Leica M8 vs Sony RX1
The Leica M8 and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1 are two enthusiast cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in September 2006 and September 2012. The M8 is a rangefinder-focusing mirrorless camera, while the RX1 is a fixed lens compact. The cameras are based on an APS-H (M8) and a full frame (RX1) sensor. The Leica has a resolution of 10.4 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.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Leica M8 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.
The physical size and weight of the Leica M8 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 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 RX1 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 Sony RX1 is considerably smaller (34 percent) than the Leica M8. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the M8 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 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 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 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.
|1.||Leica M8||139 mm||80 mm||37 mm||591 g||..||n||Sep 2006||5,499||ebay.com|
|2.||Sony RX1||113 mm||65 mm||70 mm||482 g||270||n||Sep 2012||2,799||ebay.com|
|3.||Canon T3||130 mm||100 mm||78 mm||495 g||700||n||Feb 2011||449||ebay.com|
|4.||Canon XTi||127 mm||84 mm||65 mm||556 g||370||n||Aug 2006||799||ebay.com|
|5.||Leica M10||139 mm||80 mm||39 mm||660 g||210||Y||Jan 2017||6,595||ebay.com|
|6.||Leica M Typ 262||139 mm||80 mm||42 mm||680 g||..||Y||Nov 2015||5,195||ebay.com|
|7.||Leica M9||139 mm||80 mm||37 mm||585 g||..||n||Sep 2009||7,999||ebay.com|
|8.||Nikon D5300||125 mm||98 mm||76 mm||480 g||600||n||Oct 2013||799||ebay.com|
|9.||Nikon D3000||126 mm||97 mm||64 mm||536 g||500||n||Jul 2009||599||ebay.com|
|10.||Nikon D5000||127 mm||104 mm||80 mm||590 g||510||n||Apr 2009||749||ebay.com|
|11.||Nikon D40X||124 mm||94 mm||64 mm||522 g||520||n||Mar 2007||729||ebay.com|
|12.||Nikon D80||132 mm||103 mm||77 mm||668 g||600||n||Aug 2006||999||ebay.com|
|13.||Panasonic L10||135 mm||96 mm||78 mm||556 g||450||n||Aug 2007||599||ebay.com|
|14.||Sony RX1R II||113 mm||65 mm||72 mm||507 g||220||n||Oct 2015||3,299||amazon.com|
|15.||Sony A3000||128 mm||91 mm||85 mm||411 g||470||n||Aug 2013||329||ebay.com|
|16.||Sony RX1R||113 mm||65 mm||70 mm||482 g||270||n||Jun 2013||2,799||ebay.com|
|17.||Sony NEX-7||120 mm||67 mm||43 mm||400 g||430||n||Aug 2011||1,349||ebay.com|
|Note: 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 listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The RX1 was launched at a lower price than the M8, despite having a lens built in. 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.
The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants of image quality. All other things equal, a large sensor will have larger individual pixel-units that offer better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and 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 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 Sony RX1 a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the RX1 is 75 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.3 and 1.0. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
With 24MP, the RX1 offers a higher resolution than the M8 (10.4MP), but the RX1 has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 5.96μm versus 6.84μm for the M8). Yet, the RX1 is a much more recent model (by 6 years) than the M8, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units. 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 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 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 Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1 are ISO 100 to ISO 25600, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 50-102400.
In terms of underlying technology, the M8 is build around a CCD sensor, while the RX1 uses a CMOS imager. Both cameras use a Bayer filter for capturing RGB colors on a square grid of photosensors. This arrangement is found in most digital cameras.
For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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 consideration, the RX1 offers substantially better image quality than the M8 (overall score 34 points higher). The advantage is based on 4 bits higher color depth, 3 EV in additional dynamic range, and 1.9 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
|2.||Sony RX1||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||25.1||14.3||2534||93|
|5.||Leica M10||Full Frame||23.8||5952||3992||none||24.4||13.2||2133||86|
|6.||Leica M Typ 262||Full Frame||23.7||5952||3976||none||24.8||13.7||2478||90|
|7.||Leica M9||Full Frame||18.1||5212||3472||none||22.5||11.7||884||69|
|13.||Panasonic L10||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.3||10.8||429||55|
|14.||Sony RX1R II||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||1080/60p||25.8||13.9||3204||97|
|16.||Sony RX1R||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||25.0||13.6||2537||91|
|Note: DXO values in italics represent estimates based on sensor size and age.|
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 M8 does not. The highest resolution format that the RX1 can use is 1080/60p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the M8 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 M8, the Sony RX1, and comparable cameras.
|1.||Leica M8||optical||n||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/8000s||2.0/s||n||n|
|2.||Sony RX1||optional||n||3.0 / 1229||fixed||n||1/4000s||5.0/s||Y||n|
|3.||Canon T3||optical||n||2.7 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|4.||Canon XTi||optical||n||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|5.||Leica M10||optical||n||3.0 / 1037||fixed||n||1/4000s||5.0/s||n||n|
|6.||Leica M Typ 262||optical||n||3.0 / 921||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||n||n|
|7.||Leica M9||optical||n||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.0/s||n||n|
|8.||Nikon D5300||optical||n||3.2 / 1037||swivel||n||1/4000s||5.0/s||Y||n|
|9.||Nikon D3000||optical||n||3.0 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|10.||Nikon D5000||optical||n||2.7 / 230||full-flex||n||1/4000s||4.0/s||Y||n|
|11.||Nikon D40X||optical||n||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|12.||Nikon D80||optical||n||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|13.||Panasonic L10||optical||n||2.5 / 207||swivel||n||1/4000s||3.0/s||Y||n|
|14.||Sony RX1R II||2360||n||3.0 / 1229||tilting||n||1/4000s||5.0/s||n||n|
|15.||Sony A3000||202||n||3.0 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.5/s||Y||n|
|16.||Sony RX1R||optional||n||3.0 / 1229||fixed||n||1/4000s||5.0/s||Y||n|
|17.||Sony NEX-7||2359||n||3.0 / 921||tilting||n||1/4000s||10.0/s||Y||n|
|Notes: *) Information refers to the mechanical shutter, unless the camera only has an electronic one.|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The RX1 has one, while the M8 does not. While the built-in flash of the RX1 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.
The M8 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the RX1 uses SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo 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 Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
Mic / Speaker
|1.||Leica M8||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|2.||Sony RX1||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|3.||Canon T3||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|4.||Canon XTi||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|5.||Leica M10||Y||- / -||-||-||-||-||Y||-||-|
|6.||Leica M Typ 262||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|7.||Leica M9||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|8.||Nikon D5300||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||-||-|
|9.||Nikon D3000||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|10.||Nikon D5000||Y||mono / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|11.||Nikon D40X||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|12.||Nikon D80||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|13.||Panasonic L10||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|14.||Sony RX1R II||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|15.||Sony A3000||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|16.||Sony RX1R||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|17.||Sony NEX-7||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
Both the M8 and the RX1 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on ebay. The M8 was replaced by the Leica M9, while the RX1 was followed by the Sony RX1R. Further information on the features and operation of the M8 and RX1 can be found, respectively, in the Leica M8 Manual (free pdf) or the online Sony RX1 Manual.
So how do things add up? Is the Leica M8 better than the Sony RX1 or vice versa? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Reasons to prefer the Leica M8:
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
- 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).
Arguments in favor of the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (24 vs 10.4MP), which boosts linear resolution by 52%.
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (34 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (4 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (3 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (1.9 stops ISO advantage).
- 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 230k dots).
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5 vs 2 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Ready to shoot: Has an integrated lens, whereas the M8 necessitates an extra lens.
- More compact: Is smaller (113x65mm vs 139x80mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight even though it has a lens built in (unlike the M8).
- Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
- Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
- More affordable: Was introduced at a lower price, despite coming with a built-in lens.
- More modern: Reflects 6 years of technical progress since the M8 launch.
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the RX1 is the clear winner of the contest (17 : 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 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.
In any case, while the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the M8 or the RX1. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased.
This is why expert reviews are important. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major 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 M8||..||..||..||+ +||..||..||Sep 2006||5,499||ebay.com|
|2.||Sony RX1||5/5||..||..||79/100||4/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||2,799||ebay.com|
|3.||Canon T3||..||80/100||..||69/100||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2011||449||ebay.com|
|4.||Canon XTi||..||+ +||..||+ +||o||4/5||Aug 2006||799||ebay.com|
|5.||Leica M10||4.5/5||..||..||..||4/5||4.5/5||Jan 2017||6,595||ebay.com|
|6.||Leica M Typ 262||..||..||..||..||..||..||Nov 2015||5,195||ebay.com|
|7.||Leica M9||..||..||..||..||4.5/5||..||Sep 2009||7,999||ebay.com|
|8.||Nikon D5300||4/5||+ +||..||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2013||799||ebay.com|
|9.||Nikon D3000||..||+||..||72/100||4/5||4.5/5||Jul 2009||599||ebay.com|
|10.||Nikon D5000||..||+ +||..||75/100||4/5||4.5/5||Apr 2009||749||ebay.com|
|11.||Nikon D40X||..||79/100||..||+ +||4/5||4/5||Mar 2007||729||ebay.com|
|12.||Nikon D80||..||+||..||+ +||o||4.5/5||Aug 2006||999||ebay.com|
|13.||Panasonic L10||..||85/100||..||+||3.5/5||4/5||Aug 2007||599||ebay.com|
|14.||Sony RX1R II||5/5||..||..||82/100||..||4.5/5||Oct 2015||3,299||amazon.com|
|15.||Sony A3000||3/5||+||..||..||4/5||4/5||Aug 2013||329||ebay.com|
|16.||Sony RX1R||5/5||..||..||..||4/5||4.5/5||Jun 2013||2,799||ebay.com|
|17.||Sony NEX-7||5/5||+ +||..||81/100||4.5/5||5/5||Aug 2011||1,349||ebay.com|
|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 comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just use the search menu 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 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 Model||Leica M8||Sony RX1|
|Camera Type||Rangefinder camera||Fixed lens compact camera|
|Camera Lens||Leica M mount lenses||35mm f/2.0|
|Launch Date||September 2006||September 2012|
|Launch Price||USD 5,499||USD 2,799|
|Sensor Specs||Leica M8||Sony RX1|
|Sensor Format||APS-H Sensor||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||27.0 x 18.0 mm||35.8 x 23.8 mm|
|Sensor Area||486 mm2||852.04 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||32.4 mm||43 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||10.4 Megapixels||24 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||3936 x 2630 pixels||6000 x 4000 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||6.84 μm||5.96 μm|
|Pixel Density||2.13 MP/cm2||2.82 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||1080/60p Video|
|ISO Setting||160 - 2,500 ISO||100 - 25,600 ISO|
|ISO Boost||no Enhancement||50 - 102,400 ISO|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||59||93|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||21.1||25.1|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||11.3||14.3|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||663||2534|
|Screen Specs||Leica M8||Sony RX1|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Viewfinder optional|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%|
|LCD Framing||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||2.5inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||230k dots||1229k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Leica M8||Sony RX1|
|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||5 shutter flaps/s|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||Built-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||MS or SDXC cards|
|Single or Dual Card Slots||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||no||no|
|Connectivity Specs||Leica M8||Sony RX1|
|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 M8||Sony RX1|
|In-Camera Charging||no USB charging||USB charging|
139 x 80 x 37 mm
(5.5 x 3.1 x 1.5 in)
113 x 65 x 70 mm
(4.4 x 2.6 x 2.8 in)
|Camera Weight||591 g (20.8 oz)||482 g (17.0 oz)|
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