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Wednesday, 11 November 2015


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Picture yourself owning a new Leica.

I'm not sure there's much to compare between the SL and the 645Z aside from system price. The 645D is a bigger, 51MP camera for slower, more deliberate photography, while the SL advertises its fast AF and 11fps frame rate. Basically, I would hope that for anyone looking to spend $10K to $20K or more on a system, the choice between those two would be dead straightforward, based on how/what they shoot.

The A7 series are probably more of a toss up; I could see people wanting the Leica, but settling for one of the Sonys. IBIS, choice of sensors, price and lens lineup are pretty compelling advantages. Especially price.

I think the SL isn't for the dyed in the wool Leicaphile, but for the people who always wanted to be Leicaphiles, but didn't really want a rangefinder.

Folks, I don't know about you, but the last generation of Sony products: namely the A7 and the Nex-7 still serve my imaging needs well.

Sadly, Leica has become a purveyor of Veblen goods (check out this latest offering), I used to admire this company but not anymore. On the other hand, Sony has become a leading innovator in imaging and in partnership with Zeiss offer a good selection of superb optics.

Clearly, the SL is just for the Leicaphiles at present. All of your excellent points aside, the lens option(s) and slow-meets-nonexistent lens roadmap mean that at the moment the camera isn't honestly trying to compete with anything as an actual purchase decision.

The main problem with the Pentax is the lenses. Some are good, others not so. If you can make do with what's available, it should be great, even if it's rather on the chunky side.

That said, the Leica is a bit on the chunky side as well, and it certainly is pricey, but lens availability is better in some ways. Not AF, but readily adaptable great lenses.

The Sony (which I have) produces marvellous files, is small and less expensive than the others. It doesn't play as well with some lenses I and others would like to use with it, but many lenses are adaptable. Native lenses are still a work in progress. IBIS is good, but hardly in Olympus' class. Menus and controls are from the salt shaker school: sprinkle liberally all over. What is particularly annoying is that changing one setting can often affect others without any warning. Ergonomics and UI are rather on the pathetic side. Also, everything is slooooow. Sony saved lots of money on processing power as well as battery capacity.

Don't look at me. I'm long sold on the Sony A7 series. I don't get the SL at all. Not at all.

There is a sub-party line that is worth considering. The SL provides a platform on which a lost generation of superb Leica R lenses finally get to show what they can do. There's extensive discussion of this at Leica User Forum (with moderate signal to noise ratio) and pictures at GetDPI.com


The Leica SL may not have a stabilised sensor, and be many million pixels shy of the Sony A7RII and the Pentax 645Z, but "it is offering professionals the "new Leica experience" ". That's gotta be worth a few grand.

I own the A7R II and it's great in the main except for all those damn buttons everywhere, unfortunately necessary! So ergonomics only so-so. I desire the Pentax but it's too extravagant for me as a hobbyist. Great imagery and ergonomics though. I agree with you on the SL. It's a fine turkey, but a turkey nonetheless. Now the Leica Q is another matter altogether. Almost perfect!

If you are earning your money with your camera, and are making a decent living, you should buy the best you can afford with the money you are allocating from your gross. Whether or not this is a Leica at all is the question. I put Leica out of my mind years ago, when the cost vs. income got prohibitive, and the lenses were testing out not as well as what I was using with my Nikon. No one can fault them for construction tho, everything they make is beautifully done, altho not always the most logical function.

I just looked at Hasselblad prices the other day, and was floored that some of their lenses have crept into the 4000-5000 range! Also not affordable for most of us, even those of us working on high end stuff (which is not me, btw). A pal that bought Hasselblad for his multi-photographer retail ad department told me you'd be surprised how many times he has to send them in for repair too, mostly the mechanicals of the lenses.

Have to say, this leaves the Pentax as the way to go. The old body is down to 3700 at B&H, and there are still a lot of us that think the CCD has a better image than the CMOS., especially at "studio asa's". I used to think, "...hey, can you even see the difference between a FF sensor and the now tiny 120 camera based sensor of 33X44?", but when I did the math, It was still 40% larger than FF. Most of the Pentax lenses I would want are sub-2K in cost, and many sub-1.5K

Hard-headed? Hard not to pick Pentax...

Still, if your main work is imaging for publications or web-sites, it's hard not to think of anything over APS-C 24 megapixel as overkill!

If you are assembling any kind of kit Pentax lenses are going to be much cheaper than Leica and they are all shipping right now.

I have no foot in either camp just yet, but the advantages of the SL over the A7RII that I've managed to glean so far are:
Better viewfinder; faster, more responsive in everything; better build quality and professional level weather-proofing; top of body and easily visible LCD; much better ergonomics and menus; Better functionality and IQ with M lenses; better functionality with R lenses; complete functionality with cine lenses; better balance with long lenses; a very well functioning joystick for fast access to focus points; a touchscreen, and no doubt a few other things I've missed.

Of course this has to balanced with the numerous advantages of the smaller and cheaper A7RII, and the initial lack of auto-focus lenses for the Leica. However, viewfinder, handling and speed seem to be the three important advantages of the Leica.

[I detect some powerful rationalizing going on here! But power to you; get what you want. --Mike]

The SL is just too precious. It is an objet d'art that so happens to take nice photos. Sure, the lenses are world-class. But, I am getting along fine with the Olys. Yesterday I saw an item about Leica announcing the "0.95 Collection" of high-end baubles: lighters, fountain pens, key chains. ... Oy vei, I say.

If the cost or scarcity of lenses forces people to pick only one or two primes to shoot with, most people will make better photos. And even with a svelte mirrorless body, all of those lenses are the real burden.

For a very reasonable cost you can get a top quality, nearly perfected Canon or Nikon DSLR and attach a compact 35-40-50mm prime and have that compact walk-around do everything ubercamera ~ and the autofocus will be snappy, the viewing system bright, and overall performance superior to any of the mirrorless systems. A Nikon D7200 with the superb 35/1.8DX will run circles around any Fuji X, as will a D810 over a Sony - with very little if any weight or bulk penalty - and batteries that last all day, a plethora of inexpensive vintage lenses, etc.

Sorry to bother those that prefer dating their cameras but, according to http://chromasoft.blogspot.co.il/2015/10/how-much-lens-correction-is-there-on.html Leica has decided to marry camera and lenses in the SL system for good. I don't know if this is a first for Leica (maybe in-camera correction already exists in the S system) but it goes against the usual argument when buying a very expensive lens: "it is for life". Not anymore, and 5000€ for a variable-aperture zoom that needs to be so corrected with software is very expensive.

Ask and ye shall receive.


scroll down for the table.

If nothing else the SL's gotta make you feel good for guys like Godfrey who have been wandering the halls of camera shows with orphaned R lenses since 2009 asking, "Will you mate with me?"

As a Sony shooter using the a7RII, with the RX1RII on order (just sold my beloved RX1), I recently put the Leica Q through the paces over the weekend covering a music festival. If the SL sensor is in the same performance range as the Q I wouldn't ever be able to justify that price tag when looking at IQ as the determining factor in the purchase decision. Agreed that there are other attractions to the Leica.

The sensor in the Q simply isn't at the same level as the Sony sensors, particularly when it comes to dynamic range. The Sony files are significantly more malleable and going backwards is not something I am interested in. Also, the much lauded high resolution EVF in the SL is not very lifelike in its rendering when it comes to color, exhibiting cool blacks and warm highlights indoors. And don't get me started on the auto WB choices the Q makes.

Perhaps the SL makes great improvements over the Q sensor but I remain doubtful.

When it comes to money, a Nikon D810 will easily trump the SL on image quality, will offer pro SLR style AF and have a large selection of lenses for different price segments. It will also cost a lot less and rentals are available.

A Sony A7RII will easily provide better image quality than the SL, is more compact, offer high quality video and has a larger lens selection.

A Canon...well, I guess you get the point. The SL offers innovation in some specific areas, but it's not a system and it doesn't offer a competitive value proposition in any segment.

The idea of using R-system lenses on the SL keeps coming up, but realistically we're talking about manual lenses a couple of decades old. Given how lenses from the last 10 years have pushed the envelope, I don't see R lenses having a mainstream appeal.

"The newer Canon SLRs are a bust. Their viewfinders are soft, and overlaid with a thick layer of useless information."

You'll get some serious disagreement with your assessment from a lot of very good photographers who make very, very fine photographs with the cameras you describe as being "a bust."

Bernard - " In this case, it's like coming home and finding your home has been replaced by an all-night convenience store."

My first thought on reading that was of the film, "Grosse Pointe Blank".

Godfrey has answered your question about what are the advantages of running R lenses on the SL against the A7 family -- vignetting and other corrections, through firmware corrections for a long list of R (and M) lenses, plus thinner cover glass on the sensors that lead to demonstrably better resolution at the edges of most lenses 50mm and shorter. There's the possibility that Leica will release an adapter that transfers lens ID, aperture, and does stop-down before exposure with the R lenses, but I wouldn't hold my breath for all of that.


Handled one the other day, it's too big and angular to my hands' taste, I'm sure it would hurt after a days's shooting.
And forget about that huge, heavy bottle of expensive Bordeaux passing for its kit lens...
So give me the M and my little 35 Cron back, thanks, or a very organic Nikon 810 body to hold.
But the EVF blew me away. First time and EVF does that to me. Simply amazing. I can see why this is the anti-DSLR of the future....

I bought Leica M cameras (M2 and 3) in 1976 and have been using them ever since, and have a nice selection of lenses. Never liked their reflex cameras and have Nikon instead.

I will be interested to see if the SL performs better with M and R lenses (and Nikon lenses?) than the Sony cameras. But isn't that an open question at this point?

The SL lens line makes the pathetic Sony line seem almost usable, so native lenses? Adapted lenses?

You marry a lens line? Hardly. All our manual focus lenses and earlier AF lenses are of ever less utility. Michael, would you use those wonderful Contax RTS lenses on a Sony, a Leica SL or a digital Contax? No, you would not.

But the EV of the Sony cameras keeps me from using my Nikons, I just never find a time when I don't need the better accuracy of EV. I carry both systems, but only use the Sony with either Nikon or Leica lenses.

I will follow the reviews of the SL, my business makes enough money to make the price less than hateful, but I am a skeptic.

I am testing a loaner Pentax with a mix of Pentax and Hasselblad lenses and if you are not afraid of tripods and backpacks it's really great. Excellent detail that doesn't look digital.

"[I detect some powerful rationalizing going on here! But power to you; get what you want. --Mike]"

Hmm, not quite. From the beginning I thought the size was definitely not for me, so it was immediately discounted. A Q-sized equivalent, maybe, but really, if I wanted that size I'd just stick with the excellent DSLR offering I already use.

However, that doesn't stop me from seeing some of the advantages over the Sony. I want smaller, but without the awkward ergonomics and the viewfinder bump of the A7 series.

I'd have to politely disagree with Bernard after using Canon's Eos-5DsR for a few months. All that extra stuff in the viewfinder can be turned off. Don't like the electronic level? The focus points showing up? Don't like the grid? No problem, just turn them off. Voilá, you have a naked viewfinder. Shooting landscapes, I find the grid and the electronic level very helpful. (No more tilted horizons!) And after adjusting the viewfinder focus to my imperfect eyesight, it looks pretty sharp to me. Far better than any electronic 'viewfinder' I've seen.


I still see those things even when they aren't lit. They are etched above the focussing screen. Also, the focusing screen is optimized for brightness with slow zooms. Canon used to sell a screen for faster lenses (Eg-S screen), but not for their latest cameras.

G Dan,

I'm sure that many great photographers disagree with me. It's a very personal thing.

The electronic level is a favorite feature, which can be easily turned on and off (my default is off), as is well-implemented live view. I am currently happily shooting with a lowly Canon 6D. My gear lust currently is a new computer, the old one is a 5+ year old laptop that won't live forever. Heavens forfend that I should challenge the old computer with 40 to 50MP RAW files - snoozeville for ingesting and processing!

Different people have different Veblen items. A Pentax 645Z kit might be mine.

uncertainty with in-body stabilization, as that is a biggie for me (as I consider the a7RII vs a7II, and all that stuff, and yes, buy through the link along with 2x Fuji lenses ;)...

in this article [http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/sony-alpha-7r-ii/14] it is noted that third party lenses my not get the stabilization because third-party adaptors send a signal that the lens has stabilization. perhaps this is for Canon/Nikon lens adaptors, but would be the case for M-mount? I am to use Zeiss/Leica lenses on the Sony, and it would be futile to jump on this one for full frame if it does not work as hoped!

many thanks, if you have info that addresses this issue — I hit the search engines too, but thought to bring up the issue here.

here is a very comprehensive site for the previous issue mentioned above (by me): [http://briansmith.com/sony-a7-a7r-lens-mount-adapters/]

it seems implied that M-mount would not have the issue of not allowing in-body stabilization, but no mention is made for other lenses with auto-focus.

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