Detailed specifications aren't yet available, but the initial information on the Leica S2 has certainly whet our interest. You can find an introduction to Leica's new baby on our Photokina video page, which includes an interview with Christian Ernhardt and Justin Stailey of Leica. The camera is based around a 37.5 megapixel, 3:2 aspect ratio Kodak KAF-37500 CCD image sensor with dimensions of 30 x 45mm. Dubbed "Leica Pro Format" by the company, the S2's imager has 56% greater surface area than that of a 35mm full-frame image sensor, but about 22% less than the 36 x 48mm imagers used in certain other medium format DSLR products from the likes of Leaf and Hasselblad. The sensor communicates with a Maestro-branded image processor that Leica says offers reduced power consumption and "twice the speed of comparable medium-format backs". The Maestro chip is being produced for Leica by Fujitsu.
Leica S2 DSLR with S-System lenses
This combination resides in a camera body whose exact dimensions aren't yet known, but which has been described by Leica as being "appreciably smaller" than existing 35mm full-frame professional digital SLRs. The body is sealed against dust, sand and moisture, described as having "extensive waterproofing". On the front of the camera's body is a Leica S-System bayonet lens mount, which accepts a newly developed series of lenses designed specifically for the camera.
Leica S-System lenses will feature weatherproofing and metal construction. The Leica S2 camera body will have a focal-plane shutter, and certain S-System lenses will also include integrated leaf shutters to allow for faster flash-sync speeds. Leica is promising lenses encompassing wide, normal, macro and telephoto models initially, and says it has plans to develop ultra wide, zoom, tilt / shift and super telephoto lenses in the future. Lenses available at launch should include 35mm, 70mm, 120mm and 180mm models, all of which will include leaf shutters.
The view through the Leica S2 viewfinder
As well as a TTL viewfinder with integrated diopter compensation and a display of basic exposure variables (as seen in the preview on the right), the Leica S2 includes a 460,000 dot LCD display with a 3.0" diagonal. The display has an anti-glare coating, and an ambient light sensor enables the camera to automatically adjust the backlight to account for lighting conditions. There's no live view function, with the LCD display being used solely for image review, as well as the camera's menu system - several screen shots of which can be seen below.
Four buttons positioned on either side of the LCD display adjacent to the top and bottom corners act as "soft" buttons, with their current function indicated on the LCD alongside the physical button. A second LCD information display can be found on the Leica S2's top panel, and unusually Leica has opted for an eyecatching color Organic LED (OLED) display for this, instead of the more traditional monochrome LCD. The display can show the operating mode, aperture, shutter speed, ISO sensitivity, card type and capacity, and remaining battery life. When in the relevant operating modes, shutter speeds can be set using a physical dial on the top of the camera. The same dial when pressed downwards acts as a mode dial, with the OLED used to show the current mode. Selection between Aperture and Shutter priority modes depends on whether a shutter speed is set, or the dial is set to the "A" position for Aperture priority. A clickable wheel falls under the user's thumb, and can be rolled side to side to change settings. When clicked it acts like an Enter button, confirming settings changes for example.
The Leica S2 will include what Leica is calling an "ultra high precision" single-point autofocus system that the company also describes as "incredibly quiet". Shutter speeds will range from 8 to 1/4000 second, plus a bulb position. As you'd expect on a camera aimed at pros, operating modes will consist of Program, Aperture or Shutter-priority, and Manual. There's a flash hot shoe on the top of the camera body, as well as a connection for off-camera flash.
Other connectivity options will include USB 2.0 for data transfer, an HDMI connection for high-definition video output, and a LEMO remote connector which has a push and turn release to prevent accidental removal. Images are stored on dual card slots - one accepting CompactFlash media, and the other for Secure Digital cards, including the newer Secure Digital High Capacity (SDHC) types.
The Leica S2 offers both JPEG compressed and Adobe DNG Raw file output, and can also simultaneously save each image in both types. Leica expects 400 Raw files to fit on a 32GB SDHC card, suggesting a per-file size of a little under 80MB.
Leica has not officially announced pricing or availability at this time, but early suggestions are that the Leica S2 should be available in the summer of 2009, with a price tag in the region of €20,000 body-only. This would equate to somewhere in the region of US$30,000, ignoring exchange rate fluctuations, taxes and duties.
Accessories for the Leica S2 will include a portrait grip, which includes a duplicate shutter button and thumb wheel, as well as accepting a second battery. Further details can be found in the official press release below.