Home Cameras/Lenses Leica Leica: Something monochrome, something mysterious with an S

Leica: Something monochrome, something mysterious with an S

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Will the SL2-S be a 24-MP version of the new SL2? (Image Leica Camera AG)

The long-awaited monochrome version of the Leica Q2 is due for release in November, according to information received by Leica Rumors (link below). It has been on the cards for the past twelve months and, I suspect, would have been with us sooner if it had not been for the pandemic.

A monochrome Q looks like a good idea to me. There are many attracted to the idea of the Monochrom who, for reasons of deteriorating eyesight or dislike of manual focus, will welcome an AF monochrome camera. They will, I suspect, be prepared to put up with the 28 mm focal length, just as Q and Q2 owners have done.

With this news, however, comes a glimpse of something even more intriguing, an SL2-S. Now, what could this be? We can’t get many clues from the “S” suffix except, perhaps, to note that Sony uses this letter to denote its low-megapixel, light monster, the a7S. Nor is it an SL Monochrom, otherwise it would surely be an SL2-M. But now that the 47MP sensor has been adapted for the Q2M, I wouldn’t be surprised to see such a camera in 2021. It would be yet another niche product, something which Leica is very good at.

Return of the twenty-four

My money is on a return of a 24MP sensor in the new body of the SL2, with the now-standard control set. I always thought it odd that Leica dropped the 24MP version of the SL, in direct contrast to Panasonic which appears to sustain both 24 and 47MP versions in its S range. It was logical to discontinue the old SL and then resurrect it with a new body and controls, a suitable companion for the SL2. While I’m fairly certain this camera will have the SL2 body, I will be disappointed if Leica doesn’t grasp the opportunity to re-skin the Panasonic S5 and give us a lighter SL.

From Leica’s point of view, however, with no lightweight lenses to marry well with an S5-sized camera, a chunky body is probably a foregone conclusion.

So, having pencilled in the SL2-S as a 24MP version of the SL2, what can we make of the “-S” suffix, either in English or German. Knowing Leica, it won’t be a random letter.

We all know that the -P suffix is supposed to stand for “professional”, while the -M is definitely for “monochrome”. That -S must mean something to someone. It could, for instance, refer to the –Sensitivity benefits of a lower pixel count in comparison to the SL2.

Special Edition?

In the same way, as mentioned above, Sony makes a virtue of the a7S having a mere 12MP sensor. In this case, the S is supposed to refer to “sensitivity mastered.” But, with the old SL 24MP sensor in the SL2-S, this would be clutching at straws. The 24MP sensor, unless it is a completely new design, is unlikely to be dramatically better in low light than that of the SL2. Perhaps the odd stop or so, but nothing more. So I throw that one out of the window.

We can, I think, rule out motorcar-based S associations (Super, Supercharged, Superb, Sport) and other branding clichés where S is a popular initial. Leica doesn’t do that sort of thing. But SE or ‘special edition” gets my attention. That would be -S for Sonderausgabe, special edition. And special editions are a staple of Leica fare, are they not?

Of course, the rumour-mill could have it wrong; the name of this new camera could be something entirely different. In which case, I’m wasting my words. Please remind me to ask Leica when they announce the camera.

What are your thoughts? If you are a German reader, put your mind to descriptive words beginning with S. Yes, I know; but please, not that one. Ditto for English-speaking readers, because the origin could be in either language. And, again, please not to mention that one.

Via Leica Rumors

26 COMMENTS

  1. I don’t mind the size of the SL2 but if they could make it a little lighter with a 24MP body with better buffer, battery life, and low light performance, AND at USD 4k or under, then S stands for sexy…

  2. I love the idea of a monochrome camera, but I find that with the quality of modern zoom lenses a single lens prime is limiting. Moreover, full framers are expensive and heavy. I would surely buy a monochrome version of the panasonic lx100 or Leica d-lux if they did produce one.

    • I go with you, Andrea. The D-Lux 7 is my current go-to camera, and I could really be tempted by the clarity to be expected from a D-Lux M. Otherwise I think Mike’s crystal ball gazing is fascinating.

  3. If the M10-R or S3 are any indication I would expect the SL2 body with a different sensor, and my guess would also be a 24MP one with better low light performance. I would love a more rangefinder styled body a la Sony A7c (basically a FF CL or a ICL Q) but I don’t believe that will happen. Even without lightweight Leica-branded L-mount lenses it would sell massively to M-lens shooters. I don’t think Leica is ready yet though to start cannibalizing the M-system, perhaps 2-3 years from now… Definitely an interesting development though…

  4. I confess instant attraction to a Q2 Monochrom if its sensor mimics that in an M10M or M246 because of the EVF. I have enjoyed the fun and discipline of using a M246 sensor since Lockdown began. However, like many others of a certain age, my eyesight entails I struggle greatly with precise RF focusing especially in low contrast or lower light situations. I have struggled , valiantly I think, with the truly awful EVF2 on my used 246. I have used and lost the 1.4 magnifier to use with my 90mm summicron but found it did not help me enough to achieve critical focus with a telephoto. Live view is not the answer. I wonder therefore is there a technological reason why Leica cannot fabricate a much better detachable EVF with resolution comparable to the Q2 so that those of us who love the ergonomics of the M series can get more out of it ? I would far rather have that coupled to an interchangeable M body than be confined to the Q2M’s 28mm lens, however impressive it is. I don’t need AF, I just need a modern focusing aid.

    • The VF2 is positively ancient. And the Visoflex, still the “flagship” viewfinder on the M10-R, is now over five years old. I agree with you and hope for a modern EVF that would fit the M10. There’s no hope of an improvement for earlier models, though. The VF2 is frozen in time and will never be improved.

  5. Mike

    I think two possible meanings could be:

    Speed – using the 24MP sensor from the S1/S5 and faster frame rates.

    Super – using the larger sensor from the Leica S model and have an available adapter to use S-mount lenses. Not to mention a crop mode for using L-mount lenses.

    PaulB

    • Sensible suggestion on Speed. But I think the larger S sensor is a non-starter. I’m convinced it will be a full-frame sensor but it could be an improved versions, such as that found on the Panasonic S— assuming that sensor is not identical to that in the old SL. I never thought to check. However, given that he SL sensor dated back to 2014, it’s reasonable to assume an update.

      • Mike

        I think you are correct.

        But, since we are speculating. Why not be sensational as well as sensible? 😉

        On the other hand, Fuji and Hassleblad are pushing mirrorless MF into the Leica world, not to mention an S lens to L-mount adapter already exists. So a mirrorless MF body makes a certain amount of sense.

        Though, if this comes to pass, additional questions would be:

        Will it use the S-mount and provide a spacer (adapter) for S lenses? Which would provide the option to develop new Sm(irrroless) lenses.

        Will it use a higher MP sensor than the S3 in order to keep the S3 users in the family?

        What will the price be relative to the current S3? Being Leica, I would expect higher.

        PaulB

        • Good try, Paul. But we already know it’s an SL2 version, so it will be 35mm full frame and almost include a 24MP sensor and will sell at a “more attractive” price. The detail comes in that -S suffix and I am still very intrigued by the possibilities. Could it, I wonder, stand for Schwarz, an all black image?

  6. The “S” signifies small and the new camera is an APS-C model. It is the reason Sigma introduced those new L mount lenses for crop sensors. Way to go, Leica. The CL/TL ranges have been in a backwater far too long.

    • I’d like to think you right, Michael, but I fear not this time. It is, without doubt, a variation on the SL2 but we’ll have to wait for the details as usual. However, now the cat is out of the bag, more rumours should be coming very soon.

      • A tongue in cheek suggestion on my part, admittedly, given the lack of interest Leica has shown in APS-C. Possibly it will be introducing a more compact SL based on the Panasonic S5. It could be accompanied by the announcement of a range of “SL-Elmarit” lenses which are smaller and slower than those currently available. The popularity of the Sigma 45 cannot have escaped Leica’s notice and with the M lenses it has not been averse to offering focal lengths with a choice of maximum aperture. With entry to the SL system starting at around £9k for a body and lens, Leica has plenty of scope to tempt customers away from Panasonic while maintaining premium prices.

        • I do with Leica would do something interesting with the APS-C range, both cameras and lenses. But I’ve heard absolutely no rumours, which is a bad sign.

    • Well, Andreas, it must stand for something, so Standard is as good a guess as any. It’s a good suggestion, remember the original Leica Standard:

      “The Leica Standard was introduced as a basic model by Ernst Leitz, Wetzlar in October 1932. The camera began production in the same year as the Leica II with a coupled rangefinder.”

      I have a feeling this is one of those questions they will never answer. But ask it I shall…

      • Just got me wondering whether the SL2-S could be a 24MP but in the range finder style body like the Leica Standard. The so called EVF version of the M. I doubt Leica would ever “contaminate” the M brand with an EVF version, but a body more related to the SL2 technology just a different shape might be successful. A bit like the Sony A7C.

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