Leica M8 vs Sony RX100 III
The Leica M8 and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 III are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in September 2006 and May 2014. The M8 is a rangefinder-style mirrorless camera, while the RX100 III is a fixed lens compact. The cameras are based on an APS-H (M8) and an one-inch (RX100 III) sensor. The Leica has a resolution of 10.4 megapixels, whereas the Sony provides 20 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
|Leica M8||Sony RX100 III|
|Rangefinder camera||Fixed lens compact camera|
|Leica M mount lenses||24-70mm f/1.8-2.8|
|10.4 MP, APS-H Sensor||20 MP, 1" Sensor|
|no Video||1080/60p Video|
|ISO 160-2500||ISO 100-12800 (80-25600)|
|Optical viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder (1440k dots)|
|2.5" LCD, 230k dots||3.0" LCD, 1229k dots|
|Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)||Tilting screen (not touch-sensitive)|
|2 shutter flaps per second||10 shutter flaps per second|
|139 x 80 x 37 mm, 591 g||102 x 58 x 41 mm, 290 g|
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Leica M8 and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 III? 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 RX100 III 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 RX100 III 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 RX100 III is considerably smaller (47 percent) than the Leica M8. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the M8 nor the RX100 III are weather-sealed.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the RX100 III 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 RX100 III 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. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, just click on the right or left arrow next to the camera that you would like to inspect. Alternatively, you can also use the CAM-parator to select your camera combination among a larger number of options.
|Leica M8»||5.5 in||3.1 in||1.5 in||20.8 oz||..||n||Sep 2006||5,499||Leica M8|
|Sony RX100 III«||4.0 in||2.3 in||1.6 in||10.2 oz||320||n||May 2014||799||Sony RX100 III|
|Canon G7 X« »||4.1 in||2.4 in||1.6 in||10.7 oz||210||n||Sep 2014||699||Canon G7 X|
|Canon T3« »||5.1 in||3.9 in||3.1 in||17.5 oz||700||n||Feb 2011||449||Canon T3|
|Canon XTi« »||5.0 in||3.3 in||2.6 in||19.6 oz||370||n||Aug 2006||799||Canon XTi|
|Leica M10« »||5.5 in||3.1 in||1.5 in||23.3 oz||210||Y||Jan 2017||6,595||Leica M10|
|Leica M Typ 262« »||5.5 in||3.1 in||1.7 in||24.0 oz||..||Y||Nov 2015||5,195||Leica M Typ 262|
|Leica M9« »||5.5 in||3.1 in||1.5 in||20.6 oz||..||n||Sep 2009||7,999||Leica M9|
|Nikon D3000« »||5.0 in||3.8 in||2.5 in||18.9 oz||500||n||Jul 2009||599||Nikon D3000|
|Nikon D5000« »||5.0 in||4.1 in||3.1 in||20.8 oz||510||n||Apr 2009||749||Nikon D5000|
|Nikon D40X« »||4.9 in||3.7 in||2.5 in||18.4 oz||520||n||Mar 2007||729||Nikon D40X|
|Nikon D80« »||5.2 in||4.1 in||3.0 in||23.6 oz||600||n||Aug 2006||999||Nikon D80|
|Panasonic L10« »||5.3 in||3.8 in||3.1 in||19.6 oz||450||n||Aug 2007||599||Panasonic L10|
|Sony RX100 VII« »||4.0 in||2.3 in||1.7 in||10.7 oz||260||n||Jul 2019||1,199||Sony RX100 VII|
|Sony RX100 IV« »||4.0 in||2.3 in||1.6 in||10.5 oz||280||n||Jun 2015||999||Sony RX100 IV|
|Sony RX100 II« »||4.0 in||2.3 in||1.5 in||9.9 oz||350||n||Jun 2013||749||Sony RX100 II|
|Sony RX100« »||4.0 in||2.3 in||1.4 in||8.5 oz||330||n||Jun 2012||649||Sony RX100|
|Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. The manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. The RX100 III 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 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. 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 more expensive and 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 RX100 III an one-inch sensor. The sensor area in the RX100 III is 76 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.3 and 2.7. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
Despite having a smaller sensor, the RX100 III offers a higher resolution of 20 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 2.41μm versus 6.84μm for the M8). However, it should be noted that the RX100 III is much more recent (by 7 years and 8 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 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 RX100 III implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the RX100 III for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 27.4 x 18.2 inch or 69.5 x 46.3 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 21.9 x 14.6 inch or 55.6 x 37.1 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 18.2 x 12.2 inch or 46.3 x 30.9 cm. The corresponding values for the Leica M8 are 19.7 x 13.2 inch or 50 x 33.4 cm for good quality, 15.7 x 10.5 inch or 40 x 26.7 cm for very good quality, and 13.1 x 8.8 inch 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-RX100 III are ISO 100 to ISO 12800, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 80-25600.
For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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"). Of the two cameras under consideration, the RX100 III has a markedly higher DXO score than the M8 (overall score 8 points higher), which will translate into better image quality. The advantage is based on 1.3 bits higher color depth, 1 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.4 stops of reduced low light sensitivity. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.
|Leica M8||APS-H||10.4||3936||2630||none||21.1||11.3||663||59||Leica M8|
|Sony RX100 III||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||22.4||12.3||495||67||Sony RX100 III|
|Canon G7 X||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||23.0||12.7||556||71||Canon G7 X|
|Canon T3||APS-C||12.2||4272||2848||720/30p||21.9||11.0||755||62||Canon T3|
|Canon XTi||APS-C||10.1||3888||2592||none||22.1||11.0||664||62||Canon XTi|
|Leica M10||Full Frame||23.8||5952||3992||none||24.4||13.2||2133||86||Leica M10|
|Leica M Typ 262||Full Frame||23.7||5952||3976||none||..||..||..||..||Leica M Typ 262|
|Leica M9||Full Frame||18.1||5212||3472||none||22.5||11.7||884||69||Leica M9|
|Nikon D3000||APS-C||10.0||3872||2592||none||22.3||11.1||563||62||Nikon D3000|
|Nikon D5000||APS-C||12.2||4288||2848||720/24p||22.7||12.5||868||72||Nikon D5000|
|Nikon D40X||APS-C||10.0||3872||2592||none||22.4||11.4||516||63||Nikon D40X|
|Nikon D80||APS-C||10.0||3872||2592||none||22.1||11.2||524||61||Nikon D80|
|Panasonic L10||Four Thirds||10.0||3648||2736||none||21.3||10.8||429||55||Panasonic L10|
|Sony RX100 VII||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||4K/30p||21.8||12.4||418||63||Sony RX100 VII|
|Sony RX100 IV||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||4K/30p||22.8||12.6||591||70||Sony RX100 IV|
|Sony RX100 II||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||22.5||12.4||483||67||Sony RX100 II|
|Sony RX100||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||22.6||12.4||390||66||Sony RX100|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The RX100 III indeed provides for movie recording, while the M8 does not. The highest resolution format that the RX100 III can use is 1080/60p.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the RX100 III 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 table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Leica M8 and Sony RX100 III in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|Leica M8||optical||n||2.5||230||fixed||n||1/8000s||2.0||n||n||Leica M8|
|Sony RX100 III||1440||n||3.0||1229||tilting||n||1/2000s||10.0||Y||Y||Sony RX100 III|
|Canon G7 X||none||n||3.0||1040||tilting||Y||1/2000s||6.5||Y||Y||Canon G7 X|
|Canon T3||optical||n||2.7||230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n||Canon T3|
|Canon XTi||optical||n||2.5||230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n||Canon XTi|
|Leica M10||optical||n||3.0||1037||fixed||n||1/4000s||5.0||n||n||Leica M10|
|Leica M Typ 262||optical||n||3.0||921||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||n||n||Leica M Typ 262|
|Leica M9||optical||n||2.5||230||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.0||n||n||Leica M9|
|Nikon D3000||optical||n||3.0||230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n||Nikon D3000|
|Nikon D5000||optical||n||2.7||230||full-flex||n||1/4000s||4.0||Y||n||Nikon D5000|
|Nikon D40X||optical||n||2.5||230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n||Nikon D40X|
|Nikon D80||optical||n||2.5||230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n||Nikon D80|
|Panasonic L10||optical||n||2.5||207||swivel||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n||Panasonic L10|
|Sony RX100 VII||2359||n||3.0||921||tilting||Y||1/2000s||90.0||Y||Y||Sony RX100 VII|
|Sony RX100 IV||2359||n||3.0||1228||tilting||n||1/2000s||16.0||Y||Y||Sony RX100 IV|
|Sony RX100 II||optional||n||3.0||1229||tilting||n||1/2000s||10.0||Y||Y||Sony RX100 II|
|Sony RX100||none||n||3.0||1229||fixed||n||1/2000s||10.0||Y||Y||Sony RX100|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The RX100 III has one, while the M8 does not. While the built-in flash of the RX100 III is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.The RX100 III 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 M8 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the RX100 III uses SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards. The RX100 III 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 Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 III and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
|Leica M8||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Leica M8|
|Sony RX100 III||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-||Sony RX100 III|
|Canon G7 X||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-||Canon G7 X|
|Canon T3||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Canon T3|
|Canon XTi||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Canon XTi|
|Leica M10||Y||none||none||-||-||none||none||Y||-||-||Leica M10|
|Leica M Typ 262||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Leica M Typ 262|
|Leica M9||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Leica M9|
|Nikon D3000||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D3000|
|Nikon D5000||Y||mono||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D5000|
|Nikon D40X||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D40X|
|Nikon D80||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D80|
|Panasonic L10||Y||none||none||-||-||none||2.0||-||-||-||Panasonic L10|
|Sony RX100 VII||-||stereo||mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||Y||Sony RX100 VII|
|Sony RX100 IV||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-||Sony RX100 IV|
|Sony RX100 II||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-||Sony RX100 II|
|Sony RX100||-||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||-||-||-||Sony RX100|
It is notable that the M8 has a hotshoe, while the RX100 III does not. This socket makes it possible to easily attach optional accessories, such as an external flash gun.
Both the M8 and the RX100 III have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The M8 was replaced by the Leica M9, while the RX100 III was followed by the Sony RX100 IV. 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.
So what is the bottom line? Which of the two cameras – the Leica M8 or the Sony RX100 III – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Reasons to prefer 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 (0.4 stops ISO advantage).
- Brighter framing: Features an optical viewfinder for clear, lag-free composition.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/2000s) to freeze action.
- More flexible: Accepts interchangeable lenses, so that lens characteristics can be altered.
- Better lighting: Features a hotshoe and can thus hold and trigger an external flash gun.
- 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).
Advantages of the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 III:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (20 vs 10.4MP), which boosts linear resolution by 39%.
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (8 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (1.3 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (1 EV of extra DR).
- Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 1080/60p 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 (1229k vs 230k dots).
- More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
- More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (10 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 (102x58mm 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.
- 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.
- Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
- 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 7 years and 8 months of technical progress since the M8 launch.
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the RX100 III is the clear winner of the contest (22 : 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 RX100 III 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.
This is where reviews by experts come in. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major 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.
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. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, 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 would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just make your choice using the following search menu. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.
- Canon 1D C vs Leica M8
- Canon 2000D vs Leica M8
- Canon 5D Mark II vs Sony RX100 III
- Canon M6 vs Leica M8
- Canon T6s vs Leica M8
- Fujifilm X-A5 vs Leica M8
- Fujifilm X100 vs Leica M8
- Leica M8 vs Panasonic FZ150
- Leica M8 vs Sony HX350
- Nikon A1000 vs Sony RX100 III
- Nikon Z7 vs Sony RX100 III
- Panasonic FZ1000 II vs Sony RX100 III
Specifications: Leica M8 vs Sony RX100 III
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 RX100 III|
|Camera Type||Rangefinder camera||Fixed lens compact camera|
|Camera Lens||Leica M mount lenses||24-70mm f/1.8-2.8|
|Launch Date||September 2006||May 2014|
|Launch Price||USD 5499||USD 799|
|Sensor Specs||Leica M8||Sony RX100 III|
|Sensor Format||APS-H Sensor||1" Sensor|
|Sensor Size||27.0 x 18.0 mm||13.2 x 8.8 mm|
|Sensor Area||486 mm2||116.16 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||32.4 mm||15.9 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||10.4 Megapixels||20 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||3936 x 2630 pixels||5472 x 3648 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||6.84 μm||2.41 μm|
|Pixel Density||2.13 MP/cm2||17.18 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||1080/60p Video|
|ISO Setting||160-2500 ISO||100-12800 ISO|
|ISO Boost||no Enhancement||80-25600 ISO|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||59||67|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||21.1||22.4|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||11.3||12.3|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||663||495|
|Screen Specs||Leica M8||Sony RX100 III|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||1440k dots|
|LCD Framing||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||2.5 inch||3.0 inch|
|LCD Resolution||230k dots||1229k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Tilting screen|
|Shooting Specs||Leica M8||Sony RX100 III|
|Focus System||Manual Focus||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||No Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/8000/s||1/2000/s|
|Continuous Shooting||2 shutter flaps/s||10 shutter flaps/s|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board 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||UHS-I|
|Connectivity Specs||Leica M8||Sony RX100 III|
|External Flash||Hotshoe||no Hotshoe|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||no HDMI||micro HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||Wifi built-in|
|Near-Field Communication||no NFC||NFC built-in|
|Body Specs||Leica M8||Sony RX100 III|
|In-Camera Charging||no USB charging||USB charging|
139 x 80 x 37 mm
(5.5 x 3.1 x 1.5 in)
102 x 58 x 41 mm
(4.0 x 2.3 x 1.6 in)
|Camera Weight||591 g (20.8 oz)||290 g (10.2 oz)|
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