Last year, Leica introduced its SL2 full-frame mirrorless cam, featuring a new 47-MP sensor and support for 4K/60 fps video capture, and now Leica has returned to offer a slightly sleeker and cheaper take on its flagship mirrorless cam in the SL2-S.
The main difference between the $6,000 SL2 and the new $4,900 SL2-S is that the SL2-S comes with a new backside-illuminated but lower-res 24.6-MP sensor that offers slightly faster shooting speeds of up to 25 fps (depending on settings). Weighing in at just over 2 pounds, the SL2-S is also ever-so-slightly lighter than the 2.05-pound SL2, while still sporting a very similar metal body (with a few extra rounded edges) and an IP54 rating against dust and water.
Specs-wise, the SL2-S is similar to Panasonic’s line of S1 cams, right down to its support for L-mount lenses, its 5.76 million-dot OLED EVF, and reliance on contrast detect autofocus. In normal situations with autofocus enabled and using the physical shutter, the SL2-S’s shooting speeds top out at 5 fps (or 9 fps with fixed AF), though if you turn on the electronic shutter and switch to a fixed focus point, the SL2-S can capture bursts at up to 25 fps (5 fps faster than the SL2 at similar settings). That means the SL2-S might not be a great choice for people who want to be able to capture action shots on a regular basis, but should be more than capable for things like landscapes or weddings.
Thankfully, the SL2-s offers up to 5.5 stops of in-body image stabilization, along with a special 96-MP sensor shift feature that combines eight shots to create even higher-res images. Notably, Leica says that it already has a firmware update planned for next year that will add a number of features to the SL2-S, including eye, face, head, and body detection along with support for internal 10-bit 4K/60fps video capture using HEVC.
On the video side, at least at launch, the SL2-S offers 4K/60 fps video recording (using an APS-C crop), with 8-bit 4:2:0 color (internally) or 10-bit 4:2:2 color (when captured using an external recorder). However, if you want uncropped 4K video capture, you’ll have to live with 30 fps recording until that firmware patch arrives. On the bright side, the SL2-S doesn’t have a max video recording time, so at least there’s that.
Another notable SL2-S feature is its rear 3.2-inch touchscreen display, though unlike a lot of other high-end mirrorless cams, it’s a fixed touchscreen. That means you can’t rotate it around for selfies or tilt it down to shoot from the waist.
All in all, the SL2-S seems like a generally well-rounded full-frame mirrorless designed to pair well with Leica glass. That said, unless you’re flush with cash, if you’re OK skipping the iconic Leica styling and badge, you can likely get a very similar camera in one of Panasonic’s S1 cams for thousands less.