Will Fuji use Leica’s M mount for their upcoming mirrorless camera?

Next Fuji camera: a baby M9?

Two days ago Fujifilm announced their plans for a new mirrorless camera with interchangeable lenses. The new X system camera will be a "premium" camera" with “resolution and low noise that will surpass the 35mm full size sensor”. There were some speculations that Fuji may actually use Leica's M mount for their upcoming mirrorless camera (FYI: Fuji did produce Leica L39 mount lenses in the past).

The Leica M mount design is currently in the public domain and is no longer protected by any patents (the term of a patent is typically 20 years):

 

Source: patents 2038261 and 2643581

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  • As much as I love my M9, I do think a little competition is good. If Fuji comes up with a M solution with superior digital images (especially at higher ISOs) then I would serious consider it (provided the color of the camera bodies match the black or the chrome finish of the Leica lenses, of course!)

  • James

    Not gonna happen. Any mount on the Fuji camera will have aperture control, unlike the M mount.

    • Ronan

      M glass has aperture control…

      • James

        M glass does not have camera controlled aperture. The aperture of the lens is controlled only by the aperture ring. With all modern cameras the lens is wide open until the moment of exposure–google “stop down metering”.

        Forgive me for not going into greater detail about the flaws of the M mount, but I’ve been doing it entirely too much lately. Just grab your DSLR, tape down the DOF preview button and shoot like that for a couple days if you wanna see what it would be like.

        • Dave

          My X100 is strictly aperture-priority. Aperture is set on the lens itself, not in-camera. Just like a Leica.

          If Fuji introduces an M-mount camera with autofocus m-mount lenses (obviously all current and legacy M-mount lenses do not have autofocus) that would be a serious game-changer.

          • El Aura

            On a M-Leica not only do you set the aperture on the lens, the lens is also always permanently stopped down to the selected aperture. On almost all current cameras the lens only stops down directly before the exposure. While this does not affect the viewfinder on a rangefinder camera and also not the focussing as none of the light passing through the lens is used for that, it does affect any liveview stream (less light, thus more noisy signal and harder to focus, both manually and autofocus).
            Unless you suggest that the Fuji M-mount camera will not have liveview, the always-stopped-down-to-the-selected-aperture is a disadvantage.

          • A.B.

            Yet the nex and m43 cameras make M-mount lenses quite usable in LV?

        • Sebastian

          Great, you didn’t understand the concept of a rangefinder camera. On a rangefinder you don’t have wide open metering, thus you don’t need camera controlled aperture.

          • James

            I understand the concept of rangefinder cameras, wide open metering, and stop down metering perfectly well, thank you very much.

            You clearly don’t understand that digital cameras which provide live view from the sensor require as much light as they can get unless you want the image to disintegrate into useless noise–to say nothing of the vagaries of modern evaluative meters or autofocus (phase or contrast detection), both of which need as much light as you can possibly throw at them.

            An m-mount camera can’t provide that. In good light it’s not a problem, but the minute you move indoors, or a cloud passes in front of the sun, you’re reduced to playing the focus/compose/meter/shoot dance. That will KILL any mass market camera.

          • Gangru

            The peaking facility on the new sensor’s helps in focusing stopped down to an extent.

      • There is nothing in the M mount that makes impossible to have additional electronic contacts in a backwards compatible way:

        If you mount a “M classic” lens, it works as on a Leica. All you have
        to make sure is that short curcuiting contacts is not a problem (because
        it cannot predicted where metal parts will touch)

        And if you add a “M+” Fuji lens, aperture is controlled by electronic contacts,
        and current for AF motors or VR can be supplied by these contacts also. A special notch or magnet could switch on these contacts, so that voltage can applied safely.

        Nikon F mount does have electronic contacts, but nothing stops you mounting an old AI lens from the 70ies.

        • This is exactly what I had in mind – keep the classic M mount for old MF lenses, but make it also compatible for the new AF lenses from Fuji. The best of both worlds. If Fuji can do something like that, and keep it in a decent price range, it will sell like hot cakes.

        • James

          Three points:

          1) The Nikon F mount has always had a camera controlled aperture–from day one. The mount was designed with that in mind. Adding electrical contacts for autofocus and IS was trivial.

          2) The Nikon F mount is larger than the M mount and has a longer flange distance. That space gives designers more room to “enhance” the mount.

          3) There is a possibility that if Fuji modify the M mount for their own use, Leica may adjust the bayonet on their own lenses to interfere with it somehow–provided they can do it without fouling their own cameras. Leica are a very odd company, and I wouldn’t put any idiocy past them. To be fair though, I also wouldn’t put any brilliance past them either.

  • Dan

    Well it would be nice to have a back up for my m9 that can use my Leica glass. Unlikely to happen though. Fuji would want consumers to spend money on their new lenses and not on Leica/Voigtlander/Zeiss etc.

    • Ronan

      Nothing stops them from introducing their own M mount lenses. It would be quite stupid to create ANOTHER new mount.

      Also Fuji has shown they intend to attack Leica’s market, so theirs nothing better to do than that.

      • Also Fuji has shown they intend to attack Leica’s market

        If anyone can “attack” Leica it would’ve happened by now… Leica’s surviving because of its name the exclusivity it gives because of prohibitive prices.

        The current Leica cameras and lenses are garbage by today’s standards.

        • Dave

          Cameras, definitely.

          Lenses, no. Leica unquestionably has the best complete lineup of lenses for 35mm photography today.

        • Hah!

          This is funny, not to mention incredibly ignorant. Leica charges the prices they do for everything they make because it is handmade in limited quantities. Its build quality is superior to the majority of lenses today and the optics follow suit. As far as the camera goes, it is the smallest full-frame digital camera and, for many people, this is enough to compensate for its lack of high iso performance (something many photographers do not need). Basically, Leica glass is worth the money and one who has used one and says otherwise is dumb or lying. Moreover, one who attacks something they cannot afford is, more than likely, envious.

  • I just think that it will be more difficult for Fuji to sell their new proprietary mount. They have already made it clear that they compete directly with Leica on the X1/X100 line.

    • matt

      Selling your own mount isn’t ‘hard’ in this space. Every mirrorless camera so far has invented a new mount; µ4/3, Nikon, NEX, Samsung, and none of them are doing too poorly.

      An M-mount would be a disadvantage in a lot of ways – engineering compromises are the huge one, and unless Fuji is going to integrate a rangefinder (or an electronic RF couple – total calibration nightmare there), Leica lenses will be the same niche interest as they are today with the adapter crowd. If it does work ‘perfectly’ with Leica lenses, then Fuji’s leaving money on the table – a lot of people will go to the used market or to Leica/Cosina.

      • El Aura

        But all of your examples are companies with larger sales than Fuji (in the non-compact camera space). And Olympus and Panasonic did not introduce separate mounts for their camera systems, they share one mount. And the advantage this has in lens selection is still fairly obvious.

  • Todd Hull

    It has happened before!
    Fuji made L39 Leica thread mount lenses… theres one (35mm f/2) sitting on ebay right now for a cool $2,300. I Would LOVE to see an M-mount line of fuji lenses! Something to rival the Zeiss Biogon line of M-mount lense and obliterate the Voigtlanders…
    I def agree with LR Admin,… would be harder to sell.
    The Contax G-Series is one of the only modern rangefinders not to use the M-mount…
    Konica Hexar used M, Voigtlander uses M, Zeiss Ikon uses M, Minolta CLE used M.
    Would be fantastic to see a line of Fujinon M… maybe called the FM?

    • A little bit of science fiction: maybe they can tweak the M mount to make it AF compatible with their new line of X lenses and still work with manual focus M lenses. That way they can still sell their new glass and make it attractive to a wider audience.

      • J Shin

        Or Fuji could (gasp!) work with Leica on this for Leica’s EVIL… 🙂

    • BTW, I did not know Fuji made L39 lenses in the past:

      http://bit.ly/oESCgd

  • this would be rather smart thing to do. I wish Sony did this with nex system. Now Sony stuck with closed system. Stupid of Sony.

  • Nico

    A FF mirrorless with m-mount from Fuji would be a success if it comes with a reasonable price tag and very good iso performance… Because of people that want an M9 that they can’t afford, M9 owners that would trade it for a camera with better performance, and all the people that buy Sony Nex to adapt their M-mount lenses as with the Ricoh GXR but want FF !!!

  • yeah I held one the other day for the first time, its nice, but it weights next to nothing, I’m pretty sure my 24 lux weighs more then it, that could be an issue using existing and legacy M lenses….

    I would be impressed if they weighted it better and it worked well…

    • Dave

      Light weight and small size are desirable qualities in a camera.

      If you think heavy is better, a Nikon D1 might be more suitable to your needs.

      What’s essential is that a camera be rugged and well-built. It doesn’t have to weigh more to achieve that.

  • Well, i wish that so mutch. I barely wait the spring. 🙂

  • I would buy one in a heartbeat.

    I honestly don’t know what “resolution and low noise that will surpass the 35mm full size sensor” means though. APS-C sized sensor that surpasses last gen 35mm sensor? It doesn’t sound like it will actually be a full size sensor. Which really defeats the purpose of an M mount rangefinder- I want to use wide angles! Why I’ve stayed away from the M8 and still using my ancient M2 while I wait for an affordable FF option.

    • Nico

      I hope it won’t be just another mirrorless camera with APS-C sensor………………………………………………………………………………………………….. But…………

  • Wow… this is journalism at its best… deliberately omitting context to stir things up. This is what Brandon Remler said in his blog that lead PhotoRumors to “speculate” about a M mount camera from Fuji:

    I’m glad Fujifilm has the APS-C size sensor to work off of instead of a smaller 4/3″ imager. I would not expect to see full frame for any of the MILC cameras (yet) – price just puts that out of the mainstream budget for most (2011). Leica can have the 24 x 36 arena and stay around $10,000 (with 35 2.0 lens) vs the APS-C X100 at $1200. (Did you know the Leica M-lens mount is not a proprietary mount and thus anyone can make a mount to use their lenses? (I think at least – correct me if wrong- thanks) I’ve seen it on the Minolta CLE – Hexar-RF, Cosina, Rollei 35RF and Zeiss Ikon, and they sure do have a bunch of neat lenses over the past 55+ years, see list way down since 1954).

    Interestingly enough, PR admin (who is also the LR admin?) left off that little part where the guy says FF sensors are “out of the mainstream budget for most (2011)”. Which means any MILC from Fuji going to come out within the next couple of years is not going to have one.

    If the Fuji Guys or whoever said this upcoming camera will have “resolution and low noise that will surpass the 35mm full size sensor” it means it’s anything but a 36×24 and there’s no way it’s going to be bigger. So here’s how we can have better SNR with smaller sensors:

    1. Have several of them. E.g. like 3 CCD. 3x the surface area = 3x the light gathering ability. FF is 864 sq.mm and Fuji’s APS-C is 372.88 sq.mm. Have 3 of their current APS-C sensors you get 372.88 x 3 = 1118.64 sq. mm. Which is 30% bigger than FF.

    2. Have a broader spectral sensitivity – Not likely because that would mess up the colours.

    3. Make very bright lenses – This is doable but doesn’t quite mean the same thing as better than FF SNR. It also won’t help that increased resolution they’re talking about.

    So my bet is Fuji’s going to come up with something that involves getting better system/overall SNR and resolution by using multiple smaller than FF sensors. If you look at things that Fuji has done in the past, this is not even a challenge for them. We’re talking about the same guys who put phase detect sensors on the main sensor here!

  • Jorge

    This would be great, but i highly doubt that fujiwould work with leica. Unless they start making sensors for leica. Fuji already makes glass for hassy. But doesn’t compete with its products. I am a leica user and huge fan of fuji cameras. With the x 100 they have already proven they can make a beautifull sensor and great camera. I agree with somebody above saying that it won’t be full frame ( i wish it was), but that presents a huge challenge, and i think they still want to squeeze more juice out of the x100 sensor or technology. I think they basically said that they will have a very competetive system to challenge what leica will do for next year. Funny to read this now, as i just came back from using a fuji tx1 / hassy xpan this week. Now that is a beautifull camera. I would perrsonally love a digital succesor to that camera, wouldn’t you?

  • I think a lot of now-budget Leica users, like my self, are secretly hoping on a full frame rangefinder with M-mount that is somewhat affordable. Fingers crossed!!

  • While everybody is so excited about possibility of “full frame”, I would like to remind you that 36×24 mm frame was known as a miniature format. Professionals shot medium or large format. So anything smaller than miniature is sub-miniature. I feel electronics companies will convince us that “full frame” is a holly grail, then when they reach the limit of performance will introduce “even better” larger format sensors. I hear giant sucking sound…

  • Rayoflight

    A few things to add:

    1. Strange, but Fuji once had its own bayonet mount called the X mount during the late seventies. Will the name of the ‘X’ mount revive with the new ILC camera lineup?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fujica_X_bayonet

    2. It’s going to be hard to put 3 large APS-like sensors in a small camera body like the X100, not to mention registering / calibrating them to each other.

    3. Fuji’s new sensor therefore may be single-layer-type but with new technology in order to provide better performance. (Organic sensor, revised SuperCCD, revised EXR, BSI CMOS, whatever.) Any thoughts on that?

    4. Fujifilm to make sensors for Leica? It makes sense, because Kodak sooner or later will close down its film and digital camera business because of sales drops.

    5. Leica perhaps turns to Sony for supplying sensors because they’re cheeper 🙂

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