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Leica SL2 gets a grip, among other upgrades

After four years, Leica fixes the horrible grip of the SL2's predecessor and updates almost everything inside.

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It wasn't until I started analyzing the specs that it hit me that Leica's SL2 -- the second version of its full-frame SL mirrorless -- bears a lot of similarities to the Panasonic S1R. And that's not a bad thing; for instance, it means that Leica incorporates a five-axis sensor-shift stabilization system, a 5.8-megapixel OLED electronic viewfinder and a larger 3.2-inch back LCD. The new model also adds some curviness that the previous grip lacked, making the camera a lot more comfortable to hold.

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The camera will be shipping this month for $5,995 (body). It replaces the original SL at the same price.

See that slight indentation in the grip? It makes a big difference over the older model's.

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The camera also has updated autofocus. It's still contrast AF but it's a lot smarter thanks to the newer Maestro III imaging processor, which adds face and body detection. 

A new Cine mode turns off autofocus and changes the units to shutter angle, T-stop and ASA instead of ISO.

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Other updates include:

  • It can now record 10-bit 4:2:2 video to a card -- both SD card slots support UHS-II -- and in cropped mode, it can record 5K/30p video. Leica also adds HLG (hybrid log gamma) profile support.
  • There's a new 187MP eight-shot high-resolution mode, made possible by the sensor-shift mechanism.
  • It's now IP54-certified, indicating a slightly better level of dust-and-splash resistance than before, and Leica says the new leatherette accent around the body should stand up better cosmetically over time.
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Leica has added much-needed labels to the controls on the back and brought the design into line with its other cameras. Plus, the menu system is much more customizable, and there's a visible distinction between still and video menus.

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In general, Leica has tweaked the design to give it a little less of a slablike aesthetic, but like the SR1, it's one of the biggest full-frame mirrorless models on the market. And it's heavy, too, at about 2 pounds; that's without the lenses, which are big hunks of glass.