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Leica's S2 digital SLR. Courtesy of Leica, with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Leica S2 DSLR nears release
(Monday, August 17, 2009 - 02:23 EDT)

Leica Camera AG has announced pricing and availability for its upcoming Leica S2 digital SLR, as well as providing further information on specifications.

The Leica S2 was first described back at the Photokina tradeshow in Cologne, Germany last September, and is based around a 3:2 aspect ratio Kodak KAF-37500 CCD image sensor with dimensions of 30 x 45mm - 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 medium format DSLRs from the likes of Phase One and Hasselblad. Leica has updated its terminology for the sensor in the latest press materials, describing it as "Leica S format" rather than the previous "Leica Pro format" designation.

The Leica S2 places its imager in a weather-sealed single-lens reflex body with dimensions of 6.3" x 4.7" x 3.1" - somewhat larger than mid-range 35mm full-frame DSLRs like Canon's EOS 5D series and Nikon's D700, but a fair bit smaller than professional full-frame cameras from both companies. The more compact size in relation to those cameras is mainly due to the fact that the Leica S2 lacks a built-in portrait-mode grip, though; in other dimensions the S2 is very close to the size of Canon and Nikon's top-end DSLRs. Still, given the significantly larger image sensor, the relatively compact size of the Leica S2 is impressive. Compared to medium format DSLR / camera back combos, the Leica S2 is noticeably less deep and should prove more reassuring in use given its weather sealed body and lenses.

The Leica S2 ships from the end of September 2009, and pricing has been set at about US$23,000 body-only with a 12-month warranty. A premium package which extends warranty coverage to 24 months and allows product replacement in the first three months of the warranty as well as a 30% discount on repairs will also be offered, although pricing for this option hasn't been disclosed. Finally, the most expensive package at about US$28,000 is the Leica S2-P, which includes everything from the premium package plus an abrasion and scratch-resistant sapphire glass LCD display cover, free maintenance including one free shutter replacement, and a free replacement unit during repair.

Two Leica S-format lenses will be available at launch. The Leica Summarit-S 70mm f/2.5 ASPH will cost about $4,500, while the Leica APO-Tele-Elmar-S 180mm f/3.5 will cost around $6,500. Two further lenses are expected to ship by the end of the year - the Leica APO-Macro-Summarit-S 120mm f/2.5 for about $6,500, and the Leica Summarit-S 35mm f/2.5 ASPH for about $5,300. Versions of all four lenses with an integrated focal plane shutter will follow at a later date, and will command premiums of $700 to $1,500 over the standard versions of the same lenses. A portrait grip with secondary shutter button, thumb wheel, and space for a second battery will be available from early 2010, priced at around $1,300. Leica will also offer a dual battery charger that will cost $400. Pricing and availability for other accessories such as viewfinder screens have not been announced at this time.

For more details, read our Leica S2 preview.

Leica S2
Leica's S2 digital SLR. Courtesy of Leica, with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Click for a bigger picture!
Camera TypePro SLR
Model NumberS2
Dimensions6.3 x 4.7 x 3.1 in.
(160 x 120 x 80 mm)
Weight49.7 oz
(1,410 g)
Planned Price$22,995
Planned AvailabilitySeptember 2009
Image Capture
Sensor TypeKodak KAF-37500 CCD
Leica S format (approx. 2.13 in. diagonal)
37.50 megapixels (total)
Aspect Ratio3:2
Image Dimensions7500 x 5000 (37.5 megapixels)
Image Preview / Review
ViewfinderYes, High eyepoint pentaprism viewfinder w/ 0.86x magnification, -3 to +1 diopter correction
96% field of view
LCD3.0 in. diagonal
460,000 dots (approx. 153,000 pixels)
Lens TypeInterchangeable Lens
Lens MountS-bayonet mount
Image StabilizationNo
Focusing SystemSingle or continuous, TTL with central cross-hair sensor
Manual focus possible
Shutter Speed32 - 1/4000 second
Exposure ModesAperture, Shutter, Manual
Metering ModesMulti-field (five fields), center-weighted integral, 3.5% spot
Recording MediumCompactFlash (type unknown), SD/MMC including SDHC
File SystemFAT16, FAT32
File FormatRaw (Adobe .DNG), JPEG
VideoHigh definition: Yes (HDMI)
Standard definition: No
ComputerUSB 2.0 High Speed
OtherX-sync, SCA3002, remote release
Battery TypeLithium-ion rechargeable
Battery Form FactorProprietary 7.4V, 2150mAh
Product Bundle
SoftwareAdobe Lightroom, Leica Image Shuttle remote control software
Battery / Charger1 x 7.4V, 2150mAh Lithium-ion rechargeable battery and charger
Internal MicrophoneNo
Tripod MountYes
Remote ControlYes, Cabled
NotesHas 1GB buffer memory and MAESTRO image processor, allowing burst shooting at 1.5 fps for at least eight Raw images. Raw+JPEG mode can optionally store Raw files to CompactFlash and JPEG files to SD card. Has no low-pass filter, with moire instead being removed solely by software. Top panel includes a color Organic LED status display. Die-cast magnesium body is resistant to dust / splashing water.
More Photos
Leica's S2 digital SLR. Courtesy of Leica, with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Click for a bigger picture!
Leica's S2 digital SLR. Courtesy of Leica, with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Click for a bigger picture!

Original Source Press Release:

The LEICA S2: In a class all its own

Unveiled for the first time at the Photokina 2008 trade show in Germany, Leica is pleased to announce the first shipments of the S2 will be delivered in October 2009. This new system product will set the standard in professional digital photography.

A perfect synthesis
The LEICA S2’s excellence is based not only on its high-resolution image sensor but also the unique S format and full range of features, such as autofocus, high-speed MAESTRO image processor, highly durable design and optimal size and ease-of-use for the professional photographer. The S2 achieves a perfect synthesis, combining the highest image quality in a camera with incomparable ease-of-use. It breaks new ground in every way, ensuring that photographers will enjoy perfect results from a camera that is truly easy to handle. The Leica S-system is the only professional camera system to make a clean break from legacy categories such as the “35mm” or “medium format” and was developed solely for the digital domain. This means the S2 has established its own format focused primarily on ease-of-use and optimal image quality - the Leica S format. This format pioneers the optimal quality of all components and embodies easy handling, giving photographers the creative scope they require. The decisive advantage of the LEICA S2 is the sum of its features: flexibility, durability and easy operation combined with industry-leading resolution and image quality. The S2 outperforms other camera systems in the medium-format category, setting a completely new standard for quality.

A unique image sensor design for unparalleled quality
The S2’s image sensor was developed especially for the S system by Kodak. With a resolution of 37.5 megapixels, the 30 x 45mm CCD sensor features an aspect ratio of 3:2 and an area nearly 60% larger than that of a traditional 35mm camera, resulting in stunning image quality. In the interest of preserving image sharpness, the camera disregards the standard low-pass filter. Instead, Moiré effects are detected and eliminated by the camera's internal signal processing, thus taking full advantage of the system's high-resolution lenses. A special micro-lens pattern allows complete capture of angled light rays on the image periphery for optimal use of available light. With a sensitivity of up to ISO 1250, low-noise images can be captured under limited lighting conditions.

Compact design and familiar feel
The LEICA S2 has the look and feel of traditional 35mm SLR cameras, preserving the handling qualities that have long been appreciated by professional photographers. The integration of electronic components and the very latest design methods have made the S2 remarkably smaller than other medium-format cameras. The number of controls was kept to a bare minimum without limiting the camera’s many features and options. Operation of the S2 becomes intuitive after minimal operation of the camera. The result is a finely balanced camera with a pleasant weight that allows photographers to work fluidly and spontaneously.

The size and weight are far lower than comparable medium-format systems in a camera that features a high-resolution CCD as well as high-speed operation. The LEICA S2 is not only the right choice for the studio, but also for working on location and capturing images without the use of a tripod.

Faster results with a high-speed system
The S2’s high-speed MAESTRO image processor chip and supplemental camera control processor deliver exceptional processing power. Fast signal processing by the MAESTRO chip allows up to 1.5 images per second at maximum resolution. The powerful MAESTRO dual processor allows high-quality JPEG files to be created in the camera, the only medium-format to have this feature. The LEICA S2 has slots for both Compact Flash and SD, with an option for saving RAW format Adobe DNG data onto Compact Flash and JPEG to the SD card, simultaneously. This allows for easy image viewing on the camera while streamlining post-processing. Using Adobe DNG for raw imaging data gives photographers the ultimate flexibility because this open-source data format is supported by almost all major graphic-editing and workflow solutions. Leica supplies the universal Adobe Lightroom workflow solution as part of the camera’s equipment. Leica’s proprietary Image Shuttle software allows all of the S2 features to be controlled remotely from a computer, and image files are written directly onto the hard drive for immediate processing. An HDMI interface allows images to be presented and checked directly on monitors, television sets, and projectors.

Reference-class lenses
The highest priority during development of the Leica S lenses was image quality. Their sophisticated design features special grades of glass and aspherical surfaces rarely found in optics of this size. In addition, lenses manufactured to extremely narrow tolerances, with each lens centered by hand, guarantees superior quality and optical performance. The maximum performance of each lens is available even at full aperture setting, or when shooting from a distance or capturing close-up images. Vignetting, distortion and chromatic aberrations have been reduced to the point of imperceptibility, eliminating the need for quality-degrading image corrections and simplifying digital post-processing considerably. The newly developed S-bayonet mount ensures rapid and precise digital exchange of data and commands between the camera and lens.

Four S series lenses will be launched for the key focal lengths by the end of 2009, including the classic LEICA SUMMARIT-S 70mm F/2.5 ASPH and the LEICA APO-TELE-ELMAR-S F/180mm telephoto lens. The LEICA APO-MACRO-SUMMARIT-S 120mm F/2.5, the solution for close-ups and portraits, and the wide-angle LEICA SUMMARIT-S 35mm F/2.5 ASPH are set to follow in late 2009. By multiplying the listed focal distances by 0.8, the user is given a comparison to corresponding 35mm-format lenses. A selection of the S lenses will also be available in a CS variant with an integrated focal-plane shutter. Leica is planning to prioritize the expansion of its range of S lenses in the near future.

Dual shutter system
The LEICA S2 allows photographers to choose the shutter system which best matches the task at hand. The S2 is equipped with a metal focal-plane shutter with the fastest shutter speed of 1/4000 of a second and a flash synch time of 1/125 of a second. Lenses of key focal lengths will be available in the future with integrated leaf shutters designed by Leica engineers that photographers can activate via the camera’s main switch. The integrated leaf shutter allows flash units to be used at the fastest shutter speed of 1/500 second, giving photographers more options for suppressing unwanted ambient light. Several patents are pending for the Leica leaf shutter, which features an electronically-controlled drive guaranteeing reliable, fast exposure times and low energy consumption.

Precise, high-speed autofocus
The autofocus developed by Leica for the S2 is based on a centrally positioned cross-hair sensor for high precision focusing. Each S lens has its own Leica-designed microprocessor for precise autofocus and iris diaphragm control. The integrated focusing drive is a proprietary Leica design that features silent gearing. All S lenses have a generous focus ring with just the right amount of drag, letting the photographer override the autofocus at any time.

Rugged, durable design
The camera’s body is made of robust die-cast magnesium with a leather-grain finish for maximum grip. The S2 and all S lenses are extensively weatherproofed and can withstand exposure to rain and dust, and the USB and remote control ports feature rugged bayonet locks with strain relief. The S2 can also be supplied with a highly scratch-resistant LEICA S2-P sapphire glass display cover for the most extreme and demanding conditions.

Authorized sales and service network
The LEICA S2 is only sold through authorized dealers who also offer specialized consultation and support. This network of dealers is part of the extended S system service package.

The S system has its own customer care team with a dedicated helpline, making immediate service accessible for any questions that may arise. Professional photographers who demand absolute reliability from their camera systems can choose from additional service package upgrades to enhance the generous standard warranty coverage. The Platinum service package includes free maintenance in addition to offering loaner equipment for the duration of the service work. Please review the attached warranty table for more details.

Pricing and availability
At the end of September 2009, LEICA S2 will be available for $22,995 at select photography dealers. At $27,995 the LEICA S2-P with sapphire display includes the Platinum service package. The LEICA SUMMARIT-S 70 mm f/2.5 ASPH. for $4,495 and the LEICA APO-TELE-ELMAR-S 180 mm f/3.5 for $6,495will also be available when the S2 is launched. The LEICA APO-MACRO-SUMMARIT-S 120 mm f/2.5, also priced at $6,495, and the LEICA SUMMARIT-S 35 mm f/2.5 ASPH, priced at $5,295, will reach the market in late 2009. The CS variant models of the S lenses will be introduced successively over time. The first CS models to reach dealers will be the LEICA SUMMARIT-S 70 mm f/2.5 ASPH. CS ($5,995), the LEICA APO-MACRO-SUMMARIT-S 120 mm f/2.5 CS and the LEICA APO-TELE-ELMAR-S 180 mm f/3,5 CS (the macro and telephoto selling for $7,495 each). The LEICA SUMMARIT-S 35 mm f/2.5 ASPH. CS will follow for $5,995. Many of accessories will also become available with the market launch, including the professional S charging unit that recharges two batteries simultaneously ($399) as well as various components such as alternative viewfinder screens. Specialist dealers will also have many other accessories such as lens caps, cable releases and the LEICA SF 58 flash unit. An S all-purpose grip will be available starting in early 2010 for $1,295. Prices include taxes where applicable.

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