Leica S2 vs Nikon D610
The Leica S2 and the Nikon D610 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in September 2008 and October 2013. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on a medium format (S2) and a full frame (D610) sensor. The Leica has a resolution of 37.5 megapixels, whereas the Nikon provides 24.2 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 Nikon D610? 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 Nikon D610. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon D610 is notably smaller (17 percent) than the Leica S2. Moreover, the D610 is substantially lighter (40 percent) than the S2. In this context, it is worth noting that both cameras are splash and dust-proof and can, hence, be used in inclement weather conditions or harsh environments.
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 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.||Nikon D610||141 mm||113 mm||82 mm||850 g||900||Y||Oct 2013||1,999|
|3.||Canon 6D||145 mm||111 mm||71 mm||770 g||1090||Y||Sep 2012||2,099|
|4.||Canon 1Ds Mark III||150 mm||160 mm||80 mm||1385 g||1800||Y||Aug 2007||7,999|
|5.||Leica S3||160 mm||120 mm||80 mm||1260 g||..||Y||Sep 2018||18,995|
|6.||Leica S-E Typ 006||160 mm||120 mm||80 mm||1260 g||..||Y||Sep 2014||16,900|
|7.||Leica S Typ 007||160 mm||120 mm||80 mm||1260 g||..||Y||Sep 2014||24,490|
|8.||Leica S Typ 006||160 mm||120 mm||80 mm||1260 g||..||Y||Sep 2012||21,950|
|9.||Leica S1||339 mm||214 mm||119 mm||2500 g||..||n||Aug 1996||21,490|
|10.||Nikon D750||141 mm||113 mm||78 mm||750 g||1230||Y||Sep 2014||2,299|
|11.||Nikon D810||146 mm||123 mm||82 mm||980 g||1200||Y||Jun 2014||3,299|
|12.||Nikon Df||144 mm||110 mm||67 mm||760 g||1400||Y||Nov 2013||2,749|
|13.||Nikon D600||141 mm||113 mm||82 mm||850 g||900||Y||Sep 2012||2,099|
|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|
|Note: 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 D610 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 91 percent) than the S2, 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.
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. 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 more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Leica S2 features a medium format sensor and the Nikon D610 a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the D610 is 36 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 0.8 and 1.0. 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 D610 (24.2MP), but the S2 nevertheless has marginally larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 6.00μm versus 5.97μm for the D610) due to its larger sensor. However, the D610 is a much more recent model (by 5 years) 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 the S2 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its 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 Nikon D610 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 20.1 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 Nikon D610 are ISO 100 to ISO 6400, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 50-25600.
For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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.
|1.||Leica S2||Medium Format||37.5||7500||5000||none||23.9||12.5||2224||82|
|2.||Nikon D610||Full Frame||24.2||6016||4016||1080/30p||25.1||14.4||2925||94|
|3.||Canon 6D||Full Frame||20.0||5472||3648||1080/30p||23.8||12.1||2340||82|
|4.||Canon 1Ds Mark III||Full Frame||21.0||5616||3744||none||24.0||12.0||1663||80|
|5.||Leica S3||Medium Format||64.0||9800||6533||4K/24p||25.6||14.4||3143||98|
|6.||Leica S-E Typ 006||Medium Format||37.5||7500||5000||none||25.1||13.7||2763||93|
|7.||Leica S Typ 007||Medium Format||37.5||7500||5000||4K/24p||25.1||13.7||2763||93|
|8.||Leica S Typ 006||Medium Format||37.5||7500||5000||none||23.9||12.2||824||76|
|9.||Leica S1||Medium Format||26.4||5140||5140||none||..||..||..||..|
|10.||Nikon D750||Full Frame||24.2||6016||4016||1080/60p||24.8||14.5||2956||93|
|11.||Nikon D810||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/60p||25.7||14.8||2853||97|
|12.||Nikon Df||Full Frame||16.2||4928||3280||none||24.6||13.1||3279||89|
|13.||Nikon D600||Full Frame||24.2||6016||4016||1080/30p||25.1||14.2||2980||94|
|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|
|Note: DXO values in italics represent estimates based on sensor size and age.|
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The D610 indeed provides for movie recording, while the S2 does not. The highest resolution format that the D610 can use is 1080/30p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The S2 and the D610 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 viewfinder in the D610 offers a wider field of view (100%) than the one in the S2 (96%), so that a larger proportion of the captured image is visible in the finder. On the other hand, the viewfinder of the S2 has a higher magnification (0.86x vs 0.70x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Leica S2 and Nikon D610 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|1.||Leica S2||optical||Y||3.0 / 460||fixed||n||1/4000s||1.5/s||n||n|
|2.||Nikon D610||optical||Y||3.2 / 921||fixed||n||1/4000s||6.0/s||Y||n|
|3.||Canon 6D||optical||Y||3.0 / 1040||fixed||n||1/4000s||4.5/s||n||n|
|4.||Canon 1Ds Mark III||optical||Y||3.0 / 230||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0/s||n||n|
|5.||Leica S3||optical||Y||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||n||n|
|6.||Leica S-E Typ 006||optical||Y||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/4000s||1.5/s||n||n|
|7.||Leica S Typ 007||optical||Y||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.5/s||n||n|
|8.||Leica S Typ 006||optical||Y||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/4000s||1.5/s||n||n|
|9.||Leica S1||optical||n||none / none||none||n||..||0.01/s||n||n|
|10.||Nikon D750||optical||Y||3.2 / 1229||tilting||n||1/4000s||6.0/s||Y||n|
|11.||Nikon D810||optical||Y||3.2 / 1229||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0/s||Y||n|
|12.||Nikon Df||optical||Y||3.2 / 921||fixed||n||1/4000s||5.5/s||n||n|
|13.||Nikon D600||optical||Y||3.0 / 921||fixed||n||1/4000s||5.5/s||Y||n|
|14.||Nikon D3S||optical||Y||3.0 / 921||fixed||n||1/8000s||11.0/s||n||n|
|15.||Nikon D3X||optical||Y||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0/s||n||n|
|16.||Nikon D3||optical||Y||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/8000s||11.0/s||n||n|
|17.||Pentax 645D||optical||Y||3.0 / 921||fixed||n||1/4000s||1.1/s||n||n|
|Notes: *) Information refers to the mechanical shutter, unless the camera only has an electronic one.|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The D610 has one, while the S2 does not. While the built-in flash of the D610 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.
The Nikon D610 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 S2 writes its imaging data to Compact Flash or SDHC cards, while the D610 uses SDXC cards. Both cameras feature dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. The D610 supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 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 Nikon D610 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.||Nikon D610||Y||mono / mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|3.||Canon 6D||Y||mono / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||-||-|
|4.||Canon 1Ds Mark III||Y||mono / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|5.||Leica S3||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||Y||-||-|
|6.||Leica S-E Typ 006||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|7.||Leica S Typ 007||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||Y||-||-|
|8.||Leica S Typ 006||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|9.||Leica S1||-||- / -||-||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|10.||Nikon D750||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||Y||-||-|
|11.||Nikon D810||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||Y||-||-|
|12.||Nikon Df||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|13.||Nikon D600||Y||mono / mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|14.||Nikon D3S||Y||stereo / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|15.||Nikon D3X||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|16.||Nikon D3||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|17.||Pentax 645D||Y||stereo / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
Both cameras feature a PC Sync terminal to control professional strobe lights, which will be appreciated by studio photographers.
The D610 is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Nikon. 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 and Nikon websites.
So how do things add up? Is there a clear favorite between the Leica S2 and the Nikon D610? Which camera is better? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Advantages of the Leica S2:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (37.5 vs 24.2MP) with a 25% higher linear resolution.
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.86x vs 0.70x).
- More prestigious: Has the Leica luxury appeal, which ensures a high resale price.
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in September 2008).
Arguments in favor of the Nikon D610:
- 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.
- More complete view: Has a viewfinder with a larger field of view (100% vs 96%).
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.2" vs 3.0") for image review and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (921k vs 460k dots).
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (6 vs 1.5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- More compact: Is smaller (141x113mm vs 160x120mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 560g or 40 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
- Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (91 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 5 years of technical progress since the S2 launch.
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the D610 is the clear winner of the contest (13 : 5 points). However, the pertinence of the various camera strengths will differ across photographers, so that you might want to weigh individual camera traits according to their importance for your own imaging needs before making a camera decision. 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 Nikon D610 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera listing 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 says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the S2 and the D610 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 why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], digitalcameraworld [DCW], 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.||Nikon D610||4/5||+ +||..||87/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2013||1,999|
|3.||Canon 6D||5/5||+ +||..||83/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||2,099|
|4.||Canon 1Ds Mark III||..||..||..||+ +||4.5/5||..||Aug 2007||7,999|
|5.||Leica S3||..||..||..||..||..||..||Sep 2018||18,995|
|6.||Leica S-E Typ 006||..||..||..||..||..||..||Sep 2014||16,900|
|7.||Leica S Typ 007||4/5||..||..||..||..||..||Sep 2014||24,490|
|8.||Leica S Typ 006||..||..||..||..||..||..||Sep 2012||21,950|
|9.||Leica S1||..||..||..||..||..||..||Aug 1996||21,490|
|10.||Nikon D750||5/5||+ +||4/5||90/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2014||2,299|
|11.||Nikon D810||5/5||..||5/5||86/100||5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2014||3,299|
|12.||Nikon Df||4/5||..||..||81/100||4/5||4/5||Nov 2013||2,749|
|13.||Nikon D600||4/5||+ +||..||87/100||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||2,099|
|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 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 rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just make your choice using the following search menu. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.
Specifications: Leica S2 vs Nikon D610
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||Nikon D610|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Leica S mount lenses||Nikon F mount lenses|
|Launch Date||September 2008||October 2013|
|Launch Price||USD 22,995||USD 1,999|
|Sensor Specs||Leica S2||Nikon D610|
|Sensor Format||Medium Format Sensor||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||45.0 x 30.0 mm||35.9 x 24.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||1350 mm2||861.6 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||54.1 mm||43.2 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||37.5 Megapixels||24.2 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||7500 x 5000 pixels||6016 x 4016 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||6.00 μm||5.97 μm|
|Pixel Density||2.78 MP/cm2||2.80 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||1080/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||80 - 1,250 ISO||100 - 6,400 ISO|
|ISO Boost||no Enhancement||50 - 25,600 ISO|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||..||94|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||..||25.1|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||..||14.4|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||..||2925|
|Screen Specs||Leica S2||Nikon D610|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||96%||100%|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||Control Panel|
|LCD Framing||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.2inch|
|LCD Resolution||460k dots||921k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Leica S2||Nikon D610|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||1.5 shutter flaps/s||6 shutter flaps/s|
|Time-Lapse Photography||no Intervalometer||Intervalometer built-in|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||Built-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||CF or SDHC cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Dual card slots||Dual card slots|
|UHS card support||no||UHS-I|
|Connectivity Specs||Leica S2||Nikon D610|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Microphone Port||no MIC socket||External MIC port|
|Headphone Socket||no Headphone port||Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Leica S2||Nikon D610|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||Weathersealed body|
160 x 120 x 80 mm
(6.3 x 4.7 x 3.1 in)
141 x 113 x 82 mm
(5.6 x 4.4 x 3.2 in)
|Camera Weight||1410 g (49.7 oz)||850 g (30.0 oz)|
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