Leica Digilux 3 vs Nikon Df
The Leica Digilux 3 and the Nikon Df are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in September 2006 and November 2013. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on a Four Thirds (Digilux 3) and a full frame (Df) sensor. The Leica has a resolution of 7.4 megapixels, whereas the Nikon provides 16.2 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Leica Digilux 3 and the Nikon Df? 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.
An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Leica Digilux 3 and the Nikon Df is provided in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. 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.
The Df can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the Digilux 3 is only available in silver.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon Df is notably larger (25 percent) than the Leica Digilux 3. Moreover, the Df is markedly heavier (25 percent) than the Digilux 3. It is noteworthy in this context that the Df 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 compare the optics available for the two cameras in the Four Thirds Lens Catalog (Digilux 3) and the Nikon Lens Catalog (Df).
The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. 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.
|1.||Leica Digilux 3||146 mm||87 mm||77 mm||606 g||750||n||Sep 2006||1,499|
|2.||Nikon Df||144 mm||110 mm||67 mm||760 g||1400||Y||Nov 2013||2,749|
|3.||Canon 30D||144 mm||106 mm||74 mm||785 g||750||n||Feb 2006||1,399|
|4.||Canon 350D||127 mm||94 mm||64 mm||540 g||400||n||Feb 2005||899|
|5.||Leica Q Typ 116||130 mm||80 mm||93 mm||640 g||300||n||Jun 2015||4,249|
|6.||Leica M8||139 mm||80 mm||37 mm||591 g||..||n||Sep 2006||5,499|
|7.||Leica V-LUX 1||141 mm||86 mm||142 mm||734 g||360||n||Sep 2006||849|
|8.||Nikon D4S||160 mm||157 mm||91 mm||1350 g||3020||Y||Feb 2014||6,499|
|9.||Nikon D750||141 mm||113 mm||78 mm||750 g||1230||Y||Sep 2014||2,299|
|10.||Nikon D810||146 mm||123 mm||82 mm||980 g||1200||Y||Jun 2014||3,299|
|11.||Nikon D610||141 mm||113 mm||82 mm||850 g||900||Y||Oct 2013||1,999|
|12.||Nikon D4||160 mm||157 mm||91 mm||1340 g||2600||Y||Jan 2012||5,999|
|13.||Olympus E-330||140 mm||87 mm||72 mm||637 g||750||n||Jan 2006||999|
|14.||Olympus E-500||130 mm||95 mm||66 mm||479 g||750||n||Sep 2005||599|
|15.||Olympus E-300||147 mm||85 mm||64 mm||624 g||750||n||Sep 2004||799|
|16.||Panasonic L10||135 mm||96 mm||78 mm||556 g||450||n||Aug 2007||599|
|17.||Panasonic L1||146 mm||87 mm||64 mm||606 g||750||n||Feb 2006||999|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will obviously take relative prices into account. The manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. The Digilux 3 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 45 percent) than the Df, 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.
The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors 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. 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 Df a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the Df is 282 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 2.0 and 1.0. The sensor in the Digilux 3 has a native 4:3 aspect ratio, while the one in the Df offers a 3:2 aspect.
In terms of underlying technology, both cameras are build around CMOS sensors.
With 16.2MP, the Df offers a higher resolution than the Digilux 3 (7.4MP), but the Df nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 7.29μm versus 5.51μm for the Digilux 3) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the Df is a much more recent model (by 7 years and 1 month) than the Digilux 3, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units.
The resolution advantage of the Nikon Df implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the Df for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 24.6 x 16.4 inches or 62.6 x 41.7 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 19.7 x 13.1 inches or 50.1 x 33.3 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 16.4 x 10.9 inches or 41.7 x 27.8 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 Nikon Df are ISO 100 to ISO 12800, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 50-204800.
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 following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.
|1.||Leica Digilux 3||Four Thirds||7.4||3136||2352||none||..||..||..||..|
|2.||Nikon Df||Full Frame||16.2||4928||3280||none||24.6||13.1||3279||89|
|5.||Leica Q Typ 116||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.3||12.7||2221||85|
|7.||Leica V-LUX 1||1/1.8||10.0||3648||2736||480/30p||..||..||..||..|
|8.||Nikon D4S||Full Frame||16.2||4928||3280||1080/60p||24.4||13.3||3074||89|
|9.||Nikon D750||Full Frame||24.2||6016||4016||1080/60p||24.8||14.5||2956||93|
|10.||Nikon D810||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/60p||25.7||14.8||2853||97|
|11.||Nikon D610||Full Frame||24.2||6016||4016||1080/30p||25.1||14.4||2925||94|
|12.||Nikon D4||Full Frame||16.2||4928||3280||1080/30p||24.7||13.1||2965||89|
|13.||Olympus E-330||Four Thirds||7.4||3136||2352||none||..||..||..||..|
|14.||Olympus E-500||Four Thirds||8.0||3264||2448||none||..||..||..||..|
|15.||Olympus E-300||Four Thirds||8.0||3264||2448||none||..||..||..||..|
|16.||Panasonic L10||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.3||10.8||429||55|
|17.||Panasonic L1||Four Thirds||7.4||3136||2352||none||..||..||..||..|
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The Digilux 3 and the Df 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 viewfinder in the Df offers a wider field of view (100%) than the one in the Digilux 3 (95%), so that a larger proportion of the captured image is visible in the finder. In addition, the viewfinder of the Df has a higher magnification (0.70x vs 0.47x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Leica Digilux 3 and Nikon Df along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|1.||Leica Digilux 3||optical||n||2.5 / 207||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n|
|2.||Nikon Df||optical||Y||3.2 / 921||fixed||n||1/4000s||5.5||n||n|
|3.||Canon 30D||optical||Y||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0||Y||n|
|4.||Canon 350D||optical||n||1.8 / 115||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n|
|5.||Leica Q Typ 116||3680||n||3.0 / 1040||fixed||Y||1/2000s||10.0||n||Y|
|6.||Leica M8||optical||n||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/8000s||2.0||n||n|
|7.||Leica V-LUX 1||235||n||2.0 / 207||tilting||n||1/2000s||2.0||Y||Y|
|8.||Nikon D4S||optical||Y||3.2 / 921||fixed||n||1/8000s||11.0||n||n|
|9.||Nikon D750||optical||Y||3.2 / 1229||tilting||n||1/4000s||6.0||Y||n|
|10.||Nikon D810||optical||Y||3.2 / 1229||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0||Y||n|
|11.||Nikon D610||optical||Y||3.2 / 921||fixed||n||1/4000s||6.0||Y||n|
|12.||Nikon D4||optical||Y||3.2 / 921||fixed||n||1/8000s||11.0||n||n|
|13.||Olympus E-330||optical||n||2.5 / 215||tilting||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n|
|14.||Olympus E-500||optical||n||2.5 / 215||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.5||Y||n|
|15.||Olympus E-300||optical||n||1.8 / 134||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.5||Y||n|
|16.||Panasonic L10||optical||n||2.5 / 207||swivel||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n|
|17.||Panasonic L1||optical||n||2.5 / 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 Df 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.
The Nikon Df has an intervalometer built-in. This enables the photographer to capture time lapse sequences, such as flower blooming, a sunset or moon rise, without purchasing an external camera trigger and related software.
Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the Digilux 3 and the Df write their files to SDXC cards. The Df supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s), while the Digilux 3 cannot take advantage of Ultra High Speed SD cards.
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 Nikon Df and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
Mic / Speaker
|1.||Leica Digilux 3||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|2.||Nikon Df||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|3.||Canon 30D||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|4.||Canon 350D||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|5.||Leica Q Typ 116||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|6.||Leica M8||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|7.||Leica V-LUX 1||Y||mono / mono||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|8.||Nikon D4S||Y||mono / mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|9.||Nikon D750||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||Y||-||-|
|10.||Nikon D810||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||Y||-||-|
|11.||Nikon D610||Y||mono / mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|12.||Nikon D4||Y||mono / mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||-||-||-|
|13.||Olympus E-330||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|14.||Olympus E-500||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|15.||Olympus E-300||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|16.||Panasonic L10||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|17.||Panasonic L1||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Nikon Df (unlike the Digilux 3) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Both the Digilux 3 and the Df have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. Neither of the two has a direct successor, so they represent the end of the respective camera lines from Leica and Nikon. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Leica and Nikon websites.
So what is the bottom line? Which of the two cameras – the Leica Digilux 3 or the Nikon Df – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Advantages of the Leica Digilux 3:
- More compact: Is smaller (146x87mm vs 144x110mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 154g or 20 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
- Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
- More prestigious: Has the Leica luxury appeal, which ensures a high resale price.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (45 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in September 2006).
Arguments in favor of the Nikon Df:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (16.2 vs 7.4MP), which boosts linear resolution by 51%.
- Better image quality: Is equipped with a larger and more technologically advanced sensor.
- Richer colors: The sensor size advantage translates into images with better, more accurate colors.
- More dynamic range: Larger sensor captures a wider spectrum of light and dark details.
- Better low-light sensitivity: Larger sensor produces good images even in poorly lit environments.
- More complete view: Has a viewfinder with a larger field of view (100% vs 95%).
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.70x vs 0.47x).
- Easier setting verification: Features a control panel on top to check shooting parameters.
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.2" vs 2.5") for image review and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (921k vs 207k dots).
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5.5 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (1400 versus 750) out of a single battery charge.
- Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
- Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
- Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
- More modern: Reflects 7 years and 1 month of technical progress since the Digilux 3 launch.
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the Df is the clear winner of the contest (17 : 6 points). However, the pertinence of the various camera strengths will differ across photographers, so that you might want to weigh individual camera traits according to their importance for your own imaging needs before making a camera decision. A professional sports photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a street photog, and a person interested in family portraits has distinct needs from a landscape shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Leica Digilux 3 and the Nikon Df place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera listing whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the Digilux 3 or the Df. 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 provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear 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.
|1.||Leica Digilux 3||..||..||..||..||..||..||Sep 2006||1,499|
|2.||Nikon Df||4/5||..||..||81/100||4/5||4/5||Nov 2013||2,749|
|3.||Canon 30D||..||+ +||..||+ +||o||..||Feb 2006||1,399|
|4.||Canon 350D||..||80/100||..||+ +||o||..||Feb 2005||899|
|5.||Leica Q Typ 116||5/5||..||..||80/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2015||4,249|
|6.||Leica M8||..||..||..||+ +||..||..||Sep 2006||5,499|
|7.||Leica V-LUX 1||..||..||..||..||..||..||Sep 2006||849|
|8.||Nikon D4S||5/5||..||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2014||6,499|
|9.||Nikon D750||5/5||+ +||4/5||90/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2014||2,299|
|10.||Nikon D810||5/5||..||5/5||86/100||5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2014||3,299|
|11.||Nikon D610||4/5||+ +||..||87/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2013||1,999|
|12.||Nikon D4||..||..||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2012||5,999|
|13.||Olympus E-330||..||..||..||+||o||..||Jan 2006||999|
|14.||Olympus E-500||..||76/100||..||+ +||..||..||Sep 2005||599|
|15.||Olympus E-300||..||..||..||+||o||4.5/5||Sep 2004||799|
|16.||Panasonic L10||..||85/100||..||+||3.5/5||4/5||Aug 2007||599|
|17.||Panasonic L1||..||85/100||..||+||..||3.5/5||Feb 2006||999|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings are only valid when referring 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 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? In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.
- Fujifilm XQ2 vs Leica Digilux 3
- Leica Digilux 3 vs Leica S2
- Leica Digilux 3 vs Nikon D810
- Leica Digilux 3 vs Panasonic S1H
- Leica Digilux 3 vs Pentax K-5
- Leica Digilux 3 vs Sony A7S II
- Leica TL vs Nikon Df
- Leica X2 vs Nikon Df
- Nikon Df vs Olympus E-1
- Nikon Df vs Panasonic FZ2000
- Nikon Df vs Panasonic GM1
- Nikon Df vs Sony WX800
Specifications: Leica Digilux 3 vs Nikon Df
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 Model||Leica Digilux 3||Nikon Df|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Four Thirds lenses||Nikon F mount lenses|
|Launch Date||September 2006||November 2013|
|Launch Price||USD 1,499||USD 2,749|
|Sensor Specs||Leica Digilux 3||Nikon Df|
|Sensor Format||Four Thirds Sensor||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||17.3 x 13.0 mm||36.0 x 23.9 mm|
|Sensor Area||224.9 mm2||860.4 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||21.6 mm||43.2 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||7.4 Megapixels||16.2 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||3136 x 2352 pixels||4928 x 3280 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||5.51 μm||7.29 μm|
|Pixel Density||3.28 MP/cm2||1.88 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||no Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 1,600 ISO||100 - 12,800 ISO|
|ISO Boost||no Enhancement||50 - 204,800 ISO|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||..||89|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||..||24.6|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||..||13.1|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||..||3279|
|Screen Specs||Leica Digilux 3||Nikon Df|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||95%||100%|
|Top-Level Screen||no Top Display||Control Panel|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||2.5inch||3.2inch|
|LCD Resolution||207k dots||921k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Leica Digilux 3||Nikon Df|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||3 shutter flaps/s||5.5 shutter flaps/s|
|Time-Lapse Photography||no Intervalometer||Intervalometer built-in|
|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||UHS-I|
|Connectivity Specs||Leica Digilux 3||Nikon Df|
|Studio Flash||no PC Sync||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||no HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Leica Digilux 3||Nikon Df|
|Environmental Sealing||not weather sealed||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||750 shots per charge||1400 shots per charge|
146 x 87 x 77 mm
(5.7 x 3.4 x 3.0 in)
144 x 110 x 67 mm
(5.7 x 4.3 x 2.6 in)
|Camera Weight||606 g (21.4 oz)||760 g (26.8 oz)|
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