Panasonic and Leica - 'Real' Leicas and the red dot for sale - Leica Q (Typ 116) and Leica T (Typ 701) and the future.

'Sony follows Zeiss and design protocol but manufacturers and distributes the lens independently from Zeiss.'

'Panasonic will be able to commercialize digital camera products with Leica lenses over the next five years, from October 2014 to September 2019 while Leica will be able through the expansion and strengthening of technological cooperation to utilize Panasonic's digital technology in its own product development. The agreement will allow both companies to boost product competitiveness by combining Leica's optical technology and Panasonic's digital technology.'

Two relationships between an electronics giant and a well-established and respected German based lens manufacturer. Though as you can see, there is a difference. And reading the first quote, it's actually difficult to see how much Zeiss there is in Sony / Zeiss. Not a lot it seems. It couldn't be that Zeiss sell Sony the use of their name to give Sony lenses some undeserved gravitas. It really couldn't be, could it? Surely not.

However, what is true is that Leica and Panasonic have had a relationship since Panasonic's early forays into the 4/3 system, the L1 (Leica's version was the Digilux 3) the L10  (No Leica version) and the 4 lenses they produced together. All of which I've owned (cameras and lenses) and which are all very high quality, though by today's standard, somewhat slow and 'pixel challenged'

The lenses.

  • Leica Panasonic 14-50mm f2.8-3.5
  • Leica Panasonic 14-50mm f/3.8-5.6
  • Leica Panasonic 14-150mm f3.5-5.6
  • Leica Panasonic 25mm f/1.4

The first ever m4/3 and therefore MCE (Mirrorless / CSC / E.V.I.L) camera the Panasonic G1 had a Leica branded 14-45mm zoom, still regarded in high esteem and Leica have continued to provide lens technology for many Panasonic optics since then, including the highly regarded 42.5mm f/1.2 and the lens in Panasonic's CM1 smartphone. And of course there are the Leica badged Panasonic clones such as the D-LUX (Typ 109) that I have.

And while I've never seen a definitive explanation of who does what, this seems to be a strong ongoing relationship and somewhat more genuine than Zeiss's  tenuous link with Sony. This will however be something different since Zeiss don't make cameras.

So yes my 'Leica' D-LUX (Typ 109) is definitely more a Panasonic than a Leica though and according to the Panasonic document I got the quote from at the top of the page, it seems Leica actually have very little to do with it as it is manufactured entirely by Panasonic. It is however different in design with an add-on grip instead of one built in. 

I took the combination pictured at the top of the page (Leica Q / Leica D-LUX) out the other day and it suited me very well. 

The day after I went out with the Leica Q (Typ 116) and my Leica T (Typ 701) plus 55-135mm zoom.

And yesterday I went out with the Leica Q (Typ 116) on it's own.

Maybe you can see where this is going. Is it really possible I could end up using the red dot cameras exclusively? I've already bought a flight case type carrier for my Leica T system, I see the D-LUX (Typ 109) as my premier video shooting camera (lovely 4K footage) I've already sold all my Fuji gear and as of yesterday all my Sony gear has gone and my Nikon Df is for sale on ebay. 

I love the simplicity, the size and weight and the quality of my Leica gear (and Leica clone gear) and I actually find it inspires me to create images more than my other systems. I also enjoy using it more for a variety of reasons and a combination of Leicas and smartphones, which let me experiment in all sorts of different ways, is starting to become very attractive and I'm even looking at a couple of old red dot cameras, the M8 and Digilux 3, which I owned and still get very nostalgic about. And most of that is down to the Leica Q (Typ 116)  In a stock photography market where the no. of pixels in a file is becoming irrelevant and a less conservative approach becoming the norm, it's not going to cost me sales to use Leica cameras and smartphones. And the future of stock is most definitely a hybrid / convergence one with video becoming as important as stills. It's not there yet, but it's inevitable. And since my Leicas and smartphones all shoot very decent video and certainly of a quality that all my libraries are happy with, that area of my work is covered.

Above all Leicas are about the image. Those who like to take cheap shots at the brand think it's all about the money and the prestige, but it's not. The Leica Q (Typ 116) is a fabulous camera that is quick, great at high ISO's and produces beautiful image files. With what else I have and carry around with me, I have the focal ranges I need covered and the Q's ability to produce files I can crop and / or take Panoramic images from is more versatile than you might think. Besides, I have no need to convince anybody else about this, since what feels right for me is what I will do. It may still not happen, but the amount of large cardboard boxes going regularly out my front door is signifying something. The more times I go out shooting with a Leica, the more I seem to like it. And I guess in the end it's a case of class will out. I'm not the first photographer to be inspired and seduced by the most iconic brand in photography and I won't be the last. And if this is just 'red dot' fever then it's something I embrace willingly. And as I repeat ad infinitum, the difference between me and the Leica haters is I get to use this stuff and they don't. And that attitude doesn't make me angry any more, why would it? As far as I'm concerned I've got the best deal.