It's aliiiiiiive! The 64MP Leica S3 medium format camera resurfaces

It's aliiiiiiive! The 64MP Leica S3 medium format camera resurfaces
(Image credit: Leica Rumors)

Speak of the devil, he shall appear! The Leica S3 has just risen from its Sleeping Beauty-like slumber, with fresh images and full specifications being leaked online.

After we flippantly made mention of the Leica S3 yesterday, in our story about the (similarly leaked) new Leica M10-R, a fresh batch of pictures and specs appeared online for Leica's long-awaited medium format camera. 

• Hands on: Leica S3 review

We first got our hands on the S3 way back in September 2018, where we were not immune to the magic of this medium format DSLR that packs a 64MP sensor, uncropped 4K video and the ultimate expression of images possessing the much vaunted "Leica magic".

Since then, however, the camera has completely dropped off the map, reportedly delayed until spring of this year. In that intervening period, the pecking order of the best medium format cameras has changed drastically, with the release of the Fujifilm GFX 100 at one end of the market and (bizarrely) a new entry level Hasselblad X1D II 50C at the other. 

With the Leica S3 likely to command a price tag in the $20,000 region (twice that of the GFX 100), there's a question of where its 64MP sensor (which only barely gazumps the 61MP sensor in the Sony A7R IV) and DSLR technology (in a world where Fujifilm offers mirrorless medium format with in-body stabilization) fits into the equation.

Externally, the Leica S3 looks the same as it did when we saw it back in 2018

Externally, the Leica S3 looks the same as it did when we saw it back in 2018 (Image credit: Leica Rumors)

Still, the new images leaked by Leica Rumors show that nothing externally has changed, and the specifications also leaked by the site largely reinforce what we knew about the camera. 

The Leica S3 features a Leica CMOS sensor with 4.6μm pixel size and 62.7 total / effective megapixels (though image resolution remains listed as 64MP for both JPG and DNG), with no low-pass filter to provide greater sharpness (moiré is controlled via an external digital image processor).

It uses CF and UHS-I SD cards (the latter no smaller than 1GB), has a maximum ISO of 12,500, possesses phase detect autofocus in Live View and has a 3-inch fixed Gorilla Glass LCD screen with 921,600 pixels. Video is still, unfortunately, motion JPG, with 1080p up to 30p or full-width 4K up to 24p in 4:2:2 – and 4K video can only be recorded to SD cards. 

What do you think – after 18 months is the Leica S3 too little, too late, or does it still have a place among the latest and greatest medium format cameras? Have your say in the DCW forums

Read more: 

Hands on: Leica S3 review
Hands-on: Leica M10 Monochrom review
47MP Leica on the way? The "R" in Leica M10-R may stand for "resolution"

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James Artaius

The editor of Digital Camera World, James has 21 years experience as a journalist and started working in the photographic industry in 2014 (as an assistant to Damian McGillicuddy, who succeeded David Bailey as Principal Photographer for Olympus). In this time he shot for clients like Aston Martin Racing, Elinchrom and L'Oréal, in addition to shooting campaigns and product testing for Olympus, and providing training for professionals. This has led him to being a go-to expert for camera and lens reviews, photo and lighting tutorials, as well as industry news, rumors and analysis for publications like Digital Camera MagazinePhotoPlus: The Canon MagazineN-Photo: The Nikon MagazineDigital Photographer and Professional Imagemaker, as well as hosting workshops and talks at The Photography Show. He also serves as a judge for the Red Bull Illume Photo Contest. An Olympus and Canon shooter, he has a wealth of knowledge on cameras of all makes – and a fondness for vintage lenses and instant cameras.