Leica S2 Comparison Review
The Leica S2 is a DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) camera that was announced in September 2008 and is equipped with a medium format sensor. It offers a resolution of 37.5 megapixel.
Is the Leica S2 a good camera? The S2 has a Camera Elo of 1568. This rating puts the S2 below average of all digital single lens reflex cameras. In terms of its sensor size category (medium format cameras), the S2 also ranks below average. – Well, the Leica S2 is more than 12 years old, and there have been many other good digital cameras released since 2008.
|Digital single lens reflex|
|Leica S mount lenses|
|37.5 MP, Medium Format Sensor|
|ISO 80 - 1 250|
|3.0 LCD, 460k dots|
|Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)|
|1.5 shutter flaps per second|
|160 x 120 x 80 mm, 1 410 g|
Read on to find out more about the camera's size, sensor, features, reception by expert reviewers, and how it compares to other digital cameras.
Body comparison with a credit card
An illustration of the physical dimensions of the Leica S2 vis-à-vis a credit card is provided in the side-by-side display below. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are presented. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the Leica S2 alongside a set of similar cameras. If you want to review a particular camera pair side-by-side, just move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible comparisons there.
|1.||Leica S2||160 mm||120 mm||80 mm||1410 g||..||Y||Sep 2008||22,995|
|2.||Canon 1Ds Mark III||150 mm||160 mm||80 mm||1385 g||1800||Y||Aug 2007||7,999|
|3.||Leica S3||160 mm||120 mm||80 mm||1260 g||..||Y||Sep 2018||18,995|
|4.||Leica S-E Typ 006||160 mm||120 mm||80 mm||1260 g||..||Y||Sep 2014||16,900|
|5.||Leica S Typ 007||160 mm||120 mm||80 mm||1260 g||..||Y||Sep 2014||24,490|
|6.||Leica S Typ 006||160 mm||120 mm||80 mm||1260 g||..||Y||Sep 2012||21,950|
|7.||Leica S1||339 mm||214 mm||119 mm||2500 g||..||n||Aug 1996||21,490|
|8.||Nikon D3S||160 mm||157 mm||88 mm||1240 g||4200||Y||Oct 2009||5,199|
|9.||Nikon D3X||160 mm||157 mm||88 mm||1260 g||4400||Y||Dec 2008||7,999|
|10.||Nikon D3||160 mm||157 mm||88 mm||1300 g||4300||Y||Aug 2007||4,999|
|11.||Pentax 645D||156 mm||117 mm||119 mm||1480 g||800||Y||Mar 2010||9,995|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
The listed prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The Leica S2 was launched in the US market at a price of $22,995. 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 with a 35mm slide
The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant 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. 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 are more costly to manufacture and tent to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
The Leica S2 features a medium format sensor and has a format factor (sometimes also referred to as "crop factor") of 0.8. Within the spectrum of camera sensors, this places the Leica S2 among the large-sensor cameras that aim for top notch image quality.
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for most cameras. 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 following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of alternatives.
|1.||Leica S2||Medium Format||37.5||7500||5000||none||..||..||..||..|
|2.||Canon 1Ds Mark III||Full Frame||21.0||5616||3744||none||24.0||12.0||1663||80|
|3.||Leica S3||Medium Format||64.0||9800||6533||4K/24p||..||..||..||..|
|4.||Leica S-E Typ 006||Medium Format||37.5||7500||5000||none||..||..||..||..|
|5.||Leica S Typ 007||Medium Format||37.5||7500||5000||4K/24p||..||..||..||..|
|6.||Leica S Typ 006||Medium Format||37.5||7500||5000||none||23.9||12.2||824||76|
|7.||Leica S1||Medium Format||26.4||5140||5140||none||..||..||..||..|
|8.||Nikon D3S||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||720/24p||23.5||12.0||3253||82|
|9.||Nikon D3X||Full Frame||24.4||6048||4032||none||24.7||13.7||1992||88|
|10.||Nikon D3||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||none||23.5||12.2||2290||81|
|11.||Pentax 645D||Medium Format||39.5||7264||5440||none||24.6||12.6||1262||82|
It should be noted that unlike many modern cameras, the S2 does not provide the possibility to capture videos.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the S2 has an optical viewfinder that provides a field of view of 96% and a magnification of 0.86x. The following tables report on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Leica S2 and comparable cameras.
|1.||Leica S2||optical||Y||3.0 / 460||fixed||n||1/4000s||1.5||n||n|
|2.||Canon 1Ds Mark III||optical||Y||3.0 / 230||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||n|
|3.||Leica S3||optical||Y||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||n||n|
|4.||Leica S-E Typ 006||optical||Y||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/4000s||1.5||n||n|
|5.||Leica S Typ 007||optical||Y||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.5||n||n|
|6.||Leica S Typ 006||optical||Y||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/4000s||1.5||n||n|
|7.||Leica S1||optical||n||none / none||none||n||..||0.01||n||n|
|8.||Nikon D3S||optical||Y||3.0 / 921||fixed||n||1/8000s||11.0||n||n|
|9.||Nikon D3X||optical||Y||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||n|
|10.||Nikon D3||optical||Y||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/8000s||11.0||n||n|
|11.||Pentax 645D||optical||Y||3.0 / 921||fixed||n||1/4000s||1.1||n||n|
One useful feature of the S2 is a presence of 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.
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 S2 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
Mic / Speaker
|1.||Leica S2||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|2.||Canon 1Ds Mark III||Y||mono / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|3.||Leica S3||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||Y||-||-|
|4.||Leica S-E Typ 006||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|5.||Leica S Typ 007||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||Y||-||-|
|6.||Leica S Typ 006||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|7.||Leica S1||-||- / -||-||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|8.||Nikon D3S||Y||stereo / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|9.||Nikon D3X||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|10.||Nikon D3||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|11.||Pentax 645D||Y||stereo / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
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 S2 handle or 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. This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The table below summarizes the assessments of some of the best known camera review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], digitalcameraworld [DCW], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]).
|1.||Leica S2||..||..||..||..||..||..||Sep 2008||22,995|
|2.||Canon 1Ds Mark III||..||..||..||+ +||4.5/5||..||Aug 2007||7,999|
|3.||Leica S3||..||..||..||..||..||..||Sep 2018||18,995|
|4.||Leica S-E Typ 006||..||..||..||..||..||..||Sep 2014||16,900|
|5.||Leica S Typ 007||4/5||..||..||..||..||..||Sep 2014||24,490|
|6.||Leica S Typ 006||..||..||..||..||..||..||Sep 2012||21,950|
|7.||Leica S1||..||..||..||..||..||..||Aug 1996||21,490|
|8.||Nikon D3S||5/5||..||..||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||Oct 2009||5,199|
|9.||Nikon D3X||..||..||..||86/100||4/5||5/5||Dec 2008||7,999|
|10.||Nikon D3||..||..||..||+ +||5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2007||4,999|
|11.||Pentax 645D||5/5||..||..||..||..||..||Mar 2010||9,995|
|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 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.
Leica S2 FAQ
Below are some additional questions and answers concerning some particular features of the S2.
What technology is the imaging sensor in the S2 based on?
The camera is build around a CCD (Charged Coupled Device) sensor.
What is the ISO sensitivity range of the S2?
The camera has a native sensitivity range from ISO 80 to ISO 1250.
What is the life expectancy of the shutter in the Leica S2?
Leica does not publish a shutter rating for the S2. Yet, shutters in comparable cameras from other manufacturers are said to be good for at least 100 000 actuations. It should be noted, though, that this number represents a Mean Time before Failure. The shutter might fail earlier, or it might last longer. Anyway, in order to exhaust an expected shutter life of 100 000 shots over, say, three years, one would have to take about 100 pictures each and every day.
Which battery does the S2 use?
The camera gets its power from the BP-PRO1, which is a rechargeable Lithium-Ion power pack.
Is there a vertical grip available for the S2?
Yes, Leica offers the Multi-Function Handgrip S as an optional accessory to facilitate shooting in portrait orientation and to provide additional battery power.
Camera to camera comparisons
If you would like to see a side-by-side review of this and another camera, 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.
|Camera Model||Leica S2|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Leica S mount lenses|
|Launch Date||September 2008|
|Launch Price||USD 22 995|
|Sensor Format||Medium Format Sensor|
|Sensor Size||45.0 x 30.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||1 350 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||54.1 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||37.5 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||7 500 x 5 000 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||6.00 μm|
|Pixel Density||2.78 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video|
|ISO Setting||80 - 1 250 ISO|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||96%|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel|
|LCD Size||3.0 inch|
|LCD Resolution||460k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen|
|V-logging Friendliness||No front-flip|
|Touch Input||No touchscreen|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||no Peaking Feature|
|Maximum Shutter Speed||1/4000s|
|Continuous Shooting||1.5 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||100 000 actuations|
|Silent Shooting||no E-Shutter|
|Time Lapse Photography||no Intervalometer|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||CF or SDHC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Dual card slots|
|UHS card support||no|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Type||BP-PRO1 power pack|
160 x 120 x 80 mm
(6.3 x 4.7 x 3.1 in)
|Camera Weight||1 410 g (49.7 oz)|
Did you notice an error on this page? If so, please get in touch, so that we can correct the information.