Leica S Typ 007 vs Olympus E-PL3
The Leica S (Typ 007) and the Olympus PEN E-PL3 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in September 2014 and June 2011. The S Typ 007 is a DSLR, while the E-PL3 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on a medium format (S Typ 007) and a Four Thirds (E-PL3) sensor. The Leica has a resolution of 37.5 megapixels, whereas the Olympus provides 12.2 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 S (Typ 007) and the Olympus PEN E-PL3? 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.
An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Leica S Typ 007 and the Olympus E-PL3 is provided in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The E-PL3 can be obtained in four different colors (black, silver, red, white), while the S Typ 007 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 Olympus E-PL3 is considerably smaller (63 percent) than the Leica S Typ 007. Moreover, the E-PL3 is substantially lighter (75 percent) than the S Typ 007. It is worth mentioning in this context that the S Typ 007 is splash and dust resistant, while the E-PL3 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. Hence, you might want to study and compare the specifications of available lenses in order to get the full picture of the size and weight of the two camera systems.
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.
|1.||Leica S Typ 007||160 mm||120 mm||80 mm||1260 g||..||Y||Sep 2014||24,490|
|2.||Olympus E-PL3||110 mm||64 mm||37 mm||313 g||300||n||Jun 2011||599|
|3.||Leica S3||160 mm||120 mm||80 mm||1260 g||..||Y||Sep 2018||18,995|
|4.||Leica M Typ 262||139 mm||80 mm||42 mm||680 g||..||Y||Nov 2015||5,195|
|5.||Leica SL||147 mm||104 mm||39 mm||847 g||400||Y||Oct 2015||7,450|
|6.||Leica S-E Typ 006||160 mm||120 mm||80 mm||1260 g||..||Y||Sep 2014||16,900|
|7.||Leica S Typ 006||160 mm||120 mm||80 mm||1260 g||..||Y||Sep 2012||21,950|
|8.||Leica S2||160 mm||120 mm||80 mm||1410 g||..||Y||Sep 2008||22,995|
|9.||Nikon D4S||160 mm||157 mm||91 mm||1350 g||3020||Y||Feb 2014||6,499|
|10.||Nikon D810||146 mm||123 mm||82 mm||980 g||1200||Y||Jun 2014||3,299|
|11.||Olympus E-PL5||111 mm||64 mm||38 mm||325 g||360||n||Sep 2012||599|
|12.||Olympus E-P3||122 mm||69 mm||34 mm||369 g||330||n||Jun 2011||799|
|13.||Olympus E-PL2||114 mm||72 mm||42 mm||362 g||280||n||Jan 2011||599|
|14.||Olympus E-PM1||110 mm||64 mm||34 mm||265 g||330||n||Jun 2011||499|
|15.||Olympus E-PL1||115 mm||72 mm||42 mm||334 g||290||n||Feb 2010||599|
|16.||Pentax 645D||156 mm||117 mm||119 mm||1480 g||800||Y||Mar 2010||9,995|
|17.||Sony A7R||127 mm||94 mm||48 mm||465 g||340||Y||Oct 2013||2,299|
|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 listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The E-PL3 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 98 percent) than the S Typ 007, which puts it into a different market segment. 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 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. 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 S Typ 007 features a medium format sensor and the Olympus E-PL3 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the E-PL3 is 83 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 0.8 and 2.0. The sensor in the S Typ 007 has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the E-PL3 offers a 4:3 aspect.
With 37.5MP, the S Typ 007 offers a higher resolution than the E-PL3 (12.2MP), but the S Typ 007 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 6.00μm versus 4.29μm for the E-PL3) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the S Typ 007 is a much more recent model (by 3 years and 2 months) than the E-PL3, and its sensor will 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 S Typ 007 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.
The resolution advantage of the Leica S Typ 007 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the S Typ 007 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 37.5 x 25 inches or 95.3 x 63.5 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 30 x 20 inches or 76.2 x 50.8 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 25 x 16.7 inches or 63.5 x 42.3 cm. The corresponding values for the Olympus E-PL3 are 20.2 x 15.1 inches or 51.2 x 38.4 cm for good quality, 16.1 x 12.1 inches or 41 x 30.7 cm for very good quality, and 13.4 x 10.1 inches or 34.1 x 25.6 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Leica S (Typ 007) has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 6400. The corresponding ISO settings for the Olympus PEN E-PL3 are ISO 200 to ISO 12800 (no boost).
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"). The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.
| DXO |
|1.||Leica S Typ 007||Medium Format||37.5||7500||5000||4K/24p||..||..||..||..|
|2.||Olympus E-PL3||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||20.9||10.3||499||52|
|3.||Leica S3||Medium Format||64.0||9800||6533||4K/24p||..||..||..||..|
|4.||Leica M Typ 262||Full Frame||23.7||5952||3976||none||..||..||..||..|
|5.||Leica SL||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||25.0||13.4||1821||88|
|6.||Leica S-E Typ 006||Medium Format||37.5||7500||5000||none||..||..||..||..|
|7.||Leica S Typ 006||Medium Format||37.5||7500||5000||none||23.9||12.2||824||76|
|8.||Leica S2||Medium Format||37.5||7500||5000||none||..||..||..||..|
|9.||Nikon D4S||Full Frame||16.2||4928||3280||1080/60p||24.4||13.3||3074||89|
|10.||Nikon D810||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/60p||25.7||14.8||2853||97|
|11.||Olympus E-PL5||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.8||12.3||889||72|
|12.||Olympus E-P3||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||20.8||10.1||536||51|
|13.||Olympus E-PL2||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.4||10.2||573||55|
|14.||Olympus E-PM1||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||1080/60i||21.0||10.3||499||52|
|15.||Olympus E-PL1||Four Thirds||12.2||4032||3024||720/30p||21.5||10.1||487||54|
|16.||Pentax 645D||Medium Format||39.5||7264||5440||none||24.6||12.6||1262||82|
|17.||Sony A7R||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/60p||25.6||14.1||2746||95|
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. Both cameras under consideration have a sensor with sufficiently fast read-out times for moving pictures, but the S Typ 007 provides a higher video resolution than the E-PL3. It can shoot video footage at 4K/24p, while the Olympus is limited to 1080/60i.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the S Typ 007 has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the E-PL3 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. That said, the E-PL3 can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the VF-2. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Leica S Typ 007 and Olympus E-PL3 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|1.||Leica S Typ 007||optical||Y||3.0||922||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.5||n||n|
|4.||Leica M Typ 262||optical||n||3.0||921||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||n||n|
|6.||Leica S-E Typ 006||optical||Y||3.0||922||fixed||n||1/4000s||1.5||n||n|
|7.||Leica S Typ 006||optical||Y||3.0||922||fixed||n||1/4000s||1.5||n||n|
One feature that is present on the S Typ 007, but is missing on the E-PL3 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 E-PL3 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 S Typ 007 does not have a selfie-screen.
The S Typ 007 writes its imaging data to Compact Flash or SDXC cards, while the E-PL3 uses SDXC cards. The S Typ 007 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the E-PL3 only has one slot. The S Typ 007 supports UHS-II cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 312 MB/s), while the E-PL3 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 S (Typ 007) and Olympus PEN E-PL3 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|1.||Leica S Typ 007||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||Y||-||-|
|4.||Leica M Typ 262||Y||-||-||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|6.||Leica S-E Typ 006||Y||-||-||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|7.||Leica S Typ 006||Y||-||-||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
It is notable that the S Typ 007 has a microphone port, which is missing on the E-PL3. Such an external microphone input can help to substantially improve the quality of audio recordings when a good external microphone is used.
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Leica S Typ 007 (unlike the E-PL3) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Travel and landscape photographers will find it useful that the S Typ 007 has an internal geolocalization sensor and can record GPS coordinates in its EXIF data.
Both the S Typ 007 and the E-PL3 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The E-PL3 was replaced by the Olympus E-PL5, while the S Typ 007 was followed by the Leica S3. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Leica and Olympus websites.
So what conclusions can be drawn? Is the Leica S Typ 007 better than the Olympus E-PL3 or vice versa? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Advantages of the Leica S (Typ 007):
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (37.5 vs 12.2MP) with a 79% higher linear resolution.
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- Better image quality: Features a larger and more technologically advanced imaging sensor.
- Richer colors: The sensor size advantage translates into images with better, more accurate colors.
- More dynamic range: Larger sensor captures a wider spectrum of light and dark details.
- Better low-light sensitivity: Larger sensor produces good images even in poorly lit environments.
- Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/24p vs 1080/60i).
- Better sound: Can connect to an external microphone for higher quality sound recording.
- Better sound control: Has a headphone port that enables audio monitoring while recording.
- Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
- Easier setting verification: Features an LCD display on top to control shooting parameters.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (922k vs 460k dots).
- Better sealing: Is weather sealed to enable shooting in dusty or wet environments.
- Easier geotagging: Features an internal GPS sensor to log localization data.
- Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (3.0 vs 2.0).
- Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
- 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.
- Faster buffer clearing: Supports Ultra High Speed (UHS-II) SDXC cards.
- More prestigious: Has the Leica luxury appeal, which ensures a high resale price.
- More modern: Reflects 3 years and 2 months of technical progress since the E-PL3 launch.
Reasons to prefer the Olympus PEN E-PL3:
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- 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 (5.5 vs 3.5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More compact: Is smaller (110x64mm vs 160x120mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 947g or 75 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
- More legacy lens friendly: Can use many non-native lenses via adapters.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (98 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in June 2011).
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the S Typ 007 is the clear winner of the match-up (21 : 10 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.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Leica S Typ 007 and the Olympus E-PL3 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera and Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera listings whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the S Typ 007 or the E-PL3. 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 expert reviews are important. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera 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.
|1.||Leica S Typ 007||4/5||..||..||..||..||Sep 2014||24,490|
|2.||Olympus E-PL3||3/5||+ +||72/100||4.5/5||4/5||Jun 2011||599|
|3.||Leica S3||..||..||..||..||..||Sep 2018||18,995|
|4.||Leica M Typ 262||..||..||..||..||..||Nov 2015||5,195|
|5.||Leica SL||4/5||..||84/100||4.5/5||4/5||Oct 2015||7,450|
|6.||Leica S-E Typ 006||..||..||..||..||..||Sep 2014||16,900|
|7.||Leica S Typ 006||..||..||..||..||..||Sep 2012||21,950|
|8.||Leica S2||..||..||..||..||..||Sep 2008||22,995|
|9.||Nikon D4S||5/5||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2014||6,499|
|10.||Nikon D810||5/5||..||86/100||5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2014||3,299|
|11.||Olympus E-PL5||3/5||+ +||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||599|
|12.||Olympus E-P3||..||83/100||74/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2011||799|
|13.||Olympus E-PL2||3/5||83/100||71/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2011||599|
|14.||Olympus E-PM1||..||86/100||71/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2011||499|
|15.||Olympus E-PL1||..||86/100||69/100||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2010||599|
|16.||Pentax 645D||5/5||..||..||..||..||Mar 2010||9,995|
|17.||Sony A7R||5/5||+ +||82/100||4.5/5||5/5||Oct 2013||2,299|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.
Other camera comparisons
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Specifications: Leica S Typ 007 vs Olympus E-PL3
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 S Typ 007||Olympus E-PL3|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Leica S mount lenses||Micro Four Thirds lenses|
|Launch Date||September 2014||June 2011|
|Launch Price||USD 24,490||USD 599|
|Sensor Specs||Leica S Typ 007||Olympus E-PL3|
|Sensor Format||Medium Format Sensor||Four Thirds Sensor|
|Sensor Size||45.0 x 30.0 mm||17.3 x 13.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||1350 mm2||224.9 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||54.1 mm||21.6 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||37.5 Megapixels||12.2 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||7500 x 5000 pixels||4032 x 3024 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||6.00 μm||4.29 μm|
|Pixel Density||2.78 MP/cm2||5.42 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||4K/24p Video||1080/60i Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 6,400 ISO||200 - 12,800 ISO|
|Image Processor||Maestro II||Truepic VI|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||..||52|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||..||20.9|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||..||10.3|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||..||499|
|Screen Specs||Leica S Typ 007||Olympus E-PL3|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Viewfinder optional|
|Viewfinder Field of View||98%|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||no Top Display|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||922k dots||460k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Tilting screen|
|Shooting Specs||Leica S Typ 007||Olympus E-PL3|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||Focus Peaking||no Peaking Feature|
|Continuous Shooting||3.5 shutter flaps/s||5.5 shutter flaps/s|
|Image Stabilization||no shake reduction||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||CF or SDXC cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Dual card slots||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||UHS-II||no|
|Connectivity Specs||Leica S Typ 007||Olympus E-PL3|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||no PC Sync|
|USB Connector||USB 3.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||no MIC socket|
|Headphone Socket||Headphone port||no Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||no Wifi|
|Geotagging||GPS built-in||no internal GPS|
|Body Specs||Leica S Typ 007||Olympus E-PL3|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||not weather sealed|
160 x 120 x 80 mm
(6.3 x 4.7 x 3.1 in)
110 x 64 x 37 mm
(4.3 x 2.5 x 1.5 in)
|Camera Weight||1260 g (44.4 oz)||313 g (11.0 oz)|
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