Leica SL2-S vs Nikon Z7
The Leica SL2-S and the Nikon Z7 are two enthusiast cameras that were announced, respectively, in December 2020 and August 2018. Both the SL2-S and the Z7 are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are equipped with a full frame sensor. The Leica has a resolution of 24 megapixels, whereas the Nikon provides 45.4 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 SL2-S and the Nikon Z7? 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 SL2-S and the Nikon Z7. 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.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon Z7 is notably smaller (13 percent) than the Leica SL2-S. Moreover, the Z7 is markedly lighter (27 percent) than the SL2-S. 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 battery packs of both cameras can be charged via USB, 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 SL2-S||146 mm||107 mm||83 mm||931 g||510||Y||Dec 2020||4,895|
|2.||Nikon Z7||134 mm||101 mm||67 mm||675 g||330||Y||Aug 2018||3,399|
|3.||Canon R6||138 mm||98 mm||88 mm||680 g||360||Y||Jul 2020||2,499|
|4.||Leica SL2||146 mm||107 mm||42 mm||953 g||370||Y||Nov 2019||5,999|
|5.||Leica SL||147 mm||104 mm||39 mm||847 g||400||Y||Oct 2015||7,450|
|6.||Nikon D780||144 mm||116 mm||76 mm||840 g||2260||Y||Jan 2020||2,299|
|7.||Nikon Z7 II||134 mm||101 mm||70 mm||705 g||420||Y||Oct 2020||2,999|
|8.||Nikon Z6||134 mm||101 mm||67 mm||675 g||310||Y||Aug 2018||1,999|
|9.||Nikon D850||146 mm||124 mm||79 mm||1005 g||1840||Y||Jul 2017||3,299|
|10.||Olympus E-M1X||144 mm||147 mm||75 mm||997 g||870||Y||Jan 2019||2,999|
|11.||Panasonic S5||133 mm||98 mm||82 mm||714 g||440||Y||Sep 2020||1,999|
|12.||Panasonic S1||149 mm||110 mm||97 mm||1017 g||400||Y||Feb 2019||2,499|
|13.||Panasonic S1R||149 mm||110 mm||97 mm||1016 g||380||Y||Feb 2019||3,699|
|14.||Panasonic S1H||151 mm||114 mm||110 mm||1052 g||400||Y||May 2019||3,999|
|15.||Sony A9 II||129 mm||96 mm||76 mm||678 g||690||Y||Oct 2019||4,499|
|16.||Sony A7R III||127 mm||96 mm||74 mm||650 g||650||Y||Oct 2017||3,199|
|17.||Sony A7R II||127 mm||96 mm||60 mm||625 g||290||Y||Jun 2015||3,199|
|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 Z7 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 31 percent) than the SL2-S, which puts it into a different market segment. Normally, street prices remain initially close to the MSRP, but after a couple of months, the first discounts appear. 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 imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors 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. Moreover, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more control over depth-of-field in the image and, thus, the ability to better isolate a subject from the 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 full frame sensor, but their sensors differ slightly in size. The sensor area in the Z7 is 1 percent smaller. They nevertheless have the same format factor of 1.0. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
Despite having a slightly smaller sensor, the Z7 offers a higher resolution of 45.4 megapixels, compared with 24 MP of the SL2-S. This megapixels advantage comes at the cost of a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 4.35μm versus 6.00μm for the SL2-S). Moreover, it should be noted that the SL2-S is much more recent (by 2 years and 3 months) than the Z7, 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 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 Nikon Z7 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the Z7 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 41.3 x 27.5 inches or 104.9 x 69.9 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 33 x 22 inches or 83.9 x 55.9 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 27.5 x 18.3 inches or 69.9 x 46.6 cm. The corresponding values for the Leica SL2-S are 30 x 20 inches or 76.2 x 50.8 cm for good quality, 24 x 16 inches or 61 x 40.6 cm for very good quality, and 20 x 13.3 inches or 50.8 x 33.9 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Z7 has on-sensor phase detect pixels, which results in fast and reliable autofocus acquisition even during live view operation.
Unlike the Z7, the SL2-S has the capacity to capture high quality composite images (96MP) by combining multiple shots after shifting its sensor by miniscule distances. This multi-shot, pixel-shift mode is most suitable for photography of stationary objects (landscapes, studio scenes).
The Leica SL2-S has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 50000, which can be extended to ISO 50-100000. The corresponding ISO settings for the Nikon Z7 are ISO 64 to ISO 25600, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 32-102400.
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. Of the two cameras under consideration, the Z7 has a markedly higher DXO score than the SL2-S (overall score 4 points higher), which will translate into better image quality. The advantage is based on 1.1 bits higher color depth, 0.5 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.4 stops of reduced low light sensitivity. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.
| DXO |
|1.||Leica SL2-S||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/60p||25.2||14.1||3504||95|
|2.||Nikon Z7||Full Frame||45.4||8256||5504||4K/30p||26.3||14.6||2668||99|
|3.||Canon R6||Full Frame||20.0||5472||3648||4k/60p||24.2||14.3||3394||90|
|4.||Leica SL2||Full Frame||46.7||8368||5584||4K/60p||..||..||..||..|
|5.||Leica SL||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||25.0||13.4||1821||88|
|6.||Nikon D780||Full Frame||24.3||6048||4024||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|7.||Nikon Z7 II||Full Frame||45.4||8256||5504||4K/60p||26.3||14.7||2841||100|
|8.||Nikon Z6||Full Frame||24.3||6048||4024||4K/30p||25.3||14.3||3299||95|
|9.||Nikon D850||Full Frame||45.4||8256||5504||4K/30p||26.4||14.8||2660||100|
|10.||Olympus E-M1X||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|11.||Panasonic S5||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/60p||..||..||..||..|
|12.||Panasonic S1||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/60p||25.2||14.5||3333||95|
|13.||Panasonic S1R||Full Frame||46.7||8368||5584||4K/60p||26.4||14.1||3525||100|
|14.||Panasonic S1H||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||6K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|15.||Sony A9 II||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||25.0||14.0||3434||93|
|16.||Sony A7R III||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||26.0||14.7||3523||100|
|17.||Sony A7R II||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||26.0||13.9||3434||98|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, but the SL2-S provides a higher frame rate than the Z7. It can shoot video footage at 4K/60p, while the Nikon is limited to 4K/30p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The two cameras under consideration are similar with respect to both having an electronic viewfinder. However, the one in the SL2-S offers a substantially higher resolution than the one in the Z7 (5760k vs 3690k dots). The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Leica SL2-S and Nikon Z7 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|7.||Nikon Z7 II||3690||Y||3.2||2100||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|15.||Sony A9 II||3686||n||3.0||1440||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|16.||Sony A7R III||3686||n||3.0||1440||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|17.||Sony A7R II||2400||n||3.0||1229||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||Y|
The reported shutter speed information refers to the use of the mechanical shutter. Yet, some cameras only have an electronic shutter, while others have an electronic shutter in addition to a mechanical one. In fact, both cameras under consideration feature an electronic shutter, which makes completely silent shooting possible. However, this mode is less suitable for photographing moving objects (risk of rolling shutter) or shooting under artificial light sources (risk of flickering).
The Leica SL2-S and the Nikon Z7 both have 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 SL2-S writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the Z7 uses XQD cards. The SL2-S features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the Z7 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 SL2-S and Nikon Z7 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|7.||Nikon Z7 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.2||Y||-||Y|
|15.||Sony A9 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y|
|16.||Sony A7R III||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y|
|17.||Sony A7R II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
The SL2-S is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Leica. In contrast, the Z7 has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the Z7 was succeeded by the Nikon Z7 II. 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 how do things add up? Is there a clear favorite between the Leica SL2-S and the Nikon Z7? Which camera is better? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Reasons to prefer the Leica SL2-S:
- High quality composites: Can combine several shots after pixel-shifting its sensor.
- Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (0.4 stops ISO advantage).
- Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (4K/60p versus 4K/30p).
- More detailed viewfinder: Has higher resolution electronic viewfinder (5760k vs 3690k dots).
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (20 vs 9 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (510 versus 330) on a single battery charge.
- Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (3.2 vs 3.1).
- More solid recording: Has a full-sized HDMI port for a sturdy connection to an external recorder.
- 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 modern: Reflects 2 years and 3 months of technical progress since the Z7 launch.
Advantages of the Nikon Z7:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (45.4 vs 24MP), which boosts linear resolution by 38%.
- Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (4 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (1.1 bits more color depth).
- Better live-view autofocus: Features on-sensor phase-detection for more confident autofocus.
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.80x vs 0.78x).
- More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
- More compact: Is smaller (134x101mm vs 146x107mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 256g or 27 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (31 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in August 2018).
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the SL2-S comes out slightly ahead of the Z7 (11 : 10 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 SL2-S and the Nikon Z7 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera listing 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 remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the SL2-S or the Z7 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 where reviews by experts come in. 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 SL2-S||4/5||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Dec 2020||4,895|
|2.||Nikon Z7||5/5||+||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||Aug 2018||3,399|
|3.||Canon R6||5/5||+ +||90/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jul 2020||2,499|
|4.||Leica SL2||4/5||..||..||4.5/5||4/5||Nov 2019||5,999|
|5.||Leica SL||4/5||..||84/100||4.5/5||4/5||Oct 2015||7,450|
|6.||Nikon D780||5/5||..||87/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2020||2,299|
|7.||Nikon Z7 II||4.5/5||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2020||2,999|
|8.||Nikon Z6||5/5||..||..||4.5/5||5/5||Aug 2018||1,999|
|9.||Nikon D850||4.5/5||+ +||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jul 2017||3,299|
|10.||Olympus E-M1X||4.5/5||o||..||4.5/5||..||Jan 2019||2,999|
|11.||Panasonic S5||4.5/5||+ +||88/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2020||1,999|
|12.||Panasonic S1||4.5/5||+ +||88/100||4.5/5||4/5||Feb 2019||2,499|
|13.||Panasonic S1R||4.5/5||..||89/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2019||3,699|
|14.||Panasonic S1H||..||..||90/100||..||..||May 2019||3,999|
|15.||Sony A9 II||..||..||90/100||5/5||5/5||Oct 2019||4,499|
|16.||Sony A7R III||..||+ +||90/100||4.5/5||5/5||Oct 2017||3,199|
|17.||Sony A7R II||5/5||+ +||90/100||5/5||5/5||Jun 2015||3,199|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. 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, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.
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. As an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.
Specifications: Leica SL2-S vs Nikon Z7
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 SL2-S||Nikon Z7|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Leica L mount lenses||Nikon Z mount lenses|
|Launch Date||December 2020||August 2018|
|Launch Price||USD 4,895||USD 3,399|
|Sensor Specs||Leica SL2-S||Nikon Z7|
|Sensor Format||Full Frame Sensor||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||36.0 x 24.0 mm||35.9 x 23.9 mm|
|Sensor Area||864 mm2||858.01 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||43.3 mm||43.1 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||24 Megapixels||45.4 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||6000 x 4000 pixels||8256 x 5504 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||6.00 μm||4.35 μm|
|Pixel Density||2.78 MP/cm2||5.30 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter||no AA filter|
|Movie Capability||4K/60p Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 50,000 ISO||64 - 25,600 ISO|
|ISO Boost||50 - 100,000 ISO||32 - 102,400 ISO|
|Image Processor||Maestro III||EXPEED 6|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||95||99|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||25.2||26.3|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||14.1||14.6|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||3504||2668|
|Screen Specs||Leica SL2-S||Nikon Z7|
|Viewfinder Type||Electronic viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||5760k dots||3690k dots|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||Control Panel|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.2inch||3.2inch|
|LCD Resolution||2100k dots||2100k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Tilting screen|
|Shooting Specs||Leica SL2-S||Nikon Z7|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||On-Sensor Phase-detect|
|Manual Focusing Aid||Focus Peaking||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/8000s||1/8000s|
|Continuous Shooting||20 shutter flaps/s||9 shutter flaps/s|
|Electronic Shutter||up to 1/16000s||up to 1/8000s|
|Time-Lapse Photography||Intervalometer built-in||Intervalometer built-in|
|Image Stabilization||In-body stabilization||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||XQD cards|
|Second Storage Option||Dual card slots||Single card slot|
|Connectivity Specs||Leica SL2-S||Nikon Z7|
|USB Connector||USB 3.2||USB 3.1|
|HDMI Port||full HDMI||micro HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||External MIC port|
|Headphone Socket||Headphone port||Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||Wifi built-in|
|Bluetooth Support||Bluetooth built-in||Bluetooth built-in|
|Body Specs||Leica SL2-S||Nikon Z7|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||510 shots per charge||330 shots per charge|
|In-Camera Charging||USB charging||USB charging|
146 x 107 x 83 mm
(5.7 x 4.2 x 3.3 in)
134 x 101 x 67 mm
(5.3 x 4.0 x 2.6 in)
|Camera Weight||931 g (32.8 oz)||675 g (23.8 oz)|
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