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Leica launching budget lenses… starting with rebadged Sigma 24-70mm? (First pic)

Leica launching budget lenses… starting with rebadged Sigma 24-70mm? (First pic)
(Image credit: Nokishita)

UPDATE: The Leica Vario-Elmarit-SL 24–70mm f/2.8 ASPH has been officially announced, but only in Japan. There is no mention of its status as an "economy line" lens – but no pricing information either. 

UPDATE 04 May: An image has leaked of Leica's first "economy line" lens, the Leica Vario-Elmarit-SL 24–70mm f/2.8 ASPH, which is rumored to be a repurposed Sigma 24-70mm optic.  

The Leica Vario-Elmarit-SL 24–70mm f/2.8 ASPH is, according to reports, an upcycled version of the brilliant Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 AF DG DN. The latest story by Leica Rumors claims that the lens will be announced on 06 May, and will carry a price tag of $2,750. It will also be sold as a kit with the Leica SL2 for "just below €6,500 (around $7,800 – US prices are usually lower)."

You can see the 'new' Leica lens side-by-side with its Sigma counterpart below. 

Spot the difference: the Leica Vario-Elmarit-SL 24–70mm f/2.8 ASPH (left) next to the Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 AF DG DN (Image credit: Nokishita)

ORIGINAL STORY (23 Apr): Leica is set to launch a new "economy line" of lenses, starting with the Leica Vario-Elmarit-SL 24–70mm f/2.8 ASPH – which, according to a new report, is actually a rebranded Sigma optic. 

The words "Leica" and "economy" aren't typically uttered in the same sentence, but the Leica Vario-Elmarit-SL 24–70mm f/2.8 ASPH could be set to be the first budget optic in the Leica lens lineup. 

• Read more: Best L-Mount lensesBest Leica SL lenses

The new lens would provide a constant aperture alternative to the existing Leica Vario-Elmarit-SL 24-90mm f/2.8-4 ASPH. However, it will apparently be a rebodied version of the brilliant Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 AF DG DN optic (which we awarded five stars in our review). 

Leica Rumors, which broke the news, was initially skeptical. "The optics of the new lens will be based on the Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 DG DN Art lens," wrote the website. "This is hard for me to believe – Leica will take a Sigma lens and put a red dot on top of it?"

As it posted later, though, we have seen this from Leica before. "A reader reminded me that this is not the first time Leica is rebranding Sigma lenses. Back in the 90s Leica offered the Vario-Elmar 28-70/3,5-4,5 as a kit lens for the R7 – this was a Sigma lens, but the body and mechanics were totally different from the original Sigma lens that had plastic-like housing."

And of course, Leica has a tradition of rebadging Panasonic products, including the Leica D-Lux 7 (Panasonic LX100 II) and Leica SL2 (Panasonic S1R). 

Whether or not it's a repackaged product from another manufacturer, according to Leica Rumors this is what we can expect from the Leica Vario-Elmarit-SL 24–70mm f/2.8 ASPH:

  • The Leica VARIO-ELMARIT-SL 24-70mm f/2.8 ASPH lens will be a part of a new “economy line” from Leica (not sure for the exact name of the new product line)
  • The official announcement should be in May
  • The lens will be priced just slightly higher than the Panasonic Lumix S PRO 24-70mm f/2.8 lens for L-mount (still under €3,000/$3,000?)
  • The lens will not have an all-metal body like other Leica SL lenses
  • The design and construction will be very similar to the current Panasonic Lumix S PRO 24-70mm f/2.8 lens for L-mount:

Read more: 

Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 AF DG DN review
Leica SL2 review
Leica SL2-S review

James Artaius

The editor of Digital Camera World, James started working in the photographic industry in 2014 as an assistant to Damian McGillicuddy – successor to David Bailey as Principal Photographer for Olympus. In this time he shot for clients as diverse as Aston Martin Racing, Elinchrom and L'Oréal, in addition to shooting campaigns and product testing for Olympus, and providing training for professionals. An Olympus and Canon user, James was previously technique editor on PhotoPlus: The Canon Magazine.