Canon 1D Mark IV vs Leica S2
The Canon EOS-1D Mark IV and the Leica S2 are two professional cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in October 2009 and September 2008. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on an APS-H (1D Mark IV) and a medium format (S2) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 16 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 IV||Leica S2|
|Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Canon EF mount lenses||Leica S mount lenses|
|16 MP, APS-H Sensor||37.5 MP, Medium Format Sensor|
|1080/30p Video||no Video|
|ISO 100-12800 (50-102400)||ISO 80-1250|
|Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|3.0" LCD, 920k 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, 1230 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 IV 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 IV 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 views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. 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 IV. However, the S2 is markedly heavier (15 percent) than the 1D Mark IV. 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 IV 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 following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. 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 IV»||6.1 in||6.2 in||3.1 in||43.4 oz||1500||Y||Oct 2009||4,999||Canon 1D Mark IV|
|Leica S2«||6.3 in||4.7 in||3.1 in||49.7 oz||..||Y||Sep 2008||22,995||Leica S2|
|Canon 1D X Mark II« »||6.2 in||6.6 in||3.3 in||54.0 oz||1210||Y||Feb 2016||5,999||Canon 1D X Mark II|
|Canon 1D X« »||6.2 in||6.6 in||3.3 in||54.7 oz||1120||Y||Oct 2011||6,799||Canon 1D X|
|Canon 60D« »||5.7 in||4.2 in||3.1 in||26.6 oz||1100||Y||Aug 2010||1,399||Canon 60D|
|Canon 7D« »||5.8 in||4.4 in||2.9 in||30.3 oz||800||Y||Sep 2009||1,699||Canon 7D|
|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 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|
|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 Mark II« »||6.1 in||6.2 in||3.1 in||42.9 oz||1200||Y||Sep 2004||7,999||Canon 1Ds Mark II|
|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 D4« »||6.3 in||6.2 in||3.6 in||47.3 oz||2600||Y||Jan 2012||5,999||Nikon D4|
|Nikon D3S« »||6.3 in||6.2 in||3.5 in||43.7 oz||4200||Y||Oct 2009||5,199||Nikon D3S|
|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.|
The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The 1D Mark IV was launched at a markedly lower price (by 78 percent) than the S2, which puts it into a different market segment. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. 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.
The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors 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. 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 associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon 1D Mark IV features an APS-H sensor and the Leica S2 a medium format sensor. The sensor area in the S2 is 160 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 IV (16MP), but the S2 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 6.00μm versus 5.70μm for the 1D Mark IV) due to its larger sensor. However, the 1D Mark IV is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year) than the S2, 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 IV are 24.5 x 16.3 inch or 62.2 x 41.5 cm for good quality, 19.6 x 13.1 inch or 49.7 x 33.2 cm for very good quality, and 16.3 x 10.9 inch or 41.5 x 27.6 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Canon EOS-1D Mark IV has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 12800, which can be extended to ISO 50-102400. The corresponding ISO settings for the Leica S2 are ISO 80 to ISO 1250 (no boost).
For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. This service determines an overall sensor rating, as well as sub-scores for low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and color depth ("DXO Portrait"). The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.
|Canon 1D Mark IV||APS-H||16.0||4896||3264||1080/30p||22.8||12.0||1320||74||Canon 1D Mark IV|
|Leica S2||Medium Format||37.5||7500||5000||none||..||..||..||..||Leica S2|
|Canon 1D X Mark II||Full Frame||20.0||5472||3648||4K/60p||24.1||13.5||3207||88||Canon 1D X Mark II|
|Canon 1D X||Full Frame||17.9||5184||3456||1080/30p||23.8||11.8||2786||82||Canon 1D X|
|Canon 60D||APS-C||17.9||5184||3456||1080/30p||22.2||11.5||813||66||Canon 60D|
|Canon 7D||APS-C||17.9||5184||3456||1080/30p||22.0||11.7||854||66||Canon 7D|
|Canon 5D Mark II||Full Frame||21.0||5616||3744||1080/30p||23.7||11.9||1815||79||Canon 5D Mark II|
|Canon 1D Mark III||APS-H||10.1||3888||2592||none||22.7||11.7||1078||71||Canon 1D Mark III|
|Canon 1D Mark II||APS-H||8.2||3504||2336||none||22.3||11.1||1003||66||Canon 1D Mark II|
|Canon 1Ds Mark II||Full Frame||16.6||4992||3328||none||23.3||11.3||1480||74||Canon 1Ds Mark II|
|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 D4||Full Frame||16.2||4928||3280||1080/30p||24.7||13.1||2965||89||Nikon D4|
|Nikon D3S||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||720/24p||23.5||12.0||3253||82||Nikon D3S|
|Pentax 645D||Medium Format||39.5||7264||5440||none||24.6||12.6||1262||82||Pentax 645D|
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The 1D Mark IV indeed provides movie recording capabilities, while the S2 does not. The highest resolution format that the 1D Mark IV can use is 1080/30p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The 1D Mark IV 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 IV 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 IV, the Leica S2, and comparable cameras.
|Canon 1D Mark IV||optical||Y||3.0||920||fixed||n||1/8000s||10.0||n||n||Canon 1D Mark IV|
|Leica S2||optical||Y||3.0||460||fixed||n||1/4000s||1.5||n||n||Leica S2|
|Canon 1D X Mark II||optical||Y||3.2||1620||fixed||Y||1/8000s||16.0||n||n||Canon 1D X Mark II|
|Canon 1D X||optical||Y||3.2||1040||fixed||n||1/8000s||14.0||n||n||Canon 1D X|
|Canon 60D||optical||Y||3.0||1040||swivel||n||1/8000s||5.3||Y||n||Canon 60D|
|Canon 7D||optical||Y||3.0||920||fixed||n||1/8000s||8.0||Y||n||Canon 7D|
|Canon 5D Mark II||optical||Y||3.0||920||fixed||n||1/8000s||3.9||n||n||Canon 5D Mark II|
|Canon 1D Mark III||optical||Y||3.0||230||fixed||n||1/8000s||10.0||n||n||Canon 1D Mark III|
|Canon 1D Mark II||optical||Y||2.0||230||fixed||n||1/8000s||8.3||n||n||Canon 1D Mark II|
|Canon 1Ds Mark II||optical||Y||2.0||230||fixed||n||1/8000s||4.0||n||n||Canon 1Ds Mark II|
|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 D4||optical||Y||3.2||921||fixed||n||1/8000s||11.0||n||n||Nikon D4|
|Nikon D3S||optical||Y||3.0||921||fixed||n||1/8000s||11.0||n||n||Nikon D3S|
|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 IV 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 IV and Leica S2 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
|Canon 1D Mark IV||Y||stereo||none||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Canon 1D Mark IV|
|Leica S2||Y||none||none||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Leica S2|
|Canon 1D X Mark II||Y||mono||mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||-||-||-||Canon 1D X Mark II|
|Canon 1D X||Y||mono||none||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Canon 1D X|
|Canon 60D||Y||mono||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Canon 60D|
|Canon 7D||Y||mono||none||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Canon 7D|
|Canon 5D Mark II||Y||mono||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Canon 5D Mark II|
|Canon 1D Mark III||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Canon 1D Mark III|
|Canon 1D Mark II||Y||none||none||-||-||none||1.1||-||-||-||Canon 1D Mark II|
|Canon 1Ds Mark II||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Canon 1Ds Mark II|
|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 D4||Y||mono||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D4|
|Nikon D3S||Y||stereo||none||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D3S|
|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 IV and the S2 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The S2 was replaced by the Leica S Typ 006, while the 1D Mark IV does not have a direct successor. 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 what conclusions can be drawn? Which of the two cameras – the Canon 1D Mark IV or the Leica S2 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Arguments in favor of the Canon EOS-1D Mark IV:
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- Broader imaging potential: Can record not only still images but also 1080/30p movies.
- More complete view: Has a viewfinder with a larger field of view (100% vs 96%).
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (920k vs 460k dots).
- 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 180g or 13 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 (78 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 1 year after the S2).
Reasons to prefer the Leica S2:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (37.5 vs 16MP), which boosts linear resolution by 53%.
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- Better image quality: Features bigger pixels on a larger sensor for higher quality imaging.
- Richer colors: The pixel size advantage translates into images with better, more accurate colors.
- More dynamic range: Larger pixels capture a wider spectrum of light and dark details.
- Better low-light sensitivity: Larger pixels means good image quality even under poor lighting.
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.86x vs 0.58x).
- 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 heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in September 2008).
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the match-up finishes in a tie (10 points each). However, the relative importance of the various individual camera aspects will vary according to personal preferences and needs, so that you might like to apply corresponding weights to the particular features before making a decision on a new camera. 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 IV 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 IV or the S2 perform in practice. User reviews that are available, for instance, at amazon can sometimes shed light on these issues, but such feedback is all too often partial, inconsistent, and inaccurate.
This is where reviews by experts come in. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major 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.
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. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, 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.
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.
- Canon 1D Mark IV vs Canon 1Ds
- Canon 1D Mark IV vs Canon G15
- Canon 1D Mark IV vs Fujifilm X100T
- Canon 1D Mark IV vs Leica Digilux 3
- Canon 1D Mark IV vs Nikon D3000
- Canon 1D Mark IV vs Sony HX400V
- Canon G9 X Mark II vs Leica S2
- Fujifilm X-A2 vs Leica S2
- Leica S2 vs Nikon D3400
- Leica S2 vs Olympus E-PL6
- Leica S2 vs Panasonic LX7
- Leica S2 vs Pentax Q
Specifications: Canon 1D Mark IV 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 IV||Leica S2|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Canon EF mount lenses||Leica S mount lenses|
|Launch Date||October 2009||September 2008|
|Launch Price||USD 4999||USD 22995|
|Sensor Specs||Canon 1D Mark IV||Leica S2|
|Sensor Format||APS-H Sensor||Medium Format Sensor|
|Sensor Size||27.9 x 18.6 mm||45.0 x 30.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||518.94 mm2||1350 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||33.5 mm||54.1 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||16 Megapixels||37.5 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4896 x 3264 pixels||7500 x 5000 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||5.70 μm||6.00 μm|
|Pixel Density||3.08 MP/cm2||2.78 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||no AA filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/30p Video||no Video|
|ISO Setting||100-12800 ISO||80-1250 ISO|
|ISO Boost||50-102400 ISO||no Enhancement|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||74||..|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||22.8||..|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||12.0||..|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||1320||..|
|Screen Specs||Canon 1D Mark IV||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||920k dots||460k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon 1D Mark IV||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 IV||Leica S2|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||no MIC socket|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Canon 1D Mark IV||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||1230 g (43.4 oz)||1410 g (49.7 oz)|
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