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Sony A7 versus Leica X Vario

The Sony Alpha A7 and the Leica X Vario (Typ 107) are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in October 2013 and June 2013. The A7 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, while the X Vario is a fixed lens compact. The cameras are based on a full frame (A7) and an APS-C (X Vario) sensor. The Sony has a resolution of 24 megapixel, whereas the Leica provides 16.1 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: Sony A7 vs Leica X Vario

The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Sony A7 and the Leica X Vario. 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 width, height and depth dimensions 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 side – the A7 – represents the basis for the calculations across all the size and weight measures).

Compare Sony A7 vs Leica X Vario
Compare A7 versus X Vario top
Compare A7 and X Vario rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Leica X Vario is notably smaller (19 percent) than the Sony A7. It is worth mentioning in this context that the A7 is splash and dust resistant, while the X Vario does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the X Vario has a lens build in, whereas the A7 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 A7 and their specifications in the Sony FE Lens Catalog.

Concerning battery life, the A7 gets 340 shots out of its NP-FW50 battery, while the X Vario can take 450 images on a single charge of its BP-DC8 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, 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)
Camera
Model
Sony A7» 5.0 in 3.7 in 1.9 in 16.7 oz 340 Y Oct 2013 1,699- i Sony A7
Leica X Vario« 5.2 in 2.9 in 3.7 in 24.0 oz 450 n Jun 2013 2,850 i i Leica X Vario
Leica Q Typ 116« » 5.1 in 3.1 in 3.7 in 22.6 oz 300 n Jun 2015 4,249 i i Leica Q Typ 116
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 Typ 113
Leica X2« » 4.9 in 2.7 in 2.0 in 12.2 oz 450 n May 2012 1,995- i Leica X2
Nikon Df« » 5.7 in 4.3 in 2.6 in 26.8 oz 1400 Y Nov 2013 2,749 i i Nikon Df
Nikon D610« » 5.6 in 4.4 in 3.2 in 30.0 oz 900 Y Oct 2013 1,999 i i Nikon D610
Panasonic FZ1000« » 5.4 in 3.9 in 5.2 in 29.3 oz 360 n Jun 2014 899- i Panasonic FZ1000
Panasonic GH4« » 5.2 in 3.7 in 3.3 in 19.8 oz 500 Y Feb 2014 1,499- i Panasonic GH4
Samsung NX1« » 5.5 in 4.0 in 2.6 in 19.4 oz 500 Y Sep 2014 1,499- i Samsung NX1
Sony A7 III« » 5.0 in 3.8 in 2.9 in 22.9 oz 610 Y Feb 2018 1,999 i i Sony A7 III
Sony A6300« » 4.7 in 2.6 in 1.9 in 14.3 oz 400 Y Feb 2016 999- i Sony A6300
Sony A7 II« » 5.0 in 3.8 in 2.4 in 21.1 oz 350 Y Nov 2014 1,999- i Sony A7 II
Sony A7S« » 5.0 in 3.7 in 1.9 in 17.2 oz 380 Y Apr 2014 2,499- i Sony A7S
Sony A7R« » 5.0 in 3.7 in 1.9 in 16.4 oz 340 Y Oct 2013 2,299- i Sony A7R
Sony RX1R« » 4.4 in 2.6 in 2.8 in 17.0 oz 270 n Jun 2013 2,799- i Sony RX1R
Sony RX1« » 4.4 in 2.6 in 2.8 in 17.0 oz 270 n Sep 2012 2,799- i Sony RX1

The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The retail prices at the time of the camera’s release place the model in the market relative to other models in the producer’s line-up and the competition. 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. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.

 

Sensor comparison: Sony A7 vs Leica X Vario

The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants 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. 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 Sony A7 features a full frame sensor and the Leica X Vario an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the X Vario is 57 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.0 and 1.5. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Sony A7 and Leica X Vario sensor measures

With 24MP, the A7 offers a higher resolution than the X Vario (16.1MP), but the A7 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 5.97μm versus 4.80μm for the X Vario) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the A7 is a somewhat more recent model (by 4 months) than the X Vario, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels.

The A7 has on-sensor phase detect pixels, which results in relatively fast and reliable autofocus acquisition during video recording.

A7 versus X Vario 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"). Of the two cameras under review, the A7 provides substantially higher image quality than the X Vario, with an overall score that is 12 points higher. This advantage is based on 1.4 bits higher color depth, 1.5 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.8 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.

Sensor Characteristics
  Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Camera
Model
Sony A7» Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.814.2224890Sony A7
Leica X Vario« APS-C 16.1 4928 32721080/30p23.412.7132078Leica X Vario
Leica Q Typ 116« » Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.312.7222185Leica Q Typ 116
Leica X Typ 113« » APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p----Leica X Typ 113
Leica X2« » APS-C 16.1 4928 3264-----Leica X2
Nikon Df« » Full Frame 16.2 4928 3280-24.613.1327989Nikon Df
Nikon D610« » Full Frame 24.2 6016 40161080/30p25.114.4292594Nikon D610
Panasonic FZ1000« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36484K/30p22.111.751764Panasonic FZ1000
Panasonic GH4« » Four Thirds 15.9 4608 34564K/30p23.212.879174Panasonic GH4
Samsung NX1« » APS-C 28.0 6480 43204K/30p24.213.2136383Samsung NX1
Sony A7 III« » Full Frame 24.0 6000 40004K/30p25.014.7373096Sony A7 III
Sony A6300« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40004K/30p24.413.7143785Sony A6300
Sony A7 II« » Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.913.6244990Sony A7 II
Sony A7S« » Full Frame 12.0 4240 28321080/60p23.913.2370287Sony A7S
Sony A7R« » Full Frame 36.2 7360 49121080/60p25.614.1274695Sony A7R
Sony RX1R« » Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p25.013.6253791Sony RX1R
Sony RX1« » Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p25.114.3253493Sony RX1

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, but the A7 provides a higher frame rate than the X Vario. It can shoot video footage at 1080/60p, while the Leica is limited to 1080/30p.

 

Feature comparison: Sony A7 vs Leica X Vario

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the A7 has an electronic viewfinder (2400k dots), which can be very helpful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the X Vario relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. That said, the X Vario can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the EVF 2. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Sony A7 and Leica X Vario along with similar information for a selection of comparators. The full specs-sheets can be found in the camera manual or in the dpreview camera hub.

Core Features
  Camera
Model
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
Camera
Model
Sony A7»2400 n 3.0 1230 tilting n 8000 5.0 n n Sony A7
Leica X Vario«- n 3.0 920 fixed n 2000 5.0 Y n Leica X Vario
Leica Q Typ 116« »3680 n 3.0 1040 fixed Y 2000 10.0 n n Leica Q Typ 116
Leica X Typ 113« »- n 3.0 920 fixed n 2000 5.0 Y n Leica X Typ 113
Leica X2« »- n 2.7 230 fixed n 2000 5.0 Y n Leica X2
Nikon Df« »optical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 4000 5.5 n n Nikon Df
Nikon D610« »optical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 4000 6.0 Y n Nikon D610
Panasonic FZ1000« »2359 n 3.0 921 swivel n 4000 12.0 Y Y Panasonic FZ1000
Panasonic GH4« »2359 n 3.0 1036 swivel Y 8000 12.0 Y n Panasonic GH4
Samsung NX1« »2360 Y 3.0 1036 tilting Y 8000 15.0 Y n Samsung NX1
Sony A7 III« »2359 n 3.0 922 tilting Y 8000 10.0 n Y Sony A7 III
Sony A6300« »2300 n 3.0 922 tilting n 4000 11.0 Y n Sony A6300
Sony A7 II« »2400 n 3.0 1230 tilting n 8000 5.0 n Y Sony A7 II
Sony A7S« »2400 n 3.0 921 tilting n 8000 5.0 n n Sony A7S
Sony A7R« »2400 n 3.0 1230 tilting n 8000 4.0 n n Sony A7R
Sony RX1R« »- n 3.0 1229 fixed n 4000 5.0 Y n Sony RX1R
Sony RX1« »- n 3.0 1229 fixed n 4000 5.0 Y n Sony RX1

One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The X Vario has one, while the A7 does not. While the build-in flash of the X Vario is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.

The A7 writes its imaging data to SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards, while the X Vario uses SDXC cards.

Input-Output Connections
  Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Type
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
Camera
Model
Sony A7»YstereomonoYYmicro2.0YY-Sony A7
Leica X Vario«Ystereomono--mini2.0---Leica X Vario
Leica Q Typ 116« »Ystereomono--micro2.0YY-Leica Q Typ 116
Leica X Typ 113« »Ystereomono--mini2.0---Leica X Typ 113
Leica X2« »Y----mini2.0---Leica X2
Nikon Df« »Y----mini2.0---Nikon Df
Nikon D610« »YmonomonoYYmini2.0---Nikon D610
Panasonic FZ1000« »YstereomonoY-micro2.0YY-Panasonic FZ1000
Panasonic GH4« »YstereomonoYYmicro2.0YY-Panasonic GH4
Samsung NX1« »YstereomonoYYmicro3.0YYYSamsung NX1
Sony A7 III« »YstereomonoYYmicro3.1YYYSony A7 III
Sony A6300« »YstereomonoY-micro2.0YY-Sony A6300
Sony A7 II« »YstereomonoYYmicro2.0YY-Sony A7 II
Sony A7S« »YstereomonoYYmicro2.0YY-Sony A7S
Sony A7R« »YstereomonoYYmicro2.0YY-Sony A7R
Sony RX1R« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0---Sony RX1R
Sony RX1« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0---Sony RX1

The X Vario is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Leica. In contrast, the A7 has been discontinued (but it can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the A7 was succeeded by the Sony A7 II.

Review summary: Sony A7 vs Leica X Vario

So what is the bottom line? Which of the two cameras – the Sony A7 or the Leica X Vario – has the upper hand? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.

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Arguments in favor of the Sony Alpha A7:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (24 vs 16.1MP) with a 22% higher linear resolution.
  • Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (12 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
  • Richer colors: Generates images with noticeably better colors (1.4 bits more color depth).
  • More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (1.5 EV of extra DR).
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (0.8 stops ISO advantage).
  • Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/60p versus 1080/30p).
  • Better video autofocus: Features on-sensor phase-detection for more confident movie autofocus.
  • Better sound: Can connect to an external microphone for higher quality sound recording.
  • Better sound control: Has a headphone port that enables audio monitoring while recording.
  • Easier framing: Has an electronic viewfinder for image framing and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1230k vs 920k dots).
  • More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (8000/sec vs 2000/sec) to freeze action.
  • More flexible: Accepts interchangeable lenses, so that lens characteristics can be altered.
  • Better sealing: Is weather sealed to enable shooting in dusty or wet environments.
  • Easier file upload: Has wifi build in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
  • Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
  • More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 4 months after the X Vario).

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Advantages of the Leica X Vario (Typ 107):

  • Ready to shoot: Has an integrated lens, whereas the A7 necessitates an extra lens.
  • More compact: Is smaller (133x73mm vs 127x94mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (450 versus 340) out of a single battery charge.
  • Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
  • More prestigious: Has the Leica luxury appeal, which ensures a high resale value.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in June 2013).

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the A7 is the clear winner of the match-up (18 : 6 points). However, the pertinence of the various camera strengths will differ across photographers, so that you might want to weigh individual camera traits according to their importance for your own imaging needs before making a camera decision.

A7 18:06 X Vario

In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras is instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it says nothing about, for example, the handling, responsiveness, and overall imaging quality of the A7 and the X Vario in practical situations. 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. This is where reviews by experts come in. The following table reports the overall rankings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). The detailed reviews can be accessed by clicking on the site logo in the table header.

Review Scores
  Camera
Model
cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
Sony A7»HiRec80/1005/54.5/55/5 Oct 2013 1,699- i Sony A7
Leica X Vario«--4/54/54/5 Jun 2013 2,850 i i Leica X Vario
Leica Q Typ 116« »-80/1004.5/5-4.5/5 Jun 2015 4,249 i i Leica Q Typ 116
Leica X Typ 113« »--3.5/5-4/5 Sep 2014 2,295 i i Leica X Typ 113
Leica X2« »--3/5-4/5 May 2012 1,995- i Leica X2
Nikon Df« »-81/1004/54/54/5 Nov 2013 2,749 i i Nikon Df
Nikon D610« »HiRec87/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Oct 2013 1,999 i i Nikon D610
Panasonic FZ1000« »HiRec82/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Jun 2014 899- i Panasonic FZ1000
Panasonic GH4« »HiRec85/1005/55/55/5 Feb 2014 1,499- i Panasonic GH4
Samsung NX1« »-87/1005/54.5/55/5 Sep 2014 1,499- i Samsung NX1
Sony A7 III« »HiRec89/1005/55/55/5 Feb 2018 1,999 i i Sony A7 III
Sony A6300« »Rec85/1005/55/55/5 Feb 2016 999- i Sony A6300
Sony A7 II« »Rec82/1004.5/55/55/5 Nov 2014 1,999- i Sony A7 II
Sony A7S« »-86/1004.5/54.5/55/5 Apr 2014 2,499- i Sony A7S
Sony A7R« »HiRec82/1004.5/55/55/5 Oct 2013 2,299- i Sony A7R
Sony RX1R« »--4/5rev4.5/5 Jun 2013 2,799- i Sony RX1R
Sony RX1« »-79/1004/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 2,799- i Sony RX1

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. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. 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 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. If the camera you are interested in is not available, kindly get in touch, and I will try to update the database with the necessary infos.

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