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10 Things To Know About The Leica SL (Typ 601)

10 things you need to know about the Leica SL (Typ 601), the new 24 megapixel full-frame camera from Leica.

|  Leica SL (Typ 601) in Mirrorless Cameras
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Leica SL Typ601 T 35mm 1

We talked to Leica's Stefan Daniel, Director of Photo Product Management, Steffen Skopp, Product Manager SL-System, and Stephan Schulz, Head of Product Management Professional Camera Systems, about the new Leica SL camera system and discovered 10 interesting things you may not know about the new Leica SL system:

1. The SL system has been in discussion for 3 and a half years

The SL system has been in discussion for 3 and a half years and is not a response to other companies FF mirrorless cameras, such as the Sony Alpha 7 series. The camera has been developed as a high speed and modern replacement for the Leica R series and was not possible until the right technology was available, such as the extremely high-resolution electronic viewfinder (EVF), with the World's highest resolution of 4.4 million dots. 


2. The sensor and EVF is exclusive to Leica

The 24-megapixel full-frame sensor is exclusive to Leica, and the camera uses contrast detection auto-focus. The sensor gives a high-speed readout, which is needed to drive the high-resolution electronic viewfinder. With a 0.8x magnification, the EVF is currently exclusive to Leica however, you may see the electronic viewfinder in other products over time. 


Leica SL Typ601 Body (1)


3. Leica worked heavily with Panasonic to develop the Leica SL

Leica worked with a number of partners to develop the Leica SL system, with Panasonic playing a big part in the development of the camera. The auto-focus system, for example, is claimed to be the World's fastest for full-frame cameras. 


4. Leica SL zoom lenses are designed to give Prime lens quality

The Leica SL zoom lenses have been developed to give prime lens quality, as well as consistent image quality regardless of the zoom position and aperture settings used. Leica says they have released zoom lenses first, in order to provide as much versatility as possible, before releasing prime lenses. With a short back focal length of the sensor and lens mount, the camera can use any third party lens with an adapter, as well as Leica's range of M mount lenses etc.


5. The Leica SL body is made from one piece of aluminium

This is so that the camera body has an extremely tough, high-quality construction, that can not be matched by using a two-part construction. The camera and lenses are all weather sealed and dust proof, making the camera suitable for use in a variety of weather and shooting conditions.  


Leica SL Typ601 Body (2)

6. The Leica SL is designed to be a high-speed camera with 11fps continuous shooting

The Leica SL shoots at 11fps in continuous shooting mode with fixed AF, and 7fps with continuous AF active. The nearest full-frame competitors, the Nikon D4s shoots at 11fps with continuous AF, although at a resolution of 16 megapixels. The Canon EOS 1D X shoots at 12fps with continuous AF, at a resolution of 18 megapixels.


7. The Leica T mount was designed for full-frame lenses from the start

The Leica T mount was first introduced with the Leica T (Typ 701) camera in 2014, with an APS-C sensor and APS-C lenses, however, the size of the mount was large enough to support full-frame lenses. 


8. The Leica SL was designed by the same people who designed the Leica S system

The Leica SL has a control layout and design that is similar to the Leica S system, and design queues can be seen as coming from previous Leica cameras, including the Leica S, Leica R system, the Leica R3, and even going as far back as the Leicaflex SL - Leica's first 35mm SLR camera, first released in 1964. 


Leica SL Typ601 With Grip (1)

9. The Leica SL is designed to compete with Digital SLRs

The Leica SL, with a high-resolution EVF is designed to compete with Digital SLRs, but gives the benefit of an electronic viewfinder, which makes the use of manual focus lenses a real joy thanks to focus peaking, and a large, clear view. You also have the benefit of seeing exactly what the camera sensor sees before you take the photo, unlike a Digital SLR (unless you're using live-view). Leica says that by using mirrorless technology, they are able to take advantage of the latest technologies, without the technological restrictions inherited with Digital SLRs, such as a flapping mirror, large optical viewfinder, and non-sensor based focus systems to name a few.


10. The Leica SL system does not replace the Leica M, and further lenses are planned

The Leica SL does not replace the Leica M series, which will continue as the compact full-frame camera system. The Leica SL system has, at the moment a 24-90mm f/2.8-f/4.0 lens available, with the 90-280mm lens to follow later. The 50mm f/1.4 lens is not due to be released for another 12 months. Further lenses are already under development, and more information will be provided when they know the time-scales for their release. 


View Leica SL (Typ 601) Sample Photos

Read our Leica SL (Typ 601) Hands-On Preview

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Photographs taken using the Leica SL (Typ 601)

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