Panasonic, Leica and Sigma form alliance
PHOTOKINA 2018 was one of the most newsworthy of recent years, but Panasonic, Leica and Sigma’s L-mount alliance is arguably the biggest story from the show (stopping it leaking was also a big achievement). In a nutshell, the three companies have joined forces to produce full-frame mirrorless cameras and lenses, with Panasonic and Sigma formally licensing Leica’s existing L-mount, as used by the firm’s full-frame SL and APS- C T systems. This gives Panasonic and Sigma a shortcut into this rapidly expanding sector of the market, without having to develop an entirely new mount. As Panasonic’s Junichi Kitagawa memorably said at the press conference, ‘ This is like rocket fuel for us, propelling us into the high- end mirrorless market.’
Kitagawa reminded the press that Panasonic and Leica already have a long-running relationship that dates back to 2001. Broadly speaking, Panasonic contributes its extensive know-how in electronics, in exchange for a slice of Leica’s optical expertise. Panasonic has used the Leica name on many of its lenses, while Leica has for many years sold fixed-lens compacts that are re-workings of Panasonic Lumix models. Sigma doesn’t have any pre- existing relationship with either of the other two companies (or at least, not one that’s publicly known), but as the pre- eminent third-party lens maker, its involvement in the new group counts as a considerable coup. The first fruit of the alliance is the Panasonic full-frame mirrorless Lumix S-series along with three lenses (see right), while Sigma revealed plans to produce both a full-frame mirrorless camera with a Foveon sensor, and matched lenses based around the L mount early next year. As for Leica, it already makes the SLR-like full-frame mirrorless SL (Typ 601) along with six matched lenses – a 16-35mm f/3.5- 4.5, 24-90mm f/2.8- 4, 90-280mm f/2.8- 4, 50mm f/1.4, 75mm f/2 and 90mm f/2. These will all be available to use with Panasonic’s new cameras at launch.
For more see our Photokina show report in AP 27 October, on sale Tuesday 23 October.
L to R: Sigma’s Kazuto Yamaki, Leica’s Dr Andreas Kaufmann and Panasonic’s Junichi Kitagawa celebrate the L-mount alliance
Panasonic’s Yosuke Yamane with the Lumix S1R