Leica X2 vs Nikon D5100
The Leica X2 and the Nikon D5100 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in May 2012 and April 2011. The X2 is a fixed lens compact, while the D5100 is a DSLR. Both cameras are equipped with an APS-C sensor. Both cameras offer a resolution of 16.1 megapixels.
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 X2 and the Nikon D5100? 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.
An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Leica X2 and the Nikon D5100 is provided in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The X2 can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the D5100 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 D5100 is considerably larger (45 percent) than the Leica X2. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the X2 nor the D5100 are weather-sealed.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the X2 has a lens built in, whereas the D5100 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 D5100 and their specifications in the Nikon Lens Catalog.
The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. 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 X2||124 mm||69 mm||52 mm||345 g||450||n||May 2012||1,995|
|2.||Nikon D5100||128 mm||97 mm||79 mm||560 g||660||n||Apr 2011||749|
|3.||Fujifilm X100S||127 mm||74 mm||54 mm||445 g||330||n||Jan 2013||1,299|
|4.||Fujifilm X-A1||117 mm||67 mm||39 mm||330 g||350||n||Sep 2013||399|
|5.||Fujifilm X-E2||129 mm||75 mm||37 mm||350 g||350||n||Oct 2013||999|
|6.||Leica TL||134 mm||69 mm||33 mm||384 g||400||n||Nov 2016||1,695|
|7.||Leica T||134 mm||69 mm||33 mm||384 g||400||n||Apr 2014||1,850|
|8.||Leica X Typ 113||133 mm||73 mm||78 mm||486 g||350||n||Sep 2014||2,295|
|9.||Leica X Vario||133 mm||73 mm||95 mm||680 g||450||n||Jun 2013||2,850|
|10.||Leica X1||124 mm||60 mm||32 mm||306 g||260||n||Sep 2009||1,995|
|11.||Nikon D5600||124 mm||97 mm||70 mm||465 g||970||n||Nov 2016||699|
|12.||Nikon Coolpix A||111 mm||64 mm||40 mm||299 g||230||n||Mar 2013||1,099|
|13.||Nikon D5300||125 mm||98 mm||76 mm||480 g||600||n||Oct 2013||799|
|14.||Nikon D5200||129 mm||98 mm||78 mm||555 g||500||n||Nov 2012||749|
|15.||Nikon D3100||124 mm||96 mm||75 mm||505 g||550||n||Aug 2010||599|
|16.||Nikon D5000||127 mm||104 mm||80 mm||590 g||510||n||Apr 2009||749|
|17.||Ricoh GR||117 mm||61 mm||35 mm||245 g||290||n||Apr 2013||799|
|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 manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. 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.
The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant 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 associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.
Both cameras under consideration feature an APS-C sensor, but their sensors differ slightly in size. They nevertheless have the same format factor of 1.5. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
Even though the D5100 has a slightly larger sensor, both cameras offer the same resolution of 16.1 megapixels. This implies that the D5100 has a lower pixel density and marginally larger individual pixels (with a pixel pitch of 4.80μm versus 4.79μm for the X2), which gives it a potential advantage in terms of light gathering capacity. It should, however, be noted that the X2 is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 1 month) than the D5100, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that at least partly compensate for the smaller pixel size.
The Leica X2 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 12500. The corresponding ISO settings for the Nikon D5100 are ISO 100 to ISO 6400, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-25600.
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.
| DXO |
|8.||Leica X Typ 113||APS-C||16.1||4928||3264||1080/30p||..||..||..||..|
|9.||Leica X Vario||APS-C||16.1||4928||3272||1080/30p||23.4||12.7||1320||78|
|12.||Nikon Coolpix A||APS-C||16.1||4928||3264||1080/30p||23.4||13.8||1164||80|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The D5100 indeed provides for movie recording, while the X2 does not. The highest resolution format that the D5100 can use is 1080/30p.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the D5100 has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the X2 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. That said, the X2 can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the EVF 2. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Leica X2 and Nikon D5100 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|8.||Leica X Typ 113||optional||n||3.0||920||fixed||n||1/2000s||5.0||Y||n|
|9.||Leica X Vario||optional||n||3.0||920||fixed||n||1/2000s||5.0||Y||n|
|12.||Nikon Coolpix A||optional||n||3.0||921||fixed||n||1/2000s||4.0||Y||n|
The Nikon D5100 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 X2 writes its imaging data to SDHC cards, while the D5100 uses SDXC cards. The D5100 supports UHS-I cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 104 MB/s), while the X2 cannot take advantage of Ultra High Speed SD 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 X2 and Nikon D5100 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|8.||Leica X Typ 113||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|9.||Leica X Vario||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|12.||Nikon Coolpix A||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
Both the X2 and the D5100 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D5100 was replaced by the Nikon D5200, while the X2 does not have a direct successor. 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 is the bottom line? Which of the two cameras – the Leica X2 or the Nikon D5100 – 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.
Advantages of the Leica X2:
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5 vs 4 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Ready to shoot: Comes with a built-in lens, while the D5100 requires a separate lens.
- More compact: Is smaller (124x69mm vs 128x97mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter even though it comes with a built-in lens (unlike the D5100).
- More prestigious: Has the Leica luxury appeal, which ensures a high resale price.
- More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 1 year and 1 month after the D5100).
Arguments in favor of the Nikon D5100:
- Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 1080/30p video.
- Easier framing: Has an optical 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 (921k 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.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- More flexible: Makes it possible to change lenses and thus to use specialty optics.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (660 versus 450) out of a single battery charge.
- Faster buffer clearing: Has an SD card interface that supports the UHS-I standard.
- More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in April 2011).
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the D5100 is the clear winner of the contest (12 : 6 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 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.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Leica X2 and the Nikon D5100 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 technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the X2 or the D5100. 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 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.
|1.||Leica X2||3/5||..||..||3/5||4/5||May 2012||1,995|
|2.||Nikon D5100||5/5||+ +||76/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2011||749|
|3.||Fujifilm X100S||5/5||+ +||81/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jan 2013||1,299|
|4.||Fujifilm X-A1||..||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2013||399|
|5.||Fujifilm X-E2||4/5||..||80/100||4.5/5||5/5||Oct 2013||999|
|6.||Leica TL||..||..||..||..||4/5||Nov 2016||1,695|
|7.||Leica T||3/5||..||..||4/5||4/5||Apr 2014||1,850|
|8.||Leica X Typ 113||3.5/5||..||..||3.5/5||4/5||Sep 2014||2,295|
|9.||Leica X Vario||3/5||..||..||4/5||4/5||Jun 2013||2,850|
|10.||Leica X1||3/5||..||+||..||4/5||Sep 2009||1,995|
|11.||Nikon D5600||4/5||..||79/100||4.5/5||4/5||Nov 2016||699|
|12.||Nikon Coolpix A||4/5||+||75/100||4/5||4/5||Mar 2013||1,099|
|13.||Nikon D5300||4/5||+ +||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2013||799|
|14.||Nikon D5200||4/5||+ +||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Nov 2012||749|
|15.||Nikon D3100||5/5||+ +||72/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2010||599|
|16.||Nikon D5000||..||+ +||75/100||4/5||4.5/5||Apr 2009||749|
|17.||Ricoh GR||5/5||..||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2013||799|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price 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. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.
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.
Specifications: Leica X2 vs Nikon D5100
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 X2||Nikon D5100|
|Camera Type||Fixed lens compact camera||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||36mm f/2.8||Nikon F mount lenses|
|Launch Date||May 2012||April 2011|
|Launch Price||USD 1,995||USD 749|
|Sensor Specs||Leica X2||Nikon D5100|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||23.7 x 15.6 mm||23.6 x 15.7 mm|
|Sensor Area||369.72 mm2||370.52 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||28.4 mm||28.3 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||16.1 Megapixels||16.1 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4928 x 3264 pixels||4928 x 3264 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.79 μm||4.80 μm|
|Pixel Density||4.35 MP/cm2||4.34 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||1080/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 12,500 ISO||100 - 6,400 ISO|
|ISO Boost||no Enhancement||100 - 25,600 ISO|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||..||80|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||..||23.5|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||..||13.6|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||..||1183|
|Screen Specs||Leica X2||Nikon D5100|
|Viewfinder Type||Viewfinder optional||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||95%|
|LCD Framing||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||2.7inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||230k dots||921k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Swivel screen|
|Shooting Specs||Leica X2||Nikon D5100|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||5 shutter flaps/s||4 shutter flaps/s|
|Time-Lapse Photography||no Intervalometer||Intervalometer built-in|
|Fill Flash||Build-in Flash||Build-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDHC cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||no||UHS-I|
|Connectivity Specs||Leica X2||Nikon D5100|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Microphone Port||no MIC socket||External MIC port|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Leica X2||Nikon D5100|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||450 shots per charge||660 shots per charge|
124 x 69 x 52 mm
(4.9 x 2.7 x 2.0 in)
128 x 97 x 79 mm
(5.0 x 3.8 x 3.1 in)
|Camera Weight||345 g (12.2 oz)||560 g (19.8 oz)|
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