Leica SL in the Test

Leica SL is Leica’s first change of optics camera with auto focus and small format sensor – and of course without mirror. We have the test.
The Leica SL in the test, we have: cars, the abbreviation SL stands since 1954 for sporting nobility. Leica is certainly aware, even if the SL the camera manufacturer for Spiegel Los or alternatively S-model light is reminiscent of the legendary Mercedes. No matter what explanation one prefers – the SL signals the Wet zlarer manufacturer confidently, that he focuses not only on the traditional construction of the camera, but is fit for the future: 24 mega pixel full-frame sensor, electronic viewfinder, faster autofocus, 7000 euro housing price – these key figures for positioning the SL system unequivocally make clear.

Leica SL in the Test


How the Mercedes SL also the Leica SL of the super class belongs to, although there is a crucial difference: Mercedes the SL is available for sport lightweight or super lightweight, while the Leica SL machined from an aluminum block is not exactly one quite sure: easy.

Bauhaus Style

With 884 g for the housing and more than 2 kg with the currently the only available lens (24-90 mm), the Leica SL is currently popular not only with the dimensions clearly about Sony’s spiege lloser full format camera A7R II. The housing design of the Leica SL is based on the classic cameras: edgy, bulky and solid. There is no unnecessary elements – their clear lines almost reminiscent of Bauhaus style.
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The camera is fed up and safely in hand, and all the controls are conveniently placed. Only, she betrayed only by their position, insert which features behind them. The trigger is quickly found, and the video recording has received at least a red dot. The two rotating wheels are reserved for exposure time (top) and aperture (rear) – also intuitively understandable -. In addition to the display you will find four discreet buttons, their functioning only opens when you press one of them. You can call this clear lines in the design – but the operation makes this at least initially not easier.

Operation

We haven’t found the selection of the photo modes without manual.Program, you can select time and shutter priority and manual mode after pressing on the rear wheel. The upper monochrome display then changes from the exposure information in the selection. But, if not fast enough on the dial, no mode change is possible.
The rubberized control cross next to the viewfinder is extremely comfortable. It’s easily reached with your thumb and can quickly define the auto focus point or use the menu, while you can see through the electronic viewfinder. Is RGB pixels 1.3 million with its top by the way. The picture is razor sharp and gives you all information about exposure, white balance, and sharpness that cannot offer optical viewfinder.
In the menu, you reach the upper left button next to the display. However, it is unusual that the touch controls in the menu does not work. Instead it relies on the control cross. This works however so well that you do not miss the touch function. Leica structured the basic settings in the areas of “Setup”, “Recording” and “Camera”. The photographer can also just one after the other scroll through the eight clear menu pages. To create key features in one place, there is the “Favorites”, which can be defined according to individual needs as a fourth menu item. You should save this configuration, for which Leica provides four user memory and even the import and export to the and permits from the memory card.
Frequently used functions can be reached even faster: keeping pressed one of the four buttons next to the display they take on other tasks: the change of the autofocus (C / S) to the white balance mode or the ISO setting. The button next to the display switching between video and photo mode or, when a long key press – exposure compensation (+/-3 panels).
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Again, the playback mode offers the contemporary touch operation: you can wipe through the Gallery, two fingers in the image zoom or take an opposite movement in the image summary. Although operating concept significantly different Leica of the solutions of the competitors, you can familiarize yourself very quickly. And it’s worth, because a 7000 euro camera is surely more than two weeks in the year used.

Facilities

The high case has two slots for SD cards. However, he only corresponds to the UHS-II standard top and is therefore suitable for 4K-Video aufnahmen. This difference is insignificant when taking pictures. So, you can use the second slot to extend the capacity or to secure a second file. On the opposite side Leica has placed the Flash connector and a USB 3.0 interface, allows to control the camera from the computer. The backup feature is enabled, the images on the memory card as well as on the computer are backed up.
The large HDMI Jack is unusual and rather impractical the multi interface function: you you should connect the remote control and microphone or headphones. You don’t find a real audio recording level however – instead of microphone gain in four levels can be varied. A signal reaches the HDMI output only in video mode. This is a shame, because the display is quite small and not be hinged, a higher resolution external monitor for example when reports would be a useful addition. After all, the display supports the recording control with focus peaking, histogram and Zebra patterns for bright areas of the image. Also, the 3-inch display with additional white pixels as RGBW monitor is designed, which increase the brightness to anything else.
The auto focus works extremely quickly and reliably. Also the touch screen feature of the display is useful, because a tip to the desired image places the focus point clean. And so this function with the viewfinder is usable, you can position the spot measuring point using the cross button. This works even under difficult conditions during the video recording. It is shown why the camera as soon find the sharpness: the usual pumps via the correct focus point across and back again almost does not occur. The camera moves right sharpness – clean and unobtrusive, and it was BB´s.

L Bayonet

The SL has a L-mount that is compatible with the T-Mount of Leica T-models. So fit the T-lenses in the SL. But then it switches to the T-lenses on the APS-C image circle, which reduces the resolution to 10 megapixels. In addition, adapter for Leica m, r and S lenses to come. More importantly however would be more SL lenses; currently there is only one, two more have been announced.
The currently available SL lens Leica VARIO ELMARIT SL 2.8 4/28-90 mm ASPH. is a quite a breaker – and thereby not even particularly bright. Its fast auto focus motor, nothing is fortunately also in video mode to hear. If you prefer the manual sharpness control, can enjoy the gentle control – which is so gently, that video mode even hand smaller focus shifts can be distinguished. The zoom is also soft – has long way but comparatively. This should hardly disturb photographers and videographers can take small zoom rides so even during filming – at least with a mechanical extension arm.

Video Recording

Exactly what makes exciting the SL for photographers who want to record videos like at once. After all, the camera dominates real 4K-Aufnahmen with 4096 x 2160 pixels instead of only UHD 3840 x 2160 pixel, what is sold commonly as 4 K.
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In the real 4K-Modus, it leaves Leica with beloved by cineastes refresh rate of 24 frames per second. The recording works against either 25 or even 30 images for UHD. And who goes to full-HD, can turn even videos with a frequency of up to 120 frames per second and thus ward off a more than four-time slow motion on the memory card. The ability to add videos to the so-called gamma L log also comes from the professional corner. This produces video recordings with a comparatively flat gamma curve that can be influenced in post processing easily and almost loss-free. This function is useful when you want to provide his films with a very specific look.

Photo Quality

In our laboratory, the SL proves that she can compete well in its price class. Our measurements confirm the camera sensitivity between ISO 100 and 3200 a almost constant course of sharpness. This is reflected also in the line pairs, because at ISO 100 the camera delivers at least 1958 line pairs per picture height, and at ISO 3200’s are still always 1931 LP/bra. However, the Visual noise at ISO takes to 1600 and even more clearly at ISO 3200. Among them, the sensitivity remains come from the nearly noise-free images.
One in practice quickly realizes that the results are very good to use up to ISO 800. Photos taken at ISO 1600 are OK, reveal in fine structures but slight loss of detail. The dead leaves-cross values show up to ISO 3200 an amazing stability: high-contrast edges, the loss to ISO is 100 quite moderate 17 per cent, low-contrast edges are only 10 percent. However the UN value increases already at ISO 1600 to 2.0, which stands for visible noise in the image. Also the noise can interfere with details.
The appearance of dark and light shades of green and Brown reveals a somewhat excessive variation that is also noticeable in practice for skin tones on the recordings of the Leica SL. You can adjust here but relatively good – after all, the SL in Adobe’s DNG format, which can be edited after such RAW data stores.

Conclusion

Who settles for a camera in this price range, take the longer training period in purchase and configure the camera after the own desires. This threshold is overcome, inspired the operating concept: the keys sit exactly in the right place – no matter whether one works with viewfinder or monitor. The viewfinder shows a sharp image without drawing effects. It is a pity, however, that the monitor is relatively small – it would have Leica does not save to, especially as the back side of the camera offers plenty of space.
With just a look, the lens offer is still far too small – especially since the available lens is not very bright. Leica should load fast six or seven Prime lenses. Although you can use other lenses with adapters, but that too much is lost by the excellent AF performance. The image quality, which will fully satisfy all expectations of a 24 MP full format camera is completely convincing.

Gallery

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