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Leica SL3 low light autofocus


JiriS

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I’ve been shooting Leica for 8 years and recently purchased SL3 and 35mm APO SL. Just returned from shooting a music gig in a very low light and the SL3 autofocus performance was quite awful with the focus hunting a lot. I was shooting the SL3 alongside the original Leica Q and the Q had no problem achieving focus for the exact same shots that the SL3 really struggled.

I found it very surprising that the OG Leica Q was so much more reliable (in low light autofocus) than the SL3.  

I really hope this will be addressed via a future firmware update. 

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Yes, I agree. In low light—say blue hour, for example— the auto focus really can’t find focus. It just searches in and out. I either have to go to manual focus, utilizing the magnification focus assist, or try to place the focus field on an area of high contrast, like the edge of subject and sky. I usually end up just waiting five minutes or so until the light gets better. Not ideal for landscape photography and I can only imagine how frustrating it would be in other use cases/ scenarios like in the above mentioned performance setting.

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I missed a shot using the VE 90-280 in predawn lighting but enough light at the time to see details in the shiny contrasty train tracks. I wasn't exactly focused so I pressed the back button-toggle to refocus but all I got was the completely opposite of what I wanted. Circles of confusion was all I had and my attempts to get the focus back failed causing me to miss a really great shot. Maybe another lens would have got focus but not the 90-280.   

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I don't understand how Leica manages to release so halfbaked products lately.
SL3 autofocus issues, M11 freeze issues, etc...

If you boast with adapting PDAF from Panasonic, which is flawless due to recent update, why bother?
Stick to contrast detect then with my SL2S

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18 hours ago, CptSlevin said:

I don't understand how Leica manages to release so halfbaked products lately.
SL3 autofocus issues, M11 freeze issues, etc...

Are you talking about your own experience with SL3 and M11 or forming your opinion from what you read online?

I have both SL3 and M11 and they are very mature products that work reliably for me.

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14 minutes ago, SrMi said:

Are you talking about your own experience with SL3 and M11 or forming your opinion from what you read online?

I have both SL3 and M11 and they are very mature products that work reliably for me.

Do I need to spend over 10k euro for the roulette chances?
I don't want to beta test cameras for this price. I want to be 100% sure that my gear is reliable in any circumstance.

As for SL3 autofocus, I saw some pretty decent AF tracking tests which showed some annoying huntings.
 


O

 

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On 6/2/2024 at 2:13 PM, CptSlevin said:

I don't understand how Leica manages to release so halfbaked products lately.
SL3 autofocus issues, M11 freeze issues, etc...

If you boast with adapting PDAF from Panasonic, which is flawless due to recent update, why bother?
Stick to contrast detect then with my SL2S

I have neither freeze issues with my SL3, nor focus issues with my M11, so no idea what you are talking about 😉

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vor 57 Minuten schrieb CptSlevin:

If you didn't have any issues doesn't mean that other users were not so lucky
By dismissing this case you are showing only your ignorance.

Calm down....he was joking. The M11 has no AF and the SL3 is not known for freezes!

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11 hours ago, 1Haufen said:

"Is that really true?"

From my experience, it is.  I was at a wedding recently and found AFc was more reliable in low light.  Still not cutting edge great - but better than AFs, which is usually my preferred mode for autofocus.  

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Posted (edited)

I have done a low-light-AF-test with my Lumix S5 II. I focused on the figure's face in the middle of the cupboard. Even it was that dark, that I nearly couldn't see the figure, the camera got the focus correctly - slow, but it worked. I guess, the SL3 has the same AF-technique as the S5 II. So, it could be improved by firmware.

Lumix 24-105mm F4.0
67mm, 1/10sec., ISO 10.000, AF-S, no AF-light enabled

Welcome, dear visitor! As registered member you'd see an image here…

Simply register for free here – We are always happy to welcome new members!

 

And this is the image with postprocessing in Lightroom Classic (denoised and auto correction and a bit sharpening).

Edited by DirkZ
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A few unintended half truths here.

1. AFC is a hybrid system, Depending on the lens you choose you’ll get either or both. The SL3 tries to use PDAF first and fine tune the focus accuracy with CDAF at the end of the stroke. If the PDAF initial movement fails the camera moves to a CDAF system. Some lenses seem to initiate CDAF. Maybe they can’t take the torque of a PDAF system. Leica had the same issues with the S system a while back. Many motors were stripped of their gears. I guess Leica is being conservative to start with. It does appear that Leica is reducing torque and applying a CDAF bias to some but not all lenses. And PDAF wasn’t the issue here. The Q has CDAF only as well. The more lenses I test on the SL3 the more variations I get in how the camera treats lenses in AFC.

I don’t think the OP was using AFC. So we can’t just blame that.

2. Low light focus speed is VERY lens dependant. If the OP had used the non-APO version of the SL Summicron the results would have been very different. His assertion the SL3 is not good in low light with the APO SL Summicrons is correct. But this isn’t true for all SL lenses. I would avoid the APO’s in these situations and go for the non APO SL’s or a Sigma i prime.

3. We don’t know if the OP fine tuned his focus curves in the camera. Increasing responsiveness in AFC makes a big difference. Also was he using the AF assist lamp in AFS? It makes a massive difference but may have been disabled in case it was distracting to the musicians. Perhaps switching to manual focus with rear button AF enabled would have helped? Hard to tell, not being there.

4. It has been mentioned the SL3 AF has room for improvement. This is how it feels to me. I do agree that getting beta firmware on a production camera is frustrating. But there should be improvements coming. I still think the non APOs will perform better than the APO’s going forward if speed is your need. It seems the L2 alliance needs a bit more work.

5. Yes. In this situation the A7R5 wipes the floor with the SL3. It’ll be interesting to see how close the SL3 can get with firmware improvements. But it will never match it, ultimately.

Gordon

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On 6/2/2024 at 2:45 PM, Ken Abrahams said:

I missed a shot using the VE 90-280 in predawn lighting but enough light at the time to see details in the shiny contrasty train tracks. I wasn't exactly focused so I pressed the back button-toggle to refocus but all I got was the completely opposite of what I wanted. Circles of confusion was all I had and my attempts to get the focus back failed causing me to miss a really great shot. Maybe another lens would have got focus but not the 90-280.   

Agreed. The 90-280 is the most disappointing SL zoom, AF wise. Shame as the optics are so spectacular.

Gordon

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, DirkZ said:

I have done a low-light-AF-test with my Lumix S5 II. I focused on the figure's face in the middle of the cupboard. Even it was that dark, that I nearly couldn't see the figure, the camera got the focus correctly - slow, but it worked. I guess, the SL3 has the same AF-technique as the S5 II. So, it could be improved by firmware.

Lumix 24-105mm F4.0
67mm, 1/10sec., ISO 10.000, AF-S, no AF-light enabled

 

And this is the image with postprocessing in Lightroom Classic (denoised and auto correction and a bit sharpening).

🤣 static object with some light in the room, try a moving object in the street at night in only available light, like walking humans illuminated only by traffic headlights

Edited by frame-it
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vor 5 Minuten schrieb frame-it:

🤣 static object with some light in the room, try a moving object in the street at night in only available light, like walking humans illuminated only by traffic headlights

Yeah funny, shooting a gig on stage has more light than what I have shot in my room. It looks brighter on the image than it was in reality.

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