Leica S3 vs Nikon W300
The Leica S3 and the Nikon Coolpix W300 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in September 2018 and May 2017. The S3 is a DSLR, while the W300 is a fixed lens compact. The cameras are based on a medium format (S3) and a 1/2.3-inch (W300) sensor. The Leica has a resolution of 64 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.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Leica S3 and the Nikon Coolpix W300? 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 S3 and the Nikon W300. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The W300 can be obtained in three different colors (black, orange, yellow), while the S3 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 Nikon W300 is considerably smaller (61 percent) than the Leica S3. 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. More than that, the W300 is water-proof up to 30m and can, thus, be used for underwater photography.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the W300 has a lens built in, whereas the S3 is an interchangeable lens camera that requires a separate lens. Attaching the latter will add extra weight and bulk to the setup.
The power pack in the W300 can be charged via the USB port, which can be very convenient when travelling.
The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. 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 S3||160 mm||120 mm||80 mm||1260 g||..||Y||Sep 2018||18,995|
|2.||Nikon W300||112 mm||66 mm||29 mm||231 g||280||Y||May 2017||389|
|3.||Leica Q2||130 mm||80 mm||92 mm||718 g||370||Y||Mar 2019||4,995|
|4.||Leica M-E Typ 240||139 mm||80 mm||42 mm||680 g||..||Y||Jun 2019||3,999|
|5.||Leica M10-P||139 mm||80 mm||39 mm||660 g||210||Y||Aug 2018||7,995|
|6.||Leica M10||139 mm||80 mm||39 mm||660 g||210||Y||Jan 2017||6,595|
|7.||Leica S-E Typ 006||160 mm||120 mm||80 mm||1260 g||..||Y||Sep 2014||16,900|
|8.||Leica S Typ 007||160 mm||120 mm||80 mm||1260 g||..||Y||Sep 2014||24,490|
|9.||Leica S Typ 006||160 mm||120 mm||80 mm||1260 g||..||Y||Sep 2012||21,950|
|10.||Leica S2||160 mm||120 mm||80 mm||1410 g||..||Y||Sep 2008||22,995|
|11.||Nikon D6||160 mm||163 mm||92 mm||1270 g||3580||Y||Feb 2020||6,499|
|12.||Olympus TG-5||113 mm||66 mm||32 mm||250 g||340||Y||May 2017||449|
|13.||Panasonic TS7||117 mm||76 mm||37 mm||319 g||300||Y||May 2018||449|
|14.||Ricoh WG-60||123 mm||62 mm||30 mm||193 g||300||Y||Oct 2018||279|
|15.||Sony WX800||102 mm||58 mm||36 mm||233 g||370||n||Oct 2018||399|
|16.||Sony RX10 IV||133 mm||94 mm||145 mm||1095 g||400||Y||Sep 2017||1,699|
|17.||Sony HX80||102 mm||58 mm||36 mm||245 g||390||n||Mar 2016||349|
|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 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 W300 was launched at a lower price than the S3, 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. 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.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Leica S3 features a medium format sensor and the Nikon W300 a 1/2.3-inch sensor. The sensor area in the W300 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 S3 has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the W300 offers a 4:3 aspect.
With 64MP, the S3 offers a higher resolution than the W300 (15.9MP), but the S3 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.59μm versus 1.33μm for the W300) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the S3 is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 3 months) than the W300, and its sensor might 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 S3 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.
The resolution advantage of the Leica S3 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the S3 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 49 x 32.7 inches or 124.5 x 83 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 39.2 x 26.1 inches or 99.6 x 66.4 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 32.7 x 21.8 inches or 83 x 55.3 cm. The corresponding values for the Nikon W300 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 S3 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 50000. The corresponding ISO settings for the Nikon Coolpix W300 are ISO 125 to ISO 1600, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 125-6400.
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. This service assesses and scores the color depth ("DXO Portrait"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports") of camera sensors, and also publishes an overall camera score. 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 S3||Medium Format||64.0||9800||6533||4K/24p||..||..||..||..|
|3.||Leica Q2||Full Frame||46.7||8368||5584||4K/30p||26.4||13.5||2491||96|
|4.||Leica M-E Typ 240||Full Frame||23.7||5952||3976||1080/25p||..||..||..||..|
|5.||Leica M10-P||Full Frame||23.8||5952||3992||none||..||..||..||..|
|6.||Leica M10||Full Frame||23.8||5952||3992||none||24.4||13.2||2133||86|
|7.||Leica S-E Typ 006||Medium Format||37.5||7500||5000||none||..||..||..||..|
|8.||Leica S Typ 007||Medium Format||37.5||7500||5000||4K/24p||..||..||..||..|
|9.||Leica S Typ 006||Medium Format||37.5||7500||5000||none||23.9||12.2||824||76|
|10.||Leica S2||Medium Format||37.5||7500||5000||none||..||..||..||..|
|11.||Nikon D6||Full Frame||20.7||5568||3712||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|16.||Sony RX10 IV||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. Both cameras under consideration have a sensor with sufficiently fast read-out times for moving pictures, but the W300 provides a faster frame rate than the S3. It can shoot movie footage at 4K/30p, while the Leica is limited to 4K/24p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the S3 has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the W300 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Leica S3, the Nikon W300, and comparable cameras.
|4.||Leica M-E Typ 240||optical||n||3.0||920||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||n||n|
|7.||Leica S-E Typ 006||optical||Y||3.0||922||fixed||n||1/4000s||1.5||n||n|
|8.||Leica S Typ 007||optical||Y||3.0||922||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.5||n||n|
|9.||Leica S Typ 006||optical||Y||3.0||922||fixed||n||1/4000s||1.5||n||n|
|16.||Sony RX10 IV||2359||Y||3.0||1440||tilting||Y||1/2000s||24.0||Y||Y|
One feature that is present on the S3, but is missing on the W300 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 S3 writes its imaging data to Compact Flash or SDXC cards, while the W300 uses SDXC cards. The S3 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the W300 only has one slot. The S3 supports UHS-II cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 312 MB/s), while the W300 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 S3 and Nikon Coolpix W300 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|4.||Leica M-E Typ 240||Y||mono||-||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|7.||Leica S-E Typ 006||Y||-||-||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|8.||Leica S Typ 007||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||Y||-||-|
|9.||Leica S Typ 006||Y||-||-||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|16.||Sony RX10 IV||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
It is notable that the S3 has a hotshoe, while the W300 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 S3 (unlike the W300) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Travel and landscape photographers will find it useful that both cameras feature internal geolocalization sensors and can record GPS coordinates in their EXIF data.
Both the S3 and the W300 are recent models that are part of the current product line-up. The W300 replaced the earlier Nikon AW130, while the S3 followed on from the Leica S Typ 007. 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 conclusions can be drawn? Which of the two cameras – the Leica S3 or the Nikon W300 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Reasons to prefer the Leica S3:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (64 vs 15.9MP) with a 104% higher linear resolution.
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- Better image quality: Features a larger and more technologically advanced imaging sensor.
- Richer colors: The sensor size advantage translates into images with better, more accurate colors.
- More dynamic range: Larger sensor captures a wider spectrum of light and dark details.
- Better low-light sensitivity: Larger sensor produces good images even in poorly lit environments.
- Better sound: Can connect to an external microphone for higher quality sound recording.
- Better sound control: Has a headphone port that enables audio monitoring while recording.
- 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 lighting: Features a hotshoe and can thus hold and trigger an external flash gun.
- Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (3.0 vs 2.0).
- 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.
- Faster buffer clearing: Supports Ultra High Speed (UHS-II) SDXC cards.
- More prestigious: Has the Leica luxury appeal, which ensures a high resale price.
- More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 1 year and 3 months after the W300).
Arguments in favor of the Nikon Coolpix W300:
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (4K/30p versus 4K/24p).
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (7 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Ready to shoot: Comes with an integrated lens, while the S3 requires a separate lens.
- More compact: Is smaller (112x66mm 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 S3).
- Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
- Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
- Water-proof: Is rugged and sealed and can thus be used for underwater photography (up to 30m).
- Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
- Easier wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
- More affordable: Was introduced at a lower price, despite coming with a built-in lens.
- More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in May 2017).
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the S3 is the clear winner of the match-up (18 : 13 points). However, the relative importance of the various individual camera aspects will vary according to personal preferences and needs, so that you might like to apply corresponding weights to the particular features before making a decision on a new camera. 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 S3 and the Nikon W300 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 specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the S3 or the W300. 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 expert reviews 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], 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 S3||..||..||..||..||..||Sep 2018||18,995|
|2.||Nikon W300||..||+||..||4/5||4/5||May 2017||389|
|3.||Leica Q2||..||..||84/100||4.5/5||4/5||Mar 2019||4,995|
|4.||Leica M-E Typ 240||..||..||..||..||..||Jun 2019||3,999|
|5.||Leica M10-P||..||..||..||..||4/5||Aug 2018||7,995|
|6.||Leica M10||4.5/5||..||..||4/5||4.5/5||Jan 2017||6,595|
|7.||Leica S-E Typ 006||..||..||..||..||..||Sep 2014||16,900|
|8.||Leica S Typ 007||4/5||..||..||..||..||Sep 2014||24,490|
|9.||Leica S Typ 006||..||..||..||..||..||Sep 2012||21,950|
|10.||Leica S2||..||..||..||..||..||Sep 2008||22,995|
|11.||Nikon D6||..||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2020||6,499|
|12.||Olympus TG-5||..||+ +||..||4/5||4/5||May 2017||449|
|13.||Panasonic TS7||..||+||..||..||3.5/5||May 2018||449|
|14.||Ricoh WG-60||..||..||..||..||..||Oct 2018||279|
|15.||Sony WX800||..||..||..||..||..||Oct 2018||399|
|16.||Sony RX10 IV||5/5||+||84/100||4.5/5||5/5||Sep 2017||1,699|
|17.||Sony HX80||..||..||..||..||..||Mar 2016||349|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, 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 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? In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, 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.
Specifications: Leica S3 vs Nikon W300
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 S3||Nikon W300|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Fixed lens compact camera|
|Camera Lens||Leica S mount lenses||24-120mm f/2.8-4.9|
|Launch Date||September 2018||May 2017|
|Launch Price||USD 18,995||USD 389|
|Sensor Specs||Leica S3||Nikon W300|
|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|
|Sensor Resolution||64 Megapixels||15.9 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||9800 x 6533 pixels||4608 x 3456 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.59 μm||1.33 μm|
|Pixel Density||4.74 MP/cm2||56.73 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||4K/24p Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 50,000 ISO||125 - 1,600 ISO|
|ISO Boost||no Enhancement||125 - 6,400 ISO|
|Screen Specs||Leica S3||Nikon W300|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||no viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||98%|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||no Top Display|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||922k dots||921k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Leica S3||Nikon W300|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||Focus Peaking||no Peaking Feature|
|Continuous Shooting||3 shutter flaps/s||7 shutter flaps/s|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||Built-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||CF or SDXC cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Dual card slots||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||UHS-II||no|
|Connectivity Specs||Leica S3||Nikon W300|
|External Flash||Hotshoe||no Hotshoe|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||no PC Sync|
|USB Connector||USB 3.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||micro HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||no MIC socket|
|Headphone Socket||Headphone port||no Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||Wifi built-in|
|Bluetooth Support||no Bluetooth||Bluetooth built-in|
|Geotagging||GPS built-in||GPS built-in|
|Body Specs||Leica S3||Nikon W300|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||Waterproof body (30m)|
|In-Camera Charging||no USB charging||USB charging|
160 x 120 x 80 mm
(6.3 x 4.7 x 3.1 in)
112 x 66 x 29 mm
(4.4 x 2.6 x 1.1 in)
|Camera Weight||1260 g (44.4 oz)||231 g (8.1 oz)|
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