Leica S1 vs Nikon D3200
The Leica S1 Pro and the Nikon D3200 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in August 1996 and April 2012. The S1 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, while the D3200 is a DSLR. The cameras are based on a medium format (S1) and an APS-C (D3200) sensor. The Leica has a resolution of 26.4 megapixels, whereas the Nikon provides 24.1 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 S1 Pro and the Nikon D3200? 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.
An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Leica S1 and the Nikon D3200 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 size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The D3200 can be obtained in two different colors (black, red), while the S1 is only available in black.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon D3200 is considerably smaller (83 percent) than the Leica S1. Moreover, the D3200 is substantially lighter (80 percent) than the S1. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the S1 nor the D3200 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. A larger imaging sensor will tend to go along with bigger and heavier lenses, although exceptions exist. You can compare the optics available for the two cameras in the Leica R Lens Catalog (S1) and the Nikon Lens Catalog (D3200). Mirrorless cameras, such as the Leica S1, have moreover the advantage that they have a relatively short flange to focal plane distance and can thus use many lenses from other systems via adapters.
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 S1||339 mm||214 mm||119 mm||2500 g||..||n||Aug 1996||21,490|
|2.||Nikon D3200||125 mm||96 mm||77 mm||505 g||540||n||Apr 2012||599|
|3.||Canon RP||133 mm||85 mm||70 mm||485 g||250||n||Feb 2019||1,299|
|4.||Canon SL3||122 mm||93 mm||70 mm||449 g||1070||n||Apr 2019||599|
|5.||Fujifilm X-T30||118 mm||83 mm||47 mm||383 g||380||n||Feb 2019||899|
|6.||Leica M-E Typ 240||139 mm||80 mm||42 mm||680 g||..||Y||Jun 2019||3,999|
|7.||Leica CL||131 mm||78 mm||45 mm||403 g||220||n||Nov 2017||2,795|
|8.||Leica TL2||134 mm||69 mm||33 mm||399 g||250||n||Jul 2017||1,950|
|9.||Leica Q Typ 116||130 mm||80 mm||93 mm||640 g||300||n||Jun 2015||4,249|
|10.||Leica S2||160 mm||120 mm||80 mm||1410 g||..||Y||Sep 2008||22,995|
|11.||Nikon D5600||124 mm||97 mm||70 mm||465 g||970||n||Nov 2016||699|
|12.||Nikon D3400||124 mm||98 mm||76 mm||445 g||1200||n||Aug 2016||499|
|13.||Nikon D3300||124 mm||98 mm||76 mm||430 g||700||n||Jan 2014||499|
|14.||Nikon D5300||125 mm||98 mm||76 mm||480 g||600||n||Oct 2013||799|
|15.||Nikon D3100||124 mm||96 mm||75 mm||505 g||550||n||Aug 2010||599|
|16.||Sony A6400||120 mm||67 mm||50 mm||403 g||410||Y||Jan 2019||899|
|17.||Sony A6100||120 mm||67 mm||59 mm||396 g||420||n||Aug 2019||749|
|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 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 D3200 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 97 percent) than the S1, 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.
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. 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 associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Leica S1 features a medium format sensor and the Nikon D3200 an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the D3200 is 72 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 D3200 offers a 3:2 aspect.
With 26.4MP, the S1 offers a higher resolution than the D3200 (24.1MP), but the S1 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 7.01μm versus 3.85μm for the D3200) due to its larger sensor. However, the D3200 is a much more recent model (by 15 years and 7 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 the S1 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.
The Leica S1 Pro has a native sensitivity range from ISO 50 to ISO 1600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Nikon D3200 are ISO 100 to ISO 6400, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-12800.
Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. 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.
| DXO |
|1.||Leica S1||Medium Format||26.4||5140||5140||none||..||..||..||..|
|3.||Canon RP||Full Frame||26.2||6240||4160||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|6.||Leica M-E Typ 240||Full Frame||23.7||5952||3976||1080/25p||..||..||..||..|
|9.||Leica Q Typ 116||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.3||12.7||2221||85|
|10.||Leica S2||Medium Format||37.5||7500||5000||none||..||..||..||..|
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The D3200 indeed provides for movie recording, while the S1 does not. The highest resolution format that the D3200 can use is 1080/30p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The S1 and the D3200 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 adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Leica S1 and Nikon D3200 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|6.||Leica M-E Typ 240||optical||n||3.0||920||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||n||n|
|9.||Leica Q Typ 116||3680||n||3.0||1040||fixed||Y||1/2000s||10.0||n||Y|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The D3200 has one, while the S1 does not. While the built-in flash of the D3200 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.
The S1 writes its imaging data to external storage, while the D3200 uses SDXC 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 S1 Pro and Nikon D3200 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|6.||Leica M-E Typ 240||Y||mono||-||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|9.||Leica Q Typ 116||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
It is notable that the D3200 has a hotshoe, which makes it possible to easily attach optional accessories, such as an external flash gun. The S1 does not feature such an accessory-socket.
Both the S1 and the D3200 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The S1 was replaced by the Leica S2, while the D3200 was followed by the Nikon D3300. 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 conclusions can be drawn? Is there a clear favorite between the Leica S1 and the Nikon D3200? 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:
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- More legacy lens friendly: Can take a broad range of non-native lenses via adapters.
- More prestigious: Has the Leica luxury appeal, which ensures a high resale price.
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in August 1996).
Advantages of the Nikon D3200:
- 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 1080/30p video.
- Rear screen: Has a backside LCD (3.0") for image review and settings control.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (4 vs 0.01 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More compact: Is smaller (125x96mm vs 339x214mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 1995g or 80 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
- Better lighting: Features a hotshoe and can thus hold and trigger an external flash gun.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (97 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 15 years and 7 months of technical progress since the S1 launch.
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the D3200 is the clear winner of the contest (10 : 4 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.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Leica S1 and the Nikon D3200 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera and Best DSLR Camera listings 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 S1 and the D3200 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.
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.
|1.||Leica S1||..||..||..||..||..||Aug 1996||21,490|
|2.||Nikon D3200||5/5||+ +||73/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2012||599|
|3.||Canon RP||4/5||+||..||4.5/5||4/5||Feb 2019||1,299|
|4.||Canon SL3||..||o||79/100||4/5||4/5||Apr 2019||599|
|5.||Fujifilm X-T30||5/5||+ +||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2019||899|
|6.||Leica M-E Typ 240||..||..||..||..||..||Jun 2019||3,999|
|7.||Leica CL||..||..||..||..||4/5||Nov 2017||2,795|
|8.||Leica TL2||3.5/5||..||..||4/5||4/5||Jul 2017||1,950|
|9.||Leica Q Typ 116||5/5||..||80/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2015||4,249|
|10.||Leica S2||..||..||..||..||..||Sep 2008||22,995|
|11.||Nikon D5600||4/5||..||79/100||4.5/5||4/5||Nov 2016||699|
|12.||Nikon D3400||4/5||+||76/100||4/5||4.5/5||Aug 2016||499|
|13.||Nikon D3300||3/5||+||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2014||499|
|14.||Nikon D5300||4/5||+ +||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2013||799|
|15.||Nikon D3100||5/5||+ +||72/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2010||599|
|16.||Sony A6400||4/5||+||85/100||4.5/5||4/5||Jan 2019||899|
|17.||Sony A6100||..||..||82/100||4/5||5/5||Aug 2019||749|
|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. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.
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. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.
Specifications: Leica S1 vs Nikon D3200
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 S1||Nikon D3200|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Leica R mount lenses||Nikon F mount lenses|
|Launch Date||August 1996||April 2012|
|Launch Price||USD 21,490||USD 599|
|Sensor Specs||Leica S1||Nikon D3200|
|Sensor Format||Medium Format Sensor||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||36.0 x 36.0 mm||23.2 x 15.4 mm|
|Sensor Area||1296 mm2||357.28 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||50.9 mm||27.8 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||26.4 Megapixels||24.1 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||5140 x 5140 pixels||6016 x 4000 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||7.01 μm||3.85 μm|
|Pixel Density||2.04 MP/cm2||6.74 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||1080/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||50 - 1,600 ISO||100 - 6,400 ISO|
|ISO Boost||no Enhancement||100 - 12,800 ISO|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||..||81|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||..||24.1|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||..||13.2|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||..||1131|
|Screen Specs||Leica S1||Nikon D3200|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||95%|
|LCD Framing||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||no LCD||921k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Leica S1||Nikon D3200|
|Focus System||Manual Focus||Phase-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||0.01 shutter flaps/s||4 shutter flaps/s|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||Build-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||external||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot|
|Connectivity Specs||Leica S1||Nikon D3200|
|External Flash||no Hotshoe||Hotshoe|
|USB Connector||no USB||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||no HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Microphone Port||no MIC socket||External MIC port|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Leica S1||Nikon D3200|
339 x 214 x 119 mm
(13.3 x 8.4 x 4.7 in)
125 x 96 x 77 mm
(4.9 x 3.8 x 3.0 in)
|Camera Weight||2500 g (88.2 oz)||505 g (17.8 oz)|
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