Leica X Vario vs Sony NEX-F3
The Leica X Vario (Typ 107) and the Sony Alpha NEX-F3 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in June 2013 and May 2012. The X Vario is a fixed lens compact, while the NEX-F3 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. Both cameras are equipped with an APS-C sensor. The Leica has a resolution of 16.1 megapixels, whereas the Sony provides 16 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 NEX-F3? 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.
The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Leica X Vario and the Sony NEX-F3. 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 size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The X Vario can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the NEX-F3 is available in three color-versions (black, silver, white).
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Sony NEX-F3 is notably smaller (19 percent) than the Leica X Vario. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the X Vario nor the NEX-F3 are weather-sealed.
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 NEX-F3 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 NEX-F3 and their specifications in the Sony E-Mount Lens Catalog.
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, you can move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.
|1.||Leica X Vario||133 mm||73 mm||95 mm||680 g||450||n||Jun 2013||2,850|
|2.||Sony NEX-F3||117 mm||67 mm||42 mm||314 g||470||n||May 2012||599|
|3.||Canon SX60||128 mm||93 mm||114 mm||650 g||340||n||Sep 2014||549|
|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 V-LUX Typ 114||137 mm||99 mm||131 mm||830 g||360||n||Sep 2014||1,349|
|8.||Leica X Typ 113||133 mm||73 mm||78 mm||486 g||350||n||Sep 2014||2,295|
|9.||Nikon Df||144 mm||110 mm||67 mm||760 g||1400||Y||Nov 2013||2,749|
|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 NEX-3N||110 mm||62 mm||35 mm||269 g||480||n||Feb 2013||499|
|13.||Sony RX1R||113 mm||65 mm||70 mm||482 g||270||n||Jun 2013||2,799|
|14.||Sony NEX-5R||111 mm||59 mm||39 mm||276 g||330||n||Aug 2012||749|
|15.||Sony NEX-5N||111 mm||59 mm||38 mm||269 g||460||n||Aug 2011||699|
|16.||Sony NEX-3||117 mm||62 mm||33 mm||297 g||330||n||May 2010||599|
|17.||Sony NEX-5||111 mm||59 mm||38 mm||287 g||330||n||May 2010||699|
|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. 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.
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.
Both cameras under consideration feature an APS-C sensor, but their sensors differ slightly in size. The sensor area in the NEX-F3 is 2 percent smaller. They nevertheless have the same format factor of 1.5. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
Technology-wise, both cameras are equipped with CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensors.
With 16.1MP, the X Vario offers a slightly higher resolution than the NEX-F3 (16MP), but the X Vario nevertheless has marginally larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.80μm versus 4.78μm for the NEX-F3) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the X Vario is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year) than the NEX-F3, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels.
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 NEX-F3 are ISO 100 to ISO 16000 (no boost).
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 has a notably higher overall DXO score than the NEX-F3 (overall score 5 points higher), which gives it an advantage in terms of imaging quality. This advantage is based on 0.7 bits higher color depth, 0.4 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.2 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.
| 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 V-LUX Typ 114||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|8.||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|
|13.||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 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 NEX-F3 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.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The X Vario and the NEX-F3 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. However, optional viewfinders – the EVF 2 for the X Vario and the FDA-EV1S for the NEX-F3 – are available as accessories. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Leica X Vario and Sony NEX-F3 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|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 V-LUX Typ 114||2359||n||3.0||921||swivel||n||1/4000s||12.0||Y||Y|
|8.||Leica X Typ 113||optional||n||3.0||920||fixed||n||1/2000s||5.0||Y||n|
The X Vario writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the NEX-F3 uses SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo 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 NEX-F3 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 V-LUX Typ 114||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|8.||Leica X Typ 113||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
Both the X Vario and the NEX-F3 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. Neither of the two has a direct successor, so they represent the end of the respective camera lines from Leica and Sony. 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 NEX-F3? Which camera is better? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Advantages of the Leica X Vario (Typ 107):
- Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (5 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
- Ready to shoot: Has a lens built-in, whereas the NEX-F3 requires a separate lens.
- More prestigious: Has the Leica luxury appeal, which ensures a high resale price.
- More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 1 year after the NEX-F3).
Arguments in favor of the Sony Alpha NEX-F3:
- Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/60i versus 1080/30p).
- More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
- More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/4000s vs 1/2000s) to freeze action.
- More flexible: Takes interchangeable lenses and can thus be used with specialty optics.
- More compact: Is smaller (117x67mm vs 133x73mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in May 2012).
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the NEX-F3 emerges as the winner of the match-up (7 : 4 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 NEX-F3 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 remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the X Vario or the NEX-F3 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 where reviews by experts come in. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major 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 NEX-F3||4/5||..||74/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||May 2012||599|
|3.||Canon SX60||3/5||+ +||75/100||4/5||4.5/5||Sep 2014||549|
|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 V-LUX Typ 114||..||..||..||..||5/5||Sep 2014||1,349|
|8.||Leica X Typ 113||3.5/5||..||..||3.5/5||4/5||Sep 2014||2,295|
|9.||Nikon Df||4/5||..||81/100||4/5||4/5||Nov 2013||2,749|
|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 NEX-3N||3/5||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2013||499|
|13.||Sony RX1R||5/5||..||..||4/5||4.5/5||Jun 2013||2,799|
|14.||Sony NEX-5R||..||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2012||749|
|15.||Sony NEX-5N||3/5||+ +||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2011||699|
|16.||Sony NEX-3||..||..||70/100||4.5/5||4/5||May 2010||599|
|17.||Sony NEX-5||3/5||+ +||71/100||4.5/5||4/5||May 2010||699|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. 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, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.
Other camera comparisons
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Specifications: Leica X Vario vs Sony NEX-F3
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 NEX-F3|
|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||May 2012|
|Launch Price||USD 2,850||USD 599|
|Sensor Specs||Leica X Vario||Sony NEX-F3|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||23.6 x 15.7 mm||23.4 x 15.6 mm|
|Sensor Area||370.52 mm2||365.04 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||28.3 mm||28.1 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||16.1 Megapixels||16 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4928 x 3272 pixels||4912 x 3264 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.80 μm||4.78 μm|
|Pixel Density||4.35 MP/cm2||4.39 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/30p Video||1080/60i Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 12,500 ISO||100 - 16,000 ISO|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||78||73|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||23.4||22.7|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||12.7||12.3|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||1320||1114|
|Screen Specs||Leica X Vario||Sony NEX-F3|
|Viewfinder Type||Viewfinder optional||Viewfinder optional|
|LCD Framing||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||920k dots||920k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Tilting screen|
|Shooting Specs||Leica X Vario||Sony NEX-F3|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||5 shutter flaps/s||5.5 shutter flaps/s|
|Fill Flash||Built-in Flash||Built-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||MS or SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||no||no|
|Connectivity Specs||Leica X Vario||Sony NEX-F3|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Leica X Vario||Sony NEX-F3|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||450 shots per charge||470 shots per charge|
133 x 73 x 95 mm
(5.2 x 2.9 x 3.7 in)
117 x 67 x 42 mm
(4.6 x 2.6 x 1.7 in)
|Camera Weight||680 g (24.0 oz)||314 g (11.1 oz)|
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