Leica’s SL2-S is a $4,895 beast with 4K 60 fps video capability

It also packs 5-axis in-body stabilization and 25 fps shooting speeds.

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Leica has launched the SL2-S, a sportier and cheaper version of its flagship 47-megapixel, $5,995 mirrorless SL2 camera. With the new model, it’s emphasizing speed, low-light capability and video prowess, with a 24.6-megapixel sensor, up to 25 fps second shooting speed (with caveats), ISOs up to 100,000 and 4K 60 fps video.

The SL2-S is the first Leica with a back-side illuminated (BSI) sensor that’s likely built by Sony. Otherwise, it appears to be roughly based on Panasonic’s S1 — it’s similar in weight and size, packs a 5.5-stop in-body stabilization system and has a similar 5.76 million dot OLED EVF. Unlike any Panasonic full-frame camera, however, it has dual UHS-II card slots and no XQD or CFexpress slot.

Much like the S1, the SL2-S also has a 5.76 million dot OLED electronic viewfinder that’s ideal for composing video and photos. What’s less ideal, however, is the fixed 3.2-inch rear touchscreen display that doesn’t articulate in any way.

Gallery: Leica's SL2-S is a hybrid full-frame camera for the upper crust | 13 Photos

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Like Panasonic’s mirrorless cameras, it uses contrast detect autofocus with depth mapping. That generally yields accurate autofocus for objects that don’t move too much, but it’s not ideal for fast-moving subjects or video. Also, it can only handle 5 fps shooting with continuous autofocus enabled, so the 25 fps shooting speeds are limited to fixed autofocus with the electronic shutter. With the mechanical shutter, it can shoot 9 fps with no continuous autofocus.

The SL2-S handlse video very well, with specs again similar to the Panasonic S1. You can shoot 4K at up to 60 fps via an APS-C crop, with 8-bit 4:2:0 internal and 10-bit 4:2:2 external recording. Full frame 4K shooting is possible at up to 30 fps with 10-bit 4:2:2 recording both internally and externally. Footage should be crisp in that mode since it’s downsampled from a 6K sensor area. It also supports V-Log and HLG recording for HDR work or to max out dynamic range, and there are no time limits on recording.

Leica uses their own image processor and menu system similar to the one on the SL2. While a bit confusing compared to the S1’s tab-based menus, it does give you easy access to your favorite settings on the first page. It also includes a Cine mode that lets you quickly flip between photo and video settings.

The German company has promised firmware updates next year that will improve autofocus, particularly in the area of eye/face and body detection. They’ll also allow for internal 10-bit 4K 60 fps through the use of a more efficient HEVC (H.265) codec.

It works with the L-mount lens system supported by Panasonic and Sigma, offering 40 compatible native lenses. Leica’s SL2-S is now on sale at authorized Leica dealers for $4,895.

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