Leica S2 vs Nikon D7100
The Leica S2 and the Nikon D7100 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in September 2008 and February 2013. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on a medium format (S2) and an APS-C (D7100) sensor. The Leica has a resolution of 37.5 megapixels, whereas the Nikon provides 24 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 D7100? 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 S2 and the Nikon D7100 is provided in the side-by-side display below. 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 D7100 is notably smaller (24 percent) than the Leica S2. Moreover, the D7100 is substantially lighter (46 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 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.
|1.||Leica S2||160 mm||120 mm||80 mm||1410 g||..||Y||Sep 2008||22,995|
|2.||Nikon D7100||136 mm||107 mm||76 mm||765 g||950||Y||Feb 2013||1,199|
|3.||Canon 70D||139 mm||104 mm||79 mm||755 g||920||Y||Jul 2013||1,199|
|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 D7500||136 mm||104 mm||73 mm||720 g||950||Y||Apr 2017||1,299|
|11.||Nikon D7200||136 mm||107 mm||76 mm||765 g||1110||Y||Mar 2015||1,199|
|12.||Nikon D3300||124 mm||98 mm||76 mm||430 g||700||n||Jan 2014||499|
|13.||Nikon D7000||132 mm||105 mm||77 mm||780 g||1050||Y||Sep 2010||1,499|
|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 obviously take relative prices into account. 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 D7100 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 95 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 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 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 D7100 an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the D7100 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 D7100 (24MP), but the S2 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 6.00μm versus 3.91μm for the D7100) due to its larger sensor. However, the D7100 is a much more recent model (by 4 years and 4 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 Nikon D7100 are 30 x 20 inches or 76.2 x 50.8 cm for good quality, 24 x 16 inches or 61 x 40.6 cm for very good quality, and 20 x 13.3 inches or 50.8 x 33.9 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 D7100 are ISO 100 to ISO 6400, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 50-25600.
Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. 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 comparators.
| DXO |
|1.||Leica S2||Medium Format||37.5||7500||5000||none||..||..||..||..|
|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||..||..||..||..|
|6.||Leica S-E Typ 006||Medium Format||37.5||7500||5000||none||..||..||..||..|
|7.||Leica S Typ 007||Medium Format||37.5||7500||5000||4K/24p||..||..||..||..|
|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||..||..||..||..|
|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 D7100 indeed provides for movie recording, while the S2 does not. The highest resolution format that the D7100 can use is 1080/60p.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The S2 and the D7100 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 D7100 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 0.63x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Leica S2, the Nikon D7100, and comparable cameras.
|4.||Canon 1Ds Mark III||optical||Y||3.0||230||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||n|
|6.||Leica S-E Typ 006||optical||Y||3.0||922||fixed||n||1/4000s||1.5||n||n|
|7.||Leica S Typ 007||optical||Y||3.0||922||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.5||n||n|
|8.||Leica S Typ 006||optical||Y||3.0||922||fixed||n||1/4000s||1.5||n||n|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The D7100 has one, while the S2 does not. While the built-in flash of the D7100 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.
The Nikon D7100 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 D7100 uses SDXC cards. Both cameras feature dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. The D7100 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 D7100 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|4.||Canon 1Ds Mark III||Y||mono||-||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|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||-||-||-|
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Leica S2 (unlike the D7100) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Both the S2 and the D7100 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The S2 was replaced by the Leica S Typ 006, while the D7100 was followed by the Nikon D7200. 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 is the bottom line? Is the Leica S2 better than the Nikon D7100 or vice versa? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Reasons to prefer the Leica S2:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (37.5 vs 24MP) with a 25% higher linear resolution.
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.86x vs 0.63x).
- Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
- 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 D7100:
- Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 1080/60p 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 (1229k vs 460k dots).
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- 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 (136x107mm vs 160x120mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 645g or 46 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 (95 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 4 years and 4 months of technical progress since the S2 launch.
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the D7100 is the clear winner of the contest (13 : 5 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 wedding photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a travel photog, and a person interested in cityscapes has distinct needs from a macro 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 D7100 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 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 S2 and the D7100 in practical situations. 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.
This is why expert reviews 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.||Nikon D7100||5/5||+ +||85/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2013||1,199|
|3.||Canon 70D||5/5||+ +||83/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jul 2013||1,199|
|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 D7500||4.5/5||+ +||86/100||5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2017||1,299|
|11.||Nikon D7200||4/5||+ +||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2015||1,199|
|12.||Nikon D3300||3/5||+||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2014||499|
|13.||Nikon D7000||4/5||..||80/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2010||1,499|
|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 above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. 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. 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? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just use the search menu below. 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 D7100
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 D7100|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Leica S mount lenses||Nikon F mount lenses|
|Launch Date||September 2008||February 2013|
|Launch Price||USD 22,995||USD 1,199|
|Sensor Specs||Leica S2||Nikon D7100|
|Sensor Format||Medium Format Sensor||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||45.0 x 30.0 mm||23.5 x 15.6 mm|
|Sensor Area||1350 mm2||366.6 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||54.1 mm||28.2 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||37.5 Megapixels||24 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||7500 x 5000 pixels||6000 x 4000 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||6.00 μm||3.91 μm|
|Pixel Density||2.78 MP/cm2||6.55 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter||no AA filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||1080/60p Video|
|ISO Setting||80 - 1,250 ISO||100 - 6,400 ISO|
|ISO Boost||no Enhancement||50 - 25,600 ISO|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||..||83|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||..||24.2|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||..||13.7|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||..||1256|
|Screen Specs||Leica S2||Nikon D7100|
|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||1229k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Leica S2||Nikon D7100|
|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||Build-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 D7100|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||no PC Sync|
|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 D7100|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||Weathersealed body|
160 x 120 x 80 mm
(6.3 x 4.7 x 3.1 in)
136 x 107 x 76 mm
(5.4 x 4.2 x 3.0 in)
|Camera Weight||1410 g (49.7 oz)||765 g (27.0 oz)|
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