Leica X Vario vs Sony A9 II
The Leica X Vario (Typ 107) and the Sony Alpha A9 II are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in June 2013 and October 2019. The X Vario is a fixed lens compact, while the A9 II is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on an APS-C (X Vario) and a full frame (A9 II) sensor. The Leica has a resolution of 16.1 megapixels, whereas the Sony provides 24 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 X Vario (Typ 107) and the Sony Alpha A9 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.
An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Leica X Vario and the Sony A9 II is provided in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The X Vario can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the A9 II 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 A9 II is notably larger (28 percent) than the Leica X Vario. It is noteworthy in this context that the A9 II is splash and dust-proof, while the X Vario does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the X Vario has a lens built in, whereas the A9 II 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 A9 II and their specifications in the Sony FE Lens Catalog.
Concerning battery life, the X Vario gets 450 shots out of its BP-DC8 battery, while the A9 II can take 690 images on a single charge of its NP-FZ100 power pack. The power pack in the A9 II can be charged via the USB port, which can be very convenient when travelling.
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 X Vario||133 mm||73 mm||95 mm||680 g||450||n||Jun 2013||2,850|
|2.||Sony A9 II||129 mm||96 mm||76 mm||678 g||690||Y||Oct 2019||4,499|
|3.||Leica X-U Typ 113||140 mm||79 mm||88 mm||635 g||450||Y||Jan 2016||2,950|
|4.||Leica Q Typ 116||130 mm||80 mm||93 mm||640 g||300||n||Jun 2015||4,249|
|5.||Leica T||134 mm||69 mm||33 mm||384 g||400||n||Apr 2014||1,850|
|6.||Leica X Typ 113||133 mm||73 mm||78 mm||486 g||350||n||Sep 2014||2,295|
|7.||Leica X2||124 mm||69 mm||52 mm||345 g||450||n||May 2012||1,995|
|8.||Nikon Df||144 mm||110 mm||67 mm||760 g||1400||Y||Nov 2013||2,749|
|9.||Nikon Coolpix A||111 mm||64 mm||40 mm||299 g||230||n||Mar 2013||1,099|
|10.||Panasonic FZ1000||137 mm||99 mm||131 mm||831 g||360||n||Jun 2014||899|
|11.||Ricoh GR||117 mm||61 mm||35 mm||245 g||290||n||Apr 2013||799|
|12.||Sony A7 III||127 mm||96 mm||74 mm||650 g||610||Y||Feb 2018||1,999|
|13.||Sony A9||127 mm||96 mm||63 mm||673 g||650||Y||Apr 2017||4,499|
|14.||Sony A7S II||127 mm||96 mm||60 mm||627 g||370||Y||Sep 2015||2,999|
|15.||Sony A7 II||127 mm||96 mm||60 mm||599 g||350||Y||Nov 2014||1,999|
|16.||Sony RX1R||113 mm||65 mm||70 mm||482 g||270||n||Jun 2013||2,799|
|17.||Sony A99||147 mm||111 mm||78 mm||812 g||500||Y||Sep 2012||2,799|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The X Vario was launched at a lower price than the A9 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 size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants 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. 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 tend to be more expensive and 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 Sony A9 II a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the A9 II is 128 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.5 and 1.0. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
With 24MP, the A9 II offers a higher resolution than the X Vario (16.1MP), but the A9 II nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 5.94μm versus 4.80μm for the X Vario) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the A9 II is a much more recent model (by 6 years and 3 months) than the X Vario, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units.
The resolution advantage of the Sony A9 II implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the A9 II for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 30 x 20 inches or 76.2 x 50.8 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 24 x 16 inches or 61 x 40.6 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 20 x 13.3 inches or 50.8 x 33.9 cm. The corresponding values for the Leica X Vario are 24.6 x 16.4 inches or 62.6 x 41.6 cm for good quality, 19.7 x 13.1 inches or 50.1 x 33.2 cm for very good quality, and 16.4 x 10.9 inches or 41.7 x 27.7 cm for excellent quality prints.
The A9 II has on-sensor phase detect pixels, which results in fast and reliable autofocus acquisition even during live view operation.
The Leica X Vario (Typ 107) has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 12500. The corresponding ISO settings for the Sony Alpha A9 II are ISO 100 to ISO 51200, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 50-204800.
Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. 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 consideration, the A9 II offers substantially better image quality than the X Vario (overall score 15 points higher). The advantage is based on 1.6 bits higher color depth, 1.3 EV in additional dynamic range, and 1.4 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.
| DXO |
|1.||Leica X Vario||APS-C||16.1||4928||3272||1080/30p||23.4||12.7||1320||78|
|2.||Sony A9 II||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||25.0||14.0||3434||93|
|3.||Leica X-U Typ 113||APS-C||16.1||4928||3264||1080/30p||..||..||..||..|
|4.||Leica Q Typ 116||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.3||12.7||2221||85|
|6.||Leica X Typ 113||APS-C||16.1||4928||3264||1080/30p||..||..||..||..|
|8.||Nikon Df||Full Frame||16.2||4928||3280||none||24.6||13.1||3279||89|
|9.||Nikon Coolpix A||APS-C||16.1||4928||3264||1080/30p||23.4||13.8||1164||80|
|12.||Sony A7 III||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||25.0||14.7||3730||96|
|13.||Sony A9||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||24.9||13.3||3517||92|
|14.||Sony A7S II||Full Frame||12.0||4240||2832||4K/30p||23.6||13.3||2993||85|
|15.||Sony A7 II||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.9||13.6||2449||90|
|16.||Sony RX1R||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||25.0||13.6||2537||91|
|17.||Sony A99||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||25.0||14.0||1555||89|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. Both cameras under consideration have a sensor with sufficiently fast read-out times for moving pictures, but the A9 II provides a better video resolution than the X Vario. It can shoot movie footage at 4K/30p, while the Leica is limited to 1080/30p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the A9 II has an electronic viewfinder (3686k 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 Sony A9 II in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|1.||Leica X Vario||optional||n||3.0||920||fixed||n||1/2000s||5.0||Y||n|
|2.||Sony A9 II||3686||n||3.0||1440||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|3.||Leica X-U Typ 113||optional||n||3.0||920||fixed||n||1/2000s||5.0||Y||n|
|4.||Leica Q Typ 116||3680||n||3.0||1040||fixed||Y||1/2000s||10.0||n||Y|
|6.||Leica X Typ 113||optional||n||3.0||920||fixed||n||1/2000s||5.0||Y||n|
|9.||Nikon Coolpix A||optional||n||3.0||921||fixed||n||1/2000s||4.0||Y||n|
|12.||Sony A7 III||2359||n||3.0||922||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|14.||Sony A7S II||2400||n||3.0||1229||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||Y|
|15.||Sony A7 II||2400||n||3.0||1230||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||Y|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The X Vario has one, while the A9 II does not. While the built-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 information refers to the use of the mechanical shutter. Yet, some cameras only have an electronic shutter, while others have an electronic shutter in addition to a mechanical one. In fact, the A9 II is one of those camera that have an additional electronic shutter, which makes completely silent shooting possible. However, this mode is less suitable for photographing moving objects (risk of rolling shutter) or shooting under artificial light sources (risk of flickering).
The Sony A9 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 X Vario and the A9 II write their files to SDXC cards. The A9 II features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the X Vario only has one slot. The A9 II supports UHS-II cards (on both slots), while the X Vario cannot take advantage of Ultra High Speed SD 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 X Vario (Typ 107) and Sony Alpha A9 II and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|1.||Leica X Vario||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|2.||Sony A9 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y|
|3.||Leica X-U Typ 113||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|4.||Leica Q Typ 116||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|6.||Leica X Typ 113||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|9.||Nikon Coolpix A||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|12.||Sony A7 III||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y|
|14.||Sony A7S II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|15.||Sony A7 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
It is notable that the A9 II offers wifi support, which can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location. In contrast, the X Vario does not provide wifi capability.
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Sony A9 II (unlike the X Vario) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
The A9 II is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Sony. In contrast, the X Vario has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). There has not been a direct replacement model for the X Vario from Leica. 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 how do things add up? Is the Leica X Vario better than the Sony A9 II or vice versa? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Advantages of the Leica X Vario (Typ 107):
- Ready to shoot: Has a lens built-in, whereas the A9 II requires a separate lens.
- More compact: Is smaller (133x73mm vs 129x96mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- 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 June 2013).
Reasons to prefer the Sony Alpha A9 II:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (24 vs 16.1MP), which boosts linear resolution by 22%.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (15 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (1.6 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (1.3 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (1.4 stops ISO advantage).
- Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/30p vs 1080/30p).
- Better live-view autofocus: Features on-sensor phase-detection for more confident autofocus.
- Better sound: Can connect to an external microphone for higher quality sound recording.
- Better sound control: Has a headphone port that enables audio monitoring while recording.
- Easier framing: Has an electronic viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1440k vs 920k dots).
- More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
- Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/2000s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (10 vs 5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Less disturbing: Has an electronic shutter option for completely silent shooting.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- More flexible: Takes interchangeable lenses and can thus be used with specialty optics.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (690 versus 450) out of a single battery charge.
- Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
- Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
- Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
- Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (3.1 vs 2.0).
- Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
- Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
- Easier wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
- 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.
- Faster buffer clearing: Supports Ultra High Speed (UHS-II) SDXC cards on both slots.
- More modern: Reflects 6 years and 3 months of technical progress since the X Vario launch.
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the A9 II is the clear winner of the contest (30 : 6 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. 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 X Vario and the Sony A9 II place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Travel-Zoom Camera and Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera listings whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the X Vario and the A9 II 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 why expert reviews are important. The table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear 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 X Vario||3/5||..||..||4/5||4/5||Jun 2013||2,850|
|2.||Sony A9 II||..||..||90/100||5/5||5/5||Oct 2019||4,499|
|3.||Leica X-U Typ 113||3.5/5||..||..||..||3.5/5||Jan 2016||2,950|
|4.||Leica Q Typ 116||5/5||..||80/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2015||4,249|
|5.||Leica T||3/5||..||..||4/5||4/5||Apr 2014||1,850|
|6.||Leica X Typ 113||3.5/5||..||..||3.5/5||4/5||Sep 2014||2,295|
|7.||Leica X2||3/5||..||..||3/5||4/5||May 2012||1,995|
|8.||Nikon Df||4/5||..||81/100||4/5||4/5||Nov 2013||2,749|
|9.||Nikon Coolpix A||4/5||+||75/100||4/5||4/5||Mar 2013||1,099|
|10.||Panasonic FZ1000||4/5||+ +||82/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2014||899|
|11.||Ricoh GR||5/5||..||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2013||799|
|12.||Sony A7 III||..||+ +||89/100||5/5||5/5||Feb 2018||1,999|
|13.||Sony A9||5/5||+ +||89/100||5/5||5/5||Apr 2017||4,499|
|14.||Sony A7S II||5/5||+||..||4.5/5||5/5||Sep 2015||2,999|
|15.||Sony A7 II||5/5||+||82/100||4.5/5||5/5||Nov 2014||1,999|
|16.||Sony RX1R||5/5||..||..||4/5||4.5/5||Jun 2013||2,799|
|17.||Sony A99||5/5||..||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||2,799|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make your choice using the following search menu. As an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.
Specifications: Leica X Vario vs Sony A9 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 X Vario||Sony A9 II|
|Camera Type||Fixed lens compact camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||28-70mm f/3.5-6.4||Sony E mount lenses|
|Launch Date||June 2013||October 2019|
|Launch Price||USD 2,850||USD 4,499|
|Sensor Specs||Leica X Vario||Sony A9 II|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||23.6 x 15.7 mm||35.6 x 23.8 mm|
|Sensor Area||370.52 mm2||847.28 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||28.3 mm||42.8 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||16.1 Megapixels||24 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4928 x 3272 pixels||6000 x 4000 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.80 μm||5.94 μm|
|Pixel Density||4.35 MP/cm2||2.83 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/30p Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 12,500 ISO||100 - 51,200 ISO|
|ISO Boost||no Enhancement||50 - 204,800 ISO|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||78||93|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||23.4||25.0|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||12.7||14.0|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||1320||3434|
|Screen Specs||Leica X Vario||Sony A9 II|
|Viewfinder Type||Viewfinder optional||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||3686k dots|
|LCD Framing||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||920k dots||1440k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Tilting screen|
|Touch Input||no Touchscreen||Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Leica X Vario||Sony A9 II|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||On-Sensor Phase-detect|
|Manual Focusing Aid||no Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/2000s||1/8000s|
|Continuous Shooting||5 shutter flaps/s||10 shutter flaps/s|
|Electronic Shutter||no E-Shutter||up to 1/32000s|
|Time-Lapse Photography||no Intervalometer||Intervalometer built-in|
|Image Stabilization||no shake reduction||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||no||Dual UHS-II|
|Connectivity Specs||Leica X Vario||Sony A9 II|
|Studio Flash||no PC Sync||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 3.1|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||micro HDMI|
|Microphone Port||no MIC socket||External MIC port|
|Headphone Socket||no Headphone port||Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||Wifi built-in|
|Near-Field Communication||no NFC||NFC built-in|
|Bluetooth Support||no Bluetooth||Bluetooth built-in|
|Body Specs||Leica X Vario||Sony A9 II|
|Environmental Sealing||not weather sealed||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||450 shots per charge||690 shots per charge|
|In-Camera Charging||no USB charging||USB charging|
133 x 73 x 95 mm
(5.2 x 2.9 x 3.7 in)
129 x 96 x 76 mm
(5.1 x 3.8 x 3.0 in)
|Camera Weight||680 g (24.0 oz)||678 g (23.9 oz)|
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