Leica X Vario: Sensor

A Few Technical Data | A Collection of Opinions on the Sensor | Conclusions | References


This page discusses the sensor that is used in the Leica X Vario: a 16 Megapixels CMOS sensor built by Sony. Since this is not one of the newest sensors that are available, there were some debates in the photo forums about it. On this page, I collect a few technical data, available test results, and opinions on the sensor.


A Few Technical Data

Here are the most important technical data for the Leica X Vario's sensor:

The weak AA filter makes X Vario images appear slightly fuzzier at 100% view (pixel level) than those of cameras without such a filter. For example, the Leica T does not have an AA filter, and Leica T users find the images that the T produces sharper than the X Vario images at the pixel level.


A Collection of Opinions on the Sensor


Leica points out the combination of an APS-C sensor and the camera's zoom lens:

As already mentioned elsewhere, Leica seems to have overlooked the Ricoh GXR A16 camera unit...


DxO published the Leica X Vario sensor test results at the end of February 2014. In this test, the Leica X Vario achieves a DxOMark score of 78 points. DxO calls this "a good score for an APS-C size sensor." This score means that the camera is "on par with the new Sony A3000 sensor and the older Sony NEX-6."

Color discrimination (23.4 bits) and dynamic range (12.7 EV) are both rated "excellent." However, what really stands out for DxO is the sensor's low-light capabilities (achieving 1320 ISO) - they speak of a "formidable low-light performance" and call the camera an "excellent low light performer."

For details, see Leica X Vario sensor review: Formidable low-light performance (DxO sensor rating) and the references below.


Imaging Resource (from Review Summary): ... Combine the lens with an excellent 16.2 Megapixel, APS-C sensor and nimble processor, and the X Vario delivers tremendous image quality with incredibly accurate colors, with its high ISO results featuring a pleasing film-like grain.

Photo District News (PDN, Dan Havlik): The camera's APS-C chip, which is about the size of the sensor you'd find in an entry-level DSLR, also does an excellent job of handling noise in low light, letting you shoot at up to ISO 3200 while producing clean images that don't look overly processed.

Petapixel (Nelson Tan: Review: Leica X Vario Defies Naysayers with Impressive Optics): A 16MP APS-C CMOS sensor isn't too shabby, but it is not exactly cutting edge technology compared to many other 18/24MP APS-C sensors.



In the Leica X Vario (from 2013), Leica uses a "proven" 16 Megapixels CMOS sensor built by Sony that excels particularly in low light performance. Overall, although this is an "old" sensor, Leica seems to have exploited its capabilities well.

It looks as if the same sensor, except for the AA filter, is used in the new (2014) Leica T and probably in the Ricoh GR (without AA filter).

One might, of course, ask why Leica still uses older sensors with 16 Megapixels, whereas the competition already uses 20 MP or even 24 MP sensors in their new cameras. Probably, for marketing reasons, namely to make a difference to the Leica M (Typ 240)...



Below, I list references to sensor tests and other sensor-related stuff.


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