Leica TL vs Nikon 1 J4
The Leica TL and the Nikon 1 J4 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in November 2016 and April 2014. Both the TL and the J4 are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are based on an APS-C (TL) and an one-inch (J4) sensor. The Leica has a resolution of 16.1 megapixels, whereas the Nikon provides 18.2 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 TL and the Nikon 1 J4? 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 TL and the Nikon 1 J4 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 size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The TL can be obtained in three different colors (black, silver, titanium), while the J4 is available in four color-versions (black, silver, orange, white).
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon 1 J4 is considerably smaller (35 percent) than the Leica TL. Moreover, the J4 is substantially lighter (40 percent) than the TL. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the TL nor the J4 are weather-sealed.
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 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 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 TL||134 mm||69 mm||33 mm||384 g||400||n||Nov 2016||1,695||ebay.com|
|2.||Nikon 1 J4||100 mm||60 mm||29 mm||232 g||300||n||Apr 2014||549||ebay.com|
|3.||Canon G9 X||98 mm||58 mm||31 mm||209 g||220||n||Oct 2015||529||ebay.com|
|4.||Canon SL1||117 mm||91 mm||69 mm||407 g||380||n||Mar 2013||549||ebay.com|
|5.||Fujifilm X70||113 mm||64 mm||44 mm||340 g||330||n||Jan 2016||799||ebay.com|
|6.||Fujifilm X-A10||117 mm||67 mm||40 mm||331 g||410||n||Dec 2016||399||ebay.com|
|7.||Fujifilm X-E2S||129 mm||75 mm||37 mm||350 g||350||n||Jan 2016||699||ebay.com|
|8.||Fujifilm X-A2||117 mm||67 mm||40 mm||350 g||410||n||Jan 2015||399||ebay.com|
|9.||Fujifilm X-T10||118 mm||83 mm||41 mm||381 g||350||n||May 2015||799||ebay.com|
|10.||Fujifilm X-Pro1||140 mm||82 mm||43 mm||450 g||300||n||Jan 2012||1,699||ebay.com|
|11.||Leica CL||131 mm||78 mm||45 mm||403 g||220||n||Nov 2017||2,795||amazon.com|
|12.||Leica TL2||134 mm||69 mm||33 mm||399 g||250||n||Jul 2017||1,950||amazon.com|
|13.||Leica T||134 mm||69 mm||33 mm||384 g||400||n||Apr 2014||1,850||ebay.com|
|14.||Leica X2||124 mm||69 mm||52 mm||345 g||450||n||May 2012||1,995||ebay.com|
|15.||Nikon 1 J5||98 mm||60 mm||32 mm||231 g||250||n||Apr 2015||399||ebay.com|
|16.||Nikon 1 V3||111 mm||65 mm||33 mm||381 g||310||n||Mar 2014||799||ebay.com|
|17.||Nikon 1 V2||109 mm||82 mm||46 mm||278 g||310||n||Oct 2012||799||ebay.com|
|Note: 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 J4 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 68 percent) than the TL, which puts it into a different market segment. 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 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. 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 associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Leica TL features an APS-C sensor and the Nikon 1 J4 an one-inch sensor. The sensor area in the J4 is 69 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.5 and 2.7. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
Despite having a smaller sensor, the J4 offers a higher resolution of 18.2 megapixels, compared with 16.1 MP of the TL. 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 2.52μm versus 4.80μm for the TL). Moreover, it should be noted that the TL is much more recent (by 2 years and 7 months) than the J4, 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 Nikon 1 J4 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the J4 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 26.2 x 17.4 inches or 66.4 x 44.3 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 20.9 x 14 inches or 53.2 x 35.4 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 17.4 x 11.6 inches or 44.3 x 29.5 cm. The corresponding values for the Leica TL are 24.6 x 16.3 inches or 62.6 x 41.5 cm for good quality, 19.7 x 13.1 inches or 50.1 x 33.2 cm for very good quality, and 16.4 x 10.9 inches or 41.7 x 27.6 cm for excellent quality prints.
The J4 has on-sensor phase detect pixels, which results in fast and reliable autofocus acquisition even during live view operation.
The Leica TL has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 12500. The corresponding ISO settings for the Nikon 1 J4 are ISO 160 to ISO 12800 (no boost).
Technology-wise, both cameras are equipped with CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensors. Both cameras use a Bayer filter for capturing RGB colors on a square grid of photosensors. This arrangement is found in most digital cameras.
Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. 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"). The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.
|2.||Nikon 1 J4||1-inch||18.2||5232||3488||1080/60p||20.8||10.7||426||53|
|3.||Canon G9 X||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||21.5||12.3||495||63|
|15.||Nikon 1 J5||1-inch||20.7||5568||3712||4K/15p||21.1||12.0||479||65|
|16.||Nikon 1 V3||1-inch||18.2||5232||3488||1080/60p||20.8||10.7||384||52|
|17.||Nikon 1 V2||1-inch||14.2||4608||3072||1080/60p||20.2||10.8||403||50|
|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 can also record movies. Both cameras under consideration are equipped with sensors that have a sufficiently high read-out speed for moving images, but the J4 provides a faster frame rate than the TL. It can shoot movie footage at 1080/60p, while the Leica is limited to 1080/30p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The TL and the J4 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. That said, the TL can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the Visoflex (Typ 020). The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Leica TL and Nikon 1 J4 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|1.||Leica TL||optional||n||3.7 / 1230||fixed||Y||1/4000s||5.0/s||Y||n|
|2.||Nikon 1 J4||none||n||3.0 / 1037||Fixed||Y||1/4000s||60.0/s||Y||n|
|3.||Canon G9 X||none||n||3.0 / 1040||fixed||Y||1/2000s||6.0/s||Y||Y|
|4.||Canon SL1||optical||n||3.0 / 1040||fixed||Y||1/4000s||4.9/s||Y||n|
|5.||Fujifilm X70||optional||n||3.0 / 1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||8.0/s||Y||n|
|6.||Fujifilm X-A10||none||n||3.0 / 1040||tilting||n||1/4000s||6.0/s||Y||n|
|7.||Fujifilm X-E2S||2360||n||3.0 / 1040||fixed||n||1/4000s||7.0/s||Y||n|
|8.||Fujifilm X-A2||none||n||3.0 / 920||tilting||n||1/4000s||5.6/s||Y||n|
|9.||Fujifilm X-T10||2360||n||3.0 / 920||tilting||n||1/4000s||8.0/s||Y||n|
|10.||Fujifilm X-Pro1||1440||n||3.0 / 1230||fixed||n||1/4000s||6.0/s||n||n|
|11.||Leica CL||2360||Y||3.0 / 1040||fixed||Y||1/8000s||10.0/s||n||n|
|12.||Leica TL2||optional||n||3.7 / 1230||fixed||Y||1/4000s||7.0/s||n||n|
|13.||Leica T||optional||n||3.7 / 1230||fixed||Y||1/4000s||5.0/s||Y||n|
|14.||Leica X2||optional||n||2.7 / 230||fixed||n||1/2000s||5.0/s||Y||n|
|15.||Nikon 1 J5||none||n||3.0 / 1037||tilting||Y||1/4000s||60.0/s||Y||n|
|16.||Nikon 1 V3||optional||n||3.0 / 1037||tilting||Y||1/4000s||60.0/s||Y||n|
|17.||Nikon 1 V2||1440||n||3.0 / 921||fixed||n||1/4000s||15.0/s||Y||n|
|Notes: *) Information refers to the mechanical shutter, unless the camera only has an electronic one.|
The reported shutter speed information refers to the use of the mechanical shutter. Yet, some cameras only have an electronic shutter, while others have an electronic shutter in addition to a mechanical one. In fact, the J4 is one of those camera that have an additional electronic shutter, which makes completely silent shooting possible. However, this mode is less suitable for photographing moving objects (risk of rolling shutter) or shooting under artificial light sources (risk of flickering).
The TL writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the J4 uses micro SDXC cards. The J4 supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s), while the TL 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 TL and Nikon 1 J4 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
Mic / Speaker
|1.||Leica TL||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|2.||Nikon 1 J4||-||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||-||-|
|3.||Canon G9 X||-||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|4.||Canon SL1||Y||mono / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|5.||Fujifilm X70||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|6.||Fujifilm X-A10||-||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|7.||Fujifilm X-E2S||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|8.||Fujifilm X-A2||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||-||-|
|9.||Fujifilm X-T10||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|10.||Fujifilm X-Pro1||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|11.||Leica CL||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||-||-||Y||-||-|
|12.||Leica TL2||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||3.0||Y||-||-|
|13.||Leica T||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||-||2.0||Y||-||-|
|14.||Leica X2||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|15.||Nikon 1 J5||-||stereo / mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|16.||Nikon 1 V3||-||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||-||-|
|17.||Nikon 1 V2||-||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
It is notable that the TL has a hotshoe, while the J4 does not. This socket makes it possible to easily attach optional accessories, such as an external flash gun.
Both the TL and the J4 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on ebay. The J4 was replaced by the Nikon 1 J5, while the TL was followed by the Leica TL2. Further information on the features and operation of the TL and J4 can be found, respectively, in the Leica TL Manual (free pdf) or the online Nikon 1 J4 Manual.
So how do things add up? Is there a clear favorite between the Leica TL and the Nikon 1 J4? Which camera is better? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Arguments in favor of the Leica TL:
- 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.
- More framing options: Can be equipped with a hotshoe-mounted accessory-viewfinder.
- 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 1037k dots).
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (400 versus 300) on a single battery charge.
- Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
- 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 modern: Reflects 2 years and 7 months of technical progress since the J4 launch.
Advantages of the Nikon 1 J4:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (18.2 vs 16.1MP), which boosts linear resolution by 6%.
- Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/60p versus 1080/30p).
- Better live-view autofocus: Features on-sensor phase-detection for more confident autofocus.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (60 vs 5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Less disturbing: Has an electronic shutter option for completely silent shooting.
- More compact: Is smaller (100x60mm vs 134x69mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 152g or 40 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (68 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in April 2014).
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the TL emerges as the winner of the contest (12 : 10 points). However, the pertinence of the various camera strengths will differ across photographers, so that you might want to weigh individual camera traits according to their importance for your own imaging needs before making a camera decision. 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 TL and the Nikon 1 J4 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera listing whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the TL or the J4 perform in practice. 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 why hands-on reviews by experts 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 TL||..||..||..||..||..||4/5||Nov 2016||1,695||ebay.com|
|2.||Nikon 1 J4||3/5||..||..||..||4.5/5||4/5||Apr 2014||549||ebay.com|
|3.||Canon G9 X||3.5/5||+ +||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2015||529||ebay.com|
|4.||Canon SL1||4/5||+||..||78/100||4/5||4/5||Mar 2013||549||ebay.com|
|5.||Fujifilm X70||4.5/5||..||..||76/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2016||799||ebay.com|
|6.||Fujifilm X-A10||..||..||..||..||4/5||4/5||Dec 2016||399||ebay.com|
|7.||Fujifilm X-E2S||4.5/5||..||..||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2016||699||ebay.com|
|8.||Fujifilm X-A2||4/5||..||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2015||399||ebay.com|
|9.||Fujifilm X-T10||4.5/5||+ +||..||80/100||5/5||5/5||May 2015||799||ebay.com|
|10.||Fujifilm X-Pro1||5/5||+ +||..||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2012||1,699||ebay.com|
|11.||Leica CL||..||..||4.2/5||..||..||4/5||Nov 2017||2,795||amazon.com|
|12.||Leica TL2||3.5/5||..||3/5||..||4/5||4/5||Jul 2017||1,950||amazon.com|
|13.||Leica T||3/5||..||..||..||4/5||4/5||Apr 2014||1,850||ebay.com|
|14.||Leica X2||3/5||..||..||..||3/5||4/5||May 2012||1,995||ebay.com|
|15.||Nikon 1 J5||..||..||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2015||399||ebay.com|
|16.||Nikon 1 V3||3/5||..||..||76/100||4.5/5||4/5||Mar 2014||799||ebay.com|
|17.||Nikon 1 V2||3/5||..||..||..||4.5/5||4/5||Oct 2012||799||ebay.com|
|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 comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods 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 TL vs Nikon 1 J4
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 TL||Nikon 1 J4|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Leica T mount lenses||Nikon 1 mount lenses|
|Launch Date||November 2016||April 2014|
|Launch Price||USD 1,695||USD 549|
|Sensor Specs||Leica TL||Nikon 1 J4|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||1" Sensor|
|Sensor Size||23.6 x 15.7 mm||13.2 x 8.8 mm|
|Sensor Area||370.52 mm2||116.16 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||28.3 mm||15.9 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||16.1 Megapixels||18.2 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4928 x 3264 pixels||5232 x 3488 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.80 μm||2.52 μm|
|Pixel Density||4.34 MP/cm2||15.71 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter||no AA filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/30p Video||1080/60p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 12,500 ISO||160 - 12,800 ISO|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||..||53|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||..||20.8|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||..||10.7|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||..||426|
|Screen Specs||Leica TL||Nikon 1 J4|
|Viewfinder Type||Viewfinder optional||no viewfinder|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.7inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||1230k dots||1037k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Leica TL||Nikon 1 J4|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||On-Sensor Phase-detect|
|Continuous Shooting||5 shutter flaps/s||60 shutter flaps/s|
|Electronic Shutter||no E-Shutter||up to 1/16000s|
|Fill Flash||Built-in Flash||Built-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||mSDXC cards|
|Single or Dual Card Slots||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||no||UHS-I|
|Connectivity Specs||Leica TL||Nikon 1 J4|
|External Flash||Hotshoe||no Hotshoe|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||micro HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||Wifi built-in|
|Body Specs||Leica TL||Nikon 1 J4|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||400 shots per charge||300 shots per charge|
|In-Camera Charging||USB charging||no USB charging|
134 x 69 x 33 mm
(5.3 x 2.7 x 1.3 in)
100 x 60 x 29 mm
(3.9 x 2.4 x 1.1 in)
|Camera Weight||384 g (13.5 oz)||232 g (8.2 oz)|
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