May 302012
 

The Leica X2 Review – Can Leica still win us over with their charms?

Here we are at the end of May 2012 and I have been shooting with the new Leica X2 for just about a week. I have shot quite a few snaps and images with it already (I am a slow going type of shooter, NOT a machine gunner) and have found it has given me some really cool keepers that I am happy with. It’s a funny thing because when the original Leica X1 came out I loved it, and for good  reason.

The IQ the little X1 put out was astonishing, especially for the time it was released

When that good looking X1 was released there was not much out there that could compete in that size and weight for IQ until a while later when the Fuji X100 came out. That X100 must have sent a chill down Leicas spine as I know for a FACT that it ate into the X1′s sales…and thunder.

With the Fuji we have an APS-C camera that has retro styling, a built in hybrid OVF/EVF, a nice and fast (and very good) built in 35mm equivalent lens with a fast aperture of f/2 and even though it was a bit quirky to operate, many felt that it was a better alternative to the Leica X1…and get this, it  was even $800 less expensive!

As the newer cameras in this class starting hitting the scene, the X1 started to appear more like a beautifully designed dinosaur with no EVF, slow focusing, no video (some prefer this) and limited close focusing capabilities. It was obvious Leica needed an X2 so they could get back in the game with an X camera that had the IQ of the X1 with the speed and usability of the newest cameras. Just imagine a speedy X1 with a built in EVF, low noise up to ISO 6400, a faster lens to match the F/2 of the Fuji and that same beautiful design of the X1. Hmmmm. Well, that is what I was REALLY hoping for in an X2 and spoiler alert… that didn’t happen.

I highly recommend clicking on all images in this review to see the larger versions which have better sharpness, color and look much nicer!

The Leica X2 at ISO 2000

Speaking of Fuji, Even Fuji has appeared to rip off the X name from Leica with the X100 and now X-Pro 1, throwing it in Leica’s face. By releasing an X2 with a sturdier design, built in EVF, longer battery life and faster AF without raising the cost would have surely put Leica over the top in the small camera/large sensor market wouldn’t it? I think that YES it would have, and they could have shown Fuji a thing or two in the process!

So we all waited and waited.

Then small camera started appearing out of the woodwork as manufacturers decided they wanted a piece of the mirrorless pie. Nikon released the small and very solid performing V1 and even though the sensor is a small and tiny, the V1 excelled at fast AF, motion tracking, video, exposure metering and it even had a GREAT EVF built in. It had limitations of slow lenses and almost no shallow depth of field but I really like the V1 for what it is and what it does as it is SO much more than a point and shoot and pretty much foolproof. With the V1 we have once again a highly capable camera at around $750 that kills the X1 in usability, AF, tracking, close focus, EVF use and video. BUT OF COURSE, not image quality. No it doesn’t match the Leica IQ but then again, it is much less expensive and does everything else better.

Then we have other cameras like the Ricoh GXR, Sony NEX-7 and the new OM-D which now all surpass the X1 in ALMOST all areas. To my eyes, the only camera that surpassed or equalled the X1 in IQ is the Fuji X100. It is true that the X1 files have a look.. a crispness and beauty that is hard to find in other cameras. I think it is a combo of the Leica glass, the larger sensor, and Leica’s color signature that helps to make those X1 files look so good. The only problem with the X1 TODAY is that it suffers from slow use, slow writing, low res LCD, slowest AF in its class, fragile build, dials that move too easy, and a few other niggles I won’t get into, but one more is that there is NO EVF.

But how is the new X2? Did Leica deliver?

So now that I have been using this gorgeous looking factory fresh chrome X2 (and yes, you can see how gorgeous it is in the title pic at the top of the page), how do I feel it stacks up against the X100, the NEX-7 and the other cameras in the same class? Read on to find out but keep in mind that this review will be much shorter than the over 10,000 word X1 review I posted almost three years ago (this one will be around 6400 words) simply due to the fact that this new X2 is really just like an X1, but with a new sensor and a few new features. The IQ has really stayed the same with the same overall look as the X1 but maybe with even better color. But then again, maybe not. As I look back, those X1 pics are just as good looking as the X2 pics.

The X2 at f/4 and ISO 100

I do have to say that this camera is physically GORGEOUS in the silver chrome finish (wait, didn’t I say that already)?. At first, I did not really care for the newly introduced black hump that can now house a Leica EVF that sells for $575 but have since gotten used to it, especially since I added the EVF. But I did not buy a $575 Leica EVF, I simply used the $215 Olympus EVF, THE VF-2. The best thing about this EVF is that it is tillable and that equates to some really cool angles you can get when using it.

But remember that the Olympus VF-2 is the same exact EVF that Leica sells for $575 except that it says Olympus instead of the big LEICA letters on the Leica version and it may have a little bit of a different shape up top..more rounded. So the design and name is different.

UPDATE: There was one occasion where the Olympus VF-2 did scramble the image in the EVF display and  had to restart the camera. I have since been testing the Leica EVF and this has not happened. So I am not 100% sure that they are both 100% the same. They both work the same but there could be something in the Leica that is not in the Olympus as far as compatibility. The scrambled view only happened ONCE with the Olympus VF-2.

So what is new in the Leica X2 over the X1?

Here is what is new in the X2:

  • Brand new 16MP high performance sensor with ISO up to 12,500. It is really not very usable at 12,500 and really noisy at 6400 if you shoot in low light so I would stick to going up to 3200, which is what I did on the X1 anyway. The color is great as is the sharpness and detail. The X2 retains that “look” so many loved about the X1 though I wouldn’t say there is a huge improvement in higher ISO shooting say at 3200, which to me appears  to be really close to what the X1 gave us.
  • Slightly new design and beefier build. Yep, Leica has officially ditched the steel grey and I am happy they they did so. The Steel grey M9 and X1 were so easy to scratch and the chrome is classic Leica, so this is how it should be. The X2 is available in Chrome and Black and I prefer the chrome. The new covering is improved as well and is more “grippy” with a rubber like feel. The flash has been redesigned to stop it from accidentally popping up and to also give better and more even flash performance. The dials are not much stiffer and do not turn nearly as easily as they did on the X1. You actually have to put some force behind it, which is good. The back remains the same with the same crappy low res LCD (shame on Leica for this one) and the same button layout and control scheme. Overall the X2 is more beautiful to my eyes but some will prefer the even simpler and more laid back X1. The X2 is also slightly heavier and somehow feels a little more solid and substantial than the X1, just as it should be for a Leica.

  • Better Battery Life – Much better battery life. I shot all weekend with it and still have 3/4 of my battery left. This is great.
  • Ability to use the new external tilting EVF. This is good and it is  bad. I really wish it were a built in EVF but this is a case of “we get what we get and shouldn’t throw a fit”. This is it guys. A big wart of an external EVF made by Olympus. The good thing is that is swivels for waist level shooting.
  • Faster Auto Focus – THE ONE thing that plagued the X1. Has it improved? Leica says so, but what do I think? Keep reading to find out.

The ability to add an external EVF, though it does add a huge bump to the camera which in turn takes away from its beautiful design. It’s a pro and a con because it adds great functionality but takes away from the size and design. WHY OH WHY did Leica not put in a built in EVF? To me, this is sort of a fail as they could have put one in, even if it was a simple optical VF. THIS alone would have made this camera so so so much more desirable, trust me Leica! With that said, the performance of the Leica/Olympus EVF is superb. The fact that it swivels is really cool as you can place the camera by your waist and look down into the finder/EVF. If you must have the LEICA text written on the front, buy the Leica :)

 

The X2 at f/2.8 and ISO 100 – WOW. Such depth and color and detail here, even wide open.

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Many SCREAMED! “Leica Dropped The Ball With The X2″!

So after three years and all of the competing cameras it seems Leica did not learn much of anything, either  that or they said “screw it, we are Leica..we do what we want”. They omitted a built in EVF and decided to charge $575 for a $215 Olympus EVF. They kept the same low res LCD on the back that was in the X1 when ALL other cameras today have MUCH better LCD’s on the back of the camera. They kept the same design and just modified the flash and color/design of the camera. The grip covering has changed as well (for the better) and they did NOT add any video whatsoever. The AF has indeed improved though. So basically all we get is the new sensor which in reality doesn’t do too much but add 4 more megapixels, higher ISO capabilities and supposedly faster AF speed. The GOOD thing is the price has stayed the same at $1995. Yes, this is GOOD because if this was  raised to $3000 then Leica would not have sold many of these at all. At $1995 Leica has managed to add just enough to the camera to improve upon it while making us Leica fans WANT IT.

So do I think Leica dropped the ball? Well, yes and no. I think if they added a BUILT IN EVF or OVF and even if they had to raise the cost to $2295 it would have been a grand slam hit. This design and this quality with a built in viewfinder would have NAILED IT for me because I LOVE LOVE LOVE the image quality the X1 and X2 pump out. I also love the design, the simplicity and controls, and the 35mm focal length equivalent. But you have heard me before..I think ALL enthusiast cameras today should have a built in VF of some kind. PERIOD. So in this way Leica dropped the ball and lost some sales but in other ways, they have stayed true to what Leica is all about.

SIMPLICITY and QUALITY

The camera is small, sleek, nicely designed, light but hefty, and has a very sharp and crisp lens. The camera puts out amazing IQ and color and you can tell just by looking at it and using it that it is a true Leica. So by Leica not adding gizmos and gadgets and video, they have stayed true to what they are and retained many customers who will WANT to upgrade their X1 to and X2. Besides with the X2 you can also use the optical external VF which some prefer.

How about the AF speed? The one big weakness of the X1..has it improved? Well…YES!

Ok. This is what everyone wants to know. How is the AF speed of the X2. At $1995, almost $2000, we should expect the X2 to at least be as good as modern day mirrorless cameras right? Well, maybe not so much.  I was hoping so but the fact is that while it is quite a bit faster and responsive than the X1, the X2 is now about the same as the firmware upgraded Fuji X100, maybe a teeny but quicker to lock focus. My Olympsu OM-D blazes with every lens I have tried on it, even the 25 1.4. The Nikon V1 is instant in its AF. The NEX-7 is medium fast so the X2 is doing MUCH better  than the older X1. I do find it faster than the X-Pro 1 as well. I also noticed in low light the X2 is now MUCH faster to AF than the old X1. It doesn’t seem to hunt either (unlike the X-Pro 1, which was a deal breaker for me). Overall I was a bit let down by the AF speed boost but at the same time, when in real use, I had no issues. I had no mis-focused shots or missed shots due to hunting. Well, I did have one but I was shooting blind :)

The only shot I had that missed focus, but that is because I held out the camera blind, so this one was my fault :)

So the bottom line on the X2 AF abilities? Do not use it for action, sports or running kids and you will be OK. Much better than the X1 but not as speedy as an Olympus OM-D, which boasts the fastest AF in the works BTW.

All of this should come as no surprise as it is not a camera meant for those sorts of things anyway. I see the X2 as a “mini M” with a permanent 35mm equivalent focal length attached and it has that Leica feeling when you hold it and shoot it, and yes, even when reviewing the photos. It is a camera that does its best when you see the shot, compose the shot and take your time getting the shot. It is NOT a run and gun type of camera. In fact, the overall performance of this camera is on the slow side. Writing to the card is slow and on a few occasions I had the camera hang up while it was writing but unhang when it was finished writing. Just for a second or so though. It does not feel like a fast operating camera like the Olympus OM-D and Nikon V1. It feels more like the X100 in use (speed wise)..a working and thinking mans camera.

Me and my fiancée Debby Window Shopping with the X2 and EVF

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ISO 3200 at night time – Yes, it can get grainy when shooting at night but I dig the look and feel of this one anyway!

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Man washing windows…

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Compared To the NEX-7 and Olympus OM-D. Oh, and now the Fuji X100!

UPDATED! Now added a comparison with the Fuji X100!

Honestly, the hot camera around my house these days is the Olympus OM-D with the Panasonic 25 1.4. When the X2 arrived I was wondering if it would have what it takes to bump that OM-D out of my hands :) In many ways it does, and in others NO. The IQ and images I get from the X2 I have been liking a bit more than the images I am getting from the OM-D. I just like that “X” look, and yes there is a look to these files that is NOT in seen anywhere else. But using the camera is slow going when directly compared to the OM-D.

I decided that since I had these cameras here in the house, why not do this comparison? I took a shot with each camera. The Leica X2, the Olympus OM-D and The Sony NEX-7. All were using 35mm or equivalent focal lengths and the Olympus had a 50mm equivalent so it’s NOT a scientific test at all. Just a few shots to show how each camera rendered the scene. These are all from RAW. All were shot at f/4 and base ISO of each camera was used.

Click each image to see larger version and full 100% crop

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To me, the OM-D takes the #1 spot for sharpness and detail though it is so so sharp, almost too sharp. The X2 colors are really nice and the NEX-7 looks good.  One thing to note is that the OM-D was the quickest in operation, the NEX-7 2nd and the X2 was the slowest to focus, shoot and write to the card..AND to shut down as it takes about 2-3 seconds to do so. So while Leica has improved a few things with the X2, they are sort of minor things that were improved upon. It is not like going from an M8 to M9. More like gaining a little bit of a speed boost, much better battery life, sturdier build and of course the EVF capability. At the end of the day the images coming from the X2 look like they could have come from the X1, and I guess that is a good thing. Actually, I KNOW this is a good thing.

Compared to the Fuji X100

I shot these on a tripod at f/2.8 and f/4. No processing or sharpening was done to these at all and these are as they came out of the RAW converter, which was Adobe Camera Raw. One thing you can notice is how warm the X2 white balance is (auto was used to see what each camera puts out at these settings) which his what lends to the pleasing images that come out of it. In comparison, the Fuji rendering is cooler/bluer. I am a fan of warm but remember, these settings can be changed during RAW conversion if desired.

Click each image for larger size and full size crop. ALL from RAW, no PP, NO sharpening added. 

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Compared to others (in words)

X2 compared to the OM-D E-M5 – OK, I have raved about the OM-D and for good reason..it is a fabulous little camera, and I am not the only one to say so. Just about everyone who has shot with one has stated that THIS is the camera that has finally matured Micro 4/3. The OM-D is FAST, has amazing in body IS, great image quality, a high res swivel LCD, superb fast lenses to choose from, weatherproof so no worries if in the rain, amazing quality video, and a nice built in EVF. All for about $1100 or so. $900 less than the X2. Add a kick ass amazing lens like the Panasonic 25 1.4 and that brings you to $1600 or so, still $400 less than an X2. So why would anyone buy an X2 that appears to use outdated technology (no IS, old low res LCD, no built in EVF, slow write times, etc) when you can get the hottest camera of 2012 for cheaper? Well, at the end of the day it’s about the images right? If a camera is easy to use AND capable of giving superb results then isn’t that what really matters? IMO the E-M5 is indeed the better bang for the buck camera, no question. BUT the X2 will give you a bit better and dare I say…more film like and richer files/colors. It will be slower but you will get less digital looking images from it. This comes down to asking yourself what you need. Do you need speed and versatility (OM-D) or ultimate IQ and simplicity? (X2) The X2 is also much slimmer and smaller.

X2 compared to the NEX-7 – The NEX-7 was the big camera of 2011 and 2012 because it was the 1st to offer everything in one body full of technology. The only issue with the Sony is that the damn thing operates more like a computer than a camera. It is so filled with technological advances and controls you really feel like you are out with a “device” instead of a camera. Other than that, once set up and with a good lens it delivers great results. It is a little faster to AF than the X2 and operates quicker as well. But the lenses are lacking in the NEX system though the Zeiss 24 1.8 is as close to the 24 Elmarit as you can get, it is just larger. Again, personal preference here. Do you want ultimate control and customization? Video capability (though the 7 overheats after a few minutes of HD video)? Tilt high res LCD and nice OLED EVF? Then the 7 may tick your buttons.

X2 compared to the Fuji X100 – THIS is the ultimate comparison (and I just updated the review with samples from each above). I did compare the X100 and X1 quite a while ago HERE and some of you preferred the X100 and some the X1. Well, the X2 is not much different than the X1 in regards to IQ and it is a little faster, just about on par with the X100 if not a but slower (the Fuji X100 firmware update sped up the AF quite a bit). BUT these two cameras do have much different looks to the images. The Fuji has the Fuji colors and “look” which is a little soft when wide open up to f/4 and after f/4 super sharpness and detail. But you will get those Fuji yellows and greens and blues as well as a cooler white balance when using Auto. The Leica has its own look which is nice and contrasty, great warm and rich color and that Leica look you get from their lenses. Some may prefer the Fuji look, others the Leica look. I do feel the X2 is the more attractive camera. I also feel the X2 is much more basic and simple and focuses on one thing…the photos. The X100 and X2 are neck and neck at high ISO. Now that I have shot both side by side, as for focus, the X100 and X2 are also neck and neck. Maybe the Fuji is a split millisecond faster but it’s close. What you choose comes down to preference. Do you want a made in Germany Leica X2 with warm colors and rich files (but slow in operation, poor LCD, no EVF and slower lens) or do you want the X100 which is $800 cheaper (with EVF/OVF, faster lens, video and better LCD)? Your choice! I choose BOTH :) Well, I actually did just that!

X2 compared to the X1 – Well if you are an X1 owner wondering if you should update to the X2..think about it. What would you like to see improved in your X1? If it is only IQ, then you won’t get much of that with the X2. The IQ seems about the same to me. If it is AF speed, you WILL get a boost and you will be able to AF in low light much easier. If it is high ISO, well, you will get that as well. You also do have the 6400 and 12,500 options though they are pretty noisy. How about the EVF? Will the size turn you off from using it or will it be a welcome addition to your shooting? If you crave what the X2 brings (new look, EVF, faster AF, 4 more Megapixels) then you will like the X2. BUT the used market for the X1 these days ranges from $1150-$1400 from what I have seen so you will lose some cash on that X1. If you are already happy with the X1 there may not be a real need to upgrade. BTW, you can see some extensive comparison images in my older X1 vs X100 post HERE!

The X2 catches the cat

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High ISO of the Leica X1

Another improvement Leica has made is in high ISO shooting. The X1 was actually a great high ISO shooter and up to 3200 was really nice and usable for most things. If you read my X1 review you will see that ISO 3200 of the X1 beat ISO 1600 of the Olympus E-P2 at the time, and ISO 3200 looked very usable. The X2 now has the capability to go up to ISO 12,500 though it is not usable at this speed (in my opinion). Below see some higher ISO shots at night and also some crops. One thing I was happy with is that the X2 now has much faster AF at night. The X1 was very slow in this area, even unusable at times. The X2 is usable at night in regards to AF. No more waiting and hunting around like the X1 did.

The next 6 images were all shot at ISO 3200, what I feel the the highest usable ISO on the X2

So while the Leica X2 may not be noise free when shooting at ISO 3200 in low or no light, it keeps the color fidelity and the grain is not offensive at all. In fact, I really like shooting at ISO 3200 at night with this camera as the images are very usable and they still seem to have that Leica feel. I would not go out and use ISO 6400 or 12,500 (at night) as they start to get ugly so keep it at 3200 tops if you are night crawling and use 6400 in a pinch.

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High ISO crops 

Below is a shot I snapped in a grocery store to check out how ISO would do in decent light. You will see the image and then the crops after it starting at ISO 800 going through to ISO 12,500. When in decent light it appears you could get away with using ISO 6400 if you had to, but then again, in decent light you wouldn’t need to.

ISO comparison to NEX-7 and OM-D

One thing I found odd is that at ISO 3200 in both sample shots from the X2, the one above of the bottles and the one below of the Polaroid (I tried three times, same results) show a blurred result. These are all from RAW and I did not add ANY Noise Reduction to any of the samples. It appears these three cameras are just about next and neck for indoor low light high ISO. These were taken in my office at 2AM, with only one light bulb going. It appears lighter than it really was.

You can clearly see each camera has a different color signature which is what helps to give each image from each camera its specific “look”. Noise wide, the X2 is about equal to the NEX-7 and Olympus OM-D, which is very good though not as good as the Fuji X-Pro 1 or possibly the Fuji X100. What is surprising is how well the OM-D E-M5 did here. Not bad at all!

JPEG vs RAW High ISO

Here is an out of camera JPEG shot in high contrast B&W mode, ISO 3200 – right from camera resized with 100% crop embedded – you must click them for larger views and this shot was taken AT NIGHT so there was no light, but the camera AF’d just fine.

and the same image but processed from the RAW file

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Detail of the X2 files

It’s funny because I really am not getting razor sharp clinical results with the X2 but I think that is what makes the images look so pleasing. It is very sharp, but not “clinical, flat and digital” like I see with some cameras. The output of the X2 seems just about right. In other words, I like it. BTW, at f/2.8 it is sharp but not super sharp..very pleasing. By f/4 it is even sharper.

Click the images below for larger versions with full 100% crop embedded…

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THIS is a sharp shot no doubt…f/4 will do it…

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UPDATE! Want sharp? CLICK THIS shot to see the larger version and check out the detail in the 100% crop. This was wide open at 2.8!

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The Leica X2 Pros and Cons – 15 Pros but 12 cons…

PROS

  • The design and look of  the chrome is sexy and gorgeous.
  • The packaging makes you feel like the money you spent was well worth it, lol.
  • The AF speed has improved from the X1 no question!
  • We can now use the external EVF on the X2
  • The color of the X2 images are really nice and beats almost all others in its class (in my opinion)
  • Overall image quality remains as it was with the X1 – sharp, crisp and Leica like
  • High ISO up to 3200 is really usable, 6400 if you need it!
  • AF speed has improved greatly in low light and it is accurate.
  • Build seems to have been beefed up a little, which is great.
  • Same fantastic 24 Elmarit 2.8 lens of the X1!
  • Nice leather strap is included in the box, just as with the X1.
  • Flash is re-designed and improved, no more accidental pop ups in your bag.
  • Dials are much stiffer now so no accidental changing of your aperture or shutter speed.
  • SIMPLE controls and basic operation make this a real photographers camera, just a little slow :)
  • Finally, this camera is SILENT if you turn off all electronic sounds

CONS

  • By todays standards, the AF is still slow
  • By todays standards, there should have been a built in EVF!
  • Expensive for a fixed lens camera at $1995. $800 more than a Fuji X100 which has a built in EVF and an F/2 lens built in but it’s a Leica.
  • EVF is LARGE and EXPENSIVE if you buy Leicas at $575.
  • ISO 12,500 is there for marketing as it is not really usable.
  • Forget AF tracking.
  • Lens aperture chatters as the camera is on, ala Fuji X-Pro 1
  • No real in body or lens Image Stabilization!
  • Can not close focus, no macro mode!
  • Same old low res LCD that is in the X1. Boo.
  • Slight barrel distortion when up close and wide open (watch your straight lines)
  • Manual focusing still sucks. Only good for setting it and forgetting it or Zone Focusing for street.

Out of camera JPEGs are sharp!

Just as with the X1, the X2 can output a nice sharp JPEG if you nail the focus. In some cases I actually preferred the JPEG output of the X2 over the RAW files. Check out the shot below, which was from a JPEG. I resized it to 1800 pixels wide and converted to B&W. Click it to check it out. Shot wide open at 2.8.

My final word on the Leica X2

It has now been close to three years since Leica released the X1 and in that time there have been many happy X1 owners as well as many frustrated X1 owners. The flaws of the original were easy to look past when it was released as there was not much else out there to compete against it. Today we have so many great mirrorless cameras to choose from, and mostly all come in at a lower price than the Leica X2. This means that Leica really had to step up their game if they wanted to sell mass amounts of this X2 camera. While the X2 is beautiful to look at and rewards your efforts with beautiful file quality I feel Leica should have concentrated on upping the game with a built in EVF, FAST AF and a fast responsive feel. Instead they added EVF capability by adding a hot shoe where you can add their $575 EVF, so it is NOT cheap.

BTW, they did not send me the EVF for review, (only the camera itself in a factory fresh box) so I used the old Olympus VF-2 and it worked throughout my time with the camera but one time the image in the LCD did scramble and I had to restart the camera. Does that mean I am saying you should use the VF-2? Well, I was using it but if anything were to go wrong with your X2 from using it, I am NOT responsible. :) The good thing is that the EVF swivels so it does give you more flexibility than a built in would, and it is a high quality EVF. The bad thing is that when attached it makes the camera look funky and it takes away from the beautiful design. It’s kind of a win/lose situation. You win by having access to a great EVF, but you lose by it being so damn ugly. Also, it does NOT lock down on the shoe like it did on the E-P3.

The X2 CAN do portraits as the lens has minimal distortion. 

Leica did speed up the AF of the X2 over the X1 and it now appears to be about as fast or slightly faster than the Fuji X100 (after the last FW update). It is slower than the Olympus E-M5 but faster than the Fuji X-Pro 1 and doesn’t really hunt like it used to do. Overall is it just about fast enough to not get frustrating. Also, when it locks, it locks. It never seemed to mis-focus in any of my shots which is awesome as that really irritates me when that happens (X-Pro 1, NEX-7).

The image quality of the X2 is pretty much just like the X1 and continues that Leica tradition of simple basic control and superb image quality. With the X2 around your neck you will be carrying a light, sleek, beautiful, and highly capable digital camera that will give you outstanding results. Just be sure you can be accustomed to shooting ONLY 35mm as the fantastic 24 Elmarit lens in this camera gives you a 35mm equivalent focal length, just like the X100 does. I can not stress enough how beautiful this camera is in its design and control execution. SIMPLE, as a camera should be.

When I sat down and really thought about it and looked over images I took with the X2, OM-D and NEX-7 my fave shots seemed to have come from the Leica X2. No, It is not perfect and yes it is pricey but it is simple and is indeed improved over the X1 in style, build, EVF, and speed. If you want a real made in Germany Leica and the M9 is out of your range, the X2 would and could fit the bill. It will give you everything a Leica is known for including the motivation you get from shooting something basic and simple like a Leica camera. Just know what you are getting before you buy and you will be happy. If you are used to a DSLR then you may not like the X2 as it doesn’t really do much of anything that a DSLR does well (telephoto, macro, FPS, video, etc).

Just so you know, you can still use the optical Viewfinder leica sells for $330 as well as the X1 grip…

…and here is the black X2 with the Leica EVF

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A video showing the new $200 Leica X2 Ever Ready case – but there is a flaw!

The X2 will not shoot action very well, is not a wildlife camera, can’t and won’t do macro and is not the best choice for moving or running kids. The X2 is basically a “life” camera. A camera so sleek and small, so well made and beautiful and one that you can take with you everywhere to record your life, your family, your friends and everyday situations. You can shoot street with it if you set it to manual focus and use Zone Focusing (which the X2 works very well with) and it would be great for environmental portraits, landscape, still life and anything with bold color. I enjoyed the X2 far more than I enjoyed the Fuji X-Pro 1 but I am still unsure if I like it more than the Fuji X100.

I do know the X2 is a bit more polished than the X1 and possibly X100. It feels like a completed camera, just a slower than average one. You can’t argue with the results though and the strengths of the X2 are it’s IQ, accurate AF, AF at night capabilities, ability to use an EVF and even high ISO shooting. It’s also SMALL and sleek so I am overall happy with the X2 though as it gave me a fun time with frustration free shooting. I do wish the EVF were built in but there is always the X3. :) I can recommend this camera IF you don’t mind the cost and if you know you are not getting a speed demon. For the X2, it’s all about IQ and simple controls and use. I really enjoyed it. Thanks Leica for sending it out to me for review :)

Oh, I almost forgot! In the title of this review I asked “Can Leica still win us over with their charms”? Well, all I can say is that they DID in fact win me over as I am bought one for myself and for extended testing use. Yea it is slower than the current crop of cameras, yes I own the really really good OM-D and yes this Leica is pricey but if it has anything, it has charm and charm goes a long way for me in real world shooting. Cha Ching!

Where to buy the Leica X2

The X2 starts is available in all black or chrome and black. The list of dealers below are all dealers I have used extensively for buying gear and I can HIGHLY recommend them:

Ken Hansen – Legendary Leica dealer – No web site but you can e-mail him here to buy an X2 – [email protected]

B&H Photo – I have been buying from B&H for over 20 years. SUPERB shop, service and FAST shipping. You can pre-order the X2 in Chrome or Black.

AMAZON – We all know Amazon, they have the X2 for pre-order in Silver Chrome and Black as well.

POPFLASH PHOTO  - everyone knows Tony at Popflash and he has been a Leica dealer for YEARS. You can order the X2 is Silver or Black.

DALE PHOTO – Dale Photo is another top notch Leica dealer I have shopped with on many occasions. Here is the X2 in Silver and Black!

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A few More Samples from the X2

EXIF is embedded for those who want it

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  182 Responses to “The Leica X2 Camera Review by Steve Huff”

  1. Thanks for all the comparisons to the other cameras, especially the OM-D. Super helpful.

    Your fiancee? Congratulations! (that didn’t take long)

    • Steve. I love the x2. The lens on the x2 is a Elmarit f2.8 24mm asph. Leica makes the elmarit f2.8 28mm for the M. Both have the same lens components. The 28mm is made for a full frame. and the x2 lens is for a pac frame. The pictures that I get from the x2 are astonishing. The Elmarit lens on the x2 is worth the price of the camera. The leica m lens sells for $2200.00.

      What do you think?

      • I owned the 24 Elmarit M for two years and it is in a different league over the X2 lens. Much different lens. Larger, more glass, better specs. The X2 lens is an Elmarit but not the same as the classic 24 Elmarit M. Even so, it is a great lens though I feel the IQ was a tad better on the X1. I like the X2 but it is on the slow side when compared to cameras of today. The RX1 easily beats the X2 for IQ, speed, and lens. The X2 is nice but never really took off like the X1 did as it was not much of an upgrade. It is highly capable of taking gorgeous images though and usually that is all that matters, enjoy it!

  2. Thanks, Steve. I’ll stick with my X1.

  3. Thanks you Steve for this Article. In summer I have two month spare time and I think know I know which camera will be by my side during this time ;-)

  4. Hey Steve thanks for another great real world review. I have been looking for a second camera, as a take with me everywhere I go camera, and I thought this new X2 might be it, but I want to see more comparisons with the Fuji X100 first. I also noticed that when I open the comparison file from the D800 in VeiwNX or Lightroom it says you are using the 35mm 1.8 DX (aps-c) lens. Could you take some more comparison shots with a lens that was made for a full frame? I am curious to see what the D800 can do outside the studio and on the street before I replace my D7000. Thanks again and look forward for some comparisons to a X100.

  5. Ha, that was really all I needed and wanted to know. Was planning to sell my X1 and upgrade, but I’ll just stick with it. Was going to use my optical viewfinder anyway, which I much much prefer to any EVF. I think you’re over-critical of this camera not containing a built-in EVF actually. It kept it small and practical for day-to-day use, and I don’t think EVF’s add so much to the shooting experience really. It’s like watching tv on your camera.

  6. The $575.00 rebranded evf is as far as I needed to go. I think your comment ,”We’re Leica and we can do what we want.” sums up the corporation’s approach to potential customers. It is a camer for the wealthy photographer. The X2, just like the X1, is a brilliant $750.00 camera which you can own for a mere $2000.00 (plus $575 if you want to overpay for evf).

    • On the face of it sounds like a shame, but since these are manufactured by Epson, can’t it be that Olympus just got a way better deal from them than Leica could? Probably through volume? Still good news of course that they’re interchangeable. Pick the one you like.

      • Well Leica is also overcharging compact cameras produced by panasonic by selling them for almost double the price so I think that ”We’re Leica and we can do what we want.” is pretty accurate

        • On the face of it… yes. But they always bundled Lightroom in the package, which used to cost €299 when sold seperately. And gave an extended warranty. And these cameras had a better resale value. Not to say it was always the wisest of choices to pick the rebranded version, but there was a rationale behind it if you did.

          • €299 for the Lightroom :), makes sense as leica sells everything 2.8-3x more expensive than it actually costs, goes with their pricing policy, maybe they personally put the installation disk in the box using white gloves

            • Adobe used to sell Lightroom for €299 euro. It came for free with the Leica cameras. So that could be deducted from the Leica expense if you wanted to buy a Panaleica and were comapring prices.

              • First of all it didn’t came for free, it was included in the price. Second of all, I know that leica has strong distortion field but just typing lightroom into amazon does wonders-it is 116 euros. I am not even going to raise the question of the fact that many people actually have photoshop or lightroom so for them “free” lightroom is not very useful

                Also regarding your comment:

                “I don’t think EVF’s add so much to the shooting experience really. It’s like watching tv on your camera.”

                have you tried EVF on nex7? or om-d? you prefer ancient lcd screen without evf to 920k lcd and useful EVF?

              • @ mika, since I can’t reply directly to your post: Adobe used to charge €299 for Lightroom. It’s only recently they decreased those prices. You made it sound like Leica charged that amount. Which they never did. They just offered Lightroom for free with their cameras. So when deciding between the Panasonic LX5 and the Leica digilux-5 for example, and wanting Lightroom for the raw edits, this was a relevant consideration. Second: Yes, I’ve seen the evf’s you mentioned. I agree that on a specs list bullet point comparison the nex-7 has everything, but every time I held one in my hands in the store, it felt like a game console and not a camera. What I still like best is an optical viewfinder, like the Leica 36mm I am using on my X1. It really is, to me, a lot more useful and pleasant than an EVF.

    • Oh Ron, if I hear you drive a BMW….

  7. Thanks for the nice review, Steve. I am sticking with my X1. And congrats on the engagement!
    ~Tom

  8. Thanks for your fine review Steve. I was hopeful the X2 would be a more competitive upgrade. I feel the NEX 7 is still a better camera for my needs. The way I see it and with it’s limitations, the X2 would be a luxury purchase.

  9. Thanks for the write up and comparisons Steve.

    I know very few reviewers will give us such comparisons out of fear from fanboy backlash. Which is what this comment section will be filled with in no time.

    Keep up the marvelous individualistic reviews.

  10. The X2, like the X100 and X-Pro1 actually feel like cameras to me. The Nex and the Olympus OMD do not. I will put my cash on the X2 as my true take anywhere camera when I’m bored of the Fujis.

    • The OM-D feels great! I sold my X100, which I really liked, but the OM-D ended all of the irritations of the X100 while offering very good image quality and great choice of lenses.

      The X100 could produce that ‘special’ image but you had to really use the EVF over the OVF to really know what it actually focused on… if it did at all. … but as soon as the OM-D fired off 7 EXP bracket frames in less than a second… I kind of forgot about my X100.

  11. Now that the x2 came out I bet Fuji will be buckling down on getting an x200 to market. I really can’t wait to see what they do. I was looking for a camera a while ago and bought the D5100 over the x100 because of it’s quirks and fixed lens. Now I shoot mostly with a fixed lens on my Nikon and the quirks of the x100 are mostly gone. haha

    • Why? The X100 still kicks the X2′s butt. This conclusively proves that Leica is out of touch. I would love to see a review of the M9 where the reviewer did what Steve did – “By today’s standards…”

    • I sold my first X100 for a D7000 and 2 primes , that did not last for 2 month, got another X100 because i realized how much that camera “the slow quirky fixed lens PCSHT” did for my photography….the latest firmware on the X-100 made it more amazing than ever

  12. Thanks for a comprehensive and very interesting review.

    It is really a shame that Leica pumps out a camera with so many compromises and with a mix of an otherwise great looking body, sensor and lens, but with a cheap plastic connector plastered on top of the body and an oldfashioned EVF that looks ridiculus when mounted.

    They X2 could really have been winner if it had a high quality built-in view finder, a better LCD and improved IQ over the X1.

    The X100 is still by far the best option here with a much faster lens (1 stop), great OVF/EVF, better high ISO capability, much better LCD, built-in ND filter and not least an IQ that is on par with the X2 (as far as I can see) and also lot cheaper than the X2.

    • The cost difference between an X2 and X100 at the moment is massive, and Leica will never reduce the cost as they are fixed prices at best. I can see the X2 only appealing to someone that already owns an X1 (notice more than ever second hand X1’s on eBay now) and wants more of the same. The X2 does not take the camera into a new market place but to me that just makes it harder to justify as a purchase. Let’s be honest, bang for buck the x100 runs away with the ball here.

      • Couldn’t agree more and I’m already considering getting a used x100 for the one I sold at the time where I got really tired of the AF which has now been fixed to some degree, but maybe I’ll wait for an X200 ;-)

      • Agree… I don´t buy the “X” IQ factor, that is simply a subjective added value the brand might have in certain people, such as Steve. He is a Leica fanboy so any review will always end with “Yes, the other is faster, is sharper, is etc etc etc but I like the X IQ more” In real terms there is nothing here the X100 can´t do. I rather have an included uber-modern VF and a faster f2 lens on board to get shallow DoF that I really like.

  13. Pity Leica didn’t put the same effort in with this camera as you did with your review. Nicely written.

  14. The X2 looks like a nice camera, but I’m going to stick to my X100 and NEX-7.

  15. Nice camera. But to many cons. I will wait for the Fuji X200 before dishing out $2G : )

  16. I know the LCD is still a smaller and low rez display compared to most of the market, however, is it at least any easier to see in bright sunlight ? I found on my X1 that it was one of the hardest LCD’s to view I’ve ever owned and really was the so called “deal breaker” for me on the camera.

    Have they at least given it a better anti-reflective coating or anything ?

  17. expensive medieval crap for deep pocketed grannies, thats what x2 evokes to me

    • So, that’s interesting to learn that Karl der Grosse already worked with those silicon imagers. As that’s what you are saying.

  18. Superbly helpful review as always. I’d fall for this beauty any day of the week, if she brought the cash with her!
    But I must say your comments on ISO performance leave me feeling the X100 still has a lot going for it – good IQ, built in hybrid viewfinder, wider aperture, ND filter, and recently 28mm converter……. So I look forward to the comparison.
    What about the X2 resolution? Both the X1 and the X100 were lower here than the NEX C3 as far as I could see….

  19. Thank you Steve for interesting review.

    X2 somehow did not manage to surprise me. It seems that ‘X’ cameras are not too high on the priority list. Not including built-in EVF allowed Leica to save great deal on design and manufacturing costs and allowed to to keep the price. Selling Olympus EVF is a nice touch too. Altogether not too much pressure on Fuji to improve the X100.

    Still – as you say – the compactness and IQ have something to go for. I am one of those who like it, but probably not enough to by one. In particular since OM-D entered the scene.

    If I may have a wish – it would be great if you could make some ‘real life’ dynamic range comparison of the X2 and cameras you have at hand (OM-D, NEX-7, D800 …) – as that to me DR is more than just noise performance – which today is ‘good enough’ with most cameras.

    • When I read the specs and review of the X2, I feel like Leica spent exactly 2 weeks before the May-10 event to get it ready. They couldn’t be bothered to spend some serious re-design.

  20. You know, there are times when I’m prepared to give Leica the benefit of the doubt on their pricing. Small production volumes, hand assembly, high quality components (at least for the lenses) are all expensive and legitimately justify premium pricing. Then I see them charging $575 for an EVF which is identical to the $215 Olympus model and their credibility just gets shot to pieces.

    But wait a minute! Maybe this is a unique opportunity to gain an insight into the maths of the ‘Leica mark-up’ (let’s call it the ‘Schmuck-factor’) since, for the first time, we have 2 identical products to compare. Since they are applying a multiple of 2.7x to the Leica EVF over the Olympus version, can we assume that an M9 ‘should’ cost $2,960 before the 2.7x ‘Schmuck factor’ is applied to take us to the $8,000 asking price? I guess at least we can go in with our eyes open, knowing now that we’re paying almost exactly $5,000 just for the brand name.

    • Ha..ha..ha…had exactly the same thought :-)

    • Colin, the same happens with Louis Vuitton; Hermes or any other “luxury” brand for that matter… a $2000dlls LV purse has a “real” cost to the manufacturer of maybe $200-250dlls tops. Is the price of branding, and that will prevail as long as there are people willing to pay for the extra, or like Steve says: for the “X” IQ… whatever that means (???????)

    • Ha! Brilliant post, Colin. Hopefully the term “Schmuck Factor” works it way into our everyday lexicon when discussing products made by companies such as Leica, Gucci, etc.

  21. Thanks Steve,makes you wonder what Leica is up to.How much money does Leica have to make before they give something substantial back to its customers.Ill be taking your advice and not buying this one,Ill look instead for a ¨¨bargain¨ X1.ÇMaybe next time around theyll realise that being as little more generous pays dividens.

  22. Hello,

    thanks for your review. I was curious to get your observations.

    Two weeks ago I exchanged my black x1 against the chrome x2 at my local dealer in Germany. I lost quite some money, as I did when buying the x1 before and the 5d with the gorgeous 50mm1.2 more before and …
    Yes, much to much money for only a hobby, to get some pleasing pictures from time to time. It’s really not rational. And the Leica fever is probably the worst.
    The x2, what it all does not have, how it compares… Well, might all be right. I can just tell that that little thing really supports my photo fever. By it’s great IQ, it’s unique design and silent and unobstrusive operation.
    I share your observations: it’s a “finished” X1, not more.
    The build has really improved. It feels superb finally. You could say that it would simply be worth to have that little thing just to watch it and touch it. Crazy, yes. It’s that fever. I also like the idea to buy “the only
    compact made in Germany”. Crazy as well.
    Iso 3200 looks good, a little bit better than the X1, I would say. With 6400 I had some different observations so far. Some I could not believe how clean, others were like you wrote quite noisy. Have not found out yet where the difference comes from.
    AF, yes, it’s better now. Simply good enough for most purposes. Helps much to shoot people inside rooms (finally).
    I fall in love with that little thing. Again. Maybe I shouldn’t have written more.

  23. The Leica X2 sounds so good I think I’ll have to have one. I like the point ‘n shoot aspect. The images look great, and the camera has killer looks. Simplicity defined!

  24. I think that someone has to say that the king is naked.
    Comparing X2 to Sony Nex 7 or Fujifilm X100 is an illusion, both cameras are much more superior to Leica. Yet it is a free market economy, seeking a meaningful reason for buying a Leice is like doing the same for a designer bag for ladies, it just doses not make sense. Yet many people buy their stuff not for their physical needs, and human soul is a very complex structure which is quite difficult to comprehend. I am against making so much effort for justification of the high Leica price, neither their glass is significantly better nor their technolgy is worth a penny. Did you ever see an expert comparing the zipper qualities between Hermes and Gucci? It is time to go back to photography, so much valuable time and creative energy is lost in this meaningless discussions.

  25. Steve, thanks for the review and the great pictures!

    I think Leica really missed a chance with the X2: I love the simplicity of the controls and the gorgeous output, but at 2000 dollars I expect more than a 230k dot display, a (relatively) slow lens, poor control over manual focussing, and an EVF only available as a totally overpriced accessory (Schmuck-factor of 2.7…lol). Now I have to wait another three years for the X3.

    Another idea for the X3: What about using a f2 30mm (45mm equivalent) lens? With such a lens, Leica would avoid competing with their own offers for the M-system and we could get a faster all-round lens. Wishful thinking…

  26. Unless there is a technical engineering reason that we are not aware of, there really isn’t an excuse for Leica to continue using crappy LCD’s in their super expensive cameras.

  27. Leica didn’t lost the sale on me with the X2, because I never wanted the X1/2. I simply don’t see a point of the camera from a photographer’s perspective. If you are into fashion, sure why not! For the money they are asking, there are simply so many alternatives that do more.

    I shoot a M9 with 6(used to have 7) M lenses and 2 of them have letters on the rim that ends with “lux” I do this because M9 is the only game in town to take 100% advantage of those beautiful glass that Leica made. If there is a M9 alternative that cost even 1000 bucks less(not a cropped sensor mind you)with a improved but not drastically different focus system, I’d jump to get that body. But for now, I’d stick to my M9 until that day comes. M10? No way I’m gonna dish out a penny more than what I did with the M9.

    Ok, now thank you Steve for creating this forum so I can vent on something that doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things. :P

  28. Good review Steve. Having just finished doing my review of the X2 against the latest firmware version of the X100 I can say a few things here about it.

    The X2 is definitely an improvement on the X1 and handles low light focusing well. The new firmware on the X100 outclasses the X2 in AF, it really seems like a new camera (the X100 now vs the original release) and focuses much faster than the X2 and accurately even in low light.

    The IQ I would call a draw. The X2 may have a small advantage due to resolution when in RAW, but in JPG the Fuji holds up well and in higher ISO has a slight advantage. Leica really needs to improve the JPG engine. Overall IMHO from testing both side by side, I would take an X100 over the X2. The X2 is a good camera, but definitely not yet the X100 killer Leica hoped to produce.

  29. One thing to keep in mind with the X2′s “good looks” is that the lens actually extends out quite a bit when powered on, making it look a bit more like a P&S style camera.

    Just like the LX5 aka DLux5, it looks pretty cool when its retracted, but then you switch it on and the lens sticks out and rather spoils the classic styling.

    Its something they probably couldn’t get around, though Fuji luckily was able to build the X100 with the lens remaining compact and non extending.

    I just always find it interesting how the X2 is always pictured turned off, no doubt because it does make it look smaller and better

  30. Thanks for the review!!

    I am still set on the X2!! I agree on the part where the camera looks ugly when the EVF is on.

    Well, cameras are like us, no camera is perfect. :)

  31. I can’t imagine why, unless you just absolutely need 35mm over 45mm, one would choose the X2 + EVF over the NEX-7 with the Sigma 30. The IQ of the Sigma 30 on the NEX-7 is likely as good or better than any sub-35mm lens/sensor combo, it has the better EVF, faster AF, better controls, etc., and it is considerably cheaper. In fact, if you laid both on the table in front of me, and asked me to choose one, regardless of the cost, I’d still choose the NEX-7 option. At this price, the X2 is pandering a bit, IMO.

    • It’s simple… the X2 feels like a camera and the NEX-7 feels like a computer made by a consumer elctronics manufacturer.

      • oh come on…..it’s a box, with a viewfinder on the left and a shutter release on the right. You hold it up to your face to take pictures.

        And nobody is doing as more work with camera technology right now than Sony, the consumer electronic manufacturer. Their ENTIRE existence has been about the reproduction of sound and images.

        don’t hate

        • Sony is all about getting money from the consumer; nothing else. They are too big to be concerned about anything but the return. If their failure rate is statistically small enough, they can justify it’s nonexistence and you will not get a response if you have a grievance with their product.Such a policy is to be avoided.

  32. Steve , Thanks for the best Leica X2 review to date ! Not sure I would call the X2 a “Life” camera , as life is constantly moving ; but I think you meant to say “Lifestyle” camera , and all that that implies , both negative and positive .
    It would be interesting to see comparison photos between the X2 , and Pentax K-01 and Sony Nex-5 , both using the same sensor as the X2 .
    Just going by what I see on the internet , ie Flickr , X1 photos look better , have more of the Leica look .

  33. Danke für den Bericht,
    dann warte ich auf die B/W X3 mit 2,0 und schnelleren AF.

  34. Thank you for this very interesting review.

    But your “fiancée” looks like… a (nice) woman (congratulations).

    So, you must write “fiancée”, not “fiancé”.

    If you write “fiancé”, your fiancé is……… a man.

    ;-)

  35. Sometimes…. we need to make decisions.

    In late February and early in the March I was looking for the next camera that will only: be pleasant for use and will give me decent images. I have sold whole 5DMkII system and was waiting for those great cameras to show up on market: X2, Nex7, Fuji Pro, OM-D…. While waiting I started to consider X100 with all cons and pros and realized that I have already decided to buy that camera with my two point of interests, and that there is no reason to wait any more for those to show up.

    X2 and Fuji X-Pro1 was somehow what I have been waiting for, but…. I started to think and realised, again and again, that they might be availible in a few months, they will be as expensive as they are, and that I have got the best 2011 camera right in front of me. I bought it in April and I am enjoying shooting again, just as my child is enjoying discovering the world around her :)

    Thanks to this web site I made my decision, with no turning back. If I didn’t, I will be so disappointed with X2 improvements, and will not consider buying it. X-Pro1 and X2 are great cameras for sure, but at this price…. no thank you.

    Thank you for review Steve, and more, thank you for reviews Steve, you are the best, and I am not “just saying that”. Those daily inspiration articles got an old yashica into my hand and for the first time in my life I started to shoot a film. I guess that there is no reason to say how amazed I was with images in my hand, and even more; for most of them I have forgot what was the shoot and what to expect. I have failed on half of them, but the other half… makes me smile.

    Good luck man :)

  36. Hi Steve, loved this review.
    I’m hanging on to my M9 and my friends has my old X1, both are beautiful cameras.
    So I won’t be buying the X2.
    But it’s a gourgeous camera as well.

  37. Another observation I did on the x2 versus x1. The (raw) files seem to react differently on sharpening in lightroom. As Steve wrote the files are not brutally sharp, at least with the standard setting of lightroom which is 25 . Giving the x1 files more than 40 I started to see artifacts in the 100% view, so I usually left it below 40. The x2 files allow for 50 without seeing artifacts or even more. It did quite surprise me. If my observation is true and you exploit this sharpening headroom this gives the x2 a visibly higher IQ level against the x1. At least regarding resolution. Would be interesting if somebody else observed this as well. Maybe it has something to do with a stronger low-pass filtering in the x2 sensor which can successfully be recovered by stronger sharpening. Indeed I have no glue.

  38. Really superb photos Steve and an excellent review. Not sure if I’ll be rushing out to buy the X2, but I enjoyed the read :) :)

  39. Great comparison that helped me solidify a tough decision. Wether to buy a “shooter’s camera” the OM-D or wait for the release of a camera much harder to use but capable of wonderful images with a unique color signature,the DP-2M. I decided on the Oly and after reading this review I’m quite happy with my decision.
    Thank you.

  40. This camera seems out of place and almost unnecessary in a field of some really great cameras that are out right now. But Leica fans will probably buy it just because it is a Leica. Me? I am extremely happy with my Olympus OM-D.

  41. Steve … can you use the VF-2 on the d lux 5??

  42. Steve,

    Way to go on the Engagement – Congrats!
    I am hoping that Leica exchangeable lens mirror less camera is the “X2″ we were hoping for…
    Time will tell

    Lovin my X1 ..

  43. That fogg bag looks familiar;)… Great choice!

  44. Steve, I do not think you have tried the latest X-100 firmware… I am a sucker for Fuji colours and skin tones, i wish you can sell me on the X2 being a better camera than the X100 other than the leica Karma and allure….

  45. Leica phoned this one in.

    It’s appearing that Leica is simply a lifestyle product. Rather one with mass appeal selling at a premium like Apple, it’s a Ferrari, high on design and performance, but not a heck of a lot better than a Porsche that costs 1/2 or 1/3 the price.

    The majority of photography enthusiasts are worse off for it. But hey, if Leica is selling all they can make at those prices, I suppose I can’t blame them.

    • Except Apple still makes the best phone right now. Say what you want about restrictive OS’s and open source but the market doesn’t lie, its still the #1 phone. Oh btw it COST to hire designers so please don’t go and make design seem like its free and we’re paying money for nothing.

      • Thank you for your opinion on which phone is the best, but that’s a topic for other websites to banter about.

        Regarding designers, usually the best designers make the most money regardless of whom they work for.

        I’m sorry my comments bothered you. If you’re going to read comments, you should develop a thicker skin.

  46. You go to extraordinary lengths to justify buying a two thousand dollar…900 dollar camera. Go ahead, stimulate the euro economy. Gods know they need it.

  47. The Leica X2 seems like a mere evolution of the X1, and in a market that is beginning to pump out revolutionary cameras like the FujiFilm X-100 and Sony Nex7 I can only see this prompting a future possible demise for companies like Leica, just look at “too little, too late” Kodak.

  48. Steve

    I feel a little disappointed in this review. First it seems a bit back handed towards the X2 and Leica. Too much space was used to compare it to other cameras, and not enough space given to the experience of using it. Comparisons, would have been a good separate article.

    I think you are selling the image quality short. I really like the images you made walking around; particularly the Navy Pier, motorcycle and marquee images. From your comparisons with the OM-D and NEX, it appears to me that there is a small amount of focus shift between the images. Is this really there?

    A simple camera with a fixed lens could be the ultimate in freedom, since it eliminates variables and allows you concentrate on making images with what you have. From your comments it is clearly not a speed demon, but as a deliberate image making camera it is probably better than your review leads me to believe.

    PaulB

    • Did you read the whole article? He said that in the end his eye kept going to the X2 images over the other cameras he compared it to. Also Steve’s readers pretty much demand these kind of comparisons as they want to know how the cameras stack up and I’m sure Steve is curious as well. Most major reviewers have comparisons in their review. Look at DPPreview, you can compare the camera being reviews with almost every digital camera available with their handy web app. As with everything take what you need from the article and leave the rest.

  49. hey steve, what did you use to take the first pic on this post? the one where your holding the X2.

  50. Great to have so many good choices, things really have changed to the better for compact camera buyers in the last two years. From a purely rational point of view, except for size and weight, nothing speaks for the X2 any longer. The alleged Leica look of X1/2 files is wishful thinking, a ferry tale, as it is mostly a function of in-camera settings. I own the X1 since April 2009 and it is my jacket pocket size aps-c point and shoot. But it’s 2012 and USD 2000 allow to buy better camera’s than the X2. Buy a NEX7, an m-mount adapter and some CV glass (35mm and longer) shoot raw, upload files, look at you computer screen, and don’t forget to close your mouth when you start to realize what the word “resolution” really means. Oh, and that best in class EVF, ergonomic handgrip and high resolution tiltable lcd screen are included in the NEX7 price. The latter can not even be bought with money for the X2. Or get a USD 200 AF Sigma 30mm lens for the NEX which outresolves even the USD 4000 Leica 50 asph Summilux.
    It’s a revelation to see how a Leica camera performs and compares in a very competitive market segment. One day competition might start making digital RFs as well.

  51. Wriggle as much as you want, Steve, seems like you are not going to get another Leica to test, either…
    Thanks, anyway, for an honest review.

    • I don’t think that’s the case. Steve’s site is the number #1 Leica related site on the web and he is first and foremost a Leica shooter. I’m sure the guys at Leica can hadle a little honesty.

  52. I am sorry to say I jumped right to the end of the review and straight down to the end of the comments, just to say this… Leica are a dinosaur and although they brand their cameras like the watch industry brand their watches, sadly the dinosaur era is over for cameras. Their products are ridiculously over priced (just think of that Olympus viewfinder and the Panasonic point and shoots they stick a red dot on!) they sell almost entirely on cachet and almost entirely to wealthy folk who know no better. Please don’t misunderstand, I love quality, expensive brands and own several iconic watches – but cameras aren’t like that, they have to work in the real world as well as being beautiful objects to collect. When an electronics manufacturer like Sony can pull the Nex system out of the hat from nowhere (ok they don’t do lenses but hey they make TV’s not glass!) and Fuji can also release crazy, retro, limited, iconic cameras that nearly work – well, Leica are like that mouse in the maze, still biting on what little remains of the cheese they once had instead of moving with the times and finding some new cheese.

    I think if you want an iconic new real world camera, one that has that feel of ‘difference’ and one that has both the class and the glass that inspires – watch Olympus. Even through their latest boardroom debacle they still managed to release the OM-D – when they eventually get their act together and release a PEN style OM-D, with built in EVF, tiltable screen etc (obviously Sony are far better at miniaturisation!) then the games up!

    • You should have stopped to look at the images at least because if you did you would see why people buy Leicas. I’m not defending the X2 as you can read my comment below but to discount all Leica cameras is a bit like discounting all porches because they released the 914. Maybe you have never used a Leica rangefinder but if you had then you would probably know that they are the ultimate photographers tool historically and currently speaking. Maybe you just started shooting this year so that’s why your all over the OMDs usability but if you ever want to learn about the history of photography you’ll find out Leica owns a huge chunk of it. I’m sorry rich people but them, I’m not rich but I still manage to have a nice little red dot collection and take damn good pictures with them.

    • P.S. You are right the Nex 7 is great (I have one) and I know the OMD is great from all the rave reviews but so is the M9, S2, X1 and M Monochrome.

    • I think Leica realise this, they are more a brand focused marketing outfit than a photographic equipment manufacturer. Much like that other german brand Mont Blanc did some years back, they now work on marketing the brand’s image, rather than the product (in the world of pens little of the technology has changed it’s all styling now, no substance). I have been considering an M9 and went to the only shop in the state I live in [Tasmania in Australia] were they represent Leica. They no longer stock the M models, only the rebadged point and shoots. Why? well Leica want them to have a boutique, with it’s own separate area, red couch, glass display, where you can admire the gear while you sip a caffe latte. Different demographic? I will keep using my few M mount lenses on a NEX5n and soon am OM-D and take advantage of the new lenses Oly and Panny put out instead.

      • I just want to say before anything else that I would love to vist Tasmania, seems like a beautiful place to live and visit!

        I understand what your saying but even here in Los Angeles we have a huge camera store called Samy’s camera. This is where a lot of professionals go, both movie and still production. Not to mention actors, models and anyone else that wants to go up and down the crowed 4 story building. They even have a Leica corner with a perfect old man there named Tibor who will teach you all things Leica if you ask. Yet with all that cache Samy’s has they still only have the same M9 demo camera they’ve always had but none in stock…ever. Sure they’ll order one for you just like any camera store will but truth be told even those fancy Leica stores do not carry the M9 in stock. Maybe in China but that’s where the money is. Name me a companyy that does not want to emerge richer from the nouvea rich Chinese? Once the M10 comes out forget about it, that camera will be so far in demand from every corner of the earth stores might not even get demos. There are just too many people that use these cameras seriously to discount them completely.

  53. Steve…M9m or new 50mm asph. ‘cron?

  54. Thanks for the great review as always Steve. I’m an admitted LFB and defended the X1 wholeheartedly against the the X100 and for good reason as the X1 has “that Leica look”. A year and a half later the X1 is still a great camera but I have to say the X2 is disappointing. Not for the images but because of all the reasons you stated. The X1 was ahead of the game, so much so it had to use a DSLR sensor because the APS mirror less sensor had not been invented yet ( also the culprit of its slow focusing), but the X2 is already 2 steps behind upon its release. Why buy an X2 when you can buy a used X1 at almost a quarter of the price and still get that amazing image quality?

    I just bought an Nex 7 for video and I’m blown away by the image quality with a Leica lens attached and with a 40 Summicron it’s about the same size as an X. There’s just not a lot of upside at that price point. Add an EVF, Summilux Lens, or non telescoping lens and we are not having this conversation. Any one of those would have rendered the X2 viable (the first two more then the last one). Top it all off with that design destroying EVF mount and your no place good.

    I will temper this with the knowledge that Leica does not have the hardware capacity of a Fuji or Sony and I’m sure they were already designing the X2 when the X100 came out but if that is the case they should have been planning ahead and at least added a built in OVF. How hard could that be? Sorry Leica I will forever love you but the X2 will go down as your Spruce goose. I still think the Monochrome is amazing and I know the M10 will be a world beater so it’s not all bad news that’s for sure.

  55. The photos of the cats made me laugh – AF too slow, so it walked away? Still, add enough PP and voilá “Leica look”. ;-)

  56. Interesting read, one thing though, aesthetically it’s a beautiful piece of design, but with that external EVF thing mounted it looks awful, even the Leica one with that M5 era logotype, what’s going on with that?

    • A design masterpiece, no question, a fashion accessory, a jewelry substitute sold at fetish prices. Unless you want to use it, of course, in which case one has to ugly it up with that wart of an EVF and el cheapo after thought handgrip. What really disappoints that they did not even achieve decent AF speed improvement. It’s still the slowest of the bunch. They files the X2 produces are certainly nice, but so are the the ones of quite a number of compact cameras these days. Waiting for the DP2 Merrill.

  57. Great review! Thanks, Steve!

    I think, the difference between X1 and X2 is regardind the quality of the pictures is not so big. May be, I´ll use my X1 for the next time!

    Regards Bernd

  58. Trying to choose between the OM-D, X2, and X100. This review was immensely helpful and also made the decision more difficult. I love the X2′s IQ and idea of its simplicity, but the OM-D offers a lot more flexibility with different lenses, along with speed, and I feel the IQ is pretty high. I really wish Leica had made the changes you recommended as then it would be an incredibly easy choice, but I’ll continue to consider both…with the OM-D currently being the one I’m leaning toward.

    Anyone out there have suggestions/observations that aren’t in the review? Thank you, and thank you for a wonderful resource.

    • Well…The X2 has the design and size and control going for it. Pure simplicity. It is the slowest of the bunch.

      The OM-D has versatility and really has no flaws that I have found. The 25 1.4 is amazing on this camera and brings the IQ to that of almost any other camera out there right now. But it is larger and not as nice to look at as the X2 AND will still give a different look. But the video, IQ, 5-Axis IS, tilt high res LCD, EVF, weather proof, blazing fast and accurate AF…seems to have it all.

      The X100 – I have yet to shoot with one after the last FW update but everyone says it is like a new camera. If that is the case, the IQ is on par with the X1/X2. Tough call. Id like to have all three but even I have to choose ONE to stick with and me having shot with all three says the OM-D is the smartest buy. Let’s look at costs…

      X2 – $2000 – Add Oly EVF – $2220 – Add Leica EVF – $2575
      OM-D with kit 12-50 lens and 25 1.4 – $1800
      X100 – $1199 or $1699 for the black kit with all accessories included. Has a faster lens than the X2, great high ISO and cool factor with EVF/OVF built in.

      Cheapest is the X100 and it will give you gorgeous files in a nice small package, built in EVF/OVF, f/2 lens, ND filter built in for sunny day fast shooting. Crap video though.
      Then the OM-D which has the versatility going for it with excellent video, lenses and speed – The 25 1.4 and OM-D make for a great fast “50mm” kit, just like the old days with the OM and 50 1.4. Really nothing to complain about except that you can’t find them in stock.
      The X2 will dent your wallet the most, even without an EVF and will not really give you better IQ results than the X100. Butt is a Leica and looks great and is super simple to operate. Id like to own it for those days I want that X2 vibe, but my wallet is telling me I am crazy (though I really am a little crazy).

      Tough call. I have the NEX-7, OM-D and X2 here. The X2 isn’t mine but if it was, and I could only keep ONE. Id HAVE to keep my OM-D though all are fantastic in their own ways.

      There. I am sure that was NO help at all :)

      • Very helpful–choosing the OM-D as the one you’d keep is the bottom line answer.

        Thank you for being so thorough in the review.

        Enjoy the day!

    • The Olympus and the Leica are completely different things. I took my time at my dealer to play with with the Olympus. It would be a replacement for my dslr I thought. But since I am very happy with my canon stuff I was not too much interested in the end. The oly would not be the simple and silent and beautiful companion which the Leica is for me. So the answer could be: have them both.

      I found out that I need my hands on a camera before being able to take a decision. I have to feel it, to play with it. Looking pictures of it or reading reviews is not sufficient. If my hands do not like it, I will not feel tempted to use it, means I will not use it. So my recommendation is simply test all the devices you are interested in, be it via online order/return or at a local dealer. Your fingers and your stomach will most likely help you in deciding, sometimes to your surprise.

      The simplicity approach of Leica is not understood by many and I guess it can only be experienced. I am really astonished when people say it does not have this nor that and that. That’s the whole point of the X that it does NOT have that many possibilities. Don’t compare it to feature monsters.

      • Thank you, Roland. I definitely plan to get hands-on experience with the cameras before choosing one; I’m using the reviews and feedback from others to get a sense of the two or three cameras that best suit my needs. I can’t imagine buying a camera without testing.

        I understand the Leica simplicity but in the end speed is something I need and the Leica for some reason seems to not offer that (and I don’t feel it’s asking too much). I’ve been waiting for the X2 hoping that the speed would improve (if nothing else) upon the X1, and I can’t say they made enough progress here. The OM-D’s a different beast but we’re all different and I believe the OM-D, X2, and X100 may suit my needs, rather via simplicity or through other means. I say all of that respectfully.

  59. Hmmm, I’m not sure the X2 is enough of an upgrade to the X1 to get many people very excited. The X1 has been struggling for sales the past 18 months, even more so after the introduction of the Fuji X100 and X10, not to mention the NEX7 and XPro1. I’m afraid that the life cycle of this very slightly upgraded X1 (shouldn’t it have really been called the Leica X1.2?) may be from now to Photokina, when even more competition will undoubtedly be unleashed against this baby Leica.

    Perhaps that’s why Leica chose to release it early?

    • Or perhaps you miss the idea of the X2. It is a digital barnack. It is tiny. It feels like a camera and not a computer. The X2 will sell.

      • No, I didn’t “miss the idea” that the X series from Leica are “digital Barnacks”. As I mentioned in my post I own the X1, and it looks great on the shelf next to my Leica IA and IIIC. From a styling prospective Leica hit a home run with the X series, it’s just too bad that when it came to camera performance they grounded out to first.

        When it comes to the X2 and it’s kluge EVF (that is the size of a Studebaker grill) I am firmly in the “NOT RECOMMENDED” category. For the same money as the X2 and EVF you can buy a used M8 with a 35mm lens, which is far superior in both IQ and shooting experience.. Or save some money and just buy an X1, as the used prices have plummeted to less than $1000. Anyway you look at this the X2 is just an X1 with some very minor tweaks and fixes.

        As for your assertion that “The X2 will sell” on that we are agreed. In a world where people pay $50,000 for a Hermes Edition M9 that does away with the hot shoe and frame preview lever anything is possible. Thankfully for Leica there is still a sizable customer base for whom style is more important than substance.

  60. I had an X1 and liked it. AF was horrible for anything moving. Of course, I also had a D3s so I was use to amazing AF. Anyways, I was hoping for a 2.0 lens and fast AF. I think I will pass on the X2. Maybe Leica will get it right with the X3.

  61. Im still confused over everyone’s disappointment over the lack of built in OVF.

    That would have increased its size. And as it stands adding a voigtlander 35mm OVF is not only better quality, but keeps the camera smaller, and is removeable should you so want it.

    So in that sense Leica have made a smaller camera which is in fact modular, rather than increasing it size to make it all built in.

    Way better.

    • A built in OVF would have not taken much space at all (look at the Leica CM) and would have made the camera much more usable for many who prefer and enjoy VF’s. Also, in the harsh sun it is tough to compose with the LCD. Yes, the Voigtlander OVF is a GREAT idea actually, and is probably what I would buy if I were to go with an X2. Still, wish it had a built in. As it is though, the camera is gorgeous and provides great IQ.

      • The voigtlander adapter is annoying on the X1/X2. It is flush with the back of the camera when mounted and your nose is pressed hard against the LCD. The leica version sticks out a good deal past the back of the camera… a much nicer experience.

  62. You can call me crazy but I still own my x1, but also have a x100 and a Nex7.
    My take: Overall the x1 produces the most pleasing colors and images to me.
    The x100 IQ is fine as well , but to me looks somewhat flatter. Reds sometimes look a but pinkish, and the same is true for skin. Greens of the x100 under certain light look a bit too green for my taste.
    Here is my take on the x100 vs x1/x2 (by the way I dont care much for EVF-better than no viewfinder for bright light, but in normal light I rather use the display and stay connected to the real world directly with my eyes (if I dont have an OVF):
    -images of the x1 overall look more balanced, color somewhat deeper, just right for me
    -x1/x2 is more portable and lighter than x100
    -user interface of x1/x2 is even simpler than x100 (except missing viewfinder)
    -on the other side:
    -x100 costs less than 2/3 of x2
    -x100 has a nice built in OVF (where you know on what you focus (with latest firmware)), can do macro, is f2.0
    hard decision-thats why I still own both (which doesnt make sense-I know)
    Overall I have to say I find the price of the x2 somewhat too high compared to the x100 etc.

    • This is a great comment as it really says the truth about these two cameras. I know what you mean on the X1 colors being a bit more pleasing. There is something about it, even if those differences are small. You can tell a Leica file from the X100 file if you have worked with both. X2 is all about simplicity and small size and quality. X100 is quality as well but a bit different in its execution.

      I am trying to do a 4 camera comparison here next week. NEX-7 and Zeiss 24, Fuji X100, Leica X2 and Olympus OM-D with 17 2.8. ALl would be 35mm equivalent lenses. Shooting them all at 2.8 and f/4 would make for an interesting comparison. Now, just have to figure out where to drive to for some interesting light. :)

  63. Well, I’ve lived for 15 years in Hong Kong and the ability of people here to spend stupendous amounts of money on designer tat is breathtaking…! The thing is, at least with designer handbags etc the buyer is making a ‘lifestyle’ choice to buy into the brand thing purely because they value the look of the product. They are under no illusions that a Chanel handbag will actually be a more effective way of carrying their stuff around than the $25 no-brand alternative.When it comes to cameras though I can’t help thinking that function should be more important than form. When Leica mark up a plain vanilla EVF by a factor of 2.7x for the privilege of having the 5 magic letters on the front, that’s when we should be very concerned that Leica is starting to take the p#ss…And if they can do that with a small item like an EVF, the thought occurs that they just might be doing the same on a bigger scale with all their other products. Which seriously undermines the arguments about the need for premium pricing to cover the costs of hand assembly, quality components etc.

    • They do the same thing with all products “Leica”. Check prices for simple original “Leica” lens caps, which for sure are not made in Germany.

  64. Thanks for a nice review!

    Had been waiting for this as I have the X100, but originally wanted the X1. I belong to those that prefer the look of the X1/X2 over the X100, and although a OVF would have been nice, I don’t use it that much on my X100. Longer battery life and smaller size is a big plus in my book, but with about the same AF speed and that “old LCD”, I think I’ll stick with my X100 for the time being. I’m still quite happy with the X100 but wish it was smaller.

  65. @Colin: usually when a premium brand rebadges a “lower” brand item, they say they “recalibrated” the item.
    Maybe that’s what Leica did with the evf, incidentally coming up with the same end result. That would account for the mark-up.

    Anyway, yóu of all people wouldn’t want to be seen dead with a Leica camera with an Olympus evf on top of it, now would you?

    • The shame of being seen with an Olympus EVF is easily avoided by a quick trip to Kowloon where for a couple of bucks I can get somebody to paint ‘Leica’ on the front and voila, my camera will perfectly complement my Gucci bag and Hermes socks.

  66. Wow you guys are BRUTAL.

    Leica has done a roaring trade of late. The M9 (as weak as it is) had brought Leica back from the brink. I bought one, didn’t like it and so reluctantly sent it back (there were QC issues on the lens and camera).

    All of that aside, I still love Leica and what they has achieved in the space of time they has achieved it in. Their lenses are second to none. Their images are the best I have seen, including from MF systems. No one can match the colour or look that Leica produces. You either like it or you don’t. Some (most) people can’t even see the difference.

    I can and I love it. So the LCD screen is awful. So they re-badge an EVF and charge you more. So what? There are countless people lining up to buy this stuff. Still!

    I for one am considering the X2 as my 2nd attempt entry into the Leica world (hopefully they won’t blow it like the last time). I need a compact camera with superior IQ. I don’t like what the Olympus/Sony/Fuji brigade produces image-wise. Even Nikon have blown it with their “1″ system (which is a shame – all it needs is an APC sized sensor and voila!).

    I’d get an M9 but even I have limits with regards to value. Fingers and toes are heavily crossed for the M10.

    By the way Steve – Congratulations on your engagement!

  67. By the way, a quick question on the EVF advantage over the mounted glass “viewer” – is it a 100% frame coverage? Or is it just preference?

  68. Thanks for the review, and congratulations on the engagement!

    I liked the X1 when I handled one at a Leica dealer in Houston, but at the time, I had other priorities. I actually like, to some extent, the look of a shoe-mounted viewfinder, whether OVF or EVF, so the X2′s appearance and lack of a built-in viewfinder is OK for me. I look forward to handling an X2, to compare it with the Fuji X Pro I have handled at the same dealer. Thus far, I favor the Fuji, but nothing is decided until I put my hands on something, hold it for a while, and try some shots.

  69. Hmm. I’ve decided to go for a used X1 for around 2/3 the price of the X2 – the IQ is important, but the minor improvements of the X2 don’t add up to the extra cost for me. I’m also completely shallow and love the looks of both cameras over the competition..!

    A quick question – does anyone know if the Olympus VF-2 (or VF-1) will work with the X1?

  70. So I just got back from my local Leica Store.

    Here’s the scoop:

    X2, in silver (waiting list for the black – no stock). It was smaller than I thought. That’s a bonus. Controls felt absolutely superb and click-shifty (just like Campagnolo Record for those who know what that is)……build quality is magnificent and is light years ahead of any other camera I’ve held (and that includes the M9). There’s something about it that is just “right”. Weight, feel, quality of manufacture etc. My D3 doesn’t come close.

    Speed – pretty good actually – certainly enough for what I need. Dare I say it – ALMOST snappy! And that includes start up, focus speed etc. Doesn’t sound like I would have liked the X1 if it was slower. Write speed I didn’t get a chance to test yet.

    LCD – I don’t know what everyone is complaining about here. Sure, it’s not as nice as on my D3, but it’s more than useful enough. Would be so sweet if you could tether this to the iPad 3.

    I used it with the optional optical viewer (from an X1). That was cool. But I now have another question re the EVF – can you see shutter speed, ISO, exposure etc through it? That’s probably one of the few things that go against it. You need to view that stuff on the LCD or the top plate…… So with any luck, someone will chime in and tell me you can view all that through the EVF!?

    I will be going back with an SD card to do a walk around with the camera – then check whether the files are what I expect. This will be the final thing that will push me into buying this lovely beast. But so far, colour me impressed!

    Which brings me to all the negative comments on this board about this camera – those individuals have either never actually handled one of these – or just plain don’t like this product.

    Will provide an update once I’ve returned with an SD card. Perhaps Steve would like a guest review of it? Let me know mate.

    Cheers
    Adam

    • Hey Adam! Glad you were able to handle one, and glad that you liked it. Like I said, I do like the X2 and find the IQ and overall quality to be exceptional. I was only let down by the lack of EVF, same low res LCD and marginally faster AF. The design, build, controls, and feel are all superb. Would be great to get a guest review from you!

  71. Hey Steve, Great honest review with some really good images.

    Not been too much comment on the actual pictures here which is kind of funny as that’s what photography is supposed to be about rather than the object we use t take them. Which brings me to a question abut the B&W images in your review. Are these out of camera JPEG/RAW with normal processing or did you use Nik Silver Efex or Alien Skin to produce them?

    The reason I ask is that the look and feel of these images is really good, particular the Chicago shot which looks like it could have been taken in the fifties if the cars weren’t there.

    Oh and congratulations on your engagement, its great to see things going well for you.

    Darell

    • Couldn’t agree more. It’s the images themselves that make me want this camera. I can live with everything else. They are just superb (from something so basic). Just think, a vanilla Elmarit 2.8 producing what it does – has to be one of Leica’s sleeper lenses.

      Compared to an M9 + elmarit lens, the camera really is a bit of a *gasp* “bargain” in Leica terms. AND it’s in a tiny, take everywhere package. I do a lot of hiking so that’s critical for me.

      But back to the images – I particularly like the softly sun drenched cafe (3rd last shot) – amazing colour and tone.

      The Road Closed shot – how can you beat that colour???!!

      The creeper vine shot – wow, just wow. So rich, and dare I say it, reminiscent of Steve’s earlier work with the M9…….

      The now famous gate in B&W which very nearly trumps (or at least equals) the same famed M9M image.

      But everyone should really get their hands on one before commenting.

      On a separate note, the store I visited had virtually every M lens in stock (including the f0.95 nocti) – so perhaps Leica have finally caught up.

  72. “… WOW. Such depth and color and detail here, even wide open”

    Steve – could not agree more … just WOW! (did you do any post at all on that Ivy shot?)

    Thanks … great stuff!!!

  73. Steve,

    Thanks for the review. I think that if you do opt for the X2, it will be short-lived and you’ll grow tired of its shortcomings versus current-day competitors in short-time, judging from the lukewarm nature of your review. Sure, the image quality is surperb, but so is the X1′s. I’m surprised there weren’t more upgrades to this camera after 3 years, in such a competitive marketplace. I have a X1 which I hardly use anymore and likely won’t be getting a X2.

  74. Upon further review review of the excellent images, in this review and the earlier X1 reviews, I must say I really like the way these miniature Leicas “see” things, compared to most other compact cameras.
    I know I do not like the handling qualities of the NEX 7 at all, and having handled a Nikon 1 V1 several times, have mostly, but not entrirely, eliminated it from consideration. The X2 and X Pro are the two leading contenders, in my mind. Each camera sees things differently, but I like both.

  75. Well I just bought an X2.

    Its better built than any camera I’ve ever owned (and I own a canon 1D), is superb with a voightlander 35mm OVF, heavy in the hand and beautiful to handle, the lcd is great (if you really feel you need to use it), the focus snappy, and most importantly the images are just superb.

    Quit moaning everyone about specs and comparative cameras and go and try one.

    Its amazing.

  76. Instead of buying an overpriced Leica I bought an overpriced black X100. And I love it. Love is not logic. As simple as that.

    • Lol, I just had a black SE X100 delivered here and WOW…the packaging may be nicer than the X1 packaging :) Camera is gorgeous in person.

      • It’s easy on the eye, absolutely. Enjoy :-)

      • Quite true! My local dealer has had a black X100 on display for several weeks; an aesthetically beautiful camera, but an X Pro 1 fits my hands much better, and is still attractive to my eyes.

  77. It’s a bit sad for me to say it, but Leica themselves have slowly been turning me into a Fuji fan. I find the x100 so much fun to use (maybe because I waited until the latest firmware to buy it – LOL) and the IQ out of camera so outstanding that it’s got me thinking about the x-Pro1 all over again (though I’ll likely wait a while to see what develops with their M-adaptor and firmware updates).

    I did indeed enjoy the X1 when I had it, despite it’s relative “slowness” (in functioning)… but at this point, between the EMP1 and the x100, I find my micro-camera lineup just fine. I just can’t justify the price (and it’s ultimately why I sold the X1) when for the same (or so) cost, I could jump into an x-Pro1. I think Fuji got the fixed-lens camera package so right on many fronts, with the built-in EVF/OVF and a much more comfortable price-point for many of us… and it’s not as though it’s more quirky.

    I feel as I’ve been bashing Leica lately for their choices, and most of that I realize come from a selfish, “I”ll never afford it” place… but in the case of the X2, it’s just not enough with what their direct competition is doing. I don’t doubt it produces impressive files (as the X1 does), but I doubt they are $1000 more impressive than the x100.

    Thanks for a great review Steve! …and congrats on the engagement!

  78. The X2 is worth it just for the glass alone.

    And that has nothing to do with pixel peeping and spotting the highest resolution.

    I work in the film industry and test cinema lenses for a living. If you put a Panavision Primo lens (whose glass is made by Leitz) on a lens projector and compare it to say a Zeiss Master prime, you could argue that the Zeiss is sharper. But this is not why cinematographers choose lenses. We are more concerned about the overall characteristic of a lens as a whole and the artistic brush stroke it gives to an image. The Leitz glass in Primo lenses has a quality that no other lenses have, and is difficult to quantify, but you see it when projected on the big screen its obvious. Cooke also have a similar subtlety.

    You either see it or you don’t over a batch of still images. Its subtle but there. For me its about colour reproduction.

    And I see the same in the X2 that I bought today.

    I hope that helps.

  79. I recently picked up a second hand X1 at Aperture Camera in London for £790 in near mint condition. I am a happy bunny. Good companion to my M8 when I need a super light camera.

  80. Hi Steve,

    Thank you so much for your review. I share your sentiments on the attachment VF’s. But in terms of the auto focus speed. Would it be a matter of just a firmware upgrade to get the X1 to the X2 speed? or was there actually a hardware upgrade?

    Again thanks so much for the review, looking forward to the comparison with the x100.

    • Thanks so much!

    • Firstly thanks to Steve for the review. It was wonderfully written and a pleasure to read read.

      This is a good point! Does Leica have a good history releasing firmware updates? I honestly do not know. I use their film cameras and have no experience with their digi track record.

      Fuji have kept improving the x10 since release and listened to customers feedback for the 28mm conversion lens. The fact that fuji is swiftly responding to grouces by releasing updated firmware ups the ante. It will be interesting to see how Leica will respond.

      Again thank you Steve for the wonderful review.

      I am lookin at both the x2 and x100. Price wise it is not apple to apple. So i am curious about customer support. I dont mind paying the price if the services were extraordinary. will hold off until later in the year to make a purchase. If the x200 comes out and leica is slow with improvements. I might jump and buy that instead. Still a bit pissed that they are charging crazy $$ for that evf.

  81. Another plus point for the X2:

    It has a leaf shutter – which gives you 1/2000 sec sync speed – AWESOME!

    Con: it’s only f2.8. This is holding me back a touch. I enjoy super shallow DOF.

  82. Hi Steve,

    congratulations. Great review. I waited for it since the launch of the X2 and your announcement. Now, I’m a little bit disappointed that the X2 is only slightly better than the X1. Especially the IQ has been expected to be at least 30% better. One question not mentioned yet: my wife is always complaining the noisy shutter sound when I shoot my Digilux 3 , that’s why she like the X1. What about the X2? Is the shutter sound comparable to the X1, or even more quiet?
    Many thanks in advance.

  83. I love Steve Huff’s breathless review style but I think this quote from The Phoblographer sums it up ; ” If you can justify the purchase, spring for it because it is probably the best point and shoot you can get your hands on.”

  84. i´am a cinematographer (35mm and now digital on Arri Alexa and Red Epic) for feature film and commercials.
    i always see the world of making images from both sides (motion and still)
    dynamic range is over resolution in my eyes.
    so, i will get my x2, my first digital leica, in next 2 hours, when UPS does it ;-)

    i will tell you my impressions soon, i will test it like all my other cameras for the stuff i think is important.

    • it´s here. was difficult to get one in germany, quite sold out.
      camera is beautiful. body quality is still the best.
      i did some fast tests, took the raw and threw it in lightroom, the raw offers enough information to get awesome images, indeed. i suppose the camera has a dynamic range at 11.5 stops around, i must test more (best i saw in last weeks is D800 with approx. 14 stops i would suggest) – so if you have highlights and you go to protect them, you can take it back with the raw without heavy noise.
      the lense is – as usual – very good. but in general, it´s this leica feeling that makes the deal. kind of luxury product, but for me, every image has more value and “love” than with every other camera in this class. i have the leica evf, i know there is olympus, but i admit, i want that leica typo on it.
      all is very high at prize, yes, but every part is very well manufactured, the leather, the flash.
      a new travel friend.

  85. Honey!! Honey!! Look at this review — OMG Have Charles bring the Bentley around. I MUST have this for my collection even though I only shoot photos of Mitzie the cat!

  86. Another great review. Pity that Lecia is above my pay grade.

    Steve, you can borrow my x100 for a few days if you want. I live near the Scottsdale airport. Drop me an email if so – I assume that you have it through the website.

    - Tom

  87. I am behind in your reviews. I see now you have one, and black too. Enjoy.

  88. EVF2 has arrived in store. Am going to run some shots through my SD card (in and around the store) tomorrow. Will report on the weekend what the final result will be………..

  89. The OMD has a “a high res swivel LCD”. Hmmmm. I think mine was left out of the box… ;)

  90. Thanks, but no thanks for a warm hue in unprocessed RAW’s. As beautiful that may be to make daylight photos fancier, I think a warm tone in a RAW image has as little of a place as smearing bugs in the firmware.

  91. For some reason or other, I can’t help but feel somewhat disappointed in ALL current offerings in the compact category. I am a professional studio photographer using a medium format (Hasselblad H4D) system and wish to purchase a compact system camera that matches say a Nikon D800e image quality. I do not believe it to be too difficult to have a full frame, after all, Leica did it and they’re NOT all that advanced with respect to technology… if they were, they would not need to purchase sensors (they would make their own), nor would they have to partner up with Panasonic. Although I don’t care much for Nikon glass for their build quality (prefer Canon), my street camera will have to be the D800e… until a compact worthy of a switch makes its appearance. I tried my luck with an M9 with a Summilux 50mm lens… ditched the camera but kept the lens in case Leica came out with a body worth putting the lens on it again. I loved the feel, the nostalgia, even the manual focus – but the 6 months I kept it, I couldn’t manage to love it. Oh well, I’m convinced one day there will be a suitable match!

    • Sunil,

      I too am a professional studio photographer shooting with Hassy / Phase One. While waiting for the Nikon 800e (which I ordered within hours of being announced in early Feb) I decided to play around with a Pen EP-2 and was instantly hooked. That said, I went ahead a bought an OM-D and can whole-heartedly assert that I am converted and blown away with what I am able to achieve with this little jewel of a camera. Lenses I currently shoot with are the Panny 20/1.7 (alleged to be superior IQ-wise to the Pan-Leica 25 that Steve loves), Panny 14/2.5 (actually very good especially considering its cost) and the Oly 45/1.8 (which is everything its cracked up to be). I also have the Panny 14-45 zoom, which if one has to carry one lens, works great. Bottom line? Grab the OM-D! It’s brilliant!

      Thanks for your review and point of view Steve…

      Cheers all!

      • Wes,

        Thank you for pointing me towards the OM-D… the more I read about it, the more I’m intrigued. The only thing left to do is to go out and try one! I’ve heard that Olympus has the absolute fastest autofocus available – a good thing to have for street photography. Once again, Wes, thank you!

        Sunil

  92. The X2′s noise at high ISOs is more grain-like than digital tends to be.

    Did you eat at Superdawg? Went there a lot when I lived on the Northwest Side.

  93. The LEICA X2 is the best compact camera ever. Taking snapshots of friends, places, strolling around the city… is the most fun and spontaneous camera with the classic 35mm professional quality. Assembled by hand in germany. Best camera ever.

    Check prices at

  94. the gap is closing indeed… from the monsters like Canon 5D or Nikon D800, with a couple prime lenses and you have about 15lbs to carry around, now go travel…ha we all know this experience and I think from your review here Steve on X2, I should wait for the next generation to close the gap between this model and the M.. maybe an X2i which the notorious EVF, include a stupid hand grip and fast focusing…? and at the same price… why not ? the rest of the competitions is moving in that direction// i think Canon and Nikon will need to continue to move in this direction. really, who loves to carry the heavy equipment around ? it remains very frustrating to see new cameras come out every month and making everything around it obsolete after 6 months / unless we buy the few high end pieces… I do love the leica concept except all the extras that one has to get / like buying a BMW and needing to purchase the radio separately…..that part of German ‘engineering’ I don’t get / thanks for you review !!!

  95. Hello Steve, I have a question about the X2, did you now that there is a difference between the auto ISO and the manual ISO? when you want to set the ISO manual, you can choose between 100,200,400 etc. When the X2 works in auto ISO the X2 choose for thirds numbers, like 320,500,640. I find it no problem, just curies wy. BTW, this test and all the story’s on your site make me decide to buy a X2 in Black. And so far I love this camera.

  96. I adore my X2; love everything about – it’s performance, usability, design.

    The only thing I would really like to see in a X moving forward is speed; change the elmarit to a 1.4 lux.

    Oh yeah move the aperture dial to the lens, its a design flaw not using that part of the camera, change current f-dial to rapidly dial in exposure comp.

    Oh yeah and that OMD 5-axis IS thingymadoodle would make the X just killer.

  97. Tested Fuji ex1 side by side with leica x1 – skins tones were crisper and sharper . Getty images also accept the x1..

  98. Hi Steve,

    I know I’m asking you to speculate but do you believe there is going to be a Leica X3 in the future?

    If so, what do you think the chances are of it getting a FF-sensor and a faster lens to meet the competition from the RX1?

    -GF

    • Well, the X2 was a flop for Leica. It sold no where near what the X1 did. I am not sure what they are planning but if they do an X3 it really needs a faster lens, better sensor as well as retain the beautiful design. Sony’s RX1 is a much better camera than the X2 so if Leica wants to compete they will need something RX1 like for their next X.

      • I haven’t tried the RX1 but from what I’ve seen/read its absolutely awesome.

        It’s a shame about the X2 though. It’s such a timeless beautiful design. And there seem to be a certain quality to it’s (and the X1′s) files I have not seen elsewhere in ASPC-land.

        But the price is simply not reasonable given the competition. It will be interesting to see how it stacks up to the Nikon Coolpix A :-)

  99. I hesitated to purchase the Leica X2 because of its price tag….but that camera’s reviews and photos posted online convinced me more an more that this was the camera to own; the Leica range finders are way out my league price-wise. I gave in and purchased the camera at B&H (which is an experience in itself if you can go to NYC). I not in the least regret the purchase. It is a wonderful camera! For traveling and street photography it is perfect. As I prepare cameras well for the one perfect shot (I am not a machine-gunner photographer) it is easy to use and the photos are as good as my Canon 5D. I love the Leica. I did purchase the Olympus EVF and use it all the time – outstanding quality. I recommend this camera to anyone contemplating a Leica but hesitating at the price – I do not regret the price tag for this “mini-M” camera. I purchased the silver and it’s look is attractive. Someday I will own a range finder – and it will be Leica. I am hooked.

  100. I own the x2, I must say I don’t agree with the more firm buttons being a good thing.
    To me it is the only problem of this camera and I find it extremely annoying !

    I shoot in aperture priority and it is too firm to turn it with a single finger while I am shooting, it requires too much pushing and therefore will sometimes skip a position, so the only way to use it precisely is between your thumb and index, quite an unconfortable position…

    Also as I shoot with the optical viewfinder and therefore have no feedback in the viewfinder, I need to check the button each time I turn it as I can’t be sure I didn’t skip a position, I probably wouldn’t if it was more smooth.
    in comparison the lens barrel on the x100 is way better, and I think changes the whole shooting experience.

    I wish I could use the smooth manual focus wheel instead to compensate,
    this wheell is totally useless unless you shoot manual and doubt anyone would want to use manual focus with this camera, it is way too unconfortable.
    It is unfortunately impossible to asssign the wheel to another function (speed/aperture or maybe e+/-?), I hoped for a firmware update to allow it but my hopes are now gone.

  101. Hi Steve,

    Are you planning to do a “X2, 1 year later” as you did with the X1…?

    Comparison with the X Vario would also be very interesting.
    In that review (great review by the way !) you mention that the sensor of the X Vario is the same as the X2, but modified for better performance…in what way?

    Do you think (experience) IQ from X Vario is better then with the X2 ?
    (To me the IQ seems a step higher then the X2. More the Leica colour-tonality; which also the Leica X1 had, and which the X2 lacs a bit, as I compare pictures…)
    Can Leica modify this with a software-update for the X2, or is this a question of hardware?

  102. As an X1 owner, I had my doubts about the X2, but I eventually decided to try it out and now it’s my second favourite camera. Love the design, the size, and more importantly, the image quality.

    • Hey Ron,

      I’m curious…
      is your favorite camera the X1…?

      What differences do you experience between the X1 and X2…?

  103. Thanks for this. How does the X2 compare with the new Fuji x100s?

    • Exactly what I was thinking… even a quick, short comparison Steve please? btw Steve you said the x2 isn’t really any less noisier at ISO3200 than the X1 but then judged it equal to the X100 at high ISO whereas on your X1 comparison your call in this regards was ‘at ISO 3200 the X1 has quite a bit more noise’ and that is fairly noticeable in the comparison shots where even at reduced resolution the x1 seemed a lot noisier than the Fuji, which most people consider ‘clean’ and usable up until ISO6400.

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