It has been a great year for the L-Mount Alliance. The alliance welcomed new members Samyang and Astrodesign in July, and Blackmagic Design joined in September.
As for new gear, there was quite a bit, especially regarding new lenses from Leica, Panasonic, and Sigma. It is worth noting that Panasonic will be a big player in this recap, but only for its L-Mount equipment. Panasonic’s Micro Four Thirds system, which experienced an interesting 2023, will be included in a separate recap for Micro Four Thirds cameras and lenses.
New L-Mount Cameras in 2023
There have been few new L-Mount cameras released in 2023, but the ones that have arrived are extremely significant. At CES in January, Panasonic unveiled the Lumix S5 II and Lumix S5 IIX full-frame mirrorless cameras.
While “S5 successors” in name, these cameras represent a significant turning point for Panasonic’s full-frame S-Series camera system. Not only are the two models, which differ only slightly in terms of appearance and features, extremely impressive, but they are also the first Panasonic cameras to include phase-detect autofocus. Finally.
The S5 II and IIX have been a smash hit for Panasonic and have even helped the full-frame Lumix system reach new, younger buyers, especially content creators who require strong photo and video performance.
While the future of the S1-series cameras remains murky, Panasonic’s L-Mount system in general has been resurgent in 2023 following a rather quiet 2022.
Sigma didn’t launch a new camera in 2023, although it arguably should release an APS-C L-Mount camera at some point. And Leica, which released new cameras like the M11 Monochrom, Q3, and M11-P, also didn’t launch a new L-Mount camera this year. Leica did release a sleek silver color variant of its full-frame L-Mount SL2 camera, though. As good as it looks, it doesn’t count as “new.”
New L-Mount Alliance member Blackmagic Design released the Blackmagic Cinema Camera 6K in September, and it is a spectacular new video camera with a ton of amazing features and an impressive full-frame image sensor. The camera is still quite fresh, but it seems like it lives up to the massive hype and then some, and has access to some really amazing L-Mount lenses.
Lots of L-Mount Lenses in 2023
Alongside the Lumix S5 II and S5 IIX camera models, Panasonic also announced the Lumix S 14-28mm f/4-5.6 Macro lens for L-Mount. The $800 lens is Panasonic’s widest full-frame zoom lens and tied with the Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 DG DN Art and Leica Super-Vario-Elmarit SL 14-24mm f/2.8 ASPH as the widest L-Mount zoom lens overall.
Speaking of ultra-wide lenses, the L-Mount Alliance got a second 14mm lens this year, the fabulous Sigma 14mm f/1.4 DG DN Art for L-Mount and E-Mount full-frame cameras. The “nocturnal monster” has also been named PetaPixel‘s Prime Lens of the Year for 2023.
Another founding member of the L-Mount Alliance, Leica, may not have released a new L-Mount camera model this year, but the company launched many new lenses. In February, Leica released the Summicron-SL 35mm f/2 ASPH and 50mm f/2 ASPH prime lenses, two surprisingly affordable Leica primes for L-Mount cameras. Granted, they aren’t cheap, with the 35mm f/2 costing $2,195 and the 50mm prime setting photographers back $1,895. However, they are way more affordable than the APO-SL 35mm and APO-SL 50mm L-Mount lenses, each costing over $5,000.
The following month, Leica revealed its longest SL System lens, the Vario-Elmar 100-400mm f/5-6.3. The lens also works with the new Extender L 1.4x teleconverter Leica announced simultaneously.
As mentioned above, the Leica Super-Vario-Elmarit-SL 14-24mm f/2.8 ASPH lens is tied for the widest lens in the L-Mount system, and that lens was announced only a couple of months ago alongside a second wide-angle lens, the Leica Super-APO-Summicron-SL 21mm f/2 ASPH. These offer landscape and astrophotographers very exciting new options for L-Mount cameras, and are, by all accounts, excellent lenses.
Returning to Sigma, the company released many new lenses in L-Mount, including for both APS-C and full-frame cameras. The Sigma 60-600mm f/4.5-6.3 DG DN OS lens arrived in January for E-Mount and L-Mount cameras. Sigma launched a new 50mm f/1.4 DG DN Art lens for the same mounts the following month.
In April, Sigma released a trio of Contemporary lenses, including the Sigma 17mm f/4 and 50mm f/2 DG DN primes for full-frame E and L-Mount cameras and the Sigma 23mm f/1.4 DC DN C for APS-C cameras with E, L, and X mounts.
The aforementioned Sigma 14mm f/1.4 was announced in June, and then Sigma announced its final two lenses of 2023 in October. The Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 DG DN OS Sports for E-Mount and L-Mount cameras offers photographers another excellent 70-200mm f/2.8 zoom lens to choose from, while the Sigma 10-18mm f/2.8 DC DN is a fast, wide-angle lens for APS-C E, L, and X mount mirrorless cameras.
Grading the L-Mount Alliance in 2023
While there is so much to look forward to for the L-Mount Alliance in 2024, including seeing what relatively new entrants DJI, Samyang, Astrodesign, and Blackmagic Design bring to the table next year, we must grade the system based on what did happen in 2023.
As for cameras, while there are only two new L-Mount cameras this year, they were both excellent. Even though the Lumix S5 II and S5 IIX are practically identical, they bring enough difference to the table to treat them as separate models, and photographers can’t go wrong with either one.
It is a shame that we haven’t seen an updated S1R model since the S1 and S1R launched in early 2019, leaving a bit of a high-res gap in Panasonic’s lineup, but the S5 II cameras are truly fantastic nonetheless.
It’s disappointing that Sigma’s long-awaited full-frame Foveon camera, which will most assuredly sport an L-Mount, has yet to arrive. A silver Leica SL-2 doesn’t quite make up for it, either.
The L-Mount Alliance got even more cinema goodness with the Blackmagic Design Cinema Camera 6K.
The L-Mount Alliance’s new 2023 cameras earn a B.
There were many great new L-Mount lenses this year, including the revelatory Sigma 14mm f/1.4 DG DN Art lens. With other new wide-angle lenses like the Panasonic 14-28mm and Leica 14-24mm, landscape photographers have a lot to celebrate.
There were also some new longer primes and longer lenses in general, although telephoto lenses remain needed for the L-Mount. The longest full-frame prime lens is the Sigma 135mm f/1.8 DG HSM Art, which, while nice, is not very long. The longest zoom lens is the Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG DN OS Sports, which is good but not fast. The L-Mount Alliance is in desperate need of fast telephoto lenses.
With that continued need in mind, the L-Mount lenses we did get this year are still very good. The L-Mount Alliance’s lens performance earns an A-minus grade.
Overall, the L-Mount Alliance had a strong showing in 2023, adding new members and getting some great new gear. B-plus.