Leica Digilux 3 vs Olympus E-PM1
The Leica Digilux 3 and the Olympus PEN E-PM1 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in September 2006 and June 2011. The Digilux 3 is a DSLR, while the E-PM1 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. Both cameras are equipped with a Four Thirds sensor. The Leica has a resolution of 7.4 megapixels, whereas the Olympus provides 12.2 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 Olympus PEN E-PM1? 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 Olympus E-PM1 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 size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The E-PM1 can be obtained in six different colors (black, silver, brown, pink, purple, white), 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 Olympus E-PM1 is considerably smaller (45 percent) than the Leica Digilux 3. Moreover, the E-PM1 is substantially lighter (56 percent) than the Digilux 3. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the Digilux 3 nor the E-PM1 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. Both cameras have similarly sized sensors, but DSLRs have a larger flange-to-focal plane distance than mirrorless cameras, which imposes contraints on the optical engineering process and generally leads to bigger and heavier lenses. You can compare the optics available for the two cameras in the Four Thirds Lens Catalog (Digilux 3) and the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog (E-PM1). Mirrorless cameras, such as the E-PM1, have moreover the advantage that they can use many lenses from other systems via adapters, as they have a relatively short flange to focal plane distance.
The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, you can move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.
|1.||Leica Digilux 3||146 mm||87 mm||77 mm||606 g||750||n||Sep 2006||1,499||ebay.com|
|2.||Olympus E-PM1||110 mm||64 mm||34 mm||265 g||330||n||Jun 2011||499||ebay.com|
|3.||Canon 30D||144 mm||106 mm||74 mm||785 g||750||n||Feb 2006||1,399||ebay.com|
|4.||Canon 350D||127 mm||94 mm||64 mm||540 g||400||n||Feb 2005||899||ebay.com|
|5.||Leica Q Typ 116||130 mm||80 mm||93 mm||640 g||300||n||Jun 2015||4,249||ebay.com|
|6.||Leica M8||139 mm||80 mm||37 mm||591 g||..||n||Sep 2006||5,499||ebay.com|
|7.||Leica V-LUX 1||141 mm||86 mm||142 mm||734 g||360||n||Sep 2006||849||ebay.com|
|8.||Olympus E-PM2||110 mm||64 mm||34 mm||269 g||360||n||Sep 2012||499||ebay.com|
|9.||Olympus E-P3||122 mm||69 mm||34 mm||369 g||330||n||Jun 2011||799||ebay.com|
|10.||Olympus E-PL2||114 mm||72 mm||42 mm||362 g||280||n||Jan 2011||599||ebay.com|
|11.||Olympus E-PL3||110 mm||64 mm||37 mm||313 g||300||n||Jun 2011||599||ebay.com|
|12.||Olympus E-PL1||115 mm||72 mm||42 mm||334 g||290||n||Feb 2010||599||ebay.com|
|13.||Olympus E-330||140 mm||87 mm||72 mm||637 g||750||n||Jan 2006||999||ebay.com|
|14.||Olympus E-500||130 mm||95 mm||66 mm||479 g||750||n||Sep 2005||599||ebay.com|
|15.||Olympus E-300||147 mm||85 mm||64 mm||624 g||750||n||Sep 2004||799||ebay.com|
|16.||Panasonic L10||135 mm||96 mm||78 mm||556 g||450||n||Aug 2007||599||ebay.com|
|17.||Panasonic L1||146 mm||87 mm||64 mm||606 g||750||n||Feb 2006||999||ebay.com|
|Note: 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 manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. The E-PM1 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 67 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.
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. 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 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.
While the two cameras under review share the same sensor size, the E-PM1 offers a higher resolution of 12.2 megapixels, compared with 7.4 MP of the Digilux 3. This megapixels advantage translates into a 29 percent gain in linear resolution. On the other hand, these sensor specs imply that the E-PM1 has a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 4.29μm versus 5.51μm for the Digilux 3). However, it should be noted that the E-PM1 is much more recent (by 4 years and 9 months) than the Digilux 3, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that compensate for the smaller pixel size.
The resolution advantage of the Olympus E-PM1 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the E-PM1 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 20.2 x 15.1 inches or 51.2 x 38.4 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 16.1 x 12.1 inches or 41 x 30.7 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 13.4 x 10.1 inches or 34.1 x 25.6 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 Olympus PEN E-PM1 are ISO 100 to ISO 12800 (no boost).
Technology-wise, both cameras are equipped with CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensors. Both cameras use a Bayer filter for capturing RGB colors on a square grid of photosensors. This arrangement is found in most digital cameras.
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 table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.
|1.||Leica Digilux 3||Four Thirds||7.4||3136||2352||none||21.0||10.6||127||53|
|2.||Olympus E-PM1||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||21.0||10.3||499||52|
|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||18.4||9.5||-727||29|
|8.||Olympus E-PM2||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.7||12.2||932||72|
|9.||Olympus E-P3||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||20.8||10.1||536||51|
|10.||Olympus E-PL2||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.4||10.2||573||55|
|11.||Olympus E-PL3||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||20.9||10.3||499||52|
|12.||Olympus E-PL1||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.5||10.1||487||54|
|13.||Olympus E-330||Four Thirds||7.4||3136||2352||none||20.8||10.4||73||52|
|14.||Olympus E-500||Four Thirds||8.0||3264||2448||none||20.7||10.3||45||51|
|15.||Olympus E-300||Four Thirds||8.0||3264||2448||none||20.4||10.1||-40||48|
|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||20.8||10.4||80||52|
|Note: DXO values in italics represent estimates based on sensor size and age.|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The E-PM1 indeed provides for movie recording, while the Digilux 3 does not. The highest resolution format that the E-PM1 can use is 1080/60i.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the Digilux 3 has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the E-PM1 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. That said, the E-PM1 can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the VF-2. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Leica Digilux 3 and Olympus E-PM1 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|1.||Leica Digilux 3||optical||n||2.5 / 207||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|2.||Olympus E-PM1||optional||n||3.0 / 460||fixed||n||1/4000s||5.5/s||n||Y|
|3.||Canon 30D||optical||Y||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0/s||Y||n|
|4.||Canon 350D||optical||n||1.8 / 115||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|5.||Leica Q Typ 116||3680||n||3.0 / 1040||fixed||Y||1/2000s||10.0/s||n||Y|
|6.||Leica M8||optical||n||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/8000s||2.0/s||n||n|
|7.||Leica V-LUX 1||235||n||2.0 / 207||tilting||n||1/2000s||2.0/s||Y||Y|
|8.||Olympus E-PM2||optional||n||3.0 / 460||fixed||Y||1/4000s||8.0/s||n||Y|
|9.||Olympus E-P3||optional||n||3.0 / 614||fixed||Y||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||Y|
|10.||Olympus E-PL2||optional||n||3.0 / 460||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||Y|
|11.||Olympus E-PL3||optional||n||3.0 / 460||tilting||n||1/4000s||5.5/s||n||Y|
|12.||Olympus E-PL1||optional||n||2.7 / 230||fixed||n||1/2000s||3.0/s||Y||Y|
|13.||Olympus E-330||optical||n||2.5 / 215||tilting||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|14.||Olympus E-500||optical||n||2.5 / 215||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.5/s||Y||n|
|15.||Olympus E-300||optical||n||1.8 / 134||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.5/s||Y||n|
|16.||Panasonic L10||optical||n||2.5 / 207||swivel||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|17.||Panasonic L1||optical||n||2.5 / 207||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|Notes: *) Information refers to the mechanical shutter, unless the camera only has an electronic one.|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The Digilux 3 has one, while the E-PM1 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 E-PM1 write their files to SDXC 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 Olympus PEN E-PM1 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.||Olympus E-PM1||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||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.||Olympus E-PM2||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|9.||Olympus E-P3||Y||stereo / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|10.||Olympus E-PL2||Y||stereo / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|11.||Olympus E-PL3||Y||stereo / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|12.||Olympus E-PL1||Y||stereo / -||-||-||mini||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||-||-||-|
Both the Digilux 3 and the E-PM1 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on ebay. The E-PM1 was replaced by the Olympus E-PM2, 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.
So what is the bottom line? Is the Leica Digilux 3 better than the Olympus E-PM1 or vice versa? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Arguments in favor of the Leica Digilux 3:
- Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (750 versus 330) on a single battery charge.
- 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 heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in September 2006).
Advantages of the Olympus PEN E-PM1:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (12.2 vs 7.4MP), which boosts linear resolution by 29%.
- Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 1080/60i video.
- 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 (460k vs 207k dots).
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5.5 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More compact: Is smaller (110x64mm vs 146x87mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 341g or 56 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
- More legacy lens friendly: Can use many non-native lenses via adapters.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (67 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 4 years and 9 months of technical progress since the Digilux 3 launch.
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the E-PM1 is the clear winner of the contest (11 : 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. A professional wildlife photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a family photog, and a person interested in architecture has distinct needs from a sports 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 Olympus E-PM1 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera and Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera listings whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras can be 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-PM1 perform in practice. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased.
This is why expert reviews are important. 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||ebay.com|
|2.||Olympus E-PM1||..||86/100||..||71/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2011||499||ebay.com|
|3.||Canon 30D||..||+ +||..||+ +||o||..||Feb 2006||1,399||ebay.com|
|4.||Canon 350D||..||80/100||..||+ +||o||..||Feb 2005||899||ebay.com|
|5.||Leica Q Typ 116||5/5||..||..||80/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2015||4,249||ebay.com|
|6.||Leica M8||..||..||..||+ +||..||..||Sep 2006||5,499||ebay.com|
|7.||Leica V-LUX 1||..||..||..||..||..||..||Sep 2006||849||ebay.com|
|8.||Olympus E-PM2||3/5||..||..||77/100||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||499||ebay.com|
|9.||Olympus E-P3||..||83/100||..||74/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2011||799||ebay.com|
|10.||Olympus E-PL2||3/5||83/100||..||71/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2011||599||ebay.com|
|11.||Olympus E-PL3||3/5||+ +||..||72/100||4.5/5||4/5||Jun 2011||599||ebay.com|
|12.||Olympus E-PL1||..||86/100||..||69/100||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2010||599||ebay.com|
|13.||Olympus E-330||..||..||..||+||o||..||Jan 2006||999||ebay.com|
|14.||Olympus E-500||..||76/100||..||+ +||..||..||Sep 2005||599||ebay.com|
|15.||Olympus E-300||..||..||..||+||o||4.5/5||Sep 2004||799||ebay.com|
|16.||Panasonic L10||..||85/100||..||+||3.5/5||4/5||Aug 2007||599||ebay.com|
|17.||Panasonic L1||..||85/100||..||+||..||3.5/5||Feb 2006||999||ebay.com|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
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. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time 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.
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 make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. As an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.
- Canon 400D vs Leica Digilux 3
- Canon 5DS vs Olympus E-PM1
- Fujifilm GFX 100 vs Olympus E-PM1
- Fujifilm X-T1 vs Leica Digilux 3
- Kodak S-1 vs Olympus E-PM1
- Leica D-LUX 7 vs Leica Digilux 3
- Leica Digilux 3 vs Nikon P900
- Leica Digilux 3 vs Sony A850
- Leica Digilux 3 vs Sony RX10 II
- Nikon D1 vs Olympus E-PM1
- Olympus E-M5 II vs Olympus E-PM1
- Olympus E-PM1 vs Panasonic GF7
Specifications: Leica Digilux 3 vs Olympus E-PM1
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||Olympus E-PM1|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Four Thirds lenses||Micro Four Thirds lenses|
|Launch Date||September 2006||June 2011|
|Launch Price||USD 1,499||USD 499|
|Sensor Specs||Leica Digilux 3||Olympus E-PM1|
|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|
|Sensor Resolution||7.4 Megapixels||12.2 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||3136 x 2352 pixels||4032 x 3024 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||5.51 μm||4.29 μm|
|Pixel Density||3.28 MP/cm2||5.42 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||1080/60i Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 1,600 ISO||100 - 12,800 ISO|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||..||52|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||..||21.0|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||..||10.3|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||..||499|
|Screen Specs||Leica Digilux 3||Olympus E-PM1|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Viewfinder optional|
|Viewfinder Field of View||95%|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||2.5inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||207k dots||460k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Leica Digilux 3||Olympus E-PM1|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||3 shutter flaps/s||5.5 shutter flaps/s|
|Image Stabilization||Lens stabilization only||In-body stabilization|
|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||Olympus E-PM1|
|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||Olympus E-PM1|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||750 shots per charge||330 shots per charge|
146 x 87 x 77 mm
(5.7 x 3.4 x 3.0 in)
110 x 64 x 34 mm
(4.3 x 2.5 x 1.3 in)
|Camera Weight||606 g (21.4 oz)||265 g (9.3 oz)|
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