Leica M Typ 262 vs Nikon D3
The Leica M (Typ 262) and the Nikon D3 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in November 2015 and August 2007. The M Typ 262 is a rangefinder-focusing mirrorless camera, while the D3 is a DSLR. Both cameras are equipped with a full frame sensor. The Leica has a resolution of 23.7 megapixels, whereas the Nikon provides 12.1 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 M (Typ 262) and the Nikon D3? 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.
The physical size and weight of the Leica M Typ 262 and the Nikon D3 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The M Typ 262 can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the D3 is only available in black.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon D3 is considerably larger (126 percent) than the Leica M Typ 262. Moreover, the D3 is substantially heavier (91 percent) than the M Typ 262. In this context, it is worth noting that both cameras are splash and dust-proof and can, hence, be used in inclement weather conditions or harsh environments.
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. Both cameras have similarly sized sensors, but DSLRs have a larger flange-to-focal plane distance than mirrorless cameras, which imposes contraints on the optical engineering process and generally leads to bigger and heavier lenses. You can compare the optics available for the two cameras in the Leica M Lens Catalog (M Typ 262) and the Nikon Lens Catalog (D3).
As can be seen in the images above, the D3 has a battery grip built in. This facilitates image-taking in portrait orientation and gives it additional battery power.
The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. 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 M Typ 262||139 mm||80 mm||42 mm||680 g||..||Y||Nov 2015||5,195|
|2.||Nikon D3||160 mm||157 mm||88 mm||1300 g||4300||Y||Aug 2007||4,999|
|3.||Canon 1D X Mark II||158 mm||168 mm||83 mm||1530 g||1210||Y||Feb 2016||5,999|
|4.||Canon 1D Mark III||156 mm||157 mm||80 mm||1155 g||2200||Y||Feb 2007||4,499|
|5.||Leica M10-R||139 mm||80 mm||39 mm||660 g||210||Y||Jul 2020||8,295|
|6.||Leica Q2||130 mm||80 mm||92 mm||718 g||370||Y||Mar 2019||4,995|
|7.||Leica M-E Typ 240||139 mm||80 mm||42 mm||680 g||..||Y||Jun 2019||3,999|
|8.||Leica M10-P||139 mm||80 mm||39 mm||660 g||210||Y||Aug 2018||7,995|
|9.||Leica M10||139 mm||80 mm||39 mm||660 g||210||Y||Jan 2017||6,595|
|10.||Leica Q Typ 116||130 mm||80 mm||93 mm||640 g||300||n||Jun 2015||4,249|
|11.||Leica SL||147 mm||104 mm||39 mm||847 g||400||Y||Oct 2015||7,450|
|12.||Leica M Typ 240||139 mm||80 mm||42 mm||680 g||..||Y||Sep 2012||6,950|
|13.||Nikon D750||141 mm||113 mm||78 mm||750 g||1230||Y||Sep 2014||2,299|
|14.||Nikon D4||160 mm||157 mm||91 mm||1340 g||2600||Y||Jan 2012||5,999|
|15.||Nikon D3S||160 mm||157 mm||88 mm||1240 g||4200||Y||Oct 2009||5,199|
|16.||Nikon D3X||160 mm||157 mm||88 mm||1260 g||4400||Y||Dec 2008||7,999|
|17.||Nikon D700||147 mm||123 mm||77 mm||1074 g||1000||Y||Jul 2008||2,999|
|Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. The retail prices at the time of the camera’s release place the model in the market relative to other models in the producer’s line-up and the competition. The D3 was somewhat cheaper (by 4 percent) than the M Typ 262 at launch, but both cameras fall into the same price category. 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 imaging sensor is a crucial determinant of image quality. A large sensor will tend to have larger individual pixels that provide better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixel-units 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 associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.
Both cameras under consideration feature a full frame sensor, but their sensors differ slightly in size. They nevertheless have the same format factor of 1.0. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
Despite having a slightly smaller sensor, the Leica M Typ 262 offers a higher resolution of 23.7 megapixels, compared with 12.1 MP of the Nikon D3. 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 6.01μm versus 8.43μm for the D3). However, it should be noted that the M Typ 262 is much more recent (by 8 years and 2 months) than the D3, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that make it possible to gather light more efficiently. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the M Typ 262 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.
The resolution advantage of the Leica M Typ 262 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the M Typ 262 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 29.8 x 19.9 inches or 75.6 x 50.5 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 23.8 x 15.9 inches or 60.5 x 40.4 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 19.8 x 13.3 inches or 50.4 x 33.7 cm. The corresponding values for the Nikon D3 are 21.3 x 14.2 inches or 54.1 x 36 cm for good quality, 17 x 11.3 inches or 43.2 x 28.8 cm for very good quality, and 14.2 x 9.4 inches or 36 x 24 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Leica M (Typ 262) has a native sensitivity range from ISO 200 to ISO 6400, which can be extended to ISO 100-6400. The corresponding ISO settings for the Nikon D3 are ISO 200 to ISO 6400, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-25600.
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. 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 following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.
|1.||Leica M Typ 262||Full Frame||23.7||5952||3976||none||24.8||13.7||2478||90|
|2.||Nikon D3||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||none||23.5||12.2||2290||81|
|3.||Canon 1D X Mark II||Full Frame||20.0||5472||3648||4K/60p||24.1||13.5||3207||88|
|4.||Canon 1D Mark III||APS-H||10.1||3888||2592||none||22.7||11.7||1078||71|
|5.||Leica M10-R||Full Frame||40.9||7864||5200||none||25.3||14.3||2924||95|
|6.||Leica Q2||Full Frame||46.7||8368||5584||4K/30p||26.4||13.5||2491||96|
|7.||Leica M-E Typ 240||Full Frame||23.7||5952||3976||1080/25p||25.2||14.2||2821||94|
|8.||Leica M10-P||Full Frame||23.8||5952||3992||none||25.1||14.1||2739||93|
|9.||Leica M10||Full Frame||23.8||5952||3992||none||24.4||13.2||2133||86|
|10.||Leica Q Typ 116||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.3||12.7||2221||85|
|11.||Leica SL||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||25.0||13.4||1821||88|
|12.||Leica M Typ 240||Full Frame||23.7||5952||3976||1080/25p||24.0||13.3||1860||84|
|13.||Nikon D750||Full Frame||24.2||6016||4016||1080/60p||24.8||14.5||2956||93|
|14.||Nikon D4||Full Frame||16.2||4928||3280||1080/30p||24.7||13.1||2965||89|
|15.||Nikon D3S||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||720/24p||23.5||12.0||3253||82|
|16.||Nikon D3X||Full Frame||24.4||6048||4032||none||24.7||13.7||1992||88|
|17.||Nikon D700||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||none||23.5||12.2||2303||80|
|Note: DXO values in italics represent estimates based on sensor size and age.|
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The M Typ 262 and the D3 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 viewfinders of both cameras offer the same field of view (100%), but the viewfinder of the D3 has a higher magnification than the one of the M Typ 262 (0.70x vs 0.68x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Leica M Typ 262 and Nikon D3 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|1.||Leica M Typ 262||optical||n||3.0 / 921||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||n||n|
|2.||Nikon D3||optical||Y||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/8000s||11.0/s||n||n|
|3.||Canon 1D X Mark II||optical||Y||3.2 / 1620||fixed||Y||1/8000s||16.0/s||n||n|
|4.||Canon 1D Mark III||optical||Y||3.0 / 230||fixed||n||1/8000s||10.0/s||n||n|
|5.||Leica M10-R||optical||n||3.0 / 1037||fixed||Y||1/4000s||4.5/s||n||n|
|6.||Leica Q2||3680||n||3.0 / 1040||fixed||Y||1/2000s||20.0/s||n||Y|
|7.||Leica M-E Typ 240||optical||n||3.0 / 920||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||n||n|
|8.||Leica M10-P||optical||n||3.0 / 1037||fixed||Y||1/4000s||5.0/s||n||n|
|9.||Leica M10||optical||n||3.0 / 1037||fixed||n||1/4000s||5.0/s||n||n|
|10.||Leica Q Typ 116||3680||n||3.0 / 1040||fixed||Y||1/2000s||10.0/s||n||Y|
|11.||Leica SL||4400||Y||3.0 / 1040||fixed||Y||1/8000s||11.0/s||n||n|
|12.||Leica M Typ 240||optical||n||3.0 / 920||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||n||n|
|13.||Nikon D750||optical||Y||3.2 / 1229||tilting||n||1/4000s||6.0/s||Y||n|
|14.||Nikon D4||optical||Y||3.2 / 921||fixed||n||1/8000s||11.0/s||n||n|
|15.||Nikon D3S||optical||Y||3.0 / 921||fixed||n||1/8000s||11.0/s||n||n|
|16.||Nikon D3X||optical||Y||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0/s||n||n|
|17.||Nikon D700||optical||Y||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/8000s||8.0/s||Y||n|
|Notes: *) Information refers to the mechanical shutter, unless the camera only has an electronic one.|
One feature that is present on the D3, but is missing on the M Typ 262 is a top-level LCD. While being, of course, smaller than the rear screen, the control panel conveys some of the essential shooting information and can be convenient for quick and easy settings verification.
The Nikon D3 has an intervalometer built-in. This enables the photographer to capture time lapse sequences, such as flower blooming, a sunset or moon rise, without purchasing an external camera trigger and related software.
The M Typ 262 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the D3 uses Compact Flash cards. The D3 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the M Typ 262 only has one slot.
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 M (Typ 262) and Nikon D3 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
Mic / Speaker
|1.||Leica M Typ 262||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|2.||Nikon D3||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|3.||Canon 1D X Mark II||Y||mono / mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
|4.||Canon 1D Mark III||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|5.||Leica M10-R||Y||- / -||-||-||-||-||Y||-||-|
|6.||Leica Q2||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||-||-||Y||-||Y|
|7.||Leica M-E Typ 240||Y||mono / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|8.||Leica M10-P||Y||- / -||-||-||-||-||Y||-||-|
|9.||Leica M10||Y||- / -||-||-||-||-||Y||-||-|
|10.||Leica Q Typ 116||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|11.||Leica SL||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||full||3.0||Y||-||-|
|12.||Leica M Typ 240||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|13.||Nikon D750||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||Y||-||-|
|14.||Nikon D4||Y||mono / mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||-||-||-|
|15.||Nikon D3S||Y||stereo / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|16.||Nikon D3X||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|17.||Nikon D700||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Nikon D3 (unlike the M Typ 262) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Both the M Typ 262 and the D3 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D3 was replaced by the Nikon D4, while the M Typ 262 was followed by the Leica M10. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Leica and Nikon websites.
So what conclusions can be drawn? Is the Leica M Typ 262 better than the Nikon D3 or vice versa? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Reasons to prefer the Leica M (Typ 262):
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (23.7 vs 12.1MP) with a 40% higher linear resolution.
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- More compact: Is smaller (139x80mm vs 160x157mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 620g or 48 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
- More prestigious: Has the Leica luxury appeal, which ensures a high resale price.
- More modern: Reflects 8 years and 2 months of technical progress since the D3 launch.
Advantages of the Nikon D3:
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.70x vs 0.68x).
- Easier setting verification: Features a control panel on top to check shooting parameters.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (11 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- More portrait friendly: Features an integrated vertical grip for easier portrait shooting.
- Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
- Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
- More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in August 2007).
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the D3 is the clear winner of the contest (10 : 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. A professional sports photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a street photog, and a person interested in family portraits has distinct needs from a landscape shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.
In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the M Typ 262 and the D3 in practical situations. 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 summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera 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 M Typ 262||..||..||..||..||..||..||Nov 2015||5,195|
|2.||Nikon D3||..||..||..||+ +||5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2007||4,999|
|3.||Canon 1D X Mark II||..||..||4.5/5||89/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2016||5,999|
|4.||Canon 1D Mark III||..||..||..||..||..||..||Feb 2007||4,499|
|5.||Leica M10-R||4.5/5||..||4/5||..||..||4/5||Jul 2020||8,295|
|6.||Leica Q2||..||..||..||84/100||4.5/5||4/5||Mar 2019||4,995|
|7.||Leica M-E Typ 240||..||..||..||..||..||..||Jun 2019||3,999|
|8.||Leica M10-P||..||..||3/5||..||..||4/5||Aug 2018||7,995|
|9.||Leica M10||4.5/5||..||..||..||4/5||4.5/5||Jan 2017||6,595|
|10.||Leica Q Typ 116||5/5||..||..||80/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2015||4,249|
|11.||Leica SL||4/5||..||4/5||84/100||4.5/5||4/5||Oct 2015||7,450|
|12.||Leica M Typ 240||4/5||..||..||..||4/5||..||Sep 2012||6,950|
|13.||Nikon D750||5/5||+ +||4/5||90/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2014||2,299|
|14.||Nikon D4||..||..||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2012||5,999|
|15.||Nikon D3S||5/5||..||..||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||Oct 2009||5,199|
|16.||Nikon D3X||..||..||..||86/100||4/5||5/5||Dec 2008||7,999|
|17.||Nikon D700||..||89/100||..||+ +||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jul 2008||2,999|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. 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, 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? In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.
- Canon D30 vs Leica M Typ 262
- Canon M10 vs Leica M Typ 262
- Canon SX410 vs Leica M Typ 262
- Canon T6 vs Nikon D3
- Fujifilm X-M1 vs Nikon D3
- Leica M Typ 262 vs Leica V-LUX 4
- Leica M Typ 262 vs Nikon D610
- Leica M Typ 262 vs Pentax K-70
- Nikon D3 vs Nikon D800E
- Nikon D3 vs Olympus E-330
- Nikon D3 vs Olympus TG-6
- Nikon D3 vs Sony RX100 VI
Specifications: Leica M Typ 262 vs Nikon D3
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 M Typ 262||Nikon D3|
|Camera Type||Rangefinder camera||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Leica M mount lenses||Nikon F mount lenses|
|Launch Date||November 2015||August 2007|
|Launch Price||USD 5,195||USD 4,999|
|Sensor Specs||Leica M Typ 262||Nikon D3|
|Sensor Format||Full Frame Sensor||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||35.8 x 23.9 mm||36.0 x 23.9 mm|
|Sensor Area||855.62 mm2||860.4 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||43 mm||43.2 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||23.7 Megapixels||12.1 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||5952 x 3976 pixels||4256 x 2832 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||6.01 μm||8.43 μm|
|Pixel Density||2.77 MP/cm2||1.40 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||no Video|
|ISO Setting||200 - 6,400 ISO||200 - 6,400 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100 - 6,400 ISO||100 - 25,600 ISO|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||..||81|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||..||23.5|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||..||12.2|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||..||2290|
|Screen Specs||Leica M Typ 262||Nikon D3|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||100%|
|Top-Level Screen||no Top Display||Control Panel|
|LCD Framing||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||921k dots||922k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Leica M Typ 262||Nikon D3|
|Focus System||Manual Focus||Phase-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||Focus Peaking||no Peaking Feature|
|Continuous Shooting||3 shutter flaps/s||11 shutter flaps/s|
|Time-Lapse Photography||no Intervalometer||Intervalometer built-in|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||CF cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Dual card slots|
|Connectivity Specs||Leica M Typ 262||Nikon D3|
|Studio Flash||no PC Sync||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||no HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Leica M Typ 262||Nikon D3|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||Weathersealed body|
139 x 80 x 42 mm
(5.5 x 3.1 x 1.7 in)
160 x 157 x 88 mm
(6.3 x 6.2 x 3.5 in)
|Camera Weight||680 g (24.0 oz)||1300 g (45.9 oz)|
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