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Canon 1D vs Leica S1

The Canon EOS-1D and the Leica S1 Pro are two professional cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in September 2001 and August 1996. The 1D is a DSLR, while the S1 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on an APS-H (1D) and a medium format (S1) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 4.1 megapixels, whereas the Leica provides 26.4 MP.

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

Headline Specifications
Canon 1D versus Leica S1
Canon 1D Leica S1
Digital single lens reflex Mirrorless system camera
Canon EF mount lenses Leica R mount lenses
4.1 MP, APS-H Sensor 26.4 MP, Medium Format Sensor
no Video no Video
ISO 200-1,600 (100 - 3,200) ISO 50-1,600
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
2.0 LCD, 120k dots no LCD
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) no rear screen
8 shutter flaps per second 0.01 shutter flaps per second
Weathersealed bodynot weather sealed
156 x 158 x 80 mm, 1585 g 339 x 214 x 119 mm, 2500 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon EOS-1D and the Leica S1 Pro? 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

The physical size and weight of the Canon 1D and the Leica S1 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

Size Canon 1D vs Leica S1
Compare 1D versus S1 top
Comparison 1D or S1 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Leica S1 is considerably larger (194 percent) than the Canon 1D. Moreover, the S1 is substantially heavier (58 percent) than the 1D. It is worth mentioning in this context that the 1D is splash and dust resistant, while the S1 does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.

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. A larger imaging sensor will tend to go along with bigger and heavier lenses, although exceptions exist. You can compare the optics available for the two cameras in the Canon EF Lens Catalog (1D) and the Leica R Lens Catalog (S1). Mirrorless cameras, such as the S1, have moreover the advantage that they can use many lenses from other systems via adapters, as they have a relatively short flange to focal plane distance.

As can be seen in the images above, the 1D has a battery grip built in. This facilitates image-taking in portrait orientation and gives it additional battery power.

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, you can navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from a broad list of cameras there.

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Body Specifications
    Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
Weather
Sealing
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Canon 1D 156 mm 158 mm 80 mm 1585 g 500 Y Sep 2001 6,499i
2.
 
Leica S1 339 mm 214 mm 119 mm 2500 g .. n Aug 1996 21,490i
3.
 
Canon 1D X Mark III 158 mm 168 mm 83 mm 1440 g 2850 Y Jan 2020 6,499 i
4.
 
Canon 1D X Mark II 158 mm 168 mm 83 mm 1530 g 1210 Y Feb 2016 5,999i
5.
 
Canon 5D Mark IV 151 mm 116 mm 76 mm 890 g 900 Y Aug 2016 3,499 i
6.
 
Canon 5DS 152 mm 116 mm 76 mm 930 g 700 Y Feb 2015 3,699 i
7.
 
Canon 1D C 158 mm 164 mm 83 mm 1545 g 1120 Y Apr 2012 14,999i
8.
 
Canon 1D X 158 mm 168 mm 83 mm 1551 g 1120 Y Oct 2011 6,799i
9.
 
Canon 1Ds Mark III 150 mm 160 mm 80 mm 1385 g 1800 Y Aug 2007 7,999i
10.
 
Canon 1D Mark II N 156 mm 158 mm 80 mm 1565 g 1200 Y Aug 2005 3,999i
11.
 
Canon 1D Mark II 156 mm 158 mm 80 mm 1535 g 1200 Y Jan 2004 4,499i
12.
 
Canon 1Ds 156 mm 158 mm 80 mm 1265 g 600 Y Sep 2002 8,999i
13.
 
Leica CL 131 mm 78 mm 45 mm 403 g 220 n Nov 2017 2,795 i
14.
 
Leica TL2 134 mm 69 mm 33 mm 399 g 250 n Jul 2017 1,950 i
15.
 
Leica Q Typ 116 130 mm 80 mm 93 mm 640 g 300 n Jun 2015 4,249i
16.
 
Leica S2 160 mm 120 mm 80 mm 1410 g .. Y Sep 2008 22,995i
17.
 
Sony A6400 120 mm 67 mm 50 mm 403 g 410 Y Jan 2019 899 i
Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.

The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The retail prices at the time of the camera’s release place the model in the market relative to other models in the producer’s line-up and the competition. The 1D was launched at a markedly lower price (by 70 percent) than the S1, 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.

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Sensor comparison

The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant 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 are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon 1D features an APS-H sensor and the Leica S1 a medium format sensor. The sensor area in the S1 is 136 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.3 and 0.85. The sensor in the 1D has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the S1 offers a 1:1 aspect.

Canon 1D and Leica S1 sensor measures

With 26.4MP, the S1 offers a higher resolution than the 1D (4.1MP), but the S1 has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 7.01μm versus 11.56μm for the 1D). Yet, the 1D is a much more recent model (by 5 years) than the S1, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the S1 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.

The resolution advantage of the Leica S1 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the S1 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 25.7 x 25.7 inches or 65.3 x 65.3 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 20.6 x 20.6 inches or 52.2 x 52.2 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 17.1 x 17.1 inches or 43.5 x 43.5 cm. The corresponding values for the Canon 1D are 12.5 x 8.3 inches or 31.7 x 21.1 cm for good quality, 10 x 6.6 inches or 25.4 x 16.9 cm for very good quality, and 8.3 x 5.5 inches or 21.1 x 14.1 cm for excellent quality prints.

The Canon EOS-1D has a native sensitivity range from ISO 200 to ISO 1600, which can be extended to ISO 100-3200. The corresponding ISO settings for the Leica S1 Pro are ISO 50 to ISO 1600 (no boost).

1D versus S1 MP

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 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
1.
 
Canon 1D APS-H 4.1 2496 1662none........
2.
 
Leica S1 Medium Format 26.4 5140 5140none........
3.
 
Canon 1D X Mark III Full Frame 20.0 5472 36484K/60p24.214.5324891
4.
 
Canon 1D X Mark II Full Frame 20.0 5472 36484K/60p24.113.5320788
5.
 
Canon 5D Mark IV Full Frame 30.1 6720 44804K/30p24.813.6299591
6.
 
Canon 5DS Full Frame 50.3 8688 57921080/30p24.712.4238187
7.
 
Canon 1D C Full Frame 17.9 5184 34564K/24p........
8.
 
Canon 1D X Full Frame 17.9 5184 34561080/30p23.811.8278682
9.
 
Canon 1Ds Mark III Full Frame 21.0 5616 3744none24.012.0166380
10.
 
Canon 1D Mark II N APS-H 8.2 3504 2336none22.311.297566
11.
 
Canon 1D Mark II APS-H 8.2 3504 2336none22.311.1100366
12.
 
Canon 1Ds Full Frame 11.0 4064 2704none21.811.095463
13.
 
Leica CL APS-C 24.1 6014 40144K/30p........
14.
 
Leica TL2 APS-C 24.1 6014 40144K/30p........
15.
 
Leica Q Typ 116 Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.312.7222185
16.
 
Leica S2 Medium Format 37.5 7500 5000none........
17.
 
Sony A6400 APS-C 24.0 6000 40004K/30p2413.6143183
Neither the 1D nor the S1 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.
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Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The 1D and the S1 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 adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Canon 1D and Leica S1 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.

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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
1.
 
Canon 1Doptical Y 2.0 120 fixed n 1/16000s 8.0 n n
2.
 
Leica S1optical n none none none n .. 0.01 n n
3.
 
Canon 1D X Mark IIIoptical Y 3.2 2100 fixed Y 1/8000s 20.0 n n
4.
 
Canon 1D X Mark IIoptical Y 3.2 1620 fixed Y 1/8000s 16.0 n n
5.
 
Canon 5D Mark IVoptical Y 3.2 1620 fixed Y 1/8000s 7.0 n n
6.
 
Canon 5DSoptical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 n n
7.
 
Canon 1D Coptical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 1/8000s 14.0 n n
8.
 
Canon 1D Xoptical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 1/8000s 14.0 n n
9.
 
Canon 1Ds Mark IIIoptical Y 3.0 230 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 n n
10.
 
Canon 1D Mark II Noptical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 1/8000s 8.5 n n
11.
 
Canon 1D Mark IIoptical Y 2.0 230 fixed n 1/8000s 8.3 n n
12.
 
Canon 1Dsoptical Y 2.0 120 fixed n 1/8000s 3.0 n n
13.
 
Leica CL2360 Y 3.0 1040 fixed Y 1/8000s 10.0 n n
14.
 
Leica TL2optional n 3.7 1230 fixed Y 1/4000s 7.0 n n
15.
 
Leica Q Typ 1163680 n 3.0 1040 fixed Y 1/2000s 10.0 n Y
16.
 
Leica S2optical Y 3.0 460 fixed n 1/4000s 1.5 n n
17.
 
Sony A64002359 n 3.0 922 tilting Y 1/4000s 11.0 Y n

One feature that is present on the 1D, but is missing on the S1 is a top-level LCD. While being, of course, smaller than the rear screen, the control panel conveys some of the essential shooting information and can be convenient for quick and easy settings verification.

The 1D writes its imaging data to Compact Flash cards, while the S1 uses external storage.

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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 and Leica S1 Pro 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
1.
 
Canon 1DY-----FW---
2.
 
Leica S1----------
3.
 
Canon 1D X Mark IIIYmonomonoYYmini3.1Y-Y
4.
 
Canon 1D X Mark IIYmonomonoYYmini3.0---
5.
 
Canon 5D Mark IVYmonomonoYYmini3.0YY-
6.
 
Canon 5DSYmonomonoY-mini3.0---
7.
 
Canon 1D CYmonomonoYYmini2.0---
8.
 
Canon 1D XYmono-Y-mini2.0---
9.
 
Canon 1Ds Mark IIIYmono----2.0---
10.
 
Canon 1D Mark II NY-----1.1---
11.
 
Canon 1D Mark IIY-----1.1---
12.
 
Canon 1DsY-----FW---
13.
 
Leica CLYstereomono----Y--
14.
 
Leica TL2Ystereomono--micro3.0Y--
15.
 
Leica Q Typ 116Ystereomono--micro2.0YY-
16.
 
Leica S2Y----mini2.0---
17.
 
Sony A6400YstereomonoY-micro2.0YYY

It is notable that the 1D has a hotshoe, while the S1 does not. This socket makes it possible to easily attach optional accessories, such as an external flash gun.

Studio photographers will appreciate that the Canon 1D (unlike the S1) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.

Both the 1D and the S1 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The S1 was replaced by the Leica S2, while the 1D was followed by the Canon 1D Mark II. 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.

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Review summary

So how do things add up? Which of the two cameras – the Canon 1D or the Leica S1 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.

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Advantages of the Canon EOS-1D:

  • Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
  • Easier setting verification: Features an LCD display on top to control shooting parameters.
  • Rear screen: Has a backside LCD (2.0") for image review and settings control.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (8 vs 0.01 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More compact: Is smaller (156x158mm vs 339x214mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter (by 915g or 37 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
  • More portrait friendly: Features an integrated vertical grip for easier portrait shooting.
  • Better sealing: Is weather sealed to enable shooting in dusty or wet environments.
  • Better lighting: Features a hotshoe and can thus hold and trigger an external flash gun.
  • Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (70 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Reflects 5 years of technical progress since the S1 launch.

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Arguments in favor of the Leica S1 Pro:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (26.4 vs 4.1MP), which boosts linear resolution by 142%.
  • Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
  • More legacy lens friendly: Can use many non-native lenses via adapters.
  • More prestigious: Has the Leica luxury appeal, which ensures a high resale value.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in August 1996).

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the 1D is the clear winner of the match-up (12 : 5 points). However, the relevance of individual strengths will vary across photographers, so that you might want to apply your own weighing scheme to the summary points when reflecting and deciding on a new camera. A professional wildlife photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a family photog, and a person interested in architecture has distinct needs from a sports shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.

1D 12:05 S1

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon 1D and the Leica S1 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera and Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera listings whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.

In any case, while the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the 1D and the S1 in practical situations. 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 why expert reviews are important. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]). 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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Expert Camera Reviews
     Camera 
 Model 
 AP 
 score 
 CL 
 score 
 DPR 
 score 
 EPZ 
 score 
 PB 
 score 
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Canon 1D....+ +.... Sep 2001 6,499i
2.
 
Leica S1.......... Aug 1996 21,490i
3.
 
Canon 1D X Mark III..+ +..4.5/54/5 Jan 2020 6,499 i
4.
 
Canon 1D X Mark II....89/1004.5/54.5/5 Feb 2016 5,999i
5.
 
Canon 5D Mark IV4.5/5+ +87/1004.5/54.5/5 Aug 2016 3,499 i
6.
 
Canon 5DS..+83/1004.5/54.5/5 Feb 2015 3,699 i
7.
 
Canon 1D C.......... Apr 2012 14,999i
8.
 
Canon 1D X5/5....4.5/54.5/5 Oct 2011 6,799i
9.
 
Canon 1Ds Mark III....+ +4.5/5.. Aug 2007 7,999i
10.
 
Canon 1D Mark II N.......... Aug 2005 3,999i
11.
 
Canon 1D Mark II....+ +.... Jan 2004 4,499i
12.
 
Canon 1Ds....+ +.... Sep 2002 8,999i
13.
 
Leica CL........4/5 Nov 2017 2,795 i
14.
 
Leica TL23.5/5....4/54/5 Jul 2017 1,950 i
15.
 
Leica Q Typ 1165/5..80/1004.5/54.5/5 Jun 2015 4,249i
16.
 
Leica S2.......... Sep 2008 22,995i
17.
 
Sony A64004/5+85/1004.5/54/5 Jan 2019 899 i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. 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. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.

Canon 1D:
Check Ebay offers
Leica S1:
Check Ebay offers

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 a corresponding selection in the search boxes 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 vs Leica S1

    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 Leica S1
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Mirrorless system camera
    Camera Lens Canon EF mount lenses Leica R mount lenses
    Launch Date September 2001 August 1996
    Launch Price USD 6,499 USD 21,490
    Sensor Specs Canon 1D Leica S1
    Sensor Technology CCD CCD
    Sensor Format APS-H Sensor Medium Format Sensor
    Sensor Size 28.7 x 19.1 mm 36.0 x 36.0 mm
    Sensor Area 548.17 mm2 1296 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 34.5 mm 50.9 mm
    Crop Factor 1.3x 0.85x
    Sensor Resolution 4.1 Megapixels 26.4 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 2496 x 1662 pixels 5140 x 5140 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 11.56 μm 7.01 μm
    Pixel Density 0.76 MP/cm2 2.04 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter no AA filter
    Movie Capability no Video no Video
    ISO Setting 200 - 1,600 ISO 50 - 1,600 ISO
    ISO Boost 100 - 3,200 ISO no Enhancement
    Screen Specs Canon 1D Leica S1
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 100% 100%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.55x
    Top-Level Screen Control Panel no Top Display
    Rear LCD Size 2.0inch
    LCD Resolution 120k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Canon 1D Leica S1
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Manual Focus
    Continuous Shooting 8 shutter flaps/s 0.01 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash no On-Board Flash no On-Board Flash
    Storage Medium CF cards external
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single SSD
    Connectivity Specs Canon 1D Leica S1
    External Flash Hotshoe no Hotshoe
    Studio Flash PC Sync socket no PC Sync
    USB Connector Firewire no USB
    HDMI Port no HDMI no HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Canon 1D Leica S1
    Environmental SealingWeathersealed bodynot weather sealed
    Battery Type NP-E3 external
    Body Dimensions 156 x 158 x 80 mm
    (6.1 x 6.2 x 3.1 in)
    339 x 214 x 119 mm
    (13.3 x 8.4 x 4.7 in)
    Camera Weight 1585 g (55.9 oz) 2500 g (88.2 oz)

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