It is interesting that it is the same Panasonic that founded the 4/3 System with Olympus and tried to get the industry to adopt the 4/3 System, mount and image sensor as a standard for mirrorless cameras. That hasn’t quite worked out and, even though there are a number of companies that use the 4/3 System and the lenses are interchangeable across these brands, they unfortunately do not keep the same functionality because of different firmwares. What Panasonic hasn’t quite succeeded with 4/3, it is now trying with full-frame with the L-mount standard.
The lofty goal is that all lenses made for the different systems within the L-Mount alliance can be used on all cameras without adapters and without any functional limitations.
Come to think of it, it is a somewhat strange alliance: We cannot see Leica owners attach cheaper lenses from other brands onto their expensive Leica cameras; likewise, we cannot see users of non-Leica brands attach astronomically expensive Leica lenses onto their cameras. What remains is that Panasonic gives third-party non-Leica brand lenses an easy entry into its full-frame system. This works in two ways to Panasonic’s advantage: 1) It allows Panasonic to introduce their full-frame cameras without worrying too much whether they have the lenses to support that system; and, 2) Panasonic can easily and cheaply private-label those third-party lenses as its own.
What does Leica gain from sharing the L-Mount specifications with other camera and lens manufacturers? Recognition and relevancy for its mirrorless cameras. Leica has come back from the brink of irrelevancy and Panasonic has been the company that has helped it achieve this. In the past, Leica has worked in close collaboration with a number of camera companies: Minolta, Fujifilm, and Panasonic, but it was Panasonic that has helped it the most in staying revelant with rebranding (and a bit of superb redesign) of Panasonic compact, travel zoom, and mirrorless cameras before Leica found its footing and introduced its own mirrorless designs.
Leica mirrorless cameras are very expensive and target a niche of their own, but if Leica wants to attract more mainstream customers, it has to position its cameras beyond the cachet of owning a camera with the Red Dot. The L-Mount Alliance provides that recognition that Leica is playing with (at least one of) the major players.
In addition to the L-Mount Alliance, Leica and Panasonic has engaged in an even closer L2 (Leica x Lumix) Technology sharing and they plan to jointly specify, design and manufacture a mirrorless camera in two (Leica and Lumix) versions which they had hoped to announce sometime this year. We still have 5 months to go before the end of the year, so perhaps there’s still something in the works (at least a prototype).
We do not see Canon (RF mount), Nikon (Z mount) and Sony (E mount) joining the L-Mount Alliance anytime soon — if at all. Never.
ASTRODESIGN AND SAMYANG JOIN THE L-MOUNT ALLIANCE
Wetzlar, 13th July 2023. ASTRODESIGN, Inc., is the sixth company and SAMYANG Optics Co. is the seventh company to join the L-Mount Alliance since the public announcement of the L-mount standard at photokina in 2018. The alliance consists of founding members Leica Camera AG, SIGMA, and Panasonic, as well as Ernst Leitz Wetzlar GmbH and DJI joining in 2021. The goal of the alliance is to utilize the L-mount standard developed by Leica Camera AG for cameras and lenses in future product development. This collaboration enables ASTRODESIGN and SAMYANG Optics to develop products with the L-Mount which will present great benefits for wide range of photo and video applications.
Stephan Schulz, Head of Product Management Professional Camera Systems: “The L-Mount is an up-to date lens interface, that unifies photo and video applications in the best possible way and allows for innovative optical designs due to the shallow flange depth. With ASTRODESIGN, the L-Mount Alliance gains a member that is undoubtedly an innovator in advanced professional video. This underlines the versatility of the L-Mount Standard and the high level ambition of the L-Mount Alliance. With SAMYANG we welcome an agile lens maker, that has undoubtedly developed within a short period of time an impressive lens portfolio for photography and cinematography”.
About the L-Mount Alliance
The members of the L-Mount Alliance all utilise the L-Mount Standard developed by Leica Camera AG for mirrorless camera systems. Currently, the members of the alliance are Leica Camera AG, SIGMA, Panasonic, Ernst Leitz Wetzlar GmbH, DJI, ASTRODESIGN and SAMYANG. The partners in the alliance utilise the L-Mount Standard for cameras and lenses that are offered under their own brand names. They market their respective products as competitors, and each with their own product and marketing strategies. The alliance works together on advancing the technology of the L-Mount Standard.
About the L-Mount Standard
The L-Mount was developed by Leica Camera AG under the proviso of providing customers with a future-proof, flexible, robust and precise bayonet mount that would fulfil even the most demanding photographic needs. Since its initial appearance in 2014 within the Leica T, development of the L-Mount was continued by Leica as well as by its strategic partners, which led to significant improvements and an effectively new and more polished L-Mount technology.
To ensure maximum product diversity, the diameter of 51.6 millimetres was chosen to make the L-Mount suitable for use not only with full-frame cameras, but also on cameras with APSC sensors. The short register of only 20 millimetres enables a short distance between the lens and the sensor, which in turn enables considerably more compact construction – which is particularly helpful for developments in the wide-angle lens segment. To ensure resistance to even the most extreme conditions, and to guarantee customers maximum reliability for many years of intensive use, the camera bayonets are manufactured from wear-resistant stainless steel and with four flange segments that prevent canting and ensure secure and a precisely positioned lens attachment. The standardised L-Mount contact strip ensures trouble-free communication between the electronic components of the lens and the camera – including the possibility of installing future firmware updates for lenses to react to technological advances to exploit the full performance potentials of the lenses.
Originally introduced by Leica Camera AG in 2014, the L-Mount is now available on 12 cameras and over 60 lenses across the existing alliance partners. All lenses made for the different systems within the L-Mount alliance can be used on all cameras without adapters and without any functional limitations – this illustrates one of the numerous benefits of the common bayonet.
Further information can be found under: www.l-mount.com