With the release of the Leica SL2-S, the company’s L Mount mirrorless cameras are attempting to break into the popular market.
It can deliver a set of requirements that earlier SL cameras were not capable of doing since the resolution has been decreased, along with the price. This offers higher performance in low light, with an ISO 100,000 headline rating, and burst shooting at 25 frames per second. The latter option is only accessible while shooting with the electronic shutter and does not include continuous focusing as a feature. This is a very significant limitation.
Additionally, it is being promoted to filmmakers with a set of video-friendly specifications aimed to entice them to purchase the product. It is capable of recording in 4K at a resolution of 10-bits and 4:2:2 at 30 frames per second internally (recording at 60 frames per second is also possible with an external recorder), and it has additional characteristics, such as dual UHS-II card ports, that bolster its credentials in this field.
Leica SL2-S Design and handling
If you’re familiar with the Leica SL2 and its controls, switching to the SL2-S will seem extremely natural. Leica has maintained the design nearly the same – it is a large, bold, and bulky affair that will not be preferred by many, especially those with somewhat smaller hands. Leica has kept the design virtually the same. The fact that it is so large and hefty gives it a distinct advantage in terms of durability, as it should endure a considerable amount of rough treatment.
This assertion is supported by the fact that the aluminum and magnesium alloy body has a dust- and water-resistance rating of IP54. That indicates that it ought to have very little trouble holding up to be used in the rain for lengthy periods.
The SL2-S has certain annoying design flaws that make it difficult to use; thus even though it is in some ways a well-designed product, using it may sometimes be aggravating. It is tough to operate it with one hand, for example, which makes it difficult to make fast adjustments to things like the focus point.
Because we had to make room for our second hand initially, there were a few instances in which we were unable to make adjustments quickly enough to respond to the circumstances adequately. However, if you have larger hands, you could find that it is less cumbersome for you; in any case, I would recommend trying it out before making a purchase.
Leica SL2-S Features
It has almost half the resolution of the 47MP SL2 but only 24.6 megapixels. Because of this, it is better suited for working with video and in low-light conditions, while simultaneously having a high enough pixel count to be more than useable in most everyday settings.
A manifestation of this may be seen in the increased high ISO sensitivity, which can now reach a maximum of ISO 100,000. (compared to the 50,000 of the SL2).
Those who are interested in shooting video will find that the SL2-S is capable of recording at a professional level 4K 10-bit 4:2:2 either internally at 30 frames per second or to an external recorder at 60 frames per second.
In addition, L-log recording is an option, and while there are currently just two look-up tables (LUTs) built into the system (Classic and Natural), more are planned to be included in further firmware upgrades.
According to Leica, the camera does not overheat even while recording for extended periods, a problem that has plagued other manufacturers in recent years. Integration with Capture One 21’s tethering features is another advantage of the package.
Leica SL2-S Performance
During this test, we were only provided with a single lens, and that was the Leica 50mm f/2. Because of this, it was difficult to test out some of the advertised specs in an acceptable manner, such as its ability to capture fast-moving scenes at 25 frames per second, which is normally more suited to being shot at a greater distance with a longer lens.
The substantial buffer that was promised behaved well; in fact, it performed so well that we got tired of holding down the shutter button well before the card was full. When shooting at slower rates, the SL2-S could better keep up with somewhat predictable moving targets. The peak shooting speeds don’t allow for focusing in between each image, but when shooting at slower speeds, it was possible.
However, there are instances when the autofocus may be excruciatingly sluggish, which can result in a few missed opportunities.
It does not have the same rapid speeds we are used to seeing from the likes of Sony’s A7/A9 series and Canon’s newest mirrorless models. It also trails behind the Nikon Z series, which is disappointing considering the camera’s price.
Leica SL2-S Image & Video Quality
You will be rewarded with high-quality photographs and video if you can get over the SL2-S’s peculiarities in handling and autofocusing.
Even though the sensor has a lower resolution, it is still possible to capture a significant amount of detail in the vast majority of everyday scenarios, particularly at ISO settings that are lower or in the normal range. There is a strong dynamic range and the colors are vivid. There is also a decent level of realism without being over the top.
In most cases, the all-purpose metering mode does a good job of producing well-balanced photographs. However, if you find yourself in a situation with a lot of contrast, switching to the spot metering mode may be more advantageous.
The automated white balance setting performs admirably under various lighting circumstances, such as cloudy, sunny, and artificial lighting. As a result, colors are rendered accurately and realistically across the board.
The level of video quality is quite excellent, just as we had anticipated. The footage is smooth and detailed, and there is a good range of resolutions and frame rates available to suit a wide variety of video-makers, from those who do it sparingly to those who do it for a living. The resolutions range from 1080p to 4K, and the frame rate ranges from 24 to 60 frames per second.
Because it does not have a screen that can be articulated, it is maybe less enticing to vloggers. This is not because of the quality of the product, but rather because it makes filming directly into the camera more difficult than it could be with other versions.
Leica SL2-S Specs
|Lens Mount||Leica L|
|Sensor Resolution||Effective: 24.6 Megapixel (6072 x 4056)|
|Sensor Type||Full-Frame CMOS|
|Image Stabilization||Sensor-Shift, 5-Axis|
|Built-In ND Filter||None|
|Capture Type||Stills & Video|
|Shutter Type||Mechanical Focal Plane Shutter, Electronic Shutter|
|Shutter Speed||Mechanical Shutter|
1/8000 to 500 Seconds
1/16000 to 60 Seconds
|ISO Sensitivity||50 to 100,000 in Auto Mode|
|Metering Method||Center-Weighted Average, Multi-Zone, Spot|
|Exposure Modes||Aperture Priority, Manual, Program, Shutter Priority|
|Exposure Compensation||-3 to +3 EV (1/3 EV Steps)|
|White Balance||Presets: Auto, Cloudy, Color Temperature, Daylight, Flash, Fluorescent (Cool White), Fluorescent (Warm White), Halogen, Shade, Tungsten, White Balance Adjustment|
|Continuous Shooting||Mechanical Shutter|
Up to 9 fps at 24.6 MP for Unlimited Frames (Raw) / Unlimited Frames (JPEG)
Up to 5 fps at 24.6 MP for Unlimited Frames (Raw) / Unlimited Frames (JPEG)
Up to 2 fps at 24.6 MP for Unlimited Frames (Raw) / Unlimited Frames (JPEG)
Up to 25 fps at 24.6 MP for Unlimited Frames (Raw) / Unlimited Frames (JPEG)
Still Image Capture
|Image Sizes||3:2 DNG|
6000 x 4000
6000 x 4000
4272 x 2848
2976 x 1984
|Image File Format||DNG, JPEG|
|Internal Recording Modes||H.264/MOV 4:2:2 10-Bit|
DCI 4K (4096 x 2160) at 24.00/25/29.97 fps [400 Mb/s]
UHD 4K (3840 x 2160) at 23.98/25/29.97 fps [400 Mb/s]
1920 x 1080p at 23.98/25/29.97/50/59.94 fps [200 Mb/s]
H.264/MOV 4:2:0 8-Bit
DCI 4K (4096 x 2160) at 50/59.94 fps [150 Mb/s]
UHD 4K (3840 x 2160) at 50/59.94 fps [150 Mb/s]
1920 x 1080p at 100/119.88/179.82 fps [20 Mb/s]
H.264/MP4 4:2:0 8-Bit
UHD 4K (3840 x 2160) at 23.98/25/29.97/50/59.94 fps [100 to 150 Mb/s]
1920 x 1080p at 23.98/25/29.97/50/59.94/100/119.88/179.82 fps [20 to 150 Mb/s]
|External Recording Modes||4:2:2 10-Bit via HDMI|
DCI 4K (4096 x 2160) at 23.98/24.00/25/29.97/50/59.94 fps
UHD 4K (3840 x 2160) at 23.98/25/29.97/50/59.94 fps
1920 x 1080p at 23.98/25/29.97/50/59.94 fps
4:2:0 8-Bit via HDMI
UHD 4K (3840 x 2160) at 23.98/25/29.97/50/59.94 fps
1920 x 1080p at 23.98/25/29.97/50/59.94/100/119.88/179.82 fps
|Built-In Microphone Type||Stereo|
|Audio Recording||AAC Audio|
|Media/Memory Card Slot||Dual Slot: SD/SDHC/SDXC (UHS-II)|
|Video I/O||1 x HDMI Output|
|Audio I/O||1 x 1/8″ / 3.5 mm TRS Stereo Headphone Output|
1 x 1/8″ / 3.5 mm TRS Stereo Microphone Input
|Power I/O||1 x USB-C Input/Output|
|Other I/O||1 x USB-C (USB 3.2 / 3.1 Gen 1) Data Input/Output (Shared with Power Input)|
|Display Type||Fixed Touchscreen LCD|
|Secondary Display||Top: Status Display|
|Type||Built-In Electronic (OLED)|
|Eye Point||21 mm|
|Diopter Adjustment||-4 to +2|
|Focus Type||Auto and Manual Focus|
|Focus Mode||Continuous-Servo AF, Manual Focus, Single-Servo AF|
|Autofocus Points||Contrast Detection: 225|
|Maximum Sync Speed||1/250 Second|
|Flash Compensation||-2 to +2 EV (1/3 EV Steps)|
|Dedicated Flash System||TTL|
|External Flash Connection||Hot Shoe|
|Operating Temperature||22 to 72°F / -10 to 40°C|
|Battery Type||1 x BP-SCL4 Rechargeable Lithium-Ion, 7.2 VDC, 1860 mAh (Approx. 510 Shots)|
|Tripod Mounting Thread||1 x 1/4″-20 Female (Bottom)|
|Accessory Mount||1 x Hot Shoe Mount|
|Material of Construction||Magnesium Alloy, Aluminum|
|Dimensions (W x H x D)||5.7 x 4.2 x 3.3″ / 146 x 107 x 83 mm|
|Weight||2 lb / 931 g (With Battery, Recording Media)|
|Package Weight||3.715 lb|
|Box Dimensions (LxWxH)||8.6 x 8.6 x 6″|
Leica SL2-S Final Verdict
The Leica SL2-S is an unusual piece of equipment to consider purchasing. It caters to videographers and offers a wide variety of features conducive to creating videos; nevertheless, it does not come with a screen that can be articulated.
It performs well as a hybrid stills-video camera, but the fact that its handling is a bit quirky and that its autofocus isn’t flawless means that not everyone will find it appealing. Nevertheless, if you are interested in becoming a part of the Leica brand, doing so in this manner is currently one of the least expensive ways to do so.