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Leica Digilux 3 vs Olympus E-300

The Leica Digilux 3 and the Olympus Evolt E-300 are two digital cameras that were announced, 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 megapixels, whereas the Olympus provides 8 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 Olympus E-300
Leica Digilux 3 Olympus E-300
Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
Four Thirds lenses Four Thirds lenses
7.4 MP, Four Thirds Sensor 8 MP, Four Thirds Sensor
no Video no Video
ISO 100-1,600 ISO 100-400 (100 - 1,600)
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
2.5 LCD, 207k dots 1.8 LCD, 134k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
3 shutter flaps per second 2.5 shutter flaps per second
750 shots per battery charge750 shots per battery charge
146 x 87 x 77 mm, 606 g 147 x 85 x 64 mm, 624 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Leica Digilux 3 and the Olympus Evolt E-300? 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 Olympus E-300 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 measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

Size Leica Digilux 3 vs Olympus E-300
Compare Digilux 3 versus E-300 top
Comparison Digilux 3 or E-300 rear

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. 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 compare the optics available in the Four Thirds Lens Catalog.

The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, just use the right or left arrows in the table to switch to the respective camera. Alternatively, you can also navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from the full list of cameras there.

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Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life 1
Weather
Sealing
Camera
Launch 2
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
 
Leica Digilux 3 5.7 in 3.4 in 3.0 in 21.4 oz 750 n Sep 2006 1,499i
 
Olympus E-300 5.8 in 3.3 in 2.5 in 22.0 oz 750 n Sep 2004 799i
 
Canon 30D 5.7 in 4.2 in 2.9 in 27.7 oz 750 n Feb 2006 1,399i
 
Canon XT 5.0 in 3.7 in 2.5 in 19.0 oz 400 n Feb 2005 899i
 
Leica M8 5.5 in 3.1 in 1.5 in 20.8 oz .. n Sep 2006 5,499i
 
Leica V-LUX 1 5.6 in 3.4 in 5.6 in 25.9 oz 360 n Sep 2006 849i
 
Olympus E-30 5.6 in 4.3 in 3.0 in 24.7 oz 750 n Nov 2008 1,299i
 
Olympus E-330 5.5 in 3.4 in 2.8 in 22.5 oz 750 n Jan 2006 999i
 
Olympus E-400 5.1 in 3.6 in 2.1 in 15.3 oz 500 n Sep 2006 699i
 
Olympus E-500 5.1 in 3.7 in 2.6 in 16.9 oz 750 n Sep 2005 599i
 
Olympus E-1 5.6 in 4.1 in 3.2 in 26.0 oz 750 Y Jun 2003 1,699i
 
Panasonic L10 5.3 in 3.8 in 3.1 in 19.6 oz 450 n Aug 2007 599i
 
Panasonic L1 5.7 in 3.4 in 2.5 in 21.4 oz 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.
(1) Number of images that can be taken on a full battery charge according to the CIPA-standard; (2) Official announcement.

Any camera decision will obviously take relative prices into account. The listed launch 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.

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 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. 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 associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies 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

While the two cameras under review share the same sensor size, the E-300 offers a slightly higher resolution of 8 megapixels, compared with 7.4 MP of the Digilux 3. This megapixels 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 5.30μm versus 5.51μm for the Digilux 3). Moreover, it should be noted, 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 further enhance the light gathering capacity of individual pixels.

The Leica Digilux 3 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 1600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Olympus Evolt E-300 are ISO 100 to ISO 400, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-1600.

Digilux 3 versus E-300 MP

For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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.

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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
 
Leica Digilux 3 Four Thirds 7.4 3136 2352none........
 
Olympus E-300 Four Thirds 8.0 3264 2448none........
 
Canon 30D APS-C 8.2 3504 2336none21.510.873659
 
Canon XT APS-C 8.0 3456 2304none21.810.863760
 
Leica M8 APS-H 10.4 3936 2630none21.111.366359
 
Leica V-LUX 1 1/1.8 10.0 3648 2736480/30p........
 
Olympus E-30 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024none21.310.453055
 
Olympus E-330 Four Thirds 7.4 3136 2352none........
 
Olympus E-400 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none........
 
Olympus E-500 Four Thirds 8.0 3264 2448none........
 
Olympus E-1 Four Thirds 4.9 2560 1920none........
 
Panasonic L10 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.310.842955
 
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 E-300 lacks this capability. Both cameras are still-image focused and cannot record videos.

Feature comparison

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range 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 viewfinders of both cameras offer the same field of view (95%), but the viewfinder of the E-300 has a higher magnification than the one of the Digilux 3 (0.5x vs 0.47x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. 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.

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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)
Mech
Shutter
Speed
Shutter
Flaps
(1/sec)
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
 
Leica Digilux 3optical n 2.5 207 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
 
Olympus E-300optical n 1.8 134 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y n
 
Canon 30Doptical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 Y n
 
Canon XToptical n 1.8 115 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
 
Leica M8optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/8000s 2.0 n n
 
Leica V-LUX 1235 n 2.0 207 swivel n 1/2000s 2.0 Y Y
 
Olympus E-30optical Y 2.7 230 swivel n 1/8000s 5.0 Y Y
 
Olympus E-330optical n 2.5 215 tilting n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
 
Olympus E-400optical n 2.5 215 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
 
Olympus E-500optical n 2.5 215 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y n
 
Olympus E-1optical Y 1.8 134 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 n n
 
Panasonic L10optical n 2.5 207 swivel n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
 
Panasonic L1optical n 2.5 207 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n

The Digilux 3 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the E-300 uses Compact Flash or xD Picture cards. The E-300 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the Digilux 3 only has one slot.

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 Olympus Evolt E-300 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
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
 
Leica Digilux 3Ystereomono---2.0---
 
Olympus E-300Y-----2.0---
 
Canon 30DY-----2.0---
 
Canon XTY-----2.0---
 
Leica M8Y-----2.0---
 
Leica V-LUX 1Ymonomono---2.0---
 
Olympus E-30Y-----2.0---
 
Olympus E-330Y-----2.0---
 
Olympus E-400Y-----2.0---
 
Olympus E-500Y-----2.0---
 
Olympus E-1Y-----2.0---
 
Panasonic L10Y-----2.0---
 
Panasonic L1Y-----2.0---

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

Review summary

So what conclusions can be drawn? Is the Leica Digilux 3 better than the Olympus E-300 or vice versa? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.

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Advantages of 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).

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Reasons to prefer the Olympus Evolt E-300:

  • Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.5x vs 0.47x).
  • Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
  • 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 2004).

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the Digilux 3 comes out slightly ahead of the E-300 (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. 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 05:04 E-300

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Leica Digilux 3 and the Olympus E-300 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 the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the Digilux 3 or the E-300. 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.

Expert reviews

This is why expert reviews are important. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, and photographyblog). 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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Review Scores
  Camera
Model
camera
  labs  
dp
review  
ephoto
  zine  
imaging
resource
photography
  blog  
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
 
Leica Digilux 3.......... Sep 2006 1,499i
 
Olympus E-300..+oo4.5/5 Sep 2004 799i
 
Canon 30D+ ++ +oo.. Feb 2006 1,399i
 
Canon XT80/100+ +oo.. Feb 2005 899i
 
Leica M8..+ +...... Sep 2006 5,499i
 
Leica V-LUX 1.......... Sep 2006 849i
 
Olympus E-30..71/1004.5/5..4/5 Nov 2008 1,299i
 
Olympus E-330..+o3.5/5.. Jan 2006 999i
 
Olympus E-40085/100..4/5..4/5 Sep 2006 699i
 
Olympus E-50076/100+ +...... Sep 2005 599i
 
Olympus E-1..+oo.. Jun 2003 1,699i
 
Panasonic L1085/100+3.5/5o4/5 Aug 2007 599i
 
Panasonic L185/100+..o3.5/5 Feb 2006 999i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. 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, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.

Leica Digilux 3:
Check Ebay offers
Olympus E-300:
Check Ebay offers

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.

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    Specifications: Leica Digilux 3 vs Olympus E-300

    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 Olympus E-300
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Four Thirds lenses Four Thirds lenses
    Launch Date September 2006 September 2004
    Launch Price USD 1,499 USD 799
    Sensor Specs Leica Digilux 3 Olympus E-300
    Sensor Technology CMOS CMOS
    Sensor Format Four Thirds Sensor Four Thirds Sensor
    Sensor Size 17.3 x 13.0 mm 17.3 x 13.0 mm
    Sensor Area 224.9 mm2 224.9 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 21.6 mm 21.6 mm
    Crop Factor 2.0x 2.0x
    Sensor Resolution 7.4 Megapixels 8 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 3136 x 2352 pixels 3264 x 2448 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 5.51 μm 5.30 μm
    Pixel Density 3.28 MP/cm2 3.55 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability no Video no Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 1,600 ISO 100 - 400 ISO
    ISO Boost no Enhancement 100 - 1,600 ISO
    Screen Specs Leica Digilux 3 Olympus E-300
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 95% 95%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.47x 0.5x
    LCD Framing Live View
    Rear LCD Size 2.5inch 1.8inch
    LCD Resolution 207k dots 134k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Leica Digilux 3 Olympus E-300
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 3 shutter flaps/s 2.5 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash Build-in Flash Build-in Flash
    Storage Medium SDXC cards CF or XD cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Dual card slots
    Connectivity Specs Leica Digilux 3 Olympus E-300
    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 Olympus E-300
    Battery Type BP-DC3 BLM-1
    Battery Life (CIPA)750 shots per charge750 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 146 x 87 x 77 mm
    (5.7 x 3.4 x 3.0 in)
    147 x 85 x 64 mm
    (5.8 x 3.3 x 2.5 in)
    Camera Weight 606 g (21.4 oz) 624 g (22.0 oz)

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