LEICA SL – 1st HANDS ON Look Video & More!

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LEICA SL – 1st HANDS ON Look! 

So today I received a Leica SL and 24-90 Lens along with an M adapter so I could test M lenses on this new Leica. This is a loaner that I received to test for a while as the one I ordered for myself (from Ken Hansen) will not be in for a little while. In any case, this new Leica SL is absolutely incredible in build with a pro feel that not many cameras have besides the Leica S. In fact, it feels and looks more like a Mini S but with a full frame 35mm sensor instead of a medium format sized sensor.

My 1st Look Video Below!

When you look at it from this perspective, the SL is not a Sony A7 copy..instead it is like a whole new class of camera. Leica says they are aiming for pro users, and I can see this now as any studio shooter, wedding shooter or concert shooter would fall deeply in love with the SL. Even the 24-90 f/2.8-f/4 lens is stunning in its quality from build to image quality, which renders much like a superb prime lens would.

I have to eat my words on what I wrote about the SL based on 1st thoughts of the specs and images. Now that it is in hand, and I have studied it, shot with it a little and experienced this amazing drop dead gorgeous EVF, dual SD slots, pro battery, and full weather sealing..I can say the SL is in a class all by itself, even when compared to the Canon 1d’s and D4’s of the world.

It’s larger than a Sony A7 series body but not by much. In fact, in the video you will see that it is not much larger than an M 240. With M lenses, this EVF ROCKS and makes it a breeze to shoot with M glass…much easier than even the M 240 and the IQ beats the M as well due to the new sensor.

Three quick snaps 10 minutes after getting the camera. These are just snapshots of my house, in my house and outside of my house. I wanted to see the color, detail and pop of the 24-90 Zoom. In my upcoming full review I will have TONS of image samples just as I always do for my big reviews. 

Last two are with the 50 Lux ASPH

These are all Out Of Camera images and color looks great indoor and out

L1040033

L1040060

L1040062

debbybw50lux

frduce

Shooting the SL with something like a 28 Elmarit, 35 cron and 50 lux would be so much fun and provide stunning IQ.

My full massive review will include video samples, comparisons to the Sony A7RII, Leica M 240 and even the Sony RX1RII. It will include TONS of images samples, crops, ISO tests and usability reports. It may be my most jam packed review to date so will take around 3 weeks to do. So….

Stay tuned 😉

Steve

PS – You can order a Leica SL from Ken Hansen ([email protected]), PopFlash.com, B&H Photo or Leica Store Miami

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68 Comments

    • Lol, well when I get excited I rant, and rant, and rant..will try to keep them shorter from now on. But I think you exaggerated. There is at least 4 minutes of info in that 8 minutes, lol.

  1. Hi Steve, You may have encountered this issue already, but I was unable to get focus peaking to work with my Noctilux M and adaptor. Tried it with a second SL camera body and still the same. Works fine with 24-90mm Zoom but not the M lens I tried. Possibly something that a firmware update might solve?

  2. A great intro.Am looking forward to your full review. Thank you for all the hard work you put into these reviews.

  3. Good for you, Steve 🙂 You give the SL it’s due, so far. What honest broker has never had to eat words?

  4. @ Steve Jones. I agree. It’s probably with M lenses that the handling will be optimal. Surely the weight will be. And I think it looks good as well. I guess you will be one of the typical potential buyers. BTW, I also agree 100% on the portrait! She looks fab!

  5. I also might have to eat my words about this camera. I have M lenses, I think they look great on a larger body (not ugly as some have said) and the ability to focus them quickly and accurately on this body might just be a game changer for me, now that my eyes are getting weaker. Yes, I could imagine using this camera.By the way, I just want to say that the portrait here of your lovely lady is one of the best I have seen you take of her!
    Leica might be on to something here especially if the video quality is good.

  6. Had a chance to play today with Leica SL at Ace Photo, Ashburn, VA.

    The viewfinder is truly amazing. The quality of assembling is unmatched among mirrorless non-rangefinder cameras.

    However, this beast is HUGE and heavy with its 24-90mm lens. Reminded me of my old Nikon D3s with 70-200mm.

    Obviously, it’s a very high quality niche camera: for studio, fashion and wedding photography. But it cant replace or be considered as an upgrade for any of the M digital cameras line. At least, I’m staying with my M-P and Monochrom.

  7. So puting huge lens on A7RII and very old lens to M-P Leica and comparing it with SL with nice Summilux- so it looks smaller and more sexy- NOT FAIR IMHO

  8. Hello Steve. Today, I tried the SL at my dealers. Took a few shots, not too many, of course. But I mainly wanted to “feel” this camera.
    At this moment, I think more or less the same thing about it as I did, after reading your article and watching your video – which means that you did a good job, apparently. I’m absolutely sure this is an excellent camera. And indeed, it’s targetted at a different photographer than the Sony. (Good for Leica!) But it’s absolutely not the right kind of camera for me. It’s indeed big as a DSLR (IMO), ànd heavy. Already after a good five minutes, the weight was getting to annoy me. But I know there are people that really want a hefty chunck to shoot with.
    The built is indeed superb, without any doubt. Like you wrote, the “on/off” swhitch gives the impression of being customized with great craftmanship. Very pleasing, but really not necessary. The feel of the A7RII knobs is very good as well, with for instance an exposure compensation wheel that gives me the same feel of quality and robustness.
    The EVF is indeed the most remarkable feature of the SL. It’s noticeably bigger than the one on my A7RII. But I’m not blown away by it. When going back to my camera, I was thinking: this is absolutely a véry good EVF, whereas the SL’s is absolutely brilliant. But I can do a perfect job with mine, no doubt. So I’m not bothered at all, not really missing anything. If Sony would mount a bigger EVF in its RIII, I wouldn’t say now of course, but I’d prefer my EVF over one like the SL’s that would make the body conciderably bigger and heavier. So I hope Sony will pull another compact trick again.
    When taking my A7RII with Loxia back in my hands, it immediately felt like 100% the right thing. I’m completely reassured: this is the camera for me! The relationship between size, weight and feel gives me about the same general impression of reassuring solidity, which is very pleasant and is generated by the both body and the Zeiss lens. Sony+Loxia, thàt’s it for me, without a shred of a doubt!
    Concerning the files at higher ISO, I did some shooting at 1250 ISO and already noticed a clear amount of grain. Still, even at 12500 ISO, the files remained absolutely usable, the grain did not increase thàt much. So that’s very good. Getting back home, I took a few shots with my A7RII, same focal length, aperture and ISO… Well, I think I saw clearly cleaner files with my camera. But that’s in fact pretty tricky to say for sure, based on only those few shots, which were taken in a different place, under different circumstances. So I’m looking forward to your comparisons, when you publish your full SL-review. I don’t expect the SL to make me miss anything though, concerning IQ – rather the other way round, in fact. But again, this is said with some reserve, due to the very few shots I took.
    Finally: I believe the SL is a superior camera to the M. And although still vérrry expensive (much too expensive IMO), it’s less expensive than the M240. So for a Leica, this must be a steal! 🙂

  9. @Dave Rathke: I agree as far as zooms are concerned, but you were addressing body size and weight. It looks bigger than it really is because of its slablike form. I’m looking forward to handling (not buying) one.

    As I mentioned in an earlier post, it lacks the “native” primes right now, but they will come.

    I don’t like, don’t need and don’t have zooms. I have a camera with me every working day, in a Tumi messenger bag with a Billingham insert. It also contains a 13″ ultrabook and some documents I might need. Cameras rotate: F2AS, FM2n etc, D810 now, all usually with one prime, a 1.4/35 or 1.4/50 mainly. Monday it will be the 1.4/58 and the 1.4/85 because I’ve been asked to do a portrait of a colleaguebfor our website. It’s doable

  10. @Michiel953.

    “No 750’s, 810’s, 5DIII’s on the street at all eh…”

    That was not my point. Your Nikon’s and your Canon’s are fully capable for street photography. I don’t dispute that. My point is that when one adheres to the philosophy of ALWAYS having your camera with you, on your person, lens cap off, ready to take a photo, and on the days when you’re not specifically on a photo shoot, you will be hard pressed to do that with the SL and the 24-90 bazooka lens.

    • I agree Dave. Not really the kit you’ll bother to carry around. Very surprised they didnt release the 50mm prime at the same time. Its huge from what Ive seen though not as large the 24-90.

  11. Hello Steve, fantastic site! I seem to remember you mentioning EVF for the upcoming M. If Leica installs the same EVF that you rave about, I think I might just stay with the M line.

    Thanks for your laborous effort maintaining this site Steve

  12. The thing about Leica is they certainly know how to stimulate discussion: about photography, equipment, value, brand, etc. which is no bad thing. Many have tried to announce the death throes of the professional and enthusiast/pro-consumer ends of the market, but at least this company is demonstrating its commitment to it by delivering thought-provoking new products.

    Given the size of the SL, I would love to see this body with a Noctilux and one of the new Zeiss Milvus lenses – I’m sure some clever accessory company will soon develop an adapter for this, if Zeiss don’t produce a Leica T-mount version soon. Not that I’d be able to ever afford such a rig, but it’s nice to dream…

    Looking forward to your review, Steve 🙂

  13. @Dave Rathke. IIRC the SL body is more or less the size and weight of a Nikon D750, that is slightly smaller and lighter than a D810. So I have trouble following your reasoning. No 750’s, 810’s, 5DIII’s on the street at all eh…

    Unless of course we can expect a medium format sensor equipped D750 shortly. More RAM required in that case…

  14. My personal feeling is that this is vastly less pro orientated than anything else out there.
    Yes two card readers are nice but other than a higher res EVF than the A7rii I just don’t get it! Slightly better build quality than an A7rii ? Well it’s twice the price! The A7rii isn’t exactly badly built either…. in fact it’s a very well made camera and Sony have shown that they really listen moving from generation 1 to generation 2.
    The problem for Leica as I see it is that their niche market will pay more for a Leica M because it’s the only game in town if you want a digital full frame rangefinder experience.
    The SL on the other hand has a lovely badge with heritage, better build quality (subjectively is it 4-5k better than anything else out there?!), ISO50 native, 2 card slots. However it does not offer any different a shooting experience, has a limited native lens lineup at start which costs significantly more than the competition.
    It gives up so much to the Sony A7rii nevermind the cheaper A7ii which is still better specified overall. How many camera bodies could you buy for hte price of this 1 Leica SL. If you go the Sony route the A7ii even offers IBIS, better high ISO, better dynamic range, with firmware 2.0 significantly more versatility with other third party pro zoom 2.8 lenses from Canon and Nikon, etc… The A7rii takes all of that performance up another notch again from the A7ii and Sony have been shown to be making massive improvements in color, AWB and EVF with each iteration. Reviewers are loving the EVF in the rx1rii.
    Of course it is more than just specs alone, but given that the majority of first impressions from reviewers appear to question the ergonomics I think the Leica have more work to do. I have not held it in my hand myself yet and obviously you have held pretty much everything in your hand Steve so of course I will completely reserve judgement and I enjoy reading your final review/impression. I just find myself still agreeing with your original assessment Steve and perhaps this will be Leica’s biggest stumbling block to mass market acceptance, the perception that it offers really nothing new other than a luxury brand. Clearly actually holding one in hand has convinced you.
    Finally for this to truly be considered pro – Leica will need to be able to offer the level of pro level support that the target audience you mentioned (photo journalists, wedding, event) expect and receive from Canon/Nikon.
    Thanks a lot for putting so much effort into this video Steve and giving everybody a safe place to voice their opinions / ask questions. Keep up the great work.

    • It’s build quality is on another level from any Sony, Olympus, etc. It’s a solid pro build, I would say the best built camera around for full frame at this point. The EVF is pro and beats any EVF/OVF i have used on any camera. The doors, battery, dials and buttons are all pro feeling and implemented. This is indeed built beyond pro in the build department, so much so you can not even compare the build and to the sony. I have both here in front of me now. The Leica is slightly larger but no thicker. The leica feels SOLID and great in the hand, the Sony feels great in the hand but less solid. The Leica’s EVF is on another level from ANY camera, period. The Leica starts up quicker, and shoots quicker than the Sony. Basically, the Sony is well worth the asking price and you get all that you pay for. The Leica feels like a $14k camera in build, feel, EVF, and some of the features. It comes in at $7500 and also gives you your money’s worth.

      The Sony and Leica are quite different. The Sony’s IQ is stunning. The Leica’s is stunning but different. Color signature is different between the two and its a personal thing on to which you prefer. The ISO capability..well, Sony wins there. After 12,800 the Sony can keep going. In body IS goes to Sony.

      IQ between the two will be personal. Some will prefer the Leica some the Sony but the user experience is so nice with the Leica. Feel, in the hand, shooting, speed, it just oozes quality where all other cameras feel “prosumer” in comparison. The Sony is the better buy for the everyday shooter, BY FAR. You are not gaining some big IQ jump in the Leica, not at all. It’s about the user experience, the fact you can use M lenses without issues and gorgeous IQ on top of that. Until you shoot with both side by side it is hard to understand.

      In any case, I own both. Overkill? YES. But I am a reviewer so keep my fave cameras on hand..Leica SL, M, Sony A7RII, A7S, RX1RII, Rx100IV, Olympus E-M5Ii and E-M10 II..various lenses. The one that usually is my goto is the A7RII for day to day shooting. I use the Olympus when I want fun, easy, fast and great results. I will use the SL less, for more serious shooting or when I want the look of the Leica. All are fantastic and with all you get what you pay for.

  15. Here are my assumptions:

    I agree with you, Steve, that this is a mini S. I think the “M” line is still alive, and a replacement for the M240 will be coming out in the not-too-distant future, and that the SL is NOT a replacement for the M240.

    Judging by the size of the SL body, I have a hunch that the initial intent in the early design phase of this camera was to house a medium format sensor, which would have truly made it a replacement for the S (which has seen doggy sales lately). But for whatever reason, probably due to pressure to release “something” to improve those doggy S sales, an enhanced Q sensor (due to the proven performance successes of the Q sensor) was retrofitted into the SL body. The SL is sized for a medium format sensor. The SL is simply too big to use for street photography with its lack of portability for everyday street use.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if SL sales struggle (I hope I’m wrong) as a result of the camera being simply too big to take with you wherever you go (as with a rangefinder), and with a sensor that performs only slightly better than the Q–a camera which is small and compact.

  16. The fact of the matter is that these type of photographers are already using cameras as expensive as the SL.

  17. Hi
    I got my SL and 24-90 on 13th Nov. I can’t agree enough with Steve. I am not a pro, just a hobbyist. I was afraid to buy one as there was not much indetail reviews about the ISO and image quality etc. And Leica adding a new line with no track of it. T series didn’t go well, but I am quite positive that this will go quite well. M series have a history and SL probably will make a new successful chapter.
    Build is a class, simple functionality, second to none EVF, very impressive ISO and crisp sharp images.
    Sony a-7 series II are great cameras but believe me, SL is a class of its own. Can’t know without having one in hand and using it.
    I saw only one issue and I don’t you you also noted it too or not Steve… When shooting in RAW/DNG only, the images on the screen are not sharp at all, when playing them. But if shooting in DNG+JPEG, the playback images are very sharp. I don’t know if this is only me/my camera or I have not adjusted any thing. Can you check into this please ?
    My M lenses can be used much better with SL.
    Will be waiting for your detail review!
    Amir

  18. Hi Steve, great (pre)review – as alway!!! One comment from my side. The SL looks ugly with the M-Lense!!! – IMO 😉 Looking forward to read the full review!

  19. “Documentary, reportage photographers…will be all over this cam.”

    Given how little money there is in that type of photography these days, I seriously doubt it!

  20. Steve

    Very interesting that you posted this as I had my second opportunity to see and hold the SL last night at the Seattle Leica Store. My first impression is only about how it feels in the hand, since by the time I arrived the battery was dead. This impression was the grip is a bit blocky and the rasied edge on the right rear agrivated a nerve issue I have in my right hand. Though handling with the 24-90 f2.8, as well as a 100 f2.8R and 135 f3.4M seemed fine.

    Last night I was able to handle the camera again with a charged battrry and the same lenses. While the 24-90 is a big lens it is not unwieldily. Handling the other lenses was as good as before and the grip shape did not bother me at all this time.

    For me the one feature that makes this camera worthy of consideration is the eye piece; which the local Leica Rep confirmed is from the S-body. It is nice and large to accomidate seeing the entire frame with my glasses on and should have enough adjustment to remove the need for glasses for some people. Using the new EVF made manual focus easier than my A7II, and I did not adjust the eye piece.

    I will check back for you full review.

    PaulB

  21. Glad to see the Leica has made such a positive impression Steve. They really seem to have put together an interesting system. I might be interested in a few years once they have built out their native lenses. Funny to see the Sony fanboys flip out that you also like a different camera… Just because the Leica is a good camera, doesn’t mean their A7s aren’t still good. Looking forward to your review, maybe it will convince me not to wait for the M version next year….

  22. Received mine on Monday. Shot the L.A. Auto show all day, just got back. One battery lasted me the day.
    EVF is the reason to buy the camera.
    Not being able to choose which button is used for magnification is the reason to not buy the camera.
    To magnify for focus you HAVE to use the lower left button by the screen. (as shown in Steve’s video.) So you have to take your hand off the lens to press it. Unless you use your NOSE!
    BTW, during photo review you can use the joystick to zoom in. That would work perfectly for Manual magnification. Maybe in an update.
    The ergonomics are horrible. I’m big with big hands and I have a awful time stretching to reach many of the buttons.
    It takes between 6 and 10 seconds to wake from sleep or on/off.
    It has the standard Leica white balance issues. Fluorescent lights will often make a white car look yellow. Skin tones are off sometimes.
    The on/off switch is on the wrong side.

    The 24-90 is really sharp. But how hard is it to make a really sharp F4 lens? Set most lenses at F4 and they are really sharp too.

    BUT, it does take great photos.

    I would advise everyone to wait to buy the Leica SL until Leica releases their first update.

  23. Documentary, Reportage & Magnum Photographers. The Josef Koudelka, David Alan Harvey & Alex Web types. They roam the world with one or two small lenses and are not interested in gizmos cams. Those type of pros will most likely not use the 24-90 f/2.8-f/4 but they will be all over this cam.

    Other High Paying commercial shooters will not trade there DSLRs but if there thinking on adding a mirrorless rig to there current gear this is what they will probably end up with. Thats my best guess.

  24. Leica do really do a magic in color rendering… however I cannot afford the high price tag for leicas yet.

  25. I agree, this is the way Leica had to go with mirrorless. It’s targetting a specific group and I guess it’ll find buyers. I’m absolutely glad about that. BUT, where the A7RII is without a doubt a revolutionary camera, this one isn’t, IMO. Although it’s probably the best build, with significant advantages in several aspects, (the EVF being the most obvious one), on other aspects it’s simply and clearly being beaten by the Sony: low ISO, resolution, LCD tilt, to name a few. And, IMO, the most important one is its size and weight. You always compared DSLRs with a tank, Steve. Well, as far as your film shows me, the SL is absolutely a tank! I absolutely don’t want to carry such a chunk with me, no way! As good as it can feel to hold and shoot, it would only be for a short while, until I get tired and feel me neck hurt by the weight. You always liked the smaller sizes, Steve, and, like me, you admired how Sony concentrates all his state of the art tech in such small bodies. I still do anyway and I still fully value their unprecedented efforts in size, weight, features, IQ and price. I simply love them for that, being really unique in the market. So those are without any doubt the most important features, IMO, and this Leica is absolutely no winner in that regard. Its body volume, also being thicker than Sony (and even M), must be close to double the Sony’s volume. And finally: OK you gain some, you loose some, but IMO you loose the most important aspects with the Leica. AND you need to pay more than $4000 extra for this loss!! Again: no way, Jose! It’s easier to build something excellent (still not revolutiary) for this Leica price (IMO) than to build something absolutely revolutionary and compact for the price of the Sony. And BTW, without any doubt, Sony will further improve their EVF.

  26. I have said before that I’m waiting for my in hand opportunity when it comes in to the local Leica dealer.
    I’m expecting it to have the usual solid feel of a Leica and my expectations of the image quality are as they typically are, that they’ll have the Leica look. But, I’m not expecting to shell out the cash until I see what Leica brings in the way new primes.
    Using some of my older favorite R Mandler lens designs are tempting, but I’m also needing to hear how much the ‘look’ they have will change when used with the SL. At this point, I don’t mind AF, but I don’t need or want in-lens vibration reduction though I’m guessing there will not be choices.
    Back to the solid feel; it still looks capably – ugly – so I’m not expecting that to change. Believe me when I say that having un-boxed a new Leicaflex SL2mot years ago, there was a ‘visual feel’ that was met in hand, you just knew it was a perfect image recording tool.
    I’m not getting that much from the new SL, but its early yet, but then again maybe it’ll just be ugly? I can get past that, we’ll see soon enough!
    Now Steve, what have you heard about the future prime lineup?

  27. Thanks Steve – this camera is very tempting. I currently have an M240 and an A7II. Trading both in to get the SL might be worth doing. I mostly shoot with very narrow depths of field (I have a Canon Dream 0.95 lens within my kit) and so the EVF is quite important.

    The images out of both of my cameras are great but the the A7II menu system is awful, as is the button layout. To be able to have the advantages of a fantastic EVF with a navigable menu system would be great (although I may miss the ability to look down into my M240 EVF). I may need to take myself off to a Leica dealer to see how it feels…

  28. ” am just surprised they did not price it in normal Leica fashion which would have brought it to $12-$13,000 body only.”

    Don’t encourage them…

    • There is no EVF lag..it beats ANY EVF I have ever seen, ever. It’s a new class of EVF. Crisp, clean, huge, and you can manually focus without magnification or peaking as its so sharp and clear and huge. It kills ANY OVF for me. Without question.

  29. Steve- Thanks for the quick review. Love how authentic you come across- that’s the charm I guess:-) Looking forward to the full review and keep up the great work.

  30. I still can’t figure out who this camera / system is for. Note – this is not the tired old ‘Leicas are for dentists and lawyers’ troll. But if we divide the market into amateurs (those who don’t need to make money from photography) and pros (those who do and for whom cameras are therefore business fixed assets ) it’s hard to escape the conclusion that well-heeled gentleman and lady amateur photographers are really the only ones who will be in the market for it.

    Less affluent amateurs won’t be buying it and when it comes to pros, how many will really invest upwards of $12 grand for one lens and one body without any hope of earning a decent ROI? Leaving aside some crazy comments that sports shooters might ditch their Nikon and Canon systems for this (I’m a sports photographer and, trust me, that’s a ludicrous idea) I’m struggling to see how a commercial, portrait or wedding photographer could justify adding an SL to their kitbag.

    Again, I’m not commenting on the image quality – I’m sure it’s very good – but a viable system can only be built if sales are sufficient to fund the development of a full lens range. In this case I just don’t see it, meaning that the SL could be another developmental dead end for Leica no matter how gorgeous the files coming out of it might be.

  31. Steve, great 1st look review as always. Love the site and always check in to see what’s new. Quick question, why, when they’re so cheap, do you rarely put in an SD card when doing these reviews. It limits the functionality a lot, and you must have a lot of cards lying around the place with so many cameras around.
    Keep up the good work !!

    • It’s funny as I usually do have a card and this time it was in my iMac looking at images I just snapped, and I totally forgot to put in the card. I will be doing an in depth video of the camera and will make sure there is a card in it for that one. Thank you.

  32. Give me a $11000 kit and I will say nice things about it too…

    Sorry to be a bit nasty, but in reality would you pay for this camera+lens combo, given its performance with regards to the competition?

    • As I said, this is a loaner..as in, a loaner for 2-3 weeks, then it goes back. My personal order will not come in for 3-4 weeks. I suppose if someone gave me an SL, the 24-90 and 50 Lux for free I would be ecstatic, but sadly this is not the case. My check for thousands has already been sent. SO yes, I did pay. The competition…well, nothing is out there like the SL. Can not compare a DSLR as I am no fan of DSLR’s and would not buy one for my own use, period. So that leaves the A7RII, of which I already have. After seeing and using the SL LOANER I knew I had to own one as it is pretty damn fantastic. I would not spend thousands of my own cash for something if I did not feel it was worth it to me. Sadly, many are judging the SL (like I did initially) without even seeing it, using it, etc. That is the problem. I love my Sony’s and my M and my Olympus…but this camera is in another league in build, feel, EVF, operation, shutter, weather sealing and even edges out the RII in IQ..but it should..its more than double the cost, and you can feel it when you shoot with the SL. Much better buy than the M 240, M9, etc.

      • Steve, you’re killing me!! I guess no other camera like the SL exists and I love Leica for going their own way and giving a shit what people think. And they are very succesful with this “strategy”!
        Sony and Leica are driving the camera business, like no else, period.

  33. I saw it at the New York photo expo. Oversized, heavy and clumsy feeling I thought it looked like some design from 20 years ago. With the new lenses even heavier and when you put on n M lens the body dwarfed the lens. I was so turned off by it I didn’t bother to play with it much. And at the price they’re asking for the body without a lens I can get a Sony RX1 11 with a built in 35mm f2 lens and a Sony a7R II with a auxiliary lens.

    • I have an A7RIi here. I have an RX1R II here. I have an SL here with a couple M lenses and 24-90. It’s not much larger than an M or an A7RII though quite a bit larger than the RX1. With that said, it beats the Sony’s in build, operation, EVF, color, AWB, and M lenses play vert nice on it. With M lenses it is very nice to hold and shoot, and nothing out there feels anything close to this in materials, feel, etc. Only the larger S. Until you put on a 35 or 50 lux or Noctilux and actually use it then you really do not know what you are missing. It’s a gorgeous camera that is much better buy than an M in almost every way. The video is gorgeous, built in mics are very good and its not glitchy, rather smooth and mature. Leica hit it out of the park here, I am just surprised they did not price it in normal Leica fashion which would have brought it to $12-$13,000 body only.

  34. Steve, maybe you can make a Flickr account, where you can put good full resolution jpegs from raw, so we can download the full res pics for evaluation and printing. I can see already blue ca in the branches on your low res house photo …

    • CA is everywhere – Sony, Leica, Nikon, Canon, Sigma, Samsung, Olympus, etc. The worst CA I have seen ever? The Leica Noctilux that sells for $12,000 🙂 Digital = CA unless a camera is correcting it (which some cameras due these days, but it is still there) with internal software. I will upload a few original files here when I post the full review. Thanks!

  35. It seems rather “form-over-function”-ish, with the placement of those rear four “soft” buttons, à la Leica S. When you’re holding it up to your eye, to look through the viewfinder, it’s really awkward to push a thumb or finger between your face and a button to change, for example, the viewfinder magnification (..for accurate focus with manual-focus lenses).

    Most other cameras have their selection of buttons on the rear RIGHT of the body, but this SL has them placed around the rear screen – great when you’re looking at the screen, but awkward when you’re using the finder.

    The super-hi-res finder really comes into its own when using magnified view (..for manual lenses..) as there’s no coarse pixellation: a zoomed-in view is as sharp and realistic as the normal zoomed-out view, so the extra high resolution finder is great!

    But those lenses – the autofocus, camera-controlled aperture, stabilised lenses – are really massive and heavy. And normally the left hand supports a lens while the right hand presses buttons, turns knobs and squeezes the shutter release ..but with various functions allocated to the rear four buttons, depending on which action you allocate to which button, you can have to take your left hand OFF the lens – no longer supporting it – to press one of the buttons to the left of the screen. That’s really awkward, and unbalances things.

    Leica’s own adaptor for ‘M’ lenses is great: it reads the 6-bit optical code (..if any..) on the rear of the Leica M lenses, and conveys that info to the camera via the electronic connections between the adaptor and camera ..so lens focal length appears in the EXIF file!

    With a nod to Panasonic, the rear adjustment roller also pushed IN (..to change between Aperture or Auto mode and Manual mode, for example..) but the surround above and below it makes it awkward – for me, anyway – to press it IN, except by using a thumbnail. Not easy to do.

    And most cameras have a wheel on the rear and on the front, using one for aperture or shutter-speed, and the other for exposure over-ride, say. But in another “form-over-function” gesture, the “front” adjustment wheel is actually on the TOP ..so that it looks like an olde-worlde shutter-speed dial. Your right forefinger has to lift UP, off the front of the camera, and reach on TOP of the camera to use that adjustment wheel. Awkward placing ..again.

    Picture quality is, of course, great ..and it gives wonderful results with ‘M’-style lenses ..even wide-angles. The shutter is dead quiet, with a very soft ‘thunk’.

    But Leica still haven’t got replay/review right: there’s still that (brief) delay when reviewing pics; they first appear slightly pixellated, and you have to wait almost half a second for the full resolution to appear. Grrrr.

    (..Gotta go to the phone shop now ..will wait for Steve’s review to read what he REALLY and truly feels about it!..)

  36. C’mon, Steve! Your comments and comparisons on the size of the SL are ingenuous. This thing is huge compared to all of the other cameras that you have compared it to–and you know as well as we all do that volume (not just linear dimensions) counts when discussing relative camera sizes. And showing the SL with an M lens mounted while you compare it to others with large lenses attached is simply misleading. When you add the zoom, things get ridiculous. I’m glad you like the build, the features, and the capabilities of this camera. But saying “It’s not much bigger than an M” is simply ludicrous.

    • I showed the SL with the M lens (which is what was on it as I was shooting it all day prior to this post) and I also showed it with the massive 24-90. The size is not that much larger than an M or teh A7RII, though it is larger. Its thin, and does not feel bulky at all (like all DSLRs do). It’s a masterpiece of build and function and yes, its not much bigger than an M as you will see in my review when both are shown without a lens at all. I have them all here, I doubt you do so your banter is irrelevant.

  37. It seems you like the SL in some regards. When I saw the first images I was not amazed, but on a trade show here in Germany only a few days after its release, I had the chance to play around with it for some minutes. The moment I took it in my hands I smiled and said spontaneously: “Wow, that’s badass!” 🙂 I believe it will be a success.

  38. Thanks for the video, Steve. Just one question, please. Which bags would you personally use to carry the SL and the 24-90 lens assuming 1.) no other lenses with you 2.) one M or one R lens with you 3.) two extra lenses with you?

    • Not sure but I will mostly use it with M lenses so will still use my Wotancraft Ryker. Used it tonight with the SL and two M lenses. With the 24-90 one would need a larger bag..so not sure just yet 🙂

  39. From what little I’m reading online so far, people are very impressed with this camera. So it seems that for anything except fast-moving sport, this is as good as it gets, overall (if we’re talking about anything less thanmedium format digital).

    It looks good from some angles but it does look too much like an R3, which I don’t like.

    What’s interesting is that it out-performs the D810 (which is half the cost) in many ways, and in many ways also out-performs the D4s (same cost), and we aren’t even talking about lenses yet. However, to repeat myself, it’s obvious that for the time being, DSLRs are better for fast moving sport (football, motor racing, etc.).

    I do need a swivelling LCD, BTW. I couldn’t do a lot of my work without it. I suppose I could get used to the EVF, but I prefer to compose with the LCD.

    I wrote to Leica and suggested a feature for variable-aperture zoom lenses: when in manual mode (or when using EV lock), the shutter speed should change in relation to the aperture, thereby keeping the EV exactly the same.

    Manual mode is always going to be very important for commercial photographers, so I think this will mitigate the disadvantages of having a variable aperture lens. If you get a chance to speak with someone at Leica, please repeat this idea?

    I’m not surprised that the lens is that good. I would be very surprised, however, if the Nikon or Canon equivalents (24-70/2.8) are as good as this one. If they are, there is no point to the Leica. High quality zoom lenses are hard to make (you should see how much Fujinon cinema zooms sells for).

    A very daring prediction: I’m expecting this to out-perform any prime lens with a Canon, Sony or Nikon label on it.

    BTW, just in case someone might think I’m only a gear-head and feature list fanatic, some of my favourite photos were taken with my iPhone (and I don’t have the latest model, either). In fact, if I didn’t have my phone I could not have taken those photos.

    Anyway, thank you for this introduction and I look forward to the full review. It will be a nice early Christmas present. 🙂

  40. This camera has some truly intriguing capabilities and versatility with various Leica lenses … yet those capabilities seem to operate in the margins between what actual working pros would need. Thus not sure who the market for this camera is.

    – M users will still prefer the rangefinder experience/style, I suspect
    – Pro DSLR users will never choose this as it doesn’t offer the same variety of capabilities, the lenses are equally large, and the system will cost too much. So Leica will never lure Nikon/Canon buyers with this.

    So, technologically interesting … but not sure if it’s all that useful beyond being a curiosity; a white elephant of sorts.

  41. Will be interested in seeing more comparison with the M240 and M246. Does this displace the M240 as it’s only a few hundred dollars more?

      • They are not as different as one would think when shooting. One has the Rangefinder mechanism that always goes out of whack every year, and this will always give focusing issues. Many say “My M is not that sharp anymore, I am nots sure what happened”. It is because of the RF drifting over time. The SL, with an M lens, feels like a Leica 100% but with the huge picture window crystal clear EVF it is easier to focus the M lenses, and the camera will read the 6 bit code as well. So when shooting the SL I find it more enjoyable than the M due to the experience and no focus frustrations. The fact that is is not that much larger than an M (higher but thinner and wider by a bit) means I would not shoot the M with an SL around. So while there is a huge difference when using the SL zoom lens it still never feels like a DSLR, instead it feels like a mature finely tuned mirrorless with build quality and feel of something that normally costs much more in the Leica world.

  42. The SL looks like a very nice camera. But for a camera system with such a high initial cost of entry, it sure would be nice if the 24-90mm kit zoom lens for it had a constant f/2.8 aperture throughout its zoom range. A variable aperture zoom for an expensive camera intended for pros seems like a serious misstep by Leica.

  43. Dude! Super Proud of you Man. Glad you gave the Leica SL a closer look & told us you’re true thoughts after holding the cam, even if it meant re-thinking your original impression. Kudos! Keep us informed.

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