The Leica S2's styling is minimalist. On the top plate an old-school shutter speed dial is flanked by a 21st century OLED colour display showing exposure information.
On the rear a 3-inch 470,000-dot viewscreen is surrounded by four black label-less soft-key buttons that change their function according to what is show on screen at the time.
The idea, according to Leica, is to avoid the confusing mass of controls seen on the back of many DSLRs and give the photographer a less distracting tool to shoot with.
There is one control wheel, which falls naturally under the thumb when you pick up the camera.
This dual-purpose control can be rotated to change aperture, scroll down menu screens and browse through images, and also pressed to select menu options and automate aperture selection, thereby putting the camera in either shutter-priority or program mode.
The minimalist approach to design is a welcome one, although it may be a bit too minimalist in places. A joystick or four-way control wouldn't go a miss, and perhaps the soft keys could illuminate to show their function, as seen on Wacom's Intuos4 range of graphics tablets.
The menus themselves look a bit dated and could benefit from a slightly more elegant design. But these grumbles aside the Leica S2 is a joy to shoot with compared with other medium-format cameras.
The grip is perfect for most hands, and an optional booster grip provides controls for vertical shooting as well as space for an extra battery. The viewfinder is superb – in fact, I can't think of a camera on the market today that has anything as good.
Build quality is exactly what you'd expect from Leica: the magnesium chassis gives a solid reassuring feel, and the controls are damped just enough to feel silky smooth.
The use of colour on the top plate OLED screen is clever too, with just the right amount of information being displayed without things becoming over complicated.