The Leica SL2S with a $280 JEWEL of a Lens!
By Steve Huff
STILL MY PERFECT CAMERA (well, as of August 2023 this has changed, see my NEW camera)
For me the Leica SL2S is still MY perfect camera in 2023 and it will be for many years to come just as it has been for the last few years. It has been my main camera since it was released and before that? It was the original SL from 2015 that I adored for its color, IQ and feel.
In fact, if I had the extra cash I would buy an OG SL today to have on hand as a 2nd body because that sensor, while not as good in low light or in many other areas, was superior in color and rendering even to the SL2S in good light. That’s my opinion of course but on the flip side the SL2S is a much more mature body and is without question the better camera.
I have reviewed the SL2S here and on YouTube over two years ago. I still love it as much today as I did on day one, actually probably more. I even updated mine to the new Reporter edition as I love the green color. It matches my surroundings out here in the remote woods where we have lived since 2020!
A new 2023 video on the SL2S and the ten reasons why I still love it today!
These days I like my menus lean, my cameras simple and an experience that is hassle free.
For me and the foreseeable future, it’s the SL2S and some pretty cool small lenses that do not cost a fortune.
The cost of the SL2S
This is a lens review, and we are almost there I promise! Before we get there I want to touch on something I have seen some talk about. I keep hearing that the Leica SL2S (which you can find for under $5k) is just too darn expensive. I have the opposite feeling on this. Yes, it is an expensive camera and in my world it is VERY costly but in reality it has saved me thousands of dollars. How so?
Well, the SL2S has been the first (well, second) camera EVER that I am 100% happy with for the long haul. It wasn’t a camera I tired of, grew bored of or wanted to switch out for something new. THAT is huge. I haven’t spent money on a camera in a long while (I did upgrade to the Reporter Edition but at a minimal cost once the standard SL2S was sold..hundreds not thousands) and have stayed completely happy with the SL2S.
These simple pages were test shots with the $280 TT Artisans 28 f/5.6 which is a copy of the Leica 28 Summary (and a great one at that). Second one is at ISO 6400 to show you can shoot it indoors even with an f/5.6 aperture. The SL2S is a stunner in low light.
Some ask why I did not go for the larger megapixel SL2. Well, I am personally not a fan of the sensor in the SL2 for my own personal tastes. Too noisy at higher ISO’s and I am not a resolution hound. For me, 24MP is still the sweet spot so the “S” is the one for me. Heck, I used to love the OG Sony A7S and. that was what, 12MP? I like fat pixels I guess.
Debby with the TT Artisans 28 5.6 on the SL2S. Click for larger.
Owing the cameras I really enjoy means I have not been doing the constant upgrade game, losing money on buying and then selling a camera just to get the latest and greatest.
The reasons I enjoy the SL2S? The fantastic low light capability, the color rendering, the build and design, the feel, the easy menus, the EVF, the controls, how versatile it is with a variety of lenses and the video footage is special when it comes to color. Some compare it to Arri Alexa in color and vibe.
For me the SL2S feels like a true extension of my hand, and no, it’s not too heavy for me as I use only light lenses. I have AF lenses from Sigma that are small and M lenses that are manual, and tiny. The lens I will be discussing today is super tiny, jewel like and gorgeous. In fact, it’s hard to believe I paid only $288 for it. It’s not one of those cheap feeling wobbly lenses one normally gets in this price range. It’s solid, smooth, silky and there are no quality issues with the build. It’s fantastic.
The 28 f/5.6 from TT artisans provides a smooth vintage and modern kind of look.
OK… let’s talk about this jewel of a lens.
Many years ago I reviewed the Leica version of this lens. I loved it then but couldn’t swallow the over $3k price tag for a lens I would not use often. Over the years I would on occasion go back to some files I shot with that Summaron lens and I really felt the color and rendering were gorgeous. I am not usually a fan of lenses like this as I normally like fast aperture glass. This one though, well, is different. It’s got more mojo than most modern day 28mm lenses.
My review of the Leica version can be seen HERE. The images there have more snap and pop but it was a different time, different light, different camera and plenty of evening sunlight. The TT Artisans version is a touch more romantic and maybe 95% of that Leica. Even the build is fantastic and feels solid. It is jewel like and at this price, this is rare to find.
One could buy 10 0f these for the price of one of the Leica version. The Leica may give you something extra, but they are razor close in rendering and feel in the hand.
When I saw that TT Artisans created a version or copy of the Leica 28 Summaron and it looked so similar I was intrigued. I found the gold/brass version on PopFlash.com for $288 and bought it instantly. I expected to be let down in build and performance but at $288 I had to give it a shot.
When it arrived I slapped it on the SL2S with the M adapter and shot a few frames. I saw the same character as the Leica and while it may not be quite as all out sharp as the Leica I was blown away by the rendering and color for what this lens cost. The build and feel are also beautiful, solid and silky. The lens comes with a nice metal hood just like the Leica version and also includes brass caps for the bottom and top. It also ships with a pretty snazzy display box (sort of like Leica). The presentation is lovely and costs $2700 less.
Click images for larger versions
This lens, just like the Leica version is small, tiny and so sexy looking. It comes in black, chrome and gold. I chose the gold for some reason but I think it looks amazing on the Reporter SL2S.
It’s the best TT Artisans lens I have ever tried out and the least expensive. What we pay for in those modern expensive lenses is sharpness, lack of flare and distortions, and a rendering that is more aimed at perfection that character. I have always preferred character over modern day lenses that can look sterile.
THIS IS A NO BRAINER!
It’s a NO BRAINER if you want a lens with a rendering that is sort of vintage and sort of modern. It has a lovely draw and while it can flare on you, those flares can be used in an artistic way. I just adore this lens and even if I use it a few times per year it will be well worth the $288 investment. It will not wow you with big Bokeh but rather in the way it just draws the scene, if your lighting is right.
The 28 f/5.6 from TT Artisans is a lovely lens with the SL series. Here is a monochrome shot of my son Brandon
The images I shared here are all basically snapshots. Nothing professional or serious but lets face it. Most of us who shoot with Leica and these kind of lenses are doing it for the fun, the passion and well, because we love photography. I stopped shooting pro years ago and these days shoot just for the fun and pleasure of it. To create memories from blocks of my life. Today I have tens of thousands of images from when before my son was born to today. He is now 27. How time flies but I have images to pass down to him that documented much of his life. To me, that is what photography is all about.
If you have been looking for a lens for your Leica M or SL that is small, well made, affordable, beautiful and renders in a unique way you may want to take a look at this 28 5.6 from TT Artisans. It’s a copy of a Leica lens that sells for $3095. You can see the Leica version HERE.
Well, this is not a low light lens, so I reserve this for well lit days. But this is not really a con as this is how the lens was designed. With a modern sensor that does well in low light, I will argue that you can use it for inside shots of family, to make memories. To be honest there ARE NO CONS with this lens at this price. The con of the Leica version is the price but then again, it’s a Leica. Either way both are unique and beautiful lenses. Be aware though, this is a tiny lens and it’s not a bokeh kind of lens!
ON THE NIKON Z9? EVEN BETTER!!
Click images for larger. The Nikon Z9 does fantastic (Better) with this lens.
WHERE TO BUY?