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Leica X1 vs Nikon D300S

The Leica X1 and the Nikon D300S are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in September 2009 and July 2009. The X1 is a fixed lens compact, while the D300S is a DSLR. Both cameras are equipped with an APS-C sensor. Both cameras offer a resolution of 12.2 megapixels.

Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.

Headline Specifications
Leica X1 versus Nikon D300S
Leica X1 Nikon D300S
Fixed lens compact camera Digital single lens reflex
36mm f/2.8 Nikon F mount lenses
12.2 MP, APS-C Sensor 12.2 MP, APS-C Sensor
no Video 720/24p Video
ISO 100-3,200 ISO 200-3,200 (100 - 6,400)
No viewfinder, LCD framing Optical viewfinder
2.7 LCD, 230k dots 3.0 LCD, 920k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
3 shutter flaps per second 7 shutter flaps per second
not weather sealedWeathersealed body
260 shots per battery charge950 shots per battery charge
124 x 60 x 32 mm, 306 g 147 x 115 x 81 mm, 938 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Leica X1 and the Nikon D300S? 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.

Body comparison

The physical size and weight of the Leica X1 and the Nikon D300S are illustrated 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 dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

The X1 can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the D300S is only available in black.

Size Leica X1 vs Nikon D300S
Compare X1 versus D300S top
Comparison X1 or D300S rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon D300S is considerably larger (127 percent) than the Leica X1. It is noteworthy in this context that the D300S is splash and dust-proof, while the X1 does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the X1 has a lens built in, whereas the D300S 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 D300S and their specifications in the Nikon Lens Catalog.

Concerning battery life, the X1 gets 260 shots out of its BP-DC8 battery, while the D300S can take 950 images on a single charge of its EN-EL3e power pack.

The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. 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.

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Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life 1
Weather
Sealing
Camera
Launch 2
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
 
Leica X1 124 mm 60 mm 32 mm 306 g 260 n Sep 2009 1,995i
 
Nikon D300S 147 mm 115 mm 81 mm 938 g 950 Y Jul 2009 1,799i
 
Canon G16 109 mm 76 mm 40 mm 356 g 360 n Aug 2013 549 i
 
Fujifilm X20 117 mm 70 mm 57 mm 353 g 270 n Jan 2013 599i
 
Leica D-LUX Typ 109 118 mm 66 mm 55 mm 405 g 300 n Sep 2014 1,195i
 
Leica X Typ 113 133 mm 73 mm 78 mm 486 g 350 n Sep 2014 2,295i
 
Leica D-LUX 6 111 mm 68 mm 46 mm 298 g 330 n Sep 2012 699i
 
Leica X2 124 mm 69 mm 52 mm 345 g 450 n May 2012 1,995i
 
Leica D-LUX 5 110 mm 65 mm 43 mm 271 g 400 n Sep 2010 699i
 
Leica V-LUX 2 124 mm 80 mm 95 mm 520 g 410 n Sep 2010 849i
 
Nikon D500 147 mm 115 mm 81 mm 860 g 1240 Y Jan 2016 1,999 i
 
Nikon D7000 132 mm 105 mm 77 mm 780 g 1050 Y Sep 2010 1,499i
 
Nikon D700 147 mm 123 mm 77 mm 1074 g 1000 Y Jul 2008 2,999i
 
Nikon D300 147 mm 114 mm 74 mm 925 g 1000 Y Aug 2007 1,799i
 
Nikon D200 147 mm 113 mm 74 mm 920 g 400 Y Nov 2005 1,699i
 
Panasonic LX7 111 mm 68 mm 46 mm 298 g 330 n Jul 2012 499i
 
Panasonic LX5 110 mm 65 mm 43 mm 271 g 400 n Jul 2010 499i
Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.
(1) Number of images that can be taken on a full battery charge according to the CIPA-standard; (2) Official announcement.

The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. 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. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.

Sensor comparison

The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors of image quality. All other things equal, a large sensor will have larger individual pixel-units that offer better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixels 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 more expensive and 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 D300S is 1 percent bigger. 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.

In terms of underlying technology, both cameras are build around CMOS sensors.

Leica X1 and Nikon D300S sensor measures

Even though the D300S has a slightly larger sensor, both cameras offer the same resolution of 12.2 megapixels. This implies that the D300S has a lower pixel density and marginally larger individual pixels (with a pixel pitch of 5.53μm versus 5.51μm for the X1), which gives it a potential advantage in terms of light gathering capacity. The two cameras were released in close succession, so that their sensors are from the same technological generation.

The Leica X1 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 3200. The corresponding ISO settings for the Nikon D300S are ISO 200 to ISO 3200, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-6400.

X1 versus D300S 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"). The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.

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Sensor Characteristics
  Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
 
Leica X1 APS-C 12.2 4272 2856none........
 
Nikon D300S APS-C 12.2 4288 2848720/24p22.512.278770
 
Canon G16 1/1.7 12.0 4000 30001080/60p21.011.723054
 
Fujifilm X20 2/3 12.0 4000 30001080/60p........
 
Leica D-LUX Typ 109 Four Thirds 12.7 4112 30884K/30p........
 
Leica X Typ 113 APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p........
 
Leica D-LUX 6 1/1.7 10.0 3648 27361080/60p........
 
Leica X2 APS-C 16.1 4928 3264none........
 
Leica D-LUX 5 1/1.7 10.0 3648 2736720/60p........
 
Leica V-LUX 2 1/2.3 14.0 4320 32401080/60i........
 
Nikon D500 APS-C 20.7 5568 37124K/30p24.014.0132483
 
Nikon D7000 APS-C 16.1 4928 326410800/24p23.513.9116780
 
Nikon D700 Full Frame 12.1 4256 2832none23.512.2230380
 
Nikon D300 APS-C 12.2 4288 2848none22.112.067967
 
Nikon D200 APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.311.558364
 
Panasonic LX7 1/1.7 10.0 3648 27361080/60p20.711.714750
 
Panasonic LX5 1/1.7 10.0 3648 2736720/60p19.610.813241

Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The D300S indeed provides for movie recording, while the X1 does not. The highest resolution format that the D300S can use is 720/24p.

Feature comparison

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the D300S has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the X1 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Leica X1, the Nikon D300S, and comparable cameras.

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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)
Mech
Shutter
Speed
Shutter
Flaps
(1/sec)
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
 
Leica X1none n 2.7 230 fixed n 1/2000s 3.0 Y n
 
Nikon D300Soptical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 1/8000s 7.0 Y n
 
Canon G16optical n 3.0 922 fixed n 1/4000s 2.2 Y Y
 
Fujifilm X20optical n 2.8 460 fixed n 1/4000s 12.0 Y Y
 
Leica D-LUX Typ 1092764 n 3.0 921 fixed n 1/4000s 11.0 n Y
 
Leica X Typ 113optional n 3.0 920 fixed n 1/2000s 5.0 Y n
 
Leica D-LUX 6optional n 3.0 920 fixed n 1/4000s 11.0 Y Y
 
Leica X2optional n 2.7 230 fixed n 1/2000s 5.0 Y n
 
Leica D-LUX 5optional n 3.0 460 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y Y
 
Leica V-LUX 2202 n 3.0 460 swivel n 1/2000s 11.0 Y Y
 
Nikon D500optical Y 3.2 2359 tilting Y 1/8000s 10.0 n n
 
Nikon D7000optical Y 3.0 921 fixed n 1/8000s 6.0 Y n
 
Nikon D700optical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 1/8000s 8.0 Y n
 
Nikon D300optical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 1/8000s 6.0 Y n
 
Nikon D200optical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 Y n
 
Panasonic LX7optional n 3.0 920 fixed n 1/4000s 11.0 Y Y
 
Panasonic LX5optional n 3.0 460 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y Y

One feature that is present on the D300S, but is missing on the X1 is a top-level LCD. While being, of course, smaller than the rear screen, the control panel conveys some of the essential shooting information and can be convenient for quick and easy settings verification.

The Nikon D300S 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.

The X1 writes its imaging data to SDHC cards, while the D300S uses Compact Flash or SDXC cards. The D300S features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the X1 only has one slot.

Connectivity comparison

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 X1 and Nikon D300S and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.

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Input-Output Connections
  Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
 
Leica X1Y----mini2.0---
 
Nikon D300SYstereomonoY-mini2.0---
 
Canon G16Ystereomono--mini2.0Y--
 
Fujifilm X20Ystereomono--micro2.0---
 
Leica D-LUX Typ 109Ystereomono--micro2.0YY-
 
Leica X Typ 113Ystereomono--mini2.0---
 
Leica D-LUX 6Ystereomono--mini2.0---
 
Leica X2Y----mini2.0---
 
Leica D-LUX 5Ymonomono--mini2.0---
 
Leica V-LUX 2Ystereomono--mini2.0---
 
Nikon D500YstereomonoYYmini3.0YYY
 
Nikon D7000YmonomonoY-mini2.0---
 
Nikon D700Y----mini2.0---
 
Nikon D300Y----mini2.0---
 
Nikon D200Y-----2.0---
 
Panasonic LX7Ystereomono--mini2.0---
 
Panasonic LX5Ymonomono--mini2.0---

Studio photographers will appreciate that the Nikon D300S (unlike the X1) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.

Both the X1 and the D300S have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D300S was replaced by the Nikon D500, while the X1 was followed by the Leica X2. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Leica and Nikon websites.

Review summary

So what conclusions can be drawn? Is there a clear favorite between the Leica X1 and the Nikon D300S? Which camera is better? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.

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Reasons to prefer the Leica X1:

  • Ready to shoot: Comes with a built-in lens, while the D300S requires a separate lens.
  • More compact: Is smaller (124x60mm vs 147x115mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter even though it comes with a built-in lens (unlike the D300S).
  • More prestigious: Has the Leica luxury appeal, which ensures a high resale price.

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Arguments in favor of the Nikon D300S:

  • Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 720/24p video.
  • Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
  • Easier setting verification: Features a control panel on top to check shooting parameters.
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.7") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (920k vs 230k dots).
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/2000s) to freeze action.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (7 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
  • More flexible: Makes it possible to change lenses and thus to use specialty optics.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (950 versus 260) out of a single battery charge.
  • Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
  • 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.

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the D300S is the clear winner of the contest (13 : 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 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.

X1 04:13 D300S

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Leica X1 and the Nikon D300S place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Prime Lens Compact Camera and Best DSLR Camera listings whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.

In any case, while the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the X1 or the D300S 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.

Expert reviews

This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, and photographyblog). 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.

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Review Scores
  Camera
Model
camera
  labs  
dp
review  
ephoto
  zine  
imaging
resource
photography
  blog  
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
 
Leica X1..+....4/5 Sep 2009 1,995i
 
Nikon D300S+ +82/1004/55/54.5/5 Jul 2009 1,799i
 
Canon G16+..4.5/54.5/54.5/5 Aug 2013 549 i
 
Fujifilm X20+ +77/1004.5/5..5/5 Jan 2013 599i
 
Leica D-LUX Typ 109....4.5/5..4.5/5 Sep 2014 1,195i
 
Leica X Typ 113....3.5/5..4/5 Sep 2014 2,295i
 
Leica D-LUX 6....4/5..4/5 Sep 2012 699i
 
Leica X2....3/5..4/5 May 2012 1,995i
 
Leica D-LUX 5....4.5/5..4/5 Sep 2010 699i
 
Leica V-LUX 2.......... Sep 2010 849i
 
Nikon D500+ +91/1004.5/55/55/5 Jan 2016 1,999 i
 
Nikon D7000..80/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Sep 2010 1,499i
 
Nikon D70089/100+ +4.5/55/54.5/5 Jul 2008 2,999i
 
Nikon D300+ ++ +5/5o4.5/5 Aug 2007 1,799i
 
Nikon D200+ ++ +o5/5.. Nov 2005 1,699i
 
Panasonic LX7+ +75/1004/55/54.5/5 Jul 2012 499i
 
Panasonic LX5+73/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Jul 2010 499i
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.

Leica X1:
Check Ebay offers
Nikon D300S:
Check Ebay offers

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.

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    Specifications: Leica X1 vs Nikon D300S

    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 Specifications
    Camera Model Leica X1 Nikon D300S
    Camera Type Fixed lens compact camera Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens 36mm f/2.8 Nikon F mount lenses
    Launch Date September 2009 July 2009
    Launch Price USD 1,995 USD 1,799
    Sensor Specs Leica X1 Nikon D300S
    Sensor Technology CMOS CMOS
    Sensor Format APS-C Sensor APS-C Sensor
    Sensor Size 23.7 x 15.6 mm 23.6 x 15.8 mm
    Sensor Area 369.72 mm2 372.88 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 28.4 mm 28.4 mm
    Crop Factor 1.5x 1.5x
    Sensor Resolution 12.2 Megapixels 12.2 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 4272 x 2856 pixels 4288 x 2848 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 5.51 μm 5.53 μm
    Pixel Density 3.30 MP/cm2 3.28 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability no Video 720/24p Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 3,200 ISO 200 - 3,200 ISO
    ISO Boost no Enhancement 100 - 6,400 ISO
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) .. 70
    DXO Color Depth (bits) .. 22.5
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) .. 12.2
    DXO Low Light (ISO) .. 787
    Screen Specs Leica X1 Nikon D300S
    Viewfinder Type no viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 100%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.63x
    Top-Level Screen no Top Display Control Panel
    LCD Framing Live View
    Rear LCD Size 2.7inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 230k dots 920k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Leica X1 Nikon D300S
    Focus System Contrast-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 3 shutter flaps/s 7 shutter flaps/s
    Time-Lapse Photographyno IntervalometerIntervalometer built-in
    Fill Flash Build-in Flash Build-in Flash
    Storage Medium SDHC cards CF or SDXC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Dual card slots
    UHS card support no no
    Connectivity Specs Leica X1 Nikon D300S
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    Studio Flash no PC Sync PC Sync socket
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port mini HDMI mini HDMI
    Microphone Port no MIC socket External MIC port
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Leica X1 Nikon D300S
    Environmental Sealingnot weather sealedWeathersealed body
    Battery Type BP-DC8 EN-EL3e
    Battery Life (CIPA)260 shots per charge950 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 124 x 60 x 32 mm
    (4.9 x 2.4 x 1.3 in)
    147 x 115 x 81 mm
    (5.8 x 4.5 x 3.2 in)
    Camera Weight 306 g (10.8 oz) 938 g (33.1 oz)

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