the absence of information to the contrary, I see no reason why a Leica M with EVF would not be possible.

Sailing fun, San Diego Bay. Voigtländer Color Skopar 21mm, f/3.4

As I have demonstrated, a compact L-Mount body, coupled with an M-to-L adapter and Leica lenses can deliver a ‘pseudo-M with EVF’ experience.  I understand that this is unlikely to satisfy devoted M-photographers, for whom the M-form factor and Leica badging are important. What are the chances that Leica might produce a real M with EVF specifically for this customer base?

Sunset reflections. Leica Summilux 35mm, f/1.4

I assume that Leica intends to continue producing both M- and SL-series cameras. The former maintain the historical link to the first 35mm cameras, and the company’s rangefinder heritage. The latter allows the company to operate in the professional, autofocus lens world.

If I ruled the world

So, if I were in the strategic planning department of Leica, what would I do? I would propose a smaller, lighter SL-body camera, built via the L2 partnership with Panasonic. Designed with Leica minimalist ergonomics, this could satisfy the ‘lighter SL’ camp of users. I would market it as a bundle with an L-to-M adapter as a second body for those users who would like an M-with EVF.

This camera does not exist. It’s a hastily constructed Photoshop fantasy. But, what if…?

I would also run some focus groups with current and prospective Leica users, to gauge their interest in such a camera. As an alternative to an official Leica focus group, perhaps we can get a sense of people’s response to this idea via the comment section below.

Lumix S5 versus Leica SL2

I have not directly compared images generated with my M-lens collection when mounted on the S5 versus the SL2. I have heard that the sensor in the SL2 is better able to handle M-lenses than third party options. This may have something to do with the thickness of the sensor’s glass coating. Please feel free to add additional information in the comments if you know more about this.

All I can say is that I have observed no chromatic aberration issues when using the S5. You of course have the evidence of how well the S5/M-lens combinations perform in the photos I have included in this article. Apart from the last one, all were taken using the Lumix S5.

I suspect calls for a true ‘M with EVF’ are not going to subside anytime soon. We would welcome your thoughts on this topic. We would also love to hear from anyone who has directly compared M-lens performance on the S5 versus the SL2(S). And of course, feel free to share any other observations you have about dealing with the limitations of rangefinder focusing. Let us know in the comments below.

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45 COMMENTS

  1. Interesting stuff – I like your experiment. As a recent wholesale Leica convert from Nikon, the main reason I made the switch was to get away from digitised JPEG indicating EVFs – that do not necessarily show you how a RAW image will be captured. And the size. And the simplicity. To me, seeing the world ‘as is’ is such an important part of taking a photo. The M’s optical rangefinder is sublime, a joy and far superior to the E/optical viewfinder on my Fuji X100.

    Ultimately, an EVF that is independent to lens magnification and does not have autofocus can only do so much. Which presents a possible solution: designing a Q with interchangeable lenses? Ie, a smaller form factor SL with ‘rangefinder’ EVF and adapter based M lens compatibility. The Q would effectively become the ‘tech’ M, leaving the SL competing directly with Sony, Nikon etc’s high end mainstream mirrorless. The Q would be an effective bridge between M and L mount ecosystems and a likely starting point for new users. As it is now, the Q is great, but too big for a fixed lens camera.

    The other option would be dividing the digital M range into EVF and Optical, but as above, I’m not sure I see the point. The wholesale adoption of an EVF on the M would be contrary to the entire ethos of the camera and the death of that system for many.

  2. Dear Keith, thank you for this interesting and thought-provoking article. I also love my S5 but do not use it with Leica M lenses very often. For me, it’s more horses for courses, but you results speak for themselves. Well done! Jörg-Peter

    • Hi Jörg-Peter. I know you hold the view that the best camera for Leica M-lenses is a Leica M-camera! It was fun trying out the S5 as an alternative, and I plan to continue using it for street photography. I am finding the articulating rear-monitor extremely enabling for candid shots. All the best, Keith

  3. Great article and pics.
    I have a M11 and a 28 and 50 summicron. I enjoy the M11 feel and the experience of using a fully manual Leica. The success of the Q series suggest that many want the Leica “feel and look” with stabilization and auto focus.
    I have purchased and used a Techart adaptor on a Sony A7CR with my Summicron and find the results to be fantastic. Attending the World Junior hockey tournament in Sweden this past two weeks, I used this combo to quickly and reliably capture hockey, personalities and street. Never missed a shot. Focus, even eye focus, was spot on using phase detection of the Sony. Much better, in my opinion, than the Q2 I used for a year as I wasn’t restricted to one focal length. I also have Sony glass for my A1 that I’ve been using for assignments that will be great on the CR.
    For my photography enjoyment, I will keep the M11 in all its manualness but for times when you have to get the shot quickly, reliably and want to use the best glass on hand with the flexibility of shooting wide or long, an adapted camera and Leica lens combo does check a lot of boxes.

    • Hi Bob, many thanks! I hadn’t come across the term ‘adapted camera’, but that’s a perfect description of this general category of cameras on which people are using lenses not native to the camera’s intrinsic mount. It is cool to hear that you have even departed from the non-M-Mount Leica world and employed your Leica lenses on a Sony. Sounds as if the combo works really well. Many thanks for reading and commenting! Cheers, Keith

    • When Sony first released its A7r, with 36MP and the ability to utilize Leica lenses, I bought one. Back then all I had was an M8, and what Leica had brought out since that point did not appeal to me. My M8 felt like a computer grafted onto a Leica. But it was the best we Leica users had at that point, and the Sony seemed (and was) a quantum leap in resolution.

      When the dust had settled, I bought an M10. It felt very well integrated, unlike the M8. Not as powerful as the Sony, but the images were better, especially in the corners. I could use the Sony for tripod-mounted work: portraits, close-ups, and the like as well as video, and the M10 for my typical RF-type shooting, about which the Sony had definite faults, like being too slow on the draw, and having a confusing menu system. And the M10 would take all of the lenses I used on the Sony, with adapters and EVF.

      I’d be curious about what the A7CR would offer me. The small size and weight are appealing, as is the IS. I would like more information on how many milliseconds it takes to activate the shutter, and how noise the shutter is. Could not find that information.

      Nonetheless, I am very satisfied with my M10s and I am not sure I get a GAS attack here.

      This thread is most interesting!

  4. Some beautiful images. S5 with R to L adaptor is also a great option. Remember the R 60mm macro or the elmarits 35 and 90 mm lenses. They still produce amazing results at a reasonable price.
    have a nice photographic new year

    • Hi Jean, thank you! Great point – once you are open to using an adapter on a small, EVF-equipped body like the S5, many possibilities open up. I highlighted how easy it is to use a super-wide angle lens, but as you say, other great lenses can also be used. I think it would be especially helpful for longer focal lengths, because of the ability to magnify the image and nail the focus. All the best, Keith

  5. Excellent article and B&H has bundles (S5II, 20-60 and 85) for $2,895. Tremendous value if you are looking for a new system.

    • Hi SlowDriver, many thanks! Mike E was telling me recently that the S5II system is in such demand that Panasonic are finding it hard to keep up. Can only be good for the L-Mount alliance, and ironically, for Leica. Cheers, Keith

      • Hi Keith, I am not sure whether that is true in all markets though, I have read a few times that Panasonic is doing very well in some European markets like France but I am not so sure about the US. FWIW, I was at B&H last weekend and I asked that exact question to the B&H sales guy. He said that they were selling them but that (also because he himself was invested in the system) he would like to see more sales. The S5II is in stock, all bundles are in stock as well, to me it sounded like sales were OK but not exceptional. I also got a chance to hold the silver SL2 while I was at B&H, it is a very very beautiful camera. One last comment about TL-lenses , although the S5II handles them it is (just like the SL2-S) only gong to give you a 10MP file, the SL2 will give you a 20MP file.

        • Hi again SlowDriver. I am just imagining my silver M-lenses, on my silver M-to-L adapter, on a silver SL2! Perhaps, down the road, when the SL3 is here and well-established, there would be an opportunity to trade in my black SL2 for a used silver one. Cheers, Keith

  6. Dear Keith,
    I’ve already checked the market for an S5. As you know, I’m a Nikon addict and only lately found the gateway into the Leica World. Unfortunately Leica M lenses will only work on a Nikon F body with an adapter that has a correction lens. That brings up the thought to move on to Nikon Z.
    Does that let me make better photos? I doubt it.
    A M? with an EVF would be tempting. Would it make sense? I’d say no, because there are so many possibilities, as you’ve pointed out, to use M-glass on cameras with an EVF, except for Nikon F, that it won’t make sense for Leica to do that.
    The M would lose it’s unique selling point, despite the fact, that older eyes encounter difficulities in aquiring proper focus.
    As my dad points out: Article 1 of the Mecklenburg’s constitution: Nothing changes, everything stays as it is. “Ännert sik nix, blifft allens bi dat Ool.”

    Greets Dirk

    • Hi Dirk, I’d be fascinated to learn whether you do indeed go for an S5. I think you would find it especially useful for those crazy, super-wide angle lenses you like! I saw a used one advertised recently on KEH or MPB for $750. As Mike E points out below, though, well worth checking out the upgraded S5II that has a superior EVF. Keep us posted. Cheers, Keith

    • Hi Rob, that is wild! Did you buy the S5 or the S5II? I have had great fun using my M-lenses on my S5, and I am sure you will too. A new thing for me has been street photography using a Voigländer 21mm while looking down at the tilted rear monitor to compose. It works really well. All the best, Keith

  7. Dear Keith, nice read as always and nothing wrong toying with ideas and equipment.

    For a while I was thinking as well that adding an EVF to the M system might be a good idea but somehow I’ve come to the conclusion its actually not. Things at Leica always went sour when products started cannibalising each other as it does in many other industries. Leica’s strategy of keeping product lines apart might be a wiser decision after all. I can’t proof with actual numbers but my guess is that a big part of SL sales is from users adapting manual focus lenses and are willing to pay a premium to stay in the Leica ecosystem.

    In my opinion there’s also nothing wrong with the rangefinder as we have it today, it’s more that the camera and lenses around it have outgrown this piece of archaic equipment from analog times. Going back to the beginning of M history the camera was intended to be used as a light travel or journalist camera joined by lenses with medium apertures and more regular focal length like 50mm or 35mm.

    Meanwhile keeping the system relevant for the market we got everything from ultrawides to tele, from Summarons to Noctiluxes, close focus and everything combined with an ultra high res sensor. Holy Barnack! In many ways we have just reached the limitations of what the rangefinder was intended to be.

    So now the EVF comes to the rescue? Maybe not. Everyone who uses an EVF knows that it has its pros and cons as well. The EVF on the SL is really great but it comes at a price which is size. If by chance your local Leica dealer has a cut model of a SL just have a look at the size of the EVF installed on top and the electronics needed. It’s massive and I can’t imagine this being integrated into the M without sacrificing weight or optical quality of the EVF by making it smaller like on the Q.

    So what’s my verdict? Keep the M as it is and enjoy it within its limitations and how it was intended to be and let it stay clear of “featuritis” as I might call it. Using special glas just add the EVF or use a L mount camera as suggest by Keith.

    Cheers,

    Andy

    • Hi Andy, many thanks! You make an excellent point about the ecosystem surrounding the rangefinder system having expanded well beyond what might have been envisaged originally. This is why, in large measure, I have tried to stick with just a couple of easily focused lenses for my M240. I think more exotic or difficult-to-focus lenses are much better handled using a body with built-in EVF, such as the SL2(S) or the Lumix S5. These also have these additional benefits I referred to, such as IBIS. I couldn’t agree more about keeping the M-rangefinder and EVF-series cameras as two distinct species within the Leica zoo. Cheers, Keith

  8. Keith,

    No controversy about ‘nice photos’ — though I’d add some are quite spectacular. But then, at this level of hardware, I suspect it’s more about the photographer 🙂

    I use M lenses on a Fuji XE series camera — about the dimensions of the Leica Typ 109 DLUX. If I may say smething that everyone here already knows: focus peaking fails when you want to focus on something other than the areas of highest contrast.

    That’s where 5X or 10X (Visoflex on the M240, e.g.) magnification comes in — which Fuji, alas, doesn’t offer. It’s good to hear that the Panasonic does offer it. Though I’m not sure it’s as purse-size as the Fuji!

    • Hi Kathy, many thanks! Glad you liked the photos. I had not realized you could use M-lenses on a Fuji camera. Who makes the necessary adapter, and is it a fairly simple/slim piece of kit? I am not very familiar with the Fuji system, but they are clearly highly regarded, and I understand some models employ the tactile controls that Leica is famous for. I will be doing some poking around in this area. Thanks for the pointer! I agree that focus peaking has its limitations, but the system on the SL2, in particular, seems excellent, so they must use a very sensitive contrast threshold. All the best! Keith

      • There are a number of inexpensive adapters of varying quality :). Fuji makes their own; it extends about .7 cm from the body, and has an electronic connection. Pushing a button brings up a menu, where you can select the focal length. It’s rather expensive; you can expect to pay upwards of $100 US.

        Of course there’s always the ‘micro lenses over the sensor’ issue, but I suspect the smaller size of the APS-C on the Fuji alleviates most of that.

        • Apologies for dragging this out, Kathy, but are all the Fuji cameras APS-C? Or, do they have small, full-frame options too? I have a friend who uses an APS-C Fuji camera with a superb 50mm f/1.0 lens, giving him an effective focal length of 75mm. His images are incredible. Cheers, Keith

          • No problem, though I think there are others who are better qualified to answer.

            As I understand it, Fuji makes a medium format G series, then the APS-C X series.

            So, I think the point here is that it isn’t really comparable to the full frame Panasonic S5. The Fuji is fun, though!

  9. I have suggested Leica M mount EVF with IBIS some years ago on Leica forum and I was a marked man by the armada of rangefinder crowd (was not suggesting getting rid of rangefinder, oh got no). So, I have been using my M lenses Leica, Zeiss, Voigtlander on original SL, thereafter on SL2S and now as well as on Panasonic S52. It works for me quite well using MF as well as AF lenses on both bodies. So most likely I would not buy Leica M mount EVF body even if they made one.

    • Hi Vladimir, yes, that rangefinder crew can be a rough crowd! Glad you escaped with your life. Sounds like you are in great shape with your SL(2S) and S5II set-up. A petite Leica M body with an EVF would be pretty cool, though, wouldn’t it? I, for one, would be tempted. All the best! Keith

    • Thanks, Peter! Looks like a terrific camera. The optical / electronic viewfinder switching is very neat. The optical viewfinder is just a composing aid though, and is not involved in focusing, correct? Do you have experience with this device? If so, why not write a user review for Macfilos? Cheers, Keith

    • Hi Jonathan, 10mm sounds incredibly wide! I have a Sigma 14-24mm SL zoom, and so I can imagine what that extra field-of-view brings. Does your EVF give you tilt and roll information to help keep the lens level and avoid distortion? Cheers, Keith

  10. The images are beautiful and incredibly sharp regardless of how they were made. If a Leica M with EVF fits the bill for you, I hope that this happens.

    I guess I must be different from many older photographers. For me the Leica M rangefinder is much simpler and quicker to use than any other focusing system. My vision is not all that great, but I can see the RF patch very clearly, except when shooting into the light. True, when I have coupled lenses that are outside of the 28 – 135 range, then I tend to use the Viso rather than the RF plus an external VF, at least for the occasional shot. But then, one of the joys of M photography is knowing where to prefocus and how much to shut down in order to shoot rapidly, as for street work.

    I struggle with any through-the-lens focus system, even with focus peaking. With a RF, I know where to place focus and can see this rapidly in the viewfinder. If I want / need really exact focus, then the RF will pinpoint it for me. I can also shoot with both eyes open with a RF, to better anticipate the next shot. For me the issues of focus and DOF are the fun part of shooting with a Leica.

    So, I guess I am different, totally acculturated to the M and SM Leicas, and look in wonder about how others shoot.

    Ed

    • Hi Ed, I am very pleased that you liked the photos. I, too, enjoy focusing with my rangefinder and find no difficulty with either 35mm or 75mm lenses. Despite my claim that a two-lens kit is all you need, I confess I recently added a 21mm lens. I have yet to use it on my M240, but when I do, I will forgo Live View or a visoflex and just focus with the rangefinder, imagining in my head what the image will be like.

      Although you and I apparently have no difficulty with rangefinder focusing, it seems many people do as they get older. For those photographers, I really believe the S5 and L-to-M adapter could be a great, lightweight solution. Cheers! Keith

  11. I realize your article is meant to be slightly provocative, but I think it’s a huge stretch to portray what seems to be a rather plastiky, Japanese-built camera, covered in brightly painted buttons, with the timeless design of a Leica M. I will bide my time and see if Leica take the hint and come up with the real thing. Nice photos though!

    • Hi Tom, thanks for commenting. You are correct that the camera is made in Japan (as are many precision instruments) and has clearly visible labels on its controls, but it is far from Plastiky. It has a metal body, and a faux leather surface to grip (as does a Leica). What it really has going for it is that it is light! You should check one out. All the best, Keith

  12. Very interesting! Thanks Keith.

    I recently borrowed an M10 with 35mm ‘cron lens and enjoyed the experience. What stopped me going further was the need to add a new lens mount system to the CL/TL system I already own. I’m trying to follow the Marie Kondo approach to life and de-clutter. In the end I stuck with my order for a new Q3 to replace the previous Q2.

    What I have discovered since using an M is that I am manually focusing the CL and the Q2 -> Q3 more than I used to. With the EVF and magnification it seems pretty straightforward. The question is whether it’s worth adding an M/L adaptor and an M lens or two to this setup.

    At that point the idea of a small SL (SL-K?) comes to mind. For me it would be perfect as the current SL is a non-starter. I’m a member of the Colin Chapman school of “Just add lightness” so a heavyweight camera makes no sense.

    An SL-K would have the potential to bridge between the CL/TL, the SL line, and the M line. I could use my TL lenses, pick up smaller Sigma L lenses and possible find a nice pre-owned M lens or two. It might even allow me to move out of the cul-de-sac Leica created with the demise of the APSC line and part company with my CL.

    From a business perspective this SL-K might have a lot of appeal. A lower priced, lighter, full frame ILC with a vast array of lenses to suit all interests that would appeal to new Leica entrants and existing owners. It would allow a cheapish entry into the world of M cameras without the need to fully commit. And it would preserve the sanctity of the M as pure rangefinder camera with a unique history.

    So the question is “Will Leica make an SL-K?”

    • “Will Leica make an SL-K?”

      Perhaps not, although it seems likely that the new SL3 will be slightly smaller (ever so slightly, I believe). But Panasonic makes such a beast, in the S5, as Keith highlights in his article. It’s worth a look at the price…

      • Bonjour, je suis comme vous : j’ai un M4, une bague M/L et vais acheter un S5II.
        Du coup je vais sauter 2 marches : argentique numérique et télémètre EVF…
        Mais pour rien au monde, mon M4 ira au musée, il est trop “agréable mécaniquement” !
        Pour moi, le M doit rester télémétrique, c’est sa destinée.
        Tout comme les belles locomotives à vapeur allemandes qui continuent de rouler au charbon à coté des ICE électriques !
        C’est du patrimoine vivant.

    • Hi Jon, many thanks! Isn’t the Mercedes SLK a smaller version of the Mercedes SL convertible? Your choice of ‘Leica SL-K’ as the name for the imaginary Leica SL is therefore very apt! As I suggested in my article, I can see no reason in principle why such a camera would not be feasible. I suppose it will be up to the business, marketing, and technical teams at Leica to decide whether to proceed with such a new product or not.

      In the meantime, a Lumix S5II would meet all the needs you describe – handling TL lenses, light Sigma L-Mount lenses and M-lenses with an adapter. And, it wouldn’t break the Cheffings’s piggy bank. You should check one out! All the best, Keith

    • Leica will probably only build a more compact SL (I usually call it SLc) or an M with EVF if they are 200% convinced that it will complement M sales rather than take away from it. At this point in time I don’t see any indications that it will happen anytime soon, if ever at all. The technology is there. Sony with the A7cr put a 61MP full frame sensor in a body that is lighter than the black Leica M11 and at a price that is the same the APS-C Leica CL.

    • Hi Kannan, I do not have first-hand experience with a visoflex-equipped M-camera, and probably never will! Somehow, fitting an appendage on an otherwise beautifully designed, classically-styled M-camera seems a pity. Also, not using that precision range-finder mechanism, for which you have paid a lot of money, seems unfortunate. I hold the view that a two-body solution – Leica M rangefinder and Leica ‘X’ EVF – each of which is specifically designed for the purpose, is the way to go. All the best! Keith

      • Great discussions. Personally, I use an M-10 with the external Visoflex EVF to enable Leica R-mount lenses (that normally service my film Leicaflex SL) at focal lengths not supported by the optical rangefinder for focusing. It works great, IMHO. I do lose the focus peaking and will admit I also miss a few shots due to slightly out-of-focus composition (which I gladly blame on my eyesight). But this is all self-inflicted as I choose to use a set up that requires I focus manually and set my aperture (to say nothing of my LF SL analog camera where I must also meter and get the shutter speed correct). For me that’s the fun.

        Adding the EVF in the hot shoe slot is no worse than using a cold-shoe light meter (M3, LF SL, etc.) or an external viewfinder for odd focal lengths. However, when I wish to use any prime lens that is rangefinder coupled, the optical mechanism works perfectly. Cheers. Buster

        • Hi Buster, thanks so much for adding your perspective to the mix. It does seem that many people, including you, are both comfortable and expert at using a visoflex with lenses beyond the common rangefinder focal lengths. There is something special, though, about focusing with a rangefinder, isn’t there? Cheers, Keith

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