Leica SL2-S vs Leica SL2 vs Leica SL (Comparison)
Are you looking to buy a Leica SL series camera? Here is a comprehensive comparison review; Leica SL vs Leica SL2 vs Leica SL2-S to help you decide.
Full frame mirrorless Leica camera
The iconic full frame Leica camera is a Leica M rangefinder camera. If you are looking for a full frame mirrorless Leica camera that accepts interchangeable lenses you need to look at the Leica SL series cameras. This is what we’ll cover in this article.
Leica SL series cameras
At the time of writing you have 3 Leica SL camera options available –
- Leica SL (Discontinued, buy used)
- Leica SL2
- Leica SL2-S
- Leica SL3 (Coming soon.. 2024?)
Common features of Leica SL cameras
All 3 Leica SL cameras share the same common features –
What are the differences between Leica SL vs SL2 vs SL2-S?
From the outside Leica SL cameras look very similar at first glance. Here are the main differences when you look under the hood, comparing the Leica SL2-S vs Leica SL2 vs Leica SL.
Benefits of Leica SL vs Leica M cameras
- IP54 weather sealing vs None
- Robust magnesium alloy design
- No rangefinder that can be knocked
- Built in viewfinder diopter
- Easy precision focus with big high res EVF
- Accept autofocus and manual focus lenses
- Built-in IBIS
- Ergonomic grip – suits bigger lenses
- 1/250 max flash sync vs 1/180
Drawbacks of Leica SL series vs Leica M
- Larger design (vs M bodies)
- Heavier weight (vs M cameras)
- Much larger native lenses (SL vs M lenses)
Common advantages of Leica M and Leica SL
- Leica build quality
- Simple minimal Leica design
- Leica image quality and colours
- Simple menus
- Access to Leica lenses (M, SL & LTM)
Compare the Leica SL vs Leica M, Leica Q and Leica CL
If you not 100% sure as to what Leica camera you want, you might find this video useful. Here I compare the Leica SL vs M, Q, CL –
Cheapest Leica SL camera?
If you’re on a budget or want the cheapest Leica SL camera, look at the original Leica SL Typ 601. Fantastic camera for the money. Leica SL series cameras are cheaper than Leica M cameras so you can get into the famous Leica ecosystem at a much lower price point. I’m still happy with my Leica SL despite newer models being available.
Many reviews show that Leica lenses do not perform at their best on Sony and other third party cameras due to the sensor stack height. If you own a Leica film camera (it can be a Leica R camera, Leica iii camera or Leica M camera), getting a Leica SL body will allow you to enjoy your existing Leica lenses on a more affordable digital full frame Leica body (compared to new Leica M cameras).
Best Leica SL camera for low light?
Do you often shoot at high ISO? If you need the best Leica SL camera for low light I would recommend the latest Leica SL2-S. It performed best in test in my low light testing. This was to be expected now that the Leica SL2-S has a maximum high ISO of 100,000. If you love shooting in the dark you might want to also consider the Leica Q2M, Leica M10M and Leica M11M monochrome cameras. (See those videos on YouTube).
Highest resolution Leica SL camera?
If you need the maximum resolution, the highest resolution Leica SL camera is the 47MP Leica SL2. The Leica SL3 is expected to offer up to 60MP (like the Leica Q3) once it’s released.
What is the best Leica camera for video?
If you are a video shooter, the obvious choice is probably the Leica SL2-S because of all the additional features for videographers. You now have a waveform monitor (not found in previous Leica cameras) and other tools making it easier to capture video. If you need a flip out screen the current Leica SL cameras are not an option. From my testing (and reviews from others) the Panasonic Lumix S5 cameras capture similar footage to the Leica SL2-S and offer more features for video.
I own the Lumix S5 and Leica SL. Although both cameras can capture similar photos (using the same Leica glass + MrLeica Leica SL presets) the Leica is just so much more fun to use. If you like autofocus then you might enjoy the Lumix S5 / Lumix S5II more than me. For manual focus the Leica SL cameras are still king.
Is there a smaller APS-C Leica camera, a mini Leica SL?
Do you love APS-C cameras? Perhaps you are coming from the Fuji-X system or a crop sensor Sony camera. If you like the idea of the Leica mirrorless cameras but you think that the Leica SL is too big I have good news! Leica used to make the Leica CL / TL cameras which are like a mini Leica SL. Still 24MP but housed in a much smaller body.
The Leica CL is my go-to backup Leica camera and my travel Leica Camera if I need the smallest setup. APS-C won’t give you the wow shallow depth of field photos but if you stop down to f8 for your photography anyway you won’t see much difference vs. the SL bodies. If you don’t like vignetting and you do like sharp corners, APS-C cameras + FF lenses are a great option for you.
Best 60MP Leica camera?
In 2023, you currently have two Leica cameras with 60MP sensors. The Leica M11 and Leica Q3. The Leica SL3 should join this list in 2024 but we wait to see!
Leica cameras with image stabilisation (IBIS)?
Do you only consider cameras that offer you image stabilization? If yes, what Leica cameras have IBIS? No Leica M camera have IBIS. Older Leica mirrorless cameras such as the Leica T, Leica CL, Leica Q and Leica SL don’t have image stabilization. The more recent Leica SL2, SL2-S, Leica Q2, Q2M and Q3 do now have in body image stabilization, aka. IBIS. The Leica SL2 and Leica SL2-S offer 5.5 stops of IS meaning you can shoot at slower shutter speeds and still capture sharp photos.
Best Leica SL camera for autofocus?
If you prefer to shoot fast or use autofocus lenses which Leica SL camera has the best autofocus? Currently the Leica SL2-S has the fastest FPS rate (frames per second) and the most accurate autofocus. The Leica SL2-S autofocus is expected to be superseded once the Leica SL3 arrives (which is rumoured to have a similar AF system to the Lumix S5 II).
What is the best Leica camera for street photography?
You probably already know the answer to this (and opinions may vary), but if and when I do street photography I never pick up my Leica SL camera. Like others, I would pick my Leica M camera, in my case the Leica M240. Ideally you want a black camera with black lens in a stealthy black Leica camera bag to draw the least attention to yourself. The Leica SL cameras are fantastic for portraits but feel they are too fat and obvious for street photography. Leica SL cameras plus a big L mount lens certainly draw a lot more attention compared to a small Leica M rangefinder camera/ lens setup.
Best camera bag for Leica SL bodies?
I’ve used camera bags from Billingham, Lowepro, ThinkTank, Ona and others and my favourite so far are the Wotancraft pilot series bags. What is the best bag for your Leica SL camera? The answer is, it depends what lens(es) you like to use. If you love a small setup and use small Leica M lenses on your Leica SL then you can use a pretty compact bag. See my full bag Leica camera bag review so you know which bag suits your needs the best.
Lightroom presets for Leica SL cameras
For all of my Leica photography, I shoot RAW then apply Lightroom presets to the Leica camera files. I developed individual LR preset packs for each of the digital Leica cameras. You can use the MrLeica Leica SL preset pack with the Leica SL2 / Leica SL2-S cameras but I will aim to released full individual preset packs for both cameras when I get a chance. See the MrLeica presets currently available here.
My settings for the Leica SL camera
The Leica SL, SL2, SL2-S cameras are all very similar to operate. If you want a good starting point, here are the Leica SL camera settings I use –
Best point and shoot Leica camera?
Leica SL cameras do give you full auto everything if that how you prefer to shoot but the best point and shoot Leica cameras are Leica Q cameras. With the release of the recent Leica Q3 you can now rock around with a 60MP premium point and shoot camera. Check out the Leica Q3 vs Q2 vs Q article / video for more info.
In summary, which Leica SL camera may be best for you?
Here is a quick recap of what each camera offers and which Leica SL camera may be best for your needs.
Buying Leica SL cameras – New and used
As mentioned the original Leica SL camera is only available to buy used but you can purchase the Leica SL2 and SL2-S new. There are often some good bundle deals to be had on these cameras. If you want to save some money look at buying used. Keep an eye on the MrLeica Leica BUY/SELL Leica page. Last time I checked there was a nice SL2 and SL2-S for sale!
BUY USED –
BUY NEW –
New user? Just bought a Leica camera?
If you just bought your first Leica camera be sure to pick up your Leica welcome pack for your specific Leica camera – Welcome pack
Watch a summary of this Leica SL, SL2, SL2-S article on YouTube
If you prefer to watch/ listen rather than read, here is the Leica SL2-S vs SL2 vs Leica SL YouTube video (including comparison test photos) –