Leica TL2 vs Nikon D780
The Leica TL2 and the Nikon D780 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in July 2017 and January 2020. The TL2 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, while the D780 is a DSLR. The cameras are based on an APS-C (TL2) and a full frame (D780) sensor. The Leica has a resolution of 24.1 megapixels, whereas the Nikon provides 24.3 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 TL2 and the Nikon D780? 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.
An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Leica TL2 and the Nikon D780 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 dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The TL2 can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the D780 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 Nikon D780 is considerably larger (81 percent) than the Leica TL2. Moreover, the D780 is substantially heavier (111 percent) than the TL2. It is noteworthy in this context that the D780 is splash and dust-proof, while the TL2 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 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, you can move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.
|1.||Leica TL2||134 mm||69 mm||33 mm||399 g||250||n||Jul 2017||1,950|
|2.||Nikon D780||144 mm||116 mm||76 mm||840 g||2260||Y||Jan 2020||2,299|
|3.||Canon 6D Mark II||144 mm||111 mm||75 mm||765 g||1200||Y||Jun 2017||1,999|
|4.||Fujifilm X-T100||121 mm||83 mm||47 mm||448 g||430||n||May 2018||599|
|5.||Fujifilm X-T20||118 mm||83 mm||41 mm||383 g||350||n||Jan 2017||899|
|6.||Fujifilm X-A3||117 mm||67 mm||40 mm||339 g||410||n||Aug 2016||399|
|7.||Leica C-LUX||113 mm||67 mm||46 mm||340 g||370||n||Jun 2018||1,049|
|8.||Leica CL||131 mm||78 mm||45 mm||403 g||220||n||Nov 2017||2,795|
|9.||Leica TL||134 mm||69 mm||33 mm||384 g||400||n||Nov 2016||1,695|
|10.||Leica T||134 mm||69 mm||33 mm||384 g||400||n||Apr 2014||1,850|
|11.||Nikon D6||160 mm||163 mm||92 mm||1270 g||3580||Y||Feb 2020||6,499|
|12.||Nikon Z6 II||134 mm||101 mm||70 mm||705 g||410||Y||Oct 2020||1,999|
|13.||Nikon D3500||124 mm||97 mm||70 mm||365 g||1550||n||Aug 2018||429|
|14.||Nikon D5600||124 mm||97 mm||70 mm||465 g||970||n||Nov 2016||699|
|15.||Nikon D5||160 mm||159 mm||92 mm||1415 g||3780||Y||Jan 2016||6,499|
|16.||Nikon D3400||124 mm||98 mm||76 mm||445 g||1200||n||Aug 2016||499|
|17.||Nikon D750||141 mm||113 mm||78 mm||750 g||1230||Y||Sep 2014||2,299|
|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 TL2 was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 15 percent) than the D780, which makes it more attractive for photographers on a tight budget. 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. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.
The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors of image quality. All other things equal, a large sensor will have larger individual pixel-units that offer better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Further, a large sensor camera will give the photographer additional creative options when using shallow depth-of-field to isolate a subject from its 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 TL2 features an APS-C sensor and the Nikon D780 a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the D780 is 131 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.
With 24.3MP, the D780 offers a higher resolution than the TL2 (24.1MP), but the D780 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 5.94μm versus 3.92μm for the TL2) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the D780 is a much more recent model (by 2 years and 5 months) than the TL2, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the TL2 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.
The D780 has on-sensor phase detect pixels, which results in fast and reliable autofocus acquisition even during live view operation.
The Leica TL2 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 50000. The corresponding ISO settings for the Nikon D780 are ISO 100 to ISO 51200, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 50-204800.
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 adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
| DXO |
|2.||Nikon D780||Full Frame||24.3||6048||4024||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|3.||Canon 6D Mark II||Full Frame||26.0||6240||4160||1080/60p||24.4||11.9||2862||85|
|11.||Nikon D6||Full Frame||20.7||5568||3712||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|12.||Nikon Z6 II||Full Frame||24.3||6048||4024||4K/60p||..||..||..||..|
|15.||Nikon D5||Full Frame||20.7||5588||3712||4K/30p||25.1||12.3||2343||88|
|17.||Nikon D750||Full Frame||24.2||6016||4016||1080/60p||24.8||14.5||2956||93|
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/30p).
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the D780 has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the TL2 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. That said, the TL2 can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the Visoflex (Typ 020). The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Leica TL2 and Nikon D780 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|3.||Canon 6D Mark II||optical||Y||3.0||1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||6.5||n||n|
|12.||Nikon Z6 II||3690||Y||3.2||2100||tilting||Y||1/8000s||14.0||n||Y|
One feature that is present on the D780, but is missing on the TL2 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 Nikon D780 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 TL2 and the D780 write their files to SDXC cards. The D780 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the TL2 only has one slot. Moreover, both cameras support UHS-II cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 312 MB/s).
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 TL2 and Nikon D780 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|3.||Canon 6D Mark II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|12.||Nikon Z6 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.2||Y||-||Y|
It is notable that the D780 has a headphone jack, which makes it possible to attach external headphones and monitor the quality of sound during the recording process. The TL2 lacks such a headphone port.
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Nikon D780 (unlike the TL2) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Both the TL2 and the D780 are recent models that are part of the current product line-up. The TL2 replaced the earlier Leica TL, while the D780 followed on from the Nikon D750. 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.
So how do things add up? Is there a clear favorite between the Leica TL2 and the Nikon D780? Which camera is better? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Arguments in favor of the Leica TL2:
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.7" vs 3.2") for image review and settings control.
- More compact: Is smaller (134x69mm vs 144x116mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 441g or 52 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
- More legacy lens friendly: Can take a broad range of non-native lenses via adapters.
- More prestigious: Has the Leica luxury appeal, which ensures a high resale price.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced segment (15 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in July 2017).
Advantages of the Nikon D780:
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- Better image quality: Is equipped with a larger and more technologically advanced 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 live-view autofocus: Features on-sensor phase-detection for more confident autofocus.
- 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.
- 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.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (2359k vs 1230k dots).
- More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (12 vs 7 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (2260 versus 250) out of a single battery charge.
- Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
- 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.
- More modern: Reflects 2 years and 5 months of technical progress since the TL2 launch.
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the D780 is the clear winner of the contest (21 : 8 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.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Leica TL2 and the Nikon D780 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 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 TL2 or the D780. 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 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 (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 TL2||3.5/5||..||..||4/5||4/5||Jul 2017||1,950|
|2.||Nikon D780||5/5||..||87/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2020||2,299|
|3.||Canon 6D Mark II||4/5||+||80/100||4.5/5||4/5||Jun 2017||1,999|
|4.||Fujifilm X-T100||4/5||+||79/100||4/5||4.5/5||May 2018||599|
|5.||Fujifilm X-T20||5/5||+ +||82/100||5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2017||899|
|6.||Fujifilm X-A3||..||..||74/100||4.5/5||4/5||Aug 2016||399|
|7.||Leica C-LUX||..||..||..||4.5/5||4/5||Jun 2018||1,049|
|8.||Leica CL||..||..||..||..||4/5||Nov 2017||2,795|
|9.||Leica TL||..||..||..||..||4/5||Nov 2016||1,695|
|10.||Leica T||3/5||..||..||4/5||4/5||Apr 2014||1,850|
|11.||Nikon D6||..||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2020||6,499|
|12.||Nikon Z6 II||4.5/5||..||89/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2020||1,999|
|13.||Nikon D3500||..||..||75/100||4/5||4.5/5||Aug 2018||429|
|14.||Nikon D5600||4/5||..||79/100||4.5/5||4/5||Nov 2016||699|
|15.||Nikon D5||..||..||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jan 2016||6,499|
|16.||Nikon D3400||4/5||+||76/100||4/5||4.5/5||Aug 2016||499|
|17.||Nikon D750||5/5||+ +||90/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2014||2,299|
|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. 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. 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? 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.
Specifications: Leica TL2 vs Nikon D780
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 TL2||Nikon D780|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Leica T mount lenses||Nikon F mount lenses|
|Launch Date||July 2017||January 2020|
|Launch Price||USD 1,950||USD 2,299|
|Sensor Specs||Leica TL2||Nikon D780|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||23.6 x 15.7 mm||35.9 x 23.9 mm|
|Sensor Area||370.52 mm2||858.01 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||28.3 mm||43.1 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||24.1 Megapixels||24.3 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||6014 x 4014 pixels||6048 x 4024 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||3.92 μm||5.94 μm|
|Pixel Density||6.52 MP/cm2||2.84 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||4K/30p Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 50,000 ISO||100 - 51,200 ISO|
|ISO Boost||no Enhancement||50 - 204,800 ISO|
|Screen Specs||Leica TL2||Nikon D780|
|Viewfinder Type||Viewfinder optional||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%|
|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||2359k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Tilting screen|
|Shooting Specs||Leica TL2||Nikon D780|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||no Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/4000s||1/8000s|
|Continuous Shooting||7 shutter flaps/s||12 shutter flaps/s|
|Time-Lapse Photography||no Intervalometer||Intervalometer built-in|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Dual card slots|
|UHS card support||UHS-II||Dual UHS-II|
|Connectivity Specs||Leica TL2||Nikon D780|
|Studio Flash||no PC Sync||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 3.0||USB 3.1|
|HDMI Port||micro HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Microphone Port||no MIC socket||External MIC port|
|Headphone Socket||no Headphone port||Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||Wifi built-in|
|Bluetooth Support||no Bluetooth||Bluetooth built-in|
|Body Specs||Leica TL2||Nikon D780|
|Environmental Sealing||not weather sealed||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||250 shots per charge||2260 shots per charge|
|In-Camera Charging||USB charging||USB charging|
134 x 69 x 33 mm
(5.3 x 2.7 x 1.3 in)
144 x 116 x 76 mm
(5.7 x 4.6 x 3.0 in)
|Camera Weight||399 g (14.1 oz)||840 g (29.6 oz)|
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