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Leica X1 vs Nikon D40

The Leica X1 and the Nikon D40 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in September 2009 and November 2006. The X1 is a fixed lens compact, while the D40 is a DSLR. Both cameras are equipped with an APS-C sensor. The Leica has a resolution of 12.2 megapixels, whereas the Nikon provides 6 MP.

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 D40
Leica X1   Nikon D40
Fixed lens compact camera Digital single lens reflex
36mm f/2.8 Nikon F mount lenses
12.2 MP, APS-C Sensor 6 MP, APS-C Sensor
no Video no Video
ISO 100-3,200 ISO 200-1,600 (200 - 3,200)
No viewfinder, LCD framing Optical viewfinder
2.7 LCD, 230k dots 2.5 LCD, 230k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
3 shutter flaps per second 2.5 shutter flaps per second
260 shots per battery charge470 shots per battery charge
124 x 60 x 32 mm, 306 g 124 x 94 x 64 mm, 522 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Leica X1 and the Nikon D40? 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 D40 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. 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 width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

The X1 can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the D40 is only available in black.

Size Leica X1 vs Nikon D40
Compare X1 versus D40 top
Comparison X1 or D40 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon D40 is considerably larger (57 percent) than the Leica X1. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the X1 nor the D40 are weather-sealed.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the X1 has a lens built in, whereas the D40 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 D40 and their specifications in the Nikon Lens Catalog.

Concerning battery life, the X1 gets 260 shots out of its BP-DC8 battery, while the D40 can take 470 images on a single charge of its EN-EL9 power pack.

The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. 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.

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Body Specifications
    Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
Weather
Sealing
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Leica X1 124 mm 60 mm 32 mm 306 g 260 n Sep 2009 1,995i
2.
 
Nikon D40 124 mm 94 mm 64 mm 522 g 470 n Nov 2006 499i
3.
 
Canon G16 109 mm 76 mm 40 mm 356 g 360 n Aug 2013 549 i
4.
 
Fujifilm X100 126 mm 75 mm 54 mm 445 g 300 n Sep 2010 1,199i
5.
 
Leica X Typ 113 133 mm 73 mm 78 mm 486 g 350 n Sep 2014 2,295i
6.
 
Leica D-LUX 6 111 mm 68 mm 46 mm 298 g 330 n Sep 2012 699i
7.
 
Leica X2 124 mm 69 mm 52 mm 345 g 450 n May 2012 1,995i
8.
 
Leica D-LUX 5 110 mm 65 mm 43 mm 271 g 400 n Sep 2010 699i
9.
 
Leica V-LUX 2 124 mm 80 mm 95 mm 520 g 410 n Sep 2010 849i
10.
 
Nikon D3400 124 mm 98 mm 76 mm 445 g 1200 n Aug 2016 499i
11.
 
Nikon D3300 124 mm 98 mm 76 mm 430 g 700 n Jan 2014 499i
12.
 
Nikon D3100 124 mm 96 mm 75 mm 505 g 550 n Aug 2010 599i
13.
 
Nikon D40X 124 mm 94 mm 64 mm 522 g 520 n Mar 2007 729i
14.
 
Nikon D50 133 mm 102 mm 76 mm 620 g 400 n Apr 2005 749i
15.
 
Panasonic LX5 110 mm 65 mm 43 mm 271 g 400 n Jul 2010 499i
16.
 
Sony NEX-3 117 mm 62 mm 33 mm 297 g 330 n May 2010 599i
17.
 
Sony NEX-5 111 mm 59 mm 38 mm 287 g 330 n May 2010 699i
Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.

Any camera decision will obviously take relative prices into account. 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. 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 size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants 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 associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.

Both cameras under consideration feature an APS-C sensor and have a format factor (sometimes also referred to as "crop factor") of 1.5. Within the spectrum of camera sensors, this places the review cameras among the medium-sized sensor cameras that aim to strike a balance between image quality and portability. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Leica X1 and Nikon D40 sensor measures

While the two cameras under review share the same sensor size, the X1 offers a higher resolution of 12.2 megapixels, compared with 6 MP of the D40. This megapixels advantage translates into a 42 percent gain in linear resolution. On the other hand, these sensor specs imply that the X1 has a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 5.51μm versus 7.85μm for the D40). In this context, it should be noted, however, that the X1 is much more recent (by 2 years and 9 months) than the D40, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that compensate for the smaller pixel size.

The resolution advantage of the Leica X1 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the X1 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 21.4 x 14.3 inches or 54.3 x 36.3 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 17.1 x 11.4 inches or 43.4 x 29 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 14.2 x 9.5 inches or 36.2 x 24.2 cm. The corresponding values for the Nikon D40 are 15 x 10 inches or 38.2 x 25.4 cm for good quality, 12 x 8 inches or 30.6 x 20.3 cm for very good quality, and 10 x 6.7 inches or 25.5 x 16.9 cm for excellent quality prints.

The Leica X1 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 3200. The corresponding ISO settings for the Nikon D40 are ISO 200 to ISO 1600, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 200-3200.

X1 versus D40 MP

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. This service assesses and scores the color depth ("DXO Portrait"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports") of camera sensors, and also publishes an overall camera score. The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.

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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
1.
 
Leica X1 APS-C 12.2 4272 2856none........
2.
 
Nikon D40 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none21.011.056156
3.
 
Canon G16 1/1.7 12.0 4000 30001080/60p21.011.723054
4.
 
Fujifilm X100 APS-C 12.2 4288 2848720/30p22.912.4100173
5.
 
Leica X Typ 113 APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p........
6.
 
Leica D-LUX 6 1/1.7 10.0 3648 27361080/60p........
7.
 
Leica X2 APS-C 16.1 4928 3264none........
8.
 
Leica D-LUX 5 1/1.7 10.0 3648 2736720/60p........
9.
 
Leica V-LUX 2 1/2.3 14.0 4320 32401080/60i........
10.
 
Nikon D3400 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.813.9119286
11.
 
Nikon D3300 APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.312.8138582
12.
 
Nikon D3100 APS-C 14.2 4608 30721080/24p22.511.391967
13.
 
Nikon D40X APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.411.451663
14.
 
Nikon D50 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none20.910.856055
15.
 
Panasonic LX5 1/1.7 10.0 3648 2736720/60p19.610.813241
16.
 
Sony NEX-3 APS-C 14.0 4592 3056720/30p22.112.083068
17.
 
Sony NEX-5 APS-C 14.0 4592 30561080/60i22.212.279669
Neither the X1 nor the D40 offer Live View, so that they cannot project the live image that the sensor receives onto the rear screen. Moreover, both cameras are still-image focused and cannot record videos.

Feature comparison

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the D40 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 D40, and comparable cameras.

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Core Features
    Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Specifications
(inch/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
1.
 
Leica X1none n2.7 / 230 fixed n 1/2000s 3.0 Y n
2.
 
Nikon D40optical n2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y n
3.
 
Canon G16optical n3.0 / 922 fixed n 1/4000s 2.2 Y Y
4.
 
Fujifilm X1001440 n2.8 / 460 fixed n 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
5.
 
Leica X Typ 113optional n3.0 / 920 fixed n 1/2000s 5.0 Y n
6.
 
Leica D-LUX 6optional n3.0 / 920 fixed n 1/4000s 11.0 Y Y
7.
 
Leica X2optional n2.7 / 230 fixed n 1/2000s 5.0 Y n
8.
 
Leica D-LUX 5optional n3.0 / 460 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y Y
9.
 
Leica V-LUX 2202 n3.0 / 460 swivel n 1/2000s 11.0 Y Y
10.
 
Nikon D3400optical n3.0 / 921 fixed n 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
11.
 
Nikon D3300optical n3.0 / 921 fixed n 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
12.
 
Nikon D3100optical n3.0 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
13.
 
Nikon D40Xoptical n2.5 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
14.
 
Nikon D50optical n2.0 / 130 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y n
15.
 
Panasonic LX5optional n3.0 / 460 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y Y
16.
 
Sony NEX-3optional n3.0 / 920 tilting n 1/4000s 7.0 n n
17.
 
Sony NEX-5optional n3.0 / 920 tilting n 1/4000s 7.0 n n

Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the X1 and the D40 write their files to SDHC cards.

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 D40 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
Mic / Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
1.
 
Leica X1Y- / ---mini2.0---
2.
 
Nikon D40Y- / ----2.0---
3.
 
Canon G16Ystereo / mono--mini2.0Y--
4.
 
Fujifilm X100Ystereo / ---mini2.0---
5.
 
Leica X Typ 113Ystereo / mono--mini2.0---
6.
 
Leica D-LUX 6Ystereo / mono--mini2.0---
7.
 
Leica X2Y- / ---mini2.0---
8.
 
Leica D-LUX 5Ymono / mono--mini2.0---
9.
 
Leica V-LUX 2Ystereo / mono--mini2.0---
10.
 
Nikon D3400Ymono / mono--mini2.0--Y
11.
 
Nikon D3300Ymono / monoY-mini2.0---
12.
 
Nikon D3100Ymono / mono--mini2.0---
13.
 
Nikon D40XY- / ----2.0---
14.
 
Nikon D50Y- / ----2.0---
15.
 
Panasonic LX5Ymono / mono--mini2.0---
16.
 
Sony NEX-3Ystereo / mono--mini2.0---
17.
 
Sony NEX-5Ystereo / mono--mini2.0---

Both the X1 and the D40 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D40 was replaced by the Nikon D40X, 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? Which of the two cameras – the Leica X1 or the Nikon D40 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.

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Reasons to prefer the Leica X1:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (12.2 vs 6MP) with a 42% higher linear resolution.
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (2.7" vs 2.5") for image review and settings control.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (3 vs 2.5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Ready to shoot: Comes with a built-in lens, while the D40 requires a separate lens.
  • More compact: Is smaller (124x60mm vs 124x94mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter even though it comes with a built-in lens (unlike the D40).
  • More prestigious: Has the Leica luxury appeal, which ensures a high resale price.
  • More modern: Reflects 2 years and 9 months of technical progress since the D40 launch.

ilogo

Arguments in favor of the Nikon D40:

  • Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image composition and settings control.
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/4000s vs 1/2000s) to freeze action.
  • More flexible: Makes it possible to change lenses and thus to use specialty optics.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (470 versus 260) out of a single battery charge.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in November 2006).

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the X1 emerges as the winner of the contest (8 : 5 points). However, the relative importance of the various individual camera aspects will vary according to personal preferences and needs, so that you might like to apply corresponding weights to the particular features before making a decision 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.

X1 08:05 D40

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Leica X1 and the Nikon D40 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 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 X1 and the D40 in practical situations. User reviews that are available, for instance, at amazon can sometimes shed light on these issues, but such feedback is all too often partial, inconsistent, and inaccurate.

Expert reviews

This is why expert reviews are important. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], digitalcameraworld [DCW], 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.

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Expert Camera Reviews
     Camera 
 Model 
 AP 
 score 
 CL 
 score 
 DCW 
 score 
 DPR 
 score 
 EPZ 
 score 
 PB 
 score 
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Leica X13/5....+..4/5 Sep 2009 1,995i
2.
 
Nikon D40..81/100..+ +o4.5/5 Nov 2006 499i
3.
 
Canon G164/5+....4.5/54.5/5 Aug 2013 549 i
4.
 
Fujifilm X1003/5....75/1004/55/5 Sep 2010 1,199i
5.
 
Leica X Typ 1133.5/5......3.5/54/5 Sep 2014 2,295i
6.
 
Leica D-LUX 6........4/54/5 Sep 2012 699i
7.
 
Leica X23/5......3/54/5 May 2012 1,995i
8.
 
Leica D-LUX 5........4.5/54/5 Sep 2010 699i
9.
 
Leica V-LUX 2............ Sep 2010 849i
10.
 
Nikon D34004/5+4/576/1004/54.5/5 Aug 2016 499i
11.
 
Nikon D33003/5+..77/1004.5/54.5/5 Jan 2014 499i
12.
 
Nikon D31005/5+ +..72/1004.5/54.5/5 Aug 2010 599i
13.
 
Nikon D40X..79/100..+ +4/54/5 Mar 2007 729i
14.
 
Nikon D50..78/100..+ +4/54.5/5 Apr 2005 749i
15.
 
Panasonic LX54/5+..73/1004.5/54.5/5 Jul 2010 499i
16.
 
Sony NEX-3......70/1004.5/54/5 May 2010 599i
17.
 
Sony NEX-53/5+ +..71/1004.5/54/5 May 2010 699i
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. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.

Leica X1:
Check Ebay offers
Nikon D40:
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 a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.

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    Specifications: Leica X1 vs Nikon D40

    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 D40
    Camera Type Fixed lens compact camera Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens 36mm f/2.8 Nikon F mount lenses
    Launch Date September 2009 November 2006
    Launch Price USD 1,995 USD 499
    Sensor Specs Leica X1 Nikon D40
    Sensor Technology CMOS CCD
    Sensor Format APS-C Sensor APS-C Sensor
    Sensor Size 23.7 x 15.6 mm 23.7 x 15.6 mm
    Sensor Area 369.72 mm2 369.72 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 28.4 mm 28.4 mm
    Crop Factor 1.5x 1.5x
    Sensor Resolution 12.2 Megapixels 6 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 4272 x 2856 pixels 3008 x 2000 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 5.51 μm 7.85 μm
    Pixel Density 3.30 MP/cm2 1.63 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability no Video no Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 3,200 ISO 200 - 1,600 ISO
    ISO Boost no Enhancement 200 - 3,200 ISO
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) .. 56
    DXO Color Depth (bits) .. 21.0
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) .. 11.0
    DXO Low Light (ISO) .. 561
    Screen Specs Leica X1 Nikon D40
    Viewfinder Type no viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 95%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.53x
    Rear LCD Size 2.7inch 2.5inch
    LCD Resolution 230k dots 230k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Leica X1 Nikon D40
    Focus System Contrast-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 3 shutter flaps/s 2.5 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash Built-in Flash Built-in Flash
    Storage Medium SDHC cards SDHC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    UHS card support no no
    Connectivity Specs Leica X1 Nikon D40
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port mini HDMI no HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Leica X1 Nikon D40
    Battery Type BP-DC8 EN-EL9
    Battery Life (CIPA)260 shots per charge470 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 124 x 60 x 32 mm
    (4.9 x 2.4 x 1.3 in)
    124 x 94 x 64 mm
    (4.9 x 3.7 x 2.5 in)
    Camera Weight 306 g (10.8 oz) 522 g (18.4 oz)

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