Ur-Leica Contax Camera Ranking
Leica 1600mm Vivitar Shutter count
A potelyt.com – Photography & Imaging Resources
ad
PW

Leica S1 vs SL

The Leica S1 Pro and the Leica SL (Typ 601) are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in August 1996 and October 2015. Both the S1 and the SL are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are based on a medium format (S1) and a full frame (SL) sensor. The S1 has a resolution of 26.4 megapixels, whereas the SL provides 24 MP.

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

Headline Specifications
Leica S1 versus Leica SL
Leica S1 Leica SL
Mirrorless system camera Mirrorless system camera
Leica R mount lenses Leica L mount lenses
26.4 MP, Medium Format Sensor 24 MP, Full Frame Sensor
no Video 4K/30p Video
ISO 50-1,600 ISO 50-50,000
Optical viewfinder Electronic viewfinder (4400k dots)
no LCD 3.0 LCD, 1040k dots
no rear screen Fixed touchscreen
0.01 shutter flaps per second 11 shutter flaps per second
not weather sealedWeathersealed body
339 x 214 x 119 mm, 2500 g 147 x 104 x 39 mm, 847 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Leica S1 Pro and the Leica SL (Typ 601)? 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 S1 and the Leica SL is provided in the side-by-side display below. 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 dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

Size Leica S1 vs Leica SL
Compare S1 versus SL top
Comparison S1 or SL rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Leica SL is considerably smaller (79 percent) than the Leica S1. Moreover, the SL is substantially lighter (66 percent) than the S1. It is noteworthy in this context that the SL is splash and dust-proof, while the S1 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 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.

scroll hint
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 S1 13.3 in 8.4 in 4.7 in 88.2 oz .. n Aug 1996 21,490i
 
Leica SL 5.8 in 4.1 in 1.5 in 29.9 oz 400 Y Oct 2015 7,450i
 
Canon RP 5.2 in 3.3 in 2.8 in 17.1 oz 250 n Feb 2019 1,299 i
 
Canon SL3 4.8 in 3.7 in 2.8 in 15.8 oz 1070 n Apr 2019 599 i
 
Canon 1D X Mark II 6.2 in 6.6 in 3.3 in 54.0 oz 1210 Y Feb 2016 5,999i
 
Canon 80D 5.5 in 4.1 in 3.1 in 25.8 oz 960 Y Feb 2016 1,199i
 
Canon 5DS 6.0 in 4.6 in 3.0 in 32.8 oz 700 Y Feb 2015 3,699 i
 
Fujifilm X-T30 4.6 in 3.3 in 1.9 in 13.5 oz 380 n Feb 2019 899 i
 
Leica SL2 5.7 in 4.2 in 1.7 in 33.6 oz 370 Y Nov 2019 5,999 i
 
Leica M-E Typ 240 5.5 in 3.1 in 1.7 in 24.0 oz .. Y Jun 2019 3,999 i
 
Leica CL 5.2 in 3.1 in 1.8 in 14.2 oz 220 n Nov 2017 2,795 i
 
Leica TL2 5.3 in 2.7 in 1.3 in 14.1 oz 250 n Jul 2017 1,950 i
 
Leica Q Typ 116 5.1 in 3.1 in 3.7 in 22.6 oz 300 n Jun 2015 4,249i
 
Leica M Typ 240 5.5 in 3.1 in 1.7 in 24.0 oz .. Y Sep 2012 6,950i
 
Leica S2 6.3 in 4.7 in 3.1 in 49.7 oz .. Y Sep 2008 22,995i
 
Sony A6400 4.7 in 2.6 in 2.0 in 14.2 oz 410 n Jan 2019 899 i
 
Sony A6100 4.7 in 2.6 in 2.3 in 14.0 oz 420 n Aug 2019 749 i
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 retail prices at the time of the camera’s release place the model in the market relative to other models in the producer’s line-up and the competition. The SL was launched at a markedly lower price (by 65 percent) than the S1, 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.

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. 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 are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Leica S1 features a medium format sensor and the Leica SL a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the SL is 33 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 0.85 and 1.0. The sensor in the S1 has a native 1:1 aspect ratio, while the one in the SL offers a 3:2 aspect.

Leica S1 and Leica SL sensor measures

With 26.4MP, the S1 offers a higher resolution than the SL (24MP), but the S1 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 7.01μm versus 6.00μm for the SL) due to its larger sensor. However, the SL is a much more recent model (by 19 years and 1 month) than the S1, 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 neither of the two cameras has an anti-alias filter installed, so they are able to capture all the detail the sensor resolves.

The Leica S1 Pro has a native sensitivity range from ISO 50 to ISO 1600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Leica SL (Typ 601) are ISO 50 to ISO 50000 (no boost).

S1 versus SL MP

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. 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 table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.

scroll hint
Sensor Characteristics
  Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
 
Leica S1 Medium Format 26.4 5140 5140none........
 
Leica SL Full Frame 24.0 6000 40004K/30p25.013.4182188
 
Canon RP Full Frame 26.2 6240 41604K/30p........
 
Canon SL3 APS-C 24.0 6000 40004K/25p........
 
Canon 1D X Mark II Full Frame 20.0 5472 36484K/60p24.113.5320788
 
Canon 80D APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p23.613.2113579
 
Canon 5DS Full Frame 50.3 8688 57921080/30p24.712.4238187
 
Fujifilm X-T30 APS-C 26.0 6240 41604K/30p........
 
Leica SL2 Full Frame 46.7 8368 55844K/60p........
 
Leica M-E Typ 240 Full Frame 23.7 5952 39761080/25p........
 
Leica CL APS-C 24.1 6014 40144K/30p........
 
Leica TL2 APS-C 24.1 6014 40144K/30p........
 
Leica Q Typ 116 Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.312.7222185
 
Leica M Typ 240 Full Frame 23.7 5952 39761080/25p24.013.3186084
 
Leica S2 Medium Format 37.5 7500 5000none........
 
Sony A6400 APS-C 24.0 6000 40004K/30p2413.6143183
 
Sony A6100 APS-C 24.0 6000 40004K/30p........

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The SL indeed provides for movie recording, while the S1 does not. The highest resolution format that the SL can use is 4K/30p.

Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the SL has an electronic viewfinder (4400k 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 adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Leica S1 and Leica SL along with similar information for a selection of comparators.

scroll hint
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 S1optical n none none none n .. 0.01 n n
 
Leica SL4400 Y 3.0 1040 fixed Y 1/8000s 11.0 n n
 
Canon RP2360 n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0 n n
 
Canon SL3optical n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
 
Canon 1D X Mark IIoptical Y 3.2 1620 fixed Y 1/8000s 16.0 n n
 
Canon 80Doptical Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/8000s 7.0 Y n
 
Canon 5DSoptical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 n n
 
Fujifilm X-T302360 n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 1/4000s 8.0 Y n
 
Leica SL25760 Y 3.2 2100 fixed Y 1/8000s 10.0 n Y
 
Leica M-E Typ 240optical n 3.0 920 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 n n
 
Leica CL2360 Y 3.0 1040 fixed Y 1/8000s 10.0 n n
 
Leica TL2optional n 3.7 1230 fixed Y 1/4000s 7.0 n n
 
Leica Q Typ 1163680 n 3.0 1040 fixed Y 1/2000s 10.0 n Y
 
Leica M Typ 240optical n 3.0 920 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 n n
 
Leica S2optical Y 3.0 460 fixed n 1/4000s 1.5 n n
 
Sony A64002359 n 3.0 922 tilting Y 1/4000s 11.0 Y n
 
Sony A61001440 n 3.0 922 tilting Y 1/4000s 11.0 Y n

One feature that is present on the SL, but is missing on the S1 is a top-level LCD. While being, of course, smaller than the rear screen, the control panel conveys some of the essential shooting information and can be convenient for quick and easy settings verification.

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 SL 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 SL 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 S1 writes its imaging data to external storage, while the SL uses SDXC cards.

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 S1 Pro and Leica SL (Typ 601) and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.

scroll hint
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 S1----------
 
Leica SLYstereomonoYYfull3.0Y--
 
Canon RPYstereomonoYYmicro2.0Y-Y
 
Canon SL3YstereomonoY-mini2.0Y-Y
 
Canon 1D X Mark IIYmonomonoYYmini3.0---
 
Canon 80DYstereomonoYYmini2.0YY-
 
Canon 5DSYmonomonoY-mini3.0---
 
Fujifilm X-T30YstereomonoY-micro3.1Y-Y
 
Leica SL2YstereomonoYYfull3.1Y-Y
 
Leica M-E Typ 240Ymono----2.0---
 
Leica CLYstereomono----Y--
 
Leica TL2Ystereomono--micro3.0Y--
 
Leica Q Typ 116Ystereomono--micro2.0YY-
 
Leica M Typ 240Ystereomono---2.0---
 
Leica S2Y----mini2.0---
 
Sony A6400YstereomonoY-micro2.0YYY
 
Sony A6100YstereomonoY-micro2.0YYY

It is notable that the SL offers wifi support, which can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location. In contrast, the S1 does not provide wifi capability.

Studio photographers will appreciate that the Leica SL (unlike the S1) 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 SL has an internal geolocalization sensor and can record GPS coordinates in its EXIF data.

Both the S1 and the SL have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The S1 was replaced by the Leica S2, while the SL was followed by the Leica SL2. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Leica website.

Review summary

So how do things add up? Is there a clear favorite between the Leica S1 and the Leica SL? Which camera is better? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.


Arguments in favor of the Leica S1 Pro:

  • Brighter framing: Features an optical viewfinder for clear, lag-free composition.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in August 1996).


Advantages of the Leica SL (Typ 601):

  • Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 4K/30p video.
  • More framing info: Has an electronic viewfinder that displays shooting data.
  • Easier setting verification: Features a control panel on top to check shooting parameters.
  • Rear screen: Has a backside LCD (3.0") for image review and settings control.
  • Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (11 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.
  • More compact: Is smaller (147x104mm vs 339x214mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 1653g or 66 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
  • Better lighting: Features a hotshoe and can thus hold and trigger an external flash gun.
  • Easier geotagging: Features an internal GPS sensor to log localization data.
  • 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.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (65 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Reflects 19 years and 1 month of technical progress since the S1 launch.

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the SL is the clear winner of the contest (17 : 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. 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.

S1 02:17 SL

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Leica S1 and the Leica SL place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens 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 remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the S1 or the SL perform in practice. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased.

Expert reviews

This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera 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.

scroll hint
Review Scores
  Camera
Model
camera
  labs  
dp
review  
ephoto
  zine  
imaging
resource
photography
  blog  
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
 
Leica S1.......... Aug 1996 21,490i
 
Leica SL..84/1004.5/54/54/5 Oct 2015 7,450i
 
Canon RP+..4.5/54.5/54/5 Feb 2019 1,299 i
 
Canon SL3o79/1004/5..4/5 Apr 2019 599 i
 
Canon 1D X Mark II..89/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Feb 2016 5,999i
 
Canon 80D+ +84/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Feb 2016 1,199i
 
Canon 5DS+83/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Feb 2015 3,699 i
 
Fujifilm X-T30+ +84/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Feb 2019 899 i
 
Leica SL2....4.5/5..4/5 Nov 2019 5,999 i
 
Leica M-E Typ 240.......... Jun 2019 3,999 i
 
Leica CL........4/5 Nov 2017 2,795 i
 
Leica TL2....4/5..4/5 Jul 2017 1,950 i
 
Leica Q Typ 116..80/1004.5/5..4.5/5 Jun 2015 4,249i
 
Leica M Typ 240....4/5.... Sep 2012 6,950i
 
Leica S2.......... Sep 2008 22,995i
 
Sony A6400+85/1004.5/5..4/5 Jan 2019 899 i
 
Sony A6100..82/1004/5..5/5 Aug 2019 749 i
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. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.

Leica S1:
Check Ebay offers
Leica SL:
Check Ebay offers

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 use the search menu below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.

~

    Specifications: Leica S1 vs Leica SL

    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 S1 Leica SL
    Camera Type Mirrorless system camera Mirrorless system camera
    Camera Lens Leica R mount lenses Leica L mount lenses
    Launch Date August 1996 October 2015
    Launch Price USD 21,490 USD 7,450
    Sensor Specs Leica S1 Leica SL
    Sensor Technology CCD CMOS
    Sensor Format Medium Format Sensor Full Frame Sensor
    Sensor Size 36.0 x 36.0 mm 36.0 x 24.0 mm
    Sensor Area 1296 mm2 864 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 50.9 mm 43.3 mm
    Crop Factor 0.85x 1.0x
    Sensor Resolution 26.4 Megapixels 24 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 5140 x 5140 pixels 6000 x 4000 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 7.01 μm 6.00 μm
    Pixel Density 2.04 MP/cm2 2.78 MP/cm2
    Moiré control no AA filter no AA filter
    Movie Capability no Video 4K/30p Video
    ISO Setting 50 - 1,600 ISO 50 - 50,000 ISO
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) .. 88
    DXO Color Depth (bits) .. 25.0
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) .. 13.4
    DXO Low Light (ISO) .. 1821
    Screen Specs Leica S1 Leica SL
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Electronic viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 100% 100%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.80x
    Viewfinder Resolution 4400k dots
    Top-Level Screen no Top Display Control Panel
    LCD Framing Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution no LCD 1040k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen
    Touch Input no Touchscreen Touchscreen
    Shooting Specs Leica S1 Leica SL
    Focus System Manual Focus Contrast-detect AF
    Manual Focusing Aidno Peaking FeatureFocus Peaking
    Max Shutter Speed (mechanical) .. 1/8000s
    Continuous Shooting 0.01 shutter flaps/s 11 shutter flaps/s
    Electronic Shutterno E-Shutterup to 1/16000s
    Time-Lapse Photographyno IntervalometerIntervalometer built-in
    Fill Flash no On-Board Flash no On-Board Flash
    Storage Medium external SDXC cards
    Second Storage Option Dual card slots
    Connectivity Specs Leica S1 Leica SL
    External Flash no Hotshoe Hotshoe
    Studio Flash no PC Sync PC Sync socket
    USB Connector no USB USB 3.0
    HDMI Port no HDMI full 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 Leica S1 Leica SL
    Environmental Sealingnot weather sealedWeathersealed body
    Battery Type external BP-SCL4
    Body Dimensions 339 x 214 x 119 mm
    (13.3 x 8.4 x 4.7 in)
    147 x 104 x 39 mm
    (5.8 x 4.1 x 1.5 in)
    Camera Weight 2500 g (88.2 oz) 847 g (29.9 oz)

    Did you notice an error on this page? If so, please get in touch, so that we can correct the information.

    You are here Home  »  CAM-parator  »  Leica S1 vs Leica SL

    Thanks for your vote!

    You rated this page 4 out of 5.


    Rating

    Any additional comment or suggestion for improvement would be welcome.



    If you like it, make sure you share it.

    • Mention this page to your Facebook friends and Twitter followers.
    • Bookmark it in your browser for future reference by pressing "Crtl" + "D".
    • Create a hyperlink by copying the text below into your web-project or discussion forum entry.

    Once again, thanks for taking the time to provide feedback.