Jun 102012

For those who were waiting..the new comparison – Leica X2 and X100!

As you have seen in my last post I found that a new Leica X2 that was sent to me with the official Version 1 firmware seemed to be much sharper than the one I had for review (the one Leica sent as a review loaner) which had a previous Firmware version on it, which was obviously not final. After more boring test shots today it is clear that there is some kind of issue with the review sample X2 as the new one I have received is much sharper. It does not seem possible that a firmware revision would have any effect on focus or lens quality so either this review sample has an issue or was dropped or just was not right out of the factory.

I took a new test shot today just to see if each X2 would perform the same. Both were set at f/4, ISO 100, 1/500s. So same settings, same model camera. But as you can clearly see, the new one did much better. I also threw in a crop from the Fuji X100 (f/4 – ISO 200 – 1/900s) for those who are interested. You can clearly see the color difference as well. These were converted from RAW with ACR.

Ok this is the test shot. Below the image you will see the crops from each camera. 

100% crop #1 – from the new X2 with version 1.0 firmware

100% crop #2 – from the review sample X2 with pre-production firmware – It appears to be out of focus but the camera confirmed and locked focus and the shot was taken three times. Same result.

100% crop #2 – From the Fuji X100

So there you go. The Leica X2 is sharper than I had previously thought simply due to the fact that the review sample was not focusing correctly or had some issue with the lens assembly. Results look to be on par with the old X1 but of course with more megapixels and better low light and high ISO performance. After shooting both the X2 seems a little quicker to AF than the Fuji X100. It’s close though. Below are a couple of more test shots to show how sharp the X2 really is. I updated some sections of the X2 review as well. Thanks to all for reading!

and one with some PP – converted with Alien Skin Exposure

Jun 092012

A tale of two Leica X2 cameras

(This one is for you Betty) :)

Hey guys! Happy weekend, it is Saturday and I plan on relaxing some today but just so happened a package was delivered to me today thanks to the speedy shipping of Leica dealer Mr. Ken Hansen. What was in the box? A new black Leica X2 and with newer firmware than what was on the review sample Leica sent me (The review sample seemed to have some sort of prototype firmware, which I did not realize until last week). In any case I snapped off a few shots out in my yard and not only does this new X2 seems “snappier” than the other one it also seems a little sharper AND is giving me different AWB results which means different color and not as “warm” as what I was getting from the 1st. Not sure if its sample variation or if it is the firmware.

So I will test this one out further and if it does indeed give better performance than the review sample I had I will do another comparison  – this time with the old X2 and the X100 again so we have all three. I will also update my X2 review if this is the case.

UPDATE: One quick sample with both. f/2.8, 1/200s, ISO 100 on both – either the review sample is not focusing correctly (though it confirmed focus) or it is not as sharp..and I think that it is not focusing correctly 100% of the time. Remember, the review sample did not have final firmware.

One quick test for sharpness wide open with the new X2 and Firmware 1.0  – click it for larger and full crop – it is SHARP. The sharpest result yet from the X2 for me.


and a self portrait wide open  – click to see the sharpness

and check out how sharp this is (click it to see this test shot)

ENJOY THE WEEKEND! It’s a hot one here in Phoenix again!

**Oh, and in case you are wondering..no, I was not aware that the FW of the original review sample X2 was not final as I was told by Leica that this was a factory fresh ready to go X2 and that I could even purchase it if I wanted. So I assumed this was it, ready to roll until I spoke with Sean Reid a few days ago who told me that FW I had was not a final FW. 

See my FINAL comparison HERE

Jun 082012

The M3… for kids’ sports?

Hi Steve,

Last year, I wrote a short article for your site called “The Leica M9… for sports?” .

This year, I’m still photographing my kids’ sports activities with an M9, but two weeks ago I decided to take my M3 instead.

I did it for a couple of reasons: Firstly, I just like the look of film. Secondly, I thought it would be fun.

Well, 3 rolls of Tri-X 400 later, I ended up with some keepers. Actually, I ended up with a whole bunch of keepers, and I’m sharing a few here.

Incidentally, if any of your readers are interested in learning about how I process my B&W film, they can read about it here.


Peter | Prosophos


Jun 082012

Leica X2 and Fuji X100 side by side one more time…

Since I have done a few comparisons lately with the X100 and X2 I still have gotten several emails asking for more. Again, what you will see in the images below is NOT scientific but I had both cameras slung around me and shot the same image with each camera keeping the same ISO and aperture, letting the CAMERA choose exposure. As always it seems the Fuji can tend to overexpose at times. It seems the big question in my mailbox this week is “Which should I buy”…

Well, I can not answer that question for you but I can tell you a few facts about each camera that may help you decide.

The Fuji X100

Nice size. Not too small, not too big. Nice feel in the hand.

Faster lens at f/2 but wide open it is somewhat soft and lower contrast – pin sharp by f/4

EVF/OVF is fantastic, but I mainly use the EVF as it is accurate – WYSIWYG

AF is faster  than it used to be but still can be a little sluggish compared to newer cameras. Still not an action shooting camera and have had some misses with AF.

Low light and high ISO is about on par with the X2

Colors out of camera can be on the cooler side of neutral at times

Camera is silent in operation if you turn off all sounds

There is some lens barrel distortion

Camera tends to overexpose, so dial back on the Exposure Compensation

Battery life is average

Lens is prone to flare (which can yield creative results if shot into the sun)

Not really a pocketable camera

Macro capability

$1199 Silver – $1699 for the Black kit with accessories

The Leica X2

Nice construction, quality feel

Improved dials are now stiffer

No real distortion from the lens

Warm colors, higher contrast

Sharp at 2.8 but sharper as you stop down

More prone to hand shake than the X100 at same shutter speed

High ISO is great, same as X100

Has the Leica IQ and feel

EVF is extra but swivels so more versatile than a standard EVF

LCD is low res

Simple and Basic. Just about photography.

Made in Germany Leica by Leica

AF is as fast as X100 is now but spot on accurate every time

Can fit in a jacket pocket easily, more compact than an X100

No real flare from the lens

No close focusing capabilities

$1995 for Black or Silver

Basically both are great and can give you great results if you know what you are doing with them. The Leica will have a more pleasing color and higher contrast where the Fuji can have somewhat flat files right out of camera. Both of these cameras will give you a different vibe and feel from most other mirror less cameras. Truth be told, I really like both of these. Problem is, both are 35mm equivalent. The Fuji has the VF and classic RF styling and the Leica has the more modern-day Leica style and more pleasing color and contrast. Both have the same high ISO capabilities and AF speed (just about) and both are capable of superb results. What it comes down to is do you want to pay extra for the Leica or do you prefer the Fuji? Only you can decide :) Below are some more side by sides though, and most are full size so you must click them to see them.



I prefer the Leica rendering of the colors and light in the 1st example. The X100 here looks a little more flat and has a color cast. Both from RAW with zero mods – no sharpening, etc.

This next set you can see the Fuji did overexpose. This is important to know because when you go out with the Fuji you will at times need to take back the EV dial. If you do not you will get an overexposure in certain situations. Both of these are RAW conversions without any modification or sharpening added. I prefer the X2 rendering here again, but they are so close.

Notice the lights on the 1st X2 shot…or UNDER the lights – I prefer the X100 here due to the way the X2 is drawing the light..

Not there on the X100 shot

and a straight from camera ISO 3200 shot from each – both in camera B&W – BOTH JPEG and both set to a HIVGH CONTRAST B&W mode. Seems like the Leica puts out a higher contrast which is why the truck is darker. It is not due to less DR. With that said, I prefer the look of the X2 here again – Look at the back wall and ground. I see more detail in the X2. 

So there you go. Identical snap shots taken with each camera in the same lighting and moment using the same ISO and aperture. The experience shooting both was good and each camera focused just as quickly as the other. The X2 really is accurate with focusing. Since some have questioned my statement of the X2 seemingly (in my experience, with this body) needing faster shutter speeds to get steady shots I have went ahead and ordered a black X2 setup for my personal extended testing and use. The new one coming has the latest firmware and the one I tested here does not. So to be 100% fair and for you, the readers (well, and me of course) I will not be shooting the X2 and X100 as well as my OM-D and M over the next few months so I can get an extended use feel for each of them. At this point I can not say which I prefer as both do a great job. Sometimes I prefer a shot from the X2 and others the X100.

So always check back to the site for more and again, thanks for reading.

Jun 072012

The Leica X2 and all accessories are IN STOCK!

The Leica X2 and all accessories are NOW IN STOCK at the following dealers: 

Dale Photo – Black X2Silver X2Full CaseEVF

Ken Hansen has it ALL – just e-mail him at [email protected] – tell him I sent ya!

B&H Photo has the EVF showing IN STOCK as well as the Brown Full case

Popflash may have the silver in stock as well.

BTW, It seems that the Silver is in limited supply at most dealers and is the hottest seller.

Here are a few more X2 images taken recently if you want to see more from the camera. Also, the review is HERE.

Here is an out of camera JPEG shot in High Contrast B&W mode

and a full size out of camera file shot in B&W mode (High Contrast)

Jun 062012

Fun Comparison: Olympus OM-D with Leica Noctilux and Nikon 50/1.2 AIS

by Brad Husick

Now that I am learning to use my new OM-D and enjoying the process, I thought it would be fun to mount some super-fast 50mm lenses and see the results. The two lenses I own in this category are the legendary Leica 50mm f/0.95 ASPH Noctilux ($12,500) and the Nikon 50mm f/1.2 AIS ($695). Both are manual focus lenses. The Nikon has been produced for decades and uses no aspheric glass elements so Nikon has been able to keep the price low for this amazing lens. The Leica 0.95 may represent the state of the art in fast lens design and costs more than most used cars, and about the same number of (nominal) dollars that my parents’ first home cost in the 1950’s.

I think both lenses are capable of some amazing photos. The Noctilux is magical at the widest aperture and quickly sharpens as you stop down. I think its performance is equal to the Leica 50mm f/1.4 ASPH Summilux from f/1.4 to f/16. The Noctilux weighs in at 28 ounces while the Nikon weighs half that amount.

Both lenses were shot at their widest aperture, so this is intended to show what each is capable of producing, rather than a direct comparison of their performance at a given f-stop. I like to shoot these lenses wide open, so that’s the test I performed. I have no doubt that the Noctilux will outperform the Nikon at any given aperture, but you don’t need an advanced degree to guess that. You can buy the Nikon and give one to each of your seventeen best friends for the cost of the Leica.

All the photos were shot in RAW then opened and saved in Lightroom. No adjustments were made except for resizing.

Enjoy the images, and thank you to Starbucks for allowing me to shoot when Seattle is giving us typical June weather (rain!)

click these for the full size crops at 800 pixels wide (shown here at 680)

Jun 052012

Great cheap goodies for your lenses – Soft micro lens pouch is a GREAT buy.

I had to let you guys know about these as my buddy Todd makes and sells these and I have been using them for the past month or so and LOVE them. They are called the “Micro Lens Pouch” and are made for smaller camera systems and the lenses that we pay so dearly for. The is a great way to protect your glass and offers much more protection than just throwing them in a bag. I have the 3 pack here and the small fits a Leica summarit or summicron type of lens, the medium fits my Panasonic 25 1.4 or equivalent size and the large even fit a Leica Noctilux. The lenses are super soft with great cushion and protection. The great thing is you can buy all three for $29.95 and they are sold at Amazon, and shipped by Amazon.

While Todd makes and sells these I am not writing this because I know him or because he paid me (he did not). I am writing about them because I feel they are truly a great buy. Ive been using them almost daily for a while now and they have held up well for me and even helped protect my little 50 Summarit when I dropped it out of my bag.

You can buy each size separately or the get the three pack of various sizes for $29.95

The three pack can be found Here on Amazon

You can also just buy the Small, Medium, or Large for just over $10 each. Highly recommended!

Also available in a 2-Pack, small and medium!

BTW, I might as well add a plug for the 2012 Photo Cruise since the guy who makes these pouches is also going to be joining us ! I still have a few cabins remaining and if anyone is interested I need to know before July 1st! Check out the cruise page here, but imagine a full week on the seas and photography at every stop! Of course guests are welcome and can participate in all shooting! Will be a blast and free lens pouches for all :)

and…Don’t miss the street strap!

The street strap is also a very cool strap that I have attached to my new black Fuji X100 and it is a black cloth strap that looks similar to the A&A Silk cord strap, but this is not silk and it is longer so you can wear it around you. This is also on Amazon and shipped by Amazon so no dealing with 3rd party vendors. I like this strap and I also like my Barton strap and A&A strap! Just like with bags and cameras, all personal preference. But if you have been wanting a nice black strap that is comfy and long enough to strap around your body when carrying your camera this one is great. You can check it out on Amazon HERE.

Jun 042012

UPDATE: That X100 still rocks!

NOTE: I have had no less than 30 emails this morning asking what strap I had on the X100. Well, here it is on Amazon! It’s called a “street strap” and it is comfortable, soft and looks amazingly like the A&A silk strap at a much lower cost. It is also longer than the A&A so easily worn around your body. 

Wow. After many months of NOT owning or shooting with a Fuji X100 and then picking one back up again I remember why I fell in love with it in the 1st place. I am now the proud owner of a Black Fuji X100 and after just a couple of days of shooting with it, and the latest firmware, I enjoy it much more than I did back when it was released, and I loved it then too! Now, many of you know I love Leica. I have been labeled a Leica “fanboy” by many and I always said that if really loving a camera system makes me a fanboy then so be it! I simply love the Leica M9 and consider it one of those rare digital cameras that will go down in history as a classic. The words “Digital” and “Classic” are indeed rare and a couple of other cameras I can think of that are now digital classics in my book are the Leica Digilux 2 and even the old original Olympus E1.

The Fuji X100 at f/2 – With some basic adjustments in the RAW processing. This little camera is impressive. Click it for larger.

So while I love and adore Leica cameras, what they stand for (or maybe what they used to stand for) and their quality, the fact is that I am also open to other camera systems. Always have been. The only problem is that there has not been much that could sway me from Leica until just recently. When I say “sway me from Leica” I do not mean I would stop shooting Leica, I just mean that there has not been any other camera that would make me set the Leica down more often than not. While there are cameras that out spec Leica cameras by far, say what you will, Leica does indeed have a quality and charm that is unique to them. Some see it clearly and some do not but when you work with digital files daily from almost every digital camera your eyes sort of become “trained” to spot the differences. With Leica there is a smooth sharpness and color that other cameras haven’t really matched. But I feel it is in the lenses they make much more so than the bodies.

For example, the Leica X2 is really good in the IQ department but I think it is mainly due to the 24 Elmarit lens Leica have created for it. So yes, the X2 is fantastic in the IQ department, especially when it comes to shooting PEOPLE. But the X2 is lacking in other areas like overall speed, crappy LCD, no built-in EVF, etc. The fact that it is $2000 in todays competitive market means it may be a tough sell for Leica, especially when the X100 is still $1199 and in some cases, a bit less. But one thing to remember and ask yourself is that would you expect Leica to sell the X2, a made in Germany REAL Leica for less than that? No, not really. That would not be so “Leica Like” of them now would it?

So with the cost of the X1 and X2, many have went to the X100 from Fuji, which when launched promised to be “the professionals choice’. It was hyped and hyped and hyped even more and when it was shipped many were frustrated with the laggy menu system, the slow AF and buggy performance. I still really loved the X100 because the output was beautiful, though different than the X1 I had at the time. Eventually I sold the X100 and X1 because they were just too slow for real use. I became frustrated with missing shots, much like I did with the new X-Pro 1 and when that happens, it is time to say goodbye.

So fast forward to  now, June 2012. Fuji have been releasing firmware updates to the X100 to improve its speed, functionality and overall snappiness. Everyone was telling me how great it was so I caved and as I stated at the beginning of this article, I now own one in black. Bottom Line? With the new firmware it is like a new camera, and the black? Gorgeous. So after a day of shooting at the park with the X100, X2 and OM-D I can safely say that the X100 still rocks :)

X100 – f/2.8  – this is one of those cameras that give out a really nice vibe

Decisions Decisions…

Over the past few days I have had many emailing me and asking what camera is better…The Fuji X100 or the Leica X2. Well, there really is no clear answer as BOTH are really good in regards to output and quality. Which camera someone buys for their use all depends on personal preference. Which camera speaks to you the most? When you look at them, hold them or try them...which one talks to your heart? That is how you have to look at it and in the end, no matter what you choose, these days ALL cameras are really good. A new camera will not improve your skills of course but one that you can bond with and feel good about shooting will help MOTIVATE you and unlock that passion you have for it. That may be the Leica, that may be the Fuji. It may be a Canon or Nikon or Sony. Only YOU can figure it out as everyone is different.

I have to say that I have enjoyed shooting the Leica X2 but The X100 is really fantastic.

This one does have some PP – I did add some grain as well as crop – again, that Fuji flare is there

The shots you have seen here so far have all been taken with the Fuji X100 in RAW, and converted using ACR. I often get asked what PP I do to photos like these and I always say NONE..sometimes. All I do is adjust sliders in the raw processing to add contrast or lower contrast. To saturate or desaturate. To add black level or take it out. I then add some sharpening and the image that pops out is what you see here. I found the X100 files to be pretty robust and with good color, sharpness and decent DR.

But… I found the OM-D to have even better Dynamic Range than the Fuji in real world use. Take a look at the two images below:

The X100 file..this one I did do some PP on as I used the burn tool to try to calm down the blown highlight on her foot as I couldn’t get the detail back in the RAW file. Still, looks good. 

and now the OM-D file. Seems to have better DR as I had no issue with blown highlights with ANY shots I took with the Olympus yet the X100 had some and the X2 had the most. 

That damn OM-D is quickly becoming “the” camera of 2012. Pair it with one of the great lenses available (12, 25, or 45 but my fave is now the 25 1.4) and you will have a really great powerhouse DSLR quality camera, even for low light/high ISO. Even so, the Fuji and even Leica do offer a more “analogue” look.

Thank you Fuji, for the continued support and updating of the X100.

Instead of rushing out a new X200 already or even an X100.2 Fuji released firmware updates to this camera that improved on it each time, which shows me  they are great at listening to their customers. I wanted to thank Fuji for this as it has brought this camera back to my bag after giving up on it for being a bit clunky and frustrating. The X100 is still not a perfect camera but none really are (though I have yet to find a negative with the OM-D). It is a much different camera than the Olympus OM-D and for me, I am glad to own both. The Fuji for the times I want that Fuji look and a nice fast 35mm lens and the Oly for when I want speed, responsiveness, video or versatility in focal length.

Of course there is still the Leica M9 that comes out when I get serious :)

But the X100 is good for color, B&W conversions and every day photography. It is sharp as I will ever need an image to be.

The big question. The X100 or the new X2?

Again, as I have stated above this is all about personal preference. Is the X2 just as capable as the X100? Yes, of course BUT it is different. Different color signature, different in handling and use and well, no video and no hard to see in the sun LCD. It doesn’t have a VF built in and the one you can buy make the camera bulky and odd-looking. It also seems to be prone to the teeniest but of hand shake as many of the shots I snapped with the X2 of Shea (the girl in these photos) had some sort of blur or they were not sharp if the shutter speed was lower than 1/100th. I was able to get sharp images with the X100 and OM-D in the same light where the X2 was giving me unsharp images in some situations. For me, it was a joy to shoot the X100 and OM-D and the X2 was a tad slower and odd without using the EVF. It was also tough to frame in the sunlight without a VF. Other than that the IQ is stunning when you nail it and colors may be the best from the X2 which is no surprise as I preferred the X1 colors to the X100 as well. 

Overall The X100 has a more “smooth” laid back kind of feel and the X2 has a more crisp brilliant feel but with that said, I managed more keepers with the X100 this weekend.

If you are into the whole Zen like X2 vibe, it would be the one for you. I like the X2 and wish I could afford to have one around in addition to the X100 but sadly this is not the case. For me, I found the X100 to be the better buy due to the cost and capabilities but I do really see a different look with the Leica in the X2 files. Like I said in my X2 review, as long as you know what you are getting when you buy it and do not mind the cost then the X2 is great. You can clearly see the difference in the X2 look below and the flare in the X100 :)

One from theX100 and the  X2 – each looks different and the X100 flare is actually beautiful in some situations. Both at f/2.8.

So yes, even today, a year after it was released..I can recommend the X100. 

The X100 is better today than it was a year ago when Fuji released it. That 1st version of the firmware at release was AWFUL. The menus were choppy, the AF slow and the AF missed quite a bit as well, especially with the OVF. Today 95% of the X100’s quirks have been solved with easy to implement firmware updates. So if you still have an X100 go out and shoot it. If you have been deciding on a small camera/large sensor camera to buy and have been waiting for these new released like the OM-D and X2 then I can say ANY of them are more than capable of delivering results that are better than mostly all of us can achieve.

The Leica, The Fuji and the Olympus are all image quality monsters. Go with your heart :)

A few more random shots with the X100…

ISO 3200 – X100 – f/2

and yours truly at iso 200 in the mirror :)

Jun 022012

Comparison Re-Do – Leica X2, Fuji X100, Olympus E-M5 and Sony NEX-7

Ok guys here you go. A bandwidth busting set of full size images from four different hot mirrorless cameras. This time the cameras were all set on a solid surface before shooting so there is zero chance of hand shake or motion blur. You can click on any image for a full size file converted from RAW. Things to note. All cameras were set at f/4. All cameras used their own metering to expose and meter the scene. I converted from RAW and applied ZERO sharpening and changed nothing, so what you see if what came from each camera as covered by Adobe Camera Raw. Also, this was in full, harsh, mid day AZ sun. The light did not change during this 5-10 minute test.

To be honest, the fastest focusing camera here is the E-M5. This is followed by the X100 and X2 which are tied for AF speed and the NEX-7 is the slowest of the bunch for AF (with the Zeiss 24) though it is still very good. All cameras have fast and acceptable AF. Take a look at the files below and leave a comment with your thoughts.


OK, 1st the Leica X2 – base ISO –  No possibility of camera shake – f/4. Price as tested – $1995

Now the Fuji X100 at f/4 – base ISO – Price $1199 for silver$1699 for black set

The Olympus OM-D E-M5 and Olympus 17 2.8 – Base ISO – F/4 – Price as tested $1299

Sony NEX-7 and Zeiss 24 – Base ISO – f/4 – Price as tested – $2300

Jun 022012

Some fun low light shooting with the Fuji X100, Olympus E-M5 and Leica X2

Here I am, wide awake. It’s early Saturday morning, around 2AM. I have been up at my computer for the last 2 hours checking out some photos I shot last night in Phoenix at “first friday”. I drove down there to see if there would be any cool photo opps and to test out the Black X100 , OM-D and Leica X2 in low light, night-time situations. Mainly I wanted to see how the AF did with all cameras in challenging situations so why not? I had nothing else to do and it WAS Friday!

My 1st shot of the night was with the X100 and I did not nail the exposure perfectly but it came out nicely anyway. The camera focused FAST..much faster than it did when I reviewed it long ago. The new firmware did indeed fix a few things like AF speed, menu speed, and overall gave it a snappy feel. I am impressed with what Fuji has been able to do. Click image for larger. It was shot at ISO 1600.

If you saw my post from yesterday you would have seen I had a black Fuji X100 kit arrive to my house. Yes, I caved and bought one after dwelling on it for months. With all of the talk of the new firmware greatly enhancing the speed I had to give it a shot. I also wanted to see how it did side by side with the Leica X2 and seeing that the X2 is brand spanking new I figured it would trounce the X100, but that was not the case. But in reality, the X2 focused amazingly well in the dark. MUCH better than the X1 but IMO it still did not beat the X100. They are about equal in IQ (with the Fuji possibly taking the lead) but the X2 did impress me with its new-found speed and high ISO performance. ISO 3200 wasn’t a problem, even in low light. It is indeed a nice improvement to the X1 in regards to AF speed and high ISO performance when using it for taking photos :)

The X2 at ISO 3200

As I sat here at my desk and reviewed the photos I shot I was amazed at how far these small cameras have come. It has gotten to the point now where you can literally take a small and light camera like and X2 or X100 with you anywhere and anytime and get AMAZING results, even at night. Fast AF, great low noise performance and overall amazing designs. I applaud both of these cameras for night low light use. I did prefer using the VF on the X100 though and felt a bit odd holding the X2 out (did not bring the EVF) at arm’s length.

Another ISO 1600 X100 shot. I focused on the barrel in front so she would be out of focus with the flame in the sky. I like this one.

I was having so much fun shooting the “X” cameras that I forgot I brought along my little OM-D powerhouse. On the camera was the Panasonic 25 1.4 and I have to tell you, this combo seems like they were made for each other. Fast AF, no rattlesnake noises and superb sharpness/bokeh, even when wide open.

OM-D E-M5 ISO 640 with 25 1.4 at 1.4 and then 6400! – click for larger

even adding noise to this ISO 1600 image looks great. BTW, this is the girl who was breathing fire in the images above..

and ISO 6400 on the little Olympus? No problem..the next 4 images were all shot at ISO 6400 on the E-M5. No way the E-P3 could have pulled this ISO off. Also,  THIS WAS the fastest focusing setup of the night.

So while I only shot about 30 shots in all, I had fun with all three cameras because they all performed without fail. They all focused quickly and gave me great results and they all have their own kind of user experience and file quality. Yes, I have been talking quite a bit about these cameras lately but I believe in not only talking about my experiences but also showing images from my experiences so you guys can see what comes out of these new cameras.

Take your pic. They are all good and yes, It’s a good time to be into photography. :)

In case you missed them, you can see see my original reviews of the Fuji X100, Olympus OM-D and Leica X2

OM-D at ISO 1250

X2 at ISO 320

X100 at ISO 1600

Jun 012012

Look what popped into my house. The Black Special Edition Fuji X100!

I could not resist. I went ahead and ordered a black X100 kit. Partly because I love all black, partly because I really do like the X100 quite a bit and partly because i wanted to see how it is with the new firmware, which I have not yet experienced. I also wanted to see how it stands up next to the new Leica X2. I made a video showing me taking it out of the box and I have to say it is much sexier in person that it is in photos. MUCH better looking than the X-Pro 1 IMO. Sleeker, smaller, and even more stealthy. Yes, this black kit is $500 more than the standard X100 but still $400 less than a Leica X2.

The SE kit has the extra though and when you pick up one of these kits you also get a black full case that strips down to a half case, and it fits very well. You get a filter for your lens and a lens hood and adapter. These are all extras that you would have to buy for your standard X100 so in reality, buying this black kit sets you back an extra $250 or so just to have all black and a limited edition set. This is Fuji milking the X100 much like Leica milks their models. If it works for Leica, why not Fuji?

In any case upon taking it all out and looking it over I have to say it is amazingly gorgeous and much nicer looking than the silver, but this is my opinion. The case is quality, the camera feels a little bit more sturdy than an X2 and as for focus speed? Well, I updated the FW to the latest and greatest and have to say it is much much faster than it used to be. MUCH more responsive than the X-Pro 1 and 35 1.4. The whole menu system is fast as well. So far so good.

Check out the video of the black X100 below to witness its sexiness :)

So my house is loaded with cameras and I feel a bit overwhelmed but am happy as can be as I love it! I also just received a Sony A57 and a couple of lenses and just had to return the D800 which put out some amazing files (more on this one soon). But today, right now, I am in the mini mode of the X2 and X100. Seeing that the X2 is new I was curious to see if the X100 could still match it in all aspects. So this weekend I will be doing some shooting with the X100, X2, NEX-7 and OM-D. I attached the Olympus 17mm 2.8 to the OM-D to see how it would do and it’s doing mighty fine on the new Olympus. Giving me the same 35mm view as the X2 and X100.

The facts are that today, in 2012, all of these cameras are REALLY great at image quality. The ones we choose to work with are all down to our hearts and preferences. It is getting to the point where digital has matured that any something like an OM-D or X100 could last us for MANY MANY years.

In any case, I am doing this comparison all weekend but here is a quick sample from the X100, X2 and OM-D. All at f/4, all with a 35mm equiv lens.


May 302012

Leica X2, Sony NEX-7 and Olympus OM-D – One more quick comparison! Sharpness, color and DOF

Just thought I would post one more comparison between these three cameras while I could. Basically, this is just to show what will come out of each camera in the same light, same moment, same aperture. Each camera was shot at its base ISO of either 100 or 200 and the matrix/evaluative style metering was used on each camera so it could choose its own exposure. Just wanted to show what comes out in regards to sharpness, depth of field and color. DOF will be different on the Olympus as I am using a 25mm lens on a 2X crop sensor. Still, what you see is what you get. X2 and NEX-7 will give a 35mm equivalent and the 25 on the OM-D a 50mm Equivalent.

Each image was resized down to OM-D size of 16MP. So the Sony was resized from its native 24MP to 16. You can click on any image for the full size file, processed from RAW.

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.

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.


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

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!

Man washing windows…

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

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. 

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

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.

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!


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

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…

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

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!

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


  • 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


  • 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

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!

A few More Samples from the X2

EXIF is embedded for those who want it


Remember, anytime you follow my links here and buy from B&H or AMAZON, this helps to keep my site going. If it was not for these links, there would be no way to fund this site, so I thank you in advance if you visit these links. I thank you more if you make a purchase! I have nifty search bars at the upper right of each page so you easily search for something at either store! I currently spend 10-14 hours a day working on this site and the only way that I can pay for it is with your help, so thank you! Currently my traffic has been increasing but my funds to pay for the site has been decreasing, so any help would be GREATLY appreciated!

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May 292012

Leica Monochrom – Flat or not? Plus side by side with the X2

OK, this will be my last post on the Monochrom until my review in July but after my last post where I showed some quick images from the Monochrom that were processed using Snapseed on my iPad I noticed some have commented on how the images looked “flat”.  To be honest, I noticed this as well with the files from the Monochrom. Compared to the M9, the files coming out of the new Mono are indeed very low contrast and flat but remember than you can enhance them with PP just like any other camera file. The images do look a bit different from what you see coming out of the M9 and you can see a GREAT comparison here at the red dot forum between the M9 and Monochrom. The Mono clearly wins in the ISO dept. but also has a different rendering of the tones as well.

I have found that the files from the Monochrom are a bit tricky to edit as they do not react to the same PP tricks as the M9 files do. I had to return the Monochrom back  to Leica today but I had fun with the pre-production camera regardless. Still not sure if it is for me though. Again, full review in July sometime.

I am posting the samples below as they all have had some quick editing (contrast, brightness, exposure, etc) unlike previous samples that were pretty much out of camera. I also added a quick comparison with the Leica X2 at the bottom. Enjoy and Thanks!


Now a quick comparison between the Monochrom and the Leica X2

1st the Monochrom, from RAW with some contrast enhancements – image is full size so click it for the full file

and now a shot from the new Leica X2 which was converted to B&W using Alien Skin Exposure (Neopan Preset, no grain). Again, click it for full size.

I did not have the M9 with me for this walk so did not shoot one with the M9 though I do plan on showing some side by sides with the M9 when I do my final review of the Monochrom. What do you think on the comparison above? It is NOT to show DOF or sharpness. I only shot these to see how the X2 would fare with a conversion against this pre-production Monochrom. The 24mm lens of the X2 is not going to be the same in any way as the 35 1.4 on the Monochrom, so again, this is a B&W only comparison…I guess a “tonality” comparison.

Do you see any advantage to the Monochrom when it comes to B&W performance? I can tell you that the high ISO capability from the Mono kills the X2 and the M9, that is without question.

May 282012

Why Leica Rules by George Sutton

A friend recently commented that the future of photography is the software. I know the marketing people would love hearing that. I like following the new stuff as much as the next person. Without that sites like this would not have a lot to talk about.

But despite the wave after wave of new camera offerings, I am increasingly drawn back to the Leica. It is primitive. The M9 body is ridiculously expensive and lacking in features. It is the anti software camera, which is quixotic to say the least. But I find that increasingly useful (maybe even intentional on Leica’s part) to keep my attention on what remains the truly outstanding quality of the camera–the lenses. It teaches that its the lenses stupid, not just with Leica but with all cameras.

A recent essay on another site discussed the notion that one of photography’s great powers is capturing a kind of hyperreality. Freezing an image gives us an opportunity to see details and things we miss in the flow of perception. Freezing the image reveals how rich reality is. At its best this effect is fascinating and occasionally mesmerizing. The importance of the camera is its ability to capture that effect. An enlarged image doesn’t work if it lacks detail and shows flaws of the lens and the sensor. The flaws are what the viewer sees. The hyperreality effect is directly proportional to the level of detail and depth. That is why lenses are basic followed closely by the camera sensor, and only then does everything else begin to matter.

What differentiates Leica is that it designs a body as an accessory to the lens. Most other systems take the opposite approach designing advanced bodies with accessory lenses. That doesn’t mean the lenses in other systems have to be inferior, but I think only the best professional lenses (Nikon, Canon, Zeiss, etc.) to get close to Leica quality, and even then I think Leica is often better. According to many reports the Nikon D800E may have made medium format cameras obsolete. Imagine putting that sensor in a M9 body. Wow. It would not work as well in other small cameras because the lenses are not good enough.

I was reminded of this after taking some photos of my son and grandson on a recent trip. These were only intended to be snapshots of my family, of no meaning to anyone else. The first is a simple shot of my grandson eating breakfast. Nothing special except it is not posed. The second is a crop of just his face. It is as rich and detailed as if the original was a full frame close up. I can get lost in that face. Of course I am highly biased and this may just be my foolishness but I think it is a good example of this effect.



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