At the heart of the relatively compact Leica S3 DSLR with contemporary multimedia capabilities is a 64MP (45 x 30mm) Leica ProFormat CMOS medium-format sensor that features a 2:3 ratio, up to 15 stops of dynamic range and a sensitivity range of ISO 100–50,000. This represents a 71% bump in resolution over the 37.5MP Leica S2. The sensor's design also omits an optical low-pass filter in order to realize a high degree of sharpness and clarity. In addition to stills, the sensor also enables DCI 4K and Full HD video recording using the entire width of the sensor for a distinct "medium format look." Additionally, benefitting stills is a phase-detection autofocus system that employs a single cross-type central point for fast and accurate focusing performance.
The Leica S3 can capture up to three still frames per second and records DCI 4K (4096 x 2160 pixel) 4:2:2 8-bit internal video at 24 frames per second using the full width of the sensor. All of this is powered by Leica’s Maestro II processor, which offers 2GB buffer memory.
Exterior features of the camera remains largely unchanged from its predecessor, the Leica S (Typ 007), and looks similar to the more recent Leica SL. The body includes a large 0.87x-magnification optical pentaprism viewfinder with a high eyepoint for comfortable viewing. Alternatively, a rear 3.0" 921k-dot LCD is available for live view shooting and image review, and a top status LCD can be used to quickly review shooting settings. Another retained distinction is support for the unique dual shutter system, which permits working with either the camera's focal plane shutter or with select lens's Central Shutters for flash sync up to 1/1000 sec. Additionally, the S3 incorporates Wi-Fi connectivity for use in conjunction with the Leica FOTOS app for remote camera control and wireless image sharing between the camera and a linked mobile device.
What makes Leica images so different? It can be summed up as the amazing level of detail where it is needed, high contrast, pleasant softness in areas that do not require much attention and the ability to see the whole tonal range effortlessly. A given for anyone upgrading from cameras such as the Leica S2, but for someone new to Leica and chasing the best in optical engineering the result is an image that looks three-dimensional, almost tactile in nature.
Focusing on the essential has always been Leica's strong suit and the S3 is no exception. This camera is well equipped to take advantage of Leica's optical masterpieces with it's high-resolution 64 Megapixels sensor and 15 stops of dynamic range, capturing the most minute detail and subtle nuances.
The S3's 64MP ProFormat CMOS sensor features a 3:2 aspect ratio, is 30 x 45mm in size, is capable of over 15-stops of dynamic range, and it can go from 100-50,000 ISO. A pixel pitch of 4,6 μm and 14-bits per pixel colour resolution results in benefits such as lower noise and more usable dynamic range compared to your average DSLR with smaller sensors, yet the S3 is not physically much larger.
The S3 features a Maestro II processor, which contains more than 9,800 parallel D/A converters and a 2GB memory buffer. This allows it to shoot stills up to 3fps and up to 15 images in DNG lossless mode (unlimited in JPEG mode).
Similar to the Leica S (Typ 007) the S3’s two shutters can be controlled with a switch on the rear of the camera. The ‘FPS’ mode stands for focal-plane shutter, while the ‘CS’ mode stands for centre shutter (leaf shutter), which will work with compatible S-Lenses.
The entire area of the sensor can be used not only for videos in full-HD, but, for the first time, also for 4K cinema resolution – including the characteristic medium format look. When capturing video footage, 48 kHz,16-bit stereo sound with automatic or manual level adjustment can be recorded with either the integrated or an external microphone.
As with other members of the Leica S-System, the Leica S3 is constructed using superior-quality and extremely resilient materials including the magnesium body, the Corning® Gorilla® Glass cover plate of the 3-inch monitor screen as well as the solid stainless steel lens bayonet.
Numerous seals protect the camera against the ingress of moisture, dust and other foreign bodies. In turn, contributing to the reliability and long service life of the camera when shooting on location.
The familiar and proven intuitive handling concept of Leica S (Typ 007) has been carried forward to the Leica S3: the central control elements are two setting dials and a five-way joystick, which control the shutter speed and aperture and enable quick and easy menu navigation. The rear screen is surrounded by four buttons which can be configured in accordance to the photographer’s preferences and needs. And lastly, the main switch can be used to choose between the camera’s focal plane shutter or a central shutter – provided this is a feature offered by the lens mounted on the camera.
The Leica Maestro II processor and a 2 GB buffer memory ensure a smooth workflow that is essential for handling the enormous amounts of data generated by the sensor. Shooting in tethered mode is also possible with the Leica Image Shuttle app, whereby all essential exposure settings can be made in the app and the images captured in DNG and JPG format then be transferred directly to a computer via a USB 3.0 interface.
Using the Lightroom Tethered Plugin allows the Leica S3 to be connected directly to the image processing package without any need for additional software.
In addition to a GPS function, which determines the precise geographical location and the exact time with the aid of satellites and saves them to the EXIF data, the Leica S3 also has a WLAN module with which the camera can be remotely controlled in conjunction with the Leica FOTOS 2.0 app.
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|Lens Mount||Leica S|
|Camera Format||Medium Format|
|Pixels||Effective: 64 Megapixel|
|Sensor Size||30 x 45 mm|
|Image File Format||DNG, JPEG|
|ISO Sensitivity||Auto, 100 to 50000|
|Shutter Type||Focal Plane Shutter, Leaf Shutter|
|Shutter Speed||Mechanical Shutter
1/4000 to 120 Second
|Metering Method||Center-Weighted Average, Multi-Zone, Spot|
|Exposure Modes||Aperture Priority, Manual, Program, Shutter Priority|
|Exposure Compensation||-3 to +3 EV (1/2 EV Steps)|
|Metering Range||1.2 to 20 EV|
|White Balance||Auto, Cloudy, Color Temperature, Daylight, Flash, Fluorescent, Halogen, Incandescent, Shade, Tungsten|
|Continuous Shooting||Mechanical Shutter
Up to 3 fps at 64 MP for up to 6 Frames (Raw) / Unlimited Frames (JPEG)
|Recording Modes||MOV/M-JPEG 4:2:2 8-Bit
DCI 4K (4096 x 2160) at 24.00p
Full HD (1920 x 1080) at 24.00p/25p/29.97p
|External Recording Modes||4:2:2 8-Bit
Full HD (1920 x 1080) at 24.00p/25p/29.97p
|Audio Recording||Built-In Microphone (Stereo)
External Microphone Input (Stereo)
|Focus Type||Auto and Manual Focus|
|Focus Mode||Continuous-Servo AF (C), Manual Focus (M), Single-Servo AF (S)|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical (Pentaprism)|
|Viewfinder Magnification||Approx. 0.87x|
|Diopter Adjustment||-3 to +1|
|Monitor Resolution||921,600 Dot|
|Monitor Type||Fixed LCD|
|Flash Modes||First-Curtain Sync, Hi-Speed Sync, Second-Curtain Sync|
|Maximum Sync Speed||1/125 Second (Focal Plane Shutter)
1/1000 Second (Leaf Shutter)
|Dedicated Flash System||TTL|
|External Flash Connection||Hot Shoe, Proprietary|
|Memory Card Slot||Slot 1: SD/SDHC/SDXC
Slot 2: CompactFlash (UDMA 7)
|Connectivity||Leica S Remote Terminal (USB 3.0), HDMI C (Mini), 3.5mm Microphone|
|Operating Temperature||32 to 113°F / 0 to 45°C|
|Operating Humidity||15 to 80%|
|Battery||1 x S BP-PRO1 Rechargeable Lithium-Ion, 7.3 VDC, 2300 mAh|
|Dimensions (W x H x D)||6.3 x 3.15 x 4.72" / 160 x 80 x 120 mm|
|Weight||2.77 lb / 1260 g (Body Only)|