The Leica X1 Revisited. Still the best in the small camera category!

Lately I have been having fun with my posts and reviews by shooting the little fun cameras like the Micro 4/3 bodies, the Sony NEX-5, and little Ricoh GRDIII. All this time I have not been giving my true love in the camera world, Leica, as much attention as I used to. One camera that is in the same category as all of these small body/big sensor bodies is the Leica X1, which I have not shot in quite a while..AND I now have the “itch” to do just that. (my review of the X1 can be seen here)

Problem is, I no longer own an X1 so I can’t but I did spend about three hours last night looking over some X1 photos that I shot during the time when I did own the camera. What I saw with the X1 pictures put those that I shot with the NEX and M4/3 bodies to shame. Really. The X1 is really the KING of these types of cameras, though it has its limitations that we all know about.

The Leica X1 is hands down the winner for overall Image Quality and beauty in a compact camera body. The crispness of the files, the colors, the high ISO performance are all beautiful. Where the X1 falls is in the auto focus department which is VERY slow when compared to todays compact cameras. The X1 is the most expensive of the small body/big sensor cams but if you want a camera that has the beauty, feel, and prestige that IS Leica, along with the best IQ you can get in a compact, the X1 is THE one to get. Keep in mind I am talking about small body/big sensor cameras here. If you want the REAL KING of digital 35mm, and have the cash then you want THIS.

As for the X1, It doesn’t matter that it has a fixed lens, for me at least. Heck, when I shoot the NEX-5 I always use the 16mm prime lens. When I shoot the Olympus E-P2 it seems I always use the Panasonic 20 1.7 or Oly 17. I’m a prime kind of guy so the fact that the X1 has a fixed 24 Elmarit, giving it a classic 35mm equivalent is actually a bonus. I am NOT a fan of zoom lenses. Period. Give me a prime ANY DAY of the week. If I need to zoom, I will use my feet 🙂 Prime lenses are just sharper and give better color and contrast.

Check out this out of camera JPEG from the X1. This was not from RAW but an OOC (out of camera) JPEG! Click on the image to see the real 100% crop and look at the detail the Leica lens pumps out…

How about a nice full size  out of camera file? Click on the image for the FULL size and check out the X1 detail

How about HIGH ISO? Even at ISO 3200 the files remain CRISP and detailed.

ISO 1600 is super crisp if exposed properly…


Damn, I’m tempted to sell off a camera or two to buy the X1 again. Really! I do know the AF speed is being improved in the upcoming firmware, but how much improvement there will be, I DO NOT know. The Fuji X100 is coming VERY soon and is poised to take on the Leica X1 by throwing in a viewfinder, faster AF, and also giving us that classic look that most Leica lovers LOVE! I guess I will wait for the X100 before I decide but something tells me it may not beat the X1 in the IQ department. I have yet to really see a small camera that can. This is where the X1 shines. It simply offers the best IQ in a small package that can go anywhere you go. C’mon Leica…let’s get this firmware released. If you can boost the AF speed I think there will be renewed interest in the X1!

The Leica X1 may not have video. It may have a low res LCD. The X1 also is no speed demon in any way. It’s not a sports camera, it’s not an action camera, yet it costs $1995.00.

What I like to call the X1 is a “Life Camera”. The one thing it does extremely well is record your life. Your memories. The images I have captured with the X1 seem to give me more smiles than those captured with the other small compact cameras. Hmmm. Maybe Leica DOES have some sort of magic going on in their factory 🙂

Here are some random shots from the Leica X1 that I may or may have not posted before. Either way I think they stand above the Micro 4/3 and NEX images I have posted recently. Enjoy! BTW, the Leica X1 is usually in stock at B&H Photo in ALL Black and the classic Grey. Dale Photo also has them in stock HERE. Of course Ken Hansen also has them and he can be reached via e-mail at Looks like Leica shipped out a bunch to their dealers recently!

The Ricoh GXR. Since posting this article a few hours ago I have had a few ask me about the Ricoh GXR that I really enjoyed (and purchased after testing) in comparison to the Leica X1. Well, this is a tough one. The GXR is up there with the best of the small body cameras with big sensors, meaning…it is just as good as the X1 in many ways, better in others but also worse in some ways! It has the same size APS-C sensor as the X1 and for the price of the X1 you can get the GXR body, the 28 f/2.5 module and the 50 f/2.5 module.

The main niggle I have with the GXR is the limited shutter speed in daylight. It maxes out at 1/1000s when you are shooting the lenses wide open. This makes shooting in daylight with shallow DOF problematic. Other than that, I did compare the two cameras HERE. I love them both and explain why in that article.

You know…I have also heard from a couple of sources this past week that Leica also has an ALL NEW camera they have been working on AND supposedly there are some prototypes floating around out there somewhere. I did some digging and rumor sites are claiming it is a full frame – rangefinder-less M9 style camera to be priced well under the M9. No rangefinder, more like an EVIL M. Hmmmm. Could be all BS and hot air but thought it was worth mentioning. You never know!

Enjoy and as always, click on any of the images below for a larger and much better view 🙂

UPDATE 2/23/11! I bought a Black X1 for myself…had to sell of some M4/3 gear but could not resist the charm and lure of the X1, plus I was able to get a deal from Ken Hansen. He has 1-2 more in stock if interested. Also bought the OVF for the X1 which is fantastic.

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    • The X1 had the best IQ of any X series camera. It’s just dog slow to use, was at launch and even more true today when compared to others. But the IQ is beautiful, and always will be.

  1. Brian,

    A while ago I decided to bin all my Nikon gear and bag of lenses in favour of some lighter gear and managed to get a good condition Leica X1. This is a great camera with very nice iQ. There are some frustrating aspects to it though, like the slow AF, but using the manual focus and getting used to knowing focus distances for subjects is the key. You won’t be sorry using a fixed lens either, you just zoom with your feet!

    Cheers, Mike

    • Mike,

      My wife is a semi-professional photographer, so I know exactly what you mean about ‘binning all that gear.’ The amount of stuff she carries around with her just to use her (already bulky) Canon DSLR… It often looks as if, rather than going out to take some photos, she’s setting off for a day’s fishing!

      I’ve used the Manual Focus on the X1 and it gives good results, but somehow I’m a little nervous of using it if there’s an image I definitely want to capture. I guess that’s another bad habit I’ve picked up from the old point-and-shoot. Note to self: Use the MF more.

      Whenever possible, I do zoom with my feet. But often I find the laws of physics (I can neither walk on water nor fly) or the laws against trespassing prevent me.

  2. Just to say I was inspired by this review to go and buy myself a (secondhand) X1.

    I haven’t regretted it – the quality of the images it produces (so far I’ve only worked in JPEG) is outstanding and I love its small size and the simplicity of its controls. Everything you want is on the top or the back of the camera, not buried inside a menu. Incidentally, my camera must have the firmware upgrade, because I find the auto-focus quick and reliable.

    The one thing I’ve struggled with is the fixed lens – I was spoiled by by previous camera; a point-and-shoot. There have been many times when I’ve seen a good subject but been unable to get close enough to it. Of course you can crop the image in post-processing, but it seems like a waste of all those pixels.

    As you can probably guess, I’m very much a photo-novice, but your site has inspired me. Thanks!

    • Hi I was inspired by Steves review and I bought an ex Demo X1 I haven’t regretted it either. Mine has the Firmware 2.0 update and I find the AF ok and it is such an easy camera to use with everything available to hand without searching through loads of menus. I am new to Digital Photography but did Roll Film photography years ago. I am pleased with the pictures I have taken so far. I agree the fixed focus can be a bit limiting but I do also have the V Lux 3 for when photographing at Air Shows or concerts. I think its a lovely camera and I am too inspired by this site. Regards Alan

  3. Dear Mr Huff,

    You are convinced me to buy this camera because it corresponds to a simple concept: have a good eye to shoot the good picture with a reliable camera equipped with an excellent lens and shutter.
    Thanks to this camera, no needs to spend a lot of hours behind a PC to obtain a good picture.
    Best regards,

    Philippe Nyssen
    Liège (Belgium)

  4. Steve,

    At last, a no nonsense review for the Leica X1 from someone who tells it like it is without all that annoying @#$11&* !!! jargon and graphs that we don’t understand anyway. The thing is, the image quality, colour, depth and detail is superb. Lets face it, we spend to much time post processing anyway, so out camera quality like this in my book is worth paying for. The camera is expensive and has some faults in other areas, these most could live with, if your pockets are deep enough!.

    Cheers, Mike

  5. Hey! I am just getting started in photography and purchased an X1 and was wondering something. With the black and white photos that you have on your site from the X1, are you taking these in color and then converting to B&W later or are you setting the X1 to B&W in the menu?

    Sorry for the beginner question.



  6. I had my thoughts about that:(…

    I really want to have something that produces good images,
    could anyone that has an x1 take a picture of their meal today;) ?
    It doesn´t need to be from above, just a nice pic som you can see the good stuff on the plate,i won´t judge your cooking…lol

    • Not food… but the bunch of flowers from approx. 40cm might be similar in structure 🙂

      • Thanks aadb!

        That wasn´t bad:)
        There is still some hope then… Do you chose the macromode in the menu or on a button or does it simple change to that mode when it´s close distance?

        The problem i can get is the angle while sitting down but life shouldn´t be too easy;)
        Biggest problem is always the light..

  7. Hi Steve and the rest of you!

    Thanks for destroying far too many hours reading about the x1, x100 and so on;)

    I was quite sure that i wanted the X1 due to the small size, it´s iq and the fact the it doesn´t scare people away but i waited for the x100,,,and waited and now it seems to be the better one but filled with a lot of bugs. This is telling me that i would take the x1 and maybe pick up a d800 this winter when it finally seems to arrive but:

    I will mostly use the x1 in restaurants shooting food as i´m more of a foodie than a photo-pro, how do you think it would work for that kind of photo?. It´s 30 cm close range is ok and the high iso will be useful as it´s often softened lightning and it´s discret look is a big plus when visiting stiff 3 star restaurants. Have I forgotten anything? Is it easy to take away the flash and does it save the setting if you shut it down?

    I am not thinking to much about the pricedifference- i just want a camera to spend some years with,,

    I really like your photos Steve!

    Thanks in advance!

    • Though I really love my X1, it is not a camera meant for close-up shots. If I recall well the minimum focusing distance in Macro Focus is still 40cm. Which still might suit you well since X1 files are easily cropped. But don’t expect any focused shots when holding your camera right over your plate…

      • I agree, the X1 is not a close up camera (neither is the new Fuji X100 or the M9 for that matter). For close up food, I would look into something like a Micro 4/3 camera – maybe an E-PL2 with a macro lens or even the 20 1.7.

        • Steve, why do you think the X100 is not a close-up camera? I find it pretty convenient for close-ups. It can focus really close, can handle low light decently and deliver great detail and colours. The only thing I would consider a disadvantage is its wide angle perspective, which can show a bit of distortion if handled without caution. In my humble opinion, it is not ideal for close-ups but will do in most non-critical situations.


  8. I heard the X100 is no match for the X1 in image quality. Although as a concept, an f2 lens leica lens would be nice. The thing that puts me off the X1 is not the price. Yes it takes great images and looks chic but it’s the lack of control over depth of field that puts me off every compact. I want that out of focus area.

    I have been spoilt. I own a Minilux film camera with a 40mm f2.8 that actually gives me some control over depth of field and will produce a fantastic out of focus area. Best part is that it cost less than $500 and I can load it with Velvia, Provia or any other film I choose to. Catch Up Leica and deliver what you could do not too long ago in a compact You can even by an Olympus XA1 for a $100 that is smaller than the X1 and control your depth of field better than the X1.

    Challenge for Leica. Make an X1 with a full frame sensor so the lenses behave as they should, put a 35f2 lens onto a body that is about the same size as say the old Leica IIIF and charge the same as the current X1. Then you’ll get my attention. Otherwise, I’ll spend the $2K on a 35mm f2 M lens (or even the Voigthlander 35mm f1.4 or Zeiss f2 35mm).

  9. Damn I was all set to get the X100 but from what I’m seeing on flickr I’m disappointed with it when shot wide open.

    The X1 suddenly is looking like the camera for me. Ever since selling my M8 I’ve longed for the IQ but something even more portable and with autofocus and a fixed lens so I’m not always switching lenses. I think I’ll be disappointed with the X100, I can just tell. Yes it has many features and a faster lens, but at the end of the day I want it to be sharp wide open as well.

    I’m going to hold off a little longer and wait for the detailed reviews of the X100, and see what the new X1 firmware does, but I can’t believe this but at present I’m going to be passing on the X100 after 6 months of waiting, IQ is king for me…

    • Consider that in order to compare apples to apples, you would have to compare the X1 wide open to the X100 stopped down to f2.8. I don’t know what the result would be, but fair is fair.

      • Agreed, fair point.

        I’ve trawled through everything I can find on Flickr for the X100 so far and very few if any photos have taken me back. The X1 however just keeps showing me photos that shock me with their clarity and ‘feel’.

        I can’t wait for Steves X100 review!

  10. Hi everyone / Steve,

    I am using a Canon 550D with EF28mm. I am loving my IQ but I have been dreaming about a Leica for a while now. Will the X1 match my current setup in IQ?


  11. I’ve shot with the X1 almost daily since it first came out. Bought the Ricoh GXR (+28mm & 50mm modules) and have just given it a week’s work out. I also use an M8 regularly and have bought (and sold) the GF1

    At this stage I would without any hesitation recommend the GXR over the X1.
    It’s faster, better built and, to my eyes, copes much better at higher ISO’s. At sub 800 speeds the X1 “may” have slightly better image quality, but I’m still on the fence over this.

    What seems to be crucial is the raw processor. I initally used Lightroom which gave average results.
    The new beta of silkypix 5 is much, much better.

    I really hope that the new fw for the X1 speeds things up but right now the GXR is the better photographer’s camera. At the moment, sadly, the X1 sits on the shelf. The X1 is also built less well (it’s been back to Leica already with stuck buttons) whereas the GRX is like a mini D3 (which makes it heavier and a bit bigger).

    The user interface and other touches currently leave the X1 standing:
    Manual focussing has a depth of field gauge on the screen.
    It remembers all setting including focus when turned off.
    The lens has a manual focus ring.
    The auto iso is vastly configurable
    It takes filters ! !

    One downside is that initially it has a huge number of options and settings – if you hate setting up cameras you won’t like this. But once set up, you can forget about the other options and get on with picture taking.

    It may well be that this love affair is temporary, in which case I’ll let you know asap . However, I’m currently deeply impressed with this camera.

    Some GXR examples at
    Some very high iso shots here – NR in silkypix turned off (save for false colour control)

    • Hey Farnesworth,

      Thanks for the review on your experience with the GXR, I was debating weather or not I should get that camera. I haven’t heard much about this camera. The X100 is mighty tempting as well.

  12. Steve,

    I forgot to ask, how is the IQ of the X1 compares to the D700 with the 85mm 1.4D ? I remembered reading that you used to own this combo. I hope that it’s close enough between the two.

    • The D700 and 85 are TOTALLY different to the X1. Totally different kind of camera and lens. The wider angle 35 2.8 equiv on the X1 would never give the effect and look of an 85 1.4. The X1 is for those who want a small, light, take anywhere with huge IQ (who do not shoot action!)

      • I was afraid you would say just that. In any case, I’ve looked more or less all the photos and comments about the X1 that you have posted, and I definitely want one as long as there is enough AF improvement.


      • Tuan, I agree with Steve. I used to own the D700/85 combination and now I have an X1 (well, my wife has it). They are totally different beasts but I think they could complement each other very nicely. Not in terms of image ‘character’ or ‘look’ but in terms of versatility and overall quality. Besides, I find 85mm and 35mm to be a perfect match. You could continue using your D700 for any low light, portrait and fast shooting and the X1 as a pocket carry-everywhere solution. And with Leica (hopefully!) improving X1’s AF performance you may also find it suitable for some occasional children photography.

        Both cameras are great. Their IQs are in the same league from image quality standpoint, just the ‘look’ is different as well as application. They would be a good mach.

        I don’t see much sense of having, say, an M9 and X1 at the same time because versatility-wise they don’t really complement each other. But D700 and X1 are a great combination, in my view.


        • Hi Greg,

          Thanks for the advice first of all. I have no plan to get rid of the D700 and 85mm combo. I am however going to let go of the 17-35mm since it’s even heavier than the 85mm, and the IQ from that lens is only ok.


          • Tuan, I didn’t suggest you should get rid of your D700 and 85mm. I did so myself because I’ve decided that I only wanted to shoot rangefinders, not because there was any flaw in my Nikon system. It was great but not for me. Like you said the M9 was great but you didn’t feel it was suitable for your style of shooting. My situation is just the reverse.

            I used to have the 17-35mm zoom but never really liked it. I preferred the 14-24mm. But anyway, I never really liked zoom lenses and mostly used primes. My most used zoom was 80-200 with that excellent Kenko 1.4x teleconverter for some extra reach. But still, that zoom amounted to only about 5-10% of my photography. My favorite lenses were 35/2, 50/1.2 and 85/1.4. The rest of my lenses mostly stayed at home collecting dust and losing their monetary value over time. But then I sold it altogether and switched to a rangefinder system.

            I love shooting kids, by the way, and at first I was a bit uncomfortable with my rangefinder gear, but not for long. Even with Nikon I would prefer manual focusing to AF, so my adjustment to RF was rather quick. I now can shoot kids just fine with my M9. It just needed a bit of getting used to in the beginning. If you ever decide to give M9 another shot (no pun intended) give it a little more time and you may finally feel comfortable enough shooting your kids with it.


  13. Morning Steve,

    I have been waiting to buy the X1 for months now. As soon as there is confirmation that the firmware improves the AF issue as little as 50%, I am would buy it. I have been shooting with D700, 85mm 1.4D, and 17-35mm 2.8 for a long time, and just want something small enough to carry around on trips. If there is not much improvement for the AF issue, I just can’t see myself using it since I mostly take pictures of my kids. I once owned an M9 with the chrome 50MM Lux, and had to sell it because I couldn’t focus fast enough and ended up with less then 20% useful shots. I loved the IQ of that camera, hence wanting a small version of the M9.

  14. Without question, the image quality of the X1 is the best. If that were the whole description of the camera, and I had more money than I need, I would have bought one already.
    Sadly, it has no viewfinder, so it’s nearly useless in bright sunlight, and it’s $2000 instead of $1000,
    so it’s stupidly overpriced for what it offers.
    I’ll be waiting for the Fuji X100, or maybe for the X2.

  15. I don’t think there will be a firmware update for the X1. It shouldn’t take well over a year to come up with a software fix for the slow AF issue. As software developer, I can tell you that if it took that long chances are there is none otherwise they would have released it already.

    • There is indeed a firmware update coming in March. I spoke directly to Leica about this. AF improvement and better MF implementation being the two key improvements. Unless they are lying to me, which would not be so good as it would come back to bite them in the rear! I have my doubts about any real serious AF speed improvements but we shall see.

      • Thanks for the info. I’ll wait for the update and if it delivers, I’ll keep the X1. If not, there will be a happy buyer somewhere. I was an early adopter, but as excellent as the X1’s IQ is, I got a little tired over its substandard AF speed and crippled MF implementation. As it stands now, it is not a camera which inspires to snap around.

        • I think we’ll keep our X1 in any case. I keep grumbling about its slow AF but it might even be an advantage it you look at it from the creative angle. It kind of gives you another chance to rethink your picture prior to taking it. Not suitable for sport or street photography but quite alright for just about any other type.

          I remember actually not taking some shots due to this ‘second chance’ thing. With everything super fast and automatic in a camera you end up coming home with a 1000 pictures not knowing what to do with them…

          I enjoy ‘large format’ mentality of taking the time to compose, think about the light and exposure and many other things prior to pressing that shutter button. And, as a result, coming back home in the end of the day with just a few pictures, or maybe even one. Or none at all… But those few pictures somehow leave a deeper impression in your heart than a 1000 nervous-decease-induced ones!

          I want to have a permanent copy in my heart for each and every image I take with my camera. Long live slow photography!

          Greg Shanta

          • Agreed! But the X1 can get into ones way. Unlike an M, which becomes the extension of eye and arm, responds immediately and does exactly what I want it to do. With the M, I’m the slowest part in the equation. With the X1, it’s the damn camera which, at times, doesn’t allow me what I intend to do.

          • I shoot M9 and I’m perfectly happy with it. X1 belongs to my wife but sometimes I take it out, too. Of course, an M camera is way better in all respects! I was just trying to make a point of the need to slow down and be more contemplative. Half-jokingly, I was using the X1’s limitation as an example of how it could be used as an advantage. But in serious photography you want a quick, responsive camera, no doubt.

            If you have an M camera and you’re comfortable with rangefinder-style shooting why would you need anything else, like X1, X100 or whatever? I have an X1 available in my house, so I take it out for fun sometimes. But my main and only camera is M9.


  16. I tried out the Leica x1 yesterday (the shop owner allowed me to use my own memory card) and after reviewing them on my home PC the photos just don’t seem as sharp as those from my girlfriends GF1 with the 20mm lens, I like the Sony nex camera but it just feels a bit too small.

    has anyone here have or has used the Ricoh gxr with the 28mm lens sensor kit?

    I’m visiting home in Germany next weekend so I may wait and see if a local shop has the Ricoh in stock for me to try out

    • Howard,

      The sharpness is pretty close on the gf1 and x1.. but it depends on some variables. Did you shoot jpg or raw? Also, there are some differences in the bodies (I own both).. the gf1 is faster to operate.. the x1 has better high iso (though sort of offset with the faster lens since they give similar dof/fov).

      The gf1 is considerably heavier – and doesn’t do long exposures as well, imo.. has better af, worse colors in raw and jpg.

      Overall they are somewhat close, but, the handling of the x1 is imo superior, though the usage is slower. The x1 is also pocketable (cargo shorts in az) where the gf1 is not.

      • Hello azX1

        I took photos in digital raw and jpeg which my girlfriend processed and printed for me, both cameras produced excellent photographs but the GF1 seemed sharper edge to edge.

        I visited the camera shop again today to order the Ricoh gxr, the people at the camera shop have been very patient with me and all of my questions so I thought it good that I should purchase through them however when I went to the shop there was a sales man from Fuji displaying their new compact camera which I had chance to hold a shoot with for 10 minutes.

        I really like the new Fuji and if the photos I took with it look better than the GF1 then I might order it tomorrow.

        its funny that after my father offered me his old digital Leica and I declined it that I am now buying a camera which looks like it although this one has auto focusing and video which is something that I wanted

  17. I have been reading that leica rumors website, and can’t think this would be true.

    They still state it would be a solution for the R mount, but why would leica combine big SLR R lenses on a small body when they also have the small M lenses?

    And it seems to me the only reason rumors like this go round, is because people who can’t afford the M system want a Leica to. Like asking Rolls making a low budget car…

    BTW Steve, great shots!. I wonder how the X100 will stand against this. The first X100 pics I saw looked awfully. No contrast at all.
    But the latest pics look a lot better..

  18. If $2000.00 gets you “The Leica Experience” complete with slow AF and no option for a future EVF, that’s an experience I don’t need.

    Sorry, the X1 IQ is no better than the NEX with better glass…at least not by my experience with both cameras. There’s no mystic extra something with this Leica.

    • Nothing “Mystic” but you do get much better detail, crispness, color balance and a certain look to the X1 photos that is absent in any other small body larger sensor camera. The only one that is as good IMO is the Ricoh GXR with 28mm module. The NEX 5 really cant give you a 35mm equivalent lens that beats the X1. We would need something like the 24 Elmarit on the NEX-5 with adapter and then we are talking huge, MF only so just as slow, more expensive at over $3k for the lens alone and still no EVF and possibly not even equaling the IQ of the X1.

      It is what it is. The X1 is a simple, basic picture taking machine. No video, no blazing speed…but it does have a great OVF that is actually very good in use and the IQ is about as good as it gets in the small compact/big sensor category.

      I’ll be keeping my NEX-5 as I believe future glass like the Zeiss wide angle will be superb. At least I hope so!

        • I agree with Jim. Now why do we want a 35 mm equivalent, the Biogon 21=32mm is doing great on the NEX5 and you can get the whole thing for about the same as the X1 with the option of putting a 90mm (any version will do since this is not an M9) and the Cron 35=52mm (close enough to 50) with very good results. And now why is an M9 as fast as a reflex AF to focus and the NEX is now slower than an X1, same manual. And don’t forget, the Leica experience is manual focus. On top of it, you can prefocus your M lens and snap around with results equivalent to any prefocussed camera (we agree that it is never as good as proper focusing). Anyways, Yes I think the X1 gives very good results but keep in mind that the future lenses you are waiting for to go with your NEX are already in your gear bag… And yes Sony screwed up on the EVF, they have the technology and this lill cam would look so mean with an external EVF. And yes the X1 can be fitted with a $400 OVF since you are using only one focal and the thing is autofocus. I love those discussions it helps me see my own priorities….

  19. I played around with an X1 this past weekend. Nice little camera, but the AF was painfully slow. There is no way I would spend $2k for such poor AF performance. I am excited to see what the X100 will deliver. The X100 is one sexy looking camera!

  20. dp review handeled both the x1 and fuji x 100 and gave a slight edge to the x 100 in quality and
    ” beauty as an object”………… they gushed about the quality of build ,… i think the x 100 will out do the x 1 in most regards, and at least match iq at regular isos and surpass it at demanding isos
    the psam implimation in the 2 machines is very similar and thats a very good thing
    at 800 cheaper usd , 12800 iso ,panorama in camera, and f2 rather than 2.8 , and the amazing dual finder,…. its the smart decision

  21. One nice thing about the x1 – it doesn’t scare the shelter dogs.. If/when it speeds up I can use it even more there!


      • Very nice shot 🙂

        I really enjoy the x1 for learning too.. nice simple.. and aside from slower af, when an image comes out messed up.. pretty clear I did it 🙂 Clearly I have a way to go.. and the x1 has been a nice camera to work with. I’m looking forward to seeing the update, and hope it does bring up the speed.. I also tend to zone a bit, so a scale change would be nice.


          • I’ll say! I like the rendering of that lens a lot.. though I know some complain… looks good to me 🙂

          • Very nice and moody. Was that an in cam bw? I tend to forget how capable the jpg’s are, especially high contrast bw – has a very nice feel (regardless of whether this was or not, just overall!).

          • Yes, X1 makes excellent b/w jpegs. In most cases I just throw away the dng from the pair (I always tend to shoot X1 set to high-contrast b/w). But in this case I kept the dng part because I wanted to bring exposure down couple of stops to bring out that ‘ray from the sky’ look. Another reason I prefer out of camera jpegs with X1 is that it’s always a pain in the butt with ACR trying to bring it to the same level of sharpness. Probably due to still undeveloped camera profile, I don’t know. I use LR for my workflow and it just sucks with X1’s dngs. Not so with M9, though, so I think it must be a camera profile issue.


    • I doubt that, Sergio. X100’s sample pictures are not convincing so far I can see. Besides, X1 is smaller and pocketable. Besides, it’s a Leica… We’ll see, we’ll see…


  22. Hey i´m armenian from Argentina !! nico t meet another Greg !! For some reason i need know i will not get another camera with out a viewfinder, the worst problem i have with my GF1 is the lack of it. By the way i have like 30.000 u$S in nikon equipment , a complet set of Mamiya 7 and also the GF 2 with all the lumix lenses, i buy in Ny on my trips and i sell used in ARgentina more expensive than new ( this is why i invest so much money on lenses ) but the true is i will love a leica M9 or M8 or an X1 with a viewfinder. if not i know is not the camera for me.


    • Nice to meet you too Greg! I bet Argentinian Sun is treating you better than what we get here in Russia.

      Viewfinder is cool, no doubt about it. I shoot mostly M9 and I too feel somewhat uncomfortable when I get to shoot a viewfinder-less camera, like my wife’s X1. But then, quickly I get carried away by the picture-taking spirit and forget all about it. Humans are very adaptable. I love the images that little Leica makes and I’m willing to put up with it being without a viewfinder. Great quality image is a perfect reward for whatever inconvenience you have to go through in the process of making it.


  23. Hello guys,

    Thanks Steve for cool revisit of what I think is a very good camera. I wanted the X-1 thinking I could this was as close to a Leica I could ever own. Then I jumped and bought an M8.2. Great cam, very nice pics I bought nice glass with it: Summicron 35 and Biogon 21. Then came the NEX5. It is the only small cam on which I could fit my M glass and the excellent G2 Zeiss lenses (28mm and 45mm). I think for the little loss in IQ, the NEX5 is still a better buy since it gives you the chance to build the lense quiver and learn how to use them within their limitations. A biogon 21 or 35 and a NEX is cheaper than the X1. A cron 35 and the NEX5 is just a tad tiny bit more expensive than the X1. 4 years after you purchase your X1, where does the glass go? Anyways, this site made me think that photo equipment should not be disposable. My LX4 in 2-3 years will be disposed of, like my APS ELF has been disposed of, i gave my N70 to a local photo club and my sister will likely throw my old Canon G3 pretty soon. Last year I gave my G9 to my bro his camera let him down during a trip up here in Canada (he lives in Australia). Anyways, I feel the Leica and Zeiss glass is doing a great job at stopping me from throwing cameras away, at least throwing lenses away. The X1 is not doing that and I feel that the E mount is a good answer to that and the day we get an X1 with an E-mount (or equivalent), I will be the first one to own an X1. These lenses when prefocused would solve any focusing speed there might be with the X1… Cool little Cam, I hope it evolves in the right way and don’t bust like the Digilux that was a great attempt ahead of its time.

    • Hey Francis, thanks for reading the site! I appreciate it 🙂 The X1, IMO, is a better buy than a NEX and Biogon. Why? Because it will give you a real Leica experience. I have shot many leica lenses on the NEX-5 and for some reason just never could get into it. Sure, it’s better than the Sony glass for the NEX but even so, we are still not seeing the quality that the X1 puts out. Four years after an X1 purchase you will still have an X1, which will be as good as it is today. The glass on the X1 is fantastic, probably it’s best feature.

      I enjoy the NEX, I enjoy the Ricohs and I enjoy the PEN’s..heck, I enjoy them all! BUT at the end of the day, IQ wise, the X1 just has that little bit more in the small camera arena. Tiny, light, quiet (the NEX is LOUD!), great AWB and color, and the IQ is so crisp, clean and has the brilliance we come to expect from Leica.

      It’s slow as Molasses at times but I am confident Leica will improve it somewhat with the FW update coming in March.

      The little NEX is staying with me for video and the swivel screen but I may be selling off my M4/3 stuff to go back to the X1 for my high IQ traveling companion.

      When we throw the Fuji X100 into the mix it may all change though 🙂

      • If the X1 had some usable manual focus, then it might be one for me.

        If you don’t get the results you like from a NEX with a Biogon or Leica lens attached, then the match wasn’t meant to be.

        For my dslr (a 20D), the backlighting on my screen died and my Canon lens started to malfunction, so I put a Zeiss Planar 85/1.4 on it and now use it like I do with film.

        It’s a pain sometimes, good thing is, I barely use my dslr anymore.

      • Hey Steve,

        I agree fully with you that the X1 is more of a Leica experience and the output (geeze, files, output, seems so far from photography as an art) is much more Euro/clean room, natural than with any of its asian competitors. The NEX gives very contrasty, over the top colors sometimes. You know what I think I would like to see the X1 with Controls on the lense (focus and aperture). I think this what I got from my experience with the M8.2… get in control and definitely, walk around instead of zooming. From what I see up here, The X1 gives more cinematographic results, a tad less videoish of some of the japanese. I sold the M8.2 to fund an M9 (or will I wait for the next gen I dunno). But I was happy to do so because the NEX gave me the chance to use lenses the way I like to use them: with controls at the fingertip. As far as 4/3 are concerned, I think they came with great lill cams but they are too close to a real compact (s95, D-Lux4-5) and too far to larger sensor pretty much the same size (NEX, X1, X100) to mesh with my heart. The Ricoh M module will add to the equation but it was not available last summer. In 2 years we’ll see what can take my M Glass. So should I take the cash from my M8.2 to buy an X1 given that I use my M’s on the NEX, not really, better pile it up and get the M9 (or its sucessor if I am not ready on time). Funny how gear talk is now a huge part of fun…

  24. An X1 picture I took today… one of the great things of this camera is it being so unobtrusive,,,


    • It’s hard to dislike the x1’s ‘noise’ too.. the more I shoot, the more I see the benefit, maybe I get too carried away with clean files

      I’m not sure if it was added in post, but it really suits the shot well.

  25. Hello Steve and thanks for your article.

    Owning both an M8.2 and an X1 I have some reserves concerning their IQ comparison.

    On the quick test I posted on DPR below and on personal experience there is a noticeable difference between the two cameras when used for landscapes or in scenes with lots of details considering the relatively low resolution output.
    At low ISO, the M8 with good glass seems to be able to pull the best out of 10 MP compared to most of the other camera on the market today with a relatively obsolete sensor technology.



  26. All i can say is that i worried and wondered about buying an x1 for a couple months.
    I bought one and am totally crazy about it. I love how small it is and packs huge wallop .
    Why shouldn’t a small camera cost more than a big one? A lot of the cost is because of how small it is.

    Shot below is 1600 iso

  27. “…..I read somewhere yesterday that the new firmware will definitely be available for d/l next month…..”
    Oh really?! That’s the first time I read about a X1 firmware update… and that sooooon! 🙂
    Forget it folks. Read my lips “noway!”.

  28. Someone knows if i can use a radioflash with the Leica x1?
    It would be perfect to make my portraits with a shiny 500 synchronized with a good cactus radioflash…

  29. I have a nex-3, but i just bought a Leica X1.
    I don`t mind about the slow focus, but it does not exclude my expectations about the new firmware.
    In fact, what convinced me was the IQ and the Leica Red Dot.
    With 2000 dollars we can buy some things really nice, indeed, but with less than that we can’t buy a leica.
    And when we want a leica, its not about to buy only a good camera.

  30. Seems like you got a good copy of the x1. But mine had horryble contrast, was much softer at 2,8 than the epl1 at 1,7 while having thorn edges, iso 1600 in dimm light with colored hotpix all over, iso noise getting worse when the cam was in use for a while (same pic at same conditions looked much noisier after using the can for an hour) mistirious bright light in the right corner, electronic IS produced an totaly underexposed picture, flash pix mostly totaly overexposed in automode…

  31. Steve,

    Could you give me the link where i can buy the best leica 35mm in your opinion and the nex-3 lens adapter to it, so you can win the sale credits.


  32. To be honest for me this is in the 2000 u$S category ! to much money for this, if you want to spend so much money you have better options !! what about a used M8 ? or a Nikon d7000 ? This nice litle camera make no real sense to me.

    I have a Canon s90 , a Lumix Gf1 and a D700. and i love them all for some reason. i maily use primes.


    • Well, yea..$2k is alot of money but let’s break it down a bit. The X1 IMO should come in at $1495, not $1995 but it is what it is. A Leica.

      The X1 provides the IQ of an M8 with 24 Elmarit (but better high ISO) for thousands less. It’s also much smaller and comes with a nice leather strap as well.

      Sure one can buy and M8 if they want the versatility of swapping lenses but some like to shoot with a camera that is small as possible while still retaining high quality. The X1 will be better image quality wise than your S95 and GF1 but of course slower to AF (for now).

      The X1 and M8 are two different beasts, which one wants will depend on size, feel, and most importantly, quality and cost. Many buy the X1 because they can not afford a used M8 with a lens, let alone more than one lens.

      But yea, I feel if they priced the X1 at $1495 it would be just right for what it is (A Leica that puts out Leica quality in a small beautiful package)


        • Since it includes an Adobe Lightroom download, I suppose there really could be a cheap option to get one without the software. Most people already have some sort of Photoshop version running that works well with the ooc dng files. I bought mine second-hand, which immediately dropped the price significantly without another Lighroom license available.

      • I agree with this and would like to add an element of complication. I believe our sense of what is “right” for a price is based on globalized manufacturing processes that distort the honest cost of things. If the X1 was completely manufactured in Germany (key word completely) it would honestly cost maybe $4k. But again if it was completely manufactured in a chinese sweatshop it may cost $500.

        However, it may not be a permanent distortion of prices and rather a delay of cost- there is another cost to those kinds of labor practices for both the communities they take place in and for the communities that lost those jobs, along with the latent ramifications of those and other affects upon quality of living, culture, society, health, justice, etc etc.

        • What b*ll*cks, with all due respect. The punters, that’s you, me and your neighbors, want quality at an affordable price. What’s dishonest about that? You don’t have anything manufactured in China in your possession because that would be dishonest?

          • No you misunderstand. I’m using “dishonest” with pricing in the sense that the prices we expect to pay things are not reflective of their actual cost to all of us.

            On the one hand, typical products in this day in age have dishonest / misleading prices because it takes really exploitative manufacturing processes in China, raw material extracts elsewhere, and production chain processes around the globe to reduce the price to what we now consider “acceptable” (which was also defined conventionally around the gradual implementation of these production processes). Based on those cost of living is calculated with salaries and wages adjusted accordingly (so it really does become what’s “affordable”).On the other hand, while we feel as though we are saving money, those of us not living in China loose jobs by buying supporting those practices in our purchases (affecting taxes, and quality of life on a large scale), and those working in the factories also pay a high price. The high costs are there, just latent and diffused.

            As to your point, yes just like “fast food” and “fast fashion” (H&M, Zara) many products today are meant to be “disposable” rather than durable, to reduce costs, but you end up buying them over and over again. I wasn’t speaking to that point though- I think that kind of camera is below the quality level of both the X1 and the X100.

            I am a bit hypocritical however. While I purchased the X1, I couldn’t afford it in the U.S., so I purchased it from Austria when the Euro was down this Summer. I paid just over $1300 for it with shipping. I thought about it a long time (Tax in Chicago was 10.25% at the time) because I do enjoy the benefits of local taxes, but in the end I decided to make one exception or else be unable to afford it. I purchase about everything else locally though (except school books or anything else I can get from Amazon or B&H because they ship for free and I use Steve’s links to support him).

      • Well, if the dollar hadn’t fallen out of bed and hit its head on the dresser over the past 5 years the X1 WOULD be 1495….Remember when the DMR initial price was 4k?

    • Greg, I agree, $2000 is way too much for a compact camera. But some people just love Leica. My wife and I got lucky and bought ours for $800. I don’t think we would ever agree to pay full price for it. We’d get a Nex-5 instead.

      Some people don’t mind paying top dollar, though. I just saw a Hermes M7 today in the Mall here in Moscow for a whopping $14000! I don’t know who in their right mind would pay that much for a mechanical Leica with some fancy yellow strap. OK, there was a Lux 35 ASPH included in the kit, that’s $5K. But still, $9K for a film camera? Crazy!

      I don’t see M8 or D7000 as substitutes for X1 just because you can buy them with the same amount of money. Those are incomparable categories. You can buy lots of nice things for $2000.

      Nice to see an Armenian name here, Greg. I’m Armenian, too, living in Moscow, Russia.


  33. The IQ of the X1 is nice, but I don’t think it’s better than an Nex 5 with Zeiss glass. High ISO shooting may even be better on the NEX. It’s all subjective anyway

    • Jim, Nex 5 and Zeiss go along very nicely. I mean, I tried it with some Zeiss ZM glass and it was great. I’m sure when Sony finally releases the dedicated Zeiss lenses they will be great, too. Could be even better than X1. Remains to be seen, though. I’m sure Nex 5 would shine with top Leica M glass. Don’t have any to test, though. Maybe Steve could try some out and tell us all how it goes?


    • I have to say that I often use my nex with a Zeiss lens and the optical results are really great…but as a camera for candid photography the Nex is too damned loud…that shutter clacks like a garbage can lid… A great combo for landscape, but a people camera it is not.

  34. If only the X1 could either be set to hyperfocal or just have a faster autofocus…. this would be the champion of the compacts. Sony…. please get your act together and have Zeiss produce your lenses. I had NEX3 and it was the poor quality lenses that had me trade the thing in….. Steve, great article as always !!

  35. This is what I have been thinking all time. I regret I bought the E-PLE 1 instead of the X1. And people believe Fuji will compete with Leica?

    • To me the PENS and the Leica X1 are completely different classes of camera. Sure the PEN’s can kind of do what the X1 does if you own the Panasonic 20mm pancake lens, but IMO they are better suited for people that only want to own one camera. Due to the versatility of interchangeable lenses they can fill that role nicely; where as an X1 or the Fuji X100 can only compliment a DSLR or M9…well, that is unless you are ok with using a single focal length for every single shot. Which I can’t imagine anyone would be. Even Henri Cartier-Bresson changed lenses sometimes.

      I’m not really sure why you doubt that Fuji can compete with the X1 based on your opinion of Olympus. The X100 has no more in common with the PEN’s then the Leica X1 does. The X100 uses the same size sensor as the X1, should have much better AF, build quality is close, and it obviously has a view finder. That last bonus would easily counter in slight IQ deficit it might have in comparison to the X1 to me.

      • Eric, sometimes convenience can be very tempting, even to the point of thinking that it’s all right if some image IQ could be sacrificed for its sake. I felt that way many times. I used to have a D700 prior to switching to rangefinders and I must tell you that, apart from the D700 being on the bulky side along with all its glass, it is a greatly convenient camera to use. Ergonomics wise and in some areas, image wise (like hight ISO) it could easily wipe the floor with both Leica M9 and all of the compact cameras discussed here, combined. But I still gave it up because it just wasn’t my style of shooting, as I figured. And I just love the image quality I can get from my M9 at base ISO. I couldn’t achieve that even with D700.

        Ergonomically, the X100 is obviously better, apart from being a bit bigger, than X1 or Nex-5. The sensor is also virtually the same, although Fuji claims that their sensor had some special work done on it for matching it to the lens. But the images that we’ve seen so far are not up to the expectation.

        Ergonomics are great: viewfinder, fast AF, better MF and all that. But in the end it all boils down to what kind of image you can squeeze out of a camera, no matter how hard you have to work for that. If you put two printed images side by side and one is obviously better than the other, then the choice of instrument is kind of obvious.

        Sometimes we have to make up for the lack of certain goodies in a camera. Like, if we want to zoom in we use our legs instead of compromising image quality by using inferior optics of a zoom lens. And so forth. There’s no viewfinder in the X1 but there’s a screen you can look at and compose your picture that way. The Sun is too bright? Too bad… but you can find some workaround and still get your perfect shot. We are spoiled by choice and convenience to the point that we sometimes forget why we do what we do in the first place.

        I just saw a modern replica of the Barnak Leica today and it made me think. It didn’t have any normal viewfinder (apart from some simple frame on top) and of course, no digital monitor either. Still, Herr Barnack managed to shoot some great pictures with it.

        I’m concerned with images and images alone. Of course, I try to chose the tool that I feel comfortable with but not at the expense of image quality.

        Sorry for such a long post, Eric. It’s almost one in the morning here in Moscow and my mind is already in bed while my mindless body is still at the computer.


  36. It’s funny you posted this today, after I had to pick a camera this morning for a little assignment and stood there like a woman in front of her shoes. I picked the Leica X1 to bring with me, since it’s compact and has great low-light capabilities. I really do love the X1 a lot despite all that’s been said already.

  37. I can’t wait to see how it compares to the Fuji X100. On paper, IMO the X100 wipes the floor with the Leica, and is $800 cheaper to boot. Can’t wait to see you compare them.

  38. I would consider an X1 for the size and image quality, but will wait for the firmware update.

    Stephen, those Nikkormat shots are awesome! One of my main cameras is an old Nikon F2 and I love it.

  39. So what’s the deal with the delays in getting the new firmware out, IF there’s one? Leica knows that the slow AF is the one weakness everyone talks about. They should have remedied that eons ago, unless of course, it cannot be adressed via firmware. Or maybe the X2 is just around the horizon. So Leica does not want to cannibalize the sales of the X2 by offering a firmware that would allow the X1 to have X2 capabilities (a la Apple). C’mon Leica, if there’s a new firmware improving AF, release it. I’d buy the black X1.

  40. Steve,
    I own an E-P2 and an X1 and a g11 as “small” cameras. Plus some bigger like the M9, DSLR and even bigger.
    When I want to go small it is most often the x1 over the E-P2 and g11.
    First it is smaller and lighter than the E-P2. Second it is near quiet. third it has better dynamic range. 3. it has a very simple user interface which I like a lot 4. (and quite important) the AF is slow but pretty accurate. Plus the Spot-focus function is something important to me. The E-P2 AF-point is so big that I sometimes dont know if the camera focuses on the nose or the eye. Better with the x1 IMO.
    So yes, even though its really slow and not so great for action (here the E-P2 is much faster/better) the x1 is my favorite compact.
    Recently, when my 2nd daughter was born the first images I took was the X1, because its unobstrusive and silent.
    I still like the M8/9 IQ better than the cmos of the x1, but the IQ is fine. When I first had the x1 I wanted to sell it again. But it grew on me quite a bit and I have taken many images with it allready.
    What I also like is that one can enter flash compensation, exp compensation, etc. very fast.

    Recently I added the grip (which I didnt like in the beginning) and now its also great for one handed shooting. The x1 is expensive and somewhat slowish but I like it a lot.

  41. and now the Nikkormat with Delta 100.
    [img] and Gran, Nikon, Delta 100.jpg[/img]

  42. Wow, opening up the above pictures large shows their true power. I am not sure of the rest of you but I sometimes just look at the pictures in the compressed form on the actual article/post but that does not do it justice by some margin. Do yourself a favour and open them up large.

    Talking of image quality though and bang for buck, what about an Nikkormat 30 years old and a decent scan of Portra and Delta 100. I normally shoot an M7 but my father visited with this Nikkormat and I was jus blown away by the quality. My M7 is faster to use but darn, the image quality of the Nikkormat made me do a double take… Now I want one of these for myself!

    [img], Nikon, Portra.jpg[/img]

  43. Steve,

    Agree with you 100%. If you can accept the limitations, hopefully greatly reduced in the forthcoming firmware update, the X1 is a great camera. If you can’t live with the limitations, look elsewhere.

    No camera is perfect, including the X1.

    Although your recent post on the Lumix 14mm has had me looking into a GF1/14/20 set up. Just for flexibility, you understand. 🙂

  44. Hi Steve,

    What about the color ooc of the X1 compared to the color of the Pens? I hate spending hours post-processing photos at home and this is one of the reasons why I love my EP-1, the colours are great!


  45. @ Greg

    I saw another article the other day where there was an arctic trip and the guy took his MP along because of the the problems associated with electronics and those sort of temps. Personally, I would take the X1 and an MP/M6… any mechanical M with probably a 35 cron and a Tri-Elmar (16 – 21). That and some Velvia, Ekachrome and Portra 160NC with some VC too. Just imagine getting home and developing that load! Actually, that is one of the best things about film. You go on a great trip and then while everyone else is coming down thinking of having to go back to work… you are chomping at the bit to get back and develop! 🙂

    • Stephen, I love the visual esthetics of film but don’t shoot it for ethical reasons (it contains gelatine). Alas…

      If I could shoot film, I know what I’d like: mechanical Leica for street and travel and large format for portrait and landscape. Dream on, dream on…


      • Agree! Would love to take a year and just shoot Yosemite on large format. Can you imagine! Actually, that is what I will do when my ship comes in 😉

        • Good luck with your ship, Stephen! Mine will come, I guess, when there will be an affordable digital large format solution. Then I’ll just go and loose myself in the woods or in some good person’s eyes (I love portrait and I think large format is the way to go)!

          But, guess what! I already have a greatest portable camera system built right into my own head and the best possible image storage solution with endless capacity, life-time archiving potential and great embedded PP engine. I tend to forget that sometimes…

          Better go to the woods now.


  46. Yeah. Quality is nice but they are daylight shots. Should it aspire to life recorder then show us what it can do at 1600 ISO. Street cats often zone focus so very quick manual focus ( i would prefer real manual) is de rigeur. Start up time must be like prof DSLR. No collapsing lens barrel ( ever had an issue with fine sand grains jamming telescoping barrel, not something to be experienced in Namib desert) . If so let me do it manually. I turn the ring, lens rides out, camera powers on. Better still fixed barrel. If it`s problem with focal then go down to 28mil (resolution would allow for cropping). Fixed barrel would permit waterproofing thus turning it into real Leica adventure cam. As it is now X1 is stuff for Leica fun oldboys and nice ladies. Krepko pozdrawlaju Stanis

    • Stanis, I agree with you. X1 is not a perfect street camera, not even close. It’s image quality is great but that’s not enough to qualify for a street-shooter’s dream toy. Fuji X100, ergonomically, looks much more promising but it’s IQ potential is still an open question. Besides, it’s a tad too big compared to Leica X1. Which wouldn’t be an issue for me, being used to M9. But for my better half with her elegant little hands, X1 is just perfect size wise.

      Leica, are you listening? We all want an X2 up to Stanis’s specs! Plus, make it more afordable, please!

      Stanis, I guess, your ‘best wishes’ in Russian were addressed to me. Thanks. Same to you. Do you speak Russian? Your name suggests Baltic origins.


      • Greg. I am an old cat originally from Poland (now I live in Danmark), where I learned russian in school. ( had to, it was obligatory ). Yes, my friend, Leica forgot it`s glorious past of producing fantastic picture machines and tons of accessories to make picture taking better. Angle finders, lens holders (my favorite`s by Leica fan Bentzer, bottom plate with two lens holder, why they don`t make them for M9). Super compact lenses (would love miniscule 15/ 5.6) . And simplicity of first designs. I could dismantle and fix Leica II or III with kitchen knife.Yes, ” Those were the days my friend- I thought they newer end…….”. Cheers Stanislaw

        • Stanislaw, if I knew your full name I’d guess your Motherland right away. Stanis sounded Lithuanian to me. By the way, my paternal grandmother was from Warsaw but she was Jewish, not Polish. Anyway, I feel somehow related to Poland through her.

          I like your sentiments about Leica and old, simple technologies. Those days are gone, my friend. For good. Nowadays things are made not to last on purpose.

          Nevertheless, I like my M9. I’m sure it won’t last for 50 years but still it feels solid enough. As for old accessories, I sometimes use Viso I with it, primarily for tele (Kilfitt 300/5.6). Here’s what I shot with it recently, hand-held with monopod in the freezing cold (the whole story except for the last two pictures):


          • “Cool pictures”. Visoflex 1 has a unique feature being able to show vertical composition on groundglass thus interesting for portraits. For handheld action Viso lll is best. I like especially manually lift-up mirror. Nonwithstanding my objections against some drawbacks I certainly will get myself M9 the day I win in lottery. Till now I am happy about my M6 and handfull of old Leica and Voigt lenses. Which other system gives you two lenses held by double ring in one pocket (15 and 90) two other in another pocket ( 21 and 50), all that without big bulge. All with 39mm filters on top of that. And not to forget 35/2 on body. Pure peace of mind.

          • Thanks, Stanis. Yep, I love and use that feature all the time. Not for portraits, though. Don’t have any suitable glass for that. I find it very useable in landscape, too. I only use my Viso with one lens so far, the 300mm Kilfitt. Actually, it came with my Viso when I bought it. Got it real cheap, too. Otherwise, Viso III seems more interesting but you need special lenses for it and I don’t like having too much gear. I can shoot portraits without a Viso just fine, so why bother? I find it useful in extreme ends of the focal range, especially in tele (I’m not exactly a macro person). As for the mid-range, I prefer bare-bone Leica.

            I share your sentiment on ‘pure peace of mind’. I used to have a Nikon D700 with an assortment of lenses but I got tired of carrying so much stuff with me in a huge bag all the time. I have a habit of always carrying a camera with me wherever I go, so I was so tired lugging my Nikon system around that I started to look for a solution. Soon, I arrived at the Rangefinder Station and settled there, happily.


          • O, and I forgot to say good luck with your winning the lottery. Actually, you don’t have to win the lottery to get an M9. I sold my car and got one! Well, to be precise, I sold my car and got myself a Nikon system but then I sold all that and got the M9 (used) and a few Zeiss lenses (all used, too). There’s always a way if there’s a will…


  47. Steve, I agree with you 100%. The X1 is still the best camera out there in the small camera format. If I had to part with my M9 and pick a cheaper camera but close in IQ to what I’m accustomed to, I’d be very inclined to making this choice. That is, if I had to part with my M9 AND the line of Zeiss ZM lenses that I use with my M9.

    If I’d still keep the lenses but had no M9, I’d rather pick the Sony NEX-5. It would be a tough choice, though. I like X1’s IQ better but I also just love my Zeiss glass and, alas, the X1 wouldn’t let me use it. So, I’d chose the glass IQ over camera IQ in that case. But, no doubt, had I had to start fresh, without any M-lenses in my coffers, I’d go for the X1! Its high cost is another factor of consideration, of course, but as almost always in life, you get what you pay for.

    X1 has its well-known limitations and hopefully Leica will take care of that in their firmware update next month. If they really do, they will certainly keep the No. 1 spot for a while longer. Until somebody else, or more likely, Leica themselves, wouldn’t come around with a new and better small-size camera.

    There is one thing, besides its slow AF, that kind of disappoints me with the X1. I live in Russia and winters are usually cold here, sometimes consistently in the range of minus 15 to 25 degrees Celsius (59 to 77 Fahrenheit). Like, right now, as I am writing this, it’s nice and sunny minus 21 degrees outside! When the Sun is out, like today, I usually feel the urge to go out and shoot some pictures. Luckily, I have an M9 which I know wouldn’t disappoint me in such freezing cold, at least for two-three hours (and I doubt I myself would be able to last longer than that out there). Not so for my wife’s X1, though. I tried it once in minus 15 Celsius and after about half-hour it just gave up. First, the electronics went all haywire giving me blank white screens, etc., and then it just died altogether.

    This camera is not for severe winter performance. I’m not surprised. It shouldn’t be, considering its class. Don’t even think taking it to your next North Pole or Everest expedition! You’ll come back without any pictures! If you come back at all (sorry, some black winter-induced humor there…).

    Greg Shanta

    • Hi Greg.

      There’s a post on dpreview about taking the x1 close to the North Pole. No issues. I wonder if something else happened to the camera!?

      • Hi Azx1,

        Thanks. Interesting… Could’ve been something else then. I’ll check it more thoroughly. I’m surprised, though. I wouldn’t expect a small camera to perform well in severe climatic conditions. Nice to know it does for someone. Kudos to Leica.


        • Azx1, I looked at the dpreview post (nice pictures!) and gave it another though and came to a semi-conclusion that maybe, after all, I was right about the X1’s performance in cold temperatures. I’ll have to give it some more testing to be certain but so far my reasoning is that probably the author of the Greenland pictures took some care to keep the camera warm under his or her coat in between shots.

          That’s just my guess. What I did in my little test was shooting continuously for about 30 minutes with the camera exposed to the weather all the time in about minus 15 Celsius. I’m quite positive that if I kept it warm under my clothes in between the shots I could go shooting for hours. Half-minute exposures to cold every now and then is nothing of course. What I meant was consistent ability to perform in severe weather. My M9 can go continuously for two-three hours in minus 20 Celsius. I tried that many times. That’s what I call performance!

          Previously, I owned a Nikon D700. That beast wouldn’t care about weather at all, no matter what temperature! I had it go for hours and hours in India in 40+ Celsius and in Russia in as low as minus 35 Celsius! No sweat! I mean, for the camera, or course. I was sweating like hell in India.

          Anyway, later on I got bitten by the Leica bug and let the ‘beast’ go… No regrets, just awesome memories. D700 is a great camera, no doubt. Just a bit too big for my taste.


          • Could well be! I’m on the opposite side of the heat spectrum, dealing with summers at 118 degrees.. I just thought I’d point it out in hopes that maybe there was some chance it could be useful 🙂

            Glad the m9 works for you though.

          • Wow, 118 degrees! Not bad! Where’s that? I think my black M9 would turn into a burning coal. Gotta get a separate grey version for summer vacation. Are you listening, Santa? Ah, I forgot, Santa doesn’t exist… All right, will have to deal with the black one somehow.


          • Sunny old phoenix… where our motto is..

            Yes, it IS a dry heat…

            So’s your oven, want to live there? 😀

      • Thanks Steve, I handled the x1 today at Jacobs camera shop, it’s so much smaller and lighter than I thought it would be, they didn’t have a GXR so I’ve yet to see one in the flesh so to speak, think I will hang in for the x100 before I purchase.

        Great site Steve

  48. Like how the X1 pumps out strong blacks. I usually have to tweak NEX files a lot to get so dark blacks. But 1500 odd euros is little too much for me to pay for a X1. Wish it would be around 1000 euros mark then I would highly consider it. Sure second hand prices are there about, but its like buying a new Mac, you just have to buy it new 🙂

  49. Hey Steve! Great article as always! Having just purchased the Ricoh GXR and 28mm A12 it is however disappointing that it was not mentioned once in this article since you seemed to enjoy that camera too… If the X1 is hands down the best in its class, I’d still take the GXR over the NEX w/ kit lens, but what would you think would give the better IQ btwn The GXR vs. NEX w/ say some Leica glass??

    • While the picture quality was pretty good the downside for me was that without the added viewfinder the camera was virtually useless in bright daylight. It was also slow to focus and the top dials tended to change settings with handling. For me the fixed lens was also a drawback. Camera looks and feels great and they must have spent a fortune on the box that it came in. I have never experienced anything like it! Not enough pluses for me to keep it.

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