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Leica SL to SL2-S


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I thought I would share some information on my journey with the Leica SL and my transition to the SL2-S. I know many others are likely considering an upgrade at this point.

Leica SL

I purchased the SL in early 2016. My most recent cameras had been: Nikon D4s, Sony RX1, and Leica MP (240). I bought the SL with the 24-90 and M adaptor and kept the RX1 and MP. I later added the Summilux-SL 50, the 16-35, and the 90-280. I no longer intended to shoot action or sports so the D4s and Nikon lenses were sold.

The SL served me well for just under 5 years. The camera has been completely reliable and trouble-free over that time period. I have used it in the winter cold, summer heat, rain, and snow with zero issues.

Highlights of the SL (601):

  • User interface -- I loved the four-button interface and the customization allowed. The camera was intuitive to use early on and served as a welcome change from my Nikons. The joystick is excellent.
  • EVF - The resolution and size of the EVF were revelatory for me when the camera was new. This EVF is still competitive today.
  • Durability - I almost never used a case and kept the camera on my hip for five years. The only blemishes were a few small nicks on the edges of the top plate.
  • Color - I enjoyed the colors from this camera more than any camera I've owned. Second is probably the RX1, though I've not liked the alpha series cameras I've tested. I transitioned from Aperture to Lightroom and now Capture One for post processing.
  • GPS - The integrated GPS was a welcome change from my Nikons and worked flawlessly over the life of the camera.

Downsides of the SL (601):

  • Sharp edges on the bottom plate. I added a RRS bottom plate early on and almost never removed it. The improvement in handling was immediate with all my fingers fitting on the grip and no sharp edges to contend with, along with a more durable finish.
  • EVF is not great in low light. The EVF tends to trend toward a choppy, noisy bluish mess in low light. It's a huge difference compared to normal conditions.
  • AFc is not reliable and was a marked step down from my D4s. I know good results can be achieved, but the hit rate was significantly lower than to which I was accustomed.
  • Without IBIS and with fixed rear screen, shooting sharp images without my eye to the EVF is challenging.
  • No focus-bracketing. This would be welcome for macro shooting.
  • Proprietary wired remote release is expensive and the cable is too short.

Choosing SL2-S v. SL2:

When the SL2 was announced I paid little attention. I shot 16 MP with the Nikon D4 and D4s for years and when I moved to 24 MP with the RX1, MP, and SL I felt like I'd found the right resolution for most of my needs. I print with an Epson P800 (max 17" width) and I shoot at high-ISO frequently. Only a few times over the last five years did I find myself wanting or needing additional resolution. 

My initial thoughts about the SL2 were that there was a step backward in user interface and industrial design. I was unsure about the EVF losing magnification and I did not like the exposed strap lugs. IBIS is a huge win. I waited to try the camera because it just didn't seem to offer anything I needed.

In January 2021 I tried out the SL2 and my SL for a day with my Summilux-SL 50, 24-90, and a borrowed Summicron-SL 90. I shot the SL2 for a while as I would my SL and then took like photos with both cameras for later post processing and comparison. All comparisons were done with my usual workflow in Capture One 21 and on an Apple Pro Display XDR. I did not print for this comparison as I've not been printing as much over the last few years and I'm confident in the transition from screen to print.

Notes from the SL2 v. SL comparison:

  • I was surprised to immediately enjoy the grip of the SL2 more than my SL. My hands fit the SL well and I never had any problem with its grip shape. The SL2 was simply better.
  • The three-button interface seems misplaced on the SL2, not allowing me to hit the "play" button with my right hand. I have to adjust my grip to review images in the EVF.
  • The IBIS is great to have with the non-OIS lenses. I didn't notice a substantial difference with the 24-90, though with more testing I'm sure I would see some improvement.
  • The camera felt lighter than my SL, despite being heavier. This was a surprise and I think it is due to the change in grip and softened edges.
  • I was disappointed with high-ISO images with the SL2. I compare at the same viewing size so I expected the downsampled SL2 images to be better than they were. The colors at high ISO (above 5000) were not to my liking and I don't enjoy post processing for noise reduction. 
  • I was disappointed with the colors I got out of the SL2. This is completely subjective and there is inherent bias given I've been viewing SL images for five years. That said when I purchased the SL the color was an immediate improvement over my Nikons that I'd been shooting for even longer. The colors are not poor, but side by side with my SL images I consistently preferred the SL.
  • I found the the extra resolution in the SL2 didn't do much for me at my normal viewing size, including at max resolution on my XDR display (approximately 21 MP, or 6K). Of course I could crop more than with the SL but I don't find I do so very often. The additional reach with the 90-280 would be welcome but outside that use case, I prefer to shoot at max resolution for a given framing.
  • Even at 100% I was not blown away by the SL2 resolution. When I tested an S (007) a few years ago I was more impressed with those results, despite the lower resolution.
  • The SL2 EVF was better in low light than my SL. This is a big deal for me.
  • The SL2 EVF refresh rate seems dramatically improved over the SL. This was both at 60 fps and 120 fps settings.
  • The SL2 EVF seems to have higher contrast and better dynamic range, which actually made it seem more artificial to me, as nonsensical as that seems. I felt more like I was looking at a high definition television. The decreased magnification may be a part of this.
  • The SL2 EVF tended toward a more bluish tint in outdoor lighting and I was immediately put off by this. I reset the camera and this went away. Someone must have set it up this way. The adjustable EVF settings are a welcome improvement.
  • I love the placement of the front and top plate buttons on the SL2. 
  • In person the SL2 is a more attractive camera to my eyes. I was not expecting this as I enjoyed the brutal aesthetic of the SL. The SL2 maintains this with welcome changes.
  • On a 2019 Macbook Pro (2.4 GHz i9, 64 GB RAM, AMD Pro 5500M 8 GB graphics card) the SL2 images provided just enough lag in post processing to be an irritant. Similarly, the camera did not seem as speedy in operation.

After shooting, reviewing images and researching the SL2 as much as possible, I could not shake the feeling that I simply preferred the images from the SL. This led me to purchase the SL2-S. 

SL2-S Initial Impressions:

I've had the SL2-S for about a week and I've shot enough to build a first impression of the camera.

Highlights of the SL2-S:

  • The EVF is an improvement over the SL. It's significantly better in low light and I don't really miss the slightly higher magnification of the SL.
  • The improved grip continues to give the impression that the camera is lighter, even with the RRS plate removed from my original SL.
  • The three button placement on the left side still bothers me. I cannot quickly review images in the EVF without adjusting my grip. The functionality of the three button interface is well thought out and I have no issue with it.
  • The IBIS is fantastic.
  • The camera is attractive and the glossy black Leica logo has grown on me.
  • The exposed strap lugs are not ideal but I really don't notice them 95% of the time.
  • I have ordered a RRS L- plate for tripod use but I'm not sure I need it for everyday shooting the way I did with the original SL. The softened edges make a big difference in handling.
  • Everything about this camera is lag-free. I really enjoy shooting and it seems faster in operation than the SL and the SL2.
  • I have not used the AF (outside of AFs) enough to form a thoroughly vetted opinion. Tracking is better, face-detect is better, and it's more configurable than the SL. Whether I'll rely on the more advanced modes is dependent on hit rate with more testing.
  • Battery life appears to be diminished from the SL but it's still good enough for me so far.
  • The color is fantastic. I think I prefer it over my SL at this point but I need to shoot more.
  • High ISO is great. I now allow Auto-ISO to float to 12500 and I never would have done so with the SL. Color quality at high ISO is much improved.
  • I appreciate the LENR being optional. I haven't shot without it yet but I'll try it later.
  • I will miss integrated GPS. No wireless phone connection replaces the perfect functionality of the SL.
  • I miss the DOF preview.
  • I'm irritated Leica changed the wired remote connector and that the new one is still proprietary. I'll look for a way to retrofit my old one or an off-brand.

I may provide an update later when I've shot more with the SL2-S but for now I am extremely happy with the upgrade. I think Leica has done a great job with the timing of the SL2 and SL2-S releases and they are welcome upgrades from the original. The SL2 would make a great camera if I needed the resolution and had less need for high ISO.

 

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As one who transitioned from the SL to the SL2-S via a three month interlude with the SL2 I agree with almost all you write and disagree with nothing important.

I will pick out just one thing: the strap lugs - they really annoy me - such a retrograde step. I guess it is because of how I handle the camera. I use a hand strap all the time, and it is convenient to set the camera down on edge; with the SL and, say, the 24-90 zoom and its hood, it is stable and causes no problems. The protruding lugs of the SL2-S mean that the camera rocks when set down like this, and the left lug (with no strap attached) easily causes scratches or chips to delicate surfaces.

The fact that this is what I highlight is probably a sign of how much the rest of the camera conforms well to my requirements!  

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SL2S tech is amazing, and after all it what matters the most. I would recommend to many.

But to the ones that appreciate and love high end industrial design.

Some of the odd omissions:

  • no GPS
  • no pc sync
  • no shot setting preview (like used to be in the SL with front button)

and some of the ugly bits

  • Odd lugs  in combination to cheap strap (twists on the lugs...) The SL strap is harder and possibly ok with it.
  • Baseplate design, missing the pin - I would not notice but Leica made a big fuss this detail being important at SL time... 
  • Ugly body design, full of steps and misalignment and odd fillets, seems like somebody was learning CAD
  • Not unibody, strange paint, satin, cheap to touch (not like M or SL), lcd not flush, the skin cover detail below the lens mount, with fillets is super cheap looking (reming of fake Leica III copies)
  • Smaller EV (you can tell but then get used to it quickly)
  • Grip is intended to be good and 99% of users is happy/ For me, long time M user, the SL was better without that odd hope int he grip

The design feels very logical but less magical.  Perhaps it was too difficult to adapt the panasonic to fit into an SL original. Perhaps it was too expensive to upgrade the SL retaining its form. Just the designer of the SL was on vacation this time.

G.

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Hi LD_50,

 

that's a very good comparison and description many here will be grateful about.

 I've got quite a lot PMs with questions about the colours of the SL2-S. As I can only compare it to the M240 and M10P I had, my help was limited as the most people wanted to hear something about the SL2-S against the SL2, especially in comparison with the SL. 

I can only say, that I liked the M10P over the M240, but the SL2-S has in principle a character like the M10, but I like it even more. I normally believe, that you can tweak everything towards a certain look, but the SL2-S shines. However, I think a main reason for this are the Apo--summicrons, which are best lenses I've ever used in my live. Not just sharp, they have a very special character without blinding with a special character - if that makes any sense. 

So thanks, and enjoy the SL2-S, it is a really great camera. 

 

Cheers

Daniel

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13 hours ago, LD_50 said:

I thought I would share some information on my journey with the Leica SL and my transition to the SL2-S. I know many others are likely considering an upgrade at this point.

Leica SL

I purchased the SL in early 2016. My most recent cameras had been: Nikon D4s, Sony RX1, and Leica MP (240). I bought the SL with the 24-90 and M adaptor and kept the RX1 and MP. I later added the Summilux-SL 50, the 16-35, and the 90-280. I no longer intended to shoot action or sports so the D4s and Nikon lenses were sold.

The SL served me well for just under 5 years. The camera has been completely reliable and trouble-free over that time period. I have used it in the winter cold, summer heat, rain, and snow with zero issues.

Highlights of the SL (601):

  • User interface -- I loved the four-button interface and the customization allowed. The camera was intuitive to use early on and served as a welcome change from my Nikons. The joystick is excellent.
  • EVF - The resolution and size of the EVF were revelatory for me when the camera was new. This EVF is still competitive today.
  • Durability - I almost never used a case and kept the camera on my hip for five years. The only blemishes were a few small nicks on the edges of the top plate.
  • Color - I enjoyed the colors from this camera more than any camera I've owned. Second is probably the RX1, though I've not liked the alpha series cameras I've tested. I transitioned from Aperture to Lightroom and now Capture One for post processing.
  • GPS - The integrated GPS was a welcome change from my Nikons and worked flawlessly over the life of the camera.

Downsides of the SL (601):

  • Sharp edges on the bottom plate. I added a RRS bottom plate early on and almost never removed it. The improvement in handling was immediate with all my fingers fitting on the grip and no sharp edges to contend with, along with a more durable finish.
  • EVF is not great in low light. The EVF tends to trend toward a choppy, noisy bluish mess in low light. It's a huge difference compared to normal conditions.
  • AFc is not reliable and was a marked step down from my D4s. I know good results can be achieved, but the hit rate was significantly lower than to which I was accustomed.
  • Without IBIS and with fixed rear screen, shooting sharp images without my eye to the EVF is challenging.
  • No focus-bracketing. This would be welcome for macro shooting.
  • Proprietary wired remote release is expensive and the cable is too short.

Choosing SL2-S v. SL2:

When the SL2 was announced I paid little attention. I shot 16 MP with the Nikon D4 and D4s for years and when I moved to 24 MP with the RX1, MP, and SL I felt like I'd found the right resolution for most of my needs. I print with an Epson P800 (max 17" width) and I shoot at high-ISO frequently. Only a few times over the last five years did I find myself wanting or needing additional resolution. 

My initial thoughts about the SL2 were that there was a step backward in user interface and industrial design. I was unsure about the EVF losing magnification and I did not like the exposed strap lugs. IBIS is a huge win. I waited to try the camera because it just didn't seem to offer anything I needed.

In January 2021 I tried out the SL2 and my SL for a day with my Summilux-SL 50, 24-90, and a borrowed Summicron-SL 90. I shot the SL2 for a while as I would my SL and then took like photos with both cameras for later post processing and comparison. All comparisons were done with my usual workflow in Capture One 21 and on an Apple Pro Display XDR. I did not print for this comparison as I've not been printing as much over the last few years and I'm confident in the transition from screen to print.

Notes from the SL2 v. SL comparison:

  • I was surprised to immediately enjoy the grip of the SL2 more than my SL. My hands fit the SL well and I never had any problem with its grip shape. The SL2 was simply better.
  • The three-button interface seems misplaced on the SL2, not allowing me to hit the "play" button with my right hand. I have to adjust my grip to review images in the EVF.
  • The IBIS is great to have with the non-OIS lenses. I didn't notice a substantial difference with the 24-90, though with more testing I'm sure I would see some improvement.
  • The camera felt lighter than my SL, despite being heavier. This was a surprise and I think it is due to the change in grip and softened edges.
  • I was disappointed with high-ISO images with the SL2. I compare at the same viewing size so I expected the downsampled SL2 images to be better than they were. The colors at high ISO (above 5000) were not to my liking and I don't enjoy post processing for noise reduction. 
  • I was disappointed with the colors I got out of the SL2. This is completely subjective and there is inherent bias given I've been viewing SL images for five years. That said when I purchased the SL the color was an immediate improvement over my Nikons that I'd been shooting for even longer. The colors are not poor, but side by side with my SL images I consistently preferred the SL.
  • I found the the extra resolution in the SL2 didn't do much for me at my normal viewing size, including at max resolution on my XDR display (approximately 21 MP, or 6K). Of course I could crop more than with the SL but I don't find I do so very often. The additional reach with the 90-280 would be welcome but outside that use case, I prefer to shoot at max resolution for a given framing.
  • Even at 100% I was not blown away by the SL2 resolution. When I tested an S (007) a few years ago I was more impressed with those results, despite the lower resolution.
  • The SL2 EVF was better in low light than my SL. This is a big deal for me.
  • The SL2 EVF refresh rate seems dramatically improved over the SL. This was both at 60 fps and 120 fps settings.
  • The SL2 EVF seems to have higher contrast and better dynamic range, which actually made it seem more artificial to me, as nonsensical as that seems. I felt more like I was looking at a high definition television. The decreased magnification may be a part of this.
  • The SL2 EVF tended toward a more bluish tint in outdoor lighting and I was immediately put off by this. I reset the camera and this went away. Someone must have set it up this way. The adjustable EVF settings are a welcome improvement.
  • I love the placement of the front and top plate buttons on the SL2. 
  • In person the SL2 is a more attractive camera to my eyes. I was not expecting this as I enjoyed the brutal aesthetic of the SL. The SL2 maintains this with welcome changes.
  • On a 2019 Macbook Pro (2.4 GHz i9, 64 GB RAM, AMD Pro 5500M 8 GB graphics card) the SL2 images provided just enough lag in post processing to be an irritant. Similarly, the camera did not seem as speedy in operation.

After shooting, reviewing images and researching the SL2 as much as possible, I could not shake the feeling that I simply preferred the images from the SL. This led me to purchase the SL2-S. 

SL2-S Initial Impressions:

I've had the SL2-S for about a week and I've shot enough to build a first impression of the camera.

Highlights of the SL2-S:

  • The EVF is an improvement over the SL. It's significantly better in low light and I don't really miss the slightly higher magnification of the SL.
  • The improved grip continues to give the impression that the camera is lighter, even with the RRS plate removed from my original SL.
  • The three button placement on the left side still bothers me. I cannot quickly review images in the EVF without adjusting my grip. The functionality of the three button interface is well thought out and I have no issue with it.
  • The IBIS is fantastic.
  • The camera is attractive and the glossy black Leica logo has grown on me.
  • The exposed strap lugs are not ideal but I really don't notice them 95% of the time.
  • I have ordered a RRS L- plate for tripod use but I'm not sure I need it for everyday shooting the way I did with the original SL. The softened edges make a big difference in handling.
  • Everything about this camera is lag-free. I really enjoy shooting and it seems faster in operation than the SL and the SL2.
  • I have not used the AF (outside of AFs) enough to form a thoroughly vetted opinion. Tracking is better, face-detect is better, and it's more configurable than the SL. Whether I'll rely on the more advanced modes is dependent on hit rate with more testing.
  • Battery life appears to be diminished from the SL but it's still good enough for me so far.
  • The color is fantastic. I think I prefer it over my SL at this point but I need to shoot more.
  • High ISO is great. I now allow Auto-ISO to float to 12500 and I never would have done so with the SL. Color quality at high ISO is much improved.
  • I appreciate the LENR being optional. I haven't shot without it yet but I'll try it later.
  • I will miss integrated GPS. No wireless phone connection replaces the perfect functionality of the SL.
  • I miss the DOF preview.
  • I'm irritated Leica changed the wired remote connector and that the new one is still proprietary. I'll look for a way to retrofit my old one or an off-brand.

I may provide an update later when I've shot more with the SL2-S but for now I am extremely happy with the upgrade. I think Leica has done a great job with the timing of the SL2 and SL2-S releases and they are welcome upgrades from the original. The SL2 would make a great camera if I needed the resolution and had less need for high ISO.

 

Very interesting and informative post, I came to an SL2 from the M system but after a year of shooting it in various locations around the world (when we could) I decided to ‘downgrade’ to the SL2-S’s. I’m so glad I did for many of the reasons you’ve stated above and I prefer the the colours to the SL2 and faster operation, it’s really superb and I hope the spring update takes many of the features to another level again.

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Update 1:

I shot with the SL2-S and 90-280 today for the first time.

  • I noticed right away that the image in the EVF didn’t stabilize as quickly as it did with the SL, but only roughly half the time. I will have to shoot more to see if there is something causing the delay. This caused me to miss a few bird shots. I think it may be after letting the camera go to sleep with the power saving settings. 
  • Tracking AF is much improved over the SL. 

The locks on both my SD cards keep sliding and giving me the locked card message. I think the card slots are tighter than the SL. I might have to glue the slide locks in place. 

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Great post.  I have owned the original SL since inception and love the camera, upgraded to the SL2 and enjoy the extra resolution (for crop ability and being able to only carry 35 SL lens) for day time landscapes, but have been unhappy with low light grain and also grain when bringing out shadows/blacks in daylight scenes.  As shared in the original post, Lightroom on the most current MacBook Pro is slow, especially when zooming into the image.   I also find the files less enjoyable to work with than the files from the original SL, in terms of dynamic range and colors.  Purchased the SL2-S three weeks ago and the files are great to work with, the low light capability is incredible and worth the upgrade from the original SL.  I do not find the operability between the SL2 and SL2-S any different in terms of speed, so if there is a difference it maybe is very subtle.  Lightroom handles the SL2-S much better on my same MacBook Pro that struggles/lags with the SL2 files.  The SL2-S will now own the place as my everyday shooter due primarily to the low light capability, colors, and smaller file size.

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On 2/20/2021 at 10:44 AM, LD_50 said:

I thought I would share some information on my journey with the Leica SL and my transition to the SL2-S. I know many others are likely considering an upgrade at this point.

What a winner of a post! Many thanks for your insights!

 

You have paid good attention to EVF refresh rates, especially how it changes in low light. I have recently explored more state-of-the-art EVFs and have found myself wanting. For a temporary measure I have denounced the EVF. :)

For the sake of curiosity what is the light level where SL2S's live view starts to get choppy? I have done these unscientific tests by aiming slow lenses towards the dark corners of my house so that the evaluative metering at EC0 suggests an exposure of 1 sec at ISO 200, f/4*, at which point it's too dark for my EVF cameras to refresh the view often enough, getting choppy.

*) The lens has to be physically at its widest aperture at f/4 because the 'viewing aperture' will be the widest possible.

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16 hours ago, LD_50 said:

I noticed right away that the image in the EVF didn’t stabilize as quickly as it did with the SL

Could the delay have something to do with using both IBIS and in-lens stabilisation at the same time?

Pete.

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1 hour ago, farnz said:

Could the delay have something to do with using both IBIS and in-lens stabilisation at the same time?

Pete.

My first thought was this may have been to blame but it didn’t happen every time so I’m not sure. I’ll shoot with it again soon to see if I notice the same behavior. I’ll try various focal lengths as well. 

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5 hours ago, LikameLeica said:

.As shared in the original post, Lightroom on the most current MacBook Pro is slow, especially when zooming into the image.  

I should mention that all my comparisons with SL2 and SL2-S were done with Capture One 21. I gave up on Lightroom several years ago, before the SL2 was announced. I never enjoyed using it much. I miss the Aperture workflow and prefer the Capture One image quality. LR seemed like the worst of all and I also do not like the subscription terms. 

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15 hours ago, LD_50 said:

I should mention that all my comparisons with SL2 and SL2-S were done with Capture One 21. I gave up on Lightroom several years ago, before the SL2 was announced. I never enjoyed using it much. I miss the Aperture workflow and prefer the Capture One image quality. LR seemed like the worst of all and I also do not like the subscription terms. 

I have tried the demo version of Capture One 21 (C1) and love it, but so hard to make the switch with the amount of files, adjustments, ratings, and online catalog capability with Lightroom (LR).  If I was starting from scratch I would definitely use C1, with one caveat being that LR online storage, sharing capability, and iPad App seem to be well ahead of anything with Capture One 21.  Anyone have any recommendations on how to seamlessly transition to C1?

 

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On 2/21/2021 at 9:59 PM, LikameLeica said:

Great post.  I have owned the original SL since inception and love the camera, upgraded to the SL2 and enjoy the extra resolution (for crop ability and being able to only carry 35 SL lens) for day time landscapes, but have been unhappy with low light grain and also grain when bringing out shadows/blacks in daylight scenes.  As shared in the original post, Lightroom on the most current MacBook Pro is slow, especially when zooming into the image.   I also find the files less enjoyable to work with than the files from the original SL, in terms of dynamic range and colors.  Purchased the SL2-S three weeks ago and the files are great to work with, the low light capability is incredible and worth the upgrade from the original SL.  I do not find the operability between the SL2 and SL2-S any different in terms of speed, so if there is a difference it maybe is very subtle.  Lightroom handles the SL2-S much better on my same MacBook Pro that struggles/lags with the SL2 files.  The SL2-S will now own the place as my everyday shooter due primarily to the low light capability, colors, and smaller file size.

Posted this pictures in Leica SL2-S Image Thread, but thought I would share here as well to illustrate the low light capability of the SL2-S.  Leica Summilux-M 1:1.4/35 ASPH at f8.0, 1/30 and ISO 6400.  Image Stabilization ON.   No crop. The image quality, colors, grain, dynamic range, etc are all absolutely amazing.  I am original SL owner, SL2 owner and now found the perfect camera with the SL2-S.  2nd cropped image available for viewing on the image thread for SL

2-S.
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6 hours ago, LikameLeica said:

I have tried the demo version of Capture One 21 (C1) and love it, but so hard to make the switch with the amount of files, adjustments, ratings, and online catalog capability with Lightroom (LR).  If I was starting from scratch I would definitely use C1, with one caveat being that LR online storage, sharing capability, and iPad App seem to be well ahead of anything with Capture One 21.  Anyone have any recommendations on how to seamlessly transition to C1?

 

Capture One has info available on switching from Lightroom. I didn’t have any trouble with it but I didn’t utilize the ratings and keywords in LR, nor the online storage/sharing features so you may have different requirements. 

I would like to see Capture One add an iPad application. 
 

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Update 2:

Today I was asked about the SL2-S twice while moving through an airport with the 50 Summilux SL. I’ve never had anyone ask about the SL before. This is not a positive development and hopefully not a sign of things to come. The blacked out logo presumably would achieve the opposite. 
 

On a more serious note, I decided yesterday to test some of the autofocus modes with the 90-280. I typically have my camera set up in manual focus (MF) with the joystick press set to MF Mode- AFc or AFs. 

I have the AF Mode set to the custom function for the bottom front of camera button. With this set up I can quickly change my AF behavior with no interaction from a half press of the shutter. The joystick acts as an AF-on button like I had on my Nikons.

What I found with each AF Mode is this:

  • Multi-Field- works as expected with joystick set to both AFs and AFc.
  • Spot- works as expected with both AFs and AFc.
  • Field- works as expected with both AFs and AFc.
  • Zone- works as expected with both AFs and AFc.
  • Tracking- tracks focus with continuous autofocus with the joystick set to AFs or AFc. I like this behavior. If I choose tracking, it overrides the AFs choice because tracking and AFs don’t work together.
  • Face/Body Detection- with joystick press set to AFc, this works but you must highlight the face yourself with the AF field box and press and hold the joystick to “activate” it. I’m fine with this but it took me some time to realize it worked this way. In AF mode, the face/body detection immediately identifies faces in the frame with no “activation” so it was not immediately clear what was happening. With joystick press set to AFs, face/body detection does not work at all. You can manually select a face with the AF field box and press the joystick but you only get AFs behavior and no smart detection.

I often used the manual mode with joystick press set to AFs in the past with my SL. Knowing that face/body detection doesn’t work with this setup means I may switch to AFc full time so that I have all autofocus modes quickly at my disposal with my preferred shutter button behavior.

My preference would be for face/body detection mode to override the AFs choice the same way Tracking mode does. 

Hopefully this helps anyone else experimenting with the AF options while in MF mode.


 

 

Edited by LD_50
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On 2/20/2021 at 9:44 AM, LD_50 said:

I thought I would share some information on my journey with the Leica SL and my transition to the SL2-S. I know many others are likely considering an upgrade at this point.

Leica SL

I purchased the SL in early 2016. My most recent cameras had been: Nikon D4s, Sony RX1, and Leica MP (240). I bought the SL with the 24-90 and M adaptor and kept the RX1 and MP. I later added the Summilux-SL 50, the 16-35, and the 90-280. I no longer intended to shoot action or sports so the D4s and Nikon lenses were sold.

The SL served me well for just under 5 years. The camera has been completely reliable and trouble-free over that time period. I have used it in the winter cold, summer heat, rain, and snow with zero issues.

Highlights of the SL (601):

  • User interface -- I loved the four-button interface and the customization allowed. The camera was intuitive to use early on and served as a welcome change from my Nikons. The joystick is excellent.
  • EVF - The resolution and size of the EVF were revelatory for me when the camera was new. This EVF is still competitive today.
  • Durability - I almost never used a case and kept the camera on my hip for five years. The only blemishes were a few small nicks on the edges of the top plate.
  • Color - I enjoyed the colors from this camera more than any camera I've owned. Second is probably the RX1, though I've not liked the alpha series cameras I've tested. I transitioned from Aperture to Lightroom and now Capture One for post processing.
  • GPS - The integrated GPS was a welcome change from my Nikons and worked flawlessly over the life of the camera.

Downsides of the SL (601):

  • Sharp edges on the bottom plate. I added a RRS bottom plate early on and almost never removed it. The improvement in handling was immediate with all my fingers fitting on the grip and no sharp edges to contend with, along with a more durable finish.
  • EVF is not great in low light. The EVF tends to trend toward a choppy, noisy bluish mess in low light. It's a huge difference compared to normal conditions.
  • AFc is not reliable and was a marked step down from my D4s. I know good results can be achieved, but the hit rate was significantly lower than to which I was accustomed.
  • Without IBIS and with fixed rear screen, shooting sharp images without my eye to the EVF is challenging.
  • No focus-bracketing. This would be welcome for macro shooting.
  • Proprietary wired remote release is expensive and the cable is too short.

Choosing SL2-S v. SL2:

When the SL2 was announced I paid little attention. I shot 16 MP with the Nikon D4 and D4s for years and when I moved to 24 MP with the RX1, MP, and SL I felt like I'd found the right resolution for most of my needs. I print with an Epson P800 (max 17" width) and I shoot at high-ISO frequently. Only a few times over the last five years did I find myself wanting or needing additional resolution. 

My initial thoughts about the SL2 were that there was a step backward in user interface and industrial design. I was unsure about the EVF losing magnification and I did not like the exposed strap lugs. IBIS is a huge win. I waited to try the camera because it just didn't seem to offer anything I needed.

In January 2021 I tried out the SL2 and my SL for a day with my Summilux-SL 50, 24-90, and a borrowed Summicron-SL 90. I shot the SL2 for a while as I would my SL and then took like photos with both cameras for later post processing and comparison. All comparisons were done with my usual workflow in Capture One 21 and on an Apple Pro Display XDR. I did not print for this comparison as I've not been printing as much over the last few years and I'm confident in the transition from screen to print.

Notes from the SL2 v. SL comparison:

  • I was surprised to immediately enjoy the grip of the SL2 more than my SL. My hands fit the SL well and I never had any problem with its grip shape. The SL2 was simply better.
  • The three-button interface seems misplaced on the SL2, not allowing me to hit the "play" button with my right hand. I have to adjust my grip to review images in the EVF.
  • The IBIS is great to have with the non-OIS lenses. I didn't notice a substantial difference with the 24-90, though with more testing I'm sure I would see some improvement.
  • The camera felt lighter than my SL, despite being heavier. This was a surprise and I think it is due to the change in grip and softened edges.
  • I was disappointed with high-ISO images with the SL2. I compare at the same viewing size so I expected the downsampled SL2 images to be better than they were. The colors at high ISO (above 5000) were not to my liking and I don't enjoy post processing for noise reduction. 
  • I was disappointed with the colors I got out of the SL2. This is completely subjective and there is inherent bias given I've been viewing SL images for five years. That said when I purchased the SL the color was an immediate improvement over my Nikons that I'd been shooting for even longer. The colors are not poor, but side by side with my SL images I consistently preferred the SL.
  • I found the the extra resolution in the SL2 didn't do much for me at my normal viewing size, including at max resolution on my XDR display (approximately 21 MP, or 6K). Of course I could crop more than with the SL but I don't find I do so very often. The additional reach with the 90-280 would be welcome but outside that use case, I prefer to shoot at max resolution for a given framing.
  • Even at 100% I was not blown away by the SL2 resolution. When I tested an S (007) a few years ago I was more impressed with those results, despite the lower resolution.
  • The SL2 EVF was better in low light than my SL. This is a big deal for me.
  • The SL2 EVF refresh rate seems dramatically improved over the SL. This was both at 60 fps and 120 fps settings.
  • The SL2 EVF seems to have higher contrast and better dynamic range, which actually made it seem more artificial to me, as nonsensical as that seems. I felt more like I was looking at a high definition television. The decreased magnification may be a part of this.
  • The SL2 EVF tended toward a more bluish tint in outdoor lighting and I was immediately put off by this. I reset the camera and this went away. Someone must have set it up this way. The adjustable EVF settings are a welcome improvement.
  • I love the placement of the front and top plate buttons on the SL2. 
  • In person the SL2 is a more attractive camera to my eyes. I was not expecting this as I enjoyed the brutal aesthetic of the SL. The SL2 maintains this with welcome changes.
  • On a 2019 Macbook Pro (2.4 GHz i9, 64 GB RAM, AMD Pro 5500M 8 GB graphics card) the SL2 images provided just enough lag in post processing to be an irritant. Similarly, the camera did not seem as speedy in operation.

After shooting, reviewing images and researching the SL2 as much as possible, I could not shake the feeling that I simply preferred the images from the SL. This led me to purchase the SL2-S. 

SL2-S Initial Impressions:

I've had the SL2-S for about a week and I've shot enough to build a first impression of the camera.

Highlights of the SL2-S:

  • The EVF is an improvement over the SL. It's significantly better in low light and I don't really miss the slightly higher magnification of the SL.
  • The improved grip continues to give the impression that the camera is lighter, even with the RRS plate removed from my original SL.
  • The three button placement on the left side still bothers me. I cannot quickly review images in the EVF without adjusting my grip. The functionality of the three button interface is well thought out and I have no issue with it.
  • The IBIS is fantastic.
  • The camera is attractive and the glossy black Leica logo has grown on me.
  • The exposed strap lugs are not ideal but I really don't notice them 95% of the time.
  • I have ordered a RRS L- plate for tripod use but I'm not sure I need it for everyday shooting the way I did with the original SL. The softened edges make a big difference in handling.
  • Everything about this camera is lag-free. I really enjoy shooting and it seems faster in operation than the SL and the SL2.
  • I have not used the AF (outside of AFs) enough to form a thoroughly vetted opinion. Tracking is better, face-detect is better, and it's more configurable than the SL. Whether I'll rely on the more advanced modes is dependent on hit rate with more testing.
  • Battery life appears to be diminished from the SL but it's still good enough for me so far.
  • The color is fantastic. I think I prefer it over my SL at this point but I need to shoot more.
  • High ISO is great. I now allow Auto-ISO to float to 12500 and I never would have done so with the SL. Color quality at high ISO is much improved.
  • I appreciate the LENR being optional. I haven't shot without it yet but I'll try it later.
  • I will miss integrated GPS. No wireless phone connection replaces the perfect functionality of the SL.
  • I miss the DOF preview.
  • I'm irritated Leica changed the wired remote connector and that the new one is still proprietary. I'll look for a way to retrofit my old one or an off-brand.

I may provide an update later when I've shot more with the SL2-S but for now I am extremely happy with the upgrade. I think Leica has done a great job with the timing of the SL2 and SL2-S releases and they are welcome upgrades from the original. The SL2 would make a great camera if I needed the resolution and had less need for high ISO.

 

Well and clearly defined! 

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