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.
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.
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.
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.
|1.||Canon SL3||122 mm||93 mm||70 mm||449 g||1070||n||Apr 2019||599|
|2.||Leica S1||339 mm||214 mm||119 mm||2500 g||..||n||Aug 1996||21,490|
|3.||Canon T8i||131 mm||103 mm||76 mm||515 g||800||n||Feb 2020||749|
|4.||Canon M50 Mark II||116 mm||88 mm||59 mm||387 g||305||n||Oct 2020||599|
|5.||Canon M50||116 mm||88 mm||59 mm||390 g||235||n||Feb 2018||779|
|6.||Canon T7||129 mm||101 mm||78 mm||475 g||500||n||Feb 2018||449|
|7.||Canon 77D||131 mm||100 mm||76 mm||540 g||600||n||Feb 2017||899|
|8.||Canon SL2||122 mm||93 mm||70 mm||453 g||650||n||Jun 2017||549|
|9.||Canon T7i||131 mm||100 mm||76 mm||532 g||600||n||Feb 2017||749|
|10.||Canon T6s||132 mm||101 mm||78 mm||565 g||440||n||Feb 2015||649|
|11.||Canon SL1||117 mm||91 mm||69 mm||407 g||380||n||Mar 2013||549|
|12.||Canon T2i||129 mm||98 mm||62 mm||530 g||440||n||Feb 2010||699|
|13.||Leica CL||131 mm||78 mm||45 mm||403 g||220||n||Nov 2017||2,795|
|14.||Leica TL2||134 mm||69 mm||33 mm||399 g||250||n||Jul 2017||1,950|
|15.||Leica Q Typ 116||130 mm||80 mm||93 mm||640 g||300||n||Jun 2015||4,249|
|16.||Leica S2||160 mm||120 mm||80 mm||1410 g||..||Y||Sep 2008||22,995|
|17.||Sony A6400||120 mm||67 mm||50 mm||403 g||410||Y||Jan 2019||899|
|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.
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.
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).
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.
| DXO |
|2.||Leica S1||Medium Format||26.4||5140||5140||none||..||..||..||..|
|4.||Canon M50 Mark II||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||4K/24p||..||..||..||..|
|15.||Leica Q Typ 116||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.3||12.7||2221||85|
|16.||Leica S2||Medium Format||37.5||7500||5000||none||..||..||..||..|
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.
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.
|4.||Canon M50 Mark II||2360||n||3.0||1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||10.0||Y||n|
|15.||Leica Q Typ 116||3680||n||3.0||1040||fixed||Y||1/2000s||10.0||n||Y|
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.
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.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|4.||Canon M50 Mark II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||Y|
|15.||Leica Q Typ 116||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
|1.||Canon SL3||..||o||79/100||4/5||4/5||Apr 2019||599|
|2.||Leica S1||..||..||..||..||..||Aug 1996||21,490|
|3.||Canon T8i||4.5/5||+||80/100||4/5||3.5/5||Feb 2020||749|
|4.||Canon M50 Mark II||..||..||..||..||..||Oct 2020||599|
|5.||Canon M50||..||+||79/100||..||3.5/5||Feb 2018||779|
|6.||Canon T7||..||o||..||3.5/5||3.5/5||Feb 2018||449|
|7.||Canon 77D||4.5/5||..||82/100||4.5/5||4/5||Feb 2017||899|
|8.||Canon SL2||4/5||+ +||78/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2017||549|
|9.||Canon T7i||4.5/5||..||80/100||4.5/5||4/5||Feb 2017||749|
|10.||Canon T6s||5/5||+||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||649|
|11.||Canon SL1||4/5||+||78/100||4/5||4/5||Mar 2013||549|
|12.||Canon T2i||..||+ +||77/100||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2010||699|
|13.||Leica CL||..||..||..||..||4/5||Nov 2017||2,795|
|14.||Leica TL2||3.5/5||..||..||4/5||4/5||Jul 2017||1,950|
|15.||Leica Q Typ 116||5/5||..||80/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2015||4,249|
|16.||Leica S2||..||..||..||..||..||Sep 2008||22,995|
|17.||Sony A6400||4/5||+||85/100||4.5/5||4/5||Jan 2019||899|
|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.
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.
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 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 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|
|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%|
|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 Aid||Focus Peaking||no Peaking Feature|
|Continuous Shooting||5 shutter flaps/s||0.01 shutter flaps/s|
|Time-Lapse Photography||Intervalometer built-in||no 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|
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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