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Leica Digilux 3 versus Nikon D700

The Leica Digilux 3 and the Nikon D700 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in September 2006 and July 2008. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on a Four Thirds (Digilux 3) and a full frame (D700) sensor. The Leica has a resolution of 7.4 megapixel, whereas the Nikon provides 12.1 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 Nikon D700

The physical size and weight of the Leica Digilux 3 and the Nikon D700 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter. You can also toggle the display 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).

Snapsort Leica Digilux 3 vs Nikon D700
Compare Digilux 3 versus D700 top
Compare Digilux 3 and D700 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon D700 is notably larger (42 percent) than the Leica Digilux 3. Moreover, the D700 is substantially heavier (77 percent) than the Digilux 3. It is noteworthy in this context that the D700 is splash and dust-proof, while the Digilux 3 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. 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 Nikon Lens Catalog (D700).

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)
Leica Digilux 3» 5.7 in 3.4 in 3.0 in 21.4 oz 750 n Sep 2006 1,499- i
Nikon D700« 5.8 in 4.8 in 3.0 in 37.9 oz 1000 Y Jul 2008 2,999- i
Canon 30D« » 5.7 in 4.2 in 2.9 in 27.7 oz 750 n Feb 2006 1,399- i
Canon XT« » 5.0 in 3.7 in 2.5 in 19.0 oz 400 n Feb 2005 899- i
Leica V-LUX 1« » 5.6 in 3.4 in 5.6 in 25.9 oz 360 n Sep 2006 849- i
Leica M8« » 5.5 in 3.1 in 1.5 in 20.8 oz .. n Sep 2006 5,499- i
Nikon D850« » 5.7 in 4.9 in 3.1 in 35.5 oz 1840 Y Jul 2017 3,299 i i
Nikon D810« » 5.7 in 4.8 in 3.2 in 34.6 oz 1200 Y Jun 2014 3,299- i
Nikon D800« » 5.7 in 4.8 in 3.2 in 35.3 oz 900 Y Feb 2012 2,999- i
Nikon D3S« » 6.3 in 6.2 in 3.5 in 43.7 oz 4200 Y Oct 2009 5,199- i
Nikon D3« » 6.3 in 6.2 in 3.5 in 45.9 oz 4300 Y Aug 2007 4,999- i
Olympus E-330« » 5.5 in 3.4 in 2.8 in 22.5 oz 750 n Jan 2006 999- i
Olympus E-500« » 5.1 in 3.7 in 2.6 in 16.9 oz 750 n Sep 2005 599- i
Olympus E-300« » 5.8 in 3.3 in 2.5 in 22.0 oz 750 n Sep 2004 799- i
Olympus E-1« » 5.6 in 4.1 in 3.2 in 26.0 oz 750 Y Jun 2003 1,699- i
Panasonic L10« » 5.3 in 3.8 in 3.1 in 19.6 oz 450 n Aug 2007 599- i
Panasonic L1« » 5.7 in 3.4 in 2.5 in 21.4 oz 750 n Feb 2006 999- 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 Digilux 3 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 50 percent) than the D700, 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 Nikon D700

The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants 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 more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Leica Digilux 3 features a Four Thirds sensor and the Nikon D700 a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the D700 is 282 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 2.0 and 1.5. The sensor in the Digilux 3 has a native 4:3 aspect ratio, while the one in the D700 offers a 3:2 aspect.

Leica Digilux 3 and Nikon D700 sensor measures

With 12.1MP, the D700 offers a higher resolution than the Digilux 3 (7.4MP), but the D700 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 8.43μm versus 5.51μm for the Digilux 3) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the D700 is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 9 months) than the Digilux 3, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units.

Digilux 3 versus D700 MP

Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. This service assesses and scores the color depth ("DXO Portrait"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports") of camera sensors, and also publishes an overall camera score. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.

Sensor Characteristics
  Camera Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Leica Digilux 3» Four Thirds 7.4 3136 2352-----
Nikon D700« Full Frame 12.1 4256 2832-23.512.2230380
Canon 30D« » APS-C 8.2 3504 2336-21.510.873659
Canon XT« » APS-C 8.0 3456 2304-21.810.863760
Leica V-LUX 1« » 1/1.8 10.0 3648 2736480/30p----
Leica M8« » APS-H 10.4 3936 2630-21.111.366359
Nikon D850« » Full Frame 45.4 8256 55044K/30p26.414.82660100
Nikon D810« » Full Frame 36.2 7360 49121080/60p25.714.8285397
Nikon D800« » Full Frame 36.2 7360 49121080/30p25.314.4285395
Nikon D3S« » Full Frame 12.1 4256 2832720/24p23.512.0325382
Nikon D3« » Full Frame 12.1 4256 2832-23.512.2229081
Olympus E-330« » Four Thirds 7.4 3136 2352-----
Olympus E-500« » Four Thirds 8.0 3264 2448-----
Olympus E-300« » Four Thirds 8.0 3264 2448-----
Olympus E-1« » Four Thirds 4.9 2560 1920-----
Panasonic L10« » Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736-21.310.842955
Panasonic L1« » Four Thirds 7.4 3136 2352-----
Both the Digilux 3 and the D700 offer Live View, so that they make it possible to use the rear screen for framing. Both cameras are still-image focused and cannot record videos.
 

Feature comparison: Leica Digilux 3 vs Nikon D700

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The Digilux 3 and the D700 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 following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Leica Digilux 3, the Nikon D700, and comparable 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
Leica Digilux 3»optical n 2.5 207 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n
Nikon D700«optical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 8000 8.0 Y n
Canon 30D« »optical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 8000 5.0 Y n
Canon XT« »optical n 1.8 115 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n
Leica V-LUX 1« »235 n 2.0 207 swivel n 2000 2.0 Y Y
Leica M8« »optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 8000 2.0 n n
Nikon D850« »optical Y 3.2 2359 tilting Y 8000 9.0 n n
Nikon D810« »optical Y 3.2 1229 fixed n 4000 5.0 Y n
Nikon D800« »optical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 8000 4.0 Y n
Nikon D3S« »optical Y 3.0 921 fixed n 8000 11.0 n n
Nikon D3« »optical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 8000 11.0 n n
Olympus E-330« »optical n 2.5 215 tilting n 4000 3.0 Y n
Olympus E-500« »optical n 2.5 215 fixed n 4000 2.5 Y n
Olympus E-300« »optical n 1.8 134 fixed n 4000 2.5 Y n
Olympus E-1« »optical Y 1.8 134 fixed n 4000 3.0 n n
Panasonic L10« »optical n 2.5 207 swivel n 4000 3.0 Y n
Panasonic L1« »optical n 2.5 207 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n

Both the Digilux 3 and the D700 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D700 was replaced by the Nikon D800, while the Digilux 3 does not have a direct successor.

Review summary: Leica Digilux 3 vs Nikon D700

So what is the bottom line? Is there a clear favorite between the Leica Digilux 3 and the Nikon D700? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.

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Reasons to prefer the Leica Digilux 3:

  • More compact: Is smaller (146x87mm vs 147x123mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter (by 468g or 44 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
  • More prestigious: Has the Leica luxury appeal, which ensures a high resale price.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (50 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in September 2006).

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Arguments in favor of the Nikon D700:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (12.1 vs 7.4MP), which boosts linear resolution by 30%.
  • Better image quality: Is equipped with a larger and more technologically advanced sensor.
  • Easier setting verification: Has a control panel on top to check shooting parameters.
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.5") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (922k vs 207k dots).
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (8000/sec vs 4000/sec) to freeze action.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (8 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (1000 versus 750) out of a single battery charge.
  • Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
  • More modern: Was introduced somewhat (1 year and 9 months) more recently.

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the D700 is the clear winner of the contest (10 : 5 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 05:10 D700

In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras is instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it says nothing about, for example, the handling, responsiveness, and overall imaging quality of the Digilux 3 and the D700 in practical situations. 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 where reviews by experts come in. The table below summarizes the assessments of some of the best known camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). You can find the full text of the reviews 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)
Leica Digilux 3»----- Sep 2006 1,499- i
Nikon D700«89/100HiRec4.5/55/54.5/5 Jul 2008 2,999- i
Canon 30D« »HiRecHiRecrevrev- Feb 2006 1,399- i
Canon XT« »80/100HiRecrevrev- Feb 2005 899- i
Leica V-LUX 1« »----- Sep 2006 849- i
Leica M8« »-HiRec--- Sep 2006 5,499- i
Nikon D850« »HiRec89/1004.5/55/55/5 Jul 2017 3,299 i i
Nikon D810« »-86/1005/54.5/54.5/5 Jun 2014 3,299- i
Nikon D800« »HiRec82/1005/55/55/5 Feb 2012 2,999- i
Nikon D3S« »-89/1004.5/55/55/5 Oct 2009 5,199- i
Nikon D3« »-HiRec5/5rev4.5/5 Aug 2007 4,999- i
Olympus E-330« »-Recrev3.5/5- Jan 2006 999- i
Olympus E-500« »76/100HiRec--- Sep 2005 599- i
Olympus E-300« »-Recrevrev4.5/5 Sep 2004 799- i
Olympus E-1« »-Recrevrev- Jun 2003 1,699- i
Panasonic L10« »85/100Rec3.5/5rev4/5 Aug 2007 599- i
Panasonic L1« »85/100Rec-rev3.5/5 Feb 2006 999- i

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings are only valid when refering to cameras in the same category and of the same age. 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. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.

 

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. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting. If you cannot find the camera you are interested in, please send me an email, and I will try to locate and add the respective data to the application.

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