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By jrpI 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:
By NZDavidIt seems the SL does not have a conventional shutter speed dial. (Although you have to download the brochure to have a good look; I can find no pictures showing the camera from all sides in the video presentation. Style over information?) Instead, I guess you have to flick the dial and set the speed either by looking in the finder or on the LCD (top or backplate). Why? What's wrong with the old-style shutter speed dial? Some other camera manufacturers (Fuji, Nikon) have gone back to this tried and true system for some cameras. This iconic design was invented by Oskar Barnack and used on the very first Leica camera. Shutter speeds marked on a top-plate dial, apertures around the lens. What could be simpler? Leica ditched this proven ergonomic design for the T camera, favoring a smartphone interface instead. Now, with the SL, it looks like unadorned controls have been chosen to look cleaner and smoother. The Oly OM-D models have a similar looking dial with no markings. But is this just style over function? I wonder just what makes this new design so much better? Perhaps someone will say it's much faster or that it makes little difference in practice. I find choosing a shutter speed simply by looking at it and setting it much faster. It's a one-step process and also gives you a ready frame of reference like an analog watch. Or is that just me?