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Canon 40D vs Leica S2

The Canon EOS 40D and the Leica S2 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in August 2007 and September 2008. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on an APS-C (40D) and a medium format (S2) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 10.1 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.

Headline Specifications
Canon 40D
versus
Leica S2
Canon 40D   Leica S2
Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
Canon EF mount lenses Leica S mount lenses
10.1 MP – APS-C sensor 37.5 MP – Medium Format sensor
no Video no Video
ISO 100-1,600 (100 - 3,200) ISO 80-1,250
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
3.0" LCD – 230k dots 3.0" LCD – 460k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
6.5 shutter flaps per second 1.5 shutter flaps per second
not weather sealedWeathersealed body
146 x 108 x 74 mm, 822 g 160 x 120 x 80 mm, 1410 g
Canon 40D:
Check Ebay offers
Leica S2:
Check Ebay offers

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon EOS 40D 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.

Body comparison

The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Canon 40D and the Leica S2. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

Size Canon 40D vs Leica S2
Compare 40D versus S2 top
Comparison 40D or S2 rear

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 larger (22 percent) than the Canon 40D. Moreover, the S2 is substantially heavier (72 percent) than the 40D. It is noteworthy in this context that the S2 is splash and dust-proof, while the 40D 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. 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.

The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, you can move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons 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 40D 146 mm 108 mm 74 mm 822 g 750 n Aug 2007 1,299i
2.
 
Leica S2 160 mm 120 mm 80 mm 1410 g .. Y Sep 2008 22,995i
3.
 
Canon T3 130 mm 100 mm 78 mm 495 g 700 n Feb 2011 449i
4.
 
Canon 60D 145 mm 106 mm 79 mm 755 g 1100 Y Aug 2010 1,399i
5.
 
Canon 50D 146 mm 108 mm 74 mm 822 g 800 Y Aug 2008 1,299i
6.
 
Canon XS 126 mm 98 mm 65 mm 502 g 500 n Jun 2008 449i
7.
 
Canon XSi 129 mm 98 mm 62 mm 524 g 500 n Jan 2008 799i
8.
 
Canon 30D 144 mm 106 mm 74 mm 785 g 750 n Feb 2006 1,399i
9.
 
Canon XTi 127 mm 84 mm 65 mm 556 g 370 n Aug 2006 799i
10.
 
Canon 20D 144 mm 106 mm 72 mm 770 g 700 n Aug 2004 1,499i
11.
 
Canon 10D 150 mm 107 mm 75 mm 850 g 500 n Feb 2003 1,999i
12.
 
Leica S3 160 mm 120 mm 80 mm 1260 g .. Y Sep 2018 18,995 i
13.
 
Leica S-E Typ 006 160 mm 120 mm 80 mm 1260 g .. Y Sep 2014 16,900i
14.
 
Leica S Typ 007 160 mm 120 mm 80 mm 1260 g .. Y Sep 2014 24,490i
15.
 
Leica S Typ 006 160 mm 120 mm 80 mm 1260 g .. Y Sep 2012 21,950i
16.
 
Leica S1 339 mm 214 mm 119 mm 2500 g .. n Aug 1996 21,490i
17.
 
Nikon D90 132 mm 103 mm 77 mm 703 g 850 n Aug 2008 1,299i
Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.

Any camera decision will obviously take relative prices into account. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The 40D was launched at a markedly lower price (by 94 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.

Sensor comparison

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

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon 40D features an APS-C sensor and the Leica S2 a medium format sensor. The sensor area in the S2 is 307 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.6 and 0.8. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Canon 40D and Leica S2 sensor measures

With 37.5MP, the S2 offers a higher resolution than the 40D (10.1MP), but the S2 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 6.00μm versus 5.73μm for the 40D) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the S2 is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 1 month) than the 40D, and its sensor might 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 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 40D are 19.4 x 13 inches or 49.4 x 32.9 cm for good quality, 15.6 x 10.4 inches or 39.5 x 26.3 cm for very good quality, and 13 x 8.6 inches or 32.9 x 21.9 cm for excellent quality prints.

The Canon EOS 40D has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 1600, which can be extended to ISO 100-3200. The corresponding ISO settings for the Leica S2 are ISO 80 to ISO 1250 (no boost).

40D versus S2 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 adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-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 40D APS-C 10.1 3888 2592none22.111.370364
2.
 
Leica S2 Medium Format 37.5 7500 5000none23.912.5222482
3.
 
Canon T3 APS-C 12.2 4272 2848720/30p21.911.075562
4.
 
Canon 60D APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.211.581366
5.
 
Canon 50D APS-C 15.1 4752 3168none21.811.469663
6.
 
Canon XS APS-C 10.1 3888 2592none22.111.478364
7.
 
Canon XSi APS-C 12.2 4272 2848none21.910.869261
8.
 
Canon 30D APS-C 8.2 3504 2336none21.510.873659
9.
 
Canon XTi APS-C 10.1 3888 2592none22.111.066462
10.
 
Canon 20D APS-C 8.2 3504 2336none21.911.072162
11.
 
Canon 10D APS-C 6.3 3072 2048none21.110.957157
12.
 
Leica S3 Medium Format 64.0 9800 65334K/24p25.614.4314398
13.
 
Leica S-E Typ 006 Medium Format 37.5 7500 5000none25.113.7276393
14.
 
Leica S Typ 007 Medium Format 37.5 7500 50004K/24p25.113.7276393
15.
 
Leica S Typ 006 Medium Format 37.5 7500 5000none23.912.282476
16.
 
Leica S1 Medium Format 26.4 5140 5140none........
17.
 
Nikon D90 APS-C 12.2 4288 2848720/24p22.712.597773
Note: DXO values in italics represent estimates based on sensor size and age.
The 40D 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

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The 40D 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 S2 offers a wider field of view (96%) than the one in the 40D (95%), so that a larger proportion of the captured image is visible in the finder. In addition, the viewfinder of the S2 has a higher magnification (0.86x vs 0.59x), 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 40D, the Leica S2, and comparable cameras.

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Core Features
    Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Specifications
(inch/000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Max
Shutter
Speed *
Max
Shutter
Flaps *
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
1.
 
Canon 40Doptical Y3.0 / 230 fixed n 1/8000s 6.5/s Y n
2.
 
Leica S2optical Y3.0 / 460 fixed n 1/4000s 1.5/s n n
3.
 
Canon T3optical n2.7 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
4.
 
Canon 60Doptical Y3.0 / 1040 swivel n 1/8000s 5.3/s Y n
5.
 
Canon 50Doptical Y3.0 / 920 fixed n 1/8000s 6.3/s Y n
6.
 
Canon XSoptical n2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
7.
 
Canon XSioptical n3.0 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.5/s Y n
8.
 
Canon 30Doptical Y2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0/s Y n
9.
 
Canon XTioptical n2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
10.
 
Canon 20Doptical Y1.8 / 118 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0/s Y n
11.
 
Canon 10Doptical Y1.8 / 118 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
12.
 
Leica S3optical Y3.0 / 922 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s n n
13.
 
Leica S-E Typ 006optical Y3.0 / 922 fixed n 1/4000s 1.5/s n n
14.
 
Leica S Typ 007optical Y3.0 / 922 fixed n 1/4000s 3.5/s n n
15.
 
Leica S Typ 006optical Y3.0 / 922 fixed n 1/4000s 1.5/s n n
16.
 
Leica S1optical nnone / none none n .. 0.01/s n n
17.
 
Nikon D90optical Y3.0 / 920 fixed n 1/4000s 4.5/s Y n
Notes: *) Information refers to the mechanical shutter, unless the camera only has an electronic one.

One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The 40D has one, while the S2 does not. While the built-in flash of the 40D is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.

The 40D writes its imaging data to Compact Flash cards, while the S2 uses Compact Flash or SDHC cards. The S2 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the 40D only has one slot.

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 40D and Leica S2 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
Mic / Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
1.
 
Canon 40DY- / ----2.0---
2.
 
Leica S2Y- / ---mini2.0---
3.
 
Canon T3Ystereo / mono--mini2.0---
4.
 
Canon 60DYmono / monoY-mini2.0---
5.
 
Canon 50DY- / ---mini2.0---
6.
 
Canon XSY- / ----2.0---
7.
 
Canon XSiY- / ---mini2.0---
8.
 
Canon 30DY- / ----2.0---
9.
 
Canon XTiY- / ----2.0---
10.
 
Canon 20DY- / ----1.1---
11.
 
Canon 10DY- / ----1.1---
12.
 
Leica S3Ystereo / monoYYmini3.0Y--
13.
 
Leica S-E Typ 006Y- / ---mini2.0---
14.
 
Leica S Typ 007Ystereo / monoYYmini3.0Y--
15.
 
Leica S Typ 006Y- / ---mini2.0---
16.
 
Leica S1-- / --------
17.
 
Nikon D90Ymono / mono--mini2.0---

Both cameras feature a PC Sync terminal to control professional strobe lights, which will be appreciated by studio photographers.

Both the 40D and the S2 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The 40D was replaced by the Canon 50D, 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.

Review summary

So what conclusions can be drawn? Is there a clear favorite between the Canon 40D and the Leica S2? Which camera is better? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.

ilogo

Arguments in favor of the Canon EOS 40D:

  • Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (6.5 vs 1.5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More compact: Is smaller (146x108mm vs 160x120mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter (by 588g or 42 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
  • Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (94 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in August 2007).

ilogo

Reasons to prefer the Leica S2:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (37.5 vs 10.1MP), which boosts linear resolution by 93%.
  • 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.
  • More complete view: Has a viewfinder with a larger field of view (96% vs 95%).
  • Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.86x vs 0.59x).
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (460k vs 230k dots).
  • Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
  • Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
  • 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 number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the S2 is the clear winner of the contest (13 : 8 points). However, the pertinence of the various camera strengths will differ across photographers, so that you might want to weigh individual camera traits according to their importance for your own imaging needs before making a camera decision. A professional sports photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a street photog, and a person interested in family portraits has distinct needs from a landscape shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.

40D 08:13 S2

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon 40D 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 partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the 40D 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.

Expert reviews

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 (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.

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Expert Camera Reviews
     Camera 
 Model 
 AP 
 score 
 CL 
 score 
 DCW 
 score 
 DPR 
 score 
 EPZ 
 score 
 PB 
 score 
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Canon 40D..+ +..+ +4.5/54.5/5 Aug 2007 1,299i
2.
 
Leica S2............ Sep 2008 22,995i
3.
 
Canon T3..80/100..69/1004/54.5/5 Feb 2011 449i
4.
 
Canon 60D5/5+..79/1004/54.5/5 Aug 2010 1,399i
5.
 
Canon 50D..+ +..+ +4.5/54.5/5 Aug 2008 1,299i
6.
 
Canon XS..82/100..+ +3.5/54.5/5 Jun 2008 449i
7.
 
Canon XSi..+ +..+ +4/54.5/5 Jan 2008 799i
8.
 
Canon 30D..+ +..+ +o.. Feb 2006 1,399i
9.
 
Canon XTi..+ +..+ +o4/5 Aug 2006 799i
10.
 
Canon 20D......+ +.... Aug 2004 1,499i
11.
 
Canon 10D......+ +.... Feb 2003 1,999i
12.
 
Leica S3............ Sep 2018 18,995 i
13.
 
Leica S-E Typ 006............ Sep 2014 16,900i
14.
 
Leica S Typ 0074/5.......... Sep 2014 24,490i
15.
 
Leica S Typ 006............ Sep 2012 21,950i
16.
 
Leica S1............ Aug 1996 21,490i
17.
 
Nikon D90..+ +..+ +4/54.5/5 Aug 2008 1,299i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. 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.

Canon 40D:
Check Ebay offers
Leica S2:
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. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.

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    Specifications: Canon 40D 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 Specifications
    Camera Model Canon 40D 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 1,299 USD 22,995
    Sensor Specs Canon 40D Leica S2
    Sensor Technology CMOS CCD
    Sensor Format APS-C Sensor Medium Format Sensor
    Sensor Size 22.3 x 14.9 mm 45.0 x 30.0 mm
    Sensor Area 332.27 mm2 1350 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 26.8 mm 54.1 mm
    Crop Factor 1.6x 0.8x
    Sensor Resolution 10.1 Megapixels 37.5 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 3888 x 2592 pixels 7500 x 5000 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 5.73 μm 6.00 μm
    Pixel Density 3.03 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 100 - 3,200 ISO no Enhancement
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 64 ..
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 22.1 ..
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 11.3 ..
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 703 ..
    Screen Specs Canon 40D Leica S2
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 95% 96%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.59x 0.86x
    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 40D Leica S2
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 6.5 shutter flaps/s 1.5 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash Built-in Flash no On-Board Flash
    Storage Medium CF cards CF or SDHC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Dual card slots
    Connectivity Specs Canon 40D Leica S2
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    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 40D Leica S2
    Environmental Sealingnot weather sealedWeathersealed body
    Battery Type BP-511A BP-PRO1
    Body Dimensions 146 x 108 x 74 mm
    (5.7 x 4.3 x 2.9 in)
    160 x 120 x 80 mm
    (6.3 x 4.7 x 3.1 in)
    Camera Weight 822 g (29.0 oz) 1410 g (49.7 oz)
    Canon 40D:
    Check Ebay offers
    Leica S2:
    Check Ebay offers

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