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Leica Digilux 3 versus Pentax K-1

The Leica Digilux 3 and the Pentax K-1 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in September 2006 and February 2016. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on a Four Thirds (Digilux 3) and a full frame (K-1) sensor. The Leica has a resolution of 7.4 megapixel, whereas the Pentax provides 36.2 MP. Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their size, their sensors, their features, and their reception by expert reviewers.

Body comparison: Leica Digilux 3 vs Pentax K-1

The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Leica Digilux 3 and the Pentax K-1. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter. If you prefer, you can also use the toggle button to switch to a comparison in percentage terms (in this case, the camera on the left – the Digilux 3 – represents 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).

Snapsort Leica Digilux 3 vs Pentax K-1
Compare Digilux 3 versus K-1 top
Compare Digilux 3 and K-1 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Pentax K-1 is notably larger (19 percent) than the Leica Digilux 3. Moreover, the K-1 is substantially heavier (67 percent) than the Digilux 3. It is noteworthy in this context that the K-1 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. Hence, you might want to study the specifications of available lenses in order to get the full picture of the size and weight of the two camera systems.

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 camera comparisons there.

Camera Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(yes/no)
Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Leica Digilux 3» 5.7 in 3.4 in 3.0 in 21.4 oz 750 n Sep 2006 1,499- i
Pentax K-1« 5.4 in 4.3 in 3.4 in 35.6 oz 760 Y Feb 2016 1,799- i
Canon 30D« » 5.7 in 4.2 in 2.9 in 27.7 oz 750 n Feb 2006 1,399- i
Canon XT« » 5.0 in 3.7 in 2.5 in 19.0 oz 400 n Feb 2005 899- i
Leica V-LUX 1« » 5.6 in 3.4 in 5.6 in 25.9 oz 360 n Sep 2006 849- i
Leica M8« » 5.5 in 3.1 in 1.5 in 20.8 oz .. n Sep 2006 5,499- i
Nikon D500« » 5.8 in 4.5 in 3.2 in 30.3 oz 1240 Y Jan 2016 1,999 i i
Olympus E-M1 II« » 5.3 in 3.6 in 2.6 in 20.2 oz 440 Y Sep 2016 1,999 i i
Olympus E-330« » 5.5 in 3.4 in 2.8 in 22.5 oz 750 n Jan 2006 999- i
Olympus E-500« » 5.1 in 3.7 in 2.6 in 16.9 oz 750 n Sep 2005 599- i
Olympus E-300« » 5.8 in 3.3 in 2.5 in 22.0 oz 750 n Sep 2004 799- i
Olympus E-1« » 5.6 in 4.1 in 3.2 in 26.0 oz 750 Y Jun 2003 1,699- i
Panasonic L10« » 5.3 in 3.8 in 3.1 in 19.6 oz 450 n Aug 2007 599- i
Panasonic L1« » 5.7 in 3.4 in 2.5 in 21.4 oz 750 n Feb 2006 999- i
Pentax K-1 II« » 5.4 in 4.3 in 3.4 in 35.6 oz 670 Y Feb 2018 1,999 i i
Sony A99 II« » 5.6 in 4.1 in 3.0 in 29.9 oz 490 Y Sep 2016 3,199 i i
Sony A7R II« » 5.0 in 3.8 in 2.4 in 22.0 oz 290 Y Jun 2015 3,199- i

The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The Digilux 3 was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 17 percent) than the K-1, which makes it more attractive for photographers on a tight budget. 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: Leica Digilux 3 vs Pentax K-1

The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant 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 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 Pentax K-1 a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the K-1 is 283 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 K-1 offers a 3:2 aspect.

Leica Digilux 3 and Pentax K-1 sensor measures

With 36.2MP, the K-1 offers a higher resolution than the Digilux 3 (7.4MP), but the K-1 has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.88μm versus 5.51μm for the Digilux 3). Yet, the K-1 is a much more recent model (by 9 years and 5 months) than the Digilux 3, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the K-1 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.

Unlike the Digilux 3, the K-1 has the capacity to capture high quality composite images by combining multiple shots after shifting its sensor by miniscule distances. This multi-shot, pixel-shift mode is most suitable for photography of stationary objects (landscapes, studio scenes).

Digilux 3 versus K-1 MP

Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. 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.

Sensor Characteristics
  Camera 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 2352-----
Pentax K-1« Full Frame 36.2 7360 49121080/60i25.414.6328096
Canon 30D« » APS-C 8.2 3504 2336-21.510.873659
Canon XT« » APS-C 8.0 3456 2304-21.810.863760
Leica V-LUX 1« » 1/1.8 10.0 3648 2736480/30p----
Leica M8« » APS-H 10.4 3936 2630-21.111.366359
Nikon D500« » APS-C 20.7 5568 37124K/30p24.014.0132483
Olympus E-M1 II« » Four Thirds 20.2 5184 38884K/30p23.712.8131280
Olympus E-330« » Four Thirds 7.4 3136 2352-----
Olympus E-500« » Four Thirds 8.0 3264 2448-----
Olympus E-300« » Four Thirds 8.0 3264 2448-----
Olympus E-1« » Four Thirds 4.9 2560 1920-----
Panasonic L10« » Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736-21.310.842955
Panasonic L1« » Four Thirds 7.4 3136 2352-----
Pentax K-1 II« » Full Frame 36.2 7360 49121080/60i----
Sony A99 II« » Full Frame 42.2 7952 53044K/30p25.413.4231792
Sony A7R II« » Full Frame 42.2 7952 53044K/30p26.013.9343498

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The K-1 indeed provides for movie recording, while the Digilux 3 does not. The highest resolution format that the K-1 can use is 1080/60i.

 

Feature comparison: Leica Digilux 3 vs Pentax K-1

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The Digilux 3 and the K-1 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 adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Leica Digilux 3 and Pentax K-1 along with similar information for a selection of comparators. The full specs-sheets can be found in the camera manual or, for example, in the dpreview camera hub.

Core Features
  Camera Viewfinder
(Type or
'000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec))
Build-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Leica Digilux 3»optical n 2.5 207 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n
Pentax K-1«optical Y 3.2 1037 full-flex n 8000 4.4 n Y
Canon 30D« »optical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 8000 5.0 Y n
Canon XT« »optical n 1.8 115 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n
Leica V-LUX 1« »235 n 2.0 207 swivel n 2000 2.0 Y Y
Leica M8« »optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 8000 2.0 n n
Nikon D500« »optical Y 3.2 2359 tilting Y 8000 10.0 n n
Olympus E-M1 II« »2360 n 3.0 1037 swivel Y 8000 18.0 n Y
Olympus E-330« »optical n 2.5 215 tilting n 4000 3.0 Y n
Olympus E-500« »optical n 2.5 215 fixed n 4000 2.5 Y n
Olympus E-300« »optical n 1.8 134 fixed n 4000 2.5 Y n
Olympus E-1« »optical Y 1.8 134 fixed n 4000 3.0 n n
Panasonic L10« »optical n 2.5 207 swivel n 4000 3.0 Y n
Panasonic L1« »optical n 2.5 207 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n
Pentax K-1 II« »optical Y 3.2 1037 full-flex n 8000 4.4 n Y
Sony A99 II« »2400 Y 3.0 1229 full-flex n 8000 12.0 n Y
Sony A7R II« »2400 n 3.0 1229 tilting n 8000 5.0 n Y

Both the Digilux 3 and the K-1 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The K-1 was replaced by the Pentax K-1 II, while the Digilux 3 does not have a direct successor.

Review summary: Leica Digilux 3 vs Pentax K-1

So what conclusions can be drawn? Is there a clear favorite between the Leica Digilux 3 and the Pentax K-1? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.

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Arguments in favor of the Leica Digilux 3:

  • Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
  • More compact: Is smaller (146x87mm vs 137x110mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter (by 404g or 40 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 segment (17 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in September 2006).

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Advantages of the Pentax K-1:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (36.2 vs 7.4MP), which boosts linear resolution by 126%.
  • Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
  • High quality composites: Can combine several shots after pixel-shifting its sensor.
  • Better image quality: Is equipped with a larger and more technologically advanced sensor.
  • Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 1080/60i video.
  • Easier setting verification: Has 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 (1037k vs 207k dots).
  • More flexible LCD: Has full-flex screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (8000/sec vs 4000/sec) to freeze action.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (4.4 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
  • Sharper images: Has stabilization technology build-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
  • More modern: Reflects 9 years and 5 months of technical progress since the Digilux 3 launch.

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the K-1 is the clear winner of the contest (14 : 7 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.

Digilux 3 07:14 K-1

In any case, while the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the Digilux 3 or the K-1 handle or perform in practice. 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 summarizes the assessments of some of the best known camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). The detailed reviews can be accessed by clicking on the site logo in the table header.

Review scores
  Camera cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Leica Digilux 3»----- Sep 2006 1,499- i
Pentax K-1«-84/1005/54.5/55/5 Feb 2016 1,799- i
Canon 30D« »HiRecHiRecrevrev- Feb 2006 1,399- i
Canon XT« »80/100HiRecrevrev- Feb 2005 899- i
Leica V-LUX 1« »----- Sep 2006 849- i
Leica M8« »-HiRec--- Sep 2006 5,499- i
Nikon D500« »HiRec91/1004.5/55/55/5 Jan 2016 1,999 i i
Olympus E-M1 II« »HiRec85/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Sep 2016 1,999 i i
Olympus E-330« »-Recrev3.5/5- Jan 2006 999- i
Olympus E-500« »76/100HiRec--- Sep 2005 599- i
Olympus E-300« »-Recrevrev4.5/5 Sep 2004 799- i
Olympus E-1« »-Recrevrev- Jun 2003 1,699- i
Panasonic L10« »85/100Rec3.5/5rev4/5 Aug 2007 599- i
Panasonic L1« »85/100Rec-rev3.5/5 Feb 2006 999- i
Pentax K-1 II« »-79/1004.5/5-4.5/5 Feb 2018 1,999 i i
Sony A99 II« »-85/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2016 3,199 i i
Sony A7R II« »HiRec90/1005/54.5/55/5 Jun 2015 3,199- i

The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The ratings are only valid when refering 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 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? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just use the search menu below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored. If the camera you are interested in is not available, please send me an email, and I will try to update the database with the necessary infos.

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