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Leica SL2-S Comparison Review

The Leica SL2-S is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera that was revealed to the public in December 2020 and is equipped with a full frame sensor. It offers a resolution of 24 megapixel.

Is the Leica SL2-S a good camera? The SL2-S has a Camera Elo of 3201. This very strong rating puts it among the elite group of camera grand masters. The SL2-S ranks among the top 10 percent of all mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras. In terms of its sensor size category (full frame cameras), the SL2-S also ranks among the top 10 percent.

Headline Specifications
Leica SL2-S
Mirrorless system camera
Leica L mount lenses
24 MP, Full Frame Sensor
4K/60p Video
ISO 100 - 50 000 (50 - 100 000)
Electronic viewfinder (5760k dots)
3.2 LCD, 2100k dots
Fixed touchscreen
20 shutter flaps per second
In-body stabilization
Weathersealed body
510 shots per battery charge
146 x 107 x 83 mm, 931 g



Read on to find out more about the camera's size, sensor, features, reception by expert reviewers, and how it compares to other digital cameras.

Body comparison with a credit card

The physical dimensions of the Leica SL2-S relative to a credit card are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

Leica SL2-S vs credit card front
SL2-S versus credit card top view
SL2-S and credit card rear side

The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the Leica SL2-S alongside a set of comparators. If you want to review a camera pair side-by-side, just select a right-side comparator from among the camera models in the table. Alternatively, you can also move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible comparisons there.

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Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
Weather
Sealing
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
 
Leica SL2-S 146 mm 107 mm 83 mm 931 g 510 Y Dec 2020 4,895 i
 
Leica SL2 146 mm 107 mm 42 mm 953 g 370 Y Nov 2019 5,999 i
 
Leica SL 147 mm 104 mm 39 mm 847 g 400 Y Oct 2015 7,450i
 
Nikon D780 144 mm 116 mm 76 mm 840 g 2260 Y Jan 2020 2,299 i
 
Olympus E-M5 III 125 mm 85 mm 50 mm 414 g 310 Y Oct 2019 1,199 i
 
Olympus E-M1X 144 mm 147 mm 75 mm 997 g 870 Y Jan 2019 2,999 i
 
Panasonic S5 133 mm 98 mm 82 mm 714 g 440 Y Sep 2020 1,999 i
 
Panasonic S1 149 mm 110 mm 97 mm 1017 g 400 Y Feb 2019 2,499 i
 
Panasonic S1R 149 mm 110 mm 97 mm 1016 g 380 Y Feb 2019 3,699 i
 
Panasonic S1H 151 mm 114 mm 110 mm 1052 g 400 Y May 2019 3,999 i
 
Sony A9 II 129 mm 96 mm 76 mm 678 g 690 Y Oct 2019 4,499 i
Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.

The listed prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The Leica SL2-S was launched in the US market at a price of $4,895. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.

Leica SL2-S:
check price at amazon

Sensor comparison with a 35mm slide

The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors of image quality. A large sensor will tend to have larger individual pixels that provide better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixel-units in a sensor of the same technological generation. Furthermore, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more possibilities to use shallow depth-of-field in order to isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

The Leica SL2-S features a full frame sensor and has a format factor (sometimes also referred to as "crop factor") of 1.0. Within the spectrum of camera sensors, this places the Leica SL2-S among the large-sensor cameras that aim for top notch image quality.

Leica SL2-S sensor measures

For most cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. This service determines an overall sensor rating, as well as sub-scores for low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and color depth ("DXO Portrait"). The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.

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Sensor Characteristics
  Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
 
Leica SL2-S Full Frame 24.0 6000 40004K/60p........
 
Leica SL2 Full Frame 46.7 8368 55844K/60p........
 
Leica SL Full Frame 24.0 6000 40004K/30p25.013.4182188
 
Nikon D780 Full Frame 24.3 6048 40244K/30p........
 
Olympus E-M5 III Four Thirds 20.2 5184 38884k/24p........
 
Olympus E-M1X Four Thirds 20.2 5184 38884K/30p........
 
Panasonic S5 Full Frame 24.0 6000 40004K/60p........
 
Panasonic S1 Full Frame 24.0 6000 40004K/60p25.214.5333395
 
Panasonic S1R Full Frame 46.7 8368 55844K/60p26.414.13525100
 
Panasonic S1H Full Frame 24.0 6000 40006K/30p........
 
Sony A9 II Full Frame 24.0 6000 40004K/30p25.014.0343493

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The SL2-S indeed provides movie recording capabilities. The highest resolution format that the SL2-S can use is 4K/60p.

Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the SL2-S has an electronic viewfinder with a resolution of 5760k dots. The viewfinder offers a field of view of 100% and a magnification of 0.78x. The adjacent tables list some of the other core features of the Leica SL2-S along with similar information for a selection of comparators.

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Core Features
  Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
(000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Mech
Shutter
Speed
Shutter
Flaps
(1/sec)
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
 
Leica SL2-S5760 Y 3.2 2100 fixed Y 1/8000s 20.0 n Y
 
Leica SL25760 Y 3.2 2100 fixed Y 1/8000s 10.0 n Y
 
Leica SL4400 Y 3.0 1040 fixed Y 1/8000s 11.0 n n
 
Nikon D780optical Y 3.2 2359 tilting Y 1/8000s 12.0 n n
 
Olympus E-M5 III2360 n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/8000s 10.0 n Y
 
Olympus E-M1X2360 n 3.0 1037 swivel Y 1/8000s 18.0 n Y
 
Panasonic S52360 n 3.0 1840 full-flex Y 1/8000s 7.0 n Y
 
Panasonic S15760 Y 3.2 2100 full-flex Y 1/8000s 9.0 n Y
 
Panasonic S1R5760 Y 3.2 2100 full-flex Y 1/8000s 9.0 n Y
 
Panasonic S1H5760 Y 3.2 2330 swivel Y 1/8000s 9.0 n Y
 
Sony A9 II3686 n 3.0 1440 tilting Y 1/8000s 10.0 n Y

One useful feature of the SL2-S is a presence of a top-level LCD. While being, of course, smaller than the rear screen, the control panel conveys some of the essential shooting information and can be convenient for quick and easy settings verification.

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Connection comparison

For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Leica SL2-S and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.

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Input-Output Connections
  Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
 
Leica SL2-SYstereomonoYYfull3.2Y-Y
 
Leica SL2YstereomonoYYfull3.1Y-Y
 
Leica SLYstereomonoYYfull3.0Y--
 
Nikon D780YstereomonoYYmini3.1Y-Y
 
Olympus E-M5 IIIYstereomonoY-micro2.0Y-Y
 
Olympus E-M1XYstereomonoYYmicro3.0Y-Y
 
Panasonic S5YstereomonoYYmicro3.2Y-Y
 
Panasonic S1YstereomonoYYfull3.1Y-Y
 
Panasonic S1RYstereomonoYYfull3.1Y-Y
 
Panasonic S1HYstereomonoYYfull3.1Y-Y
 
Sony A9 IIYstereomonoYYmicro3.1YYY

It is notable that the SL2-S has a microphone port. Such an external microphone input can help to substantially improve the quality of audio recordings when a good external microphone is used.

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Expert reviews

While the specs-based evaluation of cameras is instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the SL2-S handle or perform in practice. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased. This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The adjacent table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog).

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Review Scores
  Camera
Model
camera
  labs  
dp
review  
ephoto
  zine  
imaging
resource
photography
  blog  
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
 
Leica SL2-S.......... Dec 2020 4,895 i
 
Leica SL2....4.5/5..4/5 Nov 2019 5,999 i
 
Leica SL..84/1004.5/54/54/5 Oct 2015 7,450i
 
Nikon D780..87/1004.5/5..4.5/5 Jan 2020 2,299 i
 
Olympus E-M5 III+82/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Oct 2019 1,199 i
 
Olympus E-M1Xo..4.5/55/5.. Jan 2019 2,999 i
 
Panasonic S5+ +..4.5/5..4.5/5 Sep 2020 1,999 i
 
Panasonic S1+ +88/1004.5/5..4/5 Feb 2019 2,499 i
 
Panasonic S1R..89/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Feb 2019 3,699 i
 
Panasonic S1H..90/100...... May 2019 3,999 i
 
Sony A9 II..90/1005/5..5/5 Oct 2019 4,499 i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.

Leica SL2-S FAQ

Below are some additional questions and answers concerning some particular features of the SL2-S.

What type of imaging sensor is used in the SL2-S?

The camera features a CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensor.

Which image processing chip is used to convert the raw signal into an image file and perform noise reduction and image sharpening?

Leica equipped the SL2-S with the Maestro III image processor.

What is the ISO sensitivity range of the SL2-S?

The camera has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 50000, which can be extended to ISO 50-100000.

Is completely silent shooting possible with the Leica SL2-S?

The camera has an electronic shutter option, so that it is indeed feasible to capture images without any shutter noise.

Do I need to purchase an external camera trigger to shoot time-lapse sequences?

No, the Leica SL2-S has an intervalometer built-in, so that low frequency shooting (for example, flower blooming, sunset, moon rise) can be undertaken without the need to purchase a separate external intervalometer and related software.

Is it difficult to use manual focus lenses with the Leica SL2-S?

The SL2-S offers focus peaking as a manual focus aid. This feature works by placing a colored highlight on in-focus zones within the image.

Does the Leica SL2-S feature an autofocus assist light?

Yes, the camera has a lamp built-in that can illuminate the subject and improve autofocus in low-light settings.

What is the fastest shutter speed that can be used with flash?

The SL2-S's flash sync speed is 1/250 sec.

Does the Leica SL2-S support the Ultra High Speed (UHS) bus interface for SD cards?

Yes, the camera can indeed use UHS-II cards, which provide for data transfer speed of up to 312 MB/s, in both of its card slots.

Which battery does the SL2-S use?

The camera gets its power from the BP-SCL4, which is a rechargeable Lithium-Ion power pack.

Is there a vertical grip available for the SL2-S?

Yes, Leica offers the HG-SCL6 as an optional accessory to facilitate shooting in portrait orientation and to provide additional battery power.

Camera to camera comparisons

In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities with other camera models, just use the search menu below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.

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    Specifications Summary
    Camera Model Leica SL2-S
    Camera Type Mirrorless system camera
    Camera Lens Leica L mount lenses
    Launch Date December 2020
    Launch Price USD 4 895
    Sensor Specs
    Sensor Technology CMOS
    Sensor Format Full Frame Sensor
    Sensor Size 36.0 x 24.0 mm
    Sensor Area 864 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 43.3 mm
    Crop Factor 1.0x
    Sensor Resolution 24 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 6 000 x 4 000 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 6.00 μm
    Pixel Density 2.78 MP/cm2
    Moiré control no AA filter
    Movie Capability 4K/60p Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 50 000 ISO
    ISO Boost 50 - 100 000 ISO
    Image Processor Maestro III
    Screen Specs
    Viewfinder Type Electronic viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 100%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.78x
    Viewfinder Resolution 5760k dots
    Top-Level Screen Control Panel
    LCD Framing Live View
    LCD Size 2100k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen
    Touch Input Touchscreen
    Shooting Specs
    Focus System Contrast-detect AF
    Manual Focusing AidFocus Peaking
    Maximum Shutter Speed 1/8000s
    Continuous Shooting 20 shutter flaps/s
    Silent ShootingElectronic Shutter
    Time Lapse PhotographyIntervalometer Built-in
    Image StabilizationIn-body stabilization
    Fill Flash no On-Board Flash
    Storage Medium SDXC cards
    Second Storage Option Dual card slots
    UHS card support Dual UHS-II
    Connectivity Specs
    External Flash Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 3.2
    HDMI Port full HDMI
    Microphone Port External MIC port
    Headphone Socket Headphone port
    Wifi Support Wifi built-in
    Bluetooth Support Bluetooth built-in
    Body Specs
    Environmental SealingWeathersealed body
    Battery Type BP-SCL4 power pack
    Battery Life (CIPA)510 shots per charge
    In-Camera Charging USB charging
    Body Dimensions 146 x 107 x 83 mm
    (5.7 x 4.2 x 3.3 in)
    Camera Weight 931 g (32.8 oz)

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