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I took the Sl out for an initial spin to take some of the central London night lights.  I've been shooting a Sony A7r II and an M240 with M lenses and was hoping that the SL experience would be better than either.  My feelings are somewhat mixed.

 

I tend to shoot such scenes in one of two ways:

 

* using a table top tripod, placed on a suitable support -- London is not short of street furniture -- at ISO 100, f2.8-5.6

* hand held, auto ISO, near wide open (the fast Leica M lenses tend to suffer from bad purple fringing wide open, but improve significantly even one stop down)

 

Starting with the shooting experience:

 

I like to use both focus peaking and the level.  This is hard to do on the SL without multiple button clicks because focus peaking is a separate viewing mode, rather than being something that you can switch on and off in any of the different viewing modes (information modes).  This is a fundamental problem, because I need to fiddle with the bottom right  button to switch between the level and focus peaking (without that much indication of which mode I am in).  I then have to fiddle with the bottom left button and the joy stick to get me to the place I want to focus on, at the right magnification.  The absence if a tilting screen makes this even more wearing.  Leica are not known for changing the user interface aspects of their products in firmware revisions, but I certainly hope that they address this fundamental usability problem in future releases.  As it is, the supposedly technocratic Sony, a camera not known for the ergonomics of its user interface, will be providing a more natural, intuitive one than the Leica.

 

On the plus side, both the screen and the EVF are excellent.  Even in the dark, where the Sony and M240 struggle to help you with focusing ( because of the accompanying noise) the SL excels.  I was gratified to find that infinity focus was infinity focus with the M-T (not M-L, as it is referred to in the manual) adapter.  (With the Sony, I tend to find myself focusing at a marked 5m or so to get infinity focus.)

 

The exposure metering is excellent.  Night pictures look like slides of yesteryear.   Exposure is, if anything, a bit under, for highlight protection.  I have yet to do much processing, but suspect that +1/2 or +1 would be a better compromise, as the shadow performance of the SL is not class leading.  By comparison both the M240 and the Sony need about -2 night to preserve any highlight detail.

 

The colour balance of the EVF was not completely accurate, in comparison to what I was seeing, but the results were pleasing enough.

 

I like having GPS (as I do with the M240's multifunction grip, but don't have with the Sony).  It's not hard to add GPS data with Photo Mechanic after the event, but having it removes the chore.  Similarly, getting the lens spec directly into the picture metadata removes the further chore of getting the right profile correction applied by Lightroom.

 

I have not compared lenses or resulting images with the M240 or A7r II in any systematic way, but the results are pleasing for the weight, which is what counts to me.  The Batis lenses for the Sony are bulkier and heavier, but the body is lighter, so it's much of a muchness.  The produce great results (clean pictures from wide open) and have AF.

 

The absence of image / sensor stabilisation is a pity.  I can get great results at 1/f shutter speeds on the Sony; the SL allows the setting of 1/2f shutter speeds in its auto ISO settings, but would probably benefit from a 1/4f setting.  It would also be good to be able to set a minimum ISO to avoid drifting into ISO 50, if you don't want to.

 

Although the camera has a touch screen (unlike the Sony or M240), it appears to be largely wasted (unless you are using the AF lens, perhaps; which I don't, because it is too heavy, bulky and expensive).

 

Anyway, the upshot is that it's not (yet) a more pleasurable camera to use than the M240, or even the Sony, for M lenses, but the pictures look good to me.

 

After all the rabbiting, here's a sample pic:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/14315820@N03/23519536246/

Edited by jrp
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... and another.  The white balance is fake (things were more yellow / orange than the cooler tone that I have chosen here) but the files are easy to edit in Lightroom; the Sony files were nice and neutral, but did not clip cleanly: they are better in the latest uncompressed format, but it seems that the Sony does not have the horse power to compress the files losslessly, so the result is humungous files.  The M240 DNGs are pretty good, but the colours / white balance is less easy to adjust.

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Did you try to set the camera so you can choose the focus point by touching the LCD touchscreen rather than using the 'joystick'?

 

I would have thought it would be much easier whenever you use a tabletop tripod... and may get rid of one of your initial issues.

 

I suspect that once you have set the camera up for the way you use it, you will find that you have resolved most of the issues in your OP. 

 

It may take a few trips out with it though... but isn't that the fun of something new?

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Thanks, Bill.  I did not know that the touch screen worked with manual lenses.  The problem is not so much having to navigate to the point of focus, it's having to do three taps to zoom in, joy stick to navigate to the point of focus, and another set of taps on another button to enable focus peaking followed by yet another set of taps to get back to the level view.  All with the non-articulating rear screen at around waist level (or whatever support happens to be handy), in the wind, ....  Yes, I could take a bigger tripod, but it's another 1kg and not that much taller.  It might make the screen easier to see, but it would not bypass all the button pushing.

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Turn your EVF/LCD to EVF only and its one button push.

 

The level/peaking view options are just silly IMO...not sure why they have it limited to one view only.

 

Touchscreen for manual focus?? no

 

But the easiest solution would be to use a head that has a level and not worry about the in camera level. Then peaking is a one button push, or just simply left on and its no button push.

 

Zoom in is a one button push with EVF only.

Edited by digitalfx
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Thanks, Bill.  I did not know that the touch screen worked with manual lenses.  The problem is not so much having to navigate to the point of focus, it's having to do three taps to zoom in, joy stick to navigate to the point of focus, and another set of taps on another button to enable focus peaking followed by yet another set of taps to get back to the level view.  All with the non-articulating rear screen at around waist level (or whatever support happens to be handy), in the wind, ....  Yes, I could take a bigger tripod, but it's another 1kg and not that much taller.  It might make the screen easier to see, but it would not bypass all the button pushing.

Oh.. I may have messed up!

 

It never entered my head that you were using it with manual focus lenses when I wrote my reply. I was thinking of my short experience with the SL last week when I was using it with the 24/90.

 

It may well work in MF mode, I simply don't know. Sorry for not reading your post accurately

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I took the Sl out for an initial spin [...]

 

Anyway, the upshot is that it's not (yet) a more pleasurable camera to use than the M240, or even the Sony, for M lenses, but the pictures look good to me.

 

[...]/url]

I think focusing off-center is far more pleasurable on the SL than M240/246. When shooting portraits, I am able to better discern which portions of the subject's eyes are in the focus plane (lashes versus eyeballs, for example).

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For that particular application the Sony A7 series cameras have Eye AF, which is very effective, allowing you to concentrate on  capturing the right expression / composition.  In good light, the SL's EVF is great, so long as you don't need to zoom in to find sharp eye focus. 

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The answer is "it depends" on how critical you are, the lens / depth of field, how still your subject is, the lighting, your skill, AF v MF, etc.  It can be done, just as it can be done on a rangefinder camera, but there are better solutions, if that is what you need to do (Sony Eye AF, DSLR with off-centre focus point, even face detection on the SL, I assume, if you have the AF lens, eg) versus the manual focus-based SL.

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Hi jrp. Could you help me by providing more detail on what's behind your comment here? Is the SL's viewfinder not good for getting accurate focus on the subject's eye?

 

 

The answer is "it depends" on how critical you are, the lens / depth of field, how still your subject is, the lighting, your skill, AF v MF, etc.  It can be done, just as it can be done on a rangefinder camera, but there are better solutions, if that is what you need to do (Sony Eye AF, DSLR with off-centre focus point, even face detection on the SL, I assume, if you have the AF lens, eg) versus the manual focus-based SL.

 

As with any other camera, getting critical focus precisely where you want it with the SL requires some time to learn how and practice it. I've had the equivalent of the Sony Eye AF (Olympus E-M1 has face recognition that goes one stop better in being able to discern near or far eye focus...!) and while it is a nice convenience, I'd hardly call it better or worse than learning how to focus a lens on the SL. 

 

 

The SL's AF does an excellent job of getting the focus right with the SL 24-90 lens, and the SL's viewfinder is excellent for getting exact critical focus right as well, IMO. I've had no problems with doing so at all. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

A couple of weeks on, and now with 1.2 firmware.

 

I do like having GPS and lens data recording (aperture guessing with M lenses is melter than on the M).  This provides a good workflow with Lightroom, particularly for architectural shots, where the lens correction features are useful. It is a convenience not available with the Sony with M lenses. 

 

The pictures have an attractive colour palette, which is, I suspect one of the reasons that pictures from the camera look so good.  There is clearly still some tuning being done, as the firmware release notes attest.  

 

On the minus side, while being able to focus in with the joystick is a Great Leap Forward, in general it still takes too many clicks to get things done.  It should be possible to switch focus peaking on and off with one push of a button, for example.  Or at least it should be possible to combine it with other settings (eg, level).

 

Time will tell whether the advantage of being able to frame and focus accurately over the M240 and the better M lens compatibility over the Sony A7rII prevail over the weight advantages of these other cameras. 

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