Meet Leica’s first 4K mirrorless camera: The Leica SL type 601

by on October 21, 2015

Stephan Jukic – October 21, 2015

Unlike a number of other major DSLR and mirrorless camera manufacturers, Leica has been hesitant about entering the 4K ultra HD video space up to now, but that has finally changed with their new SL type 601 full frame mirrorless camera.

The new SL offers the same full-frame 24 megapixel sensor as that of the Leica Q which some camera fans may already know, but unlike the Q, which didn’t take shooting video too seriously, the SL goes all the way into UHD territory by offering the ability to shoot studio-grade 4K video at a very nice and higher-end 30 frames per second. It can also manage Cine4K video at 24 frames per second.

As for HD video, the SL can grab standard HD 720p footage at a very speedy 120 frame per second and can also shoot video in other HD and SD settings. Additionally, Leica has released a whole series of new lenses for their latest and first ever 4K camera.

For starters, there is a powerful APO-Vario-Elmarit-SL 90-280mm f/2.8-4 lens that a lot of film makers might appreciate for its focal length and very nice aperture. Then, on top of this, you’ve got the option of a 24-90mm lens with the focal range of a 90-280mm lens and finally, a Summilux 50mm fixed length lens with a 1.4mm aperture.

the Leica SL mirrorless with 4K video shooting capacity

the Leica SL mirrorless with 4K video shooting capacity along with the three lenses

In addition to these lenses, the Leica SL also features ISO settings that can be expanded to a powerful maximum of 50,000 and a basic photo capture capacity that’s not only superb but also very easy to analyze in detail before or after capture thanks to a 3 inch back-panel LCD display and an amazingly powerful electronic viewfinder with a massive 4.4 million pixels of density, offering some absolutely superb photo capture detail.

On the other hand, you can’t quite expect all these features to come free of some downsides. In this case, one of the biggest is the sheer price of the Leica SL. This little full-frame mirrorless is selling for a whopping $7,800 for just the camera body, no lenses included.

And if you want all of the lenses above? Well, you’ll have to fork over another $4,800 or so. In other words, the small and really not that versatile Leica SL comes at a price tag that’s similar to that of many professional 4K video production cameras from brands like RED or Blackmagic in particular. Yes, this is a superb example of a 4K-capable mirrorless camera, but if 4K UHD video is your main reason for wanting it, the specs include simply don’t compare to what just under $8,000 can get you in terms of real 4K video capture from other models and brands.

That said, the SL offers a compact and very solid photo/4k video combo, though only ever so slightly lower quality is easily available for much lower prices.

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