Canon 1D X vs Leica S3
The Canon EOS-1D X and the Leica S3 are two professional cameras that were announced, respectively, in October 2011 and September 2018. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on a full frame (1DX) and a medium format (S3) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 17.9 megapixels, whereas the Leica provides 64 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
|Canon 1D X||Leica S3|
|Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Canon EF mount lenses||Leica S mount lenses|
|17.9 MP, Full Frame Sensor||64 MP, Medium Format Sensor|
|1080/30p Video||4K/24p Video|
|ISO 100-51,200 (50 - 204,800)||ISO 100-50,000|
|Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|3.2 LCD, 1040k dots||3.0 LCD, 922k dots|
|Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)||Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)|
|14 shutter flaps per second||3 shutter flaps per second|
|Weathersealed body||Weathersealed body|
|158 x 168 x 83 mm, 1551 g||160 x 120 x 80 mm, 1260 g|
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon EOS-1D X and the Leica S3? 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 side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Canon 1D X and the Leica S3. 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.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Leica S3 is notably smaller (28 percent) than the Canon 1D X. Moreover, the S3 is markedly lighter (19 percent) than the 1DX. 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 1DX 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 S3, 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 X||158 mm||168 mm||83 mm||1551 g||1120||Y||Oct 2011||6,799|
|Leica S3||160 mm||120 mm||80 mm||1260 g||..||Y||Sep 2018||18,995|
|Canon 1D X Mark III||158 mm||168 mm||83 mm||1440 g||2850||Y||Jan 2020||6,499|
|Canon 1D X Mark II||158 mm||168 mm||83 mm||1530 g||1210||Y||Feb 2016||5,999|
|Canon 1D C||158 mm||164 mm||83 mm||1545 g||1120||Y||Apr 2012||14,999|
|Canon 5D Mark III||152 mm||116 mm||76 mm||950 g||950||Y||Mar 2012||3,499|
|Canon 6D||145 mm||111 mm||71 mm||770 g||1090||Y||Sep 2012||2,099|
|Canon 5D Mark II||152 mm||114 mm||75 mm||850 g||850||Y||Sep 2008||3,499|
|Canon 1Ds Mark III||150 mm||160 mm||80 mm||1385 g||1800||Y||Aug 2007||7,999|
|Canon 1Ds Mark II||156 mm||158 mm||80 mm||1215 g||1200||Y||Sep 2004||7,999|
|Leica M10||139 mm||80 mm||39 mm||660 g||210||Y||Jan 2017||6,595|
|Leica S-E Typ 006||160 mm||120 mm||80 mm||1260 g||..||Y||Sep 2014||16,900|
|Leica S Typ 007||160 mm||120 mm||80 mm||1260 g||..||Y||Sep 2014||24,490|
|Leica S Typ 006||160 mm||120 mm||80 mm||1260 g||..||Y||Sep 2012||21,950|
|Leica S2||160 mm||120 mm||80 mm||1410 g||..||Y||Sep 2008||22,995|
|Nikon D5||160 mm||159 mm||92 mm||1415 g||3780||Y||Jan 2016||6,499|
|Nikon D4||160 mm||157 mm||91 mm||1340 g||2600||Y||Jan 2012||5,999|
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.
The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. 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 1DX was launched at a markedly lower price (by 64 percent) than the S3, 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 size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants of image quality. A large sensor will tend to have larger individual pixels that provide better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixel-units 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 X features a full frame sensor and the Leica S3 a medium format sensor. The sensor area in the S3 is 56 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.0 and 0.8. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
With 64MP, the S3 offers a higher resolution than the 1DX (17.9MP), but the S3 has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.59μm versus 6.95μm for the 1DX). Yet, the S3 is a much more recent model (by 6 years and 11 months) than the 1DX, 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 S3 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.
The resolution advantage of the Leica S3 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the S3 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 49 x 32.7 inches or 124.5 x 83 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 39.2 x 26.1 inches or 99.6 x 66.4 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 32.7 x 21.8 inches or 83 x 55.3 cm. The corresponding values for the Canon 1D X are 25.9 x 17.3 inches or 65.8 x 43.9 cm for good quality, 20.7 x 13.8 inches or 52.7 x 35.1 cm for very good quality, and 17.3 x 11.5 inches or 43.9 x 29.3 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Canon EOS-1D X has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 51200, which can be extended to ISO 50-204800. The corresponding ISO settings for the Leica S3 are ISO 100 to ISO 50000 (no boost).
For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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 adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
|Canon 1D X||Full Frame||17.9||5184||3456||1080/30p||23.8||11.8||2786||82|
|Leica S3||Medium Format||64.0||9800||6533||4K/24p||..||..||..||..|
|Canon 1D X Mark III||Full Frame||20.0||5472||3648||4K/60p||24.2||14.5||3248||91|
|Canon 1D X Mark II||Full Frame||20.0||5472||3648||4K/60p||24.1||13.5||3207||88|
|Canon 1D C||Full Frame||17.9||5184||3456||4K/24p||..||..||..||..|
|Canon 5D Mark III||Full Frame||22.1||5760||3840||1080/30p||24.0||11.7||2293||81|
|Canon 6D||Full Frame||20.0||5472||3648||1080/30p||23.8||12.1||2340||82|
|Canon 5D Mark II||Full Frame||21.0||5616||3744||1080/30p||23.7||11.9||1815||79|
|Canon 1Ds Mark III||Full Frame||21.0||5616||3744||none||24.0||12.0||1663||80|
|Canon 1Ds Mark II||Full Frame||16.6||4992||3328||none||23.3||11.3||1480||74|
|Leica M10||Full Frame||23.8||5952||3992||none||24.4||13.2||2133||86|
|Leica S-E Typ 006||Medium Format||37.5||7500||5000||none||..||..||..||..|
|Leica S Typ 007||Medium Format||37.5||7500||5000||4K/24p||..||..||..||..|
|Leica S Typ 006||Medium Format||37.5||7500||5000||none||23.9||12.2||824||76|
|Leica S2||Medium Format||37.5||7500||5000||none||..||..||..||..|
|Nikon D5||Full Frame||20.7||5588||3712||4K/30p||25.1||12.3||2343||88|
|Nikon D4||Full Frame||16.2||4928||3280||1080/30p||24.7||13.1||2965||89|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. Both cameras under consideration are equipped with sensors that have a sufficiently high read-out speed for moving images, but the S3 provides a better video resolution than the 1DX. It can shoot movie footage at 4K/24p, while the Canon is limited to 1080/30p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The 1DX and the S3 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 1DX offers a wider field of view (100%) than the one in the S3 (98%), so that a larger proportion of the captured image is visible in the finder. On the other hand, the viewfinder of the S3 has a higher magnification (0.87x vs 0.76x), 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 X and Leica S3 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|Canon 1D X||optical||Y||3.2||1040||fixed||n||1/8000s||14.0||n||n|
|Canon 1D X Mark III||optical||Y||3.2||2100||fixed||Y||1/8000s||20.0||n||n|
|Canon 1D X Mark II||optical||Y||3.2||1620||fixed||Y||1/8000s||16.0||n||n|
|Canon 1D C||optical||Y||3.2||1040||fixed||n||1/8000s||14.0||n||n|
|Canon 5D Mark III||optical||Y||3.2||1040||fixed||n||1/8000s||6.0||n||n|
|Canon 5D Mark II||optical||Y||3.0||920||fixed||n||1/8000s||3.9||n||n|
|Canon 1Ds Mark III||optical||Y||3.0||230||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||n|
|Canon 1Ds Mark II||optical||Y||2.0||230||fixed||n||1/8000s||4.0||n||n|
|Leica S-E Typ 006||optical||Y||3.0||922||fixed||n||1/4000s||1.5||n||n|
|Leica S Typ 007||optical||Y||3.0||922||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.5||n||n|
|Leica S Typ 006||optical||Y||3.0||922||fixed||n||1/4000s||1.5||n||n|
The 1DX writes its imaging data to Compact Flash cards, while the S3 uses Compact Flash or SDXC 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 X and Leica S3 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
|Canon 1D X||Y||mono||-||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|Canon 1D X Mark III||Y||mono||mono||Y||Y||mini||3.1||Y||-||Y|
|Canon 1D X Mark II||Y||mono||mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
|Canon 1D C||Y||mono||mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|Canon 5D Mark III||Y||mono||mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|Canon 5D Mark II||Y||mono||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|Canon 1Ds Mark III||Y||-||-||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|Canon 1Ds Mark II||Y||-||-||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|Leica S-E Typ 006||Y||-||-||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|Leica S Typ 007||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||Y||-||-|
|Leica S Typ 006||Y||-||-||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
It is notable that the S3 offers wifi support, which can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location. In contrast, the 1DX does not provide wifi capability.
Both cameras feature a PC Sync terminal to control professional strobe lights, which will be appreciated by studio photographers.
Travel and landscape photographers will find it useful that the S3 has an internal geolocalization sensor and can record GPS coordinates in its EXIF data.
The S3 is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Leica. In contrast, the 1DX has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the 1DX was succeeded by the Canon 1DX 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.
So how do things add up? Is there a clear favorite between the Canon 1D X and the Leica S3? Which camera is better? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS-1D X:
- 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 98%).
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.2" vs 3.0") for image review and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1040k vs 922k dots).
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (14 vs 3 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 (64 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in October 2011).
Advantages of the Leica S3:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (64 vs 17.9MP), which boosts linear resolution by 89%.
- 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.
- Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/24p vs 1080/30p).
- Better sound control: Has a headphone port that enables audio monitoring while recording.
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.87x vs 0.76x).
- More compact: Is smaller (160x120mm vs 158x168mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 291g or 19 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- Easier geotagging: Features an internal GPS sensor to log localization data.
- Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (3.0 vs 2.0).
- Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
- More prestigious: Has the Leica luxury appeal, which ensures a high resale value.
- More modern: Reflects 6 years and 11 months of technical progress since the 1DX launch.
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the S3 is the clear winner of the contest (16 : 9 points). 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 X and the Leica S3 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 1DX or the S3. 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.
|Canon 1D X||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2011||6,799|
|Leica S3||..||..||..||..||..||Sep 2018||18,995|
|Canon 1D X Mark III||+ +||..||4.5/5||..||4/5||Jan 2020||6,499|
|Canon 1D X Mark II||..||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2016||5,999|
|Canon 1D C||..||..||..||..||..||Apr 2012||14,999|
|Canon 5D Mark III||+ +||82/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2012||3,499|
|Canon 6D||+ +||83/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||2,099|
|Canon 5D Mark II||91/100||79/100||4/5||5/5||..||Sep 2008||3,499|
|Canon 1Ds Mark III||..||+ +||4.5/5||..||..||Aug 2007||7,999|
|Canon 1Ds Mark II||..||+ +||..||..||..||Sep 2004||7,999|
|Leica M10||..||..||4/5||..||4.5/5||Jan 2017||6,595|
|Leica S-E Typ 006||..||..||..||..||..||Sep 2014||16,900|
|Leica S Typ 007||..||..||..||..||..||Sep 2014||24,490|
|Leica S Typ 006||..||..||..||..||..||Sep 2012||21,950|
|Leica S2||..||..||..||..||..||Sep 2008||22,995|
|Nikon D5||..||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Jan 2016||6,499|
|Nikon D4||..||..||4.5/5||..||4.5/5||Jan 2012||5,999|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. 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 use the search menu below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.
- Canon 1D X Mark II vs Panasonic GH5s
- Canon 1D X Mark III vs Fujifilm X100V
- Canon 1D X vs Fujifilm X-T100
- Canon 1D X vs Fujifilm XP140
- Canon 1D X vs Panasonic G9
- Canon 1D X vs Sony RX1
- Canon 1Ds Mark II vs Leica S3
- Canon G12 vs Leica S3
- Fujifilm GFX 100 vs Leica S3
- Fujifilm X-A5 vs Leica S3
- Fujifilm X70 vs Leica S3
- Leica Digilux 3 vs Leica S3
Specifications: Canon 1D X vs Leica S3
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 X||Leica S3|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Canon EF mount lenses||Leica S mount lenses|
|Launch Date||October 2011||September 2018|
|Launch Price||USD 6,799||USD 18,995|
|Sensor Specs||Canon 1D X||Leica S3|
|Sensor Format||Full Frame Sensor||Medium Format Sensor|
|Sensor Size||36.0 x 24.0 mm||45.0 x 30.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||864 mm2||1350 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||43.3 mm||54.1 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||17.9 Megapixels||64 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||5184 x 3456 pixels||9800 x 6533 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||6.95 μm||4.59 μm|
|Pixel Density||2.07 MP/cm2||4.74 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||no AA filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/30p Video||4K/24p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 51,200 ISO||100 - 50,000 ISO|
|ISO Boost||50 - 204,800 ISO||no Enhancement|
|Image Processor||DIGIC 5+ (Dual)||Maestro II|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||82||..|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||23.8||..|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||11.8||..|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||2786||..|
|Screen Specs||Canon 1D X||Leica S3|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||98%|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||Control Panel|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.2inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||1040k dots||922k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon 1D X||Leica S3|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||no Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/8000s||1/4000s|
|Continuous Shooting||14 shutter flaps/s||3 shutter flaps/s|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||CF cards||CF or SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Dual card slots||Dual card slots|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon 1D X||Leica S3|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 3.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||External MIC port|
|Headphone Socket||no Headphone port||Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||Wifi built-in|
|Geotagging||no internal GPS||GPS built-in|
|Body Specs||Canon 1D X||Leica S3|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||Weathersealed body|
158 x 168 x 83 mm
(6.2 x 6.6 x 3.3 in)
160 x 120 x 80 mm
(6.3 x 4.7 x 3.1 in)
|Camera Weight||1551 g (54.7 oz)||1260 g (44.4 oz)|
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