First images posted from the mystery Leica Mini (X-Vario)

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First images posted from the mystery Leica Mini (X-Vario)

ATTN: This camera has not been officially announced yet so while we have all of these rumors and teasers, what we have been told still may not be fact but it appears it just may indeed be. So my thoughts are based on what I was told by a few to be the real deal Leica Mini M, the Vario X. If it ends up being different than this, of course my opinions will change. 

Hello to all and a happy Friday to everyone! I am hard at work this morning putting together something on the new Ricoh GR which I have been shooting with but with all of this internet chatter and excitement about the new Leica announcement on the 11th – along with what seems to be disappointment in the Leica user world on the leaked specs, Leica has seemingly asked Jono Slack to release some of his photos from the new camera. You can see them HERE. 

I love Jono. He has been around for years shooting not only Leica, but all kinds of cameras from the old Kodak DSLR’s to the Olympus DSLR’s to the Micro 4/3 series as well as Sony. He shoots with what works for him but at the same time, he loves his Leica’s just as I do. He always gets to test the new cameras and give input so he knows what the real deal is with the new Leica “Mini M” and today has posted samples from his use of it. With all of the respect I have for Jono as a person, a photographer and just being an overall amazingly pleasant person to be around I have to say that this Leica he is using for the photos he posted looks to be from a slow zoom lens 🙂 The colors, the sharpness and the overall vibe look more like what comes out of the V-Lux small sensor series.

With that said, I am not talking about his skills, I am talking about the technical output of the files.

The latest official photo of the new camera peeking out of its box. Looks like the lens is INSIDE the body and will pop out when powered on. That or it is one hell of a small pancake lens. 

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You can tell the lens was zoomed in for any shots showing Bokeh. This is how it works with a slow lens, you have to zoom in to a longer focal length to separate the background from your subject. So my guess now, as of today, is that the new camera is indeed a fixed slow zoom. I am not only saying this from the sample photos but due to the fact that over the past two-day I have had 4 e-mails come in from “anonymous insiders” who all told me the same thing. This is a fixed zoom camera, same X2 sensor and a slow f/3.5 starting aperture zoom. Either it is fact or four of you out there are trying  to play a trick.

I never believe email rumors if I do not know the source so take it with a grain of salt, but Jono’s photos seem to show a slow fixed zoom is responsible for those images he has shown. Yesterday I spoke my mind about this release and if this is indeed the camera we all think it is (slow fixed zoom X2) then it is overpriced by $1500 if it comes in at $3000. I see more value in the X2 personally. It may sell well in Asia, but here in the USA it will be a slower seller than the X2, and that is pretty slow. All my opinions of course after seeing the buying habits of tens of thousands of people over the past 5 years.

If someone wants a slow zoom setup with amazing output, we have that already and with better specs than an X2 sensor..it is called a Fuji X-E1, has an EVF and a great Zoom 18-55. For less than $1500. If you want to spend $3000 you would be a fool to buy this Leica zoom over a Sony RX1, which is absolutely STELLAR in its use and output. The lens alone is worth the $3k.

So what can I say, if this Leica is for real, and is what we all are hearing it is then it appears that Sony is the new Leica and Leica is lost in their own bubble.

They did get the M 240 right though and man oh man is it FANTASTIC. Using Adobe Camera Raw for my processing (not LR) I am getting great results with color now. The M is truly my own Dream Camera and now using it with the Canon Dream Lens, I feel like I am always in a dream! hahaha. So Leica M 240 HIGHLY recommended. Leica Vario X with a slow f/3.5 lens…NOT recommended if coming in at anything more than $1500.

The reason I am being so harsh on this one is because THIS IS LEICA. We need to hold them to a higher standard. Is that not why we pay the extra money for their products? Releasing re-hashed cameras with sub-par specs is not the way for a company like Leica to go. If Nikon release this I would be all over it. Why? Because this looks more like an Nikon kind of camera spec wise, and would come it at around $1000, not $3000. But for Leica to release a camera such as this rumored Vario-X..nah, bad call. Leica is known for their photographic tools. Cameras, Lenses created from the souls and heart of photographers for Photographers. This should have been a REAL ‘Mini M”, then they could have made a HUGE statement.

By the time they do release a real Mini M, if ever,  Sony may just have a full frame RX with IC lenses and the ability to take M lenses using their gorgeous sensors at half the cost with equal or better performance. Then what? Leica can not be sustained on the niche rich clientele, they need normal folks to buy into their cameras, and we have been. But competition is out there and ready to steam them over and then the the tens of thousands of normal guys may shift to the competition to save money and get better performance. Leica will then be back where they were pre-M9.

But hey, I am just spouting off my thoughts as I always do. I love Leica but would never praise them when it is not warranted as they really need to be on their toes. Sony has some new bad ass announcements soon BTW…they are like a runaway train, madmen…listening to OUR wants and needs. Looking forward to what they have in store.

So again, to see those Leica Mini M samples over a Jono’s website, click HERE. I thank him for posting them. What do YOU think about all of this?

 

87 Comments

  1. Images look soft to me, like sony nex stuff.

    I’m not impressed; I will buy the excellent DP3 merril series camera !!! for same or less money.

  2. Hi Steve,
    when you take a close look at the picture of the new Mini M published by Leica few days ago, you may notice three wheels on the right hand edge of the camera (left hand from your perspective). This remembers me to the X1/X2: one wheel for shutter speed, one wheel for aperture and one as on/off switch. If this observation is true, you cannot select the aperature at the lens just with this wheel on top of the body. Hence Mini M is not an IC camera rather than a fixed lens, as the X1/X2. What could be major advantages compared to X1/X2? Could be

    – faster lens (1.4?)
    – video capability
    – full frame sensor
    – zoom

    or a mixture of these characteristics.

    Manfred

  3. It is very sad that the fanboys regards those absolutely mediocre shots and keeps telling that they have the “Leica look”. Being, in the end, unable to explain exactly what this “look” is. Me, I see shots not betters of what anyone can obtain with an old russian RF lens on a M4/3 body…

  4. I agree with Steve ….Leica X2 better and having this camera with slow zoom lenses a disappointment. Can not afford the new “M” , save up for M-E than,

    Dan

  5. It would be illogical if it would be a fixed slow zoom APS-C Camera. APS-C sized fixed prime camera’s are now better then ever with the X100s, Nikon Coolpix A and the Ricoh GRD. Most people would definately prefer a fast lens over a slow zoom, leica or not.

    It’s a totally different ballgame if this mini is a Fullframe camera with slow fixed zoom though. It would be a unique camera and the only one in its class. This would be only competing with the fixed focal length RX-1. So there would be a market for such a unique market.

    What they should have built:
    – Fixed 35-50mm Summicron
    – Fullframe sensor (m9 or even type240)
    – M body
    – 3 inch min. 960 k dot lcd screen
    – rangefinder focusing

    I’d pay 4000 USD for that! If i’d ever buy a Leica M i’d just use a 35 or 50 anyways!

    • haha, you describe a Leica M plus fixed Zoom-Summicron – that would mean 10k USD at least!

      • I was thinking/hoping that a fixed lens would possibly get the cost down. Maybe it is in the pipeline for the future…

  6. Steve,
    Thanks for your honesty and telling it exactly as it is.So many Leica users
    feel obligated to see what isnt there because they paid an astronomical sum
    of money for a product that many times absolutely is not superior to others.

  7. This is the exact same camera I would launch if I’m Leica.

    As a photographer and a huge Leica fan, this zoom X does NOT interest me at all. But since the Leica brand is growing very strong worldwide these days, they have a very large fan base who can afford a real Leica (non panasonic) but don’t know how to operate a range finder or don’t want a fixed focal length X. That’s when the zoom X comes in, just like a Mercedes A class or a Porsche Cayenne.

    Leica is a business and they need profit to survive. I can totally understand why they launch this but for us Steve Huff fans, there are tonnes of better stuffs for us to spend the 3k.

    • But it is there large fan base who has grown from the internet and sites just like this one that do NOT like this camera. So all that is left are the ones who just buy it to buy it and if that is the case, most will buy an M. The X2 was a failure so where was their target audience for that one? The X1 sold a TON of units. Some, including Leica do not know who their real buyer base is. Sad fact.

      • Hey,

        if you are looking for X2 audience, I am one. I got the X2, and i am happy with it. I think itis a great camera, but I don’t think X1 owners need to upgrade.

        I got the X2 over the X100 due to look and feel. Leica is miles ahead there. Doubling the price from X100 to X2 was well worth it, as the X2 gives a completely different experience. So will this X Vario, even with a slow lens.

        I do think Leica have a good strategy, and understand their market. They are not going in the same direction as everyone else. I am not impressed if the X Vario is this slow, but at least it seems like a good concept. With constant f2 it would be a landslide.

        For me the X2 was a perfect second camera to my DSLR. I think Leica understands this. And I think you are generalising too much.

        Although my next camera probably will be a new DSLR, I really love my X2, and I admir Leica for having a strong and clear strategy (simplicity) and for going in their own direction.

        • Dear Helge,

          I fully agree. What bothers me a bit: yesterday, I wrote an extensive answer to Steve Huff, with comparisons between the Leica X Vario and various Fuji models which I have tested, as well as the Sony RX-1.

          And, what happened: my answer disappeared, it was cancelled.
          I have a high opinion of Steve Huff and love his publications, but since a few days, Steve Huff hammers down the Leica X Vario in an unprecedented way.

          He has never even seen this camera, he has never tested it, he knows nothing about its final specifications, he has no test photographs of his own.

          Isn’t that strange? My comment was cancelled because I dared to speak out in detail why I feel that the Leica X-series, comprising the X Vario, is superior to similar models by Fuji and Sony.

          That was clearly too much, and did not fit into Steve’s view of the world.
          So long live Fuji & Sony! Yippee!

          • LOL. So Steve should not have the right to express an opinion about a product he has never” tested”. At least that is what you write. To then insist than you should have the right to use his platform, i.e. his blog, to “speak out in detail” why you feel the X Vario is superior to similar models by Fuji and Sony. And of course, your opinion is based on plenty of quality time with the new Leica Mini, I have to assume. Or else your post does not make any sense.

          • Dear retow,

            there is not much to “LOL” about here.

            Steve, which is most uncommon for him, is not expressing just “an opinion”. He lashes out against this new Leica product systematically, no doubt about this.

            There were disagreements between him and Leica AG in the past which may not yet have been properly settled. Steve wrote more than once “Leica’s marketing department sucks”, and there he may well have had a valid point.

            Past is past, very sorry for this, but Leica AG now invited him for their Grand Opening in L.A. Steve can not attend, that’s a great pity, it would certainly have been a chance to have a beer together and forget about old mistakes.

            This is, of course, Steve’s platform here, definitely his blog, and it is a great one.
            The level of most entries is really high, and they provide a jolly good read.
            I have now also seen that Steve has unblocked my above mentioned letter, so the “Freedom of Speech” is observed by him, whatever the critical content, which shows once more his great character.

            Concerning quality time spent with the new Leica Mini…who knows?

            Very kind regards, M 8 Guru

  8. I think it is a marketing strategy. The whole idea of the new Mini M is for the emerging Asian market. This is the future for Leica. The targeted nuevo riche clients are not Leica enthusiasts like you and me. They’d probably only use the cameras on special occasions. Whilst they want the status symbol of Leicas, LV, Hermes etc. they don’t like to be ridiculed (losing face) for getting an expensive camera that can’t autofocus or take videos like their pedestrian but feature-rich counter-parts.

    Who is the minority shareholder of Leica? The Blackstone Group. Who invested heavily in Blackstone? Do your research and draw your own conclusion.

  9. Nobody would want this lens……. .There is a lens release button on the dark side of this moonstrosity.

  10. Meh… Let’s wait and see on 11th what comes out of it, in the mean time X100s delivers the goods. And for those times where I want full frame goodness my classic 5d is great (apart from the size) married with sigmalux.

    • Oh, you haven`t heard about the FF XPro 2 yet with he new Fuji-Lux line of f 1.2 prime lenses, ultrafast AF, in camera IS, etc ?

  11. Look hard at the photo. The lens is a fake – been ‘added’ after. Perspective wrong; their is a faint halo around the lens; slightly sharper than the body…

  12. I was hoping it would be a full frame camera compatible with M lenses. No rangefinder, but with live view and focus peaking. A cheaper, mechanically simple version of the M.

  13. I am still holding onto this is all a ploy!!! Leica can’t be that stupid to release such a dud — maybe they got drunk off the success of the M 240. Until I hear it from Leica, as far as I am concerned, it’s all a big fat rumor and while we can all make educated guesses, I’m holding out hope Leica knows what they are doing!!!

    • check out the thread at dpreview with started by borderphreak and with comments by jono slack. when you put the comments in context, i pretty much think they point to a camera most of us don’t want.

      • Yeah I heard the same from Jono. In short, it’s not for geeks. No matter, I still hope it’s a ruse. Why imply the rumors are wrong on Leica’s website, if they’re correct, then they didn’t need to say anything.

  14. I’m amazed at the negativity surrounding this camera. If the rumoured specs are true (seems likely) and the published pictures have come from it, then there are no real surprises. Anyone remember the Minilux and Minilux zoom?

    If Leica decided to make a zoom version if the X series, they are not going to sell it for less than the X2, are they? Of course not! If the intent of the X series is a small camera with excellent image quality (something they have actually achieved…), they are not going to bolt on a massive, wide-aperture zoom, are they? Of course not. They already have the M series for people who want to shoot with huge apertures.

    The fact is that they seem to have put out a small, zoom-lensed camera with stellar image quality, at a price point which fits exactly into the Leica range. They won’t sell it to people who judge a camera on specs per dollar/pound/Euro. They’ll sell it to well-heeled photographers who don’t care about the latest trends but want a flexible camera which produces a certain type of image and don’t find a thousand dollars here or there an issue.

    Leica have developed a thick skin by now. Virtually every time they bring out a new model we read the same complaints – too expensive, not cutting-edge, someone else makes something else which is better value for money. Well, they must know what they are doing as it seems they are making more money than most of us.

    As for comparing to a Sony RX1, what are you people smoking? Compare the X2 if you must. The RX1 is useless if you want anything other than a 35mm field of view (unless you crop or stitch, which kinda defeats the point!). Compare this new rumoured Leica to a Canon G1X, that Ricoh module with a similar sensor and zoom lens (I forget its name, sorry Ricoh) or an interchangeable lens camera maybe. The RX1 is completely different and very specialised in its application.

    Having said all that, I would still prefer a Fuji XE1, provided the lenses prove to be comparable, because it has a BUILT IN VIEWFINDER. Get it, Leica?

    • Looks like they put out a larger camera than the X2, with a slow zoom, aging sensor, with decent IQ but no where near best in class from $1200-$3000 that will be overpriced by $1500+. It is not a camera that makes sense in 2013, not at all and yes, a slow zoom version of the X2 should be cheaper, especially if using the same sensor. As Leica can see, if this is it then 97% of Leica users are extremely disappointed.

      • Very sorry to contradict you, dear Steve.
        1.)Slow zoom? With all respect, where do you see slowness in those photographs?
        2.)Aging sensor? So what, the M 8 and M 9 also have aging sensors, both showing top world- class quality.
        3.)Decent IQ? Compared to which other camera? The photographs shown here are of STELLAR quality, very sharp, very contrasty, superb lighting and color, look at the three- dimensionality in the leaf photo…the result could hardly be better.
        4.)97% of Leica users are extremely disappointed? LOOOL!
        You certainly mean 97% of commentators, not users.
        As Don Ravine rightly pointed out just above in letter No.30, the users are to be found among the well-heeled and definitely not in this forum.

        • I agree with much of this, especially that the target audience of this camera is not to be found in this or any other photographic forum. Incidentally, I think Steve was referring to the aperture of the zoom (slow 3.5 to even slower 6.4) and not to the speed of zooming.

        • Well, the facts are not here yet but…

          If the rumors are true, it is indeed a slow zoom. In the Photos posted, I see off color, average sharpness, great lighting and no more 3D that what can come out of an OM-D with 12, 25, 45 or 75 lenses, in fact, less so. What I see of the leaf and flower look exactly like a lens that is zoomed in to max zoom to achieve a shallow DOF effect. The subject fills the frame and there is some slight shallow DOF going on. To me, appears to be a slow zoom, or a zoom shot at f/4. Of course I could be wrong as I am no “guess the camera guru” but these look a lot like what I get out of a X-E1 with its kit zoom and to be honest, I have seen much better color, 3 dimensionality and effect from much lesser cameras. What was done in that leaf photo could be done with Leica’s own V-Lux or D-Lux cameras, but they would be sharper.

          IQ wise, I have seen similar or better from OM-D, Fuji X-E1, NEX Series, etc. There is nothing here that is special in regards to color, sharpness or IQ. If you do not think so then you are in the same Bubble Leica is living in and have not even tried other offerings.

          Yes, search the internet, read the stories, read the comments. There are maybe 1-2 positive comments out of every 100 for this camera, going by the rumored specs. Mostly all are not happy about it. Wether you like it or not, the majority of Leica users read these pages, forums, reviews, etc.

          But let us say that Leica was trying to recreate the Digilux 2 in a modern format. Well, what was special about the D2 was that there was nothing like it at the time, it had a fast f/2 Summicron Zoom lens and it was $1500. It had a built in EVF as well, not a $500 optional EVF that attached to it. The IQ was great for its time. $1500.

          If the specs of this one are true, the zoom is too slow and much slower, and the sensor is one at the bottom end of the heap for 2013. The X2, when compared to current cameras with an APS-C falls short at low light shooting, and that is with an f/2.8 prime.

          My complaint is this: If Leica releases this camera with the X2 sensor, slow zoom lens and charges $3k US for it, it is RIDICULOUS. The X2 sells used for $1200 and has one of the worst resale values of any Leica. I hear complaints all of the time from readers who own the X2 and want to sell it and can’t. The new “zoom” is basically an X2 with a slower lens, all for $1k more? Makes no sense. If it were $2k it would be fine but $3k puts us in to RX1 territory.

          For that cash the RX1 is a MUCH MUCH MUCH better choice and camera and lens and sensor and it has proven itself to equal or surpass Leica M IQ. For less than half of that you can go for a Fuji X-E or a Sony NEX and get better low light performance and the option of having other lenses.

          AS for Don’s comment, he could not be more wrong. This site is responsible for selling THOUSANDS and THOUSANDS of Leicas, maybe even 10’s of thousands. I should know, I see stats, details, hear from the readers who buy them and believe it or not, Leica buyers DO read the forums and this website. Those who do not are the 2% of those who just buy because they can and because of the name. They do not have time to read these pages but Leicas recent success was built on those from the Internet forums and sites. Without these sites promoting them they would have been out of business with the M8 when they were a hair away from BK. The rich and elite are only one small segment of Leicas business.

          But I guess we will see huh? The X2 has been a failure for them and the X1, which was a genius camera for the time outsold it 5/1. They were a bit lazy with the X2 and paid for it. It is a nice camera but was nothing new or special and lags behind other choices, they even admitted it was rushed out. Like I said, Leica lives in a bubble…I have seen it 1st hand up close and in person.

          I love Leica, love My M cameras and loved the X1 and D-Lux 4-5. Sometimes they get it right, sometimes they get it wrong. This one is just a bit too much hype for what it is supposed to be. I guess you can say that about the M line as well, but the fact is that there is nothing on the market like an M but there are loads f cameras on the market like the rumored Zoom. Big difference as many will pay top dollar for what they cant get elsewhere but not vice versa. BUt as I said, we shall see! Who knows, maybe I will use it and love it when I see it and feel it. Maybe it will redeem itself and be worthy of such a cost. Who knows, no one. It has not even been announced yet.

          If it has a VF I may be sold. If it has a faster lens, I may be sold. If it offers something unique and different in the IQ or usability I may be sold.

          BTW, about 60-70% of this sites readers are Leica users. This site enjoys 70-100k views a day.

          Thanks for your entertaining comments 🙂

          • Great post Steve. Totally agree. In fact, this rumored camera is soooooooo far from what 97% of Leica users want or would expect from a “Mini M” that I still feel there must be ANOTHER camera. Seriously. I don’t doubt this one exists or will be released, but to release a teaser campaign around an already outdated X2 camera with a big slow zoom lenses would just be dumb and oblivious beyond believe. I don’t think Leica is that, so I will wait and see if another cam is announced.

            If not, I’ll be getting an RX1 or perhaps waiting for the updated RX1 in August.

            Last point… even if Leica shocks and wows everyone with the perfect M Mini [FF, IC, EVF, sexy compact body, etc]… I will still consider this teaser campaign a total failure because of the leak and all the negativity that was generated.

            Yes attention and buzz is good, but I don’t care who you are, all that intense negativity and ill will… especially coupled with praise for other brands like Sony and Fuji is simply damaging.

            And if Leica doesn’t release that mind blowing camera as a surprise, heaven help them. Many new M buyers have already been almost 8 months for their cameras… now, seeing Leica have the audacity to launch a teaser campaign around this camera while not being able to fulfill M orders in a timely way triggers quite a bit of anger and I’ve seen numerous posts about people canceling orders.

            So, whether they release this cam no one wants, or even if they do release the one everyone wants… this campaign has been poorly played.

            Shame on your Leica, next time just announce the camera when ready.

          • Dear Steve,

            I admire your energy!

            You have invested quite some time into your answer to my letter, and it is interesting to read.
            Like all your articles.

            Please be assured that I do not live in a Leica bubble, I own the OM-D,a Canon D 5 Mk.II, a Pentax Q 10 which works sensationally well with the old Leica Noctilux 1/50 = 1/276,5mm (Crop factor 5,53…)!
            And so on, as M 8 Guru you can trust I have an M 8, I own two bodies of the Ricoh GXR, oh, I forgot there is also an Olympus E-5 and E-3.

            My wife has a Leica V-Lux 40 which is not nearly as sharp as Jonathan Slack’s test photographs with the Leica X Vario.

            I tested the various Fujis (I still have an EXR-200) and my opinion on the X 100s, the X-E 1 and X-Pro is:
            1.)Asian style colors (I am European)
            2.)Sharpness falling off in the corners
            3.)Concentration on three main colors= black, white, red.
            All other colors are shaky, not really well rendered, with all Fuji lenses and bodies.
            Far inferior to the (much more expensive) Leica lenses- sorry.

            The Sony RX 1 has a relatively low quality Zeiss lens, cheaply built by Sony (who have zero experience in lens construction), and the article by your friend Ken Rockwell was correct: this Zeiss lens has all kinds of optical failings, color aberration, medium sharpness in the corners and so on.
            That is why Sony were forced to build into the RX 1 an extensive circuitry to cancel those shortcomings, but they still remain visible.

            Dear Steve, there is no need to answer my comments again and again, we will not get any further.
            You and I live in two different worlds when it comes to visual assessment of optical gear, and that’s no problem for me.

            I wish you well, I read all your articles every day with considerable pleasure!
            And I am really sorry for your dog!
            Very kind regards
            M 8 Guru

          • I’m still having a chuckle too, Steve.

            Think about this: if you had bought and liked an X1, would the X2 have bought anything that would make you want to lose quite a bit of money by selling your X1 to buy an X2? I’d say, for many people, the answer would be “no”. So, if the X1 found (and I imagine largely filled) the market niche, the X2 wasn’t likely to broaden it much and it is little surprise it hasn’t sold as well. If it had come out first, it would have sold very well, I’m sure, duh.

            What is missing from the X2 is the ability to change focal lengths. That holds true for the X100/S, the RX1, the GRD and the Nikon A. Now, with all due respect, Steve (and I have huge respect for you, based on what you write), many of us like zoom lenses and it is a bit silly to harp on about the fact a camera with a zoom lens does not have a fixed focal length lens. I personally can’t stand prime lenses – every time I bolt one on and take a photo, I find it’s the wrong lens for the next photo, which is why I never bought an X1/2 or X100. Yes, the Leica zoom is slow and, sure, give them feedback for that but, if it’s sharp wide open, it would suit me and many others more than a fast prime. Incidentally, I almost never shoot faster than f4 anyway because I like some depth to my photos. Personal choice. I’d happily give away a stop if it halved the weight and gave me better close-up ability, for my carry-around camera.

            Leica clearly think there is a market for a small zoom camera and endlessly comparing it to fixed focal length cameras is futile. Different market.

            On another point, am I not right in observing that the GRD, Nikon A, X100, X2 and a few SLR and CSC cameras have the same underlying 16MP Sony sensor? Why say the Leica sensor is outdated when it could well be the latest version of a tried and true product?

            Okay, I can’t see Leica selling millions of these new zooms. No proper viewfinder, high price, limited zoom range – just a handful of reasons right there. What I do predict, though, is that the people who do buy them will find Leica quality in small package that isn’t trapped on one focal length and that they will be quite smug when they start printing/posting their photos. Being happy getting your photos is what this site is sort of all about…

          • Dear Don, dear Steve,
            this is a perfect description of the actual market situation.
            The sort of business people I know all prefer zoom lenses, could not care less about fixed prime ones.
            The Leica X Vario test photographs clearly show the specific Leica look, and any would-be purchasers get exactly that with this new camera.
            They do not ask for more.
            Therefore, Leica do not deliver more.
            The price is no obstacle for this kind of purchasers.

          • Hey,

            I agree with you here. I think also Don makes some good points.

            Every camera does not have to be best at everything. This X Vario is a great concept. With a slow zoom it is a small niche it appeals to, with a fast zoom it would appeal to abroader market.

  15. par définition of the letter M in the product Name “Mini M” makes clearly allusion on a little sister of the Leica M Line. Which means obviously “Leica M mount”.
    No X, No D, No Vario etc.

    Yeah, I am sure the guys in Solms have NOW noticed that there are outside in the World some real competitors and will react with a cool & easy handling German Engineering Masterpiece “Leica Mini M”.

    And they know the Real Leica Photograph is not a rich red dot luxury hunter but somebody who is always ready to spend a little bit more money for best quality and functional workhorses.

    Remember it is not long ago where Leica have to fight for their survive!

  16. Since the leaked specs came out, I’ve not read one positive word about them, anywhere. ANYWHERE! Everyone seems to be extremely disappointed, particularly by the zoom lens.
    Is Leica not picking up on this?
    So Jono was given an early model for testing & feedback- did he not say “guys- no one will want a slow fixed zoom, go back to the drawing board & slap a fixed 35mm f2 (50mm equiv) on there or make it interchangeable”.
    Or maybe Jono likes slow zooms?
    This camera had potential to be so much more…
    If the specs are legit- I’d like to see someone well respected in the Leica community(hint hint) issue a boycott on this camera to send Leica a message that this is not what people want. Slow zooms are for soccer moms, photographers want fast glass(f2 or faster).

    • jono said elsewhere that his wife and son, who are both highly intelligent but don’t want to have to fiddle with a camera, would use such a camera if the output were good. i assume this thing is built like a tank, so that would add to usability for some. i still think if it’s what it seems to be, it’s a clunky waste of time and effort. but i don’t notice leica knocking on my door and asking for my views.

  17. “Sony has some new bad ass announcements soon BTW”

    Steve – any idea about the time frame?

  18. It’s unfortunate that we don’t yet have the “dream camera” that we could all buy into, something like a full-frame, chipped version of the Contax G2.
    But Sony is pushing in that direction with the RX1. Now if only they’ll market a sister camera for portraits, with an 85 planar design, then many of us would be set up for life.

    • i would also like an rx1 variant with an 85mm lens. but i worry about the size. i have an 85mm zeiss for my pentax dslr, and it’s a big, heavy thing that goes against the whole spirit of what sony produced in the rx1. nonetheless, i suppose i could be convinced.

  19. Leica is like a faded old movie star attempting to live in her past glory;She
    has had some great performances,but others far more talented and lovely have
    passed her by.Many who grew up with her will forever be fond of her and refuse
    to acknowledge her age.I too have loved Leica and while the M is in many ways
    steller the lesser offerings are a joke.

  20. This is really confusing. If I were Leica, I would be losing sleep over how well the Fuji X100/S is doing and try and beat that with a full-frame X3. Now that, they can price at $3000 and will sell like hot cakes. This makes no sense. Is Leica now competing against Canon PowerShot?

  21. Steve,

    I thing the only company worried by this camera, is Hasselblad with their new Lunar.

    Fuji and Sony… not so much.

  22. And it will sell nevertheless….. Who are these D-Lux 6, V-Lux 40, X2 buyers? I will never understand how someone can pay USD 800 for a D-Lux 6 or USD 960 for a V-Lux 40, simply rebadged, technically identical Panasonic cameras.

  23. Honestly, Leica don’t have a good history of producing really great cameras outside of the ‘M’ range. Most of them are Panasonic clones, and where they have done it alone we get the X1/X2, which are great for image quality, but pretty average (if not below average) for everything else. People buy them though, even at a premium, simply because it has a red dot on it even though there are better options out there.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the rumours are true. It would be nice if Leica deliberately leaked the wrong information so we are pleasantly surprised though!

  24. Nikon is a sensible innovative company. They would never bring out camera with aspec like this one described here.

    • Because it is a JPG from Leica 😀 with probably pre-production software. One way or another – those photos do not make the new camera much good.

  25. This lens doesn’t look big enough to be a zoom lens,also perhaps you could explain why Jono’s photo’s give the game away?…Is he obliged to take photos at maximum aperture?…because if not how can you tell it’s a slow zoom?

    • +1 to all of it! (allthough the actual size of the lens is really hard to judge…) Besides I kinda think the shots have quite a nice organic softish sharpness to them and still sharp enough ‘where it counts’… I for one certainly don’t get this ‘maximum aperture’-thing above all else – And the price; well this really shouldn’t surprise anyone by now!

      • I am in HK right now for a small trip. The maximum aperture thing is easy to understand here.
        I took my M3 with ASA400 film and two summilux lenses for the trip. My wife has her Canon 100D with the zoom lens which opens maximum at F3.5 (which is an amazing little and light set up by the way).
        Well…it’s night here at around 6pm. While I can still shoot at night at F1.4 with good enough shutter speeds (1/4 or 1/8 is no problem on a M3 anyway) my wife has to go all way up to Iso 6400 + 1/30 (not always but I’ve seen a lot of her pics taken at this speed and I am not talking about the messed up 1/10 pics she has) resulting in a horrible mess of pixels.
        In daily light her new Canon Zoom is really stunning and I am sometimes wondering why I am carrying a $ 5K setup. But when nights starts I remember why my Leica is my favorite brands. While her only chance is to go for high isos, and this has a direct impact on the quality of her file, with a Leica F1.4 lens you could shoot all night wide open and get superb results (It’s what I do).

  26. The XE-1 with 18-55 f/2.8 OIS lens is selling for $1199 now. Why would anyone wanting good image quality want this Leica when they could get a Fuji X100s and the XE-1 with the 18-55 and STILL have $500 left? That’s why I see this latest Leica (if indeed the specs and resulting image quality are true) as an insulting offer. Leica’s demographic is now the image conscious as opposed to those who want good images. I can’t say enough about my Fuji X-Pro 1. I ended up selling the 60mm and 18mm lenses as the 35mm stayed on all the time. I’m using the funds for those 2 lenses sold to get an X100s. Leica should have just improved upon the X2. Give it a 35mm equivalent lens at f2 and the now almost given capabilities of most decent sensors to shoot at ISO 6400 and they’d have a winner. Most people would pony up $2500 for that. They seem to be a year or two behind everyone else. Are they even paying attention to the Sony RX1? Given you are fortunate enough to shell out some $3000 for a fixed lens camera, who would choose the Leica over the Sony? For that matter, over both Fuji’s I mentioned?

    Does anyone else find it puzzling how a photography giant like Leica could have such a stellar reputation for lenses (first) and camera bodies for the upper end and yet make such bonehead moves? The gap is astounding IMO. I came so close to getting an X2, I was waiting for an improvement upon that and they come out with something like this. Fuji, Sony, Oly, and others must be high fiving each other right about now.

    • 60 years ago Leica was the world’s foremost manufacturer of quality “miniature” [read: 35mm] cameras.

      Now they have become a boutique manufacturer of luxury “status” goods.

      If you doubt this, look at the way their products are marketed, and to whom.

      Look at the level of specific technologies they offer, vs professional gear from competitors.

      Look at their pricing.

      I’m not saying it’s a bad strategy at this exact moment in time. But I have to question whether or not it is a sustainable one. The company has come close to shuttering its doors in the past…and this has been a direct result of failing to anticipate the needs of photographers, and failing to keep pace with technology.

      With technology advancing now at an ever more exponential rate, this is a clear & present danger for Leica.

      I don’t think the company has ever been comfortable with the “electronics revolution”. When that hit in force in the 1970s, Leica scrambled to introduce products that would only have been possible by developing alliances with companies like Minolta [e.g. XE-7 begat R3].

      Later came Panasonic.

      I think there might also be a knowledge / resources shortfall at Leica when it comes to state-of-the-art electronics tech (something the current photographic world is relying on now more heavily than ever).

      • I agree, and well written. Having lived through all those dates while using Leica’s to the present, I can say nothing has changed. In fact, if you consider how little effort (or care) was given in the S system decision as it ejected the R user base, the last ten years have been even worse. Though it will be argued by some that Leica is still a leader. Too bad it’s a semi hollow shell of what it was.
        Decisions are made by people, and in a strange way – those decisions are eerily similar to the past.

  27. Steve, I have now spoken to a couple of people who have handled the X Vario and the specification, as we expected, is exactly the same as disclosed in the leak two weeks ago. There is one interesting update which could not have been guessed from the pictures. Apparently the body of the X Vario is bigger and heavier than that of the X2. The person I spoke to said she thought it similar in size to an M. It has a brighter screen, improved ISO performance and, of course, video. It will have a full range of accessories at launch (what else?), including a round-column M-type grip and lots of lovely leather cases in various colours. It will take the EVF which, I assume, is the old one used on the X2 and M240. I suppose there is a possibility of the new Olympus EVF which should come to Leica soon (assuming it is the same interface as the old model). Overall impression, after initial disappointment, is that it is a good looking camera that will sell to a certain clientele, the people who don’t know an f-stop from a bus stop. Disappointing for the rest of us, though.

    • Thanks for the info, interesting stuff. I get the whole “f/stop-bus stop” theory but I always thought thats what the V-Lux was for. I can’t remember Leica releasing a German made camera with anything higher then a 2.8. I have no doubt this camera will be a well finished piece of machinery but to make a camera of that quality that will be rejected by most all true photographers on principal alone seems….weird. If the rumors are just one stop off and this thing is akin to the Vario-Elmar of the Digilux era then I’m sure it will find a home. ( I have a the Panny version of the Digi 3 and that Vario-Elmar rocks)

  28. Hey Steve, what is your basis for assuming it will sell better in Asia? Maybe your perception of Asians when it comes to photographic knowledge is skewed.

    • That comes from information told to me by insiders who tell me most of the Leica stock is sent there as it sells like hotcakes. Reason why there is a lack of stock here in the USA. I have heard this for many years.

      • thats fair, no offense but i can tell you that if the new leica x is anything like the leaked spec, it will sell as much as the leica vlux series in asia, which is not much at all. What Leica sells most in Asia is the M.

  29. And what ever this Leica turns out to be it will have to fight the New Sony RX1 series type camera coming out in August.
    Hopefully Steve will be able to do a shootout between the two cameras.

    • What we need to prove Steve’s point that the new Leica (whatever it is called) is no better than the Fuji XE-1 is comparison photos. Accepting Steve’s review and some of the comments, it appears that Leica is moving down in specs in order to meet a price point, but that price point may be still too high. It appears that Leica simply doesnt want to compete in the $1500 market, which based on the present Fuji prices is now a $1200 market.

  30. Leica is/has been in a unique position where they could enter and capture any part of the photography market and make an impact. In this case, the market that sits squarly between a $10K M kit and a $2000-2500 Fuji X-Pro/Sony Nex 7 kit is open and up for grabs. But instead, they almost avoid it entirely and try to upsell products like the X2 and Leica D-Lux, and then put out something like this. It’s crazy. Who is this for? Fuji, Sony, even Apple and Samsung – none of which have a photography history like Leica – are showing a better ability to target markets in this industry.

  31. Those pictures definitely come from a camera with a slow lens. Too bad. By the way, as of now, the first link is broken but the link at the end of the article directly to Jono’s website works.

  32. “If someone wants a slow zoom setup with amazing output, we have that already and with better specs than an X2 sensor..it is called a Fuji X-E1, has an EVF and a great Zoom 18-55.”

    Even better, the Fuji 18–55 isn’t even all that slow 🙂

  33. either the link is bad…..

    OR…. S.H. Photo had a take down notice.

    It does look like a collapsible zoom though in the partially revealed box photo…
    smaller sensor?

  34. I think you’re right, Steve. And, if it is what you said it is, Leica created too big a BUZZ for too little camera. Of course, their target market probably doesn’t view your blog or any other blog for photographers. If they can sell a boatload of these here, there, and everywhere, then they will have “succeeded.” I’ll stick to my newly acquired Leica M-E, RX1, and OM-D E5.

    • Only way Leica’s statments : larger than usual sensor size for a body this relatively small, slow lens, limited lens range, $3k : makes sense if it is FF or 1.3x

      (FF or 1.3x f2.8-4 28-75/90/105 would be massive.
      FF or 1.3x dof f3.5-6.4 in apsc is approx f2-f4).

  35. I was holding off on my purchase of the Ricoh GR Digital until I had more concrete information on the new Leica. I don’t think I’m holding off any longer after seeing these photos. Sharp but definitely a slow zoom on a crop sensor. Leica will probably lose some money on this.

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