USER REPORT: Leica X Vario Thoughts by Wolfgang Kuechle

USER REPORT: Leica X Vario Thoughts by Wolfgang Kuechle

First of all I´d like to thank Steve for the opportunity to share my first impressions on the Leica X Vario with you. One of the aspects I like most about this blog is that it demonstrates how photography can be enjoyed in so many different ways with all kinds of gear and processes. If you visit an arbitrary photography forum you get the impression photography is all about low grain at high ISO, minimum depth of field, and camera prize, size and weight. The daily inspiration series proofs splendidly that there´s much more to photography than just that.

Still when Leica announced the X Vario on June 11 I fell into the “photo forum trap” and was utterly disappointed. I gave in to my impulses and joined the chorus of mourners. Another 3 days later I went to my photo dealer and bought it straight away. Did I lose my mind? Actually Leica had created the camera I was waiting for since a long time. Ever since I started with photography about 30 years ago I enjoyed the process of slowing down, composing, setting the exposure parameters and finally taking the picture. For me this procedure was always as important as the final result.

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Having a camera that “feels right” is part of it. Therefore I have always been attracted by cameras with manual controls, whether it was a somewhat odd fully manual Pentacon Six medium format camera, a large format camera or a Leica M. However, in my day job as an IT project manager I have to travel a lot. When you pack your bag more than a hundred times per year you learn to value compact gear. Keeping the number of pieces low (i.e. not having to deal with several lenses) is another important aspect. Since my camera has to live in my bag together with other stuff robustness is key. I managed to shred the EVF of a NEX 5 into pieces within 3 days of ownership simply by lugging it around.The Leica X Vario provides me with all that.

I had wished for a 28 – 50 mm f4 lens – kind of a revival of the Leica Tri-Elmar 28-35-50 mm f4. What I got is a 28 – 50mm f 3.5 – 5.1 which is reasonably close. The macro capability at 70mm comes as a bonus. The lens is first-rate as you can expect from Leica. In combination with the sensor it provides very a convincing technical image quality. Low light performance is decent. Default settings for Auto-ISO are ISO 100 – 1600 which should tell you something. I still find ISO 3200 quite usable. As a former Fuji Velvia fan I like strong colors so I find the Leica colors in standard JPEG setting a bit subdued. If you prefer color accuracy over pop you may like what you get. I prefer the result of the standard profiles in Lightroom.

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I don´t want to hide the drawbacks of this camera:

– Startup time is somewhat slow – may get better with future firmware (I used v 1.0)

– Auto focus is on the slow side too. No problem for me since I take my time for composing.

– While the lens feels really solid like a tank the body does less so. I´m sure if something breaks it will be one of the body´s controls

– The four-way controller on the back side feels particularly cheap and in my opinion it´s on the wrong spot. While all the other controls just fall into right place I still need to get used to this one.

– Battery life may be a problem. I don´t even get close to the 350 shots specified in the manual. Maybe it has to do with using the EVF for every shot and for sure I´m playing around a lot with various settings. Still, I had to charge the camera the first time after about 90 shots!

– Firmware 1.0 doesn´t allow plain DNG files, you always have to choose DNG + JPEG. Not a big deal but a strange restriction.

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Personally I can live with all these quirks. For me this is the perfect all-around compact camera for travel. Why am I not mentioning the price in my list of downsides? Well, in the last 5 years I tried no less than 8 different cameras on my pursuit to find one that fits my needs. Most of them proofed either not robust enough or I was underwhelmed by the user interface. With the X Vario my search is over and therefore it actually will save me a lot of money.

I provide plenty of additional full size images on my Flickr account http://www.flickr.com/photos/12205318@N04/

Best regards,

Wolfgang

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From Steve: My full review will be up in about 1 week!

118 Comments

  1. I am a little shocked that the tone of posts on this site have deteriorated quite a lot recently and especially with this post. The cost of success Steve?
    As to the topic at hand I can’t really see why someone would prefer this over one of Fuji’s models.
    I would like to know what models the author had tried before settling on this?

    • The IQ is nicer from the Leica. Period. Fact. 100% truth. But the Fuji is much more versatile. The X Vario has issues with focus in low light, doesn’t do much well besides static shots in full daylight. I tested it as did many of the guys who were on Palouse with me for the road trip. All of us had the same conclusion. The Vario is made and built nice with superb IQ in daylight, but other than that it falls apart. My review is soon.

  2. btw ordered the Leica X Vario this afternoon and guessing there be times where need to use tripod

  3. With the X Vario having lens 28mm f/3.5 at wide end , I was thinking the following:

    with a full frame M-E or M240 options are:
    Leica 28mm f/2.8 Elemarit $2195 US or
    Leica 28mm f/2.0 Summicron $4295 US

    if I look at 1.5 crop factor and want to use 28mm focal length on mirrorless body such as Sony Nex or Fuju X18mm = 28mm

    than you are left with these 2 choices:

    Leica 18mm f/3.8 Super-Elmar $3195 US or
    Zeiss 18mm f/4 Distagon T ZM $1428 US

    if want 75mm focal length it is much easier to find 50mm m lens to use on Sony Nex or Fuji X

    Leica 50mm f/2.8 Summarit $1650 US
    Zeiss 50mm f/2 Planer T $ 859

    biggest problem with most zoom lens is that aperture is slower as lens get longer expect for professional lens with constant f/2.8

    even if I wanted affordable Leica lens to get 36mm from mirrorless body , the Leica 24mm f/3.8 Elmer is still slower than lens used in X Vario and is $2595 US

  4. I bought this camera and am about to return it. Its pure shit, slow shit even? The EOS-M is a speed demon in comparison! Iq is ok but nowhere near an M9 the cheapest nex with a decent lens beats it and that can actually focus! Will save up for the real m where manual focus is a joy instead of the massive frustration with this overpriced piece of gear.

    • Enrique…thanks for the honest review. The one we all knew would show up eventually. I will be visiting my shop this weekend and they should have one so I will hold additional comments until then.

    • Sounds like you did not learn how to use it. The EOS-M is slower to AF than the Vario but the Vario or EOS is NOT capable of shooting action. STILL LIFE in daylight for the Vario. Thats it.

  5. I was wondering. This is not a small camera. How would its image quality compare to one of the top quality APS-C dslr’s, say a D7100, with a good quality zoom? Compare them without brand associated romanticism, please.

    • If you put a really good lens on the D7100 (like the 17-55/2.8) I would expect it to perform probably nearly comparable with the x-vario. Of course you would have a much faster lens, better AF and a nice optical viewfinder. But then the X-Vario is much smaller and feels nicer in the hand. IMO the X-Vario is great as long as you accept that the AF is not for action, and you are somewhat limited in lower light.

      • It’s not “much” smaller. Be rational, stick to the facts. Pentax K-IIs would be anorher good comparison.

        • have you ever had a 17-55 in your hands? the X-vario is much smaller than a Nikon DSLR with a 17-55/2.8.

          • Actually not Tom; zooms aren’t my thing. If you would take the X Vario’s body alone, there’s not so much difference with a compact APS-C dslr (which, but I don’t need to tell you, actually has a viewfinder).

        • 3 months ago I bought a Pentax K 5-2s with 4 Pentax ‘Limited primes’ (15, 21, 35 macro and 70mm ) for roughly $ 3000. This gear is professional grade and the image quality You can get out of this is outstanding. What has the X Vario over that Pentax kit for about the same price?

          • Inferior specs? Please elaborate. I really want to know. What does the red dot to Your photography? Better dynamic range, better resolution? Or does it just give You a ‘stiffy’ on Your outing on a sunday afternoon in the park?

          • I am not sure if I read ‘retow’s’ comment the right way. If not I apologise to him for my previous comment and agree with him.

  6. After ample consideration, I have come to the conclusion that “Bobbyg53” and “rgf88” are one and the same troll. Does anyone agree?

      • Opinions are like *rseholes; everyone has one. But it’s even worse; some can’t keep themselves from letting these opinions out. Usually to talk down someone with a differing view. A new Leica camera probably is a very emotional subject for some.

        I’ve only seen the “Vario”, haven’t handled it (nor do I feel inclined to). Almost as big as a regular M (which isn’t exactly small but at least it is full frame for it’s size), slow zoom, APS-C. Can’t see the attraction. Very good image quality though by the look of the images I’ve seen, that is, if you like very sharp landscapes.

        Boring.

    • No, they are not. In fact, not even close in build or performance. But some love Fuji. Fuji is great for what it is but they are no Leica when it comes to the quality of cameras. Maybe one day, but highly unlikely as that is not what they are going for.

      • Hi Steve
        I do agree. I had a longtime the Fuji X-Pro1 with 35mm lens. The quality of the cam is not like Leica – to much plastic-. JPEG could be nice, if you know how to manage the settings!!! Standard is not good.
        RAW is unusable, altough so much user say that is good. No software has the correct algorithmcode! for decoding correctly.

        Instead Leica has much better image quality and the digicam are well build and solid!

        • The argument is silly. Even I’m annoyed by all this Leicaism. Sure Leica’s are good lenses, but they cost an arm and a leg…it had better be good. Now, here’s the thing, if I shot 100 photos with 100 different lenses with all the brands, you can bet your life you wouldn’t be able to differentiate them apart. You would be surprised at how good modern kit lenses are compared to old or new legacy lenses. Lens quality is always subjective…if a lens is too sharp, it will lose all character and be harsh. If it’s not as sharp as the next lens, folks will say it’s no good cause it’s not as ” sharp.” So which is it? You can never have both…and certainly not everything. I see all this photos posted here and everywhere else declaring how good they are. And I say this not to insult anyone here, but I’m being honest when I say THEY LOOK LIKE EVERY OTHER LENS MAKES.

          And no, I’m not saying that because I’m ” jealous” of those who have Leica lenses or that somehow maybe it’s my eyes because I can’t see the difference. OR..maybe the difference is so miniscule that it ISN’T even worth arguing over!
          I have not used Leica glass, but I have used almost every other brand including Ziess, and believe me, I’m old enough to know that even when you have used Zeiss lenses, how much better can even Leica glass be? Now if someone wants to spend a load of cash on Leica then all the power to them. I understand that when someone spends thousands on a lens they sort of have to ” find” a difference, sort of like when they say ” love is blind” You can over look someones faults as long as you love them but for camera fans to say things like Fuji ( and I don’t use Fuji) is bad compared to Leica..I’m sorry, I just don’t see it in the pictures. I have 2 eyes just like everyone else and like I said, If I were to shoot 10 pics, 5 with Leica and 5 with Fuji and mixed them up, no one here or anywhere would be able to pick them apart with 100% factual certainty.

          This is not to say Leica isn’t good but I sure as heck am saying that Leica is not the ” best”. The best is what you should look for in your photos, not by what made them. Technically, I can make the same picture Leica user can make with a slr and they can make whatever pic I can make with their Leica. The key is the photo and what it is rather than what made it. I don’t mind if people say Leica or Zeiss is great but it is childish to say another brand sucks just because someone believes Leica is better. Better at what? Better at being 5 % sharper at widest aperture? Better at glow? Better at having no AF? If there was a million dollar lens would that lens take photos that where a million times better? Not everyones philosophy is ” more is better” I will tell you that many folks prefer a less sharp lens. Why? Because there is a saying ” There are people who prefer their photographs to not look like photographs.” Meaning, just because something is sharp sharp sharp does not make it better. I personally can not stand looking at tack sharp wall size photos where the clouds are as sharp as the grass in the foreground, for a lack of a better word, it’s retarded. So I prefer less sharp photos with better rendering. ” Sharpness” .. as a famous photog once said is…. ” a bourgeois concept” and rendering no matter what lens brand is always subjective.

          • “I have not used Leica glass”
            nuff said.
            Steve,
            We need ignore buttons likel dpreview to block out trolls. Particularly the long winded ones.

          • Son, don’t be a imbecile, I’ve been using rangefinder cameras before you were in your mom’s womb. I have Zeiss glass, would you like to tell me how much better Leica is compared to Zeiss. Go out and ask the pros in the stills and film industry what glass they use, son. I could sit here and say, you’ve never used glass and sound all ignorant just like you, but why waste myself? It would be trying to talk human language to a dog, right? Why lower myself to try and convince folks like yourself who are obvious just a collector. While you are trying to convince Steve to ban me for my opinion , wouldn’t it be better to put you to use your energy trying to convince some gallery owner out there that your photos are great because you happen to shoot with a Leica? Why don’t you go out and try that son, after all, Leica takes the ” best” pics, don’t they? So by that account, all your pictures should be better than had you not used Leica. Hey, go out there in the real world son, and don’t let any other brand from keep your photos from going into the finest galleries, son.

      • Build Ok, no question there, but performance? Do you really beleive it yourself? This is what all the talking is about after all. Cameras that cost five times more and do not perform any better than say a Fuji or a Olympus OMD. And its all about marketing to people who have big disposable incomes and not that much idea about photography.
        Leica are not in the game for photographers any more, they are in the game for dentists, lawyers and rich kids, that is how they make their money now, living of a reputation of a long heritage of making things very well. And of course they still do things well and of course there will still be some photographers that have leica glass and like to shoot with the M9 or the M, but that is the exception.And that’s the end of it. This X vario reveals the strategy very well. Maybe it is a disappointing tool for photographers, but I bet Leica will sell loads and make good margins and profit.

        • I recommend to take a x-vario and a Fuji and shoot some images and look at them. Then you will realize that your comments are speculation. By the way – rich kids spend their money for I-Phones but not for Leicas 😉

    • Fuji could be a nice alternative to Leica M if they work on the sensor, improve distortion, make the cameras and lenses feel a little more solid and simplify the user interface a bit. 😉
      But then they would have probably to charge the same price.

  7. I’ve never seen a camera generate such controversy. First, it’s just a camera people. Second, to each their own…what’s wrong with different people liking different cameras. Why does everyone feel so bent on imposing their own views on others, especially negative ones?

    If someone likes the Vario X and it suits their needs, then great! I admit that I was down on this camera and probably would still not purchase it. But after reading the reactions of people who’ve actually used the camera, I now realize it’s not a bad item; in fact it can be a great camera for the right person.

    It’s all good; let’s be glad we’re living in such a golden age of photography!

  8. I went to the link to view the photos and was totally unimpressed by the first few rows. I was ready to change my opinion as I scrolled down (there are some great shots towards the end), and then I realized that all the photos I liked were taken with other cameras…..

  9. Wolfgang, thanks for sharing your thoughts & photos! Checked out your Flickr site too. If Leica doesn’t contact you to use some of those Vario pictures for their brochures or advertising they are nuts… I enjoy the way you see things. It does look like you’ve got the perfect camera to nurture your creative eye! Bravo!

  10. Wolfgang, your review is well balanced and your assessment about the X Vario’s image quality is spot on. Your Flickr photos are impressive. Are the low light people photos hand held? Thanks for sharing!

  11. Those xvario pics look a bit flat to me, and the colours could do with some work: too pastel – think I’ll stick with the M2 (gleaming prints, straight from the lab :0)

  12. Finally a guy that give us a good review . $2850 ? “Lunar-tic” pricing made in Germany and a red dot too much money for something that a great sony nex5 or nex7 can do and cheaper or the fujifilms x100s an excellent camera with amazing colors and amazing low light performance.
    But maybe in the next post steve will say that the leica x vario is the best camera of the universe 🙂

  13. Thanks for the upfront and honest review!! Glad you found the camera of choice for you. Lots of heated debate about this camera, but it seems those who have used it, are finding it quite nice. Thanks for sharing the pics also.

    Regards and safe travel,

    Ryan

  14. Thank you Steve for publishing my initial thoughts and thank you all for your comments. I fully understand that the X-Vario remains a controversial camera.. It certainly isn’t mainstream and a lot of people will be happier with a less expensive and more feature driven model. Most of us here are photo amateurs in the true positive sense of the word i.e. persons who pursue photography out of pure love. I intended to point out that there is something to love about this camera and it may not be as useless as some forum discussions may suggest 🙂

    Looking forward to see some outrageous Palouse photos taken with the X-Vario and to read Steve´s take on it.

    Wolfgang

  15. Wolfgang,

    Congratulations on finding the right camera for you! I can tell you from personal experience that finding the right camera is very difficult, so enjoy your purchase and do as Steve does and just ignore the “noise” from other folks that try to tell you that you could have/should have done something else. If you are happy don’t second-guess it, stick with it and just enjoy shooting with it.

    To anyone that suggests I have to use a Leica first to know whether I’d like it, etc:
    “No, I don’t!” (at least in the case of this particular camera) That’s one reason why I visit THIS website. I value how Steve sticks to the “real-world” review style and tells us what he thinks of various products whether he loves them, is okay with them, or thinks they’re just not his style. From the reviews here, I can learn from Steve’s experience (or from guest posts too) whether a particular camera might be worth considering or not. It saves me some money from having to buy/sell lots of cameras to find the right one on my own.

    So how do I know the Vario X isn’t for me without ever touching one? It boils down to two aspects that are important to my photography: 1) I want a camera with very good AF speed/accuracy and 2) I prefer a zoom that is a fixed aperture of f/4 minimum and preferably f/2.8. Now if the Vario X had nailed at least one of those two things, then I would have to actually try it for myself. If it had been a constant f/4 aperture lens on it that would have been enough to entice me to at least consider it. But with neither a constant aperture nor blazing fast AF, I don’t need to know any more.

    • I fully understand if someone says-like you-“the camera is not for me because I have certain needs which the camera can not fulfill”. The only thing I don’t understand is if people say the camera is worse than another camera in general, or if they say it is not worth the money in general.

  16. A rarely honest user review. I appreciate that. Since you put lot of strain on your camera gear because of the travel, please, let us know how the camera actually holds up in a few months time. Could be interesting to potential owners.

  17. Not everybody may agree with the author’s value evaluation, but I can. I have been looking for a camera with very simple UI(user interface) without tons of features and functions deep in the menu. Leica S2 is the closest one to my ideal camera, but other Leica cameras are not far away from it. Though, they are out of my budget range, I would buy one without hesitation if they were within…
    Dear Steve, you got rid of lots of spams with a newly introduced registration process but earned little bit of liberalism if any at all. Pity.

  18. I really wonder why there are so many people have such funny (strange) feelings about Leica products.
    Even if a good camera doesnt necessarly improve your images – whats the problem if some people are willing to pay a higher price for getting a product with high quality lens, or for a product which feels nice and solid in the hand, or a product with a simple and intuitive user interface?
    And even if someone prefers a different product/brand – how would one know that the Leica Product would not be worth the money for others without even have taken 1 image with the Leica?
    Can the quality of a camera be calculated by (dynamic range x highest usable Iso) / (max f-stop x price) ? Or are there eventually other factors as well. And for those who can tweak a raw-file to every “look” they like – all my respect. You could make a lot of money if you would teach those skills to other people who spend way to much money for expensive gear even though they could achieve same IQ without that gear.

    IMO the x-vario is just a good camera like the Fujis are very good cameras.
    The Fujis are more flexible with exchangable lenses and faster lenses
    The Leica lens is slower but seems slightly better overall IQ and is smaller
    The colors from both cameras are different – which you prefer is subjective
    The user interface from both cameras is different, I prefer that of the vary but I wouldnt mind the viewfinder of a x-pro 1.
    and so on and so on.

  19. Never really thought Leica offerred quality to my photos beyond a camera half the price… but then again, I’m far from a pro and probably really far from using the Leica at its maximum potential.

    These pictures though really don’t seem like they were shot on anything more than an average point and shoot…

  20. I am not a Leica user…its quite simple, I don’t have the money. I couldn’t afford the X Vario, or even the X2. If someone gave me the money, I’d buy one.

    I think what has fired my interest is the sheer quantities of bile this new Leica has unleashed. Leica and Fuji fanboys slugging it out in the forums…dire predictions about slow zooms and no image stabilisation… At the end of the day, its a tool like any other. A premium priced one, granted, but for those who accept its limitations and save their hard earned cash for it, good on you, go and enjoy!

    I purchased a second hand Fuji X100 (original model) and love it to bits. It does what I want, for a budget I can afford. Good luck to those who have invested in the X Vario, you obviously earned it, and who are we to question the value judgement you have made?

    All cameras have an achilles heal. No design is perfect. Or more likely, different people define their perfect camera differently – that’s what makes the human race so interesting (and probably why so many are into street photography).

    We often hear the statement “a bad workman blames his tools”. Strange how in photography the tool becomes everything! I know if I take a mediocre photo it isn’t any technical limitation of my X100 that is to blame – just the photographer – me!

    Buy the tool you want to use, and learn to get the best out of it. Don’t be envious of other peoples tools!

  21. I still try to resist to buying a X Vario, but, with experience from my great X2, I think it is a fantastic piece of equipment.
    What do I do instead: Now, that its street price has dropped considerably (very much to the extent of the SD14’s price level…), I’m going to grab a Pentax X-01 (yes, “The Brick”). Pentax’ lenses are masterpieces and the image processor is nothing short of stellar.
    The bulk of it with a good Pentax zoom mounted is very similar to the Vario’s brickness. But their IQ should be very close to each other.

    • This would be a near perfect solution… A Pentax K-01 or a Pentax ME-1. The issue is that neither has an EVF…

    • One of the main gripes people have with the Pentax ‘brick’ is the reflection on the back LCD, making the camera very difficult to use under bright sunlight, and that is absolutely correct.
      The situation improved 100% after I put a $6 non-reflective sleeve (made for iPhones) on the screen. Other than that, the K-01 is a very capable camera for very little money.

  22. thks Wolfgang

    the images on the flicker account and really crisp and sharp! the colors pop as well. this camera is odd in that when one views the out of camera images they are amazing but when they get compressed down to some websites they go soft. maybe its my retina monitor.

    • yep – it’s not retina optimised versions which give you that look (I’m lazy sometimes and look at articles on iPad). From what I’ve seen, images coming from Vario are SHARP and the rendering is nice to look at too. Really shame they couldn’t squeeze in faster lens to it.

  23. Hi Wolfgang
    Many thanks for sharing your experience with the lovely X Vario.

    Oh, I agree with you. I do think that the X Vario is a very good allaround Compact Digicam.
    EVF is optional and that is good. So, if on the market came a better one, I can change it.

    And the image quality is outstanding even with open aperture!

    Enjoy the Vario and good lights!

  24. I am a Leica fan , I love my M9 and M6 and I agree you shouldn’t judge until you have used the product.

    However with the Vario I just cannot understand what it offers over the Fuji XE-1 with its zoom lens. The Fuji offers the same user experience with its full manual controls in the same place as the Leica , with the bonus of a built in EVF, faster zoom , optional Auto focus and the ability to change lenses…all for a much lower price.

    I am sure the leica lens is better quality but in real world shooting I guarantee it won’t make any difference at all .

    The Vario is a disappointing offering from Leica.

    • The X-E1 w/18-55? What a joke. Been there, done that. Motion blur in the finder, beautifully flat pastel images, landscape details lost in X trans sensor mush. Great value for the money, but compared to the imaging quality of the X Vario, a pretender.

      But how would you know?

        • A bigger brick with the same X-trans sensor mush. Fuji will dump the X-trans sensor altogether, just like they have been price-dumping their products that are equipped with it. Great value for the money for those who aspire to own a Leica, though.

          • that’s something that worried me for some time (knowing about their adventures with different technologies) but I would dump it probably after 3-4 years anyway – this time we can at least be sure that they have some plans with the XF mount and lenses are nice. So even if they do dump X-Trans we’ll still have lenses.

            I’d like to know what they’re cooking with Panasonic (if I remember correctly). I think that there is potential of X-Trans technology, or different array of the colour filter but as we’ve seen so far, it seems to be rather difficult to get big SW houses on board (I replaced LR with CaptureOne for X-Trans raw files).

          • Credit Fuji for being innovative, but they have a history of launching “live” experiments on the buying public. I wouldn’t jump on their “next-gen” imaging sensor too quickly, whatever it may be. The old-school Bayer pattern sensors w/o AA filters are already doing the job that Fuji aspired to do with X-trans.

          • I’d like to see further development of Foveon technology. I’m always shocked when I come home with SD card full of captures from DP2 Merrill.

            And most of all I’d love to see it in M body 🙂

          • Wow. So much negative words here. I have my own criticism about the X series (owning both bodies), but so far I could not detect “mush”, and I personally often love the colors I get (if I had to describe them I would say liquid, but not “pastel”). Maybe my expectations are not too high?

            I love a small body + fast lens combination, simply because I can shoot them wide open if I want, keep the ISOs low even at night. And if I want just one lens, I can use the stabilized zoom at f2.8 – f4 between 28-50mm) at 1/20, knowing that if I have to go to ISO 1600 or 3200 the Fuji sensor performs really well.
            I don’t like using zooms, but the Fuji zoom is the best zoom (IQ/weight) I used so far – I’m glad to hear the IQ from this Leica zoom is much better.

            Just about facts, and without wanting to criticize the X Vario which I did not try, a non stabilized slow zoom will need light or high ISO, thus a sensor that performs extremely well between 800-3200 ISO, which will be a frequent range on a not so bright day.

            (As for recurring remarks in recent posts about cheap Japanese bodies/parts made from recycled plastic vs solid, patient German craftsmanship : though I would not call the Fuji the most solid built camera I ever used, so far (+20 years) I had no complaints about any Nikon, Olympus of Fuji camera, even if handled roughly and quite intensely.)

          • I’ve had a Nikon D200, D700 and now a D800. Plastic (on a magnesium alloy chassis) yes, cheap no. Durable, yes. Pro quality Nikkor primes? Plastic (and a bit of metal) yes, cheap no. Durable, yes.

            No “cheap crap” here.

      • Try harder to sound Leica biased. You’re not trying hard enough. Leica was innovative..in 1959.

      • wow, why are you so negative on every post you put up here? why bother? why don’t you put that energy into being a better photgrapher instead of counting pixels or worrying about specs? it sounds like you are only interested in pissing other people off but never care about photography.. shame…

        • MdB does this all the time, he’s a Sony or m43 shill . If you go over to mirrorless rumors, practically on every Samsung or Canon thread you can see his angry shill bashing all over the place. Not just once but he comes back like some fat kid looking for seconds and thirds. There’s not one Samsung thread that doesn’t have that moron shill hating on a product he’s never tried. And it doesn;t stop there for the kid, he’s even called the guy who runs the site a “wanker”, and the fact that he doesn’t even get banned speaks volumes about that site. It’s more fishier than a bag of 5 day old warm seafood. Mirrorless rumors is now full of shills, angry fanboys who cry “troll” everytime someone has a differing view. In short, that site is over run by snot faced angry kids like MdB more than the weeds on a vacant Vegas lot.

        • MdB is a an angry Sony or m43 shill on from mirrorless rumors who’s hell bent on bashing and trashing Samsung or Canon products, who any products he gets paid 4 cents to hate on. Go over to mirrorless rumors and see for yourself. As soon as there’s a Samsung thread, he’s on it hating and bashing as soon as he can.

        • And if you think he’s bad here, go over to mirrorless rumors and see just how bad and a angry little dik he is. I guess he’s gotta make his 4 cents per shill comment quota. And surprise, he’s not even banned there, despite calling the guy who runs the site a ” w$nker”. There is not one Samsung nx thread that he hasn’t shat over with his hate. He’s just a POS shill.

  25. Those people, who moans here about Leica price, will never buy Leica, thats very simple. This is very like what happened few years back, when many people from Windows PC was so aggressive and hated Apple Macs because of their “high price”. Absolutely same with Leica now.

    Go people and be happy with Fuji and Olympus. Just give us peace us, who likes Leica!

    P.S. 90% of Leica owners are not rich snobs, as you always like to point out. Save your money and get cheap crap, be happy.

    • While the thought of the Leica mystique is intriquing, I can’t say that USD$1300 for my X100S would denote “cheap crap”. The camera is, IMO, rock solid. But I am not someone who is really caught up in GAS. I still use my Nikon D2H bodies although I am entering retirement and ready to let them go to someone who needs 8fps, rock solid AF tracking, and the other conveniences of a DSLR. In the meantime, I will enjoy my X100S and look toward picking up an X-Pro2 in the future.

      Oh, and, David, spend all you want for your Leicas. Won’t hurt my feelings in the least…..

      • So you have Fuji X-trans sensor GAS. So what, who cares? You prefer flat, pastel images. So what, who cares?

        • flat, pastel images – where did this come from??? I’ve seen it several times and I’m yet to see flat and pastel images coming out of my camera. Really don’t get it – do people use some plugin for it (sarcasm)? If you shoot raw you can make whatever image you want from data captured on your SD card – flat, pastel, over saturated, black and white, blue and yellow – whatever you want.

          • The flat, pastel was introduced by Steve himself and now copied by many chipmunks. I really don’t understand people can get so emotional over cameras. Leica lovers, Leica haters, Fuji lovers, Fuji haters. Please, everyone: use the camera you’re most comfortable with and go out shooting. That’s the fun of photography.

          • I enjoy his reviews but I can not make the bokeh look as harsh on my Fuji bodies as he does…. must be the Arizona sun or something.

            The Watercolor effect is there with ACR though. It’s a lot better now but it does pop up in force from time to time.

      • Well, this site has become a church for all Leica talibs. You are not allowed to tell anything wrong about any Leica product.

        • Is that all you have to offer? Are you another Leica wannabe that can’t afford it, but wan’t to “chirp” from the sidelines as though you are commenting on a sports event that you never even saw . . . jealously?

          Wolfgang is reporting his ownership experience. What have you got?

        • that’s what happens when fanaboys take over a site. Check out mirrorless rumors, the whole site is over run by two faced m43 and sony fanboys, who do nothing but slap each other bums about how great the omd is, but then if anyone disagrees, they will be called a troll and and they’ll cry to get them banned. But I guess that’s ok, those who learn how to be suckers deserve to be ripped off. Leica fanboys forget one fundamental thing, that is that the few famous photographers that used Leica, they are the ones that made Leica famous, not the other way around. I see all the pictures here made by Leica, but of course no one who’s bought a Leica wants to hear the truth, which is that all their pics look no different than from any other camera…but you can convince anyone driving a rolls royace that their 50km an hour is the same speed as everyone elses. LOL. Fanboys, you guys really make me laugh so hard. LOL

    • ah these comments about win vs mac -> not the same, not even remotely! with mac you have bundled a lot of SW apart from very well matched HW. With Leica not so much (I own M6).

      • Yes, its same. I said few years ago and I mentioned 2002-2005 years. Mac seemed more expensive then PC’s and many people always had the point, Mac is expensive, PC does same and sometimes much better. The situation is changed now, many released price is not always main point, the quality is and more, the passion, feeling. Thats it.

        • I’ve never shared those points of view because I have both Win and Mac and at work on top of it also Linux and I use them as tools. But when it comes to desktops or laptops there’s nothing better than iMac or MacBook (don’t have any experience with MacPro).

          • Yes Hexx, thats what I am talking about. 🙂 Macbook’s and iMac’s design is amazing but Mac OS X is great and this is main thing for me, same as Leica image quality. I can’t afford M9 or M 240 right now and I also never had Mac Pro, too expensive for me but I always trying to get best quality to use them and enjoy with it long time, not like PC user, every year buying new cheap laptops. 🙂

          • I’m happy with my M6, got it relatively cheaply, in my opinion it’s better made than M9 (can’t comment on new one as I haven’t had a chance to try one) and won’t need to replace it 3 or 4 years later. If Leica did release digital M with revolutionary sensor (like they did with M9) I’d be thinking really hard. But what we have now in the digital M is pretty much standard performance for FF sensor with that resolution – nothing more.

          • @sam – that’s true, it keeps things relatively cheap 🙂

            But I actually forgot something. Leica DID something revolutionary with the Typ 240 – It’s first proper FF EVIL camera that can take any lens (if there’s an adapter for it). This is something we’ve had only available with cameras with smaller sensors than FF.

          • I have used many lenses. And now testing them once with digital I can see how good they are. I rate to my eye, the best lenses are the modern lenses ei mirrorless, even kit zooms, and Zeiss lenses. Second i would say would be Minolta md lenses and Yahica ml lenses. The nikkors for slr pre ai and ai are way over rated. Not bad, but way over rated, and occupy the same realm as the pentax, Canon fd slr lenses.

            People would be shocked and would jump off the roff if they really knew just how good even kit mirrorless lenses are from Fuji and even Samsung. The only lense i have that aproaches even my Samsung nx lenses in rendering and color and even sharpness are my Contax Zeiss lenses. Even the Zeiss Jena lenses and Jupiter of mine i would rate a+. That’s why I always laugh whenever I hear people drool over expensive legacy or new super primes, and i laugh even hardrer whenever they call the modern kit lenses, bad. LOL.

            And this is from what I see, I’m not some pixel peeper but I do judge by my eye and enlarge a bit to see how my lenses render…and that’s all anyone needs. The proof is in front of your nose. I never used Leica, but when you have Contax Zeiss lenses like I have, why would I need to? I have used lenses and cameras enough to know lenses can only get so much better than the next lens. And the more one spends time ” examining ” their photos rather than looking ” at” their photos, the worse they are as a photographer. Do not fall for the sharpness ideal, or else you won’t be able to see the forest through the trees.

  26. When I played with a X Vario for a hour, I wasn’t too crazy about the rear controls. In that short time, I didn’t get used to it. Image quality in good light was good.

    I’m not sure if this camera has demonstrated its robustness for travel yet. Are you planning on putting this camera in a case that goes into your luggage or are you putting it in naked? This camera is too big to live in your pocket and needs to be in a case or neck strap.

  27. Credible and relevant comments from someone who has actually used the product! Unlike too many others just chirping from the sidelines as though they are commenting on a sports event that they never even saw . . . jealously.

    • Am not jealous as a M9 and MP and Leica M and ZM lens user. But the Vario I would not even buy for USD 1500. Compared to the OMD with 12-35mm or Fuji with 18-55mm or the X, or Y, or Z,……. I do not see a reason whatsoever. Heck, I would even prefer a Nikon V2 with the new 10-100mm zoom. All these cameras excel in at least 2 relevant areas. The Vario might shine in (perceived?)build quality, although it could rather be obese than functional heft which makes it feel sturdy. Or is it splash/dust sealed like the premium build OMD?

      • I agree with you retow. As owner of Leica cameras and lenses, I totally have no interest in X Vario

      • could not agree with you more there. there’s no need to see or use this camera in person to know this is not worth $3000. it’s so much easier to tell others try out and complain while bobbyg53 pretends to be a cool headed. go figure

  28. To all those who have or want the Vario, I applaud you. Enjoy. As for me, I’ll stick with my M-E and RX1. And, when I need a bit of zooming for convenience, I’ll do so with my OM-D with a Panny 14-45.

  29. How is this camera you’ve been waiting for 30 years when there were other cameras that does it better or at least equal? The only difference is the money and the red “Leica” logo

    So are you just saying that you bought this camera for “Leica” logo on the camera body? Would that plastic logo worth $2000 more than other same or better quality camera?

    I can’t understand any other reason(s) you would’ve had.

    To me this is the camera for people who will buy anything that has the word “Leica” on the camera body.

  30. This X Vario is so utterly silly that no amount of Leica fanboy mirror-climbing can justify it, I’m afraid. But the attempts are moving. 🙂

  31. Currently traveling for a year. I’ve been on the road for eight months now. I know that annoying feeling, always packing and unpacking. The fear of forgetting something. The abuse your luggage has to take. That 15kg you’re carrying everywhere is your whole world.

    But eleven counties later, my “ancient” D90 and my $199 35mm f1.8 are good to go. Not a scratch on the glass. OVF, 450 shots per battery, tough, decent IQ, fast AF, fast lens. Worth about five times less than the X-Vario.

    I’m happy you found your fit, Mr Kuechle but, as a fellow man on the road, I feel like you might not give your gear the respect it is due.

  32. It’s great that you like the camera, but I still don’t get it.
    If you are packing your camera with your luggage, the place where the lens joins the body is going to be the biggest stress point. A detachable lens would be preferable. Both the camera and the lens would fare better separately than joined together. A pancake or collapsible lens (like in the X1) would also be better (short lens = less leverage = less stress on the lens mount).

  33. I have gone full circle (from X Vario hate to lust) recently. I think it could be a great camera for my needs right now. Am seeing how I feel over I’ve had a chance to shoot with it. It shoots RAW + Jpg as it can’t render a preview of RAW so uses the Jpg for zooming in etc.

  34. Wolfgang,

    Great that you are happy with the camera but really, for three thousand dollars don’t you expect better build at the very least? Forgetting other drawbacks like slow lens, slow AF, no built in VF, don’t you think $3000 should buy you a very well built camera? I felt the same way when I bought the X1. Great IQ but built like a toy. A$2000 toy! I couldn’t rationalize that away.

  35. That’s an awful lot of downsides for a camera which, judging by the examples, has no more image quality than any point & shoot on the market.

      • If this would have been a camera released by f.i. Fujifilm, I’m pretty sure it would have been bashed by so many. With silly AF comparisons in low light situations under which you won’t be able to take a decent picture with basically any camera on the market. Now it has the famous red dot, I bet we must start thanking God Leica finally did make a dream come true after all those years. And see at a bargain – what a joy – all those that cannot afford the M but still want to take a drink in the expensive beach club can now be extremely happy! A Leica mini-M with AF! For the rest, this is the most featureless, useless and overpriced camera made in years, sorry but that is the only conclusion I can make, with a sober mind.

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