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Leica X1 vs Pentax Q

The Leica X1 and the Pentax Q are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in September 2009 and June 2011. The X1 is a fixed lens compact, while the Pentax Q is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on an APS-C (X1) and a 1/2.3-inch (Pentax Q) sensor. The Leica has a resolution of 12.2 megapixels, whereas the Pentax 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
Pentax Q
Leica X1   Pentax Q
Fixed lens compact camera Mirrorless system camera
36mm f/2.8 Pentax Q mount lenses
12.2 MP – APS-C sensor 12 MP – 1/2.3" sensor
no Video 1080/30p Video
ISO 100-3,200 ISO 125-6,400
No viewfinder, LCD framing Viewfinder optional
2.7" LCD – 230k dots 2.7" LCD – 460k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
3 shutter flaps per second 1.5 shutter flaps per second
no shake reductionIn-body stabilization
260 shots per battery charge230 shots per battery charge
124 x 60 x 32 mm, 306 g 98 x 57 x 31 mm, 180 g
Leica X1:
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Pentax Q:
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Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Leica X1 and the Pentax Q? 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

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Leica X1 and the Pentax Q is provided in the side-by-side display below. 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 Pentax Q is also available in two color-versions, but different ones (black, white).

Size Leica X1 vs Pentax Q
Compare X1 versus Pentax Q top
Comparison X1 or Pentax Q rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Pentax Q is notably smaller (25 percent) than the Leica X1. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the X1 nor the Pentax Q 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 Pentax Q is an interchangeable lens camera that requires a separate lens. Attaching the latter will add extra weight and bulk to the setup.

The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. 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.
 
Pentax Q 98 mm 57 mm 31 mm 180 g 230 n Jun 2011 649i
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.
 
Olympus XZ-2 113 mm 65 mm 48 mm 346 g 340 n Sep 2012 599i
11.
 
Olympus E-PL2 114 mm 72 mm 42 mm 362 g 280 n Jan 2011 599i
12.
 
Olympus E-PL3 110 mm 64 mm 37 mm 313 g 300 n Jun 2011 599i
13.
 
Olympus E-PL1 115 mm 72 mm 42 mm 334 g 290 n Feb 2010 599i
14.
 
Olympus E-620 130 mm 94 mm 60 mm 521 g 500 n Feb 2009 699i
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
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.

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Sensor comparison

The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors 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 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 Pentax Q a 1/2.3-inch sensor. The sensor area in the Pentax Q is 92 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.5 and 5.6. The sensor in the X1 has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the Pentax Q offers a 4:3 aspect.

Leica X1 and Pentax Q sensor measures

With 12.2MP, the X1 offers a slightly higher resolution than the Pentax Q (12MP), but the X1 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 5.51μm versus 1.53μm for the Pentax Q) due to its larger sensor. However, the Pentax Q is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 9 months) than the X1, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that 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 Pentax Q are ISO 125 to ISO 6400 (no boost).

X1 versus Pentax Q MP

For many 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 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.
 
Pentax Q 1/2.3 12.0 4000 30001080/30p20.211.118947
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 XZ-2 1/1.7 11.8 3968 29761080/30p20.411.321649
11.
 
Olympus E-PL2 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024720/30p21.410.257355
12.
 
Olympus E-PL3 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 30241080/60i20.910.349952
13.
 
Olympus E-PL1 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024720/30p21.510.148754
14.
 
Olympus E-620 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024none21.310.353655
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
Note: DXO values in italics represent estimates based on sensor size and age.

Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The Pentax Q indeed provides for movie recording, while the X1 does not. The highest resolution format that the Pentax Q can use is 1080/30p.

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Feature comparison

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The X1 and the Pentax Q are similar in the sense that neither of the two has a viewfinder. The images are, thus, framed using live view on the rear LCD. That said, the Pentax Q can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the O-VF1. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Leica X1 and Pentax Q 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.
 
Pentax Qoptional n3.0 / 460 fixed n 1/2000s 1.5/s Y Y
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 XZ-2optional n3.0 / 920 tilting Y 1/2000s 5.0/s Y Y
11.
 
Olympus E-PL2optional n3.0 / 460 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y Y
12.
 
Olympus E-PL3optional n3.0 / 460 tilting n 1/4000s 5.5/s n Y
13.
 
Olympus E-PL1optional n2.7 / 230 fixed n 1/2000s 3.0/s Y Y
14.
 
Olympus E-620optical n2.7 / 230 swivel n 1/4000s 4.0/s Y Y
15.
 
Panasonic LX5optional n3.0 / 460 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5/s Y Y
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 Pentax Q has an intervalometer built-in. This enables the photographer to capture time lapse sequences, such as flower blooming, a sunset or moon rise, without purchasing an external camera trigger and related software.

The X1 writes its imaging data to SDHC cards, while the Pentax Q uses SDXC 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 Pentax Q 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.
 
Pentax QYmono / mono--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 XZ-2Ystereo / mono--mini2.0---
11.
 
Olympus E-PL2Ystereo / ---mini2.0---
12.
 
Olympus E-PL3Ystereo / ---mini2.0---
13.
 
Olympus E-PL1Ystereo / ---mini2.0---
14.
 
Olympus E-620Y- / ----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 Pentax Q have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The X1 was replaced by the Leica X2, while the Pentax Q was followed by the Pentax Q10. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Leica and Pentax websites.

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Review summary

So what conclusions can be drawn? Is the Leica X1 better than the Pentax Q or vice versa? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.

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Advantages of the Leica X1:

  • Better image quality: Features bigger pixels on a larger sensor for higher quality imaging.
  • Richer colors: The pixel size advantage translates into images with better, more accurate colors.
  • More dynamic range: Larger pixels capture a wider spectrum of light and dark details.
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Larger pixels means good image quality even under poor lighting.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (3 vs 1.5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Ready to shoot: Has a lens built-in, whereas the Pentax Q requires a separate lens.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (260 versus 230) on a single battery charge.
  • More prestigious: Has the Leica luxury appeal, which ensures a high resale price.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in September 2009).

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Reasons to prefer the Pentax Q:

  • Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 1080/30p video.
  • More framing options: Can be equipped with a hotshoe-mounted accessory-viewfinder.
  • 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).
  • Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
  • More flexible: Takes interchangeable lenses and can thus be used with specialty optics.
  • More compact: Is smaller (98x57mm vs 124x60mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
  • More modern: Was introduced somewhat (1 year and 9 months) more recently.

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 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 09:09 Pentax Q

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Leica X1 and the Pentax Q 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 comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the X1 or the Pentax Q. 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 adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular 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.
 
Pentax Q3/5......4/53.5/5 Jun 2011 649i
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.
 
Olympus XZ-24/5+....4.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 599i
11.
 
Olympus E-PL23/583/100..71/1004.5/54.5/5 Jan 2011 599i
12.
 
Olympus E-PL33/5+ +..72/1004.5/54/5 Jun 2011 599i
13.
 
Olympus E-PL1..86/100..69/1004/54.5/5 Feb 2010 599i
14.
 
Olympus E-6203/588/100..72/1004.5/55/5 Feb 2009 699i
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.

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. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price 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:
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Pentax Q:
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Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just make your choice using the following search menu. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.

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    Specifications: Leica X1 vs Pentax Q

    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 Pentax Q
    Camera Type Fixed lens compact camera Mirrorless system camera
    Camera Lens 36mm f/2.8 Pentax Q mount lenses
    Launch Date September 2009 June 2011
    Launch Price USD 1,995 USD 649
    Sensor Specs Leica X1 Pentax Q
    Sensor Technology CMOS CMOS
    Sensor Format APS-C Sensor 1/2.3" Sensor
    Sensor Size 23.7 x 15.6 mm 6.17 x 4.55 mm
    Sensor Area 369.72 mm2 28.0735 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 28.4 mm 7.7 mm
    Crop Factor 1.5x 5.6x
    Sensor Resolution 12.2 Megapixels 12 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 4272 x 2856 pixels 4000 x 3000 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 5.51 μm 1.53 μm
    Pixel Density 3.30 MP/cm2 42.74 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability no Video 1080/30p Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 3,200 ISO 125 - 6,400 ISO
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) .. 47
    DXO Color Depth (bits) .. 20.2
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) .. 11.1
    DXO Low Light (ISO) .. 189
    Screen Specs Leica X1 Pentax Q
    Viewfinder Type no viewfinder Viewfinder optional
    LCD Framing Live View
    Rear LCD Size 2.7inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 230k dots 460k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Leica X1 Pentax Q
    Focus System Contrast-detect AF Contrast-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 3 shutter flaps/s 1.5 shutter flaps/s
    Time-Lapse Photographyno IntervalometerIntervalometer built-in
    Image Stabilizationno shake reductionIn-body stabilization
    Fill Flash Built-in Flash Built-in Flash
    Storage Medium SDHC cards SDXC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Single card slot
    UHS card support no no
    Connectivity Specs Leica X1 Pentax Q
    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 Pentax Q
    Battery Type BP-DC8 D-LI68
    Battery Life (CIPA)260 shots per charge230 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 124 x 60 x 32 mm
    (4.9 x 2.4 x 1.3 in)
    98 x 57 x 31 mm
    (3.9 x 2.2 x 1.2 in)
    Camera Weight 306 g (10.8 oz) 180 g (6.3 oz)
    Leica X1:
    Check current offers at
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    Pentax Q:
    Check current offers at
    i

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