Leica X2, Sony NEX-7 and Olympus OM-D – One more quick comparison!

Leica X2, Sony NEX-7 and Olympus OM-D – One more quick comparison! Sharpness, color and DOF

Just thought I would post one more comparison between these three cameras while I could. Basically, this is just to show what will come out of each camera in the same light, same moment, same aperture. Each camera was shot at its base ISO of either 100 or 200 and the matrix/evaluative style metering was used on each camera so it could choose its own exposure. Just wanted to show what comes out in regards to sharpness, depth of field and color. DOF will be different on the Olympus as I am using a 25mm lens on a 2X crop sensor. Still, what you see is what you get. X2 and NEX-7 will give a 35mm equivalent and the 25 on the OM-D a 50mm Equivalent.

Each image was resized down to OM-D size of 16MP. So the Sony was resized from its native 24MP to 16. You can click on any image for the full size file, processed from RAW.


  1. I think OM-D is better choice in terms of sharpness, lens variety, speed and price. These are my expectations…
    BTW, It’s great comparison…

  2. It looks to me, the color on the picture taken by NEX-7 is a bit flat compare to the others. If you look at the skin tone of the person holding up the book, NEX-7 picture is a bit pale. I seem to encounter this same issue when shooting my NEX-7. I’m pretty new to photography, so my observation can be a little bit off. Do you suppose to change your white balance in every environment or should the camera do a decent job setting it. If so, I would say Olympus E-M5 has a better color accuracy than Sony NEX-7 and I’m shooting both.

  3. Hi Mo,
    Ja, that is exactly the technique we are using to develop the new Leica MPH ( Leica M pin hole ) special limited edition.So expect the price to be just a little more than the Leica Monocrom. This may at first seem to be slightly expensive but for those dedicated photographers who can really appreciate the results obtained from a pinhole objectiv and want to get the very best from this type of camera, it is actually quite reasonable, and of course…it’s a Leica.

  4. Thorkil I absolutely agree with you that Leica colors are the best. You can prove this quite easily.Take two empty cereal boxes and paint the insides black. In a dark room carefully fit a strip of 35mm film (Kodachrome works best but you can use anything you like) in each box. Make sure the boxes are light tight. Now on the opposite side of the box from where you placed the film strips, you are going to make a tiny pin hole. Do the same on each box EXCEPT… for box No.1 use an ordinary pin and for box No,2 use a Leica pin.You can even write LEICA in red on the second box if you like just so you don’t forget.
    Now you are ready to take pictures. Cover the pinholes with black tape, Find a good subject. Whip off the tape for a while to make an exposure ( best to experiment). Next develop the film strips in the old way and make two identical size prints.
    Make a good pot of tea and drink it. I find this helps concentration.
    Look closely at the prints for at least an hour. You will see quite clearly that the picture taken with the LEICA pinhole is much superior. Color will be more saturated.The more you look the more you will see that the Leica pinhole image despite using no glass whatsoever, still gives a much superior image.
    Quite amazing really.

    • Hi Steve,
      I like your strip.

      The only detail you missed to mention was that you make the Leica pinhole with the cereal box clamped on a well-damped sturdy table, guided with laser and a magnifier, and you test it under magnification for ragged edges. You discard the camera if the hole has ragged edges and you start over again. And mind you, you may have to get a PhD and should have worked as an apprentice under a master craftsman before you even start touching the metal can.


  5. Steve,

    Am I onto something with the following? If I were to set/buy one of these systems to accomplish the shot you presented, I would need around $1,800 for the OM-D+25mm lens, $2,000 for the X2, or $2,600 for the NEX-7+Zeiss lens..?

    I know you get more options with the NEX-7, but it doesn’t seem that “out of your mind” to pay for the X2, being the smallest setup of the group, design with quality in mind and built for simplicity. (Just like you said in your review.) What do you think?

    Thanks for your work.

    • $1800 for the OM-D, kit zoom and 25 1.4
      $2220 for the X2 and Oly EVF
      $2300 for the NEX-7 and Zeiss 24

      So yes, the NEX-7 is a little MORE than the X2 for an equivilant lens combo. Except the Sony is much faster, takes great video, has a faster Zeiss lens at 1.8 vs 2.8, tilt high res LCD, built in OLED EVF and computer like customization (if that is your thing, it is NOT mine) – The X2 is much more attractive to look at, smaller, and simpler to use but the Sony gives more for the $$. I still prefer the X2 IQ though over the Sony.

      The real question comes when you factor in the X100. At $1199 you get a great OVF/EVF, faster AF, faster lens, possibly better high ISO capability, and really cool design/style. Over $1000 less than the X2 and Oly EVF combo and $1400 less than the X2/Leica EVF combo. I think the X100 may be the most X2 like, offering more for less cash. Now…the X2 is a luxury item..you get the Leica name, made in Germany sticker and awesome packaging and again, looks. You also will not have a sticky aperture blade issue with the X2 so when you think about it, the X2 is not really that overpriced when you take into consideration that it is a made in Germany real Leica.

      Also, the OM-D and 25 1.4 combo is $1800 but offers the most for the $$ out of all of them though there is no real AF fast 35mm equiv for Micro 4/3 yet. The 17 2.8 is good but not stellar.

      • Hi Steve!
        But don’t you think the colours are fare better on the X2 than those from the X100.
        From what I’ve seen I’ve though the fuji colours wasn’t spot on like the Leica-colours?
        What do you think?

      • NEX 7 USD 1200, Sigma 30mm f2.8 USD 200=USD 1400. The SIgma has a higher resolution than even the USD 4000 Leica Summilux asph 50mm and beats the Zeiss 24 by quite a margin.

  6. The head/hair above the orange thing on the Leica X2 photo looks just horrible. Completly wrong turquoise(ish) color. Also the out of focus background is very busy on the X2. Think I’m preferring the NEX7.

    • Agreed….that hair….seriously a turn-off for anyone that might otherwise think about getting a X2

  7. Man these cameras are bad. The autofocus seems to have been too slow and the face recognition has failed completely! We can’t see the subject clearly in any of the test shots! i compared the orange color to REAL oranges on my desk and in these shots..it isn’t even close. All three lenses demonstrate size distortion. Look at the size of the hands compared to the head and you’ll see what I mean. What these three images show is that digital is much worse than film and that it is really difficult to get enough depth of field when using a digital sensor. A real disadvantage for those of us interested in landscapes.
    Look at the size of the head in the shot with the OMD. The camera makes it look much bigger than it really is, while the Leica X2 makes it look smaller. The biggest problem for me with all of these cameras is the lack of pixels. I know I’m only looking at the images on my computer but even with my reading glasses on I can’t make out the pixels. If I’m going to spend this much on any of these camera systems I want to be able to SEE the pixels.
    Don’t buy any of these products. and whatever you do, don’t take this seriously.
    As Steve says, it’s all in fun!

  8. Your comparisons are alway fun to see.In this case I’m torn between all three.

    Please keep them coming!

  9. As Ron points out, all three have their good points, and their bad points. My wife owns a OM-D and I the V1, and we both have a NEX-5N and a Pentax K-5 each, and quite a few of our lenses we swap back and forth using various adapters.

    Very reluctantly, I have to confess that the miracle from two years back, the K-5, looks a litttle dated. And heavy, even though the K-5 is quite light, compared to many other serious APS-C cameras.

    First, ithe K-5, in auto, or P, seldom manage to take as sharp pictures as the other three (my 5N is only used with the Zeiss-branded 1.8/24, and Pentax FA primes). I would even say that the quite much simpler and lighter K-x often is better.

    Secondly, the focusing speed of the OM-D, and the V1, is simply stunning. The Olympus quickly focuses on any bird flying overhead, while with the Pentax it is close to impossible. The NEX, with its lovely ‘peaking’ makes focusing manually very easy, but flying birds it is not very good at. The V1, with Series 1 lenses, almost manages it, but not as tack sharp as the OM-D, and with NIkon AF-S G Lenses it very seldom does. So the K-5 is the loser here, too!

    In very low light, without focusing assist lights, the losers are defintely the V1 and NEX, at least when used with the Zeiss, as it has no anti-shake. The K-5 can handle higher ISO than the OM-D, but in practical terms the OM-D is easier to use and focuses again faster.

    In weight terms, the complete V1 kit weighs less than one kilo (V1, 10-30, 30-110, flash, and a spare battery) and just a kilo extra gives me an equivalent zoom range of 816mm, through the use of a 70-300, and the TF1 adapter. The K-5, plus lenses that would cover the same range, would be, even if I used my lightest lenses, much, much, heavier, and bulkier.

    So I think future looks like this: I’ll get myself a nice wide lens for the NEX, to complement its 24, and keep it for panoramas, and other tripod shots. The K-5s, and the FA lenses, will be sold to finance an OM-D for me, and a V1 for my wife, plus a few new lenses for those cameras.

    Unless Pentax comes out with something spectacular, soon!

    • Hi Tord
      Why would you want both the v1 and om-d? Does the om-d not do everything just as good, if not better than the v1?

      • My comment exactly. I have a V1, but the OMD really makes it redundant, especially since there’s still no fast normal lens for the V1.

        My future is: Even though the Nikon is a really nice camera, it’s going to eBay.

        • The thing with the V1 is it’s superb with long lenses – the cheapish 70-300 will equal a 814mm lens, and I used it with a 1.4X converter with no issues at all, but that you have to focus manually and have a good support and sunshine!

          To get a similar result with the OM-D you need at least 400mm focal length, and then you need a really good lens. And an adapter, of course. And it will either be very expensive, or, if you find some old lenses that might work, manual focus!

          Yeah, with the V1 I get autofocus with my 70-300, if the light is enough. I just love the quality of the pictures – will post soon as I get back to Sweden.

  10. Isn’t anyone sick of camera contests yet? This is getting ridiculous… always comparing specs and web photos.

    • Yes, long since sick of as it really proves nothing. It’s more a willy waving exercise than anything of ANY REAL meaning or importance for a photographer, i.e. Someone that actually goes out, takes photographs and get’s them PRINTED and hung as opposed to just talking about how great Camera X is compared to camera Y.

      Any of these cameras would be more than fine, compare results and you will find differences – Shock Horror! Use ANY one of them and don’t compare them and you will be more than happy with the results. End of. 6 MP is more than almost anyone needs anyways, why I shot a motor racing event last weekend and the guy stood next to me was shooting an Olympus E-1. **4.5 MP** A top motor sports photographer who knows what he is doing yet fails to see ANY need to upgrade and his images are miles better than anything I can put out even if I was shooting a Nikon D4.

      I share you’re woes John, I mean can anyone imagine Edward Weston or Richard Avedon sitting in front of a computer and comparing 100% blow ups of different cameras? Hahahaha right! – No, they selected their tool and went out and shot photos instead of wasting their valuable time. Talking about it was not their skill it was DOING it. The internet has a lot to answer for. {sigh}

      • AMEN!!! +++++1
        Thank you Cidereye for putting it so well….this is the essence of a significant problem these days, particularly in the consumer electronic business. Which is sadly all that cameras are lumped into now. It’s rarely about photography and creativity, and more about fighting over the latest ‘best’ camera. We bicker about megapixels, always waiting for the “iPhone 5” to take away our disappointments at the iPhone 4, etc.

      • What the comparison really shows is that ALL modern cameras are good enough that quibbling about them is silly.

        People are reduced to comparing tiny differences in contrast, exposure, color balance, etc., but no one has mentioned that all of these are adjustable. If you cared enough, you could probably adjust the cameras until all three pictures were identical, except for lens effects.

        Plus, I’d be willing to bet that most of the differences in sharpness are due to small focus errors.

    • Comparing cameras, talking about cameras, waiting for the next big camera to get released and then being the first to get one so you can post and compare it with others with the same interest on the internet, that all is a big hobby these days.

      Back in the day we only had photography, actual taking pictures, but now, we can buy and collect and debate camera equipment as a hobby in itself.

      Cameras have gone from a basic tool for those whom enjoy taking photos to something akin to a male fashion accessory or a ticket into an exclusive online community.

      Buy a NEX7, you get to join the NEX7 forum and suddenly have a bunch of “friends” who also own the same camera. In a way its no different than buying a Mazda Miata and going to Miata gatherings I suppose

      Just modern life basically and the human condition

      • I’m pick’n up whatcha putt’n down – but a NEX7 compared to Miata? – no way. Save the Miata for m4/3. Let’s use a Lexus LFA for the NEX-7. Yeah, now let’s try that again…

        “…its no different than buying a Lexus LFA and going to LFA gatherings I suppose…”

        See, much better. And you can pick something for the X2, like the Audi R8 or something.

      • Actually, “back in the day” there WAS a lot of tech-head quibbling about camera brands.

        But there wasn’t any internet.

        • And “back in the day” there wasn’t much of an internet right? I mean, I can’t help but think if there were no digital camera’s as such, then you’d all be bickering over lenses and film.

          Kodak employee, raises arm, “uh, yes please…”

        • Very true Parisi, but let’s look to the past to teach us the future.

          Nikon F/F2 – 1959 – 1980 – A lifespan of some 21 years and with precious few changes, I still own an F2AS myself and use it.

          Nikon F3 – 1980 – 2002 – A lifespan of some 22 years!!! I own & still use one also.

          Canon EOS 50D – 6/10/2008 – 26/6/2010 – A PATHETIC lifespan of just over 18 months until …….

          Canon EOS 60D – 26/6/2010 – ???

          It is not the camera, it is what you do with it and that comes with time & experience – ***THERE IS NO OTHER SUBSTITUTE – IT IS THE ONLY WAY!!!***

          Learn your camera, learn your craft v Swap & change your gear every few months and gain NOTHING, ZILCH, NADA! We all have a choice, but the last choice listed is stupid, wasteful and at all odds against progression of advancing in ANY art. The only thing you do is benefit the camera manufacturers in peddling all this crap and ideology that the latest, greatest camera will turn you into HC-B when all it does its wastes your money and wastes your time.

          Only one principle that works – Get out and shoot, then shoot more and more and more ……!!!

  11. It’s difficult to say one image is better than the rest in every way. It is even difficult to say one image is very much better than the other two in any way. All three are very good. The really interesting thing is reading the diametrically opposed opinions. It convinces me of two things: all three camera/lens combos are capable of quality images and all three camera/lens combos have their fans with very subjective opinions. If image quality was the only thing I base my camera purchases on, I’d be happy with any of the three here.

  12. I think all three have done a good job of their evaluative metering, so close to each other, that not worth arguing about.

    Sharpness also reveals only subtle differences, well to my tired eyes, that again, I wouldn’t really want to argue the fine points one way or the other.

    I also find the subtle colour variations, in these pics at least, to be very close, and not worth fighting a corner for a specific one.

    Yes, bokeh is different, but whilst I accept that different lenses behave differently, and I do prefer some over others, this facet of performance comes lower down my list of my own priorities.

    So for me, on the basis of these pics, the cameras are so damn close in performance, that regrettably I find myself asking the same question as many others have posted and which is the one feature that really separates two from the third – the price of the X2 when you take into account of what it offers overall.

    • For me, the remarkable handling and speed of the OMD, and the selection of available lenses makes the sale.

      The price kills the X2 (although I’d like to buy a used one in two or three years).

      The lens situation kills the NEX. (And yes, I know you can adapt lots of other company’s lenses. But I can do that on the OMD too, if I want to.)

  13. Love this test….all usable, all very good, and all very editable when you develop in lightroom/photoshop whatever.

  14. As always Steve, kudos for a great site that keeps me coming back every day. I, like many other gear heads live for this stuff! It’s informative, entertaining, and for me, has influenced the decisions I have made when it comes to camera gear.

    I bought an M9 (thanks to you) and did not buy an X-Pro 1 (thanks to you). I’m still licking my wounds over the X-Pro 1, but grateful for your review (I thought for sure that camera was my soul mate.)

    Regarding this comparison, all three camera’s images are very good … I’m just not seeing the Leica image demonstrate why the X2 is a $2K camera, with half the features of the OM-D and NEX-7.

    Finally, on the topic of Leica – I think you’d regret giving up your M9-P for an MM. Resist the temptation … and keep up your great work here 🙂

  15. In my head: Overall appearance, the Leica X2 comes out as a winner, with the outmost nicest picture, but I’m very impressed by the way the OM-D is sharp. And for the Sony I think I have prejudices.

  16. Thank you Steve. Always intresant and dynamic reading. I agree with that, you and DigitalRev are the two that gives the most.

    I would like to know which of the three who earned the most accurate colors to how you experienced it with your eyes when you took the photos. Sure, all eyes may have been gouging you how colors are perceived but it is still relevant. I want the camera that provides the most reality-to-life colors. Exactly the way it was when you stood there.

    I think, especially the color of the wall in the background varies greatly across the three pictures.

    What do you say Steve? Which picture is best that you felt when you took it?

    (from Sweden)

  17. In my oppinion the Zeiss has the nicest bokeh of the three. The barn in the top right corner is rendered the most pleasant way. Same when you look at the wall.

    Each cameras sharpness and noise (or relative lack of) would be enough for me, even though the Olympus seems to show a little bit more noise in the darker areas.

  18. First-time post, tho I’ve enjoyed your blog for some time now. Thanks for all your good work.

    I honestly can’t tell the diff. The color of the NEX-7 image seems less saturated, but I like the richness of the OM-D. I think fingers on the left hand in the NEX image seem a bit soft, but that might just because they are in the sun, whereas they are in partial shadow in the other 2 pix. the right fingers in NEX also seem ever so slightly softer than the other 2, but I can’t really be sure at this size.

    The bokeh of the NEX seems the best of the bunch. Just compare the tree on upper left corner in NEX and Leica (OM-D doesn’t show it). And also the brick patterns on back, which the NEX blends into lovely creaminess. But that might not be totally fair either, since the OM-D pic was shot effectively on a 50mm and the NEX pic on a 36mm.

    If my eyes are not deceiving me, I think I like the NEX pic the best on strength of the bokeh.


  19. Sharpness:
    Clearly the OMD with Leica 25mm is much sharper than the others, with X2 second and Nex/Zeiss in third.

    Color based on the back wall:
    X2 has a green push, OMD/Leica is too magenta and Nex/Zeiss is just right, perfectly between the X2 and OMD. Typical warm Zeiss.

    Contrast based on shadow on book:
    OMD/Lecia combo has deepest blacks, Nex/Zeiss is a very close second and X2 is third.

    • good points. I see it like this:

      Bokeh – OMD 25mm nicest, X2, Nex / Zeiss

      contrast – NEX and X2 about the same. Not the OMD -> in reality for me there should be no black, its day time, there should still be some tone there.

      Colour – Nex / Zeiss…

      sharpness – OMD / Leica Summilux 25

      clearly though anyone with either of these camera’s should be happy:-)

    • The OMD sample looks blue to me. Steve said in an earlier post that he turned off the “Keep Warm Color” Menu option.

      When he suggested that, I tried it, but for me it made all neutral colors strongly blue, so I turned it back on.

      I think that change would make the OMD sample look more like the NEX.

      • You know, I agree! I ended up turning on my “warm color” WB option last night again as I was finding the results to be a bit on the cool side. Going to shoot more with the warm turned on again…Thanks for reading!

    • Actually exercising does provide value – weight loss, heart circulation, language skills, or (in your case) – exercise respect and appreciation for a fellow photographer displaying the very real world differences between lenses and sensors.

    • Man, these kind of comparison provide more value to me than all the other “technical review sites” together.
      Like Frank Zappa said: “A mind is like a parachute. It doesn’t work if it is not open.”

      Thanks Steve: it’s those “no value comparison” that makes your work so valuable !!!!


    • If I test three camera-lens combos, I would do exactly like Steve did. When you shoot, you frame the main subject where you want it to be and the background falls into place depending on the focal length of the lens. You can try to wiggle around a little bit but your focal length determines what you get as the background. So, these are the images I would end up with ultimately and comparing these is the most relevant test.

      If I like the framing of the X2 and the NEX, then for the OM-D I would have gone with the 20/1.7 but that is besides the point.

      • Yep…totally agree. Three cameras that people might consider and an entirely reasonable comparison. And like Steve said…if you don’t like it…don’t read it.

  20. I personally feel the results out of the NEX 7 might have won this comparison. Maybe its my screen and eyes but it looks great, not to sharp and not over saturated and slightly warmer than the other two. I see however the Olympus+Leica lens has the least amount of chromatic aberration. DOF is hands down best on the 24mm 1.8. Again opinion. All very useable shots, this is where cameras are coming down to what you like most since the gaps are all but filled in for IQ and performance

    • Agreed. The NEX 7 has been on my mind in many of these comparisons and seems to hold its own.

    • I really wish the cropping were the same for the OM-D as the other two cameras. The other two cameras show fringing in the upper left hand corner but, because of the cropping, we don’t know if there is fringing with the OM-D.

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