Jul 242012
 

 

Quick “Just for Fun” Comparisons: Sony RX100, Olympus OM-D and Nikon V1 (With an X2 detail shot thrown in for fun)

Working on the Sony RX100 review but until then check out some quick comparisons I did between it and the Nikon V1 and Olympus OM-D. Since the Nikon and Sony use Zoom lenses, either kit or built-in, I used the 12-50 for the Olympus to be fair. BUT, in a shot or two the Olympus accidentally slipped into P mode from A mode so the test is not a fair one as the Oly lens was stopped down much more than the others in a couple of the test shots.

I will be doing new test shots for the RX100 review that are matched but thought some of you may enjoy seeing these, just for fun. 

I also took a detail shot that you can download in full size from the V1, OM-D, RX100 and Leica X2 and these are at the bottom.  Just for fun of course :)

Finally, these are all OOC JEGS ONLY! There is no RAW support for the RX100 yet from Adobe so to be fair, all were shot JPEG. So this test is a “just for fun” JPEG test :) Again, I will have more detailed tests in my RX100 review soon. For now, enjoy these and be sure to click the images for larger views and to see the true 100% crops!

Thank you!

Click images for large size with 100% crop – 1st shot is from the RX100 at f/4.5 – 2nd shot is form the Nikon V1 at f/4 and third is OM-D 

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Again, RX100, Nikon V1 and then OM-D – CLICK THEM FOR LARGER and 100% Crop! ALL JPEGS! But this one is not fair as the last shot (OM-D) was set to f/11 by accident. Still, you may find it useful for color, etc.

1st – RX100 – 2nd – Nikon V1 – 3rd – OM-D

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one more set – f/4 on all cameras this time! – ALL JPEGS!

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Now some high iso, tripod used, low light – ISO 3200 – JPEG only in this test (No RAW support for RX100 yet)

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and below are full size direct OOC JPEG  files from each camera just to test for detail and what you would get out of camera shooting JPEG. Click them for full size. Each camera was set to “Standard” color mode, same aperture. Camera chose exposure as this is how 95% of people use them. 

Jun 112012
 

Video: The Leica X2 Ever Ready Case – $200 but where is the EVF/OVF holder?

So I had a Leica X2 Ever Ready case pop in my house today. You know, the nice full leather luxurious brown one you see advertised sitting next to the new X2? Looks nice huh? I remember the case they sold with the X1, the grey one. That thing was awful. Hard, horrible fit, bad choice of color. Not sure who designed  that one but there were much better 3rd party choices for the X1 when it came to cases.

This new X2 case was advertised on a few websites as coming with an External EVF holder that attached to the strap, but mine did NOT come with one. You kind of need something like  this if you use any kind of VF with the X2 because you can not put the camera in the case and close it with the EVF or OVF on the cameras shoe.

When I researched the case on Leica’s own site I did not see any mention or picture of any kind of case for  the viewfinder. So, it may be a mistake that some stores (even Amazon has it listed as coming with a VF case) have listed for some reason. Either way it seems like an oversight as many will be using this new feature of the camera, using an EVF or the classic OVF. So this case can not really be used if you do like to have a VF to look through, unless you want to keep the $550 Leica EVF in your pocket.

But how is the case and fit?

The actual quality of this case is GORGEOUS. Not only is the leather quality outstanding this time around, the fit is nice. It’s not a tight fit by any means but it is also not all loose and wobbly. It fits about right. The case is an “ever ready” case and will hold and protect your X2 completely. Meaning, it covers the back and front of the camera. If you want to shoot with the X2 you un-snap the bottom and the front flaps over letting you shoot. One thing to note is that you can NOT use this as a half case as the front does NOT come off. I thought it would, which would have been cool…but it doest as the front flap is sewn into the bottom half.

The strap it comes with is nice and soft but for me a little on the short side. Leica should have made it a little longer because if you wear this around your body it is a few inches too short, and if you are tall then it will be even shorter on you. Other than the lack of a place to store your viewfinder and the short strap this is a lovely case. Made very well with high quality leather, nice fit, nice color, very classic looking and it protects your X2 fully. This would be a great case to store your camera in more than anything as using the camera with the case on is a little cumbersome. But that is just a nitpick. Only you can decide if $200 is with it to spend on this bad boy. It looks the part, feels the part and even smells the part.

This case is available from all of my recommended dealers:

Ken Hansen – E-Mail only at [email protected] - he can wheel and deal :)

Pop Flashhttp://www.popflash.com  – beware description here also says comes with VF holder and even says it works with grip (it does not). $187

Dale Photo – They have the case HERE at $190 and free shipping as well.

and of course B&H carries the case and you can see their stock status HERE - $199

FINALLY, Amazon has these and they are prime eligible. – $199-$209

Leica also sells a black half case and D-Lux style case for the X2. The black half case is the only one really compatible with the EVF/OVF unless you want to continually remove it and put it back on. 

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.

Enjoy!

 

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.

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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.

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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..

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Not there on the X100 shot

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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 Case- EVF

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

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

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

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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. 

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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

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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.

Enjoy!

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

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

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

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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

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

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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

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X2 at ISO 320

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X100 at ISO 1600

May 302012
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Leica X2 at ISO 2000

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

So we all waited and waited.

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

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

But how is the new X2? Did Leica deliver?

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

The X2 at f/4 and ISO 100

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

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

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

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

Here is what is new in the X2:

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

SIMPLICITY and QUALITY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Man washing windows…

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

UPDATED! Now added a comparison with the Fuji X100!

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

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

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

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

Compared to the Fuji X100

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

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

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Compared to others (in words)

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

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

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

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

The X2 catches the cat

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High ISO of the Leica X1

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

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

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

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High ISO crops 

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

ISO comparison to NEX-7 and OM-D

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

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

JPEG vs RAW High ISO

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

and the same image but processed from the RAW file

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Detail of the X2 files

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

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

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

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

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

PROS

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

CONS

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

Out of camera JPEGs are sharp!

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

My final word on the Leica X2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

…and here is the black X2 with the Leica EVF

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

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

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

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

Where to buy the Leica X2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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A few More Samples from the X2

EXIF is embedded for those who want it

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Mar 062012
 

Leica needs a grand slam camera announcement in 2012 – will they deliver?

It has now been just about 2 1/2 years since Leica had their big event to announce the full frame M9. FINALLY we all thought at the time! A full frame digital rangefinder by the masters of RF design, we will never ask for anything more we said. When it hit, those of us who were lucky enough to get a hold of one were immediately in love with the familiar design, and of course, the amazingly creamy sensor made by Kodak. I was so excited to get one of my own at the time, I remember it vividly. When I finally did I couldn’t stop shooting it and it never left my side when I left the house! There was an excitement in the air and in my bones when that M9 arrived and it was due to not only the camera itself being my dream machine but the excitement from everyone else who was waiting for this camera. It was Special. Leica actually created a grand slam with the M9/X1/S2 releases and turned their whole business and profit around. Pretty amazing.

Leica succeeded in making 2009 THEIR year and even today they have been enjoying a huge success with M camera sell outs, and lenses that they can not seem to make fast enough. The prices are sky-high but even in this economy (that many say is so bad) Leica continues to sell out $11,000 lenses and $8000 bodies. On the other hand, the little camera that could, the Leica X1, is not doing so well these days. Sales have slumped for the last few months ever since the Fuji X100 release and prices on the used market have dropped quite a bit. Leica will need not only something new in the M line but also the X line. Who knows, maybe they will shock us and release an all new line of camera :)

Then again, I am also worried about the $$ situation as they seem to raise prices any chance they get and it is starting to get to the point where I am being priced out of the cameras wether I like it or not, and I know many out there feel the same because I hear it all the time. I am not rich by any stretch of the imagination but I own a Leica M9P and a couple of lenses. Why? Well, mainly because I feel a connection to this brand we call Leica, and I also happen to think the output is still today 2nd to none. Yes, I really do. I have bonded with my M like many of my fellow M shooters who are reading this very article. It has given me the best photos and memories of my life so for me, the M will always be with me but if they release a new M at $10k or $11k, I am out.

THE REALITY OF TODAY

This is 2012 and it is no longer the “year of the Leica”, 2009. Cameras have evolved so fast over the past three years that many feel that the Leica M9 is now “old tech”. Sure it has a horrible “worst of the worst” LCD and yes it has a painfully slow buffer, and yes it is noisy (but usable) at ISO 2500. BUT what do we get in return when we put up with all of that? We get amazing file quality when using good lenses and that quality on many occasions has rivaled medium format. Slap on a Leica 35mm or 50mm and be amazed at the detail in your images. But then again we have to take a look at costs because we are talking about spending $7000-$8000 on just a camera BODY and spending that kind of cash TODAY, as in RIGHT NOW is tough. Especially when we have all of these new cameras on the way.

Yes! IN 2012 this is getting a bit tricky because we have cameras like the Fuji X-Pro 1, and I have to say that the more I see of it, the more amazing it appears in regards to image quality. The lenses are sharp and the file quality appears to be equaling the M9 in many of the samples I have seen to date. The styling is like an RF, and it even has a modern-day hybrid EVF/VF and a much better LCD. The Fuji IS NOT an RF but you can surely use your Leica glass on it and take advantage of it having no AA filter. The Fuji has even better color than the M9 and at 1/4 the price of an M9, it will be serious competition to those who have not yet gone with a Leica due to cost, but wanted to. Those who bought an M9 and had focus issues or cracked sensors or have become disappointed with the luxury brand for one reason or another  will flock to the Fuji X-Pro 1 (or even the new OM-D which also look phenomenal) in droves. Others simply see the X-Pro 1 as a viable alternative to the M9..those who are not diehard rangefinder shooters.

Many have been saving for an M9 or M9-P and I have heard from quite a few that they will take that savings and invest in the Fuji X-Pro 1 instead. Superb IQ, great styling, great lenses, 1/4 the cost. It makes sense. Even cameras like the NEX-7 are capable of amazing output with Leica glass attached. So what does this mean for Leica in 2012?

IT MEANS THEY BETTER ANNOUNCE SOMETHING SPECIAL, AND DO IT SOON.

Leica has not yet made any new product announcements but I am hoping and guessing they will do so very soon. If not, they will be in some big trouble as I predict their M9 sales will eventually slow down to a halt while everyone enjoys the new stuff from Fuji, Sony, and Olympus. There is a genuine excitement in the air about these new generation photographic machines in the photography world. Again, keep in mind I am not talking about die-hard Leica guys switching to Fuji, because people like me LOVE their M and will always have one. I am referring to that group of new customers Leica has not yet attracted and those who even went with an M to find it frustrating. I feel if Leica does not announce something amazingly special that this will NOT be their year and they may even lose some sales.

Will they announce a new X or M soon? I do not know… but one thing I hope for is that there is still someone at Leica with a creative mind and that they are really looking at what we want in a new model. I am not hoping for massive mega pixels or a new design. I am hoping for a more “mature” digital M. One that can focus accurately, one that has an LCD  that can let you know if you nailed focus when you look back at your image and one that can possibly have less noise at higher ISO. When you think about it..what CAN Leica do to create a HOME RUN camera?

BTW, I will have a review of the new Pentax K01 by the end of the weekend and the Fuji X-Pro 1 should be arriving to me SOON, so stay tuned! Like I said, this is the calm before the storm :)

Give me YOUR thoughts on what you are hoping to see from Leica. Leave your comments below!

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