Portrait shooting with the Leica SL and M lenses by Marc Wick

Portrait shooting with the Leica SL and M lenses

by Marc Wick – See his site at www.marcwick.500px.com

Hi Steve and Brandon,

It is always a pleasure to visit your site because you always find very inspiring articles about photography. I would like to present to you a user report about the Leica SL with M lenses for portrait photography. For sure the Leica SL is a very controversial camera, you love it or you hate it. At the beginning I did not like it at all in comparison the the beautiful M cameras. Especially with the zooms it looks very bulky and heavy. But after using it only for one day, I had to change my mind: the viewfinder is a dream, you can focus wide open very precise and especially for portrait photography the M lenses with the SL are a perfect combination.

The colors are very natural and there is no need to change a lot in postprocessing. And especially the b/w photos out of the cam are almost perfect. Since I hate to spend a lot of time with lightroom or photoshop, it is really very easy to handle the photos. Of course there are other mirrorless full frame cameras with more and more megapixels, but I do not care about it. In most cases I use the 1.4/50 Summilux and the old 4/135 Tele-Elmar for portraits. It is really very useful, that with the M-Adapter, you have a wide range of beautiful M lenses which you can use with the SL. For a Leica the SL also shows high quality images with ISO of 6400 or more. Especially the b/w have an analog look with high ISO values.

For shootings it is a very good idea that the SL has two slots for memory cards. Aside from the eye watering price tag, the only critical point to me in daily use is the short duration of the battery. It is always useful two have a second one in your pocket.

To me the Leica SL with M lenses is a perfect combination for portrait shootings. But of course you can get the results for sure with other cameras (mirroless or not). But to use a Leica is never a rational decision, it is some kind of passion.

portrait 1: 1/160 f2 Iso 3200 Summilux 50

portrait 2: 1/125 f4.8 Iso 1600 Tele-Elmar 135

portrait 3: 1/250 f1.4 Iso 800 Summilux 50

portrait 4: 1/125 f1.4 Iso 1600 Summilux 50

portrait 5: 1/6400 f2.8 Iso 1600 Summilux 50

portrait 6: 1/125 f8 Iso 1600 Tele-Elmar 135

portrait 7: 1/160 f1.4 Iso 6400 Summilux 50

From Steve: Now that the Leica SL has dropped in price from $7500 to $5995 it is a GREAT buy, and yes, still very expensive but there is really no other camera like an SL with what it offers in build, performance and all around quality.

Recommended Dealers for the SL:

B&H Photo – SL is here

Ken Hansen – Email at khpny19@aol.com 



    • Thank you Hans Erik!
      As far as I can remember for this special shot it is normally more or less always the same: contrast and clarity a bit higher, graduation with an S-curve, sometimes some grain, sometimes a small vignette, sharpening the eyes or eyelashes, thats all.

  1. Wow, the Leica look! Amazing! You can’t do that with a Sony A7 and a Sony FE 50mm F1.8 Lens which you could buy for one-tenth the price of a Leica SL + a Leica lens.

    • Well, I would have to own both…can’t drop the A9, I use it every day. I will be testing the 50 1.4 Summilux SL lens on the SL in about a week ; )

      • I’ll be interested to read your review of the 50mm SL ‘Lux. Purely based on all the images taken with this lens that I’ve seen posted, I think that the lens is massively over priced and over rated. Yes it appears to produce very sharp images and I’m sure it has no CA or other optical issues. The problem is that the images just look horrible and lack pleasing separation between subject and background; it’s all just a fudgy mess (in my view).
        I just cannot wrap my head around a lens that is twice the size and mass of the M equivalent, a third more expensive and only offers AF to justify the premium (and the AF is being reported to be frustrating in many instances).

  2. I really encourage people reading here to go visit your site or click through to the full resolution images as Steve regularly suggests.
    These are really beautiful. I particularly liked the first opening title shot of the models reflection in the mirror.
    I had to do a double backflip for a second and check that it was not film friday and somebody submitting some shots taken with a medium format film camera -they really do have a lovely tonal quality.

  3. Cameras have never been really inexpensive… even early Kodak box cameras cost several week’s wages and only the well-to-do considered purchasing them. The early photographers had the creative freedom to mix and match a camera or film style with a range of lenses of their choosing due to the relatively simple construction of the camera itself… That same freedom has come back with the mirrorless camera bodies and the myriad of adapter/lens combinations on today’s market.. Freedom of expression is returning to photography..hooray !
    Great selection of images Marc…….
    as always best viewed when double clicked to full size.

Leave a Reply to Chris Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published.