The Art of the SL2-S
by Rikesh Chauhan, Social Media Manager and Photographer of The Rake.
There’s so much more to being a photographer than the camera you use, but having a Leica as part of your arsenal gives you a significantly unfair advantage. The SL2-S is easily one of the best cameras I have used, and on top of that, one of the easiest. The sheer audacity in stripping things back to such a degree means there’s just so little to get distracted by. Everything you need — from white balance, ISO and shutter speed to playback, video and display settings is exactly where it’s supposed to be. After only half an hour or so of messing around — bearing in mind I had never previously used an SL2 — I knew exactly how to achieve my type of shot, in a range of different environments.
The thing with photography is, a good camera will only achieve so much. You want to be in a position where what you see in front of you can be captured — in the same tone, with the same emotion. There’s a tendency of photos looking a little flat when they’re not shot on a camera that can hold its weight. Now, that’s not to say the camera is what makes the photographer, but it certainly helps. My favourite thing about the SL2-S in particular is the fact that it achieves this in abundance. The depth of colour is phenomenal, and the first thing I noticed when it came to the gulf in quality compared to my current shooter. It’s incredibly intuitive as well, and can adapt to surroundings. It makes it achievable to capture images the way you want in low light, or when fighting the wet and windy terrain of Brighton’s beaches.
Leica calls their bokeh legendary, and for good reason, too. There’s no better lens to see this in all its glory than the Summilux-SL 50mm f/1.4 The 50mm is my favourite lens to use, as it picks up details beautifully and also works well for portraiture. In my line of work as a menswear photographer, my objective is to showcase clothes and the people wearing them in the best manner possible. It’s also important to be able to capture lifestyle authentically, whether it’s drinks at a bar, conversation over dinner, or events such as Pitti Uomo. The bokeh, colour, sharpness and detail one can capture on the 1.4 is unrivalled. And if the 50mm f/1.4 is the superstar, the APO-Summicron-SL 35mm is the workhorse. In addition to the obvious differences between the lenses, the 35mm is significantly lighter which makes it a lot easier to shoot throughout the day, and with a 2 f/stop, you can capture moments on the fly in elements that may not always be in your control.
When it comes to the SL2-S, it’s a case of ‘what’s not to like?’ The design is pared back and refined, the intuitiveness of the SL-system software is unrivalled, and we’ve already discussed the signature look and image quality. Above all else, however, is the camera’s ability to turn any image or video into a captivating story. Steve McCurry mentioned in conversation that the SL2 is the best camera he’s ever used. And if the SL2-S follows in the footsteps, that should pretty much tell you all you need to know.