Leica SL2-S vs Olympus E-M1X
The Leica SL2-S and the Olympus OM-D E-M1X are two enthusiast cameras that were announced, respectively, in December 2020 and January 2019. Both the SL2-S and the E-M1X are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are based on a full frame (SL2-S) and a Four Thirds (E-M1X) sensor. The Leica has a resolution of 24 megapixels, whereas the Olympus provides 20.2 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 Olympus OM-D E-M1X? 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 SL2-S and the Olympus E-M1X 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 size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The E-M1X can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the SL2-S 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 Olympus E-M1X is notably larger (36 percent) than the Leica SL2-S. Moreover, the E-M1X is markedly heavier (7 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.
As can be seen in the images above, the E-M1X has a battery grip built in. This facilitates image-taking in portrait orientation and gives it additional battery power. In order to provide similar functionality for the SL2-S, Leica provides the HG-SCL6 vertical grip as an optional accessory (see here on eBay). The battery packs of both cameras can be charged via USB, which can be very convenient when travelling.
The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, you can use the CAM-parator app to select your camera combination among a large number of options.
|1.||Leica SL2-S||146 mm||107 mm||83 mm||931 g||510||Y||Dec 2020||4,895|
|2.||Olympus E-M1X||144 mm||147 mm||75 mm||997 g||870||Y||Jan 2019||2,999|
|3.||Leica SL2||146 mm||107 mm||42 mm||953 g||370||Y||Nov 2019||5,999|
|4.||Leica SL||147 mm||104 mm||39 mm||847 g||400||Y||Oct 2015||7,450|
|5.||Nikon D780||144 mm||116 mm||76 mm||840 g||2260||Y||Jan 2020||2,299|
|6.||Olympus E-M1 III||134 mm||91 mm||69 mm||580 g||420||Y||Feb 2020||1,799|
|7.||Olympus E-M5 III||125 mm||85 mm||50 mm||414 g||310||Y||Oct 2019||1,199|
|8.||Olympus E-M1 II||134 mm||91 mm||67 mm||574 g||440||Y||Sep 2016||1,999|
|9.||Panasonic S5||133 mm||98 mm||82 mm||714 g||440||Y||Sep 2020||1,999|
|10.||Panasonic S1||149 mm||110 mm||97 mm||1017 g||400||Y||Feb 2019||2,499|
|11.||Panasonic S1R||149 mm||110 mm||97 mm||1016 g||380||Y||Feb 2019||3,699|
|12.||Panasonic S1H||151 mm||114 mm||110 mm||1052 g||400||Y||May 2019||3,999|
|13.||Sony A9 II||129 mm||96 mm||76 mm||678 g||690||Y||Oct 2019||4,499|
|14.||Sony A900||156 mm||117 mm||82 mm||895 g||880||Y||Sep 2008||2,999|
|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 E-M1X was launched at a markedly lower price (by 39 percent) than the SL2-S, 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.
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.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Leica SL2-S features a full frame sensor and the Olympus E-M1X a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the E-M1X is 74 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.0 and 2.0. The sensor in the SL2-S has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the E-M1X offers a 4:3 aspect.
In terms of underlying technology, both cameras are build around CMOS sensors.
With 24MP, the SL2-S offers a higher resolution than the E-M1X (20.2MP), but the SL2-S nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 6.00μm versus 3.34μm for the E-M1X) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the SL2-S is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 10 months) than the E-M1X, 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 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 Leica SL2-S implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the SL2-S for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 30 x 20 inches or 76.2 x 50.8 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 24 x 16 inches or 61 x 40.6 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 20 x 13.3 inches or 50.8 x 33.9 cm. The corresponding values for the Olympus E-M1X are 25.9 x 19.4 inches or 65.8 x 49.4 cm for good quality, 20.7 x 15.6 inches or 52.7 x 39.5 cm for very good quality, and 17.3 x 13 inches or 43.9 x 32.9 cm for excellent quality prints.
The E-M1X has on-sensor phase detect pixels, which results in fast and reliable autofocus acquisition even during live view operation.
Both cameras have the capacity to capture high quality composite images by combining multiple shots after shifting the 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 Olympus OM-D E-M1X are ISO 200 to ISO 25600, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 64-25600.
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 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||..||..||..||..|
|2.||Olympus E-M1X||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|3.||Leica SL2||Full Frame||46.7||8368||5584||4K/60p||..||..||..||..|
|4.||Leica SL||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||25.0||13.4||1821||88|
|5.||Nikon D780||Full Frame||24.3||6048||4024||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|6.||Olympus E-M1 III||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|7.||Olympus E-M5 III||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|8.||Olympus E-M1 II||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/30p||23.7||12.8||1312||80|
|9.||Panasonic S5||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/60p||..||..||..||..|
|10.||Panasonic S1||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/60p||25.2||14.5||3333||95|
|11.||Panasonic S1R||Full Frame||46.7||8368||5584||4K/60p||26.4||14.1||3525||100|
|12.||Panasonic S1H||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||6K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|13.||Sony A9 II||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||25.0||14.0||3434||93|
|14.||Sony A900||Full Frame||24.4||6048||4032||none||23.7||12.3||1431||79|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. Both cameras under consideration have a sensor with sufficiently fast read-out times for moving pictures, but the SL2-S provides a higher frame rate than the E-M1X. It can shoot video footage at 4K/60p, while the Olympus 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 E-M1X (5760k vs 2360k dots). The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Leica SL2-S and Olympus E-M1X in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|6.||Olympus E-M1 III||2360||n||3.0||1037||swivel||Y||1/8000s||18.0||n||Y|
|7.||Olympus E-M5 III||2360||n||3.0||1040||swivel||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|8.||Olympus E-M1 II||2360||n||3.0||1037||swivel||Y||1/8000s||18.0||n||Y|
|13.||Sony A9 II||3686||n||3.0||1440||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
One feature that is present on the SL2-S, but is missing on the E-M1X 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 E-M1X has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing. This characteristic will be appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in taking selfies. In contrast, the SL2-S does not have a selfie-screen.
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 Olympus E-M1X 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.
Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the SL2-S and the E-M1X write their files to SDXC cards. Both cameras feature dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. Moreover, both the SL2-S and the E-M1X support UHS-II cards, which provide for Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 312 MB/s, on both slots.
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 Olympus OM-D E-M1X and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|6.||Olympus E-M1 III||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||-||Y|
|7.||Olympus E-M5 III||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||Y|
|8.||Olympus E-M1 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.0||Y||-||-|
|13.||Sony A9 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y|
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Olympus E-M1X (unlike the SL2-S) 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 the E-M1X has an internal geolocalization sensor and can record GPS coordinates in its EXIF data.
Both the SL2-S and the E-M1X are recent models that are part of the current product line-up. Neither of the two has a direct predecessor, so perhaps they will constitute the origins of new camera lines for Leica and Olympus. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Leica and Olympus websites.
So what is the bottom line? Which of the two cameras – the Leica SL2-S or the Olympus E-M1X – 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.
Advantages of the Leica SL2-S:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (24 vs 20.2MP) with a 11% higher linear resolution.
- 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 video: Provides higher movie framerates (4K/60p versus 4K/30p).
- More detailed viewfinder: Has higher resolution electronic viewfinder (5760k vs 2360k dots).
- Easier setting verification: Features an LCD display on top to control shooting parameters.
- 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 (2100k vs 1037k dots).
- More compact: Is smaller (146x107mm vs 144x147mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- More solid recording: Has a full-sized HDMI port for a sturdy connection to an external recorder.
- More prestigious: Has the Leica luxury appeal, which ensures a high resale price.
- More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 1 year and 10 months after the E-M1X).
Reasons to prefer the Olympus OM-D E-M1X:
- Better live-view autofocus: Features on-sensor phase-detection for more confident autofocus.
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.83x vs 0.78x).
- More flexible LCD: Has a swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
- More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
- More portrait friendly: Features an integrated vertical grip for easier portrait shooting.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (870 versus 510) out of a single battery charge.
- Easier geotagging: Features an internal GPS sensor to log localization data.
- Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (39 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in January 2019).
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the SL2-S is the clear winner of the match-up (14 : 10 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 sports photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a street photog, and a person interested in family portraits has distinct needs from a landscape 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 Olympus E-M1X 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 technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the SL2-S or the E-M1X. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased.
This is why expert reviews are important. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major 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 SL2-S||4/5||..||..||..||4.5/5||Dec 2020||4,895|
|2.||Olympus E-M1X||4.5/5||o||..||4.5/5||..||Jan 2019||2,999|
|3.||Leica SL2||4/5||..||..||4.5/5||4/5||Nov 2019||5,999|
|4.||Leica SL||4/5||..||84/100||4.5/5||4/5||Oct 2015||7,450|
|5.||Nikon D780||5/5||..||87/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2020||2,299|
|6.||Olympus E-M1 III||5/5||..||83/100||4.5/5||4/5||Feb 2020||1,799|
|7.||Olympus E-M5 III||5/5||+||82/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2019||1,199|
|8.||Olympus E-M1 II||5/5||+ +||85/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2016||1,999|
|9.||Panasonic S5||4.5/5||+ +||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2020||1,999|
|10.||Panasonic S1||4.5/5||+ +||88/100||4.5/5||4/5||Feb 2019||2,499|
|11.||Panasonic S1R||4.5/5||..||89/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2019||3,699|
|12.||Panasonic S1H||..||..||90/100||..||..||May 2019||3,999|
|13.||Sony A9 II||..||..||90/100||5/5||5/5||Oct 2019||4,499|
|14.||Sony A900||..||+ +||+ +||4.5/5||5/5||Sep 2008||2,999|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. 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. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.
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. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.
Specifications: Leica SL2-S vs Olympus E-M1X
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||Olympus E-M1X|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Leica L mount lenses||Micro Four Thirds lenses|
|Launch Date||December 2020||January 2019|
|Launch Price||USD 4,895||USD 2,999|
|Sensor Specs||Leica SL2-S||Olympus E-M1X|
|Sensor Format||Full Frame Sensor||Four Thirds Sensor|
|Sensor Size||36.0 x 24.0 mm||17.3 x 13.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||864 mm2||224.9 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||43.3 mm||21.6 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||24 Megapixels||20.2 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||6000 x 4000 pixels||5184 x 3888 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||6.00 μm||3.34 μm|
|Pixel Density||2.78 MP/cm2||8.96 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter||no AA filter|
|Movie Capability||4K/60p Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 50,000 ISO||200 - 25,600 ISO|
|ISO Boost||50 - 100,000 ISO||64 - 25,600 ISO|
|Image Processor||Maestro III||Dual TruePic VIII|
|Screen Specs||Leica SL2-S||Olympus E-M1X|
|Viewfinder Type||Electronic viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||5760k dots||2360k dots|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||no Top Display|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.2inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||2100k dots||1037k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Swivel screen|
|Shooting Specs||Leica SL2-S||Olympus E-M1X|
|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||18 shutter flaps/s|
|Electronic Shutter||up to 1/16000s||up to 1/32000s|
|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||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Dual card slots||Dual card slots|
|UHS card support||Dual UHS-II||Dual UHS-II|
|Connectivity Specs||Leica SL2-S||Olympus E-M1X|
|Studio Flash||no PC Sync||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 3.2||USB 3.0|
|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|
|Geotagging||no internal GPS||GPS built-in|
|Body Specs||Leica SL2-S||Olympus E-M1X|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||510 shots per charge||870 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)
144 x 147 x 75 mm
(5.7 x 5.8 x 3.0 in)
|Camera Weight||931 g (32.8 oz)||997 g (35.2 oz)|
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