I have been fortunate enough to have used Leica cameras for the most part of my career as a photographer. It goes to say I have gotten used to being spoilt with their superior build quality, unmatched sharpness and that sexy metal box every photographer dreams of having sitting on their shelves.
For the past year, I have shot mostly with the M10 and SL, and as you have all heard of the M10 before and I don’t think there is much more I could bring to the table for that camera in particular, I have decided to write about the SL, leica’s take on a pro’sumer camera, that was released back in 2015.
I use the LEICA SL as my only work camera. What I look for in a camera and any piece of technology for that matter is a seamless user experience. I want the camera to blend into the background, out of focus and out of mind so all I am thinking about is the shot in question not about settings and how to achieve the photo I want. I need the camera to become an extension of my eye only subtly reminding me that I am using one of photography’s finest cameras when I press that perfectly weighted shutter and hear that orgasmic sound that screams precision, or when I set it down on my bed side table and admire it’s unmatched beauty and that is what the SL for me: It is it’s purity of function that makes it my perfect camera.
How does Leica achieve this you may be wondering?
Firstly, the build quality. It is machined from two solid blocks of aluminum, that you can certainly feel as soon as you pick it up, however you get used to the weight very quickly. The viewfinder is adjusted with a solid metal ring, the mechanism to release and change the battery is perfectly weighted and stops it half way so you can then remove it easily without risking it falling, nothing ever rattles or comes loose, the buttons have a marvelous feel and solid click and I’m always thankful for the weather resistance when shooting in the mountains.
Then, the customization, almost every button can be changed and set to my personal preference which allows me to dial in the perfect set up and this is also why there are little to no markings on the camera to avoid confusion, which shows Leica’s confidence in the functionality of this camera. Which brings me onto the buttons themselves, four located on the rear, two on each side of the LCD, a couple of scroll wheels and that is pretty much it. I can access all of my crucial settings with one hand – one click, why would I need any more?
All of these features combined makes for a camera that just works, never gets in the way. Of course, it takes a few days to set your controls and understand where everything is, to get used to the weight and huge lenses and the low light performance is not up to par… but once you have you begging to understand it’s true beauty, it’s a rock solid camera that won’t let you down. To me the SL is the perfect choice for the “non-technical photographer” that still requires professional quality photos, it is a camera that will motivate you to shoot, it’s also just beautiful.