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Leica SL2 Firmware Update 3.0 —  Major Bug Introduced: Cannot Use Fn Button to Toggle information display

I wondered whether Leica might screw me with the Leica SL2 firmware 3.0 update, full of useless (for me) additions catering to niche situations, and failing to fix a single SL2 bug or single SL2 operational headache.

Cannot Use Fn Button to Toggle information display

With firmware 2.0, the Fn button could programmed to toggle between the various informational displays as Toggle Info Levels. It would cycle between the various displays. I use this all the time on the SL2 (v2.0) and similar functionality on every digital camera I’ve ever used.

Firmware 3.0 has broken this critical core functionality and no longer toggles—you get one and only one information display in both shooting and Play mode. Pressing the Fn button does nothing.

After half an hour of trying, I am stumped. Either these geniuses think this is a feature, or their software quality control stinks. But this would be no suprise: my Leica M240 was an unstable piece of crap for the first 24 months of its life.

Leica SL2
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Leica 28mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL Aperture Series: Pool at Base of Dry Waterfall (Leica SL2)

This aperture series from f/2 through f/11 shows off impressive sharpness of the Leica 28mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL ASPH on an extremely finely-detailed scene.

Leica 28mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL Aperture Series: Pool at Base of Dry Waterfall

Includes images up to full camera resolution from f/2 through f/11, plus crops.

Pool at Base of Dry Waterfall, Tenaya Creek
f2 @ 1/2500 sec electronic shutter, ISO 100; 2021-09-19 15:02:29
LEICA SL2 + Leica 28mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL ASPH
ENV: Tenaya Canyon, altitude 7800 ft / 2377 m, 65°F / 18°C
RAW: LACA corrected, distortion corrected, pull 0.66 stops, +10 Whites, +10 Clarity

[low-res image for bot]

Leica 28mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL Aperture Series: Stagnant Tenaya Creek in Forest (Leica SL2)

This aperture series from f/2 through f/11 shows off stunning performance of the Leica 28mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL ASPH on a wide dynamic range scene with brilliance of detail from near to far.

Leica 28mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL Aperture Series: Stagnant Tenaya Creek in Forest

Includes images up to full camera resolution from f/2 through f/11, plus crops.

I surveyed the entire length of upper Tenaya Creek almost to Pywiack Falls. There is 99.99% fish kill, with no adult trout left alive in this rich lower section except in one darker/deeper pool (there were some in the rocky section exiting the forest area). This section normally supports spawning brook trout in shallow but still-flowing water, but here in 2021 it was a series of stagnant areas with no flow between the pools as has been the case for decades even in the driest year. No sightings and no trout spooked as I walked the stream bank—extermination almost everywhere.

Stagnant Tenaya Creek in Forest
f5.6 @ 1/30 sec electronic shutter, ISO 100; 2021-09-19 17:30:25
LEICA SL2 + Leica 28mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL ASPH
ENV: Tenaya Canyon, altitude 7700 ft / 2347 m, 65°F / 18°C
RAW: LACA corrected, distortion corrected, pull 0.8 stops, +50 Shadows, +20 Whites, +10 Clarity, diffraction mitigating sharpening

[low-res image for bot]

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Eastern Sierra Air Quality September 27: Still Lousy from Forest Fires, but hope for a short reprieve tomorrow

re: Eastern Sierra Air Quality, September 25

A Sprinter van makes a great mobile workstations so I’ve published a fair amount of stuff last 4-5 days while hanging out in the western Nevada desert, waiting out the bad smoky air. But I was feeling burned-out yesterday (pun intended)—that’s as good as it goes and I’m tired of it.

Perfect air quality after storm front
2021-09-28 06:43

UPDATE, September 28: the front has pushed all the smoke away as seen at right.

I need either clean air by tomorrow, or I’m heading home to crystal-clear ai. Yesterday’s AQI of 180 or so gave me light headaches and left me feeling tired—the the worst yet and unhealthy—but there was no escape short of a 300 mile drive.

Nothing to prove that other than the body has evolved to need nutrient to fend off disease and toxins, but, my feeling is that Vitamin C and Vitamin E as antioxidants along with magnesium supplementation and other nutritional support should help the body fight off ill effects of the nasty smoke.

I feel like I bought a used car: one repair turns into another repair and soon you wish you had just dumped it at the start of the fiasco! After 5 days of hoping for clean air, I wish I had just driven home 5 days ago.

As shown below, yesterday’s air was awful, with an AQI of 180 or so from the Yosemite/Lee Vining area all the way to Hawthorne NV, with me in the middle. But the air improved last night and is better today (2nd picture).

A mild NW-wind weather front tomorrow might clear all the smoke out of the Yosemite area. If it does I’ll attempt the hikes I’ve been wanting to do, and if not, I’m homeward-bound. As for hikes, the one long hike I did was encouraging: while I was very tired, it was a “good tired”—a feeling I’ve rarely had for 18 months now—hoping I can work my fitness back up and overweightness down—it’s like carrying a backpack being 20 pounds too body-fat-heavy.

Sunset in AQI 180 smoke conditions, Nevada desert east of Mono Lake
f1.8 @ 1/1900 sec panorama, ISO 20; 2021-09-26 17:57:00
iPhone 7 Plus + iPhone 7 Plus 4.0 mm f/2.8 @ 4mm
ENV: NV desert east of Mono Lake, altitude 7419 ft / 2261 m, 72°F / 22°C

[low-res image for bot]
Nevada desert east of Mono Lake, view SW to West towards Mono Lake
f2.8 @ 1/1000 sec panorama, ISO 32; 2021-09-27 08:51:00
iPhone 7 Plus + iPhone 7 Plus 6.6 mm f/2.8 @ 6.6mm
ENV: NV desert east of Mono Lake, altitude 7437 ft / 2267 m, 65°F / 18°C

[low-res image for bot]
East of Mono Lake, view SW to West towards Mono Lake
f1.8 @ 1/1500 sec panorama, ISO 20; 2021-09-28 07:43:00
iPhone 7 Plus + iPhone 7 Plus 4.0 mm f/2.8 @ 4mm
ENV: east of Mono Lake, altitude 6481 ft / 1975 m, 45°F / 7°C

[low-res image for bot]

 

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Leica 50mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL Aperture Series: View Through Trees towards Cloud’s Rest

This aperture series evaluates the distance performance of the Leica 50mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL ASPH on a near/far landscape scene with focus at medium distance

Leica 50mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL Aperture Series: View Through Trees towards Cloud’s Rest

Includes images up to full camera resolution from f/2 through f/11, plus crops.

View Through Trees towards Cloud’s Rest
f8 @ 1/25 sec electronic shutter, ISO 100; 2021-09-19 16:52:35
LEICA SL2 + Leica 50mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL ASPH
ENV: Tenaya Canyon, altitude 7600 ft / 2316 m, 65°F / 18°C
RAW: pull 0.3 stops, +100 Shadows, -100 Highlights, +20 Whites, +30 Dehaze, +10 Clarity

[low-res image for bot]

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Sigma SL 28mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Aperture Series, Leica SL2 vs Panasonic S1R Sharpness: Desert Sagebrush

Even though both the Panasonic S1R and the Leica SL2 are L-Mount cameras, they differ in their sensor cover glass thickness, which because of ray angle interactions, damages performance for M-Mount lenses and damages performance for Leica SL lenses.

The Sigma 28mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art for L-Mount cannot be optimized for two different sensor cover glass thicknesses, so on which camera does it perform better?

Aperture Series, Leica SL2 vs Panasonic S1R Sharpness: Desert Sagebrush

Includes images up to full camera resolution from f/1.4 to f/5.6, plus crops.

Desert sagebrush east of Mono Lake
f1.4 @ 1/3200 sec electronic shutter, ISO 100; 2021-09-25 17:38:06
Panasonic S1R + 28mm F1.4 DG HSM Art 019
ENV: east of Mono Lake, altitude 7380 ft / 2249 m, 75°F / 23°C
RAW: LACA corrected, distortion corrected, +10 Whites, +10 Clarity

[low-res image for bot]

 

Eastern Sierra Air Quality September 25: Still Lousy from Forest Fires

re: Eastern Sierra Air Quality, September 27

I’ve had to hang out in the Nevada desert while I watch the smoke situation over in the Eastern Sierra from afar. Yesterday was viable for the Sierra , but the drab haze was not appealing for enjoyment or photography and still a modest health hazard, so I’ve just been processing and publishing the stuff I’ve already shot.

Smoke is surrounding me on almost all sides this morning, and I wonder where the heck I’ll go if it gets bad—pondering a “f*ck it” and head home if this persists. The Eastern Sierra is blotted-out or nearly so by the thick haze, and the mountains towards Lee Vining are now invisible to me.

It’s a damn shame, because the weather has been as beautiful as anyone could ask for.

PurpleAir.com air quality maps for PM2.5 and PM10 are as good as far as they go—not very far over here—they can be highly misleading at times due to stratification of the air layers, which can leave the air good in the valley, even as the smoke is much worse higher up. But eyes don’t lie when it comes to haze/smoke. There are few or no air quality sensors at altitude along most of the Eastern Sierra for PurpleAir.com, excepting one at Virginia Lakes (north of Mono Lake), which is not very helpful.

View from NE to SE of Eastern Sierra
Lee Vining CA roughly where distant power poles are, June Lake and Mammoth Lakes area towards left
f2.8 @ 1/1000 sec, ISO 20; 2021-09-25 09:34:00
iPhone 7 Plus + iPhone 7 Plus 6.6 mm f/2.8 @ 6.6mm ENV: altitude 7376 ft / 2248 m

[low-res image for bot]

 


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Leica 50mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL Aperture Series: Backlit Pines among Glacial Erratics fronting Granite Cliff

This aperture series evaluates the distance performance of the Leica 50mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL ASPH on a near/far landscape scene with focus at medium distance.

Leica 50mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL Aperture Series: Backlit Pines among Glacial Erratics fronting Granite Cliff

Includes images up to full camera resolution from f/2 through f/11, plus crops.

Backlit Pines among Glacial Erratics fronting Granite Cliff, Tenaya Canyon
f2 @ 1/1000 sec electronic shutter, ISO 100; 2021-09-19 16:15:48
LEICA SL2 + Leica 50mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL ASPH
ENV: Tenaya Canyon, altitude 7650 ft / 2332 m, 65°F / 18°C
RAW: pull 0.6 stops, +10 Whites, +10 Clarity

[low-res image for bot]
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Total Failure of Piñon Pine Nuts in Inyo Mountains

I’ve had to hang out in the Nevada desert while I watch the smoke situation over in the Eastern Sierra from afar. Yesterday and today were usable, but the drab haze was not appealing for enjoyment or photography, so I’ve just been processing and publishing the stuff I’ve already shot. A cold front (15°F drop) is supposed to move in by Monday, with the air clearing starting tomorrow, I hope! Correction: I misread the weather report (did not see the stale date). I am currently in NV with smoke surrounding me on almost all sides, and the Eastern Sierra blotted out by the thick haze—invisible to me now. PurpleAir.com is as good as far as it goes—but highly misleading at times due to stratification of the air, which can leave the air good in the valley, even as the smoke is much worse higher up. There are few non sensors at altitude along most of the Eastern Sierra for PurpleAir.com, excepting one at Virginia Lakes, which is not very helpful.

Piñon Pine crop failure

East of Mono Lake at about 7600 feet elevation (Inyo mountain range, east of Eastern Sierra), I examined a number of Piñon Pine trees and their cones. I was unable to find a single edible/viable pine nut anywhere. The vast majority of the cones with shrunken/shriveled and the full-size cones that had matured yielded nuts that were of full size, but were either empty, maggot-holed, or held shriveled kernels 1/20 the volume of a proper pine nut.

Each pinyon cone produces 10 to 30 seeds and a productive stand of pinyon trees in a good year can produce 250 pounds (110 kg) on 1 acre (0.40 ha) of land. An average worker can collect about 22 pounds (10.0 kg) of unshelled pinyon seed in a day's work. Production per worker of 22 pounds of unshelled pinyon seeds—more than one-half that in shelled seeds—amounts to nearly 30,000 calories of nutrition. That is a high yield for the effort expended by hunter-gatherers. Moreover, the pinyon seeds are high in fat, often in short supply for hunter-gatherers.[16]

...The pinyon jay (Gymnorhinus cyanocephalus) takes its name from the tree, and pinyon nuts form an important part of its diet. It is very important for regeneration of pinyon woods, as it stores large numbers of the seeds in the ground for later use, and excess seeds not used are in an ideal position to grow into new trees. The Mexican jay is also important for the dispersal of some pinyon species, as, less often, is the Clark's nutcracker. Many other species of animal also eat pinyon nuts, without dispersing them.

Drought stress

Piñon Pine trees are very drought hardy, but a few are dying, and all are showing signs of severe stress. The nil crop of pine nuts surely results from that stress. There have been years where I could make it rain delicious pine nuts by whacking the branches with a tent pole.

While I can go buy some at the supermarket, they are invariably another species from China (no thanks), and don’t taste nearly as good as the fresh fall crop over here.

Another year of drought, and I expect we will see massive die-off of both Piñon Pines and even Juniper tress. The soil is powder-dry and virtually no new vegetation grew this year in the arid areas of the Inyo Mountains.

Below, with the right lighting and exposure, my aging iPhone 7 Plus in RAW can do pretty well.

Piñon Pine cone, shriveled and devoid of pine nuts
f1.8 @ 1/125 sec, ISO 20; 2021-09-23 14:28:33
iPhone 7 Plus + iPhone 7 Plus 4.0 mm f/1.8 @ 28mm equiv (4mm)
ENV: west of Mono Lake, altitude 7628 ft / 2325 m, 80°F / 26°C

[low-res image for bot]

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Leica 50mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL Aperture Series: Smoky Sunset, Piper Mountain Wilderness

This aperture series from f/2 through f/5.6 evaluates the distance performance of the Leica 50mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL ASPH on a landscape scene with low contrast.

Leica 50mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL Aperture Series: Smoky Sunset, Piper Mountain Wilderness

Includes images up to full camera resolution from f/2 through f/5.6, plus crops.

Smoky Sunset, Piper Mountain Wilderness
f5.6 @ 1/250 sec electronic shutter, ISO 100; 2021-09-18 18:07:09
LEICA SL2 + Leica 50mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL ASPH
ENV: Piper Mountain Wilderness, altitude 5450 ft / 1661 m, 75°F / 23°C
RAW: push 0.17 stops, -50 Highlights, +20 Whites, +20 Clarity

[low-res image for bot]

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Leica 50mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL Aperture Series: View North to Mt Conness from Puppy Dome

This aperture series from f/2 through f/16 evaluates the near-to-far performance of the Leica 50mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL ASPH on a landscape scene.

Leica 50mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL Aperture Series: View North to Mt Conness from Puppy Dome

Includes images up to full camera resolution from f/2 through f/16, plus crops.

View North to Mt Conness from Puppy Dome, Tuolumne Meadows
f2.8 @ 1/250 sec electronic shutter, ISO 100; 2021-09-20 18:20:10
LEICA SL2 + Leica 50mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL ASPH + polarizer Breakthrough Photography X4
ENV: Puppy Dome, Tuolumne Meadows, altitude 8650 ft / 2637 m, 65°F / 18°C
RAW: pull 0.5 stops, +20 Whites, +10 Clarity

[low-res image for bot]

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Leica 50mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL Aperture Series: Peaks and Valley, Mt Conness Southern Spur

This aperture series from f/2 through f/11 evaluates the far distance performance of the Leica 50mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL ASPH on a landscape scene.

Leica 50mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL Aperture Series: Peaks and Valley, Mt Conness Southern Spur

Includes images up to full camera resolution from f/2 through f/5.6, plus crops.

Peaks and Valley, Mt Conness Southern Spur
f2 @ 1/1600 sec electronic shutter, ISO 100; 2021-09-20 12:25:26
LEICA SL2 + Leica 50mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL ASPH
ENV: Mt Conness area, altitude 10100 ft / 3078 m, 65°F / 18°C
RAW: pull 0.66 stops, +10 Whites, +10 Clarity

[low-res image for bot]
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Leica 50mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL ASPH Aperture Series: Unacceptable Optical Swing (Lens Skew) + Reader Comments

UPDATE: I added another example of the lens skew (optical swing), showing that even F/5.6 cannot hide the problem. What a turd of a sample. How in hell did it leave the factory?

The Leica 50mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL ASPH is an ultra high performance optical design, as per its claimed MTF performance. IMO, a better approach would be to publish a guaranteed minimum MTF performance based on testing real lenses.

High performance lens designs are difficult to manufacture to specifications, but according to the video with Peter Karbe of Leica, the optical design is such that small spacing errors of lens groups should have little effect on performance, and the lens groups are matched in order to work synergistically. Similarly, the claim is made that assembled lenses have real MTF very close to the computed-best MTF.

But the brand-new Leica 50/2 APO that I am shooting repudiates the assumptions that one might take away from that video. Moreover, if it met Leica quality control standards at the factory, then I say that Leica quality control standards need improvement. My comments of course are on this one sample—I have no idea how much sample variation there is among Leica SL lenses. The 28/2 APO-SL and 35/2 APO-SL were both superb.

Everything I am shooting at distance shows a visibly-soft left side of the frame (when focused at center or to the right). With no way to try another sample while on my trip, this is really frustrating.

Leica 50mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL ASPH: Lens Skew, Optical Swing

The Leica 28mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL ASPH has excellent symmetry—no complaints, it is a beautiful performer consistent with its claimed MTF. And yet, wider-angle lenses typically have more symmetry issues. I just love the 28/2 APO, so I’d really love to have a 50/2 APO with similarly good behavior.

Southern spur of Mt Conness
f2 @ 1/1600 sec electronic shutter, ISO 100; 2021-09-20 12:25:26
LEICA SL2 + Leica 50mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL ASPH
ENV: Mt Conness area, altitude 10100 ft / 3078 m, 65°F / 18°C
RAW: pull 0.66 stops, +10 Whites, +10 Clarity

[low-res image for bot]

Reader Fred Miranda of FredMiranda.com writes:

I saw your note on the 50/2 APO-SL optical skew. It’s a very large swing IMO. Although better than other brands, I find that Leica is not flawless.

From my recent experience, the followed lenses were noticeably tilted, swung or both:

• One Leica 50mm f/1.4 Summilux-SL
• Two Leica 50mm f/1.4 Summilux-M ASPH
• One Leica 35m f/1.4 Summilux-M ASPH FLE
• One Leica 90mm f/2.8 Elmarit-M (this was the oldest one but still 6-bit coded and latest manufacture date) [diglloyd: maybe a typo on that lens name]

Quite surprised since most of them were demo copies with no signs of usage (abuse). I was able to correct the SL 50/1.4 Lux since is was just a simple tilt. (using shims) but decided to return the other ones for better copies.

DIGLLOYD: from what I can tell, every manufacturer has quality control problems. It must be a hard problem to solve; maybe it can be detected but not easily fixed? But if an end-user can shim a lens, surely the manufacturer could do so at the factory, and design lenses to make it easy to do so.

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Video with Peter Karbe on how Leica designs and builds its Leica SL lenses

This video with Peter Karbe of Leica has many interesting insights into how Leica designs and builds its Leica SL lenses. For example, sustantial effort went into quality control and “desensitization” of the spacing of lens groups. Also, the claim is that real lenses have MTF very close to the computed-from-model MTF.

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Leica SL2 Firmware Update 3.0

This firmware update showed up very recently, in the middle of my trip; I will re-evaluate Leica SL2 operational notes and Leica SL2 bugs if there are any changes that address the problems.

Leica has done a lot of work on this release, but I don’t see any improvements that fix the bugs and operational issues, and the only new feature that might be useful (for me) is the Enhanced Live View setting for dim conditions.

After setting date/time, the camera cannot exit the Date & Time menu, leaving the camera inoperable. Turn the camera off/on to restore it to operational status.

UPDATE: a major new bug plagues firmware 3.0.

Leica.com: Leica SL2 Firmware update 3.0 and release notes

PHOTO & VIDEO

  • _NEW: Exposure metering method Highlight-Weighted
  • _NEW: iDR (Intelligent Dynamic Range) for the optimization of darker areas
  • _NEW: Anytime manual access to Pixel Mapping
  • _EXTENDED: Additional settings for image properties (Highlight and Shadow)
  • _IMPROVED: Autofocus with improved algorithm
  • _IMPROVED:User profiles will now store the currently active operating mode and exposure mode
  • _NEW: Enhanced Live View as auxiliary function for image composition in the dark
  • _NEW: Image Overlay

VIDEO

  • _NEW: Follow Focus
  • _NEW:HEVC video formats (H.265) and video formats with reduced bit rate at the same picture quality (L-GOP)
  • _NEW: Segmented Video as protection against data loss
  • _NEW: Waveform Monitor
  • _NEW: Configurable reference values (Color Bar and Test Sound
  • _NEW: REC Frame for a more detailed display of a running recording
  • _NEW: No more recording time limitations
  • _EXTENDED: Optional import of custom LUT profiles
Leica SL2

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SHOOTOUT: Leica SL2 vs Panasonic S1R Sharpness with M-Mount Lenses: Piper Mountain Wilderness

re: Field Curvature for Zeiss ZM 35/1.4 Distagon, Mirrorless Cameras vs M-Cameras
re: MTF on Mirrorless Cameras, Sensor Cover Glass

The issue: ray angle interacts with the sensor cover glass thickness; a lens is designed assuming a specific thickness. Deviations from that thickness degrades optical performance, particularly off-center. A secondary issue is color shading, along with accentuated field curvature and astigmatism.

One would hope that the L-Mount alliance would have standardized on sensor cover glass thickness and characteristics, so that lenses of either brand could be used with the same results on either-brand camera. But in marketing, form trumps function.

Definitive finding for M-Mount lenses

This shootout between the Leica SL2 and the Panasonic S1R is definitive in proving major image quality differences between the SL2/S1R for M-mount rangefinder lenses, including sharpness and color shading and field curvature.

SHOOTOUT: Leica SL2 vs Panasonic S1R Sharpness with M-Mount Lenses: Piper Mountain Wilderness

Includes images up to full camera resolution from f/2 through f/8, plus crops.

Piper Mountain Wilderness abutting Death Valley Road
f1.4 @ 1/6400 sec electronic shutter, ISO 100; 2021-09-18 12:24:03
LEICA SL2 + Zeiss ZM 35mm f/1.4 Distagon
ENV: Piper Mountain Wilderness, altitude 5600 ft / 1707 m, 70°F / 21°C
RAW: vignetting corrected, pull 0.17 stops, +10 Whites, +10 Clarity

[low-res image for bot]

Roy P writes:

Not in the least surprised – this is the kind of garbage I got from the S1R using M lenses, which is why I returned the S1R to B&H, following my 3-day trip to Alabama Hills. Some of the multi-shot high-res images were also quite hideous. Stopping down to f/5.6 on the Zeiss 35/1.4 ZM and Leica 50/2 APO were not bad, but still, just not satisfactory.

TW, the guy who used to make the kit for the 6-bit coding no longer makes them. Any other way to fool the SL2 with a non-Leica lens? Maybe just hand-paint a pattern on the lens?!

DIGLLOYD: coder kit for M lenses is no longer made. You'll have to set the lens coding manually.

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DEFINITIVE SHOOTOUT: Leica SL2 vs Panasonic S1R Sharpness with Leica SL Lenses: View North Over Puppy Dome

The issue: ray angle interacts with the sensor cover glass thickness; a lens is designed assuming a specific thickness. Deviations from that thickness degrades optical performance, particularly off-center. A secondary issue is the color rendition, which can depend both on the sensor itself, its IR-blocking layer, and the electronic processing of the camera.

One would hope that the L-Mount alliance would have standardized on sensor cover glass thickness and characteristics, so that lenses of either brand could be used with the same results on either-brand camera. But in marketing, form trumps function.

Definitive finding: Leica SL lenses

This shootout between the Leica SL2 and the Panasonic S1R is definitive in proving major image quality differences between the two cameras for Leica SL lenses, sharpness in particular.

SHOOTOUT: Leica SL2 vs Panasonic S1R, View North Over Puppy Dome

Includes images up to full camera resolution from f/2 through f/11, plus crops.

View north over Puppy Dome
f2.8 @ 1/1250 sec electronic shutter, ISO 100; 2021-09-20 17:31:04
LEICA SL2 + Leica 28mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL ASPH
ENV: Tuolumne Meadows, altitude 8650 ft / 2637 m, 65°F / 18°C
RAW: LACA corrected, distortion corrected, pull 0.56 stops, +20 Whites, +10 Clarity

[low-res image for bot]

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Reader Comment: Leica SL2 and Leica SL Prime Lenses for a 2-Lens Kit

Eeraj Q writes:

Excellent coverage of the SL primes with compelling evidence. Even having owned a few of the SL primes for some time now, your observations brought forth new ideas and information. But then, this is expected from you!

Two questions:

1. What is your take on a SL 28 / SL 90 as a two lens kit for landscapes and call it a day?

2. What do you think of cropping on a high MP camera in general? Especially, if not printing and only viewing images on a high res monitor. With 47MP on SL2 or S1R on tap, cropping gives a lot of leeway so the SL 28 could be 35mm after crop if needed. 50MM perhaps a bit much, so assume a max crop of 28mm --> 35mm. Is this a viable strategy for field usage?

I think you know where I am coming from - your earlier post about a two lens with a max of three lens kit being most optimal for most use cases continues to make a lot of sense. Obviously, talking about primes here.

Finally, with SL lenses costing down payment for a decent car, it is well worth the price of subscription to your site.

For anyone on the fence, here is what no other reviewer has covered in this minute detail:
•  Issues with unstable focus marring IQ that you covered in your earlier S1R / SL prime series
• One of the most compelling examples I have seen on multi-shot mode not only increasing resolution but also decreasing noise. Eye opening. (S1R)
•  Hits and misses with the SL 90 / SL 50 Summilux for portraits on the S1R

DIGLLOYD: each to his own, but I’d go 28/75 instead of 28/90. But that’s a stretch in coverage, so 28/50 might make more sense all-around, less of a gap. The combination of 21/35 makes sense too, assuming a 21mm prime appears.

Dry Waterfall
f2.8 @ 1/100 sec electronic shutter, ISO 100; 2021-09-16 17:17:22
LEICA SL2 + Leica 28mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL ASPH
ENV: Tenaya Canyon, altitude 7800 ft / 2377 m, 60°F / 15°C
RAW: LACA corrected, distortion corrected, pull 1.4 stops, +40 Shadows, +10 Whites, +20 Dehaze, +10 Clarity

[low-res image for bot]

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Forest Fire Smoke Plagues the Eastern Sierra and Yosemite

Planning on a trip to the Eastern Sierra or Yosemite? It might be hit-or-miss.

Entering Yosemite on September 17, smoke veiled the Yosemite high country, but by late afternoon it has partially cleared, and that resulted in the images posted a few days ago, from Tenaya Canyon.

On September 18, a monstrous black smoke plume enveloped the Eastern Sierra from Lone Pine to Lee Vining, so thick that it completely obscured the entire range from view. AQI went from near zero (crystal clear) to extremely unhealthy in a matter of a few hours, inducing burning eyes and a headache as just some of the obvious problems.

Below, I drove south towards Big Pine and thence into the Inyo range near Eureke Dunes in order to try to escape the rapidly advancing smoke plume which sent AQI from crustal clear to extremely unhealthy within an hour.

Smoke plume advancing rapidly over Eastern Sierra to Hwy 395
f1.8 @ 1/60 sec, ISO 25; 2021-09-17 18:45:00
iPhone 7 Plus + iPhone 7 Plus 4.0 mm f/2.8 @ 4mm ENV: altitude 4080 ft / 1244 m

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I drove towards Eureka Dunes to escape it, and camped overnight with clean air, but by morning the yuck surrounded me and the entire White Mountains area and I spent the next day and night sealed up in my van with nowhere to escape the smoke.

Below, by early morning there was no escape even east of the White Mountains into northern Death Valley.

Smoky conditions in Piper Mountain Wilderness area, just north of Death Valley
f1.8 @ 1/2000 sec, ISO 20; 2021-09-18 17:21:00
iPhone 7 Plus + iPhone 7 Plus 4.0 mm f/2.8 @ 4mm ENV: altitude 5434 ft / 1656 m

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On September 19, a northwest front blew away the thick choking smoke from the Eastern Sierra, resulting in the cleanest air in years that I can recall—stunningly crisp views to even far-away peaks, totally free of haze. That lasted all day and part of September 20, when smoke breached the Tuolumne Meadows area.

By the morning of September 21, another massive smoke plume enveloped the Eastern Sierra. Peaks began disappearing from view and the acrid choking smoke was out of the question. So I drove east into Nevada for clean air, which as I write this is still clean, but half the sky eastwards to the Sierra is a massive grayish-white mess. Supposedly it might clear out tomorrow.

Below, the temporarily stratified smoke plume rapidly would fill all the air within a few hours with dense choking smoke. I could see it fill Glacier Canyon (near Mt Dana) and other nearby areas, so I left in haste.

Smoke plume early in its advance, Lee Vining Canyon
f1.8 @ 1/1800 sec, ISO 20; 2021-09-21 09:12:00
iPhone 7 Plus + iPhone 7 Plus 4.0 mm f/2.8 @ 4mm ENV: altitude 9339 ft / 2847 m

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Leica 28mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL Aperture series: Oily Blue Water among Orange Streambed Rocks

I’m really enjoying field-shooting the Leica 28mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL*. It just seems to fit so many scenes so well and delivery spectacular results. And this sample has showed no build-quality issues.

This aperture series from f/2 through f/11 shows off stunning performance of the Leica 28mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL ASPH on a landscape scene.

Leica 28mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL Aperture series: Oily Blue Water among Orange Streambed

Includes images up to full camera resolution from f/2 through f/11, plus crops.

A spectactular dream lens for landscape! Get yours today!

*Not so the Leica 50mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL, which has an obvious optical swing that leaves the left edge soft —all distance scenes noticeably weak on the left until f/5.6. I will be showing its lens skew which is obvious and a practical disaster, as I only have two Leica SL lenses to work with on this trip. It goes to show that claims of “hand assembly” and “MTF testing” blah blah blah are invariably marekting bullshit when a suitable distance scene immediately shows a problem. The 50/2 is also a pratical nightmare when shooting towards the sun—very difficult to shade the front lens element adequately to avoid its awful flare problems . The 28/2 has flare issues also, but is is much easier to shade it, perhaps because of its superior rectangular lens shade (inadequate round shade for the 50/2).

Oily Blue Water among Orange Streambed Rocks
f2 @ 1/13 sec electronic shutter, ISO 100; 2021-09-19 19:01:19
LEICA SL2 + Leica 28mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL ASPH
ENV: Tenaya Creek, altitude 7600 ft / 2316 m, 60°F / 15°C
RAW: LACA corrected, distortion corrected, pull 0.85 stops, +20 Whites, +10 Dehaze, +10 Clarity

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Leica 28mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL Aperture series: Tenaya Creek

This aperture series from f/2 through f/11 shows off stunning performance of the Leica 28mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL ASPH on a landscape scene.

Leica 28mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL Aperture series: Tenaya Creek

Includes images up to full camera resolution from f/2 through f/11, plus crops.

A spectactular dream lens for landscape! Get yours today!

Tenaya Creek
f2.8 @ 1/200 sec electronic shutter, ISO 100; 2021-09-16 17:44:42
LEICA SL2 + Leica 28mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL ASPH
ENV: Tenaya Creek, altitude 7800 ft / 2377 m, 63°F / 17°C
RAW: LACA corrected, distortion corrected, pull 0.5 stops, +30 Shadows, +10 Whites, +10 Clarity

[low-res image for bot]

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Leica 28mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL Aperture series: Last Light on Polished Granite Humps

This aperture series from f/2 through f/11 shows off stunning performance of the Leica 28mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL ASPH on a landscape scene.

Leica 28mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL Aperture series: Last Light on Polished Granite Humps

Includes images up to full camera resolution from f/2 through f/11, plus crops.

A spectactular dream lens for landscape! Get yours today!

Last light on glacial polish, Tenaya Creek
f2 @ 1/2500 sec electronic shutter, ISO 100; 2021-09-16 17:06:01
LEICA SL2 + Leica 28mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL ASPH
ENV: Tenaya Creek, altitude 8000 ft / 2438 m, 66°F / 18°C
RAW: LACA corrected, distortion corrected, pull 0.33 stops

[low-res image for bot]
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Leica 28mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL Aperture series: Backlit Meadow

This aperture series from f/2 through f/11 shows off the general imaging performance of the Leica 28mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL ASPH on a near-far scene that is typical of landscape photography

Leica 28mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL Aperture series: Backlit Meadow

Includes images up to full camera resolution from f/2 through f/11, plus crops.

A spectactular dream lens for landscape! Get yours today!

Autumn Meadow, near Tenaya Lake
f2 @ 1/1000 sec electronic shutter, ISO 100; 2021-09-16 16:41:06
LEICA SL2 + Leica 28mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL ASPH
ENV: Tenaya Lake area, altitude 8000 ft / 2438 m, 70°F / 21°C
RAW: LACA corrected, distortion corrected, pull 0.33 stops, +10 Whites, +10 Clarity

[low-res image for bot]

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Leica 28mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL Aperture series: Dry Waterfall

This aperture series from f/2 through f/11 shows off the sharpness of the Leica 28mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL ASPH on a subject with extemely fine detail.

Leica 28mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL Aperture series: Dry Waterfall

Includes images up to full camera resolution from f/2 through f/11, plus crops.

A spectactular dream lens for landscape! Get yours today!

I started visiting this area 30 years prior, so I know this area well. This waterfall (n spring!) in Tenaya Creek is dry every year in September barring an early storm. But the upper drainage in this area was dry enough from the 2021 drought to kill all larger trout in pools that had survived past droughts, except for some 2-inch minnow here and there. They should repopulate, barring several consecutive years of drought this bad.

Dry Waterfall, Tenaya Creek
f2.8 @ 1/100 sec electronic shutter, ISO 100; 2021-09-16 17:17:22
LEICA SL2 + Leica 28mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL ASPH
ENV: Tenaya Canyon, altitude 7800 ft / 2377 m, 60°F / 15°C
RAW: LACA corrected, distortion corrected, pull 1.4 stops, +40 Shadows, +10 Whites, +20 Dehaze, +10 Clarity

[low-res image for bot]

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Some National Forests in California Closed for Fire Concerns to Reopen Thursday Sept 16, Inyo National Forest soon OPEN

re: Where to Photograph in a State Largely Veiled in Smoke?
re: National Forest Service Closes All Southwest Region National Forests in California
re: Alternative to Closed California National Forests: Yosemite Day Pass System

Some of the National Forests in California are reopening two days prior to the end of the order, as of 00:00 Thursday September 16. So you are good to go on Thursday.

Hooray! That means I can visit my favorite places in the Eastern Sierra and White Mountains, both in the Inyo National Forest.

Other more southerly national forests remain closed and the closure is extended to Sept 22.

Forest Service Ending Regional Closure Order Two Days Early; Five Forests to Remain Closed Under Local Orders

VALLEJO, Calif., — Sept. 14, 2021. The USDA Forest Service Pacific Southwest Region will end the regional closure order affecting National Forests in California at 11:59 pm on Wednesday, Sept. 15, two days prior to the original end date of Sept. 17. However, forest-wide closures will remain in place and be extended until midnight on September 22nd on the Los Padres, Angeles, San Bernardino, and Cleveland National Forests in Southern California due to local weather and fire factors, as well as a temporary strain on firefighting resources supporting large fires in other areas of the state.

In addition to the four National Forests that will remain closed in Southern California, some National Forest System lands throughout the state will be closed under local closure orders in areas of ongoing wildfires to ensure public safety. This includes the Eldorado National Forest in Northern California, which has a forest closure order until Sept. 30. Fire restrictions also remain in place across all National Forests in California to prevent new fire starts. Please refer to the local National Forest that you plan to visit to obtain specific information on closures and restrictions.

...

Never made sense for Inyo National Forest.


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Leica 50mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL: Veiling Flare, Ghosting Flare, Ray Flare

Another flaring disaster in the APO-Summicron-SL line. The results are beautiful when the front lens element is shaded. Otherwise, they are piss-poor.

Leica 50mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL Examples: Flare

Includes pairs of images, with and without shading the front lens element (lens hood always attached).

In my opinion, the Leica APO-Summicron-SL line needs to be recalled, with the design fixed to address the piss-poor flare performance. The ray flare with the 50/2 APO-SL looks like an outright obvious design defect, just for starters.

Severe flare with Leica 50mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL ASPH
f5.6 @ 1/250 sec, ISO 100; 2021-09-13 09:13:13
LEICA SL2 + Leica 50mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL ASPH

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Leica 50mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL Examples: Backyard

These examples at f/2 (mostly) were shot handheld with IBIS on the Leica SL2.

Leica 50mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL Examples: Backyard

Includes images up to full camera resolution.

Performance is about a lot more than sharpness—it includes bokeh, correction for secondary color, distortion, etc. The combined effect is what counts, and the 50/2 APO-SL delivers the good.

Along with its 35mm sibling, the Leica 50mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL ASPH is a spectacular performer with apparently zero or near-zero distortion. Get yours today!

Two-tone pumpkin, first light
f2 @ 1/640 sec handheld IBIS=on, ISO 100; 2021-09-13 09:30:49
LEICA SL2 + Leica 50mm f/2 APO-Summicron-SL ASPH RAW: +10 Clarity

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