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The Camera 'Thrill': What Does it Feel Like When the Loaner Has to Go Back?

See my Pentax K1 wish list and Leica SL wish list and Leica M wish list B&H Photo.

I wrote this in an email conversation, almost exactly as it reads below. In part it was to capture my own understanding, in part to explain. The recipient thought it might be interesting perspective for others. So here it is...

Note: I have ample material with the SL and the K1 that will be published in July.

The thrill has left and gone away?

When I borrow, things have to go back. I wish I could afford things like I used to, but I cannot. I can stretch the loaner period slightly, but B&H gets finicky if I do it more than once or twice a year.

So today the Leica SL and Leica 24-90mm f/2.8-4 and M-Adapter-T got onto the UPS truck.

A question I always ask myself when gear goes back is “how does it feel to box it up and see it go?”. A truly subjective query, but telling. So today, I thought about that.

On the Leica SL:
- I felt a sense of relief. It did not bring me any thrills; no "hold" on my psyche saying "damn I wish I could keep it". Quite the contrary.
- My favorite combo with it was with the ZM 35/1.4 — I did like that. But the 35/1.4 works great on the M240, and I have an M240.
- I want an M240 camera with SL or better EVF and a higher res sensor. No useful function is served by the SL for me at this time. Maybe a future body with higher res sensor.
- I can't get past the resolution. I notice it with every SL image; it just doesn't have what Sony or Nikon do even if its pixel quality is very high.

On the Pentax K1:
- I've delayed sending it back. It brings me a thrill. The K1 SuperRes pixel shift mode results vastly outperform any other full frame camera, and handily beat the Leica S IMO (lenses excepted of course).
- I want to keep it. It is very limited in scope (can't have any motion), but when the results are good, nothing can come close.
- the K1 has plenty of operational flaws—particularly with Live View. But oh, it has that image quality thrill. My 4X5 was a hassle too, but chromes were a thrill.
- the lens selection sucks. This really dissuades me for now, and I can wait a bit to see if other vendors might offer pixels shift.

On the Leica Q (a while ago): I would have liked to keep it. But not for $4K.

On the Sony A7R II: less thrill than practical usefulness. My go to camera for outdoors. The SL isn’t even competition in that regard: too big, too heavy, low resolution, no AF lenses at all for what I want. The A7R II solves working problems for me; the SL does not.

None of the above is meant as applying to someone else, only what I do and how I shoot. But even if I were in a studio, that Sony 24-70 and 85/1.4GM are darn fine lenses, and who knows what this year will bring?

Lastly, Leica museumizes its cameras. My M240 has seen essentially zero value add since its release. The EVF in particular is crap. I've asked/cajoled/begged to no avail. Still no My Menu. Same museum piece (meaning its fixed/frozen and just doesn’t change). Sony had a flaw in lossy compression and fixed that. The Batis 18/2.8 rocks, the Sony GM lenses rock, the prospect of a better body in 2016 is very high—moves forward.

Such things are my perspective.

And then there is cost. An $8K 24MP body is not a fault I hold against the SL; it is the best built camera out there. But it is... $8K (more with tax and accessories). A $3K Sony and maybe a better $4K Sony this fall is still less money, and I get great ROI there. So on the business side it's no contest also.

What Leica has done is a terrific move forward. Kudos to them. Now maybe there will be an M360 and that will be the camera for me. But at $8K, it’s gonna be tough all over again.

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