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Panasonic and Leica - Official relationship?

Discussion in 'Native Lenses' started by 6BQ5, Jun 16, 2015.

  1. 6BQ5

    6BQ5 Mu-43 Regular

    May 23, 2015
    I have been internet searching about Panasonic's relationship with Leica as it relates to lenses. There are many different postings about this on many blogs and forums and a lot of the information is conflicting. Does Leica design the lenses for Panasonic to manufacture? Or, is this a full-on Leica product with Panasonic branding? I've also read on a few forum posts that Leica simply blesses Panasonic's design and QC with their name.

    Thanks! :) 
  2. tyrphoto

    tyrphoto Mu-43 All-Pro

    May 25, 2014
    Seoul | NYC
    Panasonic/Leica lenses are not made by Leica nor are they "true" Leica lenses in the pure sense of the word. They are branded as such because they are Leica designed or Leica approved designs under contract with Panasonic, but made in a Japanese factory with Leica supervision. However, these lenses are mass produced whereas in "true" Leica lenses, each element is individually hand ground and polished and then individually tested which is a more time consuming process. Another cost cutting aspect is the difference in quality of the glass/optics used as well as the overall build quality. These differences account for why the Panasonic/Leica lenses cost a fraction of what Leica lenses cost.

    This isn't to say the Panasonic/Leica lenses aren't good and on the contrary, most of them are quite excellent and in the case of the Panasonic 42.5/1.2 quite magical. However, to think that you're getting the a full on Leica lens in a Panasonic/Leica lens at a fraction of the price is wishful thinking.

    An analogy to this would be in the fashion world of buying a true hand made Armani suit from Italy versus an off the rack Armani suit or even the lower line Mani suit. Sure they all have the Armani label (in the case of Mani, it would by Mani made by Armani) and although the off the rack Armani suit isn't bad, it's not the same product as the hand made version.
    • Like Like x 2
  3. 6BQ5

    6BQ5 Mu-43 Regular

    May 23, 2015
    @tkbslc@tkbslc and @tyrphoto@tyrphoto : Thanks for the replies and the info! That was exactly what I was looking for. :) 
  4. zensu

    zensu Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Aug 8, 2012
    Alabama USA
    Thanks for shedding some light on this subject! I have two Panasonic made Leica branded lenses (15mm + 42.5mm) and they are my best lenses and I'm including in that list all other lenses I've owned. I guess when you put the top optical engineers from Japan and Germany together you're going to get the best of both worlds. I'm sure as Panasonic works more and more with Leica we, the consumer, win.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  5. Turbofrog

    Turbofrog Mu-43 Legend

    Mar 21, 2014
    One could argue that while Leica emphasizes ultimate material quality, they don't tend to experiment as much with novel technology.

    In the 42.5/1.2 for instance, you'll find that it has more "special glass" like aspherical elements (which Leica has begun to use more), but also extra-low dispersion (ED) and ultra-high refractive index (UHR) elements, many of which Panasonic manufactures in-house (particularly their special aspherical processes). A lot of these technologies seem to only be possible to develop when there is a much larger market to amortize the costs over. The Panasonic lenses also have far more elements with more complicated optical designs, whereas the Leica lenses stick to a relatively traditional layout but executed perfectly. The 42.5/1.2 has 14 elements in 11 groups, whereas the Leica 50/1.4 or 50/0.95 has 8 elements in 5 groups.

    This is another example of why Sony has - far and away - the best sensor technology in the world right now. It's because they developed the technology for the ultra-lucrative, high volume smartphone market, and have been diffusing that technology (BSI, stacked sensors) up into their lower volume, higher-margin products.
  6. Steven

    Steven Mu-43 All-Pro

    May 25, 2012
    No one really knows. At this point , it's probably mainly for marketing reasons as Panasonic does not need any help.
    • Agree Agree x 2
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