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Leica SL versus Canon 5DS R

The Leica SL (Typ 601) and the Canon EOS 5DS R are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in October 2015 and February 2015. The SL is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, while the 5DS R is a DSLR. Both cameras are equipped with a full frame sensor. The Leica has a resolution of 24 megapixel, whereas the Canon provides 50.3 MP. Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their size, their sensors, their features, and their reception by expert reviewers.

Body comparison: Leica SL vs Canon 5DS R

The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Leica SL and the Canon 5DS R. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are presented. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter. You can also toggle the display to switch to a percentage comparison if you prefer that the measures are being expressed in relative terms (in this case, the camera on the left side – the SL – represents the basis for the calculations across all the size and weight measures).

Snapsort Leica SL vs Canon 5DS R
Compare SL versus 5DS R top
Compare SL and 5DS R rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Canon 5DS R is notably larger (15 percent) than the Leica SL. Moreover, the 5DS R is markedly heavier (10 percent) than the SL. 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 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, just select a new right or left comparator from among the camera models in the table. Alternatively, you can also move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.

Camera Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(yes/no)
Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Leica SL» 5.8 in 4.1 in 1.5 in 29.9 oz 400 Y Oct 2015 7,450 i i
Canon 5DS R« 6.0 in 4.6 in 3.0 in 32.8 oz 700 Y Feb 2015 3,699 i i
Canon 6D Mark II« » 5.7 in 4.4 in 3.0 in 27.0 oz 1200 Y Jun 2017 1,999 i i
Canon 5D Mark IV« » 5.9 in 4.6 in 3.0 in 31.4 oz 900 Y Aug 2016 3,499 i i
Canon 80D« » 5.5 in 4.1 in 3.1 in 25.8 oz 960 Y Feb 2016 1,199 i i
Canon 1D X Mark II« » 6.2 in 6.6 in 3.3 in 54.0 oz 1210 Y Feb 2016 5,999 i i
Canon 5DS« » 6.0 in 4.6 in 3.0 in 32.8 oz 700 Y Feb 2015 3,699 i i
Hasselblad X1D« » 5.9 in 3.9 in 2.8 in 25.6 oz .. Y Jun 2016 8,995 i i
Leica Q Typ 116« » 5.1 in 3.1 in 3.7 in 22.6 oz 300 n Jun 2015 4,249 i i
Leica M Typ 240« » 5.5 in 3.1 in 1.7 in 24.0 oz .. Y Sep 2012 6,950- i
Nikon D850« » 5.7 in 4.9 in 3.1 in 35.5 oz 1840 Y Jul 2017 3,299 i i
Nikon D5« » 6.3 in 6.3 in 3.6 in 49.9 oz 3780 Y Jan 2016 6,499 i i
Nikon D500« » 5.8 in 4.5 in 3.2 in 30.3 oz 1240 Y Jan 2016 1,999 i i
Nikon D7200« » 5.4 in 4.2 in 3.0 in 27.0 oz 1110 Y Mar 2015 1,199- i
Nikon D750« » 5.6 in 4.4 in 3.1 in 26.5 oz 1230 Y Sep 2014 2,299 i i
Sony A6300« » 4.7 in 2.6 in 1.9 in 14.3 oz 400 Y Feb 2016 999- i

The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The 5DS R was launched at a markedly lower price (by 50 percent) than the SL, 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.

 

Sensor comparison: Leica SL vs Canon 5DS R

The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants 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. 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 are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Both cameras under consideration feature a full frame sensor and have a format factor (sometimes also referred to as "crop factor") of 1.0. Within the spectrum of camera sensors, this places the review cameras among the large-sensor cameras that aim for top notch image quality. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Leica SL and Canon 5DS R sensor measures

While the two cameras under review share the same sensor size, the 5DS R offers a higher resolution of 50.3 megapixel, compared with 24 MP of the SL. This megapixel advantage translates into a 45 percent gain in linear resolution. On the other hand, these sensor specs imply that the 5DS R has a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 4.14μm versus 6.00μm for the SL). Moreover, it should be noted, that the SL is a somewhat more recent model (by 8 months) than the 5DS R, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of individual 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.

SL versus 5DS R MP

For most cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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 Overall DXO ratings for the two cameras under consideration are close, suggesting that they provide similar image quality. The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.

Sensor Characteristics
  Camera Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Leica SL» Full Frame 24.0 6000 40004K/30p25.013.4182188
Canon 5DS R« Full Frame 50.3 8688 57921080/60p24.612.4230886
Canon 6D Mark II« » Full Frame 26.0 6240 41601080/60p24.411.9286285
Canon 5D Mark IV« » Full Frame 30.1 6720 44804K/30p24.813.6299591
Canon 80D« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p23.613.2113579
Canon 1D X Mark II« » Full Frame 20.0 5472 36484K/60p24.113.5320788
Canon 5DS« » Full Frame 50.3 8688 57921080/60p24.712.4238187
Hasselblad X1D« » Medium Format 51.3 8272 62001080/25p26.214.84489102
Leica Q Typ 116« » Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.312.7222185
Leica M Typ 240« » Full Frame 23.7 5952 39761080/25p24.013.3186084
Nikon D850« » Full Frame 45.4 8256 55044K/30p26.414.82660100
Nikon D5« » Full Frame 20.7 5588 37124K/30p25.112.3234388
Nikon D500« » APS-C 20.7 5568 37124K/30p24.014.0132483
Nikon D7200« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.514.6133387
Nikon D750« » Full Frame 24.2 6016 40161080/60p24.814.5295693
Sony A6300« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40004K/30p24.413.7143785

Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. Both cameras under consideration are equipped with sensors that have a sufficiently high read-out speed for moving images, but the SL provides a higher video resolution than the 5DS R. It can shoot video footage at 4K/30p, while the Canon is limited to 1080/60p.

 

Feature comparison: Leica SL vs Canon 5DS R

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the SL has an electronic viewfinder (4400k dots), while the 5DS R has an optical one. Both systems have their advantages, with the electronic viewfinder making it possible to project supplementary shooting information into the framing view, whereas the optical viewfinder offers lag-free viewing and a very clear framing image. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Leica SL, the Canon 5DS R, and comparable cameras. If needed, the dpreview camera hub, for example, contains further detail on the cameras' specs.

Core Features
  Camera Viewfinder
(Type or
'000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec))
Build-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Leica SL»4400 Y 3.0 1040 fixed Y 8000 11.0 n n
Canon 5DS R«optical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 8000 5.0 n n
Canon 6D Mark II« »optical Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 4000 6.5 n n
Canon 5D Mark IV« »optical Y 3.2 1620 fixed Y 8000 7.0 n n
Canon 80D« »optical Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 8000 7.0 Y n
Canon 1D X Mark II« »optical Y 3.2 1620 fixed Y 8000 16.0 n n
Canon 5DS« »optical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 8000 5.0 n n
Hasselblad X1D« »2360 n 3.0 920 fixed Y 2000 2.3 n n
Leica Q Typ 116« »3680 n 3.0 1040 fixed Y 2000 10.0 n n
Leica M Typ 240« »optical n 3.0 920 fixed n 4000 3.0 n n
Nikon D850« »optical Y 3.2 2359 tilting Y 8000 9.0 n n
Nikon D5« »optical Y 3.2 2359 fixed Y 8000 14.0 n n
Nikon D500« »optical Y 3.2 2359 tilting Y 8000 10.0 n n
Nikon D7200« »optical Y 3.2 1229 fixed n 8000 6.0 Y n
Nikon D750« »optical Y 3.2 1229 tilting n 4000 6.0 Y n
Sony A6300« »2300 n 3.0 922 tilting n 4000 11.0 Y n

Both the SL and the 5DS R are current models that good online retailers will have in stock. You can check the latest prices, for example, at amazon. Neither of the two has a direct predecessor, so perhaps they will constitute the origins of new camera lines for Leica and Canon.

Review summary: Leica SL vs Canon 5DS R

So what conclusions can be drawn? Is there a clear favorite between the Leica SL and the Canon 5DS R? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.

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Arguments in favor of the Leica SL (Typ 601):

  • More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (1 EV of extra DR).
  • Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/30p vs 1080/60p).
  • More framing info: Has an electronic viewfinder that displays shooting data.
  • Fewer buttons to press: Is equipped with a touch-sensitive rear screen to facilitate handling.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (11 vs 5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More compact: Is smaller (147x104mm vs 152x116mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • More legacy lens friendly: Can take a broad range of non-native lenses via adapters.
  • More prestigious: Has the Leica luxury appeal, which ensures a high resale price.
  • More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 8 months after the 5DS R).

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Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS 5DS R:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (50.3 vs 24MP), which boosts linear resolution by 45%.
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (0.3 stops ISO advantage).
  • Brighter framing: Features an optical viewfinder for clear, lag-free composition.
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.2" vs 3.0") for image review and settings control.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (700 versus 400) out of a single battery charge.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (50 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in February 2015).

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the SL emerges as the winner of the contest (9 : 7 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.

SL 09:07 5DS R

In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras is instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it says nothing about, for example, the handling, responsiveness, and overall imaging quality of the SL and the 5DS R 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 hands-on reviews by experts are important. The adjacent table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). The detailed reviews can be accessed by clicking on the site logo in the table header.

Review scores
  Camera cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Leica SL»-84/1004.5/54/54/5 Oct 2015 7,450 i i
Canon 5DS R«Rec83/1005/55/54.5/5 Feb 2015 3,699 i i
Canon 6D Mark II« »Rec80/1004.5/54/54/5 Jun 2017 1,999 i i
Canon 5D Mark IV« »HiRec87/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Aug 2016 3,499 i i
Canon 80D« »HiRec84/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Feb 2016 1,199 i i
Canon 1D X Mark II« »-89/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Feb 2016 5,999 i i
Canon 5DS« »Rec83/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Feb 2015 3,699 i i
Hasselblad X1D« »rev---4/5 Jun 2016 8,995 i i
Leica Q Typ 116« »-80/1004.5/5-4.5/5 Jun 2015 4,249 i i
Leica M Typ 240« »--4/5-- Sep 2012 6,950- i
Nikon D850« »HiRec89/1004.5/55/55/5 Jul 2017 3,299 i i
Nikon D5« »-89/1004.5/55/55/5 Jan 2016 6,499 i i
Nikon D500« »HiRec91/1004.5/55/55/5 Jan 2016 1,999 i i
Nikon D7200« »HiRec84/1004.5/54/54.5/5 Mar 2015 1,199- i
Nikon D750« »HiRec90/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Sep 2014 2,299 i i
Sony A6300« »Rec85/1005/55/55/5 Feb 2016 999- i

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings are only valid when refering to cameras in the same category and of the same age. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date 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 would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just use the search menu below. An an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool. If the camera you are interested in is not available, kindly get in touch, and I will try to locate and add the respective data to the application.

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