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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
|1.||Leica X1||124 mm||60 mm||32 mm||306 g||260||n||Sep 2009||1,995|
|2.||Nikon D40||124 mm||94 mm||64 mm||522 g||470||n||Nov 2006||499|
|3.||Canon G16||109 mm||76 mm||40 mm||356 g||360||n||Aug 2013||549|
|4.||Fujifilm X100||126 mm||75 mm||54 mm||445 g||300||n||Sep 2010||1,199|
|5.||Leica X Typ 113||133 mm||73 mm||78 mm||486 g||350||n||Sep 2014||2,295|
|6.||Leica D-LUX 6||111 mm||68 mm||46 mm||298 g||330||n||Sep 2012||699|
|7.||Leica X2||124 mm||69 mm||52 mm||345 g||450||n||May 2012||1,995|
|8.||Leica D-LUX 5||110 mm||65 mm||43 mm||271 g||400||n||Sep 2010||699|
|9.||Leica V-LUX 2||124 mm||80 mm||95 mm||520 g||410||n||Sep 2010||849|
|10.||Nikon D3400||124 mm||98 mm||76 mm||445 g||1200||n||Aug 2016||499|
|11.||Nikon D3300||124 mm||98 mm||76 mm||430 g||700||n||Jan 2014||499|
|12.||Nikon D3100||124 mm||96 mm||75 mm||505 g||550||n||Aug 2010||599|
|13.||Nikon D40X||124 mm||94 mm||64 mm||522 g||520||n||Mar 2007||729|
|14.||Nikon D50||133 mm||102 mm||76 mm||620 g||400||n||Apr 2005||749|
|15.||Panasonic LX5||110 mm||65 mm||43 mm||271 g||400||n||Jul 2010||499|
|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 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.
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.
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.
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.
|5.||Leica X Typ 113||APS-C||16.1||4928||3264||1080/30p||..||..||..||..|
|6.||Leica D-LUX 6||1/1.7||10.0||3648||2736||1080/60p||..||..||..||..|
|8.||Leica D-LUX 5||1/1.7||10.0||3648||2736||720/60p||..||..||..||..|
|9.||Leica V-LUX 2||1/2.3||14.0||4320||3240||1080/60i||..||..||..||..|
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.
|1.||Leica X1||none||n||2.7 / 230||fixed||n||1/2000s||3.0||Y||n|
|2.||Nikon D40||optical||n||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.5||Y||n|
|3.||Canon G16||optical||n||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.2||Y||Y|
|4.||Fujifilm X100||1440||n||2.8 / 460||fixed||n||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n|
|5.||Leica X Typ 113||optional||n||3.0 / 920||fixed||n||1/2000s||5.0||Y||n|
|6.||Leica D-LUX 6||optional||n||3.0 / 920||fixed||n||1/4000s||11.0||Y||Y|
|7.||Leica X2||optional||n||2.7 / 230||fixed||n||1/2000s||5.0||Y||n|
|8.||Leica D-LUX 5||optional||n||3.0 / 460||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.5||Y||Y|
|9.||Leica V-LUX 2||202||n||3.0 / 460||swivel||n||1/2000s||11.0||Y||Y|
|10.||Nikon D3400||optical||n||3.0 / 921||fixed||n||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n|
|11.||Nikon D3300||optical||n||3.0 / 921||fixed||n||1/4000s||5.0||Y||n|
|12.||Nikon D3100||optical||n||3.0 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n|
|13.||Nikon D40X||optical||n||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/4000s||3.0||Y||n|
|14.||Nikon D50||optical||n||2.0 / 130||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.5||Y||n|
|15.||Panasonic LX5||optional||n||3.0 / 460||fixed||n||1/4000s||2.5||Y||Y|
|16.||Sony NEX-3||optional||n||3.0 / 920||tilting||n||1/4000s||7.0||n||n|
|17.||Sony NEX-5||optional||n||3.0 / 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.
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.
Mic / Speaker
|1.||Leica X1||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|2.||Nikon D40||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|3.||Canon G16||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||-||-|
|4.||Fujifilm X100||Y||stereo / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|5.||Leica X Typ 113||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|6.||Leica D-LUX 6||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|7.||Leica X2||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|8.||Leica D-LUX 5||Y||mono / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|9.||Leica V-LUX 2||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|10.||Nikon D3400||Y||mono / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||Y|
|11.||Nikon D3300||Y||mono / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|12.||Nikon D3100||Y||mono / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|13.||Nikon D40X||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|14.||Nikon D50||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|15.||Panasonic LX5||Y||mono / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|16.||Sony NEX-3||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|17.||Sony NEX-5||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
|1.||Leica X1||3/5||..||..||+||..||4/5||Sep 2009||1,995|
|2.||Nikon D40||..||81/100||..||+ +||o||4.5/5||Nov 2006||499|
|3.||Canon G16||4/5||+||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2013||549|
|4.||Fujifilm X100||3/5||..||..||75/100||4/5||5/5||Sep 2010||1,199|
|5.||Leica X Typ 113||3.5/5||..||..||..||3.5/5||4/5||Sep 2014||2,295|
|6.||Leica D-LUX 6||..||..||..||..||4/5||4/5||Sep 2012||699|
|7.||Leica X2||3/5||..||..||..||3/5||4/5||May 2012||1,995|
|8.||Leica D-LUX 5||..||..||..||..||4.5/5||4/5||Sep 2010||699|
|9.||Leica V-LUX 2||..||..||..||..||..||..||Sep 2010||849|
|10.||Nikon D3400||4/5||+||4/5||76/100||4/5||4.5/5||Aug 2016||499|
|11.||Nikon D3300||3/5||+||..||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2014||499|
|12.||Nikon D3100||5/5||+ +||..||72/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2010||599|
|13.||Nikon D40X||..||79/100||..||+ +||4/5||4/5||Mar 2007||729|
|14.||Nikon D50||..||78/100||..||+ +||4/5||4.5/5||Apr 2005||749|
|15.||Panasonic LX5||4/5||+||..||73/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jul 2010||499|
|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 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.
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.
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 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 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|
|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%|
|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|
|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 Life (CIPA)||260 shots per charge||470 shots per charge|
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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