Jan 192016
 

NOW SOLD: 1940’s Leica Collapsable Elmar 5cm – 9/10

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****THIS LENS HAS BEEN SOLD – A FEW MORE FOR SALE BELOW****

Just wanted to offer up a lens I am selling to all of you here, my readers. It is a special lens to me as I have owned it for years and it is simply gorgeous. It is a screw mount lens but has a thin Screw Mount to M adapter on it, and was on it when I purchased the lens from an older gentleman who was clearing out some of his old Leica gear. Why am I selling? Well, every 3 months or so I have to clear off some thing from my shelves in my office as they start to get overloaded. These days I have one shelf for all of my Sony gear (of which I have the most) and another for Leica and another for Micro 4/3.

This lens, while GORGEOUS..I just never use it anymore as I loved it on my Monochrom which I no longer own. So this is a chance to get a gorgeous perfect copy of this lens. I also have other gear for sale at the bottom of the page, all with fair and aggressive pricing.

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I am asking only $200 for this lens and if you are looking for a super compact 50mm lens for your Leica or Sony then this one will give you a classical look. My fave use of this was when I owned a Monochrom. Matched up perfectly to it as you can see in the video below where I used the MM and this lens exclusively. All images you see were shot with this lens:

If interested, 1st one to email me at [email protected] and pay for it gets it. Paypal only, $15 shipping, no fees. So $215 total gets it. This is a lovely copy and yes you can collapse it on an M, I did. I paid $200 for it when I bought it. You can see my little review of it HERE with loads of images.

Also for sale: Leica 90 Elmarit 2.8, latest version before discontinuing it – slide out hood, review HERE. $1250.

Also for sale: Leica 50 Summicron PRE APO  – current normal version w/slide out hood- $1200  – review here

Jupiters have SOLD. Also for Sale: Jupiter 8 and 9 – BOTH for $100 – review of the 8 HERE – SOLD

 

Jan 182016
 
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New E mount and M Mount Ultra Wides from Voigtlander!

YES! Voigtlander has once again announced new glass and this time the new lenses are not only for Leica M mount but now Sony E mount as well! It seems Voigtlander has taken notice of Sony’s popularity in the full frame mirrorless world and have created a 10mm, 12mm and 15mm lens for the E or FE system. Yes, these are manual full frame lenses and they look as beautiful as can be ;)

The new lenses for Sony FE include a 10mm f/5.6, 12mm f/5.6 VIII and the ever so popular 15mm f/4.5 VIII. These versions will work perfect on the Sony system as they were designed for the Sony system. No more issues using these ultra wides in M mount on the Sony. So THIS IS AWESOME as the 12 and 15 are fantastic pieces of glass that can go up against any Ultra wide in the same Focal Length. See them below:

The 10, 12 and 15 are available for pre-order at CameraQuest NOW. INFO HERE!

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Voigtlander is also releasing new M mount lenses. The 10 f/5.6 and the 12 f/5.6 VERSION III which is improved yet again like they did with the 15 Version III. I can not wait to see the 10mm in action as 10mm is WIDE.

The new M mount Ultra Wides. The 10mm f/5.6 and the 12mm f/5.6 VIII. Available HERE

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I am thrilled to see Voigtlander start making lenses for the Sony FE system. Especially well made manual lenses such as these as it adds a unique twist to the usual auto focus experience. Reviews will be coming soon!

Jan 142016
 

Leica releases new versions of 28 Summicron, 35 Summicron and 28 Elmarit!

Seems like Leica has updated some lenses and they will start shipping in Feb. A new 28 Summicron ASPH f/2, and an updated 28 Elmarit and 35 Summicron. They all have all new metal hood designs which is AWESOME as the 28 and 35 Cron hoods were awful, always falling off. The new metal screw in design will keep them intact! If this floats your boat, you can pre-order these new “refresh” lenses at my top recommended Leica dealers Ken Hansen (email: [email protected]) or PopFlash.com or B&H Photo. Links below for B&H.

What I am unsure of if these lenses have been changed OPTICALLY at all, I do not think they have been.

UPDATE: A reader commented below that there are new optical formulas for these. The 35 cron  used to have 8 Aperture blades, it now has 11. Others have less field curvature, so YES these are improved optically as well!

If you have been in the market for a new 28 or 35 for Leica M, I’d be sure to grab the newest versions here, if buying NEW of course!

The new 35 Summicron ASPH f/2 – ships Feb – $2799 – – B&H Link – Ken HansenPopFlash.com

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New 28 Cron ASPH f/2 – $3995 – B&H Photo, Ken Hasnen, PopFlash

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New 28 Elmarit ASPH f/2.8 – $2195 – B&H PhotoKen HansenPopFlash

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Jan 122016
 

LEICA SL and Lemmy 

By James Hale

The Great Lemmy Kilmister from MOTORHEAD passed Dec. 28th 2015. To memorialize and celebrate his passing The Rainbow Bar and Grill on Sunset Blvd held a memorial for him. Here are a few pictures Taken with a Leica SL and Summicron 50mm APO.

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Here is a link to more picts from the event. https://www.flickr.com/photos/haleyeah/albums/72157663315071926

Jan 112016
 

A Look at The Leica 50 Summilux ASPH Black Chrome Special Edition. Beautiful!

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Ahhhh, gorgeous! Recently I was able to get a hold of a Leica 50 Summilux ASPH Special Edition. This is the beautiful matte black edition of this legendary lens with a different design (from 1959) and even smaller filter size (43mm vs 46). The last time I had a 50 Summilux ASPH that looked like this was during the M8 days when I bought the LHSA Special Limited Edition version, which was exactly the same as this one, just in black paint (also came in Chrome) instead of matte black chrome. That lens..I paid $3600 for back then and sold it for $8000 later on as it appreciated like mad. Even today that version of this lens sells for $7500+ USED. It came in Black paint of Chrome. Take a LOOK HERE at a used LHSA 50 Lux on B&H. $7500. It is exactly the same as this new limited edition inside and out! Design, hood, everything. SO why would one pay $7500 for a used version of this lens when you can get it new for $3900 or so? Well, if you are a hardcore collector and want the LHSA edition for the LHS name (on the box) then maybe you would. If you want to use the lens, this new Limited Edition is the way to go over all versions of this lens, IMO.

My video showing you this lens and why I think it is the best 50 Lux you can buy today..

To date I have tried around 8 50mm lenses on the Leica SL and Sony A7RII so far and my faves have been the 50 APO cron and now this 50 Lux SE (others are the Zeiss 50 Planar, Zeiss 50 Sonnar, Voigtlander 50 1.5). But for me, this Lux Limited Edition makes much more sense to be my main 50 for my SL and my Sony as only 500 were made, and it is a lens that will go up in value instead of down like all other lenses today. Just like the limited number LHSA edition that even today sells for $7500 used ($4k more than it sold for new), this version should creep up over the years, not down.

50 1.4 Lux ASPH LE at 1.4 – click it for better version – All images here shot on the Leica SL

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This one was sent to me by Ken Hansen to try out and what a beauty it is. The lens has a heft to it that makes it feel UBER solid. Much more solid feeling than the standard 50 Lux. The focusing is also smoother, and no focus tab which is a plus for me. The scalloped focusing ring is easy to twist and dial in. This and the LHSA edition are the most beautiful 50 Lux ASPH’s I have seen, and I also have one more reason I prefer it to the normal Lux. Overall Quality.

For some  reason when I used to own the LHSA LE edition of the Lux ASPH it was sharper and performed better than the standard Lux ASPH I had at the time. Same here, this Limited Edition is PERFECT and seems snappier and crisper at the focus point than the standard Lux I have here. I feel that these limited runs may be made to a higher standard as I have now experienced this TWICE. I feel these LE’s may be assembled with a little more perfection as they are a limited run. No other way to explain it.

Must click images to see them correctly – always best on large screens!

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Sof or the obvious reasons of beauty, construction, perfection and the fact that this lens will not go down in value (as it is a limited edition) means this will be my main go to 50mm on the SL or A7RII for me, and after testing all the 50’s I had interest in for my SL, this is the winner even though the 50 APO is technically perfect (this one is a better deal IMO at half the cost) It just feels so good, looks gorgeous and is much easier to focus without the tab (some may prefer the tab though). It has a serious little heft to it but as you know, it’s small. This lens also comes with a very nice and solid brass hood and cap (black chrome) and it sticks to the old 1959 version in all ways having to do with looks and design, but with modern internals. This means no slide out hood, instead you must attach it on and off manually.

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Here is what Leica has to say about this Special Edition:

Resembling its predecessor from 1959, the black-chrome edition Leica Summilux-M 50mm f/1.4 ASPH. Lens features a unique matte black finish along with a classic exterior design akin to the first production run of this renowned lens. While recalling its past on the outside, this edition is also characterized by its contemporary optical design that incorporates one aspherical element and one floating element, as well as elements made from anomalous partial dispersion and high refractive index glasses.

This sophisticated construction helps to reduce chromatic aberrations and distortions throughout the focusing and aperture ranges, which contribute to high overall sharpness and clarity. Further benefitting the lens’ overall versatility, the fast f/1.4 maximum aperture also aids in working in difficult lighting conditions as well as offers greater control over focus for shallow depth of field techniques. Pairing a classic outer design with innovative optical components, this black-chrome edition is the epitome of Leica’s penchant for mixing both form and function.

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As part of a limited edition of 500 pieces, this black-chrome finish Summilux-M 50mm f/1.4 ASPH. lens features a matte black exterior as well as an outer design that resembles the first edition of this lens from 1959. Other distinct design elements include a scalloped focusing ring, red-colored focusing distance scale in feet, and a finely-knurled aperture ring. In addition to the unique appearance of the lens, this edition also includes a metal front lens cap as well as a metal round lens hood.

One aspherical element and one floating element are incorporated within the optical design, along with anomalous partial dispersion and high refractive index glass elements, to control aberrations and distortions at all aperture and focus positions.
Fast f/1.4 maximum aperture benefits working with selective focus and shallow depth of field techniques, as well as working in difficult lighting conditions.

Manual focus design provides a minimum focusing distance of 2.3′ (0.7 Meters) with a maximum magnification ratio of 1:11.3.

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WHERE TO BUY…NOW..for a NORMAL PRICE!

If you want this lens do not pay $5,6 or 7k on E-Bay where sellers are trying to take advantage of the limited edition name tag on this lens (it is limited to 500) Ken Hansen has a few IN STOCK NOW. You can e-mail him at [email protected] if you want one! Tell him I sent you! He has only a limited few left!

PopFlash had one. It seems to now be gone.

B&H has them IN STOCK as well.  Normal retail price of $3950

Jan 102016
 

Zeiss Sonnar C ZM Lens for sale, As new in box! $680!

SOLD!!! The Sonnar is SOLD!

1st come, 1st serve! This is a 2 week old Zeiss Sonnar C Zm lens (Leica Mount). Works amazing on any Sony A7 body, the Leica M or the Leica SL. You can see my recent report on it here.  This is a very unique lens, and so much different from just about any modern 50 out there. It has the creamy bokeh, 3D pop and creamy color that Zeiss is known for. The lens sells new for $1200, and I am selling it, as new in box, unregistered for $680 as a “reader appreciation” special. Every now and then when I sell a personal lens or camera I offer it at a much lower price than normal, so if you want this one, in black, in box, $680 via paypal will get it ($20 shipping).

If you want it, 1st one to email me and pay gets it. EMAIL ME HERE if interested. 

**I also have a Leica 50 Summicron (pre APO, no 6-bit) in leather Leica case (latest version before APO) for $1250 and a 90 Elmarit 2.8 (latest slide out hood version before it was discontinued) ASPH I am selling for a friend at $1250. I have them in hand and both are a 9 condition. Just no boxes or 6 bit coding. This is actually my 2nd fave 90mm lens next to the $3600 90 APO. $1250 is a steal for this guy**

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a few shots with this lens on the Sony A7RII and the Leica SL. 

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Jan 092016
 

The original Leica 50 Summicron on the Leica SL (for sale)

A week or so ago a friend of mine sent me a couple of his M lenses to check out as he is selling them and I figured I would take a look, try them out and show some images here using them, and then offer it for sale here in case anyone is looking for a great buy on a Leica 50 Summicron or 90 Elmarit! Optically, this 50 Cron is the latest version before the new APO. It has the slide out hood but is NOT 6 Bit Coded. I simply set the SL up for this lens in the menu before using it. I shot a few images late night while out with family and was very impressed with how this lens renders on the SL. Same as I remember it from the M9.

I find the older 50 cron to be gorgeous with B&W conversions. It’s a classic design and a small fast 50 that does not break the bank. If anyone is interested in this lens, it is being sold for $1250. I have it in hand and its in beautiful condition with leather case. No box. But the lens is a legend. If interested e-mail me HERE. I also have a 90 2.8 Elmarit for sale for $1250 (this version). This was the last version before being discontinued, and I sold my copy 4 years ago for $2500. Today they are going for much less. My fave Leica 90 next to the APO cron. ;)

Enjoy the rest of the weekend! Most images below are all at high ISO of 6400 and up on the Leica SL. Some have had film filters added which in turn, added more grain. I also underexposed many of these and had to bring out the deep shadows, so more noise than usual. Other than that, the 50 Cron rendering is as it always has been. Very “Leica”.

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Jan 022016
 
TTTG

TTTG

A look at the Zeiss 50 Sonnar ZM on the Leica SL

By Steve Huff

Ahhh the Zeiss 50 Sonnar C ZM lens. A sort of “classic” in the way it renders and draws, especially wide open with its classical bokeh and subject isolation. I reviewed this lens around 7-8 years ago at my original website and I loved this lens on my Leica M8 and M9 back in the day for its unique way that it would render a portrait. My original review is long gone, but my follow-up on the M 240 and MM can be seen HERE.

Not everyone is a fan of this lens as it has a way of creating bokeh that can, at times, be nervous and odd. But on many occasions, it can create an image with gorgeous beauty in the way it will deliver the subject and background, usually allowing the subject to POP off the screen.

The Leica SL with 50 Sonnar. Nope, can’t shoot THIS lens on a Nikon or Canon ;) Works amazing on the SL. Click image for better version..

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After testing this lens on the M8, M9 and 240 I wondered what it would be like on the Leica SL. I feel the SL sensor is a mix between the M9 and M 240 with much more contrast and pop than the 240 but much nicer color than the M9 (IMO). The SL feels like a 3rd gen product and while it is a first gen, the camera is amazingly intuitive and delivers consistent results. Since I love the 50mm focal length, I am testing all of my fave M 50’s on the SL this year and will be doing little follow ups like this all year with the SL and Leica M lenses. The  fact is, these lenses render much differently on each Leica camera. The way a 50 Lux renders on an M8 is not the way it renders on an M9 or M 240 or SL. So with the little Zeiss, I wanted to see just what the Sonnar gave me and I have to say, I really really love what it can do, though it has some negatives I will touch on in a few…

Good ol’ Olive. She has learned to sit still and pose for me as I have been shooting pictures of her since she was a puppy. This was at night, in my bedroom, shot at f/1.5

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Last week I wrote a refresh on the Leica 50 APO. The world’s best 50mm lens with the world highest 50mm price of $8200. The Zeiss 50 1.5 Sonnar, luckily, comes in at around $1200 and it is worth every cent of that $1200, especially when you compare it to other Leica big money lenses. But those who ADORE something like a 50 APO may not jive with the 50 Sonnar as it is much different. Expect soft corners in detail landscape shots, expect Bokeh that is a tad busy at times and get ready to take a step back as the close focus distance is 1 meter, not the usual .7 or .5 meters of many M lenses.

Ashwin Rao during his visit to AZ. We hung out all day with Jurt Kamka and shot with SL’s and an S006 (Kurt’s). It was a Leica day for sure ;) 

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Kurt Kamka talking with Ashwin. This is an OOC JPEG, f/1.5 

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Just a cowboy at Goldfield Ghost Town in AZ, shot wide open at 1.5. This should put to rest the myth that this lens is soft at 1.5. On the SL or A7RII, there is no softness issues as focus can be spot on every time.

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If you are OK with the 1m minimum focus and the unique classical bokeh, the 50 Sonnar is quite nice. Some would say “special” as it is for many, one of those “artistic” lenses allowing you to create very unique photos as nothing renders like a 50 Sonnar. The C in the name stands for COMPACT and CLASSIC. This lens is tiny, and on the SL it worked out fantastic. Focusing with the EVF was a breeze and very quick and easy. I have gotten the hang of focusing with the SL and M lenses without using magnification and I can be quite quick if I need be.

Saw this poodle who had sandals on and snapped even though I blurred out the sandals! Even so, the lens shows it can be quite sharp in the center of  the frame ;) 

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Ashwin Rao and Kurt Kamka. Two names you probably know if you have been in the Leica community for a while. Both great guys with a serious passion for photography. I shot these wide open with an ND filter. 

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The Zeiss 5o Sonnar is a lens that everyone who shoots and M or SL should at least try. While it it not technical perfection like a 50 APO, and while it is not quite like a 50 Lux in character or bokeh, it does render so pleasantly at times I feel like I want one around at all times for when I want that look that this lens can give (but of course I do not NEED one). In some ways, I prefer this to the APO or any 50 made. In other ways, I do not but even so, it’s a lens one can use for low light or portraits or street as it will offer you a look that no other modern production lens can. At times, it appears to have the bokeh of an f/1.2 lens and I have seen some call it the poor mans Noctilux for the dreamy cool look it can give, but I would never compare it to the Noct as its not a Noct.

I would say that if you want a fast 50, and do not want to spend $4000 and up, take a long hard look at the Zeiss 50 Sonnar C and see if it works for YOU. I can tell you that it does very well on the SL. It’s a lovely lens. Jewel like in its build and feel and as I said, under $1200.

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AND NOW A FEW FROM THE LENS ON MY SONY A7RII – ALL AT f/1.5

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You can buy the 50 Sonnar ZM at B&H Photo HERE.  This is where mine came from ;) More on this lens from me can be seen HERE!

Dec 302015
 

ttldf

My Leica SL Experience

By Dan Feldman

“I’m an Australian expat living in the UAE (Abu Dhabi) and have been shooting Leica cameras for some time now. I started with a secondhand M (typ 240) and Summilux 50mm ASPH f1.4, graduating through to the Q (which my wife mainly shoots with). I bought the SL and 24-90 zoom shortly after release and an excellent demonstration / workshop put together in Dubai by Leica UAE. I also own a Summilux 35mm ASPH f1.4 and a Noctilux 50mm f0.95. Prior to shooting Leicas I owned several Sony A-Mount DSLTs, including the wonderful A99 and Zeiss 24-70 f2.8 combination.

Sheikh Zayed Mosque (SL 601) Dan Feldman (2 of 14)

I originally moved to Leica because I wanted to try the rangefinder experience and because I was intrigued by its history. After many months of that experience, my mind is clear: rangefinder photography is one of the most rewarding ways to make pictures that there is. There’s little like the feeling of composing a shot through framelines and capturing timing and focus manually: it’s addictive and gives you an unmatched sense of ownership over the result. Like Ashwin Rao and others, I also feel real pride in using a device with such a long and storied background from a company has been so important in the development of the art we all love today. The cost involved is a commitment, but it is best viewed as an investment in your own pleasure and engagement with the craft: you are buying into a real culture of innovation, quality, simplicity and beauty, and you feel it whenever you take the camera out with you.

Sheikh Zayed Mosque (SL 601) Dan Feldman (3 of 14)

Sheikh Zayed Mosque (SL 601) Dan Feldman (4 of 14)

After buying the M, I bought the Q as soon as it was announced, sight-unseen. Primarily I was interested in having an autofocusing M-style camera (because I have a young son who won’t sit still, and keeping track of him solely with manual focus means a few too many missed shots!) and because the 28mm focal length nicely balanced my existing lens lineup. I won’t dwell on the qualities of the Q; everyone who has used one knows what they are, and it is a magical device that, in hindsight, was the perfect proof-of-concept for what followed …

Now, to the SL:

Like many others who have contributed to Steve’s site, I was won over by the SL as soon as I picked it up. It radiates quality and modernity from its design, materials, heft and layout, and pictures do justice to none of these characteristics. There are elements which irritate me (the “LEICA” lettering at the top is, in my view, distracting and a little obnoxious) but these are minor quibbles compared to the overall sensory experience of seeing and handling the device. The near-complete control over customisation of the button layout is also really useful, because we all hold our cameras in different ways and prioritise certain functions over others.

Sheikh Zayed Mosque (SL 601) Dan Feldman (5 of 14)

Sheikh Zayed Mosque (SL 601) Dan Feldman (6 of 14)

Sheikh Zayed Mosque (SL 601) Dan Feldman (7 of 14)

The added value the SL gives to my M lenses was also important in my decision to buy it. I knew I was getting a Q-like sensor and, frankly, would have been happy enough to trade in my typ 240 for a newer M body containing that sensor; but the fact that the EVF makes manual focusing such a breeze and that the SL body design sacrifices no visible image quality when using M-mount lenses means I have a whole new way to use my line-up. It’s not as gratifying to use as a rangefinder, in my opinion, but you’re giving up a little fun for a more predictable result.

As for the image quality of the SL / 24-90 zoom combination, I’m going to let the pictures accompanying this report speak for themselves. These were all handheld snapshots taken in relatively low light over the course of about an hour, as I walked about the grounds and interiors of this spectacular structure as a tourist, then processed the DNGs quickly in Lightroom on the same evening. I don’t know of any other camera-lens pairing that can surpass these results for this kind of off-the-cuff photography.

Sheikh Zayed Mosque (SL 601) Dan Feldman (8 of 14)

Sheikh Zayed Mosque (SL 601) Dan Feldman (9 of 14)

Sheikh Zayed Mosque (SL 601) Dan Feldman (10 of 14)

My experience of using the 24-90 lens has also been excellent. Of course it is large, and I don’t really use it when just walking about with the SL (I use the 35mm and 50mm M lenses for street photography, for instance), but when you are planning to visit locations where you want the full standard focal length range and know the size of the lens won’t intimidate people (e.g. for wildlife, landscapes, architecture, family pictures), it’s a great option to have.

Sheikh Zayed Mosque (SL 601) Dan Feldman (11 of 14)

Sheikh Zayed Mosque (SL 601) Dan Feldman (12 of 14)

Sheikh Zayed Mosque (SL 601) Dan Feldman (13 of 14)

I’ve now had the SL for around a month and will be using it for all types of photograph over the course of 2016. I’ll report back with examples of how the camera and 24-90 zoom lens handle different challenges. But for now, I can’t speak highly enough of my experience using Leica’s latest, and am ready to commit long-term to this new system.”

Dan

Dec 282015
 

QUICK SHOT: Leica SL and 50 1.2 Hexanon

By Rai

Hi Steve, Brandon

Please find attached an image I have shot using the Leica SL and a Hexanon Limited 50mm, 1.2. I took the plunge and bought the SL after reading your review. Best choice I have made, I do not miss the M one bit. However, I think I need to stop visiting your great site, due to your almost Jedi like words gently guiding me to purchase new gear. I am going to end up with no money!

My Flickr site is https:[email protected]/ if anyone cares to take a look.

Kind Regards.

Rai
UK

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Dec 282015
 

Heavy Metal Leica Head. The Leica Q in Concert. 

By Daniel Ciric

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Yes that`s a term .. at least for me. I love Heavy Metal and all types of music that go in that direction. I also love Leica Cameras. So what’s the best way to combine that? Correct, music (in this case concert) photography with a Leica (Q). It’s very rare to see concert shooters walking around with expensive Leicas, especially at Metal or Hardcore shows, as these concerts get pretty intense sometimes and when you end up in the moshpit you definitely don’t want to have big, expensive and fragile camera equipment with you. The Leica Q is a good compromise. I am a tall and “beefy” guy and I know how to use my elbows, plus the Leica Q is so small that its easy to stay in the pit, shoot photos and not get your camera knocked out of your hands.

My Settings for a Concert on my Leica Q:

First of all .. GO MANUAL! It’s technically not possible that the camera understands what shots you want to get, especially at a concert.

Aperture

Wide open. The Q offers here an incredible 1.7 Aperture!

ISO

I usually start at 1600 and adapt according to the show. When the light gets super bride I take advantage of that and go down to around ISO 400 and if I have bad luck with the lighting I can always go up to 6400 without any trouble.

Shutter speed

Similar story. I start at 1/100 and adapt to the movement of the artists. Some hardcore bands move and jump around like crazy and when I want to capture that properly and freeze the action I have to go up to at least 1/200

Metering Mode

I personally switch around between the three modes on the Q as the light is always changing and is totally different at each show.

Autofocus

You have to go with AF-C (continuous) and it works great on the Q!

White balance

I always shoot auto white balance. With concert photography white balance has to be fixed in post. That’s my opinion at least.

RAW (DNG) or JPEG?

With the Q I always shoot DNG-JPEG. I love to have control of a RAW (DNG) file. I personally don’t need the JPEGS, which annoys me a little bit, but I think/hope that Leica will fix this with a firmware update so I can shoot just DNG files.

OIS (Optical Image Stabilisation)

In my case of (really, really crazy) concert photography I leave it off. I tried to use it with OIS on, but for me personally I get better results when it’s turned off.
Why the Q for concerts?

I LOVE the simplicity! I also shoot with a Sony a6000, which has so many gadgets and settings that no serious shooter needs. The Q has exactly what I need. No less and no more and I just love that! Some people don’t care about these things, but I do. Maybe because of my Media Design background where I also try to be as efficient and simple as possible. The switch from single to continuous shooting is so amazing and easy going. It can be turned on without looking, which is very good and bad lighting at a show. The singer starts to jump around and you want to capture more photos to get that „one shot“ and I just pull a little bit with my finger and there you go! The Shutter speed dial is also super good to use in bad lighting conditions. At a concert you have to use your camera without moving it from your eye and the only time I have to this with the Q is to change the ISO, which is totally fine and an „alright“ compromise. I personally work a lot more with the shutter speed during a show. Using the Q at a Metal show is so intuitive, that it almost hurts me when I have to use my Sony (don’t get me wrong, I LOVE the a6000 and I will keep it until it dies, but the Q just makes more sense to me).

To quote Steve “This camera just makes me want to go out and shoot photos”. Of course I do have my requirements like a full-frame sensor, wide aperture and stuff like that, but when a camera makes me get off the couch and go photograph some crazy metal heads is a good camera to me. I am a Sony freak and I always used Sonys, but no Sony I was ever using gave me that feeling. If my finances would allow it I would replace all my Sonys with the Leica SL with some lenses to never lose that “I wanna get something done” feeling. Maybe that’s why I sometimes go out to shows JUST with the Q without the backup of one of my Sonys.

Sony, please don’t hate me .. I will always be your friend! :)

What I also love is the crop button. Of course the photos are just cropped when you use it, which you could do easily in post, but it really gives me the feeling of having 3 lenses with me. I also don’t need to mention the quality build. „Made in Germany“ .. I think that says it all. It just feels so amazing and just RIGHT to hold it and use it as much as I can. I just love that camera.

I found some blogs, where editors say that Q is not for everyone, which is true. It has a 28 mm lens, which is not very common and many people don’t know how to handle that I guess. There are also some smaller flaws, which are pretty easy to fix with a firmware update and hopefully it will come at some point! All in all it’s THE PERFECT CAMERA for me as a concert photographer and someone who loves to have a small, black and sexy camera with a red dot on it to capture the life on the streets as well.

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Dec 242015
 
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Through the Looking Glass – A In-Depth Review of the Leica SL

By Ashwin Rao

Dear friends, I am here with a review of the Leica SL, Leica’s latest system camera and its first serious foray into the mirrorless digital interchangeable camera market – if you don’t count its rangefinder cameras. By now, you know that the SL is Steve’s 2015 Camera of the Year. He praises the camera for its design, build, utilization, and amazing VF, as well as its overall implementation. I wanted to offer my own experience with the camera, having spent several weeks using the camera with its native 24-90 lens, a variety of modern and vintage Leica M lenses, and several Leica R lenses. I have found the Leica SL to be the modern evolution of Leica’s ethos and vision, representing both its present and its drive to create a bright future.

Leica’s marketing campaign for the SL highlighted its professional attributes and its ‘mirror-less’ designation. For Leica, this is much like viewing the story of Alice in Wonderland “Through the Looking Glass”, in which Alice climbs through the mirror into the new and fantastic alternate world beyond. This turns out to be a very appropriate analogy for Leica’s effort with the SL.

If you are not interested in reading past this first paragraph, I will say this: The Leica SL is a highly useable, well-built, well-conceived, functional camera that targets both M users and new users seeking the Leica brand with autofocus implementation. Its clean design harkens to such well-designed cameras as Leicaflex and subsequent R system cameras. However, some of its design queues come from the M system. Its layout, once learned, allows the user to meld his or her photographic style and eccentricities with the camera’s functionality. In many ways, as I will come to discuss, the Leica SL represents Leica’s ultimate bridge camera, a “Jack-of-all-trades” device that ties together many systems into a cohesive package. And, you know what? It does a great job accomplishing this task in a way that only Leica can achieve.

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At first glance….

I first caught wind of the SL like many of you, in the weeks preceding its official announcement. Reading the tealeaves and given the recent release of the incredible Leica Q, I presumed that Leica was set to release an interchangeable Q or something of a Q/M hybrid. It only made sense to carve out a niche aimed squarely at Leica’s base, that is many of us who enjoy quality craftsmanship coupled with the Joy of photography. Given Leica’s install base of rangefinder users, many of us who are not getting any younger, a mirrorless camera, less reliant on the RF focusing mechanism, made sense to permit its users to focus their manual focus lenses with precision while being afforded an opportunity to use newly designed AF lenses. A compact, sleek competitor to steal back those of us, including myself, who had taken to using our M lenses on Sony A-series bodies for a compact solution.

Well, Leica certainly threw most of us a curve ball when they officially announced the SL. At first glance, I was dismissive. Here was a camera, that looked much like an overweight Sony A series body. It seemed boring in its design, offering nothing new that others had not already designed. I was doubtful that it would be ergonomically useful for M lenses. I was uncertain that a camera/lens system using contrast-detect focus only could achieve reliable and quick focus. As much as I love the size and functionality of many Leica cameras, including the M series, I also am a huge fan of a camera’s haptics (how it feels in hand) and design cues (how it looks). With the Leica SL, I was far from convinced on first viewing. However, coming from my overwhelmingly positive experience with the incredible Leica Q, I decided to reserve judgment and keep my order in place with Ken Hansen (honestly, one of the best Leica dealers on the planet) to see what Leica had up its sleeve.

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In the weeks that followed, the initial reviews by such great reviewers as Jono Slack, Kristian Dowling, Sean Reid, Jeff Keller (DP Review), Jim Fisher (PC Mag), and Lori Grunin (CNET), who had the privilege of first trying the camera, were overwhelmingly positive Despite its new release, it was never described as a limited first generation product. Very few bugs were encountered, other than those described as issues related to user preference (grip size, for example). The camera was described as operationally fast, built to the highest standard, and remarkably facile as an image-maker.

I was able first to test out the Leica at the Leica Store Bellevue (another great dealer) when the regional representative, Brad Weeks, brought in the camera for a first look. My first impression on holding the camera was…doubt. Yes, on first handling, I admit that I became even more uncertain about the camera. While I found that it was incredibly well built, it felt immediately larger than expected. The body itself is not much bigger than a Leica M, until you factor in its large grip. At first, the grip was a turn off, to be honest, but over time, I have found it to be very well implemented (more on this later). Further, as I attached the SL 24-90 mm lens, the only lens available for the camera on launch, onto the SL, I was daunted by how large the camera felt…It felt like a bulky SLR!!!!

I had given up on such cameras due to size years ago, as I found that I could produce more pleasing images with smaller cameras. Now, here in my hands was Leica’s SL (minus the R)…a funny play on words/letters/what have you, but drats, it felt like an SLR. Next up on my concern list was the button system and menu layout. On first handling the camera, I found the lack of clarity and definition around the buttons to be frustrating. I was not sure what buttons to press, or how to press them to get the camera to do what I wanted. I was quickly told how to focus magnify, and then futzed around, taking a few shots, leaving me with an uneasy sense that I was not sure how to use the camera…
Bummer, right?

Well, not exactly. In fact, not at all… Read on…..

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Learning the interface, and giving the camera second chance

I must say that the Leica elves in Wetzlar sure had magic up their sleeves. The more that I ended up using the camera which I first doubted, the more I began to see an output that is a genius of design implementation. Let’s get into this a bit more….
Let me come out and say it right away. The Leica SL is not an immediately intuitive camera. However, in the case of useability, all good things come to those who wait and who actually use this camera. At first, I was daunted by the camera’s “4 button” (IT’s actually got a few more than 4) interface, but as I began to sort the camera out things became clear.

1. Each button has different purposes. A quick push gives you one level of access, primarily allowing you to get into the camera’s menus. A LONGER push & hold allows custom assigned tasks to come to light. Even better, one can custom-set each of the button’s functions to suit one’s user preference. For me, I set the camera’s principal 4 back buttons to select: 1) ISO, 2) Exposure Comp, 3) lens selection – to choose what M lens or R lens, if such a lens was not coded), 4) white balance. I set the front black button to select metering mode.

2. The rear scroll wheel, if pressed and held, allows access to P, A, S, M modes. When shooting with M or R lenses, I generally use aperture priority or manual modes (with aperture set to whatever I want). In Aperture priority mode, the camera can be set to recognize the 6-bit coding of a lens and correspondingly set minimal shutter speed to 1/focal length or other options. I personally chose 1/2x-focal length)

3. The top scroll wheel is not active for aperture priority mode with manual lenses, but in manual mode becomes a shutter speed dial. Nice implementation again…

4. The joystick: Another great way to move around in the menu systems, as well as a way to review and zoom through images. It also functions as an AEL button. Now, with an updated firmware, the joystick is repurposed to allow focus magnification with Manual lenses mounted…This is a great update and allows one to use his/her thumb to zoom in without having to use his/her other hand to magnify field of view and achieve critical focus.

5. Menus. Once you get used to moving around in the menus, using both the 4 buttons and the scroll wheel, things become gradually more and more easy.

The Leica SL represents a product of clean, modern, minimalistic design. I found that it took me a few days to adjust to the menu design and layout of the camera, but once set, I have not had to make any changes, save for updating the firmware and thus permitting use of the joystick for focus magnification, making the camera even more pleasurable to use.

In the end, I settled on the following configuration for my assigned custom functions:

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Key feature – the viewfinder

Many of you have experienced the Leica SL’s incredible 4.4 megapixel “EyeRes” electronic viewfinder. In my opinion, the SL’s viewfinder represents the state of the art as of 2016. In decent light, the viewfinder’s refresh rate seems fantastic, and there’s no lagginess. Even in low light, the EVF performs admirably. Leica has even implemented a focus aid that many have not talked about. When magnifying the image (when an M or L lens is mounted), the image is artificially brightened. This effective trick is effective even in the lowest of light, and such enables accurate focus with M and R lenses in circumstances in which focusing may not be otherwise achievable.

When you first stare through the EVF, you’ll be amazed. It’s much like viewing a 4K TV for the first time. The experience is a bit overwhelming, and while it’s not quite as clear as looking through an optical viewfinder in good light, the benefits of being able to “see” in any light with the added perk of additional focus aids or shooting information makes the EVF spectacular.

Further, the viewfinder feels HUGE, providing a 0.8x magnification, one of the best available on the market, far surpassing the EVF’s produced for Sony and Fuji cameras. Thus, we have a huge viewfinder, capable of providing the user with accurate and precise focus in any light. Might this sound like a great non-rangefinder solution for your M lenses? Um, yes!

On further use with M lenses, I found that I could achieve my post precise focus with lenses with narrow depth of field. Lenses such as the Leica Noctilux, Konica Hexanon 60 mm f/1.2, and all Summilux lenses, have dramatically shallow depth of field that is incredibly easy to focus using the EyeRes view finder. In fact, it could be said that slower lenses with deeper depth of field (particularly wide lenses), take a bit more effort to focus critically, and one should be sure to focus-magnify to confirm critical focus.

Speaking of focusing aids, the EyeRes EVF permits focus peaking. However, when enabled (somewhat awkwardly by selecting different views by quick pressing the bottom right button), focus peaking effects are quite light. For me, using the “red” focus peaking permitted the easiest-to-see focus peaking effect. That being said, I am not sure that most people would need to use focus peaking to confidently achieve focus with their manual focus lenses on the SL. The viewfinder is that good, and the EyeRes viewfinder sees the plane of focus quite easily.

Manual focusing with the SL is a true joy, and the SL’s viewfinder is a convincing complement for autofocus composition as well.

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Haptics (How the SL feels in hand with SL, M, and R lenses)

In hand, The Leica SL is a surprisingly comfortable and responsive camera. It’s equally nimble working as an autofocus camera, when the SL 24-90 mm lens is mounted, though in this manner, it become a large, hefty camera, very similar in field to most medium size SLR cameras. Thankfully, it’s as responsive as most of its SLR cousins, though I’d imagine that a Nikon D3 series or Canon 1D series may be more responsive for sports shooting.

Make no mistake. The SL 24-90 mm f/2.8-4 lens is bulky. It’s not terribly heavy, though when mounted on the camera, the set up does feel somewhat front heavy. I certainly do hope that Leica future lens efforts for this system balance somewhat better and are somewhat smaller, though I suspect that Leica is not going for a size win with the SL. The upcoming SL 50 mm f/1.4, which is rumored to be the optically best 50 mm lens ever made, looks rather bulky. Certainly with all of the extra real estate, Leica can really push the performance of these lenses to the bleeding edge.

The camera does change character when using Leica M lenses. Instead of feeling large and voluminous, as it feels with the 24-90, it becomes far more nimble. The SL body in fact occupies a footprint that’s not all that dissimilar to a Leica M with half case added (with grip), and thus, after using the camera with M lenses via the M-adapter-T accessory, the camera began to feel like a great option with larger M lenses, such as the Noctilux. Even smaller M lenses, including the 50 mm f/2 APO Summicron, feel like nice fits for the camera, though truth be told, they seem slightly small on this body.

With R lenses, the difference is split. R lenses seem, in many ways, to be a natural fit for the camera. They are mounted using a slightly awkward dual lens adapter setup, coupling the M-adapter T to the R-adapter-M. Doing so then permits access to the R lens menu, which allows the camera to correct appropriately for any lens specific aberrations. Thankfully, the dual adapter set up works well, though I am personally waiting for the R-adapter-SL to be introduced to make things simpler and potentially to enable additional features in ROM lenses. With R lenses mounted, the SL is transformed into a “small SLR” in terms of feel. R lenses seem to be appropriately sized for the SL, particularly its prime lenses, and are a joy to use on this camera. For those of you looking for a more permanent set up for your R lenses, the SL is a far better body for your lenses that the M240 body.

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Image quality

So how does the Leica SL perform? How is image quality? I can say convincingly that the camera’s sensor performs admirably, producing fantastic, beautiful, natural colors in outdoor/natural light. Some inconsistency is encountered, particularly in skin tones, when certain indoor lighting or mixed lighting is present. Skin tones, as with many digital sensors, tend to take on an orange hue, and the red channel seems overemphasized. Some have commented on a “tomato face” tendency of recent Leica sensors (M240, in particular), and at times, in artificial light, the SL does not escape this. It takes a bit of effort to adjust colors to obtain pleasing skin tones. Yet the possibilities are there. All of that said, I continue to prefer the M9’s color palette to the current Leica offerings, but the SL does reasonably well to produce nice colors most of the time.

Such affects are generally abated through careful selection of white balance. The SL adds a nice “Grey Card” white balancing feature which can be very helpful in achieving consistent white balance. Colors coming from the sensor behave much in the same way as output from the Leica Q, and as many have postulated, I suspect that the sensors are very similar or exactly the same.

However, I will say that the high ISO and shadow performance of the SL surpasses the Q, with less banding when underexposures or shadows are lifted. In general, the camera does a great job at suppressing noise or producing tasteful grain-like noise through ISO 3200. At ISO 6400, dynamic range is noticeably decreased, through grain is reasonably controlled and detail remains crisp.

In good light, the SL is a dream camera, producing some of the most natural and convincing images, regardless of lens used. I have used modern and vintage M glass, R lenses, and the SL24-90, and the sensor seems to play quite well with many types of glass from many different eras. In darker, muddier light, the SL tends to perform well through ISO 6400, and I generally have avoided ISO’s higher than 6400.

Many of you would ask if I prefer the output of the SL at base ISO to the venerable Leica M9? For me, finally, I have found a camera rivals the M9 in its color and crispness reproduction and sensor that suits me so well for my M lenses. I loved my M9, using it steadily for 5 years, but ultimately moved on to try new gear due to the limitations and issues with the M9’s sensor (limited ISO, corrosion). I was first impressed by the output of the Q, and now, I am equally impressed, if not more so, by the SL, which improves upon the Q’s sensor performance while performing admirably with SL, M, and R lenses. Colors are natural, and white balance is more consistent than the M9. Images from the SL do pop in that 3 dimensional way, much like M9 files. And to benefit the SL, ISO performance FAR exceeds the M9’s CCD sensor output. Summicron lenses are capable in low light. Noctilux lenses can see in the deepest and darkest of nights, in the shadows of this mirrorless world.

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Autofocus performance

The Leica SL achieves accurate autofocus of daily life activities without any issues, as long as a scene is reasonably light with reasonable contrast. I would say that AF is quite convincing in bright light almost all of the time. I have only occasionally had issues achieving infinity focus when shooting low contrast images (such as a hazy horizon), but this is a rare occurrence.
The Leica SL’s focus algorithms are challenged by very fast moving subjects coming in and out of plane (such as a sporting event), and I am yet to be sold on the camera as an autofocus option for fast moving sports (US football, soccer, basketball) That being said, it’s quite possible that my own technique is the limiting factor, though my hit rate, using both AF-S and AF-C, with various frame rates, was variable at best. I suspect that for slower moving action (such as fashion shows, slower moving sports, and weddings). Ultimately, I do not believe that the SL is designed with sports photographers in mind. After all, how many sports photographers would shoot a 1 lens rig (24-90 is all that’s available) at a 12,800 price tag? Not many that I know, especially when Canon and Nikon offer so many more options.

That being said, there are many professionals who will adore the SL and will find its autofocus capabilities to be exemplary. I suspect that the camera may well be aimed at professional wedding photographers, particularly those who can afford an expensive rig. Destination photographers and fashion photographers would be likely added targets. In fact, most pros that have invested in a Leica S system may well be suited for using the SL as a back up or second body, particularly when an S lens adapter is made available.

All in all, I have found autofocus performance with the Leica SL and 24-90 to be more than adequate for most shooting circumstances, save very fast moving sports in which the action is unpredictably moving in and out of the plane of focus.

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SL lens performance

While I can honestly say the the SL 24-90 lens deserves its own review, I will say that performance of the SL is equal to having a selection of primes within the focal length range. If you are willing to live with the size of the SL 24-90 and its variable and somewhat slow aperture, the lens produces incredible results on the SL, with pleasing out of focus (bokeh) areas and critically sharp in-focus areas (save at 90 mm, were there’s a subtle drop off in sharpness, which I’d call minor).

A camera with Multiple Personalities

The Leica SL is truly a camera with multiple personalities, depending on what system of lenses is employed on the camera. As mentioned earlier, the system feels very much like a pro SLR rig when the 24-90 lens is used. I can see this as a perfect camera set up for wedding and landscape or wildlife photographers, who benefit from weather sealing, fast autofocus, and incredibly image quality of the SL lens.
The camera becomes a “big” M camera when using M lenses. With R lenses, the camera feels like a compact SLR.

As mentioned above, performance of the Leica SL 24-90 mm lens is admirable. Similarly, Leica M lenses perform very well on the SL, and I have yet to see any images, which would have been improved by using the M240/9/Monochrom sensor, in terms of edge performance. I have found that using the SL with M lenses provides a different, yet equally effective way of seeing the world with M lenses. Many will prefer the rangefinder focusing method, particularly those with good eye sight and familiary with RF focusing, but for most others, it will be easier to focus your M lenses on an SL body with far more consistency.

R lenses perform equally well. To date, I have tested the 50 summicron R, the 80-200 Vario Elmar f/4, the 60 mm f/2.8 Macro-Elmarit R, and the 180 mm f/3.4 APO-Telyt lenses. Leica R lenses are known to be exemplary performers and will surely do well on this 24 megapixel sensor, which does not stretch the lesnes’ resolving powers to the max. Given the telecentric design of R lenses, they are likely to perform marginally better at the corners than M lenses, though many, including Sean Reid and Jono Slack, have tested M lenses and found them to perform well on the SL (and not as well on Sony full frame bodies).

All in all, the Leica SL performs admirable in all of these venues. It’s truly Leica’s bridge camera, allowing users to tie many systems together, use any number of lenses on the body with adequate to admirable performance. Leica should be applauded for managing such a feat in a body that’s designed to be its own high performance pro camera. Color me impressed…

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Who is this camera for?

I can see the Leica SL as an appealing camera for several types of customers.

1. Leica brand loyalists who wish for a bridge camera with the Leica badge
2. Individuals with reduced eye-sight and a large install of M lenses or R lenses
3. Previously abandoned R lens users
4. Wealthy amateurs or pros who want the Leica brand in a pro rig
5. Leica S users wanting a second body
6. Individuals not pleased with M240 image rendering (preferring the M9’s rendering…this camera is closer to that)
7. Landscape and destination photographers who benefit from weather sealing
8. Wedding photographers seeking brand identity and the highest possible IQ

Ultimately, the market will dictate the case regarding who the SL is aimed at. I consider myself to be a Leica brand loyalist, and I am a dedicated M camera shooter. My eyesight (so far) is fine, and I don’t have a large install of M lenses. I occasionally shoot professionally, but most of what I shoot is for my own pleasure. Leica’s are my one life’s guilty pleasure, and thus, I am inclined to try what they offer as long as their offerings provide a new appeal. The Leica SL is a camera with great appeal, a camera that will likely grow on you with time. I imagine that a mature SL line may eventually steal some M users, but at the end of the day, may create more fans of the Leica brand by offering a camera that’s capable of broad appeal and impressive functionality.

Pros
1. Incredible EyeRes EVF – 4.4 megapixels, 0.8x magnification, minimal lag – best in class (for now)
2. Build quality – Built like a tank
3. Weather sealed for use in all conditions (with SL lens mounted)
4. “Jack-of-all-trades camera” – Can take M, R, SL, Cine and eventually S lenses. Works well in many settings, using different approaches to imaging focus and composition.
5. Clean interface (once you are used to it)
6. Color reproduction, particularly in natural light
7. Robust high ISO images.

Cons
1. Bulky if thought of as an M camera replacement
2. Grip may not suit everyone. Best for big hands
3. Haptics with small M lenses is a bit unusual, though functional
4. Learning curve. The camera is not immediately intuitive
5. Very limited native lens selection

Pride of Ownership

Over the years, I have owned and used many camera systems from many manufacturers. Each camera that I have used has had its merits and weaknesses, and some have engendered an intense pride in ownership, given a number of factors that made me excited and motivated to take photos. For me, the ultimate example of such a camera for me was the original M Monochrom. I found intense joy from this camera, as it both challenged and inspired me to become a better photographer. I was and am proud to own one, and when showing off photos taken with the camera, I will happy report that the image was made with this camera.

Each camera engenders a joy of ownership for different reasons. It’s the rare camera that engenders a pride of ownership. The Leica SL is such a camera. When you use it, you feel the confident build of the camera. You experience the detail and effort that was put into designing a tool for you, the photographer. You sense the history of the Leica brand as it stands by this product, with Leica’s incredibly rich history to back up and substantiate the camera’s existence. Yes, the Leica SL is a 1st generation product. While it may be the natural successor to the Leica R system, it’s really a unique system with its own strengths and weaknesses. Sure, it’s not as compact as an M system camera. Yet, it uses M lenses with aplomb. Sure, it does not have the R system’s amazing optical viewfinders, but this mirrorless camera offers a novel way of seeing, with a clarity not seen before. The fact that you can use literally any Leica lens within Leica’s own ecosystem engenders further confidence that this is a camera that has enormous capabilities. In your hand will be a camera that can handle many styles, many perspectives. IT can serve as a color solution for your M lenses. It can serve to give re-birth to your dormant R lenses. The SL 24-90 may be the best performing normal zoom lens ever designed.

All in all, I am proud to own the Leica SL. I am excited to present the images here as representations of how the camera has inspired me. I am sure that if you elect to pay the steep price for this camera, you will be similarly motivated to go out and shoot, and that you will be impressed by the results coming from the camera. I hope to see you out and about, Leica SL in hand. Ready!….Aim!….Image Capture!

Best,
Ashwin

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Dec 212015
 
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The Leica 50 Summicron f/2 APO Lens Review Part 2 – Leica SL

By Steve Huff

Ever since shooting the $8,000 Leica 50 APO on the Leica M 240 a year and a half ago I have been smitten by this tiny, compact and amazing performing 50mm lens. I have never experienced a 50mm quite like it and it was the ONLY LENS I used on the M 240 (and I used them all) that made the camera perform on another level than it normally does. The color, the contrast, the pop, the details, the smooth bokeh that is reminiscent of classic and modern, the super smooth slide out hood, the complete lack of distortion and CA, the ability to turn 35mm full frame into what starts to look like Medium Format.

I have never used any lens like the 50 APO as it has the ability to bring out the best of your sensor when used on the Leica M 240 or SL. When used on the Sony A7s and A7SII it is equally as amazing but on the A7RII it does suffer from soft edges and a tad bit of softness in general when compared to using it on the A7S or a Leica. I will show you a side by side later on down in this review of just that.

50 APO, f/2, SL. Love the way this lens and camera does B&W. MUST click the image to see it the way it was meant to be seen.

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But let’s be clear, this lens is made for a Leica. Also, it is better than my photo abilities and skills, and would probably remain so for the rest of my life. :) At this price, it SHOULD be reserved for real pros who earn income from their photographs, well, that is how I would expect it to be, but us enthusiasts also love it as many of us dream about this beautiful hand constructed 50mm masterpiece. I think many of us WANT IT simply because of the claim it makes…BEST 50 IN THE WORLD. Some even say BEST production lens in the world, period.

The Color. The Rendering. The Buttery Smooth Bokeh. Leica SL + 50 APO

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If you missed my review of this lens on the Leica M, check HERE. Then click HERE to see some shots on a Sony A7s (gorgeous rendering). Then see more of it on the M when I shot some COMICON photos.

This lens as shot on the M 240.

The 50 APO and the M 240 are a perfect match, without question, best lens I have used on the M 240, ever. More of these are at my Comicon report HERE. Had great lighting that day as well!

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OK, so here we go!

This Part 2 review will mainly go into how it does on the SL, Leica’s new, and IMO, best ever digital camera (and my camera of the year 2015). The SL is a marvel for SO MANY reasons. It is so hard to convey in words and the fact is, no one will really “get it” until they use one for a day or two and use it with M lenses as well as the native 24-90. Then you will say “Holy Shit, this is amazing in all ways”.

As of today, December 21st 2015, the SL is my #1 go to daily camera with a 28 Elmarit M lens and the 50 APO with a 90 APO to be added soon (when I can afford it). No camera, even the M, has given me as much joy of use as this SL. It truly is like shooting a Mini S Typ and the EVF WILL SPOIL YOU, it really will. But hey, we are here to talk about the 50 APO on the SL, so let’s get to some samples!

This shot was taken at night, in my home. The only light source was the one behind Debby and the one above her, in my Kitchen. So indoor Kitchen lights. Shot at f/2, this is pretty damn good for the circumstances. 

YOU MUST CLICK IT to see it correctly! 

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…and a quick and dirty B&W conversion, just by sliding down the saturation, no filters or tricks. 

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If you read the 50 APO review as used on the Leica M, you will see that it gave some of the best color, contrast and pop ever seen from the M sensor. This lens performs mostly the same way on the SL. It has striking contrast, gorgeous color, and sharpness anywhere you need it. Again, click on the image below of this CD cover and marvel at the detail. bokeh, color..and keep in mind, this is out of camera as shot at night in my Kitchen, with my nasty Kitchen lights. The AWB nailed this, and the lens brought out the amazing pop of this lens.

CLICK IT! Shot at f/2 wide open, where this lens LOVES to be shot. In fact, it is optimized for f/2 and I would NEVER shoot this lens at f/8 as that would be a crime. IN fact, once you get to f/8 diffraction will lower your IQ, so stay with f/2-f/4 for the best IQ and character. 

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Using an ICE LIGHT 2 that I am testing, I shot this with the light at its lowest output setting in a totally dark room. ISO 4000, f/2, JPEG

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Details and Bokeh. Look at the detail where I focused (crop can be seen when clicked on) and look at the silky smooth bokeh. No, the 50 Lux can not do this, I tried. 

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It will cost ya!

The Leica 50 APO lens price sounds absurd to 99.9% of those who love photography. Some get mad about this lens as I see some saying “My 50 1.4 Nikon can do this”, or “My 50 Lux beats the APO”…this happens with people due to the cost of the lens. The high price makes some out there get negative and mad without even realizing what it took for Leica to even release this lens. This lens was a nightmare for Leica early on. HUGE amounts of finished lenses would be thrown in the dumpster as they were not perfect.  A much higher number of lenses were thrown out than kept and Leica was probably starting to regret ever having this lens made. The 1st batch sold had flare issues, and had to be corrected yet again by Leica. Today though, all new 50 APO’s sold are perfect, or at least they should be. Leica has the production of this lens down by now, without question. Mine is distortion proof, artifact proof, flare proof and gives me the same bite and color in any light I use it in. It’s a special lens for sure.

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It was also a statement piece from Leica to tell everyone “This is the best lens we can make at this time, period”. Coming from the king of optics, Leica, we knew it had to be special but I am a big fan of the old 50 Summicron, which I still adore.

But when side by side the color difference between the two is MASSIVE. The micro details with the APO are just not there in the standard, the Bokeh of the old version was considered by MANY to be awful. I never had an issue with it but it could get busy in some situations. Not the APO. This lens has the best of everything, and while we do not get the classic slight bokeh swirl of a Summilux at f/1.4 we do get a unique rendering that is very pleasing to the eye.

Many I know who own it call it “BUTTER”.

The rendering is just so nice. I shot these roses at a gravesite and added some Vignetting myself for effect. The 2nd shot, again, in my home at night! The color, bokeh and details are incredible. 

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This lens was designed by Peter Karbe. A genius and IMO, probably the best and coolest lens designer in the world. See the video below where he talks about the 50 APO. Then click here to read an interview with him by Thorsten Overgaard where they discuss the details (and Thorsten’s skepticism) of the 50 APO.


The old 50 Summicron was designed by Mandler and is one of his last designs. It is also a legendary lens that has stood the test of time again and again, always considered at the top of the 50mm heap. It has a way of shooting poeple and portraits that borders on magical at times, if your lighting is just right. With the new 50 APO, it seems any light is OK as this lens takes what you aim it at, and somehow, even in the worst of light makes it look great. It is a huge step up from the old version but even so I still love the old one as it gives a totally different rendering.

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1st image  – in my office, no light on, at night. Only light source is my display. I shot this at ISO 2000 on the SL with the 50 APO at f/2. Click it to see how smooth it is, how fantastic the color rendering is, and how it just looks so good, even at ISO 2000 without any noise reduction. Must click it!

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This is my dog Olive sitting in a light patch that was coming in from my window. For this I converted to B&W and enhanced contrast more to give a striking look. I missed perfect focus on this one as she was moving her head..

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Using the 50 APO on the Leica SL was a treat. No rangefinder to worry about (going out of alignment) so nailing focus was pretty easy (unless you are trying  to focus on something that is moving, then the 24-90 would be perfect) with that massive bright beautiful EVF (which should be on all cameras today) I managed to use no peaking, peaking and magnification and nail photos. The best method though for me, using a manual lens is using the magnification. It will ensure you nail focus every time. I maybe missed focus on 1 out of 10 shots using no peaking, and maybe 1 out of 20 using peaking. By comparison, using it on an M you can get 100% in focus shots if your RF is in alignment. If it is not you have to learn tricks on how to nail focus and it’s a hassle and rarely works, until your M’s RF is fixed. So on the SL this lens is a joy to use. Never frustrating.

More 50 APO..all should be at f/2. Click them for larger versions. 

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But who would pay $8k for this lens when a 50 Lux is less than half price?

That is the question and to be 100% honest, this lens will not make anyone a better photographer. As I said, it goes beyond my skill set but I still love the lens. Do I need it? NO WAY. Would the older 50 cron do me just as good? Sure, as I no longer shoot pro for money. My main shooting these days, personal shooting, consists of family, trips, friends, etc. Something my Sony RX1000 IV is perfect for. So why do I have a 50 APO? Because I love camera gear, lenses, and many of you do as well. We know we do not “need” an item such as this, but we “want” it and wanting something like this is dangerous!

Luckily there have been special prices on this lens recently. Overstock cleared out three of them at $6000 last week (see post here) and you can find special prices every now and then on PopFlash.com or by emailing Ken Hansen. I received mine, new in box, as part of a trade deal I did with Ken Hansen because there is no way I could just part with $7-8K for a lens like this. The mental strain would be awful as I would constantly be saying to myself “Why did you buy this…you do not need an $8000 lens”!!! Lol.

With that said, shooting with and owning  this lens is a special thing. I feel blessed to actually own it, along with my other gear (SL, A7RII, RX100, RX1, etc) and I know that one day wether that is tomorrow or next year, I will get a shot using this lens that I will want to frame, and then it will make it all worth it. Hell, the joy I get from it is massive and I do indeed prefer it to the 50 Summilux ASPH I just traded towards it in all ways, though I still love the 50 Summilux.

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LENSRENTALS.COM TESTED THE TOP 50’s, and here is what they found..more HERE. The 50 APO beats the others..OTUS, SIGMA ART and more..so no, the Sigma or Otus or any other 50 does not technically match the smallest of them all, the 50 APO.

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Leica has a way of making you want ALL of their lenses. If I had 10 million in the bank I’d buy them all, and just put them in a shelf/case to use when I wanted. But as it is, I will be happy with my 28/50 and eventually my 90 cron when I can get it.

I know of over 10 who own this 50 APO and all of them love it and say its a lifetime keeper. Many prefer it to the Noctilux as the Noct look is magical but must be used sparingly otherwise your images start looking the same and you may start relying on the 50 Noct bokeh to make your images stand out (many do this). I feel shooting a lens like a 50 f/2, any version, will make you think about composition more than a Noct as with the Noct your main effect is blowing out anything but your subject. While it is a cool effect, once you shoot it daily for 2 weeks you will tire of that look. With a lens like this, the 50 APO, that will never happen. This is a legend already. A classic even today just a few years after its release. There is today, no 50mm like the 50 APO from Leica. Many may claim there is, or that their 50 can do the same but they really have no clue as you can’t until you use it. Put this lens in the hands of someone who can do magic with it and it will create magic.

if you have the cash and want a special 50mm for your M or SL, I’d go for the 50 APO hands down. If you do not have the cash, the 50 Lux, old 50 Cron or even the Zeiss 50 Planar can do the trick. All three of those have completely different rendering and I know a couple people who own them all and use them all. The 50 APO is about having the best 50 ever made, and I agree that it most certainly is the best 50 ever made so far. Yes, better than the big DSLR Zeiss Otus.

CLICK the images for larger and better!

The 50 APO is like going from full HD 1080 to 4K

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Quick Test By Request: The 50 APO on the SL and A7RII…

Sure, you can use the 50 APO on the Sony A7s and A7SII and get results up there with using it on a Leica. On the A7RII though the edges softness is there when shooting an image that would require sharp corner to corner performance such as a landscape at infinity. On the A7RII I’d take the Sony/Zeiss 55 1.8 over the 50 APO as you may get better results in most areas. 

Many asked me to do this comparison, so here it is. One landscape, and a couple of more normal shots.

Take a look below at two landscape style shots that I snapped. One with the SL and 50 APO and one with the A7RII and 50 APO. NO, these are not scientific as I do not do that for so many reasons. These are basically shots where I put the APO on one camera, aimed and shot and then did the same with the other. I was only testing here for soft edges, to see if it was an issue on the A7RII with the 50 APO. I’d love to see something from Sony like an A9 PRO that steps up the build, adds weather sealing, provides an EVF like the one in the SL and offers perfect performance for M glass, as the A7 series could be an amazing platform for M glass. They are almost there..and I feel like they will release a PRO body soon that aims at the SL. Just a hunch.

OK, here are the two quick shots. Take it for what it is. A shot with each camera using the same lens, same aperture. 

YOU HAVE TO CLICK THEM to see the crops correctly. 

1st up the Leica SL shot. Click it.

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Then the Sony A7RII shot..click it.

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You can see the soft corners on the Sony shot, and this is not a fault of the Sony, it is because this is an M lens adapted to be used on a camera it was not made for. Each generation of Sony A7 (now on Gen 2) improves on the M lens experience. As for now, the SL wins this one when using the 50 APO on each camera.

How about in normal shots?

Now, this is where it gets interesting. When shooting normal day to day shots of poeple, things, and generally shooting anything close in and wide open, you will not see these issues with the Sony and M lenses. Take a look:

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I STILL prefer the SL colors here but you can see the lens is now usable and workable on the Sony as the issues ONLY come into play when you want sharp edge to edge performance like the shots of the landscape above.

Yea, this lens is awesome..BUT…

This lens is a stunner but it’s not something we need to take great shots. Any lens can do that as the skill lies with YOU, not the lens. The lens becomes your paintbrush and yes, having as good of a lens as you can get will make your photos look better, it is up to you what you like in a lens or camera. Many will prefer cheaper alternatives because all lenses have different characteristics but if you want buttery smooth files, bokeh and micro contrast for days..the 50 APO will get you there.

VS the Zeiss 50 Planar f/2

One of the highest rated RF M lenses by Ziess is the 50 Planar f/2 which is an alternative to the old Leica Summicron, and yes, even the APO. While not as sharp, and with busier bokeh and some barrel distortion, the Planar will never match the APO but it will get you 75% there for under $1000. Here is a comparison.

1st Image up top, the 50 APO and SL – MUST click it to see crop.

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And now the Zeiss 50 Planar at f/2. Not nearly as sharp, has some distortion and the Bokeh is more nervous. But even with that, at under $1000 this is a great lens. 

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I will be shooting the 50 APO lens more and more and will be adding more images to this review over the next 3-4 weeks (Already added many new images since posting this a week ago). You can also check out my Leica SL gallery which will also be added to every week with the SL and all kinds of lenses. You can see that page HERE. 

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You can buy this lens at my preferred Leica dealers if you are interetsed:

Ken Hansen – [email protected]  – just e-mail him with any questions!

PopFlash.com – See their website, they will sometimes have great buys on this lens!

B&H Photo – The #1 photo shop in the world!

Amazon – You can find this lens there, even with Prime shipping often.

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HLPHH

PLEASE! I NEED YOUR HELP TO KEEP THIS WEBSITE RUNNING, IT IS SO EASY AND FREEE for you to HELP OUT!

Hello to all! For the past 7 years I have been running this website and it has grown to beyond my wildest dreams. Some days this very website has over 200,000 visitors and because of this I need and use superfast dedicated web servers to host the site. Running this site costs quite a bit of cash every single month and on top of that, I work full-time 60+ hours a week on it each and every single day of the week (I receive 100-300 emails a DAY). Because of this, I could use YOUR help to cover my costs for this free information that is provided on a daily basis. 

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Dec 182015
 

A Taste of the Leica 50 APO Summicron f/2 on the Leica SL

What happens when you take the best 50mm lens ever made and attach it to the latest and greatest from Leica, the SL? Well, I loved the 50 APO on the M and it is just about exactly the same on the SL, but easier to nail focus. I will be doing my long-awaited PART 2 Leica 50 APO review next, and it should be up within 2 weeks (and the way time has been flying by lately, will be in no time)!

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Before that Part 2 review, be sure to read Part 1 HERE and then a companion to that HERE. I also gave a taste of it on the Sony A7s HERE.  Below are four shots from the SL using the 50 APO around my house, in various light while testing it. To see these correctly, you must click on them.

The 50 APO is a stunning piece of glass that offers contrast, color and pop along with details and micro details while never coming across as analytical. In reality it is a masterpiece of design that has went up in price a few times and currently resides at over $8000 retail. The most expensive production 50mm lens in the world, and while ridiculous and obscene the results have a signature that can only come from this lens. I am excited to delve into my part 2 review using the SL.

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Dec 182015
 

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The Sony RX1R Mark II Review

by Steve Huff

If you are interested in the RX1R Mark II I recommend the dealers below 100%:

B&H Photo – Click here to order the camera or see more info on the B&H Page

Amazon – Order via Amazon Prime RIGHT HERE!

Here we are at the last edge of 2015 and about to head into 2016. YES! We are NOW in the future! Remember back in the 80’s? Well, if you are old enough you do..when many TV shows and movies would be set in the future..like 2010 or 2020 and the vision of earth was always full of either flying cars or spaceships or the world was already gone due to nuclear wars. One thing they always tried to predict was technology, and usually it was way over the top. In any case, as we launch into 2016 we have cameras that beat the pants off of cameras that were launched just 2 years ago. Technology is here, and it is good. While not “Buck Rogers” kind of good, this new Sony is beautiful, but I never doubted it would be anything but.

RX1RII – Also some PP work with this one ;) (Blur, Contrast, Smudge)

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Yep, but back in the day we would shoot film. Remember the cheap disc film or the 110 film? AWFUL quality but those cameras and film were had for cheap, and they fit in your pockets ;) Today top end cutting edge digital cameras are made for professionals, enthusiasts and serious hobbyists. They have to be as these things are costing more than they ever have it seems. A Leica SL for $7500 without a lens. A Leica M for $5600, no lens. A Sony A7RII for $3400, no lens. A Leica Q for $4300 which is a single fixed lens camera, and now this…ladies and gentleman…I give you the long-awaited…

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Enter the new Sony RX1R Mark II

When the original RX1 was released it quickly became my #1 favorite go to camera for SO MANY reasons. I put up with its faults simply due to the fact that it gave me the best image quality I have seen up until that point. Rich, creamy, full of life, detailed, sharp, gobs of micro contrast, nice bokeh and an overall character that approached the look of Medium Format. It was the 1st 35mm full frame digital that I felt this way about and it even beat out my then previous 3 year love affair, the Leica M9. I suggest reading or refreshing with that old review HERE to see the main character and feature set of the RX1R II as it is mainly the same as the old version with a host of new features, all of which I will talk about here.

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Somehow Sony created a 35mm full frame camera in that original RX1 as it gave and produced output VERY much like Medium Format but less sterile, as in, it was almost perfect but still had plenty of character. This was my view on it and it quickly became my all around take everywhere camera. After the RX1R (R stands for RESOLUTION as it had No Low Pass filter) was announced and I reviewed it, I then fell in love again even though the camera was the same, just without an AA/Low Pass filter for even MORE detail. It boosted the RX1 up a bit with more of everything that made it great.

Click this for a larger and detailed version of this. The file quality is amazing with this camera!

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Unfortunately it (The RX1R) also kept all of the things that frustrated most about the camera..AF speed was dog slow and the lens looked like a 90 lb weakling trying to push 300lbs. It was slow but most who loved the RX1 and RX1R loved it for what it rewarded their patience with. Some of the most beautiful IQ ever seen in 35mm. The original has sort of collected a cult like status with users who own them vowing to NEVER give it up.

All three image below are from the new RX1R Mark II. Click them to see them correctly.

Kurt Kamka – Lunch Meeting in Phx AZ

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My son Brandon sleeping in until noon..

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My beautiful Debby once again helping me test cameras ;) 

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Then there was the Q

In mid 2015 Leica announced and released the Q, which is a camera that aimed directly at the Sony RX1 and RX1R. It is sort of small (though the Sony is quite a bit smaller) has a 28mm f/1.7 lens instead of a 35 f/2 like the Sony and well, it is a Leica. It has the red dot and all and is assembled in Germany. Coming in at $4300 which is $1000 more than the Sony, many felt it would be a Sony killer, and to be honest, it was. It took on the original RX1 and upped the ante with a BUILT in damn good EVF of which the RX1 lacked. It also has a touch screen, a beautiful LCD and has VERY fast AF. It’s a snappy all in one camera that also manages CRAZY GOOD IQ. Now, I do not feel the IQ can match the medium format look of the Sony but it is up there with the best there is in 35mm.

Overall, the Q beat out the old Sony and many were quick to fork over $4300 for the Q, and many still are. It’s one of Leica’s more popular digital cameras of the last 3 years or so. The 24MP sensor in the Q is stunning, so much so that they use it in the new top end SL that comes in at $7,500 (and won my Camera of the Year for 2015, see my review HERE). You can read my Leica Q review HERE.

So how would Sony answer Leica’s RX1 clone, the Q? And would it beat it?

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Enter the Sony RX1R Mark II!

It’s HEEEEERRRREEE and BOY, were MANY waiting for it. This camera has made my  inbox explode more than any other camera in recent memory. Most of you know I am a HUGE fan of the original RX1. I consider it a legend already due to the IQ alone. Now that we have the Mark II version with a FEW new things, it’s closer to perfect that it has ever been, and for me, this new R2 beats the Q. This will not be a huge LONG review as this at its core is still an RX1. Same body design, same feel, same lens, same controls, etc. So this review will focus on real world use while sharing thoughts and images from my 3 weeks with the camera that I have had the pleasure of shooting for the past few weeks.

All images in this review should be clicked on so you are seeing the correct version

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The RX1RII and its 42 MP sensor deliver “delicate detail”. It’s never analytical in its rendering but instead it offers what I like to call an ‘Organic Flow” to the rendering. For example, in the boring image below look at the screws, the web, the areas between what IS and what is NOT in focus. It’s falloff is fantastic and that is thanks to the Zeiss 35 f/2. This is a powerful camera that fits in my coat. Wow.

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Color & Light

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Click on this one to see the beauty in the rendering. 

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Lovely Blues from the Sony Sensor…

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Sony did not rest and now RX1R Mark II is here. That’s a mouthful, so I will call it the R2 from now on this this review. 

The new RX1R 2 looks the same, feels the same and yes, even smells the same as the original RX1 and RX1R. Upon closer inspection you will see the built in flash has been removed (not many used the flash, including me as this kind of camera does not need a flash) and now we have a very nice and sleek built in EVF that at first glance looks like an afterthought but in reality is a very nice powerful EVF, slightly improved from the A7RII!

So we now have the camera with a built-in EVF and most importantly faster auto focus which was the main #1 complaint on the original RX1 from those who used it or owned it. The new R2 has 30% faster AF, and I believe it as it is much much snappier than the old one, and even competes head to head with the Leica Q in AF speed. Also, I had no AF issues with the camera.

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So what is new in the new R2? All of the below!

  • New backlit 42MP full frame sensor. Yes, the same sensor as the A7RII!
  • New built-in and pop up EVF that is slightly better  than the A7RII EVF!
  • The new Af is 30% faster than the old RX1 series. This is evident as soon as you use it. 399 Phase Detect Points.
  • Swivel LCD screen this time around
  • Adjustable or Defeat-able Low Pass/AA filter! This is now an RX1 and RX1R in one body!
  • Eye AF now in this model
  • WiFi and NFC inside
  • Uncompressed 14 Bit RAW
  • Multiple Aspect Ratio Support
  • Smart Zoom to crop in camera without losing quality..use this with Macro mode ;)

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The Sony RX1RII uses the same battery system as the old RX1 and RX100 line. It is one of the weaknesses of the camera so be sure to invest in 2-3 more batteries (you can get generic versions VERY cheap) to get you through the week.

The more I shot with the RX1R2 the more I was falling in love again, just as I did with the original. But at the same time, I have shot with the competition, THE competition that copied Sony and made a better camera than the old RX1 (Mark I). That would be the Leica Q.

The Leica Q vs the RX1RII

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While the mighty Q beat the old RX1 and RX1R in just about every way, how will the Q stack up against the latest and greatest from Sony? With this top of the heap technically advanced 42MP backlit sensor, how could the Q compete? Well, lets take a look..but 1st, see my video on the RX1R II vs the Leica Q:

NOTE: I incorrectly spoke at one point with the Leica Q in this video. I said it will stop down the lens automatically when closer than 1M. I was thinking of the X. The Q does not do this but will stop down when in Macro mode. 

So at the end of the day, for me, I prefer the new Sony but it’s VERY close. My main reason? The Sony is $1000 less expensive and gives me slightly superior IQ, or at least “different IQ”, and is smaller..and I prefer 35mm to 28mm… though I have no issue with the size of the Q. But do not take my word for it, let’s see some comparisons. Who knows, you may prefer the Q!

Away we go…

1st up. ISO

Let’s get this one out-of-the-way 1st. High ISO. Let’s face it, below these high ISO’s both cameras are comparable, but how do they stack up at 50,000 ISO? Let’s see…

Sony RX1RII – RAW – ISO 50k  – MUST CLICK IMAGE!

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LEICA Q – ISO 50K – RAW – MUST CLICK IMAGE!

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Sony wins, the Leica has banding at its max ISO, and Sony still has steam pushing along to ISO 102,000..Sony Wins the ISO here.

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Portrait? These are all good IMO. One is from the Leica Q, one from the RX12 and one from the Leica SL with 50 APO (which is easy to spot). Can you spot which is which? EXIF info is in the photos..

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Same shot. The 1st one is the RX1R 2 as you can tell from the longer focal length of 35mm over the Q’s 28mm. 

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Sony is handling the color better so far…also, bokeh effect will be more pronounced on the Sony due to the longer focal length.

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Boots…1st up, Sony

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1st, Sony

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Coming in at $4300, the Q is expensive but hey, it’s a Leica. People love the idea of Leica and when they released the Q, and it exceeded expectations, well, the old RX1 kind of became forgotten. It was much slower than the Q and was dated in comparison. As you can see above the Sony delivers the goods. Some will prefer the Sony rendering, others the Leica. There is no wrong choice here but for me, the RX1R II delivers the goods in a bigger way while being smaller and less expensive by a grand.

Now there are areas of the Q that beat the Sony. For example:

  1. The Q has a 1/16,000 shutter speed so you can shoot wide open in full sun, Sony does not
  2. The Q is a bit snappier to AF but only by a little
  3. The Q menu is simpler than Sony’s
  4. The battery life is better on the Q
  5. The Q has a touch screen, not on the Sony.

With that out of the way, the Sony has some things to like over the Q…

  1. Latest sensor tech with the 42MP Backlit sensor from the A7RII Flagship delivers stunning results
  2. Swivel LCD which is NOT on the Leica
  3. Smaller size, can indeed fit in a coat pocket, Leica Q can not
  4. Better high ISO performance means better night time shooting
  5. files have more of a medium format look over the Q’s harder look
  6. More dynamic range from the Sony
  7. $1000 Less expensive than the Q
  8. You can turn on or off or adjust the AA filter. Want to avoid MOIRE? turn it ON. Want max detail, turn it OFF!

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What I tell everyone when they ask “Which should I get” I say “go with what you feel would make you the happiest and don’t look back”. There is no perfect camera but they are getting mighty close these days! The new Sony RX1RII is a stunning machine with power that you would never think could come from a camera this small. I had people looking at some of my sample shots telling me “did you use the Pentax 645”?!? It’s something that Sony is doing these days but the images that come from their latest cameras do indeed have a medium format feel to them.

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And the black and White conversions can be stunning!

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The Details…

Remember, this guy packs the 42 Megapixel sensor of the top of the heap FLAGSHIP Sony A7RII (See review HERE). That is FORTY TWO MILLION pixels in your coat pocket! That is the draw to this camera, not “Which one is better”. This is the smallest full frame camera you can buy as far as I know, and according to Sony, it offers the best IQ of any camera they currently produce. This is the top of the heap for IQ when it comes to Sony full frame. At the same time, it is not the best for video, and even Sony will tell you this. This camera was designed for the enthusiast and passionate shooter who wants a no compromise camera  – one they can shoot day, night or anywhere in between all the while getting top of the line quality that will beat just about any full frame camera around well past its price point.

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The camera also has an adjustable AA filter meaning if you want MAX RESOLUTION turn it OFF and you have an RX1RII. Turn it on and you have an RX1II. Adjust it and you can customize it to your needs. Me, I left it OFF at all times as I am ANTI AA filter. I RARELY EVER have Moire issues, so always leave it off.

But let’s see some shots with 100% crops to check details…

These bricks…this is a JPEG but click it to see the full 100% crop

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Again…

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…and again…

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OOC JPEG

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…you get the drift…

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corner to corner this camera is sharp..this is an OOC JPEG

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Any reports you may have heard about the Sony RX1RII’s image quality not being as stellar is it was hyped up to be..well, not sure what to make of those (must have had a stinker) as I think the camera is as good as it gets in this class of camera. It bests the old model easily in speed, usability, and image quality. It’s more versatile with the nice pop up EVF and delivers a fantastic experience. In all other ways it is the same as the 1st version. Same menu system, same size, same style, same lens, etc. So there is nothing to report on there.

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I did hear something about Sony stopping production for a few weeks but I have not confirmed this nor do I know what it is about (I do not go by rumors or “he said/she said”). If this is the case, and fact, then the issue is not in my camera that I have here. 


-For me, my three full frame references are the Leica SL, Sony RX1RII and the Sony A7RII. To me, these are as good as it gets in 2015, heading into 2016 for cameras that deliver the goods. Expensive? Yes, very. Worth it? Only you can answer that one.

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Is the Sony RX1R II for you? Maybe..maybe not! My Final Word.

Think about it like this. The Sony RX1R II is like having an A7RII and 35 Loxia with AF in your coat pocket. Tiny, small, but uber powerful. There is nothing not to like on the Sony RX1RII. It’s beautiful in build, feel, and the EVF is fanatstic, even besting the one in the A7RII and it easily hides away when you do not want it. It delivers the best IQ of the Sony line due to the matched lens to sensor (which I talk about in my original RX1 Review HERE). It’s as good as it gets in an all in one, with the Leica Q right on its heels.

I love this camera as I loved the original, and it has earned a place at the top of my “keeper heap” in the Huff Household.

But I have many cameras. Many here will be using this as their one and only camera, so if this is the case I would say to make sure you are OK with only shooting 35mm as that is all you will get. There is no zoom on this guy, but that is the beauty of it. In many ways, using only the 35mm focal length for a year can greatly improve your photography, so for many this could be a welcome change from those big huge DSLR’s.

If you like what you see here from the camera then you will love it when it is in your hands. It’s a superb upgrade to the Mark 1 and while not a huge revelation when compared to the old one, it is a very nice step in the right direction for this series.

One more detail shot using an OOC JPEG! Click it for the larger version with 100% crop.

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Where to Buy?

If you are interested in the RX1R Mark II I recommend the dealers below 100%:

B&H Photo – Click here to order the camera or see more info on the B&H Page

Amazon – Order via Amazon Prime RIGHT HERE!

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HLPHH

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