According to a report from UK-based photographers’ website DIY Photography, the imminent Leica Vario-Elmarit-SL 24-70mm f/2.8 ASPH is almost identical to the Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 DG DN Art in size and specifications, although Leica is asking almost three times the price for the red-dotted version.
The only significant design difference between the US$1099 Sigma and the US$2795 Leica is that there is some metal used in the housing on the Leica version – increasing weight about 20g – while the Sigma housing is all carbon composite. There is some speculation that the Leica uses one more ‘exotic’ glass element than the Sigma, but no longer any speculation about where the Leica 24-70mm lens is manufactured: Japan.
According to a Leica spokesperson via B&H, ‘This Leica Vario-Elmarit SL 24-70mm variant is produced in Japan utilizing Leica’s stringent quality control and ultra precise parameters including a durable full metal housing and aqua dura coating ensuring it meets the high quality standards that characterize the Leica brand.’
‘The number of elements, groups, minimum focus distance, magnification factor, everything is basically the same,’ writes John Aldred in DIY Photography. ‘What other changes there may be internally are unknown. But it almost certainly seems to be using Sigma’s optics.’
The other L-mount 24-70mm f2.8, the Panasonic Lumix S Pro 24-70mm F2.8, (US$2200) is clearly of different design and construction.
Another international website flagged that the the ‘Sigma-like’ Leica 24-70mm is the first in what is to be a ‘budget’ line of Leica lenses, although Leica itself describes the new lens as having an ‘ excellent price-performance ratio’. If that’s the case Sigma already has a range of short flange back L-mount lenses which could flesh out the tautology which is a Leica budget lens range, including the the 14-24mm f/2.8, the 35mm f/1.2 and the 45mm f/2.8.
The price at which Sigma is delivering premium performance lenses is disrupting the cosy closed market for premium optics enjoyed by the camera makers pretty well forever. It’s not surprising that Leica, which takes a number and then doubles it to arrive at its product prices, might be feeling the need to offer less eye-watering amounts to play a meaningful role in the camera market. It has already done so with re-badged Panasonic cameras, such as the Leica D-Lux 7 (Panasonic LX100 II) and Leica SL2 (Panasonic S1R).
Expect to see some more of these Made in Japan Leica lenses in the future!
Full Leica Europe press release. No local release details as yet from Leica Australia: Press+Information_Leica+Vario-Elmarit-SL+24-70+f2.8+ASPH-1