Leica Summilux-TL 35mm f/1.4: A lens that focuses on the future
Last week’s announcement of the long-awaited 50mm-equivalent prime for the Leica T proves again that the TL mount is here to stay. Whatever you think of the aluminium T camera itself, the lenses will live on and will find new homes as Leica refines its APS-C offerings.
The full-frame SL also uses the TL mount and the cropped APS-C lenses such as the new Summilux 35mm can be used on the SL to offer a lighter but still high-quality alternative to the SL's full-frame offerings. Only snag is that the lenses made for the T will use only the part of the SL’s larger sensor.
What all this does prove, is that the T and the T (now TL) mount was a strategic move that paves the way for more ILCs in the future. It was a long time coming. Some say that Leica was reluctant to introduce an APS-C interchangeable lens camera for fear of harming sales of the flagship M. A smaller sensor camera using the M mount was constantly expected but, bravely, Leica decided on a new standard instead of trying to adapt the old standard to new technology.
Even so, when the T arrived in 2014 there was some surprise at the size of the new mount. It seemed like overkill. But with a full-frame camera now using the same mount we can see a carefully laid plan afoot.
As I said, whatever the future of the T (and I hope it will turn into a more traditional camera based on the Leica X), the mount is not in question. So lenses such as the new Summilux prime will be around for a long time and are now certainly a better investment than when they were linked solely to the rather futuristic and not universally loved T.
The website fstoppers.com has just reviewed the Summilux-TL:
It's a thoroughbred Leica lens that, without lens hood, weighs in just shy of a pound and at 423 grams, it is 39 grams heavier than the Leica T. That includes a battery. I will admit that says as much about the camera body as anything, though. The Leica T is carved out of a solid block of aluminum and the Summilux-TL is solid metal construction with 12 elements in 8 groups. Ultimately as a camera-lens package you're looking at under two pounds, but since both are very similar in weight, the balance is wonderful. Length clocks in at just a hair over three inches. Compared to the svelte 1.3-inch depth of the Leica T, it does seem oversized upon the first time you click it on the camera. Part of the reason for this is that the design utilizes internal focusing to prevent the length of the lens from changing between near and far subjects. The more I used it the more comfortable I became with the size, but I do wish it was a bit shorter.
You can read the full review here.
It’s an exciting time for fans of APS-C cameras and I believe we will soon see some more surprises from Leica. There is no doubt that rangefinder-style aficionados are currently feeling drawn to Fuji’s undoubted charms. But this could change if Leica, armed with its new TL mount, launches a real onslaught into the cropped-sensor market. It now has all the building blocks, we just need the new cameras to match the lenses.