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Leica SL2 vs Panasonic S1

The Leica SL2 and the Panasonic Lumix DC-S1 are two enthusiast cameras that were announced, respectively, in November 2019 and February 2019. Both the SL2 and the S1 are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are equipped with a full frame sensor. The Leica has a resolution of 46.7 megapixels, whereas the Panasonic provides 24 MP.

Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.

Headline Specifications
Leica SL2 versus Panasonic S1
Leica SL2 Panasonic S1
Mirrorless system camera Mirrorless system camera
Leica L mount lenses Leica L mount lenses
46.7 MP, Full Frame Sensor 24 MP, Full Frame Sensor
4K/60p Video 4K/60p Video
ISO 100-50,000 ISO 100-51,200 (50 - 204,800)
Electronic viewfinder (5760k dots) Electronic viewfinder (5760k dots)
3.2 LCD, 2100k dots 3.2 LCD, 2100k dots
Fixed touchscreen Fully flexible touchscreen
10 shutter flaps per second 9 shutter flaps per second
In-body stabilizationIn-body stabilization
Weathersealed bodyWeathersealed body
370 shots per battery charge400 shots per battery charge
146 x 107 x 42 mm, 953 g 149 x 110 x 97 mm, 1017 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Leica SL2 and the Panasonic Lumix DC-S1? 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.

Body comparison

The physical size and weight of the Leica SL2 and the Panasonic S1 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. 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 dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

Size Leica SL2 vs Panasonic S1
Compare SL2 versus S1 top
Comparison SL2 or S1 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Panasonic S1 is somewhat larger (5 percent) than the Leica SL2. Moreover, the S1 is markedly heavier (7 percent) than the SL2. 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 want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, you can move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.

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Body Specifications
    Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
Weather
Sealing
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Leica SL2 146 mm 107 mm 42 mm 953 g 370 Y Nov 2019 5,999 i
2.
 
Panasonic S1 149 mm 110 mm 97 mm 1017 g 400 Y Feb 2019 2,499 i
3.
 
Canon R6 138 mm 98 mm 88 mm 680 g 360 Y Jul 2020 2,499 i
4.
 
Leica SL2-S 146 mm 107 mm 83 mm 931 g 510 Y Dec 2020 4,895 i
5.
 
Leica Q2 130 mm 80 mm 92 mm 718 g 370 Y Mar 2019 4,995 i
6.
 
Leica SL 147 mm 104 mm 39 mm 847 g 400 Y Oct 2015 7,450i
7.
 
Nikon Z7 134 mm 101 mm 67 mm 675 g 330 Y Aug 2018 3,399i
8.
 
Olympus E-M1X 144 mm 147 mm 75 mm 997 g 870 Y Jan 2019 2,999 i
9.
 
Panasonic S5 133 mm 98 mm 82 mm 714 g 440 Y Sep 2020 1,999 i
10.
 
Panasonic S1R 149 mm 110 mm 97 mm 1016 g 380 Y Feb 2019 3,699 i
11.
 
Panasonic S1H 151 mm 114 mm 110 mm 1052 g 400 Y May 2019 3,999 i
12.
 
Pentax K-1 II 137 mm 110 mm 86 mm 1010 g 670 Y Feb 2018 1,999 i
13.
 
Sony A99 II 143 mm 104 mm 76 mm 849 g 490 Y Sep 2016 3,199 i
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 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 S1 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 58 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.

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Sensor comparison

The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants of image quality. A large sensor will tend to have larger individual pixels that provide better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixel-units in a sensor of the same technological generation. Furthermore, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more possibilities to use shallow depth-of-field in order to isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.

Both cameras under consideration feature a full frame sensor, but their sensors differ slightly in size. The sensor area in the S1 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.

Leica SL2 and Panasonic S1 sensor measures

With 46.7MP, the SL2 offers a higher resolution than the S1 (24MP), but the SL2 has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.30μm versus 5.94μm for the S1). However, the SL2 is a somewhat more recent model (by 9 months) than the S1, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that 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 S1 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.

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 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 DC-S1 are ISO 100 to ISO 51200, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 50-204800.

SL2 versus S1 MP

For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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 adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.

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Sensor Characteristics
    Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
1.
 
Leica SL2 Full Frame 46.7 8368 55844K/60p........
2.
 
Panasonic S1 Full Frame 24.0 6000 40004K/60p25.214.5333395
3.
 
Canon R6 Full Frame 20.0 5472 36484k/60p24.214.3339490
4.
 
Leica SL2-S Full Frame 24.0 6000 40004K/60p........
5.
 
Leica Q2 Full Frame 46.7 8368 55844K/30p26.413.5249196
6.
 
Leica SL Full Frame 24.0 6000 40004K/30p25.013.4182188
7.
 
Nikon Z7 Full Frame 45.4 8256 55044K/30p26.314.6266899
8.
 
Olympus E-M1X Four Thirds 20.2 5184 38884K/30p........
9.
 
Panasonic S5 Full Frame 24.0 6000 40004K/60p........
10.
 
Panasonic S1R Full Frame 46.7 8368 55844K/60p26.414.13525100
11.
 
Panasonic S1H Full Frame 24.0 6000 40006K/30p........
12.
 
Pentax K-1 II Full Frame 36.2 7360 49121080/60i........
13.
 
Sony A99 II Full Frame 42.2 7952 53044K/30p25.413.4231792

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. 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).

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Feature comparison

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The SL2 and the S1 are similar in the sense that both feature an electronic viewfinder, which is helpful when framing images in bright sunlight. Moreover, their viewfinders offer an identical resolution of 5760k dots. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Leica SL2, the Panasonic S1, and comparable cameras.

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Core Features
    Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
(000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Mech
Shutter
Speed
Shutter
Flaps
(1/sec)
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
1.
 
Leica SL25760 Y 3.2 2100 fixed Y 1/8000s 10.0 n Y
2.
 
Panasonic S15760 Y 3.2 2100 full-flex Y 1/8000s 9.0 n Y
3.
 
Canon R65760 n 3.0 1620 swivel Y 1/8000s 12.0 n Y
4.
 
Leica SL2-S5760 Y 3.2 2100 fixed Y 1/8000s 20.0 n Y
5.
 
Leica Q23680 n 3.0 1040 fixed Y 1/2000s 20.0 n Y
6.
 
Leica SL4400 Y 3.0 1040 fixed Y 1/8000s 11.0 n n
7.
 
Nikon Z73690 Y 3.2 2100 tilting Y 1/8000s 9.0 n Y
8.
 
Olympus E-M1X2360 n 3.0 1037 swivel Y 1/8000s 18.0 n Y
9.
 
Panasonic S52360 n 3.0 1840 full-flex Y 1/8000s 7.0 n Y
10.
 
Panasonic S1R5760 Y 3.2 2100 full-flex Y 1/8000s 9.0 n Y
11.
 
Panasonic S1H5760 Y 3.2 2330 swivel Y 1/8000s 9.0 n Y
12.
 
Pentax K-1 IIoptical Y 3.2 1037 full-flex n 1/8000s 4.4 n Y
13.
 
Sony A99 II2400 Y 3.0 1229 full-flex n 1/8000s 12.0 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 and the Panasonic S1 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 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the S1 uses SDHC or XQD cards. Both cameras feature dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. Both cameras support UHS-II cards, which provide for Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 312 MB/s.

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Connectivity comparison

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 DC-S1 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.

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Input-Output Connections
    Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
1.
 
Leica SL2YstereomonoYYfull3.1Y-Y
2.
 
Panasonic S1YstereomonoYYfull3.1Y-Y
3.
 
Canon R6YmonomonoYYmicro3.2Y-Y
4.
 
Leica SL2-SYstereomonoYYfull3.2Y-Y
5.
 
Leica Q2Ystereomono----Y-Y
6.
 
Leica SLYstereomonoYYfull3.0Y--
7.
 
Nikon Z7YstereomonoYYmicro3.1Y-Y
8.
 
Olympus E-M1XYstereomonoYYmicro3.0Y-Y
9.
 
Panasonic S5YstereomonoYYmicro3.2Y-Y
10.
 
Panasonic S1RYstereomonoYYfull3.1Y-Y
11.
 
Panasonic S1HYstereomonoYYfull3.1Y-Y
12.
 
Pentax K-1 IIYstereomonoYYmicro2.0Y--
13.
 
Sony A99 IIYstereomonoYYmicro2.0YYY

Both cameras feature a PC Sync terminal to control professional strobe lights, which will be appreciated by studio photographers.

Both the SL2 and the S1 are recent models that are part of the current product line-up. The SL2 replaced the earlier Leica SL (Typ 601), while the S1 does not have a direct predecessor. 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.

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Review summary

So what conclusions can be drawn? Which of the two cameras – the Leica SL2 or the Panasonic S1 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.

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Arguments in favor of the Leica SL2:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (46.7 vs 24MP) with a 40% higher linear resolution.
  • More prestigious: Has the Leica luxury appeal, which ensures a high resale price.
  • More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 9 months after the S1).

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Reasons to prefer the Panasonic Lumix DC-S1:

  • More flexible LCD: Has a full-flex screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (58 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in February 2019).

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the match-up finishes in a tie (3 points each). 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 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.

SL2 03:03 S1

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Leica SL2 and the Panasonic S1 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 S1 in practical situations. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased.

Expert reviews

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], 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.

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Expert Camera Reviews
     Camera 
 Model 
 AP 
 score 
 CL 
 score 
 DPR 
 score 
 EPZ 
 score 
 PB 
 score 
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Leica SL24/5....4.5/54/5 Nov 2019 5,999 i
2.
 
Panasonic S14.5/5+ +88/1004.5/54/5 Feb 2019 2,499 i
3.
 
Canon R65/5+ +90/1004.5/55/5 Jul 2020 2,499 i
4.
 
Leica SL2-S4/5......4.5/5 Dec 2020 4,895 i
5.
 
Leica Q2....84/1004.5/54/5 Mar 2019 4,995 i
6.
 
Leica SL4/5..84/1004.5/54/5 Oct 2015 7,450i
7.
 
Nikon Z75/5+89/1004.5/55/5 Aug 2018 3,399i
8.
 
Olympus E-M1X4.5/5o..4.5/5.. Jan 2019 2,999 i
9.
 
Panasonic S54.5/5+ +..4.5/54.5/5 Sep 2020 1,999 i
10.
 
Panasonic S1R4.5/5..89/1004.5/54.5/5 Feb 2019 3,699 i
11.
 
Panasonic S1H....90/100.... May 2019 3,999 i
12.
 
Pentax K-1 II....79/1004.5/54.5/5 Feb 2018 1,999 i
13.
 
Sony A99 II....85/1004.5/54.5/5 Sep 2016 3,199 i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

The review scores listed above should be treated 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. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, 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.

Leica SL2:
Check Amazon price
Panasonic S1:
Check Amazon price

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 use the search menu below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.

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    Specifications: Leica SL2 vs Panasonic S1

    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 Specifications
    Camera Model Leica SL2 Panasonic S1
    Camera Type Mirrorless system camera Mirrorless system camera
    Camera Lens Leica L mount lenses Leica L mount lenses
    Launch Date November 2019 February 2019
    Launch Price USD 5,999 USD 2,499
    Sensor Specs Leica SL2 Panasonic S1
    Sensor Technology CMOS CMOS
    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
    Crop Factor 1.0x 1.0x
    Sensor Resolution 46.7 Megapixels 24 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 8368 x 5584 pixels 6000 x 4000 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 4.30 μm 5.94 μm
    Pixel Density 5.41 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 - 50,000 ISO 50 - 204,800 ISO
    Image Processor Maestro III Venus
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) .. 95
    DXO Color Depth (bits) .. 25.2
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) .. 14.5
    DXO Low Light (ISO) .. 3333
    Screen Specs Leica SL2 Panasonic S1
    Viewfinder Type Electronic viewfinder Electronic viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 100% 100%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.78x 0.78x
    Viewfinder Resolution 5760k dots 5760k 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 Fully flexible screen
    Touch Input Touchscreen Touchscreen
    Shooting Specs Leica SL2 Panasonic S1
    Focus System Contrast-detect AF Contrast-detect AF
    Manual Focusing AidFocus PeakingFocus Peaking
    Max Shutter Speed (mechanical) 1/8000s 1/8000s
    Continuous Shooting 10 shutter flaps/s 9 shutter flaps/s
    Shutter Life Expectancy400 000 actuations400 000 actuations
    Electronic Shutterup to 1/40000sup to 1/8000s
    Time-Lapse PhotographyIntervalometer built-inIntervalometer built-in
    Image StabilizationIn-body stabilizationIn-body stabilization
    Fill Flash no On-Board Flash no On-Board Flash
    Storage Medium SDXC cards SDXC or XQD cards
    Second Storage Option Dual card slots Dual card slots
    UHS card support Dual UHS-II UHS-II
    Connectivity Specs Leica SL2 Panasonic S1
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    Studio Flash PC Sync socket PC Sync socket
    USB Connector USB 3.1 USB 3.1
    HDMI Port full HDMI full 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 Panasonic S1
    Environmental SealingWeathersealed bodyWeathersealed body
    Battery Type BP-SCL4 DMW-BLJ31
    Battery Life (CIPA)370 shots per charge400 shots per charge
    In-Camera Charging USB charging USB charging
    Body Dimensions 146 x 107 x 42 mm
    (5.7 x 4.2 x 1.7 in)
    149 x 110 x 97 mm
    (5.9 x 4.3 x 3.8 in)
    Camera Weight 953 g (33.6 oz) 1017 g (35.9 oz)

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