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Leica Digilux 3 vs 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-focusing 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 megapixels, whereas the M8 provides 10.4 MP.

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

Headline Specifications
Leica Digilux 3
versus
Leica M8
Leica Digilux 3   Leica M8
Digital single lens reflex Rangefinder camera
Four Thirds lenses Leica M mount lenses
7.4 MP, Four Thirds Sensor 10.4 MP, APS-H Sensor
no Video no Video
ISO 100-1,600 ISO 160-2,500
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
2.5 LCD, 207k dots 2.5 LCD, 230k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
3 shutter flaps per second 2 shutter flaps per second
146 x 87 x 77 mm, 606 g 139 x 80 x 37 mm, 591 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Leica Digilux 3 and the Leica M8? 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 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.

The M8 can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the Digilux 3 is only available in silver.

Size Leica Digilux 3 vs Leica M8
Compare Digilux 3 versus M8 top
Comparison Digilux 3 or 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 compare the optics available 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, you can navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from a broad list of cameras there.

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Body Specifications
    Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
Weather
Sealing
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Leica Digilux 3 146 mm 87 mm 77 mm 606 g 750 n Sep 2006 1,499i
2.
 
Leica M8 139 mm 80 mm 37 mm 591 g .. n Sep 2006 5,499i
3.
 
Canon 30D 144 mm 106 mm 74 mm 785 g 750 n Feb 2006 1,399i
4.
 
Canon XTi 127 mm 84 mm 65 mm 556 g 370 n Aug 2006 799i
5.
 
Canon XT 127 mm 94 mm 64 mm 540 g 400 n Feb 2005 899i
6.
 
Leica M10 139 mm 80 mm 39 mm 660 g 210 Y Jan 2017 6,595 i
7.
 
Leica M9 139 mm 80 mm 37 mm 585 g .. n Sep 2009 7,999i
8.
 
Leica V-LUX 1 141 mm 86 mm 142 mm 734 g 360 n Sep 2006 849i
9.
 
Nikon D80 132 mm 103 mm 77 mm 668 g 600 n Aug 2006 999i
10.
 
Olympus E-30 142 mm 108 mm 75 mm 701 g 750 n Nov 2008 1,299i
11.
 
Olympus E-330 140 mm 87 mm 72 mm 637 g 750 n Jan 2006 999i
12.
 
Olympus E-500 130 mm 95 mm 66 mm 479 g 750 n Sep 2005 599i
13.
 
Olympus E-300 147 mm 85 mm 64 mm 624 g 750 n Sep 2004 799i
14.
 
Panasonic L10 135 mm 96 mm 78 mm 556 g 450 n Aug 2007 599i
15.
 
Panasonic L1 146 mm 87 mm 64 mm 606 g 750 n Feb 2006 999i
Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.

Any camera decision 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

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.

The resolution advantage of the Leica M8 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the M8 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 19.7 x 13.2 inches or 50 x 33.4 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 15.7 x 10.5 inches or 40 x 26.7 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 13.1 x 8.8 inches or 33.3 x 22.3 cm. The corresponding values for the Leica Digilux 3 are 15.7 x 11.8 inches or 39.8 x 29.9 cm for good quality, 12.5 x 9.4 inches or 31.9 x 23.9 cm for very good quality, and 10.5 x 7.8 inches or 26.6 x 19.9 cm for excellent quality prints.

The Leica Digilux 3 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 1600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Leica M8 are ISO 160 to ISO 2500 (no boost).

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.

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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
1.
 
Leica Digilux 3 Four Thirds 7.4 3136 2352none........
2.
 
Leica M8 APS-H 10.4 3936 2630none21.111.366359
3.
 
Canon 30D APS-C 8.2 3504 2336none21.510.873659
4.
 
Canon XTi APS-C 10.1 3888 2592none22.111.066462
5.
 
Canon XT APS-C 8.0 3456 2304none21.810.863760
6.
 
Leica M10 Full Frame 23.8 5952 3992none24.413.2213386
7.
 
Leica M9 Full Frame 18.1 5212 3472none22.511.788469
8.
 
Leica V-LUX 1 1/1.8 10.0 3648 2736480/30p........
9.
 
Nikon D80 APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.111.252461
10.
 
Olympus E-30 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024none21.310.453055
11.
 
Olympus E-330 Four Thirds 7.4 3136 2352none........
12.
 
Olympus E-500 Four Thirds 8.0 3264 2448none........
13.
 
Olympus E-300 Four Thirds 8.0 3264 2448none........
14.
 
Panasonic L10 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.310.842955
15.
 
Panasonic L1 Four Thirds 7.4 3136 2352none........
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

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.

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Core Features
    Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Specifications
(inch/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
1.
 
Leica Digilux 3optical n2.5 / 207 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
2.
 
Leica M8optical n2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/8000s 2.0 n n
3.
 
Canon 30Doptical Y2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 Y n
4.
 
Canon XTioptical n2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
5.
 
Canon XToptical n1.8 / 115 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
6.
 
Leica M10optical n3.0 / 1037 fixed n 1/4000s 5.0 n n
7.
 
Leica M9optical n2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 2.0 n n
8.
 
Leica V-LUX 1235 n2.0 / 207 tilting n 1/2000s 2.0 Y Y
9.
 
Nikon D80optical n2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
10.
 
Olympus E-30optical Y2.7 / 230 swivel n 1/8000s 5.0 Y Y
11.
 
Olympus E-330optical n2.5 / 215 tilting n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
12.
 
Olympus E-500optical n2.5 / 215 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y n
13.
 
Olympus E-300optical n1.8 / 134 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y n
14.
 
Panasonic L10optical n2.5 / 207 swivel n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
15.
 
Panasonic L1optical n2.5 / 207 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n

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 built-in flash of the Digilux 3 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.

Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the Digilux 3 and the M8 write their files to SDXC 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 Digilux 3 and Leica M8 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
Mic / Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
1.
 
Leica Digilux 3Ystereo / mono---2.0---
2.
 
Leica M8Y- / ----2.0---
3.
 
Canon 30DY- / ----2.0---
4.
 
Canon XTiY- / ----2.0---
5.
 
Canon XTY- / ----2.0---
6.
 
Leica M10Y- / -----Y--
7.
 
Leica M9Y- / ----2.0---
8.
 
Leica V-LUX 1Ymono / mono---2.0---
9.
 
Nikon D80Y- / ----2.0---
10.
 
Olympus E-30Y- / ----2.0---
11.
 
Olympus E-330Y- / ----2.0---
12.
 
Olympus E-500Y- / ----2.0---
13.
 
Olympus E-300Y- / ----2.0---
14.
 
Panasonic L10Y- / ----2.0---
15.
 
Panasonic L1Y- / ----2.0---

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. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Leica website.

Review summary

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: The pixel size advantage translates into images with better, more accurate colors.
  • More dynamic range: Larger pixels capture a wider spectrum of light and dark details.
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Larger pixels means good image quality even under poor lighting.
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) 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. 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.

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 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 (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], digitalcameraworld [DCW], 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.

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Expert Camera Reviews
     Camera 
 Model 
 AP 
 score 
 CL 
 score 
 DCW 
 score 
 DPR 
 score 
 EPZ 
 score 
 PB 
 score 
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Leica Digilux 3............ Sep 2006 1,499i
2.
 
Leica M8......+ +.... Sep 2006 5,499i
3.
 
Canon 30D..+ +..+ +o.. Feb 2006 1,399i
4.
 
Canon XTi..+ +..+ +o4/5 Aug 2006 799i
5.
 
Canon XT..80/100..+ +o.. Feb 2005 899i
6.
 
Leica M104.5/5......4/54.5/5 Jan 2017 6,595 i
7.
 
Leica M9........4.5/5.. Sep 2009 7,999i
8.
 
Leica V-LUX 1............ Sep 2006 849i
9.
 
Nikon D80..+..+ +o4.5/5 Aug 2006 999i
10.
 
Olympus E-30......71/1004.5/54/5 Nov 2008 1,299i
11.
 
Olympus E-330......+o.. Jan 2006 999i
12.
 
Olympus E-500..76/100..+ +.... Sep 2005 599i
13.
 
Olympus E-300......+o4.5/5 Sep 2004 799i
14.
 
Panasonic L10..85/100..+3.5/54/5 Aug 2007 599i
15.
 
Panasonic L1..85/100..+..3.5/5 Feb 2006 999i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

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.

Leica Digilux 3:
Check Ebay offers
Leica M8:
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 Digilux 3 vs Leica M8

    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 Digilux 3 Leica M8
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Rangefinder camera
    Camera Lens Four Thirds lenses Leica M mount lenses
    Launch Date September 2006 September 2006
    Launch Price USD 1,499 USD 5,499
    Sensor Specs Leica Digilux 3 Leica M8
    Sensor Technology CMOS CCD
    Sensor Format Four Thirds Sensor APS-H Sensor
    Sensor Size 17.3 x 13.0 mm 27.0 x 18.0 mm
    Sensor Area 224.9 mm2 486 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 21.6 mm 32.4 mm
    Crop Factor 2.0x 1.3x
    Sensor Resolution 7.4 Megapixels 10.4 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 3136 x 2352 pixels 3936 x 2630 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 5.51 μm 6.84 μm
    Pixel Density 3.28 MP/cm2 2.13 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter no AA filter
    Movie Capability no Video no Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 1,600 ISO 160 - 2,500 ISO
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) .. 59
    DXO Color Depth (bits) .. 21.1
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) .. 11.3
    DXO Low Light (ISO) .. 663
    Screen Specs Leica Digilux 3 Leica M8
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 95% 100%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.47x
    LCD Framing Live View
    Rear LCD Size 2.5inch 2.5inch
    LCD Resolution 207k dots 230k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Leica Digilux 3 Leica M8
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Manual Focus
    Continuous Shooting 3 shutter flaps/s 2 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash Built-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 no
    Connectivity Specs Leica Digilux 3 Leica M8
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port no HDMI no HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Leica Digilux 3 Leica M8
    Battery Type BP-DC3 BLI-312
    Body Dimensions 146 x 87 x 77 mm
    (5.7 x 3.4 x 3.0 in)
    139 x 80 x 37 mm
    (5.5 x 3.1 x 1.5 in)
    Camera Weight 606 g (21.4 oz) 591 g (20.8 oz)

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