Leica V-LUX 4 vs Pentax K-1 II
The Leica V-LUX 4 and the Pentax K-1 II are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in September 2012 and February 2018. The V-LUX 4 is a fixed lens compact, while the K-1 II is a DSLR. The cameras are based on a 1/2.3-inch (V-LUX 4) and a full frame (K-1 II) sensor. The Leica has a resolution of 12 megapixels, whereas the Pentax provides 36.2 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 4 and the Pentax K-1 II? 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 V-LUX 4 and the Pentax K-1 II. 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 K-1 II can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the V-LUX 4 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 Pentax K-1 II is notably larger (39 percent) than the Leica V-LUX 4. It is noteworthy in this context that the K-1 II is splash and dust-proof, while the V-LUX 4 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 4 has a lens built in, whereas the K-1 II is an interchangeable lens camera that requires a separate lens. Attaching the latter will add extra weight and bulk to the setup.
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 4||125 mm||87 mm||110 mm||588 g||540||n||Sep 2012||949|
|2.||Pentax K-1 II||137 mm||110 mm||86 mm||1010 g||670||Y||Feb 2018||1,999|
|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.||Leica X Vario||133 mm||73 mm||95 mm||680 g||450||n||Jun 2013||2,850|
|8.||Leica D-LUX 6||111 mm||68 mm||46 mm||298 g||330||n||Sep 2012||699|
|9.||Leica V-LUX 3||124 mm||81 mm||95 mm||540 g||410||n||Dec 2011||949|
|10.||Leica V-LUX 2||124 mm||80 mm||95 mm||520 g||410||n||Sep 2010||849|
|11.||Panasonic S1R||149 mm||110 mm||97 mm||1016 g||380||Y||Feb 2019||3,699|
|12.||Panasonic FZ200||125 mm||87 mm||110 mm||588 g||540||n||Jul 2012||599|
|13.||Panasonic FZ150||124 mm||82 mm||92 mm||528 g||410||n||Aug 2011||499|
|14.||Pentax K-1||137 mm||110 mm||86 mm||1010 g||760||Y||Feb 2016||1,799|
|15.||Sony A7R III||127 mm||96 mm||74 mm||650 g||650||Y||Oct 2017||3,199|
|16.||Sony A99 II||143 mm||104 mm||76 mm||849 g||490||Y||Sep 2016||3,199|
|17.||Sony A850||156 mm||117 mm||82 mm||895 g||880||Y||Aug 2009||1,999|
|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 retail prices at the time of the camera’s release place the model in the market relative to other models in the producer’s line-up and the competition. The V-LUX 4 was launched at a lower price than the K-1 II, despite having a lens built in. 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. 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 V-LUX 4 features a 1/2.3-inch sensor and the Pentax K-1 II a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the K-1 II is 2979 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 5.6 and 1.0. The sensor in the V-LUX 4 has a native 4:3 aspect ratio, while the one in the K-1 II offers a 3:2 aspect.
With 36.2MP, the K-1 II offers a higher resolution than the V-LUX 4 (12MP), but the K-1 II nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.88μm versus 1.53μm for the V-LUX 4) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the K-1 II is a much more recent model (by 5 years and 5 months) than the V-LUX 4, 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 Pentax K-1 II implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the K-1 II for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 36.8 x 24.6 inches or 93.5 x 62.4 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 29.4 x 19.6 inches or 74.8 x 49.9 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 24.5 x 16.4 inches or 62.3 x 41.6 cm. The corresponding values for the Leica V-LUX 4 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.
Unlike the V-LUX 4, the K-1 II has the capacity to capture high quality composite images by combining multiple shots after shifting its sensor by miniscule distances. This multi-shot, pixel-shift mode is most suitable for photography of stationary objects (landscapes, studio scenes).
The Leica V-LUX 4 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 Pentax K-1 II are ISO 100 to ISO 819200 (no boost).
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 adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
| DXO |
|1.||Leica V-LUX 4||1/2.3||12.0||4000||3000||1080/60p||..||..||..||..|
|2.||Pentax K-1 II||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/60i||..||..||..||..|
|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|
|7.||Leica X Vario||APS-C||16.1||4928||3272||1080/30p||23.4||12.7||1320||78|
|8.||Leica D-LUX 6||1/1.7||10.0||3648||2736||1080/60p||..||..||..||..|
|9.||Leica V-LUX 3||1/2.3||12.0||4000||3000||1080/60p||..||..||..||..|
|10.||Leica V-LUX 2||1/2.3||14.0||4320||3240||1080/60i||..||..||..||..|
|11.||Panasonic S1R||Full Frame||46.7||8368||5584||4K/60p||26.4||14.1||3525||100|
|14.||Pentax K-1||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/60i||25.4||14.6||3280||96|
|15.||Sony A7R III||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||26.0||14.7||3523||100|
|16.||Sony A99 II||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||25.4||13.4||2317||92|
|17.||Sony A850||Full Frame||24.4||6048||4032||none||23.8||12.2||1415||79|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, but the V-LUX 4 provides a higher frame rate than the K-1 II. It can shoot video footage at 1080/60p, while the Pentax is limited to 1080/60i.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the V-LUX 4 has an electronic viewfinder (1312k dots), while the K-1 II has an optical one. Both systems have their advantages, with the electronic viewfinder making it possible to project supplementary shooting information into the framing view, whereas the optical viewfinder offers lag-free viewing and a very clear framing image. The viewfinders of both cameras offer the same field of view (100%), but the viewfinder of the K-1 II has a higher magnification than the one of the V-LUX 4 (0.70x vs 0.46x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Leica V-LUX 4, the Pentax K-1 II, and comparable cameras.
|1.||Leica V-LUX 4||1312||n||3.0||460||swivel||n||1/4000s||12.0||Y||Y|
|2.||Pentax K-1 II||optical||Y||3.2||1037||full-flex||n||1/8000s||4.4||n||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|
|7.||Leica X Vario||optional||n||3.0||920||fixed||n||1/2000s||5.0||Y||n|
|8.||Leica D-LUX 6||optional||n||3.0||920||fixed||n||1/4000s||11.0||Y||Y|
|9.||Leica V-LUX 3||202||n||3.0||460||swivel||n||1/2000s||12.0||Y||Y|
|10.||Leica V-LUX 2||202||n||3.0||460||swivel||n||1/2000s||11.0||Y||Y|
|15.||Sony A7R III||3686||n||3.0||1440||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|16.||Sony A99 II||2400||Y||3.0||1229||full-flex||n||1/8000s||12.0||n||Y|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The V-LUX 4 has one, while the K-1 II does not. While the built-in flash of the V-LUX 4 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.The V-LUX 4 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 K-1 II does not have a selfie-screen.
The Pentax K-1 II 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 V-LUX 4 and the K-1 II write their files to SDXC cards. The K-1 II features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the V-LUX 4 only has one slot. Both cameras can use UHS-I cards, which provide for Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s.
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 4 and Pentax K-1 II and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|1.||Leica V-LUX 4||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|2.||Pentax K-1 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|3.||Canon G1 X Mark II||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|4.||Canon G1 X||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|7.||Leica X Vario||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|8.||Leica D-LUX 6||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|9.||Leica V-LUX 3||Y||stereo||-||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|10.||Leica V-LUX 2||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|15.||Sony A7R III||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y|
|16.||Sony A99 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
It is notable that the K-1 II offers wifi support, which can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location. In contrast, the V-LUX 4 does not provide wifi capability.
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Pentax K-1 II (unlike the V-LUX 4) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Travel and landscape photographers will find it useful that the K-1 II has an internal geolocalization sensor and can record GPS coordinates in its EXIF data.
The K-1 II is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Pentax. In contrast, the V-LUX 4 has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the V-LUX 4 was succeeded by the Leica V-LUX Typ 114. 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? Which of the two cameras – the Leica V-LUX 4 or the Pentax K-1 II – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Reasons to prefer the Leica V-LUX 4:
- Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/60p versus 1080/60i).
- More framing info: Has an electronic viewfinder that displays shooting data.
- More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (12 vs 4.4 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Ready to shoot: Comes with a built-in lens, while the K-1 II requires a separate lens.
- More compact: Is smaller (125x87mm vs 137x110mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter even though it comes with a built-in lens (unlike the K-1 II).
- 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 2012).
Arguments in favor of the Pentax K-1 II:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (36.2 vs 12MP), which boosts linear resolution by 77%.
- High quality composites: Can combine several shots after pixel-shifting its sensor.
- 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 sound control: Has a headphone port that enables audio monitoring while recording.
- Brighter framing: Features an optical viewfinder for clear, lag-free composition.
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.70x vs 0.46x).
- Easier setting verification: Features a control panel on top to check shooting parameters.
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.2" vs 3.0") for image review and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1037k vs 460k dots).
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- More flexible: Makes it possible to change lenses and thus to use specialty optics.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (670 versus 540) out of a single battery charge.
- Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
- Easier geotagging: Features an internal GPS sensor to log localization data.
- 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.
- Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
- More modern: Reflects 5 years and 5 months of technical progress since the V-LUX 4 launch.
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the K-1 II is the clear winner of the contest (22 : 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 4 and the Pentax K-1 II place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Superzoom Camera and Best DSLR 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 V-LUX 4 or the K-1 II. 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 (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 4||..||..||..||..||..||Sep 2012||949|
|2.||Pentax K-1 II||..||..||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2018||1,999|
|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.||Leica X Vario||3/5||..||..||4/5||4/5||Jun 2013||2,850|
|8.||Leica D-LUX 6||..||..||..||4/5||4/5||Sep 2012||699|
|9.||Leica V-LUX 3||..||..||..||..||..||Dec 2011||949|
|10.||Leica V-LUX 2||..||..||..||..||..||Sep 2010||849|
|11.||Panasonic S1R||4.5/5||..||89/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2019||3,699|
|12.||Panasonic FZ200||3/5||+ +||80/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jul 2012||599|
|13.||Panasonic FZ150||3/5||+ +||76/100||4/5||4.5/5||Aug 2011||499|
|14.||Pentax K-1||5/5||..||84/100||5/5||5/5||Feb 2016||1,799|
|15.||Sony A7R III||..||+ +||90/100||4.5/5||5/5||Oct 2017||3,199|
|16.||Sony A99 II||..||..||85/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2016||3,199|
|17.||Sony A850||3/5||..||75/100||..||4.5/5||Aug 2009||1,999|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date 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 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 V-LUX 4 vs Pentax K-1 II
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 4||Pentax K-1 II|
|Camera Type||Fixed lens compact camera||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||25-600mm f/2.8||Pentax K mount lenses|
|Launch Date||September 2012||February 2018|
|Launch Price||USD 949||USD 1,999|
|Sensor Specs||Leica V-LUX 4||Pentax K-1 II|
|Sensor Format||1/2.3" Sensor||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||6.17 x 4.55 mm||35.9 x 24.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||28.0735 mm2||861.6 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||7.7 mm||43.2 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||12 Megapixels||36.2 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4000 x 3000 pixels||7360 x 4912 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||1.53 μm||4.88 μm|
|Pixel Density||42.74 MP/cm2||4.20 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter||no AA filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/60p Video||1080/60i Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 3,200 ISO||100 - 819,200 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100 - 6,400 ISO||no Enhancement|
|Screen Specs||Leica V-LUX 4||Pentax K-1 II|
|Viewfinder Type||Electronic viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||1312k dots|
|Top-Level Screen||no Top Display||Control Panel|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.2inch|
|LCD Resolution||460k dots||1037k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Swivel screen||Fully flexible screen|
|Shooting Specs||Leica V-LUX 4||Pentax K-1 II|
|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||12 shutter flaps/s||4.4 shutter flaps/s|
|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||SDXC cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Dual card slots|
|UHS card support||UHS-I||UHS-I|
|Connectivity Specs||Leica V-LUX 4||Pentax K-1 II|
|Studio Flash||no PC Sync||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||micro HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||External MIC port|
|Headphone Socket||no Headphone port||Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||Wifi built-in|
|Geotagging||no internal GPS||GPS built-in|
|Body Specs||Leica V-LUX 4||Pentax K-1 II|
|Environmental Sealing||not weather sealed||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||540 shots per charge||670 shots per charge|
125 x 87 x 110 mm
(4.9 x 3.4 x 4.3 in)
137 x 110 x 86 mm
(5.4 x 4.3 x 3.4 in)
|Camera Weight||588 g (20.7 oz)||1010 g (35.6 oz)|
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