Leica puts the focus on movie-making with SL2-S release

Last year, Leica announced a 47.3-MP full-frame mirrorless camera called the SL2, which was itself an update to 2015’s SL. Now the SL2-S has been unveiled, which comes with a big buffer for unlimited video recording time.

Though Leica has treated the SL2-S to a newly developed BSI CMOS full-frame image sensor, the company has reduced the pixel count to 24 megapixels compared to the SL2. But thanks to a pairing with a Maestro III image processor, movie makers can capture 4:2:2/10-bit Cinema 4K (4,096 x 2,160) full-frame video at 30 frames per second to SD media or via HDMI to an external recorder.

The C4K frame rate can be bumped up to 60 fps, but that will involve using an APS-C crop, and frame rates of up to 120 fps in full-frame or 180 fps in APS-C can be had by lowering the resolution to 1080p. Leica says that a 4-GB buffer memory means that recording time is only limited by the storage capacity of the card or external device.

That generous buffer memory also allows photographers to snap full resolution images at up to five frames per second with the mechanical shutter until the storage capacity on the dual UHS-II card slots fills up, or up to nine frames per second without autofocus engaged. Continuous shooting with the electronic shutter function can fly up to 25 frames per second, though does so without autofocus.

The Leica SL2-S combines a 24-MP full-frame CMOS sensor with the company's Maestro III image processor
The Leica SL2-S combines a 24-MP full-frame CMOS sensor with the company’s Maestro III image processor


Elsewhere, it’s a familiar setup. The SL2-S features the same EVF, touch LCD panel and top monitor as the SL model before it, and the same Bluetooth and Wi-Fi chops, but light sensitivity goes up to ISO100,000. The in-body image stabilization also matches its older sibling, but the SL2-S can only manage a 96-megapixel multi-shot image, compared to the SL2’s 187 MP.

There are stereo microphones plus a mic port, and a mono speaker plus a headphone jack, and it should be good for use during inclement weather thanks to IP54 protection. Leica says that the next firmware update will bring an integrated waveform monitor, auto Follow Focus and more. And support for HEVC video compression standard for 10-bit recording up to 4K/60p will be added at some point in the future, too.

The Leica SL2-S is on sale now for US$4,895.

Product page: SL2-S

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