A look through the viewfinder: Leica SL2 compared to other mirrorless cameras
The Leica SL2 from 2019 is one of the more expensive system cameras available on the market, but impresses with its first-class image quality and elegant design, among other things. In this article, you can find out how the Leica SL2 compares to other mirrorless cameras and what advantages and disadvantages the full-frame system offers in terms of its various equipment and features.
Dimensions, weight and design
The first thing that catches the eye is the elegance of the Leica SL2. It is simple and has a lot of open space. The black or black and silver housing is made of aluminum, synthetic leather and magnesium. Including the battery, the DSLM weighs 920 g, which is well above average. Added to this are the relatively large dimensions: The total volume of almost 1300 cm³ (W x H x D: 146 mm x 107 mm x 42 mm) can make it difficult for small hands to grip the camera securely and reach all the buttons easily. The models of the competition from Sony, Canon and Co. are somewhat better designed in these respects.
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The Leica SL2 is equipped with an electronic viewfinder with a resolution of 5.76 MP. The image field coverage is 100% and the magnification factor is 0.78. The 14-bit colour depth and maximum sensitivity of ISO 50,000 ensure ideal image quality in all lighting conditions. 5-axis image stabilization compensates for up to 5.5 f-stops and efficiently compensates for camera shake during shooting. Those looking for an even higher resolution can make use of the integrated multishot mode, which is already available on Panasonic cameras. Here, up to eight individual images are shot with a shift of half a pixel each (only useful with a tripod) and then calculated. This increases the resolution and color depth immensely, but also increases the file size accordingly. Up to 187 MP can be achieved with the multishot function. All in all, the Leica SL2 can clearly keep up with the other representatives of the professional league in terms of image quality. Unfortunately, as with many other models, the viewfinder cannot be tilted or swiveled, which means you lose some flexibility when taking pictures.
Speed and autofocus
At first glance, the shutter release delay of less than 0.1 s can be classified as very low. However, there are problems with the continuous shooting speed. According to tests, the Leica SL2 can take 25 pictures per second with an electronic shutter and around eight pictures per second with a mechanical shutter. Unfortunately, the autofocus, white balance and exposure cannot keep up with this speed, so that the function can only be used to a limited extent. The autofocus only catches up at around six to eight frames per second, and even here the results are not perfect. The Leica SL2 can therefore not be used as a sports camera - there are more suitable models for this in the mirrorless camera comparison.
The Leica SL2 is also suitable for demanding video productions. It supports recordings with 10-bit color depth in 5K with up to 30 frames per second, 4K with up to 60 frames per second and Full HD with up to 180 frames per second. Compared to many other system cameras, the Leica SL2 has a slow motion mode and a time-lapse function with very good video quality. Connections for an external microphone and for headphones (3.55 mm) are also available. If you look at the Leica SL2 in a mirrorless camera review, it becomes clear that the video quality of the model clearly stands out from the competition and can be rated as very good.
The charging time of the lithium-ion battery with a capacity of 1860 mAh is around 140 minutes. According to the manufacturer's description, it lasts for 450 shots with automatic switch-off and around 1,400 shots with an adjusted shooting cycle. While the battery performance is in the middle range, the battery life unfortunately leaves something to be desired compared to other DSLMs. However, the battery is replaceable. You can check the battery charge status at any time via a display.
With the Leica FOTOS app, the Leica SL2 can be connected to a mobile device via Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Numerous camera functions can then be controlled via smartphone or iPad. You can also flexibly transfer the photos created to other formats and edit them with Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. The Leica SL2 also receives all the latest updates via the app, so it is always up to date. You benefit from other free functions, such as the option to add location information to the photos. If you compare and contrast the Leica SL2 with the connectivity of other models, all the essential functions are available.
Operation and handling
The Leica SL2 is one of the few cameras in its class to be certified to protection class IP54. This means that it is completely protected against splash water and can also be used in the rain without hesitation. In addition, small dust particles cannot penetrate the housing. The certification means that you can expect your camera to have a long service life, which in turn justifies the high price. A special synthetic leather coating also makes the housing largely resistant to scratches or other damage.
Operation is made easier by the relatively large 3.2 inch LCD display with touchscreen. The images are displayed at 2.1 MP and are therefore very sharp. One disadvantage, however, is that the sun reflects strongly on the display in direct sunlight, making it difficult to read. The number of buttons on the SL2 has been reduced to a minimum. There are two buttons on the top and two buttons on the front of the bayonet as well as three buttons to the left of the display. Some buttons can be assigned individually, and there is also a self-configurable quick menu and the touch function, so that nothing stands in the way of intuitive and user-friendly operation.
If required, a double card slot is available, allowing you to store more photos without having to change the memory card in between. If you are planning to record longer videos, the two slots will also come in handy.