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Leica Digilux 3 versus Sony A900

The Leica Digilux 3 and the Sony Alpha A900 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in September 2006 and September 2008. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on a Four Thirds (Digilux 3) and a full frame (A900) sensor. The Leica has a resolution of 7.4 megapixel, whereas the Sony provides 24.4 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 Sony A900

The physical size and weight of the Leica Digilux 3 and the Sony A900 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are presented. All width, height and depth measures 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 – the Digilux 3 – represents the basis or 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).

Snapsort Leica Digilux 3 vs Sony A900
Compare Digilux 3 versus A900 top
Compare Digilux 3 and A900 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Sony A900 is considerably larger (44 percent) than the Leica Digilux 3. Moreover, the A900 is substantially heavier (48 percent) than the Digilux 3. It is noteworthy in this context that the A900 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
Sony A900« 6.1 in 4.6 in 3.2 in 31.6 oz 880 Y Sep 2008 2,999- 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
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
Sony A99 II« » 5.6 in 4.1 in 3.0 in 29.9 oz 490 Y Sep 2016 3,199 i i
Sony A7S II« » 5.0 in 3.8 in 2.4 in 22.1 oz 370 Y Sep 2015 2,999 i i
Sony A7 II« » 5.0 in 3.8 in 2.4 in 21.1 oz 350 Y Nov 2014 1,999- i
Sony A99« » 5.8 in 4.4 in 3.1 in 28.6 oz 500 Y Sep 2012 2,799- i
Sony A850« » 6.1 in 4.6 in 3.2 in 31.6 oz 880 Y Aug 2009 1,999- 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 markedly lower price (by 50 percent) than the A900, 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: Leica Digilux 3 vs Sony A900

The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors of image quality. All other things equal, a large sensor will have larger individual pixel-units that offer better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Furthermore, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more possibilities to use shallow depth-of-field in order to isolate a subject from the 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 Sony A900 a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the A900 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 A900 offers a 3:2 aspect.

Leica Digilux 3 and Sony A900 sensor measures

With 24.4MP, the A900 offers a higher resolution than the Digilux 3 (7.4MP), but the A900 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 5.94μm versus 5.51μm for the Digilux 3) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the A900 is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 11 months) than the Digilux 3, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units.

Digilux 3 versus A900 MP

Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. 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 adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.

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-----
Sony A900« Full Frame 24.4 6048 4032-23.712.3143179
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
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-----
Sony A99 II« » Full Frame 42.2 7952 53044K/30p25.413.4231792
Sony A7S II« » Full Frame 12.0 4240 28324K/30p23.613.3299385
Sony A7 II« » Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.913.6244990
Sony A99« » Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p25.014.0155589
Sony A850« » Full Frame 24.4 6048 4032-23.812.2141579
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 A900 lacks this capability. Both cameras are still-image focused and cannot record videos.
 

Feature comparison: Leica Digilux 3 vs Sony A900

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The Digilux 3 and the A900 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 Sony A900 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
(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
Sony A900«optical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 8000 5.0 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
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
Sony A99 II« »2400 Y 3.0 1229 full-flex n 8000 12.0 n Y
Sony A7S II« »2400 n 3.0 1229 tilting n 8000 5.0 n Y
Sony A7 II« »2400 n 3.0 1230 tilting n 8000 5.0 n Y
Sony A99« »2359 Y 3.0 1229 full-flex n 8000 6.0 n Y
Sony A850« »optical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 8000 3.0 n Y

Both the Digilux 3 and the A900 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The A900 was replaced by the Sony A99, while the Digilux 3 does not have a direct successor.

Review summary: Leica Digilux 3 vs Sony A900

So how do things add up? Is there a clear favorite between the Leica Digilux 3 and the Sony A900? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.

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Advantages of the Leica Digilux 3:

  • More compact: Is smaller (146x87mm vs 156x117mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter (by 289g or 32 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 category (50 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in September 2006).

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Reasons to prefer the Sony Alpha A900:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (24.4 vs 7.4MP), which boosts linear resolution by 85%.
  • Better image quality: Is equipped with a larger and more technologically advanced sensor.
  • Easier setting verification: Has a control panel on top to check shooting parameters.
  • 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 (922k vs 207k dots).
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (8000/sec vs 4000/sec) to freeze action.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (880 versus 750) out of a single battery charge.
  • 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: Was introduced somewhat (1 year and 11 months) more recently.

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the A900 is the clear winner of the contest (11 : 6 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 06:11 A900

In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the Digilux 3 or the A900 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 adjacent table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular 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
Sony A900«HiRecHiRec4.5/54/55/5 Sep 2008 2,999- 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
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
Sony A99 II« »-85/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2016 3,199 i i
Sony A7S II« »Rec-4.5/55/55/5 Sep 2015 2,999 i i
Sony A7 II« »Rec82/1004.5/55/55/5 Nov 2014 1,999- i
Sony A99« »-84/1004.5/5rev4.5/5 Sep 2012 2,799- i
Sony A850« »-75/100-4/54.5/5 Aug 2009 1,999- i

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. 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. 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 are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting. If you do not see the camera that you are looking for, please contact me, and I will try to locate and add the respective data to the application.

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