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Leica Pushes Further Into the Mirrorless Market with the Leica SL2 Camera

- 5 years ago

Taking a further step into the rapidly growing sector of mirrorless digital cameras, Leica has revealed the Leica SL2. The full-frame, do-all L-Mount mirrorless camera that’s been designed to meet the needs of all creators from photographers to videographers.

Having been invited to get hands-on with the new Leica SL2 at its exclusive UK launch, we can confirm that Leica’s new mirrorless camera is a joy to use. With improved ergonomics, a more comfortable grip and a simplified three-button control layout, it also boasts features such as in-body image stabilisation and offers users the ability to unlock new-found potential from Leica’s highly regarded M-lenses.

Leica SL2 in the field

The Leica SL2 lands as the natural successor to the innovative Leica SL camera; serving as a nod to the future of digital photography and videography, while paying homage to the brand’s rich history and imaging lineage. The Leica SL2 offers users an innovative interface with an efficient design, which allows photographers to focus attention on their creative process. The design alignment with the existing M and Q systems should make it easier for existing Leica photographers to adopt. The main parameters can be viewed on the rear display and adjusted quickly and easily with a simple finger tap.

A click wheel, joystick and three strategically placed configurable buttons assure straightforward operation and, thanks to two dedicated status menus for stills and video recording, the parameters for either shooting mode can be adjusted entirely separately from each other. Overall, the design of the SL2 reflects the iconic Leica identity and traditional design elements that the brand has become known and loved for over the years. 

Improved ergonomics 

Despite significant technical improvements and the presence of in-body stabilisation, the Leica SL2 has kept the same sized body as its predecessor. Improved body design paired with increased durability makes the SL2 the perfect companion for all types of shooting. The camera’s IP54 certification ensures effective weather sealing for more rugged situations, while a new option to turn off noise reduction during long exposures allows for more hands-free shooting. 

CMOS sensor with 47 megapixels for superior image quality 

The sharp resolution of the SL2’s CMOS image sensor in its full-frame format results in an exceptional level of detail rendition and image quality. Huge dynamic range, a colour depth of 14 bits per RGB channel, and a sensitivity of up to ISO 50,000 facilitate exceptional image quality in pretty much any lighting condition. 

New Leica Object Detection Autofocus 

The new Leica Object Detection AF promises to deliver fast and reliable AF. In addition to an array of modes and features, including face recognition, the SL2’s high-performance AF system also automatically detects whether a subject is stationary or in motion and subsequently switches between motion and focus priority. A very neat addition and welcome in our books.

In multishot mode, the camera can record up to eight consecutive frames, whereby the sensor is shifted in half-pixel increments in between every exposure. This key feature results in images with an incredible quadrupled resolution of around 187 megapixels. 

Optical image stabilisation through sensor-shift technology 

The Leica SL2 houses a suspended sensor which adjusts its position to speedily and efficiently compensate for camera shake. In addition, in multishot mode, the camera can record up to eight consecutive frames, whereby the sensor is shifted in half-pixel increments in between every exposure. This key feature results in images with an incredible quadrupled resolution of around 187 megapixels. 

Leica EyeRes viewfinder with even higher resolution 

The camera’s electronic viewfinder [EVF] now possesses a resolution of 5.76 megapixels, allowing for a large, entirely natural-looking viewfinder image. Simultaneously, the experience is further improved when using the touchscreen, which has increased in size to a 3.2-inch diagonal, and now offers a higher resolution of 2.1 megapixels. 

Leica SL2 Screen and Viewfinder

Maestro III processor for ultra-fast operation 

The new Maestro III processor delivers significantly faster autofocus and allows for a virtually lag-free shutter release in any shooting scenario, which is complemented by the new Smart AF mode. This automatically switches between focus priority and shutter release priority. Full-resolution recordings of consecutive images are possible at 10 frames per second with the focal plane shutter and 20 frames per second with the electronic shutter. Thanks to the camera’s two UHS-II-compatible SD card slots, raw files can be saved simultaneously in DNG and JPEG format. 

A perfect tool for filmmakers?

In addition to its great appeal for photographers, the new Leica SL2 speaks the language of filmmakers, as the camera can record up to 60 frames per second in Cine 4K mode and up to 180 frames per second in Full-HD mode.

Activating Cine mode transforms the SL2 into a manually controlled cine camera as ISO becomes ASA, the shutter speed is marked in degrees on the rotary disk shutter, and the f-stops indicating the aperture ratio are replaced by T-stops, which measure the actual amount of light transmitted through the lens. Connecting audio equipment to the Leica SL2 no longer requires the use of adapters with built-in headphones and mic jack, complemented by a fully-fledged HDMI connector for external monitors. 

Limitless connections 

The L bayonet lens mount is not only compatible with the growing portfolio of SL-System lenses, but also with our APS-C lenses and with the legendary lenses of Leica’s M, S and R-Systems via the adapter, providing more than 170 Leica lens options. The L-Mount Alliance expands this scope of possibilities even further, by giving SL2 photographers access to L-mount-compatible lenses from Sigma and Panasonic. 

Leica FOTOS App 

The Leica SL2 is supported by Leica’s FOTOS software – the versatile app which is available for Android and iOS Smartphones. Leica FOTOS empowers photographers to access a Live View function of the camera and remotely change exposure-relevant settings such as aperture, ISO value, shutter speed and exposure compensation from a smartphone.

The app also allows wireless control of the shutter release, which offers an entirely new range of creative opportunities. Pictures can either be shared on social networks or saved for mobile post-processing on the smartphone, both in JPEG and DNG RAW data format. If users wish to save the finished pictures after processing on their smartphone, they can take advantage of the option for saving them to a separate Leica Gallery. This keeps painstakingly composed and processed pictures from the Leica FOTOS app separate from simple snapshots.

Leica fans can expect a host of new features and a whole new mobile workflow experience on the iPad when Leica FOTOS will be available in version 2.0 from November 21, 2019. 

Leica SL2 with Fotos app

Pricing and availability

The Leica SL2 will be available at the Leica Store London from 21st November 2019, RRP £5,300 [excl. lenses]. 

About the author

Read Leica Pushes Further Into the Mirrorless Market with the Leica SL2 Camera

Simon Skinner

Co-founder // Editor

Having spent many years working in various pockets of the music industry, and always with a camera in hand, Simon has worked with organisations such as Warner/Chappell, Food Records and ultimately, co-founding the innovative independent record label, Izumi Records before moving fully into the world of publishing in 2007. Amongst numerous other projects in the last decade, he has been responsible for a number of specialist photo trade magazines and journals for the filmmaking and photography communities, along with a coffee table book entitled, "Great Britons of Photography' which he produced with Peter Dench and Leica. Now heading up PhotoBite, Simon and the team have set themselves a task of delivering informative and inspirational content for photographers of all levels, from the beginner, shooting with smartphones, to the seasoned photographer and filmmaker.