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Mdol

Is the S3 my next buy ? need your advice

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Hi everybody,

I used Nikon's for more than 20 years, then had also some Sony alpha cameras. Two years ago, I discovered Leica, when I bought a Q-P.

For me, it was a shock : what a lens and a shooting experience ! I also started using a M10-P, and again, after some learning curve, I was convinced with this new approach of photography (for me). Always have a small camera with me, instead of leaving my mammoth D850 with holy trinity and primes on a shelf. With my Leicas, I make a lot more pictures (for pleasure) than before.

For my professional work (photography is just a part of my work) I began to explore the SL2, and apart some minor problems, I am know in the process to leave my Nikon bodies (already done with Sony, which usability and interface is, in my opinion, a nightmare).

For Landscape photography, which includes pano shots, timelapses and "normal" pictures, I found a very good tool with the SL2 and the SL lenses (and M adapted on it).

From time to time, I rent a PhaseOne XT with 32mm Rodenstock lens. I find this above all else for dynamic range, color rendering and handling, pano shots, frame averaging, ... But to rent is not a solution for me (you cannot plan in advance when the weather offers you beautiful light on a Saturday evening for example).

Buying a Phase One is too much in my opinion, and it is not exactly a polyvalent tool which could be easily profitable.

That's why I'm now thinking to enter in the S3 world for landscape and timelapse photography, and eventually studio work (people and objects). But I'm not fully convinced and have some questions, and I'm sure your experience could help me in this choice.

- Do you think the S line will be developed after the S3 ? I'm wondering this because Leica stayed with old techs on this new body (compact flash card / maestro 2 / video specs for HDMI out / poor and closed flash system)

- The Leica "Pro format" is not as big as the Phase One sensor. Is the difference in sensor size really significant in the results, compared to the SL2 (noise, lens rendering) ?

- What are the differences in rendering between SL and S lenses ?

- What are the differences in color rendering between SL2 and S3 ?

- Is there a real difference in dynamic range compared to SL2 or Nikon D850 ?

- Has anyone some experience in astro photography with S3 (not deep space, just Milky Way shoots for example) ?

Thanks in advance !

 

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Posted (edited)

I used to use Leica S, before moving the to digital back and Alpa/Rodenstocks... then I got back into S again as a travel companion to the Alpa... which, in one trip, quickly put that idea away due to size and weight of the 2 system.

At the end of the day, I think S is quick a good system, but nowadays, people want versatilities in their gear, just like people now prefer SUVs that still can do 4.0s to 60mph... I think a lot of those Fujifilm/Canon/Sony and even SL2 is a bit like that.

By the way, since you use SL2 with L mount, you could look at Cambo Actus with L mount to enable your technical camera photography, cause you can easily adapt rodenstock HR lens onto that system and still have the beautiful Leica Color science and do panorama stitch with them. And the Actus can change mount easily. think of the multi shot stitch photo you can have! nice!

 

sorry, didn't really answer your question. Hahahah.

Edited by xiaubauu2009

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Posted (edited)

Mdol,  I read your post several times and hope to answer many of your questions based on my many years of experience and expertise.  I have owned all the past and present S cameras and most of the S (non-CS) lenses.  I also owned the SL and SL2 cameras along with Fuji and Hasselblad cameras.  First, the differences between the current S3 and SL2 are the sensors and features offered on each camera.  The S system is primarily designed for fashion, portrait and landscape photographers.  The new S3 sensor and architecture renders color and contrast in a more natural way.  The SL2 is a superb camera yet it renders with more color saturation and contrast.  The S lenses are superb MF lenses that will resolve far more than the current 64 MP sensor.  My clients both corporate and private collectors buy very large prints and want high dynamic range, high detail, and natural cinematic rendering.  For me, the S system renders exactly this way out of the camera and allows me to print very large photographs.  (Minimum print size for my clients is 4 ft x 6 ft)  The S lens system is mature.  There are no rumors for new forthcoming S lenses.  IMO, they don't need any more.  The S lenses are designed from the ground up for MF and digital sensors, like the SL system.  Yet, the S lenses are optically corrected for aberrations and S cameras do not provide internal software corrections.  When you look through the bright OVF of the S camera, what you see is what you get while viewing through the S lenses.  With the SL lenses, these are optically corrected with software real time and you look through a excellent EVF.  I found the SL lenses and cameras render "too perfect" and my clients didn't like the rendering.  For my landscape photographs, the SL system wasn't a good fit whereas the S system fits perfectly to my requirements.  The SL lenses are also most excellent with the latest optical technology employed by Leica.  The L mount also permits use of other manufacturer lenses.  The forum here has many photographs posted taken with the different systems and lenses as does Flickr.  Each system has it pros and cons that fit real or perceived requirements for photographers.  I will not advocate one system over the other.  The systems are designed for different photographer requirements and wallets.  As for astro photography, the S3 and S 24 lens with a star tracker produces beautiful northern lights and Milky Way photographs with the long exposure and excellent improvements in the new sensor.  The SL2 will do the same.  I can not comment on the SL2 versus D850.  As for the Fuji and Hasselblad systems, I could not bond with the cameras and most important for my business, my clients did not like the way the landscapes were rendered.  I am sure others will chime in with their ideas and opinions to help you.  In the meantime, keep creating with what you have at hand and never miss capturing that moment in time.  Hope this helps.   r/ Mark

PS.  You might consider PM either Helged or Djmay in this forum for their S experience and ideas as well.  

Edited by LeicaR10

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Posted (edited)

I have been shooting the S since 2010, and got a used SL2 in the spring thinking it might take a year to get the S3, but I managed to find one. To be completely honest, I am not yet fully convinced. My body has had a few issues, and while I see the differences in image quality, I am just as likely to prefer the more precise rendering of the Sl2 than the S. Certainly do not leave the lightroom settings for either camera where they are, as they are decidedly ill suited to the files (luminance noise reduction at ISO 100!?). I am not sure I agree with Mark that the S is so much more refined. It is different. I have only had the camera for a week or two and Leica has yet to comment on my problems (put shortly, banding in the shadows even at ISO 100 when the file is pushed around a lot, and banding from ISO 6400/12500, as well as lots of focus hunting compared to the 006 and mismatches between the OVF and focus system/live view. I have heard from others with the camera that they have not had similar issues). I am hoping that my camera is more of an anomaly than anything, but I push my cameras very hard, as a lot of my work is done at night and I use a lot of cropping for things like photo montage. The SL2 and S006 have put up with this very well. The S3 that I have received has not. My advice would be to try it and see what works for you. I think the most important difference in the systems is in handling, which should be the driving differentiation.

As for the future, I think the S system is unlikely to develop much, unless Leica decides to refresh it entirely. From my perspective, the future is clearly with the SL system for Leica, even though the S is still a superb camera system. As Mark says, they don't need much updating. That said, they have not had a new lens in six years and there is no sign of any teleconverters, long lenses etc. If you want something from the S system and you can't already do it, I don't think you are likely to get it.

Edited by Stuart Richardson

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Posted (edited)

Hi, thanks a lot for your posts. They give me good informations ... and leave me well undecided 😂

I understand the point of view of Mark and have the exact fear of what’s happening to Stuart  

Sure I will have to try before deciding. 

@Xiaubauu : what kind of back did you used with your alpa ?

cheers

Marcello

Edited by Mdol

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- Do you think the S line will be developed after the S3 ? I'm wondering this because Leica stayed with old techs on this new body (compact flash card / maestro 2 / video specs for HDMI out / poor and closed flash system) -> Speculation, but I do not really expect this to be the case; I would rather expect something mirrorless in the long term; but as I said, just speculation from my side

- The Leica "Pro format" is not as big as the Phase One sensor. Is the difference in sensor size really significant in the results, compared to the SL2 (noise, lens rendering) ? -> you do see differences; specially in the midtones, also skin color, and lens rendering, and bokeh

- What are the differences in rendering between SL and S lenses ? -> S lenses render very "neutral", the sharpness rolloff is smooth, the lenses render very nice midtones; SL lenses are maybe a little more contrasty, very sharp. I prefer the S lenses.

- What are the differences in color rendering between SL2 and S3 ? I would expect even better skin tones; S3 is said to also render red very good

- Is there a real difference in dynamic range compared to SL2 or Nikon D850 ? I would ay compared to SL2 yes

- Has anyone some experience in astro photography with S3 (not deep space, just Milky Way shoots for example) ? ->I have not

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On 8/26/2020 at 8:08 PM, Mdol said:

Do you think the S line will be developed after the S3 ? I'm wondering this because Leica stayed with old techs on this new body (compact flash card / maestro 2 / video specs for HDMI out / poor and closed flash system)

My guess is that mirrorless bodies will follow S3, but hard to know. 

On 8/26/2020 at 8:08 PM, Mdol said:

- The Leica "Pro format" is not as big as the Phase One sensor. Is the difference in sensor size really significant in the results, compared to the SL2 (noise, lens rendering) ?

Based on my experience with SL/SL2/S006/S3-beta, I will say that S-images have something more than images from SL (or D850) : A more gentle, pleasant, smooth, possibly cinematic, rendering. But certainly, the SL(2) and D850 are better all-singing-all-dancing systems.

On 8/26/2020 at 8:08 PM, Mdol said:

- What are the differences in rendering between SL and S lenses ?

See above. The SL lenses are optically superb. The S lenses are very, very fine, but with a touch of 'imperfection' that leads to more pleaset, smooth rendering. Personally, I prefer the S lenses over the SL lenses. Not because the S lenses are 'better/best', but because of their specific da fingerprint. 

On 8/26/2020 at 8:08 PM, Mdol said:

- What are the differences in color rendering between SL2 and S3 ?

Cant tell, but I love the Neutral colours of the S3-

On 8/26/2020 at 8:08 PM, Mdol said:

- Is there a real difference in dynamic range compared to SL2 or Nikon D850 ?

Dont think so (having used both bodies). But I prefer the colours from SL2 over those from the D850. 

On 8/26/2020 at 8:08 PM, Mdol said:

- Has anyone some experience in astro photography with S3 (not deep space, just Milky Way shoots for example) ?

Yes. S3 works ok (and with 1.5-2 stops advantages over SL2). Disadvantags: Focus at infinity (by means of view fiender magnification) is much easier on the SL2.

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Helged,  Your post above is spot on.  Thank you for helping Mdol.   r/ Mark

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To say essentially the same thing as others in this thread: There are pictures I can take with the GFX 100 that I can't take with the S - anything needing image stabilization or very long exposures. But anything I CAN take with the S, I like better than if it were captured with any other camera. If it can work for you, there is nothing better. If it can't, then it can't and you use another tool.

Matt

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13 hours ago, Mdol said:

Hi, thanks a lot for your posts. They give me good informations ... and leave me well undecided 😂

I understand the point of view of Mark and have the exact fear of what’s happening to Stuart  

Sure I will have to try before deciding. 

@Xiaubauu : what kind of back did you used with your alpa ?

cheers

Marcello

IQ4 150. Been through the usual credo 80 credo 50 iq3100. I truly think you should have a look at the Cambo actus. 

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14 hours ago, Mdol said:

Hi, thanks a lot for your posts. They give me good informations ... and leave me well undecided 😂

I understand the point of view of Mark and have the exact fear of what’s happening to Stuart  

Sure I will have to try before deciding. 

@Xiaubauu : what kind of back did you used with your alpa ?

cheers

Marcello

IQ4 150. Been through the usual credo 80 credo 50 iq3100. I truly think you should have a look at the Cambo actus. 

I initially thought I could use Leica M + this actus setup as a compact street photo + Tech cam travel set... best of both worlds, but Leica M is just not suited for it as the shutter will shake the body.

I think this is M10P+Actus+Actar 24mm 3 image stitched

Then I got into the L mount Sigma FP that has no shutter, it's a much better choice, better size and better weight. I am sure this will work for Leica SL2 too.

Sigma FP + Actus + GuoZh WTS 17mm (basically a converted Canon TSE17mm into an Alpa SB34 mount) 3 image stitched.

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On 8/27/2020 at 2:28 AM, LeicaR10 said:

There are no rumors for new forthcoming S lenses.

There is the Thalia 55/2.8. All of the lenses in the Leitz Cine Thalia range have S equivalents, except for the 55.

 

11 hours ago, xiaubauu2009 said:

IQ4 150. Been through the usual credo 80 credo 50 iq3100. I truly think you should have a look at the Cambo actus.

Certainly, one thing the S doesn't do is movements. That market belongs to Alpa, Cambo, and various technical cameras (Linhof, Sinar, Arca Swiss), using interchangeable digital backs. They are meant for a different style of shooting. Tech cams aren't fast, aren't weather-proof, don't have viewfinders, can't easily be used hand-held, etc. I'm sure some photographers need both styles of cameras, but that's a huge investment.

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10 hours ago, BernardC said:

There is the Thalia 55/2.8. All of the lenses in the Leitz Cine Thalia range have S equivalents, except for the 55.

 

Certainly, one thing the S doesn't do is movements. That market belongs to Alpa, Cambo, and various technical cameras (Linhof, Sinar, Arca Swiss), using interchangeable digital backs. They are meant for a different style of shooting. Tech cams aren't fast, aren't weather-proof, don't have viewfinders, can't easily be used hand-held, etc. I'm sure some photographers need both styles of cameras, but that's a huge investment.

Ya. Hence the Cambo Actus is a good choice particularly if you have the SL2. The price is just about the price of a lens. But the possibility it allow you is huge. Couple with IBIS and Pixrl Shift. Ultra high res sharp image at 180mp is so simple and at a fraction of the cost of those Alpa and backs. 

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20 hours ago, BernardC said:

Certainly, one thing the S doesn't do is movements.

There is of course the Leica TS-APO-ELMAR-S 120mm f/5.6 ASPH or the Mamiya 645 50mm Shift lens (no tilt) using the Mamiya adapter. 

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Hi folks,

very Grateful for all your suggestions and experiences ! Thanks 
 

I will take a look on the actus and find a way to try the S3. 


We make films in our company, so I will check the Thalia lenses (we have a Red Monstro).

Didn’t realize that the S lenses and Thalia were from same design !

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14 hours ago, xiaubauu2009 said:

Ya. Hence the Cambo Actus is a good choice particularly if you have the SL2. The price is just about the price of a lens. But the possibility it allow you is huge. Couple with IBIS and Pixrl Shift. Ultra high res sharp image at 180mp is so simple and at a fraction of the cost of those Alpa and backs. 

As an SL2 owner (and also someone who separately enjoys camera movements with my 5x4), something like the Actus-G has always looked very promising.

I can imagine myself setting up an Actus to get the verticals straight and then possibly also shifting left-right to stitch to create a larger file size.

But the following has never been clear to me .... maybe you have some thoughts here that would help me? .....


(i) is the selection of lenses that allow “infinity focus“ quite limited?

(ii) any idea what the image quality is like from Cambo’s “Actar“ range of lenses? (I use my SL2 with an SL Summicron, so the benchmark is rather unfairly high!)

(iii) what problems occur with smearing and color cast when shifting the camera sensor - is it very problematic and how to fix it? 

Thanks indeed if you have any insight here.

 

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18 minutes ago, Jon Warwick said:

(i) is the selection of lenses that allow “infinity focus“ quite limited?

(ii) any idea what the image quality is like from Cambo’s “Actar“ range of lenses? (I use my SL2 with an SL Summicron, so the benchmark is rather unfairly high!)

(iii) what problems occur with smearing and color cast when shifting the camera sensor - is it very problematic and how to fix it? 

(i) That depends on what camera you mount at the back. The Actus-DB, which takes medium format digital backs, will provide the greatest flexibility. That's because the sensor will only be a few millimeters from the rear standard.

(ii) The Actar lenses come from different suppliers. You will probably find answers to this question in the GetDPI.com forums. That's a website mostly dedicated to discussing medium format and tech cams.

(iii) it depends on which camera/digiback you attach. Again, your best bet is to search GetDPI.

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14 hours ago, Jon Warwick said:

As an SL2 owner (and also someone who separately enjoys camera movements with my 5x4), something like the Actus-G has always looked very promising.

I can imagine myself setting up an Actus to get the verticals straight and then possibly also shifting left-right to stitch to create a larger file size.

But the following has never been clear to me .... maybe you have some thoughts here that would help me? .....


(i) is the selection of lenses that allow “infinity focus“ quite limited?

(ii) any idea what the image quality is like from Cambo’s “Actar“ range of lenses? (I use my SL2 with an SL Summicron, so the benchmark is rather unfairly high!)

(iii) what problems occur with smearing and color cast when shifting the camera sensor - is it very problematic and how to fix it? 

Thanks indeed if you have any insight here.

 

(i) I think as BernardC has stated, digital back will be the most versatile but you are limited to ES for shutter. As per your case, the flange for L mount I think is about 18mm? So your choice of lens is very versatile as well. Most lens will be usable.

(ii) I have the Actar 24mm and it is an inferior lens compare to TSE24mm from Canon (Canon is actually very very good lens if the mechanism/body is well adjusted). They are also providing modification to Contax 645 35mm which they call Actar 35mm. That one, is very good, I used that a lot with the Alpa set. I think in terms of lens quality to cost to coverage/movement, Enlarging lens from Rodenstock (Rodagon APO) is very good cause a. it's APO, b. it's completely flat with no distortion. I used them to pair with GFX. I think for 135 sensor, the widest you can get is APO 50mm, I think I have an test example of Rodagon APO 50mm with A7R3 9 image stitched. The A7R3 has thicker sensor cover and yet it perform very well. SL will definitely be better cause it has thinner sensor cover, so less fringing and higher resolution at shift.

(iii) SL/Leica sensor has thinner glass for their sensor cover, so they are theoretically better in terms of movement. I have use Actus with Leica M10p and it seems to be pretty good with no color fringing even at extreme 20mm left right shift. The only issue it has is the shutter shake (no matter how light it is, it is too much). So if you are pairing it with SL, I don't think it will have problem.

Hope this help.

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On 8/27/2020 at 1:59 AM, Stuart Richardson said:

I have been shooting the S since 2010, and got a used SL2 in the spring thinking it might take a year to get the S3, but I managed to find one. To be completely honest, I am not yet fully convinced. My body has had a few issues, and while I see the differences in image quality, I am just as likely to prefer the more precise rendering of the Sl2 than the S. Certainly do not leave the lightroom settings for either camera where they are, as they are decidedly ill suited to the files (luminance noise reduction at ISO 100!?). I am not sure I agree with Mark that the S is so much more refined. It is different. I have only had the camera for a week or two and Leica has yet to comment on my problems (put shortly, banding in the shadows even at ISO 100 when the file is pushed around a lot, and banding from ISO 6400/12500, as well as lots of focus hunting compared to the 006 and mismatches between the OVF and focus system/live view. I have heard from others with the camera that they have not had similar issues). I am hoping that my camera is more of an anomaly than anything, but I push my cameras very hard, as a lot of my work is done at night and I use a lot of cropping for things like photo montage. The SL2 and S006 have put up with this very well. The S3 that I have received has not. My advice would be to try it and see what works for you. I think the most important difference in the systems is in handling, which should be the driving differentiation.

As for the future, I think the S system is unlikely to develop much, unless Leica decides to refresh it entirely. From my perspective, the future is clearly with the SL system for Leica, even though the S is still a superb camera system. As Mark says, they don't need much updating. That said, they have not had a new lens in six years and there is no sign of any teleconverters, long lenses etc. If you want something from the S system and you can't already do it, I don't think you are likely to get it.

Hi, Thank you, Stuart. Don't know what is going on with banding,  I didnt follow M10R situation, do we see any complain about it on banding? The AF hunting you observed might come from much fast focus process speed comparing to S006. When I first got S007, I have the same feeling that it just push back and forth much faster than 006 without noticeable improvement in accuracy and real locking speed.  OVF and live view focus mismatches will be a big issue for user like me that rely on manual focus, this indicate flange or mirror assembly issue. 

Any development on S will be a extra plus for me. However, as S user, I don't really need much TBH. As of today, to be fair, I don't really see the benefit of S system on landscape that need deep DOF, maybe high pixel count or slightly better SNR from larger sensor area within Leica sensor family. However, For wide aperture shooting or any pictures offer background or focus transition, I do feel it is still ahead compare to any FF system (including M and SL2) The difference might be small for some but big for me and is very noticeable during editing IMHO.  

S system is expensive, quite niche and become niche-er, however, in a long run,  it actually save money as I don't need anything else but a S body and a 35/70/120 lenses set. If I lost my S, I will buy them today again without any regrets. It is My most loved system over all these years. Contrary to others opinions, I think this is the best system Leica ever offered.   

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