Leica SL2 Joins the Spec Warfare in the Mirrorless Camera Wars

Leica SL2 announced

If you’ve ever had the chance to own or borrow a Leica camera, you know it’s something special. A stunning minimalist design. The amazing photos. And the price. It wouldn’t be a Leica without the eye-popping price. The new Leica SL2 continues that tradition but in a way that forces the competition to stand up and take notice.

Oh, and it’s over-engineered right to the edge of ‘that’s a bit much.’ Seriously, photographers argue over durability with every other brand. Leica? I’m more concerned about what I dropped the body on than the actual camera. It’s built like a tank.

How about an overly dramatic introduction video? Of course, I’m onboard. 

What makes the Leica SL2 compelling is the fact it’s shedding the status symbol moniker of the company. Sure, it’s still a Leica. But, how does a 47MP full-frame sensor capable of 4K video at 60fps suit you? The only other full-frame on the market capable of that hybrid combo is the Panasonic S1H. Looking at you, Sony.

A nice touch to the SL2 is the fact it didn’t have to grow in size or weight to add 4K60p. That’s not entirely fair to the Panasonic S1H as they are two vastly different cameras, but it’s something to watch as other companies release cameras for hybrid shooters

Leica SL2 with strap

What’s New in the Leica SL2?

There are quite a few changes on the internals of the camera to go along with its refreshed ergonomics and IP54-certified weather sealing. 

Sensor. The 47-megapixel CMOS sensor is paired with a new Maestro III processor for improved image quality, 14-bit color, and an ISO range of 50 up to 50,000. It can be switched to an APS-C mode, which allows for 20.2 MP images.

Autofocus. Leica’s new 225-point Object Detention AF paired with the Maestro III processor allows for a fast autofocusing system, including facial recognition, and subject tracking.

EVF. It’s an improved EyeRes EVF offering a 5.76 MP EVF with an eyepiece built from the metal and glass to maximize optical tolerances.  

Burst Shooting. Those who love holding the shutter release can achieve 10fps with the mechanical shutter and up to 20fps with the electronic shutter. 

Dual Card Slots. A running theme in recent years is if the camera has two card slots. The Leica SL2 doesn’t disappoint with two UHS-II slots. With 47-megapixel DNGs and/or JPGs, you better invest in more than a few of these. And external hard drives. 

Video Capabilities. The Leica SL2 prefers Cine Mode and claims the mantle as the first full-frame mirrorless camera capable of video resolution up to 5K up to 30fps. I already mentioned the 4K60p, and the amount of available video resolutions shows the company is serious about being Hollywood-ready:

  • MOV 5K: 29.97 fps, 25 fps, 23.98 fps 
  • MOV C4K: 59.94 fps, 50 fps, 29.97 fps, 25 fps, 24 fps
  • MOV 4K: 59.94 fps, 50 fps, 29.97 fps, 25 fps, 23.98 fps
  • MOV FHD: 180 fps, 150 fps, 120 fps, 100 fps, 59.94 fps, 50 fps, 29.97 fps, 25 fps, 23.98 fps
  • MP4 4K: 59.94 fps, 50 fps, 29.97 fps, 25 fps, 23.98 fps
  • MP4 FHD: 180 fps, 150 fps, 120 fps, 100 fps, 59.94 fps, 50 fps, 29.97 fps, 25 fps, 23.98 fps  

Yeah, the Leica SL2 won’t need a firmware update to add new video frame rates. 

Stabilization. The Leica SL2 is the first of the SL to incorporate IBIS up to 5.5 stops. In a multishot mode, a tripod-mounted SL2 can record up to eight frames as the sensor is shifted in half-pixel increments. The resulting final image is 187 megapixels, offering Leica users the same pixel shift technology seen in other camera bodies. 

Battery Life. Mirrorless cameras are not known for battery life, and the Leica SL2 is no exception at around 370-shot CIPA rating. It will have a USB charging function via USB-C for those wanting to use power banks.  

Connectivity. Basically, any and everything you could want with a USB-C, HDMI 2.0, 3.5mm Audio-in and Audio-out. Bluetooth 4.2 is available along with WLAN though the Leica FOTOS app is required for WLAN and GPS. 

What About Lenses for the Leica SL2?

Leica SL2 with lenses

All the current and future SL lenses work with the new body along with Leica’s M-lenses. Both are not inexpensive, but Leica has an ace up its sleeve with the L-Mount alliance (Jared Polin voice) allowing Sigma lenses to work natively with the SL2. 

Leica SL2 Price and Release Date

It will retail for $5995 and release on November 21. Just in time for holiday shopping. Preorders are available at Adorama and B&H Photo right now, and you can learn more about the Leica SL2 on the company’s website.

Yep, I want one.

The Gist
An email newsletter that gets to the point. Crazy idea, right? Sign up today.
The Gist is a few days a week newsletter. No incessant emails. We hate them and that's way too much work.
Share via
Copy link