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Hi,

I have recently bought an SL2-S and at beginning I'll mainly use with manual focus (M) Lenses.

However, I really like the 90-280mm tele and I might buy second hand

A couple of questions about autofocus:

  • in all honesty, how good is the SL2-s autofocus when compared to say a Nikon Z6 (the camera I own)?
  • same question as above for most advanced autofocus features, auto-focus tracking, face recognition etc.
  • If am not mistaken, a massive firmware update for the SL2-s with significant improvements for the autofocus system was announced. Has it been released? In the 2.0 I have not seen much about the autofocus

Many thanks in advance for your answers.

Cheers.

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I have the Z6 and the SL2-S. The latter is my primary camera, the first I use mainly for birds and other wildlife. I can say this: colour-wise, the SL2-S is in its own league in terms of skin tones, green foliage and sky blue. This also counts for the video side. Day to night experience to the Z6. But the Z6's AF generally performs better. However, with firmware 2.0, face recognition and people recognition improved vastly on the SL2-S, and I'd say the SL2-S is a pretty close second to the Z6. However, continuous focusing for video is still quite unusable.

So what to do with this? You'll have great results if you are using the SL2-S for journalistic work (not sports, but people), landscapes, events, portraiture, and the likes. But I fear, with the 90-280, you are planning to shoot quickly moving objects, which is not a particular strength of the SL2-S' AF, and you might be better off with the Z6 and a respective Nikkor lens.

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6 hours ago, wolan said:
  • If am not mistaken, a massive firmware update for the SL2-s with significant improvements for the autofocus system was announced. Has it been released? In the 2.0 I have not seen much about the autofocus

 

The 2.0 FW for the SL2-S is what you’re referring that has improved AF.

AF-S is pretty reliable but AF-C is not that great. But I also find that some lenses behave better than others. Some are smoother others can be more erratic.

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In AFS you'll notice little to no difference. The SL2s may be a bit better in low light.

For tracking the Z6/7 are better. Mostly in how they operate rather than the results. The AFC wobble is annoying on the SL2-s and can ruin video on occasion. For stills it just ruins the user experience, not the results.

Gordon

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Posted (edited)

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Depends what you want AF to do for you: tracking, continuous focus and continuous shooting? speed of focus? accuracy of focus? picking the right focus point, or helping you do so? ease of switching between focusing methods?

For me: tracking and continuous focus leave something to be desired; I never use burst/continuous shooting; it is easily fast enough and accurate enough for most of my needs; I wish it were quicker to switch between focusing methods, but it could be worse, once you have worked out a system.

As for picking the right focus point, I have posted before about focusing on a scene with a number of moving people in it, and how the SL2-S deals with it - and I suspect I got it wrong in a number of matters. I first wrote that, using iAF (which I do almost all the time, to save switching AFc-AFs) and Eye/Face/Body, the SL2-S often picked the wrong person to focus on and I couldn't correct it. I found that was incorrect: using the joystick (left and right) you can flick between selected bodies - the yellow border shows the current target. But I thought it couldn't handle more than three people in a frame. But last night I had four people constrained in a frame (in a drama rehearsal space) and found I could quickly and easily flick focus between each of them. In a more random street scene where people cross in front of each other and move in and out of the frame it will be more difficult.

My point is: the question of which camera's AF is better depends on what you shoot and how. When combined with its low light noise/colour capabilities, the SL2-S is fast becoming a fine performer for indoor, low light people photography.
SL2-S + 90-280 ISO 12500, fluorescent lighting (denoised in Topaz).

Edited by LocalHero1953
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On 8/16/2021 at 7:59 PM, Steven said:

In all honesty, it’s ok for photos, it’s pure garbage for video. 

100% agree. It is not usable for video.

In times when smartphones are eating away general market share of the camera industry, I think Panasonic/Leica really needs to step up their game in this department.

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vor einer Stunde schrieb LocalHero1953:

Depends what you want AF to do for you: tracking, continuous focus and continuous shooting? speed of focus? accuracy of focus? picking the right focus point, or helping you do so? ease of switching between focusing methods?

For me: tracking and continuous focus leave something to be desired; I never use burst/continuous shooting; it is easily fast enough and accurate enough for most of my needs; I wish it were quicker to switch between focusing methods, but it could be worse, once you have worked out a system.

As for picking the right focus point, I have posted before about focusing on a scene with a number of moving people in it, and how the SL2-S deals with it - and I suspect I got it wrong in a number of matters. I first wrote that, using iAF (which I do almost all the time, to save switching AFc-AFs) and Eye/Face/Body, the SL2-S often picked the wrong person to focus on and I couldn't correct it. I found that was incorrect: using the joystick (left and right) you can flick between selected bodies - the yellow border shows the current target. But I thought it couldn't handle more than three people in a frame. But last night I had four people constrained in a frame (in a drama rehearsal space) and found I could quickly and easily flick focus between each of them. In a more random street scene where people cross in front of each other and move in and out of the frame it will be more difficult.

My point is: the question of which camera's AF is better depends on what you shoot and how. When combined with its low light noise/colour capabilities, the SL2-S is fast becoming a fine performer for indoor, low light people photography.
SL2-S + 90-280 ISO 12500, fluorescent lighting (denoised in Topaz).

I mostly use  AFs, if that works, that is it is fast enough and, above all, precise, then it is enough for me.I like to think that Leica can fix or improve the AFc in future firmware releases.

Thanks for chiming in 

 

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14 minutes ago, wolan said:

I mostly use  AFs, if that works, that is it is fast enough and, above all, precise, then it is enough for me.I like to think that Leica can fix or improve the AFc in future firmware releases.

Thanks for chiming in 

 

Then you'll be fine. The original Z6 and 7 (I have the 7) were good but not great in tracking. But a smidge better than the current SL2s. Both behind the leading Sony and Canons.

For AFS they both performed well. You're going to LOVE to SL2s joystick.

Gordon

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13 minutes ago, Steven said:

They can’t, as long as they don’t move on from contrast based AF. 

I agree .

The AF on my SL2s is good enough though for the equestrian shots I do.

Barking mad though that they don`t move on from contrast detect .... its a nonsense . 

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8 hours ago, Photoworks said:

I wonder why Arri and Blackmagic cameras are the most use in professional productions , AF is terrible.

Arris, Reds and BM are used in MF. The SL is what is a considered a hybrid camera (photo & video), so it is a different camera category. In that category, reliable AF tracking for video is a key feature. 
 

Don’t get me wrong, other than AF, the SL2-S is a great camera for video! 

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@Photoworks I'm not sure whether BM cameras belong to the most used cameras in professional film and video productions; the Alexa family sure does. The Canon EOS cinema line cameras and the Sonys from FS7 to FX9 are probably more widespread in the pro video market than any other manufacturer's products. The two manufacturers provide good AF systems. I've shot with the Canon C500Mk2 on a few occasions in AF mode, and its AF is insanely good. With that camera, you can swap mounts, and I used it conventionally with PL glass too. But I didn't buy it. 

First, the colour wasn't mine. Neither is Sony's (I'd give the Venice probably an exception, but I haven't shot with it yet). I like Arri and Red's colour, the latter only when used in ACES under the Arri LogC IDT. And I like Leica's colour.

Secondly, AF in video was and is a thing I never needed or missed. Manually pulling focus is part of an organic camera operation, at least for me. However, I can see AF benefits for interviews or selfies, but I don't do selfies.

Thirdly, I always wanted a proper DSLR. The SL2-s solves both for me. But, to be clear, it does not substitute a true cinema camera. But neither do BM's offerings. I rent if I need an Arri for larger productions. 

44 minutes ago, simon_hsn said:

The SL is what is a considered a hybrid camera (photo & video), so it is a different camera category. In that category, reliable AF tracking for video is a key feature. 

I agree. That's what the market thinks of a proper hybrid camera: an AF monster with a flippy screen delivering motley pictures. In that regard, the SL2-S missed the mark by a large margin. Then add the price, and the average YouTuber will diss it as a posh offering for elite know-nothings. But when they actually shoot with it, passed the AF shortcomings and see the results, they might start rethinking what a video camera should do first: deliver great footage.

 

49 minutes ago, simon_hsn said:

...other than AF, the SL2-S is a great camera for video! 

Absolutely!

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1 hour ago, hansvons said:

I agree. That's what the market thinks of a proper hybrid camera: an AF monster with a flippy screen delivering motley pictures. In that regard, the SL2-S missed the mark by a large margin. Then add the price, and the average YouTuber will diss it as a posh offering for elite know-nothings. But when they actually shoot with it, passed the AF shortcomings and see the results, they might start rethinking what a video camera should do first: deliver great footage.

I could not agree more with this. This is the reason I prefer the SL2-S over any other offering currently on the market - The footage you get out of it is simply superior - very organic, great colors and dynamic range.

One just needs to master the focus - Manual focus with M lenses or the linear MF function for SL lenses do the trick. 

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Posted (edited)
15 hours ago, Steven said:

They can’t, as long as they don’t move on from contrast based AF. 

They will, just like Sony's earlier alpha 7 offerings had subpar AF when compared to Canon's, they eventually caught up with Canon by about the 3rd generations.

Also, I heard PDAF causes some artefacts like banding more easily than Contrast so some IQ purists might prefer contrast over phase when you are not shooting fast action movements.

Edited by MITDelay
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4 hours ago, simon_hsn said:

I could not agree more with this. This is the reason I prefer the SL2-S over any other offering currently on the market - The footage you get out of it is simply superior - very organic, great colors and dynamic range.

One just needs to master the focus - Manual focus with M lenses or the linear MF function for SL lenses do the trick. 

+1. I’m on the same page. 
I’ll add that what seemed at first like a unthinkable sacrificing (not having Sony’s AF) has actually been a real blessing. My filmmaking is much more organic with manual focus than the computer like focus of the Sony’s. Sure, it’s hard to follow my 2 year old at feet level without a flippy screen, but when I pull it off (no pun intended), it’s all worth it. 

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16 hours ago, wolan said:

I like to think that Leica can fix or improve the AFc in future firmware releases.

They can't go further than what we're seeing on the SL2s. There's only that much that the processor can do. We'll see more visible improvements only in the SL3

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On 8/18/2021 at 9:31 PM, MITDelay said:

They will, just like Sony's earlier alpha 7 offerings had subpar AF when compared to Canon's, they eventually caught up with Canon by about the 3rd generations.

Also, I heard PDAF causes some artefacts like banding more easily than Contrast so some IQ purists might prefer contrast over phase when you are not shooting fast action movements.

https://www.cined.com/panasonic-lumix-discussed-an-interview-with-yosuke-yamane-san-about-the-gh5-ii-gh6-and-more/

From this article, Panasonic will stick to improving the contrast detection autofocus with DFD. If Leica continues to cooperate with Panasonicin dveloping SL cameras (which I think they will for awhile becuase of the L mount alliance), then maybe they will also stick with the CDAF for years to come. My assumption of course is that CDAF/PDAF is a hardware issue and not a software one so that Leica cannot just develop PDAF saftware to use on the cameras. I don't know enough to break that assumption.

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