capture integration medium format phase one mamiya leafLeica has the long standing reputation for being the cream of the crop. And the Leica S System is no exception. This system sits in a unique category; an integrated system that lives amongst pro dslrs and digital backs. Sure, fashion shooters are head over heels for this system – it’s perfectly suited for the fashion workflow. But shooters from every genre are gravitating and showing interest in this Leica line. And bearing the Leica name, it comes with a Leica price tag of $21,950. If you want the feel of a professional DSLR with medium format quality (45x30mm sensor), look no further….

Leica S SystemLeica S System

Ergonomics & Design

No surprise here. This system screams industrial design. Designers have considered every critical nook and cranny for this big block of metal. All buttons, dial and wheels placements are spot on. After picking this up for the very first time, this is one camera that’s really hard to put down.

Superior Optics

Leica S System

Perhaps the strongest benefit of this outfit. Each lens boasts a custom calibration firmware installed at the Leica factory. They are big and heavy, but the S-System lenses are amongst the sharpest ever. Tack sharp wide open, the corners have never looked better. Formal tests coming soon.

  • LEICA VARIO-ELMAR-S 30-90 MM F/3.5-5.6 ASPH
  • LEICA APO-ELMAR-S 180 MM F/3.5 (CS)
  • LEICA TS-APO-ELMAR-S 120 mm f/5.6 ASPH


Leica S-Adapter H
This adapter allows all the Hasselblad H-system lenses to be mounted on a Leica S camera body. All lens functions, such as autofocus, central shutter control and automatic diaphragm are retained. The smart electronics of the adapter facilitate the complete integration of the lenses into the Leica S System.

Leica S-Adapter H

Other Adapters
Purely mechanical lens adapters are also available for the Hasselblad V, Mamiya 645 and Pentax 67 systems. As no electronic communication for aperture control or potentially available central shutters is provided, these lenses may only be used in conjunction with the focal plane shutter of the Leica S.

Display & Interface

Clean and simple design strikes again. Use the scrolling wheel, mini-joystick and soft keys to navigate the menu. The level of customization comes inspired by DSLRs, giving the ability to assign countless functions to the button of your choice. The large LCD is Gorilla Glass – scratch resistant like the iPhone. The 3” LCD is amongst the nicest displays on cameras today.

Central Shutter Integration

Leica Shutter Control

Choose between the fast metal focal plane shutter in the camera body and a top speed of 1/4000th of a second and the special benefits of the central shutter integrated in CS lenses. All you have to do is simply select either “Focal Plane Shutter” (FPS) or “Central Shutter” (CS) with the main switch on the camera body. When using flash, the shortest sync speed with the focal plane shutter is 1/125th of a second. In contrast, the central shutter offers flash sync up to its fastest speed of 1/1000th of a second and thus expands the working range by a whole three stops.


This viewfinder is massive and bright with 98% coverage. The model that we tested has the ground glass focus screen installed; which I would highly recommend. The viewfinder helps close the sale of the Leica experience. Alternate between other medium format viewfinders….you’ll quickly realize why this viewfinder is a home run.

Warranty and Protection Plan

Leica will provide a three-year repair and replacement plan that includes access to loaner cameras while yours is in the shop. Need I say more?

Weather Sealed

The body, lenses and ports are weather sealed. Not many of us can safely say that we can shoot our medium format systems in the rain. I’ve previously used the weather sealed Olympus E-Systems and really pushed the limits in rough environments. With that in mind, I’ve always felt that the weather sealed option was nice to have when you need it. The Leica S offers the same benefit. Shoot medium format where the others won’t shoot at all.


The new autofocus system has been upgraded from the Leica S2. I noticed an improved autofocus response that you normally don’t experience with the medium format bodies. It’s not a candidate for shooting sports, but the reliability and accuracy deliver above average performance.

Extra Protection & Perks

Leica Tethering

  • Integrated GPS system
  • Locking USB tether cable connection
  • Scratch resistant “Gorilla Glass”
  • Dual card slots (CF and SD)
  • Vertical hand grip
  • 1,000 exposures on a single battery charge
  • The dynamic range in this system is impressive. I’m eager to run a test before I make any specific comparisons here, but I can assure that it’s a big step above the DSLR category – and surely rivals the top digital backs.

RAW Downloads & Resources

Are you interested in learning more about the Leica S System? Want to try it out? Call or email us today to set up a personal demo.

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