Leica SL2-S! You’re the one that I WANT!

Leica SL2-S! You’re the one that I WANT!

By Steve Huff

My written and video review are now up! SEE THEM HERE. 

The Leica SL (original) was and is one of my fave cameras of all time. Even today at the end of 2020, the SL for me is one of the best still cameras on the market. For it’s color, it’s design, it’s build quality, it’s mount and just the way it makes you feel when you open up the images you capture with it. When the SL2 was released, I praised it for the improvements in grip, EVF, video functionality and overall beautiful design, yet again. I did not care so much for the sensor, because I am of the belief that we do not need 47 MP stuffed on to a full frame sensor to take a gorgeous image I felt that sensor degraded the overall performance of the SL, when in lower light. Just my opinion, but I did not like seeing image noise show up at ISO 800. I did not buy an SL2 as I longed for the SL2 but with a 24MP sensor. That is all I wanted, and I said back then if Leica released this camera with a new improved 24MP sensor and kept the EVF, IBIS, VIDEO SPECS, NEW GRIP, etc then I would buy one.

The Leica Logo is even blacked out on the SL2-S!

The beauty of all of this is that the SL2-S will cost us less, under $5000 and for that price, yes it is very worth it for some who enjoy quality in build, feel, design, menus, etc. For those who want a mount that is so versatile. Yes, the L mount means you can mount a ton of lenses either from Leica, 3rd party or even adapt lenses to the camera. I love shooting these SL’s with M lenses. My dream fantasy would be the SL2-S with the Leica 75 Summilux. Whew! What a dream!

I am a tad excited by this release after being underwhelmed by the last couple of Leica releases. I also feel this new SL2-S exceeds something like the M10 series, for so many reasons. Heresy for sure to some but hey, for me I will take a gorgeous EVF these days over a mechanical RF. 

This is a camera with a super high quality 5.7 MP EVF. Same as the SL2. It has the same build, body and style as the SL2. It has the same video specs. Sadly, it has the same contrast detect AF which is the only thing keeping it from being a perfect camera in my eyes. When you add these brilliant video specs and offer AF lenses, you really should have AF equally as good as Sony and Canon for video. Sadly the SL2 does not and the SL2-S keeps the same focus capabilities. It may be a bit faster though, than the SL2, as the megapixel count is smaller which does help AF speed.

You can pre order the SL2-S at B&H Photo by clicking the image below. It is shipping now actually.

So obviously Leica did not offer to send me a review unit of the SL2-S, nor brief me on it. They recently sent me an M10R and M10M to review along with the 90 Summilux and 50 APO (that may or may not happen, the M camera reviews…). But there was no mention of the SL2-S. I would have loved to check it out but if they can not sent me one I will try to either rent or (gulp) buy one to review. It is after all the SL I have been asking for forever! Lol. 

I feel this will be the best version of the SL created to date, even surpassing my original fave. But again, these are just my opinions based on my likes, and experience using so many cameras. I know what I like, which is different from what many others like. It’s why the Hasselblad 907X made my camera of the year for 2020. It’s beautiful in all ways yet nothing like the SL2-S which is beautiful in ways the Hasselblad is not. The Hasselblad for me is a functional piece of art, a piece of history really with the throwback to the old 500 series. It’s amazing to have this in digital form but the 907x is also lacking with weather sealing, speed and that rolling shutter issue when the electronic shutter is used. 

The SL2-S will be more like a traditional camera, and have the speed, the feel of an SLR and that beautiful EVF along with what I believe will be much improved low light capability. It has IBIS, it has Cinema 4K video, it has a beauty and simplicity to the menu. If it gets close to the Panasonic S1 in low light, it will be a low light champ. ALL that is missing is phase detect AF. 

For me this was a nice surprise to end out the 2020 camera release year. So many amazing cameras were released this year, during a crazy time for our world and especially here in the USA. With Covid killing one person every 30 seconds as of right now, and losing more Americans each and every day that go far beyond 9/11 each and every day, well, we are in a strange place. People have lost their jobs, food lines are longer than ever in some states and we live with a level of political disinformation that I have never experienced in my lifetime. Yet here we are with luxury cameras still being released and sold, and yes, some are buying them, quite a few. While the camera industry as a whole has taken a beating over the last two years, things are changing just as I predicted a long time ago here and luxury cameras still have an audience, maybe more than ever.

I mentioned long ago that I feel cameras will move more into a luxury niche. Also more of a video niche. For the most part this is happening. This SL2-S at just under $5k. The 907x for $6400. The Sony A7SIII for $3500. The Canon R5 for a bit more. Camera prices are going up but I can say it is nice to see this SL2-S come in at $4895 when the original was $7500 when it was released. So as strange as it is during these times, I do see people buying these luxury items (those who are in the stock market have made a killing and are spending).

Heck, I bought the 907x but not because I am rich, because I sold a house and made a great return on my investment of 10 years so I spoiled myself a little for something I truly enjoyed. Not sure I can swing it for the SL2-S but I can not lie. It IS, the ONE THAT I WANT! : )

The SL2-S seems be shipping NOW. You can pre-order it HERE at BH Photo for $4895.

 

35 Comments

  1. Hello Steve and Happy New Year!
    Thank you for all the helpful reviews. I currently shoot with a Leica M-E typ240.
    I use the EVF for assistance using my non coded M lenses. Only M lenses. My 35mm and 75mm lux lenses are not coded. Also have 21mm 50mm zeiss. I’ve only tried the Leica SL 601 with M – L adapter. The EVF was excellent for my eyes. Is the Lumix S5 EVF as good as the Leica SL2-s? That’s my main concern. For a few thousand less – can the Lumix S5 work well with my non coded Leica M, Zeiss lenses? I mostly shoot portraits, available light wide open or f/2 to 2.8. I could keep my ME typ240 and get a Lumix S5. I would need to sell the M-E typ240 in order to purchase the Leica SL2-S. Thank you for your time.

    • Hey Santo! The EVF of the S5 is not up to the SL2-S EVF. The SL2-S EVF is the best EVF I have ever used. More than double the resolution of the S5.

  2. Steve, I echo our sentiments on the new SL2-S. If this camera can punch above the weight of the SL in terms of ISO … I’m all in. I purchased the original SL, refurbished by Leica Germany, and came with a certificate and a 1 yr. Leica warranty. I love it and it is my take everywhere, travel with it everywhere camera. I purchased an extra battery for it and also the Leica M Adapter. My lenses of choice for travel are the 1.4/35mm Zeiss ZM, 2.0/50mm ZM and 4/85mm ZM (very capable lens). Eventually, I’ll get a Leica 2.0/90mm PreAsph. and most likely sell the 85mm ZM. I yearn for an M10 but the SL does it all. And for the price of an M10, extra batteries, and an EVF attachment….it’d be in for much more than the SL2-S. I love the heritage of the M10. For me, the SL has a Killer EVF, a wonderful lean menu system, and a tank-like build. It’s been to Berlin, Prague and all over the USA with me. The SL-2 would be a great low light companion and back up camera for travel. Best, Mw-

  3. I am anxiously waiting your review and potential comparison to SL. I have been shooting with SL for three years now, and love every bit of it. SL2 button layout and VF is tempting but not sure justifies the price gap…

  4. I want her too!! (:
    you are so right on the sensor thing and I also not running to have the best AF system when I using the M lenses
    will buy the sl2-s for sure
    thank you on that review

  5. Steve,

    Thanks for the shout out for the SL2-S. It got my attention. It looks to be my first Leica interchangeable lens camera. I’m excited. But it is a very big expense as you and most everyone can attest to. As you point out in your comments it’s time to sell off some equipment that hasn’t been used as of late. I have one big hesitation in my leap into Leica land and that is I have no sense of the reliability of their cameras. I know their lenses to be of great quality and that they can and do last for many decades. Your expertise will be greatly appreciated in this case. Could you give me your thoughts and share a bit of your knowledge about the reliability of Leica camera bodies? Thank you!

    p.s. I’ve come to personally understand the quality of Voigtlander lenses. Your thoughts on them got my attention and I’ve discovered you are so right. I am thinking the V 75mm 1.5 would pair very well with the SL2S. When I finally decide on purchasing that lens I will click on your link to buy it so as to bring you some (meager) money your way. Thanks again for sharing your knowledge!

    Enjoy the day,

    August

    • Thank you August! As for reliability, the SL camera series is crazy reliable. The M series not so much. I never had one issue or hiccup with the SL and friends who own it or the SL2 never had issues. It’s as solid as a camera can get. I am more confident with an SL than I am with a Sony A7III.

      • Thanks Steve! I’m full steam ahead with getting the SL2s. I’m super excited. Now the wait begins. I guess a better way to look at it is I’m now entering into a period of anticipation… :-)))

  6. I’m intrigued about the high ISO performance (50,000 and even up to 100,000). That’s M10 Monochrom performance with a color sensor. The M10R is unable to come close to this performance. This, if true, will even outperform the Sony A9II and their new A7SIII. Has there been that kind of breakthrough in sensor ISO performance?

  7. I had the SL2 and I must say it was the most beautiful camera I have ever had. I sold it however because I just could not live with the auto focus system. Unless they solve it with the reduced pixel count and processor I still think it is a no sale for me.

  8. Even less likely now we will see an M like camera with EVF. I hope Sigma will make one. It is strange that there is no such camera. It is now several years ago that fullframe mirrorless was introduced and STILL no M with EVF. This SL is great but it is a brick.

  9. After much debating I bought an SL for my wedding work. I love it but it has its limitations compared the the computer of the Sony A9

    This however looks to remedy all that. If the “boss”agrees I’ll be in line to get this. Perfect for my weddings especially with the 35APO

    • I’d take the SL2-S because the body is just amazing and on the next level from the Panasonic. BUT, IQ may be similar. With Leica you pay for the name, and the quality in build. The unique experience, the simple menus and all of that. The SL2-S will bring you a much nicer EVF, camera build and feel and offer a simple experience. It will feel like it would last you 100 years when you hold it (of course no electronic tech can last that long). The S5 is very nice and for the money a fantastic camera. I love the output of it and the features and the fact that it is a but smaller than the S1. It may give you equal performance to the SL2-S, not sure yet. The money goes to to the name, build, design, usability, etc.

      • So the issue is that I completely agree with you!! I just sold my SL (last month) for an S5. The S5 is 6oz less than an SL2-S, although the experience of shooting an SL is such that I will be selling the S5 for an SL2-S. Thank you for the validation, and thank you for getting me into Leica 6 years ago (through Ken Hansen).

  10. The original SL is my favorite camera of all time, absolutely love it. As much as I liked my M240 my days with rangefinders are over, the new EVFs are so good I see no reason to live with the limitations of rangefinders.

    This new SLii looks great, especially the blacked out Leica along the front. In-body stabilization and an improved sensor…looks like I may be ordering one of these.

    • I would sell my old SL and maybe a few other Sony lenses I no longer use if I jumped to the SL2-S. The Canon stuff is used by me solely for video, different uses.

  11. I still love and use the SL. I recently purchased an S1 as well because I needed another body and improved low light performance in certain conditions I have to shoot. Like you, Steve, I was not interested in the SL2 largely because I didn’t want a 47mp FF sensor. This new S version is potentially a game changer for me though.

    Although I generally like the performance of the Panasonic S1 and the colors are close enough for me to work with, I do not like the ergonomics or menus nearly as much. It’s very nice and still pretty intuitive, so others might understandably feel the opposite way here, but I much prefer shooting with the SL.

    I’m curious with the SL2-S… my understanding is that the original SL has some additional sensors and/or lighting on the sensor for better performance with adapted M lenses which the SL2 does not have. Consequently, M lens performance on the SL2 is not quite as good (nor is it as good on the S1). I am wondering if this spec will remain unchanged, or if in addition to a 24mp sensor, they will reintroduce these features to enhance performance with M lenses.

    I very much look forward to user reports and reviews regardless, yours especially. I had no idea this camera was coming, so thank you, Steve, for the heads up; and it’s really good to have you back, and I hope you and Debbie are enjoying your new home.

    • I’m sure Steve will probably comment but but you’re talking about are microlenses optimized to allow decent performance with M glass…the SL have that and so will the SLii.

      • Yes it’d does. The M lenses do very well on the SL series due to that reason if using coded M lenses. If using lenses from 3rd parties like Voigtlander they will do about the same. The Panasonic S1 does pretty well with M lenses, better than Sony does. Not sure why but it does. The SL2-S should be one heck of a great solution for coded M lenses. A great way to shoot the SL series btw!

        • Hi Steve, by that logic would you know if S5 also works well with lenses like 35 Lux? I might finally get SL2-s than wait any further for an “M with an EVF”. Thanks…

          • The SL2-S or SL2 or SL1 will always do better with coded M lenses. Not with non coded. With coded the software fixes any issues, as the camera knows the lens and applies these corrections. The Panasonic, Sony, etc do not do this. The SL2-S will be a solid buy and last many many many years as Leica does not release new models every year. It’s every 4 years. So I would buy the SL2-S with confidence.

  12. Regarding CDAF,

    I am someone looking for a FF mirrorless body to adapt legacy SLR lenses (not M lenses necessarily as they won’t perform well on any mirrorless body, not even SL). So autofocus won’t be an issue for me but what will be an issue, any possibility of that ugly “PDAF flare” that can happen when shooting towards the sun. I’m so glad there are modern CDAF cameras out there (Panasonics, Leica) that won’t have those pixels on the sensor.

  13. Hello Steve ,
    do you still have your first Leica SL ? SL-2 S is sure a much modern camera but if someone wants to use it only with manuals optics like Leica M or Voigtländer lenses , SL Typ 601 is enough and it doesn’t make sense to change it . What do you think?

  14. I must admit that I am tempted. I will resist, although resisting a $5,000 camera is pretty easy! The electronic shutter is welcome, but I wonder how it actually performs. And, from what I saw on the preview at Red Dot Forum, the high res shot can handle some movement in the frame.

    As far as PDAF goes, I don’t need it, so CDAF is never a deal-breaker for me. But for some people it’s a must-have, which I completely understand.

  15. I hope you’ll get a review unit from Leica. You have always been an advocate for Leica gear and enjoy using their cameras.

    I’m excited for the release of this camera. I think it dawns a new era for Leica where the price of entry in Leica full frame is attainable in a shrinking market. It’s a bit a shame this camera doesn’t include PDAF but after a little thought, maybe this is good and intentional. PDAF on the sensor can leave quite a few artificial artifacts on a image, which require artificial processing to average out the pixels taken up by the PDAF sensors. Maybe Leica wanted to keep it as “pure” as possible for digital imaging by omitting phase detection. In that respect I think it makes sense. Overall I’m sure the images are going to look great coming out of this camera and I look forward to seeing what it will produce.

  16. Like you Steve, this is one I will get. I have a SL that I originally purchase to use with my M lenses, and then I purchased Leica 24-90, Panasonic 70-200 and a Sigma 45mm L mount. Not sure what to do with my SL, prices of it on second hand market are low now, most likely I will keep it.

  17. When I saw this release this morning I had to think of you – and the fact that it should be the sweet spot. Still having (but not using) the original SL, but it seems it’s finally time to sell it and upgrade to this body.
    Wanted to also thank you for the long time you’ve done this site… I’ve joined way early in the M8.2 days and slowly moved along for now with a M10D and the 50XII – sometimes in part because of your recommendations not (just) about the image quality, but about the “feel” and inspiration a camera can give you. It’s something that no spec sheet can show but something that Leica and Hasselblad definitely deliver on…

    There was a time when the new release of cameras became boring (as you pointed out quite right in a video a while back) and I’m happy to see that some manufacturers are starting to concentrate more on the actual process of taking the picture, not just the technical prowess of capturing it.
    Keep up the good work for at least another 15 years…

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