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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.

Sharmishta Sarkar

Sharmishta is the Managing Editor (APAC) for TechRadar and keeps herself busy with all things photography. She's also addicted to word games, is obsessed with Calvin and Hobbes and is a tad crazy about wildlife. When she's not writing, she's usually discovering the joys and foibles of smart home gizmos and enjoying a good read on her e-reader.