A Review of the Leica S3, the New, Medium Format, $19,000 Camera

If you need a rugged workhorse to take with you on your next trip to the mountains of Patagonia, you may want to consider the new Leica S3, a beast of a camera that, on reflection, is nowhere near as expensive as you might expect.

Photographer David Farkas from RedDotForum runs you through the new features of the S3 and explains how Leica has included some significant upgrades over its predecessor, the S-Typ 007 that was released back in 2014. For anyone confused, this is the fourth (or fifth?) iteration of Leica’s medium format SLR, which began with the S1 but more accurately with the S2, succeeded by the Typ 006 and then the Typ 007. Now, we’re back to the original naming convention with the arrival of the S3. Confused much? Me too.

Given Leica’s reputation for producing collectable cameras that command very high price tags, $19k for a 64-megapixel medium format camera with this amount of weather sealing does not seem outlandish. Admittedly, if weather sealing is a deal-breaker, you may wish to opt for the Fujifilm GFX 100, which will deliver 100-megapixel images.

Which would be your choice? Let us know in the comments below.

Andy Day's picture

Andy Day is a British photographer and writer living in France. He began photographing parkour in 2003 and has been doing weird things in the city and elsewhere ever since. He's addicted to climbing and owns a fairly useless dog. He has an MA in Sociology & Photography which often makes him ponder what all of this really means.

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I shot an S2 system recreationally and for a commercial gig and it was amazing. The weight, balance and optics were great. I can only imagine how much better this S3 is.

I bought a Nikon D600 seven years ago for $2000 (one tenth of the price of this Leica) and truly I can't see how a camera could be better than my Nikon unless it was smaller, lighter or had better image quality above ISO 3200.

A Ferrari will not get you to the supermarket any better than a volts wagon beetle, but the ride will be something you will never forget.

So you've both got points. The reality is in this day and age a great photographer can achieve pretty amazing stuff with the right cell phone. I've owned a red camera, a digital Hasselblad, several full frame nikons and Sony's and most recently a canon m6 mark ii. My Hasselblad remains in its bag 90 percent of the time, and my m6 mark ii comes with me everywhere I go in a small sling bag. Yes my Hasselblad blows the m6 mark ii out of the water, but the m6 mark ii is a better camera. Because I have it with me. In 2020 to spend 19 grand on a medium format Leica doesn't make much sense, when you can get a tiny mirrorless and a dozen 5 to 7 amazing lenses for the same price. Or a madium format fuji for a third of the price. I would honestly consider my m6 mark ii more of a tesla model 3 than a vw, but that's just my humble opinion.

Everything you said is true. It's nice if you have deep pockets which I don't. Most people know cameras like Leica and Hasselblad are well designed and precision made by hand. They are not production cameras. If you want speed you better buy a Sony A7. I own a Canon XC-15 that does more then your Hasselblad but I would LOVE to trade if you are interested.

And the result is the same:
Get to that red light before anyone driving a Yugo…

S3 doesn't worth its price. Its sensor is smaller than standard "crop" medium format sensor (30x45mm vs 33x44mm). GFX 100 is definitely a better buy, at almost half the price, providing superior Image Quality (56% more pixels, better dynamic range, better low light performance), IBIS, tiltable LCD & EVF and brilliant GF glass (almost as good as S lenses at the fraction of price, but without leaf shutter capability).
At $19k price point, even "full frame" (40x54mm sensor) pre-owned & certified Phase One camera & digital back can be purchased to get the ultimate image quality ("real" medium format look and feel)

Hey great review and images. However you had a tangent in your glacier shot with the tree in the foreground. I found it drawing my eye right to it immediately. Just a thought to watch out for that stuff in the future. Have a great day.