Leica X Vario versus Leica CL
The Leica X Vario (Typ 107) and the Leica CL (Typ 7323) are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in June 2013 and November 2017. The X Vario is a fixed lens compact, while the CL is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. Both cameras are equipped with an APS-C sensor. The X Vario has a resolution of 16.1 megapixel, whereas the CL provides 24.1 MP.
The physical size and weight of the Leica X Vario and the Leica CL are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter. If you prefer, you can also use the toggle button to switch to a comparison in percentage terms (in this case, the camera on the left – the X Vario – represents 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Leica CL is somewhat larger (5 percent) than the Leica X Vario. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the X Vario nor the CL are weather-sealed.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the X Vario has a lens build in, whereas the CL is an interchangeable lens camera that requires a separate lens. Attaching the latter will add extra weight and bulk to the setup.
The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. 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 comparisons there.
|Camera Body Specifications
|Leica X Vario (⇒ rgt)||133 mm||73 mm||95 mm||680 g||450||no||2013||2,850||latest||check|
|Leica CL (⇒ lft)||131 mm||78 mm||45 mm||403 g||220||no||2017||2,795||latest||check|
|Canon M5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||116 mm||89 mm||61 mm||427 g||295||no||2016||979||latest||check|
|Canon SX60 (⇒ lft | rgt)||128 mm||93 mm||114 mm||650 g||340||no||2014||549||latest||check|
|Fujifilm X-E3 (⇒ lft | rgt)||121 mm||74 mm||43 mm||337 g||350||no||2017||899||latest||check|
|Fujifilm X-T20 (⇒ lft | rgt)||118 mm||83 mm||41 mm||383 g||350||no||2017||899||latest||check|
|Fujifilm X-A3 (⇒ lft | rgt)||117 mm||67 mm||40 mm||339 g||410||no||2016||399||latest||check|
|Leica TL2 (⇒ lft | rgt)||134 mm||69 mm||33 mm||399 g||250||no||2017||1,950||latest||check|
|Leica X-U Typ 113 (⇒ lft | rgt)||140 mm||79 mm||88 mm||635 g||450||YES||2016||2,950||latest||check|
|Leica Q Typ 116 (⇒ lft | rgt)||130 mm||80 mm||93 mm||640 g||300||no||2015||4,249||latest||check|
|Leica T (⇒ lft | rgt)||134 mm||69 mm||33 mm||384 g||400||no||2014||1,850||discont.||check|
|Leica X2 (⇒ lft | rgt)||124 mm||69 mm||52 mm||345 g||450||no||2012||1,995||discont.||check|
|Leica M9 (⇒ lft | rgt)||139 mm||80 mm||37 mm||585 g||..||no||2009||7,999||discont.||check|
|Nikon Df (⇒ lft | rgt)||144 mm||110 mm||67 mm||760 g||1400||YES||2013||2,749||latest||check|
|Panasonic FZ1000 (⇒ lft | rgt)||137 mm||99 mm||131 mm||831 g||360||no||2014||899||discont.||check|
|Sony RX1R (⇒ lft | rgt)||113 mm||65 mm||70 mm||482 g||270||no||2013||2,799||discont.||check|
|Sony RX1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||113 mm||65 mm||70 mm||482 g||270||no||2012||2,799||discont.||check|
The listed 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.
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 associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.
Both cameras under consideration feature an APS-C sensor and have a format factor (sometimes also referred to as "crop factor") of 1.5. Within the spectrum of camera sensors, this places the review cameras among the medium-sized sensor cameras that aim to strike a balance between image quality and portability. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
While the two cameras under review share the same sensor size, the CL offers a higher resolution of 24.1 megapixel, compared with 16.1 MP of the X Vario. This megapixel advantage translates into a 22 percent gain in linear resolution. On the other hand, these sensor specs imply that the CL has a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 3.92μm versus 4.80μm for the X Vario). However, it should be noted that the CL is much more recent (by 4 years and 5 months) than the X Vario, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that compensate for the smaller pixel size. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the CL has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for most 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 table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.
|Leica X Vario (⇒ rgt)||APS-C||16.1||4928||3272||1080/30p||23.4||12.7||1320||78|
|Leica CL (⇒ lft)||APS-C||24.1||6014||4014||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|Canon M5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||23.4||12.4||1262||77|
|Canon SX60 (⇒ lft | rgt)||1/2.3||14.2||4608||3072||1080/60p||19.2||10.8||127||39|
|Fujifilm X-E3 (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||-||-||-||-|
|Fujifilm X-T20 (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||-||-||-||-|
|Fujifilm X-A3 (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||-||-||-||-|
|Leica TL2 (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||24.1||6014||4014||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|Leica X-U Typ 113 (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||16.1||4928||3264||1080/30p||-||-||-||-|
|Leica Q Typ 116 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.3||12.7||2221||85|
|Leica T (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||16.2||4944||3278||1080/30p||23.0||12.7||1082||75|
|Leica X2 (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||16.1||4928||3264||no||-||-||-||-|
|Leica M9 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Full Frame||18.1||5212||3472||no||22.5||11.7||884||69|
|Nikon Df (⇒ lft | rgt)||Full Frame||16.2||4928||3280||no||24.6||13.1||3279||89|
|Panasonic FZ1000 (⇒ lft | rgt)||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||4K/30p||22.1||11.7||517||64|
|Sony RX1R (⇒ lft | rgt)||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||25.0||13.6||2537||91|
|Sony RX1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||25.1||14.3||2534||93|
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 CL provides a better video resolution than the X Vario. It can shoot movie footage at 4K/30p, while the X Vario is limited to 1080/30p.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the CL has an electronic viewfinder (2360k dots), which can be very helpful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the X Vario relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Leica X Vario and Leica CL in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras. If you need more detail on the specs, you can find comprehensive listings, for example, in the dpreview camera hub.
|Leica X Vario (⇒ rgt)||no||no||3.0||920||fixed||no||2000||5.0||YES||no|
|Leica CL (⇒ lft)||2360||YES||3.0||1040||fixed||YES||8000||10.0||no||no|
|Canon M5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||2360||no||3.2||1620||tilting||YES||4000||9.0||5||no|
|Canon SX60 (⇒ lft | rgt)||922||no||3.0||922||swivel||no||2000||6.4||5.5||YES|
|Fujifilm X-E3 (⇒ lft | rgt)||2360||no||3.0||1040||fixed||YES||4000||8.0||no||no|
|Fujifilm X-T20 (⇒ lft | rgt)||2360||no||3.0||1040||tilting||YES||4000||8.0||5||no|
|Fujifilm X-A3 (⇒ lft | rgt)||no||no||3.0||1040||tilting||YES||4000||6.0||7||no|
|Leica TL2 (⇒ lft | rgt)||no||no||3.7||1230||fixed||YES||4000||7.0||no||no|
|Leica X-U Typ 113 (⇒ lft | rgt)||no||no||3.0||920||fixed||no||2000||5.0||YES||no|
|Leica Q Typ 116 (⇒ lft | rgt)||3680||no||3.0||1040||fixed||YES||2000||10.0||no||no|
|Leica T (⇒ lft | rgt)||no||no||3.7||1300||fixed||YES||4000||5.0||4.5||no|
|Leica X2 (⇒ lft | rgt)||no||no||2.7||230||fixed||no||2000||5.0||YES||no|
|Leica M9 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||no||2.5||230||fixed||no||4000||2.0||no||no|
|Nikon Df (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.2||921||fixed||no||4000||5.5||no||no|
|Panasonic FZ1000 (⇒ lft | rgt)||2359||no||3.0||921||swivel||no||4000||12.0||13.5||YES|
|Sony RX1R (⇒ lft | rgt)||no||no||3.0||1229||fixed||no||4000||5.0||6||no|
|Sony RX1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||no||no||3.0||1229||fixed||no||4000||5.0||6||no|
Both the X Vario and the CL are current models that good online retailers will have in stock. You can check the latest prices, for example, at amazon. Neither of the two has a direct predecessor, so perhaps they will constitute the origins of new camera lines for Leica.
So how do things add up? Is the Leica X Vario better than the Leica CL or vice versa? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Reasons to prefer the Leica X Vario (Typ 107):
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- Ready to shoot: Has a lens build-in, whereas the CL requires a separate lens.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (450 versus 220) on a single battery charge.
- Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in June 2013).
Advantages of the Leica CL (Typ 7323):
- More detail: Has more megapixels (24.1 vs 16.1MP), which boosts linear resolution by 22%.
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/30p vs 1080/30p).
- Easier framing: Has an electronic viewfinder for image framing and settings control.
- Easier setting verification: Has a control panel on top to check shooting parameters.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1040k vs 920k dots).
- Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (8000/sec vs 2000/sec) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (10 vs 5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More flexible: Takes interchangeable lenses and can thus be used with specialty optics.
- More modern: Reflects 4 years and 5 months of technical progress since the X Vario launch.
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the CL is the clear winner of the contest (11 : 5 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.
In any case, while the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the X Vario or the CL handle or perform in practice. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased. This is why expert reviews are important. The table below summarizes the assessments of some of the best known camera review sites. You can find the full text of the reviews, respectively, at cameralabs.com, dpreview.com, ephotozine.com, imaging-resource.com, and photographyblog.com.
|Leica X Vario (⇒ rgt)||-||-||4/5||4/5||4/5||2013||2,850||latest||check|
|Leica CL (⇒ lft)||..||..||..||..||4/5||2017||2,795||latest||check|
|Canon M5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Rec||82/100 Silver||4/5||4.5/5||4/5||2016||979||latest||check|
|Canon SX60 (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||75/100||4/5||-||4.5/5||2014||549||latest||check|
|Fujifilm X-E3 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Rec||84/100 Gold||4.5/5||..||4.5/5||2017||899||latest||check|
|Fujifilm X-T20 (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||82/100 Silver||5/5||..||4.5/5||2017||899||latest||check|
|Fujifilm X-A3 (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||74/100||4.5/5||-||4/5||2016||399||latest||check|
|Leica TL2 (⇒ lft | rgt)||..||..||4/5||..||4/5||2017||1,950||latest||check|
|Leica X-U Typ 113 (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||-||-||-||3.5/5||2016||2,950||latest||check|
|Leica Q Typ 116 (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||80/100 Silver||4.5/5||-||4.5/5||2015||4,249||latest||check|
|Leica T (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||-||4/5||-||4/5||2014||1,850||discont.||check|
|Leica X2 (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||-||3/5||-||4/5||2012||1,995||discont.||check|
|Leica M9 (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||-||4.5/5||4.5/5||-||2009||7,999||discont.||check|
|Nikon Df (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||81/100||4/5||4/5||4/5||2013||2,749||latest||check|
|Panasonic FZ1000 (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||82/100 Gold||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||2014||899||discont.||check|
|Sony RX1R (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||-||4/5||reviewed||4.5/5||2013||2,799||discont.||check|
|Sony RX1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||79/100 Gold||4/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||2012||2,799||discont.||check|
The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. 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. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.
If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting. If you cannot find the camera you are interested in, please contact me, and I will try to add information on that model to the database.
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