Medium-format cameras are turning to the CMOS sensor for its flexibility, and Leica has followed suit with the S (Typ 007). Damien Demolder puts it to the test

Product Overview

Overall rating:

Leica S (Typ 007)

Features:7/10
Build/Handling:7/10
Metering:8/10
Autofocus:7/10
AWB Colour:9/10
Dynamic Range:9/10
Image quality:9/10
LCD viewfinder:9/10

Pros:

  • - Exceptional image quality up to ISO 6,400
  • - Well-designed body for handheld shooting
  • - Huge, bright viewfinder is a joy to use

Cons:

  • - Autofocus system only has a single point
  • - Lower resolution than medium-format peers
  • - Unconventional four-button control layout

Product:

Leica S (Typ 007) review

Manufacturer:

Price as reviewed:

£12,900.00 (Body only)

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Leica S (Typ 007) review – Our verdict

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For all the little difficulties this Leica S (Typ 007) presents, it’s a camera I enjoy using a great deal. Once I’ve set it up with the rear buttons customised to my liking, and now that I’m familiar with the menu system and how to skip pages instead of scrolling through all the options, I can make it work quite quickly. The AF is good enough and works well in most cases, and when it is insufficient the massive, bright viewfinder makes focusing manually a joy.

I long for all medium-format cameras to grow more than one AF point – if Pentax can do it, surely Leica can too. It is the weakest area of the camera.

The handling of the S is very important because Leica has made a statement by creating this design that looks as though it is supposed to be handheld, and while it is big and heavy it is easily the best medium-format camera for working with off the tripod. 
In all, handling is good and fast, and Leica has achieved what it set out to do.

Depth of field is shallow with medium format - this was shot at 70mm f/4

Depth of field is shallow with medium format – this was shot at 70mm f/4

The best aspect of the camera, though, is the image quality, which is exceptional. The resolution looks a bit weak compared with the 50MP and 100MP sensors used by other medium-format camera makers, but for most applications it is more than sufficient. The camera’s ability to resolve detail is really very good, and the Leica S lens range works in some style to ensure images are as crisp and aberration-free as they can be. The dynamic range is excellent, as is the colour and natural look of the images, and noise is well controlled.

When the camera was launched it looked like excellent value compared with the competition, and particularly to the price of the Type 006. Now Hasselblad has dropped the price of the H5D 50c Wi-Fi in dramatic fashion, so the proposition has altered somewhat.

Overall, this is a very nice camera. There are plenty of things I’d like to see done differently, but the combination of image quality and general ease of use make it a really exciting camera to work with.

TESTBENCH RECOMMENDED 4

  1. 1. Leica S (Typ 007) review - Introduction
  2. 2. Leica S (Typ 007) review - Features
  3. 3. Leica S (Typ 007) review - Leica S app
  4. 4. Leica S (Typ 007) review - Handling
  5. 5. Leica S (Typ 007) review - Performance
  6. 6. Leica S (Typ 007) review - Dynamic range, resolution and noise
  7. 7. Leica S (Typ 007) review - Our verdict
  8. 8. Leica S (Typ 007) review - Full specification
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