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Leica's new mirrorless is its cheapest SLR yet, promises exceptional video chops

Leica SL2-S
(Image credit: Leica)

It was only a month ago that Leica announced the arrival of its Q2 Monochrom camera, but the German camera brand was holding off for another launch to take 2020 out with a bang.

And what a bang – with its launch, the Leica SL2-S full-frame mirrorless shooter becomes one of the fastest pro cameras on the market! It features a whopping 25fps burst speed with its electronic shutter, which is a first for Leica. 

The SL2-S also becomes the first Leica camera to use a back-illuminated (BSI) sensor under the hood, with a decent 24.6MP on tap. Not only does this newly designed sensor offer that massive burst capability, but also takes the camera's low-light sensitivity to ISO 100,000 – a massive leap from the Leica SL2's top native ISO value of 50,000.

It's also being touted as a camera for videographers, with unlimited 10-bit 4:2:2 4K ProRES video capture at 30fps internally or up to 60fps to an external recorder. There's L-log recording available, with two built-in LUTs (look-up tables) at launch and more to come in the future via firmware updates.

Leica SL2-S

(Image credit: Leica)

Leica tries to go mainstream

A burst speed of 25fps sounds great on paper, but it does have one major caveat – it's not with continuous autofocus. Neither is the 9fps bursts with the SL2-S's mechanical shutter. However, thanks to its 4GB internal buffer memory, you can shoot JPEGs until the two UHS-II speed SD cards in its dual slots are full.

If you're not happy with image resolution from the 24MP sensor, the multi-shot mode on board combines eight images into a single 96MP photo.

All this makes the new SL2-S a very different camera to the original SL and 2019's SL2. Physically, though, the SL2-S is a clone of its predecessor, with minor tweaks to the logo design on the EVF bump.

There's the same IP54 dust- and water-resistance rating on the aluminum and magnesium alloy body, a 5.76 million dot OLED viewfinder (that's only outclassed by the 9.44 million dot EVF on the Sony A7S III), the same 5-axis image stabilization system and 225-point contrast detect AF system.

It also retains the same fixed 3.2-inch, 2.1 million dot touch display from the SL2. The non-articulating touchscreen could be a deterrent for many filmmakers but a single swipe across the display takes you from stills shooting to movies, with every single setting saved – a massive timesaver. 

The SL2-S is also now one of the cheapest Leica cameras you can get. It's available to pre-order right now for a slightly less eye-watering price tag of $4,895 / £3,975 / AU$7,500 for the body.