Leica V-LUX 1 vs Olympus E-M1
The Leica V-LUX 1 and the Olympus OM-D E-M1 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in September 2006 and September 2013. The V-LUX 1 is a fixed lens compact, while the E-M1 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on a 1/1.8-inch (V-LUX 1) and a Four Thirds (E-M1) sensor. The Leica has a resolution of 10 megapixels, whereas the Olympus provides 15.9 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 V-LUX 1 and the Olympus OM-D E-M1? 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.
An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Leica V-LUX 1 and the Olympus E-M1 is provided in the side-by-side display below. 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 measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The E-M1 can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the V-LUX 1 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 Leica V-LUX 1 and the Olympus E-M1 are of equal size. It is noteworthy in this context that the E-M1 is splash and dust-proof, while the V-LUX 1 does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the V-LUX 1 has a lens built in, whereas the E-M1 is an interchangeable lens camera that requires a separate lens. Attaching the latter will add extra weight and bulk to the setup. You can compare the optics available for the E-M1 and their specifications in the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog.
The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. 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 V-LUX 1||141 mm||86 mm||142 mm||734 g||360||n||Sep 2006||849|
|2.||Olympus E-M1||130 mm||94 mm||63 mm||497 g||350||Y||Sep 2013||1,399|
|3.||Leica Q Typ 116||130 mm||80 mm||93 mm||640 g||300||n||Jun 2015||4,249|
|4.||Leica X Vario||133 mm||73 mm||95 mm||680 g||450||n||Jun 2013||2,850|
|5.||Leica D-LUX 6||111 mm||68 mm||46 mm||298 g||330||n||Sep 2012||699|
|6.||Leica V-LUX 4||125 mm||87 mm||110 mm||588 g||540||n||Sep 2012||949|
|7.||Leica V-LUX 3||124 mm||81 mm||95 mm||540 g||410||n||Dec 2011||949|
|8.||Leica D-LUX 5||110 mm||65 mm||43 mm||271 g||400||n||Sep 2010||699|
|9.||Leica V-LUX 2||124 mm||80 mm||95 mm||520 g||410||n||Sep 2010||849|
|10.||Leica X1||124 mm||60 mm||32 mm||306 g||260||n||Sep 2009||1,995|
|11.||Nikon D80||132 mm||103 mm||77 mm||668 g||600||n||Aug 2006||999|
|12.||Olympus E-M1 II||134 mm||91 mm||67 mm||574 g||440||Y||Sep 2016||1,999|
|13.||Olympus E-M5 II||124 mm||85 mm||45 mm||469 g||310||Y||Feb 2015||1,099|
|14.||Olympus E-P5||122 mm||69 mm||37 mm||420 g||330||n||May 2013||999|
|15.||Olympus E-M5||122 mm||89 mm||43 mm||425 g||360||Y||Feb 2012||1,299|
|16.||Panasonic FZ1000||137 mm||99 mm||131 mm||831 g||360||n||Jun 2014||899|
|17.||Panasonic GH4||133 mm||93 mm||84 mm||560 g||500||Y||Feb 2014||1,499|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
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 V-LUX 1 was launched at a lower price than the E-M1, despite having a lens built in. 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.
The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants 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. Moreover, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more control over depth-of-field in the image and, thus, the ability to better 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 V-LUX 1 features a 1/1.8-inch sensor and the Olympus E-M1 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the E-M1 is 492 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 4.8 and 2.0. Both cameras feature a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 4:3.
With 15.9MP, the E-M1 offers a higher resolution than the V-LUX 1 (10MP), but the E-M1 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 3.76μm versus 1.95μm for the V-LUX 1) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the E-M1 is a much more recent model (by 6 years and 11 months) than the V-LUX 1, and its sensor will 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 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 Olympus E-M1 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the E-M1 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 23 x 17.3 inches or 58.5 x 43.9 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 18.4 x 13.8 inches or 46.8 x 35.1 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 15.4 x 11.5 inches or 39 x 29.3 cm. The corresponding values for the Leica V-LUX 1 are 18.2 x 13.7 inches or 46.3 x 34.7 cm for good quality, 14.6 x 10.9 inches or 37.1 x 27.8 cm for very good quality, and 12.2 x 9.1 inches or 30.9 x 23.2 cm for excellent quality prints.
The E-M1 has on-sensor phase detect pixels, which results in fast and reliable autofocus acquisition even during live view operation.
The Leica V-LUX 1 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 1600, which can be extended to ISO 100-3200. The corresponding ISO settings for the Olympus OM-D E-M1 are ISO 200 to ISO 25600, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-25600.
Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. 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 table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.
| DXO |
|1.||Leica V-LUX 1||1/1.8||10.0||3648||2736||480/30p||..||..||..||..|
|2.||Olympus E-M1||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||23.0||12.7||757||73|
|3.||Leica Q Typ 116||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.3||12.7||2221||85|
|4.||Leica X Vario||APS-C||16.1||4928||3272||1080/30p||23.4||12.7||1320||78|
|5.||Leica D-LUX 6||1/1.7||10.0||3648||2736||1080/60p||..||..||..||..|
|6.||Leica V-LUX 4||1/2.3||12.0||4000||3000||1080/60p||..||..||..||..|
|7.||Leica V-LUX 3||1/2.3||12.0||4000||3000||1080/60p||..||..||..||..|
|8.||Leica D-LUX 5||1/1.7||10.0||3648||2736||720/60p||..||..||..||..|
|9.||Leica V-LUX 2||1/2.3||14.0||4320||3240||1080/60i||..||..||..||..|
|12.||Olympus E-M1 II||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/30p||23.7||12.8||1312||80|
|13.||Olympus E-M5 II||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||23.0||12.5||842||73|
|14.||Olympus E-P5||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.8||12.4||895||72|
|15.||Olympus E-M5||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60i||22.8||12.3||826||71|
|17.||Panasonic GH4||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||4K/30p||23.2||12.8||791||74|
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 E-M1 provides a better video resolution than the V-LUX 1. It can shoot movie footage at 1080/30p, while the Leica is limited to 480/30p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The two cameras under review are similar with respect to both having an electronic viewfinder. However, the one in the E-M1 offers a substantially higher resolution than the one in the V-LUX 1 (2360k vs 235k dots). The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Leica V-LUX 1, the Olympus E-M1, and comparable cameras.
|1.||Leica V-LUX 1||235||n||2.0||207||swivel||n||1/2000s||2.0||Y||Y|
|3.||Leica Q Typ 116||3680||n||3.0||1040||fixed||Y||1/2000s||10.0||n||Y|
|4.||Leica X Vario||optional||n||3.0||920||fixed||n||1/2000s||5.0||Y||n|
|5.||Leica D-LUX 6||optional||n||3.0||920||fixed||n||1/4000s||11.0||Y||Y|
|6.||Leica V-LUX 4||1312||n||3.0||460||swivel||n||1/4000s||12.0||Y||Y|
|7.||Leica V-LUX 3||202||n||3.0||460||swivel||n||1/2000s||12.0||Y||Y|
|8.||Leica D-LUX 5||optional||n||3.0||460||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.5||Y||Y|
|9.||Leica V-LUX 2||202||n||3.0||460||swivel||n||1/2000s||11.0||Y||Y|
|12.||Olympus E-M1 II||2360||n||3.0||1037||swivel||Y||1/8000s||18.0||n||Y|
|13.||Olympus E-M5 II||2360||n||3.0||1037||swivel||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The V-LUX 1 has one, while the E-M1 does not. While the built-in flash of the V-LUX 1 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.The V-LUX 1 has an articulated LCD that can be turned to be front-facing. This characteristic will be appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in snapping selfies. In contrast, the E-M1 does not have a selfie-screen.
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 E-M1 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 Olympus E-M1 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.
The V-LUX 1 writes its imaging data to SDHC cards, while the E-M1 uses SDXC cards. The E-M1 supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s), while the V-LUX 1 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 V-LUX 1 and Olympus OM-D E-M1 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|1.||Leica V-LUX 1||Y||mono||mono||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|3.||Leica Q Typ 116||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|4.||Leica X Vario||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|5.||Leica D-LUX 6||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|6.||Leica V-LUX 4||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|7.||Leica V-LUX 3||Y||stereo||-||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|8.||Leica D-LUX 5||Y||mono||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|9.||Leica V-LUX 2||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|12.||Olympus E-M1 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.0||Y||-||-|
|13.||Olympus E-M5 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
It is notable that the E-M1 offers wifi support, which can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location. In contrast, the V-LUX 1 does not provide wifi capability.
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Olympus E-M1 (unlike the V-LUX 1) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Both the V-LUX 1 and the E-M1 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The V-LUX 1 was replaced by the Leica V-LUX 2, while the E-M1 was followed by the Olympus E-M1 II. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Leica and Olympus websites.
So what is the bottom line? Is there a clear favorite between the Leica V-LUX 1 and the Olympus E-M1? Which camera is better? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Reasons to prefer the Leica V-LUX 1:
- More flexible LCD: Has a swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
- More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
- Ready to shoot: Has a lens built-in, whereas the E-M1 requires a separate lens.
- Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
- More prestigious: Has the Leica luxury appeal, which ensures a high resale price.
- More affordable: Was introduced at a lower price, despite coming with a built-in lens.
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in September 2006).
Arguments in favor of the Olympus OM-D E-M1:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (15.9 vs 10MP), which boosts linear resolution by 26%.
- 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 (1080/30p vs 480/30p).
- Better live-view autofocus: Features on-sensor phase-detection for more confident autofocus.
- Better sound: Can connect to an external microphone for higher quality sound recording.
- More detailed viewfinder: Has higher resolution electronic viewfinder (2360k vs 235k dots).
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.0") for image review and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1037k vs 207k dots).
- Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/2000s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (10 vs 2 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Less disturbing: Has an electronic shutter option for completely silent shooting.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- More flexible: Takes interchangeable lenses and can thus be used with specialty optics.
- Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
- Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
- Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
- Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
- More modern: Reflects 6 years and 11 months of technical progress since the V-LUX 1 launch.
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the E-M1 is the clear winner of the contest (22 : 7 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 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 V-LUX 1 and the Olympus E-M1 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Superzoom Camera and Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens 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 V-LUX 1 and the E-M1 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 where reviews by experts come in. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], 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 V-LUX 1||..||..||..||..||..||Sep 2006||849|
|2.||Olympus E-M1||5/5||+ +||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2013||1,399|
|3.||Leica Q Typ 116||5/5||..||80/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2015||4,249|
|4.||Leica X Vario||3/5||..||..||4/5||4/5||Jun 2013||2,850|
|5.||Leica D-LUX 6||..||..||..||4/5||4/5||Sep 2012||699|
|6.||Leica V-LUX 4||..||..||..||..||..||Sep 2012||949|
|7.||Leica V-LUX 3||..||..||..||..||..||Dec 2011||949|
|8.||Leica D-LUX 5||..||..||..||4.5/5||4/5||Sep 2010||699|
|9.||Leica V-LUX 2||..||..||..||..||..||Sep 2010||849|
|10.||Leica X1||3/5||..||+||..||4/5||Sep 2009||1,995|
|11.||Nikon D80||..||+||+ +||o||4.5/5||Aug 2006||999|
|12.||Olympus E-M1 II||5/5||+ +||85/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2016||1,999|
|13.||Olympus E-M5 II||5/5||+ +||81/100||5/5||5/5||Feb 2015||1,099|
|14.||Olympus E-P5||5/5||+ +||78/100||4.5/5||5/5||May 2013||999|
|15.||Olympus E-M5||4/5||+ +||80/100||4.5/5||5/5||Feb 2012||1,299|
|16.||Panasonic FZ1000||4/5||+ +||82/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2014||899|
|17.||Panasonic GH4||5/5||+ +||85/100||5/5||5/5||Feb 2014||1,499|
|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. 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. 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? 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. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.
Specifications: Leica V-LUX 1 vs Olympus E-M1
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 V-LUX 1||Olympus E-M1|
|Camera Type||Fixed lens compact camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||35-420mm f/2.8-3.7||Micro Four Thirds lenses|
|Launch Date||September 2006||September 2013|
|Launch Price||USD 849||USD 1,399|
|Sensor Specs||Leica V-LUX 1||Olympus E-M1|
|Sensor Format||1/1.8" Sensor||Four Thirds Sensor|
|Sensor Size||7.14 x 5.36 mm||17.3 x 13.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||38.2704 mm2||224.9 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||8.9 mm||21.6 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||10 Megapixels||15.9 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||3648 x 2736 pixels||4608 x 3456 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||1.95 μm||3.76 μm|
|Pixel Density||26.08 MP/cm2||7.08 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter||no AA filter|
|Movie Capability||480/30p Video||1080/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 1,600 ISO||200 - 25,600 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100 - 3,200 ISO||100 - 25,600 ISO|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||..||73|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||..||23.0|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||..||12.7|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||..||757|
|Screen Specs||Leica V-LUX 1||Olympus E-M1|
|Viewfinder Type||Electronic viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||235k dots||2360k dots|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||2.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||207k dots||1037k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Swivel screen||Tilting screen|
|Touch Input||no Touchscreen||Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Leica V-LUX 1||Olympus E-M1|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||On-Sensor Phase-detect|
|Manual Focusing Aid||no Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/2000s||1/8000s|
|Continuous Shooting||2 shutter flaps/s||10 shutter flaps/s|
|Electronic Shutter||no E-Shutter||YES|
|Time-Lapse Photography||no Intervalometer||Intervalometer built-in|
|Image Stabilization||Lens-based stabilization||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||Build-in Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDHC cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||no||UHS-I|
|Connectivity Specs||Leica V-LUX 1||Olympus E-M1|
|Studio Flash||no PC Sync||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||no HDMI||micro HDMI|
|Microphone Port||no MIC socket||External MIC port|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||Wifi built-in|
|Body Specs||Leica V-LUX 1||Olympus E-M1|
|Environmental Sealing||not weather sealed||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||360 shots per charge||350 shots per charge|
141 x 86 x 142 mm
(5.6 x 3.4 x 5.6 in)
130 x 94 x 63 mm
(5.1 x 3.7 x 2.5 in)
|Camera Weight||734 g (25.9 oz)||497 g (17.5 oz)|
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