The Leica X Typ 113 Review in under 3500 words. Gorgeous IQ, but with a flaw.

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The Leica X Typ 113  Review in under 3500 words. Gorgeous IQ, but with a flaw.

by Steve Huff

When I found out that Leica created a new “X” camera with a Summilux lens and a faster aperture of F/1.7 I was VERY happy. FINALLY! Leica created the X many of us have wanted…or did they? With all new stylish looks, a larger size using the X-Vario body, and a very GORGEOUS brown and silver color along with the stealthy black Leica has left out the built in EVF that 90% of us have been begging for. Why oh why? If an EVF was put in this camera it would have flown off the shelves!

Since the X was announced I have had no less than 100 e-mails telling me something like this:

“Steve! If the new X had an integrated EVF I would have pre-ordered instantly”!!

This also happened with the X2 to some extent but not like this. See, the X2 did not sell as well as the X1 due to the fact that it was so much like the X1. Same body, same lens, same everything besides a new sensor that at the time helped with high ISO. The X1 sold VERY well, it flew off of the shelves because it was the 1st of its kind, at the time. The X2 did not do as well as the X1 sales wise and Leica assumed it was because it did not have a zoom lens, so they made the X-Vario with a slow slow aperture zoom. The Vario sold even less than the X2. Ugg.

So this time, here in 2014, Leica decided to give us Leica fans (almost) what they wanted! An X camera with a FAST fixed Summilux lens. Usually a Summilux is an f/1.4 design but on the X it is (supposedly) an f/1.7 design. But before I get into the lens, let us get back to the missing EVF, that so many cameras today have.

I think I know why Leica did NOT include it (intreated EVF) in the new X, and in my opinion it is for a couple of reasons. Mainly, I think and would guess that they used the X Vario shells that did not sell to make the new X. The X-Vario did not have a built-in EVF so this one could not as well. It also seems they do not have the know how to do it as none of their German-made non Panasonic cameras have an EVF built-in. It could also be that they just want to milk us for more money so we buy the external $600 EVF that kills the beauty of the X camera (IN MY OPINION).

Who knows the true story but I was willing to overlook the EVF issue and just enjoy the camera, because it is one hell of a beautiful looking camera.

But is that beauty only skin deep?

The X look is here in full effect! I shot this at night as I was flying high in the sky in Las Vegas. I love the crisp look and vibrant colors. ISO 1,000, and this one was shot wide open as the subject was very far away, allowing the f /1.7 aperture to be used.

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With the excitement of the new faster Summilux lens I was ready to try it out and take some close up portraits just to see how nice the Bokeh would be when shot at f/1.7. Finally, we can get shallow DOF with an X! YES!

With a 23mm lens giving a 35mm equivalent this camera will still not be capable of extreme Bokeh effects because with the wide-angle lens (23mm) it is tough to get a very shallow DOF unless you shoot up close to your subject. No biggie right? I mean, how much shallow DOF do you need? Shooting this lens/camera up close at 1.7 would and should provide plenty of shallow DOF if that is what you are looking for. Better yet, it will open up to allow more light in for when you are in low light. Well, this is what I thought anyway.

First off, The X has the same 16.2 MP APS-C sensor as the X2 and X-Vario. Nothing new. It is basically an X-Vario with a new faster Summilux prime. Period. Basically the same AF performance, same IQ, same color signature, etc. So there is no need for me to re-hash the IQ performance. You can see that in my X2 and X-Vario reviews.

So off I go to start shooting the new X and I immediately see the same beautiful image quality that I was able to squeeze out of the X2 and Vario but one  thing was frustrating me…

This camera will NOT let you shoot at f/1.7 much of the time, unless your subject is far away! Well, FOUR FEET away.

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Frustration was kicking in as I was manually setting the aperture to f/1.7 using the MANUAL dials yet when I went to shoot an image the camera would change the aperture electronically to 2.5 or 2.8, even when the dial said 1.7! I thought it was a glitch, a firmware issue… but nope, I soon found out that this was done purposely by Leica!

What has been said is that this lens is not so good at close focus wide open when it does to image quality..meaning, the IQ suffers when shooting close wide open. So if you try to shoot wide open, for a head and shoulders portrait for example, you will not be able to. You lose that extra shallow DOF ability and what you get is VERY similar to what you would get from an X2. In fact, for 90% of my use the camera always went to f/2.5 or f/2.8. Why would I want to shoot a landscape at f/1.7? Close to mid focus distance will get you f/2.2 to f/2.8. Leica should have said this was a “Variable Aperture” lens as this is what it acts like I am sad to say.

Out of 100 images during my testing the camera shot around 4 or 5 at f/1.7  – the rest were between f/2.2 to f2.8. For me this negates the whole reason for the faster lens!! I mean, I may as well have been shooting with an X2! It is smaller, has no lens quirks and offers the same good looks and can be found for less money.

For me, if a lens is advertised as an f/1.7 lens it should shoot at f/1.7 when you want it to, not when IT wants to. No Leica should override your manual settings, period.

You need to be at around 4 feet from your subject to use f/1.7. Before that it works like a sliding scale from 1.7 at four feet down to 2.8 at its minimum focus distance. It will give you f/2, f/2.2 and f/2.5 depending on how close you are. 

Leica X – set for f/1.7 and camera shot it a 2.2 – self-reflection

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That X Image Quality..so beautiful!

As always with the X series, what struck me was the image quality. I love it. The crispness, the colors, the sharpness across the frame. Same as the X2 and Vario 100%. It is nice, I will give it that. The camera looks fantastic around you or when pulling it out of your bag and  it delivers gorgeous image quality in good light and good IQ in semi low light. It starts to fall apart in real low light and the focus starts to hunt some. Speed wise, it is pretty good considering this is a Leica 🙂 With each release Leica seems to improve the AF ever so slightly.

Take a look at my X2 review HERE and my Vario review HERE to see the similarities in IQ. 

This is the DOF you can expect at f/2.8

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Basically though, this camera is pretty much an X2 in a Vario body and/or a Vario with a 23mm fixed prime lens. I have written extensively about those two cameras and to just write more of the same would be silly. This new X has the Vario body with an X2 and Vario sensor. Leica have done away with the small X1 and X2 size bodies and from now on will produce the X in this larger size, which is more like an M4 when it comes to size.

Truth be told, without a built-in EVF, it is not very inspiring to shoot. I had my A7s, Leica MM and this X with me for a Las Vegas weekend and using the X was odd compared to the other two cameras. I was constantly holding it out looking like an amateur or tourist and for me, this goes against the whole Leica philosophy!

Leica cameras have always had a viewfinder (in the past, the golden years) and these days, even with thousands asking for an X with a Summilux lens and built-in EVF they cripple it without an EVF and even cripple the lens by not allowing us to use it wide open in most scenarios! As I said, a bit odd but Leica has always been a bit odd, a bit quirky and a bit “we do it how we want, deal with it”.

While it retains the beautiful design, build and gorgeous IQ, it is less versatile than something like the Sony RX1. The RX1 is smaller, is full frame, will focus closer and has a magical Zeiss 35 f/2 lens built-in. The Sony also left out the EVF but I have a feeling that if and when an RX2 arrives it just night have an EVF. I sure hope so. The RX1 delivers more in low light with as much shallow DOF as you could want and while it does not have the brilliant color and crispness of the X files, it has its own unique full frame quality and look that is very desirable.

Many have asked me this question and NO, the new X typ 113 is in no way a Sony RX1 killer. Not at all. The X is a camera for those who want a beautiful camera to look at and use during decent light without expecting too much in the way of shallow DOF or high ISO abilities. At ISO 3200 it starts to get noisy and the AF lacks in these low light scenarios as well. This is not a low light camera even with the new lens. When I say low light I mean night-time indoors, or even evening indoors. This will not be a camera for those low light moody shots in a bar, for musicians on a lowly lit stage or even  on the street once the light goes down. Instead, the X excels in decent light where it can show off the amazing color and snap it has to the files that no other camera has.

It’s a strange thing really…

I love the camera for its design and image quality in most situations but I dislike that it has been crippled with the aperture as well as having to buy an expensive add on EVF that kills the looks and design (as well as making it harder to put into a bag). So for me, I will not be purchasing an X but I can understand how some will want to. Many of you may not have interest in shallow DOF or low light high ISO work. For you, this camera is a treat. It is smaller than the Vario due to the smaller lens and it feels really nice in the hand (unlike the vario which was odd with the long lens) and as I have said many times already, the IQ is fantastic with that Leica feel and look.

Click the image below to see them larger and see what I mean about the crisp Look.

The 1st one was shot at 1.7 but the camera gave me f/2.5, ISO 500

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 A reflection shot  – this one was shot at f/9

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Below at f/11. Good light, stopped down..nice looking files. Look at the red color how rich and distinct it looks. 

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So who will want this camera? X or T?

If you have been wanting a German-made Leica that has the beautiful looks of an M with the image quality of the X and you do not mind the aperture issue when shooting closer subjects OR the fact that the high ISO in low light is not as good as other competing cameras then I suspect you could be extremely happy with the X.

FULL SIZE SAMPLES:

Below are two full size samples from the new X. The first one is full light at f/2.8, ISO 100 and the second in actually quite good light, indoors with dull open doors and windows allowing light to flood in, yet the camera needed ISO 1600 at f/2.8. Click them for full size.

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FOCUS:

The AF is decent, and I had no issues with focus, at all. Engaging manual focus is easy, just twist the lens out of AF mode and away you go. There is even a distance scale on the lens for manual focus use that seemed to work well. Also, The LCD will show you the expanded magnified view so you can easily nail it, but for me, this method of focusing is slow. AF works just fine.

Nothing else gives the unique IQ of the X Series of cameras, but the T does since it shares the same sensor. I love the Leica T and the fact that M lenses can be used on it. It provides the X IQ but with a choice of lenses and in a more modern styled unibody. You can read my full T review HERE. The T will set you back more than the X because it is $1900 for the body only, and lenses are NOT cheap. The EVF for the X or the T will set you back $600. Yes, $600 for a wart that sits on top of the camera, IMO, destroying the looks of the X but with the T it seems to fit. The X is classic looking Leica, the T is modern-day Leica.

Again, set to f/1.7 but camera decided to shoot it at f/2.5. B&W High Contrast out of camera JPEG

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ISO 3200. If you click it you can see the camera starts to lose some DR at higher ISO, as well as color changes but still looks very nice and is 100% usable.

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Set for f/1.7 but camera gave me f/2.8 – ISO 1000  – put of camera B&W JPEG

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My final word on the Leica X with 23 f/1.7 Lens

I have been seeing a sort of backlash against Leica from new early owners of the X camera who are a bit upset at the fact that this camera will not let you shoot with the aperture set to f/1.7, as advertised, in many and most situations. If you want to shoot a head and shoulders portrait at 1.7, you can’t. If you want to shoot up close for a Bokeh effect at 1.7, forget it. Many have e-mailed ME complaining about it as if I were Leica and as soon as those emails started coming in I knew there would be more to come.

Leica probably could fix the issue with firmware but I am not sure they will as they chose to cripple the lens for a reason, supposedly that reason is due to the fact that the lens close focus wide open performance is below the quality levels they want to see. They do not want images online showing softness when wide open so to fix this they set the camera to automatically change the aperture if shooting up close wide open. Yet they advertise it as the new X with a Summilux f/1.7 lens even though you need to be around four feet from your subject or more to use the lens at f/1.7. Leica does not advertise this in their marketing blurbs, they just advertise it as an f/1.7 lens:

“The extremely fast initial aperture of its Leica-Summilux 35 mm f/1.7 ASPH. lens creates an exceptionally beautiful bokeh, as a result, the exploration of the creative possibilities of selective focus is fascinating and particularly rewarding with the Leica X. The lens is almost completely insensitive to flare and ghosting affects. And all this is possible without an extra lens hood. It delivers bright, clear, and incredibly sharp photos – from infinity to a close-focus distance of only 0.2 metres. As well the CMOS sensor of the Leica X fulfills what its APS-C format promises: outstanding photos with exceptional colour fidelity and the finest rendition of details – even in unfavorable light.”

Odd.

With that said, if you are up close, just like with the X2, you can shoot at f/2.8 and still get a shallow DOF, but you have to be CLOSE. The bag was my subject.

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For some this will not be a deal breaker, for others it will. Add to this the fact that they once again ignored the option of an integrated EVF and we have more who will not buy this camera. Then we have the same old sensor from the X2 and Vario, with no real enhancements to low light performance. Some are saying this is an old sensor in a snazzy new body.

The fact is that the new X CAN AND DOES deliver in image quality, giving that unique X look that other cameras do not give you. Even at f/2.8 you can still get some shallow DOF when shooting up close (as shown above) but still not as much as we expected to get at f/1.7. It is a gorgeous camera made to Leica standards and is like owning an X Vario body with a faster fixed prime lens. If the X-Vario was something you lusted after but with a smaller and faster prime, here you go. Just be aware that in many situations you will not be able to shoot wide open. Also keep in mind that this is still not a night-time or very low light camera. It is still at its best with good light.

The Leica X comes in at $2295, not as much as I thought considering the X2 came in at $1995 with the slower lens and smaller more compact body. At this price point there are many options out there from Sony, Fuji, and others. For example, the new X100T looks fantastic and comes in at $1295. It also has an APS-C sensor, and an f/2 35mm equivalent lens with a classic RF styled body including an integrated and super nice hybrid EVF/VF. It is a proven design that many adore. The Leica X has easy to navigate menus and is simple to set up and operate. That is one thing Leica excels at..simplicity…but are they trying to be too many things at one time?

I feel Leica should stop trying to be so many things for so many people. I believe they should offer just the M and T series but make another T with a built in EVF. Then we have an APS-C modern Leica and the classic full frame M series (both the MM and M versions). Both interchangeable lens cameras, and systems they could focus on 100%. I personally feel they should just drop the rest along with the Panasonic clones. Of course this will not happen but it seems that Leica may be losing sight of who they once were and what they need to offer to those who love Leica and what they stand for. With a C, X, M, T, D-Lux and V-Lux it just seems to be to much IMO.

Do you want the new X? The questions to ask yourself is: “Do I want a real German made Leica”? “Would I mind the negatives of this camera”?

$2295 is not cheap. It is a lot of money. For me, I was  bit let down due to the fact that when shooting I had to hold out the camera like a  tourist and in most cases, unless focusing close, the images lacked pop (for example, street shots). No internal EVF takes the excitement of the X down for me, as does the lens issue but at the end of the day I will always love that X IQ. It’s a tough call but one thing that can not be discounted is the IQ. It is superb. It is pure Leica X, and for that, for many, will be enough.

Steve

Below is my 1st look video on the Leica X before I discovered the Aperture issue:

WHERE TO BUY?

You can buy the Leica X from the 100% trusted and recommended dealers below:

Ken Hansen – email him at [email protected] (tell him I sent you!)

PopFlash.com

The Pro Shop

Amazon

B&H Photo

Leica Store Miami

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170 Comments

  1. Just got this camera yesterday. Honestly the best I’ve had, quite easy to use, works well (except for the f/1.7 bug). I have come to hate the EVF as the LCD provides more instant information, so no big loss there.

  2. I finally played with one of these at the Leica Store Los Angeles, and immediately went to eBay to buy a used one. I am a very happy X Vario user (and M Monochrom and Nikon Df user as well) and the only complaint I had with the XV was its limitations in lower indoor light.

    Paired with the X Vario in a small bag (Hadley Pro digital holds both beautifully), the new X rounds out an excellent all-purpose travel outfit. I have my zoom lens in better light, my fixed prime for low light, and identical handling and batteries for keeping things simple. While the new EVFis much better, my only regret is that it isn’t also compatible with the old one, again for simplicity. Can’t wait for my next trip, I’ll have Leica X image quality indoors and out, day and night.

  3. I am seriously considering this Leica. I purchased the Leica C as a compact camera and can’t get over the colors and I know it is a rebranded Panasonic but I have read other reviews on the camera and they say the same thing – there is something about the colors that make it different than the Panasonic – maybe it is just the Dot!!! Anyway with the lens no longer a true fast lens the biggest difference I now see between the Leica X and the X2 or X-E is the video on the X. Did you have a chance to use the video feature and if you did what were your impressions of it? To give you an idea of what I would use it for it would be basically for family moments and various kids sporting events. If the video is not really worthwhile I would rather save some money and just get the X2 or X-E for the image quality of the pictures. I truly love the IQ that I see in the pictures you have posted and feel it is worth the money to get that IQ. My other camera is the OMD EM-1 with the 42.5 Pana Leica lens on it primarily which I love. If you could give me your thoughts on the video that would be great. Love this site and reading the reviews and all the comments.

    • I have the x100f and the 23 mm lens has the same issue, shoot close at F2 and you get a hazy look. The F is cheaper, it comes with a leaf shutter and it’s a superb camera. I’d say the X is probably sharper. But both have their pros and cons.

      I think if you want an inbuilt EVF then the F is the way to go, it also handles very well in low light!

  4. I visited the Leica DC store to try out this camera and ended up testing the M 240 and the new D 109. First and foremost Leica DC rocks – great people! Below is a link for a few examples including my good old 5D Mark II. Click on the original size for a better resolution. Just to let you know, I have never touched any of these cameras before. The new X is an outstanding performer. The lens is top notch. Menu is self explanatory. When combined with the hand/finger grip and the view finder, you won’t miss your full frame.

    http://www.pbase.com/levent/the_street

  5. I’m not understanding something. Why is it being made such a big deal about the X changing aperture when close up but no fuss about the T doing the same? From what I’ve seen, you love the T Steve but you are being pretty harsh on the X for doing what the T does? I could be wrong but I think I did read somewhere that people said the T changes the aperture as well when close up. Sorry if I’m misinformed. Just trying to understand.

    • I did not experience that with the T as Leica would never send me the 23 f/2 Summicron. So with the zoom + the T, this did not happen. If they did send me the Summicron (and I asked three times with no go) I would have noticed this and written about it. When the T review was written I had no idea about the 23mm doing that.

      • Thanks for clarifying. I’ll try to find the posts that talk about this. On another but related note, I picked up the X. I have to say quality is so much better than the OMD EM5 that I have with the 12-40mm f2.8 PRO lens. Just got to get use to taking pictures without a viewfinder…(can’t justify the cost for the viewfinder)… 🙁

  6. More woes for the Type 113. DPR have put it on their lens comparison tool. It doesn’t look too good… and barely passes muster against the Panasonic LX100. Any current Fuji X-series leaves it for dead

    Ok, so pixel peeping isn’t everything, but for an APSc sensor and prime lens costing over $2K to lose out to an M4/3 zoom lensed camera… something ain’t right.

    Duff copy or poorly done test? Who knows…

    • Chris, pixel peeping is anathema on this site, but it does show the underlying quality issues and differences between cameras and manufacturers. I am/was happy to pixel peep on every camera I’ve purchased as I, like most, want to be sure the camera is up to whatever I’m likely to throw at it.

      On a like-for-like sensor size basis and comparing the Leica to say, the Sony Nex 6 at 1600 ISO, does seem to show how far behind the competition Leica is with its CSC products.

  7. From what I gather from other reviews, this Leica has another serious problem, which would be a deal breaker for me. The RAW files have very close to zero latitude for adjustments. Apparently, just trying to lift shadows a tiny little bit will introduce serious amounts of noise. For what should be a low-light performer, that is not just a negative, it is a showstopper.

    Leica, the camera for the fashion conscious. Fuji, the camera for the photographer (at half the price).

  8. Very interesting. Steve I can’t believe you used it like a simple point and shoot in A or P mode and missed this. I thought manual mode would have been your forte.

    • Why would I use it in manual mode? I do not even use my M or MM in manual mode 95% of the time, usually just A mode. 90% of shooters who buy the camera will use A mode or even P mode. Manual focus is no fun with this camera and manual mode just slows you down to a crawl using the X. The more I used the X (after the review) the more I realized Leica still has a way to go before they create a REALLY amazing X camera. Too many limitations with it as it is (for the money and considering the competition today). It is NOTHING at all like an M and is basically a run of the mill APS-C camera with a fixed lens in a fancy shell. The M is where Leica’s heart is, and that is where they really should focus.

  9. It has just been confirmed that the close down to f2.8 within 1.2 metres occurs only in A and P mode.
    In M mode (full manual) the lens allows opening to f1.7 for any focus length

    Just worth noting

    • Sadly, this turns out not to be true – the limitation exists in all settings. In fact, I am holding one now and found this article while Googling about it.

  10. Steve, thanks for the objective review. I was debating whether to give this X a go or not, but will refrain until/unless Leica fixes the variable aperture issue. And I know it’s quite an annoyance on your end, but it’s kind of comical, sitting here on the bleachers, watching you take flack for being a Leica Fan Boy in one review and then an anti-Leicite on the next! Talk about a insecure society.

  11. From interview with Leica T and X product manager. This sounds very reasonable to me:

    I noticed a strange phenomenon when shooting with the X. Why does the lens not shoot at f/1.7 close up? At close distance it only allows shooting at f/2.8.

    One goal at Leica is that we have a consistent high-quality for all focal lengths and over all focus distances. So with the new 23 Summilux, a lens tends to go down in image quality in the close focus range. We could have made the lens much larger and heavier to maintain the performance without varying the aperture. The second option is that we could have limited the close focus distance to 50 or 60cm. Or, the final option is that we allow much closer focusing distance to offer greater options for photography but stop the lens down a bit in order to maintain the highest image performance. Of course, with such a close focus distance, you can still achieve very shallow DOF. So, I think it’s not a bad compromise. We didn’t want to limit the close focus distance, but I agree with the optics designers that we, as Leica, need to maintain the best image. This is always our first priority.

    • The product manager forgot to mention option 4: allow the lens to stay open at 1.7 thru the entire focus range and LET THE PHOTOGRAPHER decide how best to interpret and to utilize/negate those inherent flaws with the lens in said ranges. As I previously stated in this thread, it’s a question of artistic freedom. All Leica need do is to add the OPTION to hold 1.7. Hell, they could spin it as a mechanical Fine Art Macro option/effect!

      • Disagree
        It was Leicas decision to make the lens smaller and to adopt the close down procedure for close focus.
        They could have had a longer close focus distance or a larger lens but this is the compromise they decided on.
        Perhaps they should allow further stopping down, but it’s an overall design decision, not a singular restriction

      • Trust me on the X100f you do NOT want to shoot wide open at F2 close up. It’s pointless, you end up with images with a glow like look. Option 4 is a no go. A bigger lens would of been more ideal, but that would counter the fact this is supposed to be a compact camera. As tech improves, as will the ability for close focusing.

  12. Well, it’s all been said, really, so this is just another appreciation of your really clear review, Steve. My two cents for what it is worth is that there’s not that much difference between 2,8 and 3,5 in practice, so why not go with the X-vario and and have a zoom lens with the quality of a prime and good higher ISO? Or if you want the fixed lens, you might as well be content with the X2 and its smaller form factor. This X just seems to fall between all the stools. Pity.

  13. quote: ‘I think and would guess that they used the X Vario shells’. Probably not as the X is 17 mm thinner.

    • Quite
      I think that comment was speculation by Steve and totally wrong. There is no way to reuse bodies especially as the 114 electronics are completely different (EV4 instead of EV2 etc)

  14. Is it a focus breathing like the macro lens? When you go closer the focal length gets longer and make the effective aperture smaller?

  15. hi steve and thank you for an
    engaged review as always and relevant on the dot,

    leica has that special gift to develope the almost right product – first we feel enthusiasm and then disappointment,

    I love the X body (have an X1) and think leica should develop this body with summilux fantastic, viewfinder fabulous and a sensor that matches rx1

    this would be heaven

  16. I just tried the leica x in a leica shop at HongKong International airport. I liked it very much.
    Focus speed was slightly faster than X100s. Image quality was good, better than x100s. The most important thing was that it was so simple and so much fun to use it.
    They offered a good deal for camera with the EVF, less than $2700. But the price for camera only was not so good, so I gived up.
    With so much negative sentiment against X in Leica forums, I guess it would lower its price in the near future.

  17. Actually, some people DON’T want an EVF, such as my wife for example. I had to buy her an Olympus E-PL5 because she didn’t want to use my Fuji X100. And, I use the E-PL5 and kinda get what she’s talking about. Nikon’s J1 (no EVF) sold better than the V1 (EVF), such that for a time the J1 was actually priced higher than the V1. Don’t have a hissy just because a camera isn’t aimed at YOU. There are many, many people who want no-EVF cameras.

    • As always, I state MY OPINIONS as this is MY SITE and is WHAT I DO and have done for almost seven years. It is a review site where I review cameras and lenses and accessories. I base my reviews on competing products and in this case, there are competing products for less money that will be a better choice for 98% of people. If your wife does not want an EVF then buy a $400-$900 camera without an EVF as that is the price range that usually does not have one. Facts are Facts, if there was a built in EVF it would make the camera no larger and it would be there for those THAT DO want one, and there are more than DO than DO NOT. Fact. If Leica wanted to sell 5X more of this camera they would have put in an EVF as the majority of buyers want one inside the camera. It is the minority that is fine without one.

    • I don’t understand your logic… why wouldn’t your wife use the Fuji? It has an EVF AND a screen. For the money I don’t understand why they can’t offer a built in EVF. If Panasonic and Sony can do it with the GM5 and RX100Mk3 or Fuji with the X100.

      I can’t but help thinking that Leica are scared of offering something at half the price of the M series with a built in viewfinder… would it be seen to devalue the M? Ditto the T series. It seems nonsensical I know… I don’t think Panasonic worry about the LX100 stealing sales from the GX7, or Canon thinking the G1X will steal sales of 5DMkiii. But waht other reason is there?

      It’s not a cheap camera to begin with, so what’s an extra $300 or whatever to install on.

      And the external viewfinders are just a kludge IMO. Maybe they couldn’t make them small enough when Sony created the RX1. But they can now. What’s the bet the RX1 Mk2 will sport an EVF. Maybe even a zoom lens.

      From a user point of view I hate using a camera without a viewfinder. As Steve says, it’s hard to compose in bright light’

      If Leica is so dedicated to producing equipment aimed at creating great photography, why hobble the camera in such a way? At least if you build a camera with a screen AND an EVF you give people the option of what to use.

      But that’s just my opinion….

  18. Steve, you are right to highlight the anomaly with the lens. As has been posted earlier, many photographers are familiar with the various attributes of their lenses and, knowing this, use them to their best advantage by generally avoiding those areas where the lens is weakest. But this also means that when they chose to they can use the lens in scenarios where they know it is not performing at its best.

    For example, lenses not computed for near field work or close up will fare badly when compared to a true macro lens when one tries to use them for a purpose for which they were not designed. They will be less sharp and exhibit strong curvature of field. Similarly, we know that all lenses suffer from the image degrading impact of diffraction, but this does not stop the use of small f stops when maximum DoF is required. In your case, you want to shoot wide open over the full focusing range, even at the expense of reduced performance close up.

    This camera is not for me simply because I am wedded to my Sony 5N and A7, but I do wonder what the true imaging capability of this lens is at f1.7 if it could set within the Leica imposed limit? Could it be that it is so poor, for a Leica lens, that were one able to use it there would be an outcry far outweighing the present criticism?

  19. Thank you for the efforts. For me you’re an inspiration and an interest buddy 🙂 I’m a professional photographer but I don’t have time to follow everything about compacts and Laica cameras. So you’re the source to feed my non-professional journeys.

    I can guess it’s lonely and hard to do this on a regular basis from time to time. I can’t shop from your links but I’ve sent you a humble support.

    I hope you do well in the future and not lose the joy of this wonderful site!

    Your FAN,
    Momchil

  20. Panasonic lx100 / Leica Dlux Typ 109
    Could be a dark horse with its 3cm close focus at 24mm f1.7.

    Although LX100 offers ” f1.7 between 24 and 25mm, f1.9 at 26mm,
    f2 at 27mm, f2.1 at 28mm, f2.2 at 30mm, f2.3 at 34mm, f2.4 at 37mm,
    f2.5 at 41mm, f2.6 at 44mmf2.7 at 49mm,
    f2.8 from 52-75mm.”

    • Panasonic jpeg engine has done it’s typical job on the LX100
      : same as it does on its to, fz pinhead sensor series.

      Just for this alone the leica equivalent Dlux Typ 109 would be my preference.

      Just wish it had tilt screen or tilt evf as on Panasonic GX7 :
      It has the sensor & evf from GX7 just not tiltable.

  21. Hi Steve, I have always been careful not to shoot close up with my 35mm Summicron which was my most used lens when I had my M6. Now it is the main lens on my M8 and I try not to get too close as before. Lots of photographers I know do this. Perhaps we are afraid of getting too close ?
    Not for a moment saying that you need to be obsessive about this -as I am sure even lenses as wide as 24 can be used effectively.Below is a quote from a post you did some time ago about the benefits of using a 35mm only to improve your photography :

    ” (So OK, so far all I have shown you is old buildings and a motorhome, which are all perfect subjects for a 35. What about people? Sometimes with a 35mm, if you get too close to someone they can appear distorted, but not always. I find the 35mm focal length great for portraits IF you want to include the surroundings as well, and IMO, this makes for a much nicer “portrait”.

    While I agree with you about what you said above and the issue in question ie the 113 used close up -are we perhaps overreacting or maybe not fully understanding the technicalities involved ? Perhaps most people opting for the 113 will not want to shoot close wide open ?
    They would be using it as a general purpose camera which will deliver superb images and look really great as well?

    Rgds

    PS I personally love beautiful industrial design which Leica have but don’t mind using any beat up old camera once it works and is simple to operate.

    • What good is a “Ferrari,” or any other high-performance machine, if it has a governor on the engine? It would be analogous to Ferrari trying to dictate how fast you drive their vehicles. And who is to say that the “aberrations” in visual acuity while wide-open at close range could not be parlayed into something artistically meaningful? Not only can softness/aberrations be useful, they can kick ass: http://www.davidjohndrow.com/portfolio-terrestrials1.html We’re ultimately talking about artistic freedom here because this is a software issue and not a mechanical one. Leica should own up and allow the option of 1.7 thru the entire focus range.

  22. Having both, the X is without a doubt the superior performing camera. The only real advantage of the X2 is that it is a trifle smaller … and I do mean a trifle … if that is important to you.

      • Measuring my two cameras:

        X :: 73mm tall x 133mm wide x 33mm thick (body) and the lens stands 42mm tall ready to shoot
        X2 :: 69mm tall x 124mm wide x 34.5mm thick (body) and the lens stands 39mm tall ready to shoot

        So the X2 is -4mm on height, -9mm on width, +1.5mm on body thickness, and -3mm on lens height. And the X2 weighs 146g (5oz) less. That what I mean by “a trifle smaller.” 🙂

  23. I often wonder about comparing a Leica lens to say an Olympus 75mm 1.8: can any differences be handled in post processing… say curves in which case one could put that in EM1 CURVES. I guess I’m dubious about exactly how anyone would see the difference of several $1000s with any actual output we put our work to. So much of your photos are a result of your years if expertise. Is this Leica following like owning a Ferrari in NYC? I’m told people in Germany park a BMW OR MERCEDES OUT FRONT for image sake alone.
    I guess it seems a bit upidy to make a camera like the one you reviewed without a built in EVF.

    Bob owns EM1 and 2 Pany 14 and 25 and 2 Oly primes 45 and 60.
    Loved Robin Wong ‘ s current review on 40 -1 50mm Oly pro zoom.
    I read both these sites every week.

  24. For sure a great camera, but for the same asking price (2300 EUR in germany, including 500 EUR for the Leica EVF) i’d buy a A7 24 MP FF Body, together with the Zeiss Loxia 35/2, i’d loose a 1/3 stop, but otherwise having a great Zeiss MF prime, and a compact Fullframe body, no offence (A7 Body and Loxia 35/2 are each: 1150 EUR) – and of course interchangeable lenses, and a much bigger sensor than just APS-C, together with a great EVF, but of course – the most important thing for some guys – it doesn’t have the red dot, and it’s just a Sony. 🙂

    greetings
    marc

    • I have an A7 as well, and it is definitely an excellent performer. However, using it is almost an entirely different experience from using the X and because of that one tends to work with it in a completely different way.

      There’re both top notch cameras.

  25. I recently took my new Leica X on a SE Asia trip along with my Monochrom. The idea was to use the X for casual snapshots or when I was feeling too lazy to carry the heavier Monochrom which I use for ‘serious’ work.

    The X’s manual focusing is brilliantly executed, a significant differentiator to other cameras and very natural for someone used to Leica M controls, so I ended up using it much more than planned.

    Like many cameras, the X has its weak points but I love the overall simplicity and much prefer the file quality to my Fuji X-T1 and Sony RX100 III cameras (both of which I’m now selling).

    The big downer for me is that the setting for ‘Auto Review – Off’ doesn’t work and defaults to 1 second. I’m not sure why you didn’t pick this up in your review as it effectively blanks out the Visoflex for a second which is really frustrating for street or rapid shooting.

  26. Many lenses exhibit this behaviour, and it’s got nothing to do with your rather silly assertion that “Leica is lying”.

    Wikipedia:

    “The f-number accurately describes the light-gathering ability of a lens only for objects an INFINITE distance away. This limitation is typically ignored in photography, where objects are usually not extremely close to the camera, relative to the distance between the lens and the film.

    …..a practical example of this is, that when focusing closer, the lens’ effective aperture becomes smaller”

    • So not true! No lens I have ever shot with stopped itself down when focusing closer. None. Zip. Nada. Can you tell me which lens does this besides the Leica? If it exists, I have not seen it or used it and I have used hundreds of cameras. Maybe you are referring to cheap point and shoot cameras? Give me some examples of cameras or lenses that do this, override the shooters aperture selection depending on focus distance? (besides the Leica’s)

        • Yes, another Leica lens where they do not advertise this. I would never ever buy that lens for that reason alone. The normal 35 cron does not do this, and using it with a close focus adapter on the A7s its performance up close is fantastic.

          • Note that a 23mm lens is not a 35mm lens, despite the fact that the field of view on APS-C is the same as 35mm on FF. Different optical requirements are needed to obtain the best imaging.

      • As one example, the classic Nikon 105mm drops from f/2.8 to f/4.5 at closest focus, as do all macro and close focus lenses.

        You’re confusing mechanical aperture with effective aperture. You may like to read the Kodak Professional Photoguide which has tables on this.

        The aperture displayed by most if not all cameras & lenses assumes an infinity focus distance but the effective aperture becomes smaller (darker) at closer focus distances.

        Not all camera companies compute & display the effective aperture. Nikon does, and I think perhaps Canon does too. Most of the others report mechanical aperture not effective aperture.

        To borrow from Thom Hogan :

        “Let me step away for a moment and address a question that I keep getting. One person expressed it like this: “when are you going to take Nikon to task for this being a variable aperture lens?

        “I have news for you: all of the fixed focal length Micro-Nikkors aren’t actually fixed focal length. In order to keep from being enormously long when focused at 1:1 magnification, Nikon (as well as many other macro makers) plays with the optical formula in order to keep from having an ever telescoping lens barrel.”

        Another reference:

        http://www.the-digital-picture.com/Reviews/Canon-EF-100mm-f-2.8-L-IS-USM-Macro-Lens-Review.aspx

        “The aperture displayed by the camera assumes an infinity focus distance; however, the effective aperture becomes darker at closer focus distances. The following chart details the amount of light loss incurred at the specified subject magnification.

        Magnification: ∞ 1:5 1:3 1:2 1:1.5 1:1
        Exposure Factor (loss in stops) 0 2/3 1 1 1/3 1 2/3 2
        Effective Aperture f/2.8 f/3.6 f/4.1 f/4.6 f/5.0 f/5.9

        AE (Auto Exposure) will automatically adjust for this aperture change, but a longer shutter speed is the result. “

    • One needs to be careful here. Unless a lens has internal focusing mechanism (and many todays lenses have), then to focus closer than infinity, the whole lens assembly is being moved away from image plane. The best example are large format lenses. If a lens works like this, than obviously the closer one focuses, the smaller the actual aperture will become BUT at the same time the longer the effective focal length will become. However this will becomes noticeable (and need to be manually corrected for in cameras that do not have TTL metering) only when once gets close to macro range (say at least 1:5). At 1:1 the lens is twice as far away from the image plane and the effective aperture halved (and so amount of light hitting the image decreased by factor 4).

      But this has nothing to do with lens aperture being physically stopped down.

  27. Dear Steve,

    So much of a kerfuffle over nothing.

    I have both the X2 and the X typ 113 now. The latter is clearly a more refined, better camera. Improved responsiveness and AF speed, better lens performance, improved controls (the new manual focus control in particular), FAR better LCD, FAR better EVF. I love this Sony sensor, it produces beautiful results in every camera that’s used it (NEX 6, NEX 5n, Pentax K5, X2, X … etc)—who really cares if it’s a slightly older design as long as it works well?

    Personally, I prefer that the X does not have a built-in EVF. The accessory EVF is excellent and matches the body beautifully when you buy the body in black: it looks sophisticated and technical. It allows low angle shooting and shooting from a copy stand too, with the tilt feature. And when I don’t want/need the EVF, I can leave it in my bag and fit an optical viewfinder instead. If I want a viewfinder at all.

    Unlike you, I don’t shoot portraits with a 35mm lens at 16″ distance. I also don’t shoot everything with the lens wide open. That’s a rather simplistic, obsessive way to operate a camera.

    The X produces results so similar to my M9 fitted with Summarit-M 35mm f/2.5 it is difficult to see a difference in an 11×17″ print, and the X is both more sensitive AND has an additional stop or so of lens speed throughout MOST of of the usable focusing range. The X also syncs flash up to 1/1000 second, far higher than the M9. And the X is a skosh smaller and lighter than my M4-2—a nearly perfect size and weight camera to carry every day, day in and day out.

    Leica closes down the aperture a bit on this ultra-fast 23 mm lens (the same as they do on the $2000 Summilux-T 23mm f/2 ASPH) to obtain the best possible lens performance at close range shooting. “The best possible lens performance” is what I spend my money on Leica cameras and lenses for, not to have bragging rights to always shooting at f/1.7.

    Please come to your senses and get over it. This is a lovely improvement on the X2, selling at the same price the X2 sold for in 2012.

    • Of course this is a typical reply from someone who bought the camera, and most likely only shoots and enjoys Leica. The facts are simple. Leica advertises this X with a 23mm f/1.7 lens. It is not a true f/1.7 lens if they have to stop it down and over ride MY OWN settings to avoid giving sub par results. This tells me the lens itself is sub par because it can not be used wide open (as all M lenses can) until 4 feet distance. If it were advertised as it is in reality it would be a much different story, but they kept it hidden. It is also not acceptable that the T 23 summicron does the same. Just shows the lenses are not up to the Leica standards as they need trickery to avoid sub par results.

      The X-E comes in at $1800, and is the X2 in a new shell. I’d take the X-E over the X as it is smaller, more portable because of this and uses the same sensor with the fantastic elmarit lens.

      In any case, a camera that is sold as a premium product and advertised with a 23 1.7 ASPH lens should be able to be used in any situation and circumstance – we are not all alike when it comes to shooting and not all of us shoot the way you do. IN fact, more shoot UNLIKE you than LIKE you so a camera needs to be versatile.

      With the lens issue and the lack of a built in EVF it is lagging behind the competition. If you want to shoot like a tourist and have a limited lens then that is your choice. I said it has fantastic IQ that is the same as the Vario and X2, X-E, etc. Where it lacks is high ISO, no EVF, and the lens stopping down over riding the photographers settings.

      So I would ask for YOU to get over my review. I state facts, I state them clear and I point out flaws that I feel are legitimate, and they are to more people than not. Making excuses for it will never get Leica to create an X that will sell well. The Vario flopped, the X2 had weak sales and this will as well and until Leica creates the X most want, it will be this way.

      It’s a great image quality machine, no doubt. It is gorgeous and a work of art in design. It’s just not fun to shoot and the fact the lens stopping down was not mentioned is really upsetting MANY who bought it. I should know, I have been getting many e-mails about it.

      But if YOU are happy, that is ALL that matters. Some will be, some will not be. But if buyers KNOW what they are getting ahead of time then they will NOT be disappointed. If they do not know, plop down cash and thing they are getting a true f/1.7 lens, they will be upset, and many are.

      It’s so funny that when I rave about a Leica I get attacked by many saying I am a “fan boy” yet when I point out flaws I am told to “get over it and come to my senses” by the Leica fan boys. Kind of funny.

      I LOVE Leica, probably more than you. But when they release sub par products I have to say so, just as I did with the Vario. The X and Vario takes GORGEOUS photos but it could be so much better in usability than it is now. They have a ways to go with the X series.

          • ?? All replies are posted, none have been deleted. Your comments have all been posted. Many are AUTOMATICALLY tagged for moderation by the system. When I approve them they go live. Sometimes it takes me a few hours to see them. Relax…chill…enjoy life 🙂

      • While I agree this camera is behind the curve in a few major areas, I have to disagree with some of the superficial comments. When I’m shooting I try to be discreet, but if someone thought I was tourist for using a camera screen to frame my shots I could care less. It’s all about getting the photo. In fact I’d prefer using a big screen to frame up instead of mashing my hot, sweaty eye socket into a small VF that is common with these size cameras. Some of my better published work was taken with the X1 at arms length. Lets be honest, you said it earlier, Leica doesn’t have the ability to make a in camera EVF. Maybe someday but not now.

  28. Steve,
    When are you reviewing the Leica D-lux. Now that is something I’d like to see. I’m confused by the X series. I don’t understand the point of a middling frame size with a middling lens. F 1/1.4 24 mm with a full frame CCD sensor in a compact body. Now that would be amazing and worth the dough.
    Kartik

  29. Whether or not a 35mm lens will distort or not, is not the point!! The argument is about false advertising, and as Steve rightly says, it is false advertising!
    I have shot portraits with a 24mm lens at f1.4 which have been published in large circulation magazines. If the image(s) is/are good then then it doesn’t matter. Look at Platon’s portraiture work, there is a lot of distortion in many images and yet they are amazing and beautiful. I personally love shooting details with a 24mm lens at f/1.4 or f/2 and portraits with a 35mm f/1.2 or f/1.4 and have published and sold them as fine art pieces. What’s more a recent job with a major NGO will be re-launching their website and many of the portraits I shot we with a 28mm lens shot at f/2.0.
    I am not trying to promote myself here, just adding my opinions of what can work in the world of photography. I choose to shoot with a Lecia but even when I shot with a Canon 5D mark I with cheap sigma lenses I still got published, proving that although it is nice to have the best of what you can afford it is not necessary for great photography.
    If I buy a $2300 camera that says I can shoot at f/1.7 and then find out that what they meant is “only sometimes”… I would return it, unless it had other things that I find make up for this. So I do think this is important.

  30. just a comment regarding the x vs x100
    I once had a x1 and x100 at the same time. I really liked the viewfinder of the x100 but the x1 has noticable better color and tonality IMO. Thats why I sold the x100 and kept the x1.
    I think the x100s/t are not better than the x100 in regards of color.
    If a better viewfinder or a fixed f-stop is more important: get a x100(s/t)
    If color and IQ is more important I believe the x series from Leica is better.
    For my part I will keep the x2.

  31. Hi Steve, when you first posted about the new Leica X – I was the first to post about the aperture issue but did not really believe it – guess what it turns out to be true.

    Leica make beautiful cameras with excellent lenses which deliver superb image quality and all the cameras have or should have the Leica experience which is about simplicity and ease of use.

    I as a Leica fan do NOT want a camera with a multitude of features but I want to have the features on the camera ie f1.7 = f1.7 that I have !!

    I would seldom if ever use a 35mm up really close as it will slightly distort – this camera is a real gem except for the omission of an internal viewfinder and the aperture issue -it is such a pity you would feel like giving some of the Leica design people a slap across the face as what they omit is so stupid.

    Reviews often seem to make mega issues out of less than mega issues -It is still a beautiful camera with superb IQ .

    Leica have on sites like this an invaluable insight to what their fans really want -lets hope they begin to listen as I am sure they could deliver an internal viewfinder which I think would not clash with their Leica M sales.

    Rgds

    • The 35 cron does not distort, neither does the 35 Lux..being Leica I would expect a good enough lens to NOT distort. The camera can shoot up close at 2.8 with no distortion and I have shot many portraits with the cron and lux that are beautiful, up close at min focus distance as well as farther environmental type portraits. The X100 does distort slightly up close but its not so bad. Still, its advertised as a 1.7 lens, but its variable which they left out of their advertising. So for me it was disappointing and sort of a trick. If I bought it I would be very upset by this only because it was advertised as one thing and presented as another.

      • In fairness, the 35 Cron and 35 Lux are $3000 and $5000 lenses.

        That said, the $2000 35 Summarit also doesn’t distort at its MFD. It is a small, light and stunningly beautiful lens, but it is not f/1.7.

  32. Good review. There is a terrible tendency in digital camera and lens makers, that began with analogical though, to build lenses without aperture ring. Give me an aperture ring over any other aperture control system any day. No lens is good without it. I miss a compact camera with aperture ring, speed dial, iso control, a reliable way of phocusing (via VF) and a direct phocus system, not by wire. In other words, something like an M series with a fixed phocal. I don’t even need Av, compensation dials etc. Just three parameters (speed aperture and iso) and some accurate viewfinder. Fuji is close, but is not there, neither is Ricoh. A7 with classic glass someone could say, but I mean compact with fixed phocal. A very basic thing, maybe without LCD.

  33. My jaw just dropped reading that aperture thing. Sounds like a bad joke Leica did on themselves. In other words – they designed a lens twice the size one finds on X100T that is 1/2 stop faster, but only is good enough form 4 feet on wide open (well, at least to Leica standards, we shall never know).

  34. I really wanted to like this. I had an X2, traded it up for an X Vario and loved that camera, except for the speed of the lens and its bulk. At least the X2 lives on as the X-E at a lower price.

  35. Steve, thanks for the great review! Also, interesting for me to note was the photos connected with this review are some of the best I have ever seen on your site. Composition, color, and, of course, your ever-patient and photogenic fiance …

  36. Same problem here as reported above by Willi. Images no longer show up in any posts on iPad (in my case: Safari on Ipad Mini Retina running IOS 7.1.2). It is the case for all posts: this one, the Daily Inspiration posts, etc.

    • Odd, I just tested it on my iPad mini and iPhone 6, no issues at all. I am running the latest iOS on both, which is 8. I have changed nothing but some speed preferences to make the site faster as it was hanging up last week.

      • I have now also tested your site with Safari on my iPhone, which is an older 4S model running IOS 7.1.2. Same problem: images do not display (test made with the daily inspiration 686 page).
        So the problem can be reproduced with 2 independant IOS devices at my end, which have in common that they do not yet run the latest IOS version (8).

        Did your speed preference changes affect how static files are served or cached ? The issue may be there…

          • I’ll spare you the details, but the answer is a qualified “not yet sir”. Your site seems to be giving the term ‘Planned obsolescence’ an extreme definition 😉

          • I’ve tested it on two devices now (iPhone 5s with iOS8, iPad 3 with iOS7), and images only show in iOS8. Your speed preference changes have apparently broken support with iOS versions prior to 8.

            While I’m all for cutting support for old technology to move forward, ignoring iOS7 is far too soon in my opinion. There are still a LOT of people using it, and some of them don’t even have a choice because iOS8 required newer hardware than iOS7.

            And there’s also the chance that the changes that break iOS7 support will also break support with other platforms; i.e. certain Android systems (they use WebKit as well).

  37. OK, For $2k … theese day, is Just to much to choose … and for now … my 6D serve me every where … and i LOVE it … not as fun as my oly e-pl5 … and yeah it’s DSLR … so what about it ? 🙂

  38. I have been surprised many time at how good the slow lens of the X Vario is in low light. I was expecting the Typ 113 to be a killer low light camera. This review has really surprised me. For now I will be happy with my X1/X2/X Vario. All three are fun to shoot with.

    Steve, Enjoyed your review as always. Thank you.

  39. This is the camera that I am looking forward to. I have a Leica X2 and Vario. But this camera is a final goal of the Leica X series. And I am also have a Leica M8. So, this Leica X would be a best second camera !

  40. Regarding the missing EVF, why not just buy the Bright Line Viewfinder from Leica. Or just buy an old Voigtländer 35 mm Kontur Sucher. You can get one at Ebay.de for 29 euro. They are expensive as Buy it now at some sellers on Ebay, but go very low at Auctions.
    Thanks for an excellent review.

    • I am not a fan of using the bright line finders on the X cameras as you will never know if the camera focused correctly (many times it will not when using a bright line finder) – for example, you can not alight the center focus point correctly using the bright line as you do not see it, so the camera may focus on something behind your subject. I had this issue with the X1 and X2 both.

      • Steve,

        There are two correct ways to configure the X1, X2, and X for use with an optical finder:

        1- With AF, set the multipoint AF option. With the X, use face detect: If it can’t find a face to lock in on, it will default back to multipoint AF. In the majority of cases, the camera will focus very nicely, even with remarkably complex scenes. You can use any aperture with this configuration, but of course you’ll get an occasional focus error due to mistargeting with the larger aperture settings. Still, both X2 and X prove to focus very reliably this way.

        2- Use MF and set the focus by zone. Set f/5.6 and you only have to remember to set 6′ or 15′ … that nets 4-10′ and 8′-infinity focus zones respectively. Perfect for street shooting.

        In both cases, when considering more precise needs due to complex subject or situations where the AF will likely be fooled, you can look at the LCD and lock focus before using the OVF. But that’s usually the point where I switch to the EVF anyway.

        I’ve made many thousands of exposures using the X2 with an optical finder and these two setups. It is, in fact, my favorite way to use the camera. The X is now proving to do the job with configuration #1 even more consistently due to the face detect capability.

  41. Thanks as ever Steve. So often Leica just don’t seem to get jot quite right. I had my name down for the new X but last week changed my mind and bought the x vario instead (which in the UK is now slightly cheaper than the new X). I’m really glad I made that decision – initial impressions are very favourable (IQ, simplicity of operation, quality of construction). So I only get f4 at 35mm instead of 1.7/2.8 (!) but have the flexibility of the really excellent zoom and yes a bit more weight but neither are pocketable anyway. I don’t like EVFs too much (and can’t use them with sunglasses anyway) so as 35mm is my most common travel length I’ve bought a 35mm voigtlander metal optical viewfinder which works just great and also suits the camera well. (I bought the more expensive Leica 36mm but very disappointed with bright lines disappearing too easily and barrel distortion so returned it). All cameras are compromises – you just have to work it what works best for you in particular contexts and for me the XV with an optical viewfinder ticks a lot of boxes as a light alternative to my D800E (where the compromise is weight!!!).

  42. Hi Steve,
    thank you for your thorough and impartial review! What I would like to ask you is whether this is a better camera overall than the X Vario, given the fact that in most dealers they are sold in the same price range.

  43. Thank you for your honest opinion on this Leica. The f1.7 “disappearing” act at close distance is a deal-breaker for me. I was considering it for getting the “Leica” look picture-wise, but there’s only that much compromise one can make for the price Leica are asking for this camera. I think a Fuji XT or Olympus OMD WITH a Leica lens might be a better answer. Anyways, thanks again, and you have my support for the type of reviews you are doing. Well done.

  44. Right now Fuji offers a tremendous value, and probably a better sensor, than the Leica. I’ve used both the X100 and the X100S, and produced gallery-quality 20×24’s with no problem. As soon as the X100T’s are released, the 100S’s will probably go for about a third the price of the Leica, and the X100T at slightly more than half the price, will slaughter it among knowledgeable buyers. Also, don’t forget the XE2. For about the price of the Leica you can get an XE2 with BOTH the 16-55mm zoom and the 35mm f1.4 lens. Steve, please do us a favor and do one of your famous tests: the Summilux vs. the Fujinon at comparable zoom ranges and different lighting levels; and then the 35mm f1.4 against the other 2 at the equivalent of 50mm. The problem if you do this and it goes (comparatively for photography blogs) viral, you may never be able to borrow Leica equipment from the factory again!

  45. An excellent review, thank you Steve. Sold my RX1 a few months ago. Got the X113 two weeks ago. And yesterday I picked up a like new, used RX1r with EVF and other accessories for 2k.The X113 will go on sale. I slightly prefer the handling, UI and looks of the X113. But for the way I use the camera, f1.7 too often is not available. A real annoyance and as Steve describes, this was nowhere communicated by Leica. Further, the AA filter layered Sony aps-c 16 MP sensor starts to show its age in direct comparison with an AA filter free 24MP FF state of the art one. Lens wise, the f2 35mm Sonnar on the the RX1(r) is the benchmark lens among the fixed focal length cameras imho. Looks, nice handling and “good enough IQ” alone don`t do it for me, sorry Leica. I still look back to 2009 when Leica knocked it out of the park with the M9 and X1 announcements. I ordered both the same day and the M9 is still mine. But since, competition has gotten too strong, it seems.

  46. Steve , I’ve read that some prefer the IQ of the X1 which uses a differrent
    sensor than the rest of the X series .
    What do you think ?

  47. As much as I love Leica cameras, I can’t understand why someone would buy one of these over a Fuji X100S or X100T. Unless they have a lot of surplus cash and want to hang a Leica badge around their neck 🙂

  48. Kinda random, but how was the video quality? One of the things I hate about the ricoh GR is its terrible video quality. I know, I know it’s not why you buy these cameras, but it’s nice to have if you don’t want to use an iPhone

  49. Dear Steve, I couldn’t agree with you more. Sometimes I really start thinking if Leica people are reading your blog and listening to their customers or not. If they keep disappointing loyal Leica lovers like us by getting into surprising moves such as leaving out EVFs and/or making the size of the cameras fatter and bigger, I am afraid they will lose people like me at the end. ı have been waiting for more than 3 years for a small APS-C sensor size small camera with an EVF from them and unfortunately it is still not in the horizon. In my opinion here are the next moves Leica should really consider seriously:

    1. A small, compact APS Size censored camera with an EVF but also with an option to enable users to attach classic Leica M series lenses with an adaptor. If this is not possible at least a fixed lens camera with an f/ 1.7 or smaller;1.4 would be even better.

    2. A Smaller version of Full size camera of M series. M 240 is simply too big too heavy! Of course with an EVF; not attached externally! Leica should understand the fact that attaching EVFs on the top of any camera is adding extra size and noticeability.

    Leica’s has basically two strengths. These are design and the compactness its lenses. And true Leica lovers would like to see loyalty to the basic classical design of Leica. In that regard for me the T SERIES was a total disappointment. That T thing looks like an envy to iphone! Leica should understand that a smart phone can look like a camera but a camera should not like a smartphone. when we look at the things from this stand point, the new X has a truly wonderful design loyal to Leica’s classical root, (except the increased size though!) simply an object of art to look at it with pleasure. But Please Leica, from now on put an EVF inside the camera and bring back the x2’s tiny pocketable size to us!

  50. Apart from the drop dead looks, the new Fuji X100T would seem to outpoint the this new X camera.
    Paying this much for a camera I would expect a viewfinder of some description.
    Leica seem a bit scared to offer something that might impact sales of their M system cameras, which is a shame really.

    • The original X100 matched and exceeded the X1 in mostly all areas from speed to EVF/OVF to IQ. The new X100T, I am sure, will exceed the X in everything but name and elegant design. If given a choice I would take the X100T and I have not even touched it yet, but I am aware of the capabilities, joy of use, IQ and features. To get an X with EVF would run $2900. The X100T, $1300. The X is more than DOUBLE, would have a hump/lump EVF, be slower, not as good in low light, and larger. We would pay more than double just for the design.

      • The imaging hardware of the X100S and X100T is identical according to Fuji. I don’t recall that you preferred the look of any X-Trans files to those coming out of the Leica X series.

        • I have the same doubt, since I have been reading Steve’s reviews for quite some time. I had a x100s, disappointed by the x100t specs, very interested in x, but…

  51. Actually Steve, you don’t see a German made APS-C Leica (T or X) with built in EVF for a very simple reason.
    It will steal sales away from the M line of cameras.

    • How would an APS-C camera that is not an RF steal sales away from an M, which is 100% different in every way? Full frame, Rangefinder, amazing feel and shape, taking full use of M lenses, etc. If Leica thinks this then they are wrong. I would not give up my M for a T with EVF as it does not give me what the M does.

  52. It amazes me that Leica is producing cameras without a viewfinder.Viewfinders and rangefinders have been their strong point since the M3 – I have used their rangefinder cameras for more than 40 years right through the M9 with its wonderful Ccd sensor. Seeing a subject at arms length sure makes it hard to catch a fleeting expression or situation. The image quality may be amazing but that isn’t all photography is about.
    If they would have produced a digital CL it would have made a lot of sense.

  53. Dear Steve

    Would you please comment one thing. Comparing new Leica X with Sony RX1 you mentioned “while it does not have the brilliant color and crispness of the X files, it has its own unique full frame quality and look that is very desirable.” I have RX1R (and the reason is because you pointed my attention to this great camera) and I found the combination of it’s sensor and increadible lens which is extermely sharp wide open and at the same time have beaitful rendering as simply perfect combination. So I’m a bit surprized with what you daid in that article. I assumed new Leica X which has older sensor from X2 should not be at the same level as RX1 – besides pricing, of course… Thank you

    • Totally different looks from each sensor, that is all. The RX1 and RX1r have an organic way of rendering an image. Sure, it is sharp but in no way does it replicate or can it replicate the look of the X, X2, X Vario sensor in color or crispness. The RX1 series has a rich full frame look, amazing. The X has a crisper smaller sensor look with super color. I prefer the RX1 myself but many prefer the X look.

    • Steve, where do you get the idea that you should shoot closer than four feet with a 35mm lens? One basic tenet of its use at closer distances for people is that it will distort their facial figures and,in particular, exaggerate the size of their noses. For this reason, I rarely do people photography with my xe-1 and 23mm. lens any closer than four-five feet. In short, I think your objections to this lens are overblown and that you neglect, as you did in your review of the X-vario, to emphasize the extraordinarily beautiful images that can be made with both of these cameras. And isn’t that what we’re all after–the highest image quality? But thanks anyhow for your stimulating reviews!

      • In MY EXPERIENCE – when I shoot with a 35mm it is ALWAYS more powerful when your subjects are closer. It is more intimate and packs more punch. I said over and over and over again here and in my vario review that the IQ was astounding. I basically have a problem with false advertising from ANYONE and when that happens I will point it out. The bottom line? This is not a true f/1.7 lens if it can not be used at f/1.7 at all focus distances. End of story. If you are OK with an APS-C fixed lens camera at $2300 that has slower than average AF speed, no EVF built in, no tilt LCD and not being able to use the lens wide open in many situations where it should excel then it sounds like this is perfect for you. 🙂 I’ll keep the M, MM and my A7r. I love Leica, so this is why I expose the facts, so they will one day listen and fix these problems. If they advertised it as a Variable aperture lens then it would have been different, but they did not, nor do they mention anything about it being variable depending on subject distance in their marketing.

        • It is good that you updated the article to clarify the four feet distance! In fairness though, if 90% of your shots were at 4 feet or less you should rename the review “The Leica X review in under 4 feet”! But thank you for the review – the discussions on here are always great.

      • Steve’s X-Vario review heaped serious praise on IQ, even in the “ugly” section. Even though he didn’t like the camera, image quality wasn’t even suggested as one of the reasons.

        That review helped me decide to buy the X Vario in fact, and 5,000 or so images and six months later it remains one of the best cameras I’ve ever used.

        Steve always calls it like he sees it and is the first to say how subjective these things are. His reviews also helped me choose the Nikon Df, Leica M Monochrom and two of my three Leica lenses.

        Thanks Steve.

  54. Hi Steve.
    Thank you for you honest opinion as always.
    I know you are a busy man, but I’m looking forward to the next crazy comparison review. Like really crazy 🙂
    Another cool test would be Sony RX10 vs Panna FZ1000 vs Sony RX100mk3 vs Panna LX100
    I am also looking forward reading more from Brandon and his analogue endeavour 🙂
    Cheers
    Danny

  55. Oh no! Was also just about ready to overcome the missing evf but the aperture issue is unforgivable in a camera at this price point. Another triumph of style over substance. Outside of the m range, this is becoming a nasty habit of leica’s. Had a trial with the T and found it akin to using a cameraphone in terms of UI….not for me at all. This is why I was so excited about the spec of the X. Disappointed.

  56. hi steve i think leica is loosing the plot on this one mate . over two grand for a camera that wont let you use 1.7 at certain distances!! and no evf to boot . so glad i went for the sigma dp2 quattro better iq total control of max aperture and a saving off one grand. no contest .ps keep up the good work

  57. Do not cannibalize the “T” with their 23mm Summicron.
    They have not seen fast enough, 1/2000 without ND filter, bad idea..but easy to fix.

    Sony A7s+35 Loxia(3800$) versus Leica T+23 Summicron(3800$) versus Leica X 113(2300$) what else to make a good opinion?

  58. 1/ Very cool of Steve to not pull punches on this issue.
    2/ There are lots of lenses that are soft wide open. It should be up to the photographer to decide what aperture they want to use, and let them decide if they want to use that softness or not .

    My Nikon 50 1.2 AIS is soft at 1.2, picks up really well at 2.0. I know this, and use it accordingly.
    Same with my Nikon 24mm f2.0. It only sharpens up stopped down. (For this reason I think the Nikon 24mm 2.8 is a much better buy).

    Funny thing is all my Leica M lenses are insanely sharp wide open. Guess this shows that the glass in the X is not in the same league, even though it has the same name on the front.

  59. I think it is misleading by Leica. Personally I would like to have a camera with f1.7 just for the close-up shots. I would be super p….. if I would buy one and find out that it would not let me shoot at f1.7. I would need to know the limitations before I would drop the cash for such a camera. And I agree that a manual setting of the f stop should not be overwritten by the software. It is disappointing because it is something they should have mentioned and they did not. It is not a small oversight because many potential buyers would want f1.7 for nice Bokey in close-up shots. But Leica assumes that most would just want this for low-light street photography. They should be very open about the limitations and let people decide before they buy.

  60. This camera further supports the Leica brand first as a lifestyle brand, and secondly as a camera and lens company.

    The pricing is really funny, but then, most other lifestyle products are priced in a similarly ridiculous way.

    One would reasonably expect, though, that a lifestyle brand would outperform other mass market products in the same category. The Leica X appears to come up short.

  61. I find some of your findings strange. I believe the X forces the aperture to be 2.8 only up to 0.6 meters, yet in image 3 (B/W image) where your subject is obviously further away than 0.6 meters you say the camera changed it to 2.8. How can this be? Same observation for image 8 (the interior shot at iso 1600), you say that it needed f2.8 when obviously you focused at something further away tham 0.6 meters. Are you sure you did not have the aperture at f2.8 yourself?

    I think you need to be more specific about the distances where the aperture changes so people can make up their own mind if it is a problem for them. For example, you need to make clear that the camera shoots at f1.7 for anything further away than 1.2 meters.

    • I did. I said you have to be around four feet or more from your subject to use f/1.7. Anything closer and you slide down from 1.7 to 2, 2.2, 2.5 and 2.8. I have never in my life seen a camera do this.

      • Ok thank for that. So how far away was Debbie in image no 3? Because shes looks at least 4 feet away.

        Thanks for your reply.

        • That is right…Thanks for pointing that out. He could of shot it at 1.7 at that distance, but instead gave us an f2.8 example at 4 feet away and then suggests (perhaps unintentionally) that this is representative of the depth of field you will get with this camera

  62. Here is the distance vs maximum aperture curve for the X as measured and recorded by an X owner:

    http://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/54513643?image=0

    It does not appear that Leica advertises the X as a fixed aperture or constant f-stop lens at any focal length.

    Is the Leica X the first camera that you have reviewed with near-field correction using the aperture to promote better quality imaging?

    • Leica advertises it as a f/1.7 ASPH lens. No mention of being a variable aperture depending on distance. The is the only and 1st camera I have ever used that changes aperture at close distance. Leica says it is because the lens is not good quality wide open up close but this does not stop Sony or Fuji from allowing f/2 up close, and they look great. Just odd. Here is what leica says in their marketing:

      “The extremely fast initial aperture of its Leica-Summilux 35 mm f/1.7 ASPH. lens creates an exceptionally beautiful bokeh, as a result, the exploration of the creative possibilities of selective focus is fascinating and particularly rewarding with the Leica X. The lens is almost completely insensitive to flare and ghosting affects. And all this is possible without an extra lens hood. It delivers bright, clear, and incredibly sharp photos – from infinity to a close-focus distance of only 0.2 metres. As well the CMOS sensor of the Leica X fulfills what its APS-C format promises: outstanding photos with exceptional colour fidelity and the finest rendition of details – even in unfavorable light.”

      if Leica mentioned up front that the lens will not do f/1.7 in closer focus situations and you need to be at least four feet from your subject to open it up then it would not be an issue. But I haven’t been able to find this information in any marketing or sales literature. I would personally take an X-E at $1795 as it is smaller, has a beautiful lens at f/2.8 and looks just as beautiful in design. Same sensor, same IQ and same performance across the board.

  63. It’s just a question of time but of course they will release a new firmware that gives the opportunity to adjust the aperture to f1.7. But the lean image the company left will stand for some time. Just only thinking to program in a camera something like this helps to understand the level of degeneration which the heads of these companies reached with regard to the choices they make “in the interests of consumers”. And the fact that the latter tacitly accept these choices is even more encouraging for the future choices of these companies.

  64. I think Leica’s target audience for this camera are well heeled non photographers. I’m surprised they didn’t make it fully automatic as the only option as apparently with this camera, Leica knows best. I know of no other camera that when in manual mode, does not honor the aperture setting.

  65. Steve, can’t tell you how glad I am that I read your review. This was the ‘X’ series Leica I was interested in due to the awesome looks and finally a fast lens. I was even prepared to live without the EVF (which was a dumb move by Leica to exclude), but there is NO WAY I can live with the camera changing the aperture on me. Who the heck buys a fast lens to then have it switch to f2.5/f2.8 for 95% of your shots…that’s brutal.

    Sounds to me like Leica rushed this to market instead of sorting out the lens design for better close focus wide open shooting.

    Looks like I saved myself a pile of money…

    • Well, it is what it is. I have to be honest…the aperture thing would make this a deal breaker for me. When I want 1.7 I want 1.7, I don’t want that dependent on the distance to my subject.

      • The Ricoh GR will limit the aperture for fast shutter speeds, I suppose there must be some limitations involved to get these designs as compact as they are. Its a very nice looking camera, would be very interested if it could be offered with a T-Mount … and a proper view finder.

        Thanks for the honest review.

        • The leaf shutter of the GR is not fast enough to fully open at fastest shutter speed. This is nothing that bothers me in daily use in the slightest way. With the build in ND filter I even don’t need the 1/4000 sec at all. It is a small technical compromise and in no way comparable to what Leica does with the new X.

          Really a bad move by Leica. Sad to hear that they even do the same thing with the T lenses.

      • I’m confused. Is it common to choose a 35mm EFOV lens or fixed-lens camera when 90-95% of one’s photography is from 1 to less than 4 feet distance from the subject? I thought that 35mm is considered a moderate wide-angle lens.

  66. Great images and nice review. Concerned about the aperture woes. Why do you not mention in your review the specific figure I have read (and tested in store) – that f/1.7 is fully available at focus distances beyond 1.22 meters (4 feet)? Were 90% of your images focussed at less than 1.2 meters or is there actually a firmware issue of some kind, or a defective unit?

  67. My wife would love this camera. She is the target market. I don’t see an issue making a product to serve this customer. It’s very expensive, but not crazy expensive.

  68. Maybe they should have advertised this as ” Summilux f/1.7-2.5 ” . I was thinking of this as a replacement for my Ricoh GR but after the false summilux and no viewfinder, I will say hell no. Thanks for the review Steve, Cheers

  69. I couldn’t agree with your more Steve, I have owned an X2 and loved it apart from not having a built in EVF. Even when I did add the EVF, the viewfinder went to sleep after just 60 secs, no matter what I had the camera set to. So annoying was this for street photography that I sold it and now use an M6! However if this X had had a built in EVF I also would have bought one. But lack of the viewfinder and the silly quirk re: the 1.7 lens that you discovered, means that sadly Leica have lost my custom this time. When will they finally wake up and see what the competition have for offering for years now.

  70. Steve, how are Leica T sales looking? I remember you predicted HUGE success. Don’t think you were spot on with that one…

    • I said it would be successful, but no clue yet as to how it is doing. I do know the best sellers have been the X1 and M9 🙂 I like the T. It is solid, feels great, has great IQ (same as the X) and offers the advantage of using M glass and T lenses. I feel the T glass is overpriced but all Leica is really (the X is not so bad). But I have no clue how it is doing just yet. I do know it sold better than the Vario 🙂

  71. I don’t find the “f/1.7 issue” so problematic, in practice.

    The new X is still a better camera than the X2 for not much more money so it may sell reasonably well.

    But without built-in EVF and with an oldish sensor, I won’t be tempted anytime soon… until I find a used one at 300GBP like the X1 I bought 9 months ago 😉

    More seriously, the LX100 or its Leica counterpart tick a lot more boxes, and I would not be surprised if the IQ gap between state-of-the-art m4/3 and oldish APS-C wasn’t that big in the end…

    • How is it better than the X2? It uses the same sensor, has a larger body and the lens is mostly used at f/2.5 or 2.8 even when you want 1.7. It’s not really a problem when it comes to IQ but my problem is based on principle and the fact that it is advertised as an f/1.7 lens. It should be listed as a variable aperture lens as zooms are when they change aperture as you zoom in.

      • It has a lens which will go down to f/1.7 for anything focussed at a distance beyond 1.22 meters, it has a superb manual focus ring with AF dent (which X2 lacked), it has a larger and higher resolution LCD display than and ability to use a higher resolution EVF with gps. Don’t these make it a worthy upgrade and furthering of the X1/X2 concept? But a built in EVF is a glaring omission.

    • @fiatlux actually… After reading steve’s review- I would say thw x2 is a better camera, in every way.
      Atleast with that camera you know what aperture it’s actually using. If i bought a camera that wouldn’t let shoot at the aperture i set it at, instead trying to ‘think’ for me, i would take it back to the company who made it, find out who designed that ‘feature’, then bounce it off that man’s head.
      Talk about infuriating.

      Anyone who would buy this camera over the RX1, for more money… As we say in the south: bless their heart.
      For that matter, one could spend $800 more and get a nice used M9.

      I honestly believe Leica has lost their way.
      With the exception of the M cameras- They seem completely out of touch with what Leica photographers actually want. Every camera they’ve brought out(other than the M’s)- the first words outof my mouth have been “What the F… Seriously leica? Seriously?”.
      Slow lenses, no built in VF’s…. That’s not the Leica way. Not even a little bit.
      If it weren’t for the red dot i’d think they were casios. Or panasonics…
      They need to clean house in Germany.

  72. Considering only IQ, would you rate the new X as comparable to the T when the T Summicron is used with the T? Hope that makes sense!

    Otherwise, a very honest review… thanks!

    • Can’t say as I have never tried the Summicron with the T. I requested the T and cron from Leica but they never sent it. I have only tested the zoom lens on the T so far.

      • Thanks for the speedy reply! I have the T with the zoom and think it’s very good. Was thinking of upgrading my X2 and am torn between the new X (leaning against) and just getting the Summicron for the T. Your review has been a significant help. Thanks!!!!!

        • Worth noting that the Summicron T lens (like this Summilux in the 113) also closes the iris below f/2 as focus distances get close, several reviews have mentioned this. According to product manager Harberts, they do this to maintain very high standards of IQ at closer focussing distances without compromising size or weight of the lenses.

          • The Summcicron opens up at much lower distance than what Steve describes about the X.
            i have the T with both lenses and think its IQ is at least as good as the X2.
            I wil also keep my X2 because its small and that is the whole idea in the beginning of the X. A small camera with good IQ. I use Viewfinder with all camera but never put it on the x2 anymore. Works fine for me.

    • I really don’t understand the fuss about 4 feet. Maybe it should be less for wide open but most people will shoot most shots over 4 feet
      Anyway I was in the Leica shop the other day and the T body is actually smaller. The T looks and feels terrific. Hopefully Leica will come out with some f1.4 lenses for it …

  73. I can see someone buying the camera and after a few weeks slapping themselves on the forehead and saying I coulda had a fuji!

    No viewfinder no good!

        • Both Fuji & Leica are ‘toys for boys’ choices. I don’t even believe the quality is so different as they both seem to be using the same kind of Sony APS/C sensor. And assuming that the Leica glass is so much better than the Fujinons in this price class… I just don’t believe it. None of both brands would be on my list today. Unfortunately Fuji missed a serious opportunity to be the better Leica and they really could have been the modern style Contax if the XF mount would have been FF from day one and the firmware wouldn’t have been some kind of weird R&D experiment.

          • @LCDR there are so many errors in your post that you should win an award. I lost count after 5.
            Do yourself a favor- step away from the forum comment sections and go get some first hand, real world shooting experience with the cameras you attempt to speak on.

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