Why Leica’s SL3 Doesn’t Support Content Authenticity

Leica SL3

Today, Leica announced the SL3 camera, which features a big 60-megapixel sensor and better autofocus packed inside a more compact body. But after the M11-P’s announcement last year, there is one odd feature not included: content authenticity.

Announced last October, the M11-P was the world’s first dedicated camera to support the CP2A standard for assuring the provenance of a photo from the moment of capture. In basic terms, it attaches secure metadata to a photo as soon as it is created and tracks any changes to the file from that point forward.

If a publication — any one of the several that are part of the Content Authenticity Initiative — requires the CP2A metadata to be intact to run a photo, its absence will disqualify it (in the case where it is removed) and if it is in place, that publication will be able to see if the photo has been altered in a way that skews the truth.

By integrating the Content Authenticity Initiative’s open-source standard, photographers can deliver an additional layer of protection and transparency concerning any modifications made to an image. It is currently positioned as the last line of defense against the onslaught of AI images.

Leica SL3

It may therefore seem a bit odd that Leica’s SL3 doesn’t include this feature.

“The Content Credentials (CAI) function was introduced as a world first with the Leica M11-P. The development and implementation of new technology is a complex process that requires time and resources. Unexpected risks may arise, leading to delays,” a spokesperson for Leica tells PetaPixel.

“The decision to make the Content Credentials function initially available only for the M11-P was the result of advantages in terms of market readiness and technical developments at the time of product technology completion. Since the Leica SL3 was developed in parallel, it was not possible to integrate the Content Credentials technology simultaneously, which would have disproportionately increased the effort and risks for both the new function and the new products, delaying product launches.”

Speaking to the Content Authenticity Initiative last November, PetaPixel learned that there are multiple ways to add CAI support to cameras, ranging from Leica’s dedicated chip approach to simply updating the firmware of a camera. This was later shown to be the case by both Sony and Nikon who are in active plans to add it to existing cameras. Leica chose to use a dedicated chip in the M11-P in its implementation — a chip that appears absent from the SL3 — and it doesn’t appear as though the company feels any other approach is adequate.

“C2PA support through firmware is indeed possible, but does not meet Leica’s standard for encryption of this important data,” Leica says. “This is why Leica decided to use dedicated hardware to encrypt data on the M11-P.”

In short, if a Leica camera doesn’t launch with it, support for content authenticity should not be expected to come down the line outside of a brand new model — if at all.

Image credits: Leica