The Leica SL2 Arrives! Also, TT Artisans 21 and 35 M Mount Lenses 1st Look!

The Leica SL2 Arrives! Also, TT Artisans 21 and 35 M Mount Lenses 1st Look!

By Steve Huff

UPDATE: I updated parts of this article as others have shared how to get IBIS to work with non Leica M lenses. It does work!

My video first look!

So the new Leica SL2 arrived to me this past Friday as did a couple of not so expensive M mount lenses from TTArtisans. A 35 f/1.4 and a 21 f/1.5. Both of these lenses look stunning, and seem to be built very well. Both come in under $450 which is a far cry from Leica prices but if you are in a pinch after spending thousands on a new Leica body, these lenses can be a cool solution to get you started. You can see these lenses at Amazon HERE if interested but I will share a few first test snaps with them below. Note they are not anything like Leica when it comes to quality and render in a more softer/lower contrast kind of way. Even so, they have some charm and are cheap (when compared to most M mount lenses)!

As for the SL2…I only have it for five days total so this will not be a review but rather a very first look with very first thoughts. If I buy one, I will do an extended length full review. Will I buy one? Probably not, but not because it’s not a great and very capable camera. There are a couple of other reasons I will not make the leap to the SL2 but for man of you reading this, the SL2 may be just what you have been looking for.

Let’s get started…

You guys know that I was and still am a HUGE fan of the original Leica SL when used with M mount lenses (of all brands and variety). The combo of the tough build, the big high res EVF, the fact that it never once gave me one issue and of course the gorgeous color and IQ had me go back to the SL again and again and again, above all other cameras in my arsenal. My SL review was long, detailed and showed off many images. If you somehow missed that one, you can see it here.  The Leica SL, original model, has been my most used and favorite 35mm full frame camera of all time. That’s a fact.

Debby with the SL2 and TTArtisans 35 1.4 at f/1.4 – click for larger

When the SL2 was announced I thought it looked nice with a slightly refined appearance and new menus, advanced video, 5 Axis IS, better weather sealing and improved handling, an even higher res EVF and more of what made the original so damn good. I was invited to Germany a few weeks back to see it in the flesh but sadly could not make it due to a previous commitment.

My only niggle (and this is just a ME thing) with the SL2 when I read the specs was the 47 MP sensor. For me, I do not need 47MP nor am I attracted to a 47MP (or higher) sensor when it comes to 35mm full frame cameras. Me, I enjoy and love a good 24 MP sensor like the ones in the original SL, the Panasonic S1 and even the Sigma FP. But I am not saying the old 24 MP sensor is better, just that I prefer 24 MP with full frame for a variety of reasons. For most of you, the higher MP sensor will be preferred and understandably so. Me, the low light suffers too much with these higher resolution bodies and I shoot an awful lot in low low light. 

When I judge a camera I speak of the entire package and what it brings as a complete package. From build quality, to design, to feel and usability, to menus (which are awesome here with the 2), to weather sealing, to lens compatibility (you can use almost any lens with the SL system and adapters) and of course to image quality, low light ability, color and value for the money. All of these things are considered and while other cameras deliver on speed, image quality and versatility…no other camera in 35mm full frame format offers the top tier build, design, menus, versatility, parts quality or the heritage of the Leica SL or SL2. I feel value for the money is good here, as it’s a camera that is made to pro standards in build and will last a long long long time.

Quick SL2 Con: I was sad to see that one of the new features in the SL2, the in body image stabilization (the 5 Axis IS) does not work with my Voigtlander or non Leica branded M lenses. I am not sure if it works only with L mount lenses or if it will work with 6 Bit Coded Leica M glass using the Leica adapter. Either way, the SL2 is crippled in this way as it will not use IBIS with these M lenses I own. The Panasonic S1 did, the SL does not. 

UPDATE: I shot some video with the SL2 and the IBIS does seem to work with my non Leica M lenses for video. In photo node the “Image Stabilization” section is greyed out and can not be selected. So it may be that in video the IBIS will work, which is good as this is IMO where it is most valuable.

SL2 and 50 1.2 Voigtander M mount

It’s got the look

The SL2 is very similar in looks to the original. It is the same size, has the same controls, and is 100% a SL camera form Leica. When you attach an L mount AF lens, it will Auto Focus faster than the old SL, and it will offer things such as 5 AXIS IBIS (with L mount lenses) and improved video specs over the original. With that comes a slightly lower battery life as this uses the same battery as the SL yet with the beefed up performance, specs, larger files and IBIS, the SL2 will not give as long of a battery life as the original. The body is now covered in a Leatherette unlike the original which was bare metal and to be honest, I am not sure which I prefer just yet. Both look very nice. The new model also has an indented finger grip which I can say is indeed more comfy in the hand. The menus have been revamped and look pretty slick along with the even higher res EVF which is just as beautiful (a little more so) as the original SL’s EVF, which is still better than 90% of cameras made today. The new SL2 is $5995, $1500 less than the original launched at so that is a GOOD thing, as $7500 would have been a huge stretch with the Panasonic S1R (nearly identical spec wise) also available for so much less.

One can also buy a new SL1 for $4k or so if you look around. So the question of the day is this…is the new SL2 worth $2k more than buying an original SL brand new? For me, no. For you I bet it is as you do get a few improvements across the board (though a con or two as well). It’s an attractive camera in all ways but mainly for those SL users who use L mount lenses and want the upgrades, which are fantastic when using L mount lenses!

There are many reasons why some of you may want this camera and many reasons why it would be a smart move to invest in one. Here are some observations…

This one from the original SL. Click it for larger. 

  1. The original was released over 4 years ago and has stood the test of time. I could/would own and use the original SL today, and for the next 10 years if it still worked for me in 10 years. The original is still an amazing camera today, especially if using M mount lenses. ESPECIALLY if using 6 Bit coded Leica M lenses. IMO, the color from the original can not be beat for my personal tastes but it’s very good here in the SL2, and some may prefer it to the original. Your taste may vary but for me the SL provided me with some precious memories and in an amazing quality. If one were to invest in an SL2, it would be a solid choice. These SL’s are built to a High standard and in fact, if I look back I am not aware of any camera in 35mm full frame (or under it) that is built better than an original SL or the new SL2. In other words, these cameras will last you. I have shot with an SL for over 4 years and it has never once given me an issue. Compared to other mirrorless cameras the SL and SL2 just feel much more solid, clean (design), and they will last you many years.
  2. Pride of ownership. The Leica brand is known for pride of ownership as they create cameras that offer an emotional type of bond. Wether that is their history, the red dot or the fact that no one on earth makes cameras quite like a Leica doesn’t matter, the pride of ownership is high and a Leica will motivate you to get out and use it. When you own a camera such as a Leica M or SL you know you have something special and it feels good to use it.
  3. With so many great cameras out there today, how does a camera stand out and above the competition? By making it attractive in ALL ways, not just speed and IQ. With the SL2, Leica has created a camera that no one else has even tried to make. Not Sony, not Nikon, not Canon. Panasonic is close as the SL2 is based off of the Panasonic S1R. Even so, hold each in your hand and it is easy to distinguish what makes the Leica so special. It’s the details, the quality and the feel/usability that make Leica attractive to so many. A camera is much more than just its output and the SL2 makes many other cameras in the $2-$3k price point feel like toys in comparison. The SL2 also feels smaller in my hand and less bulky than the S1 and S1R. It’s clean design is gorgeous.
  4. The price. At $5995 this is one expensive camera but in all reality it is not priced in a way that makes it crazy. I feel at $6k this is priced PERFECTLY. The original was $7500 when it launched, so the new SL2 is $1500 less and you get all of the advancements.
  5. The new SL2 menu is sweet and sleek. One for photo, one for video and this is an improvement over the original. A tad more complex so the whole “less is more” argument slips away a little here vs the original SL but Leica has improved things such as the menu, the speed (it’s faster), and other areas of the SL that make the user experience quite nice. With an SL AF lens the difference will be quite nice. With an M lens, it’s just like shooting the original. Which is fantastic.
  6. The SL2 now has 5 Axis IS. Great for video or photo use and well worth it to have. While it is not needed, many enjoy having this feature.
  7. The EVF is now even better with higher resolution (though in real use, between this and the old SL the difference is not huge) and weather sealing is a few notches up.
  8. Controls are still basic and simple and easy to understand.
  9. Has USB C charging capability (in camera) and this is so nice to have while out on the road
  10. Rear LCD is touch screen and uses Gorilla Glass for durability

The SL2 and Voigtlander 50 1/2 at f/2

I can list more but at the end of the day a camera like the SL and SL2 will last you a long time. These are not disposable cameras, and are not refreshed every year. Rather, they are on a four year upgrade cycle and made for professionals and enthusiasts alike. So buy now, and you will not be tempted by an SL3 for quite a while ; )

The SL2 with some CHEAP (but nice) M glass. First shot with the TTArtisans 21mm f1.5, 2nd and 3rd with the TTArtisans 35 1.4. These are M mount lenses that are built and designed to look and feel like a real Leica lens. The packaging and presentation is amazing. The performance is NOT Leica like but for the money, right on target. The 2nd image was more or less a DR test and the Dynamic Range looks GREAT. I buy lenses today not for perfection or sharpness but for character and the way they render. These lenses here give another option for those looking for unique M lenses. 

So I have literally only snapped a few test shots with the SL2 so far (and with only Voigtlander and TTArtisans glass so far) and after only a day and a half with it, I can say it is a camera that is very beautiful to use. With that said, if I owned one I would use it with uncoded M mount lenses almost 100% of the time, and Canon glass every now and again. In this scenario, the original which can be had for $2000 less brand new is even more tempting to me even though it is 4+ years old and I have owned it on three occasions (always lured me back)! Yes, I sold my SL a while back as the little Sigma FP delivers just as good, if not better IQ and is smaller (though different experience). Even so, the SL has a charm, a pull, a magic to it that has always spoken to me. Kind of what I was talking about above…how a Leica feels like no other camera.

One may say “Buy an M10 if you want to use M lenses” and while that’s a very valid argument I will say I truly have enjoyed using M lenses on the SL due to the hassle free way it all works. The EVF is simply brilliant in use with these small manual lenses and again, an SL can be had for $4k new. An M10 will be at least a couple grand more. I am one who does want to see an M camera made with a high res EVF. Until that day comes, for me, the SL and SL2 simply ROCK with M lenses. It’s an amazing way to use them due to the EVF and always spot on focus. If you can swing Leica branded M lenses, even better as the 6 Bit coding on these lenses will truly bring out the IQ of the SL and M lenses combo.

SL2 and Voigtlander 50 f/1.2

If I owned the SL native AF lenses, the SL2 would be a HUGE temptation as with these AF lenses the new 2 WILL BE better. I would 100% go with an SL2 if I were planning to shoot L mount lenses more so than M lenses. No question. 

But with M lenses, even non Leica M lenses I could take the $2000 I would save on the SL2, buy an SL1 and then this lens, which is a stunner and when I reviewed it here. It made lasting memories on me long after I had to send it back. Going this route, I would have a beautiful new lens and still have just as gorgeous IQ and better low light performance.

The TT Artisans 35 1.4 is a bit soft and has some glow. Both of these are shot at f/1.4 with the TT 35. Voigtlander will bring quite a bit better quality but this lens is $449. 

No, having 47MP does not mean better image quality. It simply means you have more to work with. If you like to crop, 47 MP is great to have. If you enjoy pixel peeping details, then the more MP the merrier. Landscape pros? The SL2 will be a better option over the old SL. As for dynamic range, they appear to be about the same though Leica says the SL2 has 14 stops of DR. In my limited use so far I am seeing it to be about the same as the original when I work with RAW files and highlights can still be blown. I also find the camera is tending to slightly overexpose with my Voigtlander lenses so I nudge the EV comp a bit when shooting them.

This is where the SL2 will suffer.

Low Light and High ISO. When you combine low light and High ISO, you will see grain with any camera. But today, cameras like the Panasonic S1, Sigma FP and Sony A7III offer astounding low light capabilities all the way up to ISO 51,000 and even at these crazy High ISO levels, in low light, the S1 and A7III are usable to some extent. Seeing ISO 2500 with so much noise coming from the SL2 was no surprise. One reason why I can not go to a 47MP sensor as I shoot A LOT in low light. This is about the same (OR WORSE) as Micro 4/3 levels and is because of the sensor used. So great for daytime landscape shooters, not so great for lower light or street shooters.

Also, when in very low light the EVF gets very choppy and almost unusable if using manual focus. Also keep in mind the SL2 auto adds noise reduction to RAW files. When turned off (as I do with every camera I have ever used) we see the real ISO performance. When I import a RAW file I turn off NR completely.

ISO 2500 indoor light. Lots of grain at 2500 with ALL noise reduction off. Looks about like the Panasonic S1 at ISO 51k

BELOW: Side by side with an EM5 MKIII at ISO 25k – 100% crops, and the SL was downsized to EM5 resolution. Noise reduction 100% off on both. What this shows me is that the SL2 is about on par at High ISO as a modern day Micro 4/3 sensor. This seals its fate for me and my use for low light shooting in clubs. 

As it is and even so, the SL2 appears to be selling well for Leica. While they have only sent out a VERY limited number to dealers so far, to keep demand high I assume, there is a backlog of orders. My guess is that if you ordered an SL2 now, you would get one in 4-12 weeks (just a guess). A very long time Leica dealer told me just recently they are only getting sent TWO SL2’s per month. The only explanation I see is that this give the impression that the camera is sold out due to demand (and it is), and while part of that is true there will be demand if you choke up the supply by limiting it as they are. With the new Leica factory in full swing, one would think they would have been able to have enough cameras ready at launch to fill ALL orders. Leica has used this method of camera launches many times but in 3-4 months I feel you will see the SL2 in stock at your fave Leica dealer so no worries! If you are waiting for the SL2, it will be in stock…eventually. Hang in there ; )

The TT Artisans 21 1.5 and 35 1.4

I am only 2 days in with the SL2 so this is not in ANY way a review. It’s my very first, and I mean very 1st thoughts!  

What I can say NOW is that it feels perfect in the hand, better than the original (the new grip and indent for your fingers really helps). It feels solid as can be yet feels nice and balanced. It’s a worthy upgrade in almost all (but not all) ways over the original, for 90% of you reading this.

If you plan on using it with L mount lenses like the amazing new Summicron line, the SL2 is well worth the upgrade from the SL. If you use mostly M mount lenses? I’d say the original is still a better buy as it still gives amazing Leica IQ and color and with M mount lenses we do not need the faster AF of the SL2.

If you are a very low light shooter, I’d avoid the SL2. Yes you can shoot in some low light scenarios (ISO 6400 is perfectly ok if you leave the noise reduction on)  but I could never use this camera as my main shooter for low light clubs. Also, keep in mind the battery life is less than the original. So while you gain the new slick menus (which are very nice) and an overall nicer grip feel, the new EVF and better video specs along with the 47MP sensor you do lose in some areas.

Even with the couple of cons, both the SL and SL2 are truly among the finest 35mm full frame cameras ever made if you look at it as a whole. Leica has now given us a choice as the original is still available new (and can be found for around $4k new if you look) but if you want the new specs and sensor, the new SL2 will be sure to please those who crave resolution.

Three from the original SL using all adapted glass. Click them for larger. The SL is a true workhorse and with M or adapted glass, a beautiful solution and choice. 

What about the S1R?

I can already tell you now, that if it was between the SL2 and a Panasonic S1R it would be the Leica simply due to the reasons I stated. Design, build, feel, heritage, pride of ownership, color differences and the fact they will last you a long long time. Well worth the extra outlay for the Leica IMO if you feel you will hold on to it for years to come. As I said, I never had one malfunction with an SL over 4 1/2 years. The IQ will probably be the same between these two as they share the same sensor and tech. But a Leica is a Leica and a Panasonic is a Panasonic. The new SL2 has a new rear button layout. Gone are the 4 non labeled buttons and they are replaced with small, Leica M10 like buttons that ARE labeled. Me, I prefer the old buttons and clean back but both are nice and do the job intended.

Either way, the SL2 is already a winner as you would expect it to be. It’s beautiful, it’s built to last through a war, works wonderfully with M lenses or Native L glass and has an amazing menu system, an even higher resolution EVF and can be used in any weather situation. What’s not to like besides the $6k price? Even that is fair for what Leica has delivered here and down $1500 from the original! It’s not a huge massive upgrade to the original but has enough new things to please those looking for something new ; )

UPDATE JAN 1st 2020 – My conclusion on the SL2

After more time with the SL2 I have now packed it up to ship it back tomorrow. I have shot more with it and feel that shooting M lenses with it will not yield as good of results as shooting these M lenses on the original SL or even the little Sigma FP. Images between the two are different with the SL2 rendering images a bit softer with M lenses. With 47MP I feel you will not get the most out of the SL2 unless you use Leica’s very own SL glass which was designed for use with the camera.

I personally prefer the IQ (good or low light) from the original S1 when using M lenses no matter the brand, Zeiss, Leica, Voigtlander or cheap Chinese made glass. So if you are considering the SL2, do know you will want some of the fine lenses made for it rather than just using M lenses. If only shooting M mount, go with an original SL body.

I really liked the SL2 but not in the way I loved the SL1. But if I only shot with L mount lenses, and only shot in good light, the SL2 would be in my kit above any other camera in 35mm full frame, no matter the brand or cost.

As is, the little Sigma FP will keep me happy for M lens use as it outperforms the SL1 and SL2 with M glass from all I have seen over these past few days.

Also, I added a video at the top of the page! Enjoy!

 

52 Comments

  1. Thanks Steve, great article and always a plead to hear your thoughts and observations on new gear!

    Really curious as to when you’ll post a full review of your Sigma FP? Would love to see/hear more about that camera as no one seems to be talking about it, aside from the initial reviews – and as you say above, it’s your current choice (with M glass) over the SL, so that’s pretty impressive in itself!

    Anyway, would love to hear more about your experiences with the Sigma FP whenever you get the chance.

    Cheers Luke

  2. Hi Steve,

    Thank you for your VERY honest review of the SL2. We live in a challenging time when we expect more and more from our gear. In reality our cameras are a compromise of the best technology that a company can put into a system. Going from the SL to the SL2 Leica had to make certain trades, and it appears the choice was to go to higher resolution (smaller pixel size) at the expense of high ISO performance. The new tech item in the SL2 is IBIS, which could be the item that took Leica down the higher res path. Theoretically 3 stops of IBIS should allow 3 stops slower shutter speed (if motion blur is not an issue) and 3 stops lower ISO for a given lighting condition (for example 3,200 instead of 25,600). Although that is not how a lot of us shoot in real life.

    I sold my SL for a CL to get a much smaller package. The size, weight, and 35mm TL lens are fantastic, although the pixels are even smaller on the CL than the SL2 resulting in even higher high ISO noise on the CL than the SL2.

    In the end, there is no Holy Grail camera (although there are some awesome lenses out there). I am thinking about selling my CL, going back to the SL (I still have all of my M Mount lenses), and looking at something else more “moderate” for a small camera (X-T3 with 1 prime or the rumored next month X100V). The X-T3 seems to have pretty good high ISO performance for its sensor size. This sensor on an X100 would be a nice, small, high performance package 🙂

    • DO you mean shooting M lens son an X1DII? If so, the SL2 will be better. The X1D would have to be set to electronic shutter mode as there is no shutter in the camera. Rolling shutter is very bad in the X1DII and any movement distorts the image. if you mean shooting X lenses on the X1D vs M lenses on the SL, the Hasselblad will bring improvements in DR, low light, and give that special look that larger sensors give. I am hoping to have an article soon with the X1DII using M lenses BTW ; )

  3. Hi Steve and happy New Years,
    Great review as ever. Have you ever tried the Handevision lenses in M mount? I recently got one used few times (35mm f2.4) for 200 dollars (they sell for 650) and was positively surprised to how good it is, better than the Voigtlander color Skopar for sure. Anyway, have you decided on wether you’re going to get an M240 again :)?

    • I heard good things about the Handevision lenses but none have ever been sent to me to look at or test. My good friend Ashwin Rao (who writes for me from time to time) has tested them and from what I remember he really liked them. As for an M240, I am still pondering it but not sure. If I do, it will probably be the new M-E (which is an M240 in a new color). Thank you.

  4. Thanks for the first look Steve. Have you made any further decisions on the vinnie rossi amp? I really enjoy your hifi reviews and they are helping with putting together my new hifi setup. Keep up the good work!

    • Oh, as the review of the Vinnie says, I ordered one 3-4 weeks ago. It arrives MONDAY! I bought it in black. Never in my life have I experienced two channel like I did with this amp and DAC. The DAC is a huge part of it as well, and is something I would recommend 100% if buying this amp. I passed on the phono stage, for now, but it’s also very very nice. I went with the L2i SE and DAC.

      • I know this is not an audio site, but Vinnie is awesome and makes wonderful products. He is a manufacturer I can easily recommend in this crazy and very expensive hobby. Also has incredible support. Congrats.

        Last year I gave up tubes and conventional box speakers, now using an MSB Select Dac, CH M1/L1 and Gobels Aeon Fines in anticipation for a smaller home.

  5. Great first look Steve, and appreciate your takeaway on the L lens with reasonable light. I picked up the SL1 after your initial review, but for me, shooting it with an M lens never felt quite right, my M9 is far too dear to me. May look up swapping in the 1 for the 2, but will wait to hear more.

  6. This is so great to read. I recently sold my Leica Q-P, (loved that sensor which seems the same as the SL) and bought a used, but like new, SL and a 240 for less than the price of the New SL2. I love both experiences and even more that I can share glass on each. I do use the SL and some AF lenses for shotting people. However, as Steve points out it works amazing with M glass like the Zeiss ZM or others. The sensor and color rendition combined with Zeiss glass is just insanely good. Thanks Steve your articles on the SL led me to buy it and I have just ordered a TTartisans lens. Now please review the MS Optical 28mm!

  7. I think you should beg, steal or borrow the SL Summicrons. 35, 50, 75 or the 90..

    They are simply amazing. Probably the best lenses I have ever tried, anywhere, from any manufacturer EVER. They are that good and they make the SL2. They are perfection together.

    SL2 without one of these lenses is wasted IMO. I was blown away by them.

    Cheers.

    • I’ve tried the 35 Summicron SL briefly. Great lens indeed! With that said, the SL2 is not wasted when using M lenses, not at all, but the original is a tad better with M lenses IMO. Add a 50 APO or 35 Lux to the SL2 and you have a small and quite nice manual focus setup. As I said, if you plan on using SL AF lenses, the SL2 is well worth the investment. The new Summicrons are stellar indeed and a perfect mate to them. Would have loved to review them but Leica says they have zero review units of the Summicrons. ; )

      • Im curious to know specifically why you find the SL2 perhaps less well suited to using m lenses compared to the SL. I understand the low light performance of the SL2 is not as good, but is there something else? On another SL2 evaluation I had read essentially the opposite so I’m a bit confused.

        • I just get better results with the SL all the way around. Again, to me, resolution is not a plus once we pass 24MP on a full frame 35mm sensor. The images I captured with the original are also sharper with the same lenses. I was also not a huge fan of this sensor when used in the Q2. I’m not alone in this feeling. But I go by final results and for me nothing in 35mm has beaten the original SL when it comes to file quality, color, etc. The Panasonic S1 is very close and in some ways even better but overall I still find the color from the SL to be my preference. Your preference may vary as these are all personal things. All I can do is give my personal thoughts and opinions based on my own use. I always recommend people try these cameras for themselves because the SL2 may be the perfect camera for one, and the original may be best for another. Both are fantastic and the original is still as good today as it was 4 1/2 years ago. Newer is not always better, just different. Thank you!

          • Hi Steve, I’m curious why “The images I captured with the original are also sharper with the same lenses.”? If it’s at low ISO and if the lens (like ZM 35mm 1.4) has enough resolution power, wouldn’t SL2 yield sharper images? I’m torn because I see SL2 as a really good landscape camera but I too don’t like the high ISO performance…

          • Not necessarily. Sharpness and resolution are two different things. I can get biting sharpness from an original M9 file. I feel it depends on the quality of those megapixels. When too many are squeezed onto a sensor we lose things such as low light abilities, and even have to concentrate more on being stable with our hands. The SL2 is sharp as can be, but so is the SL1. I just found my images to be more pleasing with the original in aspects such as color, snap, etc. Both cameras are fantastic but even a 10MP camera can make for a lovely landscape print. Where the higher MP come into play for most is with cropping. It means we can be lazy with our shooting, and frame after the fact. IMO, not a good thing. So yes you get more copping power with more resolution, that’s one of the positives for many looking at higher MP sensors.

  8. Try shooting at ISO 50 and simply raising the exposure in post. I’ve noticed personally the noise seems to be a little less vs shooting with the camera set to whatever ISO, you also get the benefit of more dynamic range. I wonder if the electronic shutter is introducing a type of noise from the artificial lighting in the club. If you switch to mechanical shutter is the noise still at that level? I haven’t noticed quite that level of ISO noise on my SL2.

  9. I lucked out and actually got my SL2 from Adorama first shipment
    I currently have it paired with the Panasonic 24-70/2 L lens awesome lens and also I purchased a used Panasonic 70-200/4 lens for $1000 USD this also is Avery nice lens and handles very well on the SL2
    I have tried all my Leica M mount lenses and to me if your not a pixel peeper the results are good though if you look closely the images are not as sharp to me as using native L Mount glass
    I wonder if 47mp is a little to much for M glass I whole heartily agree with Steve that 24MP is the sweet spot for Full Frame

  10. Good read Steve! I hope to see more TTartisans shots, particularly the 21mm. The SL2 is getting a lot of attention and samples are easy to come by. The Chinese lens makers are an unloved lot but I’m glad they are creating more M options that aren’t Lens Baby and Lomo junk. I’m expecting my most memorable 21mm shots will have motion blur so I don’t need a Leica or a Voigtlander to do that.

  11. Hi Steve, great 1st look.

    I know someone with an SL2 and apparently IBIS can be made to work on non-Leica lenses as follows:

    1 – In camera settings, manually set an M or R lens that is close to the one you are using, and IBIS then turns on.
    (Maybe it needs a focal length to ‘know’ how to compensate the shake properly.)

    It might be work a try. I believe he said it also works with an ‘dumb’ adapter too, not just the Leica brand L-M or L-R.

    All the best,
    Dave

    • I shot some video tonight with an M lens and for video it seemed to work. In photo mode the option is greyed out. So it does seem it can work as it did for video. ; ) This is good to see.

  12. Steve, in your article you said the SL2 has the same controls as the SL. Actually, the SL2 has new back buttons that closely match the ones on the M10, rather than the unlabeled ones on the SL.

  13. Hi Steve,

    Regarding the IBIS with M lenses, this bothered me as well until I figured out what’s going on. IBIS is by default OFF with my ‘dumb’ Novoflex Adapter and VM 50mm 1.2. If you go into the MENU (TAB 5) > CAMERA SETTINGS > LENS PROFILES > then select a corresponding lens (I chose the 50mm 1.4 ASPH). Once you select a lens profile, then the IBIS is ON and stays on even if you switch between a L-mount lens and the Novoflex adapted M lens. Like you mentioned, this is not easy like the Panasonic S1 that had you chose a focal length as soon as it detected a ‘dumb’ lens/adapter. I hope Leica corrects this with firmware, because as it currently works, the auto corrections for the chosen lens profile are applied to your image even though I just want the IBIS turned on.

    Also, thanks for your reviews of the little Sigma FP – like you, I really like the FP and feel like it compliments perfectly (for compact and Low Light photography) my new SL2.

    Thanks,
    J.B.

    • Thank you!!! I did this and now it works. Will update the article to reflect this. Thank you. I noticed it did work with video, but greyed out in photo. With your and others advice, its great to see it work.

  14. Dear Steve,
    thanks a lot for this article.
    I mostly agree with your statements and bought a mint SL 601 a few weeks ago.
    The second hand market for SL1 collapsed completely and it it possible to get a mint SL 601 nowadays for 2-2.3k Euro.
    The Panasonic and Sigma L-mount lenses add a lot to the user friendliness of the system, both in portability (e.g. the Sigma 45 f2.8) and in not leaving holes on your pocket (a mint second hand 24-105 Panasonic lens L-mount with IOS can be found between 7 and 800 Euro or new for 1100 Euro which is about one fourth of the 24-90 Leica lens).
    Wishing you all a good start into the next decennium

  15. IBIS will work with any lens on the SL2, but there’s a trick. You have to go into the menus (Camera Information > Lens Profiles) and select a lens (if you’re using uncoded M lenses, third-party lenses, or coded M lenses with a third-party M-L adapter). Once you do this, stabilization will be activated if you’ve got it turned on. I presume the reason for this is that the camera needs to know the focal length of the lens to figure out how much stabilization is required to correct shake.

  16. I like my SL. My SL has largely replaced my M10 as my daily camera. I use my SL mostly with the Sigma 45mm f2.8 lens. A nice not-too-heavy combo. I also have the Panasonic 24-105 L mount lens. That lens provides superb digital-looking images (you have to work a little in Photoshop to get a more film-like image). I’m looking forward to the upcoming Panasonic 16-35 f4 L mount lens.
    Too bad you only get to test the SL2 for 5 days. I would be nice to get your opinion on shooting the SL with the Panasonic L mount lenses.
    I will upgrade to the SL2 but I’m going to wait a year or two; I’m in no rush to spend another $6K.

  17. Hey Steve, I was already wondering when the SL2 will arrive to your door. Great article, as always!
    If you want to use the image stabilizer with third party lenses, you have to choose any lens profile, to activate it. Even when applying R lenses, the image stabilizer is not working. You have to choose an R- lens -profile. That’s how you trick the stabilizer.
    To me the SL2 is far better than the SL, although not that great in high iso for your taste, but once the stabilizer is working, it should be a great camera for shootings in clubs at night time with f1.4 primes. Remember the M9 where high ISO really wasn’t that great, but take a look at you photos you have done back then…
    Sure, the original SL still is and will be a great camera, but working with customers that demand more and more for high resolution images, its great. The camera is not as big as a medium format, unbelievable lens choices, handles like a 35mm camera, fast, quiet und not clumsy at all. And- a really big step about that camera is: it is possible to shoot tethered into the computer. As a professional photographer, that really matters…

  18. Hi Steve, I tested the SL2 alongside my SL – see e-mail that I sent you back in November. I was lucky enough to be invited at the first presentation in Paris with Steve McCurry and to have the camera in hand for multiple hours. What I can say is that it works great in all situations I have been able to test, low light performance was as good as the SL at equivalent magnification in my view. I sent you the image comparison between the 2 cameras. Maybe the Sony and Panasonic are also much better than the original SL? What I am not a fan of is that the GPS is gone, now needs to be done via the mobile app, which has been until now not the most reliable tool I have used not to say that it crashed more than I could use it. I was assured that the app has been greatly improved for the SL2… we’ll see. AF is definitely better, EVF is better and I noticed it in low light working with the SL and SL2 alongside, not much in daylight. Anyway a very nice camera, with equally nice native lenses. I know you are not a fan of them because of the size but let me tell you the image quality you get out of them is unbelievable (and it’d better be for the price ;-)). Thanks for the review!.

  19. Hi Steve
    If you use the original leica m adapter the voigtlander and others leica m lenses
    will work the adapter is code.

    regards jakob lautrup DK.

  20. Thank you Steve. Your first impressions confirm the Photons to Photos analysis that has recently become available.

    As a low light shooter (and a vintage lenses user), I will stick to the S1 for situations when every bit of extra ISO matters, and to my SL for everything else (the color science of Leica is still unrivaled, at least for my taste).

    It is too bad that Leica – which has been willing to experiment with unusual camera concepts like the Q, the monochrome and replay screen-less versions of its digital Ms – has not chosen the Panasonic route (two cameras at 24 and 47 MPs). Perhaps the SL market is too small to bifurcate camera offerings, perhaps the low-light shooting community is too small or has committed to other brands. Whatever. I would have loved to have a Leica camera offering, at 51,000 ISO, the color and noise I get at 6400 ISO on the SL. That wish will remain unfulfilled (at least for now).

  21. IBIS will work with any lens (including uncoded M lenses and third party lenses) if you use the menu to select an M lens of identical focal length. The camera just needs to know the focal length of the lens to activate IBIS. I’ve now used the SL2 in a very dark club and gotten excellent results.

    • I’ve had an SL2 for almost a month. Used it for a private theatrical event (and I cannot post pictures from this event) about a week ago, shot using quite variable stage lighting. I let the ISO float, from about 400 to about 6400, with about 25% of the shots in the ISO 2500 to 6400 range. Yes, some of the higher ISO shots have, when viewed 1:1, a slightly detectable pattern of fine grain, if you look REALLY hard. But in no case was the noise anywhere near what was shown in your pics at 2500. I shot with a Panasonic 24-70 F 2.8, at f2.8 -3.5 and mostly 1/200 to freeze the moderate movement of the actors. The pictures are gorgeous–with color, very much as you describe. Of the several hundred shots, none was ruined by noise and, visually,, I can barely tell the low ISO from the high ISO shots–at least not enough to eliminate photos from submission for publication. And for theatrical publication work, the ability to crop is quite important, to isolate individual actors and to give full view to their expressions/character. The SL2 coupled with the Canon R (with the amazingly light and compact new 70-200 R) is my new go-to kit for theatrical events of this type. Perhaps the difference is what we shoot? I don’t shoot dark scenes in pitch-black bars. But stage-lit theatrical shoots have challenging lighting and huge dynamic range issues. Even in the darker portions of the stage, not lit by spotlights, I’m not seeing the noise (at ISOs 2500 – 6400) you captured at ISO 2500. And I’ve shot probably 100 of such frames at the aforementioned event.

      • I shot more with it tonight. As I said in this short write up, I am talking LOW light. As in 1/50th second at ISO 25,600. It’s why I said I could not use an SL2 but for everyone else, it would be great. Also, keep in mind that even with RAW files NR is on. I turn off all NR on all of my cameras so what you see here is without any NR. Thanks.

  22. Is that confirmed that IBIS only works with Leica lenses? I cannot believe this was not mentioned by Leica somewhere. This seems to be an incredible oversight and if true and not fixable via a firmware update it is enough to make me not buy this camera.

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