Leica S-E Typ 006 vs Nikon D90
The Leica S-E (Typ 006) and the Nikon D90 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in September 2014 and August 2008. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on a medium format (S-E Typ 006) and an APS-C (D90) sensor. The Leica has a resolution of 37.5 megapixels, whereas the Nikon provides 12.2 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 S-E (Typ 006) and the Nikon D90? 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 S-E Typ 006 and the Nikon D90. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon D90 is notably smaller (29 percent) than the Leica S-E Typ 006. Moreover, the D90 is substantially lighter (44 percent) than the S-E Typ 006. It is worth mentioning in this context that the S-E Typ 006 is splash and dust resistant, while the D90 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 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.||Leica S-E Typ 006||160 mm||120 mm||80 mm||1260 g||..||Y||Sep 2014||16,900|
|2.||Nikon D90||132 mm||103 mm||77 mm||703 g||850||n||Aug 2008||1,299|
|3.||Canon 40D||146 mm||108 mm||74 mm||822 g||750||n||Aug 2007||1,299|
|4.||Leica S3||160 mm||120 mm||80 mm||1260 g||..||Y||Sep 2018||18,995|
|5.||Leica M Typ 262||139 mm||80 mm||42 mm||680 g||..||Y||Nov 2015||5,195|
|6.||Leica SL||147 mm||104 mm||39 mm||847 g||400||Y||Oct 2015||7,450|
|7.||Leica S Typ 007||160 mm||120 mm||80 mm||1260 g||..||Y||Sep 2014||24,490|
|8.||Leica S Typ 006||160 mm||120 mm||80 mm||1260 g||..||Y||Sep 2012||21,950|
|9.||Leica S2||160 mm||120 mm||80 mm||1410 g||..||Y||Sep 2008||22,995|
|10.||Nikon D4S||160 mm||157 mm||91 mm||1350 g||3020||Y||Feb 2014||6,499|
|11.||Nikon D810||146 mm||123 mm||82 mm||980 g||1200||Y||Jun 2014||3,299|
|12.||Nikon D7000||132 mm||105 mm||77 mm||780 g||1050||Y||Sep 2010||1,499|
|13.||Nikon D300S||147 mm||115 mm||81 mm||938 g||950||Y||Jul 2009||1,799|
|14.||Nikon D5000||127 mm||104 mm||80 mm||590 g||510||n||Apr 2009||749|
|15.||Nikon D80||132 mm||103 mm||77 mm||668 g||600||n||Aug 2006||999|
|16.||Pentax 645D||156 mm||117 mm||119 mm||1480 g||800||Y||Mar 2010||9,995|
|17.||Sony A7R||127 mm||94 mm||48 mm||465 g||340||Y||Oct 2013||2,299|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. 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 D90 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 92 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. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.
The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors of image quality. A large sensor will generally have larger individual pixels that offer better low-light sensitivity, provide wider dynamic range, and have 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 associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Leica S-E Typ 006 features a medium format sensor and the Nikon D90 an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the D90 is 72 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 0.8 and 1.5. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
With 37.5MP, the S-E Typ 006 offers a higher resolution than the D90 (12.2MP), but the S-E Typ 006 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 6.00μm versus 5.53μm for the D90) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the S-E Typ 006 is a much more recent model (by 6 years) than the D90, 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 D90 are 21.4 x 14.2 inches or 54.5 x 36.2 cm for good quality, 17.2 x 11.4 inches or 43.6 x 28.9 cm for very good quality, and 14.3 x 9.5 inches or 36.3 x 24.1 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 D90 are ISO 200 to ISO 3200, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 200-6400.
For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. This service determines an overall sensor rating, as well as sub-scores for low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and color depth ("DXO Portrait"). The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.
|1.||Leica S-E Typ 006||Medium Format||37.5||7500||5000||none||..||..||..||..|
|4.||Leica S3||Medium Format||64.0||9800||6533||4K/24p||..||..||..||..|
|5.||Leica M Typ 262||Full Frame||23.7||5952||3976||none||..||..||..||..|
|6.||Leica SL||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||25.0||13.4||1821||88|
|7.||Leica S Typ 007||Medium Format||37.5||7500||5000||4K/24p||..||..||..||..|
|8.||Leica S Typ 006||Medium Format||37.5||7500||5000||none||23.9||12.2||824||76|
|9.||Leica S2||Medium Format||37.5||7500||5000||none||..||..||..||..|
|10.||Nikon D4S||Full Frame||16.2||4928||3280||1080/60p||24.4||13.3||3074||89|
|11.||Nikon D810||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/60p||25.7||14.8||2853||97|
|16.||Pentax 645D||Medium Format||39.5||7264||5440||none||24.6||12.6||1262||82|
|17.||Sony A7R||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/60p||25.6||14.1||2746||95|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The D90 indeed provides for movie recording, while the S-E Typ 006 does not. The highest resolution format that the D90 can use is 720/24p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The S-E Typ 006 and the D90 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 S-E Typ 006 offers a wider field of view (98%) than the one in the D90 (96%), so that a larger proportion of the captured image is visible in the finder. In addition, the viewfinder of the S-E Typ 006 has a higher magnification (0.87x vs 0.63x), 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 D90 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|1.||Leica S-E Typ 006||optical||Y||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/4000s||1.5||n||n|
|2.||Nikon D90||optical||Y||3.0 / 920||fixed||n||1/4000s||4.5||Y||n|
|3.||Canon 40D||optical||Y||3.0 / 230||fixed||n||1/8000s||6.5||Y||n|
|4.||Leica S3||optical||Y||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||n||n|
|5.||Leica M Typ 262||optical||n||3.0 / 921||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||n||n|
|6.||Leica SL||4400||Y||3.0 / 1040||fixed||Y||1/8000s||11.0||n||n|
|7.||Leica S Typ 007||optical||Y||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.5||n||n|
|8.||Leica S Typ 006||optical||Y||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/4000s||1.5||n||n|
|9.||Leica S2||optical||Y||3.0 / 460||fixed||n||1/4000s||1.5||n||n|
|10.||Nikon D4S||optical||Y||3.2 / 921||fixed||n||1/8000s||11.0||n||n|
|11.||Nikon D810||optical||Y||3.2 / 1229||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0||Y||n|
|12.||Nikon D7000||optical||Y||3.0 / 921||fixed||n||1/8000s||6.0||Y||n|
|13.||Nikon D300S||optical||Y||3.0 / 920||fixed||n||1/8000s||7.0||Y||n|
|14.||Nikon D5000||optical||n||2.7 / 230||full-flex||n||1/4000s||4.0||Y||n|
|15.||Nikon D80||optical||n||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n|
|16.||Pentax 645D||optical||Y||3.0 / 921||fixed||n||1/4000s||1.1||n||n|
|17.||Sony A7R||2400||n||3.0 / 1230||tilting||n||1/8000s||4.0||n||n|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The D90 has one, while the S-E Typ 006 does not. While the built-in flash of the D90 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.
The S-E Typ 006 writes its imaging data to Compact Flash or SDXC cards, while the D90 uses SDHC cards. The S-E Typ 006 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the D90 only has one slot. The S-E Typ 006 supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s), while the D90 cannot take advantage of Ultra High Speed SD cards.
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 D90 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
Mic / Speaker
|1.||Leica S-E Typ 006||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|2.||Nikon D90||Y||mono / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|3.||Canon 40D||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|4.||Leica S3||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||Y||-||-|
|5.||Leica M Typ 262||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|6.||Leica SL||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||full||3.0||Y||-||-|
|7.||Leica S Typ 007||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||Y||-||-|
|8.||Leica S Typ 006||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|9.||Leica S2||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|10.||Nikon D4S||Y||mono / mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|11.||Nikon D810||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||Y||-||-|
|12.||Nikon D7000||Y||mono / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|13.||Nikon D300S||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|14.||Nikon D5000||Y||mono / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|15.||Nikon D80||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|16.||Pentax 645D||Y||stereo / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|17.||Sony A7R||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Leica S-E Typ 006 (unlike the D90) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Both the S-E Typ 006 and the D90 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D90 was replaced by the Nikon D7000, while the S-E Typ 006 was followed by the Leica S Typ 007. 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.
So what is the bottom line? Is there a clear favorite between the Leica S-E Typ 006 and the Nikon D90? Which camera is better? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Reasons to prefer the Leica S-E (Typ 006):
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (37.5 vs 12.2MP) with a 75% 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.
- More complete view: Has a viewfinder with a larger field of view (98% vs 96%).
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.87x vs 0.63x).
- Better sealing: Is weather sealed to enable shooting in dusty or wet environments.
- 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.
- Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
- More prestigious: Has the Leica luxury appeal, which ensures a high resale price.
- More modern: Reflects 6 years of technical progress since the D90 launch.
Advantages of the Nikon D90:
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 720/24p video.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (4.5 vs 1.5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More compact: Is smaller (132x103mm vs 160x120mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 557g or 44 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (92 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in August 2008).
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the S-E Typ 006 is the clear winner of the match-up (14 : 8 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 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 S-E Typ 006 and the Nikon D90 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 technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the S-E Typ 006 and the D90 in practical situations. 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], digitalcameraworld [DCW], 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 S-E Typ 006||..||..||..||..||..||..||Sep 2014||16,900|
|2.||Nikon D90||..||+ +||..||+ +||4/5||4.5/5||Aug 2008||1,299|
|3.||Canon 40D||..||+ +||..||+ +||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2007||1,299|
|4.||Leica S3||..||..||..||..||..||..||Sep 2018||18,995|
|5.||Leica M Typ 262||..||..||..||..||..||..||Nov 2015||5,195|
|6.||Leica SL||4/5||..||4/5||84/100||4.5/5||4/5||Oct 2015||7,450|
|7.||Leica S Typ 007||4/5||..||..||..||..||..||Sep 2014||24,490|
|8.||Leica S Typ 006||..||..||..||..||..||..||Sep 2012||21,950|
|9.||Leica S2||..||..||..||..||..||..||Sep 2008||22,995|
|10.||Nikon D4S||5/5||..||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2014||6,499|
|11.||Nikon D810||5/5||..||5/5||86/100||5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2014||3,299|
|12.||Nikon D7000||4/5||..||..||80/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2010||1,499|
|13.||Nikon D300S||5/5||+ +||..||82/100||4/5||4.5/5||Jul 2009||1,799|
|14.||Nikon D5000||..||+ +||..||75/100||4/5||4.5/5||Apr 2009||749|
|15.||Nikon D80||..||+||..||+ +||o||4.5/5||Aug 2006||999|
|16.||Pentax 645D||5/5||..||..||..||..||..||Mar 2010||9,995|
|17.||Sony A7R||5/5||+ +||..||82/100||4.5/5||5/5||Oct 2013||2,299|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The above review scores should be interpreted with care, 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 comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.
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. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.
- Canon T3 vs Nikon D90
- Canon T3i vs Nikon D90
- Fujifilm X100 vs Leica S-E Typ 006
- Fujifilm XP130 vs Leica S-E Typ 006
- Hasselblad X1D vs Nikon D90
- Leica S-E Typ 006 vs Nikon B700
- Leica S-E Typ 006 vs Nikon Z7
- Leica S-E Typ 006 vs Panasonic G5
- Leica S-E Typ 006 vs Pentax K-70
- Nikon D90 vs Nikon W150
- Nikon D90 vs Olympus E-330
- Nikon D90 vs Sony H400
Specifications: Leica S-E Typ 006 vs Nikon D90
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 S-E Typ 006||Nikon D90|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Leica S mount lenses||Nikon F mount lenses|
|Launch Date||September 2014||August 2008|
|Launch Price||USD 16,900||USD 1,299|
|Sensor Specs||Leica S-E Typ 006||Nikon D90|
|Sensor Format||Medium Format Sensor||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||45.0 x 30.0 mm||23.6 x 15.8 mm|
|Sensor Area||1350 mm2||372.88 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||54.1 mm||28.4 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||37.5 Megapixels||12.2 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||7500 x 5000 pixels||4288 x 2848 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||6.00 μm||5.53 μm|
|Pixel Density||2.78 MP/cm2||3.28 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||720/24p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 1,600 ISO||200 - 3,200 ISO|
|ISO Boost||no Enhancement||200 - 6,400 ISO|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||..||73|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||..||22.7|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||..||12.5|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||..||977|
|Screen Specs||Leica S-E Typ 006||Nikon D90|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||98%||96%|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||Control Panel|
|LCD Framing||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||922k dots||920k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Leica S-E Typ 006||Nikon D90|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||1.5 shutter flaps/s||4.5 shutter flaps/s|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||Built-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||CF or SDXC cards||SDHC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Dual card slots||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||UHS-I||no|
|Connectivity Specs||Leica S-E Typ 006||Nikon D90|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||no PC Sync|
|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 D90|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||not weather sealed|
160 x 120 x 80 mm
(6.3 x 4.7 x 3.1 in)
132 x 103 x 77 mm
(5.2 x 4.1 x 3.0 in)
|Camera Weight||1260 g (44.4 oz)||703 g (24.8 oz)|
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