LEICA SL (Typ 601) - Lenses

Above is another heavy, huge and seriously expensive for the Leica SL system. And while I have no doubt it's a beauty, I won't be buying one. Leica are obviously pulling out all the stops for their new 'pro' mirrorless camera, but seem to be aiming at Leica S customers. But many of us who work with Leicas don't have unlimited funds and can't bench press a small car. However, there are alternatives.

I've got a selection of 35mm lenses I use with my SL. Some battered old R lenses, which are still however optically superb, some Nikon mount lenses, including the Voigtlander 58mm f/1.4 and a selection of Canon lenses fitted via my Novoflex adapter. One of those is a Canon EF 85mm f/1.8.

I used this lens to shoot weddings with on Canon DSLR's. And I liked it, since it was seriously useful, but never really got that enthusiastic about the IQ. However thanks to the AA filter less sensor on the SL, I can now appreciate just how good it is. 

As you can see this lens is seriously sharp and with pretty decent bokeh. Now considering that I bought it S/H for just over £120 and the above Leica 50mm is listed at £3850 you might imagine I think I got a bargain (and you would be right!!). Now I don't really have a problem with Leica pulling out all the stops to make the best lenses they can, but I think that with the SL they are getting a bit ridiculous. The three lenses currently available for the system cost well over £10,000 in total. Now not all professionals have 6 figure yearly incomes, including me, and the SL lenses are out of reach of many who might consider the SL, which is after all no more expensive than top of the range Canons and Nikons. Plus why they have to be so big and heavy eludes me.

Fortunately there are alternatives, particularly with manually focused lenses. Plus the Novoflex AF adapters (one for Canon released already and there is another announced for the new Nikon E Series lenses) now give some lighter, smaller and cheaper alternatives. And as you can see from the sample above, this can be done with no compromise as regards image quality. 

I love the SL, it's everything I've ever wanted in a camera. Simply superb to operate with that punchy, rich colour look to the images. Plus the best video output I've ever seen. But the lenses are a different proposition. I shan't be buying any of them and am quite happy with my alternatives, which I suspect are actually not that dissimilar in terms of image quality. Leica are Leica and I certainly don't anticipate a 'budget' range for the SL and I assume that all the SL lenses will be like the ones released already. Fortunately, I don't have to consider remortgaging my house to buy them. 


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