The Leica SL is a full-frame, mirrorless camera introduced by Leica in 2016. It has since evolved into a collaboration with Sigma and Panasonic known as the L-mount.
When Leica sent me this camera to review I was quite intrigued. This was right before Photokina 2018 and this was a 2 year old system. Why now would they be sending this for a review? Well we know the news now. A few weeks later we saw the announcement of the L-Mount partnership between Leica, Panasonic and Sigma. It makes sense. Here’s a mount that can have both cameras and lenses designed by any of three companies. Its a smart idea and I think bringing these companies together will result in a strong system for full-frame sensors – much in the same way that micro 4/3 worked out.
In short, yes it is a 2 year old camera. But the image quality is beautiful. Its also heavy – very heavy. But again possibilities are about to open. The sensor renders beautiful images as long as you’re within reasonable contrast lighting. It doesn’t handle a wide dynamic range well.
But let me say this, the design of the SL is amazing. Its intuitive and easy to use. More cameras need to be this simple. The 24-90mm lens is optically in the upper echelon of lens design. If you don’t mind the weight, its a great system that in the right situation creates stunning imagery.
Video looks incredible, but it comes with a heavy crop in 4k. Every great feature has a “but…” connected to it. If you’re willing to use this camera on its own terms its quite wonderful. But it comes at a price as is par for the course with Leica gear.
All that being said – I think the L-mount system will be the one to watch in 2019. This camera is a great start and will only get better in the next version.
Every feature here is out spec’d by companies like Sony and even Nikon and Canon with their mirrorless cameras. But if image quality at any cost is your priority, the Leica SL is still a competing camera.
all images © Ted Forbes
• 24 megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor
• Leica Maestro II Image Processor
• Internal DCI 4k Video
• L-log Gama
• 0.66″ 4.4 million-dot electronic viewfinder
• 0.8x magnification
• 1.3″ Top LCD Screen
• 2.95″ 1.04 million-dot LED screen
• touchscreen interface
• 49 fields AF
• Contrast Detection AF
• 11fps burst rate
• 33 frame buffer depth
• ISO 50-50000
• 1/250 second flash sync
• 29 minute recording limit
• Mic Input
• Headphone Output
• Full-size HDMI output
• Dual SD Card Slots
• Milled Aluminum Body
• Weather Resistant
• Dimensions: 5.8 x 4.1 x 1.5″ / 147.0 x 104.0 x 39.0 mm
• Weight: 1.86 lb / 847 g (with battery)
• Built-in Wi-Fi
• Built-in GPS
• USB 3.0