Blackmagic has just joined the L-Mount Alliance – a LeBron-like superteam consisting of some of the biggest names in the imaging industry, such as Leica, Panasonic, Sigma and DJI. With a lineup like this, does it now rival the likes of Canon of Sony?
With the launch of the Blackmagic Cinema Camera 6K last week, Blackmagic launched its first L-Mount camera and officially joined the all-star Alliance – an Alliance that has grown from a "big three" of Leica, Panasonic and Sigma when it was announced in 2018 to a "big seven" just five years later (technically it's a "big eight", though the Red Dot family is represented twice with both Leica and Leitz).
Individually, none of these players – which also includes Samyang and Astrodesign – is a match for Canon and Sony. We need only look at the most recent market share data to see as much: Canon owns 46.5% of the market, Sony has 26.1%, Nikon 11.7%, Fujifilm 5.8%, followed by Panasonic in a distant fifth with 4.2%.
On paper, even when you add the shares of all seven members, the Alliance is still but a blip on the radar compared to the market leaders. But there's more to it than that.
Photographers and videographers buy brands, first and foremost. But after that, they buy cameras – they don't buy lens mounts. For example, they buy the Canon EOS R5; they don't buy the RF mount. They buy the Sony A7 IV; they don't buy the E mount.
The landscape, however, is changing. With the rise of affordable third-party lenses – and particularly the cheap but increasingly fantastic Chinese glass – customers are starting to pay more attention to what a specific lens mount has to offer. And this is only intensifying with Canon restricting third-party optics for its cameras (and Nikon doing something similar).
The idea of selling a unified camera ecosystem, supported by the biggest boutique manufacturers in the business, is a highly compelling one. It's the same playbook run by Panasonic (déjà vu) and Olympus with the Micro Four Thirds format – which again includes Sigma, DJI and Blackmagic, along with 40 other manufacturers.
If the average customer goes to a camera shop, and the sales assistant tells them that the EOS R5 is the best camera in the world but it has a very restricted lens lineup, but the Panasonic S1R is almost as good and has some of the best brands in the business all making lenses for it, which would they go for?
I don't know. But it's certainly going to be interesting to find out.