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Leica S3 refreshes the medium-format DSLR with drool-worthy 64MP, cinema 4K

The red dot has gone high-res. Announced on Friday, March 6, the Leica S3 brings 64-megapixel stills and 4K video to the luxury brand’s full-frame DSLR line. Launching more than a decade after the S2, the Leica S3 brings a slew of improvements to the medium-format camera that still maintains Leica’s classic look.

The S3 moves from a 37.5-megapixel sensor to 64MP, a 71% increase. The larger sensor also allows for a 15-stop dynamic range to capture more detail in high contrast scenes. Unsurprisingly — since camera sensors have enabled dramatic noise reductions in the last ten years — the S3 also increases the ISO range to 50,000.

A 64-megapixel still photo is a big file — the S2 tops out at just 3 fps for photos. A 2GB buffer helps for longer bursts. A central shutter can be used with Lecia’s CS lenses, which allows for a flash sync speed of 1/1000, rather than the 1/125 available with the leaf shutter.

Cinema 4K is captured from the entire width of the medium format sensor, at an also cinematic 24 fps. Faster frame rates for slow-motion are available by switching to full HD. External recording equipment and microphones are also supported.

Wi-Fi, another feature that’s now standard compared to when the S2 was introduced, is also included, compatible with iOS, iPadOS, and Android. The S3 is also compatible with wired tethering using the Leica Shuttle app or a plug-in for Adobe Lightroom Classic.

Leica says the S3 brings the versatility of high-end performance for both stills and video, along with touting that higher resolution sensor. Keeping the classic Leica DSLR look, the Leica S3 is weather-sealed. DSLR perks include an optical viewfinder and a battery life rated at more than 1,000 shots.

The Leica S3 will retail for just a touch under $19,000 — a price that’s expected coming from a high-end luxury brand. The S3 has a bit of competition compared to the other players when the S2 was launched. The S3 competes with the likes of the $10,000, 102-megapixel Fujifilm GFX 100; the $6,000, 50-megapixel Hasselblad X1D; and the $7,000, 51-megapixel Pentax 645Z.

The S3 starts shipping as early as March 6, with pre-orders now open.

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