Canon 1Ds Mark III vs Leica S2
The Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III and the Leica S2 are two professional cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in August 2007 and September 2008. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on a full frame (1Ds Mark III) and a medium format (S2) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 21 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.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon EOS-1Ds 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 1Ds 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 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 (20 percent) than the Canon 1Ds Mark III. However, the S2 is slightly heavier (2 percent) than the 1Ds 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 1Ds 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. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, you can use the CAM-parator app to select your camera combination among a large number of options.
|1.||Canon 1Ds Mark III||150 mm||160 mm||80 mm||1385 g||1800||Y||Aug 2007||7,999||ebay.com|
|2.||Leica S2||160 mm||120 mm||80 mm||1410 g||..||Y||Sep 2008||22,995||ebay.com|
|3.||Canon 1D X Mark III||158 mm||168 mm||83 mm||1440 g||2850||Y||Jan 2020||6,499||amazon.com|
|4.||Canon 1D X Mark II||158 mm||168 mm||83 mm||1530 g||1210||Y||Feb 2016||5,999||ebay.com|
|5.||Canon 1D C||158 mm||164 mm||83 mm||1545 g||1120||Y||Apr 2012||14,999||ebay.com|
|6.||Canon 5D Mark III||152 mm||116 mm||76 mm||950 g||950||Y||Mar 2012||3,499||ebay.com|
|7.||Canon 1D X||158 mm||168 mm||83 mm||1551 g||1120||Y||Oct 2011||6,799||ebay.com|
|8.||Canon 5D Mark II||152 mm||114 mm||75 mm||850 g||850||Y||Sep 2008||3,499||ebay.com|
|9.||Canon 1D Mark III||156 mm||157 mm||80 mm||1155 g||2200||Y||Feb 2007||4,499||ebay.com|
|10.||Canon 1Ds Mark II||156 mm||158 mm||80 mm||1215 g||1200||Y||Sep 2004||7,999||ebay.com|
|11.||Canon 1Ds||156 mm||158 mm||80 mm||1265 g||600||Y||Sep 2002||8,999||ebay.com|
|12.||Leica S3||160 mm||120 mm||80 mm||1260 g||..||Y||Sep 2018||18,995||amazon.com|
|13.||Leica S-E Typ 006||160 mm||120 mm||80 mm||1260 g||..||Y||Sep 2014||16,900||ebay.com|
|14.||Leica S Typ 007||160 mm||120 mm||80 mm||1260 g||..||Y||Sep 2014||24,490||ebay.com|
|15.||Leica S Typ 006||160 mm||120 mm||80 mm||1260 g||..||Y||Sep 2012||21,950||ebay.com|
|16.||Leica S1||339 mm||214 mm||119 mm||2500 g||..||n||Aug 1996||21,490||ebay.com|
|17.||Nikon D3X||160 mm||157 mm||88 mm||1260 g||4400||Y||Dec 2008||7,999||ebay.com|
|Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. 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 1Ds Mark III was launched at a markedly lower price (by 65 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 size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants 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. Further, a large sensor camera will give the photographer additional creative options when using shallow depth-of-field to isolate a subject from its 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 1Ds Mark III features a full frame sensor and the Leica S2 a medium format sensor. The sensor area in the S2 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 37.5MP, the S2 offers a higher resolution than the 1Ds Mark III (21MP), but the S2 has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 6.00μm versus 6.41μm for the 1Ds Mark III). Yet, the S2 is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 1 month) than the 1Ds 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 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 1Ds Mark III are 28.1 x 18.7 inches or 71.3 x 47.5 cm for good quality, 22.5 x 15 inches or 57.1 x 38 cm for very good quality, and 18.7 x 12.5 inches or 47.5 x 31.7 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III 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).
In terms of underlying technology, the 1Ds Mark III is build around a CMOS sensor, while the S2 uses a CCD imager. Both cameras use a Bayer filter for capturing RGB colors on a square grid of photosensors. This arrangement is found in most digital cameras.
Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. 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.
|1.||Canon 1Ds Mark III||Full Frame||21.0||5616||3744||none||24.0||12.0||1663||80|
|2.||Leica S2||Medium Format||37.5||7500||5000||none||23.9||12.5||2224||82|
|3.||Canon 1D X Mark III||Full Frame||20.0||5472||3648||4K/60p||24.2||14.5||3248||91|
|4.||Canon 1D X Mark II||Full Frame||20.0||5472||3648||4K/60p||24.1||13.5||3207||88|
|5.||Canon 1D C||Full Frame||17.9||5184||3456||4K/24p||24.3||13.0||2155||85|
|6.||Canon 5D Mark III||Full Frame||22.1||5760||3840||1080/30p||24.0||11.7||2293||81|
|7.||Canon 1D X||Full Frame||17.9||5184||3456||1080/30p||23.8||11.8||2786||82|
|8.||Canon 5D Mark II||Full Frame||21.0||5616||3744||1080/30p||23.7||11.9||1815||79|
|9.||Canon 1D Mark III||APS-H||10.1||3888||2592||none||22.7||11.7||1078||71|
|10.||Canon 1Ds Mark II||Full Frame||16.6||4992||3328||none||23.3||11.3||1480||74|
|11.||Canon 1Ds||Full Frame||11.0||4064||2704||none||21.8||11.0||954||63|
|12.||Leica S3||Medium Format||64.0||9800||6533||4K/24p||25.6||14.4||3143||98|
|13.||Leica S-E Typ 006||Medium Format||37.5||7500||5000||none||25.1||13.7||2763||93|
|14.||Leica S Typ 007||Medium Format||37.5||7500||5000||4K/24p||25.1||13.7||2763||93|
|15.||Leica S Typ 006||Medium Format||37.5||7500||5000||none||23.9||12.2||824||76|
|16.||Leica S1||Medium Format||26.4||5140||5140||none||..||..||..||..|
|17.||Nikon D3X||Full Frame||24.4||6048||4032||none||24.7||13.7||1992||88|
|Note: DXO values in italics represent estimates based on sensor size and age.|
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The 1Ds 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 1Ds 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 0.76x), 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 1Ds Mark III, the Leica S2, and comparable cameras.
|1.||Canon 1Ds Mark III||optical||Y||3.0 / 230||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0/s||n||n|
|2.||Leica S2||optical||Y||3.0 / 460||fixed||n||1/4000s||1.5/s||n||n|
|3.||Canon 1D X Mark III||optical||Y||3.2 / 2100||fixed||Y||1/8000s||20.0/s||n||n|
|4.||Canon 1D X Mark II||optical||Y||3.2 / 1620||fixed||Y||1/8000s||16.0/s||n||n|
|5.||Canon 1D C||optical||Y||3.2 / 1040||fixed||n||1/8000s||14.0/s||n||n|
|6.||Canon 5D Mark III||optical||Y||3.2 / 1040||fixed||n||1/8000s||6.0/s||n||n|
|7.||Canon 1D X||optical||Y||3.2 / 1040||fixed||n||1/8000s||14.0/s||n||n|
|8.||Canon 5D Mark II||optical||Y||3.0 / 920||fixed||n||1/8000s||3.9/s||n||n|
|9.||Canon 1D Mark III||optical||Y||3.0 / 230||fixed||n||1/8000s||10.0/s||n||n|
|10.||Canon 1Ds Mark II||optical||Y||2.0 / 230||fixed||n||1/8000s||4.0/s||n||n|
|11.||Canon 1Ds||optical||Y||2.0 / 120||fixed||n||1/8000s||3.0/s||n||n|
|12.||Leica S3||optical||Y||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||n||n|
|13.||Leica S-E Typ 006||optical||Y||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/4000s||1.5/s||n||n|
|14.||Leica S Typ 007||optical||Y||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.5/s||n||n|
|15.||Leica S Typ 006||optical||Y||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/4000s||1.5/s||n||n|
|16.||Leica S1||optical||n||none / none||none||n||..||0.01/s||n||n|
|17.||Nikon D3X||optical||Y||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0/s||n||n|
|Notes: *) Information refers to the mechanical shutter, unless the camera only has an electronic one.|
Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the 1Ds 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-1Ds Mark III and Leica S2 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
Mic / Speaker
|1.||Canon 1Ds Mark III||Y||mono / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|2.||Leica S2||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|3.||Canon 1D X Mark III||Y||mono / mono||Y||Y||mini||3.1||Y||-||Y|
|4.||Canon 1D X Mark II||Y||mono / mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
|5.||Canon 1D C||Y||mono / mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|6.||Canon 5D Mark III||Y||mono / mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|7.||Canon 1D X||Y||mono / -||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|8.||Canon 5D Mark II||Y||mono / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|9.||Canon 1D Mark III||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|10.||Canon 1Ds Mark II||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|11.||Canon 1Ds||Y||- / -||-||-||-||FW||-||-||-|
|12.||Leica S3||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||Y||-||-|
|13.||Leica S-E Typ 006||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|14.||Leica S Typ 007||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||Y||-||-|
|15.||Leica S Typ 006||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|16.||Leica S1||-||- / -||-||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|17.||Nikon D3X||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
Both cameras feature a PC Sync terminal to control professional strobe lights, which will be appreciated by studio photographers.
Both the 1Ds Mark III and the S2 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on ebay. The 1Ds Mark III was replaced by the Canon 1DX, 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? Is the Canon 1Ds Mark III better than the Leica S2 or vice versa? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Arguments in favor of the Canon EOS-1Ds 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 (5 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 (65 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in August 2007).
Reasons to prefer the Leica S2:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (37.5 vs 21MP), which boosts linear resolution by 34%.
- 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 0.76x).
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (460k vs 230k dots).
- More compact: Is smaller (160x120mm vs 150x160mm) 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 1 month) more recently.
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the S2 is the clear winner of the contest (11 : 7 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.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon 1Ds 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 comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the 1Ds Mark III or the S2. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased.
This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], digitalcameraworld [DCW], 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.
|1.||Canon 1Ds Mark III||..||..||..||+ +||4.5/5||..||Aug 2007||7,999||ebay.com|
|2.||Leica S2||..||..||..||..||..||..||Sep 2008||22,995||ebay.com|
|3.||Canon 1D X Mark III||..||+ +||5/5||..||4.5/5||4/5||Jan 2020||6,499||amazon.com|
|4.||Canon 1D X Mark II||..||..||4.5/5||89/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2016||5,999||ebay.com|
|5.||Canon 1D C||..||..||..||..||..||..||Apr 2012||14,999||ebay.com|
|6.||Canon 5D Mark III||..||+ +||..||82/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2012||3,499||ebay.com|
|7.||Canon 1D X||5/5||..||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2011||6,799||ebay.com|
|8.||Canon 5D Mark II||4/5||91/100||..||79/100||4/5||..||Sep 2008||3,499||ebay.com|
|9.||Canon 1D Mark III||..||..||..||..||..||..||Feb 2007||4,499||ebay.com|
|10.||Canon 1Ds Mark II||..||..||..||+ +||..||..||Sep 2004||7,999||ebay.com|
|11.||Canon 1Ds||..||..||..||+ +||..||..||Sep 2002||8,999||ebay.com|
|12.||Leica S3||..||..||..||..||..||..||Sep 2018||18,995||amazon.com|
|13.||Leica S-E Typ 006||..||..||..||..||..||..||Sep 2014||16,900||ebay.com|
|14.||Leica S Typ 007||4/5||..||..||..||..||..||Sep 2014||24,490||ebay.com|
|15.||Leica S Typ 006||..||..||..||..||..||..||Sep 2012||21,950||ebay.com|
|16.||Leica S1||..||..||..||..||..||..||Aug 1996||21,490||ebay.com|
|17.||Nikon D3X||..||..||..||86/100||4/5||5/5||Dec 2008||7,999||ebay.com|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The review scores listed above should be treated 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. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.
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 make your choice using the following search menu. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.
- Canon 1100D vs Canon 1Ds Mark III
- Canon 1Ds Mark III vs Canon M100
- Canon 1Ds Mark III vs Nikon 1 J4
- Canon 1Ds Mark III vs Olympus E-PL9
- Canon 1Ds Mark III vs Panasonic FZ200
- Canon 1Ds Mark III vs Sony HX80
- Fujifilm X-A10 vs Leica S2
- Fujifilm X-T4 vs Leica S2
- Fujifilm X70 vs Leica S2
- Leica S2 vs Panasonic G2
- Leica S2 vs Pentax K-1 II
- Leica S2 vs Sony HX400V
Specifications: Canon 1Ds 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 1Ds 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||August 2007||September 2008|
|Launch Price||USD 7,999||USD 22,995|
|Sensor Specs||Canon 1Ds Mark III||Leica S2|
|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||21 Megapixels||37.5 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||5616 x 3744 pixels||7500 x 5000 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||6.41 μm||6.00 μm|
|Pixel Density||2.43 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)||80||..|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||24.0||..|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||12.0||..|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||1663||..|
|Screen Specs||Canon 1Ds 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||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||230k dots||460k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon 1Ds Mark III||Leica S2|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||5 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 1Ds 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 1Ds Mark III||Leica S2|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||Weathersealed body|
150 x 160 x 80 mm
(5.9 x 6.3 x 3.1 in)
160 x 120 x 80 mm
(6.3 x 4.7 x 3.1 in)
|Camera Weight||1385 g (48.9 oz)||1410 g (49.7 oz)|
Did you notice an error on this page? If so, please get in touch, so that we can correct the information.