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Leica TL vs X Vario

The Leica TL and the Leica X Vario (Typ 107) are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in November 2016 and June 2013. The TL is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, while the X Vario is a fixed lens compact. Both cameras are equipped with an APS-C sensor. Both cameras offer a resolution of 16.1 megapixels.

Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.

Headline Specifications
Leica TL
versus
Leica X Vario
Leica TL   Leica X Vario
Mirrorless system camera Fixed lens compact camera
Leica T mount lenses 28-70mm f/3.5-6.4
16.1 MP, APS-C Sensor 16.1 MP, APS-C Sensor
1080/30p Video 1080/30p Video
ISO 100-12,500 ISO 100-12,500
Viewfinder optional Viewfinder optional
3.7 LCD, 1230k dots 3.0 LCD, 920k dots
Fixed touchscreen Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
5 shutter flaps per second 5 shutter flaps per second
400 shots per battery charge450 shots per battery charge
134 x 69 x 33 mm, 384 g 133 x 73 x 95 mm, 680 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Leica TL and the Leica X Vario (Typ 107)? 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.

Body comparison

The physical size and weight of the Leica TL and the Leica X Vario 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 size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

The TL can be obtained in three different colors (black, silver, titanium), while the X Vario is available in two color-versions (black, silver).

Size Leica TL vs Leica X Vario
Compare TL versus X Vario top
Comparison TL or X Vario rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Leica X Vario is somewhat larger (5 percent) than the Leica TL. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the TL nor the X Vario are weather-sealed.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the X Vario has a lens built in, whereas the TL is an interchangeable lens camera that requires a separate lens. Attaching the latter will add extra weight and bulk to the setup.

The power pack in the TL can be charged via the USB port, so that it is not always necessary to take the battery charger along when travelling.

The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, you can use the CAM-parator app to select your camera combination among a large number of options.

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Body Specifications
    Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
Weather
Sealing
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Leica TL 134 mm 69 mm 33 mm 384 g 400 n Nov 2016 1,695i
2.
 
Leica X Vario 133 mm 73 mm 95 mm 680 g 450 n Jun 2013 2,850i
3.
 
Fujifilm X70 113 mm 64 mm 44 mm 340 g 330 n Jan 2016 799i
4.
 
Fujifilm X-E2S 129 mm 75 mm 37 mm 350 g 350 n Jan 2016 699i
5.
 
Fujifilm X-A2 117 mm 67 mm 40 mm 350 g 410 n Jan 2015 399i
6.
 
Fujifilm X-T10 118 mm 83 mm 41 mm 381 g 350 n May 2015 799i
7.
 
Fujifilm X-Pro1 140 mm 82 mm 43 mm 450 g 300 n Jan 2012 1,699i
8.
 
Leica CL 131 mm 78 mm 45 mm 403 g 220 n Nov 2017 2,795 i
9.
 
Leica TL2 134 mm 69 mm 33 mm 399 g 250 n Jul 2017 1,950 i
10.
 
Leica Q Typ 116 130 mm 80 mm 93 mm 640 g 300 n Jun 2015 4,249i
11.
 
Leica T 134 mm 69 mm 33 mm 384 g 400 n Apr 2014 1,850i
12.
 
Leica X Typ 113 133 mm 73 mm 78 mm 486 g 350 n Sep 2014 2,295i
13.
 
Leica X2 124 mm 69 mm 52 mm 345 g 450 n May 2012 1,995i
14.
 
Nikon Df 144 mm 110 mm 67 mm 760 g 1400 Y Nov 2013 2,749i
15.
 
Panasonic G7 125 mm 86 mm 77 mm 410 g 350 n May 2015 649i
16.
 
Panasonic FZ1000 137 mm 99 mm 131 mm 831 g 360 n Jun 2014 899i
17.
 
Sony RX1R 113 mm 65 mm 70 mm 482 g 270 n Jun 2013 2,799i
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 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. 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.

Sensor comparison

The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants 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 tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.

Both cameras under consideration feature an APS-C sensor and have a format factor (sometimes also referred to as "crop factor") of 1.5. Within the spectrum of camera sensors, this places the review cameras among the medium-sized sensor cameras that aim to strike a balance between image quality and portability. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Leica TL and Leica X Vario sensor measures

The two cameras under review do not only share the same sensor size, but also offer an identical resolution of 16.1 megapixels. This similarity in sensor specs implies that both the TL and the X Vario have the same pixel density, as well as the same pixel size. It should, however, be noted that the TL is much more recent (by 3 years and 4 months) than the X Vario, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the TL has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.

The Leica TL has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 12500. The Leica X Vario (Typ 107) offers exactly the same ISO settings.

TL versus X Vario MP

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. 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.

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Sensor Characteristics
    Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
1.
 
Leica TL APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p........
2.
 
Leica X Vario APS-C 16.1 4928 32721080/30p23.412.7132078
3.
 
Fujifilm X70 APS-C 16.0 4896 32641080/60p........
4.
 
Fujifilm X-E2S APS-C 16.0 4896 32641080/60p........
5.
 
Fujifilm X-A2 APS-C 16.0 4896 32641080/30p........
6.
 
Fujifilm X-T10 APS-C 16.0 4896 32641080/60p........
7.
 
Fujifilm X-Pro1 APS-C 16.0 4896 32641080/24p........
8.
 
Leica CL APS-C 24.1 6014 40144K/30p........
9.
 
Leica TL2 APS-C 24.1 6014 40144K/30p........
10.
 
Leica Q Typ 116 Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.312.7222185
11.
 
Leica T APS-C 16.2 4944 32781080/30p23.012.7108275
12.
 
Leica X Typ 113 APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p........
13.
 
Leica X2 APS-C 16.1 4928 3264none........
14.
 
Nikon Df Full Frame 16.2 4928 3280none24.613.1327989
15.
 
Panasonic G7 Four Thirds 15.8 4592 34484K/30p........
16.
 
Panasonic FZ1000 1-inch 20.0 5472 36484K/30p22.111.751764
17.
 
Sony RX1R Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p25.013.6253791

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, and both provide the same movie specifications (1080/30p).

Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The TL and the X Vario are similar in the sense that neither of the two has a viewfinder. The images are, thus, framed using live view on the rear LCD. However, optional viewfinders – the Visoflex (Typ 020) for the TL and the EVF 2 for the X Vario – are available as accessories. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Leica TL and Leica X Vario in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.

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Core Features
    Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Specifications
(inch/000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Mech
Shutter
Speed
Shutter
Flaps
(1/sec)
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
1.
 
Leica TLoptional n3.7 / 1230 fixed Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
2.
 
Leica X Variooptional n3.0 / 920 fixed n 1/2000s 5.0 Y n
3.
 
Fujifilm X70optional n3.0 / 1040 tilting Y 1/4000s 8.0 Y n
4.
 
Fujifilm X-E2S2360 n3.0 / 1040 fixed n 1/4000s 7.0 Y n
5.
 
Fujifilm X-A2none n3.0 / 920 tilting n 1/4000s 5.6 Y n
6.
 
Fujifilm X-T102360 n3.0 / 920 tilting n 1/4000s 8.0 Y n
7.
 
Fujifilm X-Pro11440 n3.0 / 1230 fixed n 1/4000s 6.0 n n
8.
 
Leica CL2360 Y3.0 / 1040 fixed Y 1/8000s 10.0 n n
9.
 
Leica TL2optional n3.7 / 1230 fixed Y 1/4000s 7.0 n n
10.
 
Leica Q Typ 1163680 n3.0 / 1040 fixed Y 1/2000s 10.0 n Y
11.
 
Leica Toptional n3.7 / 1230 fixed Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
12.
 
Leica X Typ 113optional n3.0 / 920 fixed n 1/2000s 5.0 Y n
13.
 
Leica X2optional n2.7 / 230 fixed n 1/2000s 5.0 Y n
14.
 
Nikon Dfoptical Y3.2 / 921 fixed n 1/4000s 5.5 n n
15.
 
Panasonic G72360 n3.0 / 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 7.0 Y n
16.
 
Panasonic FZ10002359 n3.0 / 921 swivel n 1/4000s 12.0 Y Y
17.
 
Sony RX1Roptional n3.0 / 1229 fixed n 1/4000s 5.0 Y n

One differentiating feature between the two cameras concerns the touch sensitivity of the rear screen. The TL has a touchscreen, while the X Vario has a conventional panel. Touch control can be particularly helpful, for example, for setting the focus point.

Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the TL and the X Vario write their files to SDXC cards.

Connectivity comparison

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 TL and Leica X Vario (Typ 107) and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.

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Input-Output Connections
    Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Mic / Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
1.
 
Leica TLYstereo / mono--micro2.0Y--
2.
 
Leica X VarioYstereo / mono--mini2.0---
3.
 
Fujifilm X70Ystereo / monoY-micro2.0Y--
4.
 
Fujifilm X-E2SYstereo / monoY-micro2.0Y--
5.
 
Fujifilm X-A2Ystereo / mono--mini2.0Y--
6.
 
Fujifilm X-T10Ystereo / monoY-micro2.0Y--
7.
 
Fujifilm X-Pro1Ystereo / mono--mini2.0---
8.
 
Leica CLYstereo / mono----Y--
9.
 
Leica TL2Ystereo / mono--micro3.0Y--
10.
 
Leica Q Typ 116Ystereo / mono--micro2.0YY-
11.
 
Leica TYstereo / mono---2.0Y--
12.
 
Leica X Typ 113Ystereo / mono--mini2.0---
13.
 
Leica X2Y- / ---mini2.0---
14.
 
Nikon DfY- / ---mini2.0---
15.
 
Panasonic G7Ystereo / monoY-micro2.0Y--
16.
 
Panasonic FZ1000Ystereo / monoY-micro2.0YY-
17.
 
Sony RX1RYstereo / monoY-mini2.0---

It is notable that the TL offers wifi support, while the X Vario does not. Wifi can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location.

Both the TL and the X Vario have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The TL was replaced by the Leica TL2, while the X Vario does not have a direct successor. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Leica website.

Review summary

So what conclusions can be drawn? Is the Leica TL better than the Leica X Vario or vice versa? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.


Reasons to prefer the Leica TL:

  • Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.7" vs 3.0") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1230k vs 920k dots).
  • Fewer buttons to press: Is equipped with a touch-sensitive rear screen to facilitate handling.
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/4000s vs 1/2000s) to freeze action.
  • More flexible: Accepts interchangeable lenses, so that lens characteristics can be altered.
  • Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
  • Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
  • More modern: Reflects 3 years and 4 months of technical progress since the X Vario launch.


Advantages of the Leica X Vario (Typ 107):

  • Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
  • Ready to shoot: Has an integrated lens, whereas the TL necessitates an extra lens.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (450 versus 400) out of a single battery charge.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in June 2013).

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the TL is the clear winner of the match-up (9 : 4 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 sports photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a street photog, and a person interested in family portraits has distinct needs from a landscape shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.

TL 09:04 X Vario

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Leica TL and the Leica X Vario place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera and Best Travel-Zoom Camera listings whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.

In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the TL and the X Vario in practical situations. 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.

Expert reviews

This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular 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.

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Expert Camera Reviews
     Camera 
 Model 
 AP 
 score 
 CL 
 score 
 DCW 
 score 
 DPR 
 score 
 EPZ 
 score 
 PB 
 score 
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Leica TL..........4/5 Nov 2016 1,695i
2.
 
Leica X Vario3/5......4/54/5 Jun 2013 2,850i
3.
 
Fujifilm X704.5/5....76/1004.5/54.5/5 Jan 2016 799i
4.
 
Fujifilm X-E2S4.5/5....77/1004.5/54.5/5 Jan 2016 699i
5.
 
Fujifilm X-A24/5......4.5/54.5/5 Jan 2015 399i
6.
 
Fujifilm X-T104.5/5+ +..80/1005/55/5 May 2015 799i
7.
 
Fujifilm X-Pro15/5+ +..79/1004.5/54.5/5 Jan 2012 1,699i
8.
 
Leica CL....4.2/5....4/5 Nov 2017 2,795 i
9.
 
Leica TL23.5/5..3/5..4/54/5 Jul 2017 1,950 i
10.
 
Leica Q Typ 1165/5....80/1004.5/54.5/5 Jun 2015 4,249i
11.
 
Leica T3/5......4/54/5 Apr 2014 1,850i
12.
 
Leica X Typ 1133.5/5......3.5/54/5 Sep 2014 2,295i
13.
 
Leica X23/5......3/54/5 May 2012 1,995i
14.
 
Nikon Df4/5....81/1004/54/5 Nov 2013 2,749i
15.
 
Panasonic G74/5+ +..80/1005/54.5/5 May 2015 649i
16.
 
Panasonic FZ10004/5+ +..82/1004.5/54.5/5 Jun 2014 899i
17.
 
Sony RX1R5/5......4/54.5/5 Jun 2013 2,799i
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 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.

Leica TL:
Check Ebay offers
Leica X Vario:
Check Ebay offers

Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.

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    Specifications: Leica TL vs Leica X Vario

    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 Specifications
    Camera Model Leica TL Leica X Vario
    Camera Type Mirrorless system camera Fixed lens compact camera
    Camera Lens Leica T mount lenses 28-70mm f/3.5-6.4
    Launch Date November 2016 June 2013
    Launch Price USD 1,695 USD 2,850
    Sensor Specs Leica TL Leica X Vario
    Sensor Technology CMOS CMOS
    Sensor Format APS-C Sensor APS-C Sensor
    Sensor Size 23.6 x 15.7 mm 23.6 x 15.7 mm
    Sensor Area 370.52 mm2 370.52 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 28.3 mm 28.3 mm
    Crop Factor 1.5x 1.5x
    Sensor Resolution 16.1 Megapixels 16.1 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 4928 x 3264 pixels 4928 x 3272 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 4.80 μm 4.80 μm
    Pixel Density 4.34 MP/cm2 4.35 MP/cm2
    Moiré control no AA filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability 1080/30p Video 1080/30p Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 12,500 ISO 100 - 12,500 ISO
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) .. 78
    DXO Color Depth (bits) .. 23.4
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) .. 12.7
    DXO Low Light (ISO) .. 1320
    Screen Specs Leica TL Leica X Vario
    Viewfinder Type Viewfinder optional Viewfinder optional
    LCD Framing Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.7inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 1230k dots 920k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Touch Input Touchscreen no Touchscreen
    Shooting Specs Leica TL Leica X Vario
    Focus System Contrast-detect AF Contrast-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 5 shutter flaps/s 5 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash Built-in Flash Built-in Flash
    Storage Medium SDXC cards SDXC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    UHS card support no no
    Connectivity Specs Leica TL Leica X Vario
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port micro HDMI mini HDMI
    Wifi Support Wifi built-in no Wifi
    Body Specs Leica TL Leica X Vario
    Battery Type BP-DC13 BP-DC8
    Battery Life (CIPA)400 shots per charge450 shots per charge
    In-Camera Charging USB charging no USB charging
    Body Dimensions 134 x 69 x 33 mm
    (5.3 x 2.7 x 1.3 in)
    133 x 73 x 95 mm
    (5.2 x 2.9 x 3.7 in)
    Camera Weight 384 g (13.5 oz) 680 g (24.0 oz)

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