Five Quick Samples from the Leica X Vario

Five Quick Samples from the Leica X Vario


As you know this camera just arrived to me today so I will be doing my review and shooting with this controversial new “Leica X” or the “Mini M” Β in Seattle and Palouse all weekend and into next week but today I took a walk with Debby and just so happened to bring our puppy and the Leica X Vario πŸ™‚

A few samples.. #1, 3 and 4 are out of camera. The B&W were converted using Alien Skin. Click images for larger view. As you can see, this camera does indeed have that Leica shine and brilliance to the images. It looks like the output from the X1 but a little better and IMO, beats the X2. We all know it’s a daylight lens/camera due to the slow aperture but I will be testing all of that out during my review. I think it should have been called “Big X” instead of “Mini M” though.

The camera is front heavy, ergonomically not like the M 240 as it is not comfy to shoot. It begs for a case or grip but that will just add an extra $200 to the cost. I shot all of the images below with the EVF.

As expected, output is superb in daylight. My full review will go over everything from low light, flash, video, in camera film modes and usability/issues/quirks.

Stay tuned for more from “Big X”!







four more snaps πŸ™‚ – You just click ’em to see them correctly






  1. A late entry for anyone still looking at this posting: I now have an X Vario and am getting to know it. I was lucky and got it with a third off and for me the pleasure factor in using it is very high indeed and increasing. I think the Luminous Landscape review mentioned above under contribution 1 says most of the sensible things about the much lamented specifications and reflects my experience.
    Everyone seems to agree on the irritation of the four-way control button. I have overcome that by using a small pad of a few millimetres firm rubber on the thumb pad and this has totally solved the problem for a few cents. (I would recommend Leica to make one at some hideous price or Richard Franiec for equal functionality for far less!)
    The high ISO is so good that i use it for available light portraits of my grandchildren and love the portrait quality I get. What is a photo, after all? – Something aesthetically satisfying rather than technically perfect by some standard which seems to have to do only with resolution and “pop”. Buy one if you can and and enjoy it !!

  2. Hi folks
    What you are writing …. writing… about that lovely X Vario!

    Tell me which APS-C Digicam give at open aperture sharpness from the center to the edge????!!!!
    With all lenses you have to step down about 2 or 3, so you will have the same edge sharpness at f 4 or 5.6!!! Don’t remember in your mind!

    I am happy now, that Leica came out with a zoom-lens and APS-C sensor!

    We all thinking wrong with a COMPACT Digicam. Is not a Fullframe Digicam as the P240 or other from Leica. Of course we WANT to have the Vario Elmarit 2.8 lens! Well, then the price of the X Vario would be over 3000 Euro!!!

    For me the X-Vario is great and image quality is the best now. Never have to clean the sensor! I do not have to carry other lenses!
    I can change the EVF if a better one came on the market!!!! With a built in, I do have to change the digicam!!!
    And do not forget the built in flash!!! And I can use an external flash with slave modes!!!
    ISO is good till 3200!!!! Low light came come now!!!

    For me the price is correct and I have a warranty like made in germany!

    I cannot wait to test it tomorrow!

  3. Did you buy this camera Steve? It seems odd- you slammed this camera and Leica for putting it out, then all of a sudden you have one and you singing its praises…

    • Guess you did not read to well. This is a loaner for a 2 week use so I can review it, and I was hardly “singing its praises” – was just being honest. Beautiful IQ but overpriced for what it is..a slow zoom APS-C camera.

      • I guess I didn’t, I just went back and re-read this and the other blog entry and nowhere does it say anything about how or where you acquired the camera. Is it a loaner from Leica?

  4. I do like letter No.20, written by Walt…one of the most underrated cameras the world has ever seen.

    Thanks to continuous brainwashing by Japanese-dominated so-called test magazines, a whole generation of buyers was ‘educated’ to believe in spec sheets.
    If these specs are right or wrong, does not matter. Autofocus in 0,1 seconds?
    Has anybody ever controlled such measurements?

    Then came the belief in plastic lenses and other recycled plastic trash.
    Cheap products for idiots. Melted plastic from Malaysia. Millions of them, tons of rubbish.

    A small minority of about 0,00001% of all consumers do look seriously at photographs.
    Even in this ‘professional’ Steve Huff forum, only very few people like Walt had the excellent idea of actually studying Steve’s interesting test shots in depth.

    A good demonstration of how decades of Japanese brainwashing can distort consumers’ minds.

  5. Ok here goes.
    I love Sigma DP Merrils.
    But BUT BUTT if Xvario was constant f2.8, even constant f3.5 i would have taken it over the 3 DP Merrills.

  6. Steve,

    Yours is an amazing site–some of the best discussion to be found anywhere (and without too much carping or sniping)–and your views are very sharp and carefully qualified–no ambiguities. Many thanks!

    As one who prizes the convenience of minimum size and weight while always seeking the highest IQ, my question in all of this is: Wouldn’t using the RX-1 and cropping for closer views be as effective as using the X Vario? Since even at the equivalent of 70mm, the RX-1 would still be using slightly more sensor area than the APS-C sensor in the X Vario, and for anything cropped less, up to the FF 35 of the RX-1, more pixels the merrier–and the higher the IQ.

    I’ve been wondering about this as I contemplate my next steps. I have a NEX 7 with Zeiss 24 and Zeiss Touit 32, (and an RX-100), and generally agree with the evaluations of all.


    • At Artichoke:
      You are too optimistic in your calculations. At about 50mm equivalent you are already only using the APS-C size of the sensor with just a bit more than 10MP. At 70mm you are only using an area about the size of 4/3 sensors and have 6MP left. Usable for smaller images? Sure. Comparable to a 16 MP APS-C sensor? No.

  7. Well, I do see your point. And I would never take to Tibet without a more regular companion camera. But medium format sharp is pretty cool from a compact camera πŸ™‚ And I think the b/w output is very nice also. Build? All made by hand in Japan…

    • Sharpness is all the Sigma has going for it. Speed is awful. Battery is god awful. High ISO is no good. Build is so so. It is sharp but when you take it as whole it is just too damn frustrating to use for every day photos. If I were going to do landscape during the day I would take the X Vario due to the color as well as the fact that it has plenty of sharpness. The Sigma is insanely medium format looking sharp but for me, that is the one trick it has.

      It all goes back to “What are you going to use it for”? The Sigma has its place for sure, just not for every day snaps.

  8. steve is right, the fuji images look more natural and have more “iq” and pop. reds are better too, more natural reds and greens, and sharper/better bokeh.
    fujis latest zoom is superb and wipes the floor of the vario panasonic leica.

  9. As steve said, it is a good camera if it is not a LEICA and $3000 price tag. we LEICA user, we don’t care about zoom lenses, because we are already used to shoot with fixed lenses and loving it. So, if LEICA is trying to get the new user group, or so called new market, maybe they are making a good move, but i really doubt that the “now” LEICA user will appreciate this slow speed “not so” zoom new camera

  10. Hi Steve,
    I found an interesting comparison of the X Leica vs the X Fuji.

    The main thing they hit on is that the Leica is sharper, but the Fuji has less noise at higher ISO. I noticed something though in the character of the Fuji. I come from Nikon digitals. I noticed that both the 2 new Leica’s, the Sony Nex, and the Canon/nikon digitals have a very crystal pure image. The clarity and quality of colors and IQ are easy to compare to each other. There is a modern, and very clean/pure look to the output.

    I notice that the output of the fuji tend to remind me, in some ways of the M9 output. Less pure, a bit more raw, more texture in images (forget the FF vs DX characteristics at 100% and at fast apertures). That’s probably why there is a feeling among fuji fans that the IQ is great – the metric of quality is different. (of course the only rational way to judge is on equal footing).

    • Michael great blog you shared! This guy David Taylor writes all this about Leica from the heart! This is a spirit and I absolutely agree, all who use Leica cameras and owning them are not some rich snobs, they are people with passion. Someone will call me Leica fanboy, I don’t care. For me the photography is passion, process when I get full joy and when something there is wrong in the quality or camera handling or something like that, the passion and joy is gone, I will not miss all of this because Leica is cost Β£1000 more then Fuji’s, I will ruin it, does it worth? of course not!

    • I am a M9 user and also have a Fuji XE1 with the primes and the 18-55mm. The files produced by the M9 and the Fuji are very different and at lower isos the M9 wipes the floor with the Fuji. At higher iso, the Fuji, at first glance, seems to be really good. But a closer inspection shows that quite a bit is at the expense of micro contrast and detail. All in all, I feel that the X-trans sensor`s IQ is considerably overhyped. I clearly prefer the files of the NEX 7 which I sold to replace with the Fuji, which I regret. Up too iso 800 the NEX 7 are among the best any aps-c sensor produces imho.
      I know I am in a minority, but this Fuji does not grow on me. Performance and IQ are not good enough for my taste. It`s wannabe rangefinder gestalt is what lures buyers in.

      • “Up too iso 800 the NEX 7 are among the best any aps-c sensor produces imho.”

        – NO, Sigma DPxM is the best APS-C up to ISO800 πŸ˜‰

      • I didn’t mean to suggest they are comparable retow, only that they have similarities in texture and mood. Of course absolute image quality is something quantifiable. My point however is that the rendering of images in both these cameras have a type of texture that seems more unique than the Canon 5D Mark 3 (which would be the gold standard for rendering and color I believe).

    • Steve you are the man! πŸ™‚ As we see all three images, Fuji is out πŸ˜€ Now, I need to see how RX1 will do with X Vario πŸ˜€

    • LR and Adobe – will they ever fix their X-Trans support? CaptureOne is way to go for X-Trans – there’s no comparison with LR

  11. David Ive, I just recently sold my Nikon D600 + lenses at a loss for same reasons…

    I had ordered X2 in silver but turned out it was only demo so I cancelled…

    So close too ordering X Vario now


  12. So, always very interesting to come this forum and read all your guys statements and of course Steve’s too. Its really helpful and many of you really made good points. Most people here saying that Leica made very bad camera, it will not sell well and better and cheaper options available on the market. Yes, I agree there’s many options but guys, be honest for yourself πŸ™‚ For me buy now M or even M9 its impossible because I can’t have only body, then I need very good lenses yes? One good lens, like 50mm lux and I can’t afford that. So, Lux 6 is too small for me, X2 old and I can’t use Sony RX1. Yes RX1 is great camera, I agree with Steve, has amazing sensor (same as D600) but I can’t use it, I tried many times and somehow I still find X Vario’s images more better in daylight then XR1’s. I will not buy Fuji X’s because its not really cheap and nowhere close with X Vario IMHO.

    What other options I have? I already sold Nikon D600 and very good, pro Nikkor lenses because I can’t use all of them everyday, every time and everywhere, very heavy and I walk a lot, 3-4 hours and more and I can’t have 4kg camera set with me all this time. Again, I mostly like shoot at daylight and morning, yes X Vario has slow lens but its fine for me and I can afford this camera.

    I just waiting Steve’s crazy review and then my final decision will be made. So, guys not so much hate for this Leica and for the people who will buy it. πŸ™‚

  13. Leica still makes product decisions based on their “high-end/high-priced” position in the market and desire to stay there instead of giving more users what they really want. They could do it, and offer something that would appeal to more consumers or have made this camera with a faster lens (thereby making it more competitve in the market place), if they wanted to, but they don’t. They want to occupy the high end the market at all cost and each product release increasingly signals this.

  14. Mr. Huff – Do you think that we would lose a lot of image quality by “downsizing” from our Nikon D7000 with 16-85mm zoom lens to something like this new Leica X Vario? We love the images from our Nikon setup and the images it gives us for 20″ x 30″ landscape wall prints, but leave it home because it is literally a pain in the neck and shoulders to carry around anymore. We use the Sony RX100 for our pocket zoom.

    Thank you in advance for your response.

  15. Totally agree with this statement. I highly doubt any of us will be using the same digital camera we have now in 10-15 years. Pretty sure most of the people buying this camera could care less about competing brands that clearly outperform this camera.

    This camera looks very capable and will make some people very happy. For me, it would pretty much be the last camera I would suggest for anyone looking in that market.

    • “Pretty sure most of the people buying this camera could care less about competing brands that clearly outperform this camera.”
      That I think, is the sad truth, itll be a label camera. A status symbol for most of those who buy it.

  16. Thanks for the short review Steve!
    This camera has to be one of the most underrated that I’ve ever seen. I’m a total novice but what I’ve seen from the images so far are that they are incredible and I look forward to seeing more after the weekend.
    I think that Leica know what their doing and have a winner here!
    Will be a tough pill to swallow for the knee jerk critics.

    Keep up the good work.

  17. I see a ton of CA (purple fringing in the Blinds shot) Also a bit of CA on the first pic with the tree upper right hand corner. If you forget about the great build quality and feel of the actual camera, I wonder if it’s output is really all that special? especially at it’s price point..haha of course if you gave me one I’d be more than happy though, seems a really nice camera..but nothing so an outsider looking in..just how I see it.. πŸ™‚

  18. If you see/feel the build quality of the Leica and the optical quality and if you also look on the number of units to be sold its not so difficult to understand the price of the x vario.
    The RX1 is also priced pretty high. Look what you pay for other good Leica or Zeiss lenses alone, and here you buy a lens (slow but still of high quality) and a body together.
    A little more quality often leads to a higher increase in cost and price.

  19. I love my Leicas and have a, IIIg M4-P, X1 and M9-P and to be frank I do take a while to be convinced when a new model is launched. I am not sure about the Leica X Vario because of the limited apertures and very high price. I just wonder, as per the newly launched Hasselblad Lunar, (I so love the design but at Β£5,300 UK pounds and poor reviews I will give it a miss) that the price is just too high for the specification and you could get better results with a less expensive camera?

  20. Being a Fuji user myself, I have to admit that the IQ of the shots is amazing.
    But still, I wouldn’t buy this camera over my x-E1 even if they were thw same prize. No way: no VF, sloooooow zoom, fixed lens…

  21. The right comparison is going to be the XVario against an XE-1 or an OM-D with an R adaptor with a Vario elmarit -R 28-70 lens. I just realized you could use the OM-D with an R-adaptor and use the old Vario elmarit-D 3.5-5.5 28-100 lens to compare AF to AF.

    You have an OM-D. B&H stocks the D Vario Elmarit 28-100, 28-150 lenses. How about a comparison of Leica to Leica (Albeit pana-leica)?

    • A Leica lens on an Oly body with a Sony 16MP mft sensor inside versus a Leica lens glued to a Leica body with a Sony 16MP aps-c sensor inside. That sounds like a fair comparison.

  22. X Vario vs RX1 comparison please Steve πŸ™‚ After your X Vario review and comparison with XR1 will be final for me to decide which one have to buy. Waiting… πŸ˜€

  23. Dear Steve,

    referring to your kind remarks in letter No.3 “They probably weren’t thinking”, I only realize that you continue on your path of systematically ‘writing down’ this fine camera.

    Your test photographs are overwhelmingly good, especially No.1 and No.5.

    You continuously compare cheap Zeiss lenses with the Leica X Vario, the quality of which is m u c h inferior. They are not even built by Zeiss, but by Sony (very bad) and Cosina (not much better either).
    Didn’t you just state a day or two ago that the brand-new Zeiss Touit lenses showed rather disappointing results, with a nervous background, to put it mildly.
    The test result of the Zeiss Touits was r i d i c u l o u s, in your own very recent test.

    By steadily implying that the engineers at Leica “are not thinking”, you spread a false image of this camera. And of its makers.

    May I very politely ask: Why?

      • Dear Matthew,

        very sorry…I have no clue what you are talking about.
        Ludicrous price? Compared to which camera?
        If you compare the picture quality of Steve’s test shot No.1 above (his wife plus Chihuahua in the garden), there is only one comparison: Leica M.

        So, for 2,450 Euros, I get a picture quality for which I would have to pay some 5-6,000 Euros otherwise. Why is the price of the X Vario ridiculous?

        It is simply not a great camera? Sorry again, but who says so, with all due respect?
        Nikon’s & Canon’s brainwashing department?

        Kind regards,
        M 8 Guru

        • Compared to any other camera with equivalent specs inhabiting the real world. Clearly your love for all things red dot is clouding your judgement.

          • Dear Mattma,
            LOOOL! Which love for the red dot do you mean?

            I mostly work with a Canon D 5 Mk.II. And I have two bodies of the Ricoh GXR which I am using extensively.

            There is no love for the red dot. I simply look at these photographs, and I have also tried the Leica X Vario myself.

            The mistake which is being made here, constantly and even by you:
            There lies the error.
            This camera which is indeed totally underrated in this forum, is not to be judged by specs.
            Its spec sheet is horrible.
            However, its real world picture quality is outstanding.
            Picture No.1 in Steve’s series beats just about everything on this planet.

            An even better image quality might be obtained by a Leica S 2 and/or Hasselblad, medium format.

            Kind regards,
            M 8 Guru

          • Sounds like youre another one advocating Leica having some mystical, magical control over physics itself. Producing mazing images with nothing more than simply being Leicas and so justifying the equally other-worldly cost.
            I dont see it, sorry.
            This is an average cam with a far more than average price tag. I cant see how you or anyone can with a straight face suggest its anymore than that.
            I dont see this amazing picture quality youre claiming in these photos. Next up is Leica S or medium format? Right! Keep taking the cool aid.

          • Dear mattm,
            really nice discussion with you.

            I am not in the slightest advocating Leica having some mystical…and so on.

            I am o n l y talking about this Leica camera, not the X 1 or X 2, for example.
            Their picture quality was fine, but definitely inferior to the X Vario.
            For once, Leica got the fine tuning right in this X series. And/or the sensor.
            And the glass which is of the most expensive kind.

            And I really do not need any cool aid. We have one Leica S user in the family, and I know his work well.

            There are other Leica models which are not doing so well in terms of quality. For reasons of politeness, I am not mentioning here which ones I mean.

            This is no wonder company, just a group of hard-working German engineers. As at Audi, BMW, Mercedes and Porsche.
            You will certainly find Japanese cars with better specs, or even South-Korean models.
            However, no-one in the world considers these to be superior to German cars, not even equal.
            Which, again, does not mean that Leica gets it right every time.

            Kind regards,
            M 8 Guru

          • Matt- it is clear that you really want an X Vario but can’t afford it. Whining about the price of it, or any Leica product for that matter, is not going to change your reality. Grow up.

          • The only Leica I would EVER want it is a film Leica, I honestly cant see the point of spending the money Leica asks, for their digital offering.

    • Not talking it down. It is a fantastic camera actually. Amazing IQ, Amazing Build. Priced right for being a Leica of this size and build. Im just disappointed they went with the lens they did. 50mm f/5.1 or 70mm f/6.4. If you want a daylight use non action camera, this would make someone very happy. As for Zeiss, the lens on the RX1 is one of the highest rated lenses ever. It’s a special lens on a special camera.

      The Touit lenses..not so much.

  24. Hi Steve,
    I have used the X-Vario for a week now around the house. I come to the same conclusions as you.
    I prefer the IQ (specially color) over that of the x-pro1 which I once used for some months. The Fuji images look somewhat flatter IMO and sometimes a little pastel color, while the Leica colors seem deeper and more saturated. Maybe also a matter of taste.
    In comparison to the RX1 …I find it easy: the RX1 allows more flexibility for low light shooting, but is limited to 35mm FOV. The X-Vario offers the flexibility regarding the focal length, which I find quite benefitial. I often like 50mm fov for images of my kids in the environment, and I sometimes like 28mm FOV for a more dynamic perspective. But then you are a little bit more limited with the x-vario regarding low light.
    However you could also see that its just 1/2 stop slower than a Ricoh GR or Coolpix A and has the add on focala length.
    Then there is the FUJI XE1 (by the way if I was still using Fuji it would be the x-pro1 for me because I find the optical viewfinder to be one of the biggest pluses in the Fuji-system), which offers zoom and fast lenses, but seems to produce a different “look”.

    • For me it is no contest with IQ over Fuji. The Leica wins, and that is after extensive shooting of Fuji cameras. I have nothing against Fuji, in fact the X100 is one of my fave cameras of all time but i was let down with all of those that followed a bit due to the IQ of the X-Trans. So yes, they do put out a flatter/duller image than the Leica does.

      RX1, as you say is a beast in low light and for shallow DOF but again, 35mm.

      The Vario can do 50mm, but at f/5.1. So light is needed. If you have it you will get best in class IQ from APS-C.

      • Steve, X100 is inferior to new generation of Fuji cameras. It has some sweet rendering and very good B&W but in comparison to XE1 is muddy and … old !

        As for colors using X100 and XE-1 for some time, I have many times the opposite feeling, that Fuji is more accurate to reproduction of color rendering and that images from Leica tend to be maybe “nice” but not so accurate in colors.

        Recently we compare with a friend who has Leica compos, the Leica 35 Lux with Fuji 35 1.4 into the XE-1 body and the results was extremely close. So, I believe that saying Leica wins is overestimated. And if Leica wins , is not an easy win.

        Also, we can’t compare X-Vario with XE-1.
        XE-1 with 35 1.4 is in another league.
        With the zoom lens is ready for the casual users and
        with an M mount and Leica lenses you have that Leica rendering and glow.
        All this at an affordable price in the same camera.

        The only problem with X-Trans is that has so much resolution that many times … you don’t need it.

        The new Zeiss was terrible in your photos , is that bad ?
        Also what are you using with XE-1 ? Provia , Astia OOC ? You have many options according to your taste. Otherwise you just shoot RAW and PP with a Leica like profile πŸ™‚

        I’m confident if you use the the Voigtlander 50 1.5 aspherical in the XE-1 body with let’s say ASTIA OOC’s the results will be much more interested and close to Leica M.

        • Your 1st sentence is not true, The X100, original, is in no way muddy, quite the opposite! The X100s is muddy as is the X-Pro, X-E. Ive used them for thousands of photos and tested with all of their lenses, and now the Zeiss lenses. They are in now way bad, but they are far from what most Fuji users claim. Of all APS-C cameras, they are my least favorite that I have shot with. It is what it is. I can use any camera I want and have owned many for long periods – Olympus has always been fantastic, Sony RX1 is stellar. The Fuji X100 original was amazing to me. The others with X-Trans were disappointments when compared with just about every other mirrorless I have used. When side by side, to my eyes, it is a huge difference.

          XE-1 with the Zeiss 32 1.8 fails next to the Vario BTW for IQ. Have them both here and have zero reason to lie. X-E1 with 32 1.8 vs M240 and Voigtlander 50 was a huge fail for Fuji (as you can see in my Nokton review). Fuji files were much duller, flatter and had no pop or wow at all. Resolution wise, it also loses to both Leicas. I can pop up full size files but you may not like it. πŸ™‚

          When shooting RAW the film settings have no effect. When shooting JPEG they do. Either way, if you shoot the Fuji in the golden hour light, it is nice. Anything else, forget it. It is not just my photos I see this in, but all X-Pro/X-E photos.

          • I had first XE-1 for months and for some reasons went back to X100. First days I could not take photos, the resolution was so much less that I was not sure if there was a problem or not with the camera.

            My experience is different , no problem any hour of the day or night with some of the best ISO capability’s available :

            I’m not saying you are telling lies or anything but just your experience with Fuji is not great and you loose your confident to evaluate further

            I don’t mine to support Fuji but my experience give some photos of very high quality and your experience some photos that are not great to my surprise, because I don’t recognize what I have in my eyes as Fuji

            Recently I was able to “emulate” similar B&W photos with MM , shooting with a friend marbles in a museum using XE-1 and 35 1,4 mm

            I’m not saying Fuji was better , but was close to a point that we had 2 really nice photos. In some of your examples Fuji looks like a 150 $ camera ! That’s my point

          • Nice images, no matter what they were shot with. The 1st one is brilliant! To me, that 2nd shot shows what i am talking about. Flat and Dull. Not talking about your photography or the photo but the IQ of the photo. I must have sensitive eyes πŸ™‚ In reality what it is for me is that i work with EVERY camera released. I see files from Leica M’s and they are gorgeous. I see files from the RX1..again, gorgeous, full, 3D, rich, sparkly. Then the Fuji’s to me, after that are always dull and flat. When side by side in some circumstances you can see it easily. In perfect or dramatic lighting though it doesn’t matter as that is where the Fuji excels. Thanks for the link, loved your work. BTW, I have tested the X-E1 a few times now. Also, I do not HATE the Fuji camera, they are highly capable and great bang for the buck but they are not the “Holy Grail” many owners make them out to be. Again, I love the Fuji X100. Amazing and beautiful camera with files to match. My opinion, just as you have yours. The good news is we get to use what we like – we all like different things.

          • Thanks for your kind words thought I hope to find sometime the time to organize it better and finalize some collections of my photos

            If you mean as 2nd picture the one from London this is from a Pentax K10D and 12-24 mm as all _IGP photos

            One last note. In my opinion flat colors is a decision taken to use Provia as default JPEQ and not the character of the X sensor. Personally I like this rendition, looks normal or just becomes familiar with it.

            This is now more obvious than ever, if you open RAW files with last version of Aperture that support Fuji X RAW files, the results have a deeper presentation with a complete different color tonality to start play with …

            Just for fun 2 photos one taken with MM and 50 lux and the other with XE1 and 35mm :

            Is not that far, the resolution, detail and bokeh is there thought Fuji was more flat and I had to do some PP to be closer

  25. Steve: I’m curious about manual focusing. The lens has a distance scale (good), but no depth of field scale (bad). I guess no more electronic distance scale (good). I do street photography and like to preset (zone) focus – is this easier to do now? Sometimes I’d like a 28mm or a 50mm or even a 70mm POV, but the size and weight appear to be a downside. Any thoughts about IQ and handling vs the Sony RX1? The latter is my very favorite camera of all times – only I wish the lens had distance and DOF scales!

    • MF is nice. Feels like a real lens not an electronic one. The camera is not compact at all, in fact, I would say it is a full size camera. So anyone wanting a compact zoom, this is not for you, go for the D-Lux 6.

      You can set the distance and due to the large DOF it should not be a problem. Shooting at 28mm and f/3.5 would be easy for Zone focusing.

      IQ is much different than RX1. The RX1 being FFwith a fast real 35mm prime is more organic, rich, 3D. Low light on the RX1 is astounding. The Vario IQ is more sharp/crisp and perfect. Opposite of the RX1.

      Handling, for me, goes to the RX1. The Vario is front heavy and the 1st camera ever that is a challenge for me to handle. My palm also keeps hitting the D Pad on the back bringing up settings as I shoot.

      For the large and heavy lens attached it needed a grip of some sort on the front. The lens on the Vario makes any Fuji lens feel like a plastic toy though.

      Its larger than the RX1 as well.

      • The Panasonic LX-7/D-Lux 6 and Fuji lens barrels are made of recycled plastic which is why they feel like toys. Leica toys are made of metal.

        Some people go for plastic garden rakes, others pay more for steel garden rakes. The metal ones are definitely targeted at adults, though.

  26. I think there is a niche for the X Vario. Lets hope it does not turn into a commercial disaster for Leica which may affect their ability to produce “real” Leica stuff.

    The current generation was brought up with smartphones and compact digital cameras that have a zoom lens and are operated through an LCD. No need to change habits or learn new skills. How embarrassing if one has, publicly known, spend a hideous amount of money on a “real” M, but then delivers images out of focus or with wrong exposure (because he forgot to also set the aperture). Even enthusiasts at times like to relax, and just point and shoot.

    The X Vario is a hefty camera you very visibly wear on a neck or shoulder strap. Shape and red dot carry the message to everyone that this is a Leica. Metal body and dials make it feel like a Leica, too.

    After all, image quality seems to be good. Although image stabilisation on most other kit or fixed lenses in some situtations may deliver better results than the Leica.

    • As spectacular I rate Sigma DP Merrill, Sony Rx and Leica M9 and MM files. The X-Vario ones look good, but so do the ones produced with a number of newer aps-c sensor cameras.

      • i am talking about the artistic and emotional content of the photo. It is spectacular IMO.

        You are talking about technical competency of hardware. That wasn’t used in the making of this photo.

  27. Well, my x100s gives better OOC jpegs than this. The image quality looks flat, and has no pop!
    And if that wasn’t enough, you could get an RX1 for less money, which would absolutely blow this camera to bits!

    Sorry, Leica… You kindda missed the boat on this one.

  28. Well, if you think of this camera as a p&s that can make you part of the Leica “experience” with a price in reasonable reach, it makes good sense.
    Not connected with enthusiast photo shooters at all, tought. But it isn’t their target, clearly.

  29. Looking good indeed. But at f4-6 both, the Panasonic 12-35 and the Fuji 18-55mm perform at their best as well. Comparing the X-Vario with these two makes most sense imho. The Vario might have a slight edge in IQ if everything is lined up perfectly, but only then.

    • Agreed. Line all three up on the counter at the same time and handle them, too. Your biggest decision will be what color leather wrist strap you want with your new X Vario, cognac or black?

    • They probably weren’t thinking, or just assumed if they added a zoom it would sell. The X2 did not sell well, and they thought it was due to the fixed prime lens. They know what we want but in their eyes. we have it in the M 240. Do not think they have an interest in a real Mini M.

      The IQ from the Vario is great, superb. But it is also superb from the Ricoh GR. RX1 is cheaper with full frame and a fast Zeiss lens.

      The Vario is nice, solid, hefty and the fastest X to date and retains the Leica crispness in the IQ. I guess some will like the Zoom and live with the limitations of it, others will hate it. At 50mm you are at f/5.1 with this camera.

      • They listened to their dealers who sell the Leica product to the people who have, and pay, the money. This, according to the Leica dealers that sponsor this site and Sean Reid.

        Target market: those who want, and are willing to pay for, Leica image quality and feel in a compact variable focal length camera, with autofocus. It is not targeted at rangefinder customers, nor those looking at any fixed focal length camera. Comparisons to the Coolpix A, Ricoh GR, Leica X2, Sony RX1, or any rangefinder camera are missing the competitive mark . . . compact, variable focal length, with autofocus.

        What’s left today? The Olympus PEN E-P5 and the Fuji X-E1 with a variable focal length lens. Can either offer build, feel, and image quality competitive with the X Vario’s top plate machined from solid aluminum, magnesium and aluminum body, milled aluminum lens barrel, and the Leica look and feel? There are no recycled plastic bottles here.

        We’re recently retired on a very modest pension, and chose to live in Arizona because the southwest is just a spectacular and spiritual place to be. This compact, variable focal length Leica, with autofocus, gives us a great grab-and-go point-and-shoot that easily captures the spiritual essence of our outdoor moments here. Steve, you are our neighbor and you know exactly what we’re talking about.

        • What is the point of cast iron body or engraved dials on ball bearings when the electronic innards have the same limited technical and economic life as any other digital camera? Or the M8. And repair or upgrade is not economic compared to an improved successor that is assembled by robots?

          Who would even want to invest in a new $50 battery for a three year old iPhone when the current model is so much more sexy?

          Please give me a plastic digital M body, with plastic buttons and touchscreen which I throw away when the battery dies.

        • Good cameras don’t come from “targeting” people.
          Solid aluminium? You make it sound like a rare metal or something precious which it isn’t,
          To get the max out of the Vario we need to live in Arizona? Folks are hardly going to up and move across country to get the best out of their cameras. They need the cameras to work where they live.
          What else are people going to come up with to make this camera sound better than it is?
          Not convincing. not at all.

      • I know most things have been covered about this new item form Leica …

        I remember your post,(not so long ago) , before the official announcement, how you, and many of us dreaded that the rumored pics where to be true! …
        I somehow did also not want to believe it, but bigger part of me thought it was possibly going to be exactly as it turned out(unfortunately our worst nightmare;( came true!

        Its absurdt to think that the Sony RX1, and even a D800 can be had for less, or around the same money!

        Bloody ridiculous attempt form Leica, I mean wtf where they thinking?

        Overpriced red dot jewelry

    • This camera is not for folks on this forum Steve. It’s for people who want a great point and shoot camera. If you asked them what bokeh is they would say its a batch of flowers. Leica will sell more of these than M 240’s I suspect. It’s a Leica for the masses. Louis Vitton sells a LOT of $3000.00 purses.

        • There were 26 million Swiss watches sold in 2012. At an average price of $4000.00. That’s a MASS or bunch of watches. Leica will sell a LOT of these things. Thats all they care about. It’s about business, not art or meeting the needs of enthusiast photographers.

          • I’m bemused why so many people here even care what the specs are? Is it just because there is a serious continouos rolling bout of GAS and it all needs to be commented on?

            It’s just a camera which will suit some people and not others! I understand the feedback/examination of a camera which strong enthusiasts, prosumers grade customers and pro’s.

            This is not one of those, so not sure why people are judging a camera company on this release (vs. M240, S2, MM, etc)?

          • Whilst in general and in principle I would agree with you, the price of this bear so little relation to the specs (even given the red dot majik so many irrational crave and would sell their first born for) it simply can’t be ignored or overstated. It’s MASSIVELY over priced for a very basic zoom p&s

      • I’ll guarantee you they will not sell even half of these compared to M 240 sales. If M 240 sells 10k units, this will sell 3k. Most do not understand how amazingly well the X1 sold and the X2 flopped. This is basically a larger X2 with a slower lens that is only usable in daylight for static subjects. Those who want a great P&S will go for an Olympus or Sony or Nikon at 1/4 the cost.

        The X Vario is NOT a bad camera, at all. It is a fantastic camera with top of the heap IQ. The problem is the price vs functionality and usability. But build and IQ…nothing is better in APS-C from what I have seen. There are equals but nothing beats it. Build wise, no other APS-C beats it for build. The X2 goes for $2000. This is larger, better made, newer features and enhanced sensor so I guess when you sit down and think about it, they priced it right for the Leica customer.

        We always complain about the price of Leica, always. They will never change when it comes to that.

        This could have been $3500 and sold like a wildfire out of control though if it was done correctly. (IC lenses, ability to use M or R lenses).

        I would have made it a body only, EVF built in and out of the box ability to mount M glass. Would have been a win win. Same sensor, same design. $3500. Would have sold like mad and also sold tons more lenses for them. Imagine this body without the bulky and heavy lens but a mount where we could plop on a Leica mount 35 or 50 or 28 or 135.

        We can do that with a Sony NEX, Fuji X, Olympus PEN…but not with any Leica besides the 240 which is out of reach for most. An APS-C slimmed down version of that would have been insanely huge at half the cost. No RF, just EVF. No FF, APS. A real “Mini M”.

        To those who want a zoom camera from Leica, we have one. The D-Lux 6. That is the camera for those who wanted a Leica with a zoom. The X Vario…really has a limited market/allure in the grand scheme of things.

        • “To those who want a zoom camera from Leica, we have one. The D-Lux 6.”

          Wrong. Panasonic makes very good nose hair trimmers, but the LX-7/D-Lux 6 is not a compact, variable focal length, autofocus product that delivers Leica image quality and feel.

          It’s a recycled plastic Panasonic.

        • Steve you are thinking like a passionate photographer. The person who does buy this camera would not buy a camera with interchangeable lenses, because they want it all in one easy to understand and manage package. They will put everything on Auto and shoot someone standing in front of a landmark somewhere, or their kids eating Birthday cake. Could they do that for six hundred bucks?, of course. But they couldn’t say “I own a Leica” for six hundred bucks.

          • You could get a Leica III or II with lens for $600… And it would be full frame.

            Anyway, it’s interesting that the X1 sold well, but the X2 did not. When the X1 came out, I loved it, didn’t buy one, but it looked beautiful and the price was actually fairly attainable. The X2 came along, and that plastic bump on top for the EVF just made it not quite so attractive to look at. The X2 just didn’t have the ‘want’ factor the X1 did, and it’s interesting that I’m not the only person that thought that.

  30. Steve, you used to use an M8. Is an M8 with a 50mm Planar or Summicron better than the X-Vario?
    Used M8s are now going for about $1500, add in the $600 used Planar and that is a $2100 combo.


    • M8 will give you a much different look than the Vario due to the speed of the Planar. You will have major 3D pop and shallow DOF with the M8 combo. Vario..well..think X1/X2 and D2. Only thing I can say is be careful with used M8’s. Many of them have broken down with shutter faults in the past year.

      • Wow, had no idea about the break down issues. Thanks for the heads up.
        What a bummer, wonder how I can check to make sure that is not about to happen?
        Buy from a camera store that offers a limited warranty vs private party?

        • TimeMachines’R’Us (..or Maplin in the UK..) sell a very handy Time Machine ($999) which lets you go 3 weeks into the future to check that the shutter hasn’t yet broken.

          Unfortunately, 3 weeks is the limit for the ‘budget’ machine, and others (two months, six months, three years) are MUCH more costly, and not really worth the money unless you plan to use them fairly often.

          (NOTE that you CAN, if you can find a sympathetic ‘time partner’, go forward 3 weeks, find someone who’s already there – not your own future self, though, I think – and ask them to come back and let you know when the shutter breaks. Depending on what model of time machine they have (and how far back they can ‘travel’) you could get warnings from up to five or so years ahead of when your shutter’s going to break.)

          Hope this helps..

        • I still shoot with a M8.2 and a 28 Summicron and Zeiss 50 Sonnar, and Steve’s right β€” that combo will get you much better lens effects. But keep in mind the M8 sensor is pretty old tech by today’s standards. Like the Vario (it seems), the M8 only does well outside in good light. I only shoot at ISO 160 and 320. On rare occasion (and if I’m desperate) I’ll go up to 640, but usually the noise and loss of color/dynamic range is more than I can tolerate. Color rendition also gets pretty funky in low light, but you can often work that out in Lightroom/Photoshop. Bottom line, If you nail the camera settings, have the right light, you can still capture some awesome images with the M8. But it takes work, and there’s definitely many more limitations than what you’d get with a more current digital camera.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.