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Canon XT vs Leica S3

The Canon EOS Rebel XT (called Canon 350D in some regions) and the Leica S3 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in February 2005 and September 2018. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on an APS-C (XT) and a medium format (S3) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 8 megapixels, whereas the Leica provides 64 MP.

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

Headline Specifications
Canon XT versus Leica S3
Canon XT Leica S3
Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
Canon EF mount lenses Leica S mount lenses
8 MP, APS-C Sensor 64 MP, Medium Format Sensor
no Video 4K/24p Video
ISO 100-1,600 ISO 100-50,000
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
1.8 LCD, 115k dots 3.0 LCD, 922k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
3 shutter flaps per second 3 shutter flaps per second
not weather sealedWeathersealed body
127 x 94 x 64 mm, 540 g 160 x 120 x 80 mm, 1260 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Canon EOS Rebel XT and the Leica S3? 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 physical size and weight of the Canon XT and the Leica S3 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.

The XT can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the S3 is only available in black.

Size Canon XT vs Leica S3
Compare XT versus S3 top
Comparison XT or S3 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Leica S3 is considerably larger (61 percent) than the Canon XT. Moreover, the S3 is substantially heavier (133 percent) than the XT. It is noteworthy in this context that the S3 is splash and dust-proof, while the XT 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 adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, just use the right or left arrows in the table to switch to the respective camera. Alternatively, you can also navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from the full list of cameras there.

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Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life 1
Weather
Sealing
Camera
Launch 2
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
 
Canon XT 5.0 in 3.7 in 2.5 in 19.0 oz 400 n Feb 2005 899i
 
Leica S3 6.3 in 4.7 in 3.1 in 44.4 oz .. Y Sep 2018 18,995 i
 
Canon 77D 5.2 in 3.9 in 3.0 in 19.0 oz 600 n Feb 2017 899 i
 
Canon T6i 5.2 in 4.0 in 3.1 in 19.6 oz 440 n Feb 2015 749i
 
Canon T6s 5.2 in 4.0 in 3.1 in 19.9 oz 440 n Feb 2015 649i
 
Canon T4i 5.2 in 3.9 in 3.1 in 20.3 oz 440 n Jun 2012 849i
 
Canon T1i 5.1 in 3.9 in 2.4 in 18.3 oz 400 n Mar 2009 799i
 
Canon XSi 5.1 in 3.9 in 2.4 in 18.5 oz 500 n Jan 2008 799i
 
Canon 30D 5.7 in 4.2 in 2.9 in 27.7 oz 750 n Feb 2006 1,399i
 
Canon XTi 5.0 in 3.3 in 2.6 in 19.6 oz 370 n Aug 2006 799i
 
Canon 20D 5.7 in 4.2 in 2.8 in 27.2 oz 700 n Aug 2004 1,499i
 
Canon Rebel 5.6 in 3.9 in 2.8 in 22.9 oz 400 n Aug 2003 899i
 
Leica M10 5.5 in 3.1 in 1.5 in 23.3 oz 210 Y Jan 2017 6,595 i
 
Leica S-E Typ 006 6.3 in 4.7 in 3.1 in 44.4 oz .. Y Sep 2014 16,900i
 
Leica S Typ 007 6.3 in 4.7 in 3.1 in 44.4 oz .. Y Sep 2014 24,490 i
 
Leica S Typ 006 6.3 in 4.7 in 3.1 in 44.4 oz .. Y Sep 2012 21,950i
 
Leica S2 6.3 in 4.7 in 3.1 in 49.7 oz .. Y Sep 2008 22,995i
Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.
(1) Number of images that can be taken on a full battery charge according to the CIPA-standard; (2) Official announcement.

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 XT was launched at a markedly lower price (by 95 percent) than the S3, 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 sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants 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 tend to be more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon XT features an APS-C sensor and the Leica S3 a medium format sensor. The sensor area in the S3 is 310 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.

In terms of underlying technology, both cameras are build around CMOS sensors.

Canon XT and Leica S3 sensor measures

With 64MP, the S3 offers a higher resolution than the XT (8MP), but the S3 has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.59μm versus 6.41μm for the XT). Yet, the S3 is a much more recent model (by 13 years and 7 months) than the XT, 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 S3 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.

The resolution advantage of the Leica S3 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the S3 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 49 x 32.7 inches or 124.5 x 83 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 39.2 x 26.1 inches or 99.6 x 66.4 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 32.7 x 21.8 inches or 83 x 55.3 cm. The corresponding values for the Canon XT are 17.3 x 11.5 inches or 43.9 x 29.3 cm for good quality, 13.8 x 9.2 inches or 35.1 x 23.4 cm for very good quality, and 11.5 x 7.7 inches or 29.3 x 19.5 cm for excellent quality prints.

The Canon EOS Rebel XT has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 1600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Leica S3 are ISO 100 to ISO 50000 (no boost).

XT versus S3 MP

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 table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar 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
 
Canon XT APS-C 8.0 3456 2304none21.810.863760
 
Leica S3 Medium Format 64.0 9800 65334K/24p........
 
Canon 77D APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p23.613.397178
 
Canon T6i APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/30p22.712.091971
 
Canon T6s APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/30p22.612.091570
 
Canon T4i APS-C 17.9 5184 34561080/30p21.711.272262
 
Canon T1i APS-C 15.1 4752 31681080/20p21.711.566363
 
Canon XSi APS-C 12.2 4272 2848none21.910.869261
 
Canon 30D APS-C 8.2 3504 2336none21.510.873659
 
Canon XTi APS-C 10.1 3888 2592none22.111.066462
 
Canon 20D APS-C 8.2 3504 2336none21.911.072162
 
Canon Rebel APS-C 6.3 3072 2048none21.010.854455
 
Leica M10 Full Frame 23.8 5952 3992none24.413.2213386
 
Leica S-E Typ 006 Medium Format 37.5 7500 5000none........
 
Leica S Typ 007 Medium Format 37.5 7500 50004K/24p........
 
Leica S Typ 006 Medium Format 37.5 7500 5000none23.912.282476
 
Leica S2 Medium Format 37.5 7500 5000none........

Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The S3 indeed provides for movie recording, while the XT does not. The highest resolution format that the S3 can use is 4K/24p.

Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The XT and the S3 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 S3 offers a wider field of view (98%) than the one in the XT (95%), so that a larger proportion of the captured image is visible in the finder. In addition, the viewfinder of the S3 has a higher magnification (0.87x vs 0.49x), 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 XT, the Leica S3, and comparable 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
 
Canon XToptical n 1.8 115 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
 
Leica S3optical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 n n
 
Canon 77Doptical Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 6.0 Y n
 
Canon T6ioptical n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
 
Canon T6soptical Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
 
Canon T4ioptical n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
 
Canon T1ioptical n 3.0 920 fixed n 1/4000s 3.4 Y n
 
Canon XSioptical n 3.0 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.5 Y n
 
Canon 30Doptical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 Y n
 
Canon XTioptical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
 
Canon 20Doptical Y 1.8 118 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 Y n
 
Canon Rebeloptical n 1.8 118 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y n
 
Leica M10optical n 3.0 1037 fixed n 1/4000s 5.0 n n
 
Leica S-E Typ 006optical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 1/4000s 1.5 n n
 
Leica S Typ 007optical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 1/4000s 3.5 n n
 
Leica S Typ 006optical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 1/4000s 1.5 n n
 
Leica S2optical Y 3.0 460 fixed n 1/4000s 1.5 n n

One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The XT has one, while the S3 does not. While the built-in flash of the XT is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.

The XT writes its imaging data to Compact Flash cards, while the S3 uses Compact Flash or SDXC cards. The S3 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the XT 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 Rebel XT and Leica S3 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
 
Canon XTY-----2.0---
 
Leica S3YstereomonoYYmini3.0Y--
 
Canon 77DYstereomonoY-mini2.0YYY
 
Canon T6iYstereomonoY-mini2.0YY-
 
Canon T6sYstereomonoY-mini2.0YY-
 
Canon T4iYstereomonoY-mini2.0---
 
Canon T1iYmonomono--mini2.0---
 
Canon XSiY----mini2.0---
 
Canon 30DY-----2.0---
 
Canon XTiY-----2.0---
 
Canon 20DY-----1.1---
 
Canon RebelY-----1.1---
 
Leica M10Y------Y--
 
Leica S-E Typ 006Y----mini2.0---
 
Leica S Typ 007YstereomonoYYmini3.0Y--
 
Leica S Typ 006Y----mini2.0---
 
Leica S2Y----mini2.0---

It is notable that the S3 offers wifi support, which can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location. In contrast, the XT does not provide wifi capability.

Studio photographers will appreciate that the Leica S3 (unlike the XT) 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 S3 has an internal geolocalization sensor and can record GPS coordinates in its EXIF data.

The S3 is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Leica. In contrast, the XT has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the XT was succeeded by the Canon Xti. 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 is the bottom line? Is there a clear favorite between the Canon XT and the Leica S3? Which camera is better? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.

ilogo

Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS Rebel XT:

  • Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
  • More compact: Is smaller (127x94mm vs 160x120mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter (by 720g or 57 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 (95 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in February 2005).

ilogo

Arguments in favor of the Leica S3:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (64 vs 8MP), which boosts linear resolution by 184%.
  • 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.
  • Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 4K/24p video.
  • More complete view: Has a viewfinder with a larger field of view (98% vs 95%).
  • Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.87x vs 0.49x).
  • Easier setting verification: Features a control panel on top to check shooting parameters.
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 1.8") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (922k vs 115k dots).
  • Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
  • Easier geotagging: Features an internal GPS sensor to log localization data.
  • Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (3.0 vs 2.0).
  • Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
  • 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 modern: Reflects 13 years and 7 months of technical progress since the XT launch.

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the S3 is the clear winner of the contest (20 : 6 points). However, the relative importance of the various individual camera aspects will vary according to personal preferences and needs, so that you might like to apply corresponding weights to the particular features before making a decision on a new camera. A professional wedding photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a travel photog, and a person interested in cityscapes has distinct needs from a macro shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.

XT 06:20 S3

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Canon XT and the Leica S3 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 specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the XT and the S3 in practical situations. At times, user reviews, such as those published at amazon, address these issues in a useful manner, but such feedback is on many occasions incomplete, inconsistent, and unreliable.

Expert reviews

This is where reviews by experts come in. The table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, and photographyblog). 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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Review Scores
  Camera
Model
camera
  labs  
dp
review  
ephoto
  zine  
imaging
resource
photography
  blog  
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
 
Canon XT80/100+ +oo.. Feb 2005 899i
 
Leica S3.......... Sep 2018 18,995 i
 
Canon 77D..82/1004.5/54.5/54/5 Feb 2017 899 i
 
Canon T6i..75/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Feb 2015 749i
 
Canon T6s+77/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Feb 2015 649i
 
Canon T4i+ +77/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Jun 2012 849i
 
Canon T1i+ +74/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Mar 2009 799i
 
Canon XSi+ ++ +4/55/54.5/5 Jan 2008 799i
 
Canon 30D+ ++ +oo.. Feb 2006 1,399i
 
Canon XTi+ ++ +o4.5/54/5 Aug 2006 799i
 
Canon 20D..+ +..o.. Aug 2004 1,499i
 
Canon Rebel..+ +..o.. Aug 2003 899i
 
Leica M10....4/5..4.5/5 Jan 2017 6,595 i
 
Leica S-E Typ 006.......... Sep 2014 16,900i
 
Leica S Typ 007.......... Sep 2014 24,490 i
 
Leica S Typ 006.......... Sep 2012 21,950i
 
Leica S2.......... Sep 2008 22,995i
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. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.

Canon XT:
Check Ebay offers
Leica S3:
Check Amazon price

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. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.

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    Specifications: Canon XT vs Leica S3

    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 XT Leica S3
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Canon EF mount lenses Leica S mount lenses
    Launch Date February 2005 September 2018
    Launch Price USD 899 USD 18,995
    Sensor Specs Canon XT Leica S3
    Sensor Technology CMOS CMOS
    Sensor Format APS-C Sensor Medium Format Sensor
    Sensor Size 22.2 x 14.8 mm 45.0 x 30.0 mm
    Sensor Area 328.56 mm2 1350 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 26.7 mm 54.1 mm
    Crop Factor 1.6x 0.8x
    Sensor Resolution 8 Megapixels 64 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 3456 x 2304 pixels 9800 x 6533 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 6.41 μm 4.59 μm
    Pixel Density 2.42 MP/cm2 4.74 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter no AA filter
    Movie Capability no Video 4K/24p Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 1,600 ISO 100 - 50,000 ISO
    Image Processor DIGIC II Maestro II
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 60 ..
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 21.8 ..
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 10.8 ..
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 637 ..
    Screen Specs Canon XT Leica S3
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 95% 98%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.49x 0.87x
    Top-Level Screen no Top Display Control Panel
    LCD Framing Live View
    Rear LCD Size 1.8inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 115k dots 922k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Canon XT Leica S3
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Manual Focusing Aidno Peaking FeatureFocus Peaking
    Max Shutter Speed (mechanical) 1/4000s 1/4000s
    Continuous Shooting 3 shutter flaps/s 3 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash Build-in Flash no On-Board Flash
    Storage Medium CF cards CF or SDXC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Dual card slots
    Connectivity Specs Canon XT Leica S3
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    Studio Flash no PC Sync PC Sync socket
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 3.0
    HDMI Port no HDMI mini HDMI
    Microphone Port no MIC socket External MIC port
    Headphone Socket no Headphone port Headphone port
    Wifi Support no Wifi Wifi built-in
    Geotagging no internal GPS GPS built-in
    Body Specs Canon XT Leica S3
    Environmental Sealingnot weather sealedWeathersealed body
    Battery Type NB-2LH BP-PRO1
    Body Dimensions 127 x 94 x 64 mm
    (5.0 x 3.7 x 2.5 in)
    160 x 120 x 80 mm
    (6.3 x 4.7 x 3.1 in)
    Camera Weight 540 g (19.0 oz) 1260 g (44.4 oz)

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