Leica S2 vs TL2
The Leica S2 and the Leica TL2 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in September 2008 and July 2017. The S2 is a DSLR, while the TL2 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on a medium format (S2) and an APS-C (TL2) sensor. The S2 has a resolution of 37.5 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.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Leica S2 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.
The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Leica S2 and the Leica TL2. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The TL2 can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the S2 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 Leica TL2 is considerably smaller (52 percent) than the Leica S2. Moreover, the TL2 is substantially lighter (72 percent) than the S2. It is worth mentioning in this context that the S2 is splash and dust resistant, while the TL2 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 power pack in the TL2 can be charged via the USB port, which can be very convenient when travelling.
The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, you can navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from a broad list of cameras there.
|1.||Leica S2||160 mm||120 mm||80 mm||1410 g||..||Y||Sep 2008||22,995|
|2.||Leica TL2||134 mm||69 mm||33 mm||399 g||250||n||Jul 2017||1,950|
|3.||Canon 1Ds Mark III||150 mm||160 mm||80 mm||1385 g||1800||Y||Aug 2007||7,999|
|4.||Fujifilm X-T20||118 mm||83 mm||41 mm||383 g||350||n||Jan 2017||899|
|5.||Fujifilm X-A3||117 mm||67 mm||40 mm||339 g||410||n||Aug 2016||399|
|6.||Leica S3||160 mm||120 mm||80 mm||1260 g||..||Y||Sep 2018||18,995|
|7.||Leica CL||131 mm||78 mm||45 mm||403 g||220||n||Nov 2017||2,795|
|8.||Leica TL||134 mm||69 mm||33 mm||384 g||400||n||Nov 2016||1,695|
|9.||Leica S-E Typ 006||160 mm||120 mm||80 mm||1260 g||..||Y||Sep 2014||16,900|
|10.||Leica S Typ 007||160 mm||120 mm||80 mm||1260 g||..||Y||Sep 2014||24,490|
|11.||Leica S Typ 006||160 mm||120 mm||80 mm||1260 g||..||Y||Sep 2012||21,950|
|12.||Leica S1||339 mm||214 mm||119 mm||2500 g||..||n||Aug 1996||21,490|
|13.||Nikon D3400||124 mm||98 mm||76 mm||445 g||1200||n||Aug 2016||499|
|14.||Nikon D3S||160 mm||157 mm||88 mm||1240 g||4200||Y||Oct 2009||5,199|
|15.||Nikon D3X||160 mm||157 mm||88 mm||1260 g||4400||Y||Dec 2008||7,999|
|16.||Nikon D3||160 mm||157 mm||88 mm||1300 g||4300||Y||Aug 2007||4,999|
|17.||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.|
Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. 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 TL2 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 92 percent) than the S2, 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.
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 generally have larger individual pixels that offer better low-light sensitivity, provide wider dynamic range, and have richer color-depth than smaller pixels 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 associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Leica S2 features a medium format sensor and the Leica TL2 an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the TL2 is 73 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 0.8 and 1.5. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
With 37.5MP, the S2 offers a higher resolution than the TL2 (24.1MP), but the S2 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 6.00μm versus 3.92μm for the TL2) due to its larger sensor. However, the TL2 is a much more recent model (by 8 years and 9 months) than the S2, 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 resolution advantage of the Leica S2 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the S2 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 37.5 x 25 inches or 95.3 x 63.5 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 30 x 20 inches or 76.2 x 50.8 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 25 x 16.7 inches or 63.5 x 42.3 cm. The corresponding values for the Leica TL2 are 30.1 x 20.1 inches or 76.4 x 51 cm for good quality, 24.1 x 16.1 inches or 61.1 x 40.8 cm for very good quality, and 20 x 13.4 inches or 50.9 x 34 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Leica S2 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 80 to ISO 1250. The corresponding ISO settings for the Leica TL2 are ISO 100 to ISO 50000 (no boost).
For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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 table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.
| DXO |
|1.||Leica S2||Medium Format||37.5||7500||5000||none||..||..||..||..|
|3.||Canon 1Ds Mark III||Full Frame||21.0||5616||3744||none||24.0||12.0||1663||80|
|6.||Leica S3||Medium Format||64.0||9800||6533||4K/24p||..||..||..||..|
|9.||Leica S-E Typ 006||Medium Format||37.5||7500||5000||none||..||..||..||..|
|10.||Leica S Typ 007||Medium Format||37.5||7500||5000||4K/24p||..||..||..||..|
|11.||Leica S Typ 006||Medium Format||37.5||7500||5000||none||23.9||12.2||824||76|
|12.||Leica S1||Medium Format||26.4||5140||5140||none||..||..||..||..|
|14.||Nikon D3S||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||720/24p||23.5||12.0||3253||82|
|15.||Nikon D3X||Full Frame||24.4||6048||4032||none||24.7||13.7||1992||88|
|16.||Nikon D3||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||none||23.5||12.2||2290||81|
|17.||Pentax 645D||Medium Format||39.5||7264||5440||none||24.6||12.6||1262||82|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The TL2 indeed provides for movie recording, while the S2 does not. The highest resolution format that the TL2 can use is 4K/30p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the S2 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 adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Leica S2 and Leica TL2 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|3.||Canon 1Ds Mark III||optical||Y||3.0||230||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||n|
|9.||Leica S-E Typ 006||optical||Y||3.0||922||fixed||n||1/4000s||1.5||n||n|
|10.||Leica S Typ 007||optical||Y||3.0||922||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.5||n||n|
|11.||Leica S Typ 006||optical||Y||3.0||922||fixed||n||1/4000s||1.5||n||n|
One feature that is present on the S2, but is missing on the TL2 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 S2 writes its imaging data to Compact Flash or SDHC cards, while the TL2 uses SDXC cards. The S2 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the TL2 only has one slot. The TL2 supports UHS-II cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 312 MB/s), while the S2 cannot take advantage of Ultra High Speed SD 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 S2 and Leica TL2 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|3.||Canon 1Ds Mark III||Y||mono||-||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|9.||Leica S-E Typ 006||Y||-||-||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|10.||Leica S Typ 007||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||Y||-||-|
|11.||Leica S Typ 006||Y||-||-||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
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 S2 does not provide wifi capability.
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Leica S2 (unlike the TL2) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
The TL2 is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Leica. In contrast, the S2 has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the S2 was succeeded by the Leica S Typ 006. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Leica website.
So what is the bottom line? Is the Leica S2 better than the Leica TL2 or vice versa? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Arguments in favor of the Leica S2:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (37.5 vs 24.1MP) with a 25% higher linear resolution.
- Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
- Easier setting verification: Features an LCD display on top to control shooting parameters.
- Better sealing: Is weather sealed to enable shooting in dusty or wet environments.
- Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
- Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in September 2008).
Advantages of the Leica TL2:
- Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 4K/30p video.
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.7" vs 3.0") for image review and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1230k vs 460k dots).
- Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (7 vs 1.5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More compact: Is smaller (134x69mm vs 160x120mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 1011g or 72 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
- More legacy lens friendly: Can use many non-native lenses via adapters.
- Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (3.0 vs 2.0).
- Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
- Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-II standard.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (92 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 8 years and 9 months of technical progress since the S2 launch.
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the TL2 is the clear winner of the contest (14 : 7 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 wildlife photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a family photog, and a person interested in architecture has distinct needs from a sports 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 S2 and the Leica TL2 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera and Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera listings whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the S2 or the TL2 perform in practice. 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 why hands-on reviews by experts are important. 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 S2||..||..||..||..||..||Sep 2008||22,995|
|2.||Leica TL2||3.5/5||..||..||4/5||4/5||Jul 2017||1,950|
|3.||Canon 1Ds Mark III||..||..||+ +||4.5/5||..||Aug 2007||7,999|
|4.||Fujifilm X-T20||5/5||+ +||82/100||5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2017||899|
|5.||Fujifilm X-A3||..||..||74/100||4.5/5||4/5||Aug 2016||399|
|6.||Leica S3||..||..||..||..||..||Sep 2018||18,995|
|7.||Leica CL||..||..||..||..||4/5||Nov 2017||2,795|
|8.||Leica TL||..||..||..||..||4/5||Nov 2016||1,695|
|9.||Leica S-E Typ 006||..||..||..||..||..||Sep 2014||16,900|
|10.||Leica S Typ 007||4/5||..||..||..||..||Sep 2014||24,490|
|11.||Leica S Typ 006||..||..||..||..||..||Sep 2012||21,950|
|12.||Leica S1||..||..||..||..||..||Aug 1996||21,490|
|13.||Nikon D3400||4/5||+||76/100||4/5||4.5/5||Aug 2016||499|
|14.||Nikon D3S||5/5||..||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||Oct 2009||5,199|
|15.||Nikon D3X||..||..||86/100||4/5||5/5||Dec 2008||7,999|
|16.||Nikon D3||..||..||+ +||5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2007||4,999|
|17.||Pentax 645D||5/5||..||..||..||..||Mar 2010||9,995|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. 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. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.
Other camera comparisons
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Specifications: Leica S2 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 Model||Leica S2||Leica TL2|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Leica S mount lenses||Leica T mount lenses|
|Launch Date||September 2008||July 2017|
|Launch Price||USD 22,995||USD 1,950|
|Sensor Specs||Leica S2||Leica TL2|
|Sensor Format||Medium Format Sensor||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||45.0 x 30.0 mm||23.6 x 15.7 mm|
|Sensor Area||1350 mm2||370.52 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||54.1 mm||28.3 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||37.5 Megapixels||24.1 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||7500 x 5000 pixels||6014 x 4014 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||6.00 μm||3.92 μm|
|Pixel Density||2.78 MP/cm2||6.52 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter||no AA filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||80 - 1,250 ISO||100 - 50,000 ISO|
|Screen Specs||Leica S2||Leica TL2|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Viewfinder optional|
|Viewfinder Field of View||96%|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||no Top Display|
|LCD Framing||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.7inch|
|LCD Resolution||460k dots||1230k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Touch Input||no Touchscreen||Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Leica S2||Leica TL2|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||1.5 shutter flaps/s||7 shutter flaps/s|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||CF or SDHC cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Dual card slots||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||no||UHS-II|
|Connectivity Specs||Leica S2||Leica TL2|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||no PC Sync|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 3.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||micro HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||Wifi built-in|
|Body Specs||Leica S2||Leica TL2|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||not weather sealed|
|In-Camera Charging||no USB charging||USB charging|
160 x 120 x 80 mm
(6.3 x 4.7 x 3.1 in)
134 x 69 x 33 mm
(5.3 x 2.7 x 1.3 in)
|Camera Weight||1410 g (49.7 oz)||399 g (14.1 oz)|
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