Leica has done a wonderful job of developing an astonishingly powerful brand identity and creating a demand for products it does not make. Few would argue that the Leica M9 is one of the most coveted cameras of our time, but with a price that far exceeds the budget of most professional and amateur photographers, the vast majority of its potential market has been left to look elsewhere.
Panasonic could see the gap in the market, then created by the Leica M8, when it made a big deal of the M lens adapter, which it promoted heavily at the launch of the Lumix G series of micro four thirds cameras. ‘You might not be able to afford a Leica M camera, but if you want a small digital model to exercise your new or historic lenses you might want to look at the more keenly priced G1′ was the indirect message. Indeed, the G-series cameras, along with the streamlined GF models, make reasonably comfortable partners for M lenses whichever manufacturer they come from.
Ricoh’s new GXR Mount A12 is designed to do the same thing – fit M lenses to a small, more affordable body – but as it has a 12.3-million-pixel APS-C sensor built in, we might expect the image quality to be a step closer to what we’d really want.
Ricoh already has a collection of four lenses for the GXR – two APS-C, fixed-focal-length options and two zooms on smaller sensors – but as each lens in the GXR system has to have its own sensor, it isn’t quite so easy to introduce new ones. With the Mount A12 adapter, the system suddenly gets endless new optics.