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Leica S2 vs Nikon L840

The Leica S2 and the Nikon Coolpix L840 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in September 2008 and February 2015. The S2 is a DSLR, while the L840 is a fixed lens compact. The cameras are based on a medium format (S2) and a 1/2.3-inch (L840) sensor. The Leica has a resolution of 37.5 megapixels, whereas the Nikon provides 15.9 MP.

Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.

Headline Specifications
Leica S2
versus
Nikon L840
Leica S2   Nikon L840
Digital single lens reflex Fixed lens compact camera
Leica S mount lenses 22.5-855mm f/3.0-6.5
37.5 MP, Medium Format Sensor 15.9 MP, 1/2.3" Sensor
no Video 1080/60i Video
ISO 80-1,250 ISO 100-6,400
Optical viewfinder No viewfinder, LCD framing
3.0 LCD, 460k dots 3.0 LCD, 921k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Tilting screen (not touch-sensitive)
1.5 shutter flaps per second 7.4 shutter flaps per second
Weathersealed bodynot weather sealed
160 x 120 x 80 mm, 1410 g 113 x 78 x 96 mm, 538 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Leica S2 and the Nikon Coolpix L840? 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.

Body comparison

The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Leica S2 and the Nikon L840. 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 measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

The L840 can be obtained in two different colors (black, red), while the S2 is only available in black.

Size Leica S2 vs Nikon L840
Compare S2 versus L840 top
Comparison S2 or L840 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon L840 is considerably smaller (54 percent) than the Leica S2. It is worth mentioning in this context that the S2 is splash and dust resistant, while the L840 does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the L840 has a lens built in, whereas the S2 is an interchangeable lens camera that requires a separate lens. Attaching the latter will add extra weight and bulk to the setup.

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.

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Body Specifications
    Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
Weather
Sealing
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Leica S2 160 mm 120 mm 80 mm 1410 g .. Y Sep 2008 22,995i
2.
 
Nikon L840 113 mm 78 mm 96 mm 538 g 590 n Feb 2015 299i
3.
 
Canon SX530 120 mm 82 mm 92 mm 442 g 210 n Jan 2015 429i
4.
 
Canon SX60 128 mm 93 mm 114 mm 650 g 340 n Sep 2014 549i
5.
 
Canon 1Ds Mark III 150 mm 160 mm 80 mm 1385 g 1800 Y Aug 2007 7,999i
6.
 
Leica S3 160 mm 120 mm 80 mm 1260 g .. Y Sep 2018 18,995 i
7.
 
Leica S-E Typ 006 160 mm 120 mm 80 mm 1260 g .. Y Sep 2014 16,900i
8.
 
Leica S Typ 007 160 mm 120 mm 80 mm 1260 g .. Y Sep 2014 24,490i
9.
 
Leica S Typ 006 160 mm 120 mm 80 mm 1260 g .. Y Sep 2012 21,950i
10.
 
Leica S1 339 mm 214 mm 119 mm 2500 g .. n Aug 1996 21,490i
11.
 
Nikon B600 122 mm 82 mm 99 mm 500 g 280 n Jan 2019 349 i
12.
 
Nikon B500 114 mm 78 mm 95 mm 541 g 600 n Jan 2016 299i
13.
 
Nikon P900 140 mm 103 mm 137 mm 899 g 360 n Mar 2015 599i
14.
 
Nikon D3S 160 mm 157 mm 88 mm 1240 g 4200 Y Oct 2009 5,199i
15.
 
Nikon D3X 160 mm 157 mm 88 mm 1260 g 4400 Y Dec 2008 7,999i
16.
 
Nikon D3 160 mm 157 mm 88 mm 1300 g 4300 Y Aug 2007 4,999i
17.
 
Pentax 645D 156 mm 117 mm 119 mm 1480 g 800 Y Mar 2010 9,995i
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 listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The L840 was launched at a lower price than the S2, despite having a lens built in. 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.

Sensor comparison

The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants 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 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 L840 a 1/2.3-inch sensor. The sensor area in the L840 is 98 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 0.8 and 5.6. The sensor in the S2 has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the L840 offers a 4:3 aspect.

Leica S2 and Nikon L840 sensor measures

With 37.5MP, the S2 offers a higher resolution than the L840 (15.9MP), but the S2 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 6.00μm versus 1.33μm for the L840) due to its larger sensor. However, the L840 is a much more recent model (by 6 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 L840 are 23 x 17.3 inches or 58.5 x 43.9 cm for good quality, 18.4 x 13.8 inches or 46.8 x 35.1 cm for very good quality, and 15.4 x 11.5 inches or 39 x 29.3 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 Coolpix L840 are ISO 100 to ISO 6400 (no boost).

S2 versus L840 MP

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many 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 table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.

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Sensor Characteristics
    Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
1.
 
Leica S2 Medium Format 37.5 7500 5000none........
2.
 
Nikon L840 1/2.3 15.9 4608 34561080/60i........
3.
 
Canon SX530 1/2.3 15.9 4608 34561080/30p........
4.
 
Canon SX60 1/2.3 14.2 4608 30721080/60p19.210.812739
5.
 
Canon 1Ds Mark III Full Frame 21.0 5616 3744none24.012.0166380
6.
 
Leica S3 Medium Format 64.0 9800 65334K/24p........
7.
 
Leica S-E Typ 006 Medium Format 37.5 7500 5000none........
8.
 
Leica S Typ 007 Medium Format 37.5 7500 50004K/24p........
9.
 
Leica S Typ 006 Medium Format 37.5 7500 5000none23.912.282476
10.
 
Leica S1 Medium Format 26.4 5140 5140none........
11.
 
Nikon B600 1/2.3 15.9 4608 34561080/30p........
12.
 
Nikon B500 1/2.3 15.9 4608 34561080/60i........
13.
 
Nikon P900 1/2.3 15.9 4608 34561080/60p........
14.
 
Nikon D3S Full Frame 12.1 4256 2832720/24p23.512.0325382
15.
 
Nikon D3X Full Frame 24.4 6048 4032none24.713.7199288
16.
 
Nikon D3 Full Frame 12.1 4256 2832none23.512.2229081
17.
 
Pentax 645D Medium Format 39.5 7264 5440none24.612.6126282

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The L840 indeed provides for movie recording, while the S2 does not. The highest resolution format that the L840 can use is 1080/60i.

Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the S2 has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the L840 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Leica S2 and Nikon L840 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.

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Core Features
    Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Specifications
(inch/000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Mech
Shutter
Speed
Shutter
Flaps
(1/sec)
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
1.
 
Leica S2optical Y3.0 / 460 fixed n 1/4000s 1.5 n n
2.
 
Nikon L840none n3.0 / 921 tilting n 1/4000s 7.4 Y Y
3.
 
Canon SX530none n3.0 / 461 fixed n 1/2000s 1.6 Y Y
4.
 
Canon SX60922 n3.0 / 922 swivel n 1/2000s 6.4 Y Y
5.
 
Canon 1Ds Mark IIIoptical Y3.0 / 230 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 n n
6.
 
Leica S3optical Y3.0 / 922 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 n n
7.
 
Leica S-E Typ 006optical Y3.0 / 922 fixed n 1/4000s 1.5 n n
8.
 
Leica S Typ 007optical Y3.0 / 922 fixed n 1/4000s 3.5 n n
9.
 
Leica S Typ 006optical Y3.0 / 922 fixed n 1/4000s 1.5 n n
10.
 
Leica S1optical nnone / none none n .. 0.01 n n
11.
 
Nikon B600none n3.0 / 921 fixed n 1/4000s 7.4 Y Y
12.
 
Nikon B500none n3.0 / 921 tilting n 1/4000s 7.4 Y Y
13.
 
Nikon P900921 n3.0 / 921 swivel n 1/4000s 7.0 Y Y
14.
 
Nikon D3Soptical Y3.0 / 921 fixed n 1/8000s 11.0 n n
15.
 
Nikon D3Xoptical Y3.0 / 922 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 n n
16.
 
Nikon D3optical Y3.0 / 922 fixed n 1/8000s 11.0 n n
17.
 
Pentax 645Doptical Y3.0 / 921 fixed n 1/4000s 1.1 n n

One feature that is present on the S2, but is missing on the L840 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 L840 uses SDXC cards. The S2 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the L840 only has one slot.

Connectivity comparison

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 Coolpix L840 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.

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Input-Output Connections
    Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Mic / Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
1.
 
Leica S2Y- / ---mini2.0---
2.
 
Nikon L840-stereo / mono--micro2.0YY-
3.
 
Canon SX530-stereo / mono--mini2.0YY-
4.
 
Canon SX60Ystereo / monoY-mini2.0YY-
5.
 
Canon 1Ds Mark IIIYmono / ----2.0---
6.
 
Leica S3Ystereo / monoYYmini3.0Y--
7.
 
Leica S-E Typ 006Y- / ---mini2.0---
8.
 
Leica S Typ 007Ystereo / monoYYmini3.0Y--
9.
 
Leica S Typ 006Y- / ---mini2.0---
10.
 
Leica S1-- / --------
11.
 
Nikon B600-stereo / mono--micro2.0Y-Y
12.
 
Nikon B500-stereo / mono--micro2.0YYY
13.
 
Nikon P900-stereo / mono--micro2.0YY-
14.
 
Nikon D3SYstereo / ---mini2.0---
15.
 
Nikon D3XY- / ---mini2.0---
16.
 
Nikon D3Y- / ---mini2.0---
17.
 
Pentax 645DYstereo / ----2.0---

It is notable that the S2 has a hotshoe, while the L840 does not. This socket makes it possible to easily attach optional accessories, such as an external flash gun.

Studio photographers will appreciate that the Leica S2 (unlike the L840) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.

Both the S2 and the L840 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The S2 was replaced by the Leica S Typ 006, while the L840 was followed by the Nikon B500. 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.

Review summary

So how do things add up? Is the Leica S2 better than the Nikon L840 or vice versa? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.

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Reasons to prefer the Leica S2:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (37.5 vs 15.9MP) with a 56% higher linear resolution.
  • Better image quality: Features bigger pixels on a larger sensor for higher quality imaging.
  • Richer colors: The pixel size advantage translates into images with better, more accurate colors.
  • More dynamic range: Larger pixels capture a wider spectrum of light and dark details.
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Larger pixels means good image quality even under poor lighting.
  • 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.
  • More flexible: Can take a variety of interchangeable lenses, including specialty optics.
  • Better sealing: Is weather sealed to enable shooting in dusty or wet environments.
  • Better lighting: Features a hotshoe and can thus hold and trigger an external flash gun.
  • 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 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).

ilogo

Advantages of the Nikon Coolpix L840:

  • Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 1080/60i video.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (921k vs 460k dots).
  • More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (7.4 vs 1.5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Ready to shoot: Comes with an integrated lens, while the S2 requires a separate lens.
  • More compact: Is smaller (113x78mm vs 160x120mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight even though it has a lens built in (unlike the S2).
  • Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
  • Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
  • Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
  • Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
  • More affordable: Was introduced at a lower price, despite coming with a built-in lens.
  • More modern: Reflects 6 years and 4 months of technical progress since the S2 launch.

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the S2 comes out slightly ahead of the L840 (14 : 13 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 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.

S2 14:13 L840

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Leica S2 and the Nikon L840 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera and Best Superzoom 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 L840 perform in practice. 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.

Expert reviews

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], 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.

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Expert Camera Reviews
     Camera 
 Model 
 AP 
 score 
 CL 
 score 
 DCW 
 score 
 DPR 
 score 
 EPZ 
 score 
 PB 
 score 
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Leica S2............ Sep 2008 22,995i
2.
 
Nikon L840..+ +....3.5/54/5 Feb 2015 299i
3.
 
Canon SX530..+ +....4/54/5 Jan 2015 429i
4.
 
Canon SX603/5+ +..75/1004/54.5/5 Sep 2014 549i
5.
 
Canon 1Ds Mark III......+ +4.5/5.. Aug 2007 7,999i
6.
 
Leica S3............ Sep 2018 18,995 i
7.
 
Leica S-E Typ 006............ Sep 2014 16,900i
8.
 
Leica S Typ 0074/5.......... Sep 2014 24,490i
9.
 
Leica S Typ 006............ Sep 2012 21,950i
10.
 
Leica S1............ Aug 1996 21,490i
11.
 
Nikon B600..+....3.5/53/5 Jan 2019 349 i
12.
 
Nikon B500..+....4/53.5/5 Jan 2016 299i
13.
 
Nikon P900......77/1004/54/5 Mar 2015 599i
14.
 
Nikon D3S5/5....89/1004.5/55/5 Oct 2009 5,199i
15.
 
Nikon D3X......86/1004/55/5 Dec 2008 7,999i
16.
 
Nikon D3......+ +5/54.5/5 Aug 2007 4,999i
17.
 
Pentax 645D5/5.......... Mar 2010 9,995i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

The above review scores should be interpreted 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 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.

Leica S2:
Check Ebay offers
Nikon L840:
Check Ebay offers

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.

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    Specifications: Leica S2 vs Nikon L840

    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 Specifications
    Camera Model Leica S2 Nikon L840
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Fixed lens compact camera
    Camera Lens Leica S mount lenses 22.5-855mm f/3.0-6.5
    Launch Date September 2008 February 2015
    Launch Price USD 22,995 USD 299
    Sensor Specs Leica S2 Nikon L840
    Sensor Technology CCD CMOS
    Sensor Format Medium Format Sensor 1/2.3" Sensor
    Sensor Size 45.0 x 30.0 mm 6.17 x 4.55 mm
    Sensor Area 1350 mm2 28.0735 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 54.1 mm 7.7 mm
    Crop Factor 0.8x 5.6x
    Sensor Resolution 37.5 Megapixels 15.9 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 7500 x 5000 pixels 4608 x 3456 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 6.00 μm 1.33 μm
    Pixel Density 2.78 MP/cm2 56.73 MP/cm2
    Moiré control no AA filter no AA filter
    Movie Capability no Video 1080/60i Video
    ISO Setting 80 - 1,250 ISO 100 - 6,400 ISO
    Screen Specs Leica S2 Nikon L840
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder no viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 96%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.86x
    Top-Level Screen Control Panel no Top Display
    LCD Framing Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.0inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 460k dots 921k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Tilting screen
    Shooting Specs Leica S2 Nikon L840
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Contrast-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 1.5 shutter flaps/s 7.4 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash no On-Board Flash Built-in Flash
    Storage Medium CF or SDHC cards SDXC cards
    Second Storage Option Dual card slots Single card slot
    UHS card support no no
    Connectivity Specs Leica S2 Nikon L840
    External Flash Hotshoe no Hotshoe
    Studio Flash PC Sync socket no PC Sync
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port mini HDMI micro HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi Wifi built-in
    Near-Field Communication no NFC NFC built-in
    Body Specs Leica S2 Nikon L840
    Environmental SealingWeathersealed bodynot weather sealed
    Battery Type BP-PRO1 4xAA
    Body Dimensions 160 x 120 x 80 mm
    (6.3 x 4.7 x 3.1 in)
    113 x 78 x 96 mm
    (4.4 x 3.1 x 3.8 in)
    Camera Weight 1410 g (49.7 oz) 538 g (19.0 oz)

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