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Leica S2 focusing fact and fiction

Update! I’ve added another page of autofocus errors to my Leica S2 review in DAP.

I assume that my readers might be making $5K or $20K or $50K purchasing decisions based on my findings. Therefore, I put enormous effort into being as thorough as I can to avoid missing issues that could be critical for some users. I document what I find.

You need only read my careful documentation of Leica S2 focusing issues to immediately recognize with your own eyes that the S2 focus is problematic (note that I am not saying that other medium format digital cameras are free of issues).

Even knowledgeable users can be mistaken. Below is a quote from Mark Dubovoy over on LuminousLandscape.com in which he states that S2 focusing is “deadly accurate”, something I’ve disproved repeatedly and at-will with two S2 bodies on three occasions with all four Leica S lenses.

It appears to me from the many hundreds of images I have shot so far, that the focusing in the S2 system is deadly accurate. Much better than the other MF systems. I wonder if this is the only SLR system on the market that has tight enough mechanical and electronic tolerances to actually guarantee pretty much perfect focus at the sensor. — Mark Dubovoy

Autofocus on the S2 might be better than some medium format systems, but it’s also subject to severe backfocus issues at medium and distant focus.

On Dec 14 (a week ago), I repeated Leica S2 focusing problems at will with image after image side-by-side with a Leica USA representative; those images are now in Germany, with my fervent hope that Leica will nail down the issue, since eventually I’d love to own the S2, which has the best lenses of any camera I’ve used, of any format.

My December 14 tests used the latest Leica S2 firmware. It does NOT solve the problem.

I dislike reading erroneous statements in print about a camera system that will cost users at least $28K to acquire, so I felt it mandatory to point out this error. Mr. Dubovoy is welcome to contact me, and since he’s local, I’ll go shoot his S2 with him and demonstrate the issue. Or be delighted if he has the magic S2 body that focuses perfectly, then wonder how one would obtain such a flawless body, allowing for the chance that there could be body-specific issues that happened to affect both bodies I tested, but not his.

Here is just one example with the 120mm f/2.5 APO-Macro of S2 autofocus error.

  
Leica S2 with autofocus (left) and manual focus (right) 120/2.5 APO @ f/2.5

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