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Leica S Typ 006: Autofocus Errors

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I had a horrific time with the autofocus on the Leica S Typ 006, surely the worst performance I have ever experienced with any camera, with a very high error rate often with huge errors. And not just with one camera body or lens, my photo tour client had a brand-new S006 and four brand-new lenses.

Readers of this blog with an S system should read the extensive discussion and see the examples before emailing with “my system works great” comments.

Results are documented at 24mm, 35mm, 45mm and 100mm:

Leica S Typ 006: Error-Prone Autofocus Damages Sharpness

I was forced to implement a tedious protocol in the field so as to not have my work destroyed by the S006 autofocus system, whose errors would be laughable if not so infuriatingly destructive to image sharpness. The lenses themselves are excellent, and by dint of careful checks, I was able to make the image series I needed, but at the cost of tedious checks for each series, a huge burden that greatly impaired what I could do. I grew sick of the system, but as I had only 4 days to work with, I gritted my teeth and soldiered on. But any desire for an S system is extirpated. Many series were ruined from the first day (particularly the 100mm and 45mm) and part of the second day , before I had noticed the focus error. Verifying focus is hard to do in the field: the miserable low resolution rear LCD also presents a low quality JPEG when zoomed in, for a sh*tty visual experience. If a system cannot focus properly and one cannot easily verify focus after the shot, what good is the system?

My client’s brand-new system failed in another way: if the camera slept or was powered off, the 24mm f/3.5 SEM would go missing; autofocus would not function at all and the lens aperture would not be recognized. And the camera would hang trying to update the lens firmware. Brand new stuff, very expensive. I expect better from a $40K system, or even a $2K system. The Sony A7R II with its state of the art sensor looks better every day.

The metering on the Leica S Typ 006 is garbage under field conditions. I was constantly forced to use exposure compensation or manual exposure. My client’s camera was observed to produce a 4-5 stop error in some circumstances and I observed gross errors in the ~3 stop range.

The CCD sensor on the S006 is superb.

Lugging an S system up here was a powerful argument for a smaller and lighter system.

Upper Dana Lake
f3.5 @ 1/500 sec, ISO 100; 2015-07-27 14:38:00
LEICA S (Typ 006) + Super-Elmar-S 24

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Hiking down the tricky talus slope got me to this area, seen just right of center near bottom.

Upper Dana Lake
f10 @ 1/30 sec, ISO 100; 2015-07-27 15:52:29
LEICA S (Typ 006) + Leica 45mm f/2.8 Elmarit-S ASPH

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There is restricted little depth of field even at f/13. The glacial moraines disappear the creek in places, with a slightly eerie feel of an underground river when scrambling up a boulder field.

Disappearing Creek
f13 @ 1/45 sec, ISO 100; 2015-07-27 17:13:27
LEICA S (Typ 006) + Leica 45mm f/2.8 Elmarit-S ASPH

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