Die Welt: “Leica’s nightmare is Sony”

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Leica lens mounted on the Sony a7r camera (source)

Few weeks ago the German magazine Die Welt published an article called "Leica's nightmare is Sony" where they discussed the new a7/a7r mirrorless full frame cameras from Sony (currently in stock at B&H). The only real similarities between a Leica M and Sony a7 are the full frame sensor, small body size and the ability to use Leica M lenses. The Leica M is a classical rangefinder with manual focus, while the Sony a7 is a modern AF mirrorless camera (obviously the Leica M is also mirrorless, but I prefer to call it a rangefinder). The question remains: will Sony really impact the sales of Leica cameras? The new a7 offers a very attractive package for less money, but I have hard time believing that Leica users will start switching to Sony overnight. I see the a7 more as an upgrade for people who used APS-C or MFT mirrorless cameras, not really as a Leica alternative - a potential Leica M buyer is after the rangefinder mechanism and M lenses.

How about using Leica lenses with the Sony a7? Several people have reported that this may not be an optimal solution, especially for wide angle M lenses (vignetting). According to Ron Scheffler, who published few sample images on his website, rangefinder lenses still perform better on a Leica M9 camera:

"I’ll spill the beans now – none of the rangefinder lenses performed as well on the a7 as they do on the M9, specifically referring to image smearing into the edges/corners. Some are not so bad and are good enough when stopped down sufficiently, but some are outright horrible (ZM21, 28 Cron), to the point where one would think the lens was defective."

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Read also this related post by Mike Evans:

"I suspect, however, that while the experts will detect technical problems there will be a horde of M-lens owners out there who cannot wait to try the marriage out for themselves. They are likely to be pleased. In my view any problems with lenses longer than 28mm will be minimal. Much of the forum comment concerns wide-angle Leica glass. But the mere fact that an old Leica lens can be bolted to an A7 and be used at advertised focal length is an achievement in itself."

Some comparison images taken with the Sony a7 and Leica M 240 can be found here.

Additional sample images of the Sony a7 camera with Leica lenses (Noctilux) can be found here and here.

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