The Decision: Leica SL

Thank You  Leica Q!


Today is a new day, and with a painful heart I am moving on from the Leica Q to try out the Leica SL. Over the last 18 months I really have grown one with my Leica Q and it has never let me down. It has so far been the best camera experience I have ever had and as I am writing this new post I also have posted my Leica Q for sale to fund the Leica SL purchase. Finally deciding to push forward I find myself in a torn situation with a feeling of potential regret of moving on from the Leica Q. I might shed a tear but its unreasonable to have two pricey cameras. I would like to start this post with my greatest appreciation for the Leica Q, it truly is a magnificent camera, and even to this date, its still has an amazing image quality and soul to it. More than two years since its release it still hold up well with newer cameras today. Had I not decided to move to the Leica SL. I I probably would have stuck with the Q for another 2-3 years, thats just how fantastic it is and was. 

Now that I have put together my intro and appreciation for the Leica Q, I will write about the reasons I have decided to make this decision. I will talk about why I decided to take the plunge on the Leica SL almost two years after its original launch date. It may look weird, being late to the party but I do have my reasons and I will explain how the two years waiting made more sense than starting with the SL two years ago. The Leica SL I own today is the SL I purchased from Steve Huff, and I appreciate the work he has done in his reviews with this camera. He himself has made a decision related to this decision, he has taken the plunge to test the waters out with the Hasselblad X1D. To support his decision, he had to sell his Leica SL, so this really is a chain reaction of decisions. 



Then and Now


First and foremost, the main reason I have chosen the Leica SL now, two years since its release is around two factors. Those of you who follow my blog know that I have a philosophy when I leave the house. One camera, one lens and travelling light. The original release of the Leica SL had the gargantuan zoom lens and with this the Leica SL really did not meet my taste at the time. I am a proponent of always having your camera as moments you find in front of you are unexpected and you never know when you find that magical moment to capture with a camera. Yes the M adapter was available, but there are times that I want auto focus and there are times I am ok with using manual focus glass. But with the only option for auto focus was the 24-90 and that lens is a beast. Thus it was a no brainer at the time - Go with the Leica Q. 


Firmware 3.0!


Another reason with moving to the Leica SL at this time is that the camera has had its time to mature, and with firmware 3.0 release you can really see how the Leica team has dedicated its team to ensuring that this camera improves and continues to deliver features that pro photographers need. These firmware releases have not been minor releases but significant amount of new enhancements. I know for a fact that with this, I have a camera that is mature for all the paces I need from it.



Weight Factor


As you all know, portability and travel are important to how I use a camera. And for travel the Leica Q was absolutely fantastic. Light and on the go. This particular factor in my decision with the Leica SL was thoroughly thought through as I did not want a heavy camera to lug around the world as I travel. I like to travel light, with one lens when I walk around the city so that I do not ruin my experience and worry about lugging around pounds of camera weight on my neck. But two areas eased my decision here, one using the M adapter with M glass, the SL was not that far off from the Q. About 1 lb of a difference right now with the Zeiss 50mm 1.5 Sonnar that I have on it. The other decision that put me over the top was the Summicron lineup and seeing the lens body renditions, I noticed that the lens was significantly smaller than the current 50mm prime for the SL. Finally! Getting a lighter lens on the SL with autofocus put me over the top.



Summicron is coming


One of the most exciting things that has pushed me to go with the Leica SL is the upcoming Summicron lineup that is soon to release. For me, this is a really good time to start with the Leica SL as the vision/roadmap of lenses that will take this camera to a new level is upon us. The soon to release 75mm APO Summicron and the 35mm Summicron have me excited. The form factor looks to be way smaller and lighter than the 50mm prime and from what the engineers are saying the performance is going to be taken to another level. Sharpness from the 50 APO legendary lens with depth of field of a summilux. Apparently this depth of field is something we have never seen before, 2.0 sharpness but 1.4 bokeh. Just by that alone, if they really pull that off, I mean wow I will be fully sold on the Leica SL. I am a 35mm shooter by heart so, that particular lens is whats keeps me excited and already working with my Leica dealer to be first in line. 

If you have seen the roadmap image from Leica, the Summicron lineup is to be released as a family of lenses for the Leica SL and there are a couple more lenses to be announced in FY 2018. The investment Leica is putting into this camera tells me that this is a good spot to be in. With all the lessons learned the Leica Engineering team is putting into these new glass, the richness we already have with the Leica SL will be even greater. Camera sensor is one piece of the puzzle, but having new amazing glass really excites me!



Whats to come?


This is just the beginning of posts and experiences I will share moving forward with my Leica SL. So far the images I have taken have amazed me, the richness and 3D pop with this camera is truly amazing. I can see how Steve Huff had this as his camera of the year last year.  Over the next 6 months I will likely blog about my experience on using the Leica SL with M lenses, particularly the Zeiss 50mm 1.5 Sonnar, while I wait for the new Summicron line. I chose this particular lens because of the soul it portrays. It's gotten mixed reviews because of being soft, but so far if you nail the focus, its sharp enough. This lens though has a dreamy old school look to it given the lens design is a classical Zeiss lens design, creating a very old school look which with the Leica SL has been fantastic. 

I will likely spend the next 6-8 month writing about the SL with M lenses, then once the new summicron lenses are available give my first impressions of those lenses. This will be a long term review and long term journey with this camera and I hope to give all of you insight into my journey and advice using the Leica SL. Until the next post, here are some sample initial images I have with the camera and wow, it is stunning!



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Sample Images

MG Car Club
MG Car Club 2
Chef on Wheels
Vintage Pickup
Rainy Chicago St.