Leica C-LUX vs S1
The Leica C-LUX and the Leica S1 Pro are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in June 2018 and August 1996. The C-LUX is a fixed lens compact, while the S1 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on an one-inch (C-LUX) and a medium format (S1) sensor. The C-LUX has a resolution of 20 megapixels, whereas the S1 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 Leica C-LUX 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 Leica C-LUX and the Leica S1. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The C-LUX can be obtained in two different colors (gold, blue), 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 (858 percent) than the Leica C-LUX. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the C-LUX nor the S1 are weather-sealed.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the C-LUX has a lens built in, whereas the S1 is an interchangeable lens camera that requires a separate lens. Attaching the latter will add extra weight and bulk to the setup. You can compare the optics available for the S1 and their specifications in the Leica R Lens Catalog.
The power pack in the C-LUX can be charged via the USB port, so that it is not always necessary to take the battery charger along when travelling.
The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. 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.||Leica C-LUX||113 mm||67 mm||46 mm||340 g||370||n||Jun 2018||1,049|
|2.||Leica S1||339 mm||214 mm||119 mm||2500 g||..||n||Aug 1996||21,490|
|3.||Canon G5 X Mark II||111 mm||61 mm||46 mm||340 g||230||n||Jul 2019||899|
|4.||Leica V-LUX 5||136 mm||97 mm||131 mm||812 g||350||n||Jul 2019||1,249|
|5.||Leica D-LUX 7||115 mm||66 mm||65 mm||392 g||300||n||Nov 2018||1,195|
|6.||Leica CL||131 mm||78 mm||45 mm||403 g||220||n||Nov 2017||2,795|
|7.||Leica TL2||134 mm||69 mm||33 mm||399 g||250||n||Jul 2017||1,950|
|8.||Leica Q Typ 116||130 mm||80 mm||93 mm||640 g||300||n||Jun 2015||4,249|
|9.||Leica S2||160 mm||120 mm||80 mm||1410 g||..||Y||Sep 2008||22,995|
|10.||Panasonic FZ1000 II||136 mm||97 mm||131 mm||810 g||350||n||Feb 2019||899|
|11.||Panasonic LX100 II||115 mm||66 mm||65 mm||392 g||300||n||Aug 2018||999|
|12.||Panasonic FZ1000||137 mm||99 mm||131 mm||831 g||360||n||Jun 2014||899|
|13.||Sony A6400||120 mm||67 mm||50 mm||403 g||410||Y||Jan 2019||899|
|14.||Sony RX100 VII||102 mm||58 mm||43 mm||302 g||260||n||Jul 2019||1,199|
|15.||Sony RX100 VI||102 mm||58 mm||43 mm||301 g||240||n||Jun 2018||1,199|
|16.||Sony RX100 V||102 mm||58 mm||41 mm||299 g||220||n||Oct 2016||999|
|17.||Sony RX100 IV||102 mm||58 mm||41 mm||298 g||280||n||Jun 2015||999|
|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 manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. The C-LUX was launched at a lower price than the S1, despite having a lens built in. 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. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.
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. 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 are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Leica C-LUX features an one-inch sensor and the Leica S1 a medium format sensor. The sensor area in the S1 is 1017 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 2.7 and 0.85. The sensor in the C-LUX 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 C-LUX (20MP), but the S1 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 7.01μm versus 2.41μm for the C-LUX) due to its larger sensor. However, the C-LUX is a much more recent model (by 21 years and 9 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 resolution advantage of the Leica S1 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the S1 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 25.7 x 25.7 inches or 65.3 x 65.3 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 20.6 x 20.6 inches or 52.2 x 52.2 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 17.1 x 17.1 inches or 43.5 x 43.5 cm. The corresponding values for the Leica C-LUX 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 Leica C-LUX has a native sensitivity range from ISO 125 to ISO 12800, which can be extended to ISO 80-25600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Leica S1 Pro are ISO 50 to ISO 1600 (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"). The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
| DXO |
|2.||Leica S1||Medium Format||26.4||5140||5140||none||..||..||..||..|
|3.||Canon G5 X Mark II||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|4.||Leica V-LUX 5||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|5.||Leica D-LUX 7||Four Thirds||16.8||4736||3552||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|8.||Leica Q Typ 116||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.3||12.7||2221||85|
|9.||Leica S2||Medium Format||37.5||7500||5000||none||..||..||..||..|
|10.||Panasonic FZ1000 II||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|11.||Panasonic LX100 II||Four Thirds||16.8||4736||3552||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|14.||Sony RX100 VII||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||4K/30p||21.8||12.4||418||63|
|15.||Sony RX100 VI||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|16.||Sony RX100 V||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||4K/30p||22.8||12.4||586||70|
|17.||Sony RX100 IV||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||4K/30p||22.8||12.6||591||70|
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The C-LUX indeed provides movie recording capabilities, while the S1 does not. The highest resolution format that the C-LUX can use is 4K/30p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the C-LUX has an electronic viewfinder (2330k dots), while the S1 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 following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Leica C-LUX, the Leica S1, and comparable cameras.
|3.||Canon G5 X Mark II||2360||n||3.0||1040||tilting||Y||1/2000s||30||Y||Y|
|4.||Leica V-LUX 5||2360||n||3.0||1240||swivel||Y||1/4000s||12.0||Y||Y|
|5.||Leica D-LUX 7||2764||n||3.0||1240||fixed||Y||1/4000s||11.0||n||Y|
|8.||Leica Q Typ 116||3680||n||3.0||1040||fixed||Y||1/2000s||10.0||n||Y|
|10.||Panasonic FZ1000 II||2360||n||3.0||1240||swivel||Y||1/4000s||12.0||Y||Y|
|11.||Panasonic LX100 II||2764||n||3.0||1240||fixed||Y||1/4000s||11.0||n||Y|
|14.||Sony RX100 VII||2359||n||3.0||921||tilting||Y||1/2000s||90.0||Y||Y|
|15.||Sony RX100 VI||2359||n||3.0||1229||tilting||Y||1/2000s||24.0||Y||Y|
|16.||Sony RX100 V||2359||n||3.0||1229||tilting||n||1/2000s||24.0||Y||Y|
|17.||Sony RX100 IV||2359||n||3.0||1228||tilting||n||1/2000s||16.0||Y||Y|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The C-LUX has one, while the S1 does not. While the built-in flash of the C-LUX 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 C-LUX 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 Leica C-LUX 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 C-LUX 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 Leica C-LUX and Leica S1 Pro and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|3.||Canon G5 X Mark II||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||3.1||Y||-||Y|
|4.||Leica V-LUX 5||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||Y|
|5.||Leica D-LUX 7||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||Y|
|8.||Leica Q Typ 116||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|10.||Panasonic FZ1000 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||Y|
|11.||Panasonic LX100 II||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||Y|
|14.||Sony RX100 VII||-||stereo||mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|15.||Sony RX100 VI||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|16.||Sony RX100 V||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|17.||Sony RX100 IV||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
It is notable that the C-LUX offers wifi support, while the S1 does not. Wifi can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location.
The C-LUX is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Leica. 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 Leica website.
So what conclusions can be drawn? Is there a clear favorite between the Leica C-LUX and the Leica S1? Which camera is better? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Arguments in favor of the Leica C-LUX:
- 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/30p movies.
- More framing info: Has an electronic viewfinder that displays shooting data.
- Rear screen: Has a backside LCD (3.0") for image review and settings control.
- Fewer buttons to press: Is equipped with a touch-sensitive rear screen to facilitate handling.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (10 vs 0.01 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Less disturbing: Has an electronic shutter option for completely silent shooting.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- Ready to shoot: Has a lens built-in, whereas the S1 requires a separate lens.
- More compact: Is smaller (113x67mm vs 339x214mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter even though it comes with a built-in lens (unlike the S1).
- Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
- Sharper images: Has hand-shake reducing image stabilization built-in.
- Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
- Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
- More affordable: Was introduced at a lower price, despite coming with a built-in lens.
- More modern: Reflects 21 years and 9 months of technical progress since the S1 launch.
Reasons to prefer the Leica S1 Pro:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (26.4 vs 20MP), which boosts linear resolution by 11%.
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- Brighter framing: Features an optical viewfinder for clear, lag-free composition.
- More flexible: Takes interchangeable lenses and can thus be used with specialty optics.
- 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 C-LUX is the clear winner of the match-up (17 : 5 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 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.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Leica C-LUX and the Leica S1 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Superzoom 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 says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the C-LUX and the S1 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 adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular 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.||Leica C-LUX||..||..||..||4.5/5||4/5||Jun 2018||1,049|
|2.||Leica S1||..||..||..||..||..||Aug 1996||21,490|
|3.||Canon G5 X Mark II||4/5||+||82/100||..||4/5||Jul 2019||899|
|4.||Leica V-LUX 5||..||..||..||4/5||4/5||Jul 2019||1,249|
|5.||Leica D-LUX 7||..||..||..||..||4.5/5||Nov 2018||1,195|
|6.||Leica CL||..||..||..||..||4/5||Nov 2017||2,795|
|7.||Leica TL2||3.5/5||..||..||4/5||4/5||Jul 2017||1,950|
|8.||Leica Q Typ 116||5/5||..||80/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2015||4,249|
|9.||Leica S2||..||..||..||..||..||Sep 2008||22,995|
|10.||Panasonic FZ1000 II||..||..||83/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2019||899|
|11.||Panasonic LX100 II||4.5/5||+||82/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2018||999|
|12.||Panasonic FZ1000||4/5||+ +||82/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2014||899|
|13.||Sony A6400||4/5||+||85/100||4.5/5||4/5||Jan 2019||899|
|14.||Sony RX100 VII||4.5/5||..||..||4/5||5/5||Jul 2019||1,199|
|15.||Sony RX100 VI||4.5/5||+ +||83/100||4/5||4.5/5||Jun 2018||1,199|
|16.||Sony RX100 V||4.5/5||+ +||83/100||4/5||4.5/5||Oct 2016||999|
|17.||Sony RX100 IV||4.5/5||+ +||85/100||4/5||4.5/5||Jun 2015||999|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. 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. 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 would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just use the search menu 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: Leica C-LUX 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||Leica C-LUX||Leica S1|
|Camera Type||Fixed lens compact camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||24-360mm f/3.3-6.4||Leica R mount lenses|
|Launch Date||June 2018||August 1996|
|Launch Price||USD 1,049||USD 21,490|
|Sensor Specs||Leica C-LUX||Leica S1|
|Sensor Format||1" Sensor||Medium Format Sensor|
|Sensor Size||13.2 x 8.8 mm||36.0 x 36.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||116.16 mm2||1296 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||15.9 mm||50.9 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||20 Megapixels||26.4 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||5472 x 3648 pixels||5140 x 5140 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||2.41 μm||7.01 μm|
|Pixel Density||17.18 MP/cm2||2.04 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||no AA filter|
|Movie Capability||4K/30p Video||no Video|
|ISO Setting||125 - 12,800 ISO||50 - 1,600 ISO|
|ISO Boost||80 - 25,600 ISO||no Enhancement|
|Screen Specs||Leica C-LUX||Leica S1|
|Viewfinder Type||Electronic viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||2330k dots|
|LCD Framing||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||1240k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen|
|Touch Input||Touchscreen||no Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Leica C-LUX||Leica S1|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||Manual Focus|
|Manual Focusing Aid||Focus Peaking||no Peaking Feature|
|Continuous Shooting||10 shutter flaps/s||0.01 shutter flaps/s|
|Electronic Shutter||up to 1/16000s||no E-Shutter|
|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||Leica C-LUX||Leica S1|
|External Flash||no Hotshoe||no Hotshoe|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||no USB|
|HDMI Port||micro HDMI||no HDMI|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Leica C-LUX||Leica S1|
|In-Camera Charging||USB charging||no USB charging|
113 x 67 x 46 mm
(4.4 x 2.6 x 1.8 in)
339 x 214 x 119 mm
(13.3 x 8.4 x 4.7 in)
|Camera Weight||340 g (12.0 oz)||2500 g (88.2 oz)|
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