Leica SL2 vs Panasonic GX85
The Leica SL2 and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX85 (labelled Panasonic GX80 in some countries) are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in November 2019 and April 2016. Both the SL2 and the GX85 are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are based on a full frame (SL2) and a Four Thirds (GX85) sensor. The Leica has a resolution of 46.7 megapixels, whereas the Panasonic provides 15.8 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 and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX85? 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 and the Panasonic GX85. 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 GX85 can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the SL2 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 Panasonic GX85 is considerably smaller (45 percent) than the Leica SL2. Moreover, the GX85 is substantially lighter (55 percent) than the SL2. It is worth mentioning in this context that the SL2 is splash and dust resistant, while the GX85 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 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||146 mm||107 mm||42 mm||953 g||370||Y||Nov 2019||5,999|
|2.||Panasonic GX85||122 mm||71 mm||44 mm||426 g||290||n||Apr 2016||799|
|3.||Canon R5||138 mm||98 mm||88 mm||738 g||320||Y||Jul 2020||3,899|
|4.||Leica SL2-S||146 mm||107 mm||83 mm||931 g||510||Y||Dec 2020||4,895|
|5.||Leica Q2||130 mm||80 mm||92 mm||718 g||370||Y||Mar 2019||4,995|
|6.||Leica SL||147 mm||104 mm||39 mm||847 g||400||Y||Oct 2015||7,450|
|7.||Nikon Z7||134 mm||101 mm||67 mm||675 g||330||Y||Aug 2018||3,399|
|8.||Olympus E-M10 II||120 mm||83 mm||47 mm||390 g||320||n||Aug 2015||649|
|9.||Panasonic S1||149 mm||110 mm||97 mm||1017 g||400||Y||Feb 2019||2,499|
|10.||Panasonic S1R||149 mm||110 mm||97 mm||1016 g||380||Y||Feb 2019||3,699|
|11.||Panasonic S1H||151 mm||114 mm||110 mm||1052 g||400||Y||May 2019||3,999|
|12.||Panasonic GX9||124 mm||72 mm||47 mm||407 g||260||n||Feb 2018||849|
|13.||Panasonic G85||128 mm||89 mm||74 mm||505 g||330||Y||Sep 2016||899|
|14.||Panasonic GX7||123 mm||71 mm||55 mm||402 g||350||n||Aug 2013||999|
|15.||Panasonic GH2||124 mm||90 mm||76 mm||442 g||330||n||Sep 2010||899|
|16.||Pentax K-1 II||137 mm||110 mm||86 mm||1010 g||670||Y||Feb 2018||1,999|
|17.||Sony A99 II||143 mm||104 mm||76 mm||849 g||490||Y||Sep 2016||3,199|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. 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 GX85 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 87 percent) than the SL2, 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 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. 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 associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Leica SL2 features a full frame sensor and the Panasonic GX85 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the GX85 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 has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the GX85 offers a 4:3 aspect.
With 46.7MP, the SL2 offers a higher resolution than the GX85 (15.8MP), but the SL2 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.30μm versus 3.77μm for the GX85) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the SL2 is a much more recent model (by 3 years and 7 months) than the GX85, 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 Leica SL2 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the SL2 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 41.8 x 27.9 inches or 106.3 x 70.9 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 33.5 x 22.3 inches or 85 x 56.7 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 27.9 x 18.6 inches or 70.8 x 47.3 cm. The corresponding values for the Panasonic GX85 are 23 x 17.2 inches or 58.3 x 43.8 cm for good quality, 18.4 x 13.8 inches or 46.7 x 35 cm for very good quality, and 15.3 x 11.5 inches or 38.9 x 29.2 cm for excellent quality prints.
Unlike the GX85, the SL2 has the capacity to capture high quality composite images (187MP) 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 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 50000, which can be extended to ISO 50-50000. The corresponding ISO settings for the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX85 are ISO 200 to ISO 25600, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-25600.
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many 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.
| DXO |
|1.||Leica SL2||Full Frame||46.7||8368||5584||4K/60p||..||..||..||..|
|2.||Panasonic GX85||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||4K/30p||22.9||12.6||662||71|
|3.||Canon R5||Full Frame||44.8||8192||5464||8k/30p||25.3||14.6||3042||95|
|4.||Leica SL2-S||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/60p||..||..||..||..|
|5.||Leica Q2||Full Frame||46.7||8368||5584||4K/30p||26.4||13.5||2491||96|
|6.||Leica SL||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||25.0||13.4||1821||88|
|7.||Nikon Z7||Full Frame||45.4||8256||5504||4K/30p||26.3||14.6||2668||99|
|8.||Olympus E-M10 II||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||23.1||12.5||842||73|
|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||..||..||..||..|
|12.||Panasonic GX9||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|13.||Panasonic G85||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||4K/30p||22.8||12.5||656||71|
|14.||Panasonic GX7||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||1080/60p||22.6||12.2||718||70|
|15.||Panasonic GH2||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60i||21.2||11.3||655||60|
|16.||Pentax K-1 II||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/60i||..||..||..||..|
|17.||Sony A99 II||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||25.4||13.4||2317||92|
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 provides a higher frame rate than the GX85. It can shoot video footage at 4K/60p, while the Panasonic is limited to 4K/30p.
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 offers a substantially higher resolution than the one in the GX85 (5760k vs 2765k dots). The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Leica SL2 and Panasonic GX85 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|8.||Olympus E-M10 II||2360||n||3.0||1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||8.0||Y||Y|
|16.||Pentax K-1 II||optical||Y||3.2||1037||full-flex||n||1/8000s||4.4||n||Y|
|17.||Sony A99 II||2400||Y||3.0||1229||full-flex||n||1/8000s||12.0||n||Y|
One feature that is present on the SL2, but is missing on the GX85 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 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 and the Panasonic GX85 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 and the GX85 write their files to SDXC cards. The SL2 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the GX85 only has one slot. The SL2 supports UHS-II cards (on both slots), while the GX85 can use UHS-I cards.
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 and Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX85 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|8.||Olympus E-M10 II||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|16.||Pentax K-1 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|17.||Sony A99 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
It is notable that the SL2 has a microphone port, which is missing on the GX85. Such an external microphone input can help to substantially improve the quality of audio recordings when a good external microphone is used.
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Leica SL2 (unlike the GX85) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Both the SL2 and the GX85 are recent models that are part of the current product line-up. The GX85 replaced the earlier Panasonic GX7, while the SL2 followed on from the Leica SL (Typ 601). Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Leica and Panasonic websites.
So what is the bottom line? Which of the two cameras – the Leica SL2 or the Panasonic GX85 – 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.
Arguments in favor of the Leica SL2:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (46.7 vs 15.8MP) with a 75% higher linear resolution.
- High quality composites: Can combine several shots after pixel-shifting its sensor.
- 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).
- Better sound: Can connect to an external microphone for higher quality sound recording.
- Better sound control: Has a headphone port that enables audio monitoring while recording.
- More detailed viewfinder: Has higher resolution electronic viewfinder (5760k vs 2765k dots).
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.78x vs 0.70x).
- 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 1040k dots).
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (10 vs 8 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (370 versus 290) on a single battery charge.
- Better sealing: Is weather sealed to enable shooting in dusty or wet environments.
- Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (3.1 vs 2.0).
- More solid recording: Has a full-sized HDMI port for a sturdy connection to an external recorder.
- Easier wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
- Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
- Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
- Faster buffer clearing: Supports a more advanced SD data transfer standard (UHS-II vs UHS-I).
- More prestigious: Has the Leica luxury appeal, which ensures a high resale price.
- More modern: Reflects 3 years and 7 months of technical progress since the GX85 launch.
Advantages of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX85:
- More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
- More compact: Is smaller (122x71mm vs 146x107mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 527g or 55 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (87 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in April 2016).
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the SL2 is the clear winner of the match-up (26 : 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. 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 and the Panasonic GX85 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 says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the SL2 and the GX85 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 where reviews by experts come in. 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||4/5||..||..||4.5/5||4/5||Nov 2019||5,999|
|2.||Panasonic GX85||4.5/5||+ +||82/100||5/5||5/5||Apr 2016||799|
|3.||Canon R5||4.5/5||..||91/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jul 2020||3,899|
|4.||Leica SL2-S||4/5||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Dec 2020||4,895|
|5.||Leica Q2||..||..||84/100||4.5/5||4/5||Mar 2019||4,995|
|6.||Leica SL||4/5||..||84/100||4.5/5||4/5||Oct 2015||7,450|
|7.||Nikon Z7||5/5||+||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||Aug 2018||3,399|
|8.||Olympus E-M10 II||4.5/5||+ +||80/100||5/5||5/5||Aug 2015||649|
|9.||Panasonic S1||4.5/5||+ +||88/100||4.5/5||4/5||Feb 2019||2,499|
|10.||Panasonic S1R||4.5/5||..||89/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2019||3,699|
|11.||Panasonic S1H||..||..||90/100||..||..||May 2019||3,999|
|12.||Panasonic GX9||4/5||+||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2018||849|
|13.||Panasonic G85||..||+ +||84/100||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2016||899|
|14.||Panasonic GX7||4/5||+||79/100||5/5||5/5||Aug 2013||999|
|15.||Panasonic GH2||5/5||+ +||79/100||4.5/5||5/5||Sep 2010||899|
|16.||Pentax K-1 II||..||..||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2018||1,999|
|17.||Sony A99 II||..||..||85/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2016||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. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, 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 would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just make your choice using the following search menu. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.
Specifications: Leica SL2 vs Panasonic GX85
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||Panasonic GX85|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Leica L mount lenses||Micro Four Thirds lenses|
|Launch Date||November 2019||April 2016|
|Launch Price||USD 5,999||USD 799|
|Sensor Specs||Leica SL2||Panasonic GX85|
|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||46.7 Megapixels||15.8 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||8368 x 5584 pixels||4592 x 3448 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.30 μm||3.77 μm|
|Pixel Density||5.41 MP/cm2||7.04 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 - 50,000 ISO||100 - 25,600 ISO|
|Image Processor||Maestro III||Venus|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||..||71|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||..||22.9|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||..||12.6|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||..||662|
|Screen Specs||Leica SL2||Panasonic GX85|
|Viewfinder Type||Electronic viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||5760k dots||2765k 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||1040k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Tilting screen|
|Shooting Specs||Leica SL2||Panasonic GX85|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||Focus Peaking||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/8000s||1/4000s|
|Continuous Shooting||10 shutter flaps/s||8 shutter flaps/s|
|Electronic Shutter||up to 1/40000s||up to 1/16000s|
|Time-Lapse Photography||Intervalometer built-in||Intervalometer built-in|
|Image Stabilization||In-body stabilization||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||Build-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Dual card slots||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||Dual UHS-II||UHS-I|
|Connectivity Specs||Leica SL2||Panasonic GX85|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||no PC Sync|
|USB Connector||USB 3.1||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||full HDMI||micro HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||no MIC socket|
|Headphone Socket||Headphone port||no Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||Wifi built-in|
|Bluetooth Support||Bluetooth built-in||no Bluetooth|
|Body Specs||Leica SL2||Panasonic GX85|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||not weather sealed|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||370 shots per charge||290 shots per charge|
|In-Camera Charging||USB charging||USB charging|
146 x 107 x 42 mm
(5.7 x 4.2 x 1.7 in)
122 x 71 x 44 mm
(4.8 x 2.8 x 1.7 in)
|Camera Weight||953 g (33.6 oz)||426 g (15.0 oz)|
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