Leica S3 vs V-LUX 4
The Leica S3 and the Leica V-LUX 4 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in September 2018 and September 2012. The S3 is a DSLR, while the V-LUX 4 is a fixed lens compact. The cameras are based on a medium format (S3) and a 1/2.3-inch (V-LUX 4) sensor. The S3 has a resolution of 64 megapixels, whereas the V-LUX 4 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 S3 and the Leica V-LUX 4? 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 S3 and the Leica V-LUX 4 are illustrated 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 dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Leica V-LUX 4 is considerably smaller (43 percent) than the Leica S3. It is worth mentioning in this context that the S3 is splash and dust resistant, while the V-LUX 4 does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the V-LUX 4 has a lens built in, whereas the S3 is an interchangeable lens camera that requires a separate lens. Attaching the latter will add extra weight and bulk to the setup.
The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. 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 S3||160 mm||120 mm||80 mm||1260 g||..||Y||Sep 2018||18,995|
|2.||Leica V-LUX 4||125 mm||87 mm||110 mm||588 g||540||n||Sep 2012||949|
|3.||Canon G1 X Mark II||116 mm||74 mm||66 mm||553 g||240||n||Feb 2014||799|
|4.||Canon G1 X||117 mm||81 mm||65 mm||534 g||250||n||Jan 2012||799|
|5.||Canon SX40||123 mm||92 mm||108 mm||600 g||380||n||Sep 2011||429|
|6.||Leica Q2||130 mm||80 mm||92 mm||718 g||370||Y||Mar 2019||4,995|
|7.||Leica M-E Typ 240||139 mm||80 mm||42 mm||680 g||..||Y||Jun 2019||3,999|
|8.||Leica M10-P||139 mm||80 mm||39 mm||660 g||210||Y||Aug 2018||7,995|
|9.||Leica M10||139 mm||80 mm||39 mm||660 g||210||Y||Jan 2017||6,595|
|10.||Leica S-E Typ 006||160 mm||120 mm||80 mm||1260 g||..||Y||Sep 2014||16,900|
|11.||Leica S Typ 007||160 mm||120 mm||80 mm||1260 g||..||Y||Sep 2014||24,490|
|12.||Leica S Typ 006||160 mm||120 mm||80 mm||1260 g||..||Y||Sep 2012||21,950|
|13.||Leica V-LUX 3||124 mm||81 mm||95 mm||540 g||410||n||Dec 2011||949|
|14.||Leica V-LUX 2||124 mm||80 mm||95 mm||520 g||410||n||Sep 2010||849|
|15.||Leica S2||160 mm||120 mm||80 mm||1410 g||..||Y||Sep 2008||22,995|
|16.||Nikon D6||160 mm||163 mm||92 mm||1270 g||3580||Y||Feb 2020||6,499|
|17.||Sony RX10 IV||133 mm||94 mm||145 mm||1095 g||400||Y||Sep 2017||1,699|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The V-LUX 4 was launched at a lower price than the S3, 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. 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. 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. 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 tend to be more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Leica S3 features a medium format sensor and the Leica V-LUX 4 a 1/2.3-inch sensor. The sensor area in the V-LUX 4 is 98 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 0.8 and 5.6. The sensor in the S3 has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the V-LUX 4 offers a 4:3 aspect.
With 64MP, the S3 offers a higher resolution than the V-LUX 4 (12MP), but the S3 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.59μm versus 1.53μm for the V-LUX 4) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the S3 is a much more recent model (by 6 years) than the V-LUX 4, 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 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 Leica S3 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the S3 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 49 x 32.7 inches or 124.5 x 83 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 39.2 x 26.1 inches or 99.6 x 66.4 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 32.7 x 21.8 inches or 83 x 55.3 cm. The corresponding values for the Leica V-LUX 4 are 20 x 15 inches or 50.8 x 38.1 cm for good quality, 16 x 12 inches or 40.6 x 30.5 cm for very good quality, and 13.3 x 10 inches or 33.9 x 25.4 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Leica S3 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 50000. The corresponding ISO settings for the Leica V-LUX 4 are ISO 100 to ISO 3200, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-6400.
For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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 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 S3||Medium Format||64.0||9800||6533||4K/24p||..||..||..||..|
|2.||Leica V-LUX 4||1/2.3||12.0||4000||3000||1080/60p||..||..||..||..|
|3.||Canon G1 X Mark II||1.5-inch||13.0||4160||3120||1080/30p||21.5||10.8||581||58|
|4.||Canon G1 X||1.5-inch||14.2||4352||3264||1080/24p||21.7||10.8||644||60|
|6.||Leica Q2||Full Frame||46.7||8368||5584||4K/30p||26.4||13.5||2491||96|
|7.||Leica M-E Typ 240||Full Frame||23.7||5952||3976||1080/25p||..||..||..||..|
|8.||Leica M10-P||Full Frame||23.8||5952||3992||none||..||..||..||..|
|9.||Leica M10||Full Frame||23.8||5952||3992||none||24.4||13.2||2133||86|
|10.||Leica S-E Typ 006||Medium Format||37.5||7500||5000||none||..||..||..||..|
|11.||Leica S Typ 007||Medium Format||37.5||7500||5000||4K/24p||..||..||..||..|
|12.||Leica S Typ 006||Medium Format||37.5||7500||5000||none||23.9||12.2||824||76|
|13.||Leica V-LUX 3||1/2.3||12.0||4000||3000||1080/60p||..||..||..||..|
|14.||Leica V-LUX 2||1/2.3||14.0||4320||3240||1080/60i||..||..||..||..|
|15.||Leica S2||Medium Format||37.5||7500||5000||none||..||..||..||..|
|16.||Nikon D6||Full Frame||20.7||5568||3712||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|17.||Sony RX10 IV||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. Both cameras under consideration have a sensor with sufficiently fast read-out times for moving pictures, but the S3 provides a higher video resolution than the V-LUX 4. It can shoot video footage at 4K/24p, while the V-LUX 4 is limited to 1080/60p.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the V-LUX 4 has an electronic viewfinder (1312k dots), while the S3 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 viewfinder in the V-LUX 4 offers a wider field of view (100%) than the one in the S3 (98%), so that a larger proportion of the captured image is visible in the finder. On the other hand, the viewfinder of the S3 has a higher magnification (0.87x vs 0.46x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Leica S3, the Leica V-LUX 4, and comparable cameras.
|2.||Leica V-LUX 4||1312||n||3.0||460||swivel||n||1/4000s||12.0||Y||Y|
|3.||Canon G1 X Mark II||optional||n||3.0||1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||5.2||Y||Y|
|4.||Canon G1 X||optical||n||3.0||922||Swivel||n||1/4000s||1.9||Y||Y|
|7.||Leica M-E Typ 240||optical||n||3.0||920||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||n||n|
|10.||Leica S-E Typ 006||optical||Y||3.0||922||fixed||n||1/4000s||1.5||n||n|
|11.||Leica S Typ 007||optical||Y||3.0||922||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.5||n||n|
|12.||Leica S Typ 006||optical||Y||3.0||922||fixed||n||1/4000s||1.5||n||n|
|13.||Leica V-LUX 3||202||n||3.0||460||swivel||n||1/2000s||12.0||Y||Y|
|14.||Leica V-LUX 2||202||n||3.0||460||swivel||n||1/2000s||11.0||Y||Y|
|17.||Sony RX10 IV||2359||Y||3.0||1440||tilting||Y||1/2000s||24.0||Y||Y|
One feature that is present on the S3, but is missing on the V-LUX 4 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 V-LUX 4 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 S3 does not have a selfie-screen.
The S3 writes its imaging data to Compact Flash or SDXC cards, while the V-LUX 4 uses SDXC cards. The S3 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the V-LUX 4 only has one slot. The S3 supports UHS-II cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 312 MB/s), while the V-LUX 4 can use UHS-I cards (up to 104 MB/s).
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 S3 and Leica V-LUX 4 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|2.||Leica V-LUX 4||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|3.||Canon G1 X Mark II||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|4.||Canon G1 X||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|7.||Leica M-E Typ 240||Y||mono||-||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|10.||Leica S-E Typ 006||Y||-||-||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|11.||Leica S Typ 007||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||Y||-||-|
|12.||Leica S Typ 006||Y||-||-||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|13.||Leica V-LUX 3||Y||stereo||-||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|14.||Leica V-LUX 2||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|17.||Sony RX10 IV||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
It is notable that the S3 offers wifi support, while the V-LUX 4 does not. Wifi can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location.
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Leica S3 (unlike the V-LUX 4) 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 S3 has an internal geolocalization sensor and can record GPS coordinates in its EXIF data.
The S3 is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Leica. In contrast, the V-LUX 4 has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the V-LUX 4 was succeeded by the Leica V-LUX Typ 114. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Leica website.
So what is the bottom line? Is there a clear favorite between the Leica S3 and the Leica V-LUX 4? Which camera is better? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Reasons to prefer the Leica S3:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (64 vs 12MP) with a 136% higher linear resolution.
- 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 1080/60p).
- Better sound control: Has a headphone port that enables audio monitoring while recording.
- Brighter framing: Features an optical viewfinder for clear, lag-free composition.
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.87x vs 0.46x).
- 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).
- More flexible: Can take a variety of interchangeable lenses, including specialty optics.
- 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 a more advanced SD data transfer standard (UHS-II vs UHS-I).
- More modern: Reflects 6 years of technical progress since the V-LUX 4 launch.
Arguments in favor of the Leica V-LUX 4:
- More framing info: Has an electronic viewfinder that displays shooting data.
- More complete view: Has a viewfinder with a larger field of view (100% vs 98%).
- More flexible LCD: Has a swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
- More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (12 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Ready to shoot: Comes with an integrated lens, while the S3 requires a separate lens.
- More compact: Is smaller (125x87mm vs 160x120mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight even though it has a lens built in (unlike the S3).
- 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.
- More affordable: Was introduced at a lower price, despite coming with a built-in lens.
- More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in September 2012).
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the S3 is the clear winner of the match-up (20 : 12 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 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 S3 and the Leica V-LUX 4 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera and Best Superzoom 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 says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the S3 and the V-LUX 4 in practical situations. 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 where reviews by experts come in. 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 S3||..||..||..||..||..||Sep 2018||18,995|
|2.||Leica V-LUX 4||..||..||..||..||..||Sep 2012||949|
|3.||Canon G1 X Mark II||3/5||+||77/100||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2014||799|
|4.||Canon G1 X||5/5||+||76/100||4/5||4.5/5||Jan 2012||799|
|5.||Canon SX40||..||+||..||4.5/5||4/5||Sep 2011||429|
|6.||Leica Q2||..||..||84/100||4.5/5||4/5||Mar 2019||4,995|
|7.||Leica M-E Typ 240||..||..||..||..||..||Jun 2019||3,999|
|8.||Leica M10-P||..||..||..||..||4/5||Aug 2018||7,995|
|9.||Leica M10||4.5/5||..||..||4/5||4.5/5||Jan 2017||6,595|
|10.||Leica S-E Typ 006||..||..||..||..||..||Sep 2014||16,900|
|11.||Leica S Typ 007||4/5||..||..||..||..||Sep 2014||24,490|
|12.||Leica S Typ 006||..||..||..||..||..||Sep 2012||21,950|
|13.||Leica V-LUX 3||..||..||..||..||..||Dec 2011||949|
|14.||Leica V-LUX 2||..||..||..||..||..||Sep 2010||849|
|15.||Leica S2||..||..||..||..||..||Sep 2008||22,995|
|16.||Nikon D6||..||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2020||6,499|
|17.||Sony RX10 IV||5/5||+||84/100||4.5/5||5/5||Sep 2017||1,699|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The above review scores should be interpreted with care, 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, 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? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just use the search menu below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.
Specifications: Leica S3 vs Leica V-LUX 4
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 S3||Leica V-LUX 4|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Fixed lens compact camera|
|Camera Lens||Leica S mount lenses||25-600mm f/2.8|
|Launch Date||September 2018||September 2012|
|Launch Price||USD 18,995||USD 949|
|Sensor Specs||Leica S3||Leica V-LUX 4|
|Sensor Format||Medium Format Sensor||1/2.3" Sensor|
|Sensor Size||45.0 x 30.0 mm||6.17 x 4.55 mm|
|Sensor Area||1350 mm2||28.0735 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||54.1 mm||7.7 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||64 Megapixels||12 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||9800 x 6533 pixels||4000 x 3000 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.59 μm||1.53 μm|
|Pixel Density||4.74 MP/cm2||42.74 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter||no AA filter|
|Movie Capability||4K/24p Video||1080/60p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 50,000 ISO||100 - 3,200 ISO|
|ISO Boost||no Enhancement||100 - 6,400 ISO|
|Screen Specs||Leica S3||Leica V-LUX 4|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||98%||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||1312k dots|
|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||Swivel screen|
|Shooting Specs||Leica S3||Leica V-LUX 4|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||Focus Peaking||no Peaking Feature|
|Continuous Shooting||3 shutter flaps/s||12 shutter flaps/s|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||Built-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||CF or SDXC cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Dual card slots||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||UHS-II||UHS-I|
|Connectivity Specs||Leica S3||Leica V-LUX 4|
|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||External MIC port|
|Headphone Socket||Headphone port||no Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||no Wifi|
|Geotagging||GPS built-in||no internal GPS|
|Body Specs||Leica S3||Leica V-LUX 4|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||not weather sealed|
160 x 120 x 80 mm
(6.3 x 4.7 x 3.1 in)
125 x 87 x 110 mm
(4.9 x 3.4 x 4.3 in)
|Camera Weight||1260 g (44.4 oz)||588 g (20.7 oz)|
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