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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 (A7R III) sensor. The Leica has a resolution of 16.1 megapixel, whereas the Sony provides 42.2 MP. Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their size, their sensors, their features, and their reception by expert reviewers.

Body comparison: Leica X2 vs Sony A7R III

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).

Snapsort Leica X2 vs Sony A7R III
Compare X2 versus A7R III top
Compare X2 and A7R III rear

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.

Concerning battery life, the X2 gets 450 shots out of its BP-DC8 battery, while the A7R III can take 650 images on a single charge of its NP-FZ100 power pack.

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 camera comparisons there.

Camera Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(yes/no)
Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Leica X2» 4.9 in 2.7 in 2.0 in 12.2 oz 450 n May 2012 1,995- i
Sony A7R III« 5.0 in 3.8 in 2.9 in 22.9 oz 650 Y Oct 2017 3,199 i i
Fujifilm X70« » 4.4 in 2.5 in 1.7 in 12.0 oz 330 n Jan 2016 799 i i
Fujifilm X20« » 4.6 in 2.8 in 2.2 in 12.5 oz 270 n Jan 2013 599- i
Fujifilm X-Pro1« » 5.5 in 3.2 in 1.7 in 15.9 oz 300 n Jan 2012 1,699- i
Leica TL2« » 5.3 in 2.7 in 1.3 in 14.1 oz 250 n Jul 2017 1,950 i i
Leica TL« » 5.3 in 2.7 in 1.3 in 13.5 oz 400 n Nov 2016 1,695- i
Leica T« » 5.3 in 2.7 in 1.3 in 13.5 oz 400 n Apr 2014 1,850- i
Leica X Typ 113« » 5.2 in 2.9 in 3.1 in 17.1 oz 350 n Sep 2014 2,295 i i
Leica X Vario« » 5.2 in 2.9 in 3.7 in 24.0 oz 450 n Jun 2013 2,850 i i
Leica D-LUX 6« » 4.4 in 2.7 in 1.8 in 10.5 oz 330 n Sep 2012 699- i
Leica X1« » 4.9 in 2.4 in 1.3 in 10.8 oz 260 n Sep 2009 1,995- i
Sony A7 III« » 5.0 in 3.8 in 2.9 in 22.9 oz 610 Y Feb 2018 1,999 i i
Sony A99 II« » 5.6 in 4.1 in 3.0 in 29.9 oz 490 Y Sep 2016 3,199 i i
Sony A7R II« » 5.0 in 3.8 in 2.4 in 22.0 oz 290 Y Jun 2015 3,199- i
Sony A7 II« » 5.0 in 3.8 in 2.4 in 21.1 oz 350 Y Nov 2014 1,999- i
Sony A7R« » 5.0 in 3.7 in 1.9 in 16.4 oz 340 Y Oct 2013 2,299- i

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. 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: Leica X2 vs Sony A7R III

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 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 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

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

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
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Leica X2» APS-C 16.1 4928 3264-----
Sony A7R III« Full Frame 42.2 7952 53044K/30p26.014.73523100
Fujifilm X70« » APS-C 16.0 4896 32641080/60p----
Fujifilm X20« » 2/3 12.0 4000 30001080/60p----
Fujifilm X-Pro1« » APS-C 16.0 4896 32641080/24p----
Leica TL2« » APS-C 24.1 6014 40144K/30p----
Leica TL« » APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p----
Leica T« » APS-C 16.2 4944 32781080/30p23.012.7108275
Leica X Typ 113« » APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p----
Leica X Vario« » APS-C 16.1 4928 32721080/30p23.412.7132078
Leica D-LUX 6« » 1/1.7 10.0 3648 27361080/60p----
Leica X1« » APS-C 12.2 4272 2856-----
Sony A7 III« » Full Frame 24.0 6000 40004K/30p25.014.7373096
Sony A99 II« » Full Frame 42.2 7952 53044K/30p25.413.4231792
Sony A7R II« » Full Frame 42.2 7952 53044K/30p26.013.9343498
Sony A7 II« » Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.913.6244990
Sony A7R« » Full Frame 36.2 7360 49121080/60p25.614.1274695

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: Leica X2 vs Sony A7R III

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
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec))
Build-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Leica X2»- n 2.7 230 fixed n 2000 5.0 Y n
Sony A7R III«3686 n 3.0 1440 tilting Y 8000 10.0 n Y
Fujifilm X70« »- n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 4000 8.0 Y n
Fujifilm X20« »optical n 2.8 460 fixed n 4000 12.0 Y Y
Fujifilm X-Pro1« »1440 n 3.0 1230 fixed n 4000 6.0 n n
Leica TL2« »- n 3.7 1230 fixed Y 4000 7.0 n n
Leica TL« »- n 3.7 1230 fixed Y 4000 5.0 Y n
Leica T« »- n 3.7 1300 fixed Y 4000 5.0 Y n
Leica X Typ 113« »- n 3.0 920 fixed n 2000 5.0 Y n
Leica X Vario« »- n 3.0 920 fixed n 2000 5.0 Y n
Leica D-LUX 6« »- n 3.0 920 fixed n 4000 11.0 Y Y
Leica X1« »- n 2.7 230 fixed n 2000 3.0 Y n
Sony A7 III« »2359 n 3.0 922 tilting Y 8000 10.0 n Y
Sony A99 II« »2400 Y 3.0 1229 full-flex n 8000 12.0 n Y
Sony A7R II« »2400 n 3.0 1229 tilting n 8000 5.0 n Y
Sony A7 II« »2400 n 3.0 1230 tilting n 8000 5.0 n Y
Sony A7R« »2400 n 3.0 1230 tilting n 8000 4.0 n n

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.

Review summary: Leica X2 vs Sony A7R III

So what is the bottom line? Is there a clear favorite between the Leica X2 and the Sony A7R III? 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 before making a decision on a new camera.

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 (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). The full reviews are available by clicking on the site logo in the table header.

Review scores
  Camera cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Leica X2»--3/5-4/5 May 2012 1,995- i
Sony A7R III«HiRec90/1004.5/55/55/5 Oct 2017 3,199 i i
Fujifilm X70« »-76/1004.5/54/54.5/5 Jan 2016 799 i i
Fujifilm X20« »HiRec77/1004.5/5-5/5 Jan 2013 599- i
Fujifilm X-Pro1« »HiRec79/1004.5/54/54.5/5 Jan 2012 1,699- i
Leica TL2« »--4/5-4/5 Jul 2017 1,950 i i
Leica TL« »----4/5 Nov 2016 1,695- i
Leica T« »--4/5-4/5 Apr 2014 1,850- i
Leica X Typ 113« »--3.5/5-4/5 Sep 2014 2,295 i i
Leica X Vario« »--4/54/54/5 Jun 2013 2,850 i i
Leica D-LUX 6« »--4/5-4/5 Sep 2012 699- i
Leica X1« »-Rec--4/5 Sep 2009 1,995- i
Sony A7 III« »HiRec89/1005/5-5/5 Feb 2018 1,999 i i
Sony A99 II« »-85/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2016 3,199 i i
Sony A7R II« »HiRec90/1005/54.5/55/5 Jun 2015 3,199- i
Sony A7 II« »Rec82/1004.5/55/55/5 Nov 2014 1,999- i
Sony A7R« »HiRec82/1004.5/55/55/5 Oct 2013 2,299- i

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 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. 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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