From the photokina Floor: Hands on the Leica S-E


Is the Leica S-E a bargain-priced Leica S? In a way, yes, but everything is relative. Leica S-series medium format digital cameras have established a reputation for extremely high image quality in a form factor that’s only slightly larger than a 35mm-based full-frame pro DSLR. They’re also known for dependability and excellent weather sealing, allowing them to be used in harsh environments where many other medium format DSLRs fear to tread. One of the main challenges facing potential enthusiasts and pro Leica S owners was the price, and Leica has squarely addressed that problem with the new S-E, a camera with features and performance that hardly take a back seat to the S, but will retail for substantially less—not exactly a bargain-basement price, perhaps, but one that places it within the reach of many more aspiring pros.

The new Leica S-E can be identified by a new color scheme, with its top deck in Anthracite Gray enamel and an attractive Silver anodized shutter-speed dial. Signature S-System features include a 30 x 45mm Leica Pro Format 37.5 MP sensor, a die-cast, magnesium-alloy body with full weather sealing, a choice of using the camera’s built-in focal-plane shutter with speeds to 1/4000 second or taking advantage of the leaf-shutter CS lenses with flash sync speeds at up to 1/1000 second, and the ability to use numerous third-party lenses by means of a C adapter (for Contax 645 lenses) or an H adapter (for Hasselblad H lenses), the latter with complete functionality―including AF and automatic aperture control. One of the nicest things about any Leica S model (aside from the ability to access the superb Leica S lens line) is its excellent balance/handling, which enhances stability and comfort.