Leica M8 vs Panasonic FZ300
The Leica M8 and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ300 (labelled Panasonic FZ330 in some countries) are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in September 2006 and July 2015. The M8 is a rangefinder-style mirrorless camera, while the FZ300 is a fixed lens compact. The cameras are based on an APS-H (M8) and a 1/2.3-inch (FZ300) sensor. The Leica has a resolution of 10.4 megapixels, whereas the Panasonic provides 12 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 M8 and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ300? 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 M8 and the Panasonic FZ300 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The M8 can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the FZ300 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 Panasonic FZ300 is notably larger (9 percent) than the Leica M8. It is noteworthy in this context that the FZ300 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 and possibly misleading, as the FZ300 has a lens built in, whereas the M8 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 M8 and their specifications in the Leica M Lens Catalog.
The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, you can navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from a broad list of cameras there.
|Leica M8||5.5 in||3.1 in||1.5 in||20.8 oz||..||n||Sep 2006||5,499|
|Panasonic FZ300||5.2 in||3.6 in||4.6 in||24.4 oz||380||Y||Jul 2015||599|
|Canon SX60||5.0 in||3.7 in||4.5 in||22.9 oz||340||n||Sep 2014||549|
|Canon T3||5.1 in||3.9 in||3.1 in||17.5 oz||700||n||Feb 2011||449|
|Canon XTi||5.0 in||3.3 in||2.6 in||19.6 oz||370||n||Aug 2006||799|
|Leica M10||5.5 in||3.1 in||1.5 in||23.3 oz||210||Y||Jan 2017||6,595|
|Leica M Typ 262||5.5 in||3.1 in||1.7 in||24.0 oz||..||Y||Nov 2015||5,195|
|Leica M9||5.5 in||3.1 in||1.5 in||20.6 oz||..||n||Sep 2009||7,999|
|Nikon D3000||5.0 in||3.8 in||2.5 in||18.9 oz||500||n||Jul 2009||599|
|Nikon D5000||5.0 in||4.1 in||3.1 in||20.8 oz||510||n||Apr 2009||749|
|Nikon D40X||4.9 in||3.7 in||2.5 in||18.4 oz||520||n||Mar 2007||729|
|Nikon D80||5.2 in||4.1 in||3.0 in||23.6 oz||600||n||Aug 2006||999|
|Panasonic FZ200||4.9 in||3.4 in||4.3 in||20.7 oz||540||n||Jul 2012||599|
|Panasonic FZ150||4.9 in||3.2 in||3.6 in||18.6 oz||410||n||Aug 2011||499|
|Panasonic FZ100||4.9 in||3.2 in||3.6 in||19.0 oz||410||n||Jul 2010||499|
|Panasonic L10||5.3 in||3.8 in||3.1 in||19.6 oz||450||n||Aug 2007||599|
|Sony HX400V||5.1 in||3.7 in||4.1 in||23.3 oz||300||n||Feb 2014||499|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. 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 FZ300 was launched at a lower price than the M8, despite having a lens built in. 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.
The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants 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. 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 are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Leica M8 features an APS-H sensor and the Panasonic FZ300 a 1/2.3-inch sensor. The sensor area in the FZ300 is 94 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.3 and 5.6. The sensor in the M8 has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the FZ300 offers a 4:3 aspect.
Despite having a smaller sensor, the FZ300 offers a higher resolution of 12 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 1.53μm versus 6.84μm for the M8). However, it should be noted that the FZ300 is much more recent (by 8 years and 10 months) than the M8, 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 neither of the two cameras has an anti-alias filter installed, so they are able to capture all the detail the sensor resolves.
The resolution advantage of the Panasonic FZ300 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the FZ300 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 20 x 15 inches or 50.8 x 38.1 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 16 x 12 inches or 40.6 x 30.5 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 13.3 x 10 inches or 33.9 x 25.4 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 Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ300 are ISO 100 to ISO 6400 (no boost).
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. 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"). Of the two cameras under review, the M8 provides substantially higher image quality than the FZ300, with an overall score that is 21 points higher. This advantage is based on 1.8 bits higher color depth, 0.3 EV in additional dynamic range, and 2.8 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.
| DXO |
|Leica M10||Full Frame||23.8||5952||3992||none||24.4||13.2||2133||86|
|Leica M Typ 262||Full Frame||23.7||5952||3976||none||..||..||..||..|
|Leica M9||Full Frame||18.1||5212||3472||none||22.5||11.7||884||69|
|Panasonic L10||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.3||10.8||429||55|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The FZ300 indeed provides for movie recording, while the M8 does not. The highest resolution format that the FZ300 can use is 4K/30p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the FZ300 has an electronic viewfinder (1440k dots), while the M8 has an optical one. Both systems have their advantages, with the electronic viewfinder making it possible to project supplementary shooting information into the framing view, whereas the optical viewfinder offers lag-free viewing and a very clear framing image. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Leica M8, the Panasonic FZ300, and comparable cameras.
|Leica M Typ 262||optical||n||3.0||921||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||n||n|
One differentiating feature between the two cameras concerns the touch sensitivity of the rear screen. The FZ300 has a touchscreen, while the M8 has a conventional panel. Touch control can be particularly helpful, for example, for setting the focus point.The FZ300 has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing. This characteristic will be appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in taking selfies. In contrast, the M8 does not have a selfie-screen.
The reported shutter speed information refers to the use of the mechanical shutter. Yet, some cameras only have an electronic shutter, while others have an electronic shutter in addition to a mechanical one. In fact, the FZ300 is one of those camera that have an additional electronic shutter, which makes completely silent shooting possible. However, this mode is less suitable for photographing moving objects (risk of rolling shutter) or shooting under artificial light sources (risk of flickering).
The Panasonic FZ300 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.
Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the M8 and the FZ300 write their files to SDXC cards. The FZ300 supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s), while the M8 cannot take advantage of Ultra High Speed SD cards.
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 Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ300 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|Leica M Typ 262||Y||-||-||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
It is notable that the FZ300 offers wifi support, which can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location. In contrast, the M8 does not provide wifi capability.
The FZ300 is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Panasonic. In contrast, the M8 has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the M8 was succeeded 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 Panasonic websites.
So what is the bottom line? Is the Leica M8 better than the Panasonic FZ300 or vice versa? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Arguments in favor of the Leica M8:
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (21 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
- Richer colors: Generates images with noticeably better colors (1.8 bits more color depth).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (2.8 stops ISO advantage).
- Brighter framing: Features an optical viewfinder for clear, lag-free composition.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- More flexible: Accepts interchangeable lenses, so that lens characteristics can be altered.
- 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).
Reasons to prefer the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ300:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (12 vs 10.4MP), which boosts linear resolution by 6%.
- Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 4K/30p video.
- More framing info: Has an electronic viewfinder that displays shooting data.
- 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 (1040k vs 230k dots).
- More flexible LCD: Has a swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
- Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
- More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (12 vs 2 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Less disturbing: Has an electronic shutter option for completely silent shooting.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- Ready to shoot: Has an integrated lens, whereas the M8 necessitates an extra lens.
- Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
- Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
- Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
- Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
- Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
- More affordable: Was introduced at a lower price, despite coming with a built-in lens.
- More modern: Reflects 8 years and 10 months of technical progress since the M8 launch.
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the FZ300 is the clear winner of the contest (19 : 8 points). However, the relevance of individual strengths will vary across photographers, so that you might want to apply your own weighing scheme to the summary points when reflecting and deciding on a new camera. A professional wildlife photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a family photog, and a person interested in architecture has distinct needs from a sports 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 remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the M8 or the FZ300 perform in practice. User reviews that are available, for instance, at amazon can sometimes shed light on these issues, but such feedback is all too often partial, inconsistent, and inaccurate.
This is why expert reviews are important. 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.
|Leica M8||..||+ +||..||..||..||Sep 2006||5,499|
|Panasonic FZ300||+ +||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jul 2015||599|
|Canon SX60||+ +||75/100||4/5||..||4.5/5||Sep 2014||549|
|Canon T3||80/100||69/100||4/5||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2011||449|
|Canon XTi||+ +||+ +||o||4.5/5||4/5||Aug 2006||799|
|Leica M10||..||..||4/5||..||4.5/5||Jan 2017||6,595|
|Leica M Typ 262||..||..||..||..||..||Nov 2015||5,195|
|Leica M9||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||..||Sep 2009||7,999|
|Nikon D3000||+||72/100||4/5||3.5/5||4.5/5||Jul 2009||599|
|Nikon D5000||+ +||75/100||4/5||5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2009||749|
|Nikon D40X||79/100||+ +||4/5||o||4/5||Mar 2007||729|
|Nikon D80||+||+ +||o||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2006||999|
|Panasonic FZ200||+ +||80/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jul 2012||599|
|Panasonic FZ150||+ +||76/100||4/5||5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2011||499|
|Panasonic FZ100||+||..||4.5/5||..||4.5/5||Jul 2010||499|
|Panasonic L10||85/100||+||3.5/5||o||4/5||Aug 2007||599|
|Sony HX400V||+ +||..||4/5||..||4/5||Feb 2014||499|
|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. 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.
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.
Specifications: Leica M8 vs Panasonic FZ300
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 M8||Panasonic FZ300|
|Camera Type||Rangefinder camera||Fixed lens compact camera|
|Camera Lens||Leica M mount lenses||25-600mm f/2.8|
|Launch Date||September 2006||July 2015|
|Launch Price||USD 5,499||USD 599|
|Sensor Specs||Leica M8||Panasonic FZ300|
|Sensor Format||APS-H Sensor||1/2.3" Sensor|
|Sensor Size||27.0 x 18.0 mm||6.17 x 4.55 mm|
|Sensor Area||486 mm2||28.0735 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||32.4 mm||7.7 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||10.4 Megapixels||12 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||3936 x 2630 pixels||4000 x 3000 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||6.84 μm||1.53 μm|
|Pixel Density||2.13 MP/cm2||42.74 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter||no AA filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||160 - 2,500 ISO||100 - 6,400 ISO|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||59||38|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||21.1||19.3|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||11.3||11.0|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||663||97|
|Screen Specs||Leica M8||Panasonic FZ300|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||1440k dots|
|LCD Framing||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||2.5inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||230k dots||1040k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Swivel screen|
|Touch Input||no Touchscreen||Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Leica M8||Panasonic FZ300|
|Focus System||Manual Focus||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||no Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/8000s||1/4000s|
|Continuous Shooting||2 shutter flaps/s||12 shutter flaps/s|
|Electronic Shutter||no E-Shutter||up to 1/16000s|
|Time-Lapse Photography||no Intervalometer||Intervalometer built-in|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||Build-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||no||UHS-I|
|Connectivity Specs||Leica M8||Panasonic FZ300|
|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||Wifi built-in|
|Body Specs||Leica M8||Panasonic FZ300|
|Environmental Sealing||not weather sealed||Weathersealed body|
139 x 80 x 37 mm
(5.5 x 3.1 x 1.5 in)
132 x 92 x 117 mm
(5.2 x 3.6 x 4.6 in)
|Camera Weight||591 g (20.8 oz)||691 g (24.4 oz)|
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