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S007 -- attempt at balanced feedback


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I have been seeing some very positive reviews of the S007 in the last couple of weeks, but also a large number of critical comments and complaints about Leica and the S system. Coming from two years with an S006 and after a few days with the S007, I would just like to offer some feedback and advice to people who are looking into getting into the system or upgrading to the S007. For what it is worth obviously, so all “IMHO”.

I have had some problems with Leica cameras and understand how annoying this can be, especially considering the cost of the S system. The day I got my S006 I went for a short walk in a park nearby and the camera got stuck after what must have been five or six shots. Having spent six months thinking about that investment, I cannot say how annoyed I was. I gave a call to Leica, fortunately found somebody still working at that time and we solved it through the phone (for some reason the mirror had staid locked in the up position). No issue after that with the functioning of the camera or lenses.

I think that problems will happen and then the critical thing is how Leica reacts and how willing they are to helping us. At that price point and taking into account how they present their brand, I do not see any margin for compromise or disappointment. Hopefully they understand that.

My experience in that respect has been an M body that froze and had to be sent back to Germany. It took them six weeks to get it back to me, but it had been fixed, cleaned, controlled and adjusted. I had to send my S006 a couple of weeks ago (small issue with a piece of rubber on the body) and it came back after a bit more than one week, again fixed, cleaned and so on. I can honestly say that I have never seen a sensor that clean by the way ;-)  
I believe that the dealer from whom you buy and who should then be there to support you is a very important piece of the puzzle. If you are lucky to have more than one dealer in your city or not too far, I’d recommend doing a bit of research and possibly getting some references. I am dealing with the Leica Shop in Vienna and could not hope for better and more helpful people to deal with.

Now to the S007…

I have read for a third time David Farkas’ review, after I saw a post where that review was qualified of “marketing hype” (or something like that). I know David a bit and am sure that he is always happy to sell one more camera, but, essentially, I came to the same conclusions as he did, with the caveat that I surely did not “inspect” the thing and its multiple aspects as deeply as he did. Also, I did not manage to go to Iceland in the last few days and cannot comment on the weather sealing ;-)

My impressions so far, in a random order of what I noticed:

> The first thing, by far, is the speed with which the camera can be operated. It’s not like a Nikon D4, but the improvement is very, very significant indeed and makes it more pleasant to use.
> The white balance works fine and I end up with very little color adjustment, if any.
> The continuous autofocus either does not work too well or my dog runs too fast ;-)
> High contrast situations come out more balanced (metering?). Also, there is better ability to recover highlights and shadows. I do not know about the 15 stops of dynamic range, but there is an improvement compared to the S006.
> As David mentions, the shutter has been improved and one can immediately feel the difference.
> Live View makes a big difference to using the camera, for landscape for instance, and is well implemented in my opinion. I never needed the second battery with the S006, but I’ll get one when available for the S007, as Live View significantly increases the drain on the battery.
> WiFi works without any issue (just need to select the camera as the WiFI network in use in the iPhone or Ipad).
> I would not use ISO 6400, except in a bind if I really, really want to get the shot. The low light capability of the S007 is a nice improvement over the S006, but I was expecting just a little bit better.
> Colours looks very natural to me: no issue I can see on a calibrated monitor. The Adobe profile looks more natural than the embedded one.
> Some people have commented negatively on the speed dial now being blank and I expected not to like that too much, but in practice it is just fine.
> One wise reviewer commented that the camera would be easier to use with 25 buttons as on the Pentax 645 and a tilting screen, but I am not a professional photographer and am not missing those features ;-)

That’s pretty much what I can say so far about the camera.

As to the lenses, I remember an interview of Peter Kalbe where the gentleman said the following about the quality of a lens: “the contrast has to fall off very fast in terms of depth of field. That’s it. That is the idea – and the ideal. The fall off has to be very fast! You point the lens and shoot, and where the focal plane is, the contrast should be high. The front and behind should fall off very fast.” Plus “Technically speaking, my interpretation of a good picture is: You get closer and you see more.”
 Suffice to say, the S lenses really drove that concept home for me.

The one question left is the one of price/investment. I doubt whether anybody could argue that an S007 is worth (or not worth) three times a Nikon D4. The only thing I can say is that you have to factor in the cost of the lenses, obviously, but also the fact that once you are invested in a body and a few lenses, it is not so easy to get out (at least in Europe), as you would be facing a significant discount to sell the equipment. You can get by with the 70mm lens only, which is very pleasant to use, but adding the 120mm and one wide lens would greatly expand the possibilities opened to you.

From my experience, reading all the reviews of David Farkas about the S system plus the ones published by Sean Reid would give enough reliable information to a prospective buyer. Better would be to have the camera for a few days for a test drive, but I understand that Leica does not allow that too often. Kudos to PhaseOne and their test drive program.

I have found a few glitches and would be grateful if somebody could give me feedback or ideas of solution for these - not sure whether it’s me or the camera ;-):

> I can’t make tethered shooting work (Mac OS, LR, Camera Shuttle, all last software versions). I see the PTP USB 3 Connection message on the camera’s display, the computer recognises the camera and can import the pictures, but I am not able to activate tethered shooting.
> The manual says on page 31 that when in T (speed) mode “if 1/125s is set with the shutter speed setting dial, the camera switches to M (manual) mode”. Does not happen with my camera.
> I cannot find the position of Flash speed sync on the dial. I have turned it several times around, but never saw the flash icon. I stopped turning the dial when my wife asked what that button is for ;-)
> When switching from, say, ISO 100 to AutoISO, the camera does not accept the AutoISO setting immediately: I have to either switch it off and on or go to, say, ISO 200 and then again to AutoISO.

Hope this all helps.

Marc
 

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From my experience, reading all the reviews of David Farkas about the S system plus the ones published by Sean Reid would give enough reliable information to a prospective buyer. Better would be to have the camera for a few days for a test drive, but I understand that Leica does not allow that too often. Kudos to PhaseOne and their test drive program.

 

I believe David's Leica Miami store does provide a 'test drive' program....for the S and the M.

 

Jeff

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I believe David's Leica Miami store does provide a 'test drive' program....for the S and the M.

 

Jeff

 

Yes, Leica Store Miami does have a Test Drive program for M and S gear. The S007 isn't available yet for test drive, but will be soon. We also have a Fly me to the S deal, where you can fly to Miami, spend a day with me or my colleague Josh and shoot the S around town with one-on-one instruction. 

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From my experience, reading all the reviews of David Farkas about the S system plus the ones published by Sean Reid would give enough reliable information to a prospective buyer. Better would be to have the camera for a few days for a test drive, but I understand that Leica does not allow that too often. Kudos to PhaseOne and their test drive program.

 

I have found a few glitches and would be grateful if somebody could give me feedback or ideas of solution for these - not sure whether it’s me or the camera ;-):

 

> I can’t make tethered shooting work (Mac OS, LR, Camera Shuttle, all last software versions). I see the PTP USB 3 Connection message on the camera’s display, the computer recognises the camera and can import the pictures, but I am not able to activate tethered shooting.

> The manual says on page 31 that when in T (speed) mode “if 1/125s is set with the shutter speed setting dial, the camera switches to M (manual) mode”. Does not happen with my camera.

> I cannot find the position of Flash speed sync on the dial. I have turned it several times around, but never saw the flash icon. I stopped turning the dial when my wife asked what that button is for ;-)

> When switching from, say, ISO 100 to AutoISO, the camera does not accept the AutoISO setting immediately: I have to either switch it off and on or go to, say, ISO 200 and then again to AutoISO.

 

Hope this all helps.

 

Marc

 

Marc,

 

Thanks for the feedback.

 

To answer your questions:

 

  • Tethering isn't supported yet in Lightroom. An update from Adobe will make this possible in the near future.
  • I was not aware of the 1/125 setting changing the camera from T to M. Honestly, I haven't cracked the manual.
  • I haven't tested with flash yet, but I would assume this setting only shows when a flash is connected either on the hot shoe or by the flash sync cord. I could be wrong on this one, but it's an educated guess.
  • Your experience with Auto ISO is interesting. I didn't have problems with Auto ISO, but have mostly shot with manually set ISO for most of my testing so far. I'll check this out and see if it is indeed a bug. If so, I'll send a report to Leica. Thanks for the heads up on that one.

 

Glad you like the S007. It really is a nice step up. 

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Marc,

 

Thanks for the feedback.

 

To answer your questions:

 

  • Tethering isn't supported yet in Lightroom. An update from Adobe will make this possible in the near future.
  • I was not aware of the 1/125 setting changing the camera from T to M. Honestly, I haven't cracked the manual.
  • I haven't tested with flash yet, but I would assume this setting only shows when a flash is connected either on the hot shoe or by the flash sync cord. I could be wrong on this one, but it's an educated guess.
  • Your experience with Auto ISO is interesting. I didn't have problems with Auto ISO, but have mostly shot with manually set ISO for most of my testing so far. I'll check this out and see if it is indeed a bug. If so, I'll send a report to Leica. Thanks for the heads up on that one.

 

Glad you like the S007. It really is a nice step up. 

Thank you, David.

 

Re. the change to Auto ISO, happy to send you a short video if you cannot replicate the problem.

 

Take care,

 

Marc

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  • 1 month later...

I have found a few glitches and would be grateful if somebody could give me feedback or ideas of solution for these - not sure whether it’s me or the camera ;-):

 

> I can’t make tethered shooting work (Mac OS, LR, Camera Shuttle, all last software versions). I see the PTP USB 3 Connection message on the camera’s display, the computer recognises the camera and can import the pictures, but I am not able to activate tethered shooting.

> The manual says on page 31 that when in T (speed) mode “if 1/125s is set with the shutter speed setting dial, the camera switches to M (manual) mode”. Does not happen with my camera.

> I cannot find the position of Flash speed sync on the dial. I have turned it several times around, but never saw the flash icon. I stopped turning the dial when my wife asked what that button is for ;-)

> When switching from, say, ISO 100 to AutoISO, the camera does not accept the AutoISO setting immediately: I have to either switch it off and on or go to, say, ISO 200 and then again to AutoISO.

 

 

Answers from Leica:

> Camera switching to M mode: mistake in the user manual; will be corrected.

> Flash speed sync: they are working on a solution to make the sync speed more visible.

> Auto ISO: this will be fixed with a software update.

 

All the people I have been in contact with were very helpful by the way.

 

Marc

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  • 5 weeks later...

Marc,

 

Many thanks for this excellent review, which is most helpful for prospective buyers.

 

Now that the S Typ 006 is being offered at good prices, mostly bundled together with the 70 mm non-CS lens, the question of course rises what would be the best choice for a non-professional user of the system. In other words: having the subtantial price difference in mind, would there be compelling reasons to forgo the S Typ 006 and get the Typ 007? Again, for use where the cost cannot be written off professionally.

 

Thanks.

Edited by leicapages
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Marc,

 

Many thanks for this excellent review, which is most helpful for prospective buyers.

 

Now that the S Typ 006 is being offered at good prices, mostly bundled together with the 70 mm non-CS lens, the question of course rises what would be the best choice for a non-professional user of the system. In other words: having the subtantial price difference in mind, would there be compelling reasons to forgo the S Typ 006 and get the Typ 007? Again, for use where the cost cannot be written off professionally.

 

Thanks.

Thank you.

 

The higher-ISO capability and Live View make a difference in actual use. The speed as well, but as long as you have not tried the S007, you cannot be aware of it and I would not call the S006 "slow" anyway.

 

I'd say that for mostly studio use, the S006 is absolutely fine. It worked better when tethered in my case and it seems that the autofocus was somehow  more precise (I have not tested this though). If the scope of use is wider, I think that it gets down to money and how much you are willing to spend: I walked around with my S006 in various cities during days and nights and was happy with it. Life is easier with the S007 though ;-)

 

Another aspect is that although the 70mm is a great lens, having just that one lens kind of limits what you can do. I'd suggest you take into account the cost of a wider lens and a longer one.

 

All in all, I think it makes sense in the situation you describe to go with the S006.

 

Hope this helps,

 

Marc

 

Sorry I cannot give you a more straightforward answer.

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Marc

 

I don't have the auto ISO issue on my camera, goes straight to and out of auto without issue. 

 

Mat

Mat,

 

Thank you for the feedback.

 

This happens to me when I go from one user setting to another one. I have a "Base" one at ISO 100 and an "Auto" one at Auto ISO for instance. I now just switch the camera off and on, which solves the problem, but this is a bit annoying frankly.

 

As I said in a previous post, I was in touch with several people from Leica and they were all very willing to help, but I wish Leica would come up faster with firmware updates.

 

Marc

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Marc

 

I have heard that a firmware update isn't far off, I guess they have a few things to deal with. I am still having no issue with auto ISO so hopefully it's an isolated problem. I have given them lots of feedback on areas to improve, for example when the camera wakes and recycles the lens, on the 35mm it never returns to the same spot which is annoying if you set up a shot and have a chat with the client, return and the camera recycles back to infinity and you have to refocus, annoying! DoF scale should work real time when shutter is half pressed not just show the distance at that point. 2 second delay should lift the mirror as on the 006 but it doesn't, etc. etc. which are all minor firmware issues so hopefully they will be sorted soon.

 

It's a great camera so hopefully dealing with these few points will make it even better.

 

Mat

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Another aspect is that although the 70mm is a great lens, having just that one lens kind of limits what you can do. I'd suggest you take into account the cost of a wider lens and a longer one.

 

 

Marc, the camera would probably be mostly used with the 30-90 vario lens as I really like to avoid changing lenses (dust etc). The trouble is that it is rather slow.

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