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Leica X2 vs Olympus E-P1

The Leica X2 and the Olympus PEN E-P1 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in May 2012 and June 2009. The X2 is a fixed lens compact, while the E-P1 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on an APS-C (X2) and a Four Thirds (E-P1) sensor. The Leica has a resolution of 16.1 megapixels, whereas the Olympus provides 12.2 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-P1
Leica X2   Olympus E-P1
Fixed lens compact camera Mirrorless system camera
36mm f/2.8 Micro Four Thirds lenses
16.1 MP – APS-C sensor 12.2 MP – Four Thirds sensor
no Video 720/30p Video
ISO 100-12,500 ISO 100-6,400
Viewfinder optional No viewfinder, LCD framing
2.7" LCD – 230k dots 3.0" LCD – 230k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
5 shutter flaps per second 3 shutter flaps per second
no shake reductionIn-body stabilization
450 shots per battery charge300 shots per battery charge
124 x 69 x 52 mm, 345 g 121 x 70 x 36 mm, 355 g
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Check E-P1 offers at
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Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Leica X2 and the Olympus PEN E-P1? 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 X2 and the Olympus E-P1 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 size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

The X2 can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the E-P1 is available in three color-versions (black, silver, white).

Size Leica X2 vs Olympus E-P1
Compare X2 versus E-P1 top
Comparison X2 or E-P1 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Olympus E-P1 is somewhat smaller (1 percent) than the Leica X2. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the X2 nor the E-P1 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-P1 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-P1 and their specifications in the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog.

Concerning battery life, the X2 gets 450 shots out of its BP-DC8 battery, while the E-P1 can take 300 images on a single charge of its BLS-1 power pack.

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 X2 124 mm 69 mm 52 mm 345 g 450 n May 2012 1,995ebay.com
2.
 
Olympus E-P1 121 mm 70 mm 36 mm 355 g 300 n Jun 2009 799ebay.com
3.
 
Canon SX510 104 mm 70 mm 80 mm 349 g 250 n Aug 2013 249ebay.com
4.
 
Canon SX500 104 mm 70 mm 80 mm 341 g 195 n Aug 2012 329ebay.com
5.
 
Leica D-LUX 7 115 mm 66 mm 65 mm 392 g 300 n Nov 2018 1,195 amazon.com
6.
 
Leica TL 134 mm 69 mm 33 mm 384 g 400 n Nov 2016 1,695ebay.com
7.
 
Leica T 134 mm 69 mm 33 mm 384 g 400 n Apr 2014 1,850ebay.com
8.
 
Leica X Typ 113 133 mm 73 mm 78 mm 486 g 350 n Sep 2014 2,295ebay.com
9.
 
Leica X Vario 133 mm 73 mm 95 mm 680 g 450 n Jun 2013 2,850ebay.com
10.
 
Leica D-LUX 6 111 mm 68 mm 46 mm 298 g 330 n Sep 2012 699ebay.com
11.
 
Leica X1 124 mm 60 mm 32 mm 306 g 260 n Sep 2009 1,995ebay.com
12.
 
Nikon Coolpix A 111 mm 64 mm 40 mm 299 g 230 n Mar 2013 1,099ebay.com
13.
 
Olympus E-P3 122 mm 69 mm 34 mm 369 g 330 n Jun 2011 799ebay.com
14.
 
Olympus E-PL1 115 mm 72 mm 42 mm 334 g 290 n Feb 2010 599ebay.com
15.
 
Olympus E-620 130 mm 94 mm 60 mm 521 g 500 n Feb 2009 699ebay.com
16.
 
Olympus E-P2 121 mm 70 mm 36 mm 355 g 300 n Nov 2009 799ebay.com
17.
 
Olympus E-520 136 mm 92 mm 68 mm 535 g 750 n May 2008 699ebay.com
Note: 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.

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. 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 X2 features an APS-C sensor and the Olympus E-P1 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the E-P1 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-P1 offers a 4:3 aspect.

Leica X2 and Olympus E-P1 sensor measures

With 16.1MP, the X2 offers a higher resolution than the E-P1 (12.2MP), but the X2 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.79μm versus 4.29μm for the E-P1) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the X2 is a much more recent model (by 2 years and 10 months) than the E-P1, 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-P1 are 20.2 x 15.1 inches or 51.2 x 38.4 cm for good quality, 16.1 x 12.1 inches or 41 x 30.7 cm for very good quality, and 13.4 x 10.1 inches or 34.1 x 25.6 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 PEN E-P1 are ISO 100 to ISO 6400 (no boost).

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.

X2 versus E-P1 MP

Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. 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 table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar 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-P1 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024720/30p21.410.453655
3.
 
Canon SX510 1/2.3 15.9 4608 34561080/24p20.011.358645
4.
 
Canon SX500 1/2.3 15.9 4608 3456720/30p19.811.149443
5.
 
Leica D-LUX 7 Four Thirds 16.8 4736 35524K/30p22.912.8100272
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 D-LUX 6 1/1.7 10.0 3648 27361080/60p19.810.8-30343
11.
 
Leica X1 APS-C 12.2 4272 2856none22.611.8103769
12.
 
Nikon Coolpix A APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p23.413.8116480
13.
 
Olympus E-P3 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 30241080/60i20.810.153651
14.
 
Olympus E-PL1 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024720/30p21.510.148754
15.
 
Olympus E-620 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024none21.310.353655
16.
 
Olympus E-P2 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024720/30p21.510.450556
17.
 
Olympus E-520 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.410.454855
Note: DXO values in italics represent estimates based on sensor size and age.

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The E-P1 indeed provides for movie recording, while the X2 does not. The highest resolution format that the E-P1 can use is 720/30p.

Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The X2 and the E-P1 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 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-P1 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 X2optional n2.7 / 230 fixed n 1/2000s 5.0/s Y n
2.
 
Olympus E-P1none n3.0 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s n Y
3.
 
Canon SX510none n3.0 / 461 fixed n 1/1600s 3.8/s Y Y
4.
 
Canon SX500none n3.0 / 461 fixed n 1/1600s 0.8/s Y Y
5.
 
Leica D-LUX 72764 n3.0 / 1240 fixed Y 1/4000s 11.0/s n Y
6.
 
Leica TLoptional n3.7 / 1230 fixed Y 1/4000s 5.0/s Y n
7.
 
Leica Toptional n3.7 / 1230 fixed Y 1/4000s 5.0/s Y n
8.
 
Leica X Typ 113optional n3.0 / 920 fixed n 1/2000s 5.0/s Y n
9.
 
Leica X Variooptional n3.0 / 920 fixed n 1/2000s 5.0/s Y n
10.
 
Leica D-LUX 6optional n3.0 / 920 fixed n 1/4000s 11.0/s Y Y
11.
 
Leica X1none n2.7 / 230 fixed n 1/2000s 3.0/s Y n
12.
 
Nikon Coolpix Aoptional n3.0 / 921 fixed n 1/2000s 4.0/s Y n
13.
 
Olympus E-P3optional n3.0 / 614 fixed Y 1/4000s 3.0/s Y Y
14.
 
Olympus E-PL1optional n2.7 / 230 fixed n 1/2000s 3.0/s Y Y
15.
 
Olympus E-620optical n2.7 / 230 swivel n 1/4000s 4.0/s Y Y
16.
 
Olympus E-P2optional n3.0 / 230 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s n Y
17.
 
Olympus E-520optical n2.7 / 215 fixed n 1/4000s 3.5/s Y Y
Notes: *) Information refers to the mechanical shutter, unless the camera only has an electronic one.

One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The X2 has one, while the E-P1 does not. While the built-in flash of the X2 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.

Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the X2 and the E-P1 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 X2 and Olympus PEN E-P1 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-P1Ystereo / ---mini2.0---
3.
 
Canon SX510-stereo / mono--mini2.0Y--
4.
 
Canon SX500-stereo / mono---2.0---
5.
 
Leica D-LUX 7Ystereo / mono--micro2.0Y-Y
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 D-LUX 6Ystereo / mono--mini2.0---
11.
 
Leica X1Y- / ---mini2.0---
12.
 
Nikon Coolpix AYstereo / mono---2.0---
13.
 
Olympus E-P3Ystereo / ---mini2.0---
14.
 
Olympus E-PL1Ystereo / ---mini2.0---
15.
 
Olympus E-620Y- / ----2.0---
16.
 
Olympus E-P2Ystereo / ---mini2.0---
17.
 
Olympus E-520Y- / ----2.0---

Both the X2 and the E-P1 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on ebay. The E-P1 was replaced by the Olympus E-P2, 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 Olympus websites.

Review summary

So how do things add up? Is the Leica X2 better than the Olympus E-P1 or vice versa? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.

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Advantages of the Leica X2:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (16.1 vs 12.2MP) with a 17% 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.
  • More framing options: Can be equipped with a hotshoe-mounted accessory-viewfinder.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Ready to shoot: Has a lens built-in, whereas the E-P1 requires a separate lens.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter even though it comes with a built-in lens (unlike the E-P1).
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (450 versus 300) on a single battery charge.
  • Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
  • More prestigious: Has the Leica luxury appeal, which ensures a high resale price.
  • More modern: Reflects 2 years and 10 months of technical progress since the E-P1 launch.

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Reasons to prefer the Olympus PEN E-P1:

  • Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 720/30p video.
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.7") for image review and settings control.
  • 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.
  • Sharper images: Has stabilization technology built-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in June 2009).

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the X2 is the clear winner of the match-up (13 : 6 points). 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 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.

X2 13:06 E-P1

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Leica X2 and the Olympus E-P1 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 X2 and the E-P1 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], 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 1,995ebay.com
2.
 
Olympus E-P1..+..66/1004/54.5/5 Jun 2009 799ebay.com
3.
 
Canon SX510..+ +....4.5/54/5 Aug 2013 249ebay.com
4.
 
Canon SX500..+ +....4/54/5 Aug 2012 329ebay.com
5.
 
Leica D-LUX 7..........4.5/5 Nov 2018 1,195 amazon.com
6.
 
Leica TL..........4/5 Nov 2016 1,695ebay.com
7.
 
Leica T3/5......4/54/5 Apr 2014 1,850ebay.com
8.
 
Leica X Typ 1133.5/5......3.5/54/5 Sep 2014 2,295ebay.com
9.
 
Leica X Vario3/5......4/54/5 Jun 2013 2,850ebay.com
10.
 
Leica D-LUX 6........4/54/5 Sep 2012 699ebay.com
11.
 
Leica X13/5....+..4/5 Sep 2009 1,995ebay.com
12.
 
Nikon Coolpix A4/5+..75/1004/54/5 Mar 2013 1,099ebay.com
13.
 
Olympus E-P3..83/100..74/1004.5/54.5/5 Jun 2011 799ebay.com
14.
 
Olympus E-PL1..86/100..69/1004/54.5/5 Feb 2010 599ebay.com
15.
 
Olympus E-6203/588/100..72/1004.5/55/5 Feb 2009 699ebay.com
16.
 
Olympus E-P23/5+..69/1004/54.5/5 Nov 2009 799ebay.com
17.
 
Olympus E-520..87/100..+ +4.5/54.5/5 May 2008 699ebay.com
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

The review scores listed above should be treated with care, 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 comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.

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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 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 X2 vs Olympus E-P1

    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-P1
    Camera Type Fixed lens compact camera Mirrorless system camera
    Camera Lens 36mm f/2.8 Micro Four Thirds lenses
    Launch Date May 2012 June 2009
    Launch Price USD 1,995 USD 799
    Sensor Specs Leica X2 Olympus E-P1
    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 12.2 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 4928 x 3264 pixels 4032 x 3024 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 4.79 μm 4.29 μm
    Pixel Density 4.35 MP/cm2 5.42 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability no Video 720/30p Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 12,500 ISO 100 - 6,400 ISO
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) .. 55
    DXO Color Depth (bits) .. 21.4
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) .. 10.4
    DXO Low Light (ISO) .. 536
    Screen Specs Leica X2 Olympus E-P1
    Viewfinder Type Viewfinder optional no viewfinder
    LCD Framing Live View
    Rear LCD Size 2.7inch 3.0inch
    LCD Resolution 230k dots 230k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Leica X2 Olympus E-P1
    Focus System Contrast-detect AF Contrast-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 5 shutter flaps/s 3 shutter flaps/s
    Image Stabilizationno shake reductionIn-body stabilization
    Fill Flash Built-in Flash no On-Board Flash
    Storage Medium SDHC cards SDHC cards
    Single or Dual Card Slots Single card slot Single card slot
    UHS card support no no
    Connectivity Specs Leica X2 Olympus E-P1
    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 X2 Olympus E-P1
    Battery Type BP-DC8 BLS-1
    Battery Life (CIPA)450 shots per charge300 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 124 x 69 x 52 mm
    (4.9 x 2.7 x 2.0 in)
    121 x 70 x 36 mm
    (4.8 x 2.8 x 1.4 in)
    Camera Weight 345 g (12.2 oz) 355 g (12.5 oz)
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    Check X2 offers at
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    Check E-P1 offers at
    ebay.com

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