Leica SL camera 4K video test at Panavision

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Cinoflex tested the video capabilities of the new Leica SL camera and contacted me to share their findings:

We tested the Leica SL camera in 4K 10-bit 4:2:2 Super 35 / 4K 8 bit full frame/ full frame DNG photo mode - with a variety of lenses, including Anamorphic. Equipment used in testing:

  • Cinoflex XLT camera rig
  • Leica SL Typ 601 camera
  • Leica CW Sonderoptic PL mount adapter
  • Odyssey 7Q+ 4k recorder / monitor
  • Leica C-Summilux 50mm T1.4
  • Zeiss Master Prime 100mm T1.3
  • Leica vintage 35mm T1.4 lens (courtesy of Panavision)
  • Kowa anamorphic 40mm T2.4
  • TLS Cooke Speed Panchro S1 50mm T2.3
  • Leica vintage 19mm T2.8 (courtesy of Panavision)
  • Anton Bauer HC battery
  • TV Logic 17" monitor

The Leica SL is very impressive for a few elements:

  • Smooth clean color rendition
  • Very subtle and clean flesh tones out of the box
  • The image is reminiscent of Arri Alexa for a smooth curve
  • Phenomenal build quality, truly one of the most solid cameras
  • Super 35 is almost absent of image shift (jello effect)
  • The image handles aliasing extremely well
  • Easy to hook up with full size HDMI - very important
  • The Leica - or - L LOG is a great Gamma option
  • Menu is very intuitive and limited in pages

The Leica SL produces an outstanding image in this scenario:

  • Super 35 4K 10-Bit 4:2:2
  • Leica Log - L LOG - V LOG / gamma setting
  • PL mount / professional lens
  • On a quality rig (Cinoflex)
  • Cinema lenses to mitigate any image shift in focus (breathing)
  • A dependable and robust recorder - Odyssey 7Q+

The Leica SL is a great camera for video shooters looking for options between high quality 10-Bit 4K S35 and FF HD 1920 Internal (also internal 4K in APS super 35 mode), as well as exceptional DNG photographs! Also, important to note that the version of L LOG tested is still being tweaked so additional performance should be expected the time of delivery (Nov. 16). We will shoot more tests at the end of November with a production model of the Leica SL camera and a variety of lenses.


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  • Interesting, when it was announced a lot of people said that 4K was only available at Super35 and not FF. They recorded 10-bit 422 in Super35, does that mean it doens’t output 4K in FF via HDMI? Does it record Super35 4K internally as well?

    Good to see that there is just little rolling shutter in Super35 mode.

    • Les

      I think it only outputs HD (possibly 2K) in full frame. 4k and UHD are S35.
      That’s a feature, by the way. All the best cine lenses are S35. Pulling focus in FF (“8 perf” in cine linguo) is much harder, with little benefit.

      • SomeoneNotImportant

        I remember 8-Perf 35mill as Vista Vison. “Vertigo” was shot this way. 8-Perf 35 was a negative process-Paramount introduced the technique of optical reduction from a large negative image to the standard release print image. This was the most important and distinctive feature of VistaVision.

        Maybe some Longer Focal Length Lenses by Cooke, Angenieux, Z-Arri-eiss, Leica will have enough coverage for the whole sensor without vignetting.

  • Bo Dez

    I thought is was 4K s35 only. This changes things. This testing sounds very faourable and better than I expected with rolling shutter etc. I am more interested in this camera now.

    • It seems it’s S35 only indeed, in the test there is not even FF 4K, admin needs to correct the article.

  • El Aura

    It seems that when Panasonic makes a FF sensor (and image processing pipeline), you get some very nice video.

    Sure, we don’t know for sure that the Leica SL (and Q) sensor is a Panasonic one but there are good chances that it is or least from greater Panasonic. The image processing pipeline also has a lot of similarities to what Panasonic offers in regard to video and there is a good chance that if Panasonic did the sensor they also contributed significantly to the video processing pipeline.

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