Leica SL2-S vs Panasonic S5
The Leica SL2-S and the Panasonic Lumix DC-S5 are two enthusiast cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in December 2020 and September 2020. Both the SL2-S and the S5 are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are equipped with a full frame sensor. Both cameras offer a resolution of 24 megapixels.
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 Panasonic Lumix DC-S5? 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 Panasonic S5. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All width, height and depth dimensions 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 Panasonic S5 is notably smaller (17 percent) than the Leica SL2-S. Moreover, the S5 is markedly lighter (23 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. 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||amazon.com|
|2.||Panasonic S5||133 mm||98 mm||82 mm||714 g||440||Y||Sep 2020||1,999||amazon.com|
|3.||Canon R3||150 mm||143 mm||87 mm||1015 g||760||Y||Sep 2021||5,999||amazon.com|
|4.||Leica SL2||146 mm||107 mm||42 mm||953 g||370||Y||Nov 2019||5,999||amazon.com|
|5.||Leica SL||147 mm||104 mm||39 mm||847 g||400||Y||Oct 2015||7,450||ebay.com|
|6.||Nikon Z6 II||134 mm||101 mm||70 mm||705 g||410||Y||Oct 2020||1,999||amazon.com|
|7.||Olympus E-M1X||144 mm||147 mm||75 mm||997 g||870||Y||Jan 2019||2,999||amazon.com|
|8.||Panasonic GH5 II||139 mm||98 mm||87 mm||727 g||400||Y||May 2021||1,699||amazon.com|
|9.||Panasonic S1||149 mm||110 mm||97 mm||1017 g||400||Y||Feb 2019||2,499||amazon.com|
|10.||Panasonic S1R||149 mm||110 mm||97 mm||1016 g||380||Y||Feb 2019||3,699||amazon.com|
|11.||Panasonic S1H||151 mm||114 mm||110 mm||1052 g||400||Y||May 2019||3,999||amazon.com|
|12.||Panasonic G9||137 mm||97 mm||92 mm||658 g||400||Y||Nov 2017||1,699||amazon.com|
|13.||Panasonic GH5||139 mm||98 mm||87 mm||725 g||410||Y||Jan 2017||1,999||ebay.com|
|14.||Sony A9 II||129 mm||96 mm||76 mm||678 g||690||Y||Oct 2019||4,499||amazon.com|
|Note: 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 listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The S5 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 59 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 size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant 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 S5 is 2 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.
Even though the SL2-S has a slightly larger sensor, both cameras offer the same resolution of 24 megapixels. This implies that the SL2-S has a lower pixel density and larger individual pixels (with a pixel pitch of 6.00μm versus 5.94μm for the S5), which gives it a potential advantage in terms of light gathering capacity. In addition, the SL2-S is a somewhat more recent model (by 3 months) than the S5, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time. 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.
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 Panasonic Lumix DC-S5 are ISO 100 to ISO 51200, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 50-204800.
Technology-wise, both cameras are equipped with CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensors. Both cameras use a Bayer filter for capturing RGB colors on a square grid of photosensors. This arrangement is found in most digital cameras.
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. This service determines an overall sensor rating, as well as sub-scores for low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and color depth ("DXO Portrait"). The Overall DXO ratings for the two cameras under consideration are close, suggesting that they provide similar imaging performance. The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.
|1.||Leica SL2-S||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/60p||25.2||14.1||3504||95|
|2.||Panasonic S5||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/60p||25.1||14.5||2697||94|
|3.||Canon R3||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||6K/60p||25.0||14.7||4086||96|
|4.||Leica SL2||Full Frame||46.7||8368||5584||4K/60p||25.3||14.3||2866||95|
|5.||Leica SL||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||25.0||13.4||1821||88|
|6.||Nikon Z6 II||Full Frame||24.3||6048||4024||4K/60p||25.0||14.4||3303||94|
|7.||Olympus E-M1X||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/30p||23.2||13.0||1254||75|
|8.||Panasonic GH5 II||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/60p||23.7||13.1||1136||79|
|9.||Panasonic S1||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/60p||25.2||14.5||3333||95|
|10.||Panasonic S1R||Full Frame||46.7||8368||5584||4K/60p||26.4||14.1||3525||100|
|11.||Panasonic S1H||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||6K/30p||25.2||14.2||2805||94|
|12.||Panasonic G9||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/60p||23.1||12.8||1138||74|
|13.||Panasonic GH5||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/60p||23.9||13.0||807||77|
|14.||Sony A9 II||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||25.0||14.0||3434||93|
|Note: DXO values in italics represent estimates based on sensor size and age.|
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, and both provide the same movie specifications (4K/60p).
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range 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 S5 (5760k vs 2360k dots). The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Leica SL2-S, the Panasonic S5, and comparable cameras.
|1.||Leica SL2-S||5760||Y||3.2 / 2100||fixed||Y||1/8000s||20.0/s||n||Y|
|2.||Panasonic S5||2360||n||3.0 / 1840||swivel||Y||1/8000s||7.0/s||n||Y|
|3.||Canon R3||5760||Y||3.2 / 4150||swivel||Y||1/8000s||12.0/s||n||Y|
|4.||Leica SL2||5760||Y||3.2 / 2100||fixed||Y||1/8000s||10.0/s||n||Y|
|5.||Leica SL||4400||Y||3.0 / 1040||fixed||Y||1/8000s||11.0/s||n||n|
|6.||Nikon Z6 II||3690||Y||3.2 / 2100||tilting||Y||1/8000s||14.0/s||n||Y|
|7.||Olympus E-M1X||2360||n||3.0 / 1037||swivel||Y||1/8000s||18.0/s||n||Y|
|8.||Panasonic GH5 II||3680||n||3.0 / 1840||swivel||Y||1/8000s||12.0/s||n||Y|
|9.||Panasonic S1||5760||Y||3.2 / 2100||full-flex||Y||1/8000s||9.0/s||n||Y|
|10.||Panasonic S1R||5760||Y||3.2 / 2100||full-flex||Y||1/8000s||9.0/s||n||Y|
|11.||Panasonic S1H||5760||Y||3.2 / 2330||swivel||Y||1/8000s||9.0/s||n||Y|
|12.||Panasonic G9||3680||Y||3.0 / 1040||swivel||Y||1/8000s||20.0/s||n||Y|
|13.||Panasonic GH5||3680||n||3.2 / 1620||swivel||Y||1/8000s||12.0/s||n||Y|
|14.||Sony A9 II||3686||n||3.0 / 1440||tilting||Y||1/8000s||20.0/s||n||Y|
|Notes: *) Information refers to the mechanical shutter, unless the camera only has an electronic one.|
One feature that is present on the SL2-S, but is missing on the S5 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 S5 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 Panasonic S5 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 S5 write their files to SDXC cards. Both cameras feature dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. However, while the SL2-S supports UHS-II cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 312 MB/s) on both slots, the S5 supports UHS-II only on its first slot and UHS-I (data transfer speed up to 104 MB/s) on the second one.
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 Panasonic Lumix DC-S5 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
Mic / Speaker
|1.||Leica SL2-S||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||full||3.2||Y||-||Y|
|2.||Panasonic S5||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||micro||3.2||Y||-||Y|
|3.||Canon R3||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||micro||3.2||Y||-||Y|
|4.||Leica SL2||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||full||3.1||Y||-||Y|
|5.||Leica SL||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||full||3.0||Y||-||-|
|6.||Nikon Z6 II||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||micro||3.2||Y||-||Y|
|7.||Olympus E-M1X||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||micro||3.0||Y||-||Y|
|8.||Panasonic GH5 II||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||full||3.2||Y||-||Y|
|9.||Panasonic S1||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||full||3.1||Y||-||Y|
|10.||Panasonic S1R||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||full||3.1||Y||-||Y|
|11.||Panasonic S1H||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||full||3.1||Y||-||Y|
|12.||Panasonic G9||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||full||3.0||Y||-||Y|
|13.||Panasonic GH5||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||full||3.1||Y||-||Y|
|14.||Sony A9 II||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y|
Both the SL2-S and the S5 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 Panasonic. Further information on the features and operation of the SL2-S and S5 can be found, respectively, in the Leica SL2-S Manual (free pdf) or the online Panasonic S5 Manual.
So what conclusions can be drawn? Which of the two cameras – the Leica SL2-S or the Panasonic S5 – 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 SL2-S:
- Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (0.4 stops ISO advantage).
- More detailed viewfinder: Has higher resolution electronic viewfinder (5760k vs 2360k dots).
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.78x vs 0.74x).
- 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 1840k dots).
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (20 vs 7 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (510 versus 440) on a single battery charge.
- 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 3 months after the S5).
Arguments in favor of the Panasonic Lumix DC-S5:
- 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 compact: Is smaller (133x98mm vs 146x107mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 217g or 23 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (59 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in September 2020).
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the SL2-S is the clear winner of the match-up (11 : 6 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. 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 SL2-S and the Panasonic S5 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 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 SL2-S or the S5. 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], digitalcameraworld [DCW], 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||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Dec 2020||4,895||amazon.com|
|2.||Panasonic S5||4.5/5||+ +||4.5/5||88/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2020||1,999||amazon.com|
|3.||Canon R3||5/5||o||4.5/5||..||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2021||5,999||amazon.com|
|4.||Leica SL2||4/5||..||4.5/5||..||4.5/5||4/5||Nov 2019||5,999||amazon.com|
|5.||Leica SL||4/5||..||4/5||84/100||4.5/5||4/5||Oct 2015||7,450||ebay.com|
|6.||Nikon Z6 II||4.5/5||..||4/5||89/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2020||1,999||amazon.com|
|7.||Olympus E-M1X||4.5/5||o||5/5||85/100||4.5/5||..||Jan 2019||2,999||amazon.com|
|8.||Panasonic GH5 II||4.5/5||..||4.5/5||85/100||4.5/5||5/5||May 2021||1,699||amazon.com|
|9.||Panasonic S1||4.5/5||+ +||4.5/5||88/100||4.5/5||4/5||Feb 2019||2,499||amazon.com|
|10.||Panasonic S1R||4.5/5||..||4.6/5||89/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2019||3,699||amazon.com|
|11.||Panasonic S1H||..||..||4/5||90/100||..||..||May 2019||3,999||amazon.com|
|12.||Panasonic G9||..||+ +||5/5||85/100||5/5||5/5||Nov 2017||1,699||amazon.com|
|13.||Panasonic GH5||4.5/5||+ +||..||85/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jan 2017||1,999||ebay.com|
|14.||Sony A9 II||..||..||5/5||90/100||5/5||5/5||Oct 2019||4,499||amazon.com|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, 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 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 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.
- Canon 850D vs Panasonic S5
- Canon 90D vs Leica SL2-S
- Canon SX60 vs Panasonic S5
- Fujifilm X-A10 vs Leica SL2-S
- Fujifilm X-T100 vs Panasonic S5
- Fujifilm X-T3 vs Panasonic S5
- Leica SL2-S vs Olympus E-PL10
- Leica SL2-S vs Ricoh GR III
- Leica SL2-S vs Sigma fp
- Leica SL2-S vs Sony HX95
- Olympus E-M1 vs Panasonic S5
- Panasonic FZ200 vs Panasonic S5
Specifications: Leica SL2-S vs Panasonic S5
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||Panasonic S5|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Leica L mount lenses||Leica L mount lenses|
|Launch Date||December 2020||September 2020|
|Launch Price||USD 4,895||USD 1,999|
|Sensor Specs||Leica SL2-S||Panasonic S5|
|Sensor Format||Full Frame Sensor||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||36.0 x 24.0 mm||35.6 x 23.8 mm|
|Sensor Area||864 mm2||847.28 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||43.3 mm||42.8 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||24 Megapixels||24 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||6000 x 4000 pixels||6000 x 4000 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||6.00 μm||5.94 μm|
|Pixel Density||2.78 MP/cm2||2.83 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter||no AA filter|
|Movie Capability||4K/60p Video||4K/60p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 50,000 ISO||100 - 51,200 ISO|
|ISO Boost||50 - 100,000 ISO||50 - 204,800 ISO|
|Image Processor||Maestro III||Venus|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||95||94|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||25.2||25.1|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||14.1||14.5|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||3504||2697|
|Screen Specs||Leica SL2-S||Panasonic S5|
|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||1840k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Swivel screen|
|Shooting Specs||Leica SL2-S||Panasonic S5|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||Focus Peaking||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/8000s||1/8000s|
|Continuous Shooting||20 shutter flaps/s||7 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||SDXC cards|
|Single or Dual Card Slots||Dual card slots||Dual card slots|
|UHS card support||Dual UHS-II||Single UHS-II|
|Connectivity Specs||Leica SL2-S||Panasonic S5|
|USB Connector||USB 3.2||USB 3.2|
|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||Panasonic S5|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||510 shots per charge||440 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)
133 x 98 x 82 mm
(5.2 x 3.9 x 3.2 in)
|Camera Weight||931 g (32.8 oz)||714 g (25.2 oz)|
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