Dpreview Leica SL Review - Reviewing in general.



Dpreview have completed a full review of the Leica SL (Typ 601). Now unlike some of their latest reviews, I only have a few issues with it (factually). It does however show the problems of short term reviews of gear by people who don't 'live' with a camera for a period of time, don't use it rather than review it and are unfamiliar with the brand long term.

 Dpreview Pros

  • 24MP sensor offers good noise performance, detail
  • The best electronic viewfinder currently on the market
  • Solid, weather-sealed build oozes quality
  • Unconventional controls work well
  • Detailed 4K video
  • Dual card slots
  • Good Auto ISO implementation
  • Overall good AF performance with zoom lenses
  • 11 fps burst shooting (7 fps with AF)
  • Responsive touchscreen for placing focus and image playback
  • Built-in Wi-Fi and GPS

Dpreview Cons

  • Expensive
  • Heavy and unbalanced with native lenses
  • Grip is frustratingly unergonomic, makes camera feel heavier than it is
  • JPEG color is just unpleasant
  • Autofocus speed highly lens dependent (very slow on Summilux-SL 50mm F1.4)
  • Autofocus subject tracking lags behind competition
  • Dynamic range lags behind competition
  • Slow card write speeds
  • Lacking in-camera Raw conversion

My issues are with some of the Cons, (Surprise, Surprise!)


No argument there. It's not cheap.

Heavy and unbalanced with native lenses

Agreed as well. The SL lenses are too heavy, too big and way too expensive for me.

Grip is frustratingly unergonomic, makes camera feel heavier than it is

Yes maybe with the big heavy native lenses, but with the lenses I use, Canon, Nikon, Leica R, Voigtlander M and Leica T APS-C  I would completely disagree. I think the grip is just fine and with the battery grip added I think the handling is great. However this is all personal and it would have improved the review if the reviewer has stated 'For me the SL feels uncomfortable' instead of the generalisation published, which is misleading and subjective. 

JPEG color is just unpleasant

This is my biggest issue. This was 'explained' as being because the colours were muted and there is a 'green cast'. I have no idea where this comes from, because I'm simply not getting this. I like the jpgs. Mine are nice and sharp with good saturated colour. Again this is subjective, but I would suggest that the reviewer might benefit from a colour blindness eye test and / or some monitor calibration.

Autofocus speed highly lens dependent (very slow on Summilux-SL 50mm F1.4)

Can't really comment on this as I haven't used the lenses the reviewer used and I'm manually focusing most of the time anyway. However, with the AF Leica T APS-C lenses I use on the camera AF is pretty slick.

  • Autofocus subject tracking lags behind competition
  • Dynamic range lags behind competition
  • Slow card write speeds
  • Lacking in-camera Raw conversion

Again no comment on 1, 3 and 4 here apart from to say that slow card write speed isn't an issue that 's bothered me. It may be true, but it doesn't slow the camera down for me. And as for lacking in-camera raw conversion I would remind the reviewer that this is a professional camera and 'micky mouse' gimmicky mirrorless nonsense like this i.e. attempting raw conversion on a camera live view screen has no place in a camera like the SL. And that's a pro rather than a con for me. 

As for the dynamic range comment, this is simply not true from my experience. If you want the best dynamic range achievable then you use raw anyway. I have had no problems with this, at all, ever.

So really it's same old, same old, yet again. I ventured onto the Dpreview forum beneath this review to try and correct some false impressions, because there were comments accepting all the review stated as the objective truth by people who haven't handled the camera, when in fact the review was mostly subjective opinion. Now I doubt whether Leica and people who actually buy and use Leica are that bothered, since this is nothing new. We are all well used to the 'Male jewellery' and 'Lifestyle toys' barbs and these days expecting a Dpreview review of any camera or lens to be genuinely objective and accurate is seemingly asking too much. And whether you think that this has anything to do with the fact that Amazon don't sell Leica directly, is up to you. I know what I think.

For a different perspective on the camera you could try my posts HERE. There is also a review by Steve Huff - HERE. Now regular readers will know I've not always been a fan of 'The Huffster' with his tabloid approach, but between the 'awesomes' there is somebody writing who knows, uses and more importantly buys Leica and I have to say this article was influential in me buying the camera. Like me Steve awarded the SL a 'camera of the year' accolade.

Now reviewing in general is getting worse rather than better. I guess it merely reflects the entire internet these days in that lies, deceipt, phony statistics and a general world hating ego promoting nastiness are commonplace. Would that all photographic gear reviewers had the honesty and integrity of Mirrorlessons and Cameralabs. I also like the enthusiasm (though maybe not the style) of Ken Rockwell, the aforementioned Steve Huff and Kaiman Wong. At least these are keen enthusiastic photographers. Even though the hyperbole does get a bit much. However, some of the others e.g. the Camera Store, Tony Northrup and the Problographer for me, consist of ego driven drivel by people who actually take truly rotten photographers and have wannabee 'photo guru' written all over them. They also get things wrong again and again and again and..... and I gave up on them a long time ago. Dpreview have also gone downhill and most of their current writing is seriously boring, cliched, totally uninspiring and often inaccurate. They are after now all the employees of the biggest lot of 'box shifters' the world is ever likely to encounter and it's their 'job' to shift more boxes, nothing more than that. 

Of the others, I have to say I'm warming to Matt Granger but to be honest I find little useful information in the majority of the sites run by those hyperactive, obese Americans, who seem to want to inflict their ugly personalities and ugly bodies at us. (And I'm no aesthetic wonder either, but you don't get to see me on YouTube, I spare you that!!) And the instant I hear 'Hi Guys' I usually switch off. Because the point is this stuff is important. Until we get some kind of virtual reality internet, there are less and less opportunities to handle photographic gear anymore. There are fewer and fewer photographic stores every year that sell the kind of gear that we (the professionals and the enthusiasts) are interested in. And unless we can get to a photographic show, for some of us, the internet is our only source of information. For example, I was very interested in the Sigma SD Quattro's. There was however no way to check one out for size and 'feel' without a four hour drive to and from my nearest specialist Sigma dealer likely to have one in stock. So in essence, I took a risk ordering one. Fortunately it worked out, but there have been many occasions when it didn't. 

What we need are sites that do reviewing seriously. And yes I fully understand that doing that full time requires a decent financial return, so ad clicks and YouTube hits are important. But that doesn't mean that some kind of 'Milo Nazi' approach is necessary. I know that the sites that I've recommended that run websites are doing well, without resorting to 'show biz'. (well not much of it!) And surely there is longevity in doing a good job and becoming a trusted source. And yes, you CAN make a site fun to read without resorting to gimmickry. 

From my own perspective I would like to review and post more, but I simply don't have the time. I'm now producing Photography, Video and Music for stock sites on my own and the time it would take to do a decent proper review just isn't available to me. I also haven't got the time to promote this site via social media to make it economic enough to stop doing doing my core work and I actually wouldn't want to do that anyway. And I guess I'm not alone. I used to like reading Mike Kobal, with his professional perspective, but he seems to have pretty much given up his blog. Kirk Tuck is still going which is good to see, but I'm sure a lot of other professionals are more concerned about making a living than chasing some small rewards writing blogs and reviews. 

Finally, if you have some personal favourites who 'do the right thing' then let me know via Soundimageplus Blog Readers Group and I'll check them out.