Leica X Vario vs Sony HX99
The Leica X Vario (Typ 107) and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX99 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in June 2013 and August 2018. Both the X Vario and the HX99 are fixed lens compact cameras that are based on an APS-C (X Vario) and a 1/2.3-inch (HX99) sensor. The Leica has a resolution of 16.1 megapixels, whereas the Sony provides 18 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 Cyber-shot DSC-HX99? 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 HX99 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 width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The X Vario can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the HX99 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 HX99 is considerably smaller (39 percent) than the Leica X Vario. Moreover, the HX99 is substantially lighter (64 percent) than the X Vario. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the X Vario nor the HX99 are weather-sealed.
Concerning battery life, the X Vario gets 450 shots out of its BP-DC8 battery, while the HX99 can take 370 images on a single charge of its NP-BX1 power pack. The power pack in the HX99 can be charged via the USB port, which can be very convenient when travelling.
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, you can use the CAM-parator app to select your camera combination among a large number of options.
|1.||Leica X Vario||133 mm||73 mm||95 mm||680 g||450||n||Jun 2013||2,850|
|2.||Sony HX99||102 mm||58 mm||36 mm||242 g||370||n||Aug 2018||449|
|3.||Canon SX730||110 mm||64 mm||40 mm||300 g||250||n||Apr 2017||399|
|4.||Leica X-U Typ 113||140 mm||79 mm||88 mm||635 g||450||Y||Jan 2016||2,950|
|5.||Leica Q Typ 116||130 mm||80 mm||93 mm||640 g||300||n||Jun 2015||4,249|
|6.||Leica T||134 mm||69 mm||33 mm||384 g||400||n||Apr 2014||1,850|
|7.||Leica X Typ 113||133 mm||73 mm||78 mm||486 g||350||n||Sep 2014||2,295|
|8.||Leica X2||124 mm||69 mm||52 mm||345 g||450||n||May 2012||1,995|
|9.||Nikon Df||144 mm||110 mm||67 mm||760 g||1400||Y||Nov 2013||2,749|
|10.||Nikon Coolpix A||111 mm||64 mm||40 mm||299 g||230||n||Mar 2013||1,099|
|11.||Panasonic FZ1000||137 mm||99 mm||131 mm||831 g||360||n||Jun 2014||899|
|12.||Ricoh GR||117 mm||61 mm||35 mm||245 g||290||n||Apr 2013||799|
|13.||Sony HX95||102 mm||58 mm||36 mm||242 g||370||n||Aug 2018||429|
|14.||Sony WX800||102 mm||58 mm||36 mm||233 g||370||n||Oct 2018||399|
|15.||Sony HX90V||102 mm||58 mm||36 mm||245 g||360||n||Apr 2015||429|
|16.||Sony HX400V||130 mm||93 mm||103 mm||660 g||300||n||Feb 2014||499|
|17.||Sony RX1R||113 mm||65 mm||70 mm||482 g||270||n||Jun 2013||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 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 HX99 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 84 percent) than the X Vario, which puts it into a different market segment. 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.
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 tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Leica X Vario features an APS-C sensor and the Sony HX99 a 1/2.3-inch sensor. The sensor area in the HX99 is 92 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.5 and 5.6. The sensor in the X Vario has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the HX99 offers a 4:3 aspect.
Despite having a smaller sensor, the HX99 offers a higher resolution of 18 megapixels, compared with 16.1 MP of the X Vario. This megapixels advantage comes at the cost of a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 1.25μm versus 4.80μm for the X Vario). However, it should be noted that the HX99 is much more recent (by 5 years and 2 months) than the X Vario, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that make it possible to gather light more efficiently. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the HX99 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.
The Leica X Vario (Typ 107) has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 12500. The corresponding ISO settings for the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX99 are ISO 80 to ISO 3200, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 80-6400.
For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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"). 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 X Vario||APS-C||16.1||4928||3272||1080/30p||23.4||12.7||1320||78|
|4.||Leica X-U Typ 113||APS-C||16.1||4928||3264||1080/30p||..||..||..||..|
|5.||Leica Q Typ 116||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.3||12.7||2221||85|
|7.||Leica X Typ 113||APS-C||16.1||4928||3264||1080/30p||..||..||..||..|
|9.||Nikon Df||Full Frame||16.2||4928||3280||none||24.6||13.1||3279||89|
|10.||Nikon Coolpix A||APS-C||16.1||4928||3264||1080/30p||23.4||13.8||1164||80|
|17.||Sony RX1R||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||25.0||13.6||2537||91|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, but the HX99 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 HX99 has an electronic viewfinder (638k 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 following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Leica X Vario, the Sony HX99, and comparable cameras.
|1.||Leica X Vario||optional||n||3.0||920||fixed||n||1/2000s||5.0||Y||n|
|4.||Leica X-U Typ 113||optional||n||3.0||920||fixed||n||1/2000s||5.0||Y||n|
|5.||Leica Q Typ 116||3680||n||3.0||1040||fixed||Y||1/2000s||10.0||n||Y|
|7.||Leica X Typ 113||optional||n||3.0||920||fixed||n||1/2000s||5.0||Y||n|
|10.||Nikon Coolpix A||optional||n||3.0||921||fixed||n||1/2000s||4.0||Y||n|
One differentiating feature between the two cameras concerns the touch sensitivity of the rear screen. The HX99 has a touchscreen, while the X Vario has a conventional panel. Touch control can be particularly helpful, for example, for setting the focus point.The HX99 has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing. This characteristic will be appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in taking selfies. In contrast, the X Vario does not have a selfie-screen.
Both the X Vario and the HX99 have zoom lenses built in. The X Vario has a 28-70mm f/3.5-6.4 optic and the HX99 offers a 24-720mm f/3.5-6.4 (focal lengths in full frame equivalent terms). Hence, the Sony provides a wider angle of view at the short end, as well as more tele-photo reach at the long end than the Leica. Both cameras offer the same maximum aperture.
The X Vario writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the HX99 uses SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards. The HX99 supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s), 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 Cyber-shot DSC-HX99 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||-||-||-|
|4.||Leica X-U Typ 113||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|5.||Leica Q Typ 116||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|7.||Leica X Typ 113||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|10.||Nikon Coolpix A||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
It is notable that the X Vario has a hotshoe, while the HX99 does not. This socket makes it possible to easily attach optional accessories, such as an external flash gun.
The HX99 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 what conclusions can be drawn? Is there a clear favorite between the Leica X Vario and the Sony HX99? Which camera is better? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Arguments in favor of the Leica X Vario (Typ 107):
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- Better image quality: Features bigger pixels on a larger sensor for higher quality imaging.
- Richer colors: The pixel size advantage translates into images with better, more accurate colors.
- More dynamic range: Larger pixels capture a wider spectrum of light and dark details.
- Better low-light sensitivity: Larger pixels means good image quality even under poor lighting.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (450 versus 370) on a single battery charge.
- Better lighting: Features a hotshoe and can thus hold and trigger an external flash gun.
- More prestigious: Has the Leica luxury appeal, which ensures a high resale price.
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in June 2013).
Reasons to prefer the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX99:
- 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 composition and settings control.
- 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.
- More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (10 vs 5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Wider view: Has a wider-angle lens that facilitates landscape or interior shots.
- More tele-reach: Has a longer tele-lens for perspective compression and subject magnification.
- More compact: Is smaller (102x58mm vs 133x73mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 438g or 64 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
- Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
- 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.
- Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (84 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 5 years and 2 months of technical progress since the X Vario launch.
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the HX99 is the clear winner of the contest (19 : 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. A professional wedding photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a travel photog, and a person interested in cityscapes has distinct needs from a macro 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 HX99 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Travel-Zoom Camera and Best Superzoom 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 HX99 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 hands-on reviews by experts 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 X Vario||3/5||..||..||4/5||4/5||Jun 2013||2,850|
|2.||Sony HX99||..||..||..||4/5||4.5/5||Aug 2018||449|
|3.||Canon SX730||..||+||..||4/5||4/5||Apr 2017||399|
|4.||Leica X-U Typ 113||3.5/5||..||..||..||3.5/5||Jan 2016||2,950|
|5.||Leica Q Typ 116||5/5||..||80/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2015||4,249|
|6.||Leica T||3/5||..||..||4/5||4/5||Apr 2014||1,850|
|7.||Leica X Typ 113||3.5/5||..||..||3.5/5||4/5||Sep 2014||2,295|
|8.||Leica X2||3/5||..||..||3/5||4/5||May 2012||1,995|
|9.||Nikon Df||4/5||..||81/100||4/5||4/5||Nov 2013||2,749|
|10.||Nikon Coolpix A||4/5||+||75/100||4/5||4/5||Mar 2013||1,099|
|11.||Panasonic FZ1000||4/5||+ +||82/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2014||899|
|12.||Ricoh GR||5/5||..||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2013||799|
|13.||Sony HX95||..||..||..||..||..||Aug 2018||429|
|14.||Sony WX800||..||..||..||..||..||Oct 2018||399|
|15.||Sony HX90V||4/5||+ +||..||4/5||4.5/5||Apr 2015||429|
|16.||Sony HX400V||4/5||+ +||..||4/5||4/5||Feb 2014||499|
|17.||Sony RX1R||5/5||..||..||4/5||4.5/5||Jun 2013||2,799|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
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. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.
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. 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 HX99
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 HX99|
|Camera Type||Fixed lens compact camera||Fixed lens compact camera|
|Camera Lens||28-70mm f/3.5-6.4||24-720mm f/3.5-6.4|
|Launch Date||June 2013||August 2018|
|Launch Price||USD 2,850||USD 449|
|Sensor Specs||Leica X Vario||Sony HX99|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||1/2.3" Sensor|
|Sensor Size||23.6 x 15.7 mm||6.17 x 4.55 mm|
|Sensor Area||370.52 mm2||28.0735 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||28.3 mm||7.7 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||16.1 Megapixels||18 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4928 x 3272 pixels||4896 x 3672 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.80 μm||1.25 μm|
|Pixel Density||4.35 MP/cm2||64.04 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||no AA filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/30p Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 12,500 ISO||80 - 3,200 ISO|
|ISO Boost||no Enhancement||80 - 6,400 ISO|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||78||..|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||23.4||..|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||12.7||..|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||1320||..|
|Screen Specs||Leica X Vario||Sony HX99|
|Viewfinder Type||Viewfinder optional||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||638k dots|
|LCD Framing||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||920k dots||922k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Tilting screen|
|Touch Input||no Touchscreen||Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Leica X Vario||Sony HX99|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||5 shutter flaps/s||10 shutter flaps/s|
|Fill Flash||Build-in Flash||Build-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||MS or SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||no||UHS-I|
|Connectivity Specs||Leica X Vario||Sony HX99|
|External Flash||Hotshoe||no Hotshoe|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||micro HDMI|
|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 HX99|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||450 shots per charge||370 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)
102 x 58 x 36 mm
(4.0 x 2.3 x 1.4 in)
|Camera Weight||680 g (24.0 oz)||242 g (8.5 oz)|
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