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Canon 1Ds Mark III versus 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 megapixel, whereas the Leica provides 37.5 MP. Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their size, their sensors, their features, and their reception by expert reviewers.

Body comparison: Canon 1Ds Mark III vs Leica S2

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Canon 1Ds Mark III and the Leica S2 is provided in the side-by-side display below. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter. If you prefer, you can also use the toggle button to switch to a comparison in percentage terms (in this case, the camera on the left – the 1Ds Mark III – represents the basis or 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).

Compare Canon 1Ds Mark III vs Leica S2
1Ds Mark III versus S2 top view
1Ds Mark III and S2 rear side
Body view (1Ds Mark III on the left)

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 the specifications of available lenses in order to get the full picture of the size and weight of the two camera systems.

The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, just select a new right or left comparator from among the camera models in the table. Alternatively, you can also move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.

Camera Body Specifications
Camera Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(y/n)
Camera
Launch
(year)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(amazon)
Used
Price
(ebay)
Canon 1Ds Mark III (⇒ rgt) 150 mm 160 mm 80 mm 1385 g 1800 YES 2007 7,999discont. check
Leica S2 (⇒ lft) 160 mm 120 mm 80 mm 1410 g .. YES 2008 22,995discont. check
Canon 1D X Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt) 158 mm 168 mm 83 mm 1530 g 1210 YES 2016 5,999 latest check
Canon 6D (⇒ lft | rgt) 145 mm 111 mm 71 mm 770 g 1090 YES 2012 2,099discont. check
Canon 5D Mark III (⇒ lft | rgt) 152 mm 116 mm 76 mm 950 g 950 YES 2012 3,499discont. check
Canon 1D C (⇒ lft | rgt) 158 mm 164 mm 83 mm 1545 g 1120 YES 2012 14,999discont. check
Canon 1D X (⇒ lft | rgt) 158 mm 168 mm 83 mm 1551 g 1120 YES 2011 6,799discont. check
Canon 1D Mark IV (⇒ lft | rgt) 156 mm 157 mm 80 mm 1230 g 1500 YES 2009 4,999discont. check
Canon 5D Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt) 152 mm 114 mm 75 mm 850 g 850 YES 2008 3,499discont. check
Canon 1D Mark III (⇒ lft | rgt) 156 mm 156.6 mm 80 mm 1155 g 2200 YES 2007 4,499discont. check
Canon 1Ds Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt) 156 mm 157.6 mm 80 mm 1215 g 1200 YES 2004 7,999discont. check
Leica S Typ 007 (⇒ lft | rgt) 160 mm 120 mm 80 mm 1260 g .. YES 2014 24,490 latest check
Leica S-E Typ 006 (⇒ lft | rgt) 160 mm 120 mm 80 mm 1260 g .. YES 2014 16,900discont. check
Leica S Typ 006 (⇒ lft | rgt) 160 mm 120 mm 80 mm 1260 g .. YES 2012 21,950discont. check
Nikon D3X (⇒ lft | rgt) 160 mm 157 mm 88 mm 1260 g 4400 YES 2008 7,999discont. check
Nikon D3 (⇒ lft | rgt) 160 mm 157 mm 88 mm 1300 g 4300 YES 2007 4,999discont. check
Pentax 645D (⇒ lft | rgt) 156 mm 117 mm 119 mm 1480 g 800 YES 2010 9,995discont. check

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 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. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.


Sensor comparison: Canon 1Ds Mark III vs Leica S2

The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors 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. 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 are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras 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.

Canon 1Ds Mark III and Leica S2 sensor measures
Sensor size

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.

1Ds Mark III versus S2 MP
Sensor resolution

Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. 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 adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.

Sensor Characteristics
Camera Sensor
Class
Resolution
(Megapixel)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Canon 1Ds Mark III (⇒ rgt) Full Frame 21.0 5616 3744 no 24.0 12.0 1663 80
Leica S2 (⇒ lft) Medium Format 37.5 7500 5000 no - - - -
Canon 1D X Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 20.0 5472 3648 4K/60p 24.1 13.5 3207 88
Canon 6D (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 20.0 5472 3648 1080/30p 23.8 12.1 2340 82
Canon 5D Mark III (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 22.1 5760 3840 1080/30p 24 11.7 2293 81
Canon 1D C (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 17.9 5184 3456 4K/24p - - - -
Canon 1D X (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 17.9 5184 3456 1080/30p 23.8 11.8 2786 82
Canon 1D Mark IV (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-H 16.0 4896 3264 1080/30p 22.8 12.0 1320 74
Canon 5D Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 21.0 5616 3744 1080/30p 23.7 11.9 1815 79
Canon 1D Mark III (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-H 10.1 3888 2592 no 22.7 11.7 1078 71
Canon 1Ds Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 16.6 4992 3328 no 23.3 11.3 1480 74
Leica S Typ 007 (⇒ lft | rgt) Medium Format 37.5 7500 5000 4K/24p - - - -
Leica S-E Typ 006 (⇒ lft | rgt) Medium Format 37.5 7500 5000 no - - - -
Leica S Typ 006 (⇒ lft | rgt) Medium Format 37.5 7500 5000 no 23.9 12.2 824 76
Nikon D3X (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 24.4 6048 4032 no 24.7 13.7 1992 88
Nikon D3 (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 12.1 4256 2832 no 23.5 12.2 2290 81
Pentax 645D (⇒ lft | rgt) Medium Format 39.5 7264 5440 no 24.6 12.6 1262 82
The 1Ds Mark III offers Live View, so that it can project the live image that the sensor receives onto the rear screen for framing. The S2 lacks this capability. Both cameras are still-image focused and cannot record videos.

Feature comparison: Canon 1Ds Mark III vs Leica S2

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range 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 adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Canon 1Ds Mark III and Leica S2 along with similar information for a selection of comparators. If you need more detail on the specs, you can find comprehensive listings, for example, in the dpreview camera hub.

Core Features
Camera Viewfinder
(Type or
'000 dots)
Control
Panel
(Y/n)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(Y/n)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec))
Build-in
Flash
(GN)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Canon 1Ds Mark III (⇒ rgt) optical YES 3.0 230 fixed no 8000 5.0 no no
Leica S2 (⇒ lft) optical YES 3.0 460 fixed no 4000 1.5 no no
Canon 1D X Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.2 1620 fixed YES 8000 16.0 no no
Canon 6D (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.0 1040 fixed no 4000 4.5 no no
Canon 5D Mark III (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.2 1040 fixed no 8000 6.0 no no
Canon 1D C (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.2 1040 fixed no 8000 14.0 no no
Canon 1D X (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.2 1040 fixed no 8000 14.0 no no
Canon 1D Mark IV (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.0 920 fixed no 8000 10.0 no no
Canon 5D Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.0 920 fixed no 8000 3.9 no no
Canon 1D Mark III (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.0 230 fixed no 8000 10.0 no no
Canon 1Ds Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 2.0 230 fixed no 8000 4.0 no no
Leica S Typ 007 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.0 922 fixed no 4000 3.5 no no
Leica S-E Typ 006 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.0 922 fixed no 4000 1.5 no no
Leica S Typ 006 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.0 922 fixed no 4000 1.5 no no
Nikon D3X (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.0 922 fixed no 8000 5.0 no no
Nikon D3 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.0 922 fixed no 8000 11.0 no no
Pentax 645D (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.0 921 fixed no 4000 1.1 no no

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.

Review summary: Canon 1Ds Mark III vs Leica S2

So what conclusions can be drawn? Is the Canon 1Ds Mark III better than the Leica S2 or vice versa? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.


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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.
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (8000/sec vs 4000/sec) to freeze action.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5 vs 1.5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • 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).

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Advantages of 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.
  • 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 comes out slightly ahead of the 1Ds Mark III (6 : 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.

1Ds Mark III 05:06 S2

In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras is instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the handling experience and imaging performance when actually working with the 1Ds Mark III or the S2. 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 why expert reviews are important. The following table reports the overall rankings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites. You can find the full text of the reviews, respectively, at cameralabs.com, dpreview.com, ephotozine.com, imaging-resource.com, and photographyblog.com.

Review scores
Camera camera
labs
.com
dp
review
.com
ephoto
zine
.com
imaging
resource
.com
photography
blog
.com
Camera
Launch
(year)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(amazon)
Used
Price
(ebay)
Canon 1Ds Mark III (⇒ rgt) - HiRec 4.5/5 - - 2007 7,999discont. check
Leica S2 (⇒ lft) - - - - - 2008 22,995discont. check
Canon 1D X Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt) - 89/100 Gold 4.5/5 5/5 4.5/5 2016 5,999 latest check
Canon 6D (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 83/100 Silver 4.5/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2012 2,099discont. check
Canon 5D Mark III (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 82/100 Gold 4.5/5 5/5 4.5/5 2012 3,499discont. check
Canon 1D C (⇒ lft | rgt) - - - - - 2012 14,999discont. check
Canon 1D X (⇒ lft | rgt) - - 4.5/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2011 6,799discont. check
Canon 1D Mark IV (⇒ lft | rgt) - 89/100 Gold - 5/5 - 2009 4,999discont. check
Canon 5D Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt) 91/100 79/100 HiRec 4/5 5/5 - 2008 3,499discont. check
Canon 1D Mark III (⇒ lft | rgt) - - - reviewed - 2007 4,499discont. check
Canon 1Ds Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt) - HiRec - - - 2004 7,999discont. check
Leica S Typ 007 (⇒ lft | rgt) - - - - - 2014 24,490 latest check
Leica S-E Typ 006 (⇒ lft | rgt) - - - - - 2014 16,900discont. check
Leica S Typ 006 (⇒ lft | rgt) - - - - - 2012 21,950discont. check
Nikon D3X (⇒ lft | rgt) - 86/100 4/5 5/5 5/5 2008 7,999discont. check
Nikon D3 (⇒ lft | rgt) - HiRec 5/5 reviewed 4.5/5 2007 4,999discont. check
Pentax 645D (⇒ lft | rgt) - - - 4.5/5 - 2010 9,995discont. check

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, 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 comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods 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? In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored. If you cannot find the camera you are interested in, please contact me, and I will try to update the database with the necessary infos.

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