Leica SL (Typ 601) Overview
Best-in-class may be an understatement for the Leica SL (Typ 601) Mirrorless Digital Camera, an outstanding full-frame model that is offering professionals the “new Leica experience.” This generation of Leica is aimed to take the top spot of modern imaging technology and by the implementation of an outstanding 24MP CMOS sensor and Leica’s Maestro II processor, it will deliver among the best in image quality with sensitivities ranging from ISO 50-50000. The sensor also forgoes the use of a low-pass filter in order to maximize possible detail, especially with the use of Leica’s outstanding lens lineups. And, to make the camera a true professional’s tool, Leica has incorporated internal DCI 4K (4096 x 2160) video recording at 24 fps in a Super35 mode, along with the L-Log gamma for maximum dynamic range.
Beginning with stills, the sensor and processor combination delivers high-resolution images at a rate of up to 11 fps. The 2GB internal buffer also allows for bursts of up to 33 DNG files or unlimited JPEGs. The Contrast AF system is claimed to be the fastest among full-frame cameras with 49 fields to work with. This ensures that photographers will not miss the decisive moment.
Video is outstanding, with UHD 4K (3840 x 2160) at 30 and 25 fps available in addition to DCI 4K when using the camera’s Super35 mode. Alongside this impressive resolution is the ability to utilize the L-Log gamma, a super flat profile that maximizes the dynamic range of the image and gives editors more information to work with in post production. Video is easily recorded internally via the UHS-II and UHS-I standard SD card slots at 4:2:0 8-bit sampling rate though it can be output over HDMI with 4:2:2 10-bit sampling.
Also available is Full HD (1920 x 1080) and standard HD (1280 x 720) at up to an impressive 120 fps for slow motion in the camera’s full-frame mode. Numerous other video recording features were implemented on the SL (Typ 601) to make high-quality recording easier, this includes focus peaking, exposure simulation, clipping/zebras, grid overlays, aspect ratios, and safe area. Audio is also supported with a built-in stereo microphone and users can add both a 3.5mm headphone jack and 3.5mm microphone input with the optional AA-SCL4 Audio Adapter. Manual and auto audio control is available.
Made in Germany from two blocks of solid aluminum, the SL (Typ 601) fits right in with Leica’s other precision made imaging tools. This body is designed for intuitive use, with numerous dials and buttons in addition to the implementation of a rear 2.95″ 1.04M-dot rear LED touchscreen for hybrid operation as part of Leica’s Professional user interface. The body also offers a spacious 0.66″ EyeRes 4.4MP EVF with a fast refresh rate of 60 fps and a magnification of 0.8x for more natural handling and composition.
The weather-resistant body has a variety of other features packed into it with dual SD card slots, one with the UHS-II standard and a backup with the UHS-I standard, as well as a 1.3″ top monochrome LCD screen for quickly viewing and changing exposure settings. Along with all of this, the SL (Typ 601) has built-in Wi-Fi connectivity for remote control and image capture using the Leica SL App and a GPS unit for geo-tagging your photographs.
Leica SL (Typ 601)
Milled from two solid blocks of aluminum and packed with the latest and greatest in imaging technology, the Leica SL (Typ 601) is a full-frame mirrorless camera ushering in the new, professional Leica experience. The SL takes on all fronts with outstanding 24MP stills and high-quality DCI 4K video, along with a best-in-class 4.4MP EVF with a magnification of 0.8x. Optimized for speed as well as quality, it delivers one of the fastest AF systems available in a full-frame camera as well as a burst rate of 11 fps. With exceptional quality and fast operation, the SL (Typ 601) allows shooters to take on nearly any scene with ease, be it nature, sports, action, or press photography.
24MP Full-Frame CMOS Sensor & Leica Maestro II Processor
Packed with a phenomenal 24MP full-frame CMOS sensor that omits the low-pass filter and the Leica Maestro II processor, the SL (Typ 601) will deliver sharp, finely detailed images throughout the wide sensitivity range of ISO 50-50000. This setup will also enable speed, with burst shooting up to 11 fps for up to 33 DNG frames, or unlimited JPEGs, thanks to a 2GB buffer. DCI 4K video is also supported at 24 fps along with Full HD at up to 120 fps for slow motion capture. Furthering the camera’s performance is a fast Contrast AF system, which Leica claims is the fastest available in a full-frame camera, which uses 49 fields to lock on quickly and accurately. Ultrasonic dust cleaning further ensures image quality remains at its peak by removing small particles without the need for deep cleaning.
Leica L Bayonet Mount
First seen in the Leica T, the renamed L bayonet mount offers users the ability to connect full-frame SL-series glass which benefits from electronic communication for blazing fast autofocus, electronic aperture control, and optical image stabilization. The mount also works with existing and future TL-series lenses, though in a reduced resolution APS-C crop mode. Additionally, as with most mirrorless today, the L mount can accept a variety of adapters, such as the M-Adapter T which provides shooters with access to the entire M-mount lens library. Leica will have adapters for the S, R, and Cine series as well, ensuring compatibility with a range of Leica’s best lenses.
DCI 4K Video Recording & L-Log Gamma
High-quality video has become a highly important feature for numerous hybrid shooters and Leica has taken steps to deliver the best video available with the implementation of DCI 4K (4096 x 2160) video at 24 fps in the Super35 mode for true, cinema quality. Alongside this impressive resolution is the ability to utilize the L-Log gamma, a super flat profile that maximizes the dynamic range of the image and gives editors more information to work with in post production. L-Log also allows for better color matching with existing systems and has similar characteristics to Cineon, which is used for film digitization.
This is easily recorded internally via the UHS-II and UHS-I standard SD card slots at 4:2:0 8-bit sampling rates. When output over HDMI however, this can be improved to 4:2:2 10-bit sampling, ensuring the maximum image quality possible with the full-frame sensor. Super35 and full-frame options are also available, depending on your resolution and frame rate.
The SL offers also UHD 4K (3840 x 2160) at 30 or 25 fps in Super35 and Full HD (1920 x 1080) and standard HD (1280 x 720) at up to an impressive 120 fps in full-frame mode for slow motion. Numerous other video recording features were implemented on the SL (Typ 601) to make high-quality recording easier, this includes focus peaking, exposure simulation, clipping/zebras, grid overlays, aspect ratios, and safe area. Audio is also supported with a built-in stereo microphone and both a 3.5mm headphone jack and 3.5mm microphone input can be added through the use of the optional AA-SCL4 Audio Adapter. Manual and auto audio control is available.
4.4MP EyeRes Electronic Viewfinder
Spacious and comfortable, the high-resolution 0.66″ 4.4MP EyeRes EVF found on the SL (Typ 601) features a best-in-class magnification of 0.8x along with a field of view of 37°. This system also has a refresh rate of 60 fps, ensuring crystal clear and smooth imagery for the best shooting experience possible.
2.95″ 1.04M-Dot Rear LED Touchscreen
Hybrid operation as part of Leica’s latest Professional user interface is enabled through the use of the 2.95″ rear LED touchscreen. This display offers a high resolution of 1.04M-dot for crisp imagery during shooting. This screen also features a variety of different assist tools for capturing video and stills. In addition to this, the screen has anti-fingerprint and anti-scratch coatings along with a wide viewing angle of 170°.
Contrast AF System
Claimed by Leica to be the fastest autofocus available in a full-frame camera, the SL (Typ 601)’s Contrast AF system uses static, dynamic, and automatic with face detection modes. This offers point, field, and zone options which can be broken down into 9 zones, 37 or 49 fields for excellent customization in locking down your target. Also, it has a Touch AF setting for tapping where you want to focus and an AF assist lamp will help in low-light conditions.
Dual SD Card Slots
For security, Leica has incorporated two SD card slots into the SL (Typ 601), one with the fast UHS-II standard and one with the UHS-I standard. This ensures that professionals will be able to maintain a backup as they are shooting in case of card failure or loss. Also, it expands the capacity of the card during exceptionally long days of shooting or recording video.
Body Design & Menu
With a full, heavy-duty grip and a variety of buttons and dials, the SL (Typ 601) is designed to be one of the simplest, fastest, and most intuitive cameras to operate. The menu is optimized for speed and to be easy-to-understand, limiting time getting used to a new system and ensuring that you can find and adjust critical settings when you need to. Hybrid operation in the form of the latest Leica Professional interface is available thanks to the implementation of a rear touchscreen. This makes swiping through settings and images intuitive and enables Touch AF and shutter functionality. Additionally, the body has a top 1.3″ monochrome LCD that shows current settings for making fast changes without looking at the rear screen or viewfinder.
Equipped with both a TTL-capable hot shoe and an X-sync terminal, users will be able to easily add light to their scene. The hot shoe features dedicated contacts for TTL automatic exposure with compatible flash units, such as the SF 64 and SF 26, or manual firing of third-party flashes with the center pin. Additionally, the X-sync terminal enables the use of strobes or radio systems that require the use of a PC sync port and the SL (Typ 601) has a maximum sync speed of 1/250 second.
Made in Germany
Milled from two blocks of solid aluminum and hand-finished in Germany, the SL (Typ 601) is once again a beautifully put together masterpiece from Leica. The use of aluminum guarantees durability over time and the body and lenses were designed to be sealed from the elements, protecting the body from intrusion from dust and water during less-than-ideal weather conditions.
Built-In Wi-Fi Connectivity and GPS System
Staying connected is important in this day and age, so Leica has put an integrated Wi-Fi module on the SL (Typ 601). This allows users to connect to the camera using a phone or tablet via the Leica SL App, providing full control over settings such as aperture and shutter speed as well as triggering of the shutter. This makes it incredibly easy to work from a distance or with unusual angles and positions.
A built-in GPS module furthers the camera’s connectivity by automatically stamping time and location data onto your images. This allows users to quickly navigate their catalog by location and date to find their favorite shots or to remember where you stumbled upon that near perfect landscape. This unit also has a sensitivity of <1°.
Other Camera Features
- Records to open DNG format for compatibility with a variety of software and operating systems.
- Exposure bracketing from 1, 2, or 3 aperture steps for 3, 5, or 7 images which can be saved individually or automatically output as an HDR JPEG.
- Saves 14-bit DNG and 8-bit JPEG files in Adobe RGB, ECI RGB, or sRGB color spaces.
- White balance modes: preset auto, daylight (5200K), cloudy (6000K), shade (7000K), tungsten (3200K), HMI (5600K), fluorescent warm (4000K), fluorescent cool
- (4500K), flash (5400K), gray card, and manual from 2000K to 11500K.
- Drive modes include single, continuous slow at 4 fps, continuous medium at 7 fps, and continuous fast at 11 fps.
- Interval mode available for setting up time lapse.
- Time exposures up to 30 minutes.
- Exposure compensation of ±3 EV in 1/3 or 1/2 EV steps.
- Comes with strap and lens cleaning tissue.