The Leica SL Typ 601 Camera Review: Leica Gambles Big

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The Leica SL Review: Leica Gambles Big
by Louis Ferreira (http://500px.com/LouisFerreira)

Leica doesn't have many secrets to share depending on how closely you follow LeicaRumors. The Leica SL has been telegraphed since the original measurements of the Leica T mount were proven to be large enough to accommodate a full frame sensor. Since that revelation there has been wild speculation about what Leica might release, but along the way we covered everything of importance about the SL in articles like this, this and this. Therefore, we see almost no down side in working with Leica to develop an early review for readers of LeicaRumors instead of just republishing information that we already leaked months ago. Leica has never been very good at keeping secrets beyond how their cameras and lenses actually perform, which can only be judged first hand.

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I'd like to start off by admitting the SL is most likely not a camera for me. It fails at everything I enjoy doing most with my M and Q. It's a very complicated camera compared to the Leicas I love. It's big, it's heavy and, if I were in the market for one, I would likely buy an S because of these issues as I would at least gain the look of medium format for my sacrifices.

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But... There is greatness brewing. When shooting around base ISO, the glass shines and I can easily see the SL as an amazing studio camera because its very quick when given adequate lighting. It also has the best viewfinder you have ever used outside of medium format cameras, the body and lens are weather sealed, there’s a dual SD card slot, Leica's unmatched industrial design, and a reasonably fast GPS that isn't an after thought.

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Introducing the Leica SL

When I met with Leica they pitched the SL as being a Nikon D4 and Canon 1D competitor, but I do not think that is accurate. The SL, in my experience, doesn't have the low light or auto focus performance to compare. It's also not really fair to compare it to the Sony A7 series beyond them both being mirrorless, interchangeable lens, full frame cameras.

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The SL is something very new and different because it seems that Leica is trying to pack everything people love about mirrorless cameras into one body without compromise. The SL has some really amazing video potential that will be difficult to fully explore without a manual and recent cinematography/videography background. As I am writing this review, I am also  trying to bring my video processing skills up to an acceptable level to deal with the flexibility the Leica SL files provide, and I'm finding the cinematography possibilities more exciting than the photographic ones for the first time ever in a Leica camera.

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The T\TL\SL Mount

It's no secret that the T mount was designed to be full frame friendly and the SL is the first camera to fully utilize the mounts potential. The SL can use all of the current T mount lenses and accessories for adapting third party lenses for the T mount and the T mount is being rebranded as the TL mount. I think the naming convention and vignette issues that might arise from lenses designed for an APS-C sensor are going to be confusing initially, but I am very happy to see them continue to support and grow the T/TL/SL mount. If you run into any issues with T mount lenses on the SL, you can switch the SL into a crop sensor mode that will make it perform like a 10MP T, but I hope that in the future lenses and accessories will be designed to work seamlessly.

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The Glass

The SL is launching with a 24-90mm f/2.8-4 zoom lens that is a monster. In my short time shooting it, I haven't noticed any kind of optical issues, but it's very big and heavy for what I consider to be a slow zoom. I tried street shooting with the SL, but many people noticed the lens and asked me a variety of questions I'm not used to answering. Surprisingly, no one noticed the body or that it was a Leica. I have never had so many uncomfortable conversations with people before, over a camera or lens, and I street shot an S for a few days.

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If you can get past the size of the initial zoom lens, it's a great lens that is pretty quick when there's adequate lighting; but when the available light is limited the lens hunts a bit when zoomed beyond 50mm. This can probably be fixed in firmware, but I found it frustrating at times to be able to lock onto a spot quickly at 24mm or 35mm, and then to miss a shot at 75mm or 90mm because the lens took upwards of 4 seconds to achieve focus lock in low light.

L1010660
If I were to consider owning the SL system today, I would probably adapt lenses for it until the primes hit the market because I think they are going to be the go to glass for Leica photographers. If you're used to zooming with your feet and you want auto focus, the prime lenses will bring the size/weight of the SL down to a very reasonable level. I was able to handle the 35mm 1.4 Summilux in NYC, and it is very nice, but they are still tweaking it like many others.

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Which brings up another issue for me at least, I like my lenses to be tactile and manually zooming/focusing, the SL feels great but there are currently no plans to release any lenses for the SL with aperture rings! This might not disappoint others, but maybe in a few generations the SL will attract more M shooters like me by offering lenses with a more classic design like other manufacturers do. I greatly prefer having an aperture ring and focus scale on every fixed focal length lens I own.

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The Sensor

Leica still isn't disclosing who is making their sensors, but they have confirmed that the SL is very much like the Q internally. In my opinion, the 24MP sensor is a bit dated for a camera of this class. I think it should have been 36MP at least because, while the Q sensor is solid, the pixel density of every screen around me continues to increase and I think camera sensors are going to have to keep up with that reality. High megapixel isn't just about the ability to print big anymore, it is also about viewing pictures at very close distances with high pixel densities.

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Beyond photography, Leica has given the SL all of the tools necessary to produce top notch video if you know how to, but there is a learning curve. The SL has a pretty substantial advantage over the Q in the video department with its proper 4K and internal 8-bit 4:2:0 video and external 10-bit 4:2:2 output in addition to a great default flat profile. I wish Leica would at least patch the flat profile and codec of the SL into the Q if they can't make the Q do 4K, but they have not hinted at any plans to improve the Q's video yet. It would be a great way to introduce Leica users to proper video editing.

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Leica seems to have set up the SL sensor to offer better dynamic range around base ISO, which might have sacrificed some high ISO performance when compared to the Q, because 12,500 ISO is not as usable as it was on the Q. The SL has the potential to be sharper and has greater dynamic range than my M240 at low ISO, but I still would greatly prefer my Q and M240 when walking around a city at night.

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File Quality

The RAW files seem to be just like Q files. They are 14 bit, can be pushed 2-3 stops pretty comfortably, and have plenty of dynamic range. The DNG files are 43MB apiece, which is the same as my Q and almost twice that of my M240 compressed files, which come in around 23MB. Storage really isn't a problem in today's world, but the SL can shoot RAW only, unlike the Q which is appreciated. Now the Q just needs a firmware update.

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The Body

The SL body is milled from a single block of aluminum and is very light. If Leica could get their lens size/weight down, it might become a very light camera system, but at the moment the primes are the only lenses that make the SL a carry around town camera for me. People tend to go mirrorless to get away from a back breaking bag of lenses and I would love to see Leica be the first to design light full frame mirrorless zoom lenses.

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I easily shot 400 pictures on a charge with the SL while using the EVF full time and reviewing select pictures on the back screen. The battery for the SL is great and I love that it uses the same battery locking system as the one on the S. The SL has a slightly larger rear screen than the Q, and it is a touch screen, but I really didn't use it beyond for review and setting up the camera. Setting up the SL is a bit of a chore. If you're a DSLR person that likes getting out the book and learning to tweak every setting, then you're going to love the SL because you have a ton of control over how the camera operates; but for me this spoils some of the Leica simplicity. The SL menus have more in common with a Sony camera than a Leica camera and I dreaded every time I had to dive into them.

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EVF/LCD

Think of the biggest view finder you have ever used on a digital camera and it still would not begin to compare to the viewfinder on the SL. The 4.4MP EVF is monstrous, and very much like using the S. The viewfinder on the S almost made me buy one it is so good; so if a large, high quality viewfinder is important to you then this is your camera. I know many rangefinder and DSLR owners that buy based on the viewfinder, and if you are one of them, you're going to love the SL.

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Video

It took me a while to figure out the video features on the SL and even when I did I wasn't sure what I had until I was able to load it into my computer and color grade it, but when I did I was happy with the results. The SL is arguably Leica's first digital video camera and I could easily see directors pursuing the Leica look with this camera once they have had the time to master what the SL has to offer.

I haven't been big into video in quite some time, but I was tempted to bring my Final Cut Pro license up to date to see how far the SL can be pushed. The SL seems to have all the bells and whistles a serious cinematographer could ask for, but the confusing menu structure makes it difficult to fully exploit the camera’s potential. Maybe in the future I'll be luck enough to review a SL/Summilux-C combo, but there will be a learning curve because I haven't kept up with the video world.

Short Comings

The single biggest issue I have with the SL is its weight with a zoom lens attached. The 24-90mm is massive and Leica needs some lighter options for this camera to be viable for someone like me. The menus also need to be greatly simplified to be more intuitive so that anyone can pick the SL up and use it for photos/video. Finally, I wish they included a higher resolution sensor because a 24MP sensor is not going to do newly designed Leica glass justice. Nikon and Canon only recommend specific lenses for their highest resolution sensors and I would really like to see if Leica glass continues to perform with 50MP sensors and beyond.

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The Future

The SL has potential as the system ages, and Leica is known for standing behind their mounts and having the best glass on the market. Therefore, I think the SL is a safe investment when it comes to building a glass collection, but I think future generation SL bodies are going to be the ones to blow our minds. As of right now, the SL is just a system that refuses to make compromises, and that has made it seemingly less than impressive in some areas. The lack of aggressively supporting the Q makes me worried that we will only see this system grow through hardware revisions, and that's not the best way to pursue autofocus based mirrorless systems.

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To Buy or Not to Buy

At the end of my 4 days with the SL I still felt there was more to discover about the camera because of the overly complicated menus, but this is not a camera designed for me. In many ways the SL screams Leica, and those are all the ways I want to love it, but it's largely designed for a photographer that I do not understand no matter how hard I try.

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In my opinion, this camera is for studio photographers and videographers, until the prime lens selection gets flesh out, unless you are a diehard DSLR fan that's ready to jump ship and go mirrorless. The Sony A7 is a very impressive camera, but they have done nothing to address the throw away nature of their product. Unfortunately, Sony seems more interested in selling sensors to other manufactures than trying to build up their brand among serious photographers. Leica might be positioned to capture the few professionals ready to go full frame mirrorless, but I wish they were competing in the price department a little more.

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Video samples:

The Leica SL Typ 601 camera is now available for pre-order at Adorama and B&H.

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  • What, precisely, dafuk?

    I agree with Mr. Ferriera when he says, ‘it’s largely designed for a photographer that I do not understand no matter how hard I try.’

  • KiAAA

    24 MP is more than enough for most applications. Almost no one has a monitor that is capable of displaying even a fraction of that. A 5k Mac Retina display can only show 15 MP. Unless you plan to greatly enlarge crops, most of those megapixels are going to be removed by the display software. The ever-increasing number of megapixels in digital cameras is a marketing ploy.

    • So what about 8k and 16k displays? I’m sorry, but pixel density is finally starting to become a selling point and while 4K is only just starting to become affordable there are 8k displays on the horizon and I do not think they will stop anytime soon. I can easily envision having a wall sized 16-32k display in my home 5-10 years from now and I would love my photos to continue to remain useful when that time comes. I have digital photos going all the way back to 320×240 pixel sensors in the 90s and those photos are pretty much useless today.

      • KiAAA

        Who knows what the future will bring, but today, even 24 MP is overkill for the vast majority of photographers who will never see half that many on either a monitor or a print. Even if you had a wall-sized monitor that could display all 24 or 36 MP, you would presumably have to step back about 20 ft to really see the image rather than the pixels. More megapixels does not make for a better image for most photographers. If you plan to display your work in Times Square on a massive screen, then maybe they’re needed. Even then, maybe not.

        • I worked in tech for most of my life. What is coming is pretty obvious. 25 years ago you were lucky to find a 19 inch TV in most homes, but now people have 40-50 inch screens. In another 10 years people will likely be in the 100 inch range and/or have high resolution VR rigs. These will require massive amounts of resolution because consumers will no longer be happy watching a pretty picture 20 feet away. Part of the wow factor of 50 inch 4k TV is the ability to stand practically on top of the TV and be blow away by the picture. Technologist are changing what the general public deems an acceptable level of resolution and it started with the retina display.

      • I have 6 megapixel prints that are still gorgeous today, too. I wouldn’t worry too much about whether a camera has 24 or 36 or 42 megapixels. Unless you are the next Ansel Adams or Annie Leibovitz, nobody is going to “need” your photos in in 32K resolution in 10 years, not even your own kids. They’ll be happy to look at your photos on their iPhones and iPads, and maybe, just maybe, if a 32K display is invented and affordable in 10 years, upscaling from 24 megapixels will look just fine.

        • sickheadache

          Ansel Adams Used Film. Try Again. Annie Uses Hassies.

          • SomeoneNotImportant

            She uses all sorts of cameras. Including Canon.
            The editorial stuff for Variety is mostly done with an H4-D.

          • Um, that’s a bit of a non-sequitur, but I see why you’re going there…
            Re-read what I wrote, and forget about camera brands for a second:

            Unless you’re the next world-famous photographer, nobody is going to care about having your images in 32K resolution 10 years from now.

            Just my jaded opinion, of course.

      • Marcelo Tezza

        What i can see is using Virtual Reality Glasses to see photos at 1:1 size would be really cool indeed. For me 24 MP is a mark for Full Frames as 16MP is a mark for APS-C.
        More than 24MP on a Full Frame seems more for especial reasons, mostly because any vibration starts to show and restrict the the freedom and creativity. The need for tripods adds an extra weight and the decision of puting 11 fps seems directed to a more run and gun kind of photographer.

      • DouglasGottlieb

        For the price, this camera should have been a mirrorless medium format with 50mp.

        That would have set the world on fire.

        • SomeoneNotImportant

          I totally agree.
          i cannot imagine swapping out batteries after 400 shots. that is another huge drawback for me professionally.

        • Actually I said the same thing to Louis few days ago 🙂

        • storm17

          Then what’s the point of the S?

      • Roberto Solari

        Those monitors are years away and we haven’t even got 4k Blu Ray yet,By the time 4k is fully established there will be another version or two of this camera.

        • I guess the point is that when those monitors come, you can see also old picture that you took in full res.

          • Roberto Solari

            Its a valid point but no point in thinking too much about it now.Camera tech is moving so fast we’ll see 120mp by then,another issue is that with such small pixels (8k or 16K on a 32″ monitor I think editing will be difficult,already on a retina MBP you have to zoom in a lot to pick up the fine detail.

          • That’s my point though. Everyone else’s tech is accelerating at the moment. It’s a bad time to realease a professional camera with last generations resolution standard. If the SL is truly a pro body than it should not be updated for 3 years.

            Eg when I owned my M9 the D800 came out and I almost switched to Nikon because it was a resolution/dynamic range monster, but I stuck it out for the new M240 and Leica struck a nice balance at the time. The SL should be a generation better than the M240, but it does not feel that way at all. Especially 800-3200 ISO, but below and above the SL has an advantage.

            As for editing, I’ve noticed that I prefer large traditional lower pixel density displays for editing photos over retina screens, but I greatly prefer viewing the finished product on a retina or better screen. It’s probably an issue with Adobe and Mac OS over it being harder, but it should get better with time.

          • Roberto Solari

            I agree with most of your points but if they went with a 50mp sensor then the 11fps wouldn’t be possible,also they are restricted by sensor manufacture,they rely on STi/Cmosis and they don’t offer anything with less then 6micron pixel pitch right now.(I just bought an S 007 and am happy with the sensor so far).

    • sickheadache

      The reviewer said it needed 36mp. For the price, it should of had 40-50mp. 24mp you can find in Nikon’s entry level cameras. And Leica Rumors Guy..Peter..is right. This is not for me and 95% DSLR users..it is for Leica People. But I will test drive this new SL soon. lol

      • I’ve said it before many times – Leica has no problem new selling gear to Leica fans/existing Leica owners, their problem is getting new customers.

      • I picked 36MP over the 40-50MP sensors coming out because I think 6400 ISO needs to be very clean and usable on a modern camera. I haven’t been impressed by what I’m seeing out of the 40-50MP sensors in the noise department.

      • David Jewels

        40-50mp does NOT make a camera better, regardless of how high the price may be. Just look at the flop called the Canon 5D SR. So, with that being said, higher megapixels is not necessarily a requirement if the camera price is high, because other factors may be responsible in justifying the steep price……like the Leica name!!!

  • Is there 4K video in crop mode? Because 24MP is ideal for that, something that a 36MP wouldn’t. I will wait for more reviews on the video side, having differences and advantages in FF 4K and Super35 4K can be huge for video flexibility.

    • The video is very flexible, but I wasn’t provided with a manual and the lack of clarity in the menus made it difficult to optimize, but the camera does appear to crop a bit, but it might be adjustable like other cameras. I wasn’t comfortable making a statement on it beyond recognizing the flatness and malubility of the video files. I have attached a few movies edited in iMovie that I’m going to have a friend reedit now that I’m out from under NDA if he’s interested.

      • I saw the specs now, it has Panasonic’s V-log L, the same as the video-oriented GH4, so I guess Leica and Panasonic is going for that. I’ll look up some more to find out about the Super35 4K, that can be pretty interesting, eve more if they can pack some faster readout for that mode, it would diminish the rolling shutter.

        The sensor is probably made by that TowerJazz that is partially owned by Panasonic – same as the Q. It’s a good sensor but unfortunately Panasonic can’t keep up with Sony’s as they are already implementing things like stacked design, copper wiring, etc. But sure, in the end, that’s not the most important thing but this seems to be quite interesting, even more coming from Leica, they have been rpetty bold lately and I like that.

        Thanks for the reply!

  • Simply put, Leica is making cameras for Leica lovers. Even then, they (Leica) may be losing touch with some of them (Leica lovers) based on the apparent complexity of features and functions of this camera, compared to other Leicas even. (According to this review)

    If you’re even remotely comparing this camera against, say, a Nikon D750 or Sony A7 mk2, simply because they all have 24 MP full-frame sensors, …then you’re not even in the right building.

    If you need insane, voodoo-like autofocus performance, get a flagship Canon / Nikon.

    If you need crazy bells and whistles, get a Sony 7-series.

    If you need absurd dynamic range and overall jaw-dropping image quality, then get a Nikon D810 or Sony A7R II.

    The bottom line is, this Leica is only for you if a desire to own it is already innately in the core of your being, and if you have tons of money to spend on a camera that is not just a tool but also a statement of luxury. Which is, myself included, not a lot of people. So, carry on. 😉

    • jmb2560

      agree… and they are a lot of people with a lot of money always looking for a new fashion statement. This will sell well in Shanghai, Palo Alto and Moscow. It will take nice images of a new Bentayga.
      At this price (unless I’m wrong), it does not even include VR (useful when you shoot in winter in Russia).

      • Chito

        All lenses have 3 stop OIS.. I read in another review that it degrades IQ a bit though, so bummer.

    • Chito

      I really wish the A7 series cameras were better with M lenses..

  • DouglasGottlieb

    I thought Louis Ferriera’s review was very honest and well balanced.

    For me, however, the big story here isn’t so much about the technology, the user experience, the build quality, the IQ, the specs or even the radically different approach of Leica making an autofocus, modern mirrorless camera. That’s all besides the point. Interesting? Yes. Important information? Sure. But not what REALLY matters.

    The big story is not what Leica did right. Or what this system will ultimately become. Because none of that will matter. Ever. What they missed is something far greater. They missed an opportunity to reenter the photography business by once again making a tool that ALL knowing photographers would want and be able to someday own.

    Instead, they opted to stay in the service of the rich. Are some of the rich great photographers? Sure. But working pros and enthusiasts could once afford Leicas.

    The future Gildens, Franks, Meyerowitz, Erwitts and Davidsons of the world won’t be growing up with Leicas. And that’s a pity.

    And much as I’d love to be documenting my life and family with a Leica, I won’t be doing so either.

    So I’m glad that Leica lives on in some form. And am grateful that Dr Kauffman and team have managed to right the ship. I’m sure they know what’s best for their business.

    But what a shame that so few of the people who would appreciate it most will ever get to own one.

    • I think Leica’s point is that M users usually have a DSLR camera as well. They want to replace this DSLR with a SL. This is the problem with Leica – they can sell Leica cameras to Leica fans, but they have hard time gaining other customers. Just my opinion.

      • DouglasGottlieb

        Sounds very plausible. I’m sure most M customers have no problem owning whatever they want.

        But even Mercedes offers a C class that’s no less of a Mercedes. And it isn’t a Honda rebadge.

        There’s a market here that Leica should recognize. All the SL is going to do is sell Fuji’s and Sonys.

        • DouglasGottlieb

          Just look at the Sony rumors site: almost 500 comments about this camera. 500!

          Leica would sell a lot of these if it could put them within reach of more people.

      • sickheadache

        When I was in San Fran…I went to their store. No one was in the store, but Sales People. I have used a M before..and I like…but not loved it, to pry open my bank account. And the new SL will not move me either..it truly looks like a larger Sony A7rll.

        • The Q is a really nice camera – just my personal opinion (I like the RX1 as well).

      • Bo Dez

        Not really, I dumped Canon for Leica years back and couldn’t be happier. Even happier now because this camera is much easier to get into, already being in the ecosystem.

    • DouglasGottlieb

      The M is in a class all of its own. It does not need or care to compete on specs or price or availability.

      But this camera? It doesn’t just invite comparison. The price tag demands it. A modern, high tech camera with a price that’s double that of the best Sony, Canon and Nikon, or even Samsung can offer? All the heritage in the world doesn’t matter in that arena. Bragging about contrast focus points? Let’s see how that stacks up against PDAF DSLRs in low light or subject tracking. Legendary Leica glass? Canon and Sony-Zeiss hold up at 36, 42 and 50+ megapixels. Why is this only 24?

      Unlike the M, this is no longer in a class by itself. There’s no warm, nostalgic glow. It needs to be 2x better than a Sony A7Rii, or 3x better than a Canon 5Dm3.

      Good luck with that. I hope it is. Color me skeptical.

      • Les

        I agree. If price and features are your main concern, then Leica is not for you. Not now, not in the past, not in the foreseeable future. This camera continues in the Leica tradition, no surprise.

        That being said, comparing this camera to a cheap Sony with a tiny battery, an infernal interface, and very marginal build quality is pointless. Some people will say “I can get more pixels for less money” and others will say “I can trust this camera in all sorts of situations.” If you are producing pixels, the choice is obvious. If you are producing pictures, it may be obvious too.

        • True it is the first useable full frame mirrorless camera, but it should have been so much more for the price. Sony has shown us time and time again what can be done with their sensors, but there cameras are just tech demos or worse toys.

        • DouglasGottlieb

          “If you are producing pixels, the choice is obvious. If you are producing pictures, it may be obvious too.”

          What does that even mean? It sounds like what someone who doesn’t have to think about cost might say.

          A frequent response in defense of Leica price is “for those who really care about the difference.” And who are “making meaningful photos, not shooting charts and reading specs.”

          BS

          Design, build, ergonomics, UI all matter. And factor into cost-benefit analysis.

          But demanding that Leica be measured on all inputs doesn’t make someone a pixel pusher. It indicates someone buying on facts, not status

          • Les

            What does it mean? It means that megapixels are only one factor in image quality. Above a certain threshold, they aren’t even a key factor. If you don’t print stuff a meter wide (and view at less than arm’s length), you won’t get much benefit “upgrading” from 24 to 36 megapixels.
            If you do make huge prints, you should seriously consider a medium format solution.

            This camera is expensive if you are building an all-new system. If you already have M and/or R lenses, then it’s a bargain because it’s the only serious game in town. Sure, it costs twice as much as a Sony, but it will probably last twice as long and retain more of its value. 9 year old M8s sell for more than 1 year old Sonys at Keh.

          • It’s definitely going to retain value, but for the price it should be excellent in every way. It’s about 70% of the way there. I have been reading other reviews and they have pointed out things that I did not think too, because I primarily shoot full manual. Like the exposure doesn’t adjust fast enough for rapidly changing light conditions.

            I am a big fan of dense pixel displays and I see the technology behind them booming. I photograph my family a lot with my M and I have owned various Fuji, Sony, etc… off and on to shoot distance. I’m also more likely to hang a 70 inch 8k+ tv to display several photos on a wall than have a ton of big prints all around my home, but the tech and price isn’t there yet. I simply don’t want my photos to become obsolete as I age. I expect to live at least another 50+ years and I want to be able to enjoy my digital photos the same way people can continue to enjoy their analog ones going forward.

          • Andrew Gemmell

            “…..and retain more of its value.” M iterations yes….this not so sure. I think it will lose it’s value than the world of M’s

      • David Jewels

        I’ts 24 megapixels because it shoots 11fps. It would not be able to shoot 11fps if it was higher.

  • Chito

    The 601 does 11 fps.. but only with fixed exposure and focus.. So…. definitely not at the level of the 1D and D4s …. With AF and AE on, it’s closer to 6 fps…

  • sickheadache

    Truly This Over Priced Camera and Over Priced Lenses are for the Leica Guy who has no clue. That Leica Guy will buy this camera simply because it will look good around his neck, though heavily. For that price…it does not have enough dynamic MP for me to crack open my pocket book. Oh I feel a Sick Headache Coming on…Leica No. Your going into the wrong direction.

    • Bo Dez

      ok, bye bye then.

    • I don’t really think the camera looks good around your neck the way a M does. They are definitely targeting some kind of photographer. I’m just not sure who… The camera really shines around base ISO and man this would be a killer system if it were priced to compete with the 5Dm3 and D800, but not the D4 and 1D. The D4 and 1D are really specialized for sports and even in those rolls the other bodies are starting to be good enough to replace them.

  • TheInconvenientRuth

    I honestly would’ve been more excited about the type M bayonet selfie-stick I predicted last week…

    • Think about the potential! Set the manual focus lens to the “selfie stick” mark and shoot away! Perfect shot every time!

  • TheInconvenientRuth

    @Louis Ferreira Thanks for the Prereview, interesting to read. One question though, what about the ergonomics? The body looks very stark, harsh, uncomfortable. What is it like to hold, is it comfortable, are the dials and buttons in the right spots? I’ve used the S2 a few times and although it is bi and heavy, it’s pretty comfortable to work with, but this LOOKS like the exact opposite, so how does it FEEL?

    • It’s comfortable to use if weight isn’t a factor for you, but it is definitely a two hand camera. I think Leica needs to solicit more feed back from people that use there products when they design cameras like this. The buttons all operated how you would expect them too, but when you dive into menus with them you end up spending way too much time there.

      • TheInconvenientRuth

        I’m fine with weight, I use a D4s with 2.8/24-70 and 2.8/70-200 daily for work, but most Nikon bodies are very comfortable to hold for long periods of time, the gripa are ergonomically well designed. With this Leica my point of concern would be the bottom right of the body, which will push into your palm especially with that 2.8 zoom on it. This is one of the reasons I added the MB-D12 to the D810, you don’t get a ‘pressure point’ there.

        • I carried it for 4 days shooting pretty much all day and night without an issue. It didn’t even really hurt my back or arm, but the extra weight made me uncomfortable.

  • pl capeli

    the advantage of mirrorless evaporates here …….this beast is so much bigger than it needs to be
    – it seems a trend in mirrorless witness the gx8

  • MJr

    I just got the Leica gambles ‘big’ pun .. 😀

  • sickheadache

    Lori from CNET reviewed the Leica SL and said it was not very comfortable in her hand. She said that for $7500 a camera should feel much better in her hand.http://www.cnet.com/products/leica-sl/

    • I could see how someone with smaller hands than me might not find it comfortable. It was a little awkward to carry around how I like carrying a camera, but it was fine for shooting.

  • Roelv1

    As a pro I’d like to say a lot of things about this new SL, but Thomas Stanworth already wrote a very good opinion on it in the Photofundamentalist which I couldn’t agree more with.

    • I’m pretty sure I read his (non hands on) analysis and if I remember correctly he’s not buying. He also said M shooters were bashing it etc… I am a M shooter, but I’ve also owned every desirable mirrorless camera back to the GF1.

      With the M8/M9 you really had to have a second camera, but with the M240 I have only bought new systems to keep up with the tech. I like to know what’s out there and people tend to ask me for purchasing advice. Outside of Leica I enjoy shooting Fuji because of the manual controls and I enjoy the tech loaded Sony cameras and size/speed of Panasonic/Olympus, but Canon/Nikon are pretty much dead to me because beyond their sensors they a pushing outdated technology. Ricoh GR is a tech achievement, cant forget how Samsung keeps trying, but everyone ignores them… I could go on and on about the cameras that I have used and loved/hated, but this is a Leica page and I expect Leica to make products that get out of your way when taking photos. The M is never in my way, but I always felt something could be tweaked in a menu somewhere on the SL to get better results.

      People make amazing photos with far less than the SL everyday. So what can you create with the SL that you couldn’t any other camera. In my mind the video possibilities are where the SL will shine. It’s much smaller than other similar quality options and could lead to creative shooting. The M has always been a great non intrusive camera that allows you to capture people without them looking and the Q is even better at that, plus it lets you do high speed sync. Now if the SL came out with a line of lenses that had leaf shutters in them I’d be jumping for joy, but it’s not happening according to Leica you have to buy a S to get that kind of capability.

      • Roelv1

        The whole point is that Leica is no longer attractive for professionals. The M is a fine camera but too slow for a lot of work, even for street. If there’s quick action, or in case you want for example to isolate persons walking in your direction with a 90 mm on f 4,0, the M is not the camera. Systems like the T are far behind what others can do. On the point of lens quality one can say that the difference between Leica and the competition is no longer that big. Personally I bought a Voigtlander 21 1,8 and that lens is really great. Reviewers write that it is almost equal to the summilux 21 1,4 and in some aspects even better. But that summilux is sixth times the price of the VM! Leica thinks that with the SL they have something pros would like to have. Why should we? There is so much on the market that is good enough or better while it do cost much, much less than the overpriced Leica stuff. Leica has become luxury. Cult. A myth that persons like Thorston Overgaard like to keep alive with silly sentences like: repeat after me: Leica is great. No, Leica was great. Once. In the digital era they just cannot keep it up and what they bring is far too expensive. It has become a snobbish brand for the rich and the SL won’t change that. Alas!

        • The M is definitely fast enough for street, but it takes a ton of practice. A properly calibrated range finder will let you track people in motion at 0.95, but it takes skill. For me it depends how your mind works. I find regular view finders too restrictive when it comes to framing and I am not a fan of cropping. The only camera that has made a great compromise of auto focus and rangefinder shooting is the Fuji X100, but they really need to update the camera more substantially.

          • Roelv1

            Professionally I worked 30 years day after day with M cameras and I am very, very fast with them. Still there are street situation where the M is too slow as it is for a lot of press work. That is in our days.

          • I have been shooting an M since I started shooting 35mm film so pretty close to 30 years, but I was lazy about shooting when I was younger and preferred dslr type cameras for a long time.

            There have been plenty of auto focus head to head comparisons with range finders over the years and sometimes the rf is faster. I personally have never found a camera faster than I am with a 50lux with a focus tab, which is why I only use autofocus cameras when I need to have a hand free. Auto focus just isn’t intelligent enough to deal with the randomness of motion I tend to run into when shooting street.

            If it’s slower for you then it’s slower. The only time I regret shooting range finder is in light levels too low to operate the range finder.

          • Roelv1

            Sorry, but I think you miss the point. Do try to focus with a 90 set on 2,8 or 4,0, on people walking fast in your direction. Oh well, what am I talking…I know a lot of press photographers who worked a long time with M cameras but exchanged them for AF systems. The M is just not the camera for action. If you disagree than you don’t know what you’re talking about.

          • I have used a 90mm and I am not a fan of that focal length, but I do not imagine it’s much harder than a 50mm 0.95. There are lots of reasons for press photographers to exchange their M for autofocus cameras, but most of them aren’t because of focus. Eg when shooting the Olympics you need a camera that shoots usable JPG and can be connected to a remote editing room. Canon/Nikon have this market locked up. Now of course I am going to have to 100% agree with you beyond 90mm because Leica really doesn’t have anything useable beyond that. The 135mm is ok, but not really great for print.

          • Roelv1

            I am a press photographer. Focus was the big issue amongst colleagues. Again: the M is not the camera for action. 50 at 0,95 when there’s action? Don’t make yourself ridiculous.

          • https://500px.com/photo/8902203

            .95 biking at angles through the people and nailed him. Have hundreds with my daughter running around the back yard the following day at .95 all in good to perfect focus.

          • Roelv1

            The example shows that you have no idea what press photography is and that you do not know what you are talking about. I’m soory but that is what it is.

  • Elias Hardt

    I’m going to need some sample DNGs before I can make the call either way. To each his own, and experience is the only way to know.

  • judging only by presented photos, this camera’s price can’t more that $600-700.

  • john lee

    I have no issues with the ergonomics or the look of the camera. I do think that this camera should have beneath the 36 MP range.

    Maybe this is anathema, but I think if sigma would adapt their Art lenses to this mount. It would be a huge boon to this camera. It would increase the flexibility of the system substantially. It would it take any business away from leica’s lens business.

    Just my opinion.

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