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Canon SL3 vs Leica S1

The Canon EOS Rebel SL3 (called Canon 250D in some regions) and the Leica S1 Pro are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in April 2019 and August 1996. The SL3 is a DSLR, while the S1 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on an APS-C (SL3) and a medium format (S1) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 24 megapixels, whereas the Leica provides 26.4 MP.

Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.

Headline Specifications
Canon SL3 versus Leica S1
Canon SL3 Leica S1
Digital single lens reflex Mirrorless system camera
Canon EF mount lenses Leica R mount lenses
24 MP, APS-C Sensor 26.4 MP, Medium Format Sensor
4K/25p Video no Video
ISO 100-25,600 (100 - 51,200) ISO 50-1,600
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
3.0 LCD, 1040k dots no LCD
Swivel touchscreen no rear screen
5 shutter flaps per second 0.01 shutter flaps per second
122 x 93 x 70 mm, 449 g 339 x 214 x 119 mm, 2500 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon EOS Rebel SL3 and the Leica S1 Pro? 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 SL3 and the Leica S1. 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.

The SL3 can be obtained in two different colors (black, white), while the S1 is only available in black.

Size Canon SL3 vs Leica S1
Compare SL3 versus S1 top
Comparison SL3 or S1 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Leica S1 is considerably larger (539 percent) than the Canon SL3. Moreover, the S1 is substantially heavier (457 percent) than the SL3. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the SL3 nor the S1 are weather-sealed.

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. A larger imaging sensor will tend to go along with bigger and heavier lenses, although exceptions exist. You can compare the optics available for the two cameras in the Canon EF Lens Catalog (SL3) and the Leica R Lens Catalog (S1). Mirrorless cameras, such as the S1, have moreover the advantage that they can use many lenses from other systems via adapters, as they have a relatively short flange to focal plane distance.

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.

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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 SL3 122 mm 93 mm 70 mm 449 g 1070 n Apr 2019 599 i
2.
 
Leica S1 339 mm 214 mm 119 mm 2500 g .. n Aug 1996 21,490i
3.
 
Canon T8i 131 mm 103 mm 76 mm 515 g 800 n Feb 2020 749 i
4.
 
Canon M50 Mark II 116 mm 88 mm 59 mm 387 g 305 n Oct 2020 599 i
5.
 
Canon M50 116 mm 88 mm 59 mm 390 g 235 n Feb 2018 779i
6.
 
Canon T7 129 mm 101 mm 78 mm 475 g 500 n Feb 2018 449 i
7.
 
Canon 77D 131 mm 100 mm 76 mm 540 g 600 n Feb 2017 899 i
8.
 
Canon SL2 122 mm 93 mm 70 mm 453 g 650 n Jun 2017 549i
9.
 
Canon T7i 131 mm 100 mm 76 mm 532 g 600 n Feb 2017 749i
10.
 
Canon T6s 132 mm 101 mm 78 mm 565 g 440 n Feb 2015 649i
11.
 
Canon SL1 117 mm 91 mm 69 mm 407 g 380 n Mar 2013 549i
12.
 
Canon T2i 129 mm 98 mm 62 mm 530 g 440 n Feb 2010 699i
13.
 
Leica CL 131 mm 78 mm 45 mm 403 g 220 n Nov 2017 2,795 i
14.
 
Leica TL2 134 mm 69 mm 33 mm 399 g 250 n Jul 2017 1,950 i
15.
 
Leica Q Typ 116 130 mm 80 mm 93 mm 640 g 300 n Jun 2015 4,249i
16.
 
Leica S2 160 mm 120 mm 80 mm 1410 g .. Y Sep 2008 22,995i
17.
 
Sony A6400 120 mm 67 mm 50 mm 403 g 410 Y Jan 2019 899 i
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 listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The SL3 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 97 percent) than the S1, which puts it into a different market segment. Normally, street prices remain initially close to the MSRP, but after a couple of months, the first discounts appear. 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.

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Sensor comparison

The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant 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. Moreover, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more control over depth-of-field in the image and, thus, the ability to better 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 SL3 features an APS-C sensor and the Leica S1 a medium format sensor. The sensor area in the S1 is 290 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.6 and 0.85. The sensor in the SL3 has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the S1 offers a 1:1 aspect.

Canon SL3 and Leica S1 sensor measures

With 26.4MP, the S1 offers a higher resolution than the SL3 (24MP), but the S1 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 7.01μm versus 3.72μm for the SL3) due to its larger sensor. However, the SL3 is a much more recent model (by 22 years and 7 months) than the S1, and its sensor will 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 S1 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.

The SL3 has on-sensor phase detect pixels, which results in fast and reliable autofocus acquisition even during live view operation.

The Canon EOS Rebel SL3 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 25600, which can be extended to ISO 100-51200. The corresponding ISO settings for the Leica S1 Pro are ISO 50 to ISO 1600 (no boost).

SL3 versus S1 MP

Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. 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"). The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.

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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 SL3 APS-C 24.0 6000 40004K/25p........
2.
 
Leica S1 Medium Format 26.4 5140 5140none........
3.
 
Canon T8i APS-C 24.0 6000 40004K/24p........
4.
 
Canon M50 Mark II APS-C 24.0 6000 40004K/24p........
5.
 
Canon M50 APS-C 24.0 6000 40004K/24p........
6.
 
Canon T7 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/30p........
7.
 
Canon 77D APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p23.613.397178
8.
 
Canon SL2 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p23.613.4104179
9.
 
Canon T7i APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p........
10.
 
Canon T6s APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/30p22.612.091570
11.
 
Canon SL1 APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.811.384363
12.
 
Canon T2i APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p22.111.578466
13.
 
Leica CL APS-C 24.1 6014 40144K/30p........
14.
 
Leica TL2 APS-C 24.1 6014 40144K/30p........
15.
 
Leica Q Typ 116 Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.312.7222185
16.
 
Leica S2 Medium Format 37.5 7500 5000none........
17.
 
Sony A6400 APS-C 24.0 6000 40004K/30p2413.6143183

Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The SL3 indeed provides movie recording capabilities, while the S1 does not. The highest resolution format that the SL3 can use is 4K/25p.

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Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The SL3 and the S1 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 table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Canon SL3 and Leica S1 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.

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Core Features
    Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
(000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Mech
Shutter
Speed
Shutter
Flaps
(1/sec)
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
1.
 
Canon SL3optical n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
2.
 
Leica S1optical n none none none n .. 0.01 n n
3.
 
Canon T8ioptical n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 7.5 Y n
4.
 
Canon M50 Mark II2360 n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 10.0 Y n
5.
 
Canon M502360 n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 10.0 Y n
6.
 
Canon T7optical n 3.0 920 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
7.
 
Canon 77Doptical Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 6.0 Y n
8.
 
Canon SL2optical n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
9.
 
Canon T7ioptical n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 6.0 Y n
10.
 
Canon T6soptical Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
11.
 
Canon SL1optical n 3.0 1040 fixed Y 1/4000s 4.9 Y n
12.
 
Canon T2ioptical n 3.0 1040 fixed n 1/4000s 3.7 Y n
13.
 
Leica CL2360 Y 3.0 1040 fixed Y 1/8000s 10.0 n n
14.
 
Leica TL2optional n 3.7 1230 fixed Y 1/4000s 7.0 n n
15.
 
Leica Q Typ 1163680 n 3.0 1040 fixed Y 1/2000s 10.0 n Y
16.
 
Leica S2optical Y 3.0 460 fixed n 1/4000s 1.5 n n
17.
 
Sony A64002359 n 3.0 922 tilting Y 1/4000s 11.0 Y n

One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The SL3 has one, while the S1 does not. While the built-in flash of the SL3 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.

The SL3 has an articulated LCD that can be turned to be front-facing. This characteristic will be appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in snapping selfies. In contrast, the S1 does not have a selfie-screen.

The Canon SL3 has 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 SL3 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the S1 uses external storage.

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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 Rebel SL3 and Leica S1 Pro 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
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
1.
 
Canon SL3YstereomonoY-mini2.0Y-Y
2.
 
Leica S1----------
3.
 
Canon T8iYstereomonoY-mini2.0Y-Y
4.
 
Canon M50 Mark IIYstereomonoY-micro2.0Y-Y
5.
 
Canon M50YstereomonoY-micro2.0Y-Y
6.
 
Canon T7Ymonomono--mini2.0YY-
7.
 
Canon 77DYstereomonoY-mini2.0YYY
8.
 
Canon SL2YstereomonoY-mini2.0YYY
9.
 
Canon T7iYstereomonoY-mini2.0YYY
10.
 
Canon T6sYstereomonoY-mini2.0YY-
11.
 
Canon SL1YmonomonoY-mini2.0---
12.
 
Canon T2iYstereo-Y-mini2.0---
13.
 
Leica CLYstereomono----Y--
14.
 
Leica TL2Ystereomono--micro3.0Y--
15.
 
Leica Q Typ 116Ystereomono--micro2.0YY-
16.
 
Leica S2Y----mini2.0---
17.
 
Sony A6400YstereomonoY-micro2.0YYY

It is notable that the SL3 has a hotshoe, while the S1 does not. This socket makes it possible to easily attach optional accessories, such as an external flash gun.

The SL3 is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Canon. In contrast, the S1 has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the S1 was succeeded by the Leica S2. 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.

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Review summary

So what is the bottom line? Is there a clear favorite between the Canon SL3 and the Leica S1? Which camera is better? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.

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Advantages of the Canon EOS Rebel SL3:

  • 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 4K/25p movies.
  • Better live-view autofocus: Features on-sensor phase-detection for more confident autofocus.
  • Rear screen: Has a backside LCD (3.0") for image review and settings control.
  • More flexible LCD: Has a swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
  • Fewer buttons to press: Is equipped with a touch-sensitive rear screen to facilitate handling.
  • More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5 vs 0.01 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
  • More compact: Is smaller (122x93mm vs 339x214mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter (by 2051g or 82 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
  • Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
  • Better lighting: Features a hotshoe and can thus hold and trigger an external flash gun.
  • Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
  • Easier wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (97 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Reflects 22 years and 7 months of technical progress since the S1 launch.

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Reasons to prefer the Leica S1 Pro:

  • Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
  • More legacy lens friendly: Can use many non-native lenses via adapters.
  • More prestigious: Has the Leica luxury appeal, which ensures a high resale value.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in August 1996).

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the SL3 is the clear winner of the match-up (17 : 4 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.

SL3 17:04 S1

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon SL3 and the Leica S1 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 specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the SL3 or the S1 perform in practice. 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 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], 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 
 DPR 
 score 
 EPZ 
 score 
 PB 
 score 
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Canon SL3..o79/1004/54/5 Apr 2019 599 i
2.
 
Leica S1.......... Aug 1996 21,490i
3.
 
Canon T8i4.5/5+80/1004/53.5/5 Feb 2020 749 i
4.
 
Canon M50 Mark II.......... Oct 2020 599 i
5.
 
Canon M50..+79/100..3.5/5 Feb 2018 779i
6.
 
Canon T7..o..3.5/53.5/5 Feb 2018 449 i
7.
 
Canon 77D4.5/5..82/1004.5/54/5 Feb 2017 899 i
8.
 
Canon SL24/5+ +78/1004.5/54.5/5 Jun 2017 549i
9.
 
Canon T7i4.5/5..80/1004.5/54/5 Feb 2017 749i
10.
 
Canon T6s5/5+77/1004.5/54.5/5 Feb 2015 649i
11.
 
Canon SL14/5+78/1004/54/5 Mar 2013 549i
12.
 
Canon T2i..+ +77/1004/54.5/5 Feb 2010 699i
13.
 
Leica CL........4/5 Nov 2017 2,795 i
14.
 
Leica TL23.5/5....4/54/5 Jul 2017 1,950 i
15.
 
Leica Q Typ 1165/5..80/1004.5/54.5/5 Jun 2015 4,249i
16.
 
Leica S2.......... Sep 2008 22,995i
17.
 
Sony A64004/5+85/1004.5/54/5 Jan 2019 899 i
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 comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.

Canon SL3:
Check Amazon price
Leica S1:
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. As an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.

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    Specifications: Canon SL3 vs Leica S1

    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 SL3 Leica S1
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Mirrorless system camera
    Camera Lens Canon EF mount lenses Leica R mount lenses
    Launch Date April 2019 August 1996
    Launch Price USD 599 USD 21,490
    Sensor Specs Canon SL3 Leica S1
    Sensor Technology CMOS CCD
    Sensor Format APS-C Sensor Medium Format Sensor
    Sensor Size 22.3 x 14.9 mm 36.0 x 36.0 mm
    Sensor Area 332.27 mm2 1296 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 26.8 mm 50.9 mm
    Crop Factor 1.6x 0.85x
    Sensor Resolution 24 Megapixels 26.4 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 6000 x 4000 pixels 5140 x 5140 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 3.72 μm 7.01 μm
    Pixel Density 7.22 MP/cm2 2.04 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter no AA filter
    Movie Capability 4K/25p Video no Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 25,600 ISO 50 - 1,600 ISO
    ISO Boost 100 - 51,200 ISO no Enhancement
    Screen Specs Canon SL3 Leica S1
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 95% 100%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.54x
    LCD Framing Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 1040k dots
    LCD Attachment Swivel screen
    Touch Input Touchscreen no Touchscreen
    Shooting Specs Canon SL3 Leica S1
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Manual Focus
    Manual Focusing AidFocus Peakingno Peaking Feature
    Continuous Shooting 5 shutter flaps/s 0.01 shutter flaps/s
    Time-Lapse PhotographyIntervalometer built-inno Intervalometer
    Fill Flash Build-in Flash no On-Board Flash
    Storage Medium SDXC cards external
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single SSD
    Connectivity Specs Canon SL3 Leica S1
    External Flash Hotshoe no Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 no USB
    HDMI Port mini HDMI no HDMI
    Microphone Port External MIC port no MIC socket
    Wifi Support Wifi built-in no Wifi
    Bluetooth Support Bluetooth built-in no Bluetooth
    Body Specs Canon SL3 Leica S1
    Battery Type LP-E17 external
    Body Dimensions 122 x 93 x 70 mm
    (4.8 x 3.7 x 2.8 in)
    339 x 214 x 119 mm
    (13.3 x 8.4 x 4.7 in)
    Camera Weight 449 g (15.8 oz) 2500 g (88.2 oz)

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