Written by Eric Chen RR
If only every camera was built like this.
The good folks at Leica Singapore (@leicastoresg) passed me their 24MP full-frame mirrorless camera to give it a go for my recent shoot in Japan. To be honest, I have never used a Leica before although I did hear about its legendary german built quality and razor sharp lenses. Then there is the price. Leica cameras are not known to be affordable. Before I used this camera, I only thought of it as a luxury item liken to a expensive leather handbag or a supercar to show that you have made more than enough money to afford one. I was expecting very good performance from something that cost almost 2-3 times more than the top mirrorless cameras such as the Sony A7rii.
The first time I picked it up, I was completely sold on its full metal body. This thing is a piece of art. There are minimal instructions on the body to give it a ultra minimalist look which makes it very slick although you might need some time to get used to it. Everything on this camera is rock solid. The one thing that the current crop of mirrorless camera's lack is built quality. This camera looks and feels like a tank.
LET IT SNOW
I brought along the Leica SL and a Sony A7rii for my trip to Hokkaido Japan, the Sony A7rii has been my workhorse for the past couple years and it has not disappoint except in the build quality area. To keep the camera light, the body is build small and it feels frail. The Sony says it is weather proof but the camera crashed a couple of times while out being in the snow. I kept my Sony camera in the bag and only took out the Leica while out in the snow. The Leica inspires confidence when used out in harsh conditions. The temperature was around -10°degrees celsius and snow was just draping all over the camera. The SL did not miss a beat. The view finder was bright and crisp unlike any other electronic view finder I have encountered. There is something special about how this camera makes you feel when shoot with it. It gives you are sense of purpose and you want to keep shooting. Even medium format cameras lack this feeling it gives to the user.
The thing that I felt that was not as good compared to the Sony A7rii was that the sensor was slightly lacking in the dynamic range department and megapixels. Don't be mistaken, this camera is a beast. It does everything well and then some. However, the Sony still edges out in terms of dynamic range and megapixels but only very slightly. Put it in a ring with the Sony and it will go toe to toe and it probably last far much longer in real life, thanks to its build quality. The lenses are another selling point of using a Leica system. Leica lenses are famed to be sharp across the the aperture range. No matter what aperture or focal length I used, it always comes back with images that are crisp.
Should you get one?
The question is not if you should get one because there are definitely cheaper alternatives and this system is relatively new with only 2 native lenses to its name. The question is do you want one? It is for the photographer who enjoys shooting with technicalities and specifications taken care of. Just using the camera alone to enjoy taking photos is worth the price tag. With camera phones taking over most of photo taking devices nowadays, using a proper camera with a excellent viewfinder is getting rare. I found myself putting my eye in to the viewfinder just to take photos compared to using the screen. It is truly a great camera in all aspects if you are able to look past the price tag.