Leica TL vs Zeiss ZX1
The Leica TL and the Zeiss ZX1 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in November 2016 and September 2018. The TL is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, while the ZX1 is a fixed lens compact. The cameras are based on an APS-C (TL) and a full frame (ZX1) sensor. The Leica has a resolution of 16.1 megapixels, whereas the Zeiss provides 37.4 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
|Leica TL||Zeiss ZX1|
|Mirrorless system camera||Fixed lens compact camera|
|Leica T mount lenses||35mm f/2.8|
|16.1 MP, APS-C Sensor||37.4 MP, Full Frame Sensor|
|1080/30p Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO 100-12,500||ISO 80-51,200|
|Viewfinder optional||Electronic viewfinder (6221k dots)|
|3.7 LCD, 1230k dots||4.3 LCD, 2765k dots|
|Fixed touchscreen||Fixed touchscreen|
|5 shutter flaps per second||3 shutter flaps per second|
|400 shots per battery charge||250 shots per battery charge|
|134 x 69 x 33 mm, 384 g||142 x 93 x 46 mm, 800 g|
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Leica TL and the Zeiss ZX1? 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 Zeiss ZX1 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 ZX1 is only available in black.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Zeiss ZX1 is considerably larger (43 percent) than the Leica TL. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the TL nor the ZX1 are weather-sealed.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the ZX1 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 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, 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|
|Zeiss ZX1||5.6 in||3.7 in||1.8 in||28.2 oz||250||n||Sep 2018||4,199|
|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 Q2||5.1 in||3.1 in||3.6 in||25.3 oz||370||Y||Mar 2019||4,995|
|Leica CL||5.2 in||3.1 in||1.8 in||14.2 oz||220||n||Nov 2017||2,795|
|Leica M10||5.5 in||3.1 in||1.5 in||23.3 oz||210||Y||Jan 2017||6,595|
|Leica TL2||5.3 in||2.7 in||1.3 in||14.1 oz||250||n||Jul 2017||1,950|
|Leica Q Typ 116||5.1 in||3.1 in||3.7 in||22.6 oz||300||n||Jun 2015||4,249|
|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|
|Panasonic FZ1000||5.4 in||3.9 in||5.2 in||29.3 oz||360||n||Jun 2014||899|
|Sony RX1R II||4.4 in||2.6 in||2.8 in||17.9 oz||220||n||Oct 2015||3,299|
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. 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 imaging sensor is a crucial determinant of image quality. A large sensor will generally have larger individual pixels that offer better low-light sensitivity, provide wider dynamic range, and have 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 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 Zeiss ZX1 a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the ZX1 is 133 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.
With 37.4MP, the ZX1 offers a higher resolution than the TL (16.1MP), but the ZX1 nevertheless has marginally larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.81μm versus 4.80μm for the TL) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the ZX1 is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 10 months) than the TL, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further 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 Zeiss ZX1 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the ZX1 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 37.4 x 25 inches or 95.1 x 63.4 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 30 x 20 inches or 76.1 x 50.7 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 25 x 16.6 inches or 63.4 x 42.3 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 Zeiss ZX1 are ISO 80 to ISO 51200 (no boost).
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 adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
|Zeiss ZX1||Full Frame||37.4||7488||4992||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|Leica Q2||Full Frame||46.7||8368||5584||4K/30p||26.4||13.5||2491||96|
|Leica M10||Full Frame||23.8||5952||3992||none||24.4||13.2||2133||86|
|Leica Q Typ 116||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.3||12.7||2221||85|
|Sony RX1R II||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||1080/60p||25.8||13.9||3204||97|
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 ZX1 provides a better video resolution than the TL. It can shoot movie footage at 4K/30p, while the Leica is limited to 1080/30p.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the ZX1 has an electronic viewfinder (6221k dots), which can be very helpful 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 table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Leica TL and Zeiss ZX1 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|Leica Q Typ 116||3680||n||3.0||1040||fixed||Y||1/2000s||10.0||n||Y|
|Sony RX1R II||2360||n||3.0||1229||tilting||n||1/4000s||5.0||n||n|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The TL has one, while the ZX1 does not. While the built-in flash of the TL is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.
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 ZX1 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 ZX1 uses an internal SSD.
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 Zeiss ZX1 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
|Leica Q Typ 116||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|Sony RX1R II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
The ZX1 is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Zeiss. In contrast, the TL has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the TL was succeeded 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 Zeiss websites.
So what conclusions can be drawn? Which of the two cameras – the Leica TL or the Zeiss ZX1 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Advantages of the Leica TL:
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/4000s vs 1/1000s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More flexible: Accepts interchangeable lenses, so that lens characteristics can be altered.
- More compact: Is smaller (134x69mm vs 142x93mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (400 versus 250) on a single battery charge.
- Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
- Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
Reasons to prefer the Zeiss ZX1:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (37.4 vs 16.1MP), which boosts linear resolution by 52%.
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- Better image quality: Is equipped with a larger and more technologically advanced 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/30p vs 1080/30p).
- Easier framing: Has an electronic viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (4.3" vs 3.7") for image review and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (2765k vs 1230k dots).
- Less disturbing: Has an electronic shutter option for completely silent shooting.
- Ready to shoot: Has an integrated lens, whereas the TL necessitates an extra lens.
- Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (3.1 vs 2.0).
- Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
- Easier wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the ZX1 is the clear winner of the contest (15 : 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 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 Zeiss ZX1 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 says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the TL and the ZX1 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 why expert reviews are important. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular 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|
|Zeiss ZX1||..||..||..||..||..||Sep 2018||4,199|
|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 Q2||..||84/100||4.5/5||..||4/5||Mar 2019||4,995|
|Leica CL||..||..||..||..||4/5||Nov 2017||2,795|
|Leica M10||..||..||4/5||..||4.5/5||Jan 2017||6,595|
|Leica TL2||..||..||4/5||..||4/5||Jul 2017||1,950|
|Leica Q Typ 116||..||80/100||4.5/5||..||4.5/5||Jun 2015||4,249|
|Leica T||..||..||4/5||..||4/5||Apr 2014||1,850|
|Leica X2||..||..||3/5||..||4/5||May 2012||1,995|
|Panasonic FZ1000||+ +||82/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2014||899|
|Sony RX1R II||..||82/100||..||o||4.5/5||Oct 2015||3,299|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.
Other camera comparisons
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Specifications: Leica TL vs Zeiss ZX1
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||Zeiss ZX1|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera||Fixed lens compact camera|
|Camera Lens||Leica T mount lenses||35mm f/2.8|
|Launch Date||November 2016||September 2018|
|Launch Price||USD 1,695||USD 4,199|
|Sensor Specs||Leica TL||Zeiss ZX1|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||23.6 x 15.7 mm||36.0 x 24.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||370.52 mm2||864 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||28.3 mm||43.3 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||16.1 Megapixels||37.4 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4928 x 3264 pixels||7488 x 4992 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.80 μm||4.81 μm|
|Pixel Density||4.34 MP/cm2||4.33 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/30p Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 12,500 ISO||80 - 51,200 ISO|
|Screen Specs||Leica TL||Zeiss ZX1|
|Viewfinder Type||Viewfinder optional||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||6221k dots|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.7inch||4.3inch|
|LCD Resolution||1230k dots||2765k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Leica TL||Zeiss ZX1|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||5 shutter flaps/s||3 shutter flaps/s|
|Electronic Shutter||no E-Shutter||up to 1/8000s|
|Fill Flash||Build-in Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||Internal SSD|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single SSD|
|Connectivity Specs||Leica TL||Zeiss ZX1|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 3.1|
|HDMI Port||micro HDMI||no HDMI|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||Wifi built-in|
|Near-Field Communication||no NFC||NFC built-in|
|Bluetooth Support||no Bluetooth||Bluetooth built-in|
|Body Specs||Leica TL||Zeiss ZX1|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||400 shots per charge||250 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)
142 x 93 x 46 mm
(5.6 x 3.7 x 1.8 in)
|Camera Weight||384 g (13.5 oz)||800 g (28.2 oz)|
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