Leica S2 vs Pentax 645Z
The Leica S2 and the Pentax 645Z are two professional cameras that were announced, respectively, in September 2008 and April 2014. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with a medium format sensor. The Leica has a resolution of 37.5 megapixels, whereas the Pentax provides 51.1 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 Pentax 645Z? 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 physical size and weight of the Leica S2 and the Pentax 645Z are illustrated 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 measures 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 Pentax 645Z is notably smaller (5 percent) than the Leica S2. However, the 645Z is markedly heavier (10 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 table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. 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.||Pentax 645Z||156 mm||117 mm||123 mm||1550 g||650||Y||Apr 2014||8,499|
|3.||Canon 5DS||152 mm||116 mm||76 mm||930 g||700||Y||Feb 2015||3,699|
|4.||Canon 5DS R||152 mm||116 mm||76 mm||930 g||700||Y||Feb 2015||3,699|
|5.||Canon 1Ds Mark III||150 mm||160 mm||80 mm||1385 g||1800||Y||Aug 2007||7,999|
|6.||Hasselblad X1D||150 mm||98 mm||71 mm||725 g||..||Y||Jun 2016||8,995|
|7.||Leica S3||160 mm||120 mm||80 mm||1260 g||..||Y||Sep 2018||18,995|
|8.||Leica SL||147 mm||104 mm||39 mm||847 g||400||Y||Oct 2015||7,450|
|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 D3S||160 mm||157 mm||88 mm||1240 g||4200||Y||Oct 2009||5,199|
|14.||Nikon D3X||160 mm||157 mm||88 mm||1260 g||4400||Y||Dec 2008||7,999|
|15.||Nikon D3||160 mm||157 mm||88 mm||1300 g||4300||Y||Aug 2007||4,999|
|16.||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 manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. The 645Z was launched at a markedly lower price (by 63 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. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.
The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants 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. 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.
Both cameras under consideration feature a medium format sensor, but their sensors differ slightly in size. The sensor area in the 645Z is 6 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have format factors, respectively, of 0.8 (S2) and 0.79. The sensor in the S2 has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the 645Z offers a 4:3 aspect.
With 51.1MP, the 645Z offers a higher resolution than the S2 (37.5MP), but the 645Z has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 5.30μm versus 6.00μm for the S2). Yet, the 645Z is a much more recent model (by 5 years and 6 months) than the S2, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units. 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 Pentax 645Z implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the 645Z for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 41.3 x 31 inches or 104.9 x 78.6 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 33 x 24.8 inches or 83.9 x 62.9 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 27.5 x 20.6 inches or 69.9 x 52.4 cm. The corresponding values for the Leica S2 are 37.5 x 25 inches or 95.3 x 63.5 cm for good quality, 30 x 20 inches or 76.2 x 50.8 cm for very good quality, and 25 x 16.7 inches or 63.5 x 42.3 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 Pentax 645Z are ISO 100 to ISO 204800 (no boost).
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 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||..||..||..||..|
|2.||Pentax 645Z||Medium Format||51.1||8256||6192||1080/60i||26.0||14.7||4505||101|
|3.||Canon 5DS||Full Frame||50.3||8688||5792||1080/30p||24.7||12.4||2381||87|
|4.||Canon 5DS R||Full Frame||50.3||8688||5792||1080/30p||24.6||12.4||2308||86|
|5.||Canon 1Ds Mark III||Full Frame||21.0||5616||3744||none||24.0||12.0||1663||80|
|6.||Hasselblad X1D||Medium Format||51.3||8272||6200||1080/25p||26.2||14.8||4489||102|
|7.||Leica S3||Medium Format||64.0||9800||6533||4K/24p||..||..||..||..|
|8.||Leica SL||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||25.0||13.4||1821||88|
|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||..||..||..||..|
|13.||Nikon D3S||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||720/24p||23.5||12.0||3253||82|
|14.||Nikon D3X||Full Frame||24.4||6048||4032||none||24.7||13.7||1992||88|
|15.||Nikon D3||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||none||23.5||12.2||2290||81|
|16.||Pentax 645D||Medium Format||39.5||7264||5440||none||24.6||12.6||1262||82|
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The 645Z indeed provides for movie recording, while the S2 does not. The highest resolution format that the 645Z can use is 1080/60i.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The S2 and the 645Z 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 645Z offers a wider field of view (98%) 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 0.78x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Leica S2 and Pentax 645Z in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|4.||Canon 5DS R||optical||Y||3.2||1040||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||n|
|5.||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|
The Pentax 645Z 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 645Z uses SDXC cards. Both cameras feature dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. The 645Z 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 Pentax 645Z and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|4.||Canon 5DS R||Y||mono||mono||Y||-||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
|5.||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||-||-||-|
Both cameras feature a PC Sync terminal to control professional strobe lights, which will be appreciated by studio photographers.
The 645Z is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Pentax. 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 Pentax websites.
So what conclusions can be drawn? Which of the two cameras – the Leica S2 or the Pentax 645Z – 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.
Reasons to prefer the Leica S2:
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.86x vs 0.78x).
- 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).
Advantages of the Pentax 645Z:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (51.1 vs 37.5MP), which boosts linear resolution by 14%.
- Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 1080/60i video.
- More complete view: Has a viewfinder with a larger field of view (98% 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 (1037k vs 460k dots).
- More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (3 vs 1.5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (3.0 vs 2.0).
- Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (63 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 5 years and 6 months of technical progress since the S2 launch.
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the 645Z is the clear winner of the contest (12 : 3 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 Pentax 645Z 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 remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the S2 or the 645Z 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.
This is where reviews by experts come in. 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.||Pentax 645Z||5/5||..||..||4.5/5||5/5||Apr 2014||8,499|
|3.||Canon 5DS||..||+||83/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||3,699|
|4.||Canon 5DS R||5/5||+||83/100||5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||3,699|
|5.||Canon 1Ds Mark III||..||..||+ +||4.5/5||..||Aug 2007||7,999|
|6.||Hasselblad X1D||..||o||81/100||..||4/5||Jun 2016||8,995|
|7.||Leica S3||..||..||..||..||..||Sep 2018||18,995|
|8.||Leica SL||4/5||..||84/100||4.5/5||4/5||Oct 2015||7,450|
|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 D3S||5/5||..||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||Oct 2009||5,199|
|14.||Nikon D3X||..||..||86/100||4/5||5/5||Dec 2008||7,999|
|15.||Nikon D3||..||..||+ +||5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2007||4,999|
|16.||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 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 rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.
Other camera comparisons
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Specifications: Leica S2 vs Pentax 645Z
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||Pentax 645Z|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Leica S mount lenses||Pentax 645 mount lenses|
|Launch Date||September 2008||April 2014|
|Launch Price||USD 22,995||USD 8,499|
|Sensor Specs||Leica S2||Pentax 645Z|
|Sensor Format||Medium Format Sensor||Medium Format Sensor|
|Sensor Size||45.0 x 30.0 mm||43.8 x 32.8 mm|
|Sensor Area||1350 mm2||1436.64 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||54.1 mm||54.7 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||37.5 Megapixels||51.1 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||7500 x 5000 pixels||8256 x 6192 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||6.00 μm||5.30 μm|
|Pixel Density||2.78 MP/cm2||3.56 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter||no AA filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||1080/60i Video|
|ISO Setting||80 - 1,250 ISO||100 - 204,800 ISO|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||..||101|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||..||26.0|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||..||14.7|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||..||4505|
|Screen Specs||Leica S2||Pentax 645Z|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||96%||98%|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||Control Panel|
|LCD Framing||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.2inch|
|LCD Resolution||460k dots||1037k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Tilting screen|
|Shooting Specs||Leica S2||Pentax 645Z|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||no Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/4000s||1/4000s|
|Continuous Shooting||1.5 shutter flaps/s||3 shutter flaps/s|
|Time-Lapse Photography||no Intervalometer||Intervalometer built-in|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||no On-Board 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||Pentax 645Z|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 3.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Microphone Port||no MIC socket||External MIC port|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Leica S2||Pentax 645Z|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||Weathersealed body|
160 x 120 x 80 mm
(6.3 x 4.7 x 3.1 in)
156 x 117 x 123 mm
(6.1 x 4.6 x 4.8 in)
|Camera Weight||1410 g (49.7 oz)||1550 g (54.7 oz)|
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