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Leica X2 vs Olympus E-520

The Leica X2 and the Olympus E-520 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in May 2012 and May 2008. The X2 is a fixed lens compact, while the E-520 is a DSLR. The cameras are based on an APS-C (X2) and a Four Thirds (E-520) sensor. The Leica has a resolution of 16.1 megapixels, whereas the Olympus provides 10 MP.

Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.

Headline Specifications
Leica X2
versus
Olympus E-520
Leica X2   Olympus E-520
Fixed lens compact camera Digital single lens reflex
36mm f/2.8 Four Thirds lenses
16.1 MP, APS-C Sensor 10 MP, Four Thirds Sensor
no Video no Video
ISO 100-12,500 ISO 100-1,600
Viewfinder optional Optical viewfinder
2.7 LCD, 230k dots 2.7 LCD, 215k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
5 shutter flaps per second 3.5 shutter flaps per second
no shake reductionIn-body stabilization
450 shots per battery charge750 shots per battery charge
124 x 69 x 52 mm, 345 g 136 x 92 x 68 mm, 535 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Leica X2 and the Olympus E-520? 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 X2 and the Olympus E-520 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 size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

The X2 can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the E-520 is only available in black.

Size Leica X2 vs Olympus E-520
Compare X2 versus E-520 top
Comparison X2 or E-520 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Olympus E-520 is considerably larger (46 percent) than the Leica X2. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the X2 nor the E-520 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 E-520 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 E-520 and their specifications in the Four Thirds Lens Catalog.

Concerning battery life, the X2 gets 450 shots out of its BP-DC8 battery, while the E-520 can take 750 images on a single charge of its BLM-1 power pack.

The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, you can move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons 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 X2 124 mm 69 mm 52 mm 345 g 450 n May 2012 1,995i
2.
 
Olympus E-520 136 mm 92 mm 68 mm 535 g 750 n May 2008 699i
3.
 
Fujifilm X100S 127 mm 74 mm 54 mm 445 g 330 n Jan 2013 1,299i
4.
 
Fujifilm X-A1 117 mm 67 mm 39 mm 330 g 350 n Sep 2013 399i
5.
 
Fujifilm X-E2 129 mm 75 mm 37 mm 350 g 350 n Oct 2013 999i
6.
 
Leica TL 134 mm 69 mm 33 mm 384 g 400 n Nov 2016 1,695i
7.
 
Leica T 134 mm 69 mm 33 mm 384 g 400 n Apr 2014 1,850i
8.
 
Leica X Typ 113 133 mm 73 mm 78 mm 486 g 350 n Sep 2014 2,295i
9.
 
Leica X Vario 133 mm 73 mm 95 mm 680 g 450 n Jun 2013 2,850i
10.
 
Leica X1 124 mm 60 mm 32 mm 306 g 260 n Sep 2009 1,995i
11.
 
Nikon Coolpix A 111 mm 64 mm 40 mm 299 g 230 n Mar 2013 1,099i
12.
 
Olympus E-600 130 mm 94 mm 60 mm 535 g 500 n Aug 2009 449i
13.
 
Olympus E-620 130 mm 94 mm 60 mm 521 g 500 n Feb 2009 699i
14.
 
Olympus E-420 130 mm 91 mm 53 mm 440 g 500 n Mar 2008 599i
15.
 
Olympus E-410 130 mm 91 mm 53 mm 435 g 500 n Mar 2007 699i
16.
 
Olympus E-510 136 mm 92 mm 68 mm 538 g 750 n Mar 2007 799i
17.
 
Ricoh GR 117 mm 61 mm 35 mm 245 g 290 n Apr 2013 799i
Notes: 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 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.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Leica X2 features an APS-C sensor and the Olympus E-520 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the E-520 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 X2 has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the E-520 offers a 4:3 aspect.

Leica X2 and Olympus E-520 sensor measures

With 16.1MP, the X2 offers a higher resolution than the E-520 (10MP), but the X2 nevertheless has marginally larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.79μm versus 4.74μm for the E-520) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the X2 is a much more recent model (by 3 years and 11 months) than the E-520, 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 X2 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the X2 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 24.6 x 16.3 inches or 62.6 x 41.5 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 19.7 x 13.1 inches or 50.1 x 33.2 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 16.4 x 10.9 inches or 41.7 x 27.6 cm. The corresponding values for the Olympus E-520 are 18.2 x 13.7 inches or 46.3 x 34.7 cm for good quality, 14.6 x 10.9 inches or 37.1 x 27.8 cm for very good quality, and 12.2 x 9.1 inches or 30.9 x 23.2 cm for excellent quality prints.

The Leica X2 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 12500. The corresponding ISO settings for the Olympus E-520 are ISO 100 to ISO 1600 (no boost).

X2 versus E-520 MP

For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. This service is based on lab testing and assigns an overall score to each camera sensor, as well as ratings for dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), color depth ("DXO Portrait"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"). The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.

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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 X2 APS-C 16.1 4928 3264none23.212.4127574
2.
 
Olympus E-520 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.410.454855
3.
 
Fujifilm X100S APS-C 16.0 4896 32641080/60p23.312.5132975
4.
 
Fujifilm X-A1 APS-C 16.0 4896 32641080/30p23.412.6139076
5.
 
Fujifilm X-E2 APS-C 16.0 4896 32641080/60p23.412.6140077
6.
 
Leica TL APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p23.913.2169081
7.
 
Leica T APS-C 16.2 4944 32781080/30p23.012.7108275
8.
 
Leica X Typ 113 APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p23.612.8149178
9.
 
Leica X Vario APS-C 16.1 4928 32721080/30p23.412.7132078
10.
 
Leica X1 APS-C 12.2 4272 2856none22.611.8103769
11.
 
Nikon Coolpix A APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p23.413.8116480
12.
 
Olympus E-600 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024none21.510.354155
13.
 
Olympus E-620 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024none21.310.353655
14.
 
Olympus E-420 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.510.452756
15.
 
Olympus E-410 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.110.049451
16.
 
Olympus E-510 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.210.044252
17.
 
Ricoh GR APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p23.613.597278
Note: DXO values in italics represent estimates based on sensor size and age.
The E-520 offers Live View, so that it can project the live image that the sensor receives onto the rear screen for framing. The X2 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 E-520 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 table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Leica X2 and Olympus E-520 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)
Mech
Shutter
Speed
Shutter
Flaps
(1/sec)
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
1.
 
Leica X2optional n2.7 / 230 fixed n 1/2000s 5.0 Y n
2.
 
Olympus E-520optical n2.7 / 215 fixed n 1/4000s 3.5 Y Y
3.
 
Fujifilm X100S2360 n2.8 / 460 fixed n 1/4000s 6.0 Y n
4.
 
Fujifilm X-A1none n3.0 / 920 tilting n 1/4000s 5.6 Y n
5.
 
Fujifilm X-E22360 n3.0 / 1040 fixed n 1/4000s 7.0 Y n
6.
 
Leica TLoptional n3.7 / 1230 fixed Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
7.
 
Leica Toptional n3.7 / 1230 fixed Y 1/4000s 5.0 Y n
8.
 
Leica X Typ 113optional n3.0 / 920 fixed n 1/2000s 5.0 Y n
9.
 
Leica X Variooptional n3.0 / 920 fixed n 1/2000s 5.0 Y n
10.
 
Leica X1none n2.7 / 230 fixed n 1/2000s 3.0 Y n
11.
 
Nikon Coolpix Aoptional n3.0 / 921 fixed n 1/2000s 4.0 Y n
12.
 
Olympus E-600optical n2.7 / 230 swivel n 1/4000s 4.0 Y Y
13.
 
Olympus E-620optical n2.7 / 230 swivel n 1/4000s 4.0 Y Y
14.
 
Olympus E-420optical n2.7 / 215 fixed n 1/4000s 3.5 Y n
15.
 
Olympus E-410optical n2.5 / 215 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
16.
 
Olympus E-510optical n2.5 / 215 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y Y
17.
 
Ricoh GRoptional n3.0 / 1230 fixed n 1/4000s 4.0 Y n

The X2 writes its imaging data to SDHC cards, while the E-520 uses Compact Flash or xD Picture cards. The E-520 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the X2 only has one slot.

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 X2 and Olympus E-520 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 X2Y- / ---mini2.0---
2.
 
Olympus E-520Y- / ----2.0---
3.
 
Fujifilm X100SYstereo / mono--micro2.0---
4.
 
Fujifilm X-A1Ystereo / mono--mini2.0Y--
5.
 
Fujifilm X-E2Ystereo / monoY-micro2.0Y--
6.
 
Leica TLYstereo / mono--micro2.0Y--
7.
 
Leica TYstereo / mono---2.0Y--
8.
 
Leica X Typ 113Ystereo / mono--mini2.0---
9.
 
Leica X VarioYstereo / mono--mini2.0---
10.
 
Leica X1Y- / ---mini2.0---
11.
 
Nikon Coolpix AYstereo / mono---2.0---
12.
 
Olympus E-600Y- / ----2.0---
13.
 
Olympus E-620Y- / ----2.0---
14.
 
Olympus E-420Y- / ----2.0---
15.
 
Olympus E-410Y- / ----2.0---
16.
 
Olympus E-510Y- / ----2.0---
17.
 
Ricoh GRYmono / mono--micro2.0---

Both the X2 and the E-520 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. Neither of the two has a direct successor, so they represent the end of the respective camera lines from Leica and Olympus. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Leica and Olympus websites.

Review summary

So how do things add up? Is the Leica X2 better than the Olympus E-520 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 X2:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (16.1 vs 10MP) with a 30% 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.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5 vs 3.5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Ready to shoot: Comes with a built-in lens, while the E-520 requires a separate lens.
  • More compact: Is smaller (124x69mm vs 136x92mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter even though it comes with a built-in lens (unlike the E-520).
  • More prestigious: Has the Leica luxury appeal, which ensures a high resale price.
  • More modern: Reflects 3 years and 11 months of technical progress since the E-520 launch.

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Advantages of the Olympus E-520:

  • 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 450) out of a single battery charge.
  • Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
  • Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in May 2008).

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the X2 is the clear winner of the match-up (11 : 7 points). 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 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.

X2 11:07 E-520

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Leica X2 and the Olympus E-520 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 remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the X2 or the E-520 perform in practice. 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 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 X23/5......3/54/5 May 2012 1,995i
2.
 
Olympus E-520..87/100..+ +4.5/54.5/5 May 2008 699i
3.
 
Fujifilm X100S5/5+ +..81/1004.5/55/5 Jan 2013 1,299i
4.
 
Fujifilm X-A1........4.5/54.5/5 Sep 2013 399i
5.
 
Fujifilm X-E24/5....80/1004.5/55/5 Oct 2013 999i
6.
 
Leica TL..........4/5 Nov 2016 1,695i
7.
 
Leica T3/5......4/54/5 Apr 2014 1,850i
8.
 
Leica X Typ 1133.5/5......3.5/54/5 Sep 2014 2,295i
9.
 
Leica X Vario3/5......4/54/5 Jun 2013 2,850i
10.
 
Leica X13/5....+..4/5 Sep 2009 1,995i
11.
 
Nikon Coolpix A4/5+..75/1004/54/5 Mar 2013 1,099i
12.
 
Olympus E-600..........4.5/5 Aug 2009 449i
13.
 
Olympus E-6203/588/100..72/1004.5/55/5 Feb 2009 699i
14.
 
Olympus E-420..85/100..+ +4/54.5/5 Mar 2008 599i
15.
 
Olympus E-410..86/100..+ +4/54.5/5 Mar 2007 699i
16.
 
Olympus E-510..89/100..+ +3.5/54.5/5 Mar 2007 799i
17.
 
Ricoh GR5/5....79/1004.5/54.5/5 Apr 2013 799i
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 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.

Leica X2:
Check Ebay offers
Olympus E-520:
Check Ebay offers

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 use the search menu below. 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 X2 vs Olympus E-520

    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 X2 Olympus E-520
    Camera Type Fixed lens compact camera Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens 36mm f/2.8 Four Thirds lenses
    Launch Date May 2012 May 2008
    Launch Price USD 1,995 USD 699
    Sensor Specs Leica X2 Olympus E-520
    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 16.1 Megapixels 10 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 4928 x 3264 pixels 3648 x 2736 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 4.79 μm 4.74 μm
    Pixel Density 4.35 MP/cm2 4.44 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability no Video no Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 12,500 ISO 100 - 1,600 ISO
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) .. 55
    DXO Color Depth (bits) .. 21.4
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) .. 10.4
    DXO Low Light (ISO) .. 548
    Screen Specs Leica X2 Olympus E-520
    Viewfinder Type Viewfinder optional Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 95%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.46x
    LCD Framing Live View
    Rear LCD Size 2.7inch 2.7inch
    LCD Resolution 230k dots 215k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Leica X2 Olympus E-520
    Focus System Contrast-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 5 shutter flaps/s 3.5 shutter flaps/s
    Image Stabilizationno shake reductionIn-body stabilization
    Fill Flash Built-in Flash Built-in Flash
    Storage Medium SDHC cards CF or XD cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Dual card slots
    Connectivity Specs Leica X2 Olympus E-520
    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 X2 Olympus E-520
    Battery Type BP-DC8 BLM-1
    Battery Life (CIPA)450 shots per charge750 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 124 x 69 x 52 mm
    (4.9 x 2.7 x 2.0 in)
    136 x 92 x 68 mm
    (5.4 x 3.6 x 2.7 in)
    Camera Weight 345 g (12.2 oz) 535 g (18.9 oz)

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