The Leica SL (type 601) Camera Review. My Camera of the Year 2015!

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The Leica SL (type 601) Camera Review. My Camera of the Year 2015!

By Steve Huff

(NOTE: You must click on the images in this review to see them how they were meant to be seen. If not they will appear soft and dull)

So here I am, another year older and another year of some amazing camera’s that have come through the Huff Household. I can not believe I am now 46 years old! Seems like yesterday when I started this website but I was 38 going on 39. Time flies when you really enjoy life, love what you do, and live as happy as you possibly can. I believe in loving every moment of life, avoiding negativity and being a nice person to all. Usually when I am about to write a new Leica review I get a bit tense as many HATE the Leica brand simply due to the cost of their cameras and this means that just by me being honest in this review, there will be Leica hate comments coming in.

Leica is a brand that is understood by some, and misunderstood by many. Whatever the dialogue here one can not take away the fact that Leica has created, for me at least, the best digital camera I have ever used, owned or tested. THAT is a HUGE claim, I know…and as much as I love and adore and use my Sony A7RII, the SL beats it out for what it offers, and yes, the quality of the images and the camera itself.

Also, since the Leica SL comes in at $7500, this review will be a 7500 word review with over 75 images ;) Not quite the over 10,000 words of my Leica M 240 review from over 2 years ago but close enough!

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It was a hard choice as to which camera would make my “Camera of the Year 2015” as the amazing Sony A7RII had it in the bag a few weeks ago. Then this SL hit me and surprised me with an amazing overall user experience, which is VERY important when using a camera. It’s the main reason I do not give the Sigma DP series much love here as the user experience is awful with those cameras even though the IQ is incredibly good. I prefer a camera that looks great, is built to a high standard, is easy to use, reliable, fast and has amazing image quality. While the Sony A7RII has all of this, the Leica has a little more, and even though its more than 2X the cost of the Sony, you can really tell this when shooting with it so it’s not just an inflated price for a red dot sticker. If someone tells you it is they either have never touched the SL or are lying or had no idea how to use it (as it will take a few days to learn the controls).

The build alone will tell you this is a serious camera.

One of my 1st test shots with the Leica SL and 24-90 Zoom. My beautiful Debby ;) 

CLICK IT TO SEE IT CORRECTLY!

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But the SL is TOO expensive you say?

Yes, Leica is expensive… but so what, they always have been, nothing new here so everyone reading this knows the Leica pricing structure, so it should come as no surprise. Rolex makes an expensive watch. Porsche and Rolls Royce make expensive cars, and those who go to buy them know this. Some poeple live in million dollar homes while others live in modest $79,000 homes (what my home cost in 2010). That is the beauty of life..we have choices and can live our life the way that makes us the most happy, depending on our life situation and budget. If someone has loads of cash then Leica is not expensive to them. If someone has little cash, Leica seems ridiculous in their pricing. Either way, there is no denying they make beautiful cameras and lenses and with the SL I feel they created a whole new class of Mirrorless Camera, one of the best, if not THE best mirrorless body on the market, period (for mirrorless). Sure, only one native lens so far but more will come, and using M glass has never been more enjoyable. This camera is much more than just for the rich..see, I am not rich but I am happy and feel lucky and blessed to own one.

My 1st look video I did when the Leica SL 1st arrived. My excitement is still here after much use.

 

So enjoy this real world review of the new Leica SL and try to keep negativity and hate away as we are not learning anything new here…Leica is an expensive brand, but as with many things that cost more than the competition, sometimes you actually do get what you pay for. Sometimes. 

My “Movember” Selfie with the SL and 24-90 at 24mm

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The crisp files and rich color make the SL files POP. Click this and marvel at the crispness of it…

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In the case of the SL, this is true as you do get what you pay for indeed. The SL is not like I originally thought…as in, it is NOT a Sony A7 copycat. Instead, it is like a whole new class of camera that for me, even outshines any DSLR or mirrorless camera in construction, feel, EVF, and when shooting…the SL gives you an amazing feeling..it’s one of the very few cameras I have “bonded” with in life. Using M lenses on the SL is a dream as the EVF is mind blowing good and the best EVF made to date, from any manufacturer…and yes, you can quote me on that one. Nothing like it exists in 2015 but I am sure the SL will force others to create better EVF tech in their bodies. The EVF is not hype or a myth, it really is as good as everyone is saying it is. Another class, league and when I go back to my other cameras I immediately notice the massive drop in EVF quality. That’s how much Leica has upped the EVF game with the SL.

The Zeiss 50 Sonnar C ZM on the SL. Gorgeous.

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Strange that Leica was the one to build a better EVF as they rarely innovate. This time they did in more ways than one! Good for them.

Low light with only ambient bar lighting here yet this OOC JPEG looks great (click it) and color is rich and deep. The AWB did great here considering the challenging conditions. Yes, all of that yellow was there but this is an OOC jpeg with boosted colors so the yellow and red jump out. 

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When the SL was announced and I saw the A7 like body style and the price  tag of $7500 I assumed Leica partnered with Panasonic to create an A7 copycat and were trying to charge a premium for it. When I received one for loan to review I quickly ate those words as the SL is on another planet for the way it was designed and how it works. This true made in Germany Leica feels like a precision camera..a tool that inspires confidence and one that makes you feel like you WANT to get the shots when using it. Many cameras fall short of this but Leica has a history of being amazing with it due to their cameras simplicity and basic nature. BTW, for those spreading false rumors out there..this is not a panasonic, this is a true Leica.

The SL is in reality, more like a Mini S Type camera. You know, the insane crazy expensive camera with a medium format sensor that went for $22,000 not too long ago? Shrink an S camera, make it sleeker with the same level of build (even higher IMO with the SL) and you have the 35mm full frame SL with the 24 MP sensor from the Q (tweaked for the SL), which is an outstanding sensor much improved over what is in the M 240. The color and detail is so so good here, best I have seen from digital Leica. BTW, the Q sensor here has been “tweaked” for the SL.

So Red the Rose, Leica SL and Leica 50 APO

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Blue Pop – Leica SL and 50 APO

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But do know that this is in no way a small pocketable camera. It is larger than the A7 series, the M and while thinner and sleeker than any DSLR, it is still large when using the 24-90 zoom lens. Thrown on an M lens and it is compact, and feels perfect. In no way does it resemble a DSLR with an M lens as it is thin and tall where DSLR’s are short and squat and feel like a hunk of plastic usually. But use the 24-90 and it will get large if you are used to small cameras. With the zoom, it’s DSLR like in size and weight.

1st image below with the 50 Summilux at 1.4, 2nd image with the 50 lux at f/2

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Leica’s have Character

Leica’s have a way of giving you back beautiful and at times moody photos. That “Leica Look” as many call it…well, I call it “life photos”. It usually is a by product of the lenses as Leica makes some serious lenses with some serious IQ and pop/character. The new 24-90 f/2.8-f/4 zoom, while huge and massive, is the best zoom lens I have ever used from any manufacturer, without question, period. Now of course I have not used every zoom lens ever made, but have used quite a few. The 24-90 renders like a beautiful Leica prime and has the most amazing colors and details I have seen from any zoom at any price. It’s the only Zoom I have ever used that makes me WANT to use it and want own it!

WOWZERS! THIS 24-90 Zoom is INCREDIBLE. The 1st zoom ever that makes me want to use it (and own it)

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Is it expensive? YES, crazy expensive but if you have the cash, and want the best standard zoom around, the 24-90 f/2.8-f/4 will not disappoint. I call it like I see it and while I have never liked Zoom’s..I love this one. I did not originally order it but was able to buy this one that was sent to me. It is that good..yep… Steve Huff bought a Zoom Lens, and a crazy expensive one at that (that required me selling other things to afford it). That says A LOT as I usually avoid zooms like the plague but this new Leica has swayed me with its beauty, solid build, semi light weight and incredible performance across its range plus you get an extra 20mm compared to a Nikon or Canon or Zeiss 24-70 ;)

Both images below with the fantastic Leica 24-90 Zoom. Click them for better view.

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You do not have to like the SL, but you should respect it.

I see many bashing the SL camera on forums without seeing one, using one or even testing one. Same old thing that the Leica haters (or any camera brand hater who defends their brand) do every time a new major release is out. Hell, I was not being so nice to the SL the day it was announced but I had the same impression many got after seeing images and specs. After it arrived to me, I fell in love with the SL and admit I was wrong in my initial thoughts, in every way and I am happy to admit I was wrong. 

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The fact is that after using the SL I would choose it over the M 240 these days due to the great feel and build, the sensor, the EVF and the joy of using M glass on the camera (Until the next M of course). In fact, I ordered my own SL and 24-90, which is so out of my character but once I shot this camera and lens, I knew I had to have it. I was spoiled. I will use it from time to time but am most excited about shooting M glass with the SL. The 50 Lux is gorgeous here and no, the lens does not look to small for the camera as the camera is not that much larger than an M 240! Really!

Two more lenses planned for 2016. The 50 1.4 Summilux and the 90-280

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But yes, I prefer this SL  to the M 240. How crazy is THAT? I am a hardcore M lover so for a camera to sway me from the M means it has to be special and the SL is. It’s also comforting to know there is no rangefinder mechanism to drift out of alignment every few months to a year, so using M glass means you will never have to wonder if your images will be in sharp focus.

50 Lux ASPH in action on the SL (click the images for much nicer looking images)

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So let’s get to it… what is this SL? Who is it for?

The Leica SL, according to Leica, takes aim at Canon and Nikon PRO users. Yes, an impossible task, and even I will say that they will never get market share from Nikon or Canon. Not enough Native lenses (only one so far) and well, it’s not CANON or NIKON. Even so, the SL will have a place for many enthusiasts and pros anyway, and Leica never intends to sell Canon or Nikon numbers. The bottom line is, many will buy an SL from Pros to Enthusiasts to Leica lovers. It’s not just for pro shooters, it is for any passionate photographer who enjoys the craft, respects the craft and wants a VERY solid, amazing feeling and performing camera. I see Wedding Pros using the SL and feel that is where it will spread around as it is the perfect wedding or portrait camera.


Leica has the Q for hobbyists and enthusiasts (see my Review here), they have the M for rangefinder lovers (My huge review HERE) and they have the T (review here),  and the X (review here) or even the D-Lux and others for those who want smaller more compact Leica’s. The SL is for the Pro or the one who wants the best made body in existence for mirrorless, best EVF with a killer sensor that delivers amazing color and richness to the files. It supposedly offers fantastic video (even 4K but I do not test the video as I am not a video guy) as well and with the ability to use M lenses, R lenses, T lenses or even S lenses in addition to the new SL lenses…

…well, we now have the ULTIMATE Leica camera for the true Leica aficionado. The SL does it all “LEICA”, and it does it with ease and a very mature “flow”.

In all honesty, it is responsible for lifting me out of a “funk” I was in with my shooting as it is very inspiring and it just makes you want to go out and shoot. It is a very inspiring tool.

TOP: Leica 50 Summilux ASPH. Bottom, Leica 24-90 at 90. Both fantastic lenses on the SL.

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Glitch Free SL

This time around the new out of the box Leica is not glitchy nor has my SL frozen or gotten stuck. I have not had to remove the battery for a reset … no issues at all, and the camera as a whole has been stellar in every way. In the old days, new major Leica releases would be buggy or need fixes right out of the gate (M8, M9, etc). This time, I think they nailed it. The IQ is so so nice and for me, slightly edges out my previous reference, the A7RII for depth and color. But tastes vary and this could go either way depending on your preferences. The Sony A7RII has BEAUTIFUL Image Quality. The SL has just as beautiful IQ but it is slightly different as it will offer a different color signature and character.

Want to see these images how they were meant to be seen? CLICK THEM :) All 50 lux here…

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I say “edges out” because it is slight. For me, I prefer the Leica color character and the biting detail at the focus point. I like the way M lenses work on the SL as using that HUGE bright and crystal clear EVF makes manually focusing and framing a breeze (I can not stress this point enough, the EVF is fantastic). As far as technical IQ, the Sony edges out the SL with more resolution due to its 42MP sensor vs the 24 of the SL. The Sony also has tons more lenses that can be used on it, so paying a little more than double for the SL for someone trying to decide between Sony and Leica will be a tough choice, as the Sony A7RII is a lot of camera for the money and for many, the best choice because of this.

The Leica SL is the appropriate camera for the money as in it is not overpriced for what you are getting. In other words, if you have the extra cash you will not regret the Leica IF YOU HAVE M lenses to use for it as there is only one native lens for it at launch. But a fine lens it is, one of Leica best.

Next shot also with the Leica 50 Summilux ASPH 

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My 1st use with an M lens

When I unboxed the SL, held it and shot with it… and after using M mount lenses with it I knew I had to buy it for myself. It’s a special thing and Leica may just be starting to “get it” and while many enthusiasts see this cameras as an overpriced body that has less features and specs than competitors at half the price, Leica knows they have a quality camera here and one that offers the most “pride of ownership” I have seen in a camera, ever. So I think the SL will take off as much as it can and IMO, it should sell better than even the M 240 because it offers so much more while still retaining that Leica feel and experience.

The Leica 50 APO on the SL 

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Yes, you get WAY more than the M for your money in build, specs, IQ, features and versatility.

I take this out every day with a 50 Lux and its light and not large on me. Those who have seen it, they all say the same thing “That is much smaller than I thought” as many have the impression it’s giant sized. Well, it’s smaller than a Nikon D810, D4 or Canon 5DIII or 1d series. Its much thinner and feels like a solid block of metal while not feeling like it weighs like a solid block of metal. It makes the other “pro” bodies feel not so pro anymore, and I am 100% serious and honest when I say this. It’s not that much larger than an A7RII, though it is bigger without question. Use it with M lenses and its never heavy or a burden. Throw the 24-90 on and it can get to be heavy after a little while.

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While Leica may or may not sell a bunch of these, they did in fact create a camera that anyone would be proud to own and shoot, and once a few start giving it a go, I think word will spread about how special the SL really is in all areas.

1st shot with the 24-90 (added a VSCO filter to this one, so grain is there from the filter) – 2nd shot to test sharpness of the 50 Summilux M at 1.4 while indoors. Third image with the 24-90.

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So How does it Perform? Let’s Get to the Tests…

Shoot RAW! Details..

The SL performs to a level (or above) that is right at the top of the 35mm full frame heap when it comes to Image Qualiy. RAW is best of course as I find the SL to put out VERY contrasty JPEG’s even when the contrast is turned down. So JPEGS are not the best and I recommend shooting RAW 100%. The RAW files are gorgeous and detailed and have a nice natural rendering and color to them. See some images below with 100% crops..plenty of detail to be had here…but a camera is so much more than the detail it can pump out as IQ is only one of many things I look at when I am evaluating a camera…

Click the images for larger view and true 100% crop

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Start Up & That Glorious 4.4MP EVF

When you start up the SL you are ready to shoot, and the 1st time you power it up you will be treated to a nice fancy start up sequence on the LCD. Lift it to your eye and take a look through the 4.4 MP EVF and bask in the hugeness of it… the clarity. It’s like looking through a window. A very clean crystal clear one. Movement is smooth and never ever jagged or rough BUT if you get into really low light it will get a little choppy as with ALL EVF’s made. In daylight it is quite incredible to frame with. In all of my camera review career (7-8 years) I have never experienced a nicer more informational and useful viewfinder. You SEE much better than with an OVF because you have the brightness, clarity and detail of an OVF but you are seeing exactly what you will get when you press that shutter, with a HUGE HUGE view. This embarrasses many EVF’s that are in other cameras, even the A7RII or RX1RII. The diopter control is in the form of a dial around the viewfinder and it is solid and great feeling. Easy to adjust as it is large and natural to adjust.

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Throw on the 24-90 Zoom and you will be treated to quick snappy AF (no lag or hunting that I have noticed unless you are in pretty low light) and gorgeous IQ. Throw on an M lens (Via an adapter, I use the Leica branded T to M) and you will be treated to a really nice manual focus experience. With peaking and the large view it is easy to manually focus (make sure to have peaking on by clicking the lower right button until you see it active). I do not even use the LCD magnification. No need.

Manual Focusing M Lenses

But speaking of magnification for using manual focus lenses, there is one flaw I found with the SL (UPDATE: THIS WAS FIXED IN FIRMWARE VERSION 1.2 RELEASED DECEMBER 2015)!!. There is only ONE WAY To magnify the EVF or LCD when manually focusing, and that is to press the lower left button on the back, which is in a bad spot as no fingers are near it when looking through the EVF!

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Leica’s v1.2 FW update allows the SL to now go in to Manual Focus magnify by pushing in on the back joystick which is right where your thumb lays. PERFECT!!! My ONE flaw was fixed within 2 weeks, way to go Leica! 

This button is not changeable or assignable and it should be as I need a button near a finger so I can activate the magnify if I so desire. Where it is placed now makes it very hard to use, so this needs a firmware fix so you can assign it anywhere. It really does as whoever decided to put the focus magnify there..well…bad move. It needs to be programmable and at the time of this review, it is not.

With that said, manually focusing M lenses is a breeze. With the huge EVF, focus peaking or magnification I did not miss any shots due to missing focus. In fact, I was able to focus M lenses without any MF aids at all just due to the large clear EVF.

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Touch Screen!

Keep shooting and you will soon discover that the SL has a touch screen which can be used for focusing or image preview. The SL has features such as interval shooting (time lapse) and 4K video (as well as 1080P HD) that looks gorgeous. Even the built in mics sound big, rich and full but of course we can add external mics to the SL for those who want pro audio. To date, best internal mics go to SONY, then the SL but whoever is shooting serious video..again, will use a mic anyway.

Look at how clean and nice the back looks? Not 10-15 buttons, loads of small white text and a mish mosh of controls and wheels. Nope, the SL is simplicity at its finest and after an hour or so os use it becomes second nature. Amazing how effective and simple the Leica setup is. All cameras should be like this.

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VIDEO! DOUBLE BUTTON!

BTW, I LOVE the way the video button has been implemented, and feel all manufacturers of cameras should do this. To start shooting video one must press a button to the left of the video start button to activate video mode. If you do not do this, the record button will not record! THIS IS GENIUS as it keeps that button from bring pressed by accident, which happens to many… OFTEN. So another innovation though a simple one from Leica. Brilliant. Double button video ;)

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HIGH ISO on a Leica? Yep..

The new SL has an ISO capability of up to ISO 50,000 and it can be usable at 50k if you do not get banding, which I have gotten in shots from ISO 25K to 50k but not EVERY time. The ISO capability of the SL is quite shocking for a Leica. Gone are the days of ISO 640 max on the M8 and S2 and 1250 on the M9 or even 3200 on the M 240. This guy is giving me beautiful shots even in low light at 12,500. Later on I will do a comparison to the Sony A7RII for high ISO but for now, a couple of higher ISO shots using the SL.

1st shot of my Dog Baby on the bed at night. ISO 12,500, no noise reduction (I never use it and the SL does not use it) – 24-90

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Just some clouds at night at ISO 25,000 ISO – 24-90

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ISO 4000 – 24-90

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Mr. Kurt Kamka with the 24-90 at ISO 12,500

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With the SL, there are no ISO worries. Even at high ISO the detail is there with a nice noise pattern. Man, have we come a long way!

Full Frame but T mount?

The new SL is full frame but uses the T mount. The T camera is APS-C but Leica made it with a mount large enough for full frame. Larger than even the M mount. I guess that they had plans all along :) For this reason, to use M glass on the SL you need the T to M adapter from Leica. This will send info to the camera when using authentic Leica M lenses. This means the SL will adjust for corrections just like the M does. IT’S THE ADAPTER YOU WANT. TRUST ME!

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After shooting with the SL for a while I started to realize that this IS INDEED a very PRO camera, in every way. The file quality is just superb. Rich colors, fantastic AWB performance (best I have used), snappy Auto Focus with the 24-90 and wonderful performance with M lenses, which many of you reading this own. When shooting it I feel like the asking price is exactly what it should be, as the SL is a camera I would choose over ANY camera in the 35mm world, even the Pentax 645 series which is larger, slower, more cumbersome and much more limited, and you can not use M glass on them. Id even take the SL over Leica’s own S if both cost the same. The Sl is smaller, has a nicer design, and I prefer the full frame 35mm format over medium format for day to day shooting, without question. I have spoken  to a few pros, at least 7 of them who are switching to the SL from other cameras. They tested them and fell in love and a few of these are high-end pros who rely on a camera for their bread and butter. As I said, once you use one for a couple of days, you will NOT want to be without it. It’s addicting.

A few more images with the 24-90 which ended up being the lens I used most with the SL.

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If you clicked on the images above you will see just how good they look. The SL just continually pumps out amazing quality from Dynamic Range (though Sony wins in this dept. and beats the Leica in DR with the A7RII) to color, to AF to build, design and responsiveness. The SL is a camera that you will appreciate and want to keep for years and years. In fact, the AWB is probably the best I have seen in a camera. The high ISO is remarkable for a Leica and the speed and response is so out of character for a Leica (it’s fast)!

Sure, with Nikon and Canon you get hundreds of lenses to choose from..with the SL you get one Native lens, lol. BUT this will grow with time (remember Sony’s FE lens roll out? 2 years and they have a TON of amazing glass). The key here is that one can use M, S, T or SL lenses with the SL.

Next two with the  24-90

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With all of this out of the way, let us get to the testing. ISO, Comparisons and more…phew! 4100 words in and we are just getting to the comparisons! When I get excited about a new camera you can tell as the reviews get long. Sorry!

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VS the a7RII – HIGH ISO 

Many are asking me to go head to head with the Soy A7RII, so that is what I did, 1st up, ISO comparisons between the two. The Leica shocked me here in this test against the Sony A7RII for high ISO/Noise performance.

1st shot, ISO 12,500 on the SL and then 2nd, 12,800 on the Sony

Sony has the Zeiss 24-70 at f/4 and the Leica has the 24-90 at F/4 but we are testing noise here not lens or sensor performance. Click them to see full 100% crops as they are meant to be seen. ZERO NOISE REDUCTION ON THESE!

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Now ISO 50,000 on the SL and 51,200 on the Sony (closest ISO match) – same deal, click them to see them correctly. THIS test surprised me greatly as I thought ISO 50K on the SL would fail. They knew when to cut it off because even 50K may be useful in some situations. 

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Not believing my eyes on that one I did another test in my dimly lit office at night…this time ISO 25k and I see some banding in the Leica shot this time. So banding is possible with the Leica at ISO’s past 12,800 but does not mean you will get it every time (as you can see above)

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Without question, this is Leica’s best high ISO camera ever and it performs to a level I never thought a Leica could go. 50K ISO? Wow. But what about daylight and base ISO? How is the RII against the Leica SL using a nice lens on the Sony? Let’s find out…

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VS the a7RII – STRAIGHT COMPARE

For normal IQ with base ISO who will win the IQ battle? Sony will have more megapixels at 42 vs 24 but which one will offer better color out of camera? Which one will offer more micro contrast and pop? One would think Sony has this tied up WITH THE NEW 42MP SENSOR.. and they just night but let’s take a look…

1ST up, the Leica SL. 24-90 at 35mm and f/4 – from RAW – CLICK IT!

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Now the A7RII with the 16-35 at 35 and f/4 – from RAW – CLICK IT!

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Leica SL, 24-90 at 35mm and f/4 – wow.. – CLICK THE IMAGES!

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The Sony has less detail at 100% here which shows a limitation of the lens at 35mm and f/4

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ONE MORE TEST COMING WITH THE SONY 35 1.4 INSTEAD OF 16-35!

More…

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AND BY REQUEST, I ADDED A TEST WITH THE SONY/ZEISS 35 1.4, which is what I feel is Sony’s best lens for the A7 system

Now slapping the gorgeous and magical Sony/Zeiss 35 1.4 (review here) on the A7RII to make it a fair fight…

1st up, the SL with 24-90 at 35mm and ISO 100. Tripod mounted. Click it to see the 100% crop and detail in that crop..

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Now the Sony A7RII with the 35 1.4 at f/3.5 and ISO 100. Tripod mounted. Click it to see the 100% crop. The Zeiss 35 did much better here than the Zeiss 16-35 above. Sharp, detailed and with the cooler Sony rendering. The Leica for me edges out the Sony in color and detail but we are splitting hairs here. Both are fantastic. 

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One more with the 35 1.4 Zeiss on the Sony…

The Leica again, same setup as above. Click it to see the crop correctly

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Now the Sony..again, the color of the Leica edges out the Sony IMO, but we can go either way with the detail crop. You may get more resolution with the Sony but the Leica edges it out in detail. The lens and sensor combo of the Leica are stunning. The Sony sensor is also stunning and needs a lens like the 35 1.4 to get the most of it (Or Zeiss Batis, Loxia, etc)

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At the end of the day, the Leica slightly edges out the A7RII in IQ (for me) in color, and crispness and pop. Take into account the other things that best the A7RII and we have the $4k difference in price that is justified here. (Build on another level, EVF on another level, usability much better, pro features and competing high ISO (with more detail) and the SL shows it is worth the cost to those who want to make the jump. Again, for quality of all current model mirrorless cameras available today, my top three are Leica SL, then Sony A7RII and Rx1RII with the Leica Q in 4th.

Out of camera color (AWB) and JPEG comparison

Here are two simple snapshots showing the out of camera color from each camera, the SL and A7RII. The Leica will give you a warmer rendering and the Sony a cooler rendering which is how it always has been it seems…

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And both with an out of camera JPEG. Again, the Leica AWB here nails it with rich color and  tone. The Sony AWB misses a but and has an off color leaning a bit to yellow..

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After I did these tests I was incredibly surprised. I thought the Sony would win in all areas. But what I saw is that the Leica wins in perceived detail, color and even matches the Sony (almost) at high ISO minus the banding issue with the Leica when shooting at 25-50k (sometimes). This is not your typical Leica! It is polished, smooth, feels mature and feels like a product that has been refined for years.

The SL with the soon to be released Grip

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VIDEO with the SL?

Will add a video here soon shot with the SL, stay tuned!

Shooting video on the SL is not something I will do often but I did shoot some video and it looked beautiful and even the built-in mics are very good with a huge beefy sound much like the Sony A7 series. The SL can shoot 1080 or 4K video and it does it very well. It has pro level video specs but if you want to know more about the video, I suggest  reading elsewhere as this review is focused on the image performance. Even so, I can even tell that this is Leica’s best video to date. It’s not an afterthought like it was on the M 240, it’s the real deal.

Video Specs of the SL

4K Super 35 (4096 × 2160p) at 24 fps
4K-UHD (3840 × 2160p) at 25/30 fps
Full HD (1920 × 1080p) up to 120fps
Video RAW/log format recording
10-bit output
Time code (for video editing)
Integrated stereo microphone
Audio interface for headphones and microphone
UHD resolution (3840p × 2160p) at 25 or 30 fps
In all 4K mode, the APS-C formatarea of the sensor is used and the viewing angle is reduced by a factor of 1.5

An OOC JPEG from the SL with 50 Lux ASPH

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PROS AND CONS (focus button, etc)

Pros

  1. Build is as good as it gets without being too heavy
  2. Weather sealed!
  3. BEST EVF EVER
  4. Battery Life = Amazing
  5. Simplicity at its finest
  6. Fast AF, and yes, this IS a Leica!
  7. Versatile as it can use just about any Leica lens ever made from M to R to T to S to the new lenses
  8. Manually focusing M lenses is a breeze due to the EVF, Peaking or Magnification
  9. EVF touch screen for focus point and viewing images, very smooth
  10. Leica did not skimp ANYWHERE on the SL
  11. A true Pro level camera
  12. Image quality is stunning
  13. Best ISO performance of any Leica digital, EVER
  14. Video is pro level and the two button design is genius
  15. Feels and shoots like a $10k camera
  16. MUCH nicer than lugging a medium format rig around
  17. At home on the street, landscape or in the studio
  18. Packaging and presentation is top-notch as usual
  19. Diopter control just like on the S, so easy to dial in!
  20. Best mirrorless camera experience all around that I have ever used
  21. Will be able to use Nikon or Canon or 3rd party lenses when adapters are available. That’s the beauty of mirrorless.
  22. DUAL SD CARD SLOTS! Can back up #1 or use both as storage and door is solid.
  23. GPS is built-in, just turn it on in the menu to activate it!

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Cons

  1. Only one native lens at launch. Should have had THREE at least! (more coming in 2016)
  2. Need an expensive adapter to use M lenses or R lenses, etc
  3. Wallet Buster for mere mortals! Body only $7500. The one SL lens, $5000. $12500 for body and lens. Ouch.
  4. Sony A7RII is an IQ monster with all kinds of goodies for less than half the cost, but in mirrorless, that is the only real competition to the SL.
  5. You can/may get banding at higher ISOs around 25k and up.
  6. With the 24-90 it is a large and somewhat heavy system if you are used to an M. With an M lens, it is not heavy or cumbersome at all though.

 

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FINAL THOUGHTS on the Leica SL (lenses, versatility, build, quality 100%)

Well well, you made it this far (or skipped over the rest) and I can happily say that I had a blast writing this review and using the Leica SL over the past weeks. It is a new era for Leica as they have created a system camera that IMO beats every single mirrorless camera made today, and IMO, beats any DSLR (but I am not a DSLR guy) with its build, simplicity, EVF, and overall quality and usability. While this will not replace a Nikon D4 or 1d series body for many, it will be the ultimate Leica for the Leica fan as you can use ANY Leica lens made on it from M to R to S to T, the SL can handle it.

Using it with manual focus M glass is a treat due to the huge clear EVF and the connection one can have with a camera that is working WITH you instead of AGAINST you.

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Really, the SL has amazed me every single day with what it can do, and I am shocked because in the past there was usually a compromise with Leica. With the M8 and M9 it was ISO, limited to shooting at low ISO’s. With the S2, it was also limited to ISO and most stopped at ISO 640 with the S2. With the M8 and M9 we had quirks and issues from SD card issues to cracking sensor glass and more.

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The SL is without question the best digital camera from Leica I have ever used. In fact, and this is a HUGE statement, it is my favorite camera I have ever tested and it knocked my Sony A7RII to #2. The Leica SL has everything one would want in a true German Leica….and I enjoy it more than the M8, M9, M240 or Q. No contest.

Here is why…

  • BUILD – Weather sealed, sturdy, feels like a solid chunk of metal (oh, it was made from one)
  • Speed (fastest Leica AF ever)
  • Versatile (Uses any Lens Leica has ever made via adapters)
  • New lens line is STUNNING in quality
  • EVF – Best made today, period.
  • Simplicity (WOW, this is how a camera should be..trust me on this one)
  • Low light – (ISO 12,500 is fantastic and goes up to 50k but Sony still leads in high ISO)
  • Battery Life (One charge lasted me a week)
  • Controls (joystick is AWESOME for picking on the fly focus point – – -for example, the eyes)
  • Menu system is SWEET and SIMPLE and EFFECTIVE
  • Beats the M 240 at the same price in IQ, build, versatility, and more
  • Video mode is VERY nice and the double button system is genius (1st Leica with AWESOME video)
  • New 24-90 is the best zoom I have ever tested or used or owned
  • Not big when using M glass, feels fantastic in the hand
  • IQ is somewhere between M9 and M 240 as far as rendering, and this is good
  • Best AWB I have seen in a digital camera, ever. 
  • Built in GPS
  • Dual SD Card slots with pro build solid door
  • You get what you pay for, is it worth $7500? To me, yes. 

Now of course we have the incredible Sony A7RII which is still one of my top fave cameras EVER. It offers SO MUCH for less than half of the Leica SL and I will never sell mine. But it feels like a $3400 camera where the Leica feels like a $10k camera. This SL truly feels like a Mini S camera, and that is a good thing but truth be told, the Sony A7 V2 series is probably better for most reading this as you can get an A7RII and a couple great lenses for the cost of the SL body only. The A7RII IQ is different but not worse or better, just different. This Leica will be for the Leica people or a studio pro or even street shooter who wants a camera that will last them much longer than a normal camera would.

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Congratulations to Leica on this one, for me it is my Camera of the Year for 2015 due to the innovation here. Best ever EVF, amazing battery life, crazy good pro build/features and weather sealing, stunning IQ and color performance, more refined than my #2, the Sony A7RII in every way from IQ to operation to build to the use of M lenses… and a nice start with the incredible performance of the new 24-90 f/2.8-f/4 Variable zoom.

Leica deserves the accolades here and while many will trash talk the SL (without ever using one) the facts are clear. It’s an amazing camera for usability, battery, and build. Period. It is IMO, not overpriced at all. Well worth the asking cost for those with the deep wallets that can afford it. As I have said, sometimes yo DO INDEED get what you pay for.

Throughout 2016 I will do new lens reviews on the SL, testing various M mount lenses and maybe a few R lenses. Will be fun to do for sure.

So yes, the 2015 Camera of the Year for me is the Leica SL with the Sony A7RII coming in 2nd and the Sony RX1RII in third. Honorable mention goes to the Olympus E-M5 Mark II.

The Huff House where all of these goodies arrive for testing :)

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WHERE TO BUY?

My preferred Leica dealers are below. All are fantastic and will treat you right!

Ken Hansen – E-mail Ken at [email protected] to get on his SL list

PopFlash.com – Click HERE to check out PopFlash’s SL Page!

B&H Photo – CLICK HERE for the B&H SL Page

Leica Store Miami – They have the SL listed HERE

Below I will leave you with a few more snaps with the Leica SL.  Thank you for reading this review as it was my pleasure writing it for you. My life is truly blessed to be able to do what I love to do each and every day. Thank you all!

Want More? Here are some OTHER Leica SL Reviews :)

BTW, if you want to see more reviews on the SL you can see a couple below that I recommend!

Ashwin Rao SL Review (HERE on this SITE)!

Jono Slack Leica SL Review

Kristian Dowling Leica SL Review

One more thing…

Why is it that many people feel a camera should only be judged on image quality? When I review a camera it is a review of the entire package. Build, Feel, Controls, Menu System, Speed, Response, ISO, AF accuracy and Speed, AWB, COLOR performance, EVF/LCD, built in Mic for video, and every little thing. IQ is just one little aspect of a good camera and ALL serious cameras today have astounding IQ that is good enough for ANYONE, pro or enthusiast.

So when looking for your next camera look at all aspect of it to make sure it is something you jive with for the long haul. One reason the Leica SL made CAM OF THE YEAR 2015 for me is due to all of what I just said as there is no mirrorless camera made today that can compete with the SL on build, AF accuracy and response, AWB, EVF, Simplicity, menus, even retaining detail at up to ISO 25k. No other mirrorless made today is at the level of the SL which is why the SL is $7500 (and well worth it if this is truly your passion).

 

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To help out it is simple, and no, I am not asking you for a penny!!

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295 thoughts on “The Leica SL (type 601) Camera Review. My Camera of the Year 2015!”

    1. No contest. The Sl beats the Df in build, feel, IQ, and yes, even versatility as it can shoot great video AND use 3rd party lenses via adapters (Nikon, Canon, Etc). The EVF of the SL is still the best one around for size and wow factor and the pro build and feel are special.

      1. Hello,

        I can only chime in. The SL is the best camera I ever bought (also the most expensive – no doubt – sorry no the M246 was more expensive).
        Lately Leica let burst a real grenade – but nobody seems to notice. The delivered firmware version 3.0 with more than 30 new or improved features.
        It took about 3 minutes and the SL was converted in a new camera with fully electronic “Silent Shutter” from 1 s to 1/16000 s. That means it cost me much less time and money than any poor Sony user who ordered the A9 – and he is maybe still waiting for delivery.
        The firmware update was available on May 31st, so I am using these features already since almost 2 weeks.
        AF speed and reaction is generally improved and Tracking AF is now smoother. (with lens firmware for the 24-90 and 90-280 lenses).
        For me it is almost like a new camera (and a free lunch – does it exist ?) turning my 18 month old SL into the latest and greatest.
        And like before the SL is great with AF lenses, but just as well with manual lenses. (which is really rare nowadays).

        Maybe you want to give this “new camera” a new report again ?

  1. just bought one again ,went back too film a while too hipster !! lol used Ms over 20years and thinking about canon 5d mark 4 but the dyslexia puts a stop to that and sony too , great site Steve have a grande new year !

    1. The SL wipes the floor with the 5D 4, The 5D 4 is nice but a huge chuck of fatness. I use the SL exclusively with my trio of M glass for photo and video. The video is phenomenal..low light with my 50 Lux, colors like I have never seen. I love the SL, and even a year after its release it is my fave camera. This and the M 240 are my two fave cameras ever created, the ones that gave me the most joy, happiness, quality images and memories.

  2. I agree the SL is a great camera. Just like a $100,000 Porche is much better in handling over a $50,000 Mercades (Spelled wrong…OOPS) maybe. But two things. You are WRIONG. The Leica is not made in Germany. It is made in Portugal and Austria and assembled in Germany. And the law allows them to say it as long as it is assembleb with a certain amount of parts. Next and most important: You test with the 35mm 1.4, which was very close. It is the lens more than the camera. You have said that yourself. The price of the 24-90 is also 3 times the price of the Sony made “Zeiss” lens. You get what you can afford. As a editor friend said to me, “They cannot make a lens in Germany for under $2,000$. If you want to make a real comparison try this: Take a Leica lens and shoot with it on both cameras. Then you can see which CAMERA is better. HUH?

    I would like to see a test between a Hasselbaby XD-1 50 and the Leica S… both with Leica S lenes and then with each cameras wide angle lenses at 24mm HUH?

  3. Hi Steve. Congratulations on a superb, and entertaining, review of this outstanding camera. I was wondering if you have considered doing an update with the new 2.0 firmware that the SL has now, considering that it has enhanced the camera to a large extent-especially in the focusing and shutter speed areas. Thanks.

  4. That was a great review! I really enjoyed reading this article. The colors that the Leica SL puts out kinda remind me of the Canon 5D mark III raw files which has a warmer tone. You totally sold me on the SL vs the Sony A7R II however due to the Leica SL’s price point I might just have to settle with the A7R II for now and hopefully one day I have the right budget to take one off the shelf.

  5. Dear Steve,

    Thank you for a great review of the Leica SL.

    My experience with Leica is with the M9-P, and currently now the Q. And now I am considering an SL with a 28 mm or 35 mm prime lens.

    However, my concern, both with the SL and Q, is their ability to sustain tough weather conditions. The SL, and Q, will be used mostly in normal weather, but in January 2017 I will be out documenting in freezing conditions. Snow and temperatures below -20 and -30 degrees Celsius.

    Would you have any thoughts on how the SL would handle this? Battery life, icing, and so forth?

    Regards,
    Nils.

    1. At -20 I am not so sure how your digital Q will hold up. It is not designed for the weather or elements like that. The SL is indeed built for more rugged demanding work.

  6. Steve: I’m revisiting this thread with a question… I shoot with full frame Canon and the M240. Have never shot the SL, or any of the Sony A7 series cameras. What impresses you with the SL files, versus the Sony, or Canon for that matter; file size not-withstanding. I’m less concerned about ergonomics and menu design, which I can learn over time. Thanks for a great site!

    1. The SL files are richer, have amazing color (I love the color from the SL, nothing else is like it IMO), and have a look about them that is just beautiful. In addition, the body is on another level entirely from build, feel, control, evf, etc. It’s simple, it’s easy and it does what it does without feeling like a computer. It feels so much better than ANY DSLR I have ever held, and everything about it from its shutter sound, to top OLED display, to the file quality, just beautiful. You can use M lenses or T lenses or the SL lenses. For me it is the quality from the body to the output that is above others.

      1. Thanks for the critique. Many bloggers (and I) agree with you on the superb menu layout and stealthy shutter sound. I have a host of M lenses, an APO R-180 and Canon zooms. Rumor has it that Novoflex is working on an SL-to-EOS adapter, which will ease the pain of not having to initially purchase $12,000 of Leica SL zooms! My primary use will be with the M lenses. Thanks again!

      2. When you refer to the colors of the SL files, are you referring to the raw or JPEG files? I am confused what is actually meant with people make this statement, because raw files are generally flat and dull (neutral to what the scene is), and with post processing, everything about color toning can be modified, therefore rendering any differences in the colors of raw files not meaningful. Thanks.

  7. Lin,
    I noticed the same thing this weekend while using a CV 35mm f/1.7 lens on a Leica T (same lens mount as the Leica SL). The lens would not focus to infinity. I will try other M mount lenses soon.

  8. Hi Steve n everyone,

    Just wondering if you ever test the SL using CV 35mm 1.2 v2? I have issue for not being able to focus long distance say 5meters to infinity. I have to stop it down almost to f8 to get the infinity sharp. Do you have any inputs or setting that perhaps i missed out?

    Thanks for your inputs :)

    Lin

  9. Prav,

    I understand you concern. But that is the way of the world in digital. Don’t laugh, this is one of the reasons that I have not jumped into the digital fray in a serious manner. I just keep developing film.

    If it is any consolation, many individuals with M9’s refuse to move because they enjoy the Experiance and output. I think there was a thread on another forum discussing just this. I think you could never expect Leica to compete in the tech arms race. If anything this will spur them to keep doing what they do well -even better.

    I for one would love to see sigma art lens or the new Zeiss monsters In a native mount for the SL.

    I would go out and use the hell out of the camera and enjoy yourself.

    John

    1. Hi John,

      Thank you for your reply. I take my SL outside with me everyday and really enjoyed it.

      By the way I thought I should share what I’ve just found out.

      Despite knowing that the M lenses will perform best on a Leica Camera, out of curiosity I tried the Summilux 35mm F1.4 ASPH on both the SL and A7RII anyway. Both are shot at AWB with Multi Metering Mode at ISO6400. The differences are that with the Voigtlander close focus adapter I was able to focus closer than the SL, so I had to crop the image from the SL just for comparison, but this shouldn’t matter to the result in this case.

      What I found is that the SL perform pretty bad in low light compare to the A7RII. As you can see in the images from the link (I don’t know how to post photos here so I gave a Dropbox link to the files instead). In the EVF I can barely see and focus the image on the SL (I had to hit zoom), but on the A7RII the image is just bright and clear.

      Leica SL

      https://www.dropbox.com/s/nkw5jwda4n5d4y6/SL.jpg?dl=0

      A7RII

      https://www.dropbox.com/s/wpqst19g1bbbq50/A7RII.jpg?dl=0

      *Just copy and paste them in your browser and you should be able to see them.

      Also the SL kept trying to use ISO 1000 but the A7RII automatically went up to ISO 6400. What really strange though, when I set the SL to auto ISO (Locked at 6400 Max) when I hit zoom button the ISO went up to 6400 and the image is just as bright in the EVF as the A7RII but when I hit the shutter button it went down to ISO1000 again and everything went darker so I tried to use the manual ISO set at 6400 instead, but the final image is still dark. Both images were shot at F1.4 in RAW and converted to JPEG in Lightroom 6.

      What do you guys think causes the difference? Sensor quality, how the SL Metering mode works, or the EVF software? I hope it’s the last 2 because it can probably be fixed in a firmware update.

      Thank you.

        1. Thank you for your reply Steve. Love your reviews. A lot of my buying decisions were made after reading your reviews, camera, lenses, or even camera straps!!

          I guess this metering system is what able the SL to give better 3D/pop effect to the images. I tried pushing the ISO to 50,000 and the result was like shooting against the sun. Everything else was bright except the 35 FE that’s in the centre. But this also means the SL might not be able to capture some details, if the shot was made in low light and the subject is really dark colour.

          I’ll try using different metering mode / AE lock / adding a few stops and see if those will work. Otherwise I might ended up keeping them both hahaha.

      1. Prav,

        Well….

        Have to admit that does not look real good.

        If you had to make the decision again, would you still purchase the SL? (I am one of the individuals whom actually think it is a good looking camera). I am asking because I am tempted to make the plunge (or a 262).

        But in reality i am going backwards. I am going down to pick up a Hassy 503 today:). Good luck with it. I would be interested how you feel in a couple of months.

        John

        1. John,

          If I have to answer NOW, an honest answer would be no… Considering its cost I should be able to expect the camera to work in any situations. HOWEVER, if the metering system is the cause, then the issue can be resolved quite easily via a firmware update. Given that enough people ran into the same problem to the Leica decided to re-carlibrate the metering system.

          ALSO, I haven’t really TRY to make that image work. Perhaps if I switch to other metering mode / AE lock / using the Greycard option, it might work out just fine. Like different ladies, different ways to handle…

          So, it’s possible that I might be giving you a different answer after I spent more time with the camera.

          PS. If you have a chance, try holding the SL in your hands and you’ll see that it’s the finest camera ever built yet, and it looks gorgeous. Meanwhile, enjoy the Hassy 503 : )

          Prav

      2. Did you check the settings on the SL regarding Live View? You can set Live View off on the a7rII and then the EVF brightens. Always useful when working with flashes. The negative part is that you don’t get what you see. I wouldn’t use the automatic settings on a fine camera like that, just set the ISO, shutter and aperture manually and test the low light results.

      3. Hi Prav, I know the SL image was dark, but I just spent 20 seconds in windows photo and brightened it up using the shadows control. The image was then as bright as the A7rii image, but with much less noise and a lot more detail in the shadows. Also, the highlights weren’t blown out like all the ones in the A7rii image. I don’t know what to make of this, as I am not very skilled at post processing images, but if that is what a newbie like me can achieve form a jpeg, what can you do with raw.
        On the basis of my 20 second trial, I would by the sl hands down.
        Cheers,
        Howard
        btw – did you keep the SL? and the a7rII

  10. Hi,

    Thank you for your reviews. They’re very informative and really helped with my buying decisions.

    I had the Leica SL for a few days now, and really love it. However, I’m really concern that it will short lived because I think that the only thing that’s truly innovative about the SL is it’s EVF. Everything else are just the existing technologies that putted together into a nicely designed interface and great camera body build.

    I know that it’s normal the the technologies to develop and out grow the current ones, but at the Leica SL’s price, thinking that by the end of this year or early next year, Sony will probably release a new camera that may be capable of making the SL obsolete, really concerns me. They are already announcing a GM lenses line that’s promises beautiful Bokeh. A zoom lens that’s has 2.8 aperture across the whole focal length.

    I really hope that Leica can keep up with that and the SL is not short lived.

    PS. A company called Techartpro is releasing an adapter that will give all the Leica M-Lenses the auto-focus ability when mounted with a Sony A7ii/A7Rii next March. If you get a chance, please give it a try. I’d love to see your review on it.

    Thank you.

  11. Steve I dont often disagree with you but the iso tests show the same really correctable magenta cast from the SL that was/is so present in the m9/p ccd sensors. You know, when anything from (RGB) L0 to maybe 40 has increasing amounts of unwanted colour. Compared to the Sony, it swings way into the M and or Red in deep shadows.Sure this is corectable and with a useful camera profile – even the Passport style – it should be sorted. Im no Leica hater, but felt cheated and disillusioned on the build quality of the M9, a spontaneously shattered sensor in the 9P and the early ASPHFLE 50 ‘cron which flared and needed to be returned. These things hurt my wallet and confidence so now, Im a ‘2 and ‘3 user with some good glass. Back in the high shelf again ?probably not – Id take the Sony because if you removed the titles and stacked the images – theyd be almost impossible to separate. I appreciate the sensate benefis of the SL and how sensuos it seems.

  12. I hope Sony sends you a test copy of the new FE 24-70 GM F/2.8 lens! I would be excited to see the comparison results. Their sample shots looked outstanding even showing crisp results in the edges as well. However, as expected size is huge though.

  13. I’ve heard recent postings on other sites about on-camera flash units not working well at all on the SL. All posters point to the SL and not the flash unit(s) as being the culprit. Any thoughts or updates? There are times when I must use flash.

  14. I just bought the Leica sl and loving it.i am using my 3 Leica m lenses.the 35 1.4 summilux,the 50 apo f2, and the 90 apo f2.i was getting ready to buy the Leica m240 until I read your review on the Leica sl I did not know about the rangefinder going out of adjustment.thank you for your review Steve.the camera is everything you said about it .the only thing I didn’t like was the white lettering that spells out Leica and the red dot so I put gaffers tape over it and now the whole camera is black and stealthy.

  15. Hi Steve,

    I thoroughly enjoyed your review. I have been a long time reader.

    If I had my druthers I would buy an SL now! The only think which stops me is the lack of lens flexibility. Have there been any rumours concerning third parties making native mount lenses available. (ex: sigma “art” series).

    John

    1. I’m using all of my M and R lenses on the SL which is the best of both worlds. I’ve also ordered a Leica T lens – the 35/2.0 equivalent. We’ll see about that one. So far, the only auto-focus lens is the 23-90 which is a great lens but huge and heavy. I’m very glad that I can use my M and R lenses and focus them much easier with the EVF of the SL. I’ll get the 50 when it comes out, but that will be it.

  16. Hi Steve, thanks for the great review. I’m selling my Canon and I’m near to get my first Leica, the SL. I tried it at a Leica Store but I see Dng files doesn’t have any camera profile, so VSCO Film seems not compatible. Do you think VSCO FIlm will be useful with Leica SL files?

      1. Well I have installed VSCO (00 to 07) for Canon, Sony and Leica and VSCO finds camera profiles only with Leica M, not with SL which seems have no camera profile. Do you suggest to use VSCO for Leica anyway? I really hope VSCO will do an upgrade for Leica SL!

          1. Ok thanks Steve;) last question! I personally love the Zeiss Distagon 35mm 1.4, do you think zm version will work well on SL? Did you try it?
            Thanks;)

          2. Hi Steve I did it! I bought the SL and 24-90 as the main lens for my work, then I changed my beloved 35 Distagon (e-mount) with the ZM one, so I can use it with both cameras. Unfortunately I live in Italy and I couldn’t use your link to buy.

            Loxia 50 sold too…I read a lot your review of the Voigtlander 50mm Nokton 1.5, I love the rich colors it seems to deliver, so…may I ask you a suggestion for SL for a 50mm? between this Nokton, or the Nokton 1.1 or the Summicron 50mm or Summilux 50mm pre-asph? Thanks a lot for your work

          3. Thanks Steve;) unfortunately on my SL there was A black stain clearly visible in the EVF, and no focus peaking working with M lenses, so I came back to Leica Store and the guys were great cause they have replaced immediately my SL with a new one BUT focus peaking still not works with M lenses and firmware 1.2. We have tried with three different SL bodies an no way! This is a quite big issue, do you experienced that?

          4. Problem SOLVED! Sorry! Focus peaking works, simply by clicking info button till it appears instead of the other functions. Great feauture I have to say! Anyway Leica Store call me back two hours later and tell me the same thing after they called assistance and being informed about this feauture of 1.2 firmware.

  17. Steve,
    Your review of the Leica SL is simply brilliant. I like your focus on results, rather than just endless specs.
    As the prices have gone way down, I just bought a Leica T and the 18-56 mm lens. I noticed that Leica now refers to the T-mount as the TL-mount since these lenses can mount on both the T and the SL.
    Do the original T-mount lenses crop the image on the SL or do you get a full-frame image?
    The T lenses are a great choice for the SL if they don’t crop the image. It very tempting to pick up an SL and use T lenses if I can get a full frame image.
    Thank you for your excellent work.
    Eric

  18. I do not get why you put DSLR down so much as there are many situations where only a DSLR can come on top.

    I myself use a 246 Monochrom, so the SL means little to me and I would not get one. But I doubt you could take that SL into rugged spots as you could with a Nikon d4s and take prime shots. Take David Doubilet for example. You think he would ever switch to an SL over his Nikon gear for underwater photography?

    Nikons are made to last in many conditions…you are excited simply because this is the first weather proof Leica, when Nikon and Canon are masters at weatherproofing lenses and bodies. If you say the sales are shrinking is simply because DSLR are becoming specialized cameras whereas Sony and Olympus are releasing cameras for casual photographers.

    1. 1st of all, I just do not care for DSLR’s for what I shoot. Too large, bulky, fat, cheap feeling (unless you buy pro) and heavy, mass buttons, mass menus…just a mess IMO. The SL is built to a standard I have never seen. Not in a D4, notin a 1d series, etc. I could shoot in a mosh pit in a thunderstorm with an SL and it would handle it just as well as a pro DSLR, or better. If you used an SL you would realize this fact..yes fact. The underwater photo audience is maybe 0.4% of overall shooters, so if one was in that segment, I would pick a camera that was good for underwater photography. The SL is a special camera, and many are now realizing this. I just hung out today with two guys shooting here in AZ and one other has the SL as well. He loves it just as much as I do, and all who own it, do. I would NEVER EVER buy a D80 or D4 over an SL for so many reasons. . . size, bulk and no, they will not allow me to use my M lenses. My buddy today had his SL and three M lenses in a Wotancraft RAVEN bag. It is a bag made for Micro 4/3 shooters or one leica M and three lenses. The SL fits just fine. It’s not large but made to a standard not seen today in ANY camera. Also, the shooting EXPERIENCE is amazing with that EVF. I could never never go back to a DSLR OVF. Ever, and I never will.

  19. Hi Steve, happy New Year to everyone! I had the pleasure of a SL test at a Leica Store, and I’m going to buy it withe the 24-90 zoom. I’m 99% sure to do this step…I’m searching also for a used 35mm fixed lens and I’m considering the 35 Leica Summilux or Summicron, or the Voigtlander Nokton 1,2 II. My budget is going really low so I’m near to the Voigt, do you think it could perform well on the SL, like the Leica 35mm lineup?

  20. Hey Steve, I really loved your article and also your enthusiasm for the Leica SL 601
    Here’s my question: I own a Canon EF200mm f2.0L and a Canon EF35mm f1.4L and also a Zeiss Otus 85mm f1.4 with a Canon mount. Will there ever be a chance, really an adapter to mount these lenses onto the Leica SL 601? Please let me know and thanks in advance

  21. Steve, you have been consistent in your statements about FF. That FF is always going t beat M43 in most ways. But FF DSLR’s aren’t your personal cup of tea. And with the Olympus M43 system you have excellent image quality (more than good enough), fantastic build quality, a company behind the products that understands us photographers, great portability, and a competent range of lenses. If I recall, you tend to use primes and you rarely exceed 90mm for most of your shooting.

    The SL has all that and FF. It’s somewhat larger/heavier, but with Leica primes, not dramatically so (or anyway it is manageable). And then you have the EVF, the FF, the rock solid build, the IQ – these factors led it to be your pick for 2015.

    My question is, for you, where does that leave the Olympus M43 system? Leaving cost considerations aside since you already own both, if you don’t shoot long lenses, it doesn’t seem like you would often pick up the OMD vs the SL anymore?

    [Disclosure: I own the Oly M5 II, but also have Leica lenses, and can buy the SL if I wish, so this is not a loaded or troll question.]

    1. Well, I just used my E-M5 II the other day to shoot a video with the 7-14. If I want to shoot a fisheye, or ultra wide, if I want to shoot closer in that the SL and M lenses will allow (.7 meters) or if I want small, quick, and reliable. The Oly line for me, beats ANY APS-C made today, in every area. It can not match full frame in low light (not even close), it can not match full frame in DOF control (shallow) or that rich yet smooth color signature of the Leica SL. With the SL I am limited if using M lenses. No close ups, no AF. With the Oly I have any focal length available to me from 8mm to 75mm (16 and 150mm in 35mm).

      So all depends on what I want to shoot. Light painting? Olympus. Low light band in a club? Sony A7S or RII. Portraits in any light or on the street? Leica SL with an M 50.

      The SL offers ME the best IQ, build and EVF/User Experience of any camera I own or have owned. It’s close to the M, but with better color, no contest there. The Sony A7RII is also fantastic in IQ but for finesse, color and an overall beautiful rendering, the SL wins. The Olympus comes in 3rd with still super IQ and color, just less Dynamic Range, ISO ability and DOF abilities. But having a larger DOF can be a plus as you do not have to worry about being OOF from DFOF.

      So many choices….

  22. There is no way this 24MP sensor ouresolves the A7RII sensor. I have used several lenses which outresolve the Sony 42MP sensor. No 24MP sensor with a Bayer CFA can produce more detail than the A7RII files I see from lenses like the Sony 90 macro or even the Rokinon 135 or FE55 for that matter.

    That said, I don’t need so much resolution. 24MP is fine. What keeps me from buying the SL at this time is that I need more AF lenses than just zooms and a 50. I’ll definitely be watching this system with interest if and when Leica starts to build up the autofocus lens lineup.

    1. Well when some come here and speak nonsense of which they know nothing about, going by the price of a camera or hate for a brand instead of what it is and can do, well, that has no place here at all. The SL is an astounding mirrorless camera, end of story. Whoever says it is not, well, I have to question their “camera knowledge”, no matter who it is, as this means one of three things… They have never touched the SL, shot the SL or used the SL..or…They used it once in a shop, not real use and did not understand its features or control system… or ..they had no clue how to use it correctly and became confused. The menu system is brilliantly easy and simple and takes about 2 minutes to learn, the controls even easier and the EVF is a revelation. When I go back to my other cameras it’s very tough to look through them after the SL. This is not hype, it’s factual information, as I always give.

      It’s a 100% enjoyable, pleasing and wonderful experience to use it and the files reward you back each and every time you press the shutter. The AWB, exposure and entire system is rock solid, but for me it’s the design, control, EVF and IQ that sold me. I’v never used anything better, even when I tested Leica’s S, I prefer the SL. If someone owns the SL and uses it, then they can talk about what it is and what it isn’t, but when someone comes here with “Leica Hate’ on their mind talking nonsense while not even owning it or never having touched one, then I will chime in as I have done for 7-8 years here as they are just trolls, which has been going on since the inception of the internet. I am an “enthusiast” these days and many of you here are as well. That means you love cameras, you love taking photos and its one of your life passions. Enthusiasts will LOVE a camera like the SL as it seems to have been designed for the enthusiast just as a high end sports car is made for a driving enthusiast.

      As an enthusiast I want a camera that pushes the norm on build, design, usability and output. Cameras that do this? Many. The RX1RII is one example. FF in a tiny compact body that delivers vest in class IQ. The Olympus bodies are more, giving features and modes not seen on any other cameras, then there is the Leica M which no one else offers anything like and then the SL which IMO created a new class of mirrorless, and I bet Sony will have an answer for it in 2016. Maybe an “A9 Pro”. Now, this is a guess. I have no inside info, and if I did I would be in HUGE trouble for saying this, so there is no facts based on my guess.

      Bottom line of this comment…I have a low tolerance for trolls.

  23. Can the IQ be introduced in post-process?
    I own a A7r and all the photos I choose to use I do some kind of PP. Is Leicas advantage that you get the effect out of the box or can most of it be recreated on cheaper cameras with a little time consuming PP work?

    1. Of course you can PP these files just as anyone does any RAW file. They are very hardy rich files as well, and have been proving me with better files than my Sony A7RII every time. Did a compare last night between the A7RII and SL using the 50 APO and it was no contest, the SL beat it without breaking a sweat. From color, to detail to overall vibe. Crazy.

  24. Steve….. Is it me or not? It appears that the 24-90, paired with the SL, is superior to primes with the SL? I am considering taking the SL plunge. Thanks.

  25. Strange how people can´t understand the appeal of this camera. For my travel and reportage style photography I do not need AF and prefer manual focussing, but on the Nikon D3/700/800 there is no interchangeable focussing screen available that works as well with 1.4 and 2.0 lenses as I could on the F3HP (except Katzeye?). It is worse for the D4, which offers no changable screens at all. The eyepoint is reduced each generation of cameras, and sadly, the new generations of photographers do not have a reference to compare to. Canon offers such screens for the 5dII, the 6D, the 1Dx and prior 1-series, but not the 5dIII. No wonder a lot of photographers flock to Leica if they can. I loved looking through my Leica M6 and overall precision and size, but my favourite camera of all time remains the Nikon F3HP. The size and form of it, and that big viewfinder… So I got a D700 instead an M9, and long for something more compact with sharp lenses. The D700 does not have enough resolution for me, but I am not sure I need more than 24MP for a *handheld* camera. Using M-lenses on a camera with a form factor and viewfinder like the Nikon F3HP would be perfect, but I am puzzled that no reviewer anywhere tested the SL with anything wider than 35mm, and usually the just 50mm M Summilux. What about 21mm and 24mm lenses? I hope Leica will use the form factor and rangefinder experience to distinguish the next M from the SL, rather than the performance of M wideangles in the corners. I am not as keen on the rangefinder as I once was, but the next M could still sway me from the SL. If M lenses are sharp into the corners and the viewfinder feels natural, then the SL comes close to a modernised version of an F3HP for me, and at the moment at least it would be only the price keeping me from owning one. I do not love the Nikon Df. It´s not about making a camera look “classic”, it´s all about “form follows function”, and that sums up why we love Leica in three words.

    1. TheCameraStoreTV just listed the Leica SL as the second worst camera of 2015 on their youtube channel. Looks like a lot of people don’t get the SL.

      1. Most never will but saying 2nd worst camera makes me lose respect for that channel as they clearly do not know what they are talking about with this one. But that is the issue. Most will NEVER get a camera like the SL which is why Leica will never ever sell anything with numbers like Canon, Nikon or Sony or Olympus. Price, design, and simplicity. Those guys are so used to big, bulky DSLR’s littered with buttons and controls they may have been lost with the Leica’s simplicity and different way of control. Im still testing the SL against my A7rII, thinking “the A7RIi will kill it this time” and it doest. I am shocked at how good the SL really is. Best files I have ever gotten from any camera, easy to use the camera, best built camera I have ever used, sleek, best EVF in the world, blazing fast AF with the native zoom. What’s not to like, besides the cost? Nothing, nothing at all. So making this 2nd worst camera of the year sounds like price prejudice more than anything, which I do not do. The A7RII is a better bang for the buck, but is like a $3400 camera. The SL feels and shoots like a $10k camera so at $7500 it is well worth the asking price though its out there out of reach to many. I had to sell things to get mine, and happily did. Loving it day by day.

  26. Great review. Thanks. I have had the Leica SL since right before Thanksgiving. The camera has a high initial learning curve as it is really not like anything else I have ever used. I wasn’t sure at first but it dawned on me that it is more fun to use than the DSLRs (have owned Canons and Nikons) and the Sonys. The EVF is incredible, the extra reach of the 24-90 super helpful and the build is incredible. I remember when the camera was first announced and I actually voted in a poll about whether it was ugly. I voted yes. Once I got it, I completely changed my mind-pictures of it don’t do it justice. What really sold me that is the DNGs colors are deep and accurate, the AWB works better than any other camera I have used, and at times you really do get the M9 CCD look. It isn’t light (comparable to Nikon D810 with 24-70) but worth the load.

  27. Very tempted to pick up the SL. I looked at my current equipment and I could get enough for the body and a Leica R lens adapter (the Novoflex one as for some idiotic reason Leica won’t release their R lens adapter until next Fall #@$&*@#)!!! I have four R lenses from 21-90mm so I’ll probably pass on the 24-90 for the foreseeable futures and pick up the 90-280 next year.

    BTW, the SL’s EVF is apparently made by Epson and is starting to be mass manufactured so it should start showing up on other higher end cameras soon.

  28. Interesting comments, some way over the top! I have got the covetous Leica SL with the 24-90 lens ( after making savings for some time), and been using for 2 weeks. This my first Leica ever in life and will be the last, as I am in my sixtees and retired. As Steve says, it’s not just lab reports ( I never ever read them before, and not now) but lenses and cameras are made for experience, pleasure, “creating” photos in camera, not just shooting snaps. I have used all types of cameras, right from early 60,s to now. Never could afford a Leica before ( not rich enough). But this is the first camera which gives me the urge to go out and shoot just anything. Of course it is heavy, like a a DSLR ( which are plain ugly and unwieldy for me). Even at my age I can easily carry the SL and the zoom lens, comfortably. I make photos to please me, not to please the world. The photos from SL are superb for me, exactly like what my eye sees. The 24-90 is like 5 primes installed in one!!! With the 24 most stunning for me. Yes the price is high, but what’s price of true joy is in life?? Always trusted Steve for his reviews. He says what he feels, coming straight from his heart, not just from his head. This is how a review should be – from the heart. After photography is art, not lab experiments. Well done Steve. Best regards.

  29. Great review!

    I’m a Leica convert, went from the R8 to an M7, and for ages have sat on the fence about moving from M43 for day-to-day digital to full frame just so I can use my M and R lenses, but hate the Canikon bodies and when I played with an A7 it was the same problem, an ugly little box covered in buttons.

    Then this came out and I already know I’m buying one. It’s literally just a matter of time and saving up some cash. A weather sealed, full frame, EVF Leica with a lovely minimal layout? That is the dream camera.

    And as for the cost, ‘Made in Germany’ ain’t cheap.

  30. Thank you for a great review:) And you really produced some nice images. I got the camera myself this Saturday, and love the autofocus, the quality and feeling og the camera. I am a M240 shooter, and I am a bit disappointed on the results I am getting in high ISO, and in low light. Even with the Nocitlux I feel the files are a bit “dead” and really difficult to adjust in Lightroom. Also on only ISO 6400 there is a lot of ISO noise. The 24-90 works well, and is versatile and focuses fast, but I am missing the “look” I get with my M.

    Any comments?

    OOC Jpegs are good, but not great in my opinion.

    1. Well, I can say the SL has much better high ISO performance than the M 240, much better. I can shoot up to 25K without issues. Shoot RAW, do not use any NR in Lightroom and using the Noct you will get more of an M9 rendering vs an M240 rendering, which the majority prefers. Nothing dead about the files from the SL on this end ;) I think you just need to figure out how to tweak the RAW files. All I do is enhance the contrast either way or the shadow slider…nothing major. But the IQ I am getting is rich, 3 dimensional and just WOW. I know a few who use the Noct with the SL and they are producing fantastic images, so much so it makes me want a Noct again! Keep at it ;)

      1. Hey Steve. Thanks a lot for your answer. This morning I took some quick pics out of my window with my M240 with the Noctilux and Summilux35 at F4 ISO200, and my SL with the same lenses at same settings except ISO50. Also the Vario 24-90 at 35mm and 50mm. I imported into Lightroom, and created Jpegs without any adjustments. And I guess you were right:) Files are named after camera/lens/settings, and if you are curious you can see them here:

        Both cameras in A mode. Centre wighted light meetering.

        https://www.dropbox.com/sh/8xmuearhaiicwzh/AADtVc2LK613yMXsbEphrj0_a?dl=0

        The SL straight out of camera JPEGS are not good:

        https://www.dropbox.com/sh/zc7hy14crq7f9e5/AAC0BtQRUwbYPy9oc91mrYLFa?dl=0

  31. Does the Sony a7R II smear the edges of the image with for example the 50 mm Summilux-M F1.4 Asph. like it does with a7R? How about this new Leica with the adapter?

    1. As I said in my A7RII review, no not really. 90% of M lenses do fantastic on the Sony A7rII. Some may give SLIGHTLY soft edges but no more than something like a Canon L lens :) The SL will do perfect with M glass (as stated in the review) as it is made for them…as in, the SL will do corrections in camera like the M 240 does. So no issues.

  32. Another passionate and great review Steve!

    Is it me, or am I seeing more of an ‘M9 look’ in the files from the SL, just with added DR and colour, but most of the bite? Is anyone else seeing the same?

    While an overall great camera and better in almost all respects, I never gelled completely with the M240 like I did the M9, when it came to getting skin colour and skin details just where I wanted them. Sometimes they were great, sometimes they had a smoothness and lack of fine detail and correct colour to them. How is the SL in terms of skins colour, compared with the M240 and the M9?

    This review makes me feel very positive and interested in what we may see in the next M. Perhaps it will address this issue for me?

    I also love the two SD card slots. It’s the main reason that I don’t use my M camera for more important occasions. I’d love it if an M camera had this feature of an in camera image backup.

  33. Hi Steve,
    thanks for another brilliant review !!

    My SL arrived last night and i was wondering what strap and bag you are using to store the Body & Zoom plus 1-2 M Lenses?!

    Thanks lots !!

    1. I use the strap that came with it, and my Ryker Bag to store the body and 3 M lenses. For the Zoom, the Ryker will hold the body and zoom but nothing else so a larger bag would be needed.

  34. “It’s the only Zoom I have ever used that makes me WANT to use it and want own it! (and I do)”
    http://www.stevehuffphoto.com/2015/11/30/leica-sl-camera-review-my-camera-of-the-year-2015/

    “The E-M10 and 12-40 2.8 – This combo is lightning fast, sharp, amazing prime IQ and the very 1st zoom I have ever really wanted to buy in the mirror less world.” http://www.stevehuffphoto.com/2014/03/17/the-olympus-e-m10-and-12-40-f2-8-pro-zoom-mini-review/

    What’s going on here Steve?

    1. Whats going on is I now own two zooms. The 7-14 with my Olympus and the 24-90 with my Leica. It’s quite clear is it not? Both are more like primes, and both are the best I have used for Zooms, which is why I own them both. When I wrote about the Leica zoom, I was speaking of a standard range zoom. The Oly is an ultra wide niche lens, not a standard zoom. In any case, both are fantastic.

  35. With just a little effort, I was able to find raw files from the SL on the internet, which I downloaded to my computer and opened both in Photo Ninja and ACR. Most were taken with the 24-90 but some with Leica primes. The IQ, in a word, is outstanding, at least at low to moderate ISOs. Photo Ninja just crushes it, while ACR does nicely, but not as well. So, my conclusion is that Steve’s conclusion about the image quality from the SL and the zoom lens is most likely correct. It is fantastic. I would love to be able to run head to head comparisons with my A7II, but that is not likely to happen anytime soon, as I have no plans to buy the Leica.

      1. Glad to see that you like the cam. What has happened since you’ve published the harsh words at SL introduction to change your mind and soul so drastically?

  36. Steve: We need a companion article on “How to make the money or pull off a sweet talk to the boss for a budget approval the fastest for the SL package acquisition” to go along with this review :-) !!

  37. Obviously all the images taken here are excellent, but IMHO, NOTHING revealed in the photos justifies the price tag of the SL and its lenses. If I as a hobbyist were going to invest that kind of money, I’d opt for a true medium format system. Also, comparative tests conducted by imaging resources show the Sony outclassing the Leica in many areas, particularly sharpness and contrast. For rapid-fire street shooting, I’d definitely prefer the Sony RX1R II.

  38. Something is not working good with your A7R2. even without the comparison, the files are not sharp as they can be with the camera. specially the samples with the 55, this lens is for sure more sharp from your samples.

  39. Hi Steve.Seems like a superb camera in every way. I reckon it is a distillation of a lot of S technology plus a little bit of synergy from strategical partner Panasonic. If I owned this camera I like you would use it with the zoom and some Leica primes. I am wondering if this Evf does well in high contrast conditions. I think we can look forward to more superb lenses in the near future. They are promising a world beating auto 50mm soon. Here again I am seeing S lens technology in play
    I remember reading a review of S lenses which indicated that they were the best ever made . I still love the M range but am delighted Leica are forging ahead as they did in the past after all they invented auto focus not to mention 35mm photography. Enjoy your new camera . Best wishes

  40. Actually it is not fair to say that the SL has better IQ than A7r2 because different lenses were used. I would be interested to see how the images stack up if both cameras use the same lens.

  41. Just for comparison purposes: The Leica SL with 24-90 weighs in at 1,140g. The Nikon D810 with 24-70 constant F2.8 weighs in at 1,950g a whopping difference of 37g (0.08lbs). However the biggest difference is in cost: LEICA: $15K vs. NIKON:$4.6K. A difference of $10.4K (that’s a lot of “K”).

        1. Just my 2 cents about size/weight of gear. I’ve noticed there is always some kind of compromise when you’re reducing the size of any piece of tech, a smartphone or a camera. Either the battery life is sacrificed (the phone), or there’s only 1 memory card slot (among other missing features) in the camera. At 62 years young, I still shoot long days with a DSMKIII, with zoom and a large Canon flash mounted. 6 years ago I developed severe tendinitis in my left wrist; could hardly hold the camera. Started a gym membership and in 6 weeks, the pain in my wrist was gone. The benefit now; my upper body is stronger than it was when I was younger. Problem solved. I also shoot with the M, but thankfully, the concerns about equipment weight are now a non-issue and I feel healthier. I’d rather put up with the weight of a system, than sacrifice the features that would make a good system that much better.

  42. Kudos to Leica! The color and clarity of the photos posted is stunning! I saw, held and looked at this camera at Photo Plus show in NYC and can honestly say that i have never held another camera that felt as well constructed as this camera, it oozes quality. Makes a Canon 5D or Nikon 810 feel cheaply made in comparison.

    I am a happy micro 4/3 shooter, but that doesn’t stop me from feeling that they made a heck if a nice camera here.

  43. Hi Steve,

    I went to a couple of Leica shops and played with this camera on 3 occasions last week and decided to order it. Luckily, my wait was short and they have one for me now. My question is, and maybe you’ve already addressed this, but do you prefer using the 24-90 zoom or your M lenses with the SL? I know they serve different purposes, but given your choice which you would choose? I’m debating whether to get the zoom or use M lenses with it (28 lux, 50 lux, 90 cron)?

    Thanks,
    Hien

    1. I am using the zoom most, which is a shocker to even me. With that said, right now I have the 50 Lux on it and will be shooting with that lens for a week or so. If I want light and smaller, I go M. If I want teh versatility of the zoom that acts like a good prime, I use the 24-90 but it is large and makes it heavy. With an M lens, I can carry the camera all day and not notice it. With the 24-90 I NOTICE IT. Depending on what I am shooting, the 24-90 may be worth using for the IQ.

      1. I’m a little surprised because you’re not a zoom guy, so that says a lot about the quality of that lens. It is big and I can’t decide whether or not to buy it at this time. Thanks very much!

    1. Well, to me the SL files convert very nicely to B&W and to be honest, I do not see much difference between converted SL files and the 246. I do see a difference between the SL files converted and the original Monochrom, but the 246 seems more like M 240 files converted to B&W. At the end of the day, with the SL I would not buy a Monochrom as the files of the SL do so well with B&W conversion. 99% of the population could not tell the difference. Just my opinion.

      1. Thanks Steve! I agree and just couldn’t believe it at first. The SL has what I believe is an advanced cmos to the M. I’ve been tempted to go back to a CCD mono, but felt that the 246 just wasn’t that much different. I appreciate your time.

  44. Seems awfully nice, as I’d expect it has to be at that price point.

    I was surprised that although mirrorless it is actually 82 grams HEAVIER than the Nikon Df DSLR (and wider to boot).

    I wouldn’t afford it anyway, but for what it’s worth, as an old film M user, I already find the Leica digital M series just a little bulky for my tastes.

  45. Hi Steve and Anybody else that might have an answer!!

    I have a question that I didn’t read a specific answer on… and thats focus peaking. Is the focus peaking much better on the SL when compared to the M240 with EVF2 (on board). This is one of the big issues I have with the M240 as I get older… getting harder to focus in darker light situations. The SL would interest me if this were to be much better.

    Thanks…Alan.

    1. The EVF experience on the SL is 1000X greater than on the M 240. There is no lag, no slowness, no issues. You can turn on or off peaking or magnification. The EVF is so large you can focus without the aids, and you can easily adjust the diopter to your eyesight, even if you have large fingers :) Maybe try to rent an SL from lensrentals or try one in a local shop if possible to check out the EVF and see if it would work for you.

      1. I agree totally! The focus peaking and magnification in the EVF is so much better than any camera I have used! I can even focus the Noctilux without any problems at all. I love it!

      2. It’s not just peaking that’s good, but Magnification is great, because it’s such a hi-resolution finder. Nothing gets coarse-looking when magnified, so it’s very easy to check focus. But the Magnify button’s in the wrong place, so it’s awkward with a heavy lens: you have to take your left hand away from the lens to press the Magnify button, which is already jammed against your face!

        Great magnification ..but stupidly implemented, I’m sorry to say.

  46. Steve how did you find the handgrip of the SL? And discomfort in terms of usage?
    I always use the Gps handgrip with m240, will it be a similar experience in terms of size and feel? Thx

  47. First and foremost comment, this camera has extraordinary image quality, especially with the new zoom lens which is large but fantastic. I’m a Canon user (6D) and I wouldn’t change because I have the lenses but I have to say that I would like this camera solely for the beautiful images it can produce, which are extraordinary.

    As for the photos,I absolutely love the photo of the legs with the two little dogs, which remind me of Elliot Erwitt’s pictures of dogs which he is so famous for, the photos are all great though, but that one is fantastic, deserves a prize.

    Who is it for? difficult

    Side by side comparison with the Sony A7Rii, it looks huge and I can appreciate what Sony have done with the A7 series. The weight is high, even higher than my 6D, although thinner body which negates one of the benefits of EVF equipped cameras. It doesn’t look as good compared to the A7Rii, which may influence sales. I don’t think it will have the same desirability as Leica’s own M series cameras, time will tell.

    1. There will be Leica’s own adaptors (..rather pricey..) to adapt Leica M, Leica S, Leica R and Leica T lenses onto it (..only the M-mount adaptor is available at present).

      Because it has a SHORTER mount-to-sensor distance (“flange-back” distance) than Leica M lenses, and because those lenses can be fitted to – for example – a Sony A7 series camera (because those cameras also have a very short flange-back distance) a huge assortment of lenses may be fitted to the SL ..especially the longer flange-back lenses such as for Nikon and Canon SLRs.. and no doubt Chinese-made adaptors will very soon appear in the usual places ..e.g; new on eBay.

      I’ve used a variety of lenses on the SL, with adaptors to fit other lenses onto an M-mount, and then with the additional Leica M-to-L adaptor.

      So yes: it’s possible to “..put many lenses like on the A7 ??”

  48. Hi Steve, Interesting review as ever and lots of real world input which is always appreciated. Whilst the camera is way out of my budget, the drawbacks that would stop me owning one (by selling all of my kit and some) is that the zoom is too heavy for my style (I like a lightweight set up) and the zoom whilst delivering amazingly sharp & eye poppingly (is that a word) colourful images, to my eyes doesnt have very appealing bokeh, a quality I really value in some of my lenses. You could bring extra primes in the bag for this but then the bag would soon get real heavy. It also doesnt allow for the huge array of other brand lenses that the A7 series allows and, if I was to buy it, I would have to sell my rokkor and contax zeiss C/Y glass and I could never do that because those lenses have so much character. This is obviously not a criticism of the camera which, if you have a set of M lenses already or the budget to buy them, seems a bit of a no-brainer. The thing I’d value most is the viewfinder. Next generation of A7 cameras need to equal this, improve their menu and buttons and then they’d be perfect for me. Cheers N

    1. “..It also doesnt allow for the huge array of other brand lenses that the A7 series allows..” ..but it does. See my answer to cinq1 just below..

      1. (Ah. that answer is “awaiting moderation” ..so it may not appear for a while ..meanwhile: yes, when suitable adaptors become available, it can handle a huge number of other lenses, just like the Sony A7 series.)

  49. Steve, are you sure you did nail the focus for both correctly?
    If you did, I go to the SL for the crispness, sharpness.
    But I prefer the A7RII for the AWB since the SL gives a more reddish and saturated color. It’s a matter of preference though.

  50. Wow I didn’t think Leica would make another camera I wanted to buy I love the design of it it’s reminiscent of German designs from the past like Braun simple clean design and well made dammit great review Steve thanks for that

  51. These are gorgeous Files! The Color, the IQ… Wish They’d make good Native MF lenses like the Loxia. I hope Zeiss will jump on board because I love their lenses.

  52. Steve
    Great review. After I read your review, I pre-order a SL body with Ken so I can try out my M lens. So far everything that I bought were based on your review and have no complain at all.

  53. Have you had a chance to use any of the T lens yet? I know they are currently available, giving a bit more variety in autofocus and wider than the SL 24-90. Wondering what is the image/build quality of the T lens. I do mostly very low light work and they may not be suitable.

    1. I would nevefr ever buy an APS-C lens for a full framer camera. Not only would I then have 10MP but Id be paying quite a bit for cheaper built lenses that need quite a bit of software correction in camera. Id rather take that money and put it towards an M lens. Just me though. If I owned a few T lenses I would use them, but I do not own any.

      1. Hi Steve,

        I’ve not used T lenses on the SL but Jonathan Slack says that they work wonderfully! He noted that the T lenses’ AF on the SL is dramatically faster than on the T and that the quality of the images with the SL is superior to the images on the T

  54. You know what’s a straight-up bargain? The A7II with a chrome Voigtlander 50mm Nokton f1.5
    Just saying….
    Epic review as always Steve.
    Looking forward to your RX1R II review.
    Although you’d have to prise my RX1R from my cold dead hands….
    J.

  55. Your house was unbelievably cheap. Would probably cost at least five times that in an equivalent sized city in Australia.

    1. Well, when I bought it the real estate slump was in full effect 5-6 years ago. I did some improvements in and out and today it is worth quite a bit more, more than double.

  56. Thank you, once again, for an unconditionally outstanding article. I own the Leica Q partially based on your assessment, as well as your photos. No doubt, the Q was an excellent choice for me especially when traveling. With that said, your evaluation of the SL has me intrigued as, Camera of the Year.” Candidly, I was blown away because of one points you mentioned. It is like having a Nikon D800 plus a 24-70, only with better range 24-90. And, of course, better results. Within the next few days, I intend to go to the Leica Store to see how it feels in my hands. Appreciate your expertise, the way your approach photography, and the article.

  57. just shot some images with SL and M and as much as I love the SL so far I have to say the M 240 color seems better (LR) more alive to me.
    Also focusing with the rangefinder seems to work at least as good (with 35mm lens, maybe different with 75mm+)
    I really like the SL but I will use it mainly with the zoom; If I use M lenses 50mm and shorter I see the M as the better camera (and delivering better color)

  58. Hi Steve thanks for a superb review. I can say as a Leica M shooter that calibration of the rf mechanism is a reality.I threat mine with great care so have not had any major issues.the SL seems to be the real deal and your images show the fantastic quality. I fully agree that Lab tests are not as good an indication as real life usage.I like the rf experience but good luck to Leica with this new camera as it is obviously brilliant.

  59. No offense Steve, but seriously! “.. along with this, the Sony A7RII and RX1RII and my Olympus OMD, I need or want for NOTHING. AT ALL.” Really? You sure? Man this is more than 95% of us could even dream of! You’re truly blessed with all that equipment :)

  60. Reading this in Indiea at 1am I may have missed it… how does the SL perform with M wide-angle glass (one of the few things I still regret with my A7R 1st version)?

    1. It does fine with Leica M wide angle glass. Many use it with the WATE and 21 and have no issues. Ive used it with a 28, 35 and 50 no issues. It has all of the lenses in the database like the M, so when you use the lenses it knows what to correct, like the M does.

  61. Hi Steve
    I read this article with great interest-your credible excitement is very palpable describing your experience with the type 601.
    I personally was excited and considered possibly buying that camera and zoom lens combo.
    I do a lot of low light and I do enjoy street photography-I need weather proof ! Have had the Nikon D4 out in rain storms as well as the omd em1.
    Not sure how the Leica would do but it must be good right?
    The kicker for me is bang for the buck-
    Yes I can afford the Leica combo but is it truly worth it?
    Here in Canada the strong $US currant has the $ Canadian dollar at .74cents today.
    I looked up the Calgary camera store price for lens and camera
    Body-$9759.50
    Lens-$5706.36
    Tax 12%- $1855.90
    Total cost
    $17,321.76

    That’s getting up there for one body and one lens- yes I do agree with u that u get what u pay for.
    It would make a dandy tax write off eh
    Cheers
    Evan

  62. like i said, this camera seems to fit you like a glove, and the pictures you’ve made are impressive, but i wonder how it feels to have 2kilo of equipment in your hand when walking around !?!? I have a 5d mark II + sigma 50 art ( 1.6 Kilo ) and honestly, i’m a big man, but that’s my limit. I feel much better with the 24 art ( 300 g less ) , but 2 kilos !!! man, it’s a lot ! did you rlove for the camera made you forget about the weight ?

    1. I can walk around with teh SL and 50 Lux around me for 9 hours and not feel it at all (and have). Its not heavy or large with an M lens. It only gets large and somewhat heavy with the zoom.

    2. I think this is one of the big strengths of this camera: you have options. You can use M lenses if you just walk the streets or do some hiking etc. and if you have to, you can use the heavy zoom lens with autofocus for more serious stuff.

      @Steve: i saw a review of the SL where they said, that you need to open the aperture of your M lens to focus in low light because with a small aperture, there is not enough light to see if your subject is sharp in the EVF. Is that true? I thought the EVF would eventually compensate for that?

  63. Great article and thanks for the review! When the Q launched it was your prime candidate for COTY, in this article you state SL is, then the two top-end Sony’s, where does the Q now fall? Just short of top 3? How does the A7rII + 28 and Sl + 28 cron stack up against the Q? Any info on ICL Q in the new year?

    1. The Q now falls behind the A7RII and the RX1RII and of course the SL. For me it would be SL, A7RII, RX1RII then the Q. The Q is fantastic but it is not innovative, it’s more of an RX1 copy. The RX1RII for me, edges out the Q in build/feel and I prefer the RX1RII image files over the Q as they are a bit more natural where the Q is more enhanced (contrast and color) – the SL uses the Q sensor but they tweaked it to be more natural and less aggressive in the contrast and bite. ALL are 100% fantastic though and we are splitting hair for the most part.

      1. I’m surprised to hear your opinion on build and feel…I’ve held both and to me, the Q is way more solid with the perfect amount of heft! and the EVF is far Superior as well, large and bright with never a fear of a fragile pop-up mechanism to break. Leica Q gets my vote for camera of the year!

        1. Wait the Q vs the SL? The SL slays it in build, not even close. The Q is the only real Leica that feels cheaper and hollow, like Fuji’s do. The Q feels nothing like an M, SL..not even close. The RX1RIi is better built as well, smaller and more solid. BUT both are just fine in the build. It’s whatever one prefers. Both are beautiful.

      2. Q and Sl have the same 24MP sensor. a7rii and RX1Rii have the same 42MP sensor. The sensor resolution make big difference on buying decision.

        You said SL is better than (a7rii, RX1Rii) then Q follows. To me that is Not a logical comparison. a7rii got 90points from DPReview. Can SL get more than that?

        1. I could care less what DP Review gives a camera, and I never read their reviews. Or any reviews. Why? So I do not taint my thoughts or head before I review a camera. To me, the SL beats the Q as the sensor is tweaked for the SL, the body is 10X better made, the camera is 100X more versatile and I can use my M lenses with ease. The EVF is above and beyond what is in the Q and well, everything is better. Same sensor, sure but tweaked. The RX1RII also has the A7RIi sensor but results will be different as well. 24 is more than enough for any enthusiast, pro or whoever. Many billboards were shot back in the day with 3MP pro cameras. 24 is plenty. SO yes, SL is better than the A7RII and Rx1RII for color, AWB, and yes, even detail. The A7RII is better in extreme ISO above 25K and resolution (which does not mean more detail).

      3. i would not agree that the Q is not innovative Steve, the switch to manual and autofocus, the macro mode and the EVF are all better and more innovative and easier to use on the Q than the RX1RII.

        Also, from your previous comments about high ISO, banding is a concern on the Leica compared to the Sony.

        Comparing the M and SL with M lens, Reidreview shows the M lens are better on the M vs the SL in the corners. But I must say, I would not care based on your examples provided.

        All the best,

        1. Well, we can agree to disagree. The Q is in no way innovative. Its an RX1 copy, plain and simple. The EVF is just like ones on many other cameras, the macro mode is just as easy (and came 1st) on the RX1, the AF is no better than whats on the RX1II… its just a fixed lens camera, full frame, of which Sony came out with quite a while ago. Only difference is the design, and a 28mm lens vs 35 and of course the sensor, etc. But the Q came after the RX1 and has no innovation. The RX1RII, for me, beats the Q and I quite like the EVF on the Mark II as well as the lens and the fact that it is 35 vs 28. Both are great, but I find the MKII Sony better at $1k less. Better built/more solid (the Q feels very UN Leica like in the build area, feels hollow like a Fuji), better low light ability and has an EVF, tilt LCD, and is smaller. As for the M vs SL, to me it is no contest, even with M lenses. Again, guys that do studio pixel peeping tests are not doing any photographer a favor. Those tests are more for those who like to zoom in and view on their screens, not for showing their work or prints because in those situations you would never notice anything besides the better color, DR and pop of the SL files vs the M. I say the M lenses do better on the SL as you will get better color, DR, ISO performance, detail, etc. A corner that is 5% softer will never ever be seen in a print or resized file.

  64. I like this review even if I would not buy this camera. Spending money, even a lot of it, on something that makes you happy, can be a good investment. And if you want to trade off a fancier car or a larger house in favor of a piece of beautiful machinery capable of producing beautiful images, then good for you. Me, I’ll stick with coveting an A7R2, which better fits my priorities and my carryon. But I do get why you love this camera.

  65. Without the camera leather at the front of the body it will be interesting to hold the cold aluminum with bare hands in the coming winter…….we know the opposit effect when touching a hot iron..;-)

  66. I was curious, and maybe it has been asked, but did you put the Leica 24 90 lens on the sony a7rii and take photos to compare?

  67. Good Evening Steve!

    Thx for this very special review – detailed, no fan-boy talk and all the comparison done and of course those outstanding pictures.
    ;-)

    Best Wishes,
    Michael S.

  68. Steve, I can’t say your positive review of this hasn’t come as a surprise but it is a great review and has me wondering when I can next get to a shop that sells these to try one out! It shows you the power of sites like this and how fickle us readers can be, I was in no real hurry to see one of these in real life, but now I’m champing at the bit :)
    Everyone else reading this, if you need any more convincing, have a look at both of the alternative reviews Steve listed, both brilliantly done, well worth a read and to see some fantastic images.
    One last thing, I wonder if we’ll see Zeiss get in on the act with some new glass specific to this mount/system? If there’s one other company in the photographic world on a resurgence at the moment IMHO (other than Leica & Sony) based a lot on the popularity of mirror-less systems, it’s them.

    Now then,

    Dear Santa…….

  69. Anything bigger than the A7RII is too big for a mirrorless camera IMHO.

    I applaud Leica for trying something different, and trying to remain relevant in today’s fast-paced, ever changing world of mirrorless – but I fear that abandoning their small camera roots, the ‘mini camera’ so beloved by HBC, may be the beginning of the end for them. I hope not, but…

    $7500 is a lot to spend on a body in today’s world, knowing how quickly things change, and the rate of innovation we’ve seen from other manufacturers. The SL is likely to have as much success competing against the A7 as the T did against the APS-C competition. I really think Leica would be better served sticking with, improving, and innovating the M series.

    1. Leica has the D-Lux, the Q, the X, the X-E, the T and the M, all small cameras. The new M will be here in 16, and it will be small as well. Leica has plenty of small cameras and the SL is not even large with an M lens attached. A D4, D810 or 5DIII is much larger.

      1. Good point Steve. More options, more choices are always good! Hoping it sells well, and Leica can maintain the line. Leica is such a part of photo history I really want to see them stay (and succeed) for hopefully many, many more years.

  70. Thank you Steve for the great review. I really enjoyed to read it and the pictures are really nice, too.

    Some people complained about being too enthusiastic in your review – well, maybe it’s just a camera to be enthusiastic about! I liked your post and i think it helps me to make a buying decision. (Of course i will try the camera myself before making a final decision.)

    I really don’t get those people who are always complaining about the price. If the camera is too expensive for you, then it’s not the right camera for you. What’s the point of leaving silly comments like “the price of the camera is a joke – you can get camera x or y plus 5 lenses for the price of this body alone …”. That doesn’t help anybody to make a buying-decision. In my opinion, these are just envy people. They can not afford the camera, so nobody else should have it and therefore they have to leave such verbal diarrhoea all over the internet. I would love to hear reasons in the comments, why anybody decides against/pro a specific camera, escpecially if they really tried the camera and don’t just compare any numbers on paper. Those numbers can be seen on the page of the manufacturer – there’s no need to repeat them over and over again in comment sections and forums.

    That’s what i like about your reviews: You take the camera out and shoot and report about your shooting experience. Of course you mention some specs, but not in the first place. There are so many sites out there, where it’s just about the numbers. They do Photographs of test-charts and count the number of lines a specific sensor/lens can resolve. That is ridiculous. We’re talking about tools to make art. If these people are so interested in technical specs, they should consider to buy optical measure instruments to count their lines. A good photographer will always get better photos out of a smartphone camera than one of those pixelpeepers will get out of an expensive piece of equipment.

    What i found very interesting was the german Leica Forum (i’m German). As the Leica SL was announced, about 75% of the people commented that the camera is too expensive, 24 Megapixels are too little, the camera is too large, it is too heavy, … . But now, after the camera has been released, 75% of the people are pretty amazed by the camera – especially those, who actually had one in their hands. I think, that’s a big point: the feeling that you have when using a specific camera and the user friendliness are very important things. In my opinion more important than the specs. Don’t buy a camera for the Megapixels, the sharpness of the lenses, the latest technical gimmick. Buy the camera that you have the most fun to shoot with. I’m convinced you’ll get better pictures with a simple camera that you have fun with, than with the latest spec monster that sits on your shelf most of the time.

    1. Good and fair point but surely the issue is that’s it’s pretty much SLR sized or (with M lenses) manual only, so it’s a beauty no doubt but not morally a use every day, mirrorless.

  71. Hi!

    i have a PEN EP-5, fine camera, but has lots of color noise. I hate color noise. I wanted to get a Sony A7S, first model, for it’s absence of noise. I shoot Canon FD lenses, the 200mm macro, the 85 f/1.2 and the 24 f/1.4.

    I’m an engineer and i love high quality stuff. I shoot a lot with the Canon F1, of which Canon people have said it’d cost $6,000 now to make the body.

    A few months ago, i said to myself: “If there were a mirrorless full frame camera with the quality of the Canon F1” and now it’s here, the Leica SL.

    To me, it’s not only about image quality. It’s as much about the shooting experience. i have a Hasselblad Xpan, a Linhof Technikarden. these are ultimate in handling enjoyment.

    I think I’m going to put money aside for a year and I’ll buy the SL. $7,400 is only double the amount for a Sony A7SII, the SL is not overpriced.

    I so much hope it will take canon FD, becuse I just can’t be without my 85mm f/1.2!

    Bye,

    Dirk.

  72. Interesting that my comment regarding focus error got deleted. This article and its comments remind me a lot of South Parks last episode about ads.

  73. Hi Steve (& all readers),

    I’ve been reading your website daily this last year. After reading good reviews on your site, and other blogs on the web, I bought a Sony A7s with some FE primes. Very happy with the results, Especialy the possibility to shot the Nikon 35mm f/1.4 AI-s via adapter.

    That the Leica SL made your #1 camera 2015 is great. That EVF sounds/looks amazing!
    One thing I’ve missed in your review is more details on (lack of swivvel) LCD on the back? With this feature (like A7-s) this makes it so much easier to make photo’s from low point of view. Nice for foreground details.

    Steve, thanks for all your writing & photo’s in 2015. Happy shooting to all!

    Greetings from Holland,

    1. Leica’s never have a swivel LCD and if they put on on the SL it would have killed its form and design and truth be told, it’s not something that goes well with a camera larger than say an A7 (IMO). Im happy they did not put a swivel LCD here, would have been odd.

  74. I also changed my view after handling the camera. its truly a beautiful experience.
    I have NEVER held a camera that was built so well …
    However one dispute with Steve’s findings, the word on the street is that the M does a better job with M lenses. This should not be a surprise as the M sensor is designed for them and the SL sensor is designed for other things. the proof is that Leica’s chief designer said in an interview recently, that the SL is the second best way to use m lenses, the M being the first.
    Lastly the SL + zoom lens is pretty heavy. The A7Rii doesn’t have a standard zoom yet in the league but as a package its much lighter and arguably with the right lenses delivers quality better in some areas, not as good in others, but to most people just as fabulous.
    As Steve said, if money is no object, buy the SL and the A7Rii ;)

    1. Well, word around my street is the SL does better than the M with M lenses as it has a better sensor, and thus, better quality images. If the M was better with my M lenses I would not have traded in towards the SL. :) Try for yourself.

      1. Others have already posted results that say otherwise. The sensor in the SL is an improvement over the M240 but the M240 still produces better results with most M lenses….at least when pixel peeping. That said, many might find the consistency of focussing an M lens with the new EVF as a bigger deal then the slightly better performance of the M lenses on an M240.

  75. How do you feel about the b&w images. Does the SL kill the need for a M246?? Speaking strictly in terms of image quality and not the MM experience which is entirely a different deal.

  76. I’ve always have enjoyed your reviews and the enthusiasm you put at them but this test is somehow weird, it looks like you try very hard to justify your choice against the A7R2. You use the 16-35 @ it’s weakest point (35mm) the 24-70 that is known to be a regular lens, and you don’t give much importance to the pros of the A7R2 comparing to the SL. I understand you didn’t want to give your own year award to Sony again, but give it to a camera with one native lens only? and another two bazukas being expected in 2016? Come on…

  77. Steve with this review I think you have officially entered your Jack Kerouac phase ;) Well, I liked the SL from day 1 and defended it against many an attack, though I can’t afford one LOL Good for you!
    Charlie

  78. Great review Steve. I was considering adding a SonyA7RII to my Nikon D810. I’ve never shot with Leica before but now I’m interested. Just out of curiosity, I have heard that the A7rII sensor easily gets quite dirty and needs to be cleaned often. Did you find any differences between the A7RII and the SL in this regard? Perhaps you never had the issue with your Sony. Thanks

  79. Great comparison but Sony 16-35 VS Leica 24-80??? 35 is the worst part in this Sony zoom lens. I suggest Sony A7R II + Sony Zeiss 35 f1.4 vs Leica SL + Summilux 35 f1.4, this will be fair. And I guess the Leica would not like the result.

      1. I don’t know about that — how about 35 Lux vs 35 Lux (or 50 Lux vs 50 Lux) while we’re at it? Since both cameras shoot M mount lenses easily, that seems to be sensible. I’m going to bet that the SL will come up better if you go below the 35mm level, though it would be interesting to see. In any event, I bet a lot of the potential market for this camera already own some M-mount lenses.

  80. I believe this camera will be great for Sony users. Maybe Sony will take a few notes out of the SL and bring us a few pro features that are missing at the moment…

      1. Hi Steve. Thank you for the review. You. Know anything about the Sony A9 or a myth. I do not ask me to betray trust Sony with you. But could you tell us if this is true on the horizon?

        1. If I knew anything I could NOT tell you or say a word. Otherwise I would owe Sony 100k. With that said, I know nothing but will guess that an A9 Pro would be on the horizon, but just a guess.

          1. A9 weather sealed w great AF, two card slots and that jogging wheel which is on the SL. Dump the video tech and i’m a happy camper…

          2. Sony would never dump the video, ever. If an A9 Pro is released expect it to be bigger, badder, bolder and even more features packed in including video.

  81. Great camera. I was skeptical in the beginning as well and didn’t like the design too much. It is growing on me but I still don’t like the big Leica name on that plate. I wish it would come with the red dot only. Who knows, maybe one day they will do a SL-P version. Image quality is beautiful and I wish to have an EVF in the M because the rangefinder just gets decalibrated often. Thanks for the review. D!RK

  82. 4.4M dot EVF is very good for high resolution sensor. Sony should upgrade their EVFs on all A7’s cameras. Until then I’ll consider upgrade.

    The comparison pictures between SL and a7rii were not very clear. looks like the IBIS on a7rii was turned off.

  83. Wow Steve! You did a complete 180 on the SL! I’m impressed that it took camera of the year in an very competative space this year. Im more impressed that it gave to the desire to create and shoot more. Bravo to Leica.

  84. I really think Leica choosing to go 24-90 was a bold move. With so many other high end ecosystems tending to cut off at 70 they force you into a multi lens setups to cover that gamut of wide-enviro all the way to head shots. But this really (for me) looks like a fantastic 1-lens solution camera, bravo to that! Just in reading your review Steve I foresee “out of stock” as the permanent status for this camera unfortunately (as is with most their setups). Leica will always be borderline bespoke when it comes to production volumes it would seem, but oh man if we could just have one more positive with this camera and how innovative it is, it would be for Leica to increase production volumes to get it in more photogs hands and minimize the waitlist purgatory! Great review.

  85. Great review Steve I have had mine for a week and can agree with your experience totally. I always have loved the rangefinder experience but it’s great to be able to have autofocus in such a great lens as the 24-90 that performs like a prime. Happy days.

  86. Thank you, Steve! I am loving my SL and 24-90 and have quoted your review to everybody who cannot understand how I would ever pay that much for a camera and lens. I appreciate your doing all of the testing for me. Now I can just enjoy the camera.

  87. Nice review, thanks a lot Steve. I like the fact that you changed your initial opinion. I was very much inclined towards the SL when everybody was bashing it. Now, I see a very good lens, but a so so IQ, not fully convincing. No camera gets there, right now. Maybe I’m becoming blind from too much computer use and abuse.

  88. What about the startup time from off and from sleeping with a manual lens attached? My SL takes 6 seconds to take first photo. With the 24-90 it is only 1.5 seconds. The focus zoom button is so annoying. Why wouldn’t Leica let you program which button is used?

    Leica did a better job with the auto focus lens than with the manual lens on the SL.

    1. With my 50 Lux attached it starts up and takes its first shot in about 2.7 seconds. With the 24-90 its about a second. My A7RII takes anywhere from 4-6 seconds with an AF lens on, just tested it.

  89. Steve,

    What should I do? I Have the M9-P and the OMD Em1 with 12-40. I just love the Rangefinder . Period.

    Now I’m on a 9 Month trip through Asia / Central Asia in 2016 and I was planing to use the M9-P and the GH4 (for 4K Video, replacing the OMD).

    The SL has basically everything I need (and now a good 24MP Sensor, not the 240 one), except the Rangefinder. The M lenses I have are the 21mm Superelmar, the 35mm Cron ASPH, the 50mm Lux ASPH and the 90mm Summarit.

    So, SL or not? Because if, then I have to sell the M9-P and the OMD EM1 + 12-40 + Grip………

    B

    1. Traveling 9 months with an SL?! I’m sure the images would be great, but it honestly sounds super inconvenient to me…

  90. So after 7-8 years of telling the world that DSLRs are bad because they are so HUGE and HEAVY you fall in love with something a little bit bigger and heavier? And you didn’t even mention size in your Cons section? Seriously, this is the most absurd review of the decade.

    1. You may have the most absurd comment of the decade. This is in NO WAY teh size of a D4, D800, 1d, etc. It is not FAT, chunky and an ergonomic nightmare that most DSLR are. It is a mirrorless. So thin, sleek and not heavy. Wit ANy M lens, it is MUCH smaller than a pro or even mid level DSLR while giving better IQ, color, AWB, EVF, and yes, even speed. I would never buy a D810, D800 D4, etc. I would never today buy a Canon 5D series (which is larger than the SL as well) as I can not use M lenses on it. See, the SL with say an M 50 Cron is much much slimmer and yes, smaller than any top end DSLR with an equivalent lens. So just as I liked the Nikon Df and bought one at release the SL is leagues ahead of that, slimmer, feels nicer and gives me much better IQ. Id be a fool to pass up a camera that gives me everything I want, and then some, while keeping it small with M lenses. I was never a fan of micro, tiny or teeny cameras. I like cameras that function well, are responsive, give the best IQ and color I can get and it must be a joy to use without being a monstrosity. The SL fits that perfectly. A D4, 5D or D800 does not, and never will, for me. This is not a DSLR in any way.

      1. It’s about about the size and weight of a D750 (which is about 10% at most less than a D8xx; look up the numbers), by accident also a 24 Mp camera. Thin or thick doesn’t really come into it as a deciding factor; it’s all up to the user to decide what he or she likes most in gripping it.

        So a comparison (between 24 Mp cameras!!) might be in order. Oh, and a 750 with a 1.4/50 Milvus (manual focus as well), not so muc difference in size and weight methinks; look up the numbers.

        Btw also interesting from an IQ comparison point of view. Two 24 Mp sensors, Leica and Zeiss. Throw in an A7II as well so we can see the difference with a 50mm.

        1. Who would be trying to decide between a D750 and an SL? No one. The SL is mirrorless, not a DSLR so comparing to a DSLR is odd. The only real competition as I said to the Sl is the Sony A7RII. If someone wants a DSLR (and every year the numbers shrink) they will get a DSLR. All I know is Canon and Nikon’s sales keep shrinking every year while Sony’s grows and grows so they need to deliver their own new breed of camera as their constant near 2 decade long DSLR rehash is getting old. Sony and Leica and Olympus are now the true innovators with Digital today. The rest are just doing the same old things.

          1. The numbers and opinions on what is in decline vary, and do not lead to a fruitful discussion. Comparing the iq, handling etc of two cameras with similar size and weight, and the same Mp number would be interesting; that was my point. Add the A7II, same Mp count, smaller and lighter.

          2. I disagree with you here Steve. There will be no doubt be people comparing a D750 to this. Form factor is similar, application is intended to be similar and its what Leica want…to provide a further choice over a DSLR. Im one of them! D750 won this one as this just too expensive for me. Lovely camera though.

      2. It’s pretty big with the zoom on it and manual focus only with the M’s. That is a negative. So if you don’t want the large zoom it’s effectively manual only.

    2. Frank. Take a M. Add the GPS grip and EVF and it’ll be nearly exactly the same size and weight as the SL. It’s certainly bigger but not huge. And the build quality is like nothing I’ve seen, including anything from leica.

  91. Steve,
    I had the impression that you were drifting off from Leica. It is pleasing to see trustful reviews. I have faith in Leica they know their 35mm baby. I love the comparison with the Sony A7RII; I did not expect that SL will be better at low ISO.

    Bravo to you and thank you for the excellent user friendly review.

    How does the Sony do with the Leica wide lenses like 19 – 28mm? Does the A7RII has the same issues as the A7R?

  92. Curious results. The dpreview test scene shows the Leica to be inferior to the Sony (and Canon) in terms of sharpness across the field. Whatever. They’re all sharp enough. What i would be interested in is the viewfinder, which seems impressive. More important to me, though, are aspects of image ‘quality’ characterized by “rendering.” I don’t like what i see above from the Leica in the sample shots. Bokeh is unpleasant, and there are so many blown highlights, it reminds of of the beginning days of digital. And, even when the sharpness is impressive from the Leica, it looks less like ‘real life’ and more like exaggerated sharpening.

    Superficially, the camera is just ugly. Looks like a prototype. That first product shot shows it all. The flat face shows all manner of smudging and prints…. Unfortunate. I have fallen for cameras i thought were ugly in the past, though. The Leica R8 was one that i thought was ‘ridiculous,’ until i held one. Then i bought it. But, this? No. Not a chance. Leica has lost me. When they stopped supporting my Rs and my CM, and when they decided they wanted to serve a different market.

    [Steve: please stop pluralizing with apostrophe’s*….. You’re better than that.]

      1. My ‘gut’ says to trust the more clinical, standardized test, rather than a superfan’s assessment. [No offense, Steve.] But, either way, it’s 46-50MP versus 24. I’m just not interested in paying three times as much for a spec that is two years old, despite the claims of fairy dust. I’ve used Leica enough in the past to recognize the build quality and the technical superiority of (some of) the lenses. But, during that time, i also recognized that i got more/better shots with more reasonably-priced, pro-oriented gear. My Leica experience turned out to be a waste of a lot of time and money. That was all in film gear. With digital, for me, there has to be a pretty significant advantage in a higher-priced piece versus something else, because the tech evolves so quickly. I’m not so interested in the one Leica advantage in this product (the viewfinder), because i can get the current sony, the next sony, and the sony after that for the same price, and at some point in that evolution, the sony viewfinder will be better. And, i’ll have resolution over the entire period. Still, again, it’s the rendering of the lenses that is most important, and i don’t like the way any of these sample shots look.

      1. I totally agree. Many Sony A7RII photos are out of focus. The first Go Pro shot with Sony is the worst. The one with purple ribbon taken with ZM 35mm is better but still out of focus.

        1. Nope, wrong. The GoPro compare pic is 100% IN FOCUS with the Sony. I shot it many times. It’s a result of the ISO which obscures the details in the Sony shot. The ZM 35 shot is 100% in focus as well. No question, no doubt, I could do the test 100 times, same result. This is why I also added manual focus shots from each as well.

    1. I see the same thing, the Leica is good, but the A7rII is better when compared on the DPreview shot. The banding is ugly on the SL too when you look at the low light stuff. Even with my worst lens on the A7rII (16-35), my shots SOOC look sharper than the samples posted and there’s room to sharpen in post.

      1. Since we’re discussing the DPR comparison tool, take a look at the A7II vs the SL. The Sony at 24MP is much sharper as well. I wonder which lenses were used in the testing. In any event, there is a discrepancy between the studio test and what Steve has experienced in actual usage. Which one to believe? Stay tuned.

        1. What is to be believed is that in real life use with the lenses I used, the Leica edges out the Sony. Not the 1st time a DP Review lab test has been shown to not be what reality is like.

  93. Steve, what went wrong here? You were supposed to dislike this one …. :) Seriously, even though this camera is WAY more than I need or can afford (I am doing more than fine with OMD5II and the 2 Pro lenses), I am happy to see that Leica managed to make it excellent in so many ways.

    However one unanswered question remains – does it fit inside your all-time-favorite bag?

  94. Steve , you nailed it. Couldn’t agree more. Collected my SL from the folks at Red Dot in London last week. I ordered it as soon as I heard the rumours, not out of Leica devotion, never liked or got the 240 bur realised that if it was as good as the Q and would take my M lenses acquired over 40 years. ( Personnel rule sell cameras never glass) and I no longer had to carry a Nikon round for long lenses this could be a perfect camera. When the announcement came out I had a severe attack of the doubts but hung in. So I spent the weekend inspired by the SL and was out in November dreck weather shooting away. Like you its the first zoom, I have ever warmed too. The SL with an M lens is neat and relatively compact. For me it fits the hand better than the 240, and yay it is weather sealed. Its cheaper than an M (not a lot) and easier to focus than an M. Was going to keep my M9 , but within 3 shots knew it was superfluous to requirement. Will keep my monochrome. At last a Leica, the reminds me of getting my first M3 back in the mid 70s. https:[email protected]/22770334783/in/dateposted-ff/ https:[email protected]/23374932205/in/dateposted-ff/ https:[email protected]/23266554412/in/dateposted-ff/

  95. Since you own some of the newest, hottest cameras I’m wondering how you decide which one to grab when you go out the door. Is the Leica SL the one you grab for a pro shoot? The Sony RX1RII when you’re traveling? Which one for street photography?

  96. Steve, your commitment and enthusiasm to photography inspires. I would like to ask a somewhat less technical question: back in the early days of your site (maybe your old site), I remember you saying that one of the reasons you originally left your Nikon rig behind was that, even though you were (at least at the time) happy with the performance, it became too much of a burden to carry around, and so you found yourself getting less and less use out of it in situations where you would otherwise want to have a camera with you. Hence moving to something like an M where you put it around your neck and forget about it until needed. So how do you envision getting volume (of pictures) with the SL+zoom, considering the size? I realize that this doesn’t apply nearly as much with SL+M lenses, but you did end up buying the 24-90 (and I too am blown away by the pictures I have seen from it!), so I was hoping that you could comment in the context of the SL+zoom. I’m just curious about your thoughts on this because I switched to smaller systems for the same reasons that you did some years ago, and so now having a fellow “no big cameras!” guy paying many hard-earned dollars for this thing, I just wonder what your expectations are for real-life (e.g. not for the website) usages are. Thanks, as always, for your time!

  97. I think you fall a little too much for Leica hype, and I would like to see serious laboratory testing of pictures where Sony A7R II is compared with Leica SL before I believe that Leica SL takes better pictures …..
    But thank you for your fine test of various cameras and lenses …..

    1. Because that is how we all shoot in real life ;) IN a laboratory. This is why I started this site 7 years ago as lab testing is worthless as we do not shoot in labs, we shoot real life so that is how cameras must be tested otherwise it is flawed in a huge way and you will not get the results you thought you would. Even in a “lab” test the SL will be the same as you see here. I have no devotion to any brand, I use and praise what I love and do not even review what I do not. I have shot with every camera made today and for me and my tastes the SL is hands down the best mirrorless camera made today for IQ, color, AWB, responsiveness, speed, build, and overall quality of workmanship …oh and the EVF is insanely good. The only competitor to it is the A7RII but it can not beat the SL, which shows you do get what you pay for.

    2. I would have to agree with Steve that I have never encountered aa opportunity worth photographing that would completely match the conditions set in those kinds of laboratory testings and we know from any kind of research that it’s results cannot be interpreted outside of the set parameters of testing.
      So, if you plan on shooting charts in a garage under continuous lighting, choose according to tests. If you plan on shooting moving, living, talking people, choose based on a whole set of criteria like ergonomics, speed etc. that are nowhere covered in the lab test.

    1. NO, This is not an E mount, it is a T mount. M lenses, R lenses, S lenses, T lenses can all be adapted via an adapter. I am sure 3rd party adapters will come out soon to allow other lenses but highly unlikely that Sony E mount lenses will be adaptable with auto focus.

      1. Actually Leica renamed the mount to L-mount. Full frame lenses are called SL, while the new APS-C lenses from now on are named TL.

  98. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I had the camera only a brief moment in my hand and found manual focussing with a 28 mm lens quite difficult. Did you try the 50 mm only ?

    1. Ive tried a 21, 35, 50 and 90 – no matter what lens used the same degree of focusing ease is there. Its not like an RF where different lensed present different challenges. Focusing a 21 or 28 or 90 is the same though the EVF. Just focus until your subject point is sharp. Did you activate peaking or try magnify? Did you adjust the diopter to match your vision? It’s easy for me, and my eyes are not that great but dialing the diopter in for me makes focusing any M lens a breeze. After a couple days I no longer used magnify or peaking, but again, one needs to use the camera, not just try one in a shop for a moment. No way to get a feel for it that way and it takes a couple hours to really get the swing of things.

  99. I have mixed feelings about the SL….an interesting concept but not sure if it is for me or not. Personally I wish Leica would release a new model M with the EVF from the SL. I love my M240’s rangefinder but I know it’s just a matter of time before it goes out of alignment which is a major downside to the camera.

    As for the resolution of the SL….24MP is IMO a bare minimum for a FF sensor in 2015 but there’s no denying the quality of the files and especially the pixel level acuity.

    1. I disagree strongly on 24mp being the minimum. To me, it is the sweet spot, perfect. 42 is nice but to be honest, the SL resolves more detail than Sonys 42MP sensor. The Sony A7SII is one of my faves as well, and its only 12MP but I have a 20X30 print here from it that is incredible. I use the A7s original just as much as my other cameras and it never leaves me wanting for more MP.

      1. I actually agree with you; for me personally 24MP is about right. I have amazing 20×30 prints from my M240. I guess my point though is that this camera does not exist in a vacuum, with the resolution of other flagship cameras increasing there will always be those who demand more from a $7500 camera.

        It does go to show however that there is a lot more to image quality then pure resolution, I think the files from the SL (and my M240) look fanastic.

      2. Steve I love the review and you’ve convinced me the SL isn’t the joke I thought it was but I’m not understanding the “more detail” part. You’ve clearly done 100% crops and using similar lenses (your most recent comparisons) the pixel level detail is very similar. Perhaps in the pipe handle pic a touch higher on the SL. BUT that only means the A7R2 has potentially 42% more detail. Now will you need that extra detail? Most won’t and the SL color and AWB is impressive and perhaps more important for IQ but I’m not seeing more detail in your SL images.

      3. “the SL resolves more detail than Sonys 42MP sensor.”

        Your test is not conclusive. You would have to use the same lens to compare two camera bodies. Use M adapter on both the SL and A7RII to test, Steve.

        1. Why would I do that? It would show the Leica winning (Ive tried it and done the tests) as it is optimized to work with the M lenses and the Sony is not. I would then get readers saying “NOT FAIR” as the Sony is not made for M lenses, and the SL is. So that is why I will not post the results (that Leica won) as it will just start more comments that make no sense (like use an M lens on both to be fair). That is not fair at all to the Sony. But using Sonys best lens with Leica best lens is indeed 100% fair as it shows REAL WORLD REALITY. What you get from each system and their best lens.

  100. Great review as usual! Given that I paid $7,500 for my Canon DSMKIII back in 2008, the price of the SL doesn’t seem that out of line. After dropping a boatload of cash to fund my M240, 4 lenses and a slightly used R-180 a few years back, I use all for about 95% of my billable shooting, the Canon much much less. Would consider the SL, with 2 caveats. 1, as a professional sometimes an on-camera flash MUST be used, for aesthetic or technical reasons. Steve I know you don’t use flash, but I’d sure like to know how this camera handles TTL on-camera. 2, many commercial clients believe in the “bigger-is-better” mindset when it comes to MP ratings. If photog A has a 24mp body, and photog B has a 50 mp body, everything else being equal the client will pick the shooter with the bigger you-know-what; even if it’s unnecessary! I swore I’d never spend big money for that low MP count on any new camera body. Just wonder if I res’d an SL image to 48mp, would it’s quality be similar to the A7rII? Would love to use my Leica M & R glass on the SL.

  101. Like a lot of people on here, I didn’t see the SL as anything more than a new toy for rich people. However, after seeing many of these photos on here, I have to say WOW! The colors are rich, and the files are full of detail. A very nice camera for sure.
    I’m sure I will annoy people by even saying this, but many (not all) of the files look like what I pull off with my Nikon Df and good glass. However, many of the SL files look a notch above that, bordering on medium format.
    The price point will definitely keep me from buying this camera, but you put up a great review of what is sure to be a legendary camera.

  102. Well, I’m surprised to read an M rangefinder must be aligned every few month? Looks exaggerated…my M have way more signs of use and scratch then yours, but it’s still 100%sharp even at full aperture with my 50/1.5 nokton ;-)

    1. Why surprised? This has been known since the M8. When I had an M8 it was sent to Leica 3 times in a year for RF drift. Everytime it came back it was AWESOME and MUCH MUCH sharper. The fact is 75-90% of M shooters have no idea how much more sharp and crisp and POP their M files could have if the lens and body were calibrated. Throw a Noct on your M and shoot at 0.95 critically. If the focus point is not razor sharp, as in, razor sharp then your RF is off. Most serious M shooters send their M’s in every year for calibartion and when it returns it is like a new camera. Often times, even new M’s are not 100% calibrated correctly. I’ve experienced it quite a few times and sent a few back. Most would not catch this as they do not realize it but once you know how it should be, you want that every time. So over years the M can be a frustrating camera as not all lenses will focus perfectly, even when calibrated which is why Leica recommends sending it in with all of your lenses so they can match them up when calibrating. It’s a known thing.

      1. thanks for your reply Steve. Of course the 0.95 is not a commun lens and need more care to focus and calibrate. But this lens is more for posers then real serious photographers. if we see the work of some greatest M Magnum photographers like Harry Gruyaert or Alex Webb, they are not using full aperture as a dogma. Serious photographers mostly ignore all the hype around bokeh, they just make real pictures.

  103. This is one jug of cool-aide I’m not drinking. But I will say that the photos you made with the SL Steve, and the ISO demonstrations were quite convincing that this is indeed a special camera for anyone playing in a socioeconomic realm where spending twelve thousand dollars on a camera works. I’ll click the link here for the honorably mentioned E-M5II plus a Nocticron – $2247 on Amazon plus a 200 gift card to offset the tax and buy a grip. I’ll use the other ten thousand dollars I saved to put a down payment on a new car and buy some Christmas gifts for the family. Is the dynamic range of the SL similar to the Q?

  104. Nice review as usual Steve. I tried the SL in the store and 1) the zoom lens is so huge I would never want to carry it around, 2) the zoom lens is so huge it scares people I am trying to shoot the same way a big DLSR with zoom does, 3) if I want to shoot M lenses the M240 is fine, 4) if I want autofocus lenses the Sony (A7R2) ecosystem offers way more choices for a long time to come, 5) the SL cannot replace my D4 for sports.

    1. Thanks Brad. We all have different tastes, and buying a camera is always a very personal decision. For me, this slays the M in every single area from IQ, usability, joy of use, ISO, sensor, handling, and viewfinder and you know how much I adore the M. It also beats every DSLR made for ME as its much thinner and sleeker than most tall, fat and clumsy DSLR’s and I do not shoot sports, at all (though Ashwin has with his SL and loved it and from what I have seen with the 24-90 it can indeed do it easily). I would take a body only SL over a D4 and 10 lenses as I would never touch the D4. But that is me, for my use. For sports, a D4 would be better as it is a workhorse made for that kind of shooting. The 24-90 is large but same length as a Nikon 24-70, yet the SL body is smaller and sleeker than a D4 or D810, etc. I can say the lens is huge but worth using it when you want the quality.

      For me though, the IQ possibilities beat all mirrorless bodies made today and I much rather shoot the M glass on the SL as for me it works better this way (experience and no drifting RF that has to be sent in every 6-12 months). It’s a gorgeous camera one needs to use and shoot, not just pick up in a shop but again, some will like it, some will hate it and others will adore it. Same with any new camera, I am just here to give my personal thoughts but for years I have said I hate large bulky heavy cameras. The SL with a 50 Lux is not large or heavy, its just about perfect. With the 24-90 it is much larger but worth it due to the quality of the lens of which is stunning. As always, thanks for reading.

      1. Dear Steve,

        To fairly compare the image quality of the SL versus A7RII, one would need to use the same lens. I find the Sony lenses, the Sony Zeiss 35/1.4, or even the Batis, inferior to Leica M lenses when using an M to E Mount adapter. Have you done any side by side test using the same M lens on the SL versus the A7RII? Thanks.

        1. As I responded to another…

          Why would I do that? It would show the Leica winning (Ive tried it and done the tests) as it is optimized to work with the M lenses and the Sony is not. I would then get readers saying “NOT FAIR” as the Sony is not made for M lenses, and the SL is. So that is why I will not post the results (that Leica won) as it will just start more comments that make no sense (like use an M lens on both to be fair). That is not fair at all to the Sony. But using Sonys best lens with Leica best lens is indeed 100% fair as it shows REAL WORLD REALITY. What you get from each system and their best lens. I am about REALITY not showing conditions that would never be used in real life (like shooting newspaper text and blowing it up 300%). We use cameras to make memories, to shoot pro jobs, to shoot family and friends, to shoot LIFE. I care about how a camera feels, operates, works just as much as the IQ. When I rate a camera it is not just on IQ, it is about the whole package from the build, speed, AF accuracy and speed, menu system, controls, and ALL THINGS that pertain to using that camera. The Leica is so far ahead of any mirrorless in all areas it is not even funny. IQ is just one small aspect of it, and it has the best IQ from any mirrorless I have seen to date. It edges out the Sony in AWB, in detail during high ISO shooting, and just edges out the Sony in detail (not resolution, as I said the sony wins there as it has to). But the Leica color is what won me over the most in regards to IQ. IN regards to body, no contest, at all…to any other camera. As one reviewer said, it even makes the D800 feel like a toy.

  105. Let’s get back to the ground for a moment. :)

    Prices doesn’t matter … but … I can show you better images made with Leica SUMMILUX-R 80 mm F 1.4 and Sony A6000 (don’t laugh) … I don’t have the latest Sony body, but the images will be stunning for sure.

    My point is clear 24MP is a joke for a full frame camera … Leica glass can render above the 40MP to the pixel sharp at 5.6 and this is a good thing to have and use. Also the camera is huge.

    I guess if you put this zoom you got for the SL on the sony a7r2 it will render better images.

    I know what it is not to have what to buy for a long time and then the latest toy arrives … :)
    Leica is great, but this camera is not what you should have from them in 2015 … they can do much better.

    I love the Leica shooting experience and build quality … unmatched yes!!!
    I love the interface and how they see photography too … epic!!!

    What I don’t like is Leica giving us stepped down S as SL and stepped down M as Q …
    I would live trough SONY pain for hours in order to get the best image possible and Leica could give us the painless version of the same thing, but they did not ;)

    1. “I can show you better images made with Leica SUMMILUX-R 80 mm F 1.4 and Sony A6000” – Well, then, show them!

      “24MP is a joke for a full frame camera” – Why? There are thousands of photographers out there who take stunning images with 24 MP (or even smaller) sensors.

      “I would live trough SONY pain for hours in order to get the best image possible and Leica could give us the painless version of the same thing, but they did not” – Have you talked with Leica and they told you, that they could have given you what you want but they don’t wanted to?! I mean, this is a silly statement. You could argue, that any of the top camera-makers out there could give you 50MP sensors, 5MP EVFs, …

  106. The images are gourges!! Just wondering what software you use to edit the raw files of SL? I did some test shots with my SD card at the Leica store. However, when I came back home and used the latest version of Lightroom that supports SL, the color was very orange-ish. When using the Adobe Standard, it became kind flat. Anyway, my pictures never looked as good as yours. Do you use some kind of profile for editing SL? BTW, just ordered mine! I was debating between SL and the new S 007, since I have the S 006 and M9. Just love the CCD look. Believe it or not, the ISO performance of S 007 is even better than SL. 12800 looks like 3200 on SL! And the dynamic range is insane! It blew me away! You should definitely try it!

  107. i’m glad i told you ( among others ) to try it before talking about it ! and even more when i see the pictures you took with this jewel ! it fits you like a glove !!! we can feel how much you fell for this new Leica. cheery on the cake : fantastic review

  108. Hi Steve. Big ditto from me. Have migrated through M9, M240, and M246 and love M cameras. When this was announced I asked myself why I would ever want one. Tried one in store (with the lovely people in Caplan, Mayfair, London)…and was hooked (just for use with M lenses). Took delivery last week…and have been totally overwhelmed by the joy that it is to use and the image quality with M lenses (I have no experience of the zooms). An unbelievably wonderful experience…so many huge plusses. For me the EVF is the breakthrough…and being able to instantly see what you have taken in the EVF without taking the camera away from your eye (especially helpful when shooting people unposed to avoid limbs in awkward configurations…or eyes shut…or Inelegant mouths…you know what I mean!). Hard to imagine why I’d use a M240 again (but of course I will!) …and NEVER expected to find myself saying that because I love the current M cameras and philosophy. Agree with you that they have to allow us to programme enlarge button on one of the top buttons…bottom left is so awkward. Also if you only record in DNG and scale up the review function then the image is blurred (assumed to enable processing speed…but slightly surprising given M240 capability etc)…so need to encore in JPEG + DNG. Only last thing to note is that if you buy one of these to just use with the M lenses then a lot of the functionality around auto focusing is, of course, irrelevant. A wonderful camera…no doubt the best camera I have ever used. Incredible. Well done Leica!

  109. I wish I could get my hands on the SL, as a Sony shooter I would love to be able to do real world testing to put it up against my Sony systems. Alas to pricey for me,but fantastic review of the SL the images were really nice and the color reproduced were so nice

  110. Fantastic review Steve, thank you! Deep down I will always be a Leica fanboy and have owned a D-LUX 5, an M8.2, and my trusty M9 that I will never part with. But, as you addressed earlier in this review – it seemed Leica stopped being innovators. Like many, I rolled my eyes when Leica announced the SL at $7,500 … but your eloquently written review, and images to back up your words has convinced me that this camera is the real deal. Without question, a $10K+ investment for a single body plus one lens is a niche market (too rich for my blood) … but your images with this camera are sublime, and some pro’s will benefit from it.

  111. Steve,

    Great review!

    I have a quick question. When using an M lens on an SL, do you just put the lens on the adapter, hook it to the camera and just focus by moving the manual focus ring on whatever aperture you are on Or must we focus in a specific non-intuitive manner?

    Best

    1. Thank you! Using an M lens is the same as using an M lens on a Sony, Fuji, Olympus, etc. You attach it with the adapter (Leica makes this adapter) and then attach your M lens to the adapter and camera. You focus just as you would on an M except instead of a rangefinder you have a brilliant EVF to focus on that is silky smooth and crystal clear.

  112. Great review of great camera. If I wouldn’t hope for a new M with all the goodies from the SL implemented I might be tempted, but for the time being I can resist (and I can’t affort both)!

  113. Love the review. But I’m really struggling to see how the M-P (typ 240) and the SL are at the same price point, give or take a little. Either the M240 is way overpriced or the SL is (in Leica terms) a bargain.

    1. For me, today in “almost 2016”, the SL is priced right and the M is overpriced which is why I think Leica released the M 262 at around $5k. I do not find the SL is overpriced (like usual Leica releases).

  114. Nice review, now I want one too!

    You didn’t mention anything about manual focusing in the review. Is it focus peaking, some new implementation, etc? Accuracy, how it works, buttons, manuall/auto lens recognition info, etc.

      1. David, back in the days of film, shooting a wedding with a hasselblad was the norm. Over time, I learned to follow-focus, and zone-focus to achieve most of what an AF camera today can accomplish. When I started shooting with the M a few years back, it took me about 6 months to be comfortable hitting a moving target. Now, I can follow focus with my M as accurately as with my Canon EOS. Not as easy, takes intense concentration, but when I miss focus, I know it’s my fault and not the camera :)

  115. Wow. Amazing photos. I can see the crispness of the images without even enlarging them. Way beyond my budget though! I am looking at the Sony RX1R ii though. Did I miss the full review for this or are still doing a full review? Thanks!

  116. Wow, great review as always, Steve. In looking at the comparison images, the Sony doesn’t have nearly the same pixel level acuity as the Leica. In fact, when zoomed in, the Sony looks pretty soft. I’m astounded by the color and the detail. And to think that’s all coming from a zoom lens….incredible! Damn, I wish I had $10k!

  117. I’ll be the first to say it ws sheer delight to read this review! Bother you, Steve, I’d just got to the point of saying I had all the cameras I need, and now you do this! Sounds like I should sell everything. The pictures are so convincing – eg the b&w of your dog at ISO 12500 (is that a conversion or OOC jpeg by the way?) Thanks for the pleasure.

  118. Looks amazing. But price makes the body will be affordable…. well, never. But Leica sure did well. They deserve all the praise they can get. And they sure will get dinged over the price. Very curious how the 90-280 will perform and what aperures will be. Leica hasn’t done a whole lot in long lenses in quite a while.

  119. Steve – an excellent review. I (like you and many others) initially thought that the SL was a huge ungainly camera that, as an owner of numerous Leica cameras and M lenses, I would have zero interest in I was in the LA Leica Store last week and got a chance to try the SL and all I can say I WAS WRONG! The SL is one of the nicest Leica products I have ever used. The camera is not that big at all, built like a tank and the EVF is amazing. I tried it with a noctilux (a lens I own) and it was a revolutionary shooting experience. The lens felt perfect for the camera (while it is front heavy for the M) and with the EVF and focus peaking I could use the lens quickly and to perfection. I feel that the SL is what the next M will be – slightly smaller and minus the auto focusing – and if this is the case they won’t be able to keep them in stock. But the best feature of all of the SL is the zen like Leica shooting experience – simplicity – no extraneous buttons or settings – just you, the camera and the image. I ordered mine last week. Camera of the year?? Absolutely.

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