Almost a year ago we talked about Leica about Leica, Panasonic and Sigma’s announcement of their collaboration on the L lens mount. Since then, the release of the excellent Panasonic S1H has done much to publicise the mount, which was based on an earlier Leica design. Half the point of a wide, shallow mount like L is that it’s easy to adapt to other things, and that’s where MTF Services come in.
The company has long made carefully-shaped widgets to allow x lens to be used with y camera, where x and y are more or less anything that could possibly be made to fit. MTF has even been attaching micro four-thirds mounts to Fujifilm’s MK zooms. Now, the company has offered us a sneak preview of two things that are relevant to L-mount owners: a PL mount converter, and an L mount option that fits the Fujinon MK zooms directly.
Both will be shown at the BSC Expo 2020 and should be available shortly afterward. The PL adaptor comes with an aluminium PL port cap, Arca Swiss support, and shims. Yes, it’s shimmable, as PL mounts really must be, though to be fair it’s not clear how repeatable the L mount itself is. The S1H camera in general seems extremely solidly built and well capable of doing its part in supporting large lenses, though PL lenses can be very large and it’ll often be a case of mounting the camera to the lens, not vice versa.
Panasonic S1H with Fujinon MK18-55mm lens, with MTF's L mount conversion
The MK18-55 looks surprisingly reasonable on an S1H; it’s a diminutive moving-image zoom on a relatively large camera. The lens covers only the Super-35mm area, of course, but that’s less of a downside on the S1H than on lesser cameras, since it’s capable of deriving 4K from is APS-C sensor area and achieves up to 59.94fps in that situation, with reduced rolling shutter. This is possibly the most effective way to use the camera unless we’re particularly desperate for full frame and have bought the focus puller a case of beer.
All these things are nice. The MK lenses are a great option for people with E (and with MTF’s help, micro four-thirds and now L) mounted cameras. Making compact, mechanical zooms at mid-market prices is tricky and splitting the focal length range into two products is one of several sensible approaches. Regarding the PL mount, there are alternatives for roughly VistaVision-sized sensors (LPL principally among them), but there are, nevertheless, a good few PL primes around which will cover most of the S1H’s sensor, including the Schneider Xenon, Sigma Cine and Classics, Cooke S7s, Canon’s CN-E series, and of course Leica in the form of their nine-lens Thalia series.
The fact that Canon is at reaching for the off-switch on EF after three decades reminds us that the L mount has barely left the starting grid. S1H owners might well like the idea that these things are becoming available, but it’s also a vote of confidence in the Leica-Panasonic-Sigma project itself.