Significantly Lengthy? Thoughts on the Leica SL

I thought I ought to write something about the Leica SL that’s just been announced. 

24mp 35mm sensor in a robust aluminium body roughly the size of a D810. 11 FPS, exceptional EVF, wifi, gps, dual card slots, 4K – there’s a lot to like here. If I didn’t know better I would say this is Leica appealing to the 35mm DSLR market it abandoned when it canned the R line. This offering is sweetened in the knowledge that the sensor and electronics are derived from the truly excellent Leica Q

I don’t object to large mirrorless bodies off the bat. In fact I’ve been saying Sony should consider a larger body for some time. But there needs to be a point to such a body. Sadly, the only lens available at launch will be a huge 24-90mm F2.8-4 zoom, which seems about the same weight as the new Nikon 24-70 VR. I’m sure it will be great, but Leica is all about small primes. To not have some available at launch seems a major omission.

The really big question I have is that there seems to be no accounting for the fact that other manufacturers make this kind of body. It’s not obvious to me why you would pick this camera over a D4 or a D810, for example. You can say “because it’s a Leica” if you like, but to be honest I’m fine with an DSLR with an OVF. I have no idea why some internet commentators keep banging on about mirrorless being the future and DSLRs going the way of the dodo. I like some EVF cameras, but I like them despite their viewfinders, not because of them. The line peddled by some commentators that DSLRs will soon be curiosities is just plain wrong as long as people like me exist. Judging by the market, those of us who prefer OVFs are in the majority.

I’ve seen comments elsewhere that suggest this is the death of the M line, that this is the future of M mount lenses. I can’t believe that for a minute. Leica knows what makes the P&L at the end of the day and it’s the M line.

Yet for all I’ve set out above, it’s a compelling looking camera. If you ignore the bazooka on the front, the actual camera looks quick and very simple, similar to the Leica Q. It’s like the lenses were designed by the Leica S design team and didn’t talk to the body designers. Bizarre! Truth is I like the Q and the images from it so much, I would sell the A7RII to get this, IF it had more lenses, particularly small primes. I wonder why it’s a surprise people might want a 35mm prime or might prefer F2 to F1.4!

In any event, I would love to try the body regardless, so expect more on this topic…

One thought

  1. Meh.

    I owned both the R8 and R9 for a time many years ago (I’ve still got some R glass); this looks like a rehash of that… heavy to a fault, too big, and the ergonomics are all wrong. I know they’re targeting Canon and Nikon DSLR users, but I’m seriously put off by all the images that I’ve seen — not to mention the outrageous price.

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