LEICA S3 CAMERA
Leica S3 camera is the latest generation of the medium format camera by Leica Camera. The new Leica S3 camera features a 64-megapixel medium-format sensor with full frame 4K video capabilities. The advancements in the new camera include a 70% increase in resolution and a dynamic range of 15 stops with a maximum ISO of 50,000 making the most powerful medium format camera in Leica Camera history.
The new S3 utilizes leaf shutter technology with a dual shutter mechanism that allows central shutter use with Leica CS type lenses for photography application where the higher speed with flash is needed. The continuous shooting speed is now rated to be three frames per second whereas in the previous version it was about a 1.5 frames per second. This improvement is mostly due to the innovative advancements with the incorporation of Leica Maestro II processor and 2GB buffer memory. Now, the camera can handle larger DNG files effortlessly while offering capture of the decisive moment with precision.
Leica S medium format line up of lenses have an extensive selection of focal lengths available for the professional photographer. The line up features lenses like Leica 24mm f/3.5 Super-Elmar-S ASPH lens that equates to about 19mm in the 35mm format to Leica APO-Tele-Elmar-S 180mm f/3.5 on the telephoto side offering a wide selection of focal length possibilities for various photography applications.
The new Leica S3 camera will also be able to adapt Contax and Hasselblad lenses via adapter offered by the company which makes the transition into Leica medium format by professionals easier to manage.
No Low Pass Filter
Leica S3 camera comes without a low pass filter which improves sharpness and contrast to offer high-quality images. Although some drawbacks such as moire may arise from the omission of a low pass filter; just about all cameras today come without a low pass filter to improve sharpness.
Leica S3 camera features an ISO range of 100 to 50,000 making it a very useful photography tool in low light situations as well as various photography applications. Leica promises a very impressive 15 stops of dynamic resolution; equipped with USB 3.0 and WiFi, Leica S3 deliver everything a professional photographer needs and more.
Leica S3 has optical pentaprism viewfinder with 0.87x magnification, and the rear (non-touch) screen is a 3-inch, 921,600 dot which adds to the ease of use in and out of the studio. While the integration of touchscreen functionality would have added to the user-friendly ergonomics, the already streamlined menu of the Leica S system is the best in the industry.
For those who have never used a Leica S camera, the experience of looking through the massive and gorgeous viewfinder is a photography experience like no other. It is where all cameras should aim as an achievement in engineering design. Leica S3 camera is not light which makes the feel of holding a solid camera and looking through the viewfinder a unique way of photographing, inspires confidence while giving the best tool in the industry to the professional.
The new improved features of the new Leica S3 camera such as video capture function combined with larger DNG file transfer would mean that there would be a high demand on the battery of the camera. The last model averaged about a thousand frames per battery, and we expect that to be somewhat maintained except when the video is engaged. The battery is 2,300mAh which is powerful enough to offer support for long day shoot outdoors.
The most impressive feature of the new Leica S3 camera is its improved megapixel count which has gone from 37.5 megapixels from (007 type) with DNG file sizes ranging at around 40MB to 64 megapixel in essence almost doubling in size to deliver improved resolution and detail. It is important to note here that the files are in DNG format instead of RAW adding to post-processing ease for the large files.
The new Leica S3 can shoot cinema 4K (4,096 x 2,160) using the entire medium format sensor, that in itself is revolutionary in terms of detail and sharpness the video would render on large screens. To better understand how vital this new feature is, we only need to compare it to some of the best film cameras in the market that have just begun incorporating medium format sensors sizes to their line up to capture 8K footage for the best Hollywood films.
While we are not expecting the Leica S3 to deliver the same image characteristics of cameras like Red Monstros in such a small format, we are happy to see that camera companies know how to up their game to match the quality of video quality offered by Leica S3 camera.
To summarise what the new S3 can do, it can record in either 4K cinema resolution, that is DCI, not the cheap prosumer format UHD and full HD using the entire width of the medium format sensor.
The new Leica S3 still has quite a bit of noise associated with autofocus, but that is in line with the way the camera operates to move those large beautiful optics that lend to Leica image quality.
We don’t expect the autofocus to be as zippy as some prosumer video cameras but overall the advance contrast based detection system will aid in attaining accurate focus even in the most demanding circumstances which most cameras will not be able to match.
Leica S camera line has a solid history of offering the best ergonomics in the industry with simple to use menu and intuitive dials for a very user-friendly experience that meets the demands of the professionals. The five-way joystick on the back with clear shutter dial on the top and the classic four menu buttons around the LCD screen is as clutterless as a camera can get in design. The rear LCD features a scratch-resistant Corning Gorilla Glass, perfect for challenging environments.
Once you have become accustomed to using a Leica S camera, going from one camera to the next is as joy and features like a switch that lets you change whether to use the focal plane shutter or central shutter depending on your choice of the lens makes the operation simple and easy.
The new Leica S3 camera has solid rubber seals integrated throughout the camera body that protect it from outside elements such as moisture and dust which the company claims is weather sealed. In hand, Leica S3 feels like a perfect fit with its rubber grip perfect for holding the camera under wet conditions.
The new Leica S3 comes in a magnesium chassis offering the same excellent ergonomics of the previous generation with a build quality that is ideally matched for professional use.
There are no labels on the buttons which makes it a bit of a learning curve but offers a significant advantage in customizable functionality. For example, there is a programmable button right in the front of the camera, just next to the lens mount. The ability to program Leica S3 makes the camera uniquely well fitted for the user’s specifications the way a custom-made suit just feels right and tailored to the person.
Professionals may choose to teether with Leica S3 for immediate viewing of the image which is the modus operandi of fashion photographers. For this, Leica S3 comes with LEMO connector which makes the process a simplified one. In that respect, I can’t imagine trying to push through large DNG files through the Wi-Fi when professional work demands the best without compromises.
Leica S3 is not the only medium format camera in the market. There are medium format cameras that are lighter and cheaper, yet none offer the excellent ergonomics that Leica camera has. For example, Hasselblad X1D is small and portable for carrying around, but it lacks the beautiful solid feel of grasping it in the hand when the circumstances require a firm grip.
Similarly, Fujifilm GFX50 has a much lower price tag, but again it is designed for in-studio use rather than the below freezing temperatures of the Antartica for which Leica S3 is probably the only choice for a medium format camera. Leica camera delivers something more which can’t be measured merely by trade-offs in saving in price.
There is even Fuji GFX100 with 100-megapixel resolution which makes a significant dent in the digital backs segment of the expensive medium format market. The quality and the resolution of the 64 megapixel Leica sensor is not challenged by the megapixel count of the other cameras.
We expect the new camera to cost about USD 22,000.