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Leica X Vario versus Panasonic GM1

The Leica X Vario (Typ 107) and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM1 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in June 2013 and October 2013. The X Vario is a fixed lens compact, while the GM1 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on an APS-C (X Vario) and a Four Thirds (GM1) sensor. The Leica has a resolution of 16.1 megapixel, whereas the Panasonic provides 15.8 MP. Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their size, their sensors, their features, and their reception by expert reviewers.

Body comparison: Leica X Vario vs Panasonic GM1

The physical size and weight of the Leica X Vario and the Panasonic GM1 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. 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. 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 side – the X Vario – represents the basis for the calculations across all the size and weight measures).

Compare Leica X Vario vs Panasonic GM1
Compare X Vario versus GM1 top
Compare X Vario and GM1 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Panasonic GM1 is considerably smaller (44 percent) than the Leica X Vario. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the X Vario nor the GM1 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 GM1 is an interchangeable lens camera that requires a separate lens. Attaching the latter will add extra weight and bulk to the setup. You can find an overview of optics for the GM1 and their specifications in the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog.

Concerning battery life, the X Vario gets 450 shots out of its BP-DC8 battery, while the GM1 can take 230 images on a single charge of its DMW-BLH7 power pack.

The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, just click on the right or left arrow next to the camera that you would like to inspect. Alternatively, you can also use the CAM-parator to select your camera combination among a larger number of options.

Camera Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(yes/no)
Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
Leica X Vario» 5.2 in 2.9 in 3.7 in 24.0 oz 450 n Jun 2013 2,850 i i Leica X Vario
Panasonic GM1« 3.9 in 2.2 in 1.2 in 7.2 oz 230 n Oct 2013 749- i Panasonic GM1
Canon SX60« » 5.0 in 3.7 in 4.5 in 22.9 oz 340 n Sep 2014 549 i i Canon SX60
Canon G1 X Mark II« » 4.6 in 2.9 in 2.6 in 19.5 oz 240 n Feb 2014 799 i i Canon G1 X Mark II
Leica X-U Typ 113« » 5.5 in 3.1 in 3.5 in 22.4 oz 450 Y Jan 2016 2,950 i i Leica X-U Typ 113
Leica Q Typ 116« » 5.1 in 3.1 in 3.7 in 22.6 oz 300 n Jun 2015 4,249 i i Leica Q Typ 116
Leica T« » 5.3 in 2.7 in 1.3 in 13.5 oz 400 n Apr 2014 1,850- i Leica T
Leica X2« » 4.9 in 2.7 in 2.0 in 12.2 oz 450 n May 2012 1,995- i Leica X2
Leica M9« » 5.5 in 3.1 in 1.5 in 20.6 oz .. n Sep 2009 7,999- i Leica M9
Nikon Df« » 5.7 in 4.3 in 2.6 in 26.8 oz 1400 Y Nov 2013 2,749 i i Nikon Df
Olympus E-M10« » 4.7 in 3.2 in 1.8 in 14.0 oz 320 n Jan 2014 699- i Olympus E-M10
Panasonic FZ1000« » 5.4 in 3.9 in 5.2 in 29.3 oz 360 n Jun 2014 899- i Panasonic FZ1000
Panasonic GM5« » 3.9 in 2.4 in 1.4 in 7.4 oz 220 n Sep 2014 749- i Panasonic GM5
Panasonic G6« » 4.8 in 3.3 in 2.8 in 13.8 oz 340 n Apr 2013 599- i Panasonic G6
Ricoh GR« » 4.6 in 2.4 in 1.4 in 8.6 oz 290 n Apr 2013 799- i Ricoh GR
Sony RX1R« » 4.4 in 2.6 in 2.8 in 17.0 oz 270 n Jun 2013 2,799- i Sony RX1R
Sony RX1« » 4.4 in 2.6 in 2.8 in 17.0 oz 270 n Sep 2012 2,799- i Sony RX1

The camera’s price is obviously a critical decision-making factor. 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.

 

Sensor comparison: Leica X Vario vs Panasonic GM1

The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant 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 are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Leica X Vario features an APS-C sensor and the Panasonic GM1 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the GM1 is 39 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.5 and 2.0. The sensor in the X Vario has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the GM1 offers a 4:3 aspect.

Technology-wise, both cameras are equipped with CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensors.

Leica X Vario and Panasonic GM1 sensor measures

With 16.1MP, the X Vario offers a slightly higher resolution than the GM1 (15.8MP), but the X Vario nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.80μm versus 3.77μm for the GM1) due to its larger sensor. However, the GM1 is a somewhat more recent model (by 4 months) than the X Vario, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels.

X Vario versus GM1 MP

Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. 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"). Of the two cameras under review, the X Vario provides substantially higher image quality than the GM1, with an overall score that is 12 points higher. This advantage is based on 1.1 bits higher color depth, 1 EV in additional dynamic range, and 1 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.

Sensor Characteristics
  Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Camera
Model
Leica X Vario» APS-C 16.1 4928 32721080/30p23.412.7132078Leica X Vario
Panasonic GM1« Four Thirds 15.8 4592 34481080/60i22.311.766066Panasonic GM1
Canon SX60« » 1/2.3 14.2 4608 30721080/60p19.210.812739Canon SX60
Canon G1 X Mark II« » 1.5-inch 13.0 4160 31201080/30p21.510.858158Canon G1 X Mark II
Leica X-U Typ 113« » APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p----Leica X-U Typ 113
Leica Q Typ 116« » Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.312.7222185Leica Q Typ 116
Leica T« » APS-C 16.2 4944 32781080/30p23.012.7108275Leica T
Leica X2« » APS-C 16.1 4928 3264-----Leica X2
Leica M9« » Full Frame 18.1 5212 3472-22.511.788469Leica M9
Nikon Df« » Full Frame 16.2 4928 3280-24.613.1327989Nikon Df
Olympus E-M10« » Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/30p22.812.388472Olympus E-M10
Panasonic FZ1000« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36484K/30p22.111.751764Panasonic FZ1000
Panasonic GM5« » Four Thirds 15.8 4592 34481080/60p22.111.772166Panasonic GM5
Panasonic G6« » Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/60p21.311.563961Panasonic G6
Ricoh GR« » APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p23.613.597278Ricoh GR
Sony RX1R« » Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p25.013.6253791Sony RX1R
Sony RX1« » Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p25.114.3253493Sony RX1

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. Both cameras under consideration are equipped with sensors that have a sufficiently high read-out speed for moving images, but the GM1 provides a faster frame rate than the X Vario. It can shoot movie footage at 1080/60i, while the Leica is limited to 1080/30p.

 

Feature comparison: Leica X Vario vs Panasonic GM1

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The X Vario and the GM1 are similar in the sense that neither of the two has a viewfinder. The images are, thus, framed using live view on the rear LCD. That said, the X Vario can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the EVF 2. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Leica X Vario, the Panasonic GM1, and comparable cameras. If needed, the dpreview camera hub, for example, contains further detail on the cameras' specs.

Core Features
  Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
'000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec))
Build-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Camera
Model
Leica X Vario»- n 3.0 920 fixed n 2000 5.0 Y n Leica X Vario
Panasonic GM1«- n 3.0 1036 fixed Y 500 5.0 Y n Panasonic GM1
Canon SX60« »922 n 3.0 922 swivel n 2000 6.4 Y Y Canon SX60
Canon G1 X Mark II« »- n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 4000 5.2 Y Y Canon G1 X Mark II
Leica X-U Typ 113« »- n 3.0 920 fixed n 2000 5.0 Y n Leica X-U Typ 113
Leica Q Typ 116« »3680 n 3.0 1040 fixed Y 2000 10.0 n n Leica Q Typ 116
Leica T« »- n 3.7 1300 fixed Y 4000 5.0 Y n Leica T
Leica X2« »- n 2.7 230 fixed n 2000 5.0 Y n Leica X2
Leica M9« »optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 4000 2.0 n n Leica M9
Nikon Df« »optical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 4000 5.5 n n Nikon Df
Olympus E-M10« »1440 n 3.0 1037 tilting Y 4000 8.0 Y Y Olympus E-M10
Panasonic FZ1000« »2359 n 3.0 921 swivel n 4000 12.0 Y Y Panasonic FZ1000
Panasonic GM5« »1166 n 3.0 921 fixed Y 500 5.8 n n Panasonic GM5
Panasonic G6« »1440 n 3.0 1036 swivel Y 4000 7.0 Y n Panasonic G6
Ricoh GR« »- n 3.0 1230 fixed n 4000 4.0 Y n Ricoh GR
Sony RX1R« »- n 3.0 1229 fixed n 4000 5.0 Y n Sony RX1R
Sony RX1« »- n 3.0 1229 fixed n 4000 5.0 Y n Sony RX1

The reported shutter speed and shutter burst refer to the use of the mechanical shutter. In addition, the GM1 features an electronic shutter, which makes silent shooting and higher burst speeds possible. However, this mode is less suitable for photographing moving objects (rolling shutter) or shooting under artificial light sources (flickering).

The X Vario is a current model that online retailers, such as amazon, will have in stock. In contrast, the GM1 has been discontinued (but it can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the GM1 was succeeded by the Panasonic GM5.

Review summary: Leica X Vario vs Panasonic GM1

So what is the bottom line? Is there a clear favorite between the Leica X Vario and the Panasonic GM1? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.

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Reasons to prefer the Leica X Vario (Typ 107):

  • Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (12 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
  • Richer colors: Generates images with noticeably better colors (1.1 bits more color depth).
  • More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (1 EV of extra DR).
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (1 stops ISO advantage).
  • More framing options: Can be equipped with a hotshoe-mounted accessory-viewfinder.
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (2000/sec vs 500/sec) to freeze action.
  • Ready to shoot: Has a lens build-in, whereas the GM1 requires a separate lens.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (450 versus 230) on a single battery charge.
  • 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 June 2013).

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Arguments in favor of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM1:

  • Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/60i versus 1080/30p).
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1036k vs 920k dots).
  • Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
  • Less disturbing: Has an electronic shutter option for completely silent shooting.
  • More flexible: Takes interchangeable lenses and can thus be used with specialty optics.
  • More compact: Is smaller (99x55mm vs 133x73mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • More modern: Was introduced somewhat (4 months) more recently.

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the X Vario emerges as the winner of the contest (10 : 7 points). However, the relevance of individual strengths will vary across photographers, so that you might want to apply your own weighing scheme to the summary points when reflecting and deciding on a new camera.

X Vario 10:07 GM1

In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras is instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it says nothing about, for example, the handling, responsiveness, and overall imaging quality of the X Vario and the GM1 in practical situations. At times, user reviews, such as those published at amazon, address these issues in a useful manner, but such feedback is on many occasions incomplete, inconsistent, and unreliable. This is where reviews by experts come in. The table below summarizes the assessments of some of the best known camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). You can find the full text of the reviews by clicking on the site logo in the table header.

Review Scores
  Camera
Model
cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
Leica X Vario»--4/54/54/5 Jun 2013 2,850 i i Leica X Vario
Panasonic GM1«Rec78/1005/54.5/54.5/5 Oct 2013 749- i Panasonic GM1
Canon SX60« »HiRec75/1004/5-4.5/5 Sep 2014 549 i i Canon SX60
Canon G1 X Mark II« »Rec77/1004/54/54.5/5 Feb 2014 799 i i Canon G1 X Mark II
Leica X-U Typ 113« »----3.5/5 Jan 2016 2,950 i i Leica X-U Typ 113
Leica Q Typ 116« »-80/1004.5/5-4.5/5 Jun 2015 4,249 i i Leica Q Typ 116
Leica T« »--4/5-4/5 Apr 2014 1,850- i Leica T
Leica X2« »--3/5-4/5 May 2012 1,995- i Leica X2
Leica M9« »--4.5/54.5/5- Sep 2009 7,999- i Leica M9
Nikon Df« »-81/1004/54/54/5 Nov 2013 2,749 i i Nikon Df
Olympus E-M10« »-80/1005/54.5/55/5 Jan 2014 699- i Olympus E-M10
Panasonic FZ1000« »HiRec82/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Jun 2014 899- i Panasonic FZ1000
Panasonic GM5« »Rec77/1005/55/54.5/5 Sep 2014 749- i Panasonic GM5
Panasonic G6« »HiRec-5/5-4.5/5 Apr 2013 599- i Panasonic G6
Ricoh GR« »-79/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Apr 2013 799- i Ricoh GR
Sony RX1R« »--4/5rev4.5/5 Jun 2013 2,799- i Sony RX1R
Sony RX1« »-79/1004/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 2,799- i Sony RX1

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, 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 use the search menu 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 send me an email, and I will try to locate and add the respective data to the application.

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