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Leica X1 vs Panasonic L1

The Leica X1 and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-L1 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in September 2009 and February 2006. The X1 is a fixed lens compact, while the L1 is a DSLR. The cameras are based on an APS-C (X1) and a Four Thirds (L1) sensor. The Leica has a resolution of 12.2 megapixels, whereas the Panasonic provides 7.4 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 L1
Leica X1 Panasonic L1
Fixed lens compact camera Digital single lens reflex
36mm f/2.8 Four Thirds lenses
12.2 MP, APS-C Sensor 7.4 MP, Four Thirds Sensor
no Video no Video
ISO 100-3,200 ISO 100-1,600
No viewfinder, LCD framing Optical viewfinder
2.7 LCD, 230k dots 2.5 LCD, 207k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
3 shutter flaps per second 3 shutter flaps per second
260 shots per battery charge750 shots per battery charge
124 x 60 x 32 mm, 306 g 146 x 87 x 64 mm, 606 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Leica X1 and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-L1? 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 Panasonic L1 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 L1 is only available in black.

Size Leica X1 vs Panasonic L1
Compare X1 versus L1 top
Comparison X1 or L1 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Panasonic L1 is considerably larger (71 percent) than the Leica X1. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the X1 nor the L1 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 L1 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 L1 and their specifications in the Four Thirds Lens Catalog.

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, 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 1,995i
2.
 
Panasonic L1 146 mm 87 mm 64 mm 606 g 750 n Feb 2006 999i
3.
 
Canon G16 109 mm 76 mm 40 mm 356 g 360 n Aug 2013 549 i
4.
 
Canon 350D 127 mm 94 mm 64 mm 540 g 400 n Feb 2005 899i
5.
 
Fujifilm X20 117 mm 70 mm 57 mm 353 g 270 n Jan 2013 599i
6.
 
Leica D-LUX Typ 109 118 mm 66 mm 55 mm 405 g 300 n Sep 2014 1,195i
7.
 
Leica X Typ 113 133 mm 73 mm 78 mm 486 g 350 n Sep 2014 2,295i
8.
 
Leica D-LUX 6 111 mm 68 mm 46 mm 298 g 330 n Sep 2012 699i
9.
 
Leica X2 124 mm 69 mm 52 mm 345 g 450 n May 2012 1,995i
10.
 
Leica D-LUX 5 110 mm 65 mm 43 mm 271 g 400 n Sep 2010 699i
11.
 
Leica V-LUX 2 124 mm 80 mm 95 mm 520 g 410 n Sep 2010 849i
12.
 
Leica Digilux 3 146 mm 87 mm 77 mm 606 g 750 n Sep 2006 1,499i
13.
 
Olympus E-330 140 mm 87 mm 72 mm 637 g 750 n Jan 2006 999i
14.
 
Olympus E-300 147 mm 85 mm 64 mm 624 g 750 n Sep 2004 799i
15.
 
Panasonic LX7 111 mm 68 mm 46 mm 298 g 330 n Jul 2012 499i
16.
 
Panasonic LX5 110 mm 65 mm 43 mm 271 g 400 n Jul 2010 499i
17.
 
Panasonic L10 135 mm 96 mm 78 mm 556 g 450 n Aug 2007 599i
Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.

Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. Normally, street prices remain initially close to the MSRP, but after a couple of months, the first discounts appear. 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.

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Sensor comparison

The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants of image quality. A large sensor will tend to have larger individual pixels that provide better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixel-units 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.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Leica X1 features an APS-C sensor and the Panasonic L1 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the L1 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 L1 offers a 4:3 aspect.

Technology-wise, both cameras are equipped with CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensors.

Leica X1 and Panasonic L1 sensor measures

With 12.2MP, the X1 offers a higher resolution than the L1 (7.4MP), but the X1 nevertheless has the same individual pixel size (pixel pitch of 5.51μm) as the L1 due to its larger sensor. It is noteworthy in this context that the X1 is a mch more recent model (by 3 years and 6 months) than the L1, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels.

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 Panasonic L1 are 15.7 x 11.8 inches or 39.8 x 29.9 cm for good quality, 12.5 x 9.4 inches or 31.9 x 23.9 cm for very good quality, and 10.5 x 7.8 inches or 26.6 x 19.9 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 Panasonic Lumix DMC-L1 are ISO 100 to ISO 1600 (no boost).

X1 versus L1 MP

For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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.
 
Panasonic L1 Four Thirds 7.4 3136 2352none........
3.
 
Canon G16 1/1.7 12.0 4000 30001080/60p21.011.723054
4.
 
Canon 350D APS-C 8.0 3456 2304none21.810.863760
5.
 
Fujifilm X20 2/3 12.0 4000 30001080/60p........
6.
 
Leica D-LUX Typ 109 Four Thirds 12.7 4112 30884K/30p........
7.
 
Leica X Typ 113 APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p........
8.
 
Leica D-LUX 6 1/1.7 10.0 3648 27361080/60p........
9.
 
Leica X2 APS-C 16.1 4928 3264none........
10.
 
Leica D-LUX 5 1/1.7 10.0 3648 2736720/60p........
11.
 
Leica V-LUX 2 1/2.3 14.0 4320 32401080/60i........
12.
 
Leica Digilux 3 Four Thirds 7.4 3136 2352none........
13.
 
Olympus E-330 Four Thirds 7.4 3136 2352none........
14.
 
Olympus E-300 Four Thirds 8.0 3264 2448none........
15.
 
Panasonic LX7 1/1.7 10.0 3648 27361080/60p20.711.714750
16.
 
Panasonic LX5 1/1.7 10.0 3648 2736720/60p19.610.813241
17.
 
Panasonic L10 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.310.842955
The L1 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.
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Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the L1 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 table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Leica X1 and Panasonic L1 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
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
1.
 
Leica X1none n 2.7 230 fixed n 1/2000s 3.0 Y n
2.
 
Panasonic L1optical n 2.5 207 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
3.
 
Canon G16optical n 3.0 922 fixed n 1/4000s 2.2 Y Y
4.
 
Canon 350Doptical n 1.8 115 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
5.
 
Fujifilm X20optical n 2.8 460 fixed n 1/4000s 12.0 Y Y
6.
 
Leica D-LUX Typ 1092764 n 3.0 921 fixed n 1/4000s 11.0 n Y
7.
 
Leica X Typ 113optional n 3.0 920 fixed n 1/2000s 5.0 Y n
8.
 
Leica D-LUX 6optional n 3.0 920 fixed n 1/4000s 11.0 Y Y
9.
 
Leica X2optional n 2.7 230 fixed n 1/2000s 5.0 Y n
10.
 
Leica D-LUX 5optional n 3.0 460 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y Y
11.
 
Leica V-LUX 2202 n 3.0 460 swivel n 1/2000s 11.0 Y Y
12.
 
Leica Digilux 3optical n 2.5 207 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
13.
 
Olympus E-330optical n 2.5 215 tilting n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
14.
 
Olympus E-300optical n 1.8 134 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y n
15.
 
Panasonic LX7optional n 3.0 920 fixed n 1/4000s 11.0 Y Y
16.
 
Panasonic LX5optional n 3.0 460 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y Y
17.
 
Panasonic L10optical n 2.5 207 swivel n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n

Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the X1 and the L1 write their files to SDHC cards.

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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-L1 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
1.
 
Leica X1Y----mini2.0---
2.
 
Panasonic L1Y-----2.0---
3.
 
Canon G16Ystereomono--mini2.0Y--
4.
 
Canon 350DY-----2.0---
5.
 
Fujifilm X20Ystereomono--micro2.0---
6.
 
Leica D-LUX Typ 109Ystereomono--micro2.0YY-
7.
 
Leica X Typ 113Ystereomono--mini2.0---
8.
 
Leica D-LUX 6Ystereomono--mini2.0---
9.
 
Leica X2Y----mini2.0---
10.
 
Leica D-LUX 5Ymonomono--mini2.0---
11.
 
Leica V-LUX 2Ystereomono--mini2.0---
12.
 
Leica Digilux 3Ystereomono---2.0---
13.
 
Olympus E-330Y-----2.0---
14.
 
Olympus E-300Y-----2.0---
15.
 
Panasonic LX7Ystereomono--mini2.0---
16.
 
Panasonic LX5Ymonomono--mini2.0---
17.
 
Panasonic L10Y-----2.0---

Both the X1 and the L1 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The L1 was replaced by the Panasonic L10, 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.

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Review summary

So what is the bottom line? Which of the two cameras – the Leica X1 or the Panasonic L1 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? 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:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (12.2 vs 7.4MP) with a 31% higher linear resolution.
  • 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.
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (2.7" vs 2.5") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (230k vs 207k dots).
  • Ready to shoot: Comes with a built-in lens, while the L1 requires a separate lens.
  • More compact: Is smaller (124x60mm vs 146x87mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter even though it comes with a built-in lens (unlike the L1).
  • More prestigious: Has the Leica luxury appeal, which ensures a high resale price.
  • More modern: Reflects 3 years and 6 months of technical progress since the L1 launch.

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Advantages of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-L1:

  • 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 (750 versus 260) out of a single battery charge.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in February 2006).

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the X1 is the clear winner of the match-up (12 : 5 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 wedding photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a travel photog, and a person interested in cityscapes has distinct needs from a macro shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.

X1 12:05 L1

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Leica X1 and the Panasonic L1 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 the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the X1 and the L1 in practical situations. 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.

Expert reviews

This is why expert reviews are important. The table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], 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 
 DPR 
 score 
 EPZ 
 score 
 PB 
 score 
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Leica X13/5..+..4/5 Sep 2009 1,995i
2.
 
Panasonic L1..85/100+..3.5/5 Feb 2006 999i
3.
 
Canon G164/5+..4.5/54.5/5 Aug 2013 549 i
4.
 
Canon 350D..80/100+ +o.. Feb 2005 899i
5.
 
Fujifilm X204/5+ +77/1004.5/55/5 Jan 2013 599i
6.
 
Leica D-LUX Typ 109......4.5/54.5/5 Sep 2014 1,195i
7.
 
Leica X Typ 1133.5/5....3.5/54/5 Sep 2014 2,295i
8.
 
Leica D-LUX 6......4/54/5 Sep 2012 699i
9.
 
Leica X23/5....3/54/5 May 2012 1,995i
10.
 
Leica D-LUX 5......4.5/54/5 Sep 2010 699i
11.
 
Leica V-LUX 2.......... Sep 2010 849i
12.
 
Leica Digilux 3.......... Sep 2006 1,499i
13.
 
Olympus E-330....+o.. Jan 2006 999i
14.
 
Olympus E-300....+o4.5/5 Sep 2004 799i
15.
 
Panasonic LX73/5+ +75/1004/54.5/5 Jul 2012 499i
16.
 
Panasonic LX54/5+73/1004.5/54.5/5 Jul 2010 499i
17.
 
Panasonic L10..85/100+3.5/54/5 Aug 2007 599i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The ratings are only valid when referring 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 rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.

Leica X1:
Check Ebay offers
Panasonic L1:
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 Panasonic L1

    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 L1
    Camera Type Fixed lens compact camera Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens 36mm f/2.8 Four Thirds lenses
    Launch Date September 2009 February 2006
    Launch Price USD 1,995 USD 999
    Sensor Specs Leica X1 Panasonic L1
    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 7.4 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 4272 x 2856 pixels 3136 x 2352 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 5.51 μm 5.51 μm
    Pixel Density 3.30 MP/cm2 3.28 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
    Screen Specs Leica X1 Panasonic L1
    Viewfinder Type no viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 95%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.47x
    LCD Framing Live View
    Rear LCD Size 2.7inch 2.5inch
    LCD Resolution 230k dots 207k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Leica X1 Panasonic L1
    Focus System Contrast-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 3 shutter flaps/s 3 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash Build-in Flash Build-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 L1
    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 Panasonic L1
    Battery Type BP-DC8 CGR-S602
    Battery Life (CIPA)260 shots per charge750 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 124 x 60 x 32 mm
    (4.9 x 2.4 x 1.3 in)
    146 x 87 x 64 mm
    (5.7 x 3.4 x 2.5 in)
    Camera Weight 306 g (10.8 oz) 606 g (21.4 oz)

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