Mahogany is one of the leading online channels for super high-quality live music sessions. Over the last 10 years, Mahogany has built a cult following of music lovers around the globe. The brand-new Leica SL2-S provides the best of both worlds: photography and videography. And that’s why Ricky Patel chose to capture the new Mahogany Session on film. Balan Evans shot the behind-the-scenes video footage while Chris Maas captured the behind-the-scenes photography of the session in action.

Ricky, how was your experience using the Leica SL2-S for this project?

The SL2-S video features were such a treat, especially with how easy it is to switch from still to video. It was seamless. The language totally translates.

The large sensor is a great option to have on such a small camera body and the in-camera stabilisation is very impressive! I also like moody scenes and low-light settings, so the huge ISO range of this camera worked incredibly well here for this type of aesthetic. It really is one of those cameras where you don’t need to think about the camera, you just think about shooting what’s in front of you.

Also, if a camera has a chunky menu or huge buttons in the way, this can really complicate things and distract you from the scene. Whereas the SL2-S was just beautifully simple and worked with me as I filmed.

Overall, it was a pleasure to work with Chris and the team, and of course, Reuben and his band were just a dream. We’ve created over 1000 sessions at Mahogany and try to find upcoming talent, I guess before they reach their peak. This one was really special to me, not only because I just loved his vibe and sounds as an artist, but because I worked with a fantastic team to pull this together.

And which lenses did you use?

I used the Leitz Summilux-C Cine Lens (PL Mount) and it was the perfect combination. I shot the whole film wide-open at 1.4 with a full sensor, which meant that we were able to capture the wider parts of the lens and all its beauty.

Chris, tell us a bit about your photography journey so far…

As a Session Musician, I spend a lot of time touring and exploring new places. I was first introduced to film photography by a dear friend/fellow musician whilst on tour, and straight away fell in love with it. I started to obsess over buying film cameras and thought more equipment would make me a better photographer. Thankfully, I soon realised, this wasn’t the case. After countless hours of research, reading blogs, watching documentaries and buying photo books, I concluded most photographers whose work I loved, all shared a rather simple one camera/one lens setup and used the Leica M-System.

Soon after, I sold all my accumulated camera equipment, and bought an old, second-hand, bashed up Leica M6 with a 50mm lens. Straight away I felt like I had found the perfect tool, which quickly became an extension of myself.

For years, I carried my M6 everywhere with me, documenting life on the road as a touring musician, but it wasn’t until more recently when I started to consider photography as a separate career to music (and entering the world of commercial photography.)

Since I mostly shoot rangefinder (M) cameras, the idea of switching to the SL2-S, even just for one shoot, seemed daunting. This changed when I learned I could use M-Lenses with the L mount adapter. If you’re familiar with M cameras, you’ll see how easy it is to switch between the two systems (Leica M & Leica SL).

I shot most of these images wide-open and in single-shot mode, rather than continuous. I much prefer the speed of shooting film; the process of slowing down, seeing the shot before you take it and composing yourself. I always try and work this way, even when shooting digital.

How was your experience working on this project?

Mahogany seeks to champion up-and-coming talent and I’m incredibly proud of what we accomplished together with the whole team. We were able to pull off an incredible shoot under the restrictive and challenging circumstances that COVID-19 poses for productions. The SL2-S is an incredible camera and a joy to shoot with.

I normally shoot in black and white, but I knew I had to move to colour for this project to work. Straight out of the camera, the colours were great and required very minimal grade adjustments. Reubens 1930’s inspired dress sense, along with the beautiful wooden panelling of the venue and the black glossy finish of the piano work really well together in colour.

And which lenses did you use here?

I used the Summilux-M 35mm, APO-Summicron-M 50mm and APO-Summicron-M 75mm lenses. Being able to combine systems like this, added a familiar touch to this otherwise new camera. Despite it being an entirely new set-up for me, I was able to familiarise myself quickly with the physical design and UI, given the intuitive nature of the camera layout. There’s a lot to love about this camera, but I found that it performed especially well in low light conditions; the bright viewfinder and focusing aid ensured I didn’t miss a shot.

Balan used the new Vario-Elmarit-SL 24-70 f/2.8 ASPH. lens and was able to shoot without using a gimbal, thanks to the amazing in-camera stabilisation.

To discover more about the SL2-S and its photography and videography capabilities, click here.