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Canon 1D Mark II vs Leica S2

The Canon EOS-1D Mark II and the Leica S2 are two professional cameras that were announced, respectively, in January 2004 and September 2008. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on an APS-H (1D Mark II) and a medium format (S2) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 8.2 megapixels, whereas the Leica provides 37.5 MP.

Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.

Headline Specifications
Canon 1D Mark II versus Leica S2
Canon 1D Mark II Leica S2
Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
Canon EF mount lenses Leica S mount lenses
8.2 MP, APS-H Sensor 37.5 MP, Medium Format Sensor
no Video no Video
ISO 100-1,600 (50 - 3,200) ISO 80-1,250
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
2.0 LCD, 230k dots 3.0 LCD, 460k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
8.3 shutter flaps per second 1.5 shutter flaps per second
Weathersealed bodyWeathersealed body
156 x 158 x 80 mm, 1535 g 160 x 120 x 80 mm, 1410 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon EOS-1D Mark II and the Leica S2? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.

Body comparison

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Canon 1D Mark II and the Leica S2 is provided in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

Size Canon 1D Mark II vs Leica S2
Compare 1D Mark II versus S2 top
Comparison 1D Mark II or S2 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Leica S2 is notably smaller (22 percent) than the Canon 1D Mark II. Moreover, the S2 is markedly lighter (8 percent) than the 1D Mark II. In this context, it is worth noting that both cameras are splash and dust-proof and can, hence, be used in inclement weather conditions or harsh environments.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete since they do not consider the interchangeable lenses that both of these cameras require. Hence, you might want to study and compare the specifications of available lenses in order to get the full picture of the size and weight of the two camera systems.

As can be seen in the images above, the 1D Mark II has a battery grip built in. This facilitates image-taking in portrait orientation and gives it additional battery power. In order to provide similar functionality for the S2, Leica provides the Multi-Function Handgrip S vertical grip as an optional accessory (see here on eBay).

The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, just use the right or left arrows in the table to switch to the respective camera. Alternatively, you can also navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from the full list of cameras there.

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Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life 1
Weather
Sealing
Camera
Launch 2
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
 
Canon 1D Mark II 6.1 in 6.2 in 3.1 in 54.1 oz 1200 Y Jan 2004 4,499i
 
Leica S2 6.3 in 4.7 in 3.1 in 49.7 oz .. Y Sep 2008 22,995i
 
Canon 5DS 6.0 in 4.6 in 3.0 in 32.8 oz 700 Y Feb 2015 3,699 i
 
Canon 5DS R 6.0 in 4.6 in 3.0 in 32.8 oz 700 Y Feb 2015 3,699 i
 
Canon 1D Mark IV 6.1 in 6.2 in 3.1 in 43.4 oz 1500 Y Oct 2009 4,999i
 
Canon 1D Mark III 6.1 in 6.2 in 3.1 in 40.7 oz 2200 Y Feb 2007 4,499i
 
Canon 1Ds Mark III 5.9 in 6.3 in 3.1 in 48.9 oz 1800 Y Aug 2007 7,999i
 
Canon 1D Mark II N 6.1 in 6.2 in 3.1 in 55.2 oz 1200 Y Aug 2005 3,999i
 
Canon 5D 6.0 in 4.4 in 3.0 in 31.6 oz 400 Y Aug 2005 3,299i
 
Canon 1Ds Mark II 6.1 in 6.2 in 3.1 in 42.9 oz 1200 Y Sep 2004 7,999i
 
Canon 1Ds 6.1 in 6.2 in 3.1 in 44.6 oz 600 Y Sep 2002 8,999i
 
Canon 1D 6.1 in 6.2 in 3.1 in 55.9 oz 500 Y Sep 2001 6,499i
 
Leica S3 6.3 in 4.7 in 3.1 in 44.4 oz .. Y Sep 2018 18,995 i
 
Leica S-E Typ 006 6.3 in 4.7 in 3.1 in 44.4 oz .. Y Sep 2014 16,900i
 
Leica S Typ 007 6.3 in 4.7 in 3.1 in 44.4 oz .. Y Sep 2014 24,490 i
 
Leica S Typ 006 6.3 in 4.7 in 3.1 in 44.4 oz .. Y Sep 2012 21,950i
 
Leica S1 13.3 in 8.4 in 4.7 in 88.2 oz .. n Aug 1996 21,490i
Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.
(1) Number of images that can be taken on a full battery charge according to the CIPA-standard; (2) Official announcement.

Any camera decision will obviously take relative prices into account. The manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. The 1D Mark II was launched at a markedly lower price (by 80 percent) than the S2, which puts it into a different market segment. Normally, street prices remain initially close to the MSRP, but after a couple of months, the first discounts appear. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.

Sensor comparison

The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants of image quality. All other things equal, a large sensor will have larger individual pixel-units that offer better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Moreover, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more control over depth-of-field in the image and, thus, the ability to better isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon 1D Mark II features an APS-H sensor and the Leica S2 a medium format sensor. The sensor area in the S2 is 146 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.3 and 0.8. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Canon 1D Mark II and Leica S2 sensor measures

With 37.5MP, the S2 offers a higher resolution than the 1D Mark II (8.2MP), but the S2 has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 6.00μm versus 8.17μm for the 1D Mark II). Yet, the S2 is a much more recent model (by 4 years and 7 months) than the 1D Mark II, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the S2 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.

The resolution advantage of the Leica S2 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the S2 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 37.5 x 25 inches or 95.3 x 63.5 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 30 x 20 inches or 76.2 x 50.8 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 25 x 16.7 inches or 63.5 x 42.3 cm. The corresponding values for the Canon 1D Mark II are 17.5 x 11.7 inches or 44.5 x 29.7 cm for good quality, 14 x 9.3 inches or 35.6 x 23.7 cm for very good quality, and 11.7 x 7.8 inches or 29.7 x 19.8 cm for excellent quality prints.

The Canon EOS-1D Mark II has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 1600, which can be extended to ISO 50-3200. The corresponding ISO settings for the Leica S2 are ISO 80 to ISO 1250 (no boost).

1D Mark II versus S2 MP

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. This service assesses and scores the color depth ("DXO Portrait"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports") of camera sensors, and also publishes an overall camera score. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.

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Sensor Characteristics
  Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
 
Canon 1D Mark II APS-H 8.2 3504 2336none22.311.1100366
 
Leica S2 Medium Format 37.5 7500 5000none........
 
Canon 5DS Full Frame 50.3 8688 57921080/30p24.712.4238187
 
Canon 5DS R Full Frame 50.3 8688 57921080/30p24.612.4230886
 
Canon 1D Mark IV APS-H 16.0 4896 32641080/30p22.812.0132074
 
Canon 1D Mark III APS-H 10.1 3888 2592none22.711.7107871
 
Canon 1Ds Mark III Full Frame 21.0 5616 3744none24.012.0166380
 
Canon 1D Mark II N APS-H 8.2 3504 2336none22.311.297566
 
Canon 5D Full Frame 12.7 4368 2912none22.911.1136871
 
Canon 1Ds Mark II Full Frame 16.6 4992 3328none23.311.3148074
 
Canon 1Ds Full Frame 11.0 4064 2704none21.811.095463
 
Canon 1D APS-H 4.1 2496 1662none........
 
Leica S3 Medium Format 64.0 9800 65334K/24p........
 
Leica S-E Typ 006 Medium Format 37.5 7500 5000none........
 
Leica S Typ 007 Medium Format 37.5 7500 50004K/24p........
 
Leica S Typ 006 Medium Format 37.5 7500 5000none23.912.282476
 
Leica S1 Medium Format 26.4 5140 5140none........
Neither the 1D Mark II nor the S2 offer Live View, so that they cannot project the live image that the sensor receives onto the rear screen. Moreover, both cameras are still-image focused and cannot record videos.

Feature comparison

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The 1D Mark II and the S2 are similar in the sense that both have an optical viewfinder. The latter is useful for getting a clear image for framing even in brightly lit environments. The viewfinder in the 1D Mark II offers a wider field of view (100%) than the one in the S2 (96%), so that a larger proportion of the captured image is visible in the finder. On the other hand, the viewfinder of the S2 has a higher magnification (0.86x vs 0.55x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Canon 1D Mark II and Leica S2 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.

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Core Features
  Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
(000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Mech
Shutter
Speed
Shutter
Flaps
(1/sec)
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
 
Canon 1D Mark IIoptical Y 2.0 230 fixed n 1/8000s 8.3 n n
 
Leica S2optical Y 3.0 460 fixed n 1/4000s 1.5 n n
 
Canon 5DSoptical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 n n
 
Canon 5DS Roptical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 n n
 
Canon 1D Mark IVoptical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 1/8000s 10.0 n n
 
Canon 1D Mark IIIoptical Y 3.0 230 fixed n 1/8000s 10.0 n n
 
Canon 1Ds Mark IIIoptical Y 3.0 230 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 n n
 
Canon 1D Mark II Noptical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 1/8000s 8.5 n n
 
Canon 5Doptical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 1/8000s 3.0 n n
 
Canon 1Ds Mark IIoptical Y 2.0 230 fixed n 1/8000s 4.0 n n
 
Canon 1Dsoptical Y 2.0 120 fixed n 1/8000s 3.0 n n
 
Canon 1Doptical Y 2.0 120 fixed n 1/16000s 8.0 n n
 
Leica S3optical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 n n
 
Leica S-E Typ 006optical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 1/4000s 1.5 n n
 
Leica S Typ 007optical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 1/4000s 3.5 n n
 
Leica S Typ 006optical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 1/4000s 1.5 n n
 
Leica S1optical n none none none n .. 0.01 n n

The 1D Mark II writes its imaging data to Compact Flash or SD cards, while the S2 uses Compact Flash or SDHC cards. Both cameras feature dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails.

Connectivity comparison

For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Canon EOS-1D Mark II and Leica S2 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.

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Input-Output Connections
  Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
 
Canon 1D Mark IIY-----1.1---
 
Leica S2Y----mini2.0---
 
Canon 5DSYmonomonoY-mini3.0---
 
Canon 5DS RYmonomonoY-mini3.0---
 
Canon 1D Mark IVYstereo-Y-mini2.0---
 
Canon 1D Mark IIIY-----2.0---
 
Canon 1Ds Mark IIIY-----2.0---
 
Canon 1D Mark II NY-----1.1---
 
Canon 5DY-----2.0---
 
Canon 1Ds Mark IIY-----2.0---
 
Canon 1DsY-----FW---
 
Canon 1DY-----FW---
 
Leica S3YstereomonoYYmini3.0Y--
 
Leica S-E Typ 006Y----mini2.0---
 
Leica S Typ 007YstereomonoYYmini3.0Y--
 
Leica S Typ 006Y----mini2.0---
 
Leica S1----------

Both cameras feature a PC Sync terminal to control professional strobe lights, which will be appreciated by studio photographers.

Both the 1D Mark II and the S2 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The 1D Mark II was replaced by the Canon 1D Mark II N, while the S2 was followed by the Leica S Typ 006. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Canon and Leica websites.

Review summary

So how do things add up? Is there a clear favorite between the Canon 1D Mark II and the Leica S2? Which camera is better? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.

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Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS-1D Mark II:

  • Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
  • More complete view: Has a viewfinder with a larger field of view (100% vs 96%).
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (8.3 vs 1.5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More portrait friendly: Features an integrated vertical grip for easier portrait shooting.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (80 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in January 2004).

ilogo

Advantages of the Leica S2:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (37.5 vs 8.2MP), which boosts linear resolution by 114%.
  • Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
  • Better image quality: Is equipped with a larger and more technologically advanced sensor.
  • Richer colors: The sensor size advantage translates into images with better, more accurate colors.
  • More dynamic range: Larger sensor captures a wider spectrum of light and dark details.
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Larger sensor produces good images even in poorly lit environments.
  • Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.86x vs 0.55x).
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.0") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (460k vs 230k dots).
  • More compact: Is smaller (160x120mm vs 156x158mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (2.0 vs 1.1).
  • More prestigious: Has the Leica luxury appeal, which ensures a high resale value.
  • More modern: Reflects 4 years and 7 months of technical progress since the 1D Mark II launch.

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the S2 is the clear winner of the contest (13 : 7 points). However, the pertinence of the various camera strengths will differ across photographers, so that you might want to weigh individual camera traits according to their importance for your own imaging needs before making a camera decision. A professional wedding photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a travel photog, and a person interested in cityscapes has distinct needs from a macro shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.

1D Mark II 07:13 S2

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon 1D Mark II and the Leica S2 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera listing whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.

In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the 1D Mark II or the S2 perform in practice. At times, user reviews, such as those published at amazon, address these issues in a useful manner, but such feedback is on many occasions incomplete, inconsistent, and unreliable.

Expert reviews

This is where reviews by experts come in. The table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, and photographyblog). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.

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Review Scores
  Camera
Model
camera
  labs  
dp
review  
ephoto
  zine  
imaging
resource
photography
  blog  
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
 
Canon 1D Mark II..+ +..o.. Jan 2004 4,499i
 
Leica S2.......... Sep 2008 22,995i
 
Canon 5DS+83/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Feb 2015 3,699 i
 
Canon 5DS R+83/1005/55/54.5/5 Feb 2015 3,699 i
 
Canon 1D Mark IV..89/100..5/5.. Oct 2009 4,999i
 
Canon 1D Mark III......o.. Feb 2007 4,499i
 
Canon 1Ds Mark III..+ +4.5/5.... Aug 2007 7,999i
 
Canon 1D Mark II N.......... Aug 2005 3,999i
 
Canon 5D88/100+ +oo.. Aug 2005 3,299i
 
Canon 1Ds Mark II..+ +...... Sep 2004 7,999i
 
Canon 1Ds..+ +...... Sep 2002 8,999i
 
Canon 1D..+ +...... Sep 2001 6,499i
 
Leica S3.......... Sep 2018 18,995 i
 
Leica S-E Typ 006.......... Sep 2014 16,900i
 
Leica S Typ 007.......... Sep 2014 24,490 i
 
Leica S Typ 006.......... Sep 2012 21,950i
 
Leica S1.......... Aug 1996 21,490i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.

Canon 1D Mark II:
Check Ebay offers
Leica S2:
Check Ebay offers

Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just use the search menu below. As an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.

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    Specifications: Canon 1D Mark II vs Leica S2

    Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.

    Camera Specifications
    Camera Model Canon 1D Mark II Leica S2
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Canon EF mount lenses Leica S mount lenses
    Launch Date January 2004 September 2008
    Launch Price USD 4,499 USD 22,995
    Sensor Specs Canon 1D Mark II Leica S2
    Sensor Technology CMOS CCD
    Sensor Format APS-H Sensor Medium Format Sensor
    Sensor Size 28.7 x 19.1 mm 45.0 x 30.0 mm
    Sensor Area 548.17 mm2 1350 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 34.5 mm 54.1 mm
    Crop Factor 1.3x 0.8x
    Sensor Resolution 8.2 Megapixels 37.5 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 3504 x 2336 pixels 7500 x 5000 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 8.17 μm 6.00 μm
    Pixel Density 1.49 MP/cm2 2.78 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter no AA filter
    Movie Capability no Video no Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 1,600 ISO 80 - 1,250 ISO
    ISO Boost 50 - 3,200 ISO no Enhancement
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 66 ..
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 22.3 ..
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 11.1 ..
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 1003 ..
    Screen Specs Canon 1D Mark II Leica S2
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 100% 96%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.55x 0.86x
    Top-Level Screen Control Panel Control Panel
    Rear LCD Size 2.0inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 230k dots 460k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Canon 1D Mark II Leica S2
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 8.3 shutter flaps/s 1.5 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash no On-Board Flash no On-Board Flash
    Storage Medium CF or SD cards CF or SDHC cards
    Second Storage Option Dual card slots Dual card slots
    UHS card support no no
    Connectivity Specs Canon 1D Mark II Leica S2
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    Studio Flash PC Sync socket PC Sync socket
    USB Connector USB 1.1 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port no HDMI mini HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Canon 1D Mark II Leica S2
    Environmental SealingWeathersealed bodyWeathersealed body
    Battery Type NP-E3 BP-PRO1
    Body Dimensions 156 x 158 x 80 mm
    (6.1 x 6.2 x 3.1 in)
    160 x 120 x 80 mm
    (6.3 x 4.7 x 3.1 in)
    Camera Weight 1535 g (54.1 oz) 1410 g (49.7 oz)

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