Monday, February 6, 2023
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Leica SL2-S Review

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 MountLeica L
Sensor ResolutionEffective: 24.6 Megapixel (6072 x 4056)
Sensor TypeFull-Frame CMOS
Image StabilizationSensor-Shift, 5-Axis
Built-In ND FilterNone
Capture TypeStills & Video

Exposure Control

Shutter TypeMechanical Focal Plane Shutter, Electronic Shutter
Shutter SpeedMechanical Shutter
1/8000 to 500 Seconds
Electronic Shutter
1/16000 to 60 Seconds
ISO Sensitivity50 to 100,000 in Auto Mode
Metering MethodCenter-Weighted Average, Multi-Zone, Spot
Exposure ModesAperture Priority, Manual, Program, Shutter Priority
Exposure Compensation-3 to +3 EV (1/3 EV Steps)
White BalancePresets: Auto, Cloudy, Color Temperature, Daylight, Flash, Fluorescent (Cool White), Fluorescent (Warm White), Halogen, Shade, Tungsten, White Balance Adjustment
Continuous ShootingMechanical 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)
Electronic Shutter
Up to 25 fps at 24.6 MP for Unlimited Frames (Raw) / Unlimited Frames (JPEG)
Interval RecordingYes
Self-Timer2/12-Second Delay

Still Image Capture

Image Sizes3:2 DNG
6000 x 4000
3:2 JPEG
6000 x 4000
4272 x 2848
2976 x 1984
Aspect Ratio3:2
Image File FormatDNG, JPEG
Bit Depth14-Bit
Internal Recording ModesH.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 Modes4:2:2 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
Recording LimitNone
Broadcast OutputNTSC/PAL
IP StreamingNone
Built-In Microphone TypeStereo
Audio RecordingAAC Audio
LPCM Audio

Interface

Media/Memory Card SlotDual Slot: SD/SDHC/SDXC (UHS-II)
Video I/O1 x HDMI Output
Audio I/O1 x 1/8″ / 3.5 mm TRS Stereo Headphone Output
1 x 1/8″ / 3.5 mm TRS Stereo Microphone Input
Power I/O1 x USB-C Input/Output
Other I/O1 x USB-C (USB 3.2 / 3.1 Gen 1) Data Input/Output (Shared with Power Input)
WirelessBluetooth, Wi-Fi

Monitor

Size3.2″
Resolution2,100,000 Dot
Display TypeFixed Touchscreen LCD
Secondary DisplayTop: Status Display

Viewfinder

TypeBuilt-In Electronic (OLED)
Resolution5,760,000 Dot
Eye Point21 mm
Coverage100%
MagnificationApprox. 0.78x
Diopter Adjustment-4 to +2

Focus

Focus TypeAuto and Manual Focus
Focus ModeContinuous-Servo AF, Manual Focus, Single-Servo AF
Autofocus PointsContrast Detection: 225

Flash

Built-In FlashNo
Maximum Sync Speed1/250 Second
Flash Compensation-2 to +2 EV (1/3 EV Steps)
Dedicated Flash SystemTTL
External Flash ConnectionHot Shoe

Environmental

Operating Temperature22 to 72°F / -10 to 40°C

General

Battery Type1 x BP-SCL4 Rechargeable Lithium-Ion, 7.2 VDC, 1860 mAh (Approx. 510 Shots)
Tripod Mounting Thread1 x 1/4″-20 Female (Bottom)
Accessory Mount1 x Hot Shoe Mount
Material of ConstructionMagnesium Alloy, Aluminum
Dimensions (W x H x D)5.7 x 4.2 x 3.3″ / 146 x 107 x 83 mm
Weight2 lb / 931 g (With Battery, Recording Media)

Packaging Info

Package Weight3.715 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.

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