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Leica Digilux 3 versus Leica M8

The Leica Digilux 3 and the Leica M8 are two digital cameras that were announced in September 2006. The Digilux 3 is a DSLR, while the M8 is a rangefinder-style mirrorless camera. The cameras are based on a Four Thirds (Digilux 3) and an APS-H (M8) sensor. The Digilux 3 has a resolution of 7.4 megapixel, whereas the M8 provides 10.4 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: Leica Digilux 3 vs Leica M8

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Leica Digilux 3 and the Leica M8 is provided 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. 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 Digilux 3 – represents the basis for the calculations across all the size and weight measures).

Compare Leica Digilux 3 vs Leica M8
Compare Digilux 3 versus M8 top
Compare Digilux 3 and M8 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Leica M8 is notably smaller (12 percent) than the Leica Digilux 3. Moreover, the M8 is slightly lighter (2 percent) than the Digilux 3. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the Digilux 3 nor the M8 are weather-sealed.

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. A larger imaging sensor will tend to go along with bigger and heavier lenses, although exceptions exist. You can find an overview of optics for the two cameras in the Four Thirds Lens Catalog (Digilux 3) and the Leica M Lens Catalog (M8).

The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, just use the right or left arrows in the table to switch to the respective camera. Alternatively, you can also navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from the full list of cameras 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)
Camera
Model
Leica Digilux 3» 5.7 in 3.4 in 3.0 in 21.4 oz 750 n Sep 2006 1,499- i Leica Digilux 3
Leica M8« 5.5 in 3.1 in 1.5 in 20.8 oz .. n Sep 2006 5,499- i Leica M8
Canon 30D« » 5.7 in 4.2 in 2.9 in 27.7 oz 750 n Feb 2006 1,399- i Canon 30D
Canon XTi« » 5.0 in 3.3 in 2.6 in 19.6 oz 370 n Aug 2006 799- i Canon XTi
Canon XT« » 5.0 in 3.7 in 2.5 in 19.0 oz 400 n Feb 2005 899- i Canon XT
Leica M10« » 5.5 in 3.1 in 1.5 in 23.3 oz 210 n Jan 2017 6,595 i i Leica M10
Leica M9« » 5.5 in 3.1 in 1.5 in 20.6 oz .. n Sep 2009 7,999- i Leica M9
Leica V-LUX 1« » 5.6 in 3.4 in 5.6 in 25.9 oz 360 n Sep 2006 849- i Leica V-LUX 1
Nikon D80« » 5.2 in 4.1 in 3.0 in 23.6 oz 600 n Aug 2006 999- i Nikon D80
Olympus E-30« » 5.6 in 4.3 in 3.0 in 24.7 oz 750 n Nov 2008 1,299- i Olympus E-30
Olympus E-330« » 5.5 in 3.4 in 2.8 in 22.5 oz 750 n Jan 2006 999- i Olympus E-330
Olympus E-500« » 5.1 in 3.7 in 2.6 in 16.9 oz 750 n Sep 2005 599- i Olympus E-500
Olympus E-300« » 5.8 in 3.3 in 2.5 in 22.0 oz 750 n Sep 2004 799- i Olympus E-300
Panasonic L10« » 5.3 in 3.8 in 3.1 in 19.6 oz 450 n Aug 2007 599- i Panasonic L10
Panasonic L1« » 5.7 in 3.4 in 2.5 in 21.4 oz 750 n Feb 2006 999- i Panasonic L1

Any camera purchase will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The Digilux 3 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 73 percent) than the M8, 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.

 

Sensor comparison: Leica Digilux 3 vs Leica M8

The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant 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. 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.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Leica Digilux 3 features a Four Thirds sensor and the Leica M8 an APS-H sensor. The sensor area in the M8 is 116 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 2.0 and 1.3. The sensor in the Digilux 3 has a native 4:3 aspect ratio, while the one in the M8 offers a 3:2 aspect.

Leica Digilux 3 and Leica M8 sensor measures

With 10.4MP, the M8 offers a higher resolution than the Digilux 3 (7.4MP), but the M8 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 6.84μm versus 5.51μm for the Digilux 3) due to its larger sensor. It is noteworthy in this context that the two cameras were released in close succession, so that their sensors are from the same technological generation. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the M8 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.

Digilux 3 versus M8 MP

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.

Sensor Characteristics
  Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Camera
Model
Leica Digilux 3» Four Thirds 7.4 3136 2352-----Leica Digilux 3
Leica M8« APS-H 10.4 3936 2630-21.111.366359Leica M8
Canon 30D« » APS-C 8.2 3504 2336-21.510.873659Canon 30D
Canon XTi« » APS-C 10.1 3888 2592-22.111.066462Canon XTi
Canon XT« » APS-C 8.0 3456 2304-21.810.863760Canon XT
Leica M10« » Full Frame 23.8 5952 3992-24.413.2213386Leica M10
Leica M9« » Full Frame 18.1 5212 3472-22.511.788469Leica M9
Leica V-LUX 1« » 1/1.8 10.0 3648 2736480/30p----Leica V-LUX 1
Nikon D80« » APS-C 10.0 3872 2592-22.111.252461Nikon D80
Olympus E-30« » Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024-21.310.453055Olympus E-30
Olympus E-330« » Four Thirds 7.4 3136 2352-----Olympus E-330
Olympus E-500« » Four Thirds 8.0 3264 2448-----Olympus E-500
Olympus E-300« » Four Thirds 8.0 3264 2448-----Olympus E-300
Panasonic L10« » Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736-21.310.842955Panasonic L10
Panasonic L1« » Four Thirds 7.4 3136 2352-----Panasonic L1
The Digilux 3 offers Live View, so that it can project the live image that the sensor receives onto the rear screen for framing. The M8 lacks this capability. Both cameras are still-image focused and cannot record videos.
 

Feature comparison: Leica Digilux 3 vs Leica M8

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The Digilux 3 and the M8 are similar in the sense that both have an optical viewfinder. The latter is useful for getting a clear image for framing even in brightly lit environments. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Leica Digilux 3 and Leica M8 along with similar information for a selection of comparators. If needed, the dpreview camera hub, for example, contains further detail on the cameras' specs.

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)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec)
Build-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Camera
Model
Leica Digilux 3»optical n 2.5 207 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n Leica Digilux 3
Leica M8«optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 8000 2.0 n n Leica M8
Canon 30D« »optical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 8000 5.0 Y n Canon 30D
Canon XTi« »optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n Canon XTi
Canon XT« »optical n 1.8 115 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n Canon XT
Leica M10« »optical n 3.0 1037 fixed n 4000 5.0 n n Leica M10
Leica M9« »optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 4000 2.0 n n Leica M9
Leica V-LUX 1« »235 n 2.0 207 swivel n 2000 2.0 Y Y Leica V-LUX 1
Nikon D80« »optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n Nikon D80
Olympus E-30« »optical Y 2.7 230 swivel n 8000 5.0 Y Y Olympus E-30
Olympus E-330« »optical n 2.5 215 tilting n 4000 3.0 Y n Olympus E-330
Olympus E-500« »optical n 2.5 215 fixed n 4000 2.5 Y n Olympus E-500
Olympus E-300« »optical n 1.8 134 fixed n 4000 2.5 Y n Olympus E-300
Panasonic L10« »optical n 2.5 207 swivel n 4000 3.0 Y n Panasonic L10
Panasonic L1« »optical n 2.5 207 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n Panasonic L1

One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The Digilux 3 has one, while the M8 does not. While the build-in flash of the Digilux 3 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.

Both the Digilux 3 and the M8 write their imaging data to SDXC cards.

Input-Output Connections
  Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Type
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
Camera
Model
Leica Digilux 3»Ystereomono---2.0---Leica Digilux 3
Leica M8«Y-----2.0---Leica M8
Canon 30D« »Y-----2.0---Canon 30D
Canon XTi« »Y-----2.0---Canon XTi
Canon XT« »Y-----2.0---Canon XT
Leica M10« »Y------Y--Leica M10
Leica M9« »Y-----2.0---Leica M9
Leica V-LUX 1« »Ymonomono---2.0---Leica V-LUX 1
Nikon D80« »Y-----2.0---Nikon D80
Olympus E-30« »Y-----2.0---Olympus E-30
Olympus E-330« »Y-----2.0---Olympus E-330
Olympus E-500« »Y-----2.0---Olympus E-500
Olympus E-300« »Y-----2.0---Olympus E-300
Panasonic L10« »Y-----2.0---Panasonic L10
Panasonic L1« »Y-----2.0---Panasonic L1

Both the Digilux 3 and the M8 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The M8 was replaced by the Leica M9, while the Digilux 3 does not have a direct successor.

Review summary: Leica Digilux 3 vs Leica M8

So what conclusions can be drawn? Is the Leica Digilux 3 better than the Leica M8 or vice versa? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.


Advantages of the Leica Digilux 3:

  • Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (3 vs 2 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (73 percent cheaper at launch).


Arguments in favor of the Leica M8:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (10.4 vs 7.4MP), which boosts linear resolution by 21%.
  • Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
  • Better image quality: Features bigger pixels on a larger sensor for higher quality imaging.
  • Richer colors: Larger pixels generate images with better, more accurate colors.
  • More dynamic range: Capable of capturing a wider spectrum of light and dark details.
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Can be used in poorly lit environments and still produce good images.
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (8000/sec vs 4000/sec) to freeze action.
  • More compact: Is smaller (139x80mm vs 146x87mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the M8 is the clear winner of the contest (8 : 4 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.

Digilux 3 04:08 M8

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 Digilux 3 or the M8 handle or 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. 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
Model
cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
Leica Digilux 3»----- Sep 2006 1,499- i Leica Digilux 3
Leica M8«-HiRec--- Sep 2006 5,499- i Leica M8
Canon 30D« »HiRecHiRecrevrev- Feb 2006 1,399- i Canon 30D
Canon XTi« »HiRecHiRecrev4.5/54/5 Aug 2006 799- i Canon XTi
Canon XT« »80/100HiRecrevrev- Feb 2005 899- i Canon XT
Leica M10« »--4/5-4.5/5 Jan 2017 6,595 i i Leica M10
Leica M9« »--4.5/54.5/5- Sep 2009 7,999- i Leica M9
Leica V-LUX 1« »----- Sep 2006 849- i Leica V-LUX 1
Nikon D80« »RecHiRecrev4.5/54.5/5 Aug 2006 999- i Nikon D80
Olympus E-30« »-71/1004.5/5-4/5 Nov 2008 1,299- i Olympus E-30
Olympus E-330« »-Recrev3.5/5- Jan 2006 999- i Olympus E-330
Olympus E-500« »76/100HiRec--- Sep 2005 599- i Olympus E-500
Olympus E-300« »-Recrevrev4.5/5 Sep 2004 799- i Olympus E-300
Panasonic L10« »85/100Rec3.5/5rev4/5 Aug 2007 599- i Panasonic L10
Panasonic L1« »85/100Rec-rev3.5/5 Feb 2006 999- i Panasonic L1

The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.

 

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, kindly get in touch, and I will try to add information on that model to the database.

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