Leica TL vs Pentax K-3
The Leica TL and the Pentax K-3 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in November 2016 and October 2013. The TL is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, while the K-3 is a DSLR. Both cameras are equipped with an APS-C sensor. The Leica has a resolution of 16.1 megapixels, whereas the Pentax provides 24.1 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
|Leica TL||Pentax K-3|
|Mirrorless system camera||Digital single lens reflex|
|Leica T mount lenses||Pentax K mount lenses|
|16.1 MP, APS-C Sensor||24.1 MP, APS-C Sensor|
|1080/30p Video||1080/60i Video|
|ISO 100-12,500||ISO 100-51,200|
|Viewfinder optional||Optical viewfinder|
|3.7 LCD, 1230k dots||3.2 LCD, 1037k dots|
|Fixed touchscreen||Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)|
|5 shutter flaps per second||8.3 shutter flaps per second|
|Lens stabilization only||In-body stabilization|
|not weather sealed||Weathersealed body|
|400 shots per battery charge||560 shots per battery charge|
|134 x 69 x 33 mm, 384 g||131 x 100 x 77 mm, 800 g|
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Leica TL and the Pentax K-3? 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 side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Leica TL and the Pentax K-3. 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 dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The TL can be obtained in three different colors (black, silver, titanium), while the K-3 is available in two color-versions (black, silver).
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Pentax K-3 is notably larger (42 percent) than the Leica TL. Moreover, the K-3 is substantially heavier (108 percent) than the TL. It is noteworthy in this context that the K-3 is splash and dust-proof, while the TL 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 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 table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, just select a new right or left comparator from among the camera models in the table. Alternatively, you can also move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.
|Leica TL||5.3 in||2.7 in||1.3 in||13.5 oz||400||n||Nov 2016||1,695|
|Pentax K-3||5.2 in||3.9 in||3.0 in||28.2 oz||560||Y||Oct 2013||1,299|
|Fujifilm X70||4.4 in||2.5 in||1.7 in||12.0 oz||330||n||Jan 2016||799|
|Fujifilm X-A10||4.6 in||2.6 in||1.6 in||11.7 oz||410||n||Dec 2016||399|
|Fujifilm X-E2S||5.1 in||3.0 in||1.5 in||12.3 oz||350||n||Jan 2016||699|
|Fujifilm X-A2||4.6 in||2.6 in||1.6 in||12.3 oz||410||n||Jan 2015||399|
|Fujifilm X-T10||4.6 in||3.3 in||1.6 in||13.4 oz||350||n||May 2015||799|
|Fujifilm X-Pro1||5.5 in||3.2 in||1.7 in||15.9 oz||300||n||Jan 2012||1,699|
|Leica CL||5.2 in||3.1 in||1.8 in||14.2 oz||220||n||Nov 2017||2,795|
|Leica TL2||5.3 in||2.7 in||1.3 in||14.1 oz||250||n||Jul 2017||1,950|
|Leica T||5.3 in||2.7 in||1.3 in||13.5 oz||400||n||Apr 2014||1,850|
|Leica X2||4.9 in||2.7 in||2.0 in||12.2 oz||450||n||May 2012||1,995|
|Pentax KP||5.2 in||4.0 in||3.0 in||24.8 oz||390||Y||Jan 2017||1,099|
|Pentax K-70||5.0 in||3.7 in||2.9 in||24.3 oz||410||Y||Jun 2016||649|
|Pentax K-3 II||5.2 in||3.9 in||3.0 in||28.2 oz||720||Y||Apr 2015||1,099|
|Pentax K-5||5.2 in||3.8 in||2.9 in||26.8 oz||740||Y||Sep 2010||1,099|
|Sony A77||5.6 in||4.1 in||3.2 in||25.8 oz||470||Y||Aug 2011||1,399|
Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.
(1) Number of images that can be taken on a full battery charge according to the CIPA-standard; (2) Official announcement.
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 K-3 was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 23 percent) than the TL, which makes it more attractive for photographers on a tight budget. 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.
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. 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 are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Both cameras under consideration feature an APS-C sensor, but their sensors differ slightly in size. The sensor area in the K-3 is 1 percent smaller. They nevertheless have the same format factor of 1.5. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
Technology-wise, both cameras are equipped with CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensors.
Despite having a slightly smaller sensor, the K-3 offers a higher resolution of 24.1 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 3.90μm versus 4.80μm for the TL). Moreover, it should be noted that the TL is much more recent (by 3 years and 1 month) than the K-3, 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 Pentax K-3 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the K-3 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 30.1 x 20 inches or 76.4 x 50.8 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 24.1 x 16 inches or 61.1 x 40.6 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 20.1 x 13.3 inches or 50.9 x 33.9 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 Leica TL has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 12500. The corresponding ISO settings for the Pentax K-3 are ISO 100 to ISO 51200 (no boost).
Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. 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 adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
|Pentax K-3 II||APS-C||24.1||6016||4000||1080/60i||23.6||13.6||1106||80|
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. Both cameras under consideration are equipped with sensors that have a sufficiently high read-out speed for moving images, but the K-3 provides a faster frame rate than the TL. It can shoot movie footage at 1080/60i, while the Leica is limited to 1080/30p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the K-3 has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the TL relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. 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 Pentax K-3 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|Pentax K-3 II||optical||Y||3.2||1037||fixed||n||1/8000s||8.3||n||Y|
One differentiating feature between the two cameras concerns the touch sensitivity of the rear screen. The TL has a touchscreen, while the K-3 has a conventional panel. Touch control can be particularly helpful, for example, for setting the focus point.
The Pentax K-3 has an intervalometer built-in. This enables the photographer to capture time lapse sequences, such as flower blooming, a sunset or moon rise, without purchasing an external camera trigger and related software.
Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the TL and the K-3 write their files to SDXC cards. The K-3 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the TL only has one slot. The K-3 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 Pentax K-3 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
|Pentax K-3 II||Y||mono||mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
It is notable that the TL offers wifi support, while the K-3 does not. Wifi can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location.
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Pentax K-3 (unlike the TL) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Both the TL and the K-3 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The K-3 was replaced by the Pentax K-3 II, while the TL was followed by the Leica TL2. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Leica and Pentax websites.
So what conclusions can be drawn? Is the Leica TL better than the Pentax K-3 or vice versa? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Arguments in favor of the Leica TL:
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.7" vs 3.2") for image review and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1230k vs 1037k dots).
- Fewer buttons to press: Is equipped with a touch-sensitive rear screen to facilitate handling.
- More compact: Is smaller (134x69mm vs 131x100mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 416g or 52 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
- Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
- More legacy lens friendly: Can take a broad range of non-native lenses via adapters.
- Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
- More prestigious: Has the Leica luxury appeal, which ensures a high resale price.
- More modern: Reflects 3 years and 1 month of technical progress since the K-3 launch.
Advantages of the Pentax K-3:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (24.1 vs 16.1MP), which boosts linear resolution by 22%.
- Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/60i versus 1080/30p).
- 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 a control panel on top to check shooting parameters.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (8.3 vs 5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (560 versus 400) out of a single battery charge.
- Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
- Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
- Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (3.0 vs 2.0).
- 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: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
- More affordable: Was released into a lower priced segment (23 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in October 2013).
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the K-3 is the clear winner of the contest (18 : 9 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 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.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Leica TL and the Pentax K-3 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera and Best DSLR 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 remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the TL or the K-3. 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 expert reviews are important. 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.
|Leica TL||..||..||..||..||4/5||Nov 2016||1,695|
|Pentax K-3||..||83/100||5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Oct 2013||1,299|
|Fujifilm X70||..||76/100||4.5/5||4/5||4.5/5||Jan 2016||799|
|Fujifilm X-A10||..||..||4/5||..||4/5||Dec 2016||399|
|Fujifilm X-E2S||..||77/100||4.5/5||..||4.5/5||Jan 2016||699|
|Fujifilm X-A2||..||..||4.5/5||4/5||4.5/5||Jan 2015||399|
|Fujifilm X-T10||+ +||80/100||5/5||4/5||5/5||May 2015||799|
|Fujifilm X-Pro1||+ +||79/100||4.5/5||4/5||4.5/5||Jan 2012||1,699|
|Leica CL||..||..||..||..||4/5||Nov 2017||2,795|
|Leica TL2||..||..||4/5||..||4/5||Jul 2017||1,950|
|Leica T||..||..||4/5||..||4/5||Apr 2014||1,850|
|Leica X2||..||..||3/5||..||4/5||May 2012||1,995|
|Pentax KP||..||82/100||5/5||..||4.5/5||Jan 2017||1,099|
|Pentax K-70||..||79/100||4.5/5||4/5||4.5/5||Jun 2016||649|
|Pentax K-3 II||..||..||5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Apr 2015||1,099|
|Pentax K-5||..||83/100||5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2010||1,099|
|Sony A77||91/100||81/100||..||4.5/5||5/5||Aug 2011||1,399|
|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. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, 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
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.
- Canon 90D vs Leica TL
- Canon SX710 vs Leica TL
- Canon T4i vs Pentax K-3
- Fujifilm XP130 vs Pentax K-3 II
- Leica TL vs Nikon P1000
- Leica TL vs Panasonic LF1
- Leica TL vs Panasonic ZS100
- Olympus E-M5 II vs Pentax K-3
- Panasonic GX850 vs Pentax K-3
- Panasonic GX9 vs Pentax K-3 II
- Panasonic LF1 vs Pentax K-3 II
- Pentax K-3 II vs Sony RX100 V
Specifications: Leica TL vs Pentax K-3
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||Pentax K-3|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Leica T mount lenses||Pentax K mount lenses|
|Launch Date||November 2016||October 2013|
|Launch Price||USD 1,695||USD 1,299|
|Sensor Specs||Leica TL||Pentax K-3|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||23.6 x 15.7 mm||23.5 x 15.6 mm|
|Sensor Area||370.52 mm2||366.6 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||28.3 mm||28.2 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||16.1 Megapixels||24.1 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4928 x 3264 pixels||6016 x 4000 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.80 μm||3.90 μm|
|Pixel Density||4.34 MP/cm2||6.56 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter||no AA filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/30p Video||1080/60i Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 12,500 ISO||100 - 51,200 ISO|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||..||80|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||..||23.7|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||..||13.4|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||..||1216|
|Screen Specs||Leica TL||Pentax K-3|
|Viewfinder Type||Viewfinder optional||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%|
|Top-Level Screen||no Top Display||Control Panel|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.7inch||3.2inch|
|LCD Resolution||1230k dots||1037k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Touch Input||Touchscreen||no Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Leica TL||Pentax K-3|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||no Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/4000s||1/8000s|
|Continuous Shooting||5 shutter flaps/s||8.3 shutter flaps/s|
|Time-Lapse Photography||no Intervalometer||Intervalometer built-in|
|Image Stabilization||Lens stabilization only||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||Build-in Flash||Build-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Dual card slots|
|UHS card support||no||UHS-I|
|Connectivity Specs||Leica TL||Pentax K-3|
|Studio Flash||no PC Sync||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 3.0|
|HDMI Port||micro HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Microphone Port||no MIC socket||External MIC port|
|Headphone Socket||no Headphone port||Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Leica TL||Pentax K-3|
|Environmental Sealing||not weather sealed||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||400 shots per charge||560 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)
131 x 100 x 77 mm
(5.2 x 3.9 x 3.0 in)
|Camera Weight||384 g (13.5 oz)||800 g (28.2 oz)|
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