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Sony RX1 versus Leica X1

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1 and the Leica X1 are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, 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

The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Sony RX1 and the Leica X1. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All size 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).

Compare Sony RX1 vs Leica X1
Compare RX1 versus X1 top
Compare RX1 and X1 rear

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.

Concerning battery life, the RX1 gets 270 shots out of its NP-BX1 battery, while the X1 can take 260 images on a single charge of its BP-DC8 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)
Camera
Model
Sony RX1» 4.4 in 2.6 in 2.8 in 17.0 oz 270 n Sep 2012 2,799- i Sony RX1
Leica X1« 4.9 in 2.4 in 1.3 in 10.8 oz 260 n Sep 2009 1,995- i Leica X1
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 D-LUX 6« » 4.4 in 2.7 in 1.8 in 10.5 oz 330 n Sep 2012 699- i Leica D-LUX 6
Leica X2« » 4.9 in 2.7 in 2.0 in 12.2 oz 450 n May 2012 1,995- i Leica X2
Leica D-LUX 5« » 4.3 in 2.6 in 1.7 in 9.6 oz 400 n Sep 2010 699- i Leica D-LUX 5
Leica V-LUX 2« » 4.9 in 3.1 in 3.7 in 18.3 oz 410 n Sep 2010 849- i Leica V-LUX 2
Nikon D5300« » 4.9 in 3.9 in 3.0 in 16.9 oz 600 n Oct 2013 799- i Nikon D5300
Panasonic LX5« » 4.3 in 2.6 in 1.7 in 9.6 oz 400 n Jul 2010 499- i Panasonic LX5
Sony RX1R II« » 4.4 in 2.6 in 2.8 in 17.9 oz 220 n Oct 2015 3,299 i i Sony RX1R II
Sony A3000« » 5.0 in 3.6 in 3.3 in 14.5 oz 470 n Aug 2013 329- i Sony A3000
Sony A7« » 5.0 in 3.7 in 1.9 in 16.7 oz 340 Y Oct 2013 1,699- i Sony A7
Sony A7R« » 5.0 in 3.7 in 1.9 in 16.4 oz 340 Y Oct 2013 2,299- i Sony A7R
Sony RX100 II« » 4.0 in 2.3 in 1.5 in 9.9 oz 350 n Jun 2013 749- i Sony RX100 II
Sony RX1R« » 4.4 in 2.6 in 2.8 in 17.0 oz 270 n Jun 2013 2,799- i Sony RX1R
Sony RX100« » 4.0 in 2.3 in 1.4 in 8.5 oz 330 n Jun 2012 649- i Sony RX100
Sony NEX-7« » 4.7 in 2.6 in 1.7 in 14.1 oz 430 n Aug 2011 1,349- i Sony NEX-7

The camera’s price is obviously a critical decision-making factor. 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. 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.

 

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 more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras 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.

In terms of underlying technology, both cameras are build around CMOS sensors.

Sony RX1 and Leica X1 sensor measures

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.

RX1 versus X1 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 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 RX1» Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p25.114.3253493Sony RX1
Leica X1« APS-C 12.2 4272 2856-----Leica X1
Leica X Vario« » APS-C 16.1 4928 32721080/30p23.412.7132078Leica X Vario
Leica D-LUX 6« » 1/1.7 10.0 3648 27361080/60p----Leica D-LUX 6
Leica X2« » APS-C 16.1 4928 3264-----Leica X2
Leica D-LUX 5« » 1/1.7 10.0 3648 2736720/60p----Leica D-LUX 5
Leica V-LUX 2« » 1/2.3 14.0 4320 32401080/60i----Leica V-LUX 2
Nikon D5300« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.013.9133883Nikon D5300
Panasonic LX5« » 1/1.7 10.0 3648 2736720/60p19.610.813241Panasonic LX5
Sony RX1R II« » Full Frame 42.2 7952 53041080/60p25.813.9320497Sony RX1R II
Sony A3000« » APS-C 19.8 5456 36321080/60i23.712.8106878Sony A3000
Sony A7« » Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.814.2224890Sony A7
Sony A7R« » Full Frame 36.2 7360 49121080/60p25.614.1274695Sony A7R
Sony RX100 II« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p22.512.448367Sony RX100 II
Sony RX1R« » Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p25.013.6253791Sony RX1R
Sony RX100« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p22.612.439066Sony RX100
Sony NEX-7« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60i24.113.4101681Sony NEX-7

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. 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

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety 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. That said, the RX1 can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the FDA-EV1MK. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Sony RX1 and Leica X1 along with similar information for a selection of comparators. If needed, the dpreview camera hub, for example, contains further detail on the cameras' specs.

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 RX1»- n 3.0 1229 fixed n 4000 5.0 Y n Sony RX1
Leica X1«- n 2.7 230 fixed n 2000 3.0 Y n Leica X1
Leica X Vario« »- n 3.0 920 fixed n 2000 5.0 Y n Leica X Vario
Leica D-LUX 6« »- n 3.0 920 fixed n 4000 11.0 Y Y Leica D-LUX 6
Leica X2« »- n 2.7 230 fixed n 2000 5.0 Y n Leica X2
Leica D-LUX 5« »- n 3.0 460 fixed n 4000 2.5 Y Y Leica D-LUX 5
Leica V-LUX 2« »202 n 3.0 460 swivel n 2000 11.0 Y Y Leica V-LUX 2
Nikon D5300« »optical n 3.2 1037 swivel n 4000 5.0 Y n Nikon D5300
Panasonic LX5« »- n 3.0 460 fixed n 4000 2.5 Y Y Panasonic LX5
Sony RX1R II« »2360 n 3.0 1229 tilting n 4000 5.0 n n Sony RX1R II
Sony A3000« »202 n 3.0 230 fixed n 4000 2.5 Y n Sony A3000
Sony A7« »2400 n 3.0 1230 tilting n 8000 5.0 n n Sony A7
Sony A7R« »2400 n 3.0 1230 tilting n 8000 4.0 n n Sony A7R
Sony RX100 II« »- n 3.0 1229 tilting n 2000 10.0 Y Y Sony RX100 II
Sony RX1R« »- n 3.0 1229 fixed n 4000 5.0 Y n Sony RX1R
Sony RX100« »- n 3.0 1229 fixed n 2000 10.0 Y Y Sony RX100
Sony NEX-7« »2359 n 3.0 921 tilting n 4000 10.0 Y n Sony NEX-7

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? Is there a clear favorite between the Sony RX1 and the Leica X1? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.

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Advantages 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.
  • More framing options: Can be equipped with a hotshoe-mounted accessory-viewfinder.
  • 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.

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Arguments in favor of 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 (11 : 4 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.

RX1 11:04 X1

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 RX1 or the X1. 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 adjacent table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). You can find the full text of the reviews 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 RX1»-79/1004/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 2,799- i Sony RX1
Leica X1«-Rec--4/5 Sep 2009 1,995- i Leica X1
Leica X Vario« »--4/54/54/5 Jun 2013 2,850 i i Leica X Vario
Leica D-LUX 6« »--4/5-4/5 Sep 2012 699- i Leica D-LUX 6
Leica X2« »--3/5-4/5 May 2012 1,995- i Leica X2
Leica D-LUX 5« »--4.5/5-4/5 Sep 2010 699- i Leica D-LUX 5
Leica V-LUX 2« »----- Sep 2010 849- i Leica V-LUX 2
Nikon D5300« »HiRec79/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Oct 2013 799- i Nikon D5300
Panasonic LX5« »Rec73/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Jul 2010 499- i Panasonic LX5
Sony RX1R II« »-82/100-rev4.5/5 Oct 2015 3,299 i i Sony RX1R II
Sony A3000« »Rec-4/54.5/54/5 Aug 2013 329- i Sony A3000
Sony A7« »HiRec80/1005/54.5/55/5 Oct 2013 1,699- i Sony A7
Sony A7R« »HiRec82/1004.5/55/55/5 Oct 2013 2,299- i Sony A7R
Sony RX100 II« »HiRec79/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Jun 2013 749- i Sony RX100 II
Sony RX1R« »--4/5rev4.5/5 Jun 2013 2,799- i Sony RX1R
Sony RX100« »HiRec78/1004/55/55/5 Jun 2012 649- i Sony RX100
Sony NEX-7« »HiRec81/1004.5/55/55/5 Aug 2011 1,349- i Sony NEX-7

The above review scores should be interpreted 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. 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.

 

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 your choice using the following search menu. An an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool. If you cannot find the camera you are interested in, please send me an email, and I will try to update the database with the necessary infos.

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