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Leica X1 vs Panasonic G1

The Leica X1 and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in September 2009 and September 2008. The X1 is a fixed lens compact, while the G1 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on an APS-C (X1) and a Four Thirds (G1) sensor. The Leica has a resolution of 12.2 megapixels, whereas the Panasonic provides 12 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
Panasonic G1
Leica X1   Panasonic G1
Fixed lens compact camera Mirrorless system camera
36mm f/2.8 Micro Four Thirds lenses
12.2 MP – APS-C sensor 12 MP – Four Thirds sensor
no Video no Video
ISO 100-3,200 ISO 100-1,600 (100 - 3,200)
No viewfinder, LCD framing Electronic viewfinder (1440k dots)
2.7" LCD – 230k dots 3.0" LCD – 460k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Swivel screen (not touch-sensitive)
3 shutter flaps per second 3 shutter flaps per second
260 shots per battery charge410 shots per battery charge
124 x 60 x 32 mm, 306 g 124 x 84 x 45 mm, 360 g
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Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Leica X1 and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1? 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 side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Leica X1 and the Panasonic G1. 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 measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

The X1 can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the G1 is only available in black.

Size Leica X1 vs Panasonic G1
Compare X1 versus G1 top
Comparison X1 or G1 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Panasonic G1 is notably larger (40 percent) than the Leica X1. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the X1 nor the G1 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 G1 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 G1 and their specifications in the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog.

Concerning battery life, the X1 gets 260 shots out of its BP-DC8 battery, while the G1 can take 410 images on a single charge of its DMW-BLB13 power pack.

The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, you can use the CAM-parator app to select your camera combination among a large number of options.

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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 1,995ebay.com
2.
 
Panasonic G1 124 mm 84 mm 45 mm 360 g 410 n Sep 2008 599ebay.com
3.
 
Canon G16 109 mm 76 mm 40 mm 356 g 360 n Aug 2013 549ebay.com
4.
 
Fujifilm X100 126 mm 75 mm 54 mm 445 g 300 n Sep 2010 1,199ebay.com
5.
 
Leica X Typ 113 133 mm 73 mm 78 mm 486 g 350 n Sep 2014 2,295ebay.com
6.
 
Leica D-LUX 6 111 mm 68 mm 46 mm 298 g 330 n Sep 2012 699ebay.com
7.
 
Leica X2 124 mm 69 mm 52 mm 345 g 450 n May 2012 1,995ebay.com
8.
 
Leica D-LUX 5 110 mm 65 mm 43 mm 271 g 400 n Sep 2010 699ebay.com
9.
 
Leica V-LUX 2 124 mm 80 mm 95 mm 520 g 410 n Sep 2010 849ebay.com
10.
 
Olympus E-410 130 mm 91 mm 53 mm 435 g 500 n Mar 2007 699ebay.com
11.
 
Panasonic G10 124 mm 84 mm 74 mm 388 g 380 n Mar 2010 499ebay.com
12.
 
Panasonic G2 124 mm 84 mm 74 mm 428 g 360 n Mar 2010 599ebay.com
13.
 
Panasonic LX5 110 mm 65 mm 43 mm 271 g 400 n Jul 2010 499ebay.com
14.
 
Panasonic GH1 124 mm 90 mm 45 mm 385 g 300 n Mar 2009 899ebay.com
15.
 
Panasonic L10 135 mm 96 mm 78 mm 556 g 450 n Aug 2007 599ebay.com
16.
 
Sony NEX-3 117 mm 62 mm 33 mm 297 g 330 n May 2010 599ebay.com
17.
 
Sony NEX-5 111 mm 59 mm 38 mm 287 g 330 n May 2010 699ebay.com
Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.

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

The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant of image quality. A large sensor will generally have larger individual pixels that offer better low-light sensitivity, provide wider dynamic range, and have richer color-depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Moreover, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more control over depth-of-field in the image and, thus, the ability to better isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Leica X1 features an APS-C sensor and the Panasonic G1 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the G1 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 G1 offers a 4:3 aspect.

Leica X1 and Panasonic G1 sensor measures

With 12.2MP, the X1 offers a slightly higher resolution than the G1 (12MP), but the X1 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 5.51μm versus 4.33μm for the G1) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the X1 is a somewhat more recent model (by 11 months) than the G1, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels.

The Leica X1 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 3200. The corresponding ISO settings for the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1 are ISO 100 to ISO 1600, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-3200.

Technology-wise, both cameras are equipped with CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensors. Both cameras use a Bayer filter for capturing RGB colors on a square grid of photosensors. This arrangement is found in most digital cameras.

X1 versus G1 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 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 2856none22.611.8103769
2.
 
Panasonic G1 Four Thirds 12.0 4000 3000none21.110.346353
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 32641080/30p23.612.8149178
6.
 
Leica D-LUX 6 1/1.7 10.0 3648 27361080/60p19.810.8-30343
7.
 
Leica X2 APS-C 16.1 4928 3264none23.212.4127574
8.
 
Leica D-LUX 5 1/1.7 10.0 3648 2736720/60p19.510.4-58339
9.
 
Leica V-LUX 2 1/2.3 14.0 4320 32401080/60i19.410.732139
10.
 
Olympus E-410 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.110.049451
11.
 
Panasonic G10 Four Thirds 12.0 4000 3000720/30p21.210.141152
12.
 
Panasonic G2 Four Thirds 12.0 4000 3000720/30p21.210.349353
13.
 
Panasonic LX5 1/1.7 10.0 3648 2736720/60p19.610.813241
14.
 
Panasonic GH1 Four Thirds 12.0 4000 30001080/24p21.611.677264
15.
 
Panasonic L10 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.310.842955
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
Note: DXO values in italics represent estimates based on sensor size and age.
The G1 offers Live View, so that it can project the live image that the sensor receives onto the rear screen for framing. The X1 lacks this capability. Both cameras are still-image focused and cannot record videos.

Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the G1 has an electronic viewfinder (1440k 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 table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Leica X1 and Panasonic G1 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar 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)
Max
Shutter
Speed *
Max
Shutter
Flaps *
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
1.
 
Leica X1none n2.7 / 230 fixed n 1/2000s 3.0/s Y n
2.
 
Panasonic G11440 n3.0 / 460 swivel n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
3.
 
Canon G16optical n3.0 / 922 fixed n 1/4000s 2.2/s Y Y
4.
 
Fujifilm X1001440 n2.8 / 460 fixed n 1/4000s 5.0/s Y n
5.
 
Leica X Typ 113optional n3.0 / 920 fixed n 1/2000s 5.0/s Y n
6.
 
Leica D-LUX 6optional n3.0 / 920 fixed n 1/4000s 11.0/s Y Y
7.
 
Leica X2optional n2.7 / 230 fixed n 1/2000s 5.0/s Y n
8.
 
Leica D-LUX 5optional n3.0 / 460 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5/s Y Y
9.
 
Leica V-LUX 2202 n3.0 / 460 swivel n 1/2000s 11.0/s Y Y
10.
 
Olympus E-410optical n2.5 / 215 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
11.
 
Panasonic G10202 n3.0 / 460 fixed n 1/4000s 2.6/s Y n
12.
 
Panasonic G21440 n3.0 / 460 swivel Y 1/4000s 2.6/s Y n
13.
 
Panasonic LX5optional n3.0 / 460 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5/s Y Y
14.
 
Panasonic GH11440 n3.0 / 460 swivel n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
15.
 
Panasonic L10optical n2.5 / 207 swivel n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
16.
 
Sony NEX-3optional n3.0 / 920 tilting n 1/4000s 7.0/s n n
17.
 
Sony NEX-5optional n3.0 / 920 tilting n 1/4000s 7.0/s n n
Notes: *) Information refers to the mechanical shutter, unless the camera only has an electronic one.
The G1 has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing. This characteristic will be appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in taking selfies. In contrast, the X1 does not have a selfie-screen.

Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the X1 and the G1 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 Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1 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.
 
Panasonic G1Y- / ---mini2.0---
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.
 
Olympus E-410Y- / ----2.0---
11.
 
Panasonic G10Ymono / ---mini2.0---
12.
 
Panasonic G2Ystereo / mono--mini2.0---
13.
 
Panasonic LX5Ymono / mono--mini2.0---
14.
 
Panasonic GH1Ystereo / -Y-mini2.0---
15.
 
Panasonic L10Y- / ----2.0---
16.
 
Sony NEX-3Ystereo / mono--mini2.0---
17.
 
Sony NEX-5Ystereo / mono--mini2.0---

Both the X1 and the G1 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on ebay. The G1 was replaced by the Panasonic G2, 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 Panasonic websites.

Review summary

So what conclusions can be drawn? Is the Leica X1 better than the Panasonic G1 or vice versa? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.

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Reasons to prefer the Leica X1:

  • Better image quality: Features a larger and more technologically advanced imaging sensor.
  • Richer colors: The sensor size advantage translates into images with better, more accurate colors.
  • More dynamic range: Larger sensor captures a wider spectrum of light and dark details.
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Larger sensor produces good images even in poorly lit environments.
  • Ready to shoot: Has a lens built-in, whereas the G1 requires a separate lens.
  • More compact: Is smaller (124x60mm vs 124x84mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter even though it comes with a built-in lens (unlike the G1).
  • More prestigious: Has the Leica luxury appeal, which ensures a high resale price.
  • More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 11 months after the G1).

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Advantages of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1:

  • Easier framing: Has an electronic viewfinder for image composition 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 (460k vs 230k dots).
  • More flexible LCD: Has a swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or 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.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (410 versus 260) out of a single battery charge.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in September 2008).

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the match-up finishes in a tie (9 points each). 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. A professional sports photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a street photog, and a person interested in family portraits has distinct needs from a landscape shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.

X1 09:09 G1

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Leica X1 and the Panasonic G1 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Prime Lens Compact 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 says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the X1 and the G1 in practical situations. 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 (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 1,995ebay.com
2.
 
Panasonic G1..+ +..70/1004/54.5/5 Sep 2008 599ebay.com
3.
 
Canon G164/5+....4.5/54.5/5 Aug 2013 549ebay.com
4.
 
Fujifilm X1003/5....75/1004/55/5 Sep 2010 1,199ebay.com
5.
 
Leica X Typ 1133.5/5......3.5/54/5 Sep 2014 2,295ebay.com
6.
 
Leica D-LUX 6........4/54/5 Sep 2012 699ebay.com
7.
 
Leica X23/5......3/54/5 May 2012 1,995ebay.com
8.
 
Leica D-LUX 5........4.5/54/5 Sep 2010 699ebay.com
9.
 
Leica V-LUX 2............ Sep 2010 849ebay.com
10.
 
Olympus E-410..86/100..+ +4/54.5/5 Mar 2007 699ebay.com
11.
 
Panasonic G103/5....70/1004/54/5 Mar 2010 499ebay.com
12.
 
Panasonic G2......72/1004/54.5/5 Mar 2010 599ebay.com
13.
 
Panasonic LX54/5+..73/1004.5/54.5/5 Jul 2010 499ebay.com
14.
 
Panasonic GH1..+ +..72/1004.5/54.5/5 Mar 2009 899ebay.com
15.
 
Panasonic L10..85/100..+3.5/54/5 Aug 2007 599ebay.com
16.
 
Sony NEX-3......70/1004.5/54/5 May 2010 599ebay.com
17.
 
Sony NEX-53/5+ +..71/1004.5/54/5 May 2010 699ebay.com
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, 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 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.

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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. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.

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    Specifications: Leica X1 vs Panasonic G1

    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 Panasonic G1
    Camera Type Fixed lens compact camera Mirrorless system camera
    Camera Lens 36mm f/2.8 Micro Four Thirds lenses
    Launch Date September 2009 September 2008
    Launch Price USD 1,995 USD 599
    Sensor Specs Leica X1 Panasonic G1
    Sensor Technology CMOS CMOS
    Sensor Format APS-C Sensor Four Thirds Sensor
    Sensor Size 23.7 x 15.6 mm 17.3 x 13.0 mm
    Sensor Area 369.72 mm2 224.9 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 28.4 mm 21.6 mm
    Crop Factor 1.5x 2.0x
    Sensor Resolution 12.2 Megapixels 12 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 4272 x 2856 pixels 4000 x 3000 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 5.51 μm 4.33 μm
    Pixel Density 3.30 MP/cm2 5.34 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability no Video no Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 3,200 ISO 100 - 1,600 ISO
    ISO Boost no Enhancement 100 - 3,200 ISO
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) .. 53
    DXO Color Depth (bits) .. 21.1
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) .. 10.3
    DXO Low Light (ISO) .. 463
    Screen Specs Leica X1 Panasonic G1
    Viewfinder Type no viewfinder Electronic viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 100%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.70x
    Viewfinder Resolution 1440k dots
    LCD Framing Live View
    Rear LCD Size 2.7inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 230k dots 460k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Swivel screen
    Shooting Specs Leica X1 Panasonic G1
    Focus System Contrast-detect AF Contrast-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 3 shutter flaps/s 3 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 Panasonic G1
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port mini HDMI mini HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Leica X1 Panasonic G1
    Battery Type BP-DC8 DMW-BLB13
    Battery Life (CIPA)260 shots per charge410 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 124 x 60 x 32 mm
    (4.9 x 2.4 x 1.3 in)
    124 x 84 x 45 mm
    (4.9 x 3.3 x 1.8 in)
    Camera Weight 306 g (10.8 oz) 360 g (12.7 oz)
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    Check G1 offers at
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