Canon and Nikon entered the full-frame digital camera market inside the previous few weeks after years of giving method to Sony’s dominance within the area. Leica has been hanging round for a number of years, with its full-frame autofocus SL anchoring the system.
But it surely did not take lengthy for others to leap into the fray. In the present day, Leica introduced the L-Mount Alliance, a partnership with longtime collaborator Panasonic, in addition to Sigma, greatest often known as a lensmaker, but additionally an organization with its personal digital camera system.
It is no shock to see Leica working along with Panasonic. The 2 firms have a protracted historical past of collaboration, starting from Leica advertising Panasonic Lumix pocket cameras within the D-Lux line, or the extra hands-on function Leica performed within the growth of the LX100, which was additionally offered as a D-Lux.
Sigma brings one thing extra to the desk. The corporate has shed the third-party, budget-brand albatross and reinvented itself as a maker of high-quality, inexpensive lenses underneath the steerage of CEO Kazuto Yamaki. Having a producer whose essential enterprise is making lenses on board will assist construct out the lens library quicker than Leica and Panasonic would have the ability to do on their very own.
The Cameras
Leica did not announce a brand new model of the SL this morning—the present version is about three years outdated, however nonetheless competes with newer fashions in picture high quality. Panasonic did shed the sunshine on its first two full-frame cameras.
The Lumix S1R and S1 are Panasonic’s first two L-mount cameras. The S1R is the high-resolution, 47MP mannequin, whereas the S1 sports activities a extra modest 24MP picture sensor. Except for the sensor dimension, the cameras look to be bodily equivalent, though particulars are scarce at this level. We do not have a spec sheet, costs, or a strong transport date but, however we do anticipate the cameras to launch within the first half of 2019.

We do know that the cameras will roll 4K footage at as much as 60fps, are totally weather-sealed, and sport twin reminiscence card slots, one SD and one XQD. Panasonic additionally touted a excessive flash sync velocity, an digital viewfinder that guarantees to ship a picture that is near what our eyes understand, and in-body picture stabilization.
The corporate continues to be utilizing contrast-based autofocus tech, coupled with its Depth From Defocus (DFD) system to hurry up operation. Most rivals use a mixture of on-sensor section and distinction detection, however Panasonic is sticking to its weapons right here. I’ve discovered DFD focusing to be fairly speedy in apply, however I’ve had higher outcomes when monitoring transferring topics with section detection. We’ll reserve judgement on the S1 and S1R till they really exist and we’re in a position to take a look at them, in fact.
I’m joyful to see a monochrome info LCD on the highest of the S1 collection physique. We noticed related screens within the just lately introduced Nikon Z and Canon EOS R mirrorless techniques. Sony has but to incorporate the characteristic in its mirrorless fashions.
It is unclear at this level if Sigma will develop its personal L-mount digital camera. Yamaki hinted that it was engaged on one on the press convention asserting the system. When requested the way it turned concerned within the partnership, Yamaki acknowledged that the corporate’s unique plans for mirorrless concerned creating its personal mount. Maybe because of this its Quattro H mirrorless digital camera used the prevailing SA SLR lens mount moderately than one designed particularly for brief flange-back lenses.
A full-frame Sigma L-mount digital camera would probably convey one thing unimaginable to the desk, a Foveon picture sensor. The layered sensor expertise, which captures picture info in an inherently totally different method than most different cameras, delivers pictures with an unimaginable quantity of element, on par with medium format techniques. It does have an Achilles heel—picture high quality falls aside if you transfer above ISO 400—however it’s an interesting system for a lot of, together with panorama photographers. We’ll simply have to attend and see—Sigma hasn’t but made its first spate of L-mount bulletins.
The Lenses
Leica already has a half-dozen full-frame L-mount lenses, in addition to a line of APS-C optics, which can be utilized with the bigger sensor, albeit with a heavy crop and decreased decision.
The complete-frame choices at present embody the Vario-Elmarit-SL 24-90mm f/2.Eight-Four ASPH., Tremendous-Vario-Elmarit-SL 16-35mm f/three.5-Four.5 ASPH., APO-Vario-Elmarit-SL 90-280mm f/2.Eight-Four, Summilux-SL 50mm f/1.Four ASPH., APO-Summicron-SL 75mm f/2 ASPH., and APO-Summicron-SL 90mm f/2 ASPH. They do not come low cost—costs vary from $Four,750 to $6,395.
It plans to launch a further 5 prime lenses, all f/2 designs, over the subsequent two years. The Summicron-SL 35mm f/2 ASPH. and Summicron-SL 50mm f/2 ASPH. are coming in 2019. They’re going to be joined by the Summicron-SL 21mm f/2 ASPH., Summicron-SL 24mm f/2 ASPH., and Summicron-SL 28mm f/2 ASPH. the next 12 months. Costs haven’t but been introduced.
Panasonic is bringing three lenses to the desk. Its 50mm f/1.Four is nearly actually going to be inexpensive than the Leica choice, and we’re additionally getting 24-105mm and 70-200mm zooms. It guarantees to ship seven extra lenses within the 12 months following the S-series launch.
Sigma hasn’t but introduced what it is bringing to the desk, however we anticipate it to ship high quality lenses at inexpensive costs primarily based on its latest observe document.
What About Micro 4 Thirds?
What should not be misplaced within the buzz surrounding one thing new and glossy is that Panasonic is already closely invested in a mirrorless digital camera system. Together with Olympus, it’s the driving pressure behind the Micro 4 Thirds system.
Micro 4 Thirds sensors are smaller than full-frame—they use a 17 by 13mm dimension, whereas full-frame is 24 by 36mm—and it appears as if the business is hitting a wall in sensor decision. Probably the most pixels we have seen squeezed into the smaller body is 20MP, which limits video decision, a big concern for Panasonic’s buyer base.

Panasonic guarantees to launch an 8K-capable digital camera in time for the 2020 Olympics, which is ready to happen in Tokyo. A 20MP sensor will not minimize it—every body of 8K footage is about 33.2MP in dimension. The 47MP decision provided by the S1R is telling right here—it’s dense sufficient to ship 8K decision, so it is solely a matter of Panasonic pushing processing and sensor readout speeds quicker to be able to web 8K from a future mannequin.
That does not imply Micro 4 Thirds goes away. Panasonic guarantees it’ll co-exist with the L-mount. To reassure M43 system homeowners, the corporate introduced a brand new Micro 4 Thirds lens this morning. It is a 10-25mm zoom—that is 20-50mm in full-frame phrases—with a continuing f/1.7 most aperture. The corporate guarantees it’ll ship picture high quality nearly as good as prime lenses at each focal size. It’s a large lens for the format, and whereas it will not provide the identical stage of shallow depth of area as Canon’s formidable 28-70mm f/2 zoom for its full-frame system, it does have a brighter aperture.
In the meantime, we’re ready to see what, if something, Olympus does to react to the information. It isn’t concerned in L-mount growth, so all of its eggs are proverbial Micro 4 Thirds basket. Olympus’s Photokina press convention is later at the moment, kicking off at 5:30 p.m. in Germany—11:30 a.m. EDT.

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