Leica: The L mount, stabilisation and the rangefinderless M camera
In-body stabilisation has not been ruled out by Leica, according to Stefan Shultz, global director of the professional business unit. Speaking in the question-and-answer opening session of the LHSA meeting in Wetzlar, he pointed out that, while so far in-lens stabilisation has been favoured — as in the SL zooms — it is relatively difficult to make stabilised high-quality primes. This alone makes a case for IBS, and he doesn’t rule out the possibility of future bodies featuring stabilisation.
Stefan Schultz is the principal architect of the new L-Mount Alliance and sees many new lenses coming from the partners over the next two years. Stefan Daniel, global product director, emphasised that all three partners in the alliance will be making both cameras and lenses and all will remain, competitors, while enjoying the benefit of a standard mount system. “We don’t share details, we don’t know what the other partners are planning.”
Mr Daniel feels enthusiastic about the future of the alliance, although he said that there were no plans to extend membership beyond the original three partners. There would be a period of consolidation, but the overall result of the L-Mount Alliance will be to benefit the consumer, offering a much wider choice and a range of price points. Stefan Shultz pointed out that Leica would continue to provide the highest possible quality. In contrast to "more affordable" lenses offered by some other manufacturers, “Leica lenses are never affordable,” he joked.
New lens mount
Stefan Daniel mentioned the role of Peter Karbe, who was also present at the meeting, in developing what was then the T-Mount from its conception in 2010/11. It was designed to be sufficiently large to handle almost any lenses that could be envisaged. Peter Karbe had been very farsighted in identifying the need for a new lens mount that could fully support future generations of digital cameras. There was no secret that Leica had initially considered using the M mount in its digital mirrorless cameras, but that would have been too restrictive. The L mount is a far more capable vehicle for future development.
Will we ever see a Leica M with an EVF in place of the rangefinder, asked one member of the audience. Jesko von Oeynhausen, product manager responsible for the M range, was quite clear in stating that the M would always remain a rangefinder. Leica had looked at the possibility of a hybrid finder but had decided that it would not be possible to incorporate such a device into the M without altering the classic dimensions. There would remain the option of an external EVF, but the central ethos of the rangefinder would continue. Stefan Daniel pointed out that there had been some interest among consumers for an M camera with an EVF in place of the rangefinder. Such a “second M” had not been ruled out.