The price of a new Leica SL body is effectively reduced to £3,195 under a special offer valid from now until the end of September. There are also two bundles, one with the 24-90mm SL lens, the other with the 50mm Summilux SL, both at £6,950.
If you trade in any DSLR or compact system camera, in good working order, you will receive £1,300 discount on a new SL body.
All images in this article, other than the Leica product shot above, were taken with the Leica SL and 24-90mm Vario-Elmarit-SL
Most Leica dealers, including Richard Caplan and Red Dot Cameras here in London, and Leica Store Manchester, appear to be taking part in the scheme which started on April 17.
There have been instant repercussions on the prices of used SLs, with around £500 slashed off the tickets already. Dealers will have taken a hit and existing owners will be disappointed, to say the least.
It is now possible to pick up a used SL body for around £2,500 from an authorised dealer, complete with dealer warranty. Private sellers will be lucky to get £2,000, I imagine.
Even so, those interested in the SL will be tempted to pay the extra for a new one now they can get it for just under £3,200.
What can we read into this? The most likely explanation is all the new entrants into the full-frame market are making the SL harder to sell. In particular, the announcement of the Panasonic LUMIX S1 with a host of state-of-the-art facilities, including image stabilisation, and the ability to use all the Leica SL lenses, can’t have helped.
Potential SL buyers can read the signs and most had become worried about investing over £4,449 in what they realise is an end-of-line camera. Even if the Panny doesn’t tempt at £2,199, it is clear that the current SL is on borrowed time.
And let’s not forget that the Panasonic S1 will soon be discounted, as ever with Panasonic after a short period of stardom. Trade sources I have spoken to tell me that it is not falling off the shelves. I predict that by the end of the summer the S1 will be selling for under £2,000. That’s a lot of camera for the dosh compared with the four-year-old SL design, good as it is.
At the recent Leica Society meeting in Nottingham, Leica MD Jason Heward assured us that there would be no new SL camera “any time soon”. But the date of the ending of the new SL special offer, September 30, perhaps gives us a clue.
Of course, not everyone will instantly desire a more complicated SL2, especially if it is available only with the 47MP sensor seen in the Q2. It will undoubtedly be priced at over £5,000, for starters, and will face stiff competition from the LUMIX models at half the cost.
Without a doubt, the 24MP sensor density of the current model is the sweet spot for many photographers. That’s why Panasonic, Nikon, Sony and Canon offer both flavours.
The 24MP sensor is said to favour videographers but it is also loved by stills photographers who don’t welcome the speed and storage problems associated with today’s ever-growing pixel density. There will be some disappointment if the SL2 doesn’t come in both 47MP and 24MP versions.
If the SL2 turns out to be available only with a 47MP sensor, there are many who will stick with the SL1 or move over to the much cheaper S1. Herein lies a crumb of comfort for the SL fancier.
Time to buy?
All this is a roundabout way of saying that a used SL at £2,500 or even £2,250 which is what it ought to cost, could well be a good buy, especially if you prefer the simplicity of this camera to the complex S1 or a potentially similarly complex SL2.
The SL is still a great photographic tool and features the world’s second-best viewfinder, just beaten by that in the new
All this said, such a huge discount on a current camera well before the introduction of a replacement is unprecedented. It has all the hallmarks of a clearance sale and I do not think it will do Leica’s reputation one bit of good. It will certainly upset a lot of existing owners.