In our Sony RX1 R II vs Leica Q (Typ 116) comparison we look at the features of these two full-frame fixed lens compact cameras to see which one provides the best overall package.

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In the three years since Sony announced its first generation of RX1 camera, there’s been some very interesting developments in the camera market. The latest announcement, the Sony RX1 R II, brings with it some exciting new technologies which could perhaps see it crowned as the ultimate pocket, or carry-around, camera.

However, where once Sony stood pretty much alone in offering a full-frame compact camera, Leica joined the party earlier in 2015 with its Leica Q (Typ 116) camera, which also has a full-frame sensor. In this piece, we’re going to look at the differences between the two premium offerings to see which one stacks up (on paper at least) as the better option.

Sony RX1 R II vs Leica Q 116: sensor

Both the cameras feature full-frame sensors, with the Leica Q’s offering 24.2 million pixels. Meanwhile, the Sony RX1 R II comes close to doubling that number with a whopping 42.4 million.

The Sony also features a special new design, which it is calling a world’s first, in the form of a “variable” optical low pass filter over the sensor. In basic terms, this means that you can alter the strength of the low pass filter depending on the subject you’re shooting. So, if it’s something that could cause moire patterning, you switch it on, but if it’s something unlikely to do that (such as a landscape) you can switch it off and get the best possible detail in your shot.

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Sony RX1 R II vs Leica Q 116: lens

The Leica Q has a Leica Summiliux 28mm f/1.7 ASPH lens which features 11 elements in 9 groups and 3 aspherical elements. The Sony, as with the previous RX1 cameras, has a narrower Zeiss Sonnar T* 35mm f/2.0 offering with 8 elements in 7 groups and 3 aspherical elements. An advanced aspherical (AA) lens element in the Zeiss lens helps it maintain a small size.

The Leica Q’s lens is both half a stop faster, and includes optical image stabilisation, which gives it a big advantage when shooting in low light.

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Sony RX1 R II vs Leica Q 116: screen

Despite being an electronics giant, Sony is continuing to be resistant to including touchscreens on its premium RX range of cameras. However, one improvement the RX1 R II has over its predecessor is that it now tilts upwards and downwards for help when shooting from awkward angles. It features 1,229k dots, and is three-inches.

The Leica Q’s screen is also three inches, but has slightly fewer dots at 1040k. However, it is touch sensitive, so you can make changes to certain settings, scroll through pictures and set autofocus point with a touch.

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Sony RX1 R II vs Leica Q 116: viewfinder

The Leica Q has a fixed electronic viewfinder which features an eye-sensor for automatically detecting when you have lifted the camera to your eye. Its ultra high resolution at 3.68 million pixels make it one of the best on the market.

Originally, the Sony RX1/R didn’t have a viewfinder, but Sony has added one for its newest generation. Like the RX100 IV, the XGA OLED TruFinder found on the Sony RX1 R II has a retractable design which means you can push it back into the body of the camera to save space. With 2,359 million dots, it’s not quite as high resolution as the Leica, though.

Sony RX1 R II vs Leica Q 116: autofocus

One of the problems of the original Sony RX1 was its relatively slow focusing, but Sony says it has addressed this problem with a 30% increase in focusing speed. There are 399 phase detection AF points, or 25 contrast detection points.

At the time of launch, Leica claimed that the Q had the fastest autofocus of its class, making it quicker than the original RX1R with a suggested focusing time of just 0.15seconds.

Both cameras also feature a macro focusing setting, as well as the option to manual focus.

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Sony RX1 R II vs Leica Q 116: sensitivity

The native range of the Leica Q is ISO 100 to the incredibly high ISO 50,000. Meanwhile, the Sony RX1 R has a native offering of 100 – 25600, but, there is the option to expand that offering down to ISO 50, and up all the way to ISO 102400.

Sony RX1 R II vs Leica Q 116: shutter speeds

Leica has included both an electronic and mechanical shutter for the Q, which means that it can shoot from 30 seconds to 1/2000 second with the mechanical, or 1/2500 to the incredibly quick 1/16000 with the electronic shutter. Super fast speeds are very useful when shooting at wide apertures in bright daylight.

By contrast, the Sony is only capable of offering 30 seconds up to 1/4000 – and it can only manage 1/2000 if shooting at the full wide f/2 aperture the lens offers, which means you may have to use a neutral density filter to shoot wide open in bright light.

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Sony RX1 R II vs Leica Q 116: continuous shooting

Neither of these cameras would necessarily be the first choice for action photography, but both can shoot pretty quickly. The RX1 R II manages up to 5 frames per second, but the Leica Q doubles this to fully 10 fps – once advantage of having a lower pixel count and therefore less data to process for every shot.

Sony RX1 R II vs Leica Q 116: battery life

Battery life is a problem which plagues small premium cameras such as the Sony RX1 R II and the Leica Q.

There’s no official CIPA rating for the Q, but reviews suggest that battery life could be better.

However, the same could be said of the Sony RX1 R II – with a quoted life of just 220 shots, or 200 shots if you use the viewfinder, it may not last a full day of shooting.

Sony RX1 R II vs Leica Q 116: Wi-Fi

Both of the cameras feature Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity for easily sharing your shots between devices, or taking remote control of the camera. With the Sony, you can also add PlayMemories apps from Sony’s store to increase the functionality of the camera.

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Sony RX1 R II vs Leica Q 116: size and weight

Neither of these cameras are going to be able to slip neatly into a tight jeans pocket, but for the specification they offer, the size is still pretty impressive.

The Sony wins out in terms of size and weight here, being noticeably smaller and lighter – at 113.3 x 65.4 x 72.0mm it’s roughly the same size as the RX100 IV when its lens is extended. in contrast the Leica Q measures 130 x 80 x 93mm.

Weighing in at 640g (with battery), the Leica Q is over 130g heavier than the 507g Sony RX1 R II (also with battery).

Sony RX1 R II vs Leica Q 116: price

Ah, the biggest sticking point when it comes to choosing between these two cameras is likely to be its price.

You pay a premium for having that Leica badge, and the Q will set you back a cool £2,900. The Sony undercuts that price by around £300 – a price tag of £2,600 still isn’t cheap, but at least you’ll have some cash left over to buy some accessories.

The Leica Q is available to buy now, while the Sony RX1 R II goes on sale from December.

  • LD50

    Actually, that’s not the most important factor. The most important factor is ‘getting the shot you want’. That requires things like a good viewfinder, fast shutter release, accurate/fast and easy focussing, proper feedback… Lots of things. A decent lens and good sensor, ADC and processor are nice to have too, of course 🙂

  • Weihan Xingqi

    It is astonishing that reviews and comparisons of cameras mention everything under the sun EXCEPT the most important factor in purchasing a camera: IMAGE QUALITY!

  • Paul Newman

    Depending on the intended use I would suggest reliability should also be a key deciding factor, Leica has not covered itself in glory in the last few years with just way too many issues (minor and major) with cameras that cost what they do and are marketed as “the best money can buy”, which for a lot of M8 and M9 owners simply has not been the case.

  • Mojave_Brave

    In journalism “we” implies the Editorial We, i.e. The Staff. Always been so. I guess the phrase “…to see which one stacks up as…better…” made me feel the staff would offer its opinion. But never mind me, I’m just a semantic stickler. Thanks for trying to clear it up.

  • devtank

    I demand my money back for both as neither of them have HDR mode!

  • devtank

    Well do you think that Amateur Photographer is one person?
    “we” implies nothing.

  • devtank

    I plead the fifth.

  • kent

    What is this thing “paper” that you speak of?

  • Mojave_Brave

    Thank you Richard Poole! Good stuff. True they both look fantastic.

  • Diane Danthony

    Thank you devtank and Richard Poole.
    So, here’s my dilemma: I have an A7ii and I love the 35mm focal length, but need AF.
    So, $ withstanding, lens for lens — if it was between the Zeiss Distagon 35 1.4 (big, heavy, beautiful IQ) on my A7 or this fixed lens camera (I’ve read this camera has amazing IQ and character and could also be a great street camera), which would you do?
    Any opinions appreciated.

  • Richard Poole

    In this case, best is subjective, a bit like choosing a Ferrari or Lamborghini, both are fantastic and it really comes down to personal choice based on their relative strengths.

    Both look to be fantastic but there are quite a few differences that ought to make the decision pretty simple:

    Prefer 28mm or 35mm? Easy choice!
    Prefer Sony or Leica rendering? Easy choice
    Need the smallest size? RX1Rii
    Like shooting MF? Leica Q
    Want highest MP? RX1Rii
    Want better ergonomics? Leica Q (IMO)

    Some people will always look to pick a clear winner but in this case I don’t think there is one. Whichever you chose, you would struggle to be disappointed!

  • Richard Poole

    Yes it does, the upside is fantastic image quality, the downside is a slightly noisy and not particularly fast AF motor.

  • Mojave_Brave

    Right, except the article doesn’t say that. Twice the text states “…WE look at the features…” “…WE’re going to look at the differences…” “…to see which one stacks up as the better option,” implying that some editorial conclusion will follow, as it does so often in articles such as this.

  • devtank

    Thats exactly why articles like this are written, so you can take the information, write it down on a piece of paper and make your own decision based on your needs.

  • devtank

    It does.

  • Diane Danthony

    Very interested about in this camera, but before I go any further I need to know if the new RX has the same lens as the original RX1? Thank you

  • Mojave_Brave

    So…which camera provides the best overall package?