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Leica Digilux 3 versus Olympus E-300

The Leica Digilux 3 and the Olympus Evolt E-300 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in September 2006 and September 2004. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with a Four Thirds sensor. The Leica has a resolution of 7.4 megapixel, whereas the Olympus provides 8 MP.

Body comparison

The physical size and weight of the Leica Digilux 3 and the Olympus E-300 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).

Leica Digilux 3 vs Olympus E-300 front
Digilux 3 versus E-300 top view
Digilux 3 and E-300 rear side
Body view (Digilux 3 on the left)

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Olympus E-300 is somewhat smaller (2 percent) than the Leica Digilux 3. However, the E-300 is slightly heavier (3 percent) than the Digilux 3. Cameras that are intended for semi-professional or professional use are sometimes a bit bulkier in order to provide them with the necessary ruggedness. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the Digilux 3 nor the E-300 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. In this particular case, both cameras feature the same lens mount, so that they can use the same lenses. You can find an overview of suitable optics in the Four Thirds Lens Catalog.

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 comparisons there.

Camera Body Specifications
Camera Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(y/n)
Camera
Launch
(year)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(amazon)
Used
Price
(ebay)
Leica Digilux 3 (⇒ rgt) 5.7 in 3.4 in 3.0 in 21.4 oz 750 no 2006 1,499discont. check
Olympus E-300 (⇒ lft) 5.8 in 3.3 in 2.5 in 22.0 oz 750 no 2004 799discont. check
Canon 30D (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.7 in 4.2 in 2.9 in 27.7 oz 750 no 2006 1,399discont. check
Olympus E-410 (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.1 in 3.6 in 2.1 in 15.3 oz 500 no 2007 699discont. check
Olympus E-510 (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.4 in 3.6 in 2.7 in 19.0 oz 750 no 2007 799discont. check
Olympus E-330 (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.5 in 3.4 in 2.8 in 22.5 oz 750 no 2006 999discont. check
Olympus E-400 (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.1 in 3.6 in 2.1 in 15.3 oz 500 no 2006 699discont. check
Olympus E-500 (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.1 in 3.7 in 2.6 in 16.9 oz 750 no 2005 599discont. check
Olympus E-1 (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.6 in 4.1 in 3.2 in 26.0 oz 750 YES 2003 1,699discont. check
Panasonic L10 (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.3 in 3.8 in 3.1 in 19.6 oz 450 no 2007 599discont. check
Panasonic L1 (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.7 in 3.4 in 2.5 in 21.4 oz 750 no 2006 999discont. check

The listed prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The E-300 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 47 percent) than the Digilux 3, 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

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 tend to have larger individual pixels that provide better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color depth than smaller pixel-units in a sensor of the same technological generation. Further, a large sensor camera will give the photographer additional creative options when using shallow depth-of-field to isolate a subject from its background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Both cameras under consideration feature a Four Thirds sensor and have a format factor (sometimes also referred to as "crop factor") of 2.0. Within the spectrum of camera sensors, this places the review cameras among the medium-sized sensor cameras that aim to strike a balance between image quality and portability. Both cameras feature a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 4:3.

Leica Digilux 3 and Olympus E-300 sensor measures
Sensor size

While the two cameras under review share the same sensor size, the E-300 offers a higher resolution of 8 megapixel, compared with 7.4 MP of the Digilux 3. This megapixel advantage translates into a 4 percent gain in linear resolution. On the other hand, these sensor specs imply that the E-300 has a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 5.3μm versus 5.52μm for the Digilux 3). In this context, it should be noted, however, that the Digilux 3 is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 11 months) than the E-300, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that at least partly compensate for the smaller pixel size.

Digilux 3 versus E-300 MP
Sensor resolution

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for most cameras. 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 following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.

Sensor Characteristics
Camera Sensor
Class
Resolution
(Megapixel)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Leica Digilux 3 (⇒ rgt) Four Thirds 7.4 3136 2352 no - - - -
Olympus E-300 (⇒ lft) Four Thirds 8.0 3264 2448 no - - - -
Canon 30D (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 8.2 3504 2336 no 21.5 10.8 736 59
Olympus E-410 (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736 no 21.1 10.0 494 51
Olympus E-510 (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736 no 21.2 10.0 442 52
Olympus E-330 (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 7.4 3136 2352 no - - - -
Olympus E-400 (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736 no - - - -
Olympus E-500 (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 8.0 3264 2448 no - - - -
Olympus E-1 (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 4.9 2560 1920 no - - - -
Panasonic L10 (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736 no 21.3 10.8 429 55
Panasonic L1 (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 7.4 3136 2352 no - - - -
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 E-300 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 variety of features. The Digilux 3 and the E-300 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 Olympus E-300 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras. If you need more detail on the specs, you can find comprehensive listings, for example, in the dpreview camera hub.

Core Features
Camera Viewfinder
(Type or
'000 dots)
Control
Panel
(Y/n)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(Y/n)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec))
Build-in
Flash
(GN)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Leica Digilux 3 (⇒ rgt) optical no 2.5 207 fixed no 4000 3.0 13 no
Olympus E-300 (⇒ lft) optical no 1.8 134 fixed no 4000 2.5 11 no
Canon 30D (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 2.5 230 fixed no 8000 5.0 13 no
Olympus E-410 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 2.5 215 fixed no 4000 3.0 10 no
Olympus E-510 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 2.5 215 fixed no 4000 3.0 12 YES
Olympus E-330 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 2.5 215 tilting no 4000 3.0 13 no
Olympus E-400 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 2.5 215 fixed no 4000 3.0 10 no
Olympus E-500 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 2.5 215 fixed no 4000 2.5 13 no
Olympus E-1 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 1.8 134 fixed no 4000 3.0 no no
Panasonic L10 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 2.5 207 swivel no 4000 3.0 11 no
Panasonic L1 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 2.5 207 fixed no 4000 3.0 13 no

Both the Digilux 3 and the E-300 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on ebay. The E-300 was replaced by the Olympus E-330, while the Digilux 3 does not have a direct successor.

Summary

So what is the bottom line? Is there a clear favorite between the Leica Digilux 3 and the Leica Digilux 3? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.


Reasons to prefer the Leica Digilux 3:

  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (2.5" vs 1.8") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (207k vs 134k dots).
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (3 vs 2.5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More prestigious: Has the Leica luxury appeal, which ensures a high resale price.
  • More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 1 year and 11 months after the E-300).

Advantages of the Olympus Evolt E-300:

  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (47 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in September 2006).

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the Digilux 3 emerges as the winner of the contest (5 : 2 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.

Digilux 3 05:02 E-300

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 E-300 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 expert reviews are important. The table below summarizes the assessments of some of the best known camera review sites. You can find the full text of the reviews, respectively, at cameralabs.com, dpreview.com, ephotozine.com, imaging-resource.com, and photographyblog.com.

Review scores
Camera camera
labs
dp
review
ephoto
zine
imaging
resource
photography
blog
Camera
Launch
(year)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(amazon)
Used
Price
(ebay)
Leica Digilux 3 (⇒ rgt) - - - - - 2006 1,499discont. check
Olympus E-300 (⇒ lft) - Rec reviewed reviewed 4.5/5 2004 799discont. check
Canon 30D (⇒ lft | rgt) 87/100 HiRec HiRec reviewed reviewed - 2006 1,399discont. check
Olympus E-410 (⇒ lft | rgt) 86/100 HiRec 4/5 reviewed 4.5/5 2007 699discont. check
Olympus E-510 (⇒ lft | rgt) 89/100 HiRec 3.5/5 reviewed 4.5/5 2007 799discont. check
Olympus E-330 (⇒ lft | rgt) - Rec reviewed 3.5/5 - 2006 999discont. check
Olympus E-400 (⇒ lft | rgt) 85/100 - 4/5 - 4/5 2006 699discont. check
Olympus E-500 (⇒ lft | rgt) 76/100 HiRec - - - 2005 599discont. check
Olympus E-1 (⇒ lft | rgt) - Rec reviewed reviewed - 2003 1,699discont. check
Panasonic L10 (⇒ lft | rgt) 85/100 Rec 3.5/5 reviewed 4/5 2007 599discont. check
Panasonic L1 (⇒ lft | rgt) 85/100 Rec - reviewed 3.5/5 2006 999discont. check

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. 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. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.

Other comparisons

In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, 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 the camera you are interested in is not available, kindly get in touch, and I will try to update the database with the necessary infos.

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