Canon 6D vs Leica S2
The Canon EOS 6D and the Leica S2 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in September 2012 and September 2008. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on a full frame (6D) and a medium format (S2) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 20 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 6D 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 6D and the Leica S2 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 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 larger (19 percent) than the Canon 6D. Moreover, the S2 is substantially heavier (83 percent) than the 6D. 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.
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 6D||145 mm||111 mm||71 mm||770 g||1090||Y||Sep 2012||2,099||ebay.com|
|2.||Leica S2||160 mm||120 mm||80 mm||1410 g||..||Y||Sep 2008||22,995||ebay.com|
|3.||Canon 6D Mark II||144 mm||111 mm||75 mm||765 g||1200||Y||Jun 2017||1,999||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 5DS||152 mm||116 mm||76 mm||930 g||700||Y||Feb 2015||3,699||amazon.com|
|6.||Canon 7D II||149 mm||112 mm||78 mm||910 g||670||Y||Sep 2014||1,799||ebay.com|
|7.||Canon 70D||139 mm||104 mm||79 mm||755 g||920||Y||Jul 2013||1,199||ebay.com|
|8.||Canon 5D Mark III||152 mm||116 mm||76 mm||950 g||950||Y||Mar 2012||3,499||ebay.com|
|9.||Canon 1D X||158 mm||168 mm||83 mm||1551 g||1120||Y||Oct 2011||6,799||ebay.com|
|10.||Canon 5D Mark II||152 mm||114 mm||75 mm||850 g||850||Y||Sep 2008||3,499||ebay.com|
|11.||Leica S3||160 mm||120 mm||80 mm||1260 g||..||Y||Sep 2018||18,995||amazon.com|
|12.||Leica S-E Typ 006||160 mm||120 mm||80 mm||1260 g||..||Y||Sep 2014||16,900||ebay.com|
|13.||Leica S Typ 007||160 mm||120 mm||80 mm||1260 g||..||Y||Sep 2014||24,490||ebay.com|
|14.||Leica S Typ 006||160 mm||120 mm||80 mm||1260 g||..||Y||Sep 2012||21,950||ebay.com|
|15.||Leica S1||339 mm||214 mm||119 mm||2500 g||..||n||Aug 1996||21,490||ebay.com|
|16.||Nikon D610||141 mm||113 mm||82 mm||850 g||900||Y||Oct 2013||1,999||amazon.com|
|17.||Nikon D600||141 mm||113 mm||82 mm||850 g||900||Y||Sep 2012||2,099||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 6D was launched at a markedly lower price (by 91 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 imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors 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 6D 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 6D (20MP), but the S2 has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 6.00μm versus 6.57μm for the 6D). Yet, the 6D is a much more recent model (by 3 years and 11 months) than the S2, 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 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 6D are 27.4 x 18.2 inches or 69.5 x 46.3 cm for good quality, 21.9 x 14.6 inches or 55.6 x 37.1 cm for very good quality, and 18.2 x 12.2 inches or 46.3 x 30.9 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Canon EOS 6D has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 25600, which can be extended to ISO 50-102400. The corresponding ISO settings for the Leica S2 are ISO 80 to ISO 1250 (no boost).
In terms of underlying technology, the 6D 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 6D||Full Frame||20.0||5472||3648||1080/30p||23.8||12.1||2340||82|
|2.||Leica S2||Medium Format||37.5||7500||5000||none||23.9||12.5||2224||82|
|3.||Canon 6D Mark II||Full Frame||26.0||6240||4160||1080/60p||24.4||11.9||2862||85|
|4.||Canon 1D X Mark II||Full Frame||20.0||5472||3648||4K/60p||24.1||13.5||3207||88|
|5.||Canon 5DS||Full Frame||50.3||8688||5792||1080/30p||24.7||12.4||2381||87|
|6.||Canon 7D II||APS-C||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||22.4||11.8||1082||70|
|8.||Canon 5D Mark III||Full Frame||22.1||5760||3840||1080/30p||24.0||11.7||2293||81|
|9.||Canon 1D X||Full Frame||17.9||5184||3456||1080/30p||23.8||11.8||2786||82|
|10.||Canon 5D Mark II||Full Frame||21.0||5616||3744||1080/30p||23.7||11.9||1815||79|
|11.||Leica S3||Medium Format||64.0||9800||6533||4K/24p||25.6||14.4||3143||98|
|12.||Leica S-E Typ 006||Medium Format||37.5||7500||5000||none||25.1||13.7||2763||93|
|13.||Leica S Typ 007||Medium Format||37.5||7500||5000||4K/24p||25.1||13.7||2763||93|
|14.||Leica S Typ 006||Medium Format||37.5||7500||5000||none||23.9||12.2||824||76|
|15.||Leica S1||Medium Format||26.4||5140||5140||none||..||..||..||..|
|16.||Nikon D610||Full Frame||24.2||6016||4016||1080/30p||25.1||14.4||2925||94|
|17.||Nikon D600||Full Frame||24.2||6016||4016||1080/30p||25.1||14.2||2980||94|
|Note: DXO values in italics represent estimates based on sensor size and age.|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The 6D indeed provides movie recording capabilities, while the S2 does not. The highest resolution format that the 6D can use is 1080/30p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The 6D 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 6D offers a wider field of view (97%) 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 0.71x), 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 6D, the Leica S2, and comparable cameras.
|1.||Canon 6D||optical||Y||3.0 / 1040||fixed||n||1/4000s||4.5/s||n||n|
|2.||Leica S2||optical||Y||3.0 / 460||fixed||n||1/4000s||1.5/s||n||n|
|3.||Canon 6D Mark II||optical||Y||3.0 / 1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||6.5/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 5DS||optical||Y||3.2 / 1040||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0/s||n||n|
|6.||Canon 7D II||optical||Y||3.0 / 1040||fixed||n||1/8000s||10.0/s||Y||n|
|7.||Canon 70D||optical||Y||3.0 / 1040||swivel||Y||1/8000s||7.0/s||Y||n|
|8.||Canon 5D Mark III||optical||Y||3.2 / 1040||fixed||n||1/8000s||6.0/s||n||n|
|9.||Canon 1D X||optical||Y||3.2 / 1040||fixed||n||1/8000s||14.0/s||n||n|
|10.||Canon 5D Mark II||optical||Y||3.0 / 920||fixed||n||1/8000s||3.9/s||n||n|
|11.||Leica S3||optical||Y||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||n||n|
|12.||Leica S-E Typ 006||optical||Y||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/4000s||1.5/s||n||n|
|13.||Leica S Typ 007||optical||Y||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.5/s||n||n|
|14.||Leica S Typ 006||optical||Y||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/4000s||1.5/s||n||n|
|15.||Leica S1||optical||n||none / none||none||n||..||0.01/s||n||n|
|16.||Nikon D610||optical||Y||3.2 / 921||fixed||n||1/4000s||6.0/s||Y||n|
|17.||Nikon D600||optical||Y||3.0 / 921||fixed||n||1/4000s||5.5/s||Y||n|
|Notes: *) Information refers to the mechanical shutter, unless the camera only has an electronic one.|
The 6D writes its imaging data to SDXC 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 6D only has one slot. The 6D supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s), while the S2 cannot take advantage of Ultra High Speed SD cards.
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 6D and Leica S2 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
Mic / Speaker
|1.||Canon 6D||Y||mono / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||-||-|
|2.||Leica S2||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|3.||Canon 6D Mark II||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|4.||Canon 1D X Mark II||Y||mono / mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
|5.||Canon 5DS||Y||mono / mono||Y||-||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
|6.||Canon 7D II||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
|7.||Canon 70D||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||-||-|
|8.||Canon 5D Mark III||Y||mono / mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|9.||Canon 1D X||Y||mono / -||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|10.||Canon 5D Mark II||Y||mono / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|11.||Leica S3||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||Y||-||-|
|12.||Leica S-E Typ 006||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|13.||Leica S Typ 007||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||Y||-||-|
|14.||Leica S Typ 006||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|15.||Leica S1||-||- / -||-||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|16.||Nikon D610||Y||mono / mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|17.||Nikon D600||Y||mono / mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
It is notable that the 6D offers wifi support, while the S2 does not. Wifi can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location.
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Leica S2 (unlike the 6D) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Travel and landscape photographers will find it useful that the 6D has an internal geolocalization sensor and can record GPS coordinates in its EXIF data.
Both the 6D and the S2 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on ebay. The S2 was replaced by the Leica S Typ 006, while the 6D was followed by the Canon 6D 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 the Canon 6D 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 6D:
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- Broader imaging potential: Can record not only still images but also 1080/30p movies.
- More complete view: Has a viewfinder with a larger field of view (97% vs 96%).
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1040k vs 460k dots).
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (4.5 vs 1.5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More compact: Is smaller (145x111mm vs 160x120mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 640g or 45 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
- Easier geotagging: Features an internal GPS sensor to log localization data.
- Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
- Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (91 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 3 years and 11 months of technical progress since the S2 launch.
Reasons to prefer the Leica S2:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (37.5 vs 20MP), which boosts linear resolution by 37%.
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.86x vs 0.71x).
- Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
- 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 heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in September 2008).
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the 6D is the clear winner of the match-up (12 : 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 6D 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 says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the 6D and the S2 in practical situations. 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 6D||5/5||+ +||..||83/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||2,099||ebay.com|
|2.||Leica S2||..||..||..||..||..||..||Sep 2008||22,995||ebay.com|
|3.||Canon 6D Mark II||4/5||+||4/5||80/100||4.5/5||4/5||Jun 2017||1,999||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 5DS||..||+||..||83/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||3,699||amazon.com|
|6.||Canon 7D II||4.5/5||+||3.5/5||84/100||4/5||4.5/5||Sep 2014||1,799||ebay.com|
|7.||Canon 70D||5/5||+ +||..||83/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jul 2013||1,199||ebay.com|
|8.||Canon 5D Mark III||..||+ +||..||82/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2012||3,499||ebay.com|
|9.||Canon 1D X||5/5||..||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2011||6,799||ebay.com|
|10.||Canon 5D Mark II||4/5||91/100||..||79/100||4/5||..||Sep 2008||3,499||ebay.com|
|11.||Leica S3||..||..||..||..||..||..||Sep 2018||18,995||amazon.com|
|12.||Leica S-E Typ 006||..||..||..||..||..||..||Sep 2014||16,900||ebay.com|
|13.||Leica S Typ 007||4/5||..||..||..||..||..||Sep 2014||24,490||ebay.com|
|14.||Leica S Typ 006||..||..||..||..||..||..||Sep 2012||21,950||ebay.com|
|15.||Leica S1||..||..||..||..||..||..||Aug 1996||21,490||ebay.com|
|16.||Nikon D610||4/5||+ +||..||87/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2013||1,999||amazon.com|
|17.||Nikon D600||4/5||+ +||..||87/100||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||2,099||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. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time 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.
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.
Specifications: Canon 6D 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 6D||Leica S2|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Canon EF mount lenses||Leica S mount lenses|
|Launch Date||September 2012||September 2008|
|Launch Price||USD 2,099||USD 22,995|
|Sensor Specs||Canon 6D||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||20 Megapixels||37.5 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||5472 x 3648 pixels||7500 x 5000 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||6.57 μm||6.00 μm|
|Pixel Density||2.31 MP/cm2||2.78 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||no AA filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/30p Video||no Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 25,600 ISO||80 - 1,250 ISO|
|ISO Boost||50 - 102,400 ISO||no Enhancement|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||82||..|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||23.8||..|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||12.1||..|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||2340||..|
|Screen Specs||Canon 6D||Leica S2|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||97%||96%|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||Control Panel|
|LCD Framing||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||1040k dots||460k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon 6D||Leica S2|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||4.5 shutter flaps/s||1.5 shutter flaps/s|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||CF or SDHC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Dual card slots|
|UHS card support||UHS-I||no|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon 6D||Leica S2|
|Studio Flash||no PC Sync||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||no MIC socket|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||no Wifi|
|Geotagging||GPS built-in||no internal GPS|
|Body Specs||Canon 6D||Leica S2|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||Weathersealed body|
145 x 111 x 71 mm
(5.7 x 4.4 x 2.8 in)
160 x 120 x 80 mm
(6.3 x 4.7 x 3.1 in)
|Camera Weight||770 g (27.2 oz)||1410 g (49.7 oz)|
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