The Leica SL - Low Light Dynamic Range - Part 1 Supplement
You know, I forgot how bright a fast lens is, having shot stopped down for the better part of two years. So when I did my first Leica SL low light review, I think I goofed. I couldn't understand why all the files were shot so cleanly. Originally, I had thought that perhaps the Leica SL sensor was just that good. But then I figured out that I was shooting at much lower ISO, on account of shooting wide open.
So this review is a supplement to part 1 from two weeks ago.
Anyways, I've learned my lesson this time. It's not enough to just shoot at night, or crack open the door for some available office lighting from the hallway. The way to do it is to eliminate all the light sources, one by one, until I'm shooting at ISO 6400. And before you tell me that I could shoot at ISO 12,500 to really push my review, my AUTO ISO is set at 6400, so that never happened.
Alright, I admit it. I should have gone up to ISO 12,500.
Yes, the Leica SL looks pretty good in low light, at ISO 6400. But what of dynamic range, in low light? How much can I push at low light? From what I can see, I can push two stops rather easily, even at ISO 6400. Although I have to admit that pushing three stops at ISO 100 looks even better.
Admittedly, sharpness and detail is retained better if the subject is closer to the camera. Even so, I am of the opinion that details at ISO 6400 for a subject that is standing head to toe from edge to edge of the frame looks reasonably good.
Mind you, you don't have to always rely on pushing the exposure. You could also just decrease the intensity of the shadows in Lightroom. That will work too. In the examples I have below, I decreased the intensity of the shadows by 70%, while bringing up saturation, clarity, and vibrance by 20%. The retained dynamic range of the image file handled the edit in post reasonably well.
Overall, the Leica SL retained detail well enough to enable heavy editing in post on Lightroom. To my untrained eyes, I find the sensor to be much more forgiving than the Leica M240. Honestly, I really enjoy shooting the Leica SL in low and difficult light.
Other than that, I know I am supposed to do a review on the Leica SL under harsh bright light. But again, it's been raining non stop in Hong Kong for the last ten days, so I haven't been able to do that. On the one day that I did have sunlight, I spent it on testing the Leica 24-90mm Vario.
All images in this writeup have been optimize in Lightroom, because I'm testing dynamic range.
Special thanks to Anna!