Leica SL - initial impressions....

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by tomO2013, Jan 9, 2016.

  1. tomO2013

    tomO2013 TalkEmount Veteran

    375
    Dec 11, 2014
    A buddy of mine in a camera store let me try out the SL last week for bit.
    My initial usage impressions are quite different to Steve Huffs and only further enforce my original impressions when it was first announced. Why would somebody chose this over the Sony a7ii or A7rii other than the fancy badge?

    For me it's a major let down on many fronts. I simply do not understand it's purpose or appeal at the price point that it is at. The Sony A7ii (nevermind A7rii) is an overall better proposition for a working photographer IMHO assuming both were the same price.

    At least with the M bodies you are buying an exclusive shooting experience than can somewhat go a ways to justify the higher price differential yet the shooting experience with the SL is no different to the Sonys. In many ways for me it's worse as the ergonomics are horrible and the sensor is no better (technically not as good) as the A7ii nevermind A7rii. It also lacks IBIS and PDAF so from a versatility perspective (keeping your shutter lower longer) and the ability to use third party lens adapters with autofocus it will likely be very limited.

    The one thing it definitely has going for it is a lovely EVF and menu system. The EVF in particular is absolutely amazing full stop.
    IMG_20160102_133229. IMG_20160102_133100. IMG_20160102_132924.

    Has anybody else tried it? Similar impression, experience?
    Any comments?
     
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  2. addieleman

    addieleman Passionate amateur

    Nov 13, 2012
    Netherlands
    Ad Dieleman
    Can you elaborate? Is it the handling in particular?
    Well, that is a biggie IMHO, for me viewfinder experience is a key issue in a camera. I expect Sony to offer the same viewfinder performance in a future model, something to look out for. To be clear, Leica prices are far beyond what I'm willing to spend on photo gear, nevermind any and all advantages over a Sony A7, my present camera.

    Thanks for sharing, I value opinions on non-Sony gear from fellow forum members.
     
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  3. rbelyell

    rbelyell TalkEmount Regular

    76
    Jan 18, 2015
    when combined with that 24-90 zoom, it is a laughably absurd ergonomic proposition, especially in light of leicas age old mantra of 'small camera, big pictures'. they have truly lost their way. i honestly wouldnt shoot with that kit if it were gifted to me. btw, potential users should keep in mind that zoom must be licensed before use in many states; check your local regulations before purchase! ):
     
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  4. fractal

    fractal TalkEmount All-Pro

    Jun 17, 2014
    Southeastern PA
    Chris
    Licensed? why?
     
  5. Jefenator

    Jefenator TalkEmount Top Veteran

    876
    Nov 23, 2012
    Oregon, USA
    Jeff
    It seems intriguing. One thing I am curious to hear more about is access to magnified view. Ming Thein seemed to think they botched that (as in, not being as handy as with the A7 where you can access it easily with your eye on the finder), which if true would IMHO be a huge misstep that ought to get corrected via firmware ASAP. OTOH Steve Huff liked the EVF so much he seemed to think magnified view wasn't so vital for manual focus.
    I hope Leica does get credit for the advances they made in terms of providing haptic feedback, and that that in turn prompts Sony to up their game with the "mark III" iteration of the A7 line.
     
  6. rbelyell

    rbelyell TalkEmount Regular

    76
    Jan 18, 2015
    because it falls under the category of 'lethal weapon'. :laugh1:
     
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  7. tomO2013

    tomO2013 TalkEmount Veteran

    375
    Dec 11, 2014
    Hi Addieleman,

    In response to your questions...

    Ergonomics:
    The grip itself is too narrow for my hands and protrudes out too far. Even without a lens mounted it is quite uncomfortable. It's possible a third party manufacturer will create an L plate that also rounds the grip out somewhat to make it more comfortable over extended periods of use.
    Regarding haptic feedback and buttons - I live in a very cold climate currently. Shooting with gloves I don't feel that this approach is conducive to tactile control. It's a practical concern for me nonetheless so perhaps for other people is not a deal breaker. One thing on ergonomics and button labels. Much has been made of the top LCD. Yes it is nice and was lovely when Samsung first introduced this concept on the NX1 (the first mirrorless with a top plate lcd I believe). The problem is that I feel the Leica necessitates this functionality more than say a Sony , Fuji, Olympus because it sacrifices button labels and a default tactile control scheme layout. While I appreciate the ability to customize each and every button (as you can do with the majority of buttons on Olympus and Sony these days), it is impossible to tell what 'mode' the camera is in just by looking. You need to power on and check. Want to switch to a memory bank where you have a default control layout saved? - I didn't figure out a quick way to do this in the short time I was using it. On my Sony A7ii I have both memory mode 1 and 2 configured for sports shooting and portraiture shooting so I can quickly reconfigure my button layouts with the turn of a knob.

    Build Quality:
    Again, build quality is really really great. Then again so is the build on an OMD-EM1, Sony A7rii and many other flagship models for 1/3 the price. I don't personally feel that aluminium is a more premium material than magnesium alloy. Actually I prefer the size, weight and feel of magnesium alloyed bodies. I feel that the Leica SL body itself is an exercise in minimalistic design aesthetic and to some extent - without proof - I feel that it would wear dings and scratches a lot worse than an A7rii , 1dx, D4s etc... Again the weather sealing is fantastic on this thing. Leica are to be applauded. You can visibly see rubber gaskets everywhere. Then again, a plastic slieve is going to provide a lot better weather sealing at reduced cost again.

    Focus Speed:
    Fast, fast, fast with the 24-90 in AF-S. I still think the OMD-EM1 is the fastest I have used with latest firmware 4 in single shot point to point focusing. But the SL feels as fast as the A7rii which isn't that much slower and is acceptably fast. I have not tried continuous and in the limited time I had it only shot AF-S. I cannot imagine though without having PDAF that it could compare as favourably as an A7rii, OMD etc... Then again the Panasonic GH4 uses a DFD technique and manages quite well -although not perfect - in continuous. The mirrorless one to beat right now for me (in continuous anyway) is the A7rii. It's possible the SL is better in this regard. But here is the caveat. There is a SINGLE autofocusing zoom lens available! To my earlier point on fotodiox, techart, adapters for autofocussing Canon and Nikon glass, there is no PDAF points on sensor. Such imaginary adapters (for now) will struggle with 3rd party glass. The Sony shines in this regard. I actually think that this was a very short sighted thing for Leica to do. PDAF would have opened up the options here massively and allow the well heeled to migrate their expensive L glass and have a new 'system' immediately.

    Lens :
    Beautifully built. Very heavy. Very large. I would not care so much as I don't mind sacrificing size and weight if I get amazing optics. However again, that elephant in the room - price. I disagree with other reviewers, the lens (like the body) does not feel like it would take the same abuse as say a canon 24-70LII on a 1dx. It's beautiful feeling but I don't know if I would call it the most rugged abuse taking lens available. Optically I don't want to comment too much because I didn't try it for too long and certainly not in great light. I didn't however see anything in that short time that would make me think it was any better than what I consider to be the best 24-70 FF lens available - 24-70 LII. The Canon L would be more versatile too with a constant F2.8 aperture.
    One thing that I think is worth considering if you want this lens - the size does feel somewhat like having a 70-200 mounted out front. Not a big deal if you don't mind shooting a 70-200 size lens out front but something to be aware of.

    EVF:
    Fantastic. The SL feels a little sharper than Sony A7rii's but I also feel that the A7rii's EVF is really really excellent. The Leica's is better in terms of technicalities like refresh/resolution but I feel that the best EVF right now in terms of implementation is still the XT1 fuji or Sony A7rii. The body I tried had firmware 1 without a simple way for focus magnification. Since I've heard they have fixed this. But it would be something that I miss. Sony's implementation for this is great. I actually feel that my ideal EVF would be a combination of both Leicas new resolution, refresh rate and Fuji's innovative additions such as the EVF re-orientation when you turn portrait or landscape and the focus area in the bottom corner.

    Lack of IBIS:
    Deal breaker for me now. I have been spoilt by it on OMD-EM1, A7ii ... I would not go back. Keeping your shutter lower for longer allows for some very versatile creative options. It also allows you to maximize your cameras theoretical IQ output as you can keep ISO's lower for longer and minimise vibration.

    Cost:
    This is where I still ask - what were Leica smoking? If this is supposed to be a niche designer product such as the Hassleblad redesigns of Sony bodies I'd get it. There will always be the very well heeled who will want it if not only for the red dot. The problem is that that red dot means something to me in terms of Leicas heritage as a photographers camera maker. They provide a very unique shooting experience that you can only experience (digitally anyway) with their digital M range finder cameras. Again the SL does not provide a different shooting experience to say a Fuji XT1, Sony A7rii both of whom feel to me from an overall implementation perspective more targetted at those who value form and functionality over a pure aesthetic design. There is also the issue cost for accessories - additional batteries are stupid expensive! Yes they carry more charge than the NP-FW50, but for the price differential you could buy many more NP-FW50's. A digital Leica M Monochrom or new M with the EVF from the SL and I would be all over it - I love their range finder shooting experience. The SL is just german teutonic in the worst possible sense - zero emotional or functional appeal for me but with a fancy badge for a high cost.

    So back to my original question .... who exactly is it targeted at and is the SL the modern Hassleblad HV - looks nice but kind of irrelevant?!

     
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  8. addieleman

    addieleman Passionate amateur

    Nov 13, 2012
    Netherlands
    Ad Dieleman
    Thanks a lot for the extensive write-up. As said, it's completely out of my price comfort zone but it's still interesting to know what Sony has to compete with.
     
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  9. chalkdust

    chalkdust TalkEmount Veteran

    283
    Sep 25, 2015
    Bert Cheney
    I have not used or handled or even seen a Leica SL. But I still have a Leica M8.2. I know some photographers are in the mindset of using only Leica gear for various reasons including tradition, loyalty, confidence, and familiarity. I have heard of people who use Leica merely to flaunt it, but I have not actually encountered these people (whose social network probably would not intersect mine).

    I switched to Sony A7ii to expand my photographic possibilities. In particular, the M8.2 (and to a significant degree the later Ms) are poor-to-useless for
    low light
    telephoto
    close focus
    focus of very thin depth of field

    The built in EVF and the IBIS propel the A7ii into photographic possibilities that the M series requires accessories to approach.

    So I am glad the SL exists so that the "Leica only" photographers can enjoy many of the opportunities I experience with my Sony A7ii.
     
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  10. WT21

    WT21 TalkEmount Top Veteran

    611
    Aug 7, 2011
    I adamantly refuse to visit Steve Huff's site anymore. Won't even click and give him the ad revenue. But I did read the DPR review on the SL. You could practically hear the DPR review staff giggle and snort as they were writing it.

    The ONLY reason I read the SL review was because someone on DPR Sony forum suggested that Sony only makes products for amateurs, and not pros like the poster, who was using digital Leica (when I looked at Leica cams, SL was the newest).

    Sorry for the story, but I had not heard of the SL before today, and now here's two references.
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2016
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  11. pbizarro

    pbizarro TalkEmount Veteran

    358
    Nov 24, 2014
    Portugal
    I don't understand the need that some have to "diss" on a new system, as it is. The SL was/is a brave move from Leica to produce a professional mirrorless system that can compete with the Canon and Nikon pro-SLR (1DX and D4/D5). I do not understand why anybody would compare it with the Alpha 7 system, entirely different propositions...

    Yes, it is big (compared to other mirrorless systems); yes, the lens is huge. Yes, it is expensive (what is new from Leica?). But it offers some unique propositions, as stated by experienced photogs lie Michael Reichman and Sean Reid.

    For those that are used to shoot with a 1DX plus 24-70 zoom, the Leica SL offers some potential new and interesting propositions. Shame the lens' introductions are molasses-slow...
     
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  12. WestOkid

    WestOkid TalkEmount All-Pro

    Jan 25, 2014
    New Jersey, USA
    Gary
    I agree with your initial statement about "dissing a new system", but the statements about it competing with D4/D5 is off base. The only significant thing the Leica has in common with those systems is FPS and that is a marketing joke that few people seem to be calling Leica out on. While it shoots 10 FPS, it is without tracking. My NEX 5T did 10FPS without tracking. The 1DX, D4/D5 does that with continuous tracking and auto exposure. It also doesn't offer the ISO performance those systems do. This is not a bash but a quote from CNET "11fps (high) without continuous autofocus or autoexposure and 7fps (medium) with both. I only got it up to 5.8fps in the latter mode with our standard test procedures, but acheived 7fps for JPEGs with a shutter speed of greater than 1/500 second. I couldn't get the raw burst past 5.8fps, though. It can sustain the raw burst for a few more than 30 shots"
     
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  13. quezra

    quezra TalkEmount Top Veteran

    916
    Aug 22, 2012
    The most disappointing thing about the SL is that it means we still don't have a competitive mirrorless FF offering to put downward pressure on the price of FE lenses/cameras. I really don't care how good/bad the SL is or was. All I am hoping for is something that will keep Sony on its toes, and whatever its good/bad features, the SL's price point safely tucks it away in the 'irrelevant' category as far as Sony FE is concerned. In fact it might actually have the opposite effect (see, mirrorless FF is so great we should be charging even more) and that is patently a bad thing. The Samsung NX, failure though it was, seems to have spurred the release of the Nikon D500 after years and years (maybe Canon's 7DII also had an effect, though that's more of a D7200 competitor), and now the ball is in Sony's park to respond to that and the NX1/500 too (which I have no doubt they are working on right this minute). But as far as FF MILC goes, Sony is sitting pretty in a no-competition zone (D750 is probably closest, D5 not really, 5DS/R and D800 series aren't putting the right kind of price pressure) and Leica SL doesn't change that.

    Nikon, come and up your game already!

    My dream in 2016: Someone (anyone) comes in with a 24-30MP entry-level FF MILC launching with f/2.8 standard zooms, a 24-105/4 and a native 35/2. That would be a perfect kick up the Sony backside :D
     
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  14. NickCyprus

    NickCyprus Super Moderator

    Oct 11, 2012
    Cyprus
    Nick
    Amen! :D
     
  15. soeren

    soeren TalkEmount Top Veteran

    655
    Dec 12, 2014
    N├Žstved, Denmark
    Soeren
    Downward pressure on FE lens prices from Leica????? Really? Did you honestly expect that? :)
     
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  16. tomO2013

    tomO2013 TalkEmount Veteran

    375
    Dec 11, 2014
    Hi PBizarro,

    I feel that in the interest of objectivity it is actually a healthy thing for us to debate the mirrorless market and critically analyse the options - Sony, Leica, Fuji, Olympus et al without badge bias. I differentiate between critical thinking and 'dissing'. Critical thinking is providing reasonable argument to support your opinions - which I feel I have done having played with the SL (admittedly for a short time).
    To those that consider this dissing I would sincerely ask them with all sincerity to provide reasonable arguments for the merits of the SL over say the A7ii, A7rii, XT1, EM1 at half or one third the price respectively.

    I personally feel that the biggest problem for the SL (aside from the subjective ergonomics) is that the very large price differential between the SL and the competition allows you to purchase some very creative workarounds for any perceived draw backs relative to the SL. For example, the one drum that I have heard beaten continuously is that other mirrorless bodies are no longer professional on account of a lack of dual card slots! To me this is ridiculous (but obviously a very real concern for some people). Put aside for a minute that this reasoning also rules out many medium format bodies as 'professional', for the price differential between say the SL and an A7rii or D750 you could purchase multiple bodies thereby giving you your additional memory card slot AND a backup body (with superior image quality). To me it would be a no brainer. The one area that ALL mirrorless manufacturers need to up their game on is with respect to aftermarket support. Here in this region Canon and Nikon are still king.

    I don't dispute Michael Reichmann's or Steve Huffs credentials. Nor do I dispute that they both enjoyed the SL. I tend to side with Ming Thein on this one though. It's a great but flawed camera and I'm sincerely baffled by its target audience beyond possibly those who want to own something more exotic. However it would be healthy to hear an alternative perspective on why exactly it offers unique capability relative to an EM5, XT1, A7ii or as already mentioned it's unique selling point over the 1dx and why you would choose the SL over the 1dx instead of an A7rii/A7ii where at least you could use some of the Canon glass.

    Tom
     
  17. quezra

    quezra TalkEmount Top Veteran

    916
    Aug 22, 2012
    Heh touche!

    I meant more like "I was hoping some other sane camera maker would come out with a mirrorless FF offering" :p
     
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  18. WT21

    WT21 TalkEmount Top Veteran

    611
    Aug 7, 2011
    For me, it's not the price. I understand premium brands, even though I can't afford them. What I don't understand is the size and, while it has a couple of technology wonders (worlds greatest EVF it seems), there really doesn't seem to be enough there. I don't know of anyone who has ever said "I want a big camera for the sake of a big camera", so I am not sure what the value proposition of the camera is, except the badging and those few tech items, but I would have thought that Leica could have done the same thing, with the advances and the badging, at a more reasonable size even if they kept the price the same.

    (edit: this is based on me seeing internet pictures. Maybe in real life it seems more reasonable??)
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2016
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  19. rbelyell

    rbelyell TalkEmount Regular

    76
    Jan 18, 2015

    first, negative opinions based on objective facts, like ridiculous size and weight, are wholly valid and are a product of the product, not from a 'need to diss'.

    second, please help me understand a single aspect of this camera system that is as you said 'unique', which as i understand the word means 'not available' elsewhere.

    third, in a world where thousands upon thousands of people literally put their lives on the line every day, help me understand what is 'brave' about a camera company putting out a camera?

    thanks in advance for clearing up my apparent confusions.
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2016
  20. Jefenator

    Jefenator TalkEmount Top Veteran

    876
    Nov 23, 2012
    Oregon, USA
    Jeff
    I've heard murmurs of Canon maybe doing a full-frame mirrorless, though who knows when - or if - that will ever actually come to be. I do perk up when I hear it, though, because IMO out of all the makers, it seems as though Canon once properly motivated could really light a fire under Sony. (The existing EOS-M does seem like a half hearted effort, but the things that system does get right compel me to keep using it. I'm even mulling getting the ultra-wide zoom because it's tiny, reputedly great and not very expensive.)