↑Image courtesy of Leica USA.
When the Leica SL was first announced, I was very candid with my prediction about how well it would fare in the marketplace. This is what I wrote:
“Ouch. This might actually kill the company.
Is there anybody left at Leica doing “reality checks” during company meetings?”
—Prosophos (October 20, 2015).
Now granted, I was quick to judge and very harsh, and even felt a little guilty afterward for writing it. The truth is, I actually want Leica to do well because they are one of the few independent-thinking camera companies out there. And, I adore my Leica M lenses and my M9 so sometimes I let my passion get the better of me.
Since then, I’ve seen the images from this camera and the output is generally excellent.
Part of my original head-scratching about the SL was Leica‘s desire to penetrate the “pro” market. Unfortunately, they weren’t talking about the pro medium format market. Instead, the “pros” they were aiming this at were the 35mm DSLR or Sony a7 users who would’ve had to justify spending big bucks for the SL and its lenses. The SL would’ve had to leap-frog every other 35mm camera with its capabilities for that strategy to have succeeded.
It’s nearly a year later, and the SL hasn’t been selling well (I don’t get any particular pleasure from writing that).
But as I wrote above, I’ve been quietly looking at the output of this thing and it is impressive. So today I tried photographing with one.
The size was no problem, as I’ve shot with Nikon bodies extensively and the SL is smaller (than the “pro” Nikons).
The build quality, LCD, quiet shutter, etc. are all wonderful.
The deal-breaker? Surprisingly, the much hyped-about EVF.
Today I found that as I placed the camera up to eye level there was an initial darkened view that, a split second later, gave way to a grainy representation of the (interior) world. Yes, it’s a high-resolution EVF but it still looks like I’m viewing the world through an iPad. I was prepared for that… I mean, I had shot with the Sony mirrorless offerings previously, so I knew what I was getting into but I had hoped that the EVF on the SL would’ve made me overlook this. It didn’t.
More annoying than this though was that initial black-out delay that was still there. It’s enough to wreck a photographer’s rhythm. It potentially is enough to prevent one from getting the proverbial decisive moment.
Worse than that, after I put the camera down momentarily and then placed the EVF back to eye level to photograph something else, the momentary blacked-out frame gave way to the previous scene before the camera caught up and showed me the new scene! It had literally experienced déjà vu.
I now understand why most of the posted photographs from the SL are of “still life” subject matter. I also understand that I could never depend on it for my style of photography.