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Leica M8 vs Nikon D2X

The Leica M8 and the Nikon D2X are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in September 2006 and September 2004. The M8 is a rangefinder-style mirrorless camera, while the D2X is a DSLR. The cameras are based on an APS-H (M8) and an APS-C (D2X) sensor. The Leica has a resolution of 10.4 megapixels, whereas the Nikon provides 12.2 MP.

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

Headline Specifications
Leica M8 versus Nikon D2X
Leica M8 Nikon D2X
Rangefinder camera Digital single lens reflex
Leica M mount lenses Nikon F mount lenses
10.4 MP, APS-H Sensor 12.2 MP, APS-C Sensor
no Video no Video
ISO 160-2,500 ISO 100-800 (100 - 3,200)
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
2.5 LCD, 230k dots 2.5 LCD, 235k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
2 shutter flaps per second 5 shutter flaps per second
not weather sealedWeathersealed body
139 x 80 x 37 mm, 591 g 158 x 150 x 86 mm, 1252 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Leica M8 and the Nikon D2X? 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 side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Leica M8 and the Nikon D2X. 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 width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

The M8 can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the D2X is only available in black.

Size Leica M8 vs Nikon D2X
Compare M8 versus D2X top
Comparison M8 or D2X rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon D2X is considerably larger (113 percent) than the Leica M8. Moreover, the D2X is substantially heavier (112 percent) than the M8. It is noteworthy in this context that the D2X is splash and dust-proof, while the M8 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. A larger imaging sensor will tend to go along with bigger and heavier lenses, although exceptions exist. You can compare the optics available for the two cameras in the Leica M Lens Catalog (M8) and the Nikon Lens Catalog (D2X).

As can be seen in the images above, the D2X has a battery grip built in. This facilitates image-taking in portrait orientation and gives it additional battery power.

The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, you can move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.

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Body Specifications
    Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
Weather
Sealing
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Leica M8 139 mm 80 mm 37 mm 591 g .. n Sep 2006 5,499i
2.
 
Nikon D2X 158 mm 150 mm 86 mm 1252 g 3800 Y Sep 2004 4,999i
3.
 
Canon T3 130 mm 100 mm 78 mm 495 g 700 n Feb 2011 449i
4.
 
Canon XTi 127 mm 84 mm 65 mm 556 g 370 n Aug 2006 799i
5.
 
Leica M10 139 mm 80 mm 39 mm 660 g 210 Y Jan 2017 6,595 i
6.
 
Leica M Typ 262 139 mm 80 mm 42 mm 680 g .. Y Nov 2015 5,195i
7.
 
Leica M9 139 mm 80 mm 37 mm 585 g .. n Sep 2009 7,999i
8.
 
Nikon D3000 126 mm 97 mm 64 mm 536 g 500 n Jul 2009 599i
9.
 
Nikon D5000 127 mm 104 mm 80 mm 590 g 510 n Apr 2009 749i
10.
 
Nikon D40X 124 mm 94 mm 64 mm 522 g 520 n Mar 2007 729i
11.
 
Nikon D2Xs 158 mm 150 mm 86 mm 1252 g 3800 Y Jun 2006 4,699i
12.
 
Nikon D80 132 mm 103 mm 77 mm 668 g 600 n Aug 2006 999i
13.
 
Nikon D200 147 mm 113 mm 74 mm 920 g 400 Y Nov 2005 1,699i
14.
 
Nikon D2H 158 mm 150 mm 86 mm 1070 g 2900 Y Jul 2003 3,499i
15.
 
Nikon D1X 157 mm 153 mm 85 mm 1100 g 1200 Y Feb 2001 5,999i
16.
 
Nikon D1 157 mm 153 mm 85 mm 1100 g .. Y Jun 1999 5,499i
17.
 
Panasonic L10 135 mm 96 mm 78 mm 556 g 450 n Aug 2007 599i
Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.

Any camera decision will obviously take relative prices into account. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The D2X was somewhat cheaper (by 9 percent) than the M8 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.

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Sensor comparison

The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors 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. Moreover, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more control over depth-of-field in the image and, thus, the ability to better 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 M8 features an APS-H sensor and the Nikon D2X an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the D2X is 23 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.3 and 1.5. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Leica M8 and Nikon D2X sensor measures

Despite having a smaller sensor, the D2X offers a higher resolution of 12.2 megapixels, compared with 10.4 MP of the M8. 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 5.52μm versus 6.84μm for the M8). Moreover, it should be noted that the M8 is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 11 months) than the D2X, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the M8 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.

The resolution advantage of the Nikon D2X implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the D2X for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 21.4 x 14.2 inches or 54.5 x 36.2 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 17.2 x 11.4 inches or 43.6 x 28.9 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 14.3 x 9.5 inches or 36.3 x 24.1 cm. The corresponding values for the Leica M8 are 19.7 x 13.2 inches or 50 x 33.4 cm for good quality, 15.7 x 10.5 inches or 40 x 26.7 cm for very good quality, and 13.1 x 8.8 inches or 33.3 x 22.3 cm for excellent quality prints.

The Leica M8 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 160 to ISO 2500. The corresponding ISO settings for the Nikon D2X are ISO 100 to ISO 800, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-3200.

M8 versus D2X MP

Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. This service assesses and scores the color depth ("DXO Portrait"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports") of camera sensors, and also publishes an overall camera score. The Overall DXO ratings for the two cameras under consideration are close, suggesting that they provide similar imaging performance. The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.

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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
1.
 
Leica M8 APS-H 10.4 3936 2630none21.111.366359
2.
 
Nikon D2X APS-C 12.2 4288 2848none22.110.947659
3.
 
Canon T3 APS-C 12.2 4272 2848720/30p21.911.075562
4.
 
Canon XTi APS-C 10.1 3888 2592none22.111.066462
5.
 
Leica M10 Full Frame 23.8 5952 3992none24.413.2213386
6.
 
Leica M Typ 262 Full Frame 23.7 5952 3976none........
7.
 
Leica M9 Full Frame 18.1 5212 3472none22.511.788469
8.
 
Nikon D3000 APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.311.156362
9.
 
Nikon D5000 APS-C 12.2 4288 2848720/24p22.712.586872
10.
 
Nikon D40X APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.411.451663
11.
 
Nikon D2Xs APS-C 12.2 4288 2848none22.210.948959
12.
 
Nikon D80 APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.111.252461
13.
 
Nikon D200 APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.311.558364
14.
 
Nikon D2H APS-C 4.0 2464 1632none18.910.035240
15.
 
Nikon D1X APS-C 5.9 3008 1960none........
16.
 
Nikon D1 APS-C 2.6 2000 1312none........
17.
 
Panasonic L10 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.310.842955
Neither the M8 nor the D2X offer Live View, so that they cannot project the live image that the sensor receives onto the rear screen. Moreover, both cameras are still-image focused and cannot record videos.
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Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The M8 and the D2X 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 M8 and Nikon D2X along with similar information for a selection of comparators.

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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
1.
 
Leica M8optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/8000s 2.0 n n
2.
 
Nikon D2Xoptical Y 2.5 235 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 n n
3.
 
Canon T3optical n 2.7 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
4.
 
Canon XTioptical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
5.
 
Leica M10optical n 3.0 1037 fixed n 1/4000s 5.0 n n
6.
 
Leica M Typ 262optical n 3.0 921 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 n n
7.
 
Leica M9optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 2.0 n n
8.
 
Nikon D3000optical n 3.0 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
9.
 
Nikon D5000optical n 2.7 230 full-flex n 1/4000s 4.0 Y n
10.
 
Nikon D40Xoptical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
11.
 
Nikon D2Xsoptical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 n n
12.
 
Nikon D80optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
13.
 
Nikon D200optical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 Y n
14.
 
Nikon D2Hoptical Y 2.5 211 fixed n 1/8000s 8.0 n n
15.
 
Nikon D1Xoptical Y 2.0 120 fixed n 1/16000s 3.0 n n
16.
 
Nikon D1optical Y 2.0 120 fixed n 1/16000s 1.5 n n
17.
 
Panasonic L10optical n 2.5 207 swivel n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n

One feature that is present on the D2X, but is missing on the M8 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 M8 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the D2X uses Compact Flash cards.

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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 M8 and Nikon D2X 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
1.
 
Leica M8Y-----2.0---
2.
 
Nikon D2XY-----2.0---
3.
 
Canon T3Ystereomono--mini2.0---
4.
 
Canon XTiY-----2.0---
5.
 
Leica M10Y------Y--
6.
 
Leica M Typ 262Y-----2.0---
7.
 
Leica M9Y-----2.0---
8.
 
Nikon D3000Y-----2.0---
9.
 
Nikon D5000Ymonomono--mini2.0---
10.
 
Nikon D40XY-----2.0---
11.
 
Nikon D2XsY-----2.0---
12.
 
Nikon D80Y-----2.0---
13.
 
Nikon D200Y-----2.0---
14.
 
Nikon D2HY-----2.0---
15.
 
Nikon D1XY-----FW---
16.
 
Nikon D1Y-----FW---
17.
 
Panasonic L10Y-----2.0---

Studio photographers will appreciate that the Nikon D2X (unlike the M8) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.

Both the M8 and the D2X have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D2X was replaced by the Nikon D2Xs, while the M8 was followed by the Leica M9. 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.

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Review summary

So what is the bottom line? Which of the two cameras – the Leica M8 or the Nikon D2X – 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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Advantages of the Leica M8:

  • Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (0.5 stops ISO advantage).
  • More compact: Is smaller (139x80mm vs 158x150mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter (by 661g or 53 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
  • More prestigious: Has the Leica luxury appeal, which ensures a high resale price.
  • More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 1 year and 11 months after the D2X).

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Arguments in favor of the Nikon D2X:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (12.2 vs 10.4MP), which boosts linear resolution by 9%.
  • Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
  • Easier setting verification: Features a control panel on top to check shooting parameters.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5 vs 2 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More portrait friendly: Features an integrated vertical grip for easier portrait shooting.
  • Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
  • Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in September 2004).

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the D2X emerges as the winner of the match-up (8 : 6 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 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.

M8 06:08 D2X

In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the M8 or the D2X perform in practice. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased.

Expert reviews

This is why expert reviews are important. The table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], 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.

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Expert Camera Reviews
     Camera 
 Model 
 AP 
 score 
 CL 
 score 
 DPR 
 score 
 EPZ 
 score 
 PB 
 score 
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Leica M8....+ +.... Sep 2006 5,499i
2.
 
Nikon D2X....+ +.... Sep 2004 4,999i
3.
 
Canon T3..80/10069/1004/54.5/5 Feb 2011 449i
4.
 
Canon XTi..+ ++ +o4/5 Aug 2006 799i
5.
 
Leica M104.5/5....4/54.5/5 Jan 2017 6,595 i
6.
 
Leica M Typ 262.......... Nov 2015 5,195i
7.
 
Leica M9......4.5/5.. Sep 2009 7,999i
8.
 
Nikon D3000..+72/1004/54.5/5 Jul 2009 599i
9.
 
Nikon D5000..+ +75/1004/54.5/5 Apr 2009 749i
10.
 
Nikon D40X..79/100+ +4/54/5 Mar 2007 729i
11.
 
Nikon D2Xs.......... Jun 2006 4,699i
12.
 
Nikon D80..++ +o4.5/5 Aug 2006 999i
13.
 
Nikon D200..+ ++ +o.. Nov 2005 1,699i
14.
 
Nikon D2H....+ +.... Jul 2003 3,499i
15.
 
Nikon D1X....+ +.... Feb 2001 5,999i
16.
 
Nikon D1....+ +.... Jun 1999 5,499i
17.
 
Panasonic L10..85/100+3.5/54/5 Aug 2007 599i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.

Leica M8:
Check Ebay offers
Nikon D2X:
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 a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. 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 M8 vs Nikon D2X

    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 M8 Nikon D2X
    Camera Type Rangefinder camera Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Leica M mount lenses Nikon F mount lenses
    Launch Date September 2006 September 2004
    Launch Price USD 5,499 USD 4,999
    Sensor Specs Leica M8 Nikon D2X
    Sensor Technology CCD CMOS
    Sensor Format APS-H Sensor APS-C Sensor
    Sensor Size 27.0 x 18.0 mm 23.7 x 15.7 mm
    Sensor Area 486 mm2 372.09 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 32.4 mm 28.4 mm
    Crop Factor 1.3x 1.5x
    Sensor Resolution 10.4 Megapixels 12.2 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 3936 x 2630 pixels 4288 x 2848 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 6.84 μm 5.52 μm
    Pixel Density 2.13 MP/cm2 3.28 MP/cm2
    Moiré control no AA filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability no Video no Video
    ISO Setting 160 - 2,500 ISO 100 - 800 ISO
    ISO Boost no Enhancement 100 - 3,200 ISO
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 59 59
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 21.1 22.1
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 11.3 10.9
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 663 476
    Screen Specs Leica M8 Nikon D2X
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 100% 100%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.57x
    Top-Level Screen no Top Display Control Panel
    Rear LCD Size 2.5inch 2.5inch
    LCD Resolution 230k dots 235k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Leica M8 Nikon D2X
    Focus System Manual Focus Phase-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 2 shutter flaps/s 5 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash no On-Board Flash no On-Board Flash
    Storage Medium SDXC cards CF cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    Connectivity Specs Leica M8 Nikon D2X
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    Studio Flash no PC Sync PC Sync socket
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port no HDMI no HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Leica M8 Nikon D2X
    Environmental Sealingnot weather sealedWeathersealed body
    Battery Type BLI-312 EN-EL4a
    Body Dimensions 139 x 80 x 37 mm
    (5.5 x 3.1 x 1.5 in)
    158 x 150 x 86 mm
    (6.2 x 5.9 x 3.4 in)
    Camera Weight 591 g (20.8 oz) 1252 g (44.2 oz)

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