Leica Executive Claims Sony E Mount Was Not Designed for Full Frame

Leica Executive Claims Sony E Mount Was Not Designed for Full Frame

In an interview with Red Dot Forum at Photokina, Leica head of professional products Stephen Schultz described how the all-new L Mount was built specifically for full frame, unlike the Sony E Mount. 

Leica created the L Mount and partnered with Panasonic and Sigma to create a broader system. Though Leica initially called this mount the TL mount with the release of the crop body Leica TL in 2014, Schultz explained to David Farkas of Red Dot Forum that mount was always designed with full frame capabilities in mind:

The L mount was developed in order to have all kind of autofocus optics for full frame with sufficient diameter and on the other side, in order to realize to compact lenses for APS as well. It was not developed for APS.

Leica (with the crop body TL) and Sony (with the NEX-3 and NEX-5) both dripped their feet in the autofocus mirrorless digital camera market with a crop body. But Schultz said he believes Sony's development of the E-mount for the NEX line was without the eventual full frame camera in mind. "That’s a big difference with the L mount versus the Sony E mount. They started the mount with the NEX, which was APS. But, we assume that Sony wasn’t focused on full frame at that time due to the mount diameter. The Leica L-mount is much bigger, which gives us more flexibility," he said. 

Schultz is absolutely right about the diameter. Sony's E mount has more in common with the Fuji X mount and Canon M mount, both designed for crop sensors. As you can see from this table, the E mount is closer in size to the dedicated crop mirrorless lens mounts from Canon and Fuji. 
A table of mirrorless lens mount sizes sorted by lens mount diameter.

Schultz' belief that the E mount by Sony was created to be a crop body line makes a lot of sense when you look at the effort Sony was putting into their Alpha-series cameras at the time and how the lens diameter size lines up with other crop-specific mirrorless bodies. 

Sony has obviously been on the cutting edge of the full frame mirrorless camera movement. But will their dedication to a mount size that may have been created solely for crop sensors hinder them now that Canon, Nikon, Leica, Panasonic, and Sigma have thrown their hats in the ring? Only time will tell. 

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19 Comments

Michael Jin's picture

It's entirely possible that Sony did not have full frame in mind when they initially designed the lens mount, but so far it's looking like it doesn't matter much, if at all, so it's just a moot point. Whatever challenges there are have clearly been addressed (as can be evidenced by the performance of Sony's full frame cameras) and the competition with their larger mounts has not caught up to expose any weaknesses. Will it happen in the future? It's possible, but it's difficult to tell...

Jonathan Brady's picture

Agreed!
And who knows, maybe it'll matter when it comes to ultra fast lenses that are the size of a bazooka, but I couldn't possibly care less as I tend to prefer moderate speed lenses anyway. So... whatever...

Eric Salas's picture

So this matters to Leica and Sony users why?

Another useless article.

dripping feet sounds painful

Andy Luten's picture

Oh they're just mad that they can't sell a 24MP mirrorless for $10000 anymore

The same company that has a M-Mount for 35mm Film and now FF digital at 39mm.

John Armstrong's picture

Oh, I have heard others...NOT Leica say the same thing... and I think they are correct. The Sony Full Frame sensors are large enough that you will not be able to get as MUCH IBIS as you will with other lens mounts. I said as much when Canon and Nikon started showing off how large their mounts were... But then again, Canon does not have IBIS at all. Doah.... I knew this and STILL moved to Sony. They lead. Everyone else follows.

Michael Jin's picture

The way I see it, there's ultimately a limit to how useful IBIS is since it only deals with shake coming from your hands and ignores subject movement.

But then again, is the mount size really an issue for IBIS? Off the top of my head, the Nikon Z series has 5 stops of IBIS, the Sonys have 5.5.

Maybe it's an engineering function and the newness of the Z series, but why does it not surpass the Sony's then? Then again, I don't think Nikon makes the IBIS unit anyways, or do they?

It feels more like, one can put 4 litre engine into a hatchback and the other lack of skill/technology to do so, they had 4 litre engine in a mini van, and claim hatchback is too small for 4 litre engine...

Mick Ryan's picture

Seriously? And in other pointless news Canon claims Nikon’s new mirrorless is not as good as theirs!

Perhaps it was the draw of having the same mount for APS-C and Full Frame, but honestly, I have a heard time believing that with all of Sony's engineering prowess and huge resource [knowledge] pool, I really don't think they would of stock with the E mount if they knew it'd be a hindrance in the future - a limitation.

If they really believed that the E mount would limit lenses on Full Frame, would they REALLY have stuck with it instead of going with a new mount? I highly doubt it.

The fact Leica and others are saying this, and they just happen to be direct competitors of Sony and are trying to get a piece of the market - do you think this is a co-incidence or cleaver marketing? As others have said, we'll see I guess.

Nikon's F mount is Full Frame and has an even smaller diameter of 44mm!

Matthias Kirk's picture

I am not sure it is valid to compare mount diameters of DSLR's and mirrorless systems.

Pieter Batenburg's picture

Leica may be a legendary brand but in the grand scheme of things, they hardly count. They sell very expensive equipment to a very small niche market.

Jan Kruize's picture

Eeewww.... someone is saying something about sony....

Spy Black's picture

Them's fightin' words! Cue up all the rabid Sony pitbulls...

When Canon and Nikon are spitting out a smaller / lighter 2.8 trinity it will matter, until then it doesn’t matter much. Until Canon and Nikon are spitting out a better IBIS it doesn’t matter. Until Canon and Nikon... you see where I am going here right.

Though, tbh, I don’t believe for a second the e-mount is a good mount size for FF mirrorless, it will hinder them at some point. But, besides the rhetoric, a lot of people got burned on the A-Mount and I have no doubts that Sony will do it again when they feel like their pocket books are little lean. They are a tech company, not an imaging company.

Matthew Saville's picture

Ladies and gentlemen, this is what they'd call on RuPaul's Drag Race, "reading", or possibly, "throwing shade" LOL...

Matthew Saville's picture

On a more serious note, I'm pretty sure there have been reports that with certain exotic lenses you can get shading in the images that is caused by the edge of the body and mount itself. So, yeah, it is a /slightly/ restricted mount size, even though it's still not something that 90-95% of users will ever notice or care about.