October 21, 2015

The Leica SL Shoots 4K Internally & Outputs 10-Bit 4:2:2, But It'll Cost You

Leica SL
Leica yesterday announced the SL, a high-end mirrorless camera with impressive stills and video specs. But its price isn't for the faint of heart.

For starters, the SL features a 24 megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor and a blazingly-fast Maestro II processor from Leica. In its Super 35mm crop mode, the SL can shoot 4K DCI (4096 x 2160) video at 24fps and UHD (3840 x 2160) at 25 and 30fps. In full frame mode, it can shoot full HD video up to 120fps. Perhaps more impressively, the SL is capable of outputting a 10-bit 4:2:2 signal via HDMI.

To check out Leica's product launch video, click here, or watch it below:

And here's a slightly more in-depth overview of the camera:

Your first taste of Leica SL footage, which comes from photographer Fred Mortagne:

And here are the basic specs of the Leica SL:

  • 24MP Full-Frame CMOS Sensor
  • Leica Maestro II Image Processor
  • Internal DCI 4K Video in Super35 Mode 
  • V-Log L Gamma
  • 10 Bit 4:2:2 Output via HDMI
  • 1080p Slow Motion at 120fps
  • 0.66" 4.4MP 0.8x Electronic Viewfinder
  • 2.95" 1.04M-Dot LED-Backlit Touchscreen
  • Contrast AF System with 49 Fields
  • Up to 11 fps Shooting and ISO 50000
  • Two SD Card Slots; 1.3" Top LCD Screen
  • Weather-Resistant Milled Aluminum Body
  • Built-In Wi-Fi Connectivity and GPS
  • Price: $7,450 - Body Only

Leica SL Front

Leica SL Back

So let's get this out of the way. At a price of $7450, the Leica SL is not going to compete with Sony or Panasonic on the mirrorless front, especially for people who use these cameras primarily for filmmaking. This is a high-end stills camera, meant to tap into a market of top-dollar-paying Leica shooters looking for the latest and greatest mirrorless technology.

Yes, the SL offers some compelling video features, and the first footage from it looks good. However, if you're searching for the best bang for your buck in terms of video functionality on a mirrorless camera, the Leica SL probably shouldn't be on your radar, especially considering what Sony is doing with its A7 cameras. To take it one step further, if you have $7500 to spend on a camera body and you're looking to shoot films in 4K, you'd be much better off putting that cash towards a Sony FS7, or even a Blackmagic URSA Mini.

Leica SL Top

With that said, if you're already a Leica shooter, and you've invested in their glass, you might see this as an exciting progression in Leica's lineup of cameras as it pushes into the world of mirrorless. For the rest of us, however, it just doesn't compete with the other mirrorless options on the market at present. Not for that price.

The Leica SL is expected to begin shipping in limited quantities November 21st, and it can be pre-ordered through B&H.     

Your Comment

17 Comments

no interest in leica myself, but just waiting for panasonic to put this into their next gen body. GH5F?

October 21, 2015 at 9:41PM

1
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Looks like it went the other way around and Panasonic put their tech in a Leica body. Panasonic have owned Leica a while now I believe.

October 22, 2015 at 3:38AM

0
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It's privately owned by Dr. Andreas Kaufmann who owns 96.5% of the company.

October 22, 2015 at 9:35AM, Edited October 22, 9:35AM

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Wildlite
189

Good to know. So why to Panasonic sell their cameras with Leica badges?

October 22, 2015 at 6:39PM, Edited October 22, 6:39PM

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They have a very good partnership with Leica. Panasonic gets great lenses, Leica gets great electronic know-how.

October 23, 2015 at 9:05AM, Edited October 23, 9:08AM

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Wildlite
189

If these specs were the 5DIV, they would fly off the shelf so quick. 10 bit 422 yummy.

October 21, 2015 at 11:39PM, Edited October 21, 11:39PM

7
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Give Fred Mortagne any camera and he will make something interesting.

October 22, 2015 at 3:04AM

2
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So I could by this or a RED Raven...

October 22, 2015 at 9:56AM, Edited October 22, 10:10AM

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Clark McCauley
Spaceman
1857

I would honestly buy a RED Raven.

October 22, 2015 at 12:52PM

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Benjamin Titsworth
Creative Director
98

Yep. Red Raven over this any day. For that price? It's a no-brainer.

October 23, 2015 at 3:40PM

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Jeff Worden
Producer
147

"Fastest autofocus of all professional camera's"
So basicly DSLRs aren't professional camera's anymore? Because the last time I checked, mirrorless camera's were waaay slower with autofocus than DSLRs.
I have experienced this myself, going from DSLRs to mirrorless and being both a DP and photographer.

October 22, 2015 at 6:08PM, Edited October 22, 6:08PM

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>4K Video in Super35 Mode
>in Super35 Mode

MEDIOCRA

October 22, 2015 at 8:22PM, Edited October 22, 8:22PM

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Terma Louis
Photographer / Cinematographer / Editor
1610

For those looking for a much more inexpensive alternative check this out: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B014RS8NJK/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=17...

October 23, 2015 at 2:08AM, Edited October 23, 2:08AM

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Wes Gray
Director
74

Whoa - sweet lead on a kit. Thanks Wes! Do you shoot on this setup? How do you like it?

October 23, 2015 at 3:38PM

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Jeff Worden
Producer
147

Without the Amazon referral spam link: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B014RS8NJK

October 24, 2015 at 8:00PM

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David Gurney
DP
1987

Yeah, I agree Robert. Sexy camera, but common sense just doesn't pull thru with it. If I had the glass already, I'd be more open to it - - but unfortunately, I don't.

October 23, 2015 at 3:36PM, Edited October 23, 3:36PM

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Jeff Worden
Producer
147

Useless "specs" without the bitrate and codec.

No article should omit these critical specs.

October 24, 2015 at 7:57PM, Edited October 24, 7:57PM

13
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David Gurney
DP
1987