Digital Leica S2 Camera Review (& Photos)
Mini review of the digital Leica S2 camera with sample photos (portaits) and a thoughts compared to a Leica M camera
Leica S2 Camera
For a 1-2-1 photography workshop in January the guy brought his Leica S2 for me to look at knowing I was a Leica nut. The S2 with lens is a £12,500 camera and well out of my price range. My first impressions were the S2 was bulkier than my Nikon D800 but lighter than it looked. I was fortunate enough to get to try the S2 during the workshop to get some photos of model Georgie who was posing for us. I wanted to push it to see what it could do so used it at high ISO and also slow shutter speeds handheld.
Leica S2 Specs
Here is a link to Red Dot Cameras showing the Leica S2 camera + lens I used and with more details – http://www.reddotcameras.co.uk/
Leica S2 vs Leica M9
Leica M cameras are my bread and butter cameras. I enjoy using the analogue Leica M3 and Leica M2 and also the digital Leica M9 (and Leica M8). I find the Leica M rangefinder focusing very accurate and easy to use and now struggle to focus through the lens such as with my Nikon D800 DSLR and also the Leica S2. The Leica S2 was equipped with an autofocus Leica Summarit-S 70mm f2.5 ASPH lens (as shown in link above). The 70/2.5 ASPH was excellent at what it did but I still much prefer manual focusing on the smaller Leica M lenses. Handling wise I prefer the simplicity and size of the Leica M cameras and rangefinder focusing.
Leica S2 Image Quality
Image quality from the Leica S2 + Summarit-S 70/2.5 lens was excellent with good useable photos at high ISO (ISO 1250). The tonality from highlights to shadows on the S2 was very smooth and images showed a broader dynamic range vs the M9 (and D800) (I thought). Colours and skin tones from the S2 were very natural and the best I have seen on any digital camera I have used. S2 images were very sharp where in focus and with pleasing out of focus areas. If I was a fashion and beauty photographer for Vogue or other magazine I think this would be an excellent camera to have.
Leica Summarit-S 70mm f2.5 vs Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4
Photos have a look similar to the Leica Summilux ASPH 50mm f1.4 lens combined with some characteristics seen in the Nikon D800 images. I enjoy the size of the Leica M cameras and lenses most of all and think they work well for my needs as a wedding photographer, travel photographer, fashion and lifestyle photography on location and even studio photography. I also have 98% confidence that I can hit focus at f1.0 on Leica M cameras for static subjects yet perhaps only 60-75% with AF lenses wide open on the S2 or D800. This is why I use rangefinder cameras mostly.
Would I buy a Leica S2 Camera?
No I think for the huge amount of money a Leica S2 costs (with a Leica S lens) I could buy a Nikon D800E and Zeiss Macro lens and get similar results if I needed a large file size. With the money saved I might get a Leica M 240 for low light Leica M photography such as my wedding photography and then use the rest of the money to buy 35mm film for the analogue Leica M cameras and 120 roll film / 4×5 sheet film for the medium format / large format analogue film cameras I use.
Huge thanks for letting me use such an amazing camera. A rare opportunity indeed. It was only 18 months or so ago a photographer brought his Leica M9 to a 1-2-1 photography workshop for me to try and look where that lead to! 🙂