These days, it can feel like every single moment of our lives is thoroughly documented. Many, if not most, of us enjoy sharing our experiences on social media; some of us even try to convert those shares into a lucrative secondary income.

Even those who have managed to resist the grasp of Zuckerberg et al will want to capture memories and moments for their own enjoyment. Whatever your motivation, quality is key so you will naturally look to equip yourself with the best kit available: step forward Leica, and their brand-new SL3 mirrorless full-frame camera.

As the name would suggest, the SL3 is the third iteration of a Leica range intended to blend the worlds of photography and videography, delivering professional-standard results alongside market-leading ease of use.

Dispensing with the mirrors from DSLR-style cameras has made equipment lighter and processing times quicker, so these cameras are perfect for both people who value portability and people who need high-end results for their work.

As I headed up to The Gleneagles Hotel to experience the new camera myself, I couldn’t help but feel a little underqualified to be testing new kit so clearly built for serious, even full-time professional, users, given my relative lack of knowledge about the finer aspects of photography. As it turned out, the upgrades and advancements made to the SL3 as a result of Leica’s quest to best equip the pros has made it equally suitable for a user as casual as me.

From a technical perspective, the SL3 is pretty powerful. Images can be captured up to 60MP with an ISO range between 50 – 100,000, meaning crisp detail even in low light. Three different auto-focus technologies combine to offer dynamic adjustments which allow excellent capture of moving targets, and a new “animal mode” enhances the potential for amazing nature photography.

Video can be captured up to 8K and will format (if desired) in Apple ProRes, allowing for seamless transition to your Apple products for editing and processing. While all this is certainly impressive, arguably the most practical and desirable improvements are to the user interface and accompanying Leica Fotos app – two factors which made the most difference to my own experience of shooting with it.

I shot with the Leica SL3 for two days as part of a group of journalists invited to have an advance look at the new camera. After a brief but informative presentation we were given our first opportunity to put it through its paces: shooting a display by the on-site falconry team at Gleneagles.

The ease with which I navigated the menus and settings on the touch screen – which boasts razor-sharp clarity to check your images after shooting, and tilts to different positions to act as viewfinder when shooting from awkward angles – were an immediate plus point, enabling me to switch between modes and features almost as quickly as the birds were moving.

The “animal” setting on the autofocus was thoroughly tested here and, while it wasn’t quite quick enough to keep up with a peregrine falcon in flight (to be fair, neither was I) it did easily identify the faces of each bird and grab some spectacular portraits.

Bird of prey
Bird of prey

After a few hours spent wandering the estate and experimenting with the different functions it was time for dinner, and an opportunity to take advantage of the low-light capabilities of the SL3. A candlelit dining room is the perfect setting for moody, atmospheric photography and again the camera performed admirably – automations took care of all necessary adjustments and the results turned out beautifully.

Shooting at night has always been a weak area of my photography, so to see such good results as a result of top-end equipment was a refreshing and welcome change.

The next day saw us up bright and early to mount a fleet of Land Rovers and head up into the Perthshire hills for some beautiful views. Sadly the fog across the mountains that morning put paid to that plan, but did offer an opportunity to discover the robust, weatherproof construction of the camera. There was wind, there was rain, it was cold – nothing had even the slightest effect on performance. While we may not have captured the majesty of the panorama which hid behind the cloud we were engulfed by, the greens, browns, and purples of the landscape around us contrasted brilliantly with the hard grey steel of our Defenders, and the SL3 picked all those details up with ease.

As we made our way back down the mountain and headed to the warmth of the hotel I took the opportunity to transfer the images from the camera to my phone before (reluctantly) handing it back. Using the built-in wifi to connect to the new and improved Leica Fotos app took seconds, and the transfer of 1.3GB of images less than a minute. This is another major plus point for both professional photographers working with quick client turnarounds and recreational users excited to get their work up to Instagram, and another example of how the SL3 is equally suitable for either.

Other professional enhancements include the ability to connect to mains power and a timestamp interface to synchronise with other sources of footage, very handy for those who wish to film extended video clips.

The materials and design used for the construction make it equal parts stylish and functional. Every little intricacy of form and function on the SL3 has been crafted after discussion and collaboration with a panel of global photography experts – the result is a camera which will both satisfy their demands and allow casuals like me the chance to feel close to their league.

The Leica Sl3 starts at £5,920. For more information see