The Leica S3 was originally set for a Spring 2019 release when we first had a hands-on at Photokina 2018, but it was continually delayed for unspecified reasons. Now, it’s alive and well, ready to pre-order for those who have deep wallets.
At the heart of the relatively compact Leica S3 is a 64MP (45 x 30mm) Leica ProFormat CMOS medium-format sensor that features a 2:3 ratio, up to 15 stops of dynamic range and a sensitivity range of ISO 100–50,000. It can capture up to three still frames per second and records DCI 4K (4096 x 2160 pixel) 4:2:2 8-bit internal video at 24 frames per second using the full width of the sensor. All of this is powered by Leica’s Maestro II processor, which offers 2GB buffer memory.
In addition to a Live View mode with a refresh rate up to 60 fps, the S3 also features an optical viewfinder with 0.87x magnification and approximately 98-percent coverage.
The outside of the camera remains largely unchanged from its predecessor, the Leica S (Typ 007), and looks similar to the more recent Leica SL. The back of the camera features a 3” LCD with four programmable buttons, arranged with two on each side.
Also similar to the Leica S (Typ 007) is the S3’s two shutters that can be controlled with a switch on the rear of the camera. The ‘FPS’ mode stands for focal plane shutter, while the ‘CS’ mode stands for center shutter (leaf shutter), which will work with compatible S-Lenses. In our hands-on, the leaf shutter, which has a maximum shutter speed of 1/1000s, did sound noticeably quieter than the focal plane shutter.
As was expected, the Leica S3 doesn’t come cheap. The body-only version is available to pre-order for $18,995 (Adorama, B&H), with the first units expected to ship at the end of March 2020.
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