Leica Digilux 3 vs Panasonic LF1
The Leica Digilux 3 and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LF1 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in September 2006 and April 2013. The Digilux 3 is a DSLR, while the LF1 is a fixed lens compact. The cameras are based on a Four Thirds (Digilux 3) and a 1/1.7-inch (LF1) sensor. The Leica has a resolution of 7.4 megapixels, whereas the Panasonic provides 12 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 Panasonic Lumix DMC-LF1? 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 Panasonic LF1 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.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Panasonic LF1 is considerably smaller (50 percent) than the Leica Digilux 3. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the Digilux 3 nor the LF1 are weather-sealed.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the LF1 has a lens built in, whereas the Digilux 3 is an interchangeable lens camera that requires a separate lens. Attaching the latter will add extra weight and bulk to the setup. You can compare the optics available for the Digilux 3 and their specifications in the Four Thirds Lens Catalog.
The power pack in the LF1 can be charged via the USB port, which can be very convenient when travelling.
The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, you can use the CAM-parator app to select your camera combination among a large number of options.
|1.||Leica Digilux 3||146 mm||87 mm||77 mm||606 g||750||n||Sep 2006||1,499|
|2.||Panasonic LF1||103 mm||62 mm||28 mm||192 g||250||n||Apr 2013||499|
|3.||Canon G16||109 mm||76 mm||40 mm||356 g||360||n||Aug 2013||549|
|4.||Canon S120||100 mm||59 mm||29 mm||217 g||230||n||Aug 2013||449|
|5.||Canon 30D||144 mm||106 mm||74 mm||785 g||750||n||Feb 2006||1,399|
|6.||Canon XT||127 mm||94 mm||64 mm||540 g||400||n||Feb 2005||899|
|7.||Leica M8||139 mm||80 mm||37 mm||591 g||..||n||Sep 2006||5,499|
|8.||Leica V-LUX 1||141 mm||86 mm||142 mm||734 g||360||n||Sep 2006||849|
|9.||Nikon P7800||119 mm||78 mm||50 mm||399 g||350||n||Sep 2013||549|
|10.||Olympus E-30||142 mm||108 mm||75 mm||701 g||750||n||Nov 2008||1,299|
|11.||Olympus E-330||140 mm||87 mm||72 mm||637 g||750||n||Jan 2006||999|
|12.||Olympus E-500||130 mm||95 mm||66 mm||479 g||750||n||Sep 2005||599|
|13.||Olympus E-300||147 mm||85 mm||64 mm||624 g||750||n||Sep 2004||799|
|14.||Panasonic FZ200||125 mm||87 mm||110 mm||588 g||540||n||Jul 2012||599|
|15.||Panasonic LX7||111 mm||68 mm||46 mm||298 g||330||n||Jul 2012||499|
|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 listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The LF1 was launched at a lower price than the Digilux 3, despite having a lens built in. 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 size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants 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 are more costly to manufacture and tend to 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 Panasonic LF1 a 1/1.7-inch sensor. The sensor area in the LF1 is 81 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 2.0 and 4.5. Both cameras feature a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 4:3.
Technology-wise, both cameras are equipped with CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensors.
Despite having a smaller sensor, the LF1 offers a higher resolution of 12 megapixels, compared with 7.4 MP of the Digilux 3. This megapixels advantage comes at the cost of a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 1.89μm versus 5.51μm for the Digilux 3). However, it should be noted that the LF1 is much more recent (by 6 years and 7 months) than the Digilux 3, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that make it possible to gather light more efficiently.
The resolution advantage of the Panasonic LF1 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the LF1 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 20 x 15 inches or 50.8 x 38.1 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 16 x 12 inches or 40.6 x 30.5 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 13.3 x 10 inches or 33.9 x 25.4 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 Panasonic Lumix DMC-LF1 are ISO 80 to ISO 6400, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 80-12800.
For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. This service is based on lab testing and assigns an overall score to each camera sensor, as well as ratings for dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), color depth ("DXO Portrait"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"). 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||21.0||10.6||127||53|
|8.||Leica V-LUX 1||1/1.8||10.0||3648||2736||480/30p||18.4||9.5||-727||29|
|10.||Olympus E-30||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||none||21.3||10.4||530||55|
|11.||Olympus E-330||Four Thirds||7.4||3136||2352||none||20.8||10.4||73||52|
|12.||Olympus E-500||Four Thirds||8.0||3264||2448||none||20.7||10.3||45||51|
|13.||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 LF1 indeed provides for movie recording, while the Digilux 3 does not. The highest resolution format that the LF1 can use is 1080/60i.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the LF1 has an electronic viewfinder (200k dots), while the Digilux 3 has an optical one. Both systems have their advantages, with the electronic viewfinder making it possible to project supplementary shooting information into the framing view, whereas the optical viewfinder offers lag-free viewing and a very clear framing image. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Leica Digilux 3 and Panasonic LF1 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.||Panasonic LF1||200||n||3.0 / 920||fixed||n||1/4000s||10.0||Y||Y|
|3.||Canon G16||optical||n||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.2||Y||Y|
|4.||Canon S120||none||n||3.0 / 922||fixed||Y||1/2000s||12.1||Y||Y|
|5.||Canon 30D||optical||Y||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0||Y||n|
|6.||Canon XT||optical||n||1.8 / 115||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n|
|7.||Leica M8||optical||n||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/8000s||2.0||n||n|
|8.||Leica V-LUX 1||235||n||2.0 / 207||tilting||n||1/2000s||2.0||Y||Y|
|9.||Nikon P7800||921||n||3.0 / 921||swivel||n||1/4000s||8.0||Y||Y|
|10.||Olympus E-30||optical||Y||2.7 / 230||swivel||n||1/8000s||5.0||Y||Y|
|11.||Olympus E-330||optical||n||2.5 / 215||tilting||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n|
|12.||Olympus E-500||optical||n||2.5 / 215||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.5||Y||n|
|13.||Olympus E-300||optical||n||1.8 / 134||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.5||Y||n|
|14.||Panasonic FZ200||1312||n||3.0 / 460||swivel||n||1/4000s||12.0||Y||Y|
|15.||Panasonic LX7||optional||n||3.0 / 920||fixed||n||1/4000s||11.0||Y||Y|
|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|
Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the Digilux 3 and the LF1 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 Panasonic Lumix DMC-LF1 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.||Panasonic LF1||-||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|3.||Canon G16||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||-||-|
|4.||Canon S120||-||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||-||-|
|5.||Canon 30D||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|6.||Canon XT||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|7.||Leica M8||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|8.||Leica V-LUX 1||Y||mono / mono||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|9.||Nikon P7800||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|10.||Olympus E-30||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|11.||Olympus E-330||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|12.||Olympus E-500||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|13.||Olympus E-300||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|14.||Panasonic FZ200||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|15.||Panasonic LX7||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|16.||Panasonic L10||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|17.||Panasonic L1||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
It is notable that the Digilux 3 has a hotshoe, while the LF1 does not. This socket makes it possible to easily attach optional accessories, such as an external flash gun.
The LF1 is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Panasonic. In contrast, the Digilux 3 has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). There has not been a direct replacement model for the Digilux 3 from Leica. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Leica and Panasonic websites.
So what conclusions can be drawn? Is there a clear favorite between the Leica Digilux 3 and the Panasonic LF1? Which camera is better? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Advantages of the Leica Digilux 3:
- Better image quality: Features bigger pixels on a larger sensor for higher quality imaging.
- Richer colors: The pixel size advantage translates into images with better, more accurate colors.
- More dynamic range: Larger pixels capture a wider spectrum of light and dark details.
- Better low-light sensitivity: Larger pixels means good image quality even under poor lighting.
- Brighter framing: Features an optical viewfinder for clear, lag-free composition.
- More flexible: Can take a variety of interchangeable lenses, including specialty optics.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (750 versus 250) on a single battery charge.
- Better lighting: Features a hotshoe and can thus hold and trigger an external flash gun.
- 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).
Arguments in favor of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LF1:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (12 vs 7.4MP), which boosts linear resolution by 28%.
- Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 1080/60i video.
- More framing info: Has an electronic viewfinder that displays shooting data.
- 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 (920k vs 207k dots).
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (10 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Ready to shoot: Comes with an integrated lens, while the Digilux 3 requires a separate lens.
- More compact: Is smaller (103x62mm vs 146x87mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight even though it has a lens built in (unlike the Digilux 3).
- Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
- Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
- Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
- Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
- More affordable: Was introduced at a lower price, despite coming with a built-in lens.
- More modern: Reflects 6 years and 7 months of technical progress since the Digilux 3 launch.
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the LF1 is the clear winner of the contest (15 : 10 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 Panasonic LF1 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera and Best Prime Lens Compact Camera listings 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 LF1. 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 why hands-on reviews by experts 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|
|2.||Panasonic LF1||3/5||+||..||..||4/5||4.5/5||Apr 2013||499|
|3.||Canon G16||4/5||+||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2013||549|
|4.||Canon S120||..||+ +||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2013||449|
|5.||Canon 30D||..||+ +||..||+ +||o||..||Feb 2006||1,399|
|6.||Canon XT||..||80/100||..||+ +||o||..||Feb 2005||899|
|7.||Leica M8||..||..||..||+ +||..||..||Sep 2006||5,499|
|8.||Leica V-LUX 1||..||..||..||..||..||..||Sep 2006||849|
|9.||Nikon P7800||3/5||..||..||..||4/5||4.5/5||Sep 2013||549|
|10.||Olympus E-30||..||..||..||71/100||4.5/5||4/5||Nov 2008||1,299|
|11.||Olympus E-330||..||..||..||+||o||..||Jan 2006||999|
|12.||Olympus E-500||..||76/100||..||+ +||..||..||Sep 2005||599|
|13.||Olympus E-300||..||..||..||+||o||4.5/5||Sep 2004||799|
|14.||Panasonic FZ200||3/5||+ +||..||80/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jul 2012||599|
|15.||Panasonic LX7||3/5||+ +||..||75/100||4/5||4.5/5||Jul 2012||499|
|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.|
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.
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. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.
- Canon 1D vs Panasonic LF1
- Canon 2000D vs Panasonic LF1
- Canon G9 X Mark II vs Panasonic LF1
- Canon T7 vs Leica Digilux 3
- Fujifilm XP130 vs Leica Digilux 3
- Leica Digilux 3 vs Olympus E-600
- Leica Digilux 3 vs Panasonic LX5
- Leica Digilux 3 vs Panasonic ZS100
- Leica Digilux 3 vs Ricoh GR
- Panasonic LF1 vs Samsung NX30
- Panasonic LF1 vs Sony A6100
- Panasonic LF1 vs Sony RX10 IV
Specifications: Leica Digilux 3 vs Panasonic LF1
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||Panasonic LF1|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Fixed lens compact camera|
|Camera Lens||Four Thirds lenses||28-200mm f/2.0-5.9|
|Launch Date||September 2006||April 2013|
|Launch Price||USD 1,499||USD 499|
|Sensor Specs||Leica Digilux 3||Panasonic LF1|
|Sensor Format||Four Thirds Sensor||1/1.7" Sensor|
|Sensor Size||17.3 x 13.0 mm||7.6 x 5.7 mm|
|Sensor Area||224.9 mm2||43.32 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||21.6 mm||9.5 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||7.4 Megapixels||12 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||3136 x 2352 pixels||4000 x 3000 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||5.51 μm||1.89 μm|
|Pixel Density||3.28 MP/cm2||27.70 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||1080/60i Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 1,600 ISO||80 - 6,400 ISO|
|ISO Boost||no Enhancement||80 - 12,800 ISO|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||..||52|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||..||20.8|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||..||11.6|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||..||211|
|Screen Specs||Leica Digilux 3||Panasonic LF1|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||95%||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||200k dots|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||2.5inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||207k dots||920k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Leica Digilux 3||Panasonic LF1|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||3 shutter flaps/s||10 shutter flaps/s|
|Fill Flash||Built-in Flash||Built-in 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||Panasonic LF1|
|External Flash||Hotshoe||no Hotshoe|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||no HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||Wifi built-in|
|Near-Field Communication||no NFC||NFC built-in|
|Body Specs||Leica Digilux 3||Panasonic LF1|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||750 shots per charge||250 shots per charge|
|In-Camera Charging||no USB charging||USB charging|
146 x 87 x 77 mm
(5.7 x 3.4 x 3.0 in)
103 x 62 x 28 mm
(4.1 x 2.4 x 1.1 in)
|Camera Weight||606 g (21.4 oz)||192 g (6.8 oz)|
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