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Leica S1 vs TL2

The Leica S1 Pro and the Leica TL2 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in August 1996 and July 2017. Both the S1 and the TL2 are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are based on a medium format (S1) and an APS-C (TL2) sensor. The S1 has a resolution of 26.4 megapixels, whereas the TL2 provides 24.1 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 TL2
Leica S1 Leica TL2
Mirrorless system camera Mirrorless system camera
Leica R mount lenses Leica T mount lenses
26.4 MP, Medium Format Sensor 24.1 MP, APS-C Sensor
no Video 4K/30p Video
ISO 50-1,600 ISO 100-50,000
Optical viewfinder Viewfinder optional
no LCD 3.7 LCD, 1230k dots
no rear screen Fixed touchscreen
0.01 shutter flaps per second 7 shutter flaps per second
339 x 214 x 119 mm, 2500 g 134 x 69 x 33 mm, 399 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Leica S1 Pro and the Leica TL2? 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

The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Leica S1 and the Leica TL2. 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 TL2 can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the S1 is only available in black.

Size Leica S1 vs Leica TL2
Compare S1 versus TL2 top
Comparison S1 or TL2 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Leica TL2 is considerably smaller (87 percent) than the Leica S1. Moreover, the TL2 is substantially lighter (84 percent) than the S1. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the S1 nor the TL2 are weather-sealed.

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 power pack in the TL2 can be charged via the USB port, which can be very convenient when travelling.

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, you can move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.

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Body Specifications
    Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
Weather
Sealing
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Leica S1 339 mm 214 mm 119 mm 2500 g .. n Aug 1996 21,490i
2.
 
Leica TL2 134 mm 69 mm 33 mm 399 g 250 n Jul 2017 1,950 i
3.
 
Canon RP 133 mm 85 mm 70 mm 485 g 250 n Feb 2019 1,299 i
4.
 
Canon SL3 122 mm 93 mm 70 mm 449 g 1070 n Apr 2019 599 i
5.
 
Fujifilm X-T30 118 mm 83 mm 47 mm 383 g 380 n Feb 2019 899 i
6.
 
Fujifilm X-T20 118 mm 83 mm 41 mm 383 g 350 n Jan 2017 899i
7.
 
Fujifilm X-A3 117 mm 67 mm 40 mm 339 g 410 n Aug 2016 399i
8.
 
Leica M-E Typ 240 139 mm 80 mm 42 mm 680 g .. Y Jun 2019 3,999 i
9.
 
Leica CL 131 mm 78 mm 45 mm 403 g 220 n Nov 2017 2,795 i
10.
 
Leica TL 134 mm 69 mm 33 mm 384 g 400 n Nov 2016 1,695i
11.
 
Leica Q Typ 116 130 mm 80 mm 93 mm 640 g 300 n Jun 2015 4,249i
12.
 
Leica S2 160 mm 120 mm 80 mm 1410 g .. Y Sep 2008 22,995i
13.
 
Nikon D3400 124 mm 98 mm 76 mm 445 g 1200 n Aug 2016 499i
14.
 
Sony A6400 120 mm 67 mm 50 mm 403 g 410 Y Jan 2019 899 i
15.
 
Sony A6100 120 mm 67 mm 59 mm 396 g 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.

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 TL2 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 91 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.

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Sensor comparison

The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant 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. 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 tend to be more expensive and 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 TL2 an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the TL2 is 71 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 0.85 and 1.5. The sensor in the S1 has a native 1:1 aspect ratio, while the one in the TL2 offers a 3:2 aspect.

Leica S1 and Leica TL2 sensor measures

With 26.4MP, the S1 offers a higher resolution than the TL2 (24.1MP), but the S1 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 7.01μm versus 3.92μm for the TL2) due to its larger sensor. However, the TL2 is a much more recent model (by 20 years and 10 months) 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 TL2 are ISO 100 to ISO 50000 (no boost).

S1 versus TL2 MP

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 table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.

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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
1.
 
Leica S1 Medium Format 26.4 5140 5140none........
2.
 
Leica TL2 APS-C 24.1 6014 40144K/30p........
3.
 
Canon RP Full Frame 26.2 6240 41604K/30p........
4.
 
Canon SL3 APS-C 24.0 6000 40004K/25p........
5.
 
Fujifilm X-T30 APS-C 26.0 6240 41604K/30p........
6.
 
Fujifilm X-T20 APS-C 24.0 6000 40004K/30p........
7.
 
Fujifilm X-A3 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p........
8.
 
Leica M-E Typ 240 Full Frame 23.7 5952 39761080/25p........
9.
 
Leica CL APS-C 24.1 6014 40144K/30p........
10.
 
Leica TL APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p........
11.
 
Leica Q Typ 116 Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.312.7222185
12.
 
Leica S2 Medium Format 37.5 7500 5000none........
13.
 
Nikon D3400 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.813.9119286
14.
 
Sony A6400 APS-C 24.0 6000 40004K/30p2413.6143183
15.
 
Sony A6100 APS-C 24.0 6000 40004K/30p........

Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The TL2 indeed provides for movie recording, while the S1 does not. The highest resolution format that the TL2 can use is 4K/30p.

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Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the S1 has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the TL2 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. That said, the TL2 can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the Visoflex (Typ 020). The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Leica S1, the Leica TL2, and comparable 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
1.
 
Leica S1optical n none none none n .. 0.01 n n
2.
 
Leica TL2optional n 3.7 1230 fixed Y 1/4000s 7.0 n n
3.
 
Canon RP2360 n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0 n n
4.
 
Canon SL3optical n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
5.
 
Fujifilm X-T302360 n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 1/4000s 8.0 Y n
6.
 
Fujifilm X-T202360 n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 1/4000s 8.0 Y n
7.
 
Fujifilm X-A3none n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 1/4000s 6.0 Y n
8.
 
Leica M-E Typ 240optical n 3.0 920 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 n n
9.
 
Leica CL2360 Y 3.0 1040 fixed Y 1/8000s 10.0 n n
10.
 
Leica TLoptional n 3.7 1230 fixed Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
11.
 
Leica Q Typ 1163680 n 3.0 1040 fixed Y 1/2000s 10.0 n Y
12.
 
Leica S2optical Y 3.0 460 fixed n 1/4000s 1.5 n n
13.
 
Nikon D3400optical n 3.0 921 fixed n 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
14.
 
Sony A64002359 n 3.0 922 tilting Y 1/4000s 11.0 Y n
15.
 
Sony A61001440 n 3.0 922 tilting Y 1/4000s 11.0 Y n

The S1 writes its imaging data to external storage, while the TL2 uses SDXC cards.

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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 TL2 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
1.
 
Leica S1----------
2.
 
Leica TL2Ystereomono--micro3.0Y--
3.
 
Canon RPYstereomonoYYmicro2.0Y-Y
4.
 
Canon SL3YstereomonoY-mini2.0Y-Y
5.
 
Fujifilm X-T30YstereomonoY-micro3.1Y-Y
6.
 
Fujifilm X-T20YstereomonoY-micro2.0Y--
7.
 
Fujifilm X-A3Ystereomono--micro2.0Y--
8.
 
Leica M-E Typ 240Ymono----2.0---
9.
 
Leica CLYstereomono----Y--
10.
 
Leica TLYstereomono--micro2.0Y--
11.
 
Leica Q Typ 116Ystereomono--micro2.0YY-
12.
 
Leica S2Y----mini2.0---
13.
 
Nikon D3400Ymonomono--mini2.0--Y
14.
 
Sony A6400YstereomonoY-micro2.0YYY
15.
 
Sony A6100YstereomonoY-micro2.0YYY

It is notable that the TL2 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.

The TL2 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.

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Review summary

So how do things add up? Which of the two cameras – the Leica S1 or the Leica TL2 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.


Reasons to prefer the Leica S1 Pro:

  • Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in August 1996).


Arguments in favor of the Leica TL2:

  • Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 4K/30p video.
  • Rear screen: Has a backside LCD (3.7") 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 (7 vs 0.01 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More compact: Is smaller (134x69mm vs 339x214mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 2101g or 84 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
  • Better lighting: Features a hotshoe and can thus hold and trigger an external flash gun.
  • Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (91 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Reflects 20 years and 10 months of technical progress since the S1 launch.

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the TL2 is the clear winner of the contest (11 : 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 sports photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a street photog, and a person interested in family portraits has distinct needs from a landscape shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.

S1 02:11 TL2

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Leica S1 and the Leica TL2 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 comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the S1 or the TL2 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.

Expert reviews

This is where reviews by experts come in. 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.

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Expert Camera Reviews
     Camera 
 Model 
 AP 
 score 
 CL 
 score 
 DPR 
 score 
 EPZ 
 score 
 PB 
 score 
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Leica S1.......... Aug 1996 21,490i
2.
 
Leica TL23.5/5....4/54/5 Jul 2017 1,950 i
3.
 
Canon RP4/5+..4.5/54/5 Feb 2019 1,299 i
4.
 
Canon SL3..o79/1004/54/5 Apr 2019 599 i
5.
 
Fujifilm X-T305/5+ +84/1004.5/54.5/5 Feb 2019 899 i
6.
 
Fujifilm X-T205/5+ +82/1005/54.5/5 Jan 2017 899i
7.
 
Fujifilm X-A3....74/1004.5/54/5 Aug 2016 399i
8.
 
Leica M-E Typ 240.......... Jun 2019 3,999 i
9.
 
Leica CL........4/5 Nov 2017 2,795 i
10.
 
Leica TL........4/5 Nov 2016 1,695i
11.
 
Leica Q Typ 1165/5..80/1004.5/54.5/5 Jun 2015 4,249i
12.
 
Leica S2.......... Sep 2008 22,995i
13.
 
Nikon D34004/5+76/1004/54.5/5 Aug 2016 499i
14.
 
Sony A64004/5+85/1004.5/54/5 Jan 2019 899 i
15.
 
Sony A6100....82/1004/55/5 Aug 2019 749 i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

The above review scores should be interpreted 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. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.

Leica S1:
Check Ebay offers
Leica TL2:
Check Amazon price

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 a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.

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    Specifications: Leica S1 vs Leica TL2

    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 TL2
    Camera Type Mirrorless system camera Mirrorless system camera
    Camera Lens Leica R mount lenses Leica T mount lenses
    Launch Date August 1996 July 2017
    Launch Price USD 21,490 USD 1,950
    Sensor Specs Leica S1 Leica TL2
    Sensor Technology CCD CMOS
    Sensor Format Medium Format Sensor APS-C Sensor
    Sensor Size 36.0 x 36.0 mm 23.6 x 15.7 mm
    Sensor Area 1296 mm2 370.52 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 50.9 mm 28.3 mm
    Crop Factor 0.85x 1.5x
    Sensor Resolution 26.4 Megapixels 24.1 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 5140 x 5140 pixels 6014 x 4014 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 7.01 μm 3.92 μm
    Pixel Density 2.04 MP/cm2 6.52 MP/cm2
    Moiré control no AA filter no AA filter
    Movie Capability no Video 4K/30p Video
    ISO Setting 50 - 1,600 ISO 100 - 50,000 ISO
    Screen Specs Leica S1 Leica TL2
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Viewfinder optional
    Viewfinder Field of View 100%
    Viewfinder Magnification
    LCD Framing Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.7inch
    LCD Resolution no LCD 1230k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen
    Touch Input no Touchscreen Touchscreen
    Shooting Specs Leica S1 Leica TL2
    Focus System Manual Focus Contrast-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 0.01 shutter flaps/s 7 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash no On-Board Flash no On-Board Flash
    Storage Medium external SDXC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot
    Connectivity Specs Leica S1 Leica TL2
    External Flash no Hotshoe Hotshoe
    USB Connector no USB USB 3.0
    HDMI Port no HDMI micro HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi Wifi built-in
    Body Specs Leica S1 Leica TL2
    Battery Type external BP-DC13
    In-Camera Charging no USB charging USB charging
    Body Dimensions 339 x 214 x 119 mm
    (13.3 x 8.4 x 4.7 in)
    134 x 69 x 33 mm
    (5.3 x 2.7 x 1.3 in)
    Camera Weight 2500 g (88.2 oz) 399 g (14.1 oz)

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