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Sony A7R II versus Leica SL

The Sony Alpha A7R II and the Leica SL (Typ 601) are two enthusiast cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in June 2015 and October 2015. Both the A7R II and the SL are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are equipped with a full frame sensor. The Sony has a resolution of 42.2 megapixel, whereas the Leica provides 24 MP. Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their size, their sensors, their features, and their reception by expert reviewers.

Body comparison: Sony A7R II vs Leica SL

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Sony A7R II and the Leica SL is provided in the side-by-side display below. 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. You can also use the toggle button to switch to a percentage comparison if you prefer that the measures are being expressed in relative terms (in this case, the camera on the left side – the A7R II – represents the basis for the calculations across all the size and weight measures).

Snapsort Sony A7R II vs Leica SL
Compare A7R II versus SL top
Compare A7R II and SL rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Leica SL is notably larger (25 percent) than the Sony A7R II. Moreover, the SL is substantially heavier (36 percent) than the A7R II. 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 the specifications of available lenses in order to get the full picture of the size and weight of the two camera systems.

The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. 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.

Camera Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(yes/no)
Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Sony A7R II» 5.0 in 3.8 in 2.4 in 22.0 oz 290 Y Jun 2015 3,199- i
Leica SL« 5.8 in 4.1 in 1.5 in 29.9 oz 400 Y Oct 2015 7,450 i i
Canon 80D« » 5.5 in 4.1 in 3.1 in 25.8 oz 960 Y Feb 2016 1,199 i i
Canon 1D X Mark II« » 6.2 in 6.6 in 3.3 in 54.0 oz 1210 Y Feb 2016 5,999 i i
Canon 5DS R« » 6.0 in 4.6 in 3.0 in 32.8 oz 700 Y Feb 2015 3,699 i i
Canon 5DS« » 6.0 in 4.6 in 3.0 in 32.8 oz 700 Y Feb 2015 3,699 i i
Leica Q Typ 116« » 5.1 in 3.1 in 3.7 in 22.6 oz 300 n Jun 2015 4,249 i i
Leica M Typ 240« » 5.5 in 3.1 in 1.7 in 24.0 oz .. Y Sep 2012 6,950- i
Nikon D5« » 6.3 in 6.3 in 3.6 in 49.9 oz 3780 Y Jan 2016 6,499 i i
Nikon D810« » 5.7 in 4.8 in 3.2 in 34.6 oz 1200 Y Jun 2014 3,299- i
Sony A7 III« » 5.0 in 3.8 in 2.9 in 22.9 oz 610 Y Feb 2018 1,999 i i
Sony A9« » 5.0 in 3.8 in 2.5 in 23.7 oz 650 Y Apr 2017 4,499 i i
Sony A7R III« » 5.0 in 3.8 in 2.9 in 22.9 oz 650 Y Oct 2017 3,199 i i
Sony A99 II« » 5.6 in 4.1 in 3.0 in 29.9 oz 490 Y Sep 2016 3,199 i i
Sony A7S II« » 5.0 in 3.8 in 2.4 in 22.1 oz 370 Y Sep 2015 2,999 i i
Sony A7 II« » 5.0 in 3.8 in 2.4 in 21.1 oz 350 Y Nov 2014 1,999- i
Sony A7R« » 5.0 in 3.7 in 1.9 in 16.4 oz 340 Y Oct 2013 2,299- i

The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The A7R II was launched at a markedly lower price (by 57 percent) than the SL, 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. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.

 

Sensor comparison: Sony A7R II vs Leica SL

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 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. 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.

Sony A7R II and Leica SL sensor measures

Despite having a slightly smaller sensor, the Sony A7R II offers a higher resolution of 42.2 megapixel, compared with 24 MP of the Leica SL. This megapixel advantage comes at the cost of a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 4.52μm versus 6.00μm for the SL). Moreover, it should be noted that the SL is a somewhat more recent model (by 4 months) than the A7R II, and its sensor might 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 neither of the two cameras has an anti-alias filter installed, so they are able to capture all the detail the sensor resolves.

A7R II versus SL MP

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for most 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"). Of the two cameras under review, the A7R II has a notably higher overall DXO score than the SL (overall score 10 points higher), which gives it an advantage in terms of imaging quality. This advantage is based on 1 bits higher color depth, 0.5 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.9 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.

Sensor Characteristics
  Camera Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Sony A7R II» Full Frame 42.2 7952 53044K/30p26.013.9343498
Leica SL« Full Frame 24.0 6000 40004K/30p25.013.4182188
Canon 80D« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p23.613.2113579
Canon 1D X Mark II« » Full Frame 20.0 5472 36484K/60p24.113.5320788
Canon 5DS R« » Full Frame 50.3 8688 57921080/60p24.612.4230886
Canon 5DS« » Full Frame 50.3 8688 57921080/60p24.712.4238187
Leica Q Typ 116« » Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.312.7222185
Leica M Typ 240« » Full Frame 23.7 5952 39761080/25p24.013.3186084
Nikon D5« » Full Frame 20.7 5588 37124K/30p25.112.3234388
Nikon D810« » Full Frame 36.2 7360 49121080/60p25.714.8285397
Sony A7 III« » Full Frame 24.0 6000 40004K/30p25.014.7373096
Sony A9« » Full Frame 24.0 6000 40004K/30p24.913.3351792
Sony A7R III« » Full Frame 42.2 7952 53044K/30p26.014.73523100
Sony A99 II« » Full Frame 42.2 7952 53044K/30p25.413.4231792
Sony A7S II« » Full Frame 12.0 4240 28324K/30p23.613.3299385
Sony A7 II« » Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.913.6244990
Sony A7R« » Full Frame 36.2 7360 49121080/60p25.614.1274695

Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, and both provide the same movie specifications (4K/30p).

 

Feature comparison: Sony A7R II vs Leica SL

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The two cameras under review are similar with respect to both having an electronic viewfinder. However, the one in the SL offers a substantially higher resolution than the one in the A7R II (4400k vs 2400k dots). The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Sony A7R II and Leica SL in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras. If needed, the dpreview camera hub, for example, contains further detail on the cameras' specs.

Core Features
  Camera Viewfinder
(Type or
'000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec))
Build-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Sony A7R II»2400 n 3.0 1229 tilting n 8000 5.0 n Y
Leica SL«4400 Y 3.0 1040 fixed Y 8000 11.0 n n
Canon 80D« »optical Y 3.0 1040 swivel Y 8000 7.0 Y n
Canon 1D X Mark II« »optical Y 3.2 1620 fixed Y 8000 16.0 n n
Canon 5DS R« »optical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 8000 5.0 n n
Canon 5DS« »optical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 8000 5.0 n n
Leica Q Typ 116« »3680 n 3.0 1040 fixed Y 2000 10.0 n n
Leica M Typ 240« »optical n 3.0 920 fixed n 4000 3.0 n n
Nikon D5« »optical Y 3.2 2359 fixed Y 8000 14.0 n n
Nikon D810« »optical Y 3.2 1229 fixed n 4000 5.0 Y n
Sony A7 III« »2359 n 3.0 922 tilting Y 8000 10.0 n Y
Sony A9« »3686 n 3.0 1440 tilting Y 8000 20.0 n Y
Sony A7R III« »3686 n 3.0 1440 tilting Y 8000 10.0 n Y
Sony A99 II« »2400 Y 3.0 1229 full-flex n 8000 12.0 n Y
Sony A7S II« »2400 n 3.0 1229 tilting n 8000 5.0 n Y
Sony A7 II« »2400 n 3.0 1230 tilting n 8000 5.0 n Y
Sony A7R« »2400 n 3.0 1230 tilting n 8000 4.0 n n

The SL is a current model that online retailers, such as amazon, will have in stock. In contrast, the A7R II has been discontinued (but it can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the A7R II was succeeded by the Sony Alpha A7R III.

Review summary: Sony A7R II vs Leica SL

So how do things add up? Is there a clear favorite between the Sony A7R II and the Leica SL? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.

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Reasons to prefer the Sony Alpha A7R II:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (42.2 vs 24MP) with a 33% higher linear resolution.
  • Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (10 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (0.9 stops ISO advantage).
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1229k vs 1040k dots).
  • More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
  • More compact: Is smaller (127x96mm vs 147x104mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter (by 222g or 26 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
  • Sharper images: Has hand-shake reducing image stabilization build-in.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (57 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in June 2015).

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Advantages of the Leica SL (Typ 601):

  • More detailed viewfinder: Has higher resolution electronic viewfinder (4400k vs 2400k dots).
  • Easier setting verification: Has a control panel on top to check shooting parameters.
  • Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (11 vs 5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (400 versus 290) out of a single battery charge.
  • More prestigious: Has the Leica luxury appeal, which ensures a high resale value.
  • More modern: Was introduced somewhat (4 months) more recently.

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the A7R II emerges as the winner of the contest (10 : 7 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.

A7R II 10:07 SL

In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras is instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the handling experience and imaging performance when actually working with the A7R II or the SL. 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 rankings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). The full reviews are available by clicking on the site logo in the table header.

Review scores
  Camera cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Sony A7R II»HiRec90/1005/54.5/55/5 Jun 2015 3,199- i
Leica SL«-84/1004.5/54/54/5 Oct 2015 7,450 i i
Canon 80D« »HiRec84/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Feb 2016 1,199 i i
Canon 1D X Mark II« »-89/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Feb 2016 5,999 i i
Canon 5DS R« »Rec83/1005/55/54.5/5 Feb 2015 3,699 i i
Canon 5DS« »Rec83/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Feb 2015 3,699 i i
Leica Q Typ 116« »-80/1004.5/5-4.5/5 Jun 2015 4,249 i i
Leica M Typ 240« »--4/5-- Sep 2012 6,950- i
Nikon D5« »-89/1004.5/55/55/5 Jan 2016 6,499 i i
Nikon D810« »-86/1005/54.5/54.5/5 Jun 2014 3,299- i
Sony A7 III« »HiRec89/1005/5-5/5 Feb 2018 1,999 i i
Sony A9« »HiRec89/1005/55/55/5 Apr 2017 4,499 i i
Sony A7R III« »HiRec90/1004.5/55/55/5 Oct 2017 3,199 i i
Sony A99 II« »-85/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2016 3,199 i i
Sony A7S II« »Rec-4.5/55/55/5 Sep 2015 2,999 i i
Sony A7 II« »Rec82/1004.5/55/55/5 Nov 2014 1,999- i
Sony A7R« »HiRec82/1004.5/55/55/5 Oct 2013 2,299- i

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 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.

 

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. If you do not see the camera that you are looking for, please send me an email, and I will try to update the database with the necessary infos.

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