Performance and features

The Leica SL is a highly responsive camera in most respects. Speeding through images in playback, menu operation and manipulation of settings are all nice and snappy, and shutter lag is so low as to be basically nonexistent. Manually selecting your AF point is a breeze with the AF joystick. But it's not all good news, unfortunately.

The SL is very responsive overall - as long as you've factored in start-up time. Processed and cropped to taste. Adapted Summilux-M 35mm F1.4 ASPH. ISO 125, F3.5, 1/125 sec. Photo by Carey Rose

In terms of continuous shooting, 11 fps sounds mighty fast, but focus, exposure and white balance are all locked until you drop to 7 fps - which is still acceptably fast. Card write times, however, are not acceptably fast. Happily, you can continue shooting, enter playback to see the most recently written image, and browse through the menus while the buffer is clearing, but the buffer takes forever to clear.

This is not helped by the fact that you can't divvy up your Raw + JPEG files as you can on almost every competitors' model; in other words, you cannot have the (~45MB) DNG files going to the faster UHS-II card slot, and the JPEGs going to the slower UHS-I slot. It's not clear how much this might speed up the writing process, but it certainly couldn't hurt.

Strictly speaking, startup on the SL is almost instantaneous, in that the rear screen and top display come on and you get a live view in less than one second, but you'll need to wait around another second or so before the shutter button will fire off a shot. With proper planning (or simply not turning the camera off and letting it sleep when possible), this may not trouble you.

The refresh rate in live view is good even in dim environments, even if the white balance isn't always spot on. Out-of-camera JPEG, adapted Minolta M-Rokkor 40mm F2. ISO 800, 1/60 sec, F2. Photo by Carey Rose

Battery life is good if not outstanding. It's CIPA rated for 400 shots, which should be enough for a full day of moderate shooting, but if you're going to be using the SL heavily in a professional setting, a second battery is going to be a must, at an additional cost of $250 (!).

Connectivity and Auto ISO

Positioned unabashedly as a professional camera, the Leica SL isn't really all that big on new, novel features like panorama or art modes, but it's got it where it counts.

The Leica SL app gives you remote control over photo and video functions as well as allows you to download images to your smart device from the memory cards.

In terms of connectivity, the SL features built-in Wi-Fi that connects to the proprietary Leica SL app that works great on iOS 10 at this time, and an Android version is available as well. You can control the camera remotely with live view, as well as download images from the camera to your phone. The camera itself also includes GPS ability, which goes well with the outdoor-friendly rugged construction.

The Auto ISO implementation is to be commended on the SL. It offers you a choice of minimum and maximum values, and allows you to specify a specific shutter speed threshold as well as the option to let the camera adjust that threshold based on your current focal length, which is especially helpful with zoom lenses. You can also enable it in Manual shooting mode, which can also be handy with adapted lenses. You can easily turn Auto ISO on or off with an ISO shortcut button, but to fine-tune any of the parameters, you'll need to dive into the menus.