Canon 7D II vs Leica SL
The Canon EOS 7D Mark II and the Leica SL (Typ 601) are two enthusiast cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in September 2014 and October 2015. The 7D Mark II is a DSLR, while the SL is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on an APS-C (7D Mark II) and a full frame (SL) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 20 megapixels, whereas the Leica provides 24 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 7D Mark II and the Leica SL (Typ 601)? 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.
An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Canon 7D II and the Leica SL is provided 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 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 SL is notably smaller (8 percent) than the Canon 7D II. Moreover, the SL is markedly lighter (7 percent) than the 7D Mark II. 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. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, you can navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from a broad list of cameras there.
|1.||Canon 7D II||149 mm||112 mm||78 mm||910 g||670||Y||Sep 2014||1,799|
|2.||Leica SL||147 mm||104 mm||39 mm||847 g||400||Y||Oct 2015||7,450|
|3.||Canon 1D X Mark II||158 mm||168 mm||83 mm||1530 g||1210||Y||Feb 2016||5,999|
|4.||Canon 80D||139 mm||105 mm||79 mm||730 g||960||Y||Feb 2016||1,199|
|5.||Canon 5DS||152 mm||116 mm||76 mm||930 g||700||Y||Feb 2015||3,699|
|6.||Canon T6i||132 mm||101 mm||78 mm||555 g||440||n||Feb 2015||749|
|7.||Canon T5||130 mm||100 mm||78 mm||480 g||500||n||Feb 2014||449|
|8.||Canon 70D||139 mm||104 mm||79 mm||755 g||920||Y||Jul 2013||1,199|
|9.||Canon SL1||117 mm||91 mm||69 mm||407 g||380||n||Mar 2013||549|
|10.||Canon T5i||133 mm||100 mm||79 mm||580 g||440||n||Mar 2013||649|
|11.||Canon 6D||145 mm||111 mm||71 mm||770 g||1090||Y||Sep 2012||2,099|
|12.||Canon 60D||145 mm||106 mm||79 mm||755 g||1100||Y||Aug 2010||1,399|
|13.||Canon 7D||148 mm||111 mm||74 mm||860 g||800||Y||Sep 2009||1,699|
|14.||Canon 50D||146 mm||108 mm||74 mm||822 g||800||Y||Aug 2008||1,299|
|15.||Canon 20D||144 mm||106 mm||72 mm||770 g||700||n||Aug 2004||1,499|
|16.||Leica SL2||146 mm||107 mm||42 mm||953 g||370||Y||Nov 2019||5,999|
|17.||Leica M Typ 240||139 mm||80 mm||42 mm||680 g||..||Y||Sep 2012||6,950|
|Notes: 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 retail prices at the time of the camera’s release place the model in the market relative to other models in the producer’s line-up and the competition. The 7D Mark II was launched at a markedly lower price (by 76 percent) than the SL, 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 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. 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 7D II features an APS-C sensor and the Leica SL a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the SL is 157 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.6 and 1.0. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
With 24MP, the SL offers a higher resolution than the 7D Mark II (20MP), but the SL nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 6.00μm versus 4.10μm for the 7D Mark II) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the SL is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 1 month) than the 7D Mark II, 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 SL has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.
The resolution advantage of the Leica SL implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the SL for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 30 x 20 inches or 76.2 x 50.8 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 24 x 16 inches or 61 x 40.6 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 20 x 13.3 inches or 50.8 x 33.9 cm. The corresponding values for the Canon 7D II 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 7D Mark II has on-sensor phase detect pixels, which results in fast and reliable autofocus acquisition even during live view operation.
The Canon EOS 7D Mark II has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 16000, which can be extended to ISO 100-51200. The corresponding ISO settings for the Leica SL (Typ 601) are ISO 50 to ISO 50000 (no boost).
For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. This service is based on lab testing and assigns an overall score to each camera sensor, as well as ratings for dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), color depth ("DXO Portrait"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"). Of the two cameras under consideration, the SL offers substantially better image quality than the 7D Mark II (overall score 18 points higher). The advantage is based on 2.6 bits higher color depth, 1.6 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.8 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.
| DXO |
|1.||Canon 7D II||APS-C||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||22.4||11.8||1082||70|
|2.||Leica SL||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||25.0||13.4||1821||88|
|3.||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|
|11.||Canon 6D||Full Frame||20.0||5472||3648||1080/30p||23.8||12.1||2340||82|
|16.||Leica SL2||Full Frame||46.7||8368||5584||4K/60p||..||..||..||..|
|17.||Leica M Typ 240||Full Frame||23.7||5952||3976||1080/25p||24.0||13.3||1860||84|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. Both cameras under consideration have a sensor with sufficiently fast read-out times for moving pictures, but the SL provides a better video resolution than the 7D Mark II. It can shoot movie footage at 4K/30p, while the Canon is limited to 1080/60p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the SL has an electronic viewfinder (4400k dots), while the 7D Mark II has an optical one. Both systems have their advantages, with the electronic viewfinder making it possible to project supplementary shooting information into the framing view, whereas the optical viewfinder offers lag-free viewing and a very clear framing image. The viewfinders of both cameras offer the same field of view (100%), but the viewfinder of the SL has a higher magnification than the one of the 7D Mark II (0.80x vs 0.63x), 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 7D II and Leica SL in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|1.||Canon 7D II||optical||Y||3.0||1040||fixed||n||1/8000s||10.0||Y||n|
|3.||Canon 1D X Mark II||optical||Y||3.2||1620||fixed||Y||1/8000s||16.0||n||n|
|17.||Leica M Typ 240||optical||n||3.0||920||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||n||n|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The 7D Mark II has one, while the SL does not. While the built-in flash of the 7D Mark II is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.
The reported shutter speed information refers to the use of the mechanical shutter. Yet, some cameras only have an electronic shutter, while others have an electronic shutter in addition to a mechanical one. In fact, the SL is one of those camera that have an additional electronic shutter, which makes completely silent shooting possible. However, this mode is less suitable for photographing moving objects (risk of rolling shutter) or shooting under artificial light sources (risk of flickering).
The Canon 7D II and the Leica SL both have an intervalometer built-in. This enables the photographer to capture time lapse sequences, such as flower blooming, a sunset or moon rise, without purchasing an external camera trigger and related software.
The 7D Mark II writes its imaging data to Compact Flash or SDXC cards, while the SL uses SDXC cards. Both cameras feature dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. The SL supports UHS-II cards (on its first slot), while the 7D Mark II can use UHS-I 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 7D Mark II and Leica SL (Typ 601) and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|1.||Canon 7D II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
|3.||Canon 1D X Mark II||Y||mono||mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
|17.||Leica M Typ 240||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
It is notable that the SL offers wifi support, which can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location. In contrast, the 7D Mark II 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 both cameras feature internal geolocalization sensors and can record GPS coordinates in their EXIF data.
The 7D Mark II is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Canon. In contrast, the SL has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the SL was succeeded by the Leica SL2. 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 what is the bottom line? Is there a clear favorite between the Canon 7D II and the Leica SL? Which camera is better? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS 7D Mark II:
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- Better live-view autofocus: Features on-sensor phase-detection for more confident autofocus.
- Brighter framing: Features an optical viewfinder for clear, lag-free composition.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (670 versus 400) on a single battery charge.
- Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (76 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in September 2014).
Advantages of the Leica SL (Typ 601):
- More detail: Has more megapixels (24 vs 20MP), which boosts linear resolution by 10%.
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (18 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (2.6 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (1.6 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (0.8 stops ISO advantage).
- Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/30p vs 1080/60p).
- More framing info: Has an electronic viewfinder that displays shooting data.
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.80x vs 0.63x).
- Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
- Less disturbing: Has an electronic shutter option for completely silent shooting.
- More legacy lens friendly: Can use many non-native lenses via adapters.
- Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
- Faster buffer clearing: Supports a more advanced SD data transfer standard (UHS-II vs UHS-I).
- 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 SL is the clear winner of the contest (17 : 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 7D II and the Leica SL place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera and Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera listings 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 says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the 7D Mark II and the SL in practical situations. 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 hands-on reviews by experts are important. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], 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 7D II||4.5/5||+||84/100||4/5||4.5/5||Sep 2014||1,799|
|2.||Leica SL||4/5||..||84/100||4.5/5||4/5||Oct 2015||7,450|
|3.||Canon 1D X Mark II||..||..||89/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2016||5,999|
|4.||Canon 80D||4/5||+ +||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2016||1,199|
|5.||Canon 5DS||..||+||83/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||3,699|
|6.||Canon T6i||5/5||..||75/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||749|
|7.||Canon T5||3/5||+||..||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2014||449|
|8.||Canon 70D||5/5||+ +||83/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jul 2013||1,199|
|9.||Canon SL1||4/5||+||78/100||4/5||4/5||Mar 2013||549|
|10.||Canon T5i||..||..||76/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2013||649|
|11.||Canon 6D||5/5||+ +||83/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||2,099|
|12.||Canon 60D||5/5||+||79/100||4/5||4.5/5||Aug 2010||1,399|
|13.||Canon 7D||5/5||+ +||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2009||1,699|
|14.||Canon 50D||..||+ +||+ +||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2008||1,299|
|15.||Canon 20D||..||..||+ +||..||..||Aug 2004||1,499|
|16.||Leica SL2||4/5||..||..||4.5/5||4/5||Nov 2019||5,999|
|17.||Leica M Typ 240||4/5||..||..||4/5||..||Sep 2012||6,950|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.
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 your choice using the following search menu. As an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.
Specifications: Canon 7D II vs Leica SL
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 7D II||Leica SL|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Canon EF mount lenses||Leica L mount lenses|
|Launch Date||September 2014||October 2015|
|Launch Price||USD 1,799||USD 7,450|
|Sensor Specs||Canon 7D II||Leica SL|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||22.4 x 15.0 mm||36.0 x 24.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||336 mm2||864 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||27 mm||43.3 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||20 Megapixels||24 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||5472 x 3648 pixels||6000 x 4000 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.10 μm||6.00 μm|
|Pixel Density||5.94 MP/cm2||2.78 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||no AA filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/60p Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 16,000 ISO||50 - 50,000 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100 - 51,200 ISO||no Enhancement|
|Image Processor||DIGIC 6 (Dual)||Maestro II|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||70||88|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||22.4||25.0|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||11.8||13.4|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||1082||1821|
|Screen Specs||Canon 7D II||Leica SL|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||4400k dots|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||Control Panel|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||1040k dots||1040k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Touch Input||no Touchscreen||Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Canon 7D II||Leica SL|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||no Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/8000s||1/8000s|
|Continuous Shooting||10 shutter flaps/s||11 shutter flaps/s|
|Electronic Shutter||no E-Shutter||up to 1/16000s|
|Time-Lapse Photography||Intervalometer built-in||Intervalometer built-in|
|Fill Flash||Build-in Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||CF or SDXC cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Dual card slots||Dual card slots|
|UHS card support||UHS-I||Single UHS-II|
|Connectivity Specs||Canon 7D II||Leica SL|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 3.0||USB 3.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||full HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||External MIC port|
|Headphone Socket||Headphone port||Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||Wifi built-in|
|Geotagging||GPS built-in||GPS built-in|
|Body Specs||Canon 7D II||Leica SL|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||670 shots per charge||400 shots per charge|
149 x 112 x 78 mm
(5.9 x 4.4 x 3.1 in)
147 x 104 x 39 mm
(5.8 x 4.1 x 1.5 in)
|Camera Weight||910 g (32.1 oz)||847 g (29.9 oz)|
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