The Leica SL post yesterday..220 comments so far and growing..

The Leica SL post yesterday..220 comments so far and growing..

Screen Shot 2015-10-21 at 2.57.09 PM

Want a Leica SL? Contact Ken Hansen or checkout PopFlash or B&H Photo!  They start shipping on November 21st, day after my birthday..HMMMMMMM

So yesterday I wrote down my instant opinions on the new Leica SL right after seeing the specs, images of the camera and the info on it. That post already has over 220 comments and its growing every hour. That page has had 76k views in the last 24 hours. So there is loads of interest in at least SEEING what this new Leica is. I usually do not get those numbers on a single post unless it is a massive big review. So there is some buzz going around here with the SL for sure.

I had signed an NDA over a month ago for  this one, which is why I could not speak of it before the announcement but I have thought more and more about the SL since yesterday and have come to realize that Leica is aiming this at the PRO Market for the SL (as they say themselves). The guys and girls who shoot Nikon, Canon and even Sony. It appears they want the Wedding market, the Concert shooters, the portrait shooters, the studio photographers… and I am sure the SL will excel in those situations as long as the sensor delivers performance across the board – low light to good light. The SL is actually more like a Mini S than anything else after studying the tech, rear controls and taking a closer look at the build. So they created a small S with a 35mm full frame sensor to market it to the discriminating pro market who want a Leica.

But how easy of a task will this be for Leica? First off, with only three native and very very expensive lenses at launch it will be VERY hard for them. Not sure how many will want to sell off their Nikons and Canons to spend $25 k or so for a Leica SL and three lenses, with one fast prime. But I am sure there will be many who do, just not massive numbers. Then again, Leica is not used to massive numbers as they are a Niche brand in reality, and while they do VERY well, no camera they ever make will sell in the same numbers as a Nikon or Canon or Sony.

I have seen Leica go from near bankruptcy before the M8 and M9 to thriving during the M9 days when it was impossible to find almost ANY M lens in stock, anywhere. Used M lenses were, at times, selling for more than the new prices and there was an M9 “movement” because there was simply NOTHING out at the time that could replicate what the M9 did. Being a digital rangefinder meant nothing else existed in the world like it. It also had an IQ about it that nothing in the 35mm full frame world could match or replicate, so the M9 was a smash hit for Leica. They sold way more than they thought they would. The only camera I have seen in recent times that sort of replicated that M9 look is the Leica Q, and the Q is quite popular as it was a great design and performs to a high level. Problem is, finding it in stock. Just ask Ken Hansen.

The X1 was another HUGE HUGE hit for Leica back in the early digital days and sold the best of any X  they released afterwards.

So the digital cameras that did really well for Leica? The M8, then the M9, and the M 240 (not as well as the M9 though). Then the old X1, and now Q. The Q is VERY popular and well received but Leica is not delivering units to the USA, and dealers have been backordered for months. Same with the new Monochrome..seems they have been busy making loads of SL’s instead gearing up for shipping. Not sure why the lack of Q’s and Monochrom’s here in the USA but many are wondering what is going on. With the shiny new huge Leica factory you would think they could pump out the M’s and Q’s with ease. Not sure what the delay is for the US customers.

But again, as with Any Leica release, the SL has brought on controversy. Some are lusting after it big time and many have placed pre orders for it as well. Then there are those who are just slamming it from every angle. Me, I am neutral. While I do not agree or really gel with the body style, the two zoom lenses (size or price), or the price point in general, I am fully aware it will make a beautiful photograph, be built to a very high standard and be a camera that anyone would be proud to own. That was never in question. The question I have is…WHO is really going to buy this?

With the M, there is no competition, so the price is justified. With the SL, there are loads of other cameras like it for much much less. So competition is fierce in this area, very fierce. 

It’s one thing  to charge $7k for an M240 when no one else on earth makes a digital rangefinder. It’s in line with what people will pay so they price it accordingly. The SL at $7500 without a lens is a hard pill to swallow for me personally as one can go buy a Sony A7RII for $3100 or a Nikon D800 series body for $3k or a Canon 5D series, etc They will also have HUNDREDS of lenses to choose from where the SL gives them 3. So the SL has to be pretty special to convert hard core pros who are bonded to their brand.

Of course you can always buy or use Leica S lenses or M lenses with the SL, and as I said yesterday, if the SL can use any wide angle Leica lens and have it problem free (which they may do with in camera correction like they do with the M) 100% then it will be the only NON M game in town for M lenses and perfection. A huge EVF, easy focus and no issues with M glass would make the SL a very interesting tool. 

So we all have to wait and see how it behaves with the wider angle M glass.

Is it expensive? YES. Will it be a beautiful machine? YES. Does it have enough to justify the extra thousands of dollars over a Sony, Nikon or Canon? THIS we do not know, but time will tell, and if so then I congratulate Leica for coming out of the gate with a world class Mirrorless camera. 

If not, then I think it will be another ho hum camera in regards to sales for Leica. We shall see, but I am indeed excited to test this one out as my curiosity has been aroused. In the meantime I may go back to shooting an M240 for a while to get my RF groove back on after months of a break from it. It’s never dull around my house! I may even buy an SL and one lens to do a long term review diary…then sell it here to a reader for a great discount. Not sure yet 😉

I spoke with a couple Leica dealers today who told me the demand for the SL is there…so should be interesting to see how this one plays out. I seriously can’t wait for the new M which I feel will be out in 2016, and be MUCH different from what the M 240 or M9 or M8 was. THAT will be my dream camera if what I am thinking is happening really is. 😉 of course I know nothing and am saying nothing but my crystal ball showed me a few things recently, hehehe.




  1. For goodness sake why pay such a ridiculous price for a Leica reflex. An old SL at £350 or thereabouts is far superior along with the 50mm lens. Today’s Leica toys are aimed at the rich kids on the block.

    • Again, a dig from someone who never touched, shot with or used an SL. It’s worth the money, and surpasses ANY camera I have ever touched in build, feel, etc. The operation is smooth as silk and it creates gorgeous files. Is it worth more? No. Is it worth the $7500? Yes, and Leica priced it just right for what it is and what you get. I suggest using one for a week with the 24-90 and a couple M lenses, rent one. I had ZERO plans to even review it in the beginning, then figured I should review it but knew I would never buy one..then that went to “I CAN NOT BE WITHOUT IT” so I bought the SL and 24-90 and got rid of the M 240 as this surpasses the M in every way from build, feel, user experience, IQ, pro features, etc. M glass works better on the SL than M and that 24-90 is incredible. This system is in an all new class, not cheap, but an all new class of camera..IMO. The Sony A7RII is also AMAZING and for the money a great bang for the buck, even at $3k+. The IQ from the Sony is 2nd to none, but the body and experience is better with the Leica by far. It should be though for $7500. As usual, you get what you pay for.

  2. Hi
    Writing first time here. I am not a pro, just a hobbyist.
    Got my Leica SL with 24-90/2.8-4.0 Leica Lens.
    I must say, it’s a great camera. Deeply impressed by image quality & the build. Pretty sharp and crisp images. I did briefly compared the images with Sony A7 RII and A7-II. Leica stands out in every class. Hopefully, will have some time to test it more thoroughly in days to come.
    It’s heavy, solid and pricy. But, a great product. Great to use my M lenses. ISO, focusing speed and accuracy, build quality and ease of use is far better than Sony A Gen-II series.

  3. Steve I think you have overlooked the stand out feature of this camera that no other stills camera that I know of does. Video out via HDMI 10 bit at 422. All the Sony A7 series only do 8 bit. That extra 2 bit is huge in terms of colour space and potential to grade video in post. I shoot stills and video so find that very attractive. I currently have various stills cameras and then video cameras but this is the first camera that I know of (apart from RED which costs many times more) that does good stills and video out at 10 bit. If anyone knows of a camera that outputs 10 bit video and does around 24 MP stills let me know as I am interested in all options.

  4. Dear Steve
    Time has progressed since your posting and I am finding myself beginning to agree that the SL is an alternative to nikon and canon dslrs (albeit an expensive alterelative).

    I believe the test will be the lenses that are finally produced for it and whether I will see fewer of those white long barrelled lenses at major sporting events like the Australian open, nascars, football or the f1 gp and more sl’s.

    High grade telephoto lenses like a 200 f2 (my favourite sports lens) are expensive and at that level there is nothing really between the makers of those lenses in image quality. When you get to 600mm f4 lenses, you are looking at 12k for one.

    As for general purpose portrait lenses, most of the 85 1.4 lenses are great. That means leica need to drag something special out-of the lens design to make me spend twice or three times as much for them. As for their monumental delay in supplying the stuff they release, the decisive moment won’t wait for them, nor will the wedding or sporting event, etc. Dear Bernie Eccleston, please delay the Melbourne F1gp until Leica get their act together to release the SL lenses.
    Kind regards

    • I predict: SL will be fabulous in quality build and IQ. It will be a special camera (but huge). It will NEVER EVER take even 1% of Nikon or Canon shooters as they will never switch to a system with 1 zoom lens available for it. Three within a year.. not gonna happen. Many who love Leica will buy it, but it is in no way a pro replacement for a pro Nikon or Canon shooter as the lenses are not there, and my guess is neither is AF tracking speed. You will see a few wedding pros switch, a few..maybe. Without the huge selection of lenses (again, only one native lens at launch) it can go nowhere in the pro market.

      • There are different segments to the pro market. I think the main interest will come from older and new young professionals. Many Pros before digital were using medium format and are used to manual focus. When digital became commonplace, medium format digital was very expensive and as technology has improved the DSLR has become the commonplace pro camera. The trouble is it is very difficult to manually focus with a DSLR but with this very high res EVF on the Leica I think many older pros will enjoy returning to manual focus.
        The Leica SL with M lenses will probably be a joy to focus.

        So while I agree anyone shooting sport is unlikely to be interested. Weddings, advertising, product & event photography rarely require constant tracking auto focus and if they do then that one lens will probably be adequate.

        The new young professional will be looking to create a different look to the same same Canon/Nikon cohort and will enjoy vintage lenses with all their quirks and will want to grade their video from a 10 bit 422 external recorder.

        Five years ago who would have thought Sony would have such a strong presence in the stills camera market. Could Leica be the next leader in the DSLR video market. Some people testing the Leica say it has a look similar to Arri? if this turns out to be the case then film pros will certainly see the Leica SL as a bargain compared to the price of an Arri. I am not suggesting it will in any way compete with an Arri but for video/film professional that demand 10 bit footage this is the only DSLR player in town that I know of.

  5. i personally think that Leica stock price might be going down because of their new SL introduction and Leica will be soon using third party sensor and software (probably Sony) for their next products. I start losing faith in this brand since they announced this SL model…

    • I think I am right in saying that all Leica senors are third party. They don’t make sensors I think you will find the Leica is not currently publicly traded company so it will not be affecting shares. I think the SL is just what I have been waiting for, a pro camera by Leica which is a real alternative to a Pro Nikon or Canon. Ms are great but they are not Pro Nikon competitors, Ms can’t zoom can’t long lens (in a sensible way ) and there are times when I want those things, and to get those with Leica glass mmmmmm bliss, and I can use my R and M lenses on it fab. Q on steroids fantastic.

  6. Today I asked another pro if he would consider to buy the SL. Het started laughing. Surely not. Way too expensive.( specially the lenses). If Leica is aiming for the pro market they seem to forget that for a pro it is not a question what is the very best in the market but what is good enough. At the moment the competition delivers tools that are more than good enough at a price level very much lower than what Leica costs. Every day pictures are published in newspapers and magazines not made with Leicas, completely satisfying art directors. So why would we spend so much money? For what? Five percent more IQ that cannot even be noticed in the publications? The SL is for another market. Not for pros.

  7. Are all Leica amateuers oligarchs, at least lawyers or dentists? Factually many Leica amateuers were just regular guys with regular jobs, but a passion for Leica. They could afford used Leica gear which from then did hardly depreciate. Leica product cycles were long and slow. One did not loose much by not going for the latest apo or asherical lens, or by choosing an older body without integrated meter. Leica products were serviceable eternally by small, independent repair shops. Despite the high cost of purchase the cost of ownership was moderate. After many years of ownership, or when the gear was passed on to children or grandchildrem, the expensive pricing was long forgotten.

    The transition to digital changed a lot. Users today may accept to live with the quirks of the M8 or the M9, but sensors or other components die and there is limited supply of spares. A “demo” M today costs three times what I paid for my “demo” M6 in the mid 1990s, but depreciates 10 times faster. Cost of ownership is much higher, in particualr for amateurs who never will wear out their gear within the useful live of its electronic innards, let alone the brass bodies and the massive dials.

    Perhaps Leica needs a new concept, for instance a mechanical Leica M body with rangefinder, but disposable electronic innards that get replaced like film when technical progress makes them redundant. Or to switch between high resolution and high ISO. Isn’t it a waste and a pain to see a nice M8 body with intact rangefinder and everthing ending its live as a paperweight, because it is not economic to implant a new sensor or processor?

  8. The Leica SL is the camera I’ve been expecting for three years or more. From the specs, it’s everything I was hoping for. Lenses? I have a dozen excellent R system lenses from 19 to 250 mm just waiting here for it, and the adapters. All I need is the body and a battery. The right size, the right features, and all its future ahead of it.

    The new D750 sitting on the table here beside me already feels like a sloppy, antiquated thing. Sad to say, but it has none of the mojo of my 1960 F or 2006 F6. And certainly no feeling like the Leica M-P or Leicaflex SL; it’s just a dull, complicated, utilitarian thing produced by the droves using robots, with no sparkle or élan to it; a consumer electronics commodity. Does camera equipment have to be so boring?

    I sincerely hope not.

  9. You say the design is copied from the Sonys, but I can not see the similarity. The SL has a bigger viewfinder, it has much less buttons and a much slimmer user interface, it has a top display. So IMO its quite different approach.

  10. I’ve happily used M body Leicas for a long time and only felt the need for reflex/EVF bodies in order to use for longer lenses like 105 macro or 300+ for sports. Unfortunately the new SL does not currently address these needs. So it’s a pass.

  11. The SL is LIGHTER than the Canon 5D MarkIII. So, in reality, most pros are already used to lugging around a camera this size.

  12. I like Leica M cameras so could be considered a fanboy ! I think the camera is a digital reincarnation of a much loved iconic film camera. Excellent but not totally viable in this modern world of ever increasing technical innovation.
    The Leica Q and now the SL indicate that Leica are now competing with modern high tech cameras -love them or leave them !

  13. I have an order in and paid a deposit for an SL and it should arrive early December. So why, as I too a have not had a chance to fondle said beast?

    The one thing I have learned about cars and cameras is there is no such thing as a perfect camera or the perfect car that suits all purposes. Try carrying a wardrobe in a Corvette, similar applies to the price debate. There are only incremental differences between a Corvette and a Ferrari, nothing to justify the price, ( you never justify the price its a personal how you want to spend your money kind of a thing ) and a Ferrari lost to Corvette at Le Man this year, yet Ferrari still sell well, at many times the price of a ‘Vette. Leica and Ferraris are about fashion, status, and engineering execution, that manifests itself in the joy of haptic details. That joy helps inspire me to take pictures, I don’t own a Ferrari as I prefer to spend my money on cameras.

    Over 40 years I have aquired film and digital Ms, ancient film SLs, and a Q, and a lot of M Glass. I did not buy the M240 as for me it was too large for an M. It feels ‘pants’ in the hand in comparison to an M3. Its why the Q works for me.

    I love Ms, but they are not the most versatile of cameras, they are a sports car of a camera , especially when you want a long lens, or to focus closer than a meter. Its fun to use that most Rube Goldberg (Heath Robinson for the Brits) of contraptions a Visoflex, but not really practical. I want to do nature and landscape, and motor racing and use long lenses, this is not an M’s forte.

    So I solve this by supplementing the Ms with a Nikon. I loved film Nikons, F, F2, F6, but found the DSLRs hard to love, and for me Nikon zooms after Leica primes were disappointing. Now Steve I seem to recall you liked the Nikon DF, though it wasn’t your kind of camera. A Leica SL is no heavier or bigger, and the comparator may not be the Sony but the ‘pro’ Nikons and Canons where the SL is lighter and smaller. The SL in not an M on steroids, its pro DSLR on a diet.

    To have a camera that can take all my Leica glass, probably my Nikon glass (assuming adapters) , on a platform with Leica haptics should be joy. I will let you know. But I travel a lot, and an SL would let me reduce the total amount of kit I take and be more versatile. (Of course the amount of kit is a personal thing). Nothing will pry me away from my Monochrome with a 50mm lens, but I have been so impressed with the Q that I am willing to give Leica the benefit of the doubt. For me the key thing will be the quality of those zooms.

    So who knows but I think a weather sealed Leica that provides zoom versatility with good auto focus, and Leica details and engineering is worth a try. But we have been here before one of my favorites Ms, is the M5, which the market never desired, and of course Leica never knew how to respond to the Nikon F, and the whole history of Leica Reflex cameras is a sad one when it comes to market adoption. The M5 and the original SL almost killed Leica. The Lecia SLRs were never different enough for the price. I hope this one works for them.

    Any way Steve keep up the good work, Huffery and wine is my normal end to the day.

    P.s I always wanted to make a car called a Huff so I could go of in one.

    All the best


  14. Did Leica copy Sony or did Sony first copy the Leica SL(slr,) Canon F-1, Nikon FM, etc. Or did Sony copy the Olympus OM-D EM-1? Or did Leica copy Olympus, or did they copy the Leica SL(slr?) So many questions!

    Oh, and now we know the real difference between the new Leica SL and the Sony A7 series: The Leica is a true pro camera while the Sonys are… not. Well, whatta ya know! We didn’t know that yesterday, did we.

    I get that Sony is the darling brand of the moment, but it is fascinating how quickly and en masse, amateur photographers persuaded themselves that now, suddenly, all other camera brands were redundant. And of course bloggers instantly saw an opportunity. 🙂

    • There will be No autofocus of S lenses on SL at least at launch.
      You have to use T to M adapter on SL for M lenses.
      There will only be the 24-90 available for the first 6 months.
      They are charging $5000 for the 24-90 and it is built in Japan.

  15. Steve I hope you get your hands on an SL soon and test it out. Who knows you might even like it. On paper it seems like a hard sell (whereas the Sony is the opposite) but I suspect the EVF is to die for and the feel and responsiveness of the camera superb. Seems like a solid camera platform.

    I too am confused on how on earth the “kit” zoom lens is so large while still being a variable aperture design instead of a fixed f2.8. At that size and price it is just unacceptable. Judging from dpreview’s studio samples it isnt that great (the Leica Q sample image of the identical scene is sharper on the edges of the frame) which again is puzzling.

    In theory I could do most of my work with just the three lenses announced and the rest I could most likely be able to use an adapter to mount the other lenses I would need.

    Looking forward to some hands on testing results.

  16. There is a storm coming on the horizon…Get your kids in the cellar, fill the tubs, sell the livestock. I only hope, that when the day is at hand, I can afford my ticket on the Ark. So to all you non-Leicaphiles: Buy my all of my G.A.S.-toys on eBay, quick!!!!!!!

  17. Leica SL is competing with Nikon D4s and Canon 1Dx, not with Sony. They aim for the pro market where size does not really matter that much and prices are very high. It is not for consumers or prosumers. Therefore it’s normal this type of shooters don’t understand the SL. The only drawback to compete in that arena for Leica is the lack of AF glass. Two zooms (one in the pipeline) and one 50mm. But if AF system can work with Nikon glass directly, as it’s rumored, Leica will get a nice niche. I think this camera is a bold and very smart movement from Leica. It will be very effective and successful. And the camera is very nice looking, toyshly serious Leica looking, Ricoh looking, simple solid black bricks, with a toy like touch, like Pentax k01. People demonized the K01 in a simmilar way they are demonizing the SL, but without a good reason. Time will tell.

    • How the hell can the SL be competing with D4S and 1DX? Please tell me have you ever seen a pro photographer carrying one of those cameras with a variable zoom lens on it? I think not! When i envisage a photographer with one of those bodies i also picture a 300 2.8 or something similar attached to it. Do Leica have anything over 135mm?
      I also think that a Canikon pro photographer will stay put even if its just for the pro customer support. Imagine trying to get a replacement SL when stuck on a job out of town. lol
      I think the reason people are baffled by who this camera is marketed towards is those variable aperture lenses. Even if high quality they reek of ‘casual photographer.’

      What i am looking forward to (besides the new M) is the response from Sony to this Leica SL. When they give themselves a bigger body of similar size to the SL to work with, most of the issues with the A7, like bad battery life will be sorted out. The sony A7 dug into ‘M’ sales big time. Don’t think for a second they won’t do it to the SL too.

      • I agree. A larger body a9 will have a myriad of technical advantages, and compatible lenses, and still be vastly less costly.

      • “..Do Leica have anything over 135mm?..”

        You may have forgotten that Leitz / Leica made a series of SLR cameras starting in 1965, when their rangefinder sales had been overtaken by the proliferation of Japanese SLRs, and they tried to catch up.

        Leitz made many lenses longer than 135mm for these SLRs (..these are the R-series ‘reflex’ lenses..) which can now be used on the latest M, using “live view” on the rear screen, and these lenses will be usable on the SL.

        They include 180mm, 250mm, 280mm, 350mm, 500mm and longer. Leitz also made several zoom lenses, and also several longer-than-135mm lenses for the M (rangefinder) cameras for use with the ‘Visoflex’ mirror viewfinder attachment which could be fitted onto the M series; the 180mm, 200mm one 280mm lenses, for instance.

        135mm was the longest of the ‘pure rangefinder’ lenses (because the M rangefinder focusing wasn’t / isn’t sufficiently accurate with anything longer) ..but they’ve also made a large number of far longer lenses.

        • Oops: type there; I don’t know what the “one” is doing between 200mm and 280mm – sorry!

          • ..that should be “typo” ..I’d better turn off “spelling correction” on this Mac: it must have been automatically turned on when I upgraded to OS X 10.11.1.

        • Rangefinder focusing with the low magnification M9 and upward is nearly impossible with a lens longer than 50 mm, much less 135 mm. I love the image quality in my M9-P, but can’t tolerate out of focus images. Live view on the back screen or an unwieldy dongle is no substitute for an electronic viewfinder. That’s why I carry an A7ii and A7Rii while the M9 sits at home and an M240 is not even a daydream.

          • if you are having trouble focusing a 50mm on a Leica rangefinder, you should definitely move away from the system. Autofocus systems are a blessing as eyesight fades. Personally i have no issue shooting a 135mm on my MP and Mono, but one day i’m sure i’ll have to move on. Hopefully not for a very long time.

          • Ed – why not ask someone else to try to focus with your rangefinder? If they can’t either, and it appears to be “..nearly impossible with a lens longer than 50 mm..” then it may just be that – as often happens – your rangefinder-&-lens combination simply needs adjustment.

            Look at Leica’s website online, and book in your camera for re-alignment (..they’ll provide you with a booking-in number online, as far as I remember..) and then send it – plus one or more lenses – to be re-calibrated. You may be astonished at the results!

            If you’re in the States, there are engineers there (..e.g; Gus Lazzari; look for his current address online..) or in the UK there’s Malcolm Taylor (..ditto..) but Leica should do an excellent job in re-alignment (..some Leicas mis-focus new, straight out of the box!)

            If you’re in Europe, it’s worth going and standing over the Leica engineer to be sure that he (usually a he) adjusts it to match EXACTLY to your sight, otherwise they may say that it’s perfectly adjusted, but it still doesn’t match your own sight. I’ve had mine adjusted thus twice, and it it really makes a tremendous difference.

            DON’T try this yourself at home!

  18. Hi, i do love both Leica and Sony camera. i collected some of them. leica for mf camera and sony for af camera 🙂
    the picture above makes me imagine something “big” from leica. its like seeing small pro dslr camera using their big lenses. My thought and question so far:
    1. leica Sl lens size that is approximately equal to a pro dslr lens. its show how this camera can handle big and long pro dslr camera. fell the same weight, grip , length of the lens pro dlsr. seemed dejavu. first leica dslr. whether this will temp dslr user?
    2. perhaps 3-6months ahead. there will be more lens adapter for this camera. as we all know a lot of nice lens adapter sold for sony a7 series. either af or mf. vice versa to leica? this would be very nice to know first leica camera that can use all brand lens 🙂
    3. what if leica sl can overcome soft corner issues? it will be big achievement.
    will be hard to achieve but no one knows untill Steve or others compare and review it.
    its just my thought and hope leica can make a big achievement this time. just cant wait to see ur review Steve :). sorry for my bad english.

  19. All those comments are hilarious. Nobody has seen the beast in real yet, let alone touched it or even used it. But nevertheless, everybody seems to have an opinion.

    • I agree 100%. Reviews without having tested the camera out are useless. As for the price, Leica is never going to be a camera for the masses. Hi price is part of its branding. Much like Benz isn’t competing for Honda’s market.

  20. One reason the SL costs so much is due to the build and weather sealing. Reviews of this camera have shown it absolutely soaked, in some instances with salt water. Try that with a Sony A7xxx and you will have a dead camera. (there are lots of reports from pro users on fredmiranda who have failed LCDs etc after a little dampness).

    I dig it, and think that it’s great that Steve is doing a real test by buying one. That’s a huge difference than being wined and dined by the mfg for a sweet review.

  21. I’d like to comment on the following paragraph in this article:
    “Of course you can always buy or use Leica S lenses or M lenses with the SL, and as I said yesterday, if the SL can use any wide angle Leica lens and have it problem free (which they may do with in camera correction like they do with the M) 100% then it will be the only NON M game in town for M lenses and perfection.”
    1) If indeed pro’s (that now use Canikon) could be triggered to switch to the SL, of course they will also be able to shoot the Canikon lenses, that they already own. Maybe during a transition period, this could be meaningful. I don’t know if much of those guys will wanna buy new M-glass, that they would have to use with an adapter. I’d rather use an adapter for my present lenses and wait for new native SL lens anouncements, then very expensive M lenses that need to be used with adapter.
    2) Will people that already own M glass be buying the SL? I think very few. Since the SL is so much a different concept, with, I gues, a totally different feel. I expect the A7 experience to be closer to the M than the SL, due to size and weight. BTW, I guess we all expect Leica to come up with a more compact new body, wether it’s a Q for interchangeable lenses or an M with EVF or hybrid VF. So I’d wait a bit with my collection of M-glass.
    3) And owners of S lenses? Are there S lens owners that don’t own an S body? I guess virtually none. So why would anybody that owns an S body change to the SL? Maybe buying it as a backup body? Just maybe.
    My preliminary conclusion. Probably, Leica can indeed skim some buyers from the Canikon camp.

    Anyway, the SL surely generates an interesting train of thoughts here, on this site! 🙂 And I guess there’s nothing wrong with having an evolving opinion…

    • one would not replace a S for an SL but buy an SL in addition for special purposes like fast action. Again very different cameras. You would definetly shoot action with a native auto focus SL lens. But still if you own both cameras then it is nice to know you can use use S lenses on both cameras. Just the same with your beloved Sony. You like it to use different lenses with adapters. I guess the main reason they point this out is the current lack of native SL lenses. But wasnt this true for the A7 series at launch ?

      • I doubt M glass will work well on the SL, but i imagine R glass (which until now could be had for cheap) should be ideal. I also agree, for owners of S cameras, the SL will be a fantastic companion camera.

        • Why wouldn’t it? It’s only a matter of adapting them to the M-mount FFD. Since it’s full frame, they only need to provide the same kind of corrections that they did with the M240. I believe Leica will not have excluded M mount from the SL potential.

    • 3) And owners of S lenses? Are there S lens owners that don’t own an S body? I guess virtually none. So why would anybody that owns an S body change to the SL? Maybe buying it as a backup body? Just maybe.

      Be able to use S glass in more demanding settings outside studio through combination with best in class EVF, AF and overal better performance, similar UX. For example, theatre concerts / performing arts, environmental portraiture / weddings, etc. If they work as advertised on SL via the adaptor. So SL could be much more versatile compared to S if 35mm format suffices also for studio work. It will also be more compact, a lot cheaper, etc. compared to S. My two cents.

      • Mmm, yes. Makes sense indeed. I have to say, I’m getting more and more positive in my expectations. Feels kind of like a relief.

      • I will buy a SL as backup and addition to the S. The S is an amzing camera, but slow. The SL will give me more oportunities, will be faster and more capable in low light.

        All this discussion about specs is nonsense for a pro. At the end of the day all what counts is usability and results, not megapixel. The S excels in that, and I bet the SL too.

        I’ll keep my Sony A7r2 for private use though

  22. Steve, is your dream camera about which you are thinking autofocus? 😉 I am asking because I had been waiting for SL, but I expected Q with several lenses… or new “AF” M (same style, size).

    New SL is lovely, modern camera, but for me no reason to sell my 1DX…

  23. Intriguing

    “A7RII … It’s my camera of the year so far for 2015 ..
    not sure if something else will knock it out of that spot before the end of the year, but maybe. ;)”

    Steve Huff.

  24. No matter how great the SL may prove to be for some photographers, for me personally, it is too expensive to buy and too heavy to carry. Most interesting is the fast frame rate and fast autofocus specs as well as the overall responsiveness that I hope will push Sony to match in the near future.

  25. I was dissapointed when I first saw the images of the new SL. I would have sold my left arm for some sort of new M with hybrid digital-optical viewfinder or something which was more compact than the M, worked perfectly with all M-Lenses, and blew even the A7RII out of the water in terms of IQ.

    The SL certainly isn’t what I thought I was getting excited about, but as the dust settles I am starting to get excited about it in a different way. There are various comments on the web along the lines of ‘I don’t understand who Leica thinks this camera is for”. Well, I think I am beginning to understand who it is for – and aside from the isssue of affordability, I am probably one of them. Although I suspect its probably rather a niche market for Leica!

    Switching to a digital M was a no-brainer for me. My first experience of photography was on a rangefinder (not a Leica, but a Canon Canonet in the 70’s and ’80s). When I first tried out a second hand M8 it felt like being reunited with an old friend. I immediately sold all my Canon SLR gear and have never looked back – trading up to a second hand M9 and now an M(240) along with what is pretty much my dream selection of M mount lenses and one R mount zoom. But as I have become more and more serious about photography and started to shoot semi-professionally, I increasingly find that there are times when a rangefinder is not the ideal tool for the job.

    At the moment I also use an A7ii with M and R and Nikon lens adaptors, battery grip, a NIKKOR 28mm f2.8 and the FE 70-200 f4 etc as a second camera set up. This ALMOST fills the gap of useability. Manual focus on fast lenses is more reliable with the EVF, framing accuracy is better, and its easier with long lenses. For studio and portrait work I like the vertical grip, and although I almost always work manually, I do like the ability to use an autofocus lens at times. But the A7’s are not great with the wider M lenses and I have had to send my A7ii back to Sony when flimsy parts have fallen off. The A7ii is a damn fine camera and it can certainly deliver professional results, but its not really intended for use with M lenses and although well built it certainly doesn’t have the same professional solidity of an M (or even pro Canon and Nikon DSLRs)

    The M will always be a unique tool – and if Leica can bring it even more technologically up to date without losing its essential simplicity, that will be very exciting. In the meantime, the more I consider the SL, the more attractive it becomes. For someone who wants a companion to the M which enables them to use M and R lenses at their best; enables them to shoot more comfortably in scenarios where the M does not excel (studio work, longer focal lengths, etc), and has the unbeatable build quality we expect from Leica, the SL starts to look very tempting.

    The big sticking point is of course the cost. Since I’d be using it with manual lenses, selling my left arm to pay for it isn’t an option. Such a shame that the re-sale value on the Sony kit is so poor. Maybe I could sell a leg or something instead …

    • Leica R on Sony is FAR superior to Leica R on M. Focus peaking on M is nearly useless compared to FP on Sony.

  26. What I never understand is the stick Steve gets (L Camera Forum) for offering his own opinion and a very clear caviat that its initial thoughts based on initial press launch and two that it might all change once he actually uses the camera. Lines like I don’t know why I read his blog, well you do and will continue to do so. But as they say no publicity is bad, and Steve makes a living in a way I sure wouldn’t mind. I think a lot of enthusiasts where looking for a M, TL mountable Leica Q, same price but without the lens, so you pay more for less. But as Steve say’s this is a 35mm Leica S. Nikon D4s and Canon 1Dx were GBP5200 at launch, SL601 around GBP5100. So given its German made its cheaper and smaller then those and about the same size and more expensive then D800 or 5D. So in the middle of those and in the middle for MP’s also. Lenses are a different kettle of fish but will no doubt be amazing. So it gives a studio pro something different from his peers. If I were a studio pro, I’d go S though. Wedding, well one of theses and a M for more intermate shoots perhaps that will appeal to those trying to stand out. We still want a lensless Q (trying to stay focused on SL so humour “M”e for now) and the proof for the SL will be in the pudding come Steve’s review.

  27. We are now going to be inundated wih everyone’s wish list for the next ‘M’
    Bring it on….

    • 1:Same size as M240 or smaller if possible.
      2: 36 MP…..ISO 50 to 50,000.
      3: External EVF (same spec as of “Q”)
      4: 6250 $ for the camera + 350 $ for the external EVF

  28. I am sure that Sony is trembling because they know Leica produces much much better cameras – expensive – but much better!

    • Better at what? Being stupidly expensive?

      Sony’s camera has the superior sensor, image quality and IBIS (which Leica doesn’t have at all). And it’s more compact and lighter. The SL might as well be a DSLR.

      The only things the SL has over Sony are the higher resolution EVF and weather sealed body. And I suspect Sony will address both things within a year, maybe when the A7 III comes out.

      • I question your “superior sensor, IQ […]” statement. Personally i find that a bit of a limited view of the world. Sorry. Superior IQ in what sense, ISO? Then you are probably right. I personally rarely shoot above 6400, prefer even to max out at 3200. Note also IS can be both sensor and / or optical. The SL lenses all have optical IS and I am sure they will be good at that (they are huuuuge :-).

        I have shot both different Sony’s and different Leica’s – still haven’t found what I am looking for (thanks U2 🙂 – and a lot in between, but Leica keeps drawing me back. And not because it has the best tech specs. Simply because the specs applied (in most cases) seem to blend perfectly together to produce something unique. Add to that its UX and pride of ownership. Now thats a pretty different proposition compared to say Sony latest and greatest in tech. Neither is better then the other, both simply serve a different purpose.

        I also loved the M8, M9, M240. I enjoyed the A7, A7II, A7s, etc just never did anything for me really expect the immediate 50% drop in resell value when opening the box 🙂 Until the SL came around it wasn’t easy wanting to shoot Leica but always needing several other bodies to compensate for multiple photographic purposes / situations. the SL may just have cracked that one. It is something I have been dreaming off. Agree the design is a bit of same same.

        For me, the SL may just combine unique IQ and great UX with amazing performance (for its class) and be a very interesting proposition. I agree with Steve and others that this could serve very well for certain purposes. For example, I am very interested to test the SL with its proclaimed best in class EVF and AF with a 100 Cron S in a theatre / concert / show setting. At the same time slap on an 35 Cron M for environmental portrait, and use both lenses for studio portraits. If claim holds true that M,S lenses etc. perform as well as on their native mounts, WOW! It could be a dream machine for some purposes.

        As to size, I am not too worried by this, as with most this is personally and there probably is a break-even point somewhere size wise. E.g. I need the grip to make a A7 body work for me in terms of size (and battery life :-). Nice comparison here: Those SL lenses do look sparingly massive though 🙂 90-280 2.8-4 looks very nice but maaaaasive and so wish they would have made the 2.8 constant but I guess quality standards didn’t allow that 🙂

        Anyway, rambling, triggered by your post, my two cents. Agree its not for the mass market. Look forward to Steve’s long-term review.

  29. Steve, why didn’t Leica send you an SL to review after asking you to sign the NDA? In other words, what would be the benefit to you to sign one?

    I haven’t handled this camera yet but hope to do so in NYC this weekend. Big SLRs are more my style of shooting and I feel this is more of a counterpoint to a Nikon D4s type of camera than to the Sony FE mount line. From what I’ve seen and read I do like it for that purpose.

    • Leica is the strangest camera company for a reviewer to work with. One day they are bubbly and sending a review unit (for 2 days max) and the next they say NO to a review unit. Then sometimes they will say “keep it for a week” and other times they really want me to review something (Like the T) they fly me out to look at it and send me a review unit ASAP. With the SL, I signed the NDA for a trip to NYC to see the camera in person but the trip was screwed up and I never saw it. When I asked for a review unit, didn’t really get much of an answer. So I am buying one instead.

  30. By now is clear to everybody that Leica SL will not sell even close as Canon, Nikon and Sony high end full frame cameras and I think that even Leica don’t want to become mass producing manufacturer with Made in China label. They want to keep they high end cameras a bit exclusive and some kind of a status symbol even for pro photographers, with low production rate and high prices. I think that this unique camera will sell enough to be success for Leica and I’m glad that we have it on market.

  31. Hi Steve,

    i was not shure what to think about your first comments let alone what the Sony fan base here posted.
    To those i want to say get along with the fact, that your A7R2 will not be the best camera in the world. No camera is/was and if so, it is always for a short period of time anyway. So nothing to defend here.

    I totally agree with your words from today though. And i am pretty shure that everyone who is able to get their hands on the SL and shoot with it, will notice from the first second that this is not a camera like many others in build and feel. The comparison with a Sony A7 series camera, as good as this camera is, makes not so much sense when you think about how they are made. Of course you can buy a replica “Kuckucksuhr” from China that is made by robots and it will even tell the time more accurate than one that is made by real people with their own hands. But if you want something made by hand (and in very small numbers) this will be much more expensive.

    The “massive” factory in Wetzlar is in fact not so massive. Larger than the older one but not by much. More representative for shure. It is really hard for a small company to produce for the world market, especially when you want to give the customers (no matter what Leica camera they shoot) the best support. I bet they would love to produce more but they always think about keeping up the highest standards.

    I think the next M will also be available 6 months after official release 😉 The only way to get around is to place your (paid) pre order right now. I can wait.

    Thanks for your news about this camera. I am eager to get to know what your final judgement will be after shooting it.


  32. Ohh my god, that last sentence will cause me sleepless nights! Do you know already more…. Ahh can’t wait…

  33. this camera is not only fro pros. it’s for people with MONEY. That’s where the deal is. Meanwhile, seems to me that you better try this camera before talking about it Steve ! You never been emotional when it came to high prices. So just because this camera is HEAVY doesn’t mean you should change your philosophy. Right now, as a long time reader, i feel that you have your behind in between two chairs. No disrespect, but one more time, i don’t find it constructive to talk about a product before trying it. Even though you reacted on spec tec. You are the one who always said that you wanted to make REAL WORLD reviews … So just do it !

  34. “..if the SL can use any wide angle Leica lens and have it problem free (which they may do with in camera correction like they do with the M) 100% then it will be the only NON M game in town for M lenses and perfection..”

    Er, my A7S “..can use any wide angle Leica lens and have it problem free..” on ‘full-frame’ 36x24mm. So the SL is not “..the only NON M game in town for M lenses and perfection..”

    • Mine too but with some lenses like the 15, some 21’s and a couple 28’s it will give magenta sides (The A7s). The A7RII does away with any magenta corners and side though, but still is not perfect with wide angle glass. The A7s and A7RII will give soft edges and corners so to those looking to use a Leica 21 with an A7s or A7RII the corners will be soft if trying for a corner to corner sharpness landscape for example. The A7RII is the best sony yet for M glass but still not perfect.

      • Corner-to-corner sharpness – for me, anyway – with Leica 16-18-21mm at f8 and Voigtländer 21mm f1.8 at f8.

        (..But not so sharp with teeny Voigt 21mm f4 at f8, nor with Konica 21-35mm f3.4 at f8: different field curvature or flatness, I think, with the Konica..)

        (Hopeless, of course, with the very old Super Angulon 21mm f3.4 at f8.)

  35. leica m240 $6380 – cheap, great, hoorray
    leica SL $7500 – expensive, rip off, booo

    so $1120 difference makes it “rich oil king’s camera”?

    • Guess you did not read my post…

      Leica M – Its a digital RF. Small ,HQ and beautiful. NO ONE ON EARTH other than Leica makes one. So its unique, original and if you want a digital RF it is the only game in town, period. So the cost is justified.

      Leica SL – There are loads of cameras like it – nothing original. Just a nice, well made Leica with great IQ and performance. Its a mirrorless and competition is fierce. Basically you are paying 2-3X the cost for something that already exists from others.

      So the price for the M is 100% justified. Its unique, original and used some of the best lenses ever made for any system. SMALL lenses. The SL is a monster, is huge and the lenses which are slower aperture zooms are $5k a pop.

      I ordered an SL so I can review it. I am looking forward to using it.

      • I am not sure that exists. Just the fact that is a Leica that can use all Leica lenses and having AF. This is something that does not exist. Just this fact alone will make the competition trying to catch up again. It seems that there are already plenty of reports agreeing to this. For many reason though, is that this camera might not be for everybody. After all is is labeled as “Pro”.

        I think that Leica is the most amazing and innovative camera maker.

  36. My dream Leica would be a M with hybrid EVF and great ISO performance. I would easily lay out the $7500 for that. One thing about the M is the cost of ownership is about the same as the Sony, 7k for a camera that can sell for 5 after two years of use. Sony A7RII will cost about $750 on the used market in two years.

  37. I agree 100% with this post Steve. I think much of the initial backlash against this camera is people thinking this is a M replacement… it’s not, it’s an updated SLR, using mirrorless, exactly the type of camera that people have been complaining that Nikon/Canon haven’t moved to. The updated M for 2016 is a camera i’m more interested in, but i’d be shocked if this Leica wasn’t a fantastic camera (at a very high price point).

  38. If they had just made it an e-mount, it could work. Then release a few Leica e-mount lenses, and you have an entire ecosystem. With Sony opening up the mount specs, it could have been done. Instead, they created their own, and it just won’t be as good and with too few choices for lenses.

    • With
      6T + 3SL +48M +16S + 51R + 21Leica Lenses, this makes total of 145 lenses, not a few choices, but great choice of lenses. I think this camera is for those who has Leica lenses and as a second camera for S users.

  39. A couple of further thoughts:

    1. Most DSLR owners probably use zooms. The SL will show these photographers what it means to have high performance in a zoom lens.

    2. The SL might be twice the price of the D810 but then again it is a superior camera in some ways; it’s not much more than a D4 and has a slightly faster frame rate despite having larger files.

    3. Maybe Leica can now put a CCD in the next M. 🙂

    • Because the Canon 24-70/2.8 L II is a poor performer? It looks pretty darn good on my A7rII. Leica’s lenses will have an easier time with only 24mp to deal with – especially on the edges/corners where the Canon shines. I look forward to inevitable comparisons.

      • I have one Leica zoom: Apo-Vario-elmarit-R 70-180 2.8 and I don´t know any other lens better than it, prime or zoom. Unfortunately it seems the new 24-90 for the SL is not built to the same standard at least if we take in account the Dpreview studio scene results. Time will tell.

  40. Hi Steve,

    You’re correct Steve that most of us out here are not pulling out our phones or logging on to our favorite online website to place an order for one or two of these. But, from what I’ve read and opinions stated so far on the forums this is the FF digital body that Leica promised would be built for those who already own a stable of Leica R lenses and a second body (less expensive backup body) for the Leica S owner. No where have I read that this is meant to be the Leica M killer nor Sony A7 killer.

    It will be interesting to see what the used R lens prices do. Now as you know I’m a fan of the Leica CCD based M platform as it has been a great entry camera for me into the Leica family.

    I wish Leica the best. And yes they are a niche company that as yet haven’t found it necessary to farm out their manufacturing/assembly to one of the “slave” labor wages country to reduce their costs for any reason to to appease the general population. Nor has the other “expensive highly desired companies that produce high end autos, stereo equipment or what have you.

    So I will sit back and enjoy the show here as others voice their opinions on why Leica does what they do.

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