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Leica X Vario versus Panasonic GM5

The Leica X Vario (Typ 107) and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM5 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in June 2013 and September 2014. The X Vario is a fixed lens compact, while the GM5 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on an APS-C (X Vario) and a Four Thirds (GM5) 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 GM5

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Leica X Vario and the Panasonic GM5 is provided 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. You can also toggle the display to switch to a percentage comparison if you prefer that the measures are being expressed in relative terms (in this case, the camera on the left – the X Vario – represents 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).

Compare Leica X Vario vs Panasonic GM5
Compare X Vario versus GM5 top
Compare X Vario and GM5 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Panasonic GM5 is considerably smaller (39 percent) than the Leica X Vario. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the X Vario nor the GM5 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 GM5 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 GM5 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 GM5 can take 220 images on a single charge of its DMW-BLH7 power pack.

The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. 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» 133 mm 73 mm 95 mm 680 g 450 n Jun 2013 2,850 i i Leica X Vario
Panasonic GM5« 99 mm 60 mm 36 mm 211 g 220 n Sep 2014 749- i Panasonic GM5
Canon SX60« » 128 mm 93 mm 114 mm 650 g 340 n Sep 2014 549- i Canon SX60
Leica X-U Typ 113« » 140 mm 79 mm 88 mm 635 g 450 Y Jan 2016 2,950 i i Leica X-U Typ 113
Leica Q Typ 116« » 130 mm 80 mm 93 mm 640 g 300 n Jun 2015 4,249 i i Leica Q Typ 116
Leica T« » 134 mm 69 mm 33 mm 384 g 400 n Apr 2014 1,850- i Leica T
Leica V-LUX Typ 114« » 137 mm 99 mm 131 mm 830 g 360 n Sep 2014 1,349 i i Leica V-LUX Typ 114
Leica X Typ 113« » 133 mm 73 mm 78 mm 486 g 350 n Sep 2014 2,295 i i Leica X Typ 113
Nikon Df« » 144 mm 110 mm 67 mm 760 g 1400 Y Nov 2013 2,749 i i Nikon Df
Panasonic G7« » 125 mm 86 mm 77 mm 410 g 350 n May 2015 649- i Panasonic G7
Panasonic FZ1000« » 137 mm 99 mm 131 mm 831 g 360 n Jun 2014 899- i Panasonic FZ1000
Panasonic G6« » 122 mm 85 mm 71 mm 390 g 340 n Apr 2013 599- i Panasonic G6
Panasonic GM1« » 99 mm 55 mm 30 mm 204 g 230 n Oct 2013 749- i Panasonic GM1
Ricoh GR II« » 117 mm 63 mm 35 mm 251 g 320 n Jun 2015 699- i Ricoh GR II
Ricoh GR« » 117 mm 61 mm 35 mm 245 g 290 n Apr 2013 799- i Ricoh GR
Sony RX1R« » 113 mm 65 mm 70 mm 482 g 270 n Jun 2013 2,799- i Sony RX1R

Any camera purchase will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. 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. 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. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.

 

Sensor comparison: Leica X Vario vs Panasonic GM5

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. Further, a large sensor camera will give the photographer additional creative options when using shallow depth-of-field to isolate a subject from its 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 GM5 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the GM5 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 GM5 offers a 4:3 aspect.

Leica X Vario and Panasonic GM5 sensor measures

With 16.1MP, the X Vario offers a slightly higher resolution than the GM5 (15.8MP), but the X Vario nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.80μm versus 3.77μm for the GM5) due to its larger sensor. However, the GM5 is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 3 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 GM5 MP

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. This service is based on lab testing and assigns an overall score to each camera sensor, as well as ratings for dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), color depth ("DXO Portrait"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"). Of the two cameras under review, the X Vario provides substantially higher image quality than the GM5, with an overall score that is 12 points higher. This advantage is based on 1.3 bits higher color depth, 1 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.9 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-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 GM5« Four Thirds 15.8 4592 34481080/60p22.111.772166Panasonic GM5
Canon SX60« » 1/2.3 14.2 4608 30721080/60p19.210.812739Canon SX60
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 V-LUX Typ 114« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36484K/30p----Leica V-LUX Typ 114
Leica X Typ 113« » APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p----Leica X Typ 113
Nikon Df« » Full Frame 16.2 4928 3280-24.613.1327989Nikon Df
Panasonic G7« » Four Thirds 15.8 4592 34484K/30p----Panasonic G7
Panasonic FZ1000« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36484K/30p22.111.751764Panasonic FZ1000
Panasonic G6« » Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34561080/60p21.311.563961Panasonic G6
Panasonic GM1« » Four Thirds 15.8 4592 34481080/60i22.311.766066Panasonic GM1
Ricoh GR II« » APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p23.613.7107880Ricoh GR II
Ricoh GR« » APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p23.613.597278Ricoh GR
Sony RX1R« » Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p25.013.6253791Sony RX1R

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 GM5 provides a faster frame rate than the X Vario. It can shoot movie footage at 1080/60p, while the Leica is limited to 1080/30p.

 

Feature comparison: Leica X Vario vs Panasonic GM5

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the GM5 has an electronic viewfinder (1166k 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. That said, the X Vario can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the EVF 2. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Leica X Vario and Panasonic GM5 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras. The full specs-sheets can be found in the camera manual or in the dpreview camera hub.

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 GM5«1166 n 3.0 921 fixed Y 500 5.8 n n Panasonic GM5
Canon SX60« »922 n 3.0 922 swivel n 2000 6.4 Y Y Canon SX60
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 V-LUX Typ 114« »2359 n 3.0 921 swivel n 4000 12.0 Y Y Leica V-LUX Typ 114
Leica X Typ 113« »- n 3.0 920 fixed n 2000 5.0 Y n Leica X Typ 113
Nikon Df« »optical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 4000 5.5 n n Nikon Df
Panasonic G7« »2360 n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 4000 7.0 Y n Panasonic G7
Panasonic FZ1000« »2359 n 3.0 921 swivel n 4000 12.0 Y Y Panasonic FZ1000
Panasonic G6« »1440 n 3.0 1036 swivel Y 4000 7.0 Y n Panasonic G6
Panasonic GM1« »- n 3.0 1036 fixed Y 500 5.0 Y n Panasonic GM1
Ricoh GR II« »- n 3.0 1230 fixed n 4000 4.0 Y n Ricoh GR II
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

One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The X Vario has one, while the GM5 does not. While the build-in flash of the X Vario is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.

The reported shutter speed and shutter burst refer to the use of the mechanical shutter. In addition, the GM5 features an electronic shutter, which makes completely silent shooting possible. However, this mode is less suitable for photographing moving objects (rolling shutter) or shooting under artificial light sources (flickering).

Both the X Vario and the GM5 write their imaging data to SDXC cards.

Input-Output Connections
  Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Type
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
Camera
Model
Leica X Vario»Ystereomono--mini2.0---Leica X Vario
Panasonic GM5«Ystereomono--micro2.0Y--Panasonic GM5
Canon SX60« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0YY-Canon SX60
Leica X-U Typ 113« »Ystereomono---2.0---Leica X-U Typ 113
Leica Q Typ 116« »Ystereomono--micro2.0YY-Leica Q Typ 116
Leica T« »Ystereomono---2.0Y--Leica T
Leica V-LUX Typ 114« »YstereomonoY-micro2.0YY-Leica V-LUX Typ 114
Leica X Typ 113« »Ystereomono--mini2.0---Leica X Typ 113
Nikon Df« »Y----mini2.0---Nikon Df
Panasonic G7« »YstereomonoY-micro2.0Y--Panasonic G7
Panasonic FZ1000« »YstereomonoY-micro2.0YY-Panasonic FZ1000
Panasonic G6« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0YY-Panasonic G6
Panasonic GM1« »-stereomono--micro2.0Y--Panasonic GM1
Ricoh GR II« »Ystereomono--micro2.0YY-Ricoh GR II
Ricoh GR« »Ymonomono--micro2.0---Ricoh GR
Sony RX1R« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0---Sony RX1R

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

Review summary: Leica X Vario vs Panasonic GM5

So what conclusions can be drawn? Which of the two cameras – the Leica X Vario or the Panasonic GM5 – has the upper hand? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.

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Advantages of 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 (1.3 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 (0.9 stops ISO advantage).
  • 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 GM5 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 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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Reasons to prefer the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM5:

  • Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/60p versus 1080/30p).
  • Easier framing: Has an electronic viewfinder for image framing and settings control.
  • Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5.8 vs 5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • 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 (99x60mm vs 133x73mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Easier file upload: Has wifi build in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
  • More modern: Was introduced somewhat (1 year and 3 months) more recently.

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the X Vario comes out slightly ahead of the GM5 (10 : 9 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.

X Vario 10:09 GM5

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 GM5 in practical situations. 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 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). The full reviews are available 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 GM5«Rec77/1005/55/54.5/5 Sep 2014 749- i Panasonic GM5
Canon SX60« »HiRec75/1004/5-4.5/5 Sep 2014 549- i Canon SX60
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 V-LUX Typ 114« »----5/5 Sep 2014 1,349 i i Leica V-LUX Typ 114
Leica X Typ 113« »--3.5/5-4/5 Sep 2014 2,295 i i Leica X Typ 113
Nikon Df« »-81/1004/54/54/5 Nov 2013 2,749 i i Nikon Df
Panasonic G7« »HiRec80/1005/54.5/54.5/5 May 2015 649- i Panasonic G7
Panasonic FZ1000« »HiRec82/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Jun 2014 899- i Panasonic FZ1000
Panasonic G6« »HiRec-5/5-4.5/5 Apr 2013 599- i Panasonic G6
Panasonic GM1« »Rec78/1005/54.5/54.5/5 Oct 2013 749- i Panasonic GM1
Ricoh GR II« »--4.5/54.5/54.5/5 Jun 2015 699- i Ricoh GR II
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

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 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. An an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool. If you do not see the camera that you are looking for, please contact me, and I will try to update the database with the necessary infos.

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