10th Anniversary 2012-2022
More than just a camera lens database

Leica S3

Medium format AF digital SLR camera

Specification

Production details
Announced:March 2020
Order No.:10827
10832
System: Leica S (2008)
Imaging plane
Maximum format:Medium format 45x30
Mount and Flange focal distance:Leica S [53mm]
Imaging plane:45 × 30mm CMOS sensor
Resolution:9800 × 6530 - 64 MP
Shutter
Type:Focal-plane
Model:Electronically controlled
Speeds:480 - 1/4000 + B
Sensor-shift image stabilization:-
Exposure
Exposure metering:Through-the-lens (TTL)
Exposure modes:Programmed Auto
Aperture-priority Auto
Shutter-priority Auto
Manual
Physical characteristics
Weight:1260g
Dimensions:160x120x80mm
Accessories
Body cap:16021

Manufacturer description #1

Today Leica Camera delivers the latest model of its medium format system to retailers worldwide – having previously announced the development of the Leica S3 at photokina 2018. The outstanding excellence of the Leica S and its lenses is rooted in a well thought-out system in which every component represents an integral element of the recording process. With the market release of the Leica S3 on March 6, 2020, Leica Camera once again lives up to the ambitious quality standards the company’s customers have come to expect.

In addition to the most obvious improvement – an increase in resolution from 37.5 to 64 megapixels – the medium format camera features a number of technological advances. Just like its predecessors, the Leica S3 also utilises the Leica ProFormat developed especially for the Leica S-System. With dimensions of 30 x 45 millimetres, it corresponds to the classic 3:2 aspect ratio of the 35 mm full-frame format, but offers a 56 percent larger sensor area. In comparison with its predecessor, the new 64 megapixel sensor developed exclusively for Leica offers a 71 percent increase in resolution, a dynamic range of 15 f-stops and a maximum ISO sensitivity setting of 50000 – thereby providing sufficient reserves to be ready to handle any imaginable lighting situation and fully exploit the strengths of the medium format. Subjects can be composed in the large and bright SLR viewfinder, focused sharply with the fast and reliable autofocus and captured at a continuous shooting rate of three frames per second. In addition to all other essential exposure settings, an electronic levelling aid (horizon) can also be displayed in the viewfinder. Whenever required, the LCD screen displays a Live-View image with a refresh rate of up to 60 fps is available in both still picture and video recording mode that also allows focus peaking, brightness and exposure data, a clipping warning, grids and a histogram to be superimposed onto the image.

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.

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 with the help of the app and the images captured in DNG and JPG format can 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.

As with other members of the Leica S-System, the Leica S3 is constructed using superior-quality and extremely resilient materials: examples include the magnesium body, the Corning®Gorilla®Glass cover plate of the 3-inch monitor screen as well as the lens bayonet, which is made from particularly solid stainless steel. Furthermore, the numerous seals that protect the camera against the ingress of moisture, dust and other foreign bodies contribute 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.

With a special construction concept that ensures protection against dust and spray, the S-Lenses are an integral element of the Leica S-System. As is the case with other Leica lenses, S-Lenses are designed to offer sufficient performance reserves to meet the demands of future generations of imaging technology and retain their value as a long-term investment that can fully exploit the potential of future camera generations. The optical performance delivered by these lenses is still by no means exhausted by sensors with a resolution of 64 megapixels. A further highlight of the S-System is the central shutter available as an alternative option for six lenses of the S-System portfolio. In contrast to a focal plane shutter with a maximum sync speed of 1/125 s, a central shutter allows flash synchronization even at its fastest shutter speed of 1/1000 s. This opens up considerably greater exposure leeway for creative photography, particularly when working with professional studio flash systems or shooting in bright ambient light. In such situations, the larger image circle of Leica S-Lenses as a consequence of the sensor dimensions not only creates the characteristic medium format look, but also significantly shallower depth of focus.

Manufacturer description #2

The excellence of the Leica S3 is the result of an extremely well-thought-out overall system. All of its individual components are precisely matched to one another and interact in perfect harmony to create the inimitable Leica look.

Developed in close collaboration with professional photographers, the S3 expertly fulfils their particular needs – with its exceptional picture quality and outstanding flexibility, paired with uncomplicated handling and extreme robustness.

All components of the Leica S3 – from the lenses and the body to the sensor – are precisely matched to one another. The S3 and its lenses are manufactured with the utmost care in Germany.

This unique system has been created by Leica to fulfil only one purpose: the maximisation of creative freedom to ensure that the decisive moment is never missed.

The S3 features the next generation of the Leica ProFormat sensor, now with 64-megapixel resolution. With dimensions of 30 x 45mm, it corresponds to the aspect ratio of the classic 35mm format, while offering a light sensitive surface area that is larger by 56%. This change not only had a positive influence on image quality, but was also a significant factor in achieving the characteristic medium format look of pictures shot with the Leica S3.

How light is handled by the system plays a decisive role in the creation of the visual signature and imaging quality: a larger sensor requires lenses with a wider image circle. They deliver not only the considerably narrower depth of field typical for medium format lenses but, in addition, due to their constructional characteristics, do not need extremely large apertures to enable a large amount of light to fall on the sensor. At the same time, thanks to the larger sensor size, every single pixel is larger, captures more light and is thus able to process this extra light in an optimum manner.

The Leica ProFormat therefore represents an ideal balance between image quality and creative capabilities for a broad spectrum of photographic applications and uses the ideal synthesis of 35mm and traditional medium format.

The sensor of Leica S3 not only delivers impressive resolution, it also increases dynamic range to discernibly more than 15 stops and thus displays a previously unparalleled tonal range between shadows and highlights. Thanks to the high sensor sensitivity of up to ISO 50000, the Leica S3 need not be reliant on studio lighting. Whether on location, shooting a reportage project, or at weddings – whenever available light is to be used – the Leica S3 reveals its strengths and highlights the advantages of the larger format. In addition, the CMOS sensor enables video recording and Live View as added extra alternatives to the optical viewfinder image.

The revised and improved predictive autofocus system of the Leica S3 always looks one step ahead. The lens and the camera act together as a perfect unit that takes the most direct way to sharp images. The autofocus is designed to quickly yet smoothly move to optimum image sharpness and can even incorporate corrections made in the very last fraction of a second. In a way that is absolutely essential for dynamic photography, it recognises all movements of a subject during the focusing process.

With its Leica CMOS sensor and Maestro II series image processor, the Leica S3 has all the essential technology for shooting professional video footage in 4K cinema resolution and full-HD.

The full width of the sensor is leveraged at every resolution, which also lends video recordings the special look familiar with photos in medium format.

The horizontal perspective remains identical, whether shooting still or moving pictures. The exceptional image quality and the characteristic signature of the S-Lenses lends video recordings a unique cinematic flair. Thanks to selective focus and the characteristic Leica bokeh, moving pictures shot with the camera are just as breath-taking as stills.

The high quality of the movie shots is retained by virtue of 4:2:2 colour subsampling and files store in MOV format complete with time code. Thanks to Motion JPEG compression of the video files, the frames already work on a stand-alone basis. Therefore, this format is ideal for film editing even before conversion. As an alternative to internal video recording with a resolution of up to 4K cinema, the Leica S3 also offers an uncompressed stream in full-HD resolution that can be viewed on a connected monitor or recorded using an external HDMI recorder.

When shooting video with the Leica S3, users can not only choose from the entire range of S-Lenses, but can also mount lenses from other medium format systems with appropriate adapters. The Leica S3 offers various focusing aids for achieving optimum sharpness during manual focusing, which is typically employed when shooting films. Using Focus Peaking to display sharp areas of the image is, for instance, a practical aid for identifying points of optimum sharpness. The optional clipping display and the showing of grids complete the range of tools available when recording videos. For moving pictures, 48 kHz,16-bit stereo sound can be recorded with the integrated microphone or an off-camera microphone with automatic or manual level adjustment.

The lenses are crucial when it comes to the quality of any camera system. All S-System lenses have been built to achieve nothing less than maximum optical performance. Perfect reproduction of colours and skin tones, unrivalled contrast rendition, precisely defined planes of focus and harmonious bokeh; the image quality is always perfect regardless of the aperture or focusing distance.

This is because Leica draws on more than a century of expertise, employs high-quality materials and naturally utilises cutting-edge manufacturing technologies that go hand-in-hand with precise manual craftsmanship. This gives rise to lenses that redefine the boundaries of what is technically possible.

Simply by changing a setting on the main switch of the Leica S3 users can decide before every shot whether they wish to use the metal-bladed focal plane shutter integrated into the camera or the central shutter in the lens. With its fastest shutter speed of 1/1000 s, the Leica central shutter available for many S-Lenses offers photographers significantly greater creative leeway when working with professional flash systems for the suppression of ambient light or as fill lighting when using larger apertures on location. By way of comparison, the fastest sync speed offered by the focal plane shutter is 1/125 s. The central shutter thus expands the photographer’s creative scope by no less than three stop increments.

In case photographers already own medium format equipment, the Leica S-Adapters offer existing lenses a new lease of life. The Leica S3 masters the electronic settings of most third-party lenses such as autofocus and aperture at least as well as the systems for which they were designed. It raises the resulting image quality, however, to the level of a state-of-the-art digital medium-format camera.

The image data captured by the Leica S3 can be saved in the future-proof DNG format (Digital Negative) – the only standardised cross-brand format that is not tied to a specific RAW data converter and can be read by the majority of image processing software packages. This means that the Leica S3 can be seamlessly integrated into every existing working environment.

DNG format not only allows the saving of all image data with lossless compression, but also all metadata for each exposure – for instance the focusing distance and the aperture. All data can be saved either to an SD card (SDXC), a CF card (UDMA7) or directly to an external storage medium (e.g. a PC).

An intuitive operating concept that relies on the absolute minimum number of control elements has been created for the Leica S3. The two central control elements of the Leica S3 are the click wheel and the five-way joystick, both of which are conveniently positioned for operation by the photographer’s right thumb. Through these functions, the photographer controls the aperture and navigates through the menus on the rear display, which is also surrounded by four buttons.

The camera’s main switch allows the photographer to choose between the focal plane and central shutter. The camera’s ergonomically designed integrated handgrip keeps it steady in the photographer’s hands and its relatively low weight and optimum centre of gravity ensure fatigue-free photography.

The electronic components of the Leica S3 are designed to enable maximum data transfer speeds. Thanks to more than 9,800 parallel D/A converters, image data from the sensor is read in the shortest possible times without any loss of quality.

They are then processed by the Maestro II processor, which has been specially developed for Leica.

The 2 GB buffer memory ensures that all links in the processing chain can work as quickly as possible without ever sitting idle. Despite the high resolution of the 64-megapixel sensor, consistently high data transfer rates enable a shooting frequency of up to 3 frames per second. The processor installed in the Leica S3 ensures optimum noise suppression and ensures that the camera responds instantaneously to all commands.

Your comment

Copy this code

and paste it here *

Share
Clickable
Table of contents
Clickable
Technical data
Clickable
Instruction manual
Clickable
Leica S system cameras
Clickable

Copyright © 2012-2022 Evgenii Artemov. All rights reserved. Translation and/or reproduction of website materials in any form, including the Internet, is prohibited without the express written permission of the website owner.

35mm full frame

43.27 24 36
  • Dimensions: 36 × 24mm
  • Aspect ratio: 3:2
  • Diagonal: 43.27mm

Travellers' choice

Note

Among autofocus lenses designed for 35mm full-frame mirrorless cameras only. Speed of standard and telephoto lenses is taken into account.

Professional lens (Top class)

One of the best

According to lens-db.com; among lenses designed for the same maximum format and mount.

Unable to follow the link

You are already on the page dedicated to this lens.

Cannot perform comparison

Cannot compare the lens to itself.

Unique Leica Look

Leica lenses are one-of-a-kind optical masterpieces that are impressive because of their unique Leica Look. This is ensured through exceptional optical design combined with selected materials and the highest quality standards.

Leica lenses reveal their full potential only when mounted on Leica cameras, since only these have sensors precisely matched to their optical characteristics.

Image stabilizer

A technology used for reducing or even eliminating the effects of camera shake. Gyro sensors inside the lens detect camera shake and pass the data to a microcomputer. Then an image stabilization group of elements controlled by the microcomputer moves inside the lens and compensates camera shake in order to keep the image static on the imaging sensor or film.

The technology allows to increase the shutter speed by several stops and shoot handheld in such lighting conditions and at such focal lengths where without image stabilizer you have to use tripod, decrease the shutter speed and/or increase the ISO setting which can lead to blurry and noisy images.

16021

Protection cap, for camera body with LEICA S bayonet mount.

Original name

Lens name as indicated on the lens barrel (usually on the front ring). With lenses from film era, may vary slightly from batch to batch.

Format

Format refers to the shape and size of film or image sensor.

35mm is the common name of the 36x24mm film format or image sensor format. It has an aspect ratio of 3:2, and a diagonal measurement of approximately 43mm. The name originates with the total width of the 135 film which was the primary medium of the format prior to the invention of the full frame digital SLR. Historically the 35mm format was sometimes called small format to distinguish it from the medium and large formats.

APS-C is an image sensor format approximately equivalent in size to the film negatives of 25.1x16.7mm with an aspect ratio of 3:2.

Medium format is a film format or image sensor format larger than 36x24mm (35mm) but smaller than 4x5in (large format).

Angle of view

Angle of view describes the angular extent of a given scene that is imaged by a camera. It is used interchangeably with the more general term field of view.

As the focal length changes, the angle of view also changes. The shorter the focal length (eg 18mm), the wider the angle of view. Conversely, the longer the focal length (eg 55mm), the smaller the angle of view.

A camera's angle of view depends not only on the lens, but also on the sensor. Imaging sensors are sometimes smaller than 35mm film frame, and this causes the lens to have a narrower angle of view than with 35mm film, by a certain factor for each sensor (called the crop factor).

This website does not use the angles of view provided by lens manufacturers, but calculates them automatically by the following formula: 114.6 * arctan (21.622 / CF * FL),

where:

CF – crop-factor of a sensor,
FL – focal length of a lens.

Mount

A lens mount is an interface — mechanical and often also electrical — between a camera body and a lens.

A lens mount may be a screw-threaded type, a bayonet-type, or a breech-lock type. Modern camera lens mounts are of the bayonet type, because the bayonet mechanism precisely aligns mechanical and electrical features between lens and body, unlike screw-threaded mounts.

Lens mounts of competing manufacturers (Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Sony etc.) are always incompatible. In addition to the mechanical and electrical interface variations, the flange focal distance can also be different.

The flange focal distance (FFD) is the distance from the mechanical rear end surface of the lens mount to the focal plane.

Lens construction

Lens construction – a specific arrangement of elements and groups that make up the optical design, including type and size of elements, type of used materials etc.

Element - an individual piece of glass which makes up one component of a photographic lens. Photographic lenses are nearly always built up of multiple such elements.

Group – a cemented together pieces of glass which form a single unit or an individual piece of glass. The advantage is that there is no glass-air surfaces between cemented together pieces of glass, which reduces reflections.

Focal length

The focal length is the factor that determines the size of the image reproduced on the focal plane, picture angle which covers the area of the subject to be photographed, depth of field, etc.

Speed

The largest opening or stop at which a lens can be used is referred to as the speed of the lens. The larger the maximum aperture is, the faster the lens is considered to be. Lenses that offer a large maximum aperture are commonly referred to as fast lenses, and lenses with smaller maximum aperture are regarded as slow.

In low-light situations, having a wider maximum aperture means that you can shoot at a faster shutter speed or work at a lower ISO, or both.

Closest focusing distance

The minimum distance from the focal plane (film or sensor) to the subject where the lens is still able to focus.

Closest working distance

The distance from the front edge of the lens to the subject at the maximum magnification.

Magnification ratio

Determines how large the subject will appear in the final image. For example, a magnification ratio of 1:1 means that the image of the subject formed on the film or sensor will be the same size as the subject in real life. For this reason, a 1:1 ratio is often called "life-size".

Manual focus override in autofocus mode

Allows to perform final focusing manually after the camera has locked the focus automatically. Note that you don't have to switch camera and/or lens to manual focus mode.

Manual focus override in autofocus mode

Allows to perform final focusing manually after the camera has locked the focus automatically. Note that you don't have to switch camera and/or lens to manual focus mode.

Electronic manual focus override is performed in the following way: half-press the shutter button, wait until the camera has finished the autofocusing and then focus manually without releasing the shutter button using the focusing ring.

Electromagnetic diaphragm control system

Provides highly accurate diaphragm control and stable auto exposure performance during continuous shooting.

Number of blades

As a general rule, the more blades that are used to create the aperture opening in the lens, the rounder the out-of-focus highlights will be.

Some lenses are designed with curved diaphragm blades, so the roundness of the aperture comes not from the number of blades, but from their shape. However, the fewer blades the diaphragm has, the more difficult it is to form a circle, regardless of rounded edges.

At maximum aperture, the opening will be circular regardless of the number of blades.

Weight

Excluding case or pouch, caps and other detachable accessories (lens hood, close-up adapter, tripod adapter etc.).

Maximum diameter x Length

Excluding case or pouch, caps and other detachable accessories (lens hood, close-up adapter, tripod adapter etc.).

For lenses with collapsible design, the length is indicated for the working (retracted) state.

Weather sealing

A rubber material which is inserted in between each externally exposed part (manual focus and zoom rings, buttons, switch panels etc.) to ensure it is properly sealed against dust and moisture.

Lenses that accept front mounted filters typically do not have gaskets behind the filter mount. It is recommended to use a filter for complete weather resistance when desired.

Fluorine coating

Helps keep lenses clean by reducing the possibility of dust and dirt adhering to the lens and by facilitating cleaning should the need arise. Applied to the outer surface of the front and/or rear lens elements over multi-coatings.

Filters

Lens filters are accessories that can protect lenses from dirt and damage, enhance colors, minimize glare and reflections, and add creative effects to images.

Lens hood

A lens hood or lens shade is a device used on the end of a lens to block the sun or other light source in order to prevent glare and lens flare. Flare occurs when stray light strikes the front element of a lens and then bounces around within the lens. This stray light often comes from very bright light sources, such as the sun, bright studio lights, or a bright white background.

The geometry of the lens hood can vary from a plain cylindrical or conical section to a more complex shape, sometimes called a petal, tulip, or flower hood. This allows the lens hood to block stray light with the higher portions of the lens hood, while allowing more light into the corners of the image through the lowered portions of the hood.

Lens hoods are more prominent in long focus lenses because they have a smaller viewing angle than that of wide-angle lenses. For wide angle lenses, the length of the hood cannot be as long as those for telephoto lenses, as a longer hood would enter the wider field of view of the lens.

Lens hoods are often designed to fit onto the matching lens facing either forward, for normal use, or backwards, so that the hood may be stored with the lens without occupying much additional space. In addition, lens hoods can offer some degree of physical protection for the lens due to the hood extending farther than the lens itself.

Teleconverters

Teleconverters increase the effective focal length of lenses. They also usually maintain the closest focusing distance of lenses, thus increasing the magnification significantly. A lens combined with a teleconverter is normally smaller, lighter and cheaper than a "direct" telephoto lens of the same focal length and speed.

Teleconverters are a convenient way of enhancing telephoto capability, but it comes at a cost − reduced maximum aperture. Also, since teleconverters magnify every detail in the image, they logically also magnify residual aberrations of the lens.

Lens caps

Scratched lens surfaces can spoil the definition and contrast of even the finest lenses. Lens covers are the best and most inexpensive protection available against dust, moisture and abrasion. Safeguard lens elements - both front and rear - whenever the lens is not in use.