Recently, Leica and Panasonic announced a new initiative called L2. It’s centering around them
making a new camera together sharing technologies. This is quite exciting. And when you say it like this, it could mean a lot of different things. The mind starts wondering if maybe they’re finally going to make a rangefinder style, full-frame mirrorless camera with the L-mount. I’d really love this. If you’re familiar with how Panasonic and Leica work though, you’re probably going to be a bit cautiously optimistic. And here’s why I think the new Panasonic Leica Camera is worth discussing.
Editor’s Note: Leica USA got in touch with us to clarify that they never announced that they’d be working together on a camera. And from my own side of things, I consider all of this my own speculation based on over a decade of knowledge about the photo industry and trends.
Let’s think about the times Leica and Panasonic have worked together. Behind the scenes, they share a ton of information with one another. But they’ve had a thing going since the beginning of digital photography where Leica rebrands Panasonic cameras. Panasonic in turn uses Leica’s name on some of their best lenses. With this little reminder, you can likely understand where I’m going with this.
Will it be the Leica Q3? No; I doubt Leica will let Panasonic touch that. However, I think some sort of new L-mount Panasonic Leica Camera is on the horizon. And it could appear in one of two ways.
In the first way, the L2 branding would be on the camera. But in terms of actual sales and logistics, this would be difficult. The way cameras are sold and warehoused is managaed by a single company. I doubt both companies would do it or that they’re making a brand new company to do just this. Realistically, this was probably where everyone’s mind went. But it wouldn’t make sense to do that. How can a brand new company be started, fulfill orders and manufacturing, and then give profits to both Leica and Panasonic? Indeed, this isn’t going to happen.
Instead, I think a brand new L-Mount Panasonic Leica camera will be released and that both Panasonic and Leica will announce it at the same time. What’s more, there will be two variants. In the past, Leica has done cosmetic differences on the outside of Panasonic cameras and changed the firmware up, which they’ve also done with Sigma lenses. But with the Sigma 24-70mm f2.8 rebrand, they only used the optics. Leica instead used different motors, a metal exterior, and made it only marginally heavier while making the package a better lens overall.
So here’s what I think is coming:
- A rangefinder body
- A Panasonic variant of the body more targeted at cinema
- A Leica variant of the body more targeted at photography
- Panasonic retaining its animal and human AF capabilities
- Leica putting different features into the camera. But exactly what they’ll do is a bit mind-boggling.
- One made of aluminum and the other made of brass, just like the M11.
This could be a simpler way to start. What I’d love to see is a fixed lens camera that’s full-frame and combines the best of both cameras. I’d love an IP-rated Panasonic Leica camera. But most of all, I really want a full-frame rangefinder style camera with autofocus. Sure, Sony made one with the Sony a7c, but I feel like that was a weak attempt at the format.
Let’s hope that the new Panasonic Leica camera blows us all away.