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Leica X2 vs Panasonic L1

The Leica X2 and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-L1 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in May 2012 and February 2006. The X2 is a fixed lens compact, while the L1 is a DSLR. The cameras are based on an APS-C (X2) and a Four Thirds (L1) sensor. The Leica has a resolution of 16.1 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 X2
versus
Panasonic L1
Leica X2   Panasonic L1
Fixed lens compact camera Digital single lens reflex
36mm f/2.8 Four Thirds lenses
16.1 MP – APS-C sensor 7.4 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 2.5" LCD – 207k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
5 shutter flaps per second 3 shutter flaps per second
450 shots per battery charge750 shots per battery charge
124 x 69 x 52 mm, 345 g 146 x 87 x 64 mm, 606 g
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Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Leica X2 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 X2 and the Panasonic L1 are illustrated 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 measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

The X2 can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the L1 is only available in black.

Size Leica X2 vs Panasonic L1
Compare X2 versus L1 top
Comparison X2 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 (48 percent) than the Leica X2. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the X2 nor the L1 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 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 table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. 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.
 
Panasonic L1 146 mm 87 mm 64 mm 606 g 750 n Feb 2006 999ebay.com
3.
 
Canon XT 127 mm 94 mm 64 mm 540 g 400 n Feb 2005 899ebay.com
4.
 
Fujifilm X100S 127 mm 74 mm 54 mm 445 g 330 n Jan 2013 1,299ebay.com
5.
 
Fujifilm X-A1 117 mm 67 mm 39 mm 330 g 350 n Sep 2013 399ebay.com
6.
 
Fujifilm X-E2 129 mm 75 mm 37 mm 350 g 350 n Oct 2013 999ebay.com
7.
 
Leica TL 134 mm 69 mm 33 mm 384 g 400 n Nov 2016 1,695ebay.com
8.
 
Leica T 134 mm 69 mm 33 mm 384 g 400 n Apr 2014 1,850ebay.com
9.
 
Leica X Typ 113 133 mm 73 mm 78 mm 486 g 350 n Sep 2014 2,295ebay.com
10.
 
Leica X Vario 133 mm 73 mm 95 mm 680 g 450 n Jun 2013 2,850ebay.com
11.
 
Leica X1 124 mm 60 mm 32 mm 306 g 260 n Sep 2009 1,995ebay.com
12.
 
Leica Digilux 3 146 mm 87 mm 77 mm 606 g 750 n Sep 2006 1,499ebay.com
13.
 
Nikon Coolpix A 111 mm 64 mm 40 mm 299 g 230 n Mar 2013 1,099ebay.com
14.
 
Olympus E-330 140 mm 87 mm 72 mm 637 g 750 n Jan 2006 999ebay.com
15.
 
Olympus E-300 147 mm 85 mm 64 mm 624 g 750 n Sep 2004 799ebay.com
16.
 
Panasonic L10 135 mm 96 mm 78 mm 556 g 450 n Aug 2007 599ebay.com
17.
 
Ricoh GR 117 mm 61 mm 35 mm 245 g 290 n Apr 2013 799ebay.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 obviously take relative prices into account. 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.

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 X2 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 X2 has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the L1 offers a 4:3 aspect.

Leica X2 and Panasonic L1 sensor measures

With 16.1MP, the X2 offers a higher resolution than the L1 (7.4MP), but the X2 has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.79μm versus 5.51μm for the L1). However, the X2 is a much more recent model (by 6 years and 2 months) than the L1, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that 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 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 X2 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 12500. The corresponding ISO settings for the Panasonic Lumix DMC-L1 are ISO 100 to ISO 1600 (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 L1 MP

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. 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 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.
 
Panasonic L1 Four Thirds 7.4 3136 2352none20.810.48052
3.
 
Canon XT APS-C 8.0 3456 2304none21.810.863760
4.
 
Fujifilm X100S APS-C 16.0 4896 32641080/60p23.312.5132975
5.
 
Fujifilm X-A1 APS-C 16.0 4896 32641080/30p23.412.6139076
6.
 
Fujifilm X-E2 APS-C 16.0 4896 32641080/60p23.412.6140077
7.
 
Leica TL APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p23.913.2169081
8.
 
Leica T APS-C 16.2 4944 32781080/30p23.012.7108275
9.
 
Leica X Typ 113 APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p23.612.8149178
10.
 
Leica X Vario APS-C 16.1 4928 32721080/30p23.412.7132078
11.
 
Leica X1 APS-C 12.2 4272 2856none22.611.8103769
12.
 
Leica Digilux 3 Four Thirds 7.4 3136 2352none21.010.612753
13.
 
Nikon Coolpix A APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p23.413.8116480
14.
 
Olympus E-330 Four Thirds 7.4 3136 2352none20.810.47352
15.
 
Olympus E-300 Four Thirds 8.0 3264 2448none20.410.1-4048
16.
 
Panasonic L10 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.310.842955
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 L1 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 L1 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 following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Leica X2, the Panasonic L1, and comparable 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.
 
Panasonic L1optical n2.5 / 207 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
3.
 
Canon XToptical n1.8 / 115 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
4.
 
Fujifilm X100S2360 n2.8 / 460 fixed n 1/4000s 6.0/s Y n
5.
 
Fujifilm X-A1none n3.0 / 920 tilting n 1/4000s 5.6/s Y n
6.
 
Fujifilm X-E22360 n3.0 / 1040 fixed n 1/4000s 7.0/s Y n
7.
 
Leica TLoptional n3.7 / 1230 fixed Y 1/4000s 5.0/s Y n
8.
 
Leica Toptional n3.7 / 1230 fixed Y 1/4000s 5.0/s Y n
9.
 
Leica X Typ 113optional n3.0 / 920 fixed n 1/2000s 5.0/s Y n
10.
 
Leica X Variooptional n3.0 / 920 fixed n 1/2000s 5.0/s Y n
11.
 
Leica X1none n2.7 / 230 fixed n 1/2000s 3.0/s Y n
12.
 
Leica Digilux 3optical n2.5 / 207 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
13.
 
Nikon Coolpix Aoptional n3.0 / 921 fixed n 1/2000s 4.0/s Y n
14.
 
Olympus E-330optical n2.5 / 215 tilting n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
15.
 
Olympus E-300optical n1.8 / 134 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5/s Y n
16.
 
Panasonic L10optical n2.5 / 207 swivel n 1/4000s 3.0/s Y n
17.
 
Ricoh GRoptional n3.0 / 1230 fixed n 1/4000s 4.0/s Y n
Notes: *) Information refers to the mechanical shutter, unless the camera only has an electronic one.

Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the X2 and the L1 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 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
Mic / Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
1.
 
Leica X2Y- / ---mini2.0---
2.
 
Panasonic L1Y- / ----2.0---
3.
 
Canon XTY- / ----2.0---
4.
 
Fujifilm X100SYstereo / mono--micro2.0---
5.
 
Fujifilm X-A1Ystereo / mono--mini2.0Y--
6.
 
Fujifilm X-E2Ystereo / monoY-micro2.0Y--
7.
 
Leica TLYstereo / mono--micro2.0Y--
8.
 
Leica TYstereo / mono---2.0Y--
9.
 
Leica X Typ 113Ystereo / mono--mini2.0---
10.
 
Leica X VarioYstereo / mono--mini2.0---
11.
 
Leica X1Y- / ---mini2.0---
12.
 
Leica Digilux 3Ystereo / mono---2.0---
13.
 
Nikon Coolpix AYstereo / mono---2.0---
14.
 
Olympus E-330Y- / ----2.0---
15.
 
Olympus E-300Y- / ----2.0---
16.
 
Panasonic L10Y- / ----2.0---
17.
 
Ricoh GRYmono / mono--micro2.0---

Both the X2 and the L1 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on ebay. The L1 was replaced by the Panasonic L10, 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 Panasonic websites.

Review summary

So how do things add up? Is the Leica X2 better than the Panasonic L1 or vice versa? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.

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Arguments in favor of the Leica X2:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (16.1 vs 7.4MP) with a 51% 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).
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Ready to shoot: Comes with a built-in lens, while the L1 requires a separate lens.
  • More compact: Is smaller (124x69mm 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 6 years and 2 months of technical progress since the L1 launch.

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Reasons to prefer 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 450) out of a single battery charge.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in February 2006).

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the X2 is the clear winner of the match-up (13 : 5 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 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 13:05 L1

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Leica X2 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 technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the X2 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 hands-on reviews by experts 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.
 
Panasonic L1..85/100..+..3.5/5 Feb 2006 999ebay.com
3.
 
Canon XT..80/100..+ +o.. Feb 2005 899ebay.com
4.
 
Fujifilm X100S5/5+ +..81/1004.5/55/5 Jan 2013 1,299ebay.com
5.
 
Fujifilm X-A1........4.5/54.5/5 Sep 2013 399ebay.com
6.
 
Fujifilm X-E24/5....80/1004.5/55/5 Oct 2013 999ebay.com
7.
 
Leica TL..........4/5 Nov 2016 1,695ebay.com
8.
 
Leica T3/5......4/54/5 Apr 2014 1,850ebay.com
9.
 
Leica X Typ 1133.5/5......3.5/54/5 Sep 2014 2,295ebay.com
10.
 
Leica X Vario3/5......4/54/5 Jun 2013 2,850ebay.com
11.
 
Leica X13/5....+..4/5 Sep 2009 1,995ebay.com
12.
 
Leica Digilux 3............ Sep 2006 1,499ebay.com
13.
 
Nikon Coolpix A4/5+..75/1004/54/5 Mar 2013 1,099ebay.com
14.
 
Olympus E-330......+o.. Jan 2006 999ebay.com
15.
 
Olympus E-300......+o4.5/5 Sep 2004 799ebay.com
16.
 
Panasonic L10..85/100..+3.5/54/5 Aug 2007 599ebay.com
17.
 
Ricoh GR5/5....79/1004.5/54.5/5 Apr 2013 799ebay.com
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. 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. 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 would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just make your choice using the following search menu. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.

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    Specifications: Leica X2 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 X2 Panasonic L1
    Camera Type Fixed lens compact camera Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens 36mm f/2.8 Four Thirds lenses
    Launch Date May 2012 February 2006
    Launch Price USD 1,995 USD 999
    Sensor Specs Leica X2 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 16.1 Megapixels 7.4 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 4928 x 3264 pixels 3136 x 2352 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 4.79 μm 5.51 μm
    Pixel Density 4.35 MP/cm2 3.28 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
    Screen Specs Leica X2 Panasonic L1
    Viewfinder Type Viewfinder optional 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 X2 Panasonic L1
    Focus System Contrast-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 5 shutter flaps/s 3 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash Built-in Flash Built-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 X2 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 X2 Panasonic L1
    Battery Type BP-DC8 CGR-S602
    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)
    146 x 87 x 64 mm
    (5.7 x 3.4 x 2.5 in)
    Camera Weight 345 g (12.2 oz) 606 g (21.4 oz)
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