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Leica Digilux 3 vs 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 megapixels, whereas the Sony provides 24 MP.

Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.

Headline Specifications
Leica Digilux 3 versus Sony RX1
Leica Digilux 3 Sony RX1
Digital single lens reflex Fixed lens compact camera
Four Thirds lenses 35mm f/2.0
7.4 MP, Four Thirds Sensor 24 MP, Full Frame Sensor
no Video 1080/60p Video
ISO 100-1,600 ISO 100-25,600 (50 - 102,400)
Optical viewfinder Viewfinder optional
2.5 LCD, 207k dots 3.0 LCD, 1229k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
3 shutter flaps per second 5 shutter flaps per second
750 shots per battery charge270 shots per battery charge
146 x 87 x 77 mm, 606 g 113 x 65 x 70 mm, 482 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Leica Digilux 3 and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1? 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.

Body comparison

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.

Size Leica Digilux 3 vs Sony RX1
Compare Digilux 3 versus RX1 top
Comparison Digilux 3 or 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 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 RX1 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. 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.

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Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life 1
Weather
Sealing
Camera
Launch 2
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
 
Leica Digilux 3 5.7 in 3.4 in 3.0 in 21.4 oz 750 n Sep 2006 1,499i
 
Sony RX1 4.4 in 2.6 in 2.8 in 17.0 oz 270 n Sep 2012 2,799i
 
Canon 30D 5.7 in 4.2 in 2.9 in 27.7 oz 750 n Feb 2006 1,399i
 
Canon XT 5.0 in 3.7 in 2.5 in 19.0 oz 400 n Feb 2005 899i
 
Leica M8 5.5 in 3.1 in 1.5 in 20.8 oz .. n Sep 2006 5,499i
 
Leica V-LUX 1 5.6 in 3.4 in 5.6 in 25.9 oz 360 n Sep 2006 849i
 
Nikon D5300 4.9 in 3.9 in 3.0 in 16.9 oz 600 n Oct 2013 799i
 
Olympus E-30 5.6 in 4.3 in 3.0 in 24.7 oz 750 n Nov 2008 1,299i
 
Olympus E-330 5.5 in 3.4 in 2.8 in 22.5 oz 750 n Jan 2006 999i
 
Olympus E-500 5.1 in 3.7 in 2.6 in 16.9 oz 750 n Sep 2005 599i
 
Olympus E-300 5.8 in 3.3 in 2.5 in 22.0 oz 750 n Sep 2004 799i
 
Panasonic L10 5.3 in 3.8 in 3.1 in 19.6 oz 450 n Aug 2007 599i
 
Panasonic L1 5.7 in 3.4 in 2.5 in 21.4 oz 750 n Feb 2006 999i
 
Sony RX1R II 4.4 in 2.6 in 2.8 in 17.9 oz 220 n Oct 2015 3,299 i
 
Sony A3000 5.0 in 3.6 in 3.3 in 14.5 oz 470 n Aug 2013 329i
 
Sony RX1R 4.4 in 2.6 in 2.8 in 17.0 oz 270 n Jun 2013 2,799i
 
Sony NEX-7 4.7 in 2.6 in 1.7 in 14.1 oz 430 n Aug 2011 1,349i
Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.
(1) Number of images that can be taken on a full battery charge according to the CIPA-standard; (2) Official announcement.

Any camera decision 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

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.

The resolution advantage of the Sony RX1 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the RX1 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 30 x 20 inches or 76.2 x 50.8 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 24 x 16 inches or 61 x 40.6 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 20 x 13.3 inches or 50.8 x 33.9 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 Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1 are ISO 100 to ISO 25600, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 50-102400.

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.

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Sensor Characteristics
  Camera
Model
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 2352none........
 
Sony RX1 Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p25.114.3253493
 
Canon 30D APS-C 8.2 3504 2336none21.510.873659
 
Canon XT APS-C 8.0 3456 2304none21.810.863760
 
Leica M8 APS-H 10.4 3936 2630none21.111.366359
 
Leica V-LUX 1 1/1.8 10.0 3648 2736480/30p........
 
Nikon D5300 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.013.9133883
 
Olympus E-30 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024none21.310.453055
 
Olympus E-330 Four Thirds 7.4 3136 2352none........
 
Olympus E-500 Four Thirds 8.0 3264 2448none........
 
Olympus E-300 Four Thirds 8.0 3264 2448none........
 
Panasonic L10 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.310.842955
 
Panasonic L1 Four Thirds 7.4 3136 2352none........
 
Sony RX1R II Full Frame 42.2 7952 53041080/60p25.813.9320497
 
Sony A3000 APS-C 19.8 5456 36321080/60i23.712.8106878
 
Sony RX1R Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p25.013.6253791
 
Sony NEX-7 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60i24.113.4101681

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

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.

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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)
Mech
Shutter
Speed
Shutter
Flaps
(1/sec)
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
 
Leica Digilux 3optical n 2.5 207 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
 
Sony RX1optional n 3.0 1229 fixed n 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
 
Canon 30Doptical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 Y n
 
Canon XToptical n 1.8 115 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
 
Leica M8optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/8000s 2.0 n n
 
Leica V-LUX 1235 n 2.0 207 swivel n 1/2000s 2.0 Y Y
 
Nikon D5300optical n 3.2 1037 swivel n 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
 
Olympus E-30optical Y 2.7 230 swivel n 1/8000s 5.0 Y Y
 
Olympus E-330optical n 2.5 215 tilting n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
 
Olympus E-500optical n 2.5 215 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y n
 
Olympus E-300optical n 1.8 134 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y n
 
Panasonic L10optical n 2.5 207 swivel n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
 
Panasonic L1optical n 2.5 207 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
 
Sony RX1R II2360 n 3.0 1229 tilting n 1/4000s 5.0 n n
 
Sony A3000202 n 3.0 230 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y n
 
Sony RX1Roptional n 3.0 1229 fixed n 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
 
Sony NEX-72359 n 3.0 921 tilting n 1/4000s 10.0 Y n

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

Connectivity comparison

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 Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.

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Input-Output Connections
  Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
 
Leica Digilux 3Ystereomono---2.0---
 
Sony RX1YstereomonoY-mini2.0---
 
Canon 30DY-----2.0---
 
Canon XTY-----2.0---
 
Leica M8Y-----2.0---
 
Leica V-LUX 1Ymonomono---2.0---
 
Nikon D5300YstereomonoY-mini2.0Y--
 
Olympus E-30Y-----2.0---
 
Olympus E-330Y-----2.0---
 
Olympus E-500Y-----2.0---
 
Olympus E-300Y-----2.0---
 
Panasonic L10Y-----2.0---
 
Panasonic L1Y-----2.0---
 
Sony RX1R IIYstereomonoY-micro2.0YY-
 
Sony A3000Ystereomono--mini2.0---
 
Sony RX1RYstereomonoY-mini2.0---
 
Sony NEX-7YstereomonoY-mini2.0---

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. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Leica and Sony websites.

Review summary

So how do things add up? Which of the two cameras – the Leica Digilux 3 or the Sony RX1 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? 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 composition 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).

ilogo

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: The sensor size advantage translates into images with better, more accurate colors.
  • More dynamic range: Larger sensor captures a wider spectrum of light and dark details.
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Larger sensor produces good images even in poorly lit environments.
  • 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 built in (unlike the Digilux 3).
  • Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
  • 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. A professional wedding photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a travel photog, and a person interested in cityscapes has distinct needs from a macro shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.

Digilux 3 05:13 RX1

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Leica Digilux 3 and the Sony RX1 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 specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting 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.

Expert reviews

This is where reviews by experts come in. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, and photographyblog). 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.

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Review Scores
  Camera
Model
camera
  labs  
dp
review  
ephoto
  zine  
imaging
resource
photography
  blog  
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
 
Leica Digilux 3.......... Sep 2006 1,499i
 
Sony RX1..79/1004/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 2,799i
 
Canon 30D+ ++ +oo.. Feb 2006 1,399i
 
Canon XT80/100+ +oo.. Feb 2005 899i
 
Leica M8..+ +...... Sep 2006 5,499i
 
Leica V-LUX 1.......... Sep 2006 849i
 
Nikon D5300+ +79/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Oct 2013 799i
 
Olympus E-30..71/1004.5/5..4/5 Nov 2008 1,299i
 
Olympus E-330..+o3.5/5.. Jan 2006 999i
 
Olympus E-50076/100+ +...... Sep 2005 599i
 
Olympus E-300..+oo4.5/5 Sep 2004 799i
 
Panasonic L1085/100+3.5/5o4/5 Aug 2007 599i
 
Panasonic L185/100+..o3.5/5 Feb 2006 999i
 
Sony RX1R II..82/100..o4.5/5 Oct 2015 3,299 i
 
Sony A3000+..4/54.5/54/5 Aug 2013 329i
 
Sony RX1R....4/5o4.5/5 Jun 2013 2,799i
 
Sony NEX-7+ +81/1004.5/55/55/5 Aug 2011 1,349i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

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.

Leica Digilux 3:
Check Ebay offers
Sony RX1:
Check Ebay offers

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. As an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.

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    Specifications: Leica Digilux 3 vs Sony RX1

    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 Specifications
    Camera Model Leica Digilux 3 Sony RX1
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Fixed lens compact camera
    Camera Lens Four Thirds lenses 35mm f/2.0
    Launch Date September 2006 September 2012
    Launch Price USD 1,499 USD 2,799
    Sensor Specs Leica Digilux 3 Sony RX1
    Sensor Technology CMOS CMOS
    Sensor Format Four Thirds Sensor Full Frame Sensor
    Sensor Size 17.3 x 13.0 mm 35.8 x 23.8 mm
    Sensor Area 224.9 mm2 852.04 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 21.6 mm 43 mm
    Crop Factor 2.0x 1.0x
    Sensor Resolution 7.4 Megapixels 24 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 3136 x 2352 pixels 6000 x 4000 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 5.51 μm 5.96 μm
    Pixel Density 3.28 MP/cm2 2.82 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability no Video 1080/60p Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 1,600 ISO 100 - 25,600 ISO
    ISO Boost no Enhancement 50 - 102,400 ISO
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) .. 93
    DXO Color Depth (bits) .. 25.1
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) .. 14.3
    DXO Low Light (ISO) .. 2534
    Screen Specs Leica Digilux 3 Sony RX1
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Viewfinder optional
    Viewfinder Field of View 95%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.47x
    LCD Framing Live View Live View
    Rear LCD Size 2.5inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 207k dots 1229k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Leica Digilux 3 Sony RX1
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Contrast-detect AF
    Manual Focusing Aidno Peaking FeatureFocus Peaking
    Max Shutter Speed (mechanical) 1/4000s 1/4000s
    Continuous Shooting 3 shutter flaps/s 5 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash Build-in Flash Build-in Flash
    Storage Medium SDXC cards MS or SDXC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    UHS card support no no
    Connectivity Specs Leica Digilux 3 Sony RX1
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port no HDMI mini HDMI
    Microphone Port no MIC socket External MIC port
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Leica Digilux 3 Sony RX1
    Battery Type BP-DC3 NP-BX1
    Battery Life (CIPA)750 shots per charge270 shots per charge
    In-Camera Charging no USB charging USB charging
    Body Dimensions 146 x 87 x 77 mm
    (5.7 x 3.4 x 3.0 in)
    113 x 65 x 70 mm
    (4.4 x 2.6 x 2.8 in)
    Camera Weight 606 g (21.4 oz) 482 g (17.0 oz)

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