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Leica S-E Typ 006 vs Nikon D3X

The Leica S-E (Typ 006) and the Nikon D3X are two professional cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in September 2014 and December 2008. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on a medium format (S-E Typ 006) and a full frame (D3X) sensor. The Leica has a resolution of 37.5 megapixels, whereas the Nikon provides 24.4 MP.

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

Headline Specifications
Leica S-E Typ 006 versus Nikon D3X
Leica S-E Typ 006 Nikon D3X
Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
Leica S mount lenses Nikon F mount lenses
37.5 MP, Medium Format Sensor 24.4 MP, Full Frame Sensor
no Video no Video
ISO 100-1,600 ISO 100-1,600 (50 - 6,400)
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
3.0 LCD, 922k dots 3.0 LCD, 922k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
1.5 shutter flaps per second 5 shutter flaps per second
Weathersealed bodyWeathersealed body
160 x 120 x 80 mm, 1260 g 160 x 157 x 88 mm, 1260 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Leica S-E (Typ 006) and the Nikon D3X? 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

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Leica S-E Typ 006 and the Nikon D3X is provided in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

Size Leica S-E Typ 006 vs Nikon D3X
Compare S-E Typ 006 versus D3X top
Comparison S-E Typ 006 or D3X rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon D3X is notably larger (31 percent) than the Leica S-E Typ 006. In terms of weight, the two cameras are very close. 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.

As can be seen in the images above, the D3X has a battery grip built in. This facilitates image-taking in portrait orientation and gives it additional battery power. In order to provide similar functionality for the S-E Typ 006, Leica provides the Multi-Function Handgrip S vertical grip as an optional accessory (see here on eBay).

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, 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
 
Leica S-E Typ 006 6.3 in 4.7 in 3.1 in 44.4 oz .. Y Sep 2014 16,900i
 
Nikon D3X 6.3 in 6.2 in 3.5 in 44.4 oz 4400 Y Dec 2008 7,999i
 
Leica S3 6.3 in 4.7 in 3.1 in 44.4 oz .. Y Sep 2018 18,995 i
 
Leica M Typ 262 5.5 in 3.1 in 1.7 in 24.0 oz .. Y Nov 2015 5,195i
 
Leica SL 5.8 in 4.1 in 1.5 in 29.9 oz 400 Y Oct 2015 7,450i
 
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
 
Nikon D5 6.3 in 6.3 in 3.6 in 49.9 oz 3780 Y Jan 2016 6,499i
 
Nikon D4S 6.3 in 6.2 in 3.6 in 47.6 oz 3020 Y Feb 2014 6,499i
 
Nikon D750 5.6 in 4.4 in 3.1 in 26.5 oz 1230 Y Sep 2014 2,299i
 
Nikon D810 5.7 in 4.8 in 3.2 in 34.6 oz 1200 Y Jun 2014 3,299i
 
Nikon D4 6.3 in 6.2 in 3.6 in 47.3 oz 2600 Y Jan 2012 5,999i
 
Nikon D3 6.3 in 6.2 in 3.5 in 45.9 oz 4300 Y Aug 2007 4,999i
 
Pentax 645D 6.1 in 4.6 in 4.7 in 52.2 oz 800 Y Mar 2010 9,995i
 
Sony A7R 5.0 in 3.7 in 1.9 in 16.4 oz 340 Y Oct 2013 2,299i
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 naturally be influenced heavily by the price. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The D3X was launched at a markedly lower price (by 53 percent) than the S-E Typ 006, 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.

Sensor comparison

The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors 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. Further, a large sensor camera will give the photographer additional creative options when using shallow depth-of-field to isolate a subject from its 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 Leica S-E Typ 006 features a medium format sensor and the Nikon D3X a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the D3X is 36 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 0.8 and 1.0. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Leica S-E Typ 006 and Nikon D3X sensor measures

With 37.5MP, the S-E Typ 006 offers a higher resolution than the D3X (24.4MP), but the S-E Typ 006 nevertheless has marginally larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 6.00μm versus 5.94μm for the D3X) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the S-E Typ 006 is a much more recent model (by 5 years and 9 months) than the D3X, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the S-E Typ 006 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.

The resolution advantage of the Leica S-E Typ 006 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the S-E Typ 006 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 37.5 x 25 inches or 95.3 x 63.5 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 30 x 20 inches or 76.2 x 50.8 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 25 x 16.7 inches or 63.5 x 42.3 cm. The corresponding values for the Nikon D3X are 30.2 x 20.2 inches or 76.8 x 51.2 cm for good quality, 24.2 x 16.1 inches or 61.4 x 41 cm for very good quality, and 20.2 x 13.4 inches or 51.2 x 34.1 cm for excellent quality prints.

The Leica S-E (Typ 006) has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 1600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Nikon D3X are ISO 100 to ISO 1600, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 50-6400.

S-E Typ 006 versus D3X MP

For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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 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
 
Leica S-E Typ 006 Medium Format 37.5 7500 5000none........
 
Nikon D3X Full Frame 24.4 6048 4032none24.713.7199288
 
Leica S3 Medium Format 64.0 9800 65334K/24p........
 
Leica M Typ 262 Full Frame 23.7 5952 3976none........
 
Leica SL Full Frame 24.0 6000 40004K/30p25.013.4182188
 
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........
 
Nikon D5 Full Frame 20.7 5588 37124K/30p25.112.3234388
 
Nikon D4S Full Frame 16.2 4928 32801080/60p24.413.3307489
 
Nikon D750 Full Frame 24.2 6016 40161080/60p24.814.5295693
 
Nikon D810 Full Frame 36.2 7360 49121080/60p25.714.8285397
 
Nikon D4 Full Frame 16.2 4928 32801080/30p24.713.1296589
 
Nikon D3 Full Frame 12.1 4256 2832none23.512.2229081
 
Pentax 645D Medium Format 39.5 7264 5440none24.612.6126282
 
Sony A7R Full Frame 36.2 7360 49121080/60p25.614.1274695
The D3X offers Live View, so that it can project the live image that the sensor receives onto the rear screen for framing. The S-E Typ 006 lacks this capability. Both cameras are still-image focused and cannot record videos.

Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The S-E Typ 006 and the D3X 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 D3X offers a wider field of view (100%) than the one in the S-E Typ 006 (98%), so that a larger proportion of the captured image is visible in the finder. On the other hand, the viewfinder of the S-E Typ 006 has a higher magnification (0.87x vs 0.70x), 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 Leica S-E Typ 006 and Nikon D3X 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
 
Leica S-E Typ 006optical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 1/4000s 1.5 n n
 
Nikon D3Xoptical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 n n
 
Leica S3optical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 n n
 
Leica M Typ 262optical n 3.0 921 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 n n
 
Leica SL4400 Y 3.0 1040 fixed Y 1/8000s 11.0 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
 
Nikon D5optical Y 3.2 2359 fixed Y 1/8000s 14.0 n n
 
Nikon D4Soptical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 1/8000s 11.0 n n
 
Nikon D750optical Y 3.2 1229 tilting n 1/4000s 6.0 Y n
 
Nikon D810optical Y 3.2 1229 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 Y n
 
Nikon D4optical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 1/8000s 11.0 n n
 
Nikon D3optical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 1/8000s 11.0 n n
 
Pentax 645Doptical Y 3.0 921 fixed n 1/4000s 1.1 n n
 
Sony A7R2400 n 3.0 1230 tilting n 1/8000s 4.0 n n

The Nikon D3X 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 S-E Typ 006 writes its imaging data to Compact Flash or SDXC cards, while the D3X uses Compact Flash cards. Both cameras feature dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails.

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 Leica S-E (Typ 006) and Nikon D3X 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
 
Leica S-E Typ 006Y----mini2.0---
 
Nikon D3XY----mini2.0---
 
Leica S3YstereomonoYYmini3.0Y--
 
Leica M Typ 262Y-----2.0---
 
Leica SLYstereomonoYYfull3.0Y--
 
Leica S Typ 007YstereomonoYYmini3.0Y--
 
Leica S Typ 006Y----mini2.0---
 
Leica S2Y----mini2.0---
 
Nikon D5YstereomonoYYmini3.0---
 
Nikon D4SYmonomonoYYmini2.0---
 
Nikon D750YstereomonoYYmini2.0Y--
 
Nikon D810YstereomonoYYmini3.0Y--
 
Nikon D4YmonomonoYYmicro2.0---
 
Nikon D3Y----mini2.0---
 
Pentax 645DYstereo----2.0---
 
Sony A7RYstereomonoYYmicro2.0YY-

Both cameras feature a PC Sync terminal to control professional strobe lights, which will be appreciated by studio photographers.

Both the S-E Typ 006 and the D3X have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The S-E Typ 006 was replaced by the Leica S Typ 007, while the D3X does not have a direct successor. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Leica and Nikon websites.

Review summary

So what is the bottom line? Which of the two cameras – the Leica S-E Typ 006 or the Nikon D3X – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.

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Reasons to prefer the Leica S-E (Typ 006):

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (37.5 vs 24.4MP) with a 24% higher linear resolution.
  • Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
  • Better image quality: Features a larger and more technologically advanced imaging 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.
  • Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.87x vs 0.70x).
  • More compact: Is smaller (160x120mm vs 160x157mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • More prestigious: Has the Leica luxury appeal, which ensures a high resale price.
  • More modern: Reflects 5 years and 9 months of technical progress since the D3X launch.

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Advantages of the Nikon D3X:

  • Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
  • More complete view: Has a viewfinder with a larger field of view (100% vs 98%).
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5 vs 1.5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
  • More portrait friendly: Features an integrated vertical grip for easier portrait shooting.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (53 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in December 2008).

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the S-E Typ 006 emerges as the winner of the contest (10 : 8 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.

S-E Typ 006 10:08 D3X

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Leica S-E Typ 006 and the Nikon D3X 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 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 S-E Typ 006 and the D3X 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 why expert reviews are important. 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
 
Leica S-E Typ 006.......... Sep 2014 16,900i
 
Nikon D3X..86/1004/55/55/5 Dec 2008 7,999i
 
Leica S3.......... Sep 2018 18,995 i
 
Leica M Typ 262.......... Nov 2015 5,195i
 
Leica SL..84/1004.5/54/54/5 Oct 2015 7,450i
 
Leica S Typ 007.......... Sep 2014 24,490 i
 
Leica S Typ 006.......... Sep 2012 21,950i
 
Leica S2.......... Sep 2008 22,995i
 
Nikon D5..89/1004.5/55/55/5 Jan 2016 6,499i
 
Nikon D4S....4.5/55/54.5/5 Feb 2014 6,499i
 
Nikon D750+ +90/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Sep 2014 2,299i
 
Nikon D810..86/1005/54.5/54.5/5 Jun 2014 3,299i
 
Nikon D4....4.5/5..4.5/5 Jan 2012 5,999i
 
Nikon D3..+ +5/5o4.5/5 Aug 2007 4,999i
 
Pentax 645D......4.5/5.. Mar 2010 9,995i
 
Sony A7R+ +82/1004.5/55/55/5 Oct 2013 2,299i
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, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.

Leica S-E Typ 006:
Check Ebay offers
Nikon D3X:
Check Ebay offers

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.

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    Specifications: Leica S-E Typ 006 vs Nikon D3X

    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 Leica S-E Typ 006 Nikon D3X
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Leica S mount lenses Nikon F mount lenses
    Launch Date September 2014 December 2008
    Launch Price USD 16,900 USD 7,999
    Sensor Specs Leica S-E Typ 006 Nikon D3X
    Sensor Technology CCD CMOS
    Sensor Format Medium Format Sensor Full Frame Sensor
    Sensor Size 45.0 x 30.0 mm 35.9 x 24.0 mm
    Sensor Area 1350 mm2 861.6 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 54.1 mm 43.2 mm
    Crop Factor 0.8x 1.0x
    Sensor Resolution 37.5 Megapixels 24.4 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 7500 x 5000 pixels 6048 x 4032 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 6.00 μm 5.94 μm
    Pixel Density 2.78 MP/cm2 2.83 MP/cm2
    Moiré control no AA filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability no Video no Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 1,600 ISO 100 - 1,600 ISO
    ISO Boost no Enhancement 50 - 6,400 ISO
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) .. 88
    DXO Color Depth (bits) .. 24.7
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) .. 13.7
    DXO Low Light (ISO) .. 1992
    Screen Specs Leica S-E Typ 006 Nikon D3X
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 98% 100%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.87x 0.70x
    Top-Level Screen Control Panel Control Panel
    LCD Framing Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 922k dots 922k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Leica S-E Typ 006 Nikon D3X
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 1.5 shutter flaps/s 5 shutter flaps/s
    Time-Lapse Photographyno IntervalometerIntervalometer built-in
    Fill Flash no On-Board Flash no On-Board Flash
    Storage Medium CF or SDXC cards CF cards
    Second Storage Option Dual card slots Dual card slots
    Connectivity Specs Leica S-E Typ 006 Nikon D3X
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    Studio Flash PC Sync socket PC Sync socket
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port mini HDMI mini HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Leica S-E Typ 006 Nikon D3X
    Environmental SealingWeathersealed bodyWeathersealed body
    Battery Type BP-PRO1 EN-EL4a
    Body Dimensions 160 x 120 x 80 mm
    (6.3 x 4.7 x 3.1 in)
    160 x 157 x 88 mm
    (6.3 x 6.2 x 3.5 in)
    Camera Weight 1260 g (44.4 oz) 1260 g (44.4 oz)

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