Sony RX1 versus Leica X1
The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1 and the Leica X1 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in September 2012 and September 2009. Both the RX1 and the X1 are fixed lens compact cameras that are based on a full frame (RX1) and an APS-C (X1) sensor. The Sony has a resolution of 24 megapixel, whereas the Leica provides 12.2 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: Sony RX1 vs Leica X1
An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Sony RX1 and the Leica X1 is provided in the side-by-side display below. 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. You can also use the toggle button to switch to a percentage comparison if you prefer that the measures are being expressed in relative terms (in this case, the camera on the left side – the RX1 – represents the basis for the calculations across all the size and weight measures).
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Leica X1 is somewhat larger (1 percent) than the Sony RX1. However, the X1 is substantially lighter (37 percent) than the RX1. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the RX1 nor the X1 are weather-sealed.
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
|Sony RX1 (⇒ rgt)||113 mm||65 mm||70 mm||482 g||270||no||2012||2,799||discont.||check|
|Leica X1 (⇒ lft)||124 mm||60 mm||32 mm||306 g||260||no||2009||1,995||discont.||check|
|Leica X Vario (⇒ lft | rgt)||133 mm||73 mm||95 mm||680 g||450||no||2013||2,850||latest||check|
|Leica D-LUX 6 (⇒ lft | rgt)||111 mm||68 mm||46 mm||298 g||330||no||2012||699||discont.||check|
|Leica X2 (⇒ lft | rgt)||124 mm||69 mm||52 mm||345 g||450||no||2012||1,995||discont.||check|
|Leica D-LUX 5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||110 mm||65 mm||43 mm||271 g||400||no||2010||699||discont.||check|
|Leica V-LUX 2 (⇒ lft | rgt)||124 mm||80 mm||95 mm||520 g||410||no||2010||849||discont.||check|
|Nikon D5300 (⇒ lft | rgt)||125 mm||98 mm||76 mm||480 g||600||no||2013||799||discont.||check|
|Panasonic LX5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||110 mm||65 mm||43 mm||271 g||400||no||2010||499||discont.||check|
|Sony RX1R II (⇒ lft | rgt)||113 mm||65 mm||72 mm||507 g||220||no||2015||3,299||latest||check|
|Sony A3000 (⇒ lft | rgt)||128 mm||91 mm||85 mm||411 g||470||no||2013||329||discont.||check|
|Sony A7 (⇒ lft | rgt)||127 mm||94 mm||48 mm||474 g||340||YES||2013||1,699||discont.||check|
|Sony A7R (⇒ lft | rgt)||127 mm||94 mm||48 mm||465 g||340||YES||2013||2,299||discont.||check|
|Sony RX100 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||102 mm||58 mm||38 mm||281 g||350||no||2013||749||discont.||check|
|Sony RX1R (⇒ lft | rgt)||113 mm||65 mm||70 mm||482 g||270||no||2013||2,799||discont.||check|
|Sony RX100 (⇒ lft | rgt)||102 mm||58 mm||36 mm||240 g||330||no||2012||649||discont.||check|
|Sony NEX-7 (⇒ lft | rgt)||120 mm||67 mm||43 mm||400 g||430||no||2011||1,349||discont.||check|
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 X1 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 29 percent) than the RX1, which puts it into a different market segment. 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: Sony RX1 vs Leica X1
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 associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Sony RX1 features a full frame sensor and the Leica X1 an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the X1 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.
With 24MP, the RX1 offers a higher resolution than the X1 (12.2MP), but the RX1 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 5.96μm versus 5.51μm for the X1) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the RX1 is a somewhat more recent model (by 3 years) than the X1, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels.
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 following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.
|Sony RX1 (⇒ rgt)||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||25.1||14.3||2534||93|
|Leica X1 (⇒ lft)||APS-C||12.2||4272||2856||no||-||-||-||-|
|Leica X Vario (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||16.1||4928||3272||1080/30p||23.4||12.7||1320||78|
|Leica D-LUX 6 (⇒ lft | rgt)||1/1.7||10.0||3648||2736||1080/60p||-||-||-||-|
|Leica X2 (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||16.1||4928||3264||no||-||-||-||-|
|Leica D-LUX 5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||1/1.7||10.0||3648||2736||720/60p||-||-||-||-|
|Leica V-LUX 2 (⇒ lft | rgt)||1/2.3||14.0||4320||3240||1080/60i||-||-||-||-|
|Nikon D5300 (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.0||13.9||1338||83|
|Panasonic LX5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||1/1.7||10.0||3648||2736||720/60p||19.6||10.8||132||41|
|Sony RX1R II (⇒ lft | rgt)||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||1080/60p||25.8||13.9||3204||97|
|Sony A3000 (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||19.8||5456||3632||1080/60i||23.7||12.8||1068||78|
|Sony A7 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.8||14.2||2248||90|
|Sony A7R (⇒ lft | rgt)||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/60p||25.6||14.1||2746||95|
|Sony RX100 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||22.5||12.4||483||67|
|Sony RX1R (⇒ lft | rgt)||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||25.0||13.6||2537||91|
|Sony RX100 (⇒ lft | rgt)||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||1080/60p||22.6||12.4||390||66|
|Sony NEX-7 (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60i||24.1||13.4||1016||81|
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The RX1 indeed provides movie recording capabilities, while the X1 does not. The highest resolution format that the RX1 can use is 1080/60p.
Feature comparison: Sony RX1 vs Leica X1
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The RX1 and the X1 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. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Sony RX1, the Leica X1, and comparable cameras. The full specs-sheets can be found in the camera manual or, for example, in the dpreview camera hub.
|Sony RX1 (⇒ rgt)||no||no||3.0||1229||fixed||no||4000||5.0||6||no|
|Leica X1 (⇒ lft)||no||no||2.7||230||fixed||no||2000||3.0||YES||no|
|Leica X Vario (⇒ lft | rgt)||no||no||3.0||920||fixed||no||2000||5.0||YES||no|
|Leica D-LUX 6 (⇒ lft | rgt)||no||no||3.0||920||fixed||no||4000||11.0||8.5||YES|
|Leica X2 (⇒ lft | rgt)||no||no||2.7||230||fixed||no||2000||5.0||YES||no|
|Leica D-LUX 5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||no||no||3.0||460||fixed||no||4000||2.5||7.2||YES|
|Leica V-LUX 2 (⇒ lft | rgt)||202||no||3.0||460||swivel||no||2000||11.0||9.5||YES|
|Nikon D5300 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||no||3.2||1037||swivel||no||4000||5.0||12||no|
|Panasonic LX5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||no||no||3.0||460||fixed||no||4000||2.5||7.2||YES|
|Sony RX1R II (⇒ lft | rgt)||2360||no||3.0||1229||tilting||no||4000||5.0||no||no|
|Sony A3000 (⇒ lft | rgt)||202||no||3.0||230||fixed||no||4000||2.5||6||no|
|Sony A7 (⇒ lft | rgt)||2400||no||3.0||1230||tilting||no||8000||5.0||no||no|
|Sony A7R (⇒ lft | rgt)||2400||no||3.0||1230||tilting||no||8000||4.0||no||no|
|Sony RX100 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||no||no||3.0||1229||tilting||no||2000||10.0||15||YES|
|Sony RX1R (⇒ lft | rgt)||no||no||3.0||1229||fixed||no||4000||5.0||6||no|
|Sony RX100 (⇒ lft | rgt)||no||no||3.0||1229||fixed||no||2000||10.0||YES||YES|
|Sony NEX-7 (⇒ lft | rgt)||2359||no||3.0||921||tilting||no||4000||10.0||6||no|
Both the RX1 and the X1 have build-in prime lenses. The RX1 has a 35mm f/2.0 optic and the X1 offers a 36mm f/2.8 (focal lengths in full frame equivalent terms). Hence, the Sony provides a wider angle of view than the Leica. The RX1 offers the faster maximum aperture.
Both the RX1 and the X1 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The X1 was replaced by the Leica X2, while the RX1 was followed by the Sony RX1R.
Review summary: Sony RX1 vs Leica X1
So what conclusions can be drawn? Which of the two cameras – the Sony RX1 or the Leica X1 – has the upper hand? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Arguments in favor of the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (24 vs 12.2MP) with a 40% higher linear resolution.
- Better image quality: Features a larger and more technologically advanced imaging sensor.
- Broader imaging potential: Can record not only still images but also 1080/60p movies.
- 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 (1229k vs 230k dots).
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (4000/sec vs 2000/sec) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Better light gathering: Has a lens with a wider maximum aperture (f/2.0 vs f/2.8).
- Wider view: Has a wider-angle lens that facilitates landscape or interior shots.
- More modern: Reflects 3 years of technical progress since the X1 launch.
Reasons to prefer the Leica X1:
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 176g or 37 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- More prestigious: Has the Leica luxury appeal, which ensures a high resale value.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (29 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in September 2009).
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the RX1 is the clear winner of the match-up (10 : 4 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.
In any case, while the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it says nothing about, for example, the handling, responsiveness, and overall imaging quality of the RX1 and the X1 in practical situations. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased. This is why expert reviews are important. The table below summarizes the assessments of some of the best known camera review sites. You can find the full text of the reviews, respectively, at cameralabs.com, dpreview.com, ephotozine.com, imaging-resource.com, and photographyblog.com.
|Sony RX1 (⇒ rgt)||-||79/100 Gold||4/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||2012||2,799||discont.||check|
|Leica X1 (⇒ lft)||-||Rec||-||-||4/5||2009||1,995||discont.||check|
|Leica X Vario (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||-||4/5||4/5||4/5||2013||2,850||latest||check|
|Leica D-LUX 6 (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||-||4/5||-||4/5||2012||699||discont.||check|
|Leica X2 (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||-||3/5||-||4/5||2012||1,995||discont.||check|
|Leica D-LUX 5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||-||4.5/5||-||4/5||2010||699||discont.||check|
|Leica V-LUX 2 (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||-||-||-||-||2010||849||discont.||check|
|Nikon D5300 (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||79/100 Silver||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||2013||799||discont.||check|
|Panasonic LX5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Rec||73/100 Silver||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||2010||499||discont.||check|
|Sony RX1R II (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||82/100 Silver||-||reviewed||4.5/5||2015||3,299||latest||check|
|Sony A3000 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Rec||-||4/5||4.5/5||4/5||2013||329||discont.||check|
|Sony A7 (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||80/100 Silver||5/5||4.5/5||5/5||2013||1,699||discont.||check|
|Sony A7R (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||82/100 Gold||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||2013||2,299||discont.||check|
|Sony RX100 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||79/100 Silver||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||2013||749||discont.||check|
|Sony RX1R (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||-||4/5||reviewed||4.5/5||2013||2,799||discont.||check|
|Sony RX100 (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||78/100 Silver||4/5||5/5||5/5||2012||649||discont.||check|
|Sony NEX-7 (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||81/100 Gold||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||2011||1,349||discont.||check|
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. 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, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.
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