Leica S2 vs Olympus XZ-1
The Leica S2 and the Olympus XZ-1 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in September 2008 and January 2011. The S2 is a DSLR, while the XZ-1 is a fixed lens compact. The cameras are based on a medium format (S2) and a 1/1.7-inch (XZ-1) sensor. The Leica has a resolution of 37.5 megapixels, whereas the Olympus provides 10.1 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 Olympus XZ-1? 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 Olympus XZ-1. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The XZ-1 can be obtained in two different colors (black, white), 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 Olympus XZ-1 is considerably smaller (62 percent) than the Leica S2. It is worth mentioning in this context that the S2 is splash and dust resistant, while the XZ-1 does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the XZ-1 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 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.||Olympus XZ-1||111 mm||65 mm||42 mm||275 g||320||n||Jan 2011||499|
|3.||Canon 1Ds Mark III||150 mm||160 mm||80 mm||1385 g||1800||Y||Aug 2007||7,999|
|4.||Leica S3||160 mm||120 mm||80 mm||1260 g||..||Y||Sep 2018||18,995|
|5.||Leica S-E Typ 006||160 mm||120 mm||80 mm||1260 g||..||Y||Sep 2014||16,900|
|6.||Leica S Typ 007||160 mm||120 mm||80 mm||1260 g||..||Y||Sep 2014||24,490|
|7.||Leica S Typ 006||160 mm||120 mm||80 mm||1260 g||..||Y||Sep 2012||21,950|
|8.||Leica S1||339 mm||214 mm||119 mm||2500 g||..||n||Aug 1996||21,490|
|9.||Nikon D3S||160 mm||157 mm||88 mm||1240 g||4200||Y||Oct 2009||5,199|
|10.||Nikon D3X||160 mm||157 mm||88 mm||1260 g||4400||Y||Dec 2008||7,999|
|11.||Nikon D3||160 mm||157 mm||88 mm||1300 g||4300||Y||Aug 2007||4,999|
|12.||Olympus XZ-2||113 mm||65 mm||48 mm||346 g||340||n||Sep 2012||599|
|13.||Olympus E-PL3||110 mm||64 mm||37 mm||313 g||300||n||Jun 2011||599|
|14.||Olympus E-PM1||110 mm||64 mm||34 mm||265 g||330||n||Jun 2011||499|
|15.||Olympus E-PL1||115 mm||72 mm||42 mm||334 g||290||n||Feb 2010||599|
|16.||Panasonic LX5||110 mm||65 mm||43 mm||271 g||400||n||Jul 2010||499|
|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 listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The XZ-1 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.
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 Olympus XZ-1 a 1/1.7-inch sensor. The sensor area in the XZ-1 is 97 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 0.8 and 4.4. The sensor in the S2 has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the XZ-1 offers a 4:3 aspect.
Technology-wise, both cameras are equipped with CCD (Charged Coupled Device) sensors.
With 37.5MP, the S2 offers a higher resolution than the XZ-1 (10.1MP), but the S2 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 6.00μm versus 2.13μm for the XZ-1) due to its larger sensor. However, the XZ-1 is a much more recent model (by 2 years and 3 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 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 Olympus XZ-1 are 18.3 x 13.8 inches or 46.5 x 35 cm for good quality, 14.7 x 11 inches or 37.2 x 28 cm for very good quality, and 12.2 x 9.2 inches or 31 x 23.3 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 Olympus XZ-1 are ISO 100 to ISO 6400 (no boost).
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. 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 adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-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|
|4.||Leica S3||Medium Format||64.0||9800||6533||4K/24p||..||..||..||..|
|5.||Leica S-E Typ 006||Medium Format||37.5||7500||5000||none||..||..||..||..|
|6.||Leica S Typ 007||Medium Format||37.5||7500||5000||4K/24p||..||..||..||..|
|7.||Leica S Typ 006||Medium Format||37.5||7500||5000||none||23.9||12.2||824||76|
|8.||Leica S1||Medium Format||26.4||5140||5140||none||..||..||..||..|
|9.||Nikon D3S||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||720/24p||23.5||12.0||3253||82|
|10.||Nikon D3X||Full Frame||24.4||6048||4032||none||24.7||13.7||1992||88|
|11.||Nikon D3||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||none||23.5||12.2||2290||81|
|13.||Olympus E-PL3||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||20.9||10.3||499||52|
|14.||Olympus E-PM1||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||21.0||10.3||499||52|
|15.||Olympus E-PL1||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.5||10.1||487||54|
|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 XZ-1 indeed provides for movie recording, while the S2 does not. The highest resolution format that the XZ-1 can use is 720/30p.
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 XZ-1 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. That said, the XZ-1 can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the VF-2. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Leica S2 and Olympus XZ-1 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|3.||Canon 1Ds Mark III||optical||Y||3.0||230||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||n|
|5.||Leica S-E Typ 006||optical||Y||3.0||922||fixed||n||1/4000s||1.5||n||n|
|6.||Leica S Typ 007||optical||Y||3.0||922||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.5||n||n|
|7.||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 XZ-1 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 Olympus XZ-1 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 XZ-1 uses SDXC cards. The S2 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the XZ-1 only has one slot.
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 Olympus XZ-1 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||-||-||-|
|5.||Leica S-E Typ 006||Y||-||-||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|6.||Leica S Typ 007||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||Y||-||-|
|7.||Leica S Typ 006||Y||-||-||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Leica S2 (unlike the XZ-1) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Both the S2 and the XZ-1 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The S2 was replaced by the Leica S Typ 006, while the XZ-1 was followed by the Olympus XZ-2. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Leica and Olympus websites.
So what conclusions can be drawn? Which of the two cameras – the Leica S2 or the Olympus XZ-1 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? 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 10.1MP) with a 97% higher linear resolution.
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- 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.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/4000s vs 1/2000s) to freeze action.
- 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 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).
Reasons to prefer the Olympus XZ-1:
- 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 720/30p video.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (614k vs 460k dots).
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (2 vs 1.5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- Ready to shoot: Comes with an integrated lens, while the S2 requires a separate lens.
- More compact: Is smaller (111x65mm 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.
- More affordable: Was introduced at a lower price, despite coming with a built-in lens.
- More modern: Reflects 2 years and 3 months of technical progress since the S2 launch.
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the S2 emerges as the winner of the contest (15 : 12 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 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 Olympus XZ-1 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera and Best Travel-Zoom Camera listings 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 XZ-1 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.||Olympus XZ-1||4/5||..||74/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2011||499|
|3.||Canon 1Ds Mark III||..||..||+ +||4.5/5||..||Aug 2007||7,999|
|4.||Leica S3||..||..||..||..||..||Sep 2018||18,995|
|5.||Leica S-E Typ 006||..||..||..||..||..||Sep 2014||16,900|
|6.||Leica S Typ 007||4/5||..||..||..||..||Sep 2014||24,490|
|7.||Leica S Typ 006||..||..||..||..||..||Sep 2012||21,950|
|8.||Leica S1||..||..||..||..||..||Aug 1996||21,490|
|9.||Nikon D3S||5/5||..||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||Oct 2009||5,199|
|10.||Nikon D3X||..||..||86/100||4/5||5/5||Dec 2008||7,999|
|11.||Nikon D3||..||..||+ +||5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2007||4,999|
|12.||Olympus XZ-2||4/5||+||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||599|
|13.||Olympus E-PL3||3/5||+ +||72/100||4.5/5||4/5||Jun 2011||599|
|14.||Olympus E-PM1||..||86/100||71/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2011||499|
|15.||Olympus E-PL1||..||86/100||69/100||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2010||599|
|16.||Panasonic LX5||4/5||+||73/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jul 2010||499|
|17.||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 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 Olympus XZ-1
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||Olympus XZ-1|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Fixed lens compact camera|
|Camera Lens||Leica S mount lenses||28-112mm f/1.8-2.5|
|Launch Date||September 2008||January 2011|
|Launch Price||USD 22,995||USD 499|
|Sensor Specs||Leica S2||Olympus XZ-1|
|Sensor Format||Medium Format Sensor||1/1.7" Sensor|
|Sensor Size||45.0 x 30.0 mm||7.85 x 5.89 mm|
|Sensor Area||1350 mm2||46.2365 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||54.1 mm||9.8 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||37.5 Megapixels||10.1 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||7500 x 5000 pixels||3664 x 2752 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||6.00 μm||2.13 μm|
|Pixel Density||2.78 MP/cm2||21.81 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||720/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||80 - 1,250 ISO||100 - 6,400 ISO|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||..||34|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||..||18.8|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||..||10.4|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||..||117|
|Screen Specs||Leica S2||Olympus XZ-1|
|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||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||460k dots||614k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Leica S2||Olympus XZ-1|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||1.5 shutter flaps/s||2 shutter flaps/s|
|Time-Lapse Photography||no Intervalometer||Intervalometer built-in|
|Image Stabilization||no shake reduction||In-body stabilization|
|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||Olympus XZ-1|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||no PC Sync|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Leica S2||Olympus XZ-1|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||not weather sealed|
160 x 120 x 80 mm
(6.3 x 4.7 x 3.1 in)
111 x 65 x 42 mm
(4.4 x 2.6 x 1.7 in)
|Camera Weight||1410 g (49.7 oz)||275 g (9.7 oz)|
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