Introduction

Studio product pictures by Dan Bracaglia

The Leica SL2-S is what the corporate is asking its entry into a unique section of the digital camera market, focusing on the hybrid stills/video shooter. At launch it’s extremely a lot a cheaper, decrease decision model of the $6000, 47MP SL2, however the SL2-S can be stronger than its large brother within the video division after a 2021 firmware replace.

The remainder of the SL2 stays intact, together with a well-built physique with ‘Made in Germany’ engraved on the again, in-body picture stabilization, touch-based management scheme and huge, ultra-high-res-EVF. It helps native L-mount lenses in addition to basic Leica glass by way of an optionally available adapter.

The SL2-S physique is priced at $4895.

Key specs

  • 24MP full-frame BSI-CMOS sensor
  • In-body picture stabilization (as much as 5.5 stops)
  • Distinction-detect autofocus with depth prediction
  • As much as 25 fps burst capturing (e-Shutter)
  • 5.76M-dot digital viewfinder (0.78x magnification)
  • 3.2″ touchscreen show w/2.1M dots
  • Oversampled 4K/30p video (as much as 10-bit 4:2:2)
  • Limitless video recording
  • Multi-shot 96MP mode
  • Twin UHS-II SD playing cards
  • 802.11ac + Bluetooth connectivity

What’s new and the way it compares

The Leica SL2-S is a 24 Megapixel digital camera which just about definitely makes use of basically the identical sensor because the Sony a7 III, Panasonic Lumix DC-S5 and Nikon Z6 II. This sensor options quick readout speeds that permit for 25 fps steady capturing and oversampled 4K/30p video. In contrast to the proprietary Uncooked codecs on the aforementioned cameras, the SL2-S (like all Leicas) shoots DNG.

The SL2-S options an in-body picture stabilization system that may scale back shake by as much as 5.5 stops. The digital camera can shift the sensor to create 96MP stills in its tripod solely ‘multi-shot’ mode by combining Eight completely different exposures.

The autofocus system is distinction detection with depth mapping, which is probably going the identical or similar to Panasonic’s Depth-from-Defocus system. We have discovered DFD to be fast and customarily correct, although inferior to its friends with phase-detect AF techniques with regards to transferring topic. The SL2-S can be receiving an AF system improve as a part of the massive firmware replace that provides eye/face/head/physique detection and monitoring, not in contrast to what Panasonic added to its S1 line-up earlier this yr.

The SL2-S is already a succesful video shooter, although its characteristic set is not as broad as, say, the Panasonic S5. As with many different issues on the SL2-S, will probably be extra comparable after that firmware replace.

In comparison with…

Right here we’ll take a deeper dive into what separates the SL2-S from the SL2 together with the Panasonic S5 and Canon EOS R6.

Leica SL2-S Leica SL2 Canon EOS R6 Panasonic S5
MSRP (physique) $4895 $5995 $2499 $1999
Sensor 24MP BSI CMOS 47MP CMOS 20MP Twin Pixel CMOS 24MP CMOS
Lens mount L-mount L-mount RF-mount L-mount
Picture stab. In-body In-body In-body In-body
EVF res. 5.76M-dot 5.76M-dot 3.69M-dot 2.36M-dot
EVF magazine. 0.78x 0.78x 0.76x 0.74x
LCD 3.2″ mounted; 2.1M-dot 3.2″ mounted; 2.1M-dot 3″ absolutely articulating; 1.84M-dot 3″ absolutely articulating; 1.62M-dot
Prime-plate LCD Sure Sure No No
Climate-sealing Sure, IP54 Sure, IP54 Sure Sure
Max burst
(S-AF)
25 fps (e-shutter) 20 fps (e-shutter) 20 fps (e-shutter) 7 fps
Max burst
(C-AF)
5 fps 6 fps 20 fps 7 fps
Video
(inside)
4K/60p (APS-C)
4K/30p (FF)
1080/180p
5K/30p (FF, pixel-binned)
4K/60p (FF, pixel-binned)
4K/30p (FF)
1080/180p
4K/60p (FF)
1080/120p
4K/60p (APS-C)
4K/30p (FF)
1080/180p
Video rec restrict Limitless 30 minutes Varies* 30 minutes
Wi-Fi 2.4/5Ghz 2.4/5Ghz 2.4Ghz 2.4/5Ghz
Card slots Twin UHS-II SD Twin UHS-II SD Twin UHS-II SD

1x UHS-II SD
1x UHS-I SD

Battery life (CIPA, LCD) 510 pictures 370 pictures 360 pictures 440 pictures
Dimensions 146 x 107 x 83mm 146 x 107 x 83mm 138 x 98 x 88 mm 133 x 97 x 82 mm
Weight 931g 916g 680g 714g

* 30 minutes for 10-bit 4K, limitless for 8-bit

Again to high


Physique, controls and dealing with

Just like the common SL2, the SL2-S is a big, heavy, and extremely well-built digital camera. Its SLR-style design is imposing from the entrance, however upon nearer inspection you will discover a couple of curved edges that make it really feel much less intimidating. The physique is made out of a strong block of steel and has an IP54 ranking for weather-sealing (not one of the SL2-S’s rivals have IP rankings, however with regards to claims of weather-sealing it is onerous to determine precisely what the variations are.)

The grip may be very effectively designed and you could possibly virtually use the digital camera one-handed, if the physique and many of the out there L-mount lenses weren’t so heavy. The joystick may very well be a bit additional to the correct and the identical is true for the massive dial on the highest plate. All however three buttons on the digital camera are unlabeled, which is uncommon for many mirrorless cameras, although less-so for Leica.

One thing else uncommon nowadays (amongst non-flagship sports activities fashions no less than) is the shortage of a mode dial. To vary between P/A/S/M mode you press the rear dial inward and make your choice. (The Canon EOS R/R5/R6 function in an identical manner.)

Viewfinder and LCDs

One of many actual highlights of the SL2-S is its ‘EyeRes’ digital viewfinder. Its magnification of 0.78x is about pretty much as good because it will get, and the 5.76 million-dot decision and out there 120 fps refresh charge makes it really feel fairly near wanting by means of an optical viewfinder. The diopter correction dial is correct behind the eyepiece and is less complicated to regulate than the small dials on many cameras. The dial is stiff sufficient to forestall unintentional adjustment.

The rear LCD may be very good by way of spec, although the truth that it is mounted in place may be disappointing to some photographers, particularly on what’s being pitched as a hybrid digital camera the place chances are you’ll be capturing waist-level. The three.2″ show affords contact performance that goes past deciding on the AF level or scrolling by means of photographs.

The data show for stills… … and for video. You’ll be able to change between the 2 with a swipe of a finger.

You’ll be able to swipe up and down to change between report and playback mode, and left and proper to maneuver between stills and video modes. The display screen may be double-tapped to pick out AF choices, and the main focus level may be moved by way of the show whenever you’re utilizing the viewfinder.

Ports and battery

The dimensions of the SL2-S – and lack of a mode dial – permit for an LCD information show on the highest plate. It shows the type of publicity data you’d anticipate for nonetheless and video capturing. The display screen is straightforward to see in quite a lot of lighting situations.

The SL2-S has the ports you’d anticipate from a stills/video hybrid digital camera, together with 3.5mm headphone and microphone sockets, and a full-size HDMI port. There’s additionally a USB 3.2 Gen1 Kind-C port that can be utilized for charging the battery and working the digital camera.

On the opposite facet of the digital camera are a pair of SD card slots that each help the usII interface. Each backup and JPG/DNG cut up choices can be found when each slots are in use. You can not save stills on one card and movies on one other, nevertheless.

Lastly, there’s the battery. The BP-SCL4 shops 15.6Wh of power and permits the digital camera to take as much as 510 pictures on a single cost (although you will seemingly do higher, since the usual assessments are extra demanding than most individuals’s use). As talked about above, USB charging is supported. An exterior charger is included with the digital camera, as you’d anticipate. A $1000 battery grip is optionally available.

Customization

In case you’ve by no means used an SL-series digital camera earlier than, chances are you’ll marvel why almost all the buttons are unlabeled. That is as a result of they’re all customizable, which you do by holding down the button till a menu pops up, at which level you may assign almost each perform on the digital camera to it.

And, what the button does is particular to the mode you are in. In different phrases, a button can do one factor for stills and one other factor for video, and as soon as that is arrange, the capabilities change over robotically whenever you toggle between modes. The capturing information on the rear show does the identical factor, and you may merely swipe left or proper to change between nonetheless and video capturing.

The menu system on the SL2-S is considerably completely different than what you will discover on most different cameras, in that it is one lengthy checklist with no tabs that break settings down into classes. You’ll be able to, nevertheless, put your favourite settings on the primary web page of the menu for simple entry. Mix that with the extremely customizable buttons and you will not need to do an excessive amount of menu-diving.

One choice that video shooters will definitely respect is Cine mode. This adjustments shutter pace into shutter angle and ISO into EI ‘ASA’, each of that are frequent within the cinematography world.

Video

The SL2-S has an entire lot of video choices, and itemizing all of them would take up most of this web page. In brief, the digital camera can seize DCI and UHD 4K 60p/50p video with an APS-C (Tremendous35) crop, with 8-bit 4:2:Zero inside recording and 10-bit 4:2:2 to an exterior recorder. For full-frame seize you will have to drop all the way down to 29.97p, and this time you may seize oversampled 10-bit 4:2:2 internally and externally. Because it’s oversampled from a 6K space of the sensor, high quality ought to be fairly good.

As talked about earlier, a deliberate firmware replace will 10-bit APS-C 4K/60p seize utilizing the extra environment friendly H.265 codec. There is no such thing as a recording time restrict on the SL2-S.

When capturing 4K in MOV format, ALL-I compression supplies bit charges of as much as 400Mbps, with Lengthy GOP topping out at 150Mbps. In MP4 format, it is Lengthy GOP solely, with the identical bit charge. The SL2-S affords high-speed 1080 seize of as much as 180 fps, with out autofocus, after all.

The digital camera helps each V-Log and HLG. Two show correction LUTs are included for when capturing in Log: Pure, which is a regular flat profile, and Traditional, which emulates Kodachrome. The digital camera can show what the LUT will appear to be when utilized, and the corporate contains Rec.709 and Rec.2020 dice model of the LUT s for grading in your PC.

At the moment, the SL2-S affords wind noise discount, mic degree adjustment (with a meter displayed on the LCD/EVF), and time code. The forthcoming firmware replace will add a waveform monitor, coloration bars with a take a look at tone, segmented video that preserves footage in case your battery dies and automated follow-focus operation.

Auto ISO

The SL2-S permits you to set each the utmost ISO and minimal shutter pace (from 1/2000 to 1/30 sec). The default ‘auto’ choice selects the shutter pace proportional to the focal size you are utilizing.

The digital camera helps you to alter publicity compensation whereas in M mode (for stills and video), so you do not have to mess together with your aperture or shutter pace to keep up brightness. A ‘floating ISO’ characteristic tries to keep up the brightness of your footage by finely adjusting the ISO as you alter the focal size with a variable aperture zoom lens.

Again to high


Impressions

ISO 100 | 1/320 sec | F3.4 | Leica SL 24-90mm F2.8-4 @ 40mm
Picture by Jeff Keller

When Leica first instructed us concerning the SL2-S, they made it clear that the digital camera is not only a cheaper, decrease decision SL2. It is for a unique market: for individuals who shoot stills and video. However, because it stands proper now, the SL2-S is basically a less expensive, decrease decision SL2. That may change with the deliberate firmware, when you do not thoughts ready for some time – probably as much as six months.

Not surprisingly, utilizing the SL2-S is rather like its increased decision sibling. It is heavy sufficient to fend off any thieves, but it did not really feel like an excessive amount of of a burden after I was carrying it on my shoulder across the Seattle Zoo (and that is with the 24-90mm lens connected). The viewfinder is implausible, although the mounted LCD was irritating whereas making an attempt to take waist-level pictures.

ISO 100 | 1/640 sec | F4.5 | Leica SL 24-90mm F2.8-4 @ 90mm
Picture by Jeff Keller

There was undoubtedly a steeper studying curve for getting used to the controls, no less than for me. I am used to labels on buttons and a spot within the menus to customise them. The menus themselves are additionally uncommon in that they are not categorized and the strategy for backing out of submenus will not be constant.

I’ve zero complaints concerning the digital camera’s efficiency. It focuses shortly (although some ‘wobble’ is seen on the LCD/EVF whereas the digital camera tries to focus), and the entire person interface may be very responsive. Picture high quality is spectacular with the dear 24-90 and 90-280mm lenses I had. I did have some points with back and front focusing, although I am it is potential that this was person error or a quirk of the pre-production pattern that we got to attempt.

I did not dig into the digital camera’s video options very a lot, although the instruments out there at launch do not stand out as a lot because the deliberate updates will once they’re added to the digital camera subsequent yr. Relatively than making customers await months to convey the SL2-S’s options as much as par with, say, the Panasonic S5, releasing the digital camera later makes extra sense to me, however there is a cause why I am not within the product planning enterprise.

ISO 640 | 1/125 sec | F3.3 | Leica SL 24-90mm F2.8-4 @ 66mm
Processed to style in ACR
Picture by Jeff Keller

General, the SL2-S is a pleasure to make use of. Whereas there’s one thing about proudly owning a Leica by way of its heritage, design and lens high quality, I saved feeling like I used to be utilizing a Panasonic S5 in a a lot nicer physique that prices almost $3000 extra. For some individuals, although, the SL2-S can be value that premium.

Again to high


Pattern gallery

Shop Amazon