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Leica Digilux 3 versus Leica M8

The Leica Digilux 3 and the Leica M8 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced 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. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are presented. All size 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 – the Digilux 3 – represents the basis or 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).

Snapsort 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 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)
Camera
Model
Leica Digilux 3» 146 mm 87 mm 77 mm 606 g 750 n Sep 2006 1,499- i Leica Digilux 3
Leica M8« 139 mm 80 mm 37 mm 591 g .. n Sep 2006 5,499- i Leica M8
Canon 30D« » 144 mm 106 mm 74 mm 785 g 750 n Feb 2006 1,399- i Canon 30D
Canon 400D« » 127 mm 84 mm 65 mm 556 g 370 n Aug 2006 799- i Canon 400D
Canon 350D« » 127 mm 94 mm 64 mm 540 g 400 n Feb 2005 899- i Canon 350D
Leica M9« » 139 mm 80 mm 37 mm 585 g .. n Sep 2009 7,999- i Leica M9
Leica V-LUX 1« » 141 mm 86 mm 142 mm 734 g 360 n Sep 2006 849- i Leica V-LUX 1
Nikon D40X« » 124 mm 94 mm 64 mm 522 g 520 n Mar 2007 729- i Nikon D40X
Nikon D80« » 132 mm 103 mm 77 mm 668 g 600 n Aug 2006 999- i Nikon D80
Olympus E-330« » 140 mm 87 mm 72 mm 637 g 750 n Jan 2006 999- i Olympus E-330
Olympus E-400« » 130 mm 91 mm 53 mm 435 g 500 n Sep 2006 699- i Olympus E-400
Olympus E-500« » 130 mm 95 mm 66 mm 479 g 750 n Sep 2005 599- i Olympus E-500
Olympus E-300« » 147 mm 85 mm 64 mm 624 g 750 n Sep 2004 799- i Olympus E-300
Panasonic L10« » 135 mm 96 mm 78 mm 556 g 450 n Aug 2007 599- i Panasonic L10
Panasonic L1« » 146 mm 87 mm 64 mm 606 g 750 n Feb 2006 999- i Panasonic L1

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 Digilux 3 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 73 percent) than the M8, 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: Leica Digilux 3 vs Leica M8

The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant 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. 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 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

Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. 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 table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar 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 400D« » APS-C 10.1 3888 2592-22.111.066462Canon 400D
Canon 350D« » APS-C 8.0 3456 2304-21.810.863760Canon 350D
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 D40X« » APS-C 10.0 3872 2592-22.411.451663Nikon D40X
Nikon D80« » APS-C 10.0 3872 2592-22.111.252461Nikon D80
Olympus E-330« » Four Thirds 7.4 3136 2352-----Olympus E-330
Olympus E-400« » Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736-----Olympus E-400
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

Beyond 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 table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Leica Digilux 3 and Leica M8 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
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 400D« »optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n Canon 400D
Canon 350D« »optical n 1.8 115 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n Canon 350D
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 D40X« »optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n Nikon D40X
Nikon D80« »optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n Nikon D80
Olympus E-330« »optical n 2.5 215 tilting n 4000 3.0 Y n Olympus E-330
Olympus E-400« »optical n 2.5 215 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n Olympus E-400
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

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 is the bottom line? Which of the two cameras – the Leica Digilux 3 or the Leica M8 – has the upper hand? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.


Reasons to prefer 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).


Advantages 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 low-light imaging: Features bigger pixels on a larger sensor for better high-ISO 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 count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the M8 comes out slightly ahead of the Digilux 3 (5 : 4 points). However, the relative importance of the various individual camera aspects will vary according to personal preferences and needs, so that you might like to apply corresponding weights to the particular features before making a decision on a new camera.

Digilux 3 04:05 M8

In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras is instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the Digilux 3 or the M8 handle or perform in practice. At times, user reviews, such as those published at amazon, address these issues in a useful manner, but such feedback is on many occasions incomplete, inconsistent, and unreliable. This is why expert reviews are important. The adjacent table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). The detailed reviews can be accessed 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 400D« »HiRecHiRecrev4.5/54/5 Aug 2006 799- i Canon 400D
Canon 350D« »80/100HiRecrevrev- Feb 2005 899- i Canon 350D
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 D40X« »79/100HiRec4/5rev4/5 Mar 2007 729- i Nikon D40X
Nikon D80« »RecHiRecrev4.5/54.5/5 Aug 2006 999- i Nikon D80
Olympus E-330« »-Recrev3.5/5- Jan 2006 999- i Olympus E-330
Olympus E-400« »85/100-4/5-4/5 Sep 2006 699- i Olympus E-400
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 ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time 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? In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just make your choice using the following search menu. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored. If the camera you are interested in is not available, please contact me, and I will try to update the database with the necessary infos.

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