Leica S3: medium format camera with 64MP sensor and 4K cinema resolution

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For the first time, the entire area of the 30 x 45 mm sensor can be used for 4K cinema resolution. The Leica S3 also features 48 kHz,16-bit stereo sound with automatic or manual level adjustment.

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 most obvious improvement of the Leica S3 is the increase in resolution, from 37.5 to 64 megapixels, but there is more to the S3 than resolution. The medium format camera, which like its predecessors, also utilises the Leica ProFormat developed especially for the Leica S-System, features a number of technological advances. 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.

Leica S3: medium format camera with 4K cinema resolution

A 64 Megapixel medium format sensor

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.

Leica S3: medium format camera with 4K cinema resolution

4K cinema resolution

Photographers seeking the ultimate quality in medium format will love the Leica S3, but videographers may have in this model more than they imagine. 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. What’s more, the full width of the sensor can be used at every resolution, which also lends video recordings the special and unique medium format look.

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 you mix the exceptional image quality and the characteristic signature of the S-Lenses video recordings get a unique cinematic flair, says the company, adding that “thanks to selective focus and the characteristic Leica bokeh, moving pictures shot with the camera are just as breath-taking as stills.”

According to Leica, “the high quality of the recorded videos is retained by virtue of 4:2:2 color subsampling and files store in MOV format complete with time code. Thanks to Motion JPEG compression of the video files, each frame works on a stand-alone basis. Therefore, this format is ideal for film editing even before conversion.

Leica S3: medium format camera with 4K cinema resolution

Magnesium body

As an alternative to internal video recording with a resolution of up to cine-4K, 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 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.

A 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 all connect the Leica S3 with other members of the Leica S-System. The camera is also protected against moisture, dust and other foreign bodies while in terms of handling, the intuitive solution of the Leica S (Typ 007)  has been carried forward to the Leica S3.

Leica S3: medium format camera with 4K cinema resolution

S-lenses are made to last

S-lenses are an integral part of the Leica S-System, so they 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. What this means is that their optical performance is not exhausted by sensors with a resolution of 64 megapixels, so they retain their value as a long-term investment.

Another 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. Creative photographers will appreciate the freedom this gives 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.

Leica S3: medium format camera with 4K cinema resolution

Shooting tethered

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.

The Leica S3 is now available from retailers worldwide, with a price of  $18,995. For more info either visit Leica’s website or download a pdf with all the specifications.

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