Leica and Panasonic will release a jointly developed mirrorless camera next year, according to a statement made by Panasonic.
This will be the first fruit born of the L² Technology partnership ("Leica x Lumix") between the two companies, which was announced in May. However, while many expected this to be a continuation of the technology sharing that the brands currently enjoy, the statement from Panasonic makes clear that they are joining forces to produce an entirely new camera.
"We are planning to release a mirrorless machine jointly developed with Leica Camera, which we formed a comprehensive partnership with at the end of May, in about a year," the manufacturer told Nikkei (opens in new tab) (thanks, Digital Camera Info (opens in new tab)).
This sounds like a distinct step away from the traditional camera strategy between the two companies, which has historically seen Leica releasing Panasonic bodies under its own branding (such as the Leica D-Lux 7, which is essentially a Panasonic LX100 II (opens in new tab), and the Leica SL2 (opens in new tab), which is effectively a Panasonic S1R (opens in new tab)).
So, what could this new camera look like from a technological point of view? What would make it different from a standard Panasonic camera, or a standard Leica camera? What sensor size will it employ? What mount will it use?
Well, we can be sure of at least one of these things. The new camera will almost certainly feature the L-Mount, given that it is a joint product of two founding members of the L-Mount Alliance. In turn, it would also stand to reason that it would feature a full frame image sensor.
In terms of how it would differ from each brand's individual cameras, that's hard to say. Panasonic cameras are typically defined by video-first capabilities, ergonomic yet oversized bodies, and an aversion to phase-detect autofocus technology. Leica's (mirrorless) cameras tend to embody sleek design, premium pricing and… well, the same specs and innards as Panasonic cameras.
So what does a hybrid of these systems look like? Perhaps a more slick-looking camera, with more of a balance between stills and video performance, and greater focus on the art of imaging. Just please, please have phase detect AF. Please.