Leica V-LUX 3 vs Sony NEX-5R
The Leica V-LUX 3 and the Sony Alpha NEX-5R are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in December 2011 and August 2012. The V-LUX 3 is a fixed lens compact, while the NEX-5R is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on a 1/2.3-inch (V-LUX 3) and an APS-C (NEX-5R) sensor. The Leica has a resolution of 12 megapixels, whereas the Sony provides 16 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 3 and the Sony Alpha NEX-5R? 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 V-LUX 3 and the Sony NEX-5R 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 width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The NEX-5R can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the V-LUX 3 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 Sony NEX-5R is considerably smaller (35 percent) than the Leica V-LUX 3. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the V-LUX 3 nor the NEX-5R are weather-sealed.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the V-LUX 3 has a lens built in, whereas the NEX-5R 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 NEX-5R and their specifications in the Sony E-Mount Lens Catalog.
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, you can move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.
|1.||Leica V-LUX 3||124 mm||81 mm||95 mm||540 g||410||n||Dec 2011||949|
|2.||Sony NEX-5R||111 mm||59 mm||39 mm||276 g||330||n||Aug 2012||749|
|3.||Canon G1 X Mark II||116 mm||74 mm||66 mm||553 g||240||n||Feb 2014||799|
|4.||Canon G1 X||117 mm||81 mm||65 mm||534 g||250||n||Jan 2012||799|
|5.||Canon SX50||123 mm||87 mm||106 mm||595 g||315||n||Sep 2012||429|
|6.||Canon SX40||123 mm||92 mm||108 mm||600 g||380||n||Sep 2011||429|
|7.||Canon SX30||123 mm||92 mm||108 mm||601 g||370||n||Sep 2010||429|
|8.||Leica V-LUX 4||125 mm||87 mm||110 mm||588 g||540||n||Sep 2012||949|
|9.||Leica V-LUX 2||124 mm||80 mm||95 mm||520 g||410||n||Sep 2010||849|
|10.||Panasonic FZ200||125 mm||87 mm||110 mm||588 g||540||n||Jul 2012||599|
|11.||Panasonic FZ150||124 mm||82 mm||92 mm||528 g||410||n||Aug 2011||499|
|12.||Panasonic FZ100||124 mm||82 mm||92 mm||540 g||410||n||Jul 2010||499|
|13.||Ricoh GR||117 mm||61 mm||35 mm||245 g||290||n||Apr 2013||799|
|14.||Sony NEX-3N||110 mm||62 mm||35 mm||269 g||480||n||Feb 2013||499|
|15.||Sony NEX-5T||111 mm||59 mm||39 mm||276 g||330||n||Aug 2013||699|
|16.||Sony NEX-5N||111 mm||59 mm||38 mm||269 g||460||n||Aug 2011||699|
|17.||Sony NEX-3||117 mm||62 mm||33 mm||297 g||330||n||May 2010||599|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will obviously take relative prices into account. The manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. 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.
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. 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 are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Leica V-LUX 3 features a 1/2.3-inch sensor and the Sony NEX-5R an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the NEX-5R is 1204 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 5.6 and 1.5. The sensor in the V-LUX 3 has a native 4:3 aspect ratio, while the one in the NEX-5R offers a 3:2 aspect.
With 16MP, the NEX-5R offers a higher resolution than the V-LUX 3 (12MP), but the NEX-5R nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.78μm versus 1.53μm for the V-LUX 3) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the NEX-5R is a somewhat more recent model (by 8 months) than the V-LUX 3, 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 V-LUX 3 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.
The resolution advantage of the Sony NEX-5R implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the NEX-5R for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 24.6 x 16.3 inches or 62.4 x 41.5 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 19.6 x 13.1 inches or 49.9 x 33.2 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 16.4 x 10.9 inches or 41.6 x 27.6 cm. The corresponding values for the Leica V-LUX 3 are 20 x 15 inches or 50.8 x 38.1 cm for good quality, 16 x 12 inches or 40.6 x 30.5 cm for very good quality, and 13.3 x 10 inches or 33.9 x 25.4 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Leica V-LUX 3 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 3200, which can be extended to ISO 100-6400. The corresponding ISO settings for the Sony Alpha NEX-5R are ISO 100 to ISO 25600 (no boost).
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. 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 following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.
| DXO |
|1.||Leica V-LUX 3||1/2.3||12.0||4000||3000||1080/60p||..||..||..||..|
|3.||Canon G1 X Mark II||1.5-inch||13.0||4160||3120||1080/30p||21.5||10.8||581||58|
|4.||Canon G1 X||1.5-inch||14.2||4352||3264||1080/24p||21.7||10.8||644||60|
|8.||Leica V-LUX 4||1/2.3||12.0||4000||3000||1080/60p||..||..||..||..|
|9.||Leica V-LUX 2||1/2.3||14.0||4320||3240||1080/60i||..||..||..||..|
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, but the V-LUX 3 provides a higher frame rate than the NEX-5R. It can shoot video footage at 1080/60p, while the Sony is limited to 1080/60i.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the V-LUX 3 has an electronic viewfinder (202k dots), which can be very helpful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the NEX-5R relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. That said, the NEX-5R can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the FDA-EV1S. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Leica V-LUX 3, the Sony NEX-5R, and comparable cameras.
|1.||Leica V-LUX 3||202||n||3.0||460||swivel||n||1/2000s||12.0||Y||Y|
|3.||Canon G1 X Mark II||optional||n||3.0||1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||5.2||Y||Y|
|4.||Canon G1 X||optical||n||3.0||922||Swivel||n||1/4000s||1.9||Y||Y|
|8.||Leica V-LUX 4||1312||n||3.0||460||swivel||n||1/4000s||12.0||Y||Y|
|9.||Leica V-LUX 2||202||n||3.0||460||swivel||n||1/2000s||11.0||Y||Y|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The V-LUX 3 has one, while the NEX-5R does not. While the built-in flash of the V-LUX 3 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.Both cameras have an articulated rear screen that can be turned to be front-facing. This feature will be particularly appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in taking selfies.
The V-LUX 3 writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the NEX-5R uses SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo 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 3 and Sony Alpha NEX-5R and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|1.||Leica V-LUX 3||Y||stereo||-||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|3.||Canon G1 X Mark II||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|4.||Canon G1 X||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|8.||Leica V-LUX 4||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|9.||Leica V-LUX 2||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
It is notable that the NEX-5R offers wifi support, which can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location. In contrast, the V-LUX 3 does not provide wifi capability.
Both the V-LUX 3 and the NEX-5R have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The V-LUX 3 was replaced by the Leica V-LUX 4, while the NEX-5R was followed by the Sony NEX-5T. 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.
So what is the bottom line? Is the Leica V-LUX 3 better than the Sony NEX-5R or vice versa? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Arguments in favor of the Leica V-LUX 3:
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/60p versus 1080/60i).
- Easier framing: Has an electronic viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
- More flexible LCD: Has a swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (12 vs 10 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Ready to shoot: Has a lens built-in, whereas the NEX-5R requires a separate lens.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (410 versus 330) on a single battery charge.
- Sharper images: Has hand-shake reducing image stabilization built-in.
- 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 heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in December 2011).
Reasons to prefer the Sony Alpha NEX-5R:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (16 vs 12MP), which boosts linear resolution by 18%.
- 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.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (920k vs 460k dots).
- Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/4000s vs 1/2000s) to freeze action.
- More flexible: Takes interchangeable lenses and can thus be used with specialty optics.
- More compact: Is smaller (111x59mm vs 124x81mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
- More modern: Was introduced somewhat (8 months) more recently.
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the NEX-5R emerges as the winner of the match-up (13 : 11 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.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Leica V-LUX 3 and the Sony NEX-5R 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 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 V-LUX 3 and the NEX-5R 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 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], 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 3||..||..||..||..||..||Dec 2011||949|
|2.||Sony NEX-5R||..||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2012||749|
|3.||Canon G1 X Mark II||3/5||+||77/100||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2014||799|
|4.||Canon G1 X||5/5||+||76/100||4/5||4.5/5||Jan 2012||799|
|5.||Canon SX50||3/5||+ +||72/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||429|
|6.||Canon SX40||..||+||..||4.5/5||4/5||Sep 2011||429|
|7.||Canon SX30||3/5||+ +||..||3.5/5||4/5||Sep 2010||429|
|8.||Leica V-LUX 4||..||..||..||..||..||Sep 2012||949|
|9.||Leica V-LUX 2||..||..||..||..||..||Sep 2010||849|
|10.||Panasonic FZ200||3/5||+ +||80/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jul 2012||599|
|11.||Panasonic FZ150||3/5||+ +||76/100||4/5||4.5/5||Aug 2011||499|
|12.||Panasonic FZ100||..||+||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jul 2010||499|
|13.||Ricoh GR||5/5||..||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2013||799|
|14.||Sony NEX-3N||3/5||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2013||499|
|15.||Sony NEX-5T||..||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2013||699|
|16.||Sony NEX-5N||3/5||+ +||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2011||699|
|17.||Sony NEX-3||..||..||70/100||4.5/5||4/5||May 2010||599|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The above review scores should be interpreted with care, 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 rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.
Other camera comparisons
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Specifications: Leica V-LUX 3 vs Sony NEX-5R
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 3||Sony NEX-5R|
|Camera Type||Fixed lens compact camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||25-600mm f/2.8-5.2||Sony E mount lenses|
|Launch Date||December 2011||August 2012|
|Launch Price||USD 949||USD 749|
|Sensor Specs||Leica V-LUX 3||Sony NEX-5R|
|Sensor Format||1/2.3" Sensor||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||6.17 x 4.55 mm||23.4 x 15.6 mm|
|Sensor Area||28.0735 mm2||365.04 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||7.7 mm||28.1 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||12 Megapixels||16 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4000 x 3000 pixels||4912 x 3264 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||1.53 μm||4.78 μm|
|Pixel Density||42.74 MP/cm2||4.39 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/60p Video||1080/60i Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 3,200 ISO||100 - 25,600 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100 - 6,400 ISO||no Enhancement|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||..||78|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||..||23.7|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||..||13.1|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||..||910|
|Screen Specs||Leica V-LUX 3||Sony NEX-5R|
|Viewfinder Type||Electronic viewfinder||Viewfinder optional|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||202k dots|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||460k dots||920k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Swivel screen||Tilting screen|
|Touch Input||no Touchscreen||Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Leica V-LUX 3||Sony NEX-5R|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||12 shutter flaps/s||10 shutter flaps/s|
|Fill Flash||Built-in Flash||no On-Board 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 V-LUX 3||Sony NEX-5R|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||Wifi built-in|
|Body Specs||Leica V-LUX 3||Sony NEX-5R|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||410 shots per charge||330 shots per charge|
124 x 81 x 95 mm
(4.9 x 3.2 x 3.7 in)
111 x 59 x 39 mm
(4.4 x 2.3 x 1.5 in)
|Camera Weight||540 g (19.0 oz)||276 g (9.7 oz)|
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