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Leica Digilux 3 versus Sony RX1

The Leica Digilux 3 and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in September 2006 and September 2012. The Digilux 3 is a DSLR, while the RX1 is a fixed lens compact. The cameras are based on a Four Thirds (Digilux 3) and a full frame (RX1) sensor. The Leica has a resolution of 7.4 megapixel, whereas the Sony provides 24 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 RX1

The physical size and weight of the Leica Digilux 3 and the Sony RX1 are illustrated 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 width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter. You can also use the toggle button 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 side – the Digilux 3 – represents the basis for the calculations across all the size and weight measures).

Compare Leica Digilux 3 vs Sony RX1
Compare Digilux 3 versus RX1 top
Compare Digilux 3 and RX1 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Sony RX1 is considerably smaller (42 percent) than the Leica Digilux 3. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the Digilux 3 nor the RX1 are weather-sealed.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the RX1 has a lens build 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 find an overview of optics for the Digilux 3 and their specifications in the Four Thirds Lens Catalog.

The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. 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.

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)
Camera
Model
Leica Digilux 3» 5.7 in 3.4 in 3.0 in 21.4 oz 750 n Sep 2006 1,499- i Leica Digilux 3
Sony RX1« 4.4 in 2.6 in 2.8 in 17.0 oz 270 n Sep 2012 2,799- i Sony RX1
Canon 30D« » 5.7 in 4.2 in 2.9 in 27.7 oz 750 n Feb 2006 1,399- i Canon 30D
Canon XT« » 5.0 in 3.7 in 2.5 in 19.0 oz 400 n Feb 2005 899- i Canon XT
Leica M8« » 5.5 in 3.1 in 1.5 in 20.8 oz .. n Sep 2006 5,499- i Leica M8
Leica V-LUX 1« » 5.6 in 3.4 in 5.6 in 25.9 oz 360 n Sep 2006 849- i Leica V-LUX 1
Nikon D5300« » 4.9 in 3.9 in 3.0 in 16.9 oz 600 n Oct 2013 799- i Nikon D5300
Olympus E-30« » 5.6 in 4.3 in 3.0 in 24.7 oz 750 n Nov 2008 1,299- i Olympus E-30
Olympus E-330« » 5.5 in 3.4 in 2.8 in 22.5 oz 750 n Jan 2006 999- i Olympus E-330
Olympus E-500« » 5.1 in 3.7 in 2.6 in 16.9 oz 750 n Sep 2005 599- i Olympus E-500
Olympus E-300« » 5.8 in 3.3 in 2.5 in 22.0 oz 750 n Sep 2004 799- i Olympus E-300
Panasonic L10« » 5.3 in 3.8 in 3.1 in 19.6 oz 450 n Aug 2007 599- i Panasonic L10
Panasonic L1« » 5.7 in 3.4 in 2.5 in 21.4 oz 750 n Feb 2006 999- i Panasonic L1
Sony RX1R II« » 4.4 in 2.6 in 2.8 in 17.9 oz 220 n Oct 2015 3,299 i i Sony RX1R II
Sony A3000« » 5.0 in 3.6 in 3.3 in 14.5 oz 470 n Aug 2013 329- i Sony A3000
Sony RX1R« » 4.4 in 2.6 in 2.8 in 17.0 oz 270 n Jun 2013 2,799- i Sony RX1R
Sony NEX-7« » 4.7 in 2.6 in 1.7 in 14.1 oz 430 n Aug 2011 1,349- i Sony NEX-7

Any camera purchase will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. Normally, street prices remain initially close to the MSRP, but after a couple of months, the first discounts appear. 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 RX1

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. 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 tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Leica Digilux 3 features a Four Thirds sensor and the Sony RX1 a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the RX1 is 279 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 RX1 offers a 3:2 aspect.

Leica Digilux 3 and Sony RX1 sensor measures

With 24MP, the RX1 offers a higher resolution than the Digilux 3 (7.4MP), but the RX1 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 5.96μm versus 5.51μm for the Digilux 3) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the RX1 is a much more recent model (by 6 years) than the Digilux 3, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units.

Digilux 3 versus RX1 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 table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.

Sensor Characteristics
  Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Camera
Model
Leica Digilux 3» Four Thirds 7.4 3136 2352-----Leica Digilux 3
Sony RX1« Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p25.114.3253493Sony RX1
Canon 30D« » APS-C 8.2 3504 2336-21.510.873659Canon 30D
Canon XT« » APS-C 8.0 3456 2304-21.810.863760Canon XT
Leica M8« » APS-H 10.4 3936 2630-21.111.366359Leica M8
Leica V-LUX 1« » 1/1.8 10.0 3648 2736480/30p----Leica V-LUX 1
Nikon D5300« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.013.9133883Nikon D5300
Olympus E-30« » Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024-21.310.453055Olympus E-30
Olympus E-330« » Four Thirds 7.4 3136 2352-----Olympus E-330
Olympus E-500« » Four Thirds 8.0 3264 2448-----Olympus E-500
Olympus E-300« » Four Thirds 8.0 3264 2448-----Olympus E-300
Panasonic L10« » Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736-21.310.842955Panasonic L10
Panasonic L1« » Four Thirds 7.4 3136 2352-----Panasonic L1
Sony RX1R II« » Full Frame 42.2 7952 53041080/60p25.813.9320497Sony RX1R II
Sony A3000« » APS-C 19.8 5456 36321080/60i23.712.8106878Sony A3000
Sony RX1R« » Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p25.013.6253791Sony RX1R
Sony NEX-7« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60i24.113.4101681Sony NEX-7

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The RX1 indeed provides for movie recording, while the Digilux 3 does not. The highest resolution format that the RX1 can use is 1080/60p.

 

Feature comparison: Leica Digilux 3 vs Sony RX1

Beyond 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 RX1 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. That said, the RX1 can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the FDA-EV1MK. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Leica Digilux 3, the Sony RX1, and comparable cameras. The full specs-sheets can be found in the camera manual or in the dpreview camera hub.

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)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec)
Build-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Camera
Model
Leica Digilux 3»optical n 2.5 207 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n Leica Digilux 3
Sony RX1«- n 3.0 1229 fixed n 4000 5.0 Y n Sony RX1
Canon 30D« »optical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 8000 5.0 Y n Canon 30D
Canon XT« »optical n 1.8 115 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n Canon XT
Leica M8« »optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 8000 2.0 n n Leica M8
Leica V-LUX 1« »235 n 2.0 207 swivel n 2000 2.0 Y Y Leica V-LUX 1
Nikon D5300« »optical n 3.2 1037 swivel n 4000 5.0 Y n Nikon D5300
Olympus E-30« »optical Y 2.7 230 swivel n 8000 5.0 Y Y Olympus E-30
Olympus E-330« »optical n 2.5 215 tilting n 4000 3.0 Y n Olympus E-330
Olympus E-500« »optical n 2.5 215 fixed n 4000 2.5 Y n Olympus E-500
Olympus E-300« »optical n 1.8 134 fixed n 4000 2.5 Y n Olympus E-300
Panasonic L10« »optical n 2.5 207 swivel n 4000 3.0 Y n Panasonic L10
Panasonic L1« »optical n 2.5 207 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n Panasonic L1
Sony RX1R II« »2360 n 3.0 1229 tilting n 4000 5.0 n n Sony RX1R II
Sony A3000« »202 n 3.0 230 fixed n 4000 2.5 Y n Sony A3000
Sony RX1R« »- n 3.0 1229 fixed n 4000 5.0 Y n Sony RX1R
Sony NEX-7« »2359 n 3.0 921 tilting n 4000 10.0 Y n Sony NEX-7

The Digilux 3 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the RX1 uses SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards.

Input-Output Connections
  Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Type
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
Camera
Model
Leica Digilux 3»Ystereomono---2.0---Leica Digilux 3
Sony RX1«YstereomonoY-mini2.0---Sony RX1
Canon 30D« »Y-----2.0---Canon 30D
Canon XT« »Y-----2.0---Canon XT
Leica M8« »Y-----2.0---Leica M8
Leica V-LUX 1« »Ymonomono---2.0---Leica V-LUX 1
Nikon D5300« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0Y--Nikon D5300
Olympus E-30« »Y-----2.0---Olympus E-30
Olympus E-330« »Y-----2.0---Olympus E-330
Olympus E-500« »Y-----2.0---Olympus E-500
Olympus E-300« »Y-----2.0---Olympus E-300
Panasonic L10« »Y-----2.0---Panasonic L10
Panasonic L1« »Y-----2.0---Panasonic L1
Sony RX1R II« »YstereomonoY-micro2.0YY-Sony RX1R II
Sony A3000« »Ystereomono--mini2.0---Sony A3000
Sony RX1R« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0---Sony RX1R
Sony NEX-7« »Ystereomono--mini2.0---Sony NEX-7

Both the Digilux 3 and the RX1 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The RX1 was replaced by the Sony RX1R, while the Digilux 3 does not have a direct successor.

Review summary: Leica Digilux 3 vs Sony RX1

So how do things add up? Which of the two cameras – the Leica Digilux 3 or the Sony RX1 – has the upper hand? 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:

  • Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image framing and settings control.
  • More flexible: Can take a variety of interchangeable lenses, including specialty optics.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (750 versus 270) on a single battery charge.
  • 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).

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Reasons to prefer the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (24 vs 7.4MP), which boosts linear resolution by 84%.
  • Better image quality: Is equipped with a larger and more technologically advanced sensor.
  • Richer colors: Larger sensor generates images with better, more accurate colors.
  • More dynamic range: Capable of capturing a wider spectrum of light and dark details.
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Can be used in poorly lit environments and still produce good images.
  • Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 1080/60p 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 (1229k vs 207k dots).
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5 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 (113x65mm vs 146x87mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight even though it has a lens build in (unlike the Digilux 3).
  • More modern: Reflects 6 years of technical progress since the Digilux 3 launch.

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the RX1 is the clear winner of the contest (13 : 5 points). However, the pertinence of the various camera strengths will differ across photographers, so that you might want to weigh individual camera traits according to their importance for your own imaging needs before making a camera decision.

Digilux 3 05:13 RX1

In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras is instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the handling experience and imaging performance when actually working with the Digilux 3 or the RX1. 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 where reviews by experts come in. The adjacent table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). You can find the full text of the reviews by clicking on the site logo in the table header.

Review Scores
  Camera
Model
cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
Leica Digilux 3»----- Sep 2006 1,499- i Leica Digilux 3
Sony RX1«-79/1004/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 2,799- i Sony RX1
Canon 30D« »HiRecHiRecrevrev- Feb 2006 1,399- i Canon 30D
Canon XT« »80/100HiRecrevrev- Feb 2005 899- i Canon XT
Leica M8« »-HiRec--- Sep 2006 5,499- i Leica M8
Leica V-LUX 1« »----- Sep 2006 849- i Leica V-LUX 1
Nikon D5300« »HiRec79/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Oct 2013 799- i Nikon D5300
Olympus E-30« »-71/1004.5/5-4/5 Nov 2008 1,299- i Olympus E-30
Olympus E-330« »-Recrev3.5/5- Jan 2006 999- i Olympus E-330
Olympus E-500« »76/100HiRec--- Sep 2005 599- i Olympus E-500
Olympus E-300« »-Recrevrev4.5/5 Sep 2004 799- i Olympus E-300
Panasonic L10« »85/100Rec3.5/5rev4/5 Aug 2007 599- i Panasonic L10
Panasonic L1« »85/100Rec-rev3.5/5 Feb 2006 999- i Panasonic L1
Sony RX1R II« »-82/100-rev4.5/5 Oct 2015 3,299 i i Sony RX1R II
Sony A3000« »Rec-4/54.5/54/5 Aug 2013 329- i Sony A3000
Sony RX1R« »--4/5rev4.5/5 Jun 2013 2,799- i Sony RX1R
Sony NEX-7« »HiRec81/1004.5/55/55/5 Aug 2011 1,349- i Sony NEX-7

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. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. 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 your choice using the following search menu. An an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool. If you cannot find the camera you are interested in, please contact me, and I will try to locate and add the respective data to the application.

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