Jan 052010
 

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MY LEICA X1 REVIEW IS HERE!  IS THIS THE BEST COMPACT DIGITAL CAMERA EVER?

NEW – Update June 2012 – My Leica X2 review is HERE

OH MY GOODNESS! The last 3 weeks have been some of the funnest times and also some of the most frustrating times I have had shooting a camera. I have been shooting and vigorously testing a Leica X1 and man oh man, this thing is like a pack of firecrackers, with the occasional dud. Leica sent me the camera in all of its packaging, along with a grip and leather ever ready case for review and I have to say,  the packaging puts even Apple to shame! The X1 presentation is super fun.

But before I get started, I want to address those of you who have never read one of my reviews before. This review will be a REAL WORLD use review of the Leica X1. No charts, no boring graphs, and none of the nonsense that in all reality has absolutely NOTHING to do with real photography. I could care less what a chart shows me. I want to take the camera out in the real world and shoot the hell out of it. I want to see if it is dependable, how it holds up, as well as the quality and “usability factor” of the camera. Yes, taking real images should be the test of any camera so welcome to the beginning of what may just be my most lengthy review yet.

First off, since I want you to share the experience and excitement with me, check out this “un-boxing video” I made so you can see the care and love that went into the creation of the Leica X1 box:

Yes, it is true that packaging does not make or break a camera, but I have to give a point here for presentation. This is the best packaging I have ever seen for any camera, ever. When opening it for the first time you have a feeling like, “This has to be the best camera ever!” So, the packaging is awesome and Leica did a great job. What about the specs on the camera? Why is it so special and WHY on earth does it cost $2,000? Yes, this little guy is $2k, but look at it this way: It is about $4k cheaper than a used M8 and 24 Elmarit lens and about $900 more than an Olympus E-P2 with kit lens (E-P2 at Amazon). It has the red dot folks, and the name “Leica” and $2k in Leica land is pretty cheap these days. For those that can not shell out the big bucks for an M8 or M9 and a lens, the X1 looks like it could be the first “real” Leica for many photographers.

Let’s face it, the X1 is trying to be the best semi-compact on the market, but many were upset that the X1 was not an interchangeable lens camera. Leica decided to keep it simple, and therefore they built in a nice, high-quality lens into the X1. But is the Leica X1 up to the task of beating the Micro 4/3 cameras? At double the price of those hot cameras it really needs to have something special to get buyers to part with their hard earned cash. Others will buy it just because it is a Leica so no matter what, Leica will sell quite a few of these. What I wanted to know is if it was worth the premium in price over comparable cameras in PERFORMANCE and quality of image.

Let’s get to business and go over the features. But first, a photo from a store window display two days before Christmas. Click image for larger version.

Leica X1 – F4 – ISO 200 – 1/30s – This is the same look the M8 and 24 Elmarit gave me. Impressive OOC color.

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THE LEICA X1 FEATURES AND SPECS AS LISTED ON THE B&H PHOTO WEBSITE, WITH MY COMMENTARY ON EACH:

Large CMOS Sensor

The X1 is built around a 12.2MP CMOS image sensor that’s as large (23.6 x 15.8mm) as those in high-quality SLRs.

Yep! The Sensor in this camera is the big deal. Most compacts have tiny sensors and the only other semi-compact cameras that have somewhat large sensors are the micro 4/3 cameras, like the Panasonic GF1 and the Olympus E-P2. The X1 sensor is bigger than those and therefore will give you better image quality and high ISO quality. After three weeks with this camera, I can positively say yes, this sensor is superb for the X1. But new cameras on the horizon, like the Ricoh GXR and Samsung NX-10, also feature APS-C sensor sizes and come in somewhat cheaper while adding more flexibility with interchangeable lenses and even swappable sensors. But damn, this is a Leica and it has something about it that makes you fall for it! As for the sensor, it’s terrific and a great match for the X1.

The Leica Elmarit 24mm f/2.8 ASPH.

The Leica Elmarit 24 mm f/2.8 ASPH. is a true Leica non-interchangeable lens with superior optical performance. When seen in terms of 35-mm film format, it has a focal length of 35mm.

Many seem to think this is not a “real” Leica 24 Elmarit. Well, after 3 weeks of daily use, I can tell you it is a real Leica lens, or at least it performs like one. The X1 has been giving me the the quality I expect in a Leica lens. Yes the barrel is plastic, and the lens is less substantial, but the quality IS indeed there in the images.

Complete Control

In Automatic Mode, the camera takes control quickly, providing settings for precise exposures. With analog-style manual controls, using the wheels on top of the camera, the photographer can adjust shutter speed and aperture.

This is one of the things I love about the X1. It is simplicity at its finest… No menus to dig through, just dials. Rotate one dial to set your shutter speed and one to set your aperture. You can shoot in manual or A mode (aperture priority). There is also a dedicated ISO button on the back. My only complaint is that the dials move too easily and during my use they occasionally rotated away from where I had them set. They need to click into place with more authority because as it is, they are a bit too loose.

2.7″ Display

The bright 2.7″ display of the X1 almost fills the entire back of the camera and reveals the finest details even in bright surroundings.

Well, the LCD is not up to par with a Panny GF1 or the upcoming Samsung NX-10, but it does the job it is there to do. No issues or problems with the LCD. Hell, I am fine with the lousy M9 LCD, as it doesn’t make or break my images.

Live View

The live-view function replaces an optical viewfinder and shows an accurate preview with all essential image information. The Live Mode also makes the X1 particularly versatile for shots taken from unusual perspectives.

I did not have any problems shooting without a viewfinder. I actually had fun shooting the X1 using the LCD and if I bought one, would not buy the external VF.

Precision Autofocus

The autofocus of the X1 provides fast, precision focusing enabling photographers a choice of 1 or 11 AF segments and an additional high-speed mode for each.

Uggg. Fast should not really be mentioned here when talking about A. Precision, yes. Fast, not really. More on this later…

Face Detection Technology

When taking photos of people, face-recognition mode allows users complete concentration on the composition and framing of the picture.

I never use this feature and find it useless, but I guess some do use it. I have to be honest, I forgot to even try it. I’m not a “face detection” kind of guy, I guess.

Universal Formats

The X1 transforms image data into JPEG files for immediate use or photographers can choose to save images in the Adobe Digital Negative (DNG), a format that allows image-relevant exploitation of all the benefits of the recorded sensor data.

The JPG’s are great, but DNG is the way to go for serious work.

Retractable Flash

The LEICA X1 features a retractable flash, which serves as a main flash but can also be used as a fill-in flash and can be synchronized to the second shutter curtain. If more power and flexibility is required, the Leica SF 24D and SF 58 system flash units (not included) are also compatible.

The flash was never really used by me, but I did do a test shot or two and it is flashy just like any flash. It works fine. I like the way they implemented it in the camera and it adds to the style and design. Very unique.

Workflow Solution

With Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, a professional digital workflow solution, also available as an online download free of charge for all Leica X1 customers. It helps keep files organized and can process the X1 DNG raw files.

This is cool. You get a free full download of Adobe Lightroom with the purchase!

Precision Engineering

Product of 100-years of German engineering experience.

But remember 94 of those years were with film cameras! The previous compacts were made by Panasonic and this is Leica’s 1st “in-house” digital compact!

Warranty

2-Year International Warranty

So there you go. The X1 is a digital camera that is not filled with tons of gadgets and gimmiks. No art filters, no scene modes, and NO, it does not record video (but really, did we ever need that with film)?  Like I said, it is a Leica and it is made to do ONE job and do it well. With the way the internet is, the rumors on the forums are flowing with bad talk on the X1 and I am happy I was able to shoot with one for a while to see for myself if this is fact or fiction. But I admit, after holding this thing, I had some high hopes.

One thing you will notice is the camera does NOT have a viewfinder. It’s all on the LCD, but Leica is releasing an external VF and it is NOT an EVF. It is also going to be pricey at $349.95. You can see it here. IMO, this is a bit pricey for an old-style VF. They should have built one in to the camera IMO, like the old film CM’s.

THE CAMERA AND MY 1st IMPRESSIONS WHEN I FIRST HELD IT

When I first cracked the box of the X1 I imagined a small, light, sexy body was inside and I was NOT disappointed (as you saw in the video). This thing is GORGEOUS and looks like a slimmer mini steel grey M9. It looks like a Leica through and through. After handling it and drooling a bit, I charged up the battery and attached the leather strap that came in the box. While the battery was charging, I decided to get some shots of the camera for the review:

With the Grip which I HIGHLY recommend. I’m not a huge fan of the M9 grip, but feel it improves the X1′s feel greatly.

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Without the Grip…

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The Top Control Dials…

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The camera is sexy and sleek,  but lightweight. Do not expect to hold it and have it feel like a mini brick. It’s quite light and some may confuse this with low- build quality. I do not feel this way. After using it for 3 solid weeks I can say the build is decent (though the grey finish is fragile) and the camera is light for a reason. If it were as heavy as my M9, what would be the point of the camera? The X1 is meant to be a compact, light, take anywhere and everywhere camera and it succeeds in this regard.

I was not disappointed at all in the build. I mean, I feel the Canon 5DII’s build feels cheap-ish and that camera costs $2700. It has a creaky cheap plastic battery door (the 5DII) so the X1, for being $2,000, has decent build. Not great, not M-like, not Nikon D700 like, but  I really did not expect it to be for $2000 (remember, this is Leica land). As I said, do not expect an M build. It’s light and feels somewhat hollow.

Here it is next to my M9 and Noctilux. What a great looking pair, huh? It’s funny that the less expensive and smaller X1 has a larger LCD than the M9.

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I LOVE LEICA CAMERAS, BUT WILL THE X1 WIN ME OVER AS A COMPACT COMPANION FOR MY M9?

It begins…WEEK 1 with the X1…

Before I go into this review head on, I have to warn you that I am a Leica shooter and have been for a few years. I currently own and shoot an M9 and before that an M8.2 and M8. I love the design of rangefinder cameras as well as the small size and superb quality. My M9 has been my constant companion and goes with me EVERYWHERE! When I heard about the X1 and saw some of the early samples and then found out it was going to be $2000, I thought ,“Uh Oh…Leica is doomed!” With the great M4/3 cameras out like the Panasonic GF1 and Olympus E-P2 under $1,000, I knew the X1 would have a hard time competing at double the price. But then again, the X1 has that large APS-C sensor which should provide superior IQ, and then there are the Leica nuts like me who really want to love and own anything Leica.

But when the first Leica X1 samples hit the web, I was disappointed. They were not so hot. The color was bad, the images were overexposed, and they just did not look good to my eye. I decided right then and there that the X1 would not be for me. However, I was getting so many e-mails asking me when I would review it, so I asked Leica for a sample and they eventually sent me the camera along with the latest firmware (which is now V1.00).

It was perfect timing because I was planning a 3-day Chicago trip to shop and browse the shops before Christmas with the family. We had three days on Michigan Avenue and I planned to bring my M9 and Noctilux, the Olympus E-P2, the 14-42 Kit Zoom, and of course, the X1, which was to be with me at all times strapped around my body. I wanted to shoot it at low ISO, high ISO, as well as during the day and the night.

I heard about all of the Auto Focus chatter about how it was slow as molasses and I had a buddy who was shooting with the X1 as well. He also told me of the slower AF and how the camera was not up to par with the M4/3 cameras in the AF speed dept. So, I was prepared for the worst. But before I talk about the AF, let me share with you the first X1 image I took.

LEICA X1 FIRST SHOT AND OUT OF CAMERA JPEG QUALITY THOUGHTS.

Before we left, I snapped this image of my son with the X1 at F4 and ISO 100:

“Brandon” – Leica X1 at F4, ISO 100 – Slight PP for contrast and color desaturation – Click image for larger version

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WHOA! When I saw this on my new 27″ IMac, I was floored. The image above has had some SLIGHT PP and is from a converted RAW DNG, but even the JPEG was decent. What impressed me was the tonality, the richness, and the out-of-focus area. It was shot at F4 and still had some background blur. Nice. The color, detail, and tonality surprised me and right then and there I remember telling my wife that I wanted the camera. YES, I felt the IQ was stellar. Better than any compact I have tried to date, even the slow as a turtle Sigma DP1 and DP2. Oh yea, and the shutter is near silent. Just a faint click is all you hear. This is a good thing.

After checking out the RAW file, I opened up the JPEG and zoomed in to look at the 100% file. DAMN, the X1 JPEGs are not bad at all! Better than my M9 JPEGS–no doubt! Why are the M9′s JPEGs not even close? One thing was for sure, the X1 could be used as a JPEG-only camera if all you shoot is family snaps and casual pics. I thought that I read online that the X1 JPEGS pretty much sucked, but to me they are not bad at all. A little over sharp but that can be turned down in camera.

So Let me repeat…the JPEGS are great. They are so good in fact that I could see myself taking this camera with me and shooting JPEG’s and not worrying one bit about the quality. Since I would not use the X1 as a pro camera for paid jobs (though I would for landscapes), its duty would mainly be family snaps. For this, the X1 JPEG output would be great. DON’T GET ME WRONG, THOUGH! RAW is always best and will give you control over color, white balance, and all of that, but for fun everyday snaps, JPEG is fine. For serious work, RAW is best! Bottom line is I found the JPEG output to be the best I have seen in any digital camera since the old Digilux 2!

Below is a 100% crop from the untouched JPEG, then the RAW crop for comparison. As you can see, the in camera sharpening is a bit aggressive.

CROPJPEG

CROP

So you will not see any soft JPEG output with the X1, but shooting RAW will provide you with more control over your final result and give you smoother tones.

One more JPEG. Wow, this is SCARY good!

OK, WHAT ABOUT THE AUTO FOCUS? IS IT DOG SLOW, DECENT, OR FAST? CAN IT BE USED FOR STREET?

The big controversy with the X1 is all the talk about its Auto Focus being really slow. Well, I shot this camera during the day and during the night and can say that the AF is indeed slow. It’s not nearly as snappy or fast as a Panasonic GF1 (which is $899 with lens) and what I came to realize was that the X1 is NOT a camera for shooting action, decisive moment street, or basically anything that is moving quickly, as you will most likely miss it. It’s just not responsive enough for that kind of shooting. As much as I enjoy Leica cameras and lenses, and as much as I want to sit here and write that it is a faster camera for street shooting that a Panny GF1, I can not. But, it is also not as slow as some lead you to believe. Still, for $2,000, it should be better in the AF dept. and this is really the ONLY area where the X1 frustrated me at times.

Here is a short video I made showing you AF in low, medium, and brighter light. It took the X1 anywhere from 1 second to 3 seconds to lock focus.

You can indeed shoot on the street with this camera and I have done so, even at night. Just be prepared to miss some shots and to take more time getting a shot. Just remember, if you try to catch a decisive moment with the AF on the X1, you will need luck on your side. I feel an M is faster with manual focus. But for semi-stationary subjects, the X1 can be magical and it will reward you with quality better than ANY compact available today.

Here is an image I shot at night, but the guy was as stationary as can be. It took me about 1.5 seconds to lock focus for this shot and I probably could have been just as fast, if not faster with my M9. BUT….the quality I was able to get at night with high ISO has been absolutely AMAZING! This camera does high ISO better than the $7000 M9, better than ANY of the M4/3 cameras ,and it ranks up there with DSLR’s like the Nikon D300.

Leica X1 – ISO 1600 – F2.8 1/30s – Click image for larger version. Converted to B&W with Nik Silver Efex Pro. Download full size color version.

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So low-light quality is superb and this got me to thinking. If I shot this with the M9 and 35 Summicron at 2.8 and ISO 1600, I am guessing it would not be any better than this. Everything here is great. The detail, the sharpness, and the noise. The way the lens captured what light there was. The AF took about as long as it would take me to MF the M8 or M9, so the X1 may not really be such a problem with its slower AF. I started to think of it as a mini-M with a built-in 35 Elmarit 2.8 lens (I know there is no such thing as a 35 Elmarit, but the 24 on the X1 is a 35 2.8 Equiv) for $1995. Hmmmm.

Here is another image I shot. This one was at ISO 125, F4 at 1/30s. The AF locked fairly quick here (on the 2nd try), yet still took long enough for these guys to notice me and point at the camera. This is converted from RAW using ADC 5.6 and I desaturated the colors a bit. Click image for larger version.

streetdrumsclOPCP

and a couple more…

“Bear Paws” – Leica X1 – ISO 400 – F2.8 – No PP

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“Feeding the Pigeons” – Leica X1 – F2.8 – ISO 100 – B&W Mode

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So while I was walking the streets of Chicago with the X1 and Olympus E-P2, I would shoot all day and then go to my hotel room to check out the files. Every single time the X1 beat the E-P2 for image quality, especially at the higher ISO’s. Plain and simple. No contest. For all of you Leica lovers, The X1 does have that special Leica quality. The sharpness, the color, the detail. It’s all there. The files have a “brilliance,” much like the M9 with M glass and that is excellent. Before I received the camera, I was worried most about the image quality and it turns out that this is the cameras biggest and best strength.

HOWEVER, on the Olympus I was using the kit zoom. Not the best quality lens to go against the Leica. Still, to buy another higher quality lens for the E-P2 raises my investment there to about $1500, if I bought a Panasonic 20 1.7 for $399…Just $500 away from the Leica X1. Even with a 20 1.7, the E-P2 would be no match for the IQ of the X1 in the mid to higher ISO range.

While shooting, I did miss a few moments with the X1 due to the AF speed,  so I decided to try and use manual focus. I set the focus for 6 feet and shot a few as I walked. No go. While I managed to get some interesting images, nothing really stood out. Here is one image from that experiment:

L9990334

I am not a fan of the X1′s manual focus implementation. You have to turn a dial on the back of the camera to focus and it’s slow, cumbersome, and would take you 5X longer than using AF. Setting the MF for street using distance is kind of hit or miss and is not even close to using an M lens on an M8 or M9. Why didn’t Leica attach a lens with full manual control? That would have been sweet.

So the MF implementation could be improved and should be in the X2 or whatever is next when this camera is eventually upgraded/updated. Leica, give us faster AF and manual controls on the lens! You did it with the Digilux 2, why not the X1?

To get back on track and to answer the question about wether the X1 could be used as a street camera I would say YES it could… but be prepared for some frustrating moments. I suppose if you shot it on the street daily for a month you would eventually get to the point where you would be churning out some great images. The bottom line on the AF is that it is slower than the micro 4/3 Panasonic GF1. It’s ALMOST as fast as the Olympus E-P1/E-P2, so it is not “dog slow” or horrible. It is just not a fast, speedy camera. Like I said, if you plan to shoot mainly stationary subjects (I usually do), then the X1′s image quality actually sets the standard for compact cameras. If IQ is your thing and speed is not, you will love the X1.

After all, the X1 is NOT a DSLR and the AF is probably on par with the D-Lux 4. The X1 is sort of a D-Lux 4 on steroids now that I think of it.

HIGH ISO AND TAKE ANYWHERE SIZE = I LOVE X1!

One shot that I really liked was this one of me and my (NOW EX) wife. I set the X1 to ISO 3200 and held it up to the mirror as she kissed me. I converted it to B&W using Silver Efex Pro and here is the result:

Leica X1 – F2.8 – ISO 3200 – No noise reduction

STEVEANDMINASELF

This is one of my favorite images of recent months and if I tried this with my M9 it would be hit or miss. The X1′s AF worked fine here and snapped the shot. I was amazed at the quality for an ISO 3200 shot. This is something even the M9 could not do, as it does not go to 3200! But, I could have shot it at 1600 with a slower shutter speed. Still, I like the combo of the X1′s ISO 3200 and Black & White and the AF came through for me here no problem. BTW, it locked fairly quick here (E-P2 speed).

Another at ISO 3200. I just so happened to fire the shutter right when my son fired his D3000 shutter and flash:

XCH1

and here is one at ISO 1600 and F2.8 in VERY low light. Taken at Genos East in Chicago. They literally have NO LIGHT and the tables are VERY dark. It was not really a problem for the X1, even with its somewhat “slow” F2.8 lens. Converted to B&W:

MINAATGINOSop

After snapping that “kissing” image, the X1 seriously started to grow on me and I was compiling a ton of “keeper” images! I cannot fit them all here, but as you can see, this review is getting long and I have only shown you a few of the images so far! The X1 was a very easy camera for ME to like during week one. To some, the X1 will be the camera of their dreams. To others, it will not. It all depends on your AF expectations.

In the first paragraph of this review, I mentioned the X1 was like a pack of firecrackers with the occasional dud. What I meant by that is that the X1 has so much going for it with it’s style, size, and image quality, but the AF is the one thing holding it back. You may miss a few shots because of it. Again, it all comes down to what you shoot.

After the first week with the camera, I was actually loving it and did not mind the slower AF. The image quality made up for it in my mind and I put my name on my dealer’s list to buy one. I decided I would explain to the wife later and sell something to fund it. But, would week 2 with the camera change my mind? Would the honeymoon period end and more importantly, would the wife like it better than her new E-P2?

“Father and Son” – Shot by my (NOW EX) wife Mina with the Leica X1 – F2.8 – ISO 640 – Silver Efex Pro

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WEEK 2 & 3 WITH THE LEICA X1 & A COMPARISON WITH THE OLYMPUS E-P2

So week one went by and decided I wanted my own X1. I fell in love with the IQ and high ISO performance and while I was not thrilled with the sometimes slow response time, I realized 95% of my shots were of stationary subjects. Let’s get real. The X1 is not going to be bought by someone who shoots sports, action, or wildlife. It’s an everyday camera… One that you can take snapshots with, or even portraits. I see it as a tag along to a DSLR or an M8 or M9, even a replacement for those who shoot a D-Lux 4. The X1 is NOT a DSLR, so it is not going to have DSLR speed. Plain and Simple.

The question that kept going through my head was, “Is the $2,000 price tag worth it over the more versatile $1100 E-P2 or $900 GF1?” In other words, is the image quality THAT MUCH BETTER than the m4/3 cameras? Well, I decided to do some testing. Below you will see a shot of an old house. One shot was taken with the $2,000 LEICA X1, one with the $1,099 Olympus E-P2. Both were shot RAW and processed in ACR 5.6 using defaults.

The X1 and the E-P2 side by side…

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First the X1 shot. Click the image for larger 1400 pixel wide version:

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and now the Olympus E-P2 with Kit Zoom version:

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and the 100% crops

First the X1

x1oldhousecrposand the E-P2 crop:

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and the corners:

x1fullhousebrccropep2fullhousebrccrop

So, what does this tell me? It tells me that the Oly E-P2 is pretty damn good for the money and the X1 has a bit more dynamic range, less noise, and also has the better lens. The X1 is sharp corner to corner and the E-P2 loses sharpness in the corners. Still, the E-P2 did great in this comparison IMO. The AF speed for this shot was about equal for both cameras. About a second, maybe less.

How about an ISO comparison in low light? Here is a quick grab of my wife at about 5am one morning. It was still dark out. We were in the car and I grabbed one with the X1 at ISO 3200 and one with the E-P2 at ISO 1600. The X1 at 3200 beats the E-P2 at 1600.

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ep2earlymornfullsmall1600and some 100% crops…

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As I shot the X1 more and more I was still REALLY digging it.  I told the wife that we could sell her E-P2 if SHE wanted the X1! At this point she was not sure, as she did not shoot with it yet, but she was planning on it. We made a date to go out together and shoot some images with the X1 and E-P2.

Before we went out to shoot, I snapped this self portrait of myself in the bright light and thought it would be flat and harsh. While I do indeed look a bit harsh (due to my wrinkles that I somehow never noticed before), the X1 did amazingly well. The detail was superb (too much if you ask me, ha ha), and the DR was also great. Much better than the E-P2 could do in this situation with its kit zoom (I tried and it lacked the hyper detail, but a better lens would probably be closer).

“Winter Day Self Portrait” – Leica X1 at F2.8, ISO 100 – Silver Efex Pro and some CS4 tweaking

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“Chevy Man” – 2011

How about some full size samples?

So we took a drive and shot on a cold-ass winter’s day in Chicago. My hands were numb and the plan was for me to shoot the Olympus for the first part of the day and my wife the X1. After 30 minutes, she wanted her Oly back. She said it was more fun because she liked the EVF and it seemed quicker. Uh oh! She adored the X1′s style and look, but said it seemed less responsive than the E-P2. I have to agree. While the AF is about equal with the two cameras, for some reason, the E-P2 just feels quicker. Besides, she is not as obsessive as I am about image quality. She goes for fun factor and she preferred the E-P2.

But again, I will say it one more time…the X1 delivers the best IQ I have seen from any compact camera. It’s sharp corner to corner, has superb color, and you do indeed see the “Leica look” in many of the images. I have no complaints on the IQ, the feel, or the style.

Mina shooting her E-P2  - Leica X1 at F2.8 and ISO 100 straight from camera – Click here for beautiful full size out of camera image

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F4 – ISO 640 – Straight From Camera – NO PP

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F4 – ISO 320 – Straight From Camera  - NO PP –  Download FULL size JPEG HERE

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“Chicago Theater” – Leica X1 at F2.8 – ISO 100 – Click here for full size to see the detail!

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So, did I keep my order for one? After three weeks with the Leica X1 and the Olympus E-P2, we decided to NOT buy an X1, but this is because the E-P2/X1 was going to be my wife’s camera. She prefers the E-P2 for its looks, EVF, and art filters. I prefer the image quality and design of the X1, but what she says goes when it comes to “her” camera! Also, in reality, the E-P2 is more versatile with the ability to change lenses and add a macro, telephoto, or specialty lens. My heart was with the Leica, but my wife was thinking in reality. At almost $1000 less, the E-P2 would suit her needs just fine.

When it was all said and done and I was packaging up the X1 to send back to Leica, I knew I would miss it. To me, it was almost like having a miniature M8 with 24 Elmarit attached. Yes, the camera is slow. Even starting up can be slow, and after it powers on it seems like it wants to take a second or so before it will even AF at all. There were three occasions where I would turn off the camera and it would hang. The lens would not go back in. I had to turn it on and then off again. Powering down is also a slow-going affair. It’s just a slow camera and not something you would expect in a $2,000 camera in 2010, but even the $6000 M8 was full of quirks. That did not stop it from being one of the best photographic tools I have ever used.

Is the Leica X1 too expensive at $2,000? Well, when you compare it to an Olympus E-P2 setup maybe it is, but as I said, we are in Leica Land here and $2,000 for a Leica camera is pretty cheap when you look at their other offerings. M9 – $7000, S2 – $23,000, Noctilux 0.95 Lens – $10,000. I could go on and on. When looking at these prices, the X1 looks pretty cheap!

Here are my pros and cons of the Leica X1:

PROS:

  • It is small and light, but beautiful. Most attractive compact on the market.
  • The image quality is impressive and sets the standard for a smaller compact camera.
  • The shutter is QUIET. No one will even know you took an image.
  • High ISO is AMAZING and kills any and all compact cameras (that I have tried. I hear the Ricoh GXR is great at high ISO).
  • 35Mm equivalent Elmarit lens is superb and being 2.8 is no problem with the high ISO capability of the X1.
  • The color, auto-white balance, and exposure is superb.
  • Comes with a FREE download of Lightroom.
  • Small enough to truly take anywhere.
  • Great out of camera JPEGs.
  • The optional grip feels excellent on the camera and gives it a sturdier feel.
  • The menu system is easy and simple to navigate and understand.

CONS:

  • Camera slower to AF than newer cameras on the market.
  • Battery life not the greatest. I was able to get about 200 shots per charge.
  • Finish seems fragile, not meant for abuse or rough use.
  • Dial move to easily and sometimes moved from their set positions. Leica needs to make the dials a bit more harder to move.
  • Aperture and Shutter speed dials seem loose and easily move out of place. Should be firmer.
  • More pricey than the m 4/3 cameras which are its main competition due to size.
  • To some, no video will be a con. For me, no biggie.
  • Write times are a bit slow and playing back images are slower than average (so is my M9)
  • No way to lock exposure in any mode other than manual mode. I would like to see an Exposure Lock Button.

Here is another video showing the menu system of the X1 which is much like the M9:

THE ACCESSORIES

Leica has designed and released some cool accessories for the X1 camera. They sent me the grip and ever ready case and I really loved the grip. I highly recommend it to anyone buying an X1. I tried the case but it kept falling off as there was no way to fasten it to the camera when just using the bottom half. They did not sent me the Viewfinder so I did not test it. There is also a system case and a D-Lux 4 style case available.

MY FINAL THOUGHTS ON THE X1, AND WHAT SHOULD YOU BUY FOR YOUR COMPACT HIGH QUALITY NEEDS?

I have been writing this review for the past few days and really trying to figure out my true feelings on the X1. On one hand, I love it for everything that it is and that it stands for. High-quality images, simplicity, beautiful design, and a name you can feel great about. On the other hand, you have the excellent Micro 4/3 cameras like the Panasonic GF1 and Oly E-P1/E-P2 that are half the cost and not too far off quality wise (with a good lens). They are also fun to use and easy for beginners to shoot.

But when all is said and done, the X1 just has something about its quality that sticks with me and that I do not see in most of my E-P2 shots. The shine, the brilliance, the color, the detail. It’s all there in the X1. The few things that drag it down are the sluggish operation, the somewhat short battery life, and the finish even seems a little fragile to me. I would have preferred for Leica put manual controls on the lens, beefed up the finish, speed up the AF, and shoot it out the door for $2500. Still, I really enjoyed the X1 for what it is…a high-quality super compact that you can and will take anywhere and not have to worry about the quality of your image. I was never let down in that area.

Yes, it’s slow. Yes, I know I have said this about 10 times in this review. Yes, for $2000 it should be much faster and be somewhat speedy. Yet we all have to remember it is not a DSLR, but more like the old Leica CM film cameras which everyone raved about back in the day. Those were not speedy either, but the quality was there. The Leica name is known for high quality and the X1 sure as hell gives high-quality images. It’s just not a camera for shooting action, running kids, or anything where you really need to catch that decisive moment, unless you pre-focus and wait for it.

So, who would enjoy the X1? Simple. Those who want the highest quality compact on the market and do not need blazing AF. Hell, I shoot an M9 and it doesn’t even have AF, so somewhat slow AF doesn’t really bother ME much. I can deal with it as I am a slow-paced shooter. Others can not. If image quality is your #1 concern and you want a beautiful lightweight camera to be your daily companion, the X1 delivers the goods and in some cases can be the equal of the M8 and 24 Elmarit lens. I have a feeling I will be wanting this camera back after a couple of weeks without it. It gave me so many damn keepers in 3 short weeks and as I have already said, my heart is with Leica :)

If you are wanting a Leica x1, it is supposed to be available in January/Febuary of 2010. You can pre-order it at AMAZON or check it out at B&H Photo here. Also, one of my favorite Leica guys EVER, Mr. Ken Hansen only has 10 orders on his pre-order list. You can get on it by e-mailing him HERE. Tell him I sent you!!!

I thank you for reading this long review. I hope you enjoyed it and I hope it helps you to make a decision for your high-quality compact camera needs.

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If you enjoyed this review, feel free to leave a comment at the bottom of this page and also be sure to join me on twitter or facebook! Also, you can subscribe to my feed at the upper right of any page and be notified of when new reviews are posted! You can also subscribe via E-mail (also to the right).

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Here are a few more of my images from the Leica X1!  Enjoy!

hugtreeop

Leica x1 – ISO 800 – F2.8 – 1/30s

L9990355op

veryorangeop

apartmentsdetail

jhcksnw

bsnowball

xmasbop

L9990283BW

L9990235s

34hoursnosleepselfport

minaandbrandonx1

fruit

bcoldsc

UPDATE: more on the X1 HERE!

  244 Responses to “The Leica X1 Digital Camera Review”

  1. Hi Steve,
    Thanks for this great review of the X1! Also you’ve made some great pictures. What a great quality this camera has when shooting at high ISO and low-light situations.

    What I miss is a comparisation photo with the Olympus E-P2 and/or Pana GF1 with 20mm lens.

    Greetings,
    Damiaan van Vliet,
    The Netherlands.

  2. Great review Steve, as usual ! Very exciting camera…
    My question : would you give up your M9 for an X1 (if you forget about the Noctilux) ? For shooting 35mm equivalent, what does your heart say ? M9+35 Summicron or X1 ? I’m curious about your opinion…

  3. Steve, thanks for your extensive real life review.
    Looking at your images it’s indeed the image quality and ‘Leica look’ what this camera is all about.
    For me it’s exactly like you concluded: for fast AF I’ll use my Nikon D200, for image quality (and not to forget portability) the X1.
    Now I really can’t wait for my X1 to arrive.

  4. Guys, be patient as my site crashed today when posting this review. I am working on a solution now. Thanks

  5. Great job Steve, as usual! Would you please tell us more about the bokeh of this camera. Thanks!

  6. Dear Mr. Huff.

    I’ve just read your review of X1 and I’m very impressed with the picture quality.
    Now it is the decision time for me – GF1 or X1????

    Keep up your good work!

  7. Bokeh seemed nice but it is a 2.8 lens so the X1 is not a bokeh machine like an M9 and 50 Lux. But I did not see any harsh bokeh in any of my images.

  8. great review, i really enjoyed it… can’t wait to see your review on the pancake 20mm f1.7lens

  9. First off great review Steve. I know how committed you have to be to write something (especially of this length). I’m sure I speak for everybody who reads your site when I say many, many thanks dude.

    Secondly, I would agree with you about the auto focus. It’s slower than what’s expected of a modern digital camera, and one at $2K at that. But from the shots I’ve got so far, I’m very happy. I’m a ‘street shooter’ but I’m a slow shooter and I’m still waiting for my first real annoyance of missing a shot due to auto focus issues (I’ll let you know when that day comes…LOL).

  10. steve:

    thanks for the review…. how is the macro on this beauty- is it as good/better than the d-lux4?

  11. prk, AHHHH! I knew I forgot something! Really, there is no macro. It has a macro AF setting but its not a macro. Ill update the review now…

  12. Hi Steve,

    I take always a lot of pleasure to read your reviews from……France !

    This one is, one more time, a great piece of job.

    I really always like your pic’s and so it is with the X1.

    You have well balanced, i think, the pros & cons of the X1.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you !

    Best wishes for 2010.

    Jean-Paul

  13. Great review as always, Thanks! Here in Finland we have -4 degrees F (-20 Celsius) but reading good reviews about great gear keeps me warm! This review made it even harder to choose from GF1, Lumix LX3, Leica D-Lux 4 and now this X1…

  14. Steve:
    A fun to read and very helpful review. Thank you!
    One question. You suggest that the camera is not a good one for street shooting.
    But I’d still like your take on this. The GF1, EP-2, X1 – is zone focusing any more effective on any of these? How difficult is it to set up each camera for instant shooting without auto focusing? It’s clear that for doing that with AF the GF1 still comes in first, but many of us also like to use zone focusing for that purpose.

    Thanks.

    Mark

  15. Hey Mark,

    Thanks for the comments. Zone focusing on the X1, GF1 or E-P2 is not easy and is probably easiest on the X1 of the three. The AF of the GF1 is fast enough for street, the E-P2 and X1 not really.

  16. Great revue!

  17. Another wonderful review Steve – I think what you do best with your reviews is capture the spirit and excitement of photography and why we love it so much! Inspiration work, and you always make me want to go out to the streets and start taking pictures for the love of it :D

    Thanks so much for this, hopefully I’ll be able to put together a budget to get the X1. I have a plan to get a Leica M6 as well , so the X1 will compliment my dream Leica ‘system’ nicely :)

  18. Steve:

    Thanks for the response.
    Would it be too difficult for you to describe how zone focusing is done on the X1 given that you don’t have the camera right now? I’m just trying to get an idea of its feasibility. Sean Reid had indicated problems with setting up the camera for that type of shooting that he thought could be addressed by a firmware upgrade, but we still don’t know if Leica has attended to his feedback.

    AF is not always the best way to do street shooting, so I’m not concerned bout the lack of AF speed in the X1, IF it can be set for effective zone focusing.

    Mark

  19. Thanks, Steve, I enjoyed a lot your real life review.

    I’m going to buy the X1 and take the consequences of its horrible AF.

    Just a question : do you think that a firmware update can mitigate this problem or not at all ?

    Greetings,

    josé

    (from Spain)

  20. thanks for the great review steve… keep up the excellent work!

  21. Mark,

    Zone focusing…you basically turn a focus wheel on the back and set your desired distance in feet. But its sort of rough and not accurate though with practice I can see one getting good at it.

    Jose,

    Not sure about a FW update making the AF faster but it is possible I guess. I haven not heard anything from Leica since the day they shipped me the X1 so not sure.

  22. Damn you Steve!
    I had just switched my mind from the X1 to the E-P2 and now you come up with this review and make me wonder about the X1 again… Ahhhh! What to do? What to do?…

  23. Hey Frank,

    Well, I didn’t buy an X1 and my wife liked the E-P2 better so maybe that helps? Seriously, the E-P2 is a great camera. Ill have the 20 1.7 tomorrow and will see how it does with the better glass. Ill post my thoughts tomorrow or Thursday. Thanks

    Steve

  24. Thanks for this GREAT review. Based on it, I believe the X1 is for me. I have a D-Lux 4 and I am quite happy with its AF performance. Apparently I should expect the same performance level, but with increased IQ and High ISO performance. Kind of a no brainer.

    Thanks again Steve. Your review was really helpful for me.

  25. Excellent review Steve! I am wondering if any of the speed issues could be solved by a software patch? Or is it 100% a hardware issue?

  26. Patrick:

    Sean Reid addressed that in his extensive review of the X1. He explains that while it might be improved via a firmware change, it is largely a hardware issue related to tradeoffs re other positive aspects of the camera. This relates to the fps rate limit of the sensor. So there is a hardware ceiling re the AF speed.

    Mark

  27. Patrick:

    Sean Reid addressed that in his extensive review of the X1. He explains that while it might be improved via a firmware change, it is largely a hardware issue related to tradeoffs re other positive aspects of the camera. This relates to the fps rate limit of the excellent sensor. So there is a hardware ceiling re the AF speed.

    Mark

  28. Hey – nice review – I guess I’m one of those Leica lovers who’s already decided to get an X1 – it’s exactly what I’ve been looking for as a replacement for my D-Lux3 – if I could, I’d get an M9, but I just don’t have that kinda cash. Anyway, it’s perfect for the type of photography I’m into. Can’t wait for it to arrive in a couple of weeks.

    Just wanted to point out something about your autofocus tests…

    When you count, you start with 1, not zero. And it means that all the times you mention are all a second longer than it really takes.

    e.g. when you count “1 Mississippi 2 Mississippi 3″ and then the autofocus kicks in, you say it’s taken 3 seconds. But you’re wrong – it’s taken 2. Your “1″ is actually zero… and you should have counted like this: “0 Mississippi 1 Mississippi 2″ – and voila – it takes 2 seconds, not 3.

    Hope that makes sense.

  29. Thanks for the review Steve . Very much confirming the other previews from people that really know something about photgraphy. (a.o Sean Reid)
    One issue that I am missing in your review however is the way to make the X1 a real street Photography tool. In extend discussed with Sean in the LEICA FORUM and by Sean on his own website. ZONE FOCUSSING !
    You mentioned it only very quickly but this issue is so important for many of us.
    Ofcourse the wheel on the back with the limited scale on the screen are not what we will work with. Like you said this will take even more time to start up than any AF. The way to work with the X1 as a streeshooting gun is to (for example) set aperture to F11. AF to a point a approx. 2.5 metres. Switch with the dedicated button (below the dial on the back) to MF (press 2 times) and fire away in the highest speed possible from any distance from 1.4 metres to infinity. Just framing and shooting (shutter lag is improved since Sean got newest update) without the annoying lag of AF. Experiment with aperures and distances . Practice distance estimation and you will become a stealthy streetshooter with the X1. For more static pictures very fast AF is ofcourse fine but not essential. Those who want this kind of pocketable camera with big sensor AND fast AF will have to wait another few years due to technical hardware shortcomings at this moment of time.
    Why wait if you can work you way around it ?
    Have fun and shoot like hell !!

  30. Hexar:

    I think you and I may read Sean’s comments a little differently.
    It seems to me that using the wheel to set distance is just a bit tricky and takes practice.
    So it sounds like using the wheel to set distance and setting the aperture will set up zone focusing.
    But I may also be misreading you.
    Of course once I have the camera this will seem a bit less abstract!

    Clearly, we have the same goal re using the camera and the same perspective re AF.

    Mark

  31. Thanks for a long and interesting review Steve.

    The image quality seem awesome.

    And I wonder if the slow AF could be handled in the same way as the Digilux 2 where one simply build in a rhythm of locking focus with the shutter half down, then shoot when green (thus no delay on the actual shot). It looks in the video as if you press the shutter fully and then it takes a second – and that delay is really annoying then. Plus you won’t know what will happen in the frame 1 second from you press. With pre-AF you lock the focus and can shoot without delay. Much more control and prediction.

    In any case, I decided not to get the X1 long time ago – and you successfully made me reconsider that.

  32. Hexar,

    I think these are kind of silly workarounds and only necessary if you really want a Leica. This camera is $2K. You can have the EP2 with an M mount adapter, get yourself a clean 50mm Summitar with a REAL depth of field scale and you’d have still saved $500. Heck, you can put a Voigtlander 50mm Nokton 1.5 on the EP2 and you’d have a great setup. To use zone focus is not easy but certainly feasible with a real lens with a DOF scale on it. Trying to do it with an X1 just to justify having one, IMHO, does not make a lot sense. I believe that a camera should suit your needs and not the other way around. Why adapt to the shortcomings of a camera when you can have one that does want you want and need it to do?

  33. Max has a point and is one of the reasons I wished Leica would have put a working manual lens on the camera. That would have made the X1 almost unbeatable in more than IQ. Thx for the comments guys. Still trying to get my site on the new server and up to speed. :)

  34. Max:

    I respectfully disagree.
    Sean Reid actually indicates that zone focusing is even more of a pain with the GF1 and EP1. BTW, the 50mm on the EP2 would be the equivalent of a 100mm lens.
    If learning to do zone focusing with the X1 just takes some practice then it’s just another case of learning to work with the limitations of a camera so that one can get all the other considerable payoffs. That’s par for the course.

    Please note that I’m not knocking the Olympus or the GF1. They are both great cameras. I have the GF1 and for AF use it’s great. But the X1 offers other payoffs.

    As far as why buy the X1…different strokes for different photographers.
    I wouldn’t place a 50mm lens on the EP2 or GF1.
    You wouldn’t want to have to mess with learning zone focusing on the X1, especially for $2000.
    Both perspectives are fine.

    Mark

  35. Dear Max,
    One of the main reasons for me to get a X1 is the 36 mm (film format) lens with the high IQ. So not a 100 mm output as you are proposing as an alternativ.
    I would need a 17 or 18mm lens with the same IQ on a EP2. I can predict that the 17mm OLYMPUS lens on the EP2 does not even get close to the final result of the X1 with the 24mm LEICA lens. Any other 17 or 18mm lenses from the “old glass” would make your comparision more valid but I would not know anything near this that exists. The 20mm panasonic lens apart from being 3/4 on the EP1 ( instead of 2/3 format with LEICA) is just a tad too long for my liking.

  36. That’s right, Steve. I certainly don’t need an X1 but frankly I would have probably bought one if it did have a working manual lens. I like the images, the portability, and the no frills Leica approach but $2K for a glorified point and shoot? Image (as in quality of the image) is certainly paramount but I think the Leica marketing geniuses are trying to tap into a rarified market who, they think, needs a “point and shoot” with high quality images who doesn’t mind paying for the name. By definition, most people who buy these types of cameras, gladly give up some image quality for fast autofocus and other gadgetry and, don’t want to spend $2K.
    I still think the EP2 is the one to REALLY consider because even though picture quality is (marginally) inferior, the fact that you can use M mount lenses (albeit manual focus) makes a $1500-2000 investment MUCH more justifiable and in the end probably deliver better images (assuming that the person taking the picture understands that high tech gear has little to do with creating a great image, which makes this whole rant almost pointless :)

  37. Ah thanks for the nice review, that comment was quite long and here is the new version: How many lenses does one need? One most of the time. Street shooting? I wish I was not so shy…lol… The time I take to gather the courage it takes to shoot at strangers is longer than any manual focus or slow AF. Sweet little cam, it will be between the 1 and GF1…

  38. Max…and Hexar.

    Max. Your last sentence was right on of course.

    For the record. When I wrote to Sean Reid and asked him how difficult it was to zone focus with the X1 his response was “Very easy. reread the manual focus section (of his review) for details.” I’m sure it won’t be as easy for me! But it clearly is very doable.

    I think the EP2 vs. X1 discussion really is in the apples and oranges category.
    And I’d also be very happy to have someone bequeath me some M mount lenses to use with the GF1. I’m sure I’d find some use for a 21 or 24mm M lens!

    Mark

  39. Mark,

    As we all know, no camera in today’s digital world is perfect and we all have choices to make based on one’s need, taste and budget. Your opinion is 100% valid and, as always, different strokes for different folks. After all, that’s how all these companies stay in business selling digital stuff to us crazy people. The perfect camera (as a simple tool to create images) was born in the ’50s with the M3 but those were the days of film. Different times…but some things never change.

  40. Agreed Max….

    But “crazy”? Who’s crazy? :-) And soon there’ll be a GF2 and an EP-3….and of course an X2. I’m going to go out now and take some shots of….anything…with my GF1…I mean…anything….just to stop obsessing.

    Mark

  41. Steve,
    great review and great pictures! I love my E-P1 but after reading your review, i’m thinking about a X1.
    Reiner

  42. Thanks for the very interesting review of the X1, Steve.
    Perhaps a vicious effect but I’m definitely sold on the Nik Silver Efex Pro software. I’ll buy it!

  43. Go for it Mark…just don’t go out and buy an S2 :)

  44. Max,

    I’m not really interested in the reasons that others have to buy a particular camera. If you say you prefer the EP-2, I wish you enjoy your camera. But judging which means the Leica logo or 2K for others is treading a slippery slope that has no relation to the photograph itself.

    I can tell you that in my case is only the image quality, size and weight. I make long trips (sometimes several months) with very little baggage. For me, the motivation of the journey is the journey itself, not photography. So never charge with (even) a kilo of photographic material (in recent years, a rangefinder camera with a 35 mm). The issue is that occasionally I publish my photos (nothing glorious: just a small travel magazine). Moreover, I have been editor for many years, so, after seeing photographs of the review of the X1 and of the review of the EP-2, I would not say that the image quality of the EP-2 is just “marginally” inferior (of course, it would be prudent to wait to try it for myself or see more pictures of the X1).

    If I understand correctly Steve, I, who mainly photographing static subjects, I make sure that (even fail 20% of my shots when the subjects are not as static), normally, I will have the option to publish my best photos (my main doubt is: is this camera strong enough?). With the EP-2 I’m not so sure. Apparently the replacement for the EP-2 will not be long in coming (43rumors). Perhaps the EP-3 gets me change my mind (if it arrives before I buy the X1). If not, I’ll have two new cameras.

    For now, I’ll wait until Steve gets his 20 mm Panasonic and writes a new review.

    Cheers,

    José

    (I hope you excuse my horrible English)

  45. Hey Max….

    I’m waiting for the S3…and just one person to come to a $50,000 a plate fund raiser for me. :-)

    Mark

  46. Steve
    an excellent review and just such pictures!

    The reason, why I pre-ordered four months ago the small Leica, was the flash of the X1. I miss the flash at my current compact camera PEN + 17mm pancake. Is it possible to say something about its use? I would be delighted.

    Thanks and greetings from Germany.

  47. Hi Steve,

    You really write reviews that pulls at my wallet. I feel I need to buy anything you review favorably. From what I see from your images, for me, the additional quality is really not worth the $1000 premium over the EP1/2.

    Well, I think i will just save up for the pana 20mm pancake.

    Keep up the good work.

    yeongbing

  48. The shot of the man on the phone with the bus behind him is among the best you have published. I went to B&H today and played with the EP-2 and GF1. Although I prefer the looks and image stabilization of the EP-2, the GF1 focus won me over. It is a shame that the X1 cannot compete with the Panasonic focusing. Perhaps Leica could barter a lens design for Panasonic’s focusing system?

  49. I think I am slowly getting to understand what it is that “Leicanians” feel about a Leica. Seeing the shots you took with this camera (not to mention those you take with the M9), I feel that there is something special about them. The color is just right (I always try to mimick that when processing my E-P1′s RAWs, without much success), the optical qualities are just superb, and now this high-ISO performance.
    Maybe one day, but just maybe, I might end up with a Leica myself …

  50. Good review, thank your Steve for all your hard work. Nice pics, including The Kiss! For me, IQ is definitely the most important thing. I don’t totally dismiss scientific evaluations and lens charts, though — they tell me more than the packaging! And I don’t think a camera can be “very unique”. AF does look very slow, but I know there is no way the X1 will beat the M6 in this regard. Leica really should look at your main points and work on improving them, especially AF speed, robust feel, and dial detents.

  51. Really loved your reviews. I had been following your site and upgraded my Digilux 4.3 to a D Lux 4, C Lux 3 and a V Lux 1 (from the wife for Christmas). Very inspiring OOC photos and style. And many thanks for the tip and advise from your site and from the DPreview forums.

    I don’t ever think I will go out a purchase a X1 (unless i do win one) but at the moment saving up for M8.2 however waning a bit and will probably change my mind and get a Digilux 2, Digilux 3, a R9 with a digital back, and R lens and yet still have spare change for another battery.

    I like the contrast and dynamic depth (makes it looks 3D) to your self portrait and the reflection of you and Mina.

    Happy New Year and keep shooting…now i am going to get my ski jacket and show some snow with my V Lux 1.

  52. Thank you Steve for this “real world” review. I ordered a X1 for my wife by end of november. Should be read to pick up end of january. Can’t wait to compare her shots with my M9. Main concern is how it will handle with extreme cold temperature. My wife does a lot of ski photos, and temperature can be -25C. D-LUX4 was always OK. Let’s see in february how the X1 handles with cold.

    The pricetag does not impress me. As you say, it is Leica Land, and the best photos are made with gear you love and like to use. Congrats for your site, it is one of my favourite photo readings. Greetings from snowy Switzerland.

  53. Thank you for this review.

    I think the only rival in terms of photo quality is the Ricoh GXR.

    My choice is made, it will be the Leica X1

    jmk

    (French translation into English by google)

  54. [...] Neuling braucht Hilfe Ich habe hier noch ein interessantes review über die X1 gefunden: The Leica X1 Digital Camera Review | STEVE HUFF PHOTOS [...]

  55. Dear Steve, first of all a happy, healthy and successful new year. Your X1-review is the first one I read from you – congratulations. I am a “Canonist” (EOS 400D / G11) but the photos are very brilliant (heidi, church, orange, …). My Photohaus in Hamburg is a Leica store, too and I will take a look at this little Leica in the next weeks.
    I read your S90-review, too and love it, how you describe the functionality, the usability and your photos.
    Do it again. Best regards jens

  56. As others have already said, nice “real world” review Steve yet again! :)

    I know techy camera/lens reviews have their place and I accept that, but I don’t go out taking pics of lens wall charts etc and know nobody else personally that does so either so it’s refreshing to come here and get *proper* reviews. In fact it was on the basis of your review (And Erwin Puts common sense words) that I ignored all the negativity about the M8 and bought one recently. And guess what? Despite so much tech babble & nonsense written on the camera you and Erwin were dead on.

    Far too much *Hyper Critical* nonsense on the www regarding photo gear so thanks for cutting through the crap for us “real world” people.

  57. Hi,

    Thank you very much for the excellent review. How does X1 compare to sigma DP1 and DP2 Please?

    Reagrds

    Feridoon

  58. Thanks for a great review, one of the things for me not mentioned is the ability to use second curtain flash, and along with the X1s good high iso performance should result in fab night club shots, night time street shots, which if you set a slow shutter speed second curtain with say iso 1600 will result in club, night, shots very rich in background light and colour while at the same time exposing your main subject.
    Not sure if the other compact cameras can do second curtain flash.

  59. Excellent review.

  60. great review steve, as usual.

    the 2 photos under the photo of the oranges at the end of the review, there is a slight hint of distortion there. other then that, i would love to own this camera.

  61. Thanks Steve for all this wonderful info, you got me hooked on Leica a few weeks ago, ordered a D-Lux in Montreal (No dealers in Quebec City) and I was supposed to get it this weekend….I will change my order tomorrow and switch to the X1.

  62. Great review Steve. I am very impressed with what you had to say about the X1. I have been eyeing this camera ever since it was announced and appreciate you taking the time to write such a detailed review like this one. I need to somehow find $2k lying around so I can pick one of these up.

    I have never heard of your review site until I saw your X1 review. I will be coming back more often.

  63. Thanks Steve
    I’ve found the review really useful and will probably go for an X1.
    After reading the DPreview test I was in two minds but I really like compact take anywhere cameras and your hands on experience has me convinced.

  64. Thanks for the great view! I’m quite impressed with what you say about the X1. But of course I am still leaning towards a M9… (different class, I know)

  65. Hi Steve,

    Finally I found a detailed and informative review about Leica x1. I was considering to get X1, but after reading your honest approach to the camera I decided it’s not for me. Initially after debating between Oly EP2, GF1, I leaned toward X1 even though it lacked action and zoom. I was attracted by its large sensor , good ISO, and of course image quality. However, learning from your review that x1 doesn’t have macro, bokeh, has weak dials, slow AF, etc. I thought it’s not worth to spend so much for the camera that lacks too many important features. I feel like if I had it my friends would tell me that I bought red spot rather than camera. You know what I mean.

    By the way the colors in the x1 samples have some light purple tint. Another minus.

    Anyways, so far after visiting many sites about Leica x1 review your’s the best.

    Happy New Year testings!

  66. Very impressive review on Leica X1. Thanks Steve for your hard work~~

  67. I have the feeling that if I can – given that it does tempt me a lot – I should wait for generation 2 of the X1. I love the concept, I feel this missed the mark in the execution. If AF was slightly better, I would consider it anyway. But I want this camera to allow me to shoot street and people moving on the street, and feels that it will be hard with it.

    This camera with an interchangeable lens and faster AF would be a killer camera, that would make me wonder about my M8.

    Thanks for the review…

    Martin Herrera Soler | http://www.martinHSphoto.com

  68. S – Thanks for your review, shots and comments. Your site is terrific and I appreciate your efforts, particularly on behalf of us Leicaphiles. Perhaps you addressed it and I missed it, but is there much–any?–shutter lag?

  69. Hi Steve,

    I think I’ll take the X1.
    I love Leica. My last one was a D Lux-4. Loved the quality of the pics. Loved the tipical Leica looks.
    My only doubt is if I will be missing zoom…… What do you think?

    Thanks for the review,
    Ronald Braken

  70. Even though I can’t see myself buying one, that was a very helpful review of a unique camera. Maybe some day I won’t have to “po boy” my hobby :)

  71. Hi Steve, Thank you for a great review, suffering from ADHD, I usually get bored at the half of many reviews but, your was exceptional. I been in the market for a compact machine which could give me exceptional results and been fan of M9 however; I simply cannot afford it. X1 seems to be a real great catch and low noise in high iso seems to what I can take with me at nights or everyday events etc. where I cannot take my big bulky Canon.

    I loved your pictures that are included in the review. Do you know when exactly this camera will be released?

  72. Just wanted to thank everyone for the kind words on the review. As for the release date of the X1, I have no idea but hopefully soon. Thanks!

    Steve

  73. Thanks for an amazing review, Steve! Seeing your pics with the X1, just shows your love for photography and what it’s all about – taking great pictures! And you do this time and time again. I’m really impressed by how you can take an everyday sceanrio and turn it into a stunning picture! Love it!

    Is most of your X1 pics in the review shot RAW or JPEG? And how would the X1 work for mainly shooting JPEGs with just some minor tweaks afterwards?

    I’m trying to figure out what digi-cam to get. I’ve been shooting Nikon FE2 with prime lenses (Nikkor 28mm f/2.0 AIS, Nikkor 55mm f/3.5 AI Micro, Nikkor 105 f/2.5 AIS and Nikkor 300mm f/4.5 ED) up until now. But the past year or two I’ve realized I just don’t use my camera as much I would like to.

    Time is up for getting on the digital train, which will enable me to view my pictures more often and show them to more people via email, etc.

    Now, I’m think about maybe just stripping things down and going back to basics. Just focus on really understanding how to take great pictures and not getting this blurred be a lot of gear. Seeing yours and Thorsten Overgaard’s great pictures just shows how minimal kit can and will deliver great pictures with a great photographer!

    I’m just an amateur trying to learn, so I know I’ll never reach your level.

    A small camera would mean, I would bring it along lot more often than some big, heavy DSLR. So, I’m thinking going back to basics and hence considering: Leica X1, D-Lux 4, Panny GF1 with 20mm f/1.7 and even the Digilux 2 (it’s old now but I can see it’s still got a following and can produce some amazing pictures).

    Also since I’m just wondering into digi-land, I’m thinking I should start out mainly shooting JPEGs, so I only have to do some minor tweaks afterwards instead of shooting RAW. Just to start out learning about digital photography before getting to confused by PP software. Does this seem logic? And how is X1′s JPEGs? I’ve seen you rave about the D-lux 4 JPEGs, would you also shoot alot of JPEG from the X1 if you owned one or only shoot RAW?

    Sorry for the long post! Any comments and thoughts would be greatly appreciated from you or any one else reading this.

    Thanks,
    Mads (Denmark, Europe)

  74. The big question….Leica X1 or Panasonic GF1 with 20mm f/1.7 or Olympus E-P2… I’m not the only one doubting ready the last post from Mads. When I look at the photographs, quiet shutter, low noiseI would say Leica!

  75. [...] Leica X1 video with AF demo Quote from The Leica X1 Digital Camera Review | STEVE HUFF PHOTOS "You can indeed shoot on the street with this camera and I have done so, even at night. Just [...]

  76. [...] 以下中文来自google同步翻译器自动翻译,我赖得再去逐字更正语法,大家将就看看。如英文水平高的同学可移步,原文来自:http://www.stevehuffphoto.com/2010/01/05/the-leica-x1-digital-camera-review/ [...]

  77. Thank you. Very useful review! I have always shot with Contax and Leica and always seeking the highest of quality.

  78. Thanks very much for this informative and entertaining review. I found it much more helpful (and enjoyable to read) than the stuffy DP review.
    I particularly liked your real-world shooting approach, that is after all what its all about, surely. I was put off this camera by the DP review but after having read yours I’ll be signing up to the waiting list, forewarned and forearmed about the camera’s limitations, and excited at the prospect of working with a camera so pared down and essential that I might actually have some creative input in the process apart from just pointing!

    Many thanks Steve

  79. Ahhhhhmazing “real world” review, I made some notes and have to step up my future reviews, thanks a lot for the kind words on my Leica X1 review. All the best, -WY

  80. Hi Steve,

    thanks for your review and for all the work you put into it.

    I’m really thinking about getting a X1 myself, mainly for landscape and some street photography. Some of the sample photos I’ve seen simply amazed me – I think these Leica pictures have that “little something”, a certain touch that distinguishes them from all the others.

    I could easily live with the limitation of a relatively slow AF – the big question is: Will the fixed lens be something that makes me concentrate more on composing the final image or will it make me miss shooting opportunities? Did you miss a zoom – maybe compared to the D-Lux 4?

    Second question: Is it possible to attach filters to the X1? I’d like to use ND Filters and a polarizer now and then.

    Thanks again,
    Martin

  81. I have an Ep-1 with the Panasonic 20mm 1.7 lens and love the combo. I am going to buy the x1 because I really enjoyed your review. Keep up the good work.

  82. Nice read Steve, I like the change of pace of your reviews.

    Just thought I will throw in my 2 cents: I suspect many of your readers are like me, I own many m-mount & screw-mount lenses and I own various M-mount cameras including a M9. I decided on the E-P1 (awhile back) as it allows me to use my existing lenses. I think for anyone that have lots of lenses the E-P1/2 or the other M4/3 cameras would be a better choice, I get much sharper shots then any lenses from panasonic or olympus with many of my other lenses. I think (and you have also highlighted) that a test between Leica lenses and that olympus lens is not a fair comparison, the olympus lens has been shown to be quite poor relatively in terms of sharpness. (Of course these other lenses will have to be focus manually, but since you own a EP2 you know that the manual focusing flow is quiet good on the EP2)

    I also have lots of olympus pen FT (aka 1950s lenses) and they are absolutely amazing on the E-P1, both because their physical small size and IQ.

  83. Dear Steve ,
    I’m very happy you shooting by X1 can help me to select this great compact.
    thanks u
    Sapaya

  84. Eric,

    Only problem with that is that the X1 has better IQ than the m4/3 camera, more DR and is much better at high ISO/low light. Also, to get a 35mm equiv out of a Leica lens on a m4/3 camera you would need to buy the Leica 18 and that is a slow 3.8 lens. No way to get a 35mm equivilant at a faster speed. Sure you can pop a 35 Summicron on the E-P2 but then you will have a 70mm. Not a great lens for everyday use, and the cost of this setup would be $4k+, double the X1 with less IQ.

    The X1 already has the Leica lens built in and is a 35mm equivalent which is perfect for every day shooting and with its great IQ and superior low light abilities its a great compact all in one package.

    It’s fun to attach Leica lenses to an E-P1/2 or GF1 but the reality is I would not buy an M lens if the only camera I owned was a m4/3 model.

    Thx

    Steve

  85. [...] von GFONG The Leica X1 Digital Camera Review | STEVE HUFF PHOTOS Enjoy. Will there be a Lightshpere coming for the X1? __________________ Brent [...]

  86. Hi Steve,

    Is the output from the X1 sensor better than from M8? I thinking of either getting the X1 or used M8 with as Leica 28mm (so I would get equivalent 35mm after crop).

    This would be used as carry around camera for street shooting, etc. I’m really inspired by your awesome photos! Thank you so much for sharing your superb images.

    What do you think would be the better option?

    Thx,
    Mads

  87. Mads, the X1 is better than the M8 sensor in regards to low light shooting/high ISO. No question. For low ISO, the M8 may have the edge but they are close. As I said, the results from the X1 and built in 24 Elmarit were just as nice as my M8/24 Elmarit images but with better high ISO.

    Thanks!

  88. Steve, following your comment, how do you feel with the M9 and the same 24 Elmarit. Or fundamentally, do you see improvements in the M9 IQ and low light capabilities? I am considering purchasing one if I can sell enough CAnon gear, but want to make sure I’m getting better dynamic range and low light than the M8 I already have. Thanks.

  89. I have not shot the M9 with the 24 Elmarit but it would then be a 24 not a 35 Equiv like on the M8 and X1. The M9 has better high ISO than the M8. I use 2500 quite often. BUT its no Nikon or Canon. :)

  90. Thanks Steve!

    One one hand I tempted to stay with the M8 and weight out a while to perhaps skip the M9. On the other, I need a wider lens to make the M8 my everyday camera. I currently have a 35lux and there are so many opportunities where I would need a wider lens. I usually shoot with a Mark II with a 24 and a 50.

    But since I started shooting with the Leica, I have lost so much interest in my SLR.

    I need to decide if I purchase an M9 and stay with my 35, or if I buy a 21 lens for my M8, which when I switch to a full frame I will no longer need…

    Any thoughts?

  91. Steve, thanks for your quick response. The X1 does sound mighty tempting. :-)

    I know you mentioned slow AF in your review, but do you still think the X1 could work well as a “carry everywhere camera” and for street shooting especially?

    I pressume you can lock focus with “half press” of the shutter button, and then follow with “full press” to take the picture and avoid a delay, when you actually want to take the picture? If this is the case, there shouldn’t really be a problem with street photography on the X1? Plus I’m into taking my time composing the picture, not just “gunning” 100s of frames and hoping to get 1 keeper. ;-)

    Is the manual focus usable on the X1 or pointless? And what about composing/frame pictures without a VF. Is it just a matter of habit using the back screen?

    I would be grateful to hear your thoughts on these questions if you have the time to answer them.

    Thank you so much,
    Mads

  92. Hi Steve . . .

    Thank you very much for your review of the X1. I have been wanting to learn more about it for a long time (besides reading the official info from Leica or B&H).

    For me, your review is timely. I just shot film production stills for five days on sets using moody and/or low light. Based on what you said and seeing the quality of your images, the X1 would have been a great solution!

    On that shoot, I used the Leica D-Lux 3 (!), the Canon 5D and 7D. Each camera had its merits and (demerits) for the situation I was in. I used the 7D because I could hand-hold the camera at 3200 ISO with very little noise and dead-on fast and accurate focusing. The images were tack sharp.

    The 5D (not the MII) was almost as good, except for the noise at 3200 (it was more apparent than the 7D, but not objectionable). The drawback to both DSLRs was the shutter noise. I couldn’t shoot during the actual filming (I didn’t use sound blimps).

    That’s where the Leica came in handy. It’s a good complement to my DSLRs. The lens is tack sharp. There is no shutter click or beeping sounds (everything can be shut off via the menu). Except for the red focus assist beam occasionally being a problem for the DP (showing up on an actor’s close-up), I could shoot during a filmed scene. I consider it my other “professional” camera – people tend to be more relaxed around it. Dozens of shots on my website have been with that camera.

    I love my D-Lux 3. However, there are some drawbacks – some serious limitations for certain types of the work I do. The AF is lousy under low light. It hunts for way too long, and it many times it doesn’t lock focus correctly. I shot at ISO 200 with a tripod or monopod. To shoot any higher in those lighting conditions invites seriously objectionable noise. In general, noise and image quality beyond ISO 400 is a problem.

    It’s not a motor drive – which I don’t care about anyway, but many times, after a taking a few shots, it won’t fire until a few seconds after I push the button because it’s having some kind of buffering/processor problem (I shoot camera Raw along with the JPEG). I’ve missed a lot of great shots that way (ironically, one could call it the “indecisive moment”).

    Also, I do a lot of shutter drag with flash in low light environments (live bands at clubs, environmental portraits, street life at night, etc.) and it becomes a hit and miss proposition – with the hits looking amazing and the misses being a big disappointment. Many times, there are more misses than hits. On the sets, I used that technique for the BTS shots with varying degrees of success.

    So back to your review: I’m convinced I should bypass the D-Lux 4 and save up for the X1. It sounds like a D-Lux on steroids – with all the plusses and none of the minuses of the D-Lux. Shooting at ISO 1600 to 3200 with little noise or image deterioration sounds perfect to me!

    But I also have some questions. How quiet is the shutter? Can it be totally silenced like the D-Lux? (When they yell “quiet on the set,” they really mean it!) Does it have that red focus assist beam like the D-Lux? If so, can it be shut off? Any suggestions for an high quality alternative to the X1?

    Thank you. I look forward to more of your reviews in the future . . .

    Phil

  93. You said the X1 wouldn’t replace the D-Lux 4. Why not? I have a D-Lux 4 that I like a lot, but the noise levels are an irritation at high ISO.

    Why shouldn’t I swap out for an X1?

  94. mads: Sure, you can prefocus with a half press of the shutter button. As I said, if you do not mind not having a blazing fast camera then the X1 is superb. I wish I could buy one for an M9 backup for ME!

    Phil: Thanks for reading the review! The X1 is leagues better than a D-Lux 3 in all areas. I think you would be happy with it. The shutter is pretty silent. Just a faint tick sound that I do not believe you can shut off as its a physical sound, not a beep. But its super quiet. Not even noticeable.

    John: Who said an X1 would not replace a D-Lux 4? The only areas where an X1 would not do as well as a D-Lux 4 is macro as the X1 has no real macro capability. Thanks!

  95. Sounds great Steve! I’m definately getting a X1! Can’t wait to get it and start shooting with it. :-) How’s the out of camera JPEGs? Or would you always shoot RAW?

  96. [...] Good X1 review See also The Leica X1 Digital Camera Review | STEVE HUFF PHOTOS The autofocus is slow. The photographs [...]

  97. One rub for me is that I really think at 2k Leica should be including the addon grip in the box.. use or don’t use. It’s a piece of plastic with a screw… the basic form of which was already created for other cameras. I’m not saying they should include every accessory, but that one – for what it costs them to produce, should be in there.

  98. Hi Steve,

    Yesterday I bought the Leica X1 camera. The sharpness and colour of the pictures is amazing.

  99. Hi Steve . . .

    Thanks for your response. What I meant was, is the X1 better than the D-Lux 4 (I know it’s better than the D-Lux 3). do you know when is the D-Lux 5 coming out and is that worth the wait over the X1? Or maybe I should just get both – it’s only money!).

    Sincerely,

    Phil

  100. Hi Steve,

    Quick question, I see in your “My Gtear” section that you own a ‘Olympus E-P2 ‘ and I see the compared images in your review but, I would like to know which camera would you go with if you didnt own the Olympus E-P2. I am asking solely for quality reasons and your answer will be highly appreciated.

    Osman (Istanbul, Turkey)

  101. Osman, I would buy the X1 for quality. The wife picked the E-P2 to be her camera but I would love an X1 as a backup to my M9.

  102. Hi steve,

    Do you know the RICOH GXR (expert gear) and his innovative modular concept (each module comes with the lens and his own sensor attached which is plugged into the camera) APSC or 4/3 sensor (depending on the module) ?

    Do you plan to make a review on it ? it seems that IQ is very good; there is a lot of parametrable functionalities (too much perhaps !) a very good size and quality screen compare to the X1 and an electronic viewfinder.

    Thank you for your very instructive site.

  103. Jean-Paul, I am aware of the GXR but have no way to test or try one. I know it is just as slow or slower to AF than the X1 with the 50 macro but the concept, IQ, color and high ISO seem very good.

  104. Hi Steve,

    Great review I looked at the X1 in the Leica shop here in London where its on sale for just over £1,300. I was surprised it felt almost lighter than my DLux 4 and as you say a bit hollow or fragile by comparison but does offer a clear bridge between the DLux 4 and an M series which is still well out of my price range even second hand (M8 body may be but hen with a basic lens?). One thing I wondered the DLux 4 has had a software upgrade released and although I haven’t downloaded it yet it made me wonder whether some of the deficiencies of the X1 particularly AF speed could be overcome by a s/w upgrade or is it a mechanical problem?

  105. Stewart, thanks for the comments. From what I understand there may be marginal improvements in the AF speed with a FW update, but nothing dramatic. I guess we can just wait and see! Thanks again!

  106. Henrieke where did you get your Leica X1 from? I went to have a look at it at the Leica store in London earlier this week, my god it is beautiful! I had previously been torn between the X1 or micro 4/3, however having seen the X1 in the flesh I was instantly sold and put myself straight on the waiting list. Also Steve, the manager of the Leica store said they have fixed the slow autofocus with a firmware upgrade. Cant wait for my first Leica!

  107. ooops didnt see the more recent comments

  108. [...] vaste lens (omgerekend 35mm). Als je deze review leest ben je misschien wel verkocht dus pas op http://www.stevehuffphoto.com/2010/0…camera-review/ __________________ Groetjes, Damiaan. Nikon D200 – D50 – Nikkor AF 50 f1.8D – Tamron SP AF [...]

  109. Hi Steve, been reading all of the foregoing with great interest. I have been deliberating between the X1 and the EP-2 because what I really want is a simple camera for travel shooting. Landscapes, city shots etc. I already own several cameras and have a Panasonic GH1. I think perhaps the Olympus is too much of the same thing and that I would only be gaining a slightly smaller form factor. Do you think that the range of the X1 would be suitable for me?

    Thanks for posting all your findings!

  110. Hey Christina, if you have a GH1, no need for an EP-2 as it is mostly the same type of camera. The X1 is smaller, has better image quality and better high ISO. Its just a little slower, BUT I hear Leica may have improved the speed with firmware. I love the X1.

  111. thank you your sharing, I would like to order a X1

    http://healthyperson.hk8.us/eng/index2.php

  112. Thank you Steve for a grear review.
    Just a quick question to ask.
    I just want a good camera to point and shoot. Most of time I would just put it in Auto mode. If money is not a concern, is Leica X1 the camera to go for ?
    I presently own a Leica DLux4 but I don’t need to shoot video.

    Thanks in advance for your advice.
    Peter

  113. Peter, thanks for reading it! The X1 sounds like it would be perfect for you as it is like a D-Lux 4 on steroids :)

  114. [...] Micro 4/3rds: ergo – great picture quality. There is a real life test of the focus speed here: The Leica X1 Digital Camera Review | STEVE HUFF PHOTOS I am tempted to take the plunge and buy an X1. For me, the only thing holding me back is the lens. [...]

  115. Great review, Steve.

    Elsewhere on this site, you have a bokeh test comparing Leica M9 to M 4/3rds from a Bokeh perspective and highlighting the issue of deeper depth of field for larger sensor cameras.

    The more I think about this the more I reckon it is important to me.

    I am trying to get my head around the advantage the X1 has with a much larger sensor than a GF1 /EP2 and what this means for depth of field. On the other hand and in respect of D.O.F , the X1 max aperture is f2.8 compared to f1.7 on the M 4/3rds Panasonic 20mm lens..

    Which camera would be better if i wanted to use shallow D.O.F? The X1 with its larger sensor ( but slower lens ) or the GF1/EP2 with a smaller sensor and a faster, 1.7 lens? Thoughts??

  116. Hi Rufus!

    Thanks for reading the review, and commenting. The X1 sensor is the same size as a sensor in the D300, and APS-C sensor. It’s quite a bit bigger than the 4/3 sensor and at 2.8 it has just about perfect DOF for a portrait. It will not give you shallow DOF due to the wider angle and 2.8 though and (a little bit) more shallow DOF can be obtained with a m4/3 body and a 20 1.7. BUT the quality of the X1 images will be much better IMO.

    The shot above of mu wife shooting the E-P2 was wide open and at the closest focus distance. That is about as shallow as you can get with an X1, but thats pretty damn good for a 2.8 lens. I miss the X1 and wish I had one and my guess is that I may just buy one eventually.

    Thanks

  117. Hi Steve

    It is with great pleasure to read your review from New Zealand. I have ordered the X1 two weeks ago (I am the 3rd on the list) but still no news. It seems Leica looks after other big countries (in terms of quantity) than our small nation.

    Keep up your good work.

    Tony

  118. thanks for the all the good review. But when can i buy one? I am a user from Korea. I am looking for place to get it globally, but just can’t find one yet?
    do you know where i can buy one? Many thanks in advance.

  119. Many thanks for this extensive and honest review, very helpful. Though, this does not make my decision easier… I’m wondering if Leica has maybe done any last-minute hardware changes to the camera, especially regarding the slow AF (or maybe even a firmware update would improve things a bit). Yes, image quality is most important, but the slow behaviour of the camera does not really match the street photography subject Leica is obviously aiming at, e. g. with the “classical” street focal length 35 mm.

    The X1 is not yet available in most German stores, but I can’t wait to try it myself.

    Thanks again and all the best.

    Daniel
    Hannover, Germany

  120. Steve, I don’t know how many people are really coming to see this review, because it must be the third or fourth time I have read then re-read it. I am retired from engineering and in my retirement I now shoot and submit on speculation to magazines. Do you know if people are selling stock shot with the EP-2 or the GF1? The sensor in the X1 is better than I have now in my D200 and I sell regularly. I had thought of getting a new Nikon, but I was shown a Leica years ago, and fell in love. I have owned a P&S film camera of theirs that I bought used. I really would like to go smaller. Security sees me using my Nikon D200 with that 17-35mm f/2.8 lens, and they come running out to tell me that I can’t shoot in their area of uptown Charlotte, N.C. I think that in many ways the X1 would be so much better. Another problem here is that Charlotte is the biggest city in NC and no one carries Leica.

  121. Very good review. After the reading I think that in a near future I will buy one, none camera is perfect. And about the price, we only live once.
    Greetings

  122. C’mon Steve !!!

    Tell the world you’ll get the Leica X1 with the updated (Fast) Auto-Focus !!!

    Wow! Image quality is SO much better than a E-P2, GF1, G11, etc.

    SUCH a big sensor in this little body !!

    Congrats Steve for all your amazing work at stevehuffphoto.com !!!

  123. Steve. Great site. Thanks for the passion and enthusiasm. You really do help.

    As regards the X1 I am in a complete dilemma. IQ is hugely important and that suggests, for a compact, that it has to be the X1. However, if one misses the moment because performance is so slow then IQ becomes academic only. I phoned Leica in London and they said that a firmware update has fixed the autofocus problem. They said all the reviews were with pre-production FW. Is that true? I have no way of knowing. Surely Leica should come clean and tell us? It is a lot of money. Are all the negative reviews based on early FW and how much of a difference does the new FW make? There must be an answer out there and, if there is, you are the man to uncover it! Please help. What do your contacts at B&W say? Surely you can get to the bottom of this?

    Thanks,

    Jeremy

  124. Oops, meant B&H, not B&W (the speaker company, though by all means ask them too!). Also, the X1′s problems seem not just slow focusing but shutter lag. Has that been improved by new FW?

    Jeremy

  125. The X1 is a compact camera and its AF is on par with a D-Lux 4. It’s not going to ever have DSLR type focusing or speed. Yea, it could be faster (the little $240 samsung I am testing is faster bur it’s IQ is not so hot) but I really enjoyed the X1 for everything else that it offered. It is not an action camera. I can’t say if it is faster due to the new firmware because I have yet to speak with someone who has tried it. Hopefully we will find out soon.

  126. I think the prime question is not whether it is an action camera, as in catching sports action or kids dashing across the yard; it wasn’t designed for that. But even Leica has marketed it as a street camera and the question is re how effective it is for that.

    AF on the camera will never match the GF1 either, nor does it need to for good street shooting, and the image quality at its best will never be matched by the GF1 or EP2.

    But there are still questions re the manual settings, particularly the distance scale, and how effective it is when zone focused.

    If one can use effective zone focusing and effective manual focusing it may well be as good a discrete street shooting camera with great image capabilities as one can find today. But the “IF” is still there for many of us who still wait for the cameras to arrive in the U.S.

    Given the very significant availability delays, perhaps most of the limitations will be addressed by the time they arrive here!

    But again, anyone wanting a super fast AF camera clearly should accept the image limitations of the Panasonic (which still does produce very good images BTW) and go that route.

    Mark

  127. [...] appreciated. Look at different posts on this forum and the next links with a lot of examples: The Leica X1 – Hands on Review, Image Samples, and Comparisons | STEVE HUFF PHOTOS peterlueck.com Money Circus __________________ Damiaan http://www.damnsharp.nl … waiting for [...]

  128. Hi,
    I seems like the the X1 lens allows for quite a bit of flare. I have observed some photos on Flickr from someone in Japan, and they do seem to have a lot of flare. What are your thoughts on this issue with the X1?

    John

  129. [...] Re: X1 review on PhotoReview Look up the real world review on Steve Huff's site; Here there are real life video clips showing how fast the camera focuses. It's not that bad actually… The Leica X1 – Hands on Review, Image Samples, and Comparisons | STEVE HUFF PHOTOS [...]

  130. I have just about lived at the dpreview site these past few weeks, jumping between the m4/3 forum and the Leica forum. I had just about made up my mind to purchase a GF-1 when the photos started showing up from people using the X1 and I found that I was again not knowing what to purchase. This is really a big thing for me, because of the cost. So I went and did a cost analysis of the two systems, i.e. GF-1 vs X1. First, I don’t own Lightroom and had planned to purchase that, so I added that to the cost of the GF-1. GF-1 with 14-45 zoom, 20mm, and Lightroom cost $1,700. X1 including Lightroom cost $2,000. Now the fact that it comes with a fixed lens, I count as a plus, as I always tell my wife the only thing I need is ….., this time I would mean it (except the VF and grip). So, I am now getting ready to sell off a Nikon 17-35mm f/2.8 lens to help pay for this. It has been a good lens and I love it, but you know, I have a prime lens or two that cover the high end of the 17-35, and the X1 will cover the low end of my needs. For what I like to shoot the X1 will really be a big help to me. And Steve, I will make sure that when I do order this that I run my order through your site. It will be later this year.

  131. Just purchased the X1 and the brown leather case… check out the brown case.. the leather is already pulling away from the interior lining and the fit looks bad.

    Please check out this pic: http://dl.dropbox.com/u/802976/leicax1_case.jpg

    Anyone else with this same issue?

    thanks!

    Patrick

  132. Hey Patrick. Where did you buy the case? I would exchange it if possible. That does not look like it is a good fit at all and for the price, it should be perfect.

  133. [...] Photogtaphy Review’s highly technical review gave the X1 mixed marks. I found Steve Huff’s X1 review to be much more interesting and useful—as it’s more real world. The amazing image above is [...]

  134. Pentax K-7 with a pancake lens. Cheaper. Superlative IQ. Versatile. Full manual features. Video. Proper viewfinder. Tons of features. No compromises. Not much bigger. Game over.

    Oh, but no red Leica glory dot.

  135. Robin, the X1 is MUCH MUCH smaller and lighter than a Pentax K7 with a pancake. It is a totally different kind of camera and honestly the X1 will give better IQ at all ISO’s with that look we associate with Leica lenses. I love the K7. I also really really like the X1. Totally different kind of camera for a different purpose.

  136. Grand merci pour ce test/comparatif ultra complet, un vrai “tuerie” ce leica. Je commence à faire des économies dés aujourd’hui.

  137. Grand merci pour ce test/comparatif ultra complet, un vrai “tuerie” ce leica. Je commence à faire des économies dés aujourd’hui.

    Flavio.
    Belgium.

  138. Dear amazing Steve !
    (I’m a fan)

    You recently said : « .. honestly the Leica X1 will give **BETTER IQ** at all ISO’s with that look we associate with Leica lenses ».

    I want to buy a high end compact.
    I’m looking at the X1 -vs- GF1+pancake -vs- EP2+pancake.

    How do you define the IQ ? My guess is that a Micro 4/3rd would have better IQ than a camera version 1.0.

    I want a high end compact because I don’t want to carry a big SLR on roadtrips, museums, city walks, beach, diner with friends (lowlight), concerts (first rows), etc. So that’s why my final 3 choices are the X1 / GF1+pancake / EP2+pancake.

    I don’t really care about videos.
    I care about the best picture quality, best IQ, best user interface, great in lowlight, nice DOF.

    I would appreciate if you could comment on the IQ (regarding these cameras)
    and also, what would be your personal choice between these 3 cameras regarding the kind of photography I want to do.

    Thanks so much Steve !!! stevehuffphoto.com Rocks !!!!

    Sincerely,

    - John

  139. John, if you want the best IQ, UI, lowlight then an X1 is the best bet! Thanks!

    Steve

  140. OK fabulous Steve !!!

    One last question …
    Which one is the “ACTUAL” WIDEST between Leica X1 24mm and GF1/EP2+pancake 20mm
    (I don’t know exactly how to do the calculation with different sensor sizes).

    Is this right ? …
    20mm pancake equivalent is **40mm**
    and the 24mm (Leica X1 crop sensor) would be **35mm** ??…

  141. The X1 is a 35mm equivalent focal length and the GF1 with 20 would be a 40mm equivalent focal length. The X1 will give you better IQ, better high ISO, better Dynamic Range in a slightly smaller package. The GF1 will give you versatility with other lenses and faster AF, and video.

  142. Thank you very much for your review of the Leica X1. I love your approach to reviewing stuff. Your site makes the world a better place. Please keep up the good work.

  143. Hey Steve
    Loved your article . I think it is a great camera and i hope they fixed the focus problem
    I’d love to see your new X1 article & test
    Thanks
    Danny

  144. Thank you for all I needed to know. I am looking for a replacement to my film camera (Contax S2and Contax G1 – the two were my compromise to being unable to afford a Leica M outfit). I have tried a DL4 – my first digital camera. Just sold it – too small and never did like zooms and buttons. Have now just sold my G1 oufit and been researching Leica X1, Olympus EPL1 and Panasonic GF1. I have read so much and yes there is always a compromiise, as you show so clearly in your review – we have to weigh up the ‘love’ factor and priorities. I would never be happy with an excellently performing camera, no matter how much fun to use, if I couldn’t get the ‘look’ and image quality I want. The Contax G1 was a compromise -annoying whirring noises, slow autofocus – but stunning pictures. The S2 a dream of mechanical engineering and a joy to use – but lenses just short of rangefinder quality lenses. I was considering either the EP2 or the Leica X1 – but want the option of fill-in flash on occasion, so checked out the EPL1. Which sounds great for a point and shoot but wouldn’t enjoy all the button-pushing again, and from what I have researched, none of the M43 give me the type of image quality and look I want. So – you have helped me decide – I want the X1 – the slow autofocus can’t be any worse than the Contax G1 (can it?). I want the simplicity of the controls and mechanical feel that I love so much about my Contax S2. And if the autofocus is slow – well – it’s a challenge! To improve my techniques and adapt my skills. I did not want a fixed 35mm lens- but again, have come to the conclusion that – my picture taking needs a new focus – and a challenge – I’ve done all the impact wide-angles and defocused telephoto portraits – been there, done it. Now I would have the chance to create something more individual with an excellent fixed lens – and just see what I can make it do. After selling the DL4 and Contax G1 outfits, I have £800 towards the X1 – plus a £200 unexpected tax rebate, which makes £1,000. So will probably now, finally sell my beloved Contax S2 to help me get to the target. Incidentally, the best lens I ever used was a fixed 38mm on my Contax T compact – which I sold (and regretted this!) to go towards the Contax G1. It had a line-up mark to set perfect focus at a set aperture and shutter speed, to make it point and shoot. Plus it had a ‘merging image’ manual focus. It would be nice if Leica could have incorporated something like this into its manual focusof the X1. Initially I had thought of getting an adapter to use the Contax G lenses on either the EP or the GF1 – but it sounds too fiddly focusing and only really any good for telephotos. No – I think I have to just sell up, start from scratch and get the X1. Thank you for your excellent review (the best I’ve read, and I’ve read them all!) and excellent photos – especially the black and white ones and the link to the software – will definitely have a go with that (despite being a bit of a technophobe when it comes to computers). Oh this emotional wrench to go digital and give up wonderful equipment! I’ve been through it a couple of times and just not been satisfied with the digital alternatives. I think this time I might be -in terms of – weight, simplicity of use, picture quality and ergonomics. A manual focus lens would have been the icing on the cake, but purely for the enjoyment of making it happen yourself – that hands-on thing. I’m not even going to look at or try an EP2, EPL1or GF1 – I don’t want to get that ‘fun to use’ urge and then be dissatisfied with the results. I want Velvia and HP5 results! And Zeiss or Leica lens results. There, I’ve just persuaded myself – along with your help. Love your candid family portraits. Best wishes from the rugged, cold, sunny North of England in March.

  145. PS – I just remembered the ‘line’ setting on my old contax T – f5.6 and 125th – someone once told me that if you set those values, virtually everything will be in focus. Is that true? If so – it would be a good alternative for moving subjects (not really fast ones I admit), without worrying about manual or autofocus. Presumably you would set the focus to infinity? It’s such a long time ago I really can’t remember.

  146. When I saw the unboxing video, I was prepared to unbox a smallish, light, not-so-awesome camera when mine arrived. I was surprised. It was like handling a Rolex watch or expensive item of jewelry. Very impressive. My first thought was “…and this takes photos too!” So seeing the results of shooting – no big deal. But for best results, it requires you to adopt a different style and mode of shooting – mostly getting closer, and being less lazy than with the zoom cameras.

  147. Re my Contax T comment. It was f8 which had a green line that lined up with a point on the focusing ring to give pictures all in focus at that setting. Is this what hyperfocal distance means please? And if so – has anyone worked out the settings for the X1? What I’m getting at is – when you want to capture something quickly – rather than using auto or adjusting manual focus, is it possible to set manual focus to a particular distance and aperture and achieve the above? Steve – you mentioned setting a distance of 6 feet and it not workin. Was that to try and wait for someone to enter the composition at that distance, or as an experiment similar to the above settings I mentioned. Would be grateful for thoughts on this. Also – do you know if autofocus is actually any faster or slower than the Contax G1? Best wishes.

  148. Hi Steve, thanks for writing this review. I used to do lots of photography (in the analog time) when digital started I abandoned the weight and took up digital snap shot cameras as soon as they came out. Had almost every brand, I have been happy with the lumix and the shockproof/underwater olympus, but for the past years I longed for aperture/shutter control. When the X1 came out I thought: here we are. So… reading your review makes me think I should still wait. I long to have the equivalent of the old SLR without the zillion programmes… I just want to be able to choose (easily) my f-stops and speed! (without too much cost or weight)… any suggestions? Thanks for your help!

  149. Steve – great review! I’ll be sure to go through your link if I decide to pick one of these up.

    Does the grip have to be removed in order to use a tripod? Regarding the “finish,” is it comparable to a Macbook Pro? Are the dials flimsy-loose or just too easy to rotate?

    Is the lens comparable to the 35mm f/1.4 SUMMILUX-M ASPH in terms of sharpness @ extended DOF? I’d like to use this for landscape pics when I’m in the boonies, and I’ve seen some incredible landscapes with the 35 Summilux. Your shot of the cathedral interior really started going soft mid-way through; but not knowing the aperture used nor your intent, it’s impossible to gauge.
    God bless.

  150. I downloaded the manual which answered most of my previous questions; but unfortunately presented a possible deal-breaker for me that I overlooked in your review – NO EXPOSURE LOCK! UGH!! To add insult to injury, they even highlight the fact that there is no true focus lock as well, which might have provided a work-around for the way I would normally prefer to shoot in manual: meter-focus-frame-shoot; oftentimes metering out of frame in the sky or wherever.

    You intimated that there is a way to lock exposure in manual mode; could you clue me in to that because I don’t see how that’s possible using AF. Your metering looks spot-on; what’s your secret?
    Thanks again for the great coverage and pics!

  151. With my X1, I see that there are several ways to control exposure. But when I’ve got most everything set the way I want for a particular scene, I do the final exposure adjustments with the EV +/- button. I’d rather have an exposure lock separate from the focus lock, but now that I’ve gotten used to the EV button, that seems to work OK. It would be interesting if someone did a comparison of the effects of using the different exposure controls, including program shift.

    Photo shot handheld as JPEG only.

    [img]http://dalethorn.com/Photos/Leica_X1/Charsc83.jpg[/img]

  152. Hi Steve
    Superb website, I have not got any work done for two evenings now.
    It started with me searching you tube for an X1 video and I came across your unboxing post.
    It was excellent and signposted me to your website. It seems to have provided answers to all of my questions but also thrown up new points to ponder.
    I am getting a little tired of lugging my Nikon D70 and companion 70-210 zoom around and my son is now refusing to hold the bag while I take photos! Hence I was wanting a good quality more portable camera to replace this.
    My decision was always between the panasonic GF1, the Olympus Pen and the Leica. All will be much more portable than my Nikon and all should give super results for family occasions and holidays.
    I have always considered a flash important for shooting indoors but after reading your comments I wonder if this is the case? I would add that the UK is not as inherently bright as the US….
    After reading your reviews on all three I am now more confused than ever, I am fortunate that price is not a deciding factor and want to be able to take pictures that look great on my Mac (unfortunately only 20″) and (when the UK gets them…) my iPad. I also want the best images to be printed, framed and put the round the house like any self respecting bloke or Dad would.
    I am OK at using iPhoto and the editing tools (lets face it I think you would worry if I couldn’t do this) but am not very au fait with Photoshop or the other image manipulation software that you refer to.
    My other dilemma is that I really want to convince myself that I must have the X1, I think it is very Apple-esque in that once I have touched one and turned it over in my hands I feel that I must own one, just like countless iPods, my iPhone, my magic mouse and (even though I haven’t even seen one yet) an iPad. The X1 looks beautiful, its simplicity and elegance is unsurpassed. If it were a car it would be an Aston Martin or a Bentley, whereas I see the Lumix as a Mitsubishi Evo or a Nissan skyline, plenty of speed and gizmos, pretty reliable but ultimately lacking the heritage of the others.
    Just for completeness I see the Olympus as more of a BMW, stylish but not too flashy and possessing engineering that will not let you down.
    Do I need the ability to shoot videos? Do I need to be able to swap lenses? Will that fixed non-zoom lens on the X1 suit all occasions indoor and out? Help me Steve please!!!
    You must give me the benefit of your advice as we have one other thing in common as well as a love for all things Apple – my wife is called Meena!
    PS tell us about the Ipad – us poor Brits havent seen one yet.
    Keep up the good work I have certainly bookmarked your site and will return frequently.
    Ravi.

  153. Hello again wonderful Steve !!!

    1) You said Leica X1 = 35mm (real world equivalent)
    Could you tell me the same equivalent for Leica D-Lux4 at widest ?
    I mean.. the widest is 24mm. Will I actually get 24mm with the D-Lux4 ?

    2) Do you think a D-Lux5 will be release this year?

    3) D-Lux4 “Compared” to Leica X1 ….

    D-Lux4 wins for Fast AF, right ?
    D-Lux4 wins for Screen resolution & Size, right ? (3″)
    D-Lux4 wins for Frames/sec, right ? (2.5f/s)
    D-Lux4 wins for Widest angle, right ?

    Bokeh : about the same, right ?
    Camera Size : about the same, right ?

    Everything else, X1 wins big time, right ? (Lowlight, IQ, Dynamic Range, lens quality, etc)

    Many many thanks Steve! You Rock so much!

  154. I’ve used the Pana LX3 (same as DL4) for 6 months, and the X1 for two weeks now. The DL4 will capture a wider image at 24 mm, and narrower also at 60 mm zoomed. Autofocus on the DL4 and X1 should be about the same. The DL4 has a better screen, but don’t forget when zooming in playback, you’re not zooming the hi-res image. The enlarged focus assist on the X1 will take care of focusing in everything but extremely dim light, where the DL4 would not fare any better. Certainly the DL4 is faster, with much less data recorded. The X1 is substantially larger than the DL4, and is much easier to hold when shooting. The biggest advantage of the X1 is in very low light, handheld, at very high ISO’s. Today I photographed a person in a dimly-lit room with the X1 at f2.8, 1/125, ISO=2500, and the image was usable after some slight noise processing. That photo could not have been taken with a DL4.

  155. Hi Steve:
    Best review ever! The best camera in my case right now is my Canon 40D (and various lenses)
    I needed a good point and shoot for those times when you just do. I wanted the D-Lux 4 but after reading the Lumix lx3 review, I chose that. It has gotten me as close to a Leica as I can afford at this time. I know it is not an exact copy of the D-Lux 4, but I am getting closer. When I can afford the X1….I will purchase it. The best part of you review is the way you describe your passion for this little gem.the X1…just the way I respond to beautiful cameras. Thanks again!

  156. thank you so much for this special test that helped me a lot more than every other test i read :-) thumbs up!!!

  157. Having read your review I bought an X1 to go with my Lumix GF-1 and DSLR.
    I totally agree with everything you said about the X1′s limitations and image quality ; images have a punch that the best Lumix lenses lack.

    Of course it’s far too expensive , has far too many negative aspects for the money , is no where near as flexible as micro 4/3 but boy do I love it.
    This camera has really got to me and will be used for for years to come.
    Thanks for a great website

  158. hey steve, could you tell me what settings you used for the last picture (the one of your son)? i love how it has a somewhat pinhole effect :) thanks!

  159. Hello Steve !
    “Dropped into” your great site, when searching for some facts regarding the Leica X1.
    Really liked your test, and your GREAT photos as well ! You opened my eyes for what this camera is capable to “deliver” ! There is something VERY special about what Leica glass are,(alone), and able to bring into a picture ! This led me to a purchase of this German “jewel” yesterday ! Still waiting to receive my camera, but it will be on my desk before the weekend. Look forward to unpack it and do my first test shots.
    Leaving for a five days trip to New York a week from now, and hope (and think) the X1 will be a perfect travelling companion in the streets in NY !
    ( Otherwise : hope my english/american spelling is readable to you and other visitors on your site..:-)
    Keep up your good work, – I am a future follower !
    - Stein Adler Bernhoft , – Norway

  160. Hi Steve,

    Really appreciate your good review. I like my X1, for me the IQ are really good. The design, size and weight are suit with me.

    One of my first shot with Leica X1 …at http://www.ijam.my . I’m really appreciated the IQ! :)

  161. Hi Steve,

    Thanks a lot for a good and fair review. This is the best review i had found for Leica X1.
    I received mine yesterday. In term of IQ, X1 deliver the best in their range!

    Thank you Steve :)

  162. Thank you for your review! I’m very impressive to find an article like yours about Leica X1… After to read your aticle I’m falling in love of LEICA X1 !!! I have a Nikon D-200 I love it too, but sometimes it’s too heavy and I don’t want to carry all time with me… I think with Leica X1 could be the perfect convination, what do you think?

    thanks a lot for all your information about Leica X1. I’m from Barcelona and here I still didn’t see it on the shops!

    Thank youuuuuu

    Anna

  163. I just got my X1 and have had only one shooting experience–an event in which I photographed people gathered at a somewhat dimly lit restaurant. One woman objected to the strength of the red focus light, which I dismissed until someone turned the camera on me… and, yes, it’s pretty bright! Even in better lighting, the refresh rate of the LCD is very jerky and slow, which gets in the way of capturing the decisive moment. The slow AF and sluggish write speed tried the patience of me and my subjects, and when I needed to re-shoot a group, I needed to chat them up while the camera readied itself. Not good. I also felt the battery heat up after a short amount of shooting time (not the case with the D-Lux series). But when I got home and reviewed the images, they were exceptionally good (akin to the feeling I had for my old and slow, but wonderful for its day, Contax TVS Digital).
    I love the manual controls, especially for flash photography, but as was mentioned, they could use some tightening. It’s also great that the design and functions mirror the M8 & 9… why learn another system? It’s so beautiful I love pulling it out, like German jewelry!
    Needless to say, the my D-Lux 3 and 4 have disappointed with their sometimes soft or smeary details (for some reason, it’s more apparent on faces). But what the D-Luxes do well is nail macro shots, something I miss with the X1. For someone who photographs her meals when she travels, this is a big disappointment. Thought I could travel light when only snapshots were required and just pack the X1. It doesn’t seen versatile enough to be the only camera in my travel bag. What it does, it does well. I’ll see if I can adapt my shooting style to its tedious focus and write speeds.

  164. I just got my X1 and have had only one shooting experience–an event in which I photographed people gathered at a somewhat dimly lit restaurant. One woman objected to the strength of the red focus light, which I dismissed until someone turned the camera on me… and, yes, it’s pretty bright! Even in better lighting, the refresh rate of the LCD is very jerky and slow, which gets in the way of capturing the decisive moment. The slow AF and sluggish write speed tried the patience of me and my subjects, and when I needed to re-shoot a group, I needed to chat them up while the camera readied itself. Not good. I also felt the battery heat up after a short amount of shooting time (not the case with the D-Lux series). But when I got home and reviewed the images, they were exceptionally good (akin to the feeling I had for my old and slow, but wonderful for its day, Contax TVS Digital).
    I love the manual controls, especially for flash photography, but as was mentioned, they could use some tightening. It’s also great that the design and functions mirror the M8 & 9… why learn another system? It’s so beautiful I love pulling it out, like German jewelry!
    Needless to say, the my D-Lux 3 and 4 have disappointed with their sometimes soft or smeary details (for some reason, it’s more apparent on faces). But what the D-Luxes do well is nail macro shots, something I miss with the X1. For someone who photographs her meals when she travels, this is a big disappointment. Thought I could travel light when only snapshots were required and just pack the X1. It doesn’t seem versatile enough to be the only camera in my travel bag. What it does, it does well. I’ll see if I can adapt my shooting style to its tedious focus and write speeds.

  165. Thanks Steve for your Honest all around review..Nuff said. Ive used a Delux 2 for years now..Even has use dents” ! Im movin up to the X1. The pic quality seems to really be there in this camera and im sure it has everything to do with the better Leica lens!

  166. Wait for the SEPTEMBER 2010 PhotoKina in Germany….

    The cost is nuts when U eventually add on to this thing, the ‘Grip’ the ‘View Finder, a ‘Case’ and then…. when and if U can find a place that has it in stock…. SOMETHING BETTER will be right here!!!

    Leica is so Crappy about getting this thing [and that M9] in front of my eyes…. it is for me the camera[s] that does not exist.

    Soo… 4 me I’m off to the Linhof counter! {Who by the way R so comprehensive and attentive to my needs it seems I’m on a different planet!]

  167. Yes, attentiveness and comprehensiveness should definitely be key determinants of camera choice.
    Irony intended.
    I hope you enjoy your Linhof as much as I enjoy the X1 and M9 (easily obtained at a good price from
    a European dealer and shipped to me in the U.S…all at less than i would have paid here)

    BTW, I’ve had to deal with Leica’s USa office for help on a Leica lens and found the contact person very attentive and comprehensive. :-)

    Mark

  168. Linhof and X1 do have something in common – it’s rare to see anyone walking around with either one. You might see an occasional Leica in New York, London, or Paris etc., but in Charleston SC they’re non-existent as far as I’ve seen, in spite of hanging around the tourist areas for hundreds of days.
    [img]http://dalethorn.com/Photos/Leica_X1/Charsc86.jpg[/img]

  169. I have lovely memories of three days in Charleston many years ago. But, however different Charleston and San Francisco may be, I don’t find many Leicas in the San Francisco Bay area either….and have never seen anyone with a Linhof.

    Mark

  170. I run M4 Leica & 4 lenses and it’s wonderful… perfection actually! I also run Hasselblad and had a new 50mm jam up after 5 rolls of film when in the Arctic. Service in those days was astounding for both companies.

    Today life is very different as we all can have issues when we spend 5 cents or $5,000. This is not essey time for me here on this topic

    Someone has provided his views from another forum. He has become an ‘X’ Leica user, [errr that's 'X' as in got rid of his M9 camera]
    I quote:

    “Posted by: Rick in CO | Tuesday, 09 March 2010 at 08:41 PM
    Well, I bought an M9 and it’s been a horror story. After picking it up in a large European city on October 14, I took a dozen pictures before leaving the following day for Bangkok, where I live. While recovering from jet lag I didn’t have time to look at the first pictures taken until a week later when I noticed two parallel line in one of the corners of every frame, from the very first one on.
    After a few days, I figured that these lines must stem from the sensor and, upon examining the sensor with a loupe, found two parallel cracks in one of the corners of the sensor cover glass. Leica Service in Solms asked me to send the camera back and they replaced either the sensor or the sensor cover glass — I’m not sure which — and turned the camera around in five business days: a good performance in acting quickly, although the whole process took one month because of getting the camera in and out of Customs both in Germany and in Thailand. Incidentally, from postings on the Leica Users Forum (LUF) I found that there was a small batch of M9s that had also been delivered with cracks in the sensor cover glass.
    It was now early December and I was able to use the camera for three weeks before seeing that the M9 was intermittently producing a spurious lighter-colored rectangle within the frame for some 6-10 frames. After writing an e-mail to Leica Service I received a response on December 28 stating that this was a “processor fault” and asking me to send the camera back again through the Thai importer for replacement by a new camera, as soon as they received my M9.
    I dropped the camera off at the Thai importer on December 29. But, by early February I had heard nothing. After a series of telephone calls and e-mails to Solms, I then learned that Leica Service had not been able to reproduce the spurious rectangle problem and the technicians had concluded that the problem was produced by Lightroom and wanted to return the camera to me as is. But I explained I wasn’t using Lightroom but was using Aperture and Raw Developer, and insisted that the problem could not have been caused by the raw developer because, then, it wouldn’t have been intermittent.
    I kept of refusing to have the camera sent back to me because I had encountered the problem several times and knew it was there. Around February 18, Leica finally was able to reproduce the problem, and informed me that they would send me a new camera on which they would replace the top and bottom plates with my old ones because they had a few smalls scratches on them: it seems that Leica reuses for the production of new cameras these parts from cameras its service department replaces.
    I wasn’t happy about that because I wanted a completely new camera untouched by Leica Service, because when the camera went back to Solms for the sensor crack problem Leica Service exchanged the defective part rather than replacing the camera; and, for all I knew, the processor problem may have been caused by that repair. But nothing doing about sending a new camera straight from production: they had to put my old top and bottom plates on the new camera.
    Last week a couple of days after the M9 came back, I sold it for what I had paid for it, the buyer accepting that it was a new camera. While I did not feel that I necessarily would have still more problems with the M9, the two-month bagatelle during which I had to fight not to have Leica send back the old camera to me without having found the spurious rectangle problem did not leave a good taste. Basically, I sold the M9 for the following reasons, some of which may not seem valid to other people, and hope I won’t be taken to task for that:
    1. As I had reported to Leica Service, the LEDs in the viewfinder were not visible in the bright light extant in Thailand, and were less bright than those in my M6 by what seems to be a factor of ten times and also less bright than those on an M8.2 that I had used previoulsy. Leica Service did not recognize this as an issue because no one else reported this problem and, hence
    2. The shape of the exposure area of the light meter were different from those in the M6 and M8 to a degree that, for me, made exposing with wide-angle lenses somewhat unpredictable.
    3. The quality of the 230,000 pixel LCD was not good enough to judge exposure, which compounded, for me, reason 2 above. Unlike some people, who don’t even want a digital-M to have an LCD, I tend to feel that a digital camera should have the facilities that are inherent to digital cameras.
    4. The general finickiness of the camera, much of which, but (crucially) perhaps not all, will be fixed through the forthcoming firmware update.
    5. Just after New Year, I bought on impulse the Ricoh GXR/A12 when I unexpectedly found that a dealer in Bangkok already had for sale. This is a camera that I like a lot.
    6. This year I expect to have to travel extensively between, and in, Asia, Europe and North America, which is more easily done with carry-on luggage only — an absolutely requirement for my frequent travel — with a Ricoh GRD3 or a GXR/A12 than with an M9 and several lenses.
    So, now I’m left with eight Leica-M lenses, some of them of superb quality, and an M6 that I’m unlikely to use again, but which I cannot get myself to sell in the light of the low prices this camera is currently fetching. I think it’s better for me to wait this dance out and perhaps get the successor camera to the M9.
    This should be the end of the story, but unfortunately it continues. The buyer of my M9 was a visitor to Thailand and has gone back home. As all of my original papers for the camera are in Europe, to where I won’t get until at least mid-April, all I was able to provide the buyer was a scanned copy of the guarantee. When I contacted Leica Customer Support through their website asking how I could transfer the ownership and the guarantee to the new owner I got the following response:
    “It is necessary to hand out all paperwork, waranty card, your sales slip and so on to the new owner because of the warranty !
    It will be transfered to the new owner also !”
    “As long as you didn´t hand out all paperwork to the new owner, the transfer isn´t finished.
    He needs to have your sales slip or the warranty card, stamped by your dealer and he needs..
    …if he would have a repair. It wouldn´t be free of charge.”
    I responded to Leica Customer Service stating that this response was too rigid and unfair to the new owner, but did not receive the courtesy of a response. This position makes no sense to me at all: the camera is under guarantee and Leica guarantees are transferable when the camera is sold — there is a form on one of the cards included with the camera for transferring ownership. Just because I do not have access to the original documents should not mean that the new owner should not benefit from the guarantee, as I can easily e-mail of fax a signed letter stating that I have sold this camera to this particular person. Leica gains nothing for taking this rigid position except for bad will from a long-standing customer.
    It seems to me that both this rigidity on the change of ownership and the unwillingness to replace my M9 when the technicians could not reproduce the problem — after all I had sent picture files showing the spurious lighter-colored rectangles — exhibits an attitude of “the customer must be wrong”, which is the opposite of what the company should be doing. Both Leica Service and Customer need fixing badly.”

    Obviously he is upset! But, he is very lucky this camera can be re-sold with the warranty…. I always read that it would stop with the 1st owner!

    When the camera is on the shelf…. I WILL BUY THE M9!!!!

  171. Yet another customer service nightmare story. Or, an example that the built-by-hand methods and philosophy Leica uses to produce their cameras is also the rule in their customer service administration. I don’t see why they can’t have a universal registration of their cameras from the production line through all owners, maintained on their computers. Might they be concerned that many of their customers don’t want their cameras to be traceable?

  172. [...] Re: X1 first impressions / vs E-P2 In his review of the X1, Steve Huff has done quite some comparing with the E-P2. The differences are very clear and more than a little in favor of the X1 the way I see it. A bit before halfway down the article start the X1 vs. E-P2 images. The Leica X1 – Hands on Review, Image Samples, and Comparisons | STEVE HUFF PHOTOS [...]

  173. I’ve had some great results in different settings with my X1. Yes, the AF still drives me crazy, and so can the write speed (even with a better class of SD card), but I’m carrying the camera around with me constantly, and that’s how you can make some marvelous photographs. It’s always in my purse, even though it’s so pretty I should just wear it around my neck, like a pendant.

  174. Thanks for a great review, I’m waiting for an X1 right now.
    I cannot wait untill it arrives in about 2 weeks time.

  175. [...] learn more about the camera the system case was designed for, Steve Huff has a very comprehensive review of the Leica X1, with a ton of images.   All was not lost because I had an awesome new camera case! What sealed [...]

  176. HEY GUYS! I finally broke down and put my money where my mouth is and I bought myself an X1. I could not resist and after selling both of my Olympus E-Pl1′s and a couple of lenses I never used I spent it on a shiny new X1. I still have the E-P2 but the X1 is going to be getting a workout as I just stared a new X1 Daily Diary page under the “reviews” heading.

    • Good luck Mr. Huff. You may already know, but it’s worth repeating IMO – the X1 is at its best when you adopt an approach that doesn’t require fast responses etc. Several people have told me that they believe the X1′s special look(?) is due mostly to the lens, but I’m convinced that the ultra-low noise is also a big part of that look.

  177. what is the best setting for the X1? standard or neutral? sharpening? saturation?

  178. From the best advice I’ve heard on the X1, for average situations, they recommend setting sharpening to medium low, and saturation and contrast to medium high. I personally concur with the saturation and contrast, but I’m not convinced that X1 sharpening is too high by default, so I leave it on Standard.[img]http://dalethorn.com/Photos/Leica_X1/Flower53.jpg[/img]

  179. Love to hear what setting most keep their Preset Film at… for some reason, I love the shots using Natural.

  180. This is a little late to respond to a review 7 months old. Any new opinions on the X1? I don’t like or do much street photography; to me the bigger shortcoming with the X1 is the single focus lens – no zoom, no ability to change lenses. Zoom with your feet doesn’t always work. I find it very limiting.

    • After using the X1 for 4 months, it’s obvious that it’s not about zooming with your feet per se. To really use the X1 properly, you have to abandon the laziness and instant gratification that most modern digital cameras offer. You need to not only get close enough to your subject, but you have to constantly adjust your distance and perspective to get the best possible framing for your shot. Don’t forget that zooms don’t just bring a subject closer, they tend to flatten the perspective as well. The photos you get with an X1 will look different for that reason and a host of others. My feeling is that you’ll really like some of these “different” looks, and others not so much. So you might want to consider shooting with the X1 for a month, then switch to another camera for a month, and so on. Or shoot with the X1 at certain times of day in certain situations, then use another camera at other times. Or even carry two cameras at the same time. If your other camera isn’t too large (i.e. a Canon G11 etc.), one small shoulder bag can easily contain both. Just don’t expect the X1 to be the “do-everything” camera unless you’re firmly committed to the primitive kind of approach to photography that it requires for best results.

  181. Hi Steve

    Would you be willing to upload (or provide a download link) for any of the RAW format files from your X1 test?

    Thanks

  182. Hi Steve, i really enjoyed reading your review on the X1. Being that I personally rather have a compact camera like the Leica d=D4, which so far has given me beautiful images and the quality which I have ecdperience has been very satifactory, i think that for the time being I will do some serious thinking concerning the X1 and it’s slow Af. At the present time I owe two canons the DSLR’s the 40 D and 50D.Ffor a moment I had been consering on selling my two cameras and for practical reasons just ge the X1. well, I’ve decided for the time bieng to keep my 50 and my D-lux4.
    Thanks agian for enligtening and helping me make decision on whether to buy the X1.
    William
    CorpusCchristi, Texas

  183. Hi there

    Great images Steve. Like the web-site and the reviews.
    Thinking of buying a X1, the D700 with all the lenses is getting too
    much to carry around….

    R

  184. Hi Steve,

    dpreview and your reviews are a perfect couple!

    Regards from Germany

    Uli

  185. Thanks for sharing. Your blog helped convinced me to sell my Nikon DX Kit (D300S & 3 DX Lenses) and picked up an X1. I really wanted the M9 but would have been at the cost of the Nikon FX Kit (D3S + all the current pro lenses). I am hoping I can adapt to the AF speed. I do a lot of street / photojournalism shooting. I look at it this way, even if the X1 AF is slow, it’s still faster than manual focusing. If I need speed, I’ll use the D3S. I’m new to the world of Leica, but seeing the images taken with a Leica and comparing the same images using something else….. there is a difference here.

  186. Hi Steve, my name is Cliff and I just read you’re review on the Leica X1. I bought the X1 with its viewfinder less than a week from reading the review. Whats written in it is so true and I even bought it because its a Leica and for its image quality, I’m a Canon 5D MKII user and proud, but when it comes to a compact camera, I guess the the AF is not bad, I used the Canon G9 its not that better, and still its a very good camera. In a way I’m happy about the review, and agree totally. And now I’m gonna be waiting for new reviews about new toys. And btw I liked the part when you talked about the M9 as i might buy one later on in life.

  187. Just got x-1 3 days ago ( i just known there is a camera brand called leica last week ), i’m a dad with 3 years old kid … Just wanted that magazine photo quality for my kid photo…Have 0% knowlaged about camera, all i know is point of shot camera + the big black canon or nikon that professional usually carried.

    Fed up with the pic quality in point of shot camera, last year got the d70s nikon … With my 0% experience in camera all my kid pic blurry , i grin as my wife developed the pic and said ” what the hell are u doing, everything is blurry !!!” well after 1 week i put my d70s in the box and put it in storage, almost a year… Back to lame as point and shot … Gave up the idea of magazine quality photo ..

    Last week my best friend rave and wanting to buy some camera called : sony nex-5 , best sensor best tech , sold out everywhere bla bla bla … Hmm Im curious and started too google it, “hey it is a compact i though” , as i surf i come across great image made by leica camera ( as this point i just known leica existed ) … As i research more , now i know that there is several point and shot camera with somewhat magazine quality photo…

    Now i’m down to 3 choice :
    1. Sony nex-5 , for all the raving sensor sensor sensor … But in my mind , with all this great tech come very cheap , why ? ( money never lied … ) .., check out the pic : it is very clean crisp kind like it is robotic made…
    2. Olympus ep-2 , cause i bough a friend this camera as a gift last year… And now i’m wondering , must be pretty good if my friend asking for this type … Check out the sample image ..it is good, really good … Hmmm why the hell im giving it as a gift and not buy one…
    3. Leica x-1, like this camera look ultra retro cool, check out the sample pic : damn nice and but all pics look almost the same for all 3 camera image quality, but there is something in this x-1 pict that feel “romanticize”… Its not crazy crispy detail like nex-5 , it not very real life like ep-2 .., it just perfect balance … Ass i check out the price … Damn its expensive .. What worried me is that, is it worth the money ?…

    Asking advice from my pro photographer friend, he never explain nex or ep, all he said that leica is oldest company in photography area, all his lens are from leica .. And one of his 10 years lens increase prices … And he laugh and said to me “but it is no zoom camera!!!” ( as he know that i don’t know to operated complex camera )… “But u should check it out at his dealer , it is a quality & fun camera, it should be ok for daily shot” he said… Now i know that leica is an investment im not worried about price anymore..what worried me is no zoom …

    Well try it at the dealer … I felt in love with the looks & design… Its a patek quality..not rolex quality…hmm but No zoom , hmm as i play around with the camera, i was thinking “i can live with no zoom”… “I can get all the pict in frame”… Just have to move my fat ass a bit , it can count as exercise hahaha…. Well i bought it after 10 minutes …

    Been playing it ever since, as my wife praise the quality of the pic ( kept saying that im a good photographer hahaha )… Happy with the magazine look alike quality pic for my kid, it look really cool when ur carrying around .. And not a bit regret bout the price thinking it is never going to go down much , even in years to come ( i think sony price drop 30-50% as soon as u left the store ).

    Well … Trying to learn more and more bout app iso sspeed… Wondering / hoping if i can operate smoothly M9 + noc .95 lens hehe maybe 1 more year … But really thk u for steve huff blog .. I got most of my info , reference, and useable real life sample pic from here for comparison ….

    Well got my x1 and really happy bout it .. Next week going family vacation…. Hoping to take great family pics…Im a happy camper…

    Thk steve…

    • @Happy Dad,

      Excellent, cool, funny story ! have fun with your X1 and …….. your future M9 !

      Jean-Paul

    • Had a good laugh reading your comment Happy Dad and along with Steve Huff’s review I am now debating about replacing my Digilux 2 with the X1…cannot afford both unfortunately.

  188. Thanks guys for all of your comments and reviews. Although I own a M8.2 with a couple of lens, just like some of you, I do travel very frequently and have been searching for a camera which is light, small enough with excellent picture quality.

    I must say that after Steve’s review, I am sold!!! I am going to the dealer shop to pick up my X1 right after I finish typing here and can’t wait to feel the power of it.

    Fred
    (Hong Kong)

  189. Hi Steve. Thanks for the great review !!! … Just one question …. I have a digilux 3 … What you thing … I’m thinking to buy a new like …would you think the X1 would give better photos than the Digilux 3 ??? Thanks froom Brazil, Rj

  190. bought this camera a month ago and everything Steve said is true. I have been a pro for 30 years and the images that come of this camera is PHOTOGRAPHIC ART. Its hard to put in words but it is a different look then say your Nikon with a zoom lens or even one of the primes. For example one and a half year ago I bought a D700 with a 24mm 2.8 lens for casual and street photography. And went to New Orleans and shot some good pics, but not photographic art, and haven’t used the d700 nor the 24mm lens again. Let me rephrase that, not for street or casual photography. And the 24 mm is worthless if you own the 24-70 nikkor. But the Leica I create photographic Art almost every time I use it.

  191. Is an improved X2 version likely to appear in a near future?

  192. An X1 is not likely to be announced before Autumn 2011. And given the X1 record of availability, you could then purchase the X2 around April-May 2012.

  193. I have just taken my newly acquired X1 for my 4 days Tokyo trip. I must say that the quality of the pictures, as Steve mentioned, is the best I have seen in any compact camera. I have been using my D-Lux 4 for more than a year but the performance of the X1 surely does better than D-Lux 4. Although I agree that the processing time is somewhat very slow, given the fact that I mostly take snap shots, this really isn’t a problem for me. Having used the M8.2 for sometime, the quality that the X1 produces is very close to M8.2+35mm Summicron. To the point that X1 gives a better control during high ISO (800 plus). I have no regret in purchasing this camera.

  194. Hi Steve in your d-lux 5 review you mentioned a comparison with the X1 have you really compared these two cameras at 35 mm focal , and if is the D-lux 5 close to the X1 in term of IQ and dynamic range contrast etc..

    thanks Sylvain

  195. Thanks Steve, I have been waiting for the D-Lux 5 …. was just gonna order one when I just read your really good down to earth review of the X1. The IQ of the X1 you have shown has really turned everything on its head for me now – as I mostly want the best possible image results from a compact/travel camera.
    Not had a descent camera since my Nikon FE2 days !…. so playing catch up big time in the now digital world!
    Great site, Paul from the UK

  196. I have been shooting with a Panasonic LX1 since it first came out, sadly I dropped it and broke the lcd screen making the camera pretty useless so now I am in the market for a replacement digital compact camera, which has brought me to your site.

    I have mostly spent the last year or so shooting a Nikon D5000 with just a 50mm f1.4 G lens (the only lens I have for the body) and have come to the realization that I can live with a single focal length camera and be happy as long as the image quality is there and the camera is small enough and convenient enough to actually use. The Dslr isn’t small enough to carry with me at all times, the image quality is fine, but the size of the camera (and really the large number of features/buttons/menus it has) has made me dislike the whole package. The X1 looks like a solution for me, and since I am not made of money and cannot afford the M9 and only want one focal length, I am happy that I found out about the little Leica and I thank you for the review and your site.

    Back in my film days I shot with a Leica M3. Man, I loved that camera, should never have sold it. I appreciate the “leica look” and very much appreciated the minimalist controls that are common to leica products. This camera seems to keep the simplicity and image quality of Leica, but puts them into a compact package with a control layout is very much my style so I think I will have to pick up the X1 and get rid of my bulky dslr stuff. I want a camera to take with me everywhere and sadly the Dslr isn’t doing it.

    Someday, I may just have to get me one of those fancy M9s with a 35mm summarit lenses, but until then, I think the X1 can be a good substitute.

  197. Thanks Steve for this review that convinced me buy my Leica X1. I have not regretted my choice for one moment, and love the feel of that sturdy body, the sharpness and low-noise of the images and look forward to take it on my next trip this winter.

  198. The last couple of months I have been obsessed with the idea to purchase an M9 with good lenses that I forgot there is a X1 out there.

  199. Steve: Thank you for your in-depth review of the Leica X1.

    The only thing holding me back from getting the X1 would be if there is considerable shutter delay also in manual focus mode. I can live with shutter delay in autofocus mode; it’s a fact of life I know.

    But for action shots, can you tell me, what if I were to set the X1 to manual focus and then pre-focus such shots. Would that eliminate the awful shutter delay which otherwise causes you to lose such shots. If setting to manual would make the shutter response instantaneous, I’ll be another Leica X1 owner.

    Best to you,

    Adam Lindoro

  200. I hate you Steve!!!!!!
    I’m gonna sleep in the living room if my wife finds out how much I’ve spent on this cam!

  201. I never mentioned, the guy in this review’s head banner looks a lot like Kiefer Sutherland.

  202. I can’t believe it’s been a year since the release! I realized it when I took the attached photo with my X1- which isn’t the best photo- but I find it funny to post here as a symbol of the one year mark.

  203. I can’t believe it’s been a year since the release! I realized it when I took the attached photo with my X1- which isn’t the best photo- but I find it funny to post here as a symbol of the one year mark. [img]http://www.flickr.com/photos/bsgraupner/5272317601/lightbox/[/img]

  204. [img]http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5281/5272317601_bf1087e6f4_o.jpg[/img]

  205. Hi steve
    Thank for a great review i realy love the color results from the x1
    but i love more the bw out of camera look so good.

    wish to get one like this
    only
    need about 1900$ :-)

    ofir

  206. [...] mai. Della X1 ci sono numerose recensioni di autorevoli esperti nel campo come per esempio: http://www.stevehuffphoto.com/2010/01/05/the-leica-x1-digital-camera-review/ oppure per gli aspetti più tecnici: [...]

  207. Mr. Huff your reviews are flawless. I love your site and your work. I have learned so much from you and thank you for sharing your knowledge. I am going to visit the leica factory this summer while still in Germany. I am planning to buy the X-1 in Black. I hope they have already included the firmware. Thanks again for the beautiful review. You are the best. Your humble fan, CPT D

  208. Many thanks for a wonderful review – no fawning or biased critique here. (BTW, Your shots are superb)
    I have a Nikon D300s – which I love – but each year we tour the USA on a motorbike. The first 3 years, I took Canon Powershots (a new one each year) Then I took a Nikon D80, then last year, the D300 and, as much as I love that, it is just too cumbersome on a motorcycle. So, I have given myself plenty of headaches trying to decide on an alternative. To me, quality counts above all and the point and shoots just don´t cut it – nor the bridge cameras or the lower end, lighter DSLRs. The X1 seems perfect. I shoot mostly landscapes so the sluggishness won´t trouble me too much. No, the quality of your photos and your apparent growing love of the camera (within its limitations) have really made my mind up. Thank you so much :)

  209. I also reviewed the X1 for Photo Pro magazine in the UK and I have to agree with you regarding the painful AF and write times. I thought the build quality was pretty good.

    The image quality though is something special and I too have debated long and hard as to whether I should add it to my kit. I have decided to wait, hopefully Leica will take on board the comments and do something about the AF. Write time & replay I can live with.

    I’m hoping to get my hands on the new Fuji X100, this should provide direct competition for the X1 and it will be interesting to see what it’s like.

  210. Thanks SO MUCH for the great real-world reviews; really enjoy the site and your photos. I can only read so many reviews with all the charts and graphs. They’re good but often leave out valuable hands-on info.
    I was finally able to snag a black X1 from Adorama this week (1 of 2 they received), my first Leica, and I am in love. The lagging AF doesn’t impact my type of shooting, and the IQ is AMAZING for such a small camera. I’ve even used it with my strobes for some studio spec shots using the “studio” flash setting, which many technical reviews have skipped. The flash fires just enough to trigger the slave strobes but without impacting the image. Thanks again for the review.

  211. Hi Steve,

    Your review has really set my decision firmly in place. I had been thinking about picking up a compact camera as a walkabout (as my 5d is NOT suitable for that ha!) and I think that the X-1 is going to perfectly fit the bill for this. I can’t wait to get my hands on one!

  212. [...] Review at stevehuffphoto.com This entry was posted in X Series and tagged x1. Bookmark the permalink. ← Assembling the Leica M9 [...]

  213. Interesting real world review. Until very recently I pretty much ignored the existence of the X1 as an expensive toy and I am taken by surprise that actually apart form slow AF this is a very nice camera. While on the expensive side I started to seriously consider it as “take it everywhere” camera – in particular where my Mamiya 6 would be too large/slow or inappropriate (business trips). Since your review the m4/3 did not make another quantum leap and X2 is not heard about, but now the X100 is a rising start and makes the choice harder. So I really hope to see the X100 review soon.

  214. Good review, which accords broadly with my experience of the camera. However, aren’t points 4 and 5 of your ‘cons’ really the same?

  215. I have an extensive review at Amazon and also on my website. It’s actually two reviews in one, from two different perspectives.

  216. Hey Steve, what i have to say is “i m deeply appreciate with your review. This is one of the best review I ve never ever read. Well done mate!” First I m a chinese with very average english understanding. And tell u what? I got a 100% full understanding of this review. Simple to understand, full on test and photo samples. I read your review before I go to a camera store in New Zealand(that’s where I live). I saw it on the shelf waving at me and it is just beautiful. They got the black one and when I tried it, it is exactly what you ve said. it is really a top of the line compact camera. I ve half made my decision after reading your review and put my hammer down when I hold onto it and started with the 2nd snap. This review is a true guideline before buying the X1.

    A deep thank you from the other side of the planet. Well done and best regard!

  217. Hello Steve.. is it to late to get the X1 right now ? since there is rumors that X2 is coming this year?

  218. There’s a long history on Leica X1 rumors. If you buy into them, you may never get to buy an actual camera. — FYI

    • I know… but.. it’s not worth it when you buy camera and then the next 3 month coming with new version with the same price..

  219. Three months? Impossible. First, there will not be any possible announcement until three more months. Then IF they announce a new camera (not likely) it will be eight more months until it is available. That’s 11 months – almost a year. So stop agonizing about it.

  220. Have just read the review and watched the videos and its knocked me off the fence to buy a X1 going out today to buy a black version with the hand grip. Ive just sold my Digilux 2 this is the third one i have owned and missing it already.Image quality is king for me so the X1 is the logical choice as i cant afford a M9 and lense.

  221. Leica x1 does have not RAW???

  222. [...] my next target. Which colour are you getting? Here are a couple reviews if you haven't read them: The Leica X1 – Hands on Review, Image Samples, and Comparisons | STEVE HUFF PHOTOS The Leica X1 Revisited. Still the best in the small camera category! | STEVE HUFF PHOTOS More [...]

  223. Great reivew ! Loved it !

  224. After lugging a Canon SLR and three extra lenses, a flash and heaping lot of batteries I made the switch to the Leica X1 yesterday and honestly I couldn’t be happier right now. The only downside I’ve found so far is macro shooting but to be honest my Canon was awful at that too, and the picture quality is stunning. I’m very happy living in Leica land.

  225. goodpoints there. I did my own search on

  226. I need an easy digital camera to take video and post on youtube.

  227. Hi Steve. I alway wanted a Leica M. After reading this and using Olympus and Nikon film cameras, Fuji Finepix and Canon EOS 1s, I am so tired of caring them and missing so many memorable images, I can’t wait to buy mi X1. You made the difference. This is the first time I see your Blog. I usually go to Dpreview.com which is useful but too technical. Your hands on photographer style is closer to Pros like me who know what a camera is for. So thank a lot and I hope your EX is happy with her new X1 too…
    Carlos E.
    [img]behance.net/carlosechavarria[/img]

  228. Hi Steve. I alway wanted a Leica M. After reading this and using Olympus and Nikon film cameras, Fuji Finepix and Canon EOS 1s, I am so tired of caring them and missing so many memorable images, I can’t wait to buy mi X1. You made the difference. This is the first time I see your Blog. I usually go to Dpreview.com which is useful but too technical. Your hands on photographer style is closer to Pros like me who know what a camera is for. So thank a lot and I hope your EX is happy with her new X1 too…
    Carlos E.
    [img]behance.net/carlosechavarria[/img][img]http://www.behance.net/carlosechavarria[/img]

  229. [...] prises avec mon merveilleux capricieux petit Leica X1 (super review de l’appareil sur le blog de Steve Huff, maître des tests d’appareils en [...]

  230. nice review man, really enjoyed the layman style,,,’Yeah!’

  231. im fairly new to the Leica world; im likely to really consider getting M6 .85 LLT from my research, but i guess i still don’t understand and seem to be turned off by Leica’s position on their products. Would I buy an 335 BMW for top $$$ and then be told I have to spend extra for a radio? so you can dish out 2k for an X1 just cause it’s cool looking and its a Leica, whaoh… but then you need the camera holder $$$ and then you need a view finder more $$$ – really i can understand the madness of a cult but are people that stupid to consider this camera like the last coke on the dessert ? it’s like buying a porsche top dollar yet you have to pay extra for them to paint for you – insane !!! sorry, if you can point me to leica site that might really listen I would voice my 2 cents with them. that said, I don’t disagree much with your take on it, just the whole I idea of owning one… thanks, jc

  232. Hi Steve and all.

    While reading around newer stuff on the site, I revisited this “old” review I had read at the time. Just want to add my 2 cents: I am a X1 user, and have been since the first specimen hit the stores in Brussels. I still marvel every day about the combination of picture quality, ergonomics and ultra small size compared to sensor. It is genuinely pocketable, including trousers pockets. With the v2 of firmware, it is much more reactive than it was at time of review, including for AF, and easier to use in full manual mode (DoF scale, settings saved when power is turned off, etc). No issue at all on that side. I agree with most of Steve’s conclusions, including on the minus side, especially the remark about top plate dials being too easy to move unintentionally. But for the rest, this camera is a dream, and is as much a dream in November 2011 as it was back at launch. No reason to sit and wait for “newer/better” if you are looking for this type of pocketable quality. I’d buy it black now though…. ;-)

    PS Steve: thanks for your site, your work and your healthy view on the tools of this hobby/profession

  233. Hi Steve, I loved your review last year and in may 2010 I bought the X1 when it came out in The Netherlands. I loved shooting with it. The pictures are crisp and clear and you just think about the picture you want to take before you press the shutter. Three weeks ago I bought an M9 with 35 mm summicronlens. My friends has the X1 now as a snall camera alongside his D700. I’m still playing around with the M9, which is a fantastic camera. It’s a great upgrade from the X1 and I’m going to use the X1 when I’m “lazy” and want to use an autofocus camera with a great Leica lens.

  234. How does the X1 compare to the fuji x100 in terms of usability…?

    Some of the cons in Dpreview for the X1 were as below…have firmware updates fixed these:
    * Autofocus distinctly slower than most
    * Unimpressive battery life
    * Accurate manual focus impossible (lens stops down uncontrollably)
    * Low light operation relatively poor (very slow AF and screen refresh rate)
    * Live histogram unreliable, disappears when setting exposure compensation
    * ISO only visible in detailed display mode; Auto ISO doesn’t show selected value at all
    * Click stops for control dial ‘A’ positions not positive enough (particularly on the shutter speed dial)
    * No DNG only option (must record a JPEG as well)
    * Camera locks up completely when buffer is full shooting raw
    * Electronic image stabilization of limited usefulness (only works in JPEG mode)
    * Unrefined JPEG image quality
    * Playback mode slow and unresponsive
    * Very expensive

    I know the X100 issues, but am interested in knowing how these two compare.

  235. This is the best compact I’ve ever owned. I just bought one and am astounded by the quality. The af is on the slow side but I was quite surprised as it wasn’t as slow as I was expecting after reading all the reviews. I shoot it alot on manual focus as well. The Manual system is brilliant and I’m probably using it more in mf mode than af. The image quality is astoundingly good – I had heard it was good but my eyes just about popped out of my head when I saw how good it was. Large sensor, outstanding quality images in a pocketable camera. To me it’s perfect.

  236. http://dalethorn.com/Photos/Leica_X1/Charsc68.jpg

    Here’s one of my classic examples of why the X1 is so outstanding. This is a photo taken in JPEG mode only, cropped slightly, and no other significant changes (I use Paint Shop Pro v6 dated ~1998). Even this is a challenge for clarity, shooting JPEG with the X1. I can’t imagine most other compact cameras being able to capture as good of detail in a large group photo.

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