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Leica TL vs Sony RX1

The Leica TL and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in November 2016 and September 2012. The TL is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, while the RX1 is a fixed lens compact. The cameras are based on an APS-C (TL) and a full frame (RX1) sensor. The Leica has a resolution of 16.1 megapixels, whereas the Sony provides 24 MP.

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

Headline Specifications
Leica TL versus Sony RX1
Leica TL Sony RX1
Mirrorless system camera Fixed lens compact camera
Leica T mount lenses 35mm f/2.0
16.1 MP, APS-C Sensor 24 MP, Full Frame Sensor
1080/30p Video 1080/60p Video
ISO 100-12,500 ISO 100-25,600 (50 - 102,400)
Viewfinder optional Viewfinder optional
3.7 LCD, 1230k dots 3.0 LCD, 1229k dots
Fixed touchscreen Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
5 shutter flaps per second 5 shutter flaps per second
400 shots per battery charge270 shots per battery charge
134 x 69 x 33 mm, 384 g 113 x 65 x 70 mm, 482 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Leica TL and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1? 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 side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Leica TL and the Sony RX1. 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 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 RX1 is only available in black.

Size Leica TL vs Sony RX1
Compare TL versus RX1 top
Comparison TL or RX1 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Sony RX1 is notably smaller (21 percent) than the Leica TL. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the TL nor the RX1 are weather-sealed.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the RX1 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 battery packs of both cameras can be charged via USB, which can be very convenient 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, just use the right or left arrows in the table to switch to the respective camera. Alternatively, you can also navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from the full list of cameras there.

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Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life 1
Weather
Sealing
Camera
Launch 2
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
 
Leica TL 134 mm 69 mm 33 mm 384 g 400 n Nov 2016 1,695i
 
Sony RX1 113 mm 65 mm 70 mm 482 g 270 n Sep 2012 2,799i
 
Fujifilm X70 113 mm 64 mm 44 mm 340 g 330 n Jan 2016 799i
 
Fujifilm X-E2S 129 mm 75 mm 37 mm 350 g 350 n Jan 2016 699i
 
Fujifilm X-A2 117 mm 67 mm 40 mm 350 g 410 n Jan 2015 399i
 
Fujifilm X-T10 118 mm 83 mm 41 mm 381 g 350 n May 2015 799i
 
Fujifilm X-Pro1 140 mm 82 mm 43 mm 450 g 300 n Jan 2012 1,699i
 
Leica CL 131 mm 78 mm 45 mm 403 g 220 n Nov 2017 2,795 i
 
Leica TL2 134 mm 69 mm 33 mm 399 g 250 n Jul 2017 1,950 i
 
Leica T 134 mm 69 mm 33 mm 384 g 400 n Apr 2014 1,850i
 
Leica X2 124 mm 69 mm 52 mm 345 g 450 n May 2012 1,995i
 
Nikon D5300 125 mm 98 mm 76 mm 480 g 600 n Oct 2013 799i
 
Panasonic G7 125 mm 86 mm 77 mm 410 g 350 n May 2015 649i
 
Sony RX1R II 113 mm 65 mm 72 mm 507 g 220 n Oct 2015 3,299 i
 
Sony A3000 128 mm 91 mm 85 mm 411 g 470 n Aug 2013 329i
 
Sony RX1R 113 mm 65 mm 70 mm 482 g 270 n Jun 2013 2,799i
 
Sony NEX-7 120 mm 67 mm 43 mm 400 g 430 n Aug 2011 1,349i
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.

Any camera decision will obviously take relative prices into account. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. 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.

Sensor comparison

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. 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 more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Leica TL features an APS-C sensor and the Sony RX1 a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the RX1 is 130 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.5 and 1.0. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

In terms of underlying technology, both cameras are build around CMOS sensors.

Leica TL and Sony RX1 sensor measures

With 24MP, the RX1 offers a higher resolution than the TL (16.1MP), but the RX1 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 5.96μm versus 4.80μm for the TL) due to its larger sensor. However, the TL is a much more recent model (by 4 years and 1 month) than the RX1, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units. 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 resolution advantage of the Sony RX1 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the RX1 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 30 x 20 inches or 76.2 x 50.8 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 24 x 16 inches or 61 x 40.6 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 20 x 13.3 inches or 50.8 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 Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1 are ISO 100 to ISO 25600, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 50-102400.

TL versus RX1 MP

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 table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.

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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
 
Leica TL APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p........
 
Sony RX1 Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p25.114.3253493
 
Fujifilm X70 APS-C 16.0 4896 32641080/60p........
 
Fujifilm X-E2S APS-C 16.0 4896 32641080/60p........
 
Fujifilm X-A2 APS-C 16.0 4896 32641080/30p........
 
Fujifilm X-T10 APS-C 16.0 4896 32641080/60p........
 
Fujifilm X-Pro1 APS-C 16.0 4896 32641080/24p........
 
Leica CL APS-C 24.1 6014 40144K/30p........
 
Leica TL2 APS-C 24.1 6014 40144K/30p........
 
Leica T APS-C 16.2 4944 32781080/30p23.012.7108275
 
Leica X2 APS-C 16.1 4928 3264none........
 
Nikon D5300 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.013.9133883
 
Panasonic G7 Four Thirds 15.8 4592 34484K/30p........
 
Sony RX1R II Full Frame 42.2 7952 53041080/60p25.813.9320497
 
Sony A3000 APS-C 19.8 5456 36321080/60i23.712.8106878
 
Sony RX1R Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p25.013.6253791
 
Sony NEX-7 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60i24.113.4101681

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 RX1 provides a faster frame rate than the TL. It can shoot movie footage at 1080/60p, while the Leica is limited to 1080/30p.

Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The TL and the RX1 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 FDA-EV1MK for the RX1 – are available as accessories. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Leica TL and Sony RX1 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.

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Core Features
  Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
(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
 
Leica TLoptional n 3.7 1230 fixed Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
 
Sony RX1optional n 3.0 1229 fixed n 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
 
Fujifilm X70optional n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 1/4000s 8.0 Y n
 
Fujifilm X-E2S2360 n 3.0 1040 fixed n 1/4000s 7.0 Y n
 
Fujifilm X-A2none n 3.0 920 tilting n 1/4000s 5.6 Y n
 
Fujifilm X-T102360 n 3.0 920 tilting n 1/4000s 8.0 Y n
 
Fujifilm X-Pro11440 n 3.0 1230 fixed n 1/4000s 6.0 n n
 
Leica CL2360 Y 3.0 1040 fixed Y 1/8000s 10.0 n n
 
Leica TL2optional n 3.7 1230 fixed Y 1/4000s 7.0 n n
 
Leica Toptional n 3.7 1300 fixed Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
 
Leica X2optional n 2.7 230 fixed n 1/2000s 5.0 Y n
 
Nikon D5300optical n 3.2 1037 swivel n 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
 
Panasonic G72360 n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 1/4000s 7.0 Y n
 
Sony RX1R II2360 n 3.0 1229 tilting n 1/4000s 5.0 n n
 
Sony A3000202 n 3.0 230 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y n
 
Sony RX1Roptional n 3.0 1229 fixed n 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
 
Sony NEX-72359 n 3.0 921 tilting n 1/4000s 10.0 Y n

One differentiating feature between the two cameras concerns the touch sensitivity of the rear screen. The TL has a touchscreen, while the RX1 has a conventional panel. Touch control can be particularly helpful, for example, for setting the focus point.

The TL writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the RX1 uses SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo 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 Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1 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
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
 
Leica TLYstereomono--micro2.0Y--
 
Sony RX1YstereomonoY-mini2.0---
 
Fujifilm X70YstereomonoY-micro2.0Y--
 
Fujifilm X-E2SYstereomonoY-micro2.0Y--
 
Fujifilm X-A2Ystereomono--mini2.0Y--
 
Fujifilm X-T10YstereomonoY-micro2.0Y--
 
Fujifilm X-Pro1Ystereomono--mini2.0---
 
Leica CLYstereomono----Y--
 
Leica TL2Ystereomono--micro3.0Y--
 
Leica TYstereomono---2.0Y--
 
Leica X2Y----mini2.0---
 
Nikon D5300YstereomonoY-mini2.0Y--
 
Panasonic G7YstereomonoY-micro2.0Y--
 
Sony RX1R IIYstereomonoY-micro2.0YY-
 
Sony A3000Ystereomono--mini2.0---
 
Sony RX1RYstereomonoY-mini2.0---
 
Sony NEX-7YstereomonoY-mini2.0---

It is notable that the TL offers wifi support, while the RX1 does not. Wifi can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location.

Both the TL and the RX1 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The RX1 was replaced by the Sony RX1R, 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 Sony websites.

Review summary

So how do things add up? Is there a clear favorite between the Leica TL and the Sony RX1? Which camera is better? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.

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Advantages of 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.
  • Fewer buttons to press: Is equipped with a touch-sensitive rear screen to facilitate handling.
  • More flexible: Accepts interchangeable lenses, so that lens characteristics can be altered.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (400 versus 270) on a single battery charge.
  • 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 4 years and 1 month of technical progress since the RX1 launch.

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Arguments in favor of the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (24 vs 16.1MP), which boosts linear resolution by 22%.
  • Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
  • Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/60p versus 1080/30p).
  • Better sound: Can connect to an external microphone for higher quality sound recording.
  • Ready to shoot: Has an integrated lens, whereas the TL necessitates an extra lens.
  • More compact: Is smaller (113x65mm vs 134x69mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • 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 TL comes out slightly ahead of the RX1 (8 : 7 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 wildlife photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a family photog, and a person interested in architecture has distinct needs from a sports shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.

TL 08:07 RX1

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Leica TL and the Sony RX1 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera and Best Prime Lens Compact 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 TL or the RX1. 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 table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear 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.

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Review Scores
  Camera
Model
camera
  labs  
dp
review  
ephoto
  zine  
imaging
resource
photography
  blog  
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
 
Leica TL........4/5 Nov 2016 1,695i
 
Sony RX1..79/1004/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 2,799i
 
Fujifilm X70..76/1004.5/54/54.5/5 Jan 2016 799i
 
Fujifilm X-E2S..77/1004.5/5..4.5/5 Jan 2016 699i
 
Fujifilm X-A2....4.5/54/54.5/5 Jan 2015 399i
 
Fujifilm X-T10+ +80/1005/54/55/5 May 2015 799i
 
Fujifilm X-Pro1+ +79/1004.5/54/54.5/5 Jan 2012 1,699i
 
Leica CL........4/5 Nov 2017 2,795 i
 
Leica TL2....4/5..4/5 Jul 2017 1,950 i
 
Leica T....4/5..4/5 Apr 2014 1,850i
 
Leica X2....3/5..4/5 May 2012 1,995i
 
Nikon D5300+ +79/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Oct 2013 799i
 
Panasonic G7+ +80/1005/54.5/54.5/5 May 2015 649i
 
Sony RX1R II..82/100..o4.5/5 Oct 2015 3,299 i
 
Sony A3000+..4/54.5/54/5 Aug 2013 329i
 
Sony RX1R....4/5o4.5/5 Jun 2013 2,799i
 
Sony NEX-7+ +81/1004.5/55/55/5 Aug 2011 1,349i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.

Leica TL:
Check Ebay offers
Sony RX1:
Check Ebay offers

Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just make your choice using the following search menu. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.

~

    Specifications: Leica TL vs Sony RX1

    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 Sony RX1
    Camera Type Mirrorless system camera Fixed lens compact camera
    Camera Lens Leica T mount lenses 35mm f/2.0
    Launch Date November 2016 September 2012
    Launch Price USD 1,695 USD 2,799
    Sensor Specs Leica TL Sony RX1
    Sensor Technology CMOS CMOS
    Sensor Format APS-C Sensor Full Frame Sensor
    Sensor Size 23.6 x 15.7 mm 35.8 x 23.8 mm
    Sensor Area 370.52 mm2 852.04 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 28.3 mm 43 mm
    Crop Factor 1.5x 1.0x
    Sensor Resolution 16.1 Megapixels 24 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 4928 x 3264 pixels 6000 x 4000 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 4.80 μm 5.96 μm
    Pixel Density 4.34 MP/cm2 2.82 MP/cm2
    Moiré control no AA filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability 1080/30p Video 1080/60p Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 12,500 ISO 100 - 25,600 ISO
    ISO Boost no Enhancement 50 - 102,400 ISO
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) .. 93
    DXO Color Depth (bits) .. 25.1
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) .. 14.3
    DXO Low Light (ISO) .. 2534
    Screen Specs Leica TL Sony RX1
    Viewfinder Type Viewfinder optional Viewfinder optional
    Viewfinder Magnification
    LCD Framing Live View Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.7inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 1230k dots 1229k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Touch Input Touchscreen no Touchscreen
    Shooting Specs Leica TL Sony RX1
    Focus System Contrast-detect AF Contrast-detect AF
    Manual Focusing Aidno Peaking FeatureFocus Peaking
    Max Shutter Speed (mechanical) 1/4000s 1/4000s
    Continuous Shooting 5 shutter flaps/s 5 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash Build-in Flash Build-in Flash
    Storage Medium SDXC cards MS or SDXC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    UHS card support no no
    Connectivity Specs Leica TL Sony RX1
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port micro HDMI mini HDMI
    Microphone Port no MIC socket External MIC port
    Wifi Support Wifi built-in no Wifi
    Body Specs Leica TL Sony RX1
    Battery Type BP-DC13 NP-BX1
    Battery Life (CIPA)400 shots per charge270 shots per charge
    In-Camera Charging USB charging USB charging
    Body Dimensions 134 x 69 x 33 mm
    (5.3 x 2.7 x 1.3 in)
    113 x 65 x 70 mm
    (4.4 x 2.6 x 2.8 in)
    Camera Weight 384 g (13.5 oz) 482 g (17.0 oz)

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