Leica X1 versus Olympus PEN-F
The Leica X1 and the Olympus PEN-F are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in September 2009 and January 2016. The X1 is a fixed lens compact, while the PEN-F is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on an APS-C (X1) and a Four Thirds (PEN-F) sensor. The Leica has a resolution of 12.2 megapixel, whereas the Olympus provides 20.2 MP. Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their size, their sensors, their features, and their reception by expert reviewers.
Body comparison: Leica X1 vs Olympus PEN-F
An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Leica X1 and the Olympus PEN-F is provided in the side-by-side display below. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are presented. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter. You can also toggle the display to switch to a percentage comparison if you prefer that the measures are being expressed in relative terms (in this case, the camera on the left – the X1 – represents the basis or 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Olympus PEN-F is notably larger (21 percent) than the Leica X1. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the X1 nor the PEN-F are weather-sealed.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the X1 has a lens build in, whereas the PEN-F is an interchangeable lens camera that requires a separate lens. Attaching the latter will add extra weight and bulk to the setup. You can find an overview of optics for the PEN-F and their specifications in the Micro Four Thirds 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, just select a new right or left comparator from among the camera models in the table. Alternatively, you can also move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.
|Camera Body Specifications
|Leica X1 (⇒ rgt)||124 mm||60 mm||32 mm||306 g||260||no||2009||1,995||discont.||check|
|Olympus PEN-F (⇒ lft)||125 mm||72 mm||37 mm||427 g||330||no||2016||1,199||latest||check|
|Canon G16 (⇒ lft | rgt)||109 mm||76 mm||40 mm||356 g||360||no||2013||549||latest||check|
|Fujifilm X20 (⇒ lft | rgt)||117 mm||70 mm||57 mm||353 g||270||no||2013||599||discont.||check|
|Fujifilm X100 (⇒ lft | rgt)||126 mm||75 mm||54 mm||445 g||300||no||2010||1,199||discont.||check|
|Leica TL2 (⇒ lft | rgt)||134 mm||69 mm||33 mm||399 g||250||no||2017||1,950||latest||check|
|Leica D-LUX 6 (⇒ lft | rgt)||111 mm||68 mm||46 mm||298 g||330||no||2012||699||discont.||check|
|Leica X2 (⇒ lft | rgt)||124 mm||69 mm||52 mm||345 g||450||no||2012||1,995||discont.||check|
|Leica D-LUX 5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||110 mm||65 mm||43 mm||271 g||400||no||2010||699||discont.||check|
|Leica V-LUX 2 (⇒ lft | rgt)||124 mm||80 mm||95 mm||520 g||410||no||2010||849||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-M1 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||134 mm||91 mm||67 mm||574 g||440||YES||2016||1,999||latest||check|
|Olympus E-M10 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||120 mm||83 mm||47 mm||390 g||320||no||2015||799||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-M5 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||124 mm||85 mm||45 mm||469 g||310||YES||2015||1,099||latest||check|
|Olympus E-M10 (⇒ lft | rgt)||119 mm||82 mm||46 mm||396 g||320||no||2014||699||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-M1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||130 mm||94 mm||63 mm||497 g||350||YES||2013||1,399||discont.||check|
|Panasonic LX5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||110 mm||65 mm||43 mm||271 g||400||no||2010||499||discont.||check|
|Panasonic G1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||124 mm||84 mm||45 mm||360 g||410||no||2008||599||discont.||check|
The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. 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: Leica X1 vs Olympus PEN-F
The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant 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 are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Leica X1 features an APS-C sensor and the Olympus PEN-F a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the PEN-F is 39 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.5 and 2.0. The sensor in the X1 has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the PEN-F offers a 4:3 aspect.
Despite having a smaller sensor, the PEN-F offers a higher resolution of 20.2 megapixel, compared with 12.2 MP of the X1. This megapixel advantage comes at the cost of a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 3.34μm versus 5.51μm for the X1). However, it should be noted that the PEN-F is much more recent (by 6 years and 4 months) than the X1, 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 PEN-F has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.
Unlike the X1, the PEN-F has the capacity to capture high quality composite images (40MP) by combining multiple shots after shifting its sensor by miniscule distances. This multi-shot, pixel-shift mode is most suitable for photography of stationary objects (landscapes, studio scenes).
For most cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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.
|Leica X1 (⇒ rgt)||APS-C||12.2||4272||2856||no||-||-||-||-|
|Olympus PEN-F (⇒ lft)||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||1080/60p||23.1||12.4||894||74|
|Canon G16 (⇒ lft | rgt)||1/1.7||12.0||4000||3000||1080/60p||21.0||11.7||230||54|
|Fujifilm X20 (⇒ lft | rgt)||2/3||12.0||4000||3000||1080/60p||-||-||-||-|
|Fujifilm X100 (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||12.2||4288||2848||720/30p||22.9||12.4||1001||73|
|Leica TL2 (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||24.1||6014||4014||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|Leica D-LUX 6 (⇒ lft | rgt)||1/1.7||10.0||3648||2736||1080/60p||-||-||-||-|
|Leica X2 (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||16.1||4928||3264||no||-||-||-||-|
|Leica D-LUX 5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||1/1.7||10.0||3648||2736||720/60p||-||-||-||-|
|Leica V-LUX 2 (⇒ lft | rgt)||1/2.3||14.0||4320||3240||1080/60i||-||-||-||-|
|Olympus E-M1 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/30p||23.7||12.8||1312||80|
|Olympus E-M10 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||23.1||12.5||842||73|
|Olympus E-M5 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||23.0||12.5||842||73|
|Olympus E-M10 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.8||12.3||884||72|
|Olympus E-M1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||23.0||12.7||757||73|
|Panasonic LX5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||1/1.7||10.0||3648||2736||720/60p||19.6||10.8||132||41|
|Panasonic G1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||12.0||4000||3000||no||21.1||10.3||463||53|
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The PEN-F indeed provides for movie recording, while the X1 does not. The highest resolution format that the PEN-F can use is 1080/60p.
Feature comparison: Leica X1 vs Olympus PEN-F
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the PEN-F has an electronic viewfinder (2360k dots), which can be very helpful 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 Olympus PEN-F, and comparable cameras. If you need more detail on the specs, you can find comprehensive listings, for example, in the dpreview camera hub.
|Leica X1 (⇒ rgt)||no||no||2.7||230||fixed||no||2000||3.0||YES||no|
|Olympus PEN-F (⇒ lft)||2360||no||3.0||1037||swivel||YES||8000||10.0||no||YES|
|Canon G16 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||no||3.0||922||fixed||no||4000||2.2||7||YES|
|Fujifilm X20 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||no||2.8||460||fixed||no||4000||12.0||7||YES|
|Fujifilm X100 (⇒ lft | rgt)||1440||no||2.8||460||fixed||no||4000||5.0||9||no|
|Leica TL2 (⇒ lft | rgt)||no||no||3.7||1230||fixed||YES||4000||7.0||no||no|
|Leica D-LUX 6 (⇒ lft | rgt)||no||no||3.0||920||fixed||no||4000||11.0||8.5||YES|
|Leica X2 (⇒ lft | rgt)||no||no||2.7||230||fixed||no||2000||5.0||YES||no|
|Leica D-LUX 5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||no||no||3.0||460||fixed||no||4000||2.5||7.2||YES|
|Leica V-LUX 2 (⇒ lft | rgt)||202||no||3.0||460||swivel||no||2000||11.0||9.5||YES|
|Olympus E-M1 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||2360||no||3.0||1037||swivel||YES||8000||18.0||no||YES|
|Olympus E-M10 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||2360||no||3.0||1040||tilting||YES||4000||8.0||5.8||YES|
|Olympus E-M5 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||2360||no||3.0||1037||swivel||YES||8000||10.0||no||YES|
|Olympus E-M10 (⇒ lft | rgt)||1440||no||3.0||1037||tilting||YES||4000||8.0||5.8||YES|
|Olympus E-M1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||2360||no||3.0||1037||tilting||YES||8000||10.0||no||YES|
|Panasonic LX5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||no||no||3.0||460||fixed||no||4000||2.5||7.2||YES|
|Panasonic G1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||1440||no||3.0||460||swivel||no||4001||3.0||10.5||no|
The PEN-F is a current model that online retailers, such as amazon, will have in stock. In contrast, the X1 has been discontinued (but it can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the X1 was succeeded by the Leica X2.
Review summary: Leica X1 vs Olympus PEN-F
So how do things add up? Is the Leica X1 better than the Olympus PEN-F or vice versa? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Reasons to prefer the Leica X1:
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- Ready to shoot: Has a lens build-in, whereas the PEN-F requires a separate lens.
- More compact: Is smaller (124x60mm vs 125x72mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter even though it comes with a build-in lens (unlike the PEN-F).
- Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
- More prestigious: Has the Leica luxury appeal, which ensures a high resale price.
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in September 2009).
Arguments in favor of the Olympus PEN-F:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (20.2 vs 12.2MP), which boosts linear resolution by 26%.
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- High quality composites: Can combine several shots after pixel-shifting its sensor.
- Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 1080/60p video.
- Easier framing: Has an electronic viewfinder for image framing and settings control.
- 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 (1037k vs 230k dots).
- More flexible LCD: Has swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
- Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (8000/sec vs 2000/sec) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (10 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More flexible: Takes interchangeable lenses and can thus be used with specialty optics.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (330 versus 260) out of a single battery charge.
- Sharper images: Has stabilization technology build-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
- More modern: Reflects 6 years and 4 months of technical progress since the X1 launch.
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the PEN-F is the clear winner of the contest (15 : 7 points). However, the relevance of individual strengths will vary across photographers, so that you might want to apply your own weighing scheme to the summary points when reflecting and deciding on a new camera.
In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras is instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the X1 or the PEN-F handle or perform in practice. 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 table below summarizes the assessments of some of the best known camera review sites. The detailed reviews can be accessed, respectively, on the websites of cameralabs.com, dpreview.com, ephotozine.com, imaging-resource.com, and photographyblog.com.
|Leica X1 (⇒ rgt)||-||Rec||-||-||4/5||2009||1,995||discont.||check|
|Olympus PEN-F (⇒ lft)||-||82/100 Silver||4.5/5||4.5/5||5/5||2016||1,199||latest||check|
|Canon G16 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Rec||-||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||2013||549||latest||check|
|Fujifilm X20 (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||77/100 Silver||4.5/5||-||5/5||2013||599||discont.||check|
|Fujifilm X100 (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||75/100 Silver||4/5||4/5||5/5||2010||1,199||discont.||check|
|Leica TL2 (⇒ lft | rgt)||..||..||4/5||..||4/5||2017||1,950||latest||check|
|Leica D-LUX 6 (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||-||4/5||-||4/5||2012||699||discont.||check|
|Leica X2 (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||-||3/5||-||4/5||2012||1,995||discont.||check|
|Leica D-LUX 5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||-||4.5/5||-||4/5||2010||699||discont.||check|
|Leica V-LUX 2 (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||-||-||-||-||2010||849||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-M1 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||85/100 Gold||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||2016||1,999||latest||check|
|Olympus E-M10 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||80/100 Silver||5/5||5/5||5/5||2015||799||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-M5 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||81/100 Silver||5/5||4.5/5||5/5||2015||1,099||latest||check|
|Olympus E-M10 (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||80/100 Gold||5/5||4.5/5||5/5||2014||699||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-M1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||84/100 Gold||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||2013||1,399||discont.||check|
|Panasonic LX5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Rec||73/100 Silver||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||2010||499||discont.||check|
|Panasonic G1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||88/100 HiRec||70/100 HiRec||4/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||2008||599||discont.||check|
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings are only valid when refering to cameras in the same category and of the same age. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.
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