Recently, “LEICA SL,” a mirrorless SLR, is gradually on topic as a movie camera as well. Released in the end of 2015, it is the first genuine camera of LEICA to be able to shoot a professional movie. Since its potential performance and LEICA’s unique look attract people in the movie industry, the number of the users gets increasing and starts to receive an attention. It’s 35mm full size, low pass filter-less 24-negapixel full-frame CMOS sensor, ISO50~50,000, 4K 4:2:2 10bit output, and in-camera 120P shooting in HD. I challenged the ability of the LEICA SL at shooting for both a still and a movie, and for both look centered and mobility.
The first 4K movie camera of LEICA
The LEICA SL is the mirrorless camera with 24-negapixel full-frame CMOS sensor, and it’s the first movie camera to shoot in 4K (4096×2160/ 24P、3840×2160 30P) of LEICA. Along with the body, there are two zoom lenses such as a LEICA VARIO-ELMARIT-SL 24–90 mm f/2.8–4 ASPH., and a LEICA APO-VARIO-ELMARIT-SL 90–280 mm f/2.8–4. Plus, the latest SL mount lens, called LEICA SUMMILUX-SL 50 mm f/1.4 ASPH. is lined up. In addtion, you can use almost all LEICA’s lenses to the camera by putting a mount adapter. When I had a range finder, LEICA M8, I had two ZUMMICRONs such as 50mm and 75mm. However, because I don’t have them now, I bought a LEICA VARIO-ELMARIT-SL 24–90 mm f/2.8–4 ASPH at the time of getting the LEICA SL.
Attractive LEICA’s LOOK
I had been thinking for a long time that it would be difficult to use a LEICA’s camera for work thought it would be good if it were in real; however, when the LEICA SL was announced, I finally thought it perhaps came to be true. I shoot both still and movie. For movie, I use a cinema camera as a main and SLR as a sub, which is used for still. So that, employing the LEICA SL means to replace the mirroress with the SLR. As a result, my decision was not wrong.
Sometimes, I look at photos that I took by a LEICA M8 10 years ago, and notice that there is “LEICA’s LOOK.” Its color looks like grainy or color negative, seen in latest magazine. Not the resolution, but the atmosphere and depth make the LEICA’s LOOK, I can say. And I’ve wanted to shoot a movie as well with the LOOK.
My opinion of using the LEICA SL is that it produces the images, having a contrast and good dynamic range. It’s like unique saturation; for example, as to the color f blues in the sea or sky, it comes out very unique. I can say it’s so “LEICA”, and have never seen in other cameras. This camera can record in L-Log of LEICA, but since I like the LOOK of LEICA SL itself, I don’t use the L-Log.
Shooting a movie with only viewing a finder
The most favorite performance of the LEICA SL is to use in-camera HS shooting with all formats up to 120P. It’s a mirrorless camera, but still it reacords in 120P. That’s the great merit to me.
Without a tripod, you can decide an angle like the same style of a still that is by hand-held with viewing a finder. The shooting freed from the tripod made me so fun. Especially, this theme fits the style since I really wanted to move freely during shooting.
When you use a usual SLR, you have to take the style of seeing a LCD rear view monitor or an external monitor for checking. So, it’s hard to move around. Nevertheless, what you shoot a movie with only viewing a finder gives me various angles, and affects the number of shots.
Lately, I often see a moving shot that uses a slider with a tripod on it. But, this camera can capture a movie like a dolly shot, which makes the background change even in hand-held with a HS shooting and in 120P.
Combination of quality and mobility
In my latest production, I gradually use both cinema camera and the LEICA SL. For instance, in some fashion shoot, a director ordered me to use a Canon’s EOS C300 as a main camera, but I suggested the director to shoot in HS by hanging the LEICA SL on my neck. As a result, we shot in both. I set a tripod in the EOS C300, and employed the LEICA SL by hand-held, which contributing the amounts of shots because of its mobility. When I looked at the completed movie, I realized the shots from the LEICA SL in HS were used more than the others. Also, these shots matched with the shots from the EOS C300 in Canon-Log by color grading.
Furthermore, a finder of LEICA SL is bright and good to see the view, so the fact must be one of the reasons to succeed in shooting. In LEICA’s own design, the dedicated electronic finder, called “EyeRes finder,” produces the dignity images, compared with others, and it’s surely one of the characteristics.
In terms of a lens, I mostly shoot, using only a LEICA VARIO-ELMARIT-SL 24-90mm f/2.8-4 ASPH. Its skill of description is amazing. I shoot in 1920 (HD size) because of the shooting in HS, but as if I doubt I might shoot in 4K when I look at the shots in a 27-inch monitor for checking. Since the shots have much resolution and are in atmosphere, I don’t fairly shoot in 4K about the contents in HD delivery. I will want to try various lenses with a mount adapter, and if there were an opportunity, I would love to use LEICA SUMMICRON-C, which is a series of LEICA’s cinema lenses.