Leica SL2 Full-Frame Mirrorless Camera Hands-On (Review) & Sample Photos

The Lecia SL2 is Leica's latest SL-series camera to join the quickly-expanding list of full-frame mirrorless cameras and we've had it in our hands to see how it compares with the Leica SL.

|  Leica SL2 in Mirrorless Cameras
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PB060013 | 1/40 sec | f/9.0 | 17.0 mm | ISO 3200
 

After waiting 4 years, Leica fans now have a new Leica SL2 full-frame mirrorless camera to get excited about and while paying homage to its history and lineage with the iconic Leica design, there are quite a few changes that show Leica is, very much, embracing the future of digital photography and videography.


The Leica SL2 has a 47MP full-frame sensor which is a higher resolution than the 24MP sensor found in the Leica SL, an improved LCD monitor (3.2inch, 2.1m dots compared with 2.95inch, 1.04dots), better viewfinder (5.76m dots vs 4.4m dots), a new Maestro III processor and Smart AF. The unmistakable Leica design remains but the SL2 offers better ergonomics, a grip that's more comfortable to hold and a simplified three-button control layout. 

The Lecia SL2 will be available from 21 November 2019 and it's priced at £5,300 (excl. lenses but it does include a leather strap).

Leica SL2 Features:

  • 47mp full-frame CMOS sensor
  • Leica L lens mount
  • ISO50 to 50,000
  • 4K video at 59.94fps, 50fps, 29.97fps, 25fps, 23.98fps
  • 10fps continuous shooting with focal-plane shutter, 20fps with an electronic shutter
  • 5.76million dot EVF, 0.78x magnification
  • 3.2inch touch screen with anti-fingerprint and anti-scratch coating, 2.1million dot
  • Wi-Fi connectivity
  • Weather-sealed aluminium body
  • Better ergonomics with a more comfortable grip & a simplified control layout
  • In-body image stabilisation
  • Headphone and mic jacks

 

Leica SL2 Handling

PB060002 | 1/25 sec | f/9.0 | 17.0 mm | ISO 3200
 

The Lecia SL2 has an all-metal construction (mainly aluminium) so it feels solid in the hand and as with all Leica cameras, shouts 'quality'. The grip has been improved, making the Leica SL2 even more comfortable to hold as it's deeper and the leather wrap now extends across the front of the camera which will protect the camera body and make it grippier. Unlike some cameras that you want to put back around your neck on a strap, the Leica SL2 makes you want to hold it as the improved grip really is much more comfortable to hold and as a result, it makes the Leica very portable and much more tactile. The Leica SL2 is also weatherproof with an IP54 rating (the SL doesn't have an IP rating but it is weather resistant). 

"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."

On the back is a larger, higher resolution touch-screen LCD monitor and to the left side are 3 additional buttons which are designed to simplify the control layout and they are 'Play', 'Function' and 'Menu'. Previously, on the Leica SL, there were 4 rectangular unlabeled buttons so what was an intuitive control system should be even easier to use. As well as the buttons, there's also a click wheel, joystick. Plus, when you view the menu system on the LCD screen, you'll see that the options for stills/video are separate which is a nice touch and it does make you wonder why it's not something we've seen before. The overall UI is well set out and how it responds to touch is on-par with a high-end smartphone. 

 

PB060019 | 1/15 sec | f/9.0 | 17.0 mm | ISO 3200
 

Turn your attention to the top of the camera and you'll notice it hasn't changed that much when you compare it with the Leica SL as there are still the main dial and a small LCD screen, that shows camera settings, to the right.

The camera’s electronic viewfinder now has a resolution of 5.76million dot (the SL had 4.4m dot) so what was an already impressive electronic viewfinder has got even better. It's large, too, offers 0.78x magnification and is comfortable when you have your eye held up to it. There is a built-in eye-detection sensor to automatically switch between the EVF and rear screen and the evf has a refresh rate that can be set between 60-120fps. 

 

Leica SL2
 

Two UHS-II-compatible SD card slots are built-in along with headphone and mic sockets which is something videographers will be particularly pleased to see as previously, you needed an adapter to connect these to the SL. There's also an HDMI connector for connecting external monitors and when you need more power than the 1860mAh lithium-ion rechargeable battery can supply, an additional battery grip is available. 

As for video formats, the SL2 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.

Other features include an ISO range that tops out at ISO50,000, a new Maestro III processor and 10fps continuous shooting. Plus, image stabilisation is now built into the camera body and the SL2 features a suspended sensor which adjusts its position so it can compensate for camera shake. Smart AF (autofocus) is a new feature that switches between focus priority and shutter release priority, as is the Leica Object Detection AF which promises fast and reliable autofocus. The Auto Focus (AF) system also automatically detects whether a subject is stationary or in motion and, as a result, will switch between motion and focus priority. Plus, body/face recognition is built-in (prevously, it was just face detection) with the option to toggle between multiple people in the frame and there's an option to turn off noise reduction during long exposures.

 

PB060032 | 1/10 sec | f/9.0 | 17.0 mm | ISO 3200
 

If you compare the Leica SL2 with other full-frame mirrorless cameras, it is quite big as it shares similar measurements as the Leica SL but it is lighter. Having said that, the redesigned grip does make it really easy to hold and carry around in just one hand so perhaps the slightly larger body won't be too much of an issue.

As for price, the £5,300 introductory price is comparable to other Leica cameras but when you factor in lenses, the complete system could turn into quite an investment.

We're looking forward to putting the Leica SL2 to a full test when we get it back to the office but for now, have a look at the sample photos we captured while out on location with the Leica SL2 on the next page. 


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