The Leica SL2-S receives a significant update for video shooters.
While Leica is known for its excellent photographic images, the company has been steadily improving the video features on its mirrorless cameras for some time. The SL was a significant jump in Leica's hybrid approach, and it's only gotten better with the SL2 and now the SL2-S, which receives a firmware update to version 2.0 that's slanted heavily towards video creators.
The SL2-S was introduced in late 2020 with a number of video-focused features that many of us considered standard: internal 4K 10-bit recording, high bit rates, autofocus, Rec.2020/HDR support, Log, IBIS, the ability to record externally via HDMI. But it comes at a price. $4,995.
Cache aside, Sony, Canon, Panasonic, Fujifilm, and even Nikon got the jump on Leica when it comes to the hybrid market. Each camera company has its own pros and cons, and one of Leica's biggest cons is that higher price point. It's hard to justify the $5K price tag if video is your focus when you can pick up three Sony a7S II cameras and have better autofocus and low light performance out of the box.
However, unless the aforementioned companies start heading toward a global shutter, their ceiling for innovation will only be so high. Things like AF, low light performance, bit rates, color depth, and resolution will always be improved with each cycle, but there's not going to be a significant jump in those features that blow your hair back. The gap between each camera manufacturer will start to close even more, and Leica has the potential to catch up.
With firmware version 2.0, the SL2-S is taking a step in that direction.
The biggest addition is 4K 10-bit 4:2:0 recording HEVC recording up to 50/60p. Long-GOP has also been added to 10-bit codecs, including the internal 4K 10-bit 4:2:2 H.264, which previously only offered 400MB/s All-Intra. Long-GOP will be between 150-200 MB/s, which is around half the data size but about the same image quality. The difference here is that Long-GOP is a little more power-hungry when it comes to editing.
Leica says the autofocus performance has been improved, including real-time eye, face, and body recognition and tracking. Leica has also added a Follow Focus feature which allows you to define three focus points for automatic focus shift during video recording.
You can now import LUTs via the SD card to view while shooting Leica's L-log profile. A waveform monitor has been included, along with a tally mode on the LCD, color bars, better shadow and highlight control, as well as a feature that allows you to control one-minute segmented videos. The idea here is to avoid any type of data loss.
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