Leica S-E (Typ 006) Review

 
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37.50
Megapixels
Leica S bayonet Medium format
size sensor
image of Leica S-E (Typ 006)
Front side of Leica S-E (Typ 006) digital camera Front side of Leica S-E (Typ 006) digital camera Front side of Leica S-E (Typ 006) digital camera Front side of Leica S-E (Typ 006) digital camera Front side of Leica S-E (Typ 006) digital camera
Basic Specifications
Full model name: Leica S-E (Typ 006)
Resolution: 37.50 Megapixels
Sensor size: Medium format
(45.0mm x 30.0mm)
Kit Lens: n/a
Viewfinder: Optical / LCD (playback only)
Native ISO: 100 - 1600
Extended ISO: 100 - 1600
Shutter: 1/4000 - 32 seconds
Dimensions: 6.3 x 4.7 x 3.1 in.
(160 x 120 x 80 mm)
Weight: 44.4 oz (1,260 g)
includes batteries
Availability: 09/2014
Manufacturer: Leica
Full specs: Leica S-E (Typ 006) specifications

Leica S-E (Typ 006) -- First Impressions

by
Preview posted

Want the story of the medium-format Leica S-E (Typ 006) in a nutshell? If you're already familiar with the 2012-spec Leica S (Typ 006) -- not to be confused with the newer, near-identically named (Typ 007) -- we can sum the new model up in just seven words: "New name, new color, dramatically lower price."

When it launched in 2012, the Leica S (Typ 006) brought a large number of upgrades to the DSLR that had debuted in 2009 as the Leica S2. The Leica S-E (Typ 006) is essentially the exact same camera as the S (Typ 006), with the sole exception of a new finish for the top plate and shutter-speed dial.

Previously both finished in black to match the camera body itself, the Leica S-E (Typ 006) now has an anthracite gray top deck, and an anodized silver shutter-speed dial.

And it also has a much lower pricetag: Retailing for US$16,900, it might still cause a sharp intake of breath for all but the most well-pocketed amongst us, but that's a full US$5,050 less than its predecessor, for a 23% discount.

In other respects, we're looking at the Leica S (Typ 006) here, so if you've already researched that camera then you know what to expect. Everything up to and including the Leica Pro Format, 37.5-megapixel CCD image sensor -- with dimensions of 45mm x 30mm and a 0.8x focal length multiplier -- is absolutely identical.

The sensor sits behind a Leica S bayonet mount, and it provides for sensitivities ranging from ISO 100 to 1600 equivalents. With so much data to clock off the huge sensor, burst performance is limited to a pedestrian 1.5 frames per second, and a buffer depth of 28 DNG raw frames. (JPEG burst depth is limited only by card size / speed and battery life.)

Autofocus is available, but the phase-detection AF system is unchanged from the original Leica S2 and offers up only a single point. (Thankfully, it is at least a cross-type point.) Single or continuous AF modes are available, and you can of course focus manually.

Images are metered using a five-area multi-segment metering sensor, and both center-weighted or spot metering modes are also provided. Exposure modes are much as you'd expect on an extremely expensive camera aimed at professional use: Program, Aperture-priority, Shutter-priority or Manual. There's also +/-3EV of exposure compensation in 1/2 EV steps, and bracketing with a 1/2 to 3EV step size and a choice of three or five exposures.

Like the Leica S (Typ 006) before it, the Leica S-E DSLR includes a thru-the-lens optical viewfinder and two displays. The TTL finder is pentaprism-based, and has 0.87x magnification with a 70mm lens at infinity. Coverage is 98%, there's an interchangeable focusing screen, and a -3 to +1 diopter correction is available.

The displays, meanwhile, are mounted on the top and rear panels. The top-deck display is a full-color OLED info display, while the rear-panel display is a 3.0-inch, 921,600 dot (640 x 480 pixel) LCD. The latter has 100% coverage and wide 170-degree viewing angles, and sits beneath a Corning Gorilla Glass cover plate.

This being a medium-format DSLR aimed at pros, there is not surprisingly no built-in flash. Instead, external strobes are catered for with a standard hot shoe and flash sync terminal. Flash sync is at 1/125 second, and shutter speeds on offer range from 32 to 1/4,000 second with the internal, metal-bladed vertical focal plane shutter, or as long as 125 seconds in bulb mode. Some Leica S-mount lenses have their own internal shutter, and when used this allows flash sync at 1/1,000 second.

Like almost all medium-format cameras, the Leica S-E (Typ 006) lacks any support for movie capture. Still images, though, can be stored on CompactFlash or Secure Digital cards. CF support includes UDMA7 cards, while SD support includes SDHC and SDXC types.

A high-definition Type-C HDMI video output is provided, along with USB 2.0 High Speed data. Power comes from a proprietary 7.4V, 2100mAh lithium-ion rechargeable battery.

Both Adobe Photoshop Lightroom and Leica Image Shuttle 2 are included in the product bundle, with Lightroom being available as a free download after registering your camera.

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