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Home / Hot Stuff / The SL3 is Leica’s latest full-frame mirrorless marvel

The SL3 is Leica’s latest full-frame mirrorless marvel

New sensor and smarter autofocus promises pro-grade appeal

Leica SL3 hot stuff front

They may not have the mainstream appeal of other mirrorless system cameras, but Leica’s SL-series has a fearsome reputation among pro photographers and enthusiasts with a bit of cash to splash. The new Leica SL3 (£5,920, from Leica) looks to continue that trend, with a whole host of upgrades over the outgoing SL2.

Pixel count has climbed by a whopping 25%, courtesy of a 62MP full-frame CMOS sensor. It’s the same setup I’ve used previously on the Leica Q3 and Leica M11, with triple resolution tech for dialling back to 36MP or 18MP to save on storage space, while still using the entire sensor’s output.

Combined with the new Maestro-IV image processor, the SL3 sees dynamic range extended to 15 stops (up from 14 previously), and the ISO range now spans ISO50-100,000. Phase detection and depth mapping autofocus join the party, in addition to the contrast detection AF used on the SL2. Continuous shooting with autofocus tops out at 5fps using the mechanical shutter, or 15fps with the electronic shutter and no refocusing.

The SL3 keeps its more traditional SLR appearance, and brings back compatibility with Leica’s L-mount lenses. It’s lighter and a little smaller than the SL2, yet keeps that camera’s IP54 dust and water resistance.

Ergonomics have been improved by relocating the menu and function buttons to the right side, for better one-handed use. The menus themselves have also been streamlined, with clearer icons and colours to indicate the different shooting modes: red for photo and yellow for video.

The 5.76m-dot, 120fps electronic viewfinder returns, as does the very handy 1.28in top plate LCD for at-a-glance aperture, shutter speed and ISO info. The 3.2in touchscreen now tilts up and out for easier shot composition – a big upgrade over the fixed screen seen on the SL2.

Leica has found room for dual card slots (one UHS-II SD, one CFexpress type B), a USB-C charging/data port and a full-size HDMI 2.1 video output. That’s particularly handy for external monitors or recording kit, if you’re going to make use of the new 8K/30 video mode and ProRes codec support. There’s also twin 3.5mm ports for audio in and out, plus a timecode interface. A larger battery should also last longer on all-day shoots.

Leica cameras almost always carry a premium, and the SL3 is no exception – but at £5920 body-only it’s not a colossal amount more than a Sony a1 or Nikon Z8. If you’re making a living from squeezing that shutter button, it may be in closer reach than you thought.

Fans will be able to get their hands on the SL3 starting from today. It’ll be sold through authorised dealers and Leica stores, as well as the Leica website.

Profile image of Tom Morgan-Freelander Tom Morgan-Freelander Deputy Editor


A tech addict from about the age of three (seriously, he's got the VHS tapes to prove it), Tom's been writing about gadgets, games and everything in between for the past decade, with a slight diversion into the world of automotive in between. As Deputy Editor, Tom keeps the website ticking along, jam-packed with the hottest gadget news and reviews.  When he's not on the road attending launch events, you can usually find him scouring the web for the latest news, to feed Stuff readers' insatiable appetite for tech.

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Smartphones/tablets/computing, cameras, home cinema, automotive, virtual reality, gaming

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