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Leica SL3 Review

Leica SL3 Review

The Leica SL3 (Type 5404) is a cutting-edge 35mm full-frame interchangeable lens mirrorless camera designed to cater to the needs of both stills photographers and videographers. Boasting a 60.3 megapixel CMOS sensor without an optical low pass filter, the latest Maestro IV image processor, and impressive video recording capabilities including C8K/30p, C4K/60p, and 1080/120p, the SL3 is a powerhouse in the imaging world. This model also introduces a new hybrid phase, object, and contrast detection AF system with intelligent subject recognition, extended battery life, and enhanced connectivity options.

Ease of Use:
The Leica SL3 inherits the acclaimed 60 megapixel full-frame BSI CMOS sensor from the flagship M11 rangefinder camera, resulting in a remarkable 21% increase in resolution compared to its predecessor, the SL2. Coupled with the Maestro IV processor, this setup enables the SL3 to deliver 14-bit RAW files with up to 15 stops of dynamic range and an ISO range of 50-100,000. Additionally, the camera offers three resolution modes (60, 36, and 18 megapixels) to cater to various shooting scenarios while optimizing processing and storage capabilities. Autofocus performance sees a significant improvement with the implementation of a hybrid AF system that combines phase detection and contrast detection for faster and more precise focusing. Intelligent subject recognition, including human eyes, faces, bodies, and animals, further enhances the AF capabilities, making it a versatile tool for various shooting situations. However, the continuous shooting speed of 15fps is limited by locked focus and exposure after the first frame, dropping to 5fps for continuous AF/AE. Despite this limitation, the SL3 boasts a generous buffer size of 90 shots at 5fps for DNG RAW files.

Image Quality:
With its advanced sensor technology and processing power, the Leica SL3 delivers outstanding image quality with natural color reproduction and impressive detail rendition. The inclusion of an IR + UV cut filter and a new color filter array further enhances the camera’s ability to capture accurate colors and minimize aberrations. The SL3’s expanded sensitivity range and in-body image stabilization system ensure superior performance in various lighting conditions, allowing photographers to achieve stunning results with minimal noise and maximum detail retention.

Video Capabilities:
In addition to its prowess in still photography, the Leica SL3 excels in the realm of video recording, offering DCI 8K recording at up to 30p and 4K recording at up to 60p with 10-bit color depth internally or externally via HDMI. The camera supports ProRes recording at 1080/60p, Leica’s L-Log profile, LUT compatibility, and a dedicated timecode interface, catering to the needs of professional videographers. With its fast wireless data transfer capabilities, the SL3 enables seamless connectivity with the Leica FOTOS app, allowing users to transfer full-resolution DNG files in a matter of seconds.

The Leica SL3 sets a new standard for mirrorless cameras with its combination of high-resolution imaging, advanced autofocus technology, and versatile video capabilities. While its premium price may deter some enthusiasts, the SL3’s exceptional build quality, ergonomic design, and impressive performance make it a worthy investment for discerning photographers and videographers. Whether capturing stills or recording videos, the Leica SL3 delivers unparalleled quality and reliability, reaffirming Leica’s reputation as a leader in the imaging industry.

Main Rivals:
The Leica SL3 faces competition from other high-end mirrorless cameras such as the Sony Alpha 1, Canon EOS R5, and Nikon Z9. Each of these rivals offers comparable features and performance, making the choice between them a matter of personal preference and specific shooting requirements. However, Leica’s renowned build quality, exceptional optics, and unique design aesthetics set the SL3 apart from its competitors, making it a compelling option for photographers seeking the ultimate imaging experience.


  • 60.3 megapixel full-frame BSI CMOS sensor
  • Maestro IV image processor
  • C8K/30p, C4K/60p, and 1080/120p video recording
  • Hybrid phase, object, and contrast detection AF system
  • Expanded ISO range of 50-100,000
  • 5-axis in-body image stabilization (up to 5 stops)
  • 5.76m-dot OLED electronic viewfinder with 120fps refresh rate
  • 3.2” tilting touchscreen LCD (2.33m-dot)
  • IP54-rated weather-sealed magnesium-alloy construction
  • Dual UHS-II SD and CFexpress type B memory card slots
  • Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and GPS connectivity
  • Mechanical shutter (60min to 1/8000sec) and electronic shutter (60sec to 1/16000sec)
  • DCI 8K recording at up to 30p, 4K recording at up to 60p
  • ProRes recording, L-Log profile, LUT compatibility
  • Flash synchronization up to 1/200sec

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