February 7, 2020

The Ultimate Leica, Panasonic, and Sigma L-Mount Camera Guide

Everything L-mount related in one place. 

Back in 2018, Leica, Panasonic, and Sigma joined efforts to develop cameras and lenses using a universal L-mount for APS-C and full-frame formats. It’s been well-received by filmmakers, especially cameras like the Panasonic Lumix DC-S1H

It's important to note that this article doesn't compare L-mount cameras or lenses to its competitors like those from Blackmagic, Canon, Fujifilm, Nikon, Sony, etc. However, it is an up-to-date guide of the L-mount cameras, lenses and adapters that offers comparisons and suggestions along the way.  

Leica L-Mount Cameras

Leica SL2

A second-generation SL hybrid camera, the body has been redesigned earning an IP54 rating for weather-sealing. Its internal capabilities have been upgraded too and feature a 47.3MP full-frame CMOS sensor and Maestro III image processor.

The SL2 can record 5K (4992 x 3744) 4:2:0 10-bit internally as well as 4K DCI (4096 x 2160) 4:2:2 10-bit at variable data and frame rates. Full HD offers frame rates up to 180fps. Picture profile selections include Hybrid Log Gamma (HLG) and L-Log gamma for greater flexibility when color grading. ISO is expandable to 50-50000and the full-sized HDMI port offers 10-bit 4:2:2 external recording.

The camera has a fixed 3.2” touchscreen LCD, dedicated 3.5mm microphone and headphone jack, dual SD card slots, an autofocus system with 225 selectable AF areas and a unique Cine Mode that switches the SL2 settings from photography (f-stops, ISO, etc) to a friendly cine mode (ASA, T-stops, etc). Price $5995.

Key Features

  • 47MP Full-Frame CMOS Sensor
  • 5K, 4K DCI, 4K UHD Recording
  • 8/10-bit Internal, 10-bit External
  • Autofocus, 225 Focus Points
  • IBIS
  • 3.5mm Mic/Headphone jacks
  • EVF, Touchscreen LCD

Leica SL (Typ 601)

Introduced in 2015 it was Leica’s first full-frame mirrorless camera. Since this model has been discontinued we suggest considering the SL2.

Leica CL

A compact camera designed for photographers. Introduced in 2017. Features a 24MP APS-C sized CMOS sensor and Maestro II image processor as well as a 49-point contrast-detect AF system. It’s capable of 4K UHD 30p and has both an EVF and responsive touchscreen. 32GB of internal memory, plus SD card memory. Photo transfer to smartphones via Wi-Fi. Priced around $3,100.

Leica TL2

Another compact camera designed for photographers. Introduced in 2017.  It features the same 24MP APS-C sized CMOS sensor and Maestro II image processor as the Leica CL, 49-point contrast-detect AF system, 4K UHD 30p video recording, 32GB internal memory, single SD card slot and photo transfer via WiFi. The main difference is that it’s touchscreen only, a 3.7" LCD. Priced around $2,500.  

S1H

Panasonic L-Mount Cameras

Lumix DC-S1H

Dedicated for video capture, the S1H is a 24.2MP full-frame mirrorless camera sharing similar designs as the S1 and S1R. It’s capable of recording 6K 24p, 5.9K 30p and 4K DCI or UHD up to 30p at 4:2:2 10-bit internally. ALL-I, Long GOP and H2.65 HEVC are all supported codecs with data rates up to 400Mpbs.

The camera is stocked with other features like full-frame and Super 35 modes, V-Log/V-Gammut/HLG, dual native ISO with an expandable range of 50-204800,contrast-detect autofocus, in-body image stabilization (IBIS), LUT uploads, scopes, no recording time limits, anamorphic shooting, open gate modes and the ability to record ProRes RAW to an external recorder. Priced around $3999.

Key Features

  • 24.2MP Full-Frame CMOS Sensor
  • 6K, 5.9K, 4K DCI, 4K UHD Recording
  • 10-bit Internal/External
  • Autofocus, 225 Focus Points
  • IBIS
  • 3.5mm Mic/Headphone jacks
  • EVF, Fully Articulating Touchscreen LCD
    S1

Lumix DC-S1

The S1 is the hybrid of the Lumix S series with equal parts S1H and SR. It features a lot of the same features as the S1H but even with the available DMW- SFU2 upgrade, the S1 cannot capture 4K DCI or 10-bit 60p footage internally. However, you can output 10-bit 4:2:2 via HDMI. The data rate on the S1 is also capped at 150Mbps or lower depending on the chosen bit rate and frame rate. Prices around $2,500.

Key Features

  • 24.2MP Full-Frame CMOS Sensor
  • 4K UHD Recording
  • 10-bit Internal/External
  • Autofocus, 225 Focus Points
  • IBIS
  • 3.5mm Mic/Headphone Jacks
  • EVF, Dual Hinged Touchscreen LCD
    S1R

Lumix DC-S1R

The S1R is a camera designed for photography. It’s a full-frame 47.3MP CMOS sensor paired with a Venice engine. Video can be recorded up to 4K UHD 60p but it omits a traditional low-pass filter which means it is more receptacle to introduce moiré in the video. With that, we do not recommend the S1R for those focusing on video. Instead, consider the S1H or S1. Price around $3,670

Key Features

  • 47.3MP CMOS Full-Frame CMOS Sensor
  • 4K UHD Recording
  • 8-bit Internal/External
  • Autofocus, 225 Focus Points
  • IBIS
  • 3.5mm Mic/Headphone jacks
  • EVF, Dual Hinged Touchscreen LCD

S1H & S1 Quick Comparison

Panasonic offers a DMW-SFU2 paid ($199) upgrade for the S1 that unlocks more features but it still doesn't touch the S1H in terms of recording options. Here's an overview of the differences: 

  • S1H records 6K, 5.9K, 4K DCI, 4K UHD, FHD
  • S1 records up to 4K UHD 
  • S1H has an anti-aliasing filter on its sensor
  • S1H allows you to create custom modes with "My List"
  • S1H has a fully articulating touchscreen 
  • S1H has better audio settings
  • S1H has dual UHS-II SD card slots, the S1 has 1 XQD slot, 1 UHS-II SD
  • S1H is slightly larger in size
  • S1H has better heat dissipation

Below is a chart comparing the recording codecs. Shutout to DPReview for the reference. 

Sigma L-Mount Cameras

fp

The Sigma fp has one of the smallest footprints on the market with a full-frame sensor. The L-mount camera has a back-illuminated 24.6 BSI-CMOS sensor (35.9mm x 23.9mm), a contrast-detect AF system and a fully electronic shutter.

Internally it can record CinemaDNG 8-bit in 4K UHD and 12-bit CinemaDNG to an external SSD. It also offers ALL-I/GOP 4K UHD 8-bit 4:2:0 recordings at variable data and frame rates. ISO is expandable to 6-102400. It features quick menu buttons and a fixed touchscreen. You can read our hands-on review here. Price is around $1,899.

Key Features

  • 24.6MP Full-Frame BSI-CMOS Sensor
  • 4K UHD Recording
  • 12-bit External, 8-bit Internal
  • Autofocus, 49 Focus Points
  • No IBIS
  • Electronic image stabilization (EIS)
  • 3.5mm Mic Jack, No Headphone Jack
  • Touchscreen LCD

A Word on L-mount Cameras 

As of now, the best L-mount camera for video-centric productions is the S1H. Not only is it Netflix approved, but future firmware updates could unlock even more features. If you're a hybrid shooter that fires off more photos than video, consider the S1 or Leica SL2. While the Sigma fp has a small footprint it lacks many of the desired features found in the Panasonic S series and Leica SL cameras. Keep in mind these suggestions are based on native L-mount cameras specifically. As we know there are many other available options. 

Leica lenses

Native L-mount Lenses 

L-mount History
It was first introduced by Leica as the T-mount then when the Leica SL arrived in 2015 it became the L-mount. For the alliance, the L-mount received an update in its firmware to improve performance across lenses and adapters.  However, the hardware of the bayonet stayed the same. The L-mount has a 51.6mm inner diameter and a 20mm flange focal distance. 

Leica Primes

  • Summilux-SL 50 F1.4 ASPH
  • APO-Summicron-SL 35 F2 ASPH
  • APO-Summicron-SL 50 F2 ASPH
  • APO-Summicron-SL 75 F2 ASPH
  • APO-Summicron-SL 90 F2 ASPH
  • APO-Super-Summicron-SL 21 F2 ASPH*
  • APO-Summicron-SL 24 F2 ASPH*
  • APO-Summicron-SL 28 F2 ASPH*

*future lens

Leica Zooms

  • Super-Vario-Elmar-SL 16-35 F3.5-4.5 ASPH
  • Vario-Elmarit-SL 24-90 F2.8–4 ASPH
  • APO-Vario-Elmarit-SL 90-280 F2.8-4 ASPH
    Panasonic lenses

Panasonic Primes

  • Lumix S Pro 50mm F1.4
  • Lumix S Pro 85mm F1.8*
  • Lumix S Pro 10mm F2.8*

Panasonic Zooms

  • Lumix S Pro 16-35mm F4.0
  • Lumix S Pro 70-200mm F2.8 OIS
  • Lumix S Pro 70-200mm F4.0 OIS
  • Lumix S Pro 24-105mm F4.0 MACRO OIS*

​*future lens

Sigma lenses

Sigma Primes (Art)

  • 14mm F1.8 DG HSM 
  • 20mm F1.4 DG HSM 
  • 24mm F1.4 DG HSM 
  • 28mm F1.4 DG HSM 
  • A35mm F1.2 DG DN 
  • 35mm F1.4 DG HSM 
  • 50mm F1.4 DG HSM 
  • 70mm F2.8 DG MACRO 
  • 85mm F1.4 DG HSM 
  • 105mm F1.4 DG HSM 
  • 135mm F1.8 DG HSM 
  • 140mm F1.4 DG HSM

Sigma Zooms (Art)

  • 14-24mm F2.8 DG DN

Sigma Prime (Contemporary)

  • 45mm F2.8 DG DN
  • 16mm F1.4 DC DN*
  • 30mm F1.4 DC DN*
  • 56mm F1.4 DC DN*

​*future lens

A Word on L-mount Lenses

Leica, Panasonic, and Sigma will continue to develop lenses. Sigma also has cine lenses that can be adapted via a PL to L-mount adapter. Find out more about adapters below. 

Sigma MC-21, Leitz SL-PL, Sigma MC-31

Adapters

In the lens section we mentioned the L-mount has a 51.6mm inner diameter and a 20mm flange focal distance. Those two measurements are important when manufacturing adapters. Why? For a few reasons, but let’s highlight what focal flange distance is first. 

What is focal flange distance (FFD)
First, it can be called different things like flange focal depth, flange back distance (FBD), flange focal length (FFL) or register, but each name is synonymous with the same thing: it’s the distance between the lens mount flange and the sensor or film plane.

FFD works alongside depth of focus which is not be confused with depth of field. Depth of focus is the distance between the lens and the image plane. In the field, it’s often referred to as back focus. Unlike depth of field, depth of focus is measured on a microscopic level down to hundredths of millimeters and dictates the accuracy of the mounting of the lens on a camera.

Importance of mount diameter and focal flange distance (FFD) with adapters
Now that we know what FFD is, we can begin to understand their importance. When making an adapter it's needs to align properly. If the lens if off even less than a millimeter its focus scale will not be accurate and it may not focus to infinity. There also needs to be enough space between the camera mount and the lens to add an adapter. Generally speaking, the shorter the native flange distance on a camera system the more lenses you’ll be able to attach. Below are some common diameters and focal flange distances. 

Diameters of Common Mounts

  • Canon R, EF, EF-S: 54mm
  • Fuji X: 44mm
  • L-mount: 51.6mm
  • Nikon F: 44mm
  • Nikon Z: 55mm
  • Pentax K: 44mm
  • Sony E: 46.1mm
  • Sony A: 49.7mm

FFD of Common Mounts

  • Canon RF: 20mm
  • Canon EF, EF-S, 44mm
  • Fujifilm X: 17.7mm
  • L-mount: 20mm
  • Pentax K: 45.46mm
  • Nikon F: 46.50mm
  • Nikon Z: 16mm
  • Sony A: 44.5mm
  • Sony E: 18mm

​Knowing this allows us to calculate the size of the adapter. If you wanted to adapt Canon EF to L-mount, the adapter need to be 24mm thick (44mm FFD - 20mm FFD = 24mm). For the diameter the Canon EF side would need to 54mm and the L-mount side would need to be 51.5mm. Now you know adapter basics. 

S1H and Sigma MC-31

Native L-mount Adapters

Now let's talk about the adapters themselves. Leica, Panasonic and Sigma L-mount adapters will be the better choice as a whole with the camera system. Features like autofocus, aperture and contact points will be calibrated specifically between the lenses and cameras. However, it’s worth noting some native adapters do not work on all L-mount cameras. Be sure to check as firmware updates can change things at the time of posting. 

Leica

  • Leica M-Adapter L - $435
    Works with all L-mount cameras
  • Leica R-Adapter L - $1,015
    Works with all L-mount cameras
  • Leica S-Adapter L - $1,495
    Work only with Leica SL series cameras
  • Leitz Cine SL-Mount Camera to PL Lens Adapter - $1,300
    Works with all L-mount cameras

Bonus
If you’re adapting Leica R-mount lenses you can save a few dollars and stack two adapters. To do this use a R-Adapter M and then the M-Adapter L to mount to the camera. Cost savings around $150. 

  • Leica R-Adapter M - $435
  • Leica M-Adapter L -$435

Sigma

  • MC-21 Mount Converter - $249
    Works with all L-mount cameras
  • MC-31 PL-L Mount – TBD
    Works with all L-mount cameras

Native PL to L-mount

  • Leitz Cine SL-Mount Camera to PL Lens Adapter - $1,300
  • Sigma MC-31 PL-L Mount - TBD

Sigma has yet to release pricing or availability for the MC-31, but we did reach out to Leitz, and they confirmed both Leitz and Sigma PL to L-mount adapters will work on all L-mount cameras. Additionally, both adapters will be similar in design and functionality. Lastly, there won’t be a benefit to using one over the other.

Native EF to L-mount

  • Sigma MC-21 Mount Converter - $249

The MC-21 technically is only to adapt Sigma EF lenses to L-mount, but many Canon EF lenses work as well. The caveat is that is some focal lengths lose functionality like lens image stabilization, aperture settings and autofocus. Here’s an unofficial compatibly chart we found useful.

c7 ARRI to L-mount, Metabones ARRI to L-mount, Wooden Camera ARRI to L-mount

Third-Party Adapters

There are dozens of third-party adapters out there from reputable sources like, c7, Fotodiox, Metabones and Wooden Camera among others. With the Amazon marketplace, it opens up even more options. Below are adapters we've found to be a viable option. Be sure to check with the manufacturer directly as certain specs like autofocus and lens image stabilization might not function. Adapters can be updated with firmware over time.  (*native adapters listed for price comparison)

PL to L-mount

  • c7 PL to L Mount - $360
  • c7 ARRI PL to L Mount - $600
  • Fotodiox Pro Lens Mount Adapter - $149.95
  • KIPON PL-Mount Lens to L-Mount - $469
  • Metabones ARRI PL Lens to L-mount T CINE Adapter - $369
  • MTF L-Mount to PL Adapter - $405
  • Novoflex PL Lens to L-Mount - $524
  • Wooden Camera PL Lens to L-mount - $499
  • *Leitz Cine SL-Mount Camera to PL Lens Adapter- $1,300
  • *SIGMA MC-31 PL-L Mount – TBD

Canon EF to L-Mount

  • Novoflex Canon EF Lens to L-mount - $695
  • *Sigma MC-21 Mount Converter - $249

Canon FD / FL to L-mount

  • Metabones Canon FD / FL Lens to L-mount T Adapter - $89
  • Novoflex Canon FD Lens to L-mount - $165

Leica M-Lenses to L-mount

  • Fotodiox Pro Lens Mount Adapter Leica M to L - $59.95
  • KIPON Mount Adapter for Leica M-mount L-mount - $105
  • Metabones Leica M Lens to L-mount T Adapter - $99
  • Novoflex Leica M lenses to L-mount cameras - $210
  • * Leica M-Adapter L -$435

Leica R-Lenses to L-mount

  • Fotasy Leica R Lens to L Adapter - $15.99
  • KIPON Mount Adapter for Leica R-mount to L-mount - $105
  • Metabones Leica R lens to L-mount T Adapter - $99
  • Novoflex Leica R to L-mount - $165
  • * Leica R-Adapter L - $1,015

Minolta MD to L-mount

  • Metabones Minolta MD Lens to L-mount T Adapter - $99

Nikon F-Mount G Type to L-mount

  • Fotodiox DLX Lens Mount Adapter G-Type - $139.95
  • Metabones Nikon G Lens to L-mount T Adapter - $99

Olympus OM to L-mount

  • Novoflex Olympus OM Lens to Leica SL - $165

Pentax K Lens to L-mount

  • Novoflex Pentax K Lens to Leica SL - $235

Final Thoughts

If you had positive results with a third-party adapter not found on the list tell us in the comments section. As the L-mount alliance continues to grow it will be great for filmmakers. The more that manufacturers come together and create standards the better off filmmakers will be. Imagine if all the major players decided on a universal mount. How incredible would that be? One can dream.     

Your Comment