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Is the Leica SL2 Worth the Price?

Leica's newest, versatile mirrorless body has some impressive specs, but is it worth the money?

If there's a more polarizing and divisive brand in the camera industry than Leica, I've not found them. Anybody who uses their cameras and lenses religiously is a "fanboy," and anybody who outright rejects their products doesn't understand the nuance of Leica. As is often the case with these things, the truth probably lies somewhere in the middle. 

I've been to Leica's offices in London and I've tried a number of their cameras and lenses and there is something about them. It's not always as easy to identify as "the rangefinder is fun." Sometimes it's the feel of the camera and the shots it produces. The difficulty only really arises off the back of the cost of their products. The financial gatekeeper does play into the mystique, but it rules a lot of photographers out of ever setting foot in their eco system, myself included. Their cameras and lenses just wouldn't yield enough of a return on my extra investment. If they were cheaper, or I could be looser with how I invest my money on depreciating assets, would I go Leica? Perhaps.

The SL2 has an incredible spec sheet, with strong performance in both video and photo; a versatility not typically seen by most Leica cameras. The images and video samples from the video are stunning, but are they $2,000 or $3,000 better than similarly high spec offerings from Canon, Sony, Nikon, and so on? Before I use the SL2 for a few days, I couldn't say, but it may well be.

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13 Comments

zeissiez lee's picture

I am one who go for user experience over specifications. Nowadays, all cameras are good enough, and each with little shortcomings that can be mitigated. While the price does not guarantee a good user experience, but the SL2 seems to have a more solid feel, a more simplistic ergonomics compared to the others. If one use m-mount lenses, the SL2 gives much better sharpness at the corners than any Sony cameras, due to a purpose-built filter on the sensor. This is a BIG advantage, because the m-mount lenses are absolutely tiny than the norms. One could argue the Nikon Z7 produces similar result as the SL2 in the corners, and the Z7 is much cheaper, but again, it is about the overall user experience.

barry cash's picture

New one rumored soon SL2s

David Illig's picture

Is anyone looking at photos from Canon/Nikon/Sony and saying “Too bad you didn’t use a Leica such-and-such?” I thought not. A reason for buying a Leica would be that one likes the look and feel (ergonomics) of the camera, not for image quality, which is a given with all of the cameras that I named, and others, of course.

Indy Thomas's picture

If money is an issue then one cannot afford to contemplate the tool even if it is more pleasurable.
If money is not an object then one can rationalize a tool that gives them more pleasure at work.
The point of luxury items is that you don't need them but having them is fun.

Nick Rains's picture

'Worth the price' rather depends on your point of view. 'Value for money' is another judgement. The answer to the question depends on whether you can afford it or not I guess.

I have an SL2 and genuinely love it to bits. I really enjoy the way it works and the stripped down to basics approach. If you are seduced by bells and whistles this is not your camera, but if you deeply understand the photographic process and want a camera that does not impose itself on you then it's utterly brilliant.

David B's picture

I don't think anything about Leica offers value in regards to money. However, they are an absolutely beautiful piece of kit really is special. It doesn't take better pictures, but encourages you to make more instead.

Richard Richard's picture

The Leica SL range is considerably bigger and heavier than other FF options barring the Panasonic range. If you want light and compact this is not the option.

Michel Higuet's picture

I "don't understand the nuance of Leica" hopefully... "The financial gatekeeper does play into the mystique" typical for all snobbish products... Leica marketing is great I must admit.

David B's picture

Leica really isn't for for taking pictures. Same way Porsche and diving watches aren't used what their best at. The SL is perfect for anyone who uses rangefinder lenses because it's the only camera that works properly with them. Otherwise it's a toy. A beautiful one that is.

Nick Rains's picture

Sorry David, the SL range are 100% for taking photos. It's a highly functional piece of kit which gets me a higher percent of keepers than any other system I have ever used - and I have used a lot. I agree it's expensive but for me it's worth it.

David B's picture

Absolutely agree. I'm glad you get a higher percent of keepers with your SL. It really is a great camera. My argument remains that getting a leica won't make people with average skills any better.

Jeremy Strange's picture

An original SL with a L mount lens from Panasonic or Sigma would be good way to start out if you were interested. Then you could build up some lenses, and upgrade the body later on, that’s how I’d do it.

Clint Dunn's picture

The Leica SL/SL2 are the ONLY cameras aside from rangefinders that will work well with M glass. Combine this with world class L mount options and you have a very versatile system. Yes, they are expensive but if you buy used like I do it isn't that bad.

I currently shoot an SL and plan on buying the SL2 sometime next year when mint condition used bodies start hitting EBay/Craigslist. The SL is one of the most enjoyable cameras I have owned, and for me that is the most important part of the equation.