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Leica TL vs Nikon Df

The Leica TL and the Nikon Df are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in November 2016 and November 2013. The TL is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, while the Df is a DSLR. The cameras are based on an APS-C (TL) and a full frame (Df) sensor. The Leica has a resolution of 16.1 megapixels, whereas the Nikon provides 16.2 MP.

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

Headline Specifications
Leica TL versus Nikon Df
Leica TL Nikon Df
Mirrorless system camera Digital single lens reflex
Leica T mount lenses Nikon F mount lenses
16.1 MP, APS-C Sensor 16.2 MP, Full Frame Sensor
1080/30p Video no Video
ISO 100-12,500 ISO 100-12,800 (50 - 204,800)
Viewfinder optional Optical viewfinder
3.7 LCD, 1230k dots 3.2 LCD, 921k dots
Fixed touchscreen Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
5 shutter flaps per second 5.5 shutter flaps per second
not weather sealedWeathersealed body
400 shots per battery charge1400 shots per battery charge
134 x 69 x 33 mm, 384 g 144 x 110 x 67 mm, 760 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Leica TL and the Nikon Df? 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

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Leica TL and the Nikon Df is provided 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 width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

The TL can be obtained in three different colors (black, silver, titanium), while the Df is available in two color-versions (black, silver).

Size Leica TL vs Nikon Df
Compare TL versus Df top
Comparison TL or Df rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon Df is considerably larger (71 percent) than the Leica TL. Moreover, the Df is substantially heavier (98 percent) than the TL. It is noteworthy in this context that the Df is splash and dust-proof, while the TL 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 power pack in the TL can be charged via the USB port, so that it is not always necessary to take the battery charger along when travelling.

The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, just select a new right or left comparator from among the camera models in the table. Alternatively, you can also 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 1
Weather
Sealing
Camera
Launch 2
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
 
Leica TL 5.3 in 2.7 in 1.3 in 13.5 oz 400 n Nov 2016 1,695i
 
Nikon Df 5.7 in 4.3 in 2.6 in 26.8 oz 1400 Y Nov 2013 2,749i
 
Fujifilm X70 4.4 in 2.5 in 1.7 in 12.0 oz 330 n Jan 2016 799i
 
Fujifilm X-A10 4.6 in 2.6 in 1.6 in 11.7 oz 410 n Dec 2016 399i
 
Fujifilm X-E2S 5.1 in 3.0 in 1.5 in 12.3 oz 350 n Jan 2016 699i
 
Fujifilm X-A2 4.6 in 2.6 in 1.6 in 12.3 oz 410 n Jan 2015 399i
 
Fujifilm X-T10 4.6 in 3.3 in 1.6 in 13.4 oz 350 n May 2015 799i
 
Fujifilm X-Pro1 5.5 in 3.2 in 1.7 in 15.9 oz 300 n Jan 2012 1,699i
 
Leica CL 5.2 in 3.1 in 1.8 in 14.2 oz 220 n Nov 2017 2,795 i
 
Leica TL2 5.3 in 2.7 in 1.3 in 14.1 oz 250 n Jul 2017 1,950 i
 
Leica T 5.3 in 2.7 in 1.3 in 13.5 oz 400 n Apr 2014 1,850i
 
Leica X2 4.9 in 2.7 in 2.0 in 12.2 oz 450 n May 2012 1,995i
 
Nikon D850 5.7 in 4.9 in 3.1 in 35.5 oz 1840 Y Jul 2017 3,299 i
 
Nikon D750 5.6 in 4.4 in 3.1 in 26.5 oz 1230 Y Sep 2014 2,299i
 
Nikon D810 5.7 in 4.8 in 3.2 in 34.6 oz 1200 Y Jun 2014 3,299i
 
Nikon D610 5.6 in 4.4 in 3.2 in 30.0 oz 900 Y Oct 2013 1,999 i
 
Nikon D4 6.3 in 6.2 in 3.6 in 47.3 oz 2600 Y Jan 2012 5,999i
Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.
(1) Number of images that can be taken on a full battery charge according to the CIPA-standard; (2) Official announcement.

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 TL was launched at a markedly lower price (by 38 percent) than the Df, 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.

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. 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 are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Leica TL features an APS-C sensor and the Nikon Df a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the Df is 132 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.5 and 1.0. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Leica TL and Nikon Df sensor measures

With 16.2MP, the Df offers a higher resolution than the TL (16.1MP), but the Df nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 7.29μm versus 4.80μm for the TL) due to its larger sensor. However, the TL is a much more recent model (by 3 years) than the Df, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the TL has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.

The Leica TL has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 12500. The corresponding ISO settings for the Nikon Df are ISO 100 to ISO 12800, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 50-204800.

TL versus Df 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 following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.

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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
 
Leica TL APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p........
 
Nikon Df Full Frame 16.2 4928 3280none24.613.1327989
 
Fujifilm X70 APS-C 16.0 4896 32641080/60p........
 
Fujifilm X-A10 APS-C 16.0 4896 32641080/30p........
 
Fujifilm X-E2S APS-C 16.0 4896 32641080/60p........
 
Fujifilm X-A2 APS-C 16.0 4896 32641080/30p........
 
Fujifilm X-T10 APS-C 16.0 4896 32641080/60p........
 
Fujifilm X-Pro1 APS-C 16.0 4896 32641080/24p........
 
Leica CL APS-C 24.1 6014 40144K/30p........
 
Leica TL2 APS-C 24.1 6014 40144K/30p........
 
Leica T APS-C 16.2 4944 32781080/30p23.012.7108275
 
Leica X2 APS-C 16.1 4928 3264none........
 
Nikon D850 Full Frame 45.4 8256 55044K/30p26.414.82660100
 
Nikon D750 Full Frame 24.2 6016 40161080/60p24.814.5295693
 
Nikon D810 Full Frame 36.2 7360 49121080/60p25.714.8285397
 
Nikon D610 Full Frame 24.2 6016 40161080/30p25.114.4292594
 
Nikon D4 Full Frame 16.2 4928 32801080/30p24.713.1296589

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The TL indeed provides movie recording capabilities, while the Df does not. The highest resolution format that the TL can use is 1080/30p.

Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the Df has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the TL relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. That said, the TL can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the Visoflex (Typ 020). The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Leica TL and Nikon Df in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar 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
 
Leica TLoptional n 3.7 1230 fixed Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
 
Nikon Dfoptical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 1/4000s 5.5 n n
 
Fujifilm X70optional n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 1/4000s 8.0 Y n
 
Fujifilm X-A10none n 3.0 1040 tilting n 1/4000s 6.0 Y n
 
Fujifilm X-E2S2360 n 3.0 1040 fixed n 1/4000s 7.0 Y n
 
Fujifilm X-A2none n 3.0 920 tilting n 1/4000s 5.6 Y n
 
Fujifilm X-T102360 n 3.0 920 tilting n 1/4000s 8.0 Y n
 
Fujifilm X-Pro11440 n 3.0 1230 fixed n 1/4000s 6.0 n n
 
Leica CL2360 Y 3.0 1040 fixed Y 1/8000s 10.0 n n
 
Leica TL2optional n 3.7 1230 fixed Y 1/4000s 7.0 n n
 
Leica Toptional n 3.7 1300 fixed Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
 
Leica X2optional n 2.7 230 fixed n 1/2000s 5.0 Y n
 
Nikon D850optical Y 3.2 2359 tilting Y 1/8000s 9.0 n n
 
Nikon D750optical Y 3.2 1229 tilting n 1/4000s 6.0 Y n
 
Nikon D810optical Y 3.2 1229 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 Y n
 
Nikon D610optical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 1/4000s 6.0 Y n
 
Nikon D4optical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 1/8000s 11.0 n n

One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The TL has one, while the Df does not. While the built-in flash of the TL is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.

The Nikon Df has 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 TL and the Df write their files to SDXC cards. The Df supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s), while the TL cannot take advantage of Ultra High Speed SD cards.

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 TL and Nikon Df 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
 
Leica TLYstereomono--micro2.0Y--
 
Nikon DfY----mini2.0---
 
Fujifilm X70YstereomonoY-micro2.0Y--
 
Fujifilm X-A10-stereomono--mini2.0Y--
 
Fujifilm X-E2SYstereomonoY-micro2.0Y--
 
Fujifilm X-A2Ystereomono--mini2.0Y--
 
Fujifilm X-T10YstereomonoY-micro2.0Y--
 
Fujifilm X-Pro1Ystereomono--mini2.0---
 
Leica CLYstereomono----Y--
 
Leica TL2Ystereomono--micro3.0Y--
 
Leica TYstereomono---2.0Y--
 
Leica X2Y----mini2.0---
 
Nikon D850YstereomonoYYmini3.0YYY
 
Nikon D750YstereomonoYYmini2.0Y--
 
Nikon D810YstereomonoYYmini3.0Y--
 
Nikon D610YmonomonoYYmini2.0---
 
Nikon D4YmonomonoYYmicro2.0---

It is notable that the TL offers wifi support, while the Df does not. Wifi can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location.

Studio photographers will appreciate that the Nikon Df (unlike the TL) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.

Both the TL and the Df have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The TL was replaced by the Leica TL2, while the Df does not have a direct successor. 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.

Review summary

So what conclusions can be drawn? Is the Leica TL better than the Nikon Df or vice versa? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.

ilogo

Advantages of the Leica TL:

  • Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
  • Broader imaging potential: Can record not only still images but also 1080/30p movies.
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.7" vs 3.2") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1230k vs 921k dots).
  • Fewer buttons to press: Is equipped with a touch-sensitive rear screen to facilitate handling.
  • More compact: Is smaller (134x69mm vs 144x110mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter (by 376g or 49 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
  • Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
  • More legacy lens friendly: Can take a broad range of non-native lenses via adapters.
  • Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
  • Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
  • More prestigious: Has the Leica luxury appeal, which ensures a high resale price.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (38 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Reflects 3 years of technical progress since the Df launch.

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Reasons to prefer the Nikon Df:

  • Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
  • Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
  • Easier setting verification: Features a control panel on top to check shooting parameters.
  • Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (1400 versus 400) out of a single battery charge.
  • Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
  • Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
  • Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in November 2013).

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the TL is the clear winner of the match-up (13 : 9 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 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.

TL 13:09 Df

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Leica TL and the Nikon Df place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera and Best DSLR Camera listings 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 incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the TL or the Df perform in practice. 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.

Expert reviews

This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, and photographyblog). 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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Review Scores
  Camera
Model
camera
  labs  
dp
review  
ephoto
  zine  
imaging
resource
photography
  blog  
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
 
Leica TL........4/5 Nov 2016 1,695i
 
Nikon Df..81/1004/54/54/5 Nov 2013 2,749i
 
Fujifilm X70..76/1004.5/54/54.5/5 Jan 2016 799i
 
Fujifilm X-A10....4/5..4/5 Dec 2016 399i
 
Fujifilm X-E2S..77/1004.5/5..4.5/5 Jan 2016 699i
 
Fujifilm X-A2....4.5/54/54.5/5 Jan 2015 399i
 
Fujifilm X-T10+ +80/1005/54/55/5 May 2015 799i
 
Fujifilm X-Pro1+ +79/1004.5/54/54.5/5 Jan 2012 1,699i
 
Leica CL........4/5 Nov 2017 2,795 i
 
Leica TL2....4/5..4/5 Jul 2017 1,950 i
 
Leica T....4/5..4/5 Apr 2014 1,850i
 
Leica X2....3/5..4/5 May 2012 1,995i
 
Nikon D850+ +89/1004.5/55/55/5 Jul 2017 3,299 i
 
Nikon D750+ +90/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Sep 2014 2,299i
 
Nikon D810..86/1005/54.5/54.5/5 Jun 2014 3,299i
 
Nikon D610+ +87/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Oct 2013 1,999 i
 
Nikon D4....4.5/5..4.5/5 Jan 2012 5,999i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.

Leica TL:
Check Ebay offers
Nikon Df:
Check Ebay offers

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 TL vs Nikon Df

    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 TL Nikon Df
    Camera Type Mirrorless system camera Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Leica T mount lenses Nikon F mount lenses
    Launch Date November 2016 November 2013
    Launch Price USD 1,695 USD 2,749
    Sensor Specs Leica TL Nikon Df
    Sensor Technology CMOS CMOS
    Sensor Format APS-C Sensor Full Frame Sensor
    Sensor Size 23.6 x 15.7 mm 36.0 x 23.9 mm
    Sensor Area 370.52 mm2 860.4 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 28.3 mm 43.2 mm
    Crop Factor 1.5x 1.0x
    Sensor Resolution 16.1 Megapixels 16.2 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 4928 x 3264 pixels 4928 x 3280 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 4.80 μm 7.29 μm
    Pixel Density 4.34 MP/cm2 1.88 MP/cm2
    Moiré control no AA filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability 1080/30p Video no Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 12,500 ISO 100 - 12,800 ISO
    ISO Boost no Enhancement 50 - 204,800 ISO
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) .. 89
    DXO Color Depth (bits) .. 24.6
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) .. 13.1
    DXO Low Light (ISO) .. 3279
    Screen Specs Leica TL Nikon Df
    Viewfinder Type Viewfinder optional Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 100%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.70x
    Top-Level Screen no Top Display Control Panel
    LCD Framing Live View Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.7inch 3.2inch
    LCD Resolution 1230k dots 921k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Touch Input Touchscreen no Touchscreen
    Shooting Specs Leica TL Nikon Df
    Focus System Contrast-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 5 shutter flaps/s 5.5 shutter flaps/s
    Time-Lapse Photographyno IntervalometerIntervalometer built-in
    Fill Flash Build-in Flash no On-Board Flash
    Storage Medium SDXC cards SDXC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    UHS card support no UHS-I
    Connectivity Specs Leica TL Nikon Df
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    Studio Flash no PC Sync PC Sync socket
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port micro HDMI mini HDMI
    Wifi Support Wifi built-in no Wifi
    Body Specs Leica TL Nikon Df
    Environmental Sealingnot weather sealedWeathersealed body
    Battery Type BP-DC13 EN-EL14
    Battery Life (CIPA)400 shots per charge1400 shots per charge
    In-Camera Charging USB charging no USB charging
    Body Dimensions 134 x 69 x 33 mm
    (5.3 x 2.7 x 1.3 in)
    144 x 110 x 67 mm
    (5.7 x 4.3 x 2.6 in)
    Camera Weight 384 g (13.5 oz) 760 g (26.8 oz)

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