Testing the Leica SL in France by Aloys Main

France, Provence, Arles

Testing the Leica SL in France

by Aloys Main

Hi Steve,

I would like to share some pictures I did last week in Arles, south of France, where a famous International Photographic Festival is going on right now and for 2 more months, every year in july & august. This international photographic meeting called «Rencontres Photographiques d’Arles», shows more than 40 exhibitions all over the town, in different places, such as museum, libraries, old cathedrals, etc etc. It’s really a beautiful city, much more a big provençal village with an interesting historical center with ancient romanian arenas and old streets to visit. Also is it a place where Van Gogh used to live and paint.

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Naturally I shot some pictures during the exhibitions or in the streets of this nice town with my leica M240 w/50mm Lux asph. 
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But the thing is that there where a Leica stand, who offers to photographers to try new materials for 1 or 2 days. The day I came, all M10 where already lend and they offered me to try a Leica SL body.
I’m user of leica M9 and M240 since 2010, and have also a Sony A7RII too, that I used with AF lenses (55mm f/1,8 ; 35mm f/2,8 ; 85mm f/1,8) or sometimes with my leica M manual lenses (50mm Lux ASPH ; 35mm f/1;2 & 21mm f/1.8 Voigtländer).
IMO the accurate manual focusing isn’t easy in the A7RII VF, except by using the center cropping focusing assistant. But I don’t really like this « solutions » because in reportage conditions, when in a hurry to focus and shoot, cropping does allow you to make a perfect focus, but you loose the real frame of your picture during few seconds which can make you loose the decisive instant of the shot. That’s why I do prefer AF lenses on the A7 system in real working conditions, even if both leica and voigtländer lenses are better in terms of full opening and booked than sony’s AF lenses could be.
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So I really was happy to be able to try an SL Leica body, last week with my summilux 50 ASPH lens, in order to test the ability of this camera -and his ViewFinder- in manual accurate quick focusing without cropping.

And I really was surprised! The SL is doing a great great job in that precise point! I can say that I almost succeed all the shots (in term of accurate manual focusing), much much better IMO than the Sony A7II WF.
below are some pictures to illustrate that.
Instead of that, the SL body is really a great body, with a really handling comfort, really nice heavy and strong building feeling (even better than the ARII body can be).
Last point I found important is nice buttons of the back of the camera, which doesn’t get unfortunately pressed when holding the camera strap on the shoulder, the behind of the body pushing on your hip (IMO that is a problem with the A7RII : frequently the menu settings have been changed, such as ISO, or drive mode, or White Balance etc etc… when hold this way during walking if the A7 is not switched off).
All pictures are taken wide open lens on f/1,4, to test the accuracy of the focusing and get the best bokey of the summilux lens.
Thanks for reading me. More pictures on my instagram.
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Happy summer to all of you! and have good shots and lots of fun trying to ;)) !
cheers.
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Aloys  MAIN

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9 Comments

  1. Bonsoir Aloys,
    Très beau reportage photos avec de très jolie chromie… j’aime beaucoup votre univers…
    J’ai trouvé votre test très intéressant, c’est toujours constructif d’avoir l’avis d’un vrai professionnel je me pose beaucoup de question sur l’achat d’un SL pour remplacer mon M240 (que j’adore 🙂 et mon 5DSR.
    J’habite à Paris et nous pourrions peut- être boire un café à l’occasion pour en parler d’avantage…
    Amicalement

    • Thx à lot dude,
      We will Have a drink un Paris, whenever you want!
      Fill free to follow me on Instagram and contact me by private Mail in my bio
      Thank again & Cheers

  2. off course i like quite funny pictures sometimes! I saw this guy in a exhibition hall, on Iranian photography restrospective. and follow him a bit trying to catch the funny thing that he was here as a visitor but also as what appears to me as a kind of a war photojournalist lost in this quiet exhibition!.. or an hobby photographer acting like a pro with these 2 DSLR bodies, ready to shoot! That’s really interesting in that photo festival is that people are here to watch exposed photo works, but also, as pro or passionnated photographers themselves, lots of them carry their gear ready to express with it! As I did myself… I like to imagine that someone maybe took another picture of me taking pictures in a ridiculous or hilarious crazy position!!!

  3. So, if you don’t use magnification to focus manually with the SL, how do you accomplish that task? Peaking? Also, it might be easy to nail sharp focus at f1.4, where DOF is very shallow, but not so easy with smaller apertures. I would appreciate your explaining the MF process more fully.

    • Thanks Alan for this precision explanation you bring me to give :
      in fact, IMO, the electronic viewfinder of the SL is such good (precise & accurate) that I just focus without any picking or magnification. Just like that : if it seems on-focus to my eye, I take the shot and if not I focus with my manual lens ring untill it appears me oto be on-focus. And I was surprised to have so few (almost none) out-focused pictures! wich hasn’t been the same with my sony A7R2 EVF, when I tried to use manual lenses without magnification…
      Though is it for sure that the picking mode can make the MF process again more easier.
      For the rest of your interrogations : according to my experience it’s only at 1,4 or around that the MF is difficult, and needs a good EVF. At smaller apertures, you see less precisely the precise focusing point because the DOf is less shallow, but it means also that a really precise MF process is less important, as even if you focus little bit before or behind, everything will be, practically, on-focus, because the DOF includes everything or almost… I dont know if it’s clear : sorry for my limited technical explanations in english! best regards!

  4. I was in Arles last year, but not during the International Photographic Festival. It is on my next year travel plan. Thanks for wonderful pics Aloys.

  5. Quite apart from your obvious enjoyment of the SL, you share some really interesting photos here – not least some of those with a dark setting. For sheer fun, I think the man in red clothing looking at B&W photos takes some beating. Was that intended as a joke?

    • off course i like quite funny pictures sometimes! I saw this guy in a exhibition hall, on Iranian photography restrospective. and follow him a bit trying to catch the funny thing that he was here as a visitor but also as what appears to me as a kind of a war photojournalist lost in this quiet exhibition!.. or an hobby photographer acting like a pro with these 2 DSLR bodies, ready to shoot! That’s really interesting in that photo festival is that people are here to watch exposed photo works, but also, as pro or passionnated photographers themselves, lots of them carry their gear ready to express with it! As I did myself… I like to imagine that someone maybe took another picture of me taking pictures in a ridiculous or hilarious crazy position!!!

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