Canon 1D Mark III vs Leica S2
The Canon EOS-1D Mark III and the Leica S2 are two professional cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in February 2007 and September 2008. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on an APS-H (1D Mark III) and a medium format (S2) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 10.1 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.
|Canon 1D Mark III||Leica S2|
|Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Canon EF mount lenses||Leica S mount lenses|
|10.1 MP, APS-H Sensor||37.5 MP, Medium Format Sensor|
|no Video||no Video|
|ISO 100-3200 (50-6400)||ISO 80-1250|
|Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|3.0" LCD, 230k dots||3.0" LCD, 460k dots|
|Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)||Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)|
|10 shutter flaps per second||1.5 shutter flaps per second|
|Weathersealed body||Weathersealed body|
|156 x 157 x 80 mm, 1155 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 III 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.
The physical size and weight of the Canon 1D Mark III and the Leica S2 are illustrated 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 dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
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 III. However, the S2 is markedly heavier (22 percent) than the 1D Mark III. 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 III 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 table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. 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.
|Canon 1D Mark III»||6.1 in||6.2 in||3.1 in||40.7 oz||2200||Y||Feb 2007||4,499||Canon 1D Mark III|
|Leica S2«||6.3 in||4.7 in||3.1 in||49.7 oz||..||Y||Sep 2008||22,995||Leica S2|
|Canon 5DS R« »||6.0 in||4.6 in||3.0 in||32.8 oz||700||Y||Feb 2015||3,699||Canon 5DS R|
|Canon 5D Mark III« »||6.0 in||4.6 in||3.0 in||33.5 oz||950||Y||Mar 2012||3,499||Canon 5D Mark III|
|Canon 1D Mark IV« »||6.1 in||6.2 in||3.1 in||43.4 oz||1500||Y||Oct 2009||4,999||Canon 1D Mark IV|
|Canon 5D Mark II« »||6.0 in||4.5 in||3.0 in||30.0 oz||850||Y||Sep 2008||3,499||Canon 5D Mark II|
|Canon 1Ds Mark III« »||5.9 in||6.3 in||3.1 in||48.9 oz||1800||Y||Aug 2007||7,999||Canon 1Ds Mark III|
|Canon 1D Mark II N« »||6.1 in||6.2 in||3.1 in||55.2 oz||1200||Y||Aug 2005||3,999||Canon 1D Mark II N|
|Canon 1D Mark II« »||6.1 in||6.2 in||3.1 in||54.1 oz||1200||Y||Jan 2004||4,499||Canon 1D Mark II|
|Canon 1Ds« »||6.1 in||6.2 in||3.1 in||44.6 oz||600||Y||Sep 2002||8,999||Canon 1Ds|
|Leica S3« »||6.3 in||4.7 in||3.1 in||44.4 oz||..||Y||Sep 2018||18,995||Leica S3|
|Leica S-E Typ 006« »||6.3 in||4.7 in||3.1 in||44.4 oz||..||Y||Sep 2014||16,900||Leica S-E Typ 006|
|Leica S Typ 007« »||6.3 in||4.7 in||3.1 in||44.4 oz||..||Y||Sep 2014||24,490||Leica S Typ 007|
|Leica S Typ 006« »||6.3 in||4.7 in||3.1 in||44.4 oz||..||Y||Sep 2012||21,950||Leica S Typ 006|
|Nikon D3« »||6.3 in||6.2 in||3.5 in||45.9 oz||4300||Y||Aug 2007||4,999||Nikon D3|
|Nikon D2Xs« »||6.2 in||5.9 in||3.4 in||44.2 oz||3800||Y||Jun 2006||4,699||Nikon D2Xs|
|Pentax 645D« »||6.1 in||4.6 in||4.7 in||52.2 oz||800||Y||Mar 2010||9,995||Pentax 645D|
|Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The 1D Mark III 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.
The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant of image quality. A large sensor will generally have larger individual pixels that offer better low-light sensitivity, provide wider dynamic range, and have richer color-depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Furthermore, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more possibilities to use shallow depth-of-field in order to isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon 1D Mark III features an APS-H sensor and the Leica S2 a medium format sensor. The sensor area in the S2 is 157 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.
With 37.5MP, the S2 offers a higher resolution than the 1D Mark III (10.1MP), but the S2 has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 6.00μm versus 7.21μm for the 1D Mark III). Yet, the S2 is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 7 months) than the 1D Mark III, and its sensor might 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 inch or 95.3 x 63.5 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 30 x 20 inch or 76.2 x 50.8 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 25 x 16.7 inch or 63.5 x 42.3 cm. The corresponding values for the Canon 1D Mark III are 19.4 x 13 inch or 49.4 x 32.9 cm for good quality, 15.6 x 10.4 inch or 39.5 x 26.3 cm for very good quality, and 13 x 8.6 inch or 32.9 x 21.9 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Canon EOS-1D Mark III has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 3200, which can be extended to ISO 50-6400. The corresponding ISO settings for the Leica S2 are ISO 80 to ISO 1250 (no boost).
Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. This service is based on lab testing and assigns an overall score to each camera sensor, as well as ratings for dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), color depth ("DXO Portrait"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"). The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.
|Canon 1D Mark III||APS-H||10.1||3888||2592||none||22.7||11.7||1078||71||Canon 1D Mark III|
|Leica S2||Medium Format||37.5||7500||5000||none||..||..||..||..||Leica S2|
|Canon 5DS R||Full Frame||50.3||8688||5792||1080/30p||24.6||12.4||2308||86||Canon 5DS R|
|Canon 5D Mark III||Full Frame||22.1||5760||3840||1080/30p||24.0||11.7||2293||81||Canon 5D Mark III|
|Canon 1D Mark IV||APS-H||16.0||4896||3264||1080/30p||22.8||12.0||1320||74||Canon 1D Mark IV|
|Canon 5D Mark II||Full Frame||21.0||5616||3744||1080/30p||23.7||11.9||1815||79||Canon 5D Mark II|
|Canon 1Ds Mark III||Full Frame||21.0||5616||3744||none||24.0||12.0||1663||80||Canon 1Ds Mark III|
|Canon 1D Mark II N||APS-H||8.2||3504||2336||none||22.3||11.2||975||66||Canon 1D Mark II N|
|Canon 1D Mark II||APS-H||8.2||3504||2336||none||22.3||11.1||1003||66||Canon 1D Mark II|
|Canon 1Ds||Full Frame||11.0||4064||2704||none||21.8||11.0||954||63||Canon 1Ds|
|Leica S3||Medium Format||64.0||9800||6533||4K/24p||..||..||..||..||Leica S3|
|Leica S-E Typ 006||Medium Format||37.5||7500||5000||none||..||..||..||..||Leica S-E Typ 006|
|Leica S Typ 007||Medium Format||37.5||7500||5000||4K/24p||..||..||..||..||Leica S Typ 007|
|Leica S Typ 006||Medium Format||37.5||7500||5000||none||23.9||12.2||824||76||Leica S Typ 006|
|Nikon D3||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||none||23.5||12.2||2290||81||Nikon D3|
|Nikon D2Xs||APS-C||12.2||4288||2848||none||22.2||10.9||489||59||Nikon D2Xs|
|Pentax 645D||Medium Format||39.5||7264||5440||none||24.6||12.6||1262||82||Pentax 645D|
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The 1D Mark III 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 III 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 0.58x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Canon 1D Mark III, the Leica S2, and comparable cameras.
|Canon 1D Mark III||optical||Y||3.0||230||fixed||n||1/8000s||10.0||n||n||Canon 1D Mark III|
|Leica S2||optical||Y||3.0||460||fixed||n||1/4000s||1.5||n||n||Leica S2|
|Canon 5DS R||optical||Y||3.2||1040||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||n||Canon 5DS R|
|Canon 5D Mark III||optical||Y||3.2||1040||fixed||n||1/8000s||6.0||n||n||Canon 5D Mark III|
|Canon 1D Mark IV||optical||Y||3.0||920||fixed||n||1/8000s||10.0||n||n||Canon 1D Mark IV|
|Canon 5D Mark II||optical||Y||3.0||920||fixed||n||1/8000s||3.9||n||n||Canon 5D Mark II|
|Canon 1Ds Mark III||optical||Y||3.0||230||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||n||Canon 1Ds Mark III|
|Canon 1D Mark II N||optical||Y||2.5||230||fixed||n||1/8000s||8.5||n||n||Canon 1D Mark II N|
|Canon 1D Mark II||optical||Y||2.0||230||fixed||n||1/8000s||8.3||n||n||Canon 1D Mark II|
|Canon 1Ds||optical||Y||2.0||120||fixed||n||1/8000s||3.0||n||n||Canon 1Ds|
|Leica S3||optical||Y||3.0||922||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||n||n||Leica S3|
|Leica S-E Typ 006||optical||Y||3.0||922||fixed||n||1/4000s||1.5||n||n||Leica S-E Typ 006|
|Leica S Typ 007||optical||Y||3.0||922||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.5||n||n||Leica S Typ 007|
|Leica S Typ 006||optical||Y||3.0||922||fixed||n||1/4000s||1.5||n||n||Leica S Typ 006|
|Nikon D3||optical||Y||3.0||922||fixed||n||1/8000s||11.0||n||n||Nikon D3|
|Nikon D2Xs||optical||Y||2.5||230||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||n||Nikon D2Xs|
|Pentax 645D||optical||Y||3.0||921||fixed||n||1/4000s||1.1||n||n||Pentax 645D|
Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the 1D Mark III and the S2 write their files to Compact Flash or SDHC cards. Both cameras feature dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails.
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 III and Leica S2 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
|Canon 1D Mark III||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Canon 1D Mark III|
|Leica S2||Y||none||none||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Leica S2|
|Canon 5DS R||Y||mono||mono||Y||-||mini||3.0||-||-||-||Canon 5DS R|
|Canon 5D Mark III||Y||mono||mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Canon 5D Mark III|
|Canon 1D Mark IV||Y||stereo||none||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Canon 1D Mark IV|
|Canon 5D Mark II||Y||mono||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Canon 5D Mark II|
|Canon 1Ds Mark III||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Canon 1Ds Mark III|
|Canon 1D Mark II N||Y||none||none||-||-||none||1.1||-||-||-||Canon 1D Mark II N|
|Canon 1D Mark II||Y||none||none||-||-||none||1.1||-||-||-||Canon 1D Mark II|
|Canon 1Ds||Y||none||none||-||-||none||FW||-||-||-||Canon 1Ds|
|Leica S3||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||Y||-||-||Leica S3|
|Leica S-E Typ 006||Y||none||none||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Leica S-E Typ 006|
|Leica S Typ 007||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||Y||-||-||Leica S Typ 007|
|Leica S Typ 006||Y||none||none||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Leica S Typ 006|
|Nikon D3||Y||none||none||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D3|
|Nikon D2Xs||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D2Xs|
|Pentax 645D||Y||stereo||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Pentax 645D|
Both cameras feature a PC Sync terminal to control professional strobe lights, which will be appreciated by studio photographers.
Both the 1D Mark III and the S2 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The 1D Mark III was replaced by the Canon 1D Mark IV, 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.
So how do things add up? Which of the two cameras – the Canon 1D Mark III or the Leica S2 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Arguments in favor of the Canon EOS-1D Mark III:
- 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 (10 vs 1.5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 255g or 18 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
- 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 on the market for longer (launched in February 2007).
Reasons to prefer the Leica S2:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (37.5 vs 10.1MP), which boosts linear resolution by 93%.
- 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 0.58x).
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (460k vs 230k dots).
- More compact: Is smaller (160x120mm vs 156x157mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- More prestigious: Has the Leica luxury appeal, which ensures a high resale value.
- More modern: Was introduced somewhat (1 year and 7 months) more recently.
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the S2 emerges as the winner of the match-up (11 : 8 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.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon 1D Mark III 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 specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the 1D Mark III or the S2. 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.
This is where reviews by experts come in. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera 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.
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just make your choice using the following search menu. As an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.
- Canon 1100D vs Leica S2
- Canon 1D Mark III vs Canon 5D Mark III
- Canon 1D Mark III vs Canon M100
- Canon 1D Mark III vs Olympus E-420
- Canon 1D Mark III vs Olympus E-M5 II
- Canon 1D Mark III vs Panasonic G90
- Canon 1D Mark III vs Panasonic GH5
- Canon 1D Mark III vs Sony A6400
- Canon 1D X vs Leica S2
- Fujifilm X-T30 vs Leica S2
- Leica S2 vs Nikon D5
- Leica S2 vs Olympus E-P5
Specifications: Canon 1D Mark III 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 Model||Canon 1D Mark III||Leica S2|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Canon EF mount lenses||Leica S mount lenses|
|Launch Date||February 2007||September 2008|
|Launch Price||USD 4499||USD 22995|
|Sensor Specs||Canon 1D Mark III||Leica S2|
|Sensor Format||APS-H Sensor||Medium Format Sensor|
|Sensor Size||28.1 x 18.7 mm||45.0 x 30.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||525.47 mm2||1350 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||33.8 mm||54.1 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||10.1 Megapixels||37.5 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||3888 x 2592 pixels||7500 x 5000 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||7.21 μm||6.00 μm|
|Pixel Density||1.92 MP/cm2||2.78 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||no AA filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||no Video|
|ISO Setting||100-3200 ISO||80-1250 ISO|
|ISO Boost||50-6400 ISO||no Enhancement|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||71||..|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||22.7||..|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||11.7||..|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||1078||..|
|Screen Specs||Canon 1D Mark III||Leica S2|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||96%|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||Control Panel|
|LCD Framing||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0 inch||3.0 inch|
|LCD Resolution||230k dots||460k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon 1D Mark III||Leica S2|
|Autofocus System||Phase-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||10 shutter flaps/s||1.5 shutter flaps/s|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||CF or SDHC cards||CF or SDHC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Dual card slots||Dual card slots|
|UHS card support||no||no|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon 1D Mark III||Leica S2|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||no HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Canon 1D Mark III||Leica S2|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||Weathersealed body|
156 x 157 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||1155 g (40.7 oz)||1410 g (49.7 oz)|
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