It’s taken Leica a while, but it’s finally made a digital camera with some serious video chops. The Leica SL (Typ 601) is a mirrorless camera system with the same full-frame 24 megapixel sensor found on the Leica Q.
But while the Q saw video as more of an afterthought, the SL offers up studio-grade 4K recording at 30 frames per second – or unprocessed Cine4K at 24 fps.
The camera can capture up to 120fps in standard HD, well beyond the frame rate capabilities of most monitors today. Leica has also released a whole new set of lenses to accommodate the hardware inside.
The beastly APO-Vario-Elmarit-SL 90–280 mm f/2.8–4 is what most film-makers will be looking at, thanks to its wide aperture range and focal length.
There’s also a 24-90mm lens with the same focal range as the 90-280mm and, rounding off the line-up, a fixed length Summilux 50mm with a massive 1.4mm aperture.
Leica boosts these lenses with ISO settings that can go up to a maximum of 50,000. For straight-up photo capture, expect Leica’s already excellent image quality, which can be viewed on a 2.95-inch back panel display.
Meanwhile, the electronic viewfinder has a whopping 4.4 million pixel density, putting it into medium-format levels of detail.
Pricing for the camera is an eye-watering $7,800 (£5,050) without any lenses. If you want the complete package, add another $4,800 (£3,150).
That puts the Leica SL’s price similar to a Blackmagic or even a Red, despite the fact that it lacks the versatility of either.
Leica has always moved more slowly than its competition. While other companies have fallen over themselves to cram 4K recording into handheld packages, Leica’s entry into space, along with the suite of lenses and upgraded hardware, suggests they’ve finally accepted that simply taking beautiful photos is no longer enough.