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Leica SL2-S Review

The Leica SL2-S is a more affordable L-Mount camera from Leica, with a 24mp full-frame sensor and unlimited 4K video recording. Find out how it performs in our review.


|  Leica SL2-S in Mirrorless Cameras
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Leica SL2 S (17) | 1/60 sec | f/10.0 | 30.0 mm | ISO 1600

The Leica SL2-S is a more affordable version of the SL2, with the same body, but with a 24mp full-frame sensor, the camera is set up for both stills and video, with high-speed continuous shooting available, as well as unlimited 4K video recording. The Leica SL2-S benefits from being part of the L-Mount alliance and therefore has access to lenses from Leica, Panasonic, and Sigma.

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Leica SL2-S Features

Leica SL2 S (15) | 1/40 sec | f/10.0 | 30.0 mm | ISO 1600
 

If you're in the market for a full-frame Leica camera, then the SL2-S is one of the more affordable options being priced at £3975 body only. However, it is still a sizeable investment, particularly as you'll need to buy an L-Mount lens to go with it, with the cheapest, the Leica SL 50mm f/2 being another £3700 (there are cheaper options available as part of the L-Mount alliance). However, if you're looking at a Leica, then you're probably already aware of the higher prices that go with the cameras.

If you're wondering what the main differences are between the SL2 and SL2-S, then have a look at our quick comparison table below. The Leica SL2 is available for around £5500 and features a 47.3mp sensor, lets see how the two cameras compare:

Leica SL2-S Leica SL2
24mp FF BSI CMOS sensor 47mp FF CMOS sensor
5-axis IBIS (5.5 stops) 5-axis IBIS (5.5 stops)
96mp multi-shot mode 187mp multi-shot mode
ISO50-100000 ISO50-50000
25fps (electronic shutter) 20fps (electronic shutter)
4K DCI Video (unlimited) 5K / 4K DCI (upto 29min)
510 shot battery life 370 shot battery life
931g body only 835g
£3975 body only £5500 body only

 

Both cameras feature 5-axis In-Body Image Stabilisation (IBIS), both feature 225 AF points (contrast-detection), both feature the same electronic viewfinder (EVF) with 5.76m dots, and the same 3.2inch fixed touch-screen, with 2.1m dots.

The Leica SL2-S is part of the Leica L-Mount alliance and shares a lens mount with the Panasonic Lumix S series, as well as the Sigma fp, meaning you can find lenses from Leica, Panasonic, and Sigma available in L-mount, that will work perfectly with the Leica SL2-S.

The camera has P, A, S, M (Manual) shooting modes, which you can select using the on-screen controls, or pushing in the rear command dial, and then scrolling through the modes. The camera shoots JPEG and raw files, with the raw files being saved as AdobeDNG, which means they will work with any software that supports DNG files, and you don't have to wait for specific support to be added to your software.

The camera can shoot at up to 25fps using the electronic shutter, or up to 10fps using the mechanical shutter. There are a number of drive modes, but there are no scene modes, and limited creative "effects", with colour options available including Standard, Vivid, Natural, Black and White (Natural and High Contrast), and that's it. You can adjust these options, with settings for contrast, sharpness, and saturation (excluding monochrome).

High-res Multi-shot moves the sensor at a sub-pixel level and the camera takes a number of shots, then combines them to produce a higher resolution image with additional colour detail, with a 96mp and 24mp image produced.

There are a number of different video options, with the camera offering 4K CINE / UHD recording at frame rates up to 60fps. You can record FullHD video at frame rates up to 180fps. Video recording is unlimited, and includes 4:2:2 10bit internal recording, depending on frame rates chosen. We give full details on video resolution and frame rate options available on the next page.

On the side of the camera, there are microphone and headphones sockets, a full-size HDMI port, and USB Type-C connection. The camera has dual SD card slots, with support for high-speed UHS-II cards.

Wi-Fi, and low-power Bluetooth are built-in, letting you connect to the Leica FOTOS app.

Leica SL2 S (8) | 1/80 sec | f/10.0 | 30.0 mm | ISO 1600

 

Key Features

  • 24mp Full-Frame BSI CMOS sensor
  • L-Mount - part of the L-Mount Alliance
  • 5-axis In-Body Image Stabilisation (IBIS), up to 5.5stops
  • 3.2inch touch-screen with 2.1m dots
  • 5.76m dot EVF with dioptre correction, 0.78x magnification
  • 225 AF points (Contrast-detect)
  • Up to 25fps continuous shooting (with electronic shutter), 9fps mechanical
  • 96mp high-res multi-shot mode
  • ISO50-ISO100,000
  • 4K / CINE Video, upto 60fps
  • FullHD upto 180fps
  • 25fps continuous shooting electronic shutter, 9fps mechanical
  • Bluetooth and Wi-Fi built-in
  • Weather-sealed camera body with IP54 rating

Leica SL2-S Handling

Leica SL2 S (13) | 1/50 sec | f/10.0 | 30.0 mm | ISO 1600
 

The Lecia SL2-S has an all-metal construction (with aluminium and magnesium) so it feels solid in the hand with a real feeling of quality. The grip makes the Leica SL2-S comfortable to hold as it's deep and the textured wrap extends across the front of the camera which will protect the camera body and make it grippier.

Weight - something to be aware of, as the SL2-S weighs 931g with a battery and memory card. The total weight of the camera will depend on the size and weight of the lens used with the camera, and this is something to be aware of if you're expecting a mirrorless camera to be lighter and more compact than a DSLR. If that's the case, then you'd be better off looking elsewhere.

Looking at the design of the camera, the LEICA logo is no longer coloured in (when compared to the SL2), but the red dot remains. The Leica SL2-S body is weatherproof, with an IP54 rating.

Leica SL2 S (6) | 1/40 sec | f/10.0 | 30.0 mm | ISO 1600

To the left side are 3 buttons that 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 and joystick. Although unfortunately, the joystick doesn't recognise diagonal use.

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 set up this way by others. The overall UI is well set out and the screen is very responsive to touch.

There are some unlabelled buttons, with two on the top, one on the back, and two at the front, so it may take a little while to get used to these, however, with continued use, it'll soon become easy to use. The rear command dial can also be pushed in and used as a button, and this brings up mode selection.

On the left (from the back) you'll find a headphone and microphone socket, as well as a full-size HDMI connection. Under this is a USB Type-C connection letting you charge the battery, and power the camera while you use it.

There are 225 AF metering zones, however, on spot focus point selection, you can select from 625 different points on the screen, with the focus point selectable right into the far corners of the frame. There are multiple AF options including multi, spot, field, zone, tracking, and face/body detection. When face/body detection AF is active, if there is more than one subject in the scene you can easily switch between them using the joystick.

There are four customisable autofocus profiles, with wildlife, children/pets, team sports, and runner being the profiles available. These can be found quite deep in the menus, under Focusing, AF Setup, and AF Profiles. At times the menus can seem a little confusing, as you might expect to find Noise reduction under the ISO Settings, but instead, it's under JPEG settings.

Leica SL2 S (5) | 1/30 sec | f/10.0 | 30.0 mm | ISO 1600

Turn your attention to the top of the camera and you'll notice the main dial and a small LCD screen, that shows camera settings, to the right.

The camera’s electronic viewfinder has a resolution of 5.76million dots. 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.

On the back is a fixed, high-resolution 3.2inch touch-screen, with 2.1million dots. The screen gives a clear view of your scene (apart from the top and bottom bars), and as a touch-screen can be used to change settings and options. Viewing angles are very good, although, as you can see, the screen can't be tilted in any direction. The top and bottom bars can be switched off for composing your shots, but as you focus or pre-focus your shot, the bottom bar re-appears blocking your view of the scene.

...Pressing the menu button brings up the screen shown above, giving you quick access to the most commonly used options. Press menu again and you enter the main menu system. In the main menu system, you'll need to use the joystick to scroll through the options, as the touch-screen is not active. The menus are quite clearly laid out, although a little bit of added colour coding wouldn't go amiss.

Leica SL2 S (10) | 1/40 sec | f/10.0 | 30.0 mm | ISO 1600

Battery life - Battery life is rated at 510 shots according to Leica / CIPA test results, using the LCD screen, an improvement over the 370 offered by the SL2. However, if you do find yourself running low on power, then you can connect a USB charger.


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