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Leica SL2 – Pros – 47MP, 10bit 5K, build quality / Cons – Worse autofocus than S1R, no articulated screen, $5995

Andrew Reid

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I'm sorry but I never really could understand the "Oh wow,...is that a LEICA?" thing. To me Leica is a "fashion" camera brand. I think the real brains behind Leica is really Panasonic. I dont know this for sure but I have to believe these cameras are 90% engineered by Panasonic in Japan with Leica people telling them how to style the ourside of it. I would not be supprised if these are reshaped S1 motherboards that share 100% of every chip and capacitor on them. It would not shock me if Panasonic software programmers made the menus for Leica.

So what. Who cares if its an overpriced S1. As long as it has a red "Leica" logo in it, that's all that matters. Right?

I dont get tbe whole "Leica" thing just like I dont get the "Hasselblad/Sony" thing either.


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1 hour ago, Andrew Reid said:

It's pixel binning in full frame so rolling shutter should be ok.

In Super 35mm I'm surprised it is 10ms, seems optimistic to me!?

Right, 10ms sounds crazy good.

I’ve also read (can’t remember where) that even FF 4k might be recorded 10 bit 4:2:0 internally, but that doesn’t match you chart. Are the specs you posted official ones from Leica source?

One more topic, please. How big is the real life difference between pixel binning and regular 4k readout? Would there be a noticeable difference in footage if one combined SL2’s S35 and FF clips or one would only noticed it when pixel peeping?

The reason I am asking is that I own M240 and few M lenses, plus S1H. I understand compromises need to be done, but the idea of having a single body to use for both, video and stills is very compelling. I am yet to do a more thorough comparison between M240 and S1H photo modes, but initial shots done by S1H didn’t hit the nail compared to M240 so far.

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  • 1 month later...

Dear Mr. Reid:

We recently rented a Leica SL2 and a Leica 50mm F2 lens.  We wanted to test its low-light performance and autofocus, then compare it to our Panasonic S1. We only compared the stills capabilities.  We made the following observations.

1) The Leica SL2 build quality may deserve its rating.  However, we preferred the build quality of the Panasonic S1.  The Panasonic card door is better thought out as is the battery compartment.

2) The Panasonic has a more tactile feel. We hated using the Leica SL2 Menu and Joy Stick combination to change F-stop, ISO, and shooting mode. The Leica would be fine for landscapes and portrait studios, but we would not use this camera for weddings and certainly not sports. 

3) The Leica SL2 had difficulty focusing in low light.  The Panasonic does much better in low-light.

4) Leica has no such setting as eye-AF, or one we could find.  Perhaps it will be added in firmware.

5) Leica menus are very simplistic, but they also lack functions found in other manufacturers’ menus, for example bracketing. 

6) We thought our Panasonic was a better balanced camera, especially with heavier lenses attached to the body.

7) The Leica produces wonderful images, especially colors.  However, we do not believe the overall image quality was any better than the Nikon Z7.  

8) We felt there was too much noise in photos having an ISO setting higher than 5,000.





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Thanks for your observations.

I have some related ones.

1) The build quality is indeed very good. It feels like a £5300 camera, but in the way a classic sports-car feels expensive, not in the way of an expensive utility vehicle that takes knocks. That is the S1. A work tool. This is more something you look after, if you get what I mean?

2) I prefer the SL2 menu, ergonomics and tactile feeling to the S1. That is just my opinion though, others will differ!

3) No it is definitely not a sports camera. SL2 is a manual focus camera for me. AF is very fast for stills with the Panasonic S lenses, but not reliable. It is similar to the S1 in that respect. I cannot for example shoot through a glass window, if it has so much as a spec of dust on the window, the AF system will focus on the glass rather than the landscape behind it.... To name just ONE example. And in video mode it is barely usable. The AF system at Panasonic and Leica needs a total overhaul, phase-detect AF.

4) See 3!

5) There are some missing features, I expect they'll add these in a firmware update. The original SL got quite a lot of features added later.

6) Personally I prefer the much slimmer body of the SL2. The grip is very good for heavy lenses.

7) Agree on the Leica colour science. It is probably the best I've ever seen. Very important to the film look.

8 ) Of course in stills mode the Z7 and SL2 share a similar sensor. If you look on DXOMark the 46MP sensor in the SL2, D850 and Z7 is at the top so hard to see what could be improved, aside from going to medium format. In video mode it's a different story. 10bit on the SL2 and far more codec options. ALL-I, 5K anamorphic 4:3, etc. Also built in L-LOG profile and I feel the low light performance is better, noise grain is more film-like, and of course again colours are better. The SL2 has many other advantages over the Z7. The body is totally a different experience, unique on the market today, the EVF is spectacular, manual focus is peerless, don't even need peaking or magnification half the time I am using it with M lenses, responsiveness is great, the user profiles are super handy, to switch modes at press of a button, no consumer junk on the body, no mode dial, dual card slots, all in all I don't think the SL2 lacks for anything apart from the AF, and some kind of 8K full pixel readout. The image in full frame is super detailed but is occasionally aliasing prone with a very sharp lens and hard black lines on white background... like a test chart... rarely on a real subject but occasionally the tiny high frequency, hard contrast lines appear on clothing or buildings.

And also the IBIS, rolling shutter, dynamic range, all super.

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On 11/9/2019 at 6:13 AM, Cliff Totten said:

I dont get tbe whole "Leica" thing just like I dont get the "Hasselblad/Sony" thing either.

Hasselblad was an obvious money grab ripp off from Sony cameras. Twins in every manner but name. 

Leica / Panasonic isn't the same level of identical copying. (except perhaps with a few P&S, but even then, at least they didn't so the same level of price gouging as Hasselblad did) 

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To suggest Leica is putting a red dot on a Panasonic body may be right when it comes to the LX100 or lower-end, but the Leica SL / SL2 is a completely different thing. It may use the same sensor as the S1R and it may be a technical collaboration with Panasonic lending a few chips and programmers, but that really is where the similarity ends. S1R doesn't shoot 10bit or 5K for a start!

And even if you consider it just a higher-end version of the S1R that is not even such a bad thing.

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6 hours ago, Andrew Reid said:

S1R doesn't shoot 10bit or 5K for a start!

But they do have a MILC that shoots 10-bit 5.9K at around same price point.

I think you're right. The SL2 is highly likely a S1R inside but with some unique Leica sauce inside as far as processing and color science, which is like 70% of a camera anyway because at the end of the day it's about the final image and technological excellence on it's own does not always make a pleasing image.

It's also why when Canon finally makes a mirrorless camera with 10-bit, 4K, in a EOS R sized body and limited rolling shutter, I'll probably buy into the system.

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