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Sony RX100 versus Leica CL

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 and the Leica CL (Typ 7323) are two digital cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in June 2012 and November 2017. The RX100 is a fixed lens compact, while the CL is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on an one-inch (RX100) and an APS-C (CL) sensor. The Sony has a resolution of 20 megapixel, whereas the Leica provides 24.1 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 RX100 vs Leica CL

The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Sony RX100 and the Leica CL. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. 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 – the RX100 – represents 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).

Compare Sony RX100 vs Leica CL
Compare RX100 versus CL top
Compare RX100 and CL rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Leica CL is considerably larger (73 percent) than the Sony RX100. In this context, it is worth noting that neither the RX100 nor the CL are weather-sealed.

The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the RX100 has a lens build in, whereas the CL is an interchangeable lens camera that requires a separate lens. Attaching the latter will add extra weight and bulk to the setup.

Concerning battery life, the RX100 gets 330 shots out of its NP-BX1 battery, while the CL can take 220 images on a single charge of its BP-DC12 power pack.

The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, just use the right or left arrows in the table to switch to the respective camera. Alternatively, you can also navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from the full list of cameras 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 RX100» 4.0 in 2.3 in 1.4 in 8.5 oz 330 n Jun 2012 649- i Sony RX100
Leica CL« 5.2 in 3.1 in 1.8 in 14.2 oz 220 n Nov 2017 2,795 i i Leica CL
Canon G9 X Mark II« » 3.9 in 2.3 in 1.2 in 7.3 oz 235 n Jan 2017 529 i i Canon G9 X Mark II
Canon M6« » 4.4 in 2.7 in 1.8 in 13.8 oz 295 n Feb 2017 779 i i Canon M6
Canon SL2« » 4.8 in 3.7 in 2.8 in 16.0 oz 650 n Jun 2017 549 i i Canon SL2
Canon G9 X« » 3.9 in 2.3 in 1.2 in 7.4 oz 220 n Oct 2015 529- i Canon G9 X
Canon G7 X« » 4.1 in 2.4 in 1.6 in 10.7 oz 210 n Sep 2014 699- i Canon G7 X
Leica C-LUX« » 4.4 in 2.6 in 1.8 in 12.0 oz 370 n Jun 2018 1,049 i i Leica C-LUX
Leica TL2« » 5.3 in 2.7 in 1.3 in 14.1 oz 250 n Jul 2017 1,950 i i Leica TL2
Leica TL« » 5.3 in 2.7 in 1.3 in 13.5 oz 400 n Nov 2016 1,695- i Leica TL
Sony RX100 IV« » 4.0 in 2.3 in 1.6 in 10.5 oz 280 n Jun 2015 999- i Sony RX100 IV
Sony A5100« » 4.3 in 2.5 in 1.4 in 10.0 oz 400 n Aug 2014 549 i i Sony A5100
Sony RX100 III« » 4.0 in 2.3 in 1.6 in 10.2 oz 320 n May 2014 799- i Sony RX100 III
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 NEX-5R« » 4.4 in 2.3 in 1.5 in 9.7 oz 330 n Aug 2012 749- i Sony NEX-5R
Sony NEX-5N« » 4.4 in 2.3 in 1.5 in 9.5 oz 460 n Aug 2011 699- i Sony NEX-5N
Sony NEX-C3« » 4.3 in 2.4 in 1.3 in 7.9 oz 400 n Jun 2011 599- i Sony NEX-C3

Any camera purchase will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. 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 RX100 was launched at a lower price than the CL, 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: Sony RX100 vs Leica CL

The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant 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 RX100 features an one-inch sensor and the Leica CL an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the CL is 220 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 2.7 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 RX100 and Leica CL sensor measures

With 24.1MP, the CL offers a higher resolution than the RX100 (20MP), but the CL nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 3.92μm versus 2.41μm for the RX100) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the CL is a much more recent model (by 5 years and 5 months) than the RX100, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the CL has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.

RX100 versus CL MP

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. This service determines an overall sensor rating, as well as sub-scores for low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and color depth ("DXO Portrait"). 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 RX100» 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p22.612.439066Sony RX100
Leica CL« APS-C 24.1 6014 40144K/30p----Leica CL
Canon G9 X Mark II« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p21.912.552265Canon G9 X Mark II
Canon M6« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p----Canon M6
Canon SL2« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p23.613.4104179Canon SL2
Canon G9 X« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p21.512.349563Canon G9 X
Canon G7 X« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p23.012.755671Canon G7 X
Leica C-LUX« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36484K/30p----Leica C-LUX
Leica TL2« » APS-C 24.1 6014 40144K/30p----Leica TL2
Leica TL« » APS-C 16.1 4928 32641080/30p----Leica TL
Sony RX100 IV« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36484K/30p22.812.659170Sony RX100 IV
Sony A5100« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p23.812.7134780Sony A5100
Sony RX100 III« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p22.412.349567Sony RX100 III
Sony RX100 II« » 1-inch 20.0 5472 36481080/60p22.512.448367Sony RX100 II
Sony NEX-5R« » APS-C 16.0 4912 32641080/60i23.713.191078Sony NEX-5R
Sony NEX-5N« » APS-C 16.0 4912 32641080/60i23.612.7107977Sony NEX-5N
Sony NEX-C3« » APS-C 16.0 4912 3264720/30p22.712.2108373Sony NEX-C3

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. Both cameras under consideration have a sensor with sufficiently fast read-out times for moving pictures, but the CL provides a better video resolution than the RX100. It can shoot movie footage at 4K/30p, while the Sony is limited to 1080/60p.

 

Feature comparison: Sony RX100 vs Leica CL

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the CL has an electronic viewfinder (2360k dots), which can be very helpful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the RX100 relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Sony RX100, the Leica CL, and comparable cameras. 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 RX100»- n 3.0 1229 fixed n 2000 10.0 Y Y Sony RX100
Leica CL«2360 Y 3.0 1040 fixed Y 8000 10.0 n n Leica CL
Canon G9 X Mark II« »- n 3.0 1040 fixed Y 2000 8.2 Y Y Canon G9 X Mark II
Canon M6« »- n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 4000 9.0 Y n Canon M6
Canon SL2« »optical n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 4000 5.0 Y n Canon SL2
Canon G9 X« »- n 3.0 1040 fixed Y 2000 6.0 Y Y Canon G9 X
Canon G7 X« »- n 3.0 1040 tilting Y 2000 6.5 Y Y Canon G7 X
Leica C-LUX« »2330 n 3.0 1240 fixed Y 2000 10.0 Y Y Leica C-LUX
Leica TL2« »- n 3.7 1230 fixed Y 4000 7.0 n n Leica TL2
Leica TL« »- n 3.7 1230 fixed Y 4000 5.0 Y n Leica TL
Sony RX100 IV« »2359 n 3.0 1228 tilting n 2000 16.0 Y Y Sony RX100 IV
Sony A5100« »- n 3.0 922 tilting Y 4000 6.0 Y n Sony A5100
Sony RX100 III« »1440 n 3.0 1229 tilting n 2000 10.0 Y Y Sony RX100 III
Sony RX100 II« »- n 3.0 1229 tilting n 2000 10.0 Y Y Sony RX100 II
Sony NEX-5R« »- n 3.0 920 tilting Y 4000 10.0 n n Sony NEX-5R
Sony NEX-5N« »- n 3.0 920 tilting Y 4000 10.0 n n Sony NEX-5N
Sony NEX-C3« »- n 3.0 920 tilting n 4000 5.5 n n Sony NEX-C3

One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The RX100 has one, while the CL does not. While the build-in flash of the RX100 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.

The reported shutter speed and shutter burst refer to the use of the mechanical shutter. In addition, the CL features an electronic shutter, which makes completely silent shooting possible. However, this mode is less suitable for photographing moving objects (rolling shutter) or shooting under artificial light sources (flickering).

The CL is a current model that online retailers, such as amazon, will have in stock. In contrast, the RX100 has been discontinued (but it can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the RX100 was succeeded by the Sony RX100 II.

Review summary: Sony RX100 vs Leica CL

So what conclusions can be drawn? Which of the two cameras – the Sony RX100 or the Leica CL – has the upper hand? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.

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Reasons to prefer the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100:

  • Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1229k vs 1040k dots).
  • Ready to shoot: Has a lens build-in, whereas the CL requires a separate lens.
  • More compact: Is smaller (102x58mm vs 131x78mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter even though it comes with a build-in lens (unlike the CL).
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (330 versus 220) on a single battery charge.
  • Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
  • Sharper images: Has hand-shake reducing image stabilization build-in.
  • 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 June 2012).

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Arguments in favor of the Leica CL (Typ 7323):

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (24.1 vs 20MP), which boosts linear resolution by 10%.
  • Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
  • Better image quality: Is equipped with a larger and more technologically advanced sensor.
  • Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/30p vs 1080/60p).
  • Easier framing: Has an electronic viewfinder for image framing and settings control.
  • Easier setting verification: Features a control panel on top to check shooting parameters.
  • 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.
  • Less disturbing: Has an electronic shutter option for completely silent shooting.
  • More flexible: Takes interchangeable lenses and can thus be used with specialty optics.
  • More prestigious: Has the Leica luxury appeal, which ensures a high resale value.
  • More modern: Reflects 5 years and 5 months of technical progress since the RX100 launch.

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the CL emerges as the winner of the match-up (12 : 10 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.

RX100 10:12 CL

In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras is instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the handling experience and imaging performance when actually working with the RX100 or the CL. 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 why expert reviews are important. 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
Model
cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
Sony RX100»HiRec78/1004/55/55/5 Jun 2012 649- i Sony RX100
Leica CL«----4/5 Nov 2017 2,795 i i Leica CL
Canon G9 X Mark II« »-75/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Jan 2017 529 i i Canon G9 X Mark II
Canon M6« »-80/1004/54.5/54/5 Feb 2017 779 i i Canon M6
Canon SL2« »HiRec78/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Jun 2017 549 i i Canon SL2
Canon G9 X« »HiRec-4.5/54/54.5/5 Oct 2015 529- i Canon G9 X
Canon G7 X« »HiRec77/1004.5/53.5/54.5/5 Sep 2014 699- i Canon G7 X
Leica C-LUX« »----4/5 Jun 2018 1,049 i i Leica C-LUX
Leica TL2« »--4/5-4/5 Jul 2017 1,950 i i Leica TL2
Leica TL« »----4/5 Nov 2016 1,695- i Leica TL
Sony RX100 IV« »HiRec85/1004/54.5/54.5/5 Jun 2015 999- i Sony RX100 IV
Sony A5100« »Rec-4.5/54.5/55/5 Aug 2014 549 i i Sony A5100
Sony RX100 III« »HiRec82/1004.5/54.5/55/5 May 2014 799- i Sony RX100 III
Sony RX100 II« »HiRec79/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Jun 2013 749- i Sony RX100 II
Sony NEX-5R« »--4.5/5-4.5/5 Aug 2012 749- i Sony NEX-5R
Sony NEX-5N« »HiRec79/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Aug 2011 699- i Sony NEX-5N
Sony NEX-C3« »HiRec74/1004.5/54.5/54/5 Jun 2011 599- i Sony NEX-C3

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.

 

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. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting. If you do not see the camera that you are looking for, kindly get in touch, and I will try to locate and add the respective data to the application.

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