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Leica X2 versus Sony A7R III

The Leica X2 and the Sony Alpha A7R III are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in May 2012 and October 2017. The X2 is a fixed lens compact, while the A7R III is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on an APS-C (X2) and a full frame sensor. The Leica has a resolution of 16.1 megapixel, whereas the Sony provides 42.2 MP.

Body comparison

The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Leica X2 and the Sony A7R III. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are presented. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter. If you prefer, you can also use the toggle button to switch to a comparison in percentage terms (in this case, the camera on the left – the X2 – represents the basis or 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).

Leica X2 vs Sony A7R III front
X2 versus A7R III top view
X2 and A7R III rear side
Body view (X2 on the left)

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Sony A7R III is considerably larger (42 percent) than the Leica X2. It is noteworthy in this context that the A7R III is splash and dust-proof, while the X2 does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the X2 has a lens build in, whereas the A7R III is an interchangeable lens camera that requires a separate lens. Attaching the latter will add extra weight and bulk to the setup. You can find an overview of optics for the A7R III and their specifications in the Sony FE Lens Catalog.

The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, just select a new right or left comparator from among the camera models in the table. Alternatively, you can also move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible comparisons there.

Camera Body Specifications
Camera Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(y/n)
Camera
Launch
(year)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(amazon)
Used
Price
(ebay)
Leica X2 (⇒ rgt) 124 mm 69 mm 52 mm 345 g 450 no 2012 1,995discont. check
Sony A7R III (⇒ lft) 127 mm 96 mm 74 mm 650 g 650 YES 2017 3,199 latest check
Fujifilm X70 (⇒ lft | rgt) 113 mm 64 mm 44 mm 340 g 330 no 2016 799 latest check
Fujifilm X20 (⇒ lft | rgt) 117 mm 70 mm 57 mm 353 g 270 no 2013 599discont. check
Fujifilm X-Pro1 (⇒ lft | rgt) 140 mm 82 mm 43 mm 450 g 300 no 2012 1,699discont. check
Leica TL2 (⇒ lft | rgt) 134 mm 69 mm 33 mm 399 g 250 no 2017 1,950 latest check
Leica TL (⇒ lft | rgt) 134 mm 69 mm 33 mm 384 g 400 no 2016 1,695discont. check
Leica T (⇒ lft | rgt) 134 mm 69 mm 33 mm 384 g 400 no 2014 1,850discont. check
Leica D-LUX Typ 109 (⇒ lft | rgt) 118 mm 66 mm 55 mm 405 g 300 no 2014 1,195 latest check
Leica X Typ 113 (⇒ lft | rgt) 133 mm 73 mm 78 mm 486 g 350 no 2014 2,295 latest check
Leica X Vario (⇒ lft | rgt) 133 mm 73 mm 95 mm 680 g 450 no 2013 2,850 latest check
Leica X1 (⇒ lft | rgt) 124 mm 60 mm 32 mm 306 g 260 no 2009 1,995discont. check
Sony A99 II (⇒ lft | rgt) 143 mm 104 mm 76 mm 849 g 490 YES 2016 3,199 latest check
Sony A7R II (⇒ lft | rgt) 127 mm 96 mm 60 mm 625 g 290 YES 2015 3,199discont. check
Sony A7S II (⇒ lft | rgt) 127 mm 96 mm 60 mm 627 g 370 YES 2015 2,999 latest check
Sony A7 II (⇒ lft | rgt) 127 mm 96 mm 60 mm 599 g 350 YES 2014 1,999 latest check
Sony A7R (⇒ lft | rgt) 127 mm 94 mm 48 mm 465 g 340 YES 2013 2,299discont. check

The listed prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The X2 was launched at a lower price than the A7R III, despite having a lens build in. 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 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 generally have larger individual pixels that offer better low-light sensitivity, provide wider dynamic range, and have richer color depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Furthermore, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more possibilities to use shallow depth-of-field in order to isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors are more costly to manufacture and tent 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 Sony A7R III a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the A7R III is 133 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.5 and 1.0. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Leica X2 and Sony A7R III sensor measures
Sensor size

With 42.2MP, the A7R III offers a higher resolution than the X2 (16.1MP), but the A7R III has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.52μm versus 4.79μm for the X2). Yet, the A7R III is a much more recent model (by 5 years and 5 months) than the X2, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the A7R III has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.

Unlike the X2, the A7R III has the capacity to capture high quality composite images by combining multiple shots after shifting its sensor by miniscule distances. This multi-shot, pixel-shift mode is most suitable for photography of stationary objects (landscapes, studio scenes).

X2 versus A7R III MP
Sensor resolution

For most cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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 table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.

Sensor Characteristics
Camera Sensor
Class
Resolution
(Megapixel)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Leica X2 (⇒ rgt) APS-C 16.1 4928 3264 no - - - -
Sony A7R III (⇒ lft) Full Frame 42.2 7952 5304 4K/30p 26.0 14.7 3523 100
Fujifilm X70 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 16.0 4896 3264 1080/60p - - - -
Fujifilm X20 (⇒ lft | rgt) 2/3 12.0 4000 3000 1080/60p - - - -
Fujifilm X-Pro1 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 16.0 4896 3264 1080/24p - - - -
Leica TL2 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 24.1 6014 4014 4K/30p .. .. .. ..
Leica TL (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 16.1 4928 3264 1080/30p - - - -
Leica T (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 16.2 4944 3278 1080/30p 23.0 12.7 1082 75
Leica D-LUX Typ 109 (⇒ lft | rgt) Four Thirds 12.7 4112 3088 4K/30p - - - -
Leica X Typ 113 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 16.1 4928 3264 1080/30p - - - -
Leica X Vario (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 16.1 4928 3272 1080/30p 23.4 12.7 1320 78
Leica X1 (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 12.2 4272 2856 no - - - -
Sony A99 II (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 42.2 7952 5304 4K/30p 25.4 13.4 2317 92
Sony A7R II (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 42.2 7952 5304 4K/30p 26.0 13.9 3434 98
Sony A7S II (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 12.0 4240 2832 4K/30p 23.6 13.3 2993 85
Sony A7 II (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 24.0 6000 4000 1080/60p 24.9 13.6 2449 90
Sony A7R (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 36.2 7360 4912 1080/60p 25.6 14.1 2746 95

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The A7R III indeed provides for movie recording, while the X2 does not. The highest resolution format that the A7R III can use is 4K/30p.

Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the A7R III has an electronic viewfinder (3686k dots), which can be very helpful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the X2 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Leica X2, the Sony A7R III, and comparable cameras. If needed, the dpreview camera hub, for example, contains further detail on the cameras' specs.

Core Features
Camera Viewfinder
(Type or
'000 dots)
Control
Panel
(Y/n)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(Y/n)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec))
Build-in
Flash
(GN)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Leica X2 (⇒ rgt) no no 2.7 230 fixed no 2000 5.0 YES no
Sony A7R III (⇒ lft) 3686 no 3.0 1440 tilting YES 8000 10.0 no YES
Fujifilm X70 (⇒ lft | rgt) no no 3.0 1040 tilting YES 4000 8.0 7.9 no
Fujifilm X20 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical no 2.8 460 fixed no 4000 12.0 7 no
Fujifilm X-Pro1 (⇒ lft | rgt) 1440 no 3.0 1230 fixed no 4000 6.0 no no
Leica TL2 (⇒ lft | rgt) no no 3.7 1230 fixed YES 4000 7.0 no no
Leica TL (⇒ lft | rgt) no no 3.7 1230 fixed YES 4000 5.0 YES no
Leica T (⇒ lft | rgt) no no 3.7 1300 fixed YES 4000 5.0 4.5 no
Leica D-LUX Typ 109 (⇒ lft | rgt) 2764 no 3.0 921 fixed no 4000 11.0 no no
Leica X Typ 113 (⇒ lft | rgt) no no 3.0 920 fixed no 2000 5.0 YES no
Leica X Vario (⇒ lft | rgt) no no 3.0 920 fixed no 2000 5.0 YES no
Leica X1 (⇒ lft | rgt) no no 2.7 230 fixed no 2000 3.0 YES no
Sony A99 II (⇒ lft | rgt) 2400 YES 3.0 1229 tilting no 8000 12.0 no YES
Sony A7R II (⇒ lft | rgt) 2400 no 3.0 1229 tilting no 8000 5.0 no YES
Sony A7S II (⇒ lft | rgt) 2400 no 3.0 1229 tilting no 8000 5.0 no YES
Sony A7 II (⇒ lft | rgt) 2400 no 3.0 1230 tilting no 8000 5.0 no YES
Sony A7R (⇒ lft | rgt) 2400 no 3.0 1230 tilting no 8000 4.0 no no

The A7R III is a current model that online retailers, such as amazon, will have in stock. In contrast, the X2 has been discontinued (but it can be found pre-owned on ebay). There has not been a direct replacement model for the X2 from Leica.

Summary

So what is the bottom line? Is there a clear favorite between the Leica X2 and the Leica X2? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.


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Arguments in favor of the Leica X2:

  • Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
  • Ready to shoot: Has a lens build-in, whereas the A7R III requires a separate lens.
  • More compact: Is smaller (124x69mm vs 127x96mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter even though it comes with a build-in lens (unlike the A7R III).
  • 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 affordable: Was introduced at a lower price, despite coming with a build-in lens.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in May 2012).

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Reasons to prefer the Sony Alpha A7R III:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (42.2 vs 16.1MP), which boosts linear resolution by 62%.
  • Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
  • High quality composites: Can combine several shots after pixel-shifting its sensor.
  • Better image quality: Is equipped with a larger and more technologically advanced sensor.
  • Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 4K/30p video.
  • Easier framing: Has an electronic viewfinder for image framing 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 (1440k vs 230k dots).
  • More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
  • Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (8000/sec vs 2000/sec) to freeze action.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (10 vs 5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More flexible: Takes interchangeable lenses and can thus be used with specialty optics.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (650 versus 450) out of a single battery charge.
  • Better sealing: Is splash and dust sealed for shooting in inclement weather conditions.
  • Sharper images: Has stabilization technology build-in to reduce the impact of hand-shake.
  • More modern: Reflects 5 years and 5 months of technical progress since the X2 launch.

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the A7R III is the clear winner of the contest (17 : 8 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.

X2 08:17 A7R III

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 handling experience and imaging performance when actually working with the X2 or the A7R III. 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 where reviews by experts come in. The table below summarizes the assessments of some of the best known camera review sites. The full reviews are available, respectively, at cameralabs.com, dpreview.com, ephotozine.com, imaging-resource.com, and photographyblog.com.

Review scores
Camera camera
labs
dp
review
ephoto
zine
imaging
resource
photography
blog
Camera
Launch
(year)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(amazon)
Used
Price
(ebay)
Leica X2 (⇒ rgt) - - 3/5 - 4/5 2012 1,995discont. check
Sony A7R III (⇒ lft) HiRec 90/100 Gold .. .. .. 2017 3,199 latest check
Fujifilm X70 (⇒ lft | rgt) - 76/100 4.5/5 4/5 4.5/5 2016 799 latest check
Fujifilm X20 (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 77/100 Silver 4.5/5 - 5/5 2013 599discont. check
Fujifilm X-Pro1 (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 79/100 Silver 4.5/5 4/5 4.5/5 2012 1,699discont. check
Leica TL2 (⇒ lft | rgt) .. .. 4/5 .. 4/5 2017 1,950 latest check
Leica TL (⇒ lft | rgt) - - - - 4/5 2016 1,695discont. check
Leica T (⇒ lft | rgt) - - 4/5 - 4/5 2014 1,850discont. check
Leica D-LUX Typ 109 (⇒ lft | rgt) - - 4.5/5 - 4.5/5 2014 1,195 latest check
Leica X Typ 113 (⇒ lft | rgt) - - 3.5/5 - 4/5 2014 2,295 latest check
Leica X Vario (⇒ lft | rgt) - - 4/5 4/5 4/5 2013 2,850 latest check
Leica X1 (⇒ lft | rgt) - Rec - - 4/5 2009 1,995discont. check
Sony A99 II (⇒ lft | rgt) - 85/100 Silver 4.5/5 4.5/5 4.5/5 2016 3,199 latest check
Sony A7R II (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 90/100 Gold 5/5 4.5/5 5/5 2015 3,199discont. check
Sony A7S II (⇒ lft | rgt) Rec - 4.5/5 5/5 5/5 2015 2,999 latest check
Sony A7 II (⇒ lft | rgt) Rec 82/100 Silver 4.5/5 5/5 5/5 2014 1,999 latest check
Sony A7R (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 82/100 Gold 4.5/5 5/5 5/5 2013 2,299discont. check

The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings are only valid when refering 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 rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.

Other comparisons

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. If you do not see the camera that you are looking for, please contact me, and I will try to update the database with the necessary infos.

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