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Leica SL versus Leica TL2

The Leica SL (Typ 601) and the Leica TL2 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in October 2015 and July 2017. Both the SL and the TL2 are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are based on a full frame (SL) and an APS-C (TL2) sensor. The SL has a resolution of 24 megapixel, whereas the TL2 provides 24.1 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 Leica TL2

The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Leica SL and the Leica TL2. 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. You can also use the toggle button 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 – the SL – represents the basis or 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).

Snapsort Leica SL vs Leica TL2
Compare SL versus TL2 top
Compare SL and TL2 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Leica TL2 is considerably smaller (40 percent) than the Leica SL. Moreover, the TL2 is substantially lighter (53 percent) than the SL. It is worth mentioning in this context that the SL is splash and dust resistant, while the TL2 does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.

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
Leica TL2« 5.3 in 2.7 in 1.3 in 14.1 oz 250 n Jul 2017 1,950 i i
Canon M6« » 4.4 in 2.7 in 1.8 in 13.8 oz 295 n Feb 2017 779 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
Fujifilm X100F« » 5.0 in 3.0 in 2.0 in 16.5 oz 390 n Jan 2017 1,299 i i
Hasselblad X1D« » 5.9 in 3.9 in 2.8 in 25.6 oz .. Y Jun 2016 8,995 i i
Leica C-LUX« » 4.4 in 2.6 in 1.8 in 12.0 oz 370 n Jun 2018 1,049 i i
Leica CL« » 5.2 in 3.1 in 1.8 in 14.2 oz 220 n Nov 2017 2,795 i i
Leica TL« » 5.3 in 2.7 in 1.3 in 13.5 oz 400 n Nov 2016 1,695- 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 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 TL2 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 74 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 Leica TL2

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. 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 are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Leica SL features a full frame sensor and the Leica TL2 an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the TL2 is 57 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.0 and 1.5. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Leica SL and Leica TL2 sensor measures

Despite having a smaller sensor, the TL2 offers a slightly higher resolution of 24.1 megapixel, compared with 24 MP of the SL. This megapixel advantage comes at the cost of a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 3.92μm versus 6.00μm for the SL). However, it should be noted that the TL2 is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 8 months) than the SL, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that partly offset its pixel-size disadvantage. 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 TL2 MP

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for most 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 following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.

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
Leica TL2« APS-C 24.1 6014 40144K/30p----
Canon M6« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p----
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
Fujifilm X100F« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p----
Hasselblad X1D« » Medium Format 51.3 8272 62001080/25p26.214.84489102
Leica C-LUX« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36484K/30p----
Leica CL« » APS-C 24.1 6014 40144K/30p----
Leica TL« » APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p----
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 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 have a sensor with sufficiently fast read-out times for moving pictures, and both provide the same movie specifications (4K/30p).

 

Feature comparison: Leica SL vs Leica TL2

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the SL has an electronic viewfinder (4400k dots), which can be very helpful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the TL2 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 SL, the Leica TL2, and comparable cameras. If you need more detail on the specs, you can find comprehensive listings, for example, in the dpreview camera hub.

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
Leica TL2«- n 3.7 1230 fixed Y 4000 7.0 n n
Canon M6« »- n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 4000 9.0 Y 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
Fujifilm X100F« »2360 n 3.0 1040 fixed n 4000 8.0 Y n
Hasselblad X1D« »2360 n 3.0 920 fixed Y 2000 2.3 n n
Leica C-LUX« »2330 n 3.0 1240 fixed Y 2000 10.0 Y Y
Leica CL« »2360 Y 3.0 1040 fixed Y 8000 10.0 n n
Leica TL« »- n 3.7 1230 fixed Y 4000 5.0 Y 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 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 TL2 are current models that good online retailers will have in stock. You can check the latest prices, for example, at amazon. The TL2 replaced the earlier Leica TL, while the SL does not have a direct predecessor.

Review summary: Leica SL vs Leica TL2

So what is the bottom line? Is the Leica SL better than the Leica TL2 or vice versa? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.


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

  • Better low-light imaging: Features bigger pixels on a larger sensor for better high-ISO images.
  • Easier framing: Has an electronic viewfinder for image framing and settings control.
  • Easier setting verification: Has an LCD display on top to control shooting parameters.
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (8000/sec vs 4000/sec) to freeze action.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (11 vs 7 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (400 versus 250) on a single battery charge.
  • Better sealing: Is weather sealed to enable shooting in dusty or wet environments.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in October 2015).


Reasons to prefer the Leica TL2:

  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.7" vs 3.0") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1230k vs 1040k dots).
  • More compact: Is smaller (134x69mm vs 147x104mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 448g or 53 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (74 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Was introduced somewhat (1 year and 8 months) more recently.

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the SL emerges as the winner of the contest (8 : 6 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.

SL 08:06 TL2

In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras is instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the SL or the TL2 handle or perform in practice. 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 adjacent table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). The full reviews are available 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
Leica TL2«--4/5-4/5 Jul 2017 1,950 i i
Canon M6« »-80/1004/54.5/54/5 Feb 2017 779 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
Fujifilm X100F« »Rec83/1004.5/5-4.5/5 Jan 2017 1,299 i i
Hasselblad X1D« »rev---4/5 Jun 2016 8,995 i i
Leica C-LUX« »----- Jun 2018 1,049 i i
Leica CL« »----4/5 Nov 2017 2,795 i i
Leica TL« »----4/5 Nov 2016 1,695- 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 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. 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.

 

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. 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 you do not see the camera that you are looking for, please send me an email, and I will try to locate and add the respective data to the application.

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