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Leica S Typ 006 versus Nikon D850

The Leica S (Typ 006) and the Nikon D850 are two professional cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in September 2012 and July 2017. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on a medium format (S Typ 006) and a full frame (D850) sensor. The Leica has a resolution of 37.5 megapixel, whereas the Nikon provides 45.4 MP. Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their size, their sensors, their features, and their reception by expert reviewers.

Body comparison: Leica S Typ 006 vs Nikon D850

The physical size and weight of the Leica S Typ 006 and the Nikon D850 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. 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. If you prefer, you can also use the toggle button to switch to a comparison in percentage terms (in this case, the camera on the left side – the S Typ 006 – represents the basis for the calculations across all the size and weight measures).

Snapsort Leica S Typ 006 vs Nikon D850
Compare S Typ 006 versus D850 top
Compare S Typ 006 and D850 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon D850 is notably smaller (6 percent) than the Leica S Typ 006. Moreover, the D850 is markedly lighter (20 percent) than the S Typ 006. 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 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. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, just select a new right or left comparator from among the camera models in the table. Alternatively, you can also move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.

Camera Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(yes/no)
Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Leica S Typ 006» 6.3 in 4.7 in 3.1 in 44.4 oz .. Y Sep 2012 21,950- i
Nikon D850« 5.7 in 4.9 in 3.1 in 35.5 oz 1840 Y Jul 2017 3,299 i i
Canon 70D« » 5.5 in 4.1 in 3.1 in 26.6 oz 920 Y Jul 2013 1,199- i
Leica S Typ 007« » 6.3 in 4.7 in 3.1 in 44.4 oz .. Y Sep 2014 24,490 i i
Leica S-E Typ 006« » 6.3 in 4.7 in 3.1 in 44.4 oz .. Y Sep 2014 16,900- i
Leica M Typ 240« » 5.5 in 3.1 in 1.7 in 24.0 oz .. Y Sep 2012 6,950- i
Leica S2« » 6.3 in 4.7 in 3.1 in 49.7 oz .. Y Sep 2008 22,995- i
Nikon D5« » 6.3 in 6.3 in 3.6 in 49.9 oz 3780 Y Jan 2016 6,499 i i
Nikon D500« » 5.8 in 4.5 in 3.2 in 30.3 oz 1240 Y Jan 2016 1,999 i i
Nikon D810« » 5.7 in 4.8 in 3.2 in 34.6 oz 1200 Y Jun 2014 3,299- i
Nikon D7100« » 5.4 in 4.2 in 3.0 in 27.0 oz 950 Y Feb 2013 1,199- i
Nikon D610« » 5.6 in 4.4 in 3.2 in 30.0 oz 900 Y Oct 2013 1,999 i i
Nikon Df« » 5.7 in 4.3 in 2.6 in 26.8 oz 1400 Y Nov 2013 2,749 i i
Nikon D4« » 6.3 in 6.2 in 3.6 in 47.3 oz 2600 Y Jan 2012 5,999- i
Pentax 645D« » 6.1 in 4.6 in 4.7 in 52.2 oz 800 Y Mar 2010 9,995- i
Sony A7« » 5.0 in 3.7 in 1.9 in 16.7 oz 340 Y Oct 2013 1,699- i
Sony A7R« » 5.0 in 3.7 in 1.9 in 16.4 oz 340 Y Oct 2013 2,299- i

The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The D850 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 85 percent) than the S Typ 006, 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. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.

 

Sensor comparison: Leica S Typ 006 vs Nikon D850

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 tend to have larger individual pixels that provide better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color depth than smaller pixel-units 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 tend to be more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Leica S Typ 006 features a medium format sensor and the Nikon D850 a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the D850 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 Typ 006 and Nikon D850 sensor measures

Despite having a smaller sensor, the D850 offers a higher resolution of 45.4 megapixel, compared with 37.5 MP of the S Typ 006. This megapixel advantage comes at the cost of a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 4.35μm versus 6.00μm for the S Typ 006). However, it should be noted that the D850 is much more recent (by 4 years and 10 months) than the S Typ 006, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that make it possible to gather light more efficiently. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that neither of the two cameras has an anti-alias filter installed, so they are able to capture all the detail the sensor resolves.

S Typ 006 versus D850 MP

For most 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"). Of the two cameras under consideration, the D850 offers substantially better image quality than the S Typ 006 (overall score 24 points higher). The advantage is based on 2.5 bits higher color depth, 2.6 EV in additional dynamic range, and 1.7 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.

Sensor Characteristics
  Camera Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Leica S Typ 006» Medium Format 37.5 7500 5000-23.912.282476
Nikon D850« Full Frame 45.4 8256 55044K/30p26.414.82660100
Canon 70D« » APS-C 20.0 5472 36481080/30p22.511.692668
Leica S Typ 007« » Medium Format 37.5 7500 50004K/24p----
Leica S-E Typ 006« » Medium Format 37.5 7500 5000-----
Leica M Typ 240« » Full Frame 23.7 5952 39761080/25p24.013.3186084
Leica S2« » Medium Format 37.5 7500 5000-----
Nikon D5« » Full Frame 20.7 5588 37124K/30p25.112.3234388
Nikon D500« » APS-C 20.7 5568 37124K/30p24.014.0132483
Nikon D810« » Full Frame 36.2 7360 49121080/60p25.714.8285397
Nikon D7100« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.213.7125683
Nikon D610« » Full Frame 24.2 6016 40161080/30p25.114.4292594
Nikon Df« » Full Frame 16.2 4928 3280-24.613.1327989
Nikon D4« » Full Frame 16.2 4928 32801080/30p24.713.1296589
Pentax 645D« » Medium Format 39.5 7264 5440-24.612.6126282
Sony A7« » Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.814.2224890
Sony A7R« » Full Frame 36.2 7360 49121080/60p25.614.1274695

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The D850 indeed provides for movie recording, while the S Typ 006 does not. The highest resolution format that the D850 can use is 4K/30p.

 

Feature comparison: Leica S Typ 006 vs Nikon D850

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The S Typ 006 and the D850 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 following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Leica S Typ 006, the Nikon D850, and comparable cameras. The full specs-sheets can be found in the camera manual or, for example, in the dpreview camera hub.

Core Features
  Camera Viewfinder
(Type or
'000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec))
Build-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Leica S Typ 006»optical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 4000 1.5 n n
Nikon D850«optical Y 3.2 2359 tilting Y 8000 9.0 n n
Canon 70D« »optical Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 8000 7.0 Y n
Leica S Typ 007« »optical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 4000 3.5 n n
Leica S-E Typ 006« »optical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 4000 1.5 n n
Leica M Typ 240« »optical n 3.0 920 fixed n 4000 3.0 n n
Leica S2« »optical Y 3.0 460 fixed n 4000 1.5 n n
Nikon D5« »optical Y 3.2 2359 fixed Y 8000 14.0 n n
Nikon D500« »optical Y 3.2 2359 tilting Y 8000 10.0 n n
Nikon D810« »optical Y 3.2 1229 fixed n 4000 5.0 Y n
Nikon D7100« »optical Y 3.2 1229 fixed n 8000 6.0 Y n
Nikon D610« »optical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 4000 6.0 Y n
Nikon Df« »optical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 4000 5.5 n n
Nikon D4« »optical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 8000 11.0 n n
Pentax 645D« »optical Y 3.0 921 fixed n 4000 1.1 n n
Sony A7« »2400 n 3.0 1230 tilting n 8000 5.0 n n
Sony A7R« »2400 n 3.0 1230 tilting n 8000 4.0 n n

The D850 is a current model that online retailers, such as amazon, will have in stock. In contrast, the S Typ 006 has been discontinued (but it can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the S Typ 006 was succeeded by the Leica S Typ 007.

Review summary: Leica S Typ 006 vs Nikon D850

So what is the bottom line? Is the Leica S Typ 006 better than the Nikon D850 or vice versa? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.

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Arguments in favor of the Leica S (Typ 006):

  • More prestigious: Has the Leica luxury appeal, which ensures a high resale price.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in September 2012).

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Advantages of the Nikon D850:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (45.4 vs 37.5MP), which boosts linear resolution by 10%.
  • Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (24 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
  • Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (2.5 bits more color depth).
  • More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (2.6 EV of extra DR).
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (1.7 stops ISO advantage).
  • Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 4K/30p video.
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.2" vs 3.0") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (2359k vs 922k dots).
  • More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
  • Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (8000/sec vs 4000/sec) to freeze action.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (9 vs 1.5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 255g or 20 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (85 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Reflects 4 years and 10 months of technical progress since the S Typ 006 launch.

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the D850 is the clear winner of the contest (15 : 2 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.

S Typ 006 02:15 D850

In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras is instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the S Typ 006 or the D850 handle or perform in practice. 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 expert reviews are important. The adjacent table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). The full reviews are available by clicking on the site logo in the table header.

Review scores
  Camera cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Leica S Typ 006»----- Sep 2012 21,950- i
Nikon D850«HiRec89/1004.5/55/55/5 Jul 2017 3,299 i i
Canon 70D« »HiRec83/1004.5/54.5/55/5 Jul 2013 1,199- i
Leica S Typ 007« »----- Sep 2014 24,490 i i
Leica S-E Typ 006« »----- Sep 2014 16,900- i
Leica M Typ 240« »--4/5-- Sep 2012 6,950- i
Leica S2« »----- Sep 2008 22,995- i
Nikon D5« »-89/1004.5/55/55/5 Jan 2016 6,499 i i
Nikon D500« »HiRec91/1004.5/55/55/5 Jan 2016 1,999 i i
Nikon D810« »-86/1005/54.5/54.5/5 Jun 2014 3,299- i
Nikon D7100« »HiRec85/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Feb 2013 1,199- i
Nikon D610« »HiRec87/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Oct 2013 1,999 i i
Nikon Df« »-81/1004/54/54/5 Nov 2013 2,749 i i
Nikon D4« »--4.5/5-4.5/5 Jan 2012 5,999- i
Pentax 645D« »---4.5/5- Mar 2010 9,995- i
Sony A7« »HiRec80/1005/54.5/55/5 Oct 2013 1,699- i
Sony A7R« »HiRec82/1004.5/55/55/5 Oct 2013 2,299- i

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, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.

 

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. An an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool. If you do not see the camera that you are looking for, please send me an email, and I will try to locate and add the respective data to the application.

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