The Leica brand is to photography what the Rolls-Royce is to cars: both are synonymous with products of super luxury, high quality and with prices that are often incompatible with the budget of the common public. For anyone who has ever seen the house of the ” red flags ” like a wet dream fades and the idea of shelling out approximately $8,000 needed to buy an M9, the German manufacturer has developed a new Leica X Vario, which is midway between its line of compact large-sensor (Leica X2) and the aforementioned M-series, reaching the market at a price more than flashy, but closer to the ability of average consumers: $ 2,200.
Leica X Vario: Data Sheet
The heart of the Leica X Vario consists of a CMOS sensor in APS-C format 16 megapixel resolution, accompanied by a non-interchangeable zoom lens that covers the classic focal length 28-70 mm (35 mm format equivalent). The brightness of the lens is not among the strong points of this camera: the maximum aperture is respectively, in the wide-angle position and f/3.5 even f/6.4 in telephoto position, a choice that was rather challenged by Leica fans at the time of the announcement.
The rest of the technical equipment corresponds to an LCD screen 3-inch diagonal and a resolution of 920,000 pixels, a maximum gust to 5 frames per second, the ability to record movies at 1080p and 30fps, the inclusion of a small built-in flash (this is the sled for connecting external flash units) and an internal stabilization system that, though, it works very differently from traditional ones. When this is engaged, the Leica X Vario shoots two images in a sequence and then composed to create one the sharpest possible.
The system is rather limited, working only in certain shooting conditions, and in our testing has shown that it cannot compete with the efficiency of the most modern optical stabilizer, although it produces acceptable results and can be a little help in low light situations.
Very interesting is the use of a leaf shutter, which brings with it two major advantages: an almost completely silent shutter and the ability to synchronize the flash to the longest shutter speed (1/2000 of a second) to use the flash of feeling and erase shadows even in the presence of strong sunlight.
It should be noted the absence of an integrated electronic viewfinder, no choice but did turn up their nose to the fans. You can buy one separately, swivel and good quality, but it is an extra expense rather high (about $ 620), which adds a plus size. It is difficult, then, do not try a bit of disappointment when it turns out, printed above in this accessory, the ” made in China “, which really clashes with the tradition of a brand like Leica.
Leica X Vario: Construction and Design
The build quality of the Leica X Vario emphasizes the premium character of the camera: we are dealing with an object very different from traditional industrial products in Asia, with a feeling somewhat spartan, but certainly fascinating, almost handmade. The machine body is made entirely of metal and plastic materials of excellent workmanship.
The dials and switches are precise and solid, as well as the sliding of the elements that make up the lens. The only exception to this rule is the switch back to the cross, that clashes with the rest of the camera body both in terms of quality (plastics seem inferior) to that color choice, with its faux silver color that stands out in elegant back of X Vario.
As for the layout of the controls, the Leica X Vario invokes the manual settings of classical cameras, with shutter speed and aperture to be set through the two dedicated dials, and a manual focus ring on the lens barrel inserted directly. The automatics most essential are obviously present (Program, Shutter-priority and Aperture), but every other advanced functionality that we are accustomed to find in modern consumer cameras is proudly absent. Suppose, moreover, that the typical user of this camera will not feel the lack of features such as creative filters, scene modes, automatic panoramas etcetera.
Ergonomics and design are not the most studied elements of X Vario, showing an essential and not particularly compact dimension. To facilitate the grip, you can purchase additional grip, which certainly makes it more balanced between the camera body. The keys are all. Well positioned and easily accessible, apart from the one dedicated to the recovery of video: close to ring more commonly used (the set aperture), it is too often operated unintentionally.
Performance and Usability
In terms of rapidity of general operations, the Leica X Variois not lightning, but there is still a more than decent performance. The acquisition of the auto focus is fast and accurate enough in good light conditions, while remaining acceptable even when the brightness of the scene begins to set.
The maximum gust to 5 fps is certainly commendable, despite being limited to only 7 consecutive frames, and also in normal mode downtime between shots and the other are really reduced. The length of time, finally, is quite content and allows you to take promptly in any situation.
The menu navigation and image review are not as fast, but overall the experience of using the Leica X Vario is certainly enjoyable. Very commendable, for example, the ease with which it engages the manual focus: turning the dedicated ring on the lens barrel is activated in real-time magnification in the central area of the screen or the viewfinder, allowing you to accurately focuse and speed, a feature that lovers of photography old style most likely appreciate.
The only painful notes as usability are too few of uncertainty on the part of the firmware (in a two-week trial. We have witnessed several crashes, which required a reboot of the machine) and a battery that, with approximately 300 shots per charge, does not offer a duration able to detach significantly from that of a normal compact.
The Leica X Vario is a camera with a unique character, aimed at a target audience very different from the one identified as a mass consumer. To its high-quality, cameras are an almost Spartan simplicity and a price tag which, although reduced compared to the standard Leica, may still be disproportionate and certainly beyond the reach of many budgets.
With approximately $2,200 you can buy whole kit lenses and cameras best performing of this Leica X Vario in several respects (size, brightness of the optics, AF speed, automation, etc.), which are also equipped with large sensors and capable of provide high image quality. Who makes the budget and the quality / price ratio a key issue, you probably will not find here are particular reasons to get excited.
If you are lovers of photography old style, you want a relatively compact and versatile, able to capture excellent images and last but not least, you want to try the feeling of an object of technology is completely different from almost all industrial cameras manufactured in Asia, the Leica X Vario, while remaining decidedly expensive, may be an interesting choice and certainly become an excellent companion camera.
Where to Buy Leica X Vario
- Best in class image quality
- Newly Developed APS-C CMOS Sensor effective resolution of 16.1 Megapixels
- Newly developed Vario lens: Leica ELMAR 1:3.5-6.4/18-46mm (28-70mm equivalent)
Product prices and availability are subject to change. Any price and availablility information displayed on Amazon at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of any products.