The Leica X-Vario, now available in Silver

xvariosilver

The Leica X Vario is now available in Silver, almost a year after the debut of the Black X Vario. Will the silver chrome color provide a boost to the slower sales of the X-Vario? Unlikely… but maybe Leica thinks it will. Until they make this camera with an IC (interchangeable lens) mount and a nice and large built-in EVF there are better options out there including the new Fuji X-T1, which many are quite happy with it seems..and it costs much less, even with the Kit zoom. About $100o less, and it can mount other lenses.

I have seen the X-Vario sell NEW on Amazon for hundreds off of the normal retail price, which is odd for a Leica item. But for those that love the X-Vario and have been waiting for it to arrive in Silver Chrome you can now pre-order it at your favorite Leica Dealer. Leica Store Miami has it on their front page right now 🙂

The X-Vario is a great camera and has super IQ for daytime shooting, but for many it is the lens that is the handicap as well as the size and balance and ergonomics. The lens is one of the best zooms I have shot with for normal daytime use, but when lights get low the camera loses the IQ as the lens does not have the speed to keep the ISO’s low. There are many fans of this camera and many haters. It is one of those Leica’s that has divided even the hardcore Leica fanatics.

I was once told by a respected friend to be hard on these companies that do not deliver what they should for our money. I have done so several times with Fuji, a few times with Sony and also with Leica and a few others. By pointing out these things it will hopefully help Leica to deliver an even better X-Vario down the road. With their shiny new huge factory, I think they can make an X-Vario that knocks all others to the ground.

Here is how:

Add a built-in grip where the palm lands, something integrated and nice looking to keep with the style of the camera. In other words, keep it M like. Will help ergonomics with the big lens.

Make the lens a constant f/2.8 aperture and improve the sensor for low light.

Speed up the AF  – and by quite a bit.

Add a built in EVF of high quality, one of better quality than the EVF-2. 

Weather proof it, make it in black and silver from the get go and keep the price around $2199. 

Give it the M 240 battery if possible.

Bingo.

You can order this Silver edition from Ken Hansen, PopFlash, Pro Shop and Leica Store Miami.

You can see my extensive Leica X- Vario real world use review HERE. It is indeed an IQ machine in good light.

Below is the official Leica press release:

Allendale, NJ (February 25, 2014) – Leica Camera presents a sleek, silver version of the Leica X Vario as an alternative finish to the understated black of the standard model.

In classic black or stylish silver, the Leica X Vario is a product that epitomizes the Leica’s trademark quality and offers even greater versatility and creative freedom as well as brilliant image quality.

The Leica X-System is defined by its high-performance, APS-C format, CMOS image sensor with over 16.5 megapixels (effective 16.2 MP), remarkably large compared to other cameras in its class. The Leica X Vario is the first compact camera to combine this professional sensor with a high-performance zoom lens – the Leica Vario Elmar 18–46 mm f/3.5–6.4 ASPH. – and, as a result, delivers particularly brilliant exposures in all photographic situations.

For expansive interior shots, landscapes or portrait photography, the zoom range offered by the Leica X Vario allows entirely new horizons for creative photography. Its versatility is further emphasized by a full-HD video recording function, along with crystal-clear sound recording, that lets photographers capture those special moments in moving pictures with a resolution of 1920 × 1080 pixels at a frame rate of 30 full frames per second. A wide range of camera setting options and fast, precise autofocus further enhance the features offered by the Leica X Vario, a camera with a performance profile that offers even the most demanding photographers maximum creative freedom for spontaneous shots as well as for carefully arranged compositions.

Leica also offers an extensive portfolio of accessories for the X Vario that can be added to the camera to make it easily adaptable for every photographic situation. For example, the Leica EVF 2 Viso-Flex electronic accessory viewfinder with 1.4 megapixels and 90° swivel function is extremely helpful when shooting from unusual angles. The accessories also include a handgrip and finger loops in three different sizes that perfectly balance the weight of the camera in the photographer’s hands. An optional lens hood diminishes reflections, and the Leica SF 24 D flash unit offers greater freedom for subject lighting. The portfolio of accessories is further complemented by a comprehensive range of premium-quality bags, cases and straps.

The silver X Vario and the entire range of optional accessories are now available at select Leica Stores, boutiques, and authorized dealers across the U.S.

44 Comments

  1. If the auto focus was faster and could be used reliably as a street camera, and had something like the Ricoh GR’s snap focus (which is amazing btw) then I would buy one in a heart beat. I prefer the X Vario’s color reproduction over the M240’s

  2. Colorwise you are all wrong: the a la cart is slightly better than the Paul Smith but both outperform all silver and black versions!

  3. It’s their (Leica) own fault!

    I love the design of X 2 and X vario (esp in silver) but what was in Leica’s mind NOT to incl. a VF?

    If I want to shoot with an iphone I buy one!

    The glass is exceptional good but I cannot find a body I like. Got a V Lux 3 and a Panasonic with Leica glass, but a few months ago I bought the X E 1 – could have been the Vario if it had a VF.

    I mean Leica fans are traditional, “old school” wich is not bad but in the marketing apartment they might not understand what’s going on.

    Keep shooting
    Heiner

    • Nahh… Black cameras take better pictures as they’re more professional, everyone knows that. Same with motorbikes; the black ones are faster. Common knowledge.

  4. Isn’t that the point Steve, this was made as an excellent walkabout daily light camera with a versatile zoom. Probably hoping there is an M in your bag for low light and DOF. It’s an impossible circle to square otherwise with a zoom.

  5. A beautiful camera, a clean style, a clean sensor, the range you need, flash, missing integrated EVF, only.
    It just was badly marketed. A huge mistake by Leica, and stil by Leica Italy with the embarassing video-interview. Time for a fan to shoot some cinematic M240 footage promoting the X Vario as a convenient quality camera for quality moments.

  6. The perfect postcard, everything sharp, making camera for the well heeled posturing set; now in silver!

    This news is só exciting…

  7. Dear Leica, For all of your technical camera expertise, it’s ridiculous to exclude a PC terminal. $2,850.00 for a camera that can’t use an EVF and trigger a radio slave simultaneously is a joke. Think out of the box, there are other forms of photography other than “street” photography. Build an EVF with a PC terminal and make the X-Vario a professional alternative.

  8. Why bother to hate? Let us hope Leica does not loose money on it. To an extend that damages the viability of the company. After all, if the Leica management would apply customer orientation, marketing and business best practice from the MBA textbooks, they would have discontinued the M product line 50 years ago, got acquired by an oriental industry giant or turned into just trading/licensing with the brand.

    • “if the Leica management would apply customer orientation, marketing and business best practice from the MBA textbooks, they would have discontinued the M product line 50 years ago..”

      The Leica M series, from its inception, has been their money maker. And it is why Leica is the only camera maker that actually makes a profit selling cameras.
      Seen the year to year bleeding money losses from the camera divisions of Fuji, Sony, Olympus etc etc?

      By the way, I too dislike the Vario. I find the ergos terrible, especially how my hand keeps accidentally hitting the main control dial on the back of the camera. Leica for me is the M series. Anything else and I’d look elsewhere.

      Best regards
      Huss

      • Slightly off topic Huss (and others), briefly picked up the X-T1, MM and M today.

        X-T1: nice fit in your hand, bit small, apparently good ergonomics, EVF didn’t enamour me. Could get used to it I guess.

        MM: wonderful feel.

        M: same wonderful feel, improved by smallish thumb grip, but thick and heavy for its size, even with a smallish Elmarit fitted.

        And the my D800 was back in my hands with AF problems (finally?) solved. The ergonomics are unsurpassed. All is well again.

  9. On looks I don’t think there is anything that comes close to the X-Vario. And there is so much smart design in the camera and lens operation that I personally don’t have a problem with the price. Having said that, a built in EVF and better low light performance would do wonders for this camera.

    Its a stark contrast to what the likes of Fuji offer, each time they hit an ergo problem they are just adding more buttons and dials – in the case of the T1 this is most evident – when in fact they could just improve the menu operation. Now, rather than have cluttered “Q” menu with things that never get used, there is a cluttered camera with dials that will rarely get used.

    What would be nice is to see the same body style appear as an interchangeable lens system, with a built in EVF and better overall performance. The partnership with Panasonic (or whoever) might just deliver that.

    The silver option really does look nice.

    • Well, I used all those dials on my film cameras and I am more than happy to use them on a digital camera. Much better than digging in obscure menus, having to take the camera away from your eye..

      • On the T1, not including the essential dials of Aperture and Shutter speed, there is an ISO dial, Drive Mode dial, Exposure Comp dial, Exposure Mode dial, 6 customizable buttons, a Focus mode dial, a Q button and a Record button (did I miss any) – a good menu system, such as in the Ricoh GR, can take care of all that in a much more efficient manner.

        I much prefer the Leica approach with the X-Vario and hope they can translate this to a system camera with an updated electronics package.

  10. I would put this new color edition in the “perfuming the pig” category. At three grand it’s laughable and makes me wonder just how tone deaf Leica’s marketing department is. I’d rather get a Fuji X20 or four.

  11. I was also shocked how Leica performs so bad under low light conditions when I used to own X2. And I feel that this shockingly bad performance is not only about the sensor or IQ but also due to the peculiar nature of Leica lenses. As we all know Leica glass is being made still with the same formula since the end of the 19th century. I intuitively feel that Leica needs to look at this antique formula more deeply if this phenomena of horrible low light performances have to do anything with this thing or not. IMO fujinin lenses sets the example for high performance in low light conditions.

    I know that many people would have wanted an IC lens APC sensor camera from Leica but in the meantime Leica should not only work towards this targetbit but also make M240’s much lighter in weight and much smaller than what it is today.

    • “..As we all know Leica glass is being made still with the same formula since the end of the 19th century..” ..Really? ..No, that’s utterly untrue.

      Ever since Leitz established their own glass lab, until it closed in the seventies, they created all sorts of different glass variants, many of which were subsequently produced in larger batches by Schott (in Germany), Corning (in the USA) and Hoya (in Japan), as well as Leitz buying in and using speciality glasses produced by Chance Brothers (UK).

      If you meant that lenses are designed with the same OPTICAL formula, rather than chemical formula; wrong again. Leitz’, and then Leica’s, lens designers, from Berek through Mandler, Marx, Watz and Karbe and others, have produced a huge and continuously progressing variety of different optical designs which are now completely different (being mainly “retro-focus” in the case of wide-angle designs) from designs “..since the end of the 19th century”. There’s just no comparison between results from, say, 1920s Leica lenses and the present ones.

      And those glass formulas are utterly different, too.

      You may “..intuitively feel that Leica needs to look at this antique formula..” but your intuition, that’s to say your “guesswork”, bears absolutely no relationship to actual fact.

      The Leica designs – optical designs and chemical designs – have changed enormously since the first Leica of 1924/5, and are nothing whatever like “..the same formula since the end of the 19th century”.

      As my friend Lennart says, “Google is your friend”..

    • Leica glass is not the culprit here; their optics are superlative and continuously advancing like all manufacturers.

      The problem is that Leica doesn’t place the same emphasis on electronics evolution (including sensors) as it has on optical evolution … and electronics are now more important to final image quality than they’ve ever been.

      So, the upshot is stellar optics and mechanics coupled with subpar electronics.

  12. i really don’t understand the hate this camera recieves. If you are someone that primarily shoots portraits, or is a bokeh junky, don’t buy this camera. There are plenty others to choose from, including Leica X2 and the M bodies. If you are a landscape photographer, then this camera is amazing. The lens they have put on the camera is one of the finest Leica has ever designed and the output of the camera for landscape out resolves the current M . Is it too expensive? Yes it is a Leica.

    • That is the issue right there. They made a camera for one purpose? Landscape only? If they would have called it the LL (Leica Landscape) then no one would complain as it would do its job very very well. But they promote it as a camera that does it all, low light, good light, super bright light. street shooting, etc. It is good for static subjects only, in good light, period. Much too limited which is why it receives the criticism. .

      • I have to say after half year use: yes you can make wonderful portrays!!! why must every picture look like taken with a noctilux???

    • “i really don’t understand the hate this camera recieves.”

      I think it’s because it’s a $2,800 camera that some may say way underperforms other cameras in the price range. I’m not hating on the thing — I don’t get worked up over what cameras people buy (I spend my fair share of cash on items that make no practical sense as well).

    • Really like this silver-chrome look! Sharp looking camera. Handled the X-Vario again a few weeks ago and it seems nicely built and designed as far as it goes. And I really wish I could justify buying this camera. But I cannot seriously consider it, as Leica must first add an integrated EVF and a faster lens. The fixed XV lens is already too big for true pocketability, so I am fine with making the lens larger in order to gain back some speed. And while they’re at it, please give us back an aperture ring on the lens itself, not an electronically-linked aperture dial on top of the camera.

      Looks like Leica was so worried about lineup logic and sell-down (from M to X) that they foolishly limited features in the XV, while artificially inflating price. Have you checked out the price of the Leica branded add-on EVF (available from a competitor at far lower price)? Downright insulting. No offense intended to those who own and love their XV! Just my own perspective.

    • It’s not hatred. It seems like the Leica users tend to think the bashing against Leica is based on hatred, but it is actually they are more like just making fun of it.

  13. Joel Meyerowitz recently did a little promotional blurb on the Vario for Leica >> http://leicarumors.com/2014/02/10/joel-meyerowitz-my-life-with-leica-part-1.aspx/

    Bit of an embarrassment, really.

    Which is a shame, because by all accounts the camera is well-built and the lens is uniformly sharp right across the frame, with great resolution and overall IQ.

    But, once again, like so many Leica cameras, it’s let down by out-of-date electronics; namely an APS-C sensor with poor high ISO performance (absolutely CRITICAL for such a slow lens) … and some crucial missing features for a camera in this milieu.

    Unfortunately, Steve, there’s no way Leica can design a built-in zoom that offers a constant f/2.8 aperture AND meets their high optical standards without it being far too big for the body size they want to maintain (the company has said as much). Which actually makes your other suggestion about a sensor improved significantly for low light all the more important.

    But again, sensors are electronics, and here Leica more often than not seems to be several years behind (though in fairness, I hear the M240 sensor actually performs quite well at higher ISOs).

        • I own the X Vario and it’s not true the higher ISO sucks. I also own an RX1R. Both are terrific cameras. Both take outstanding photos. But the Leica has a look I cannot duplicate with the Sony. It’s hard to explain unless one owns both and does comparative tests as I have.

  14. I don’t get why to compare a fixed zoom versus an interchangeable camera, they are different concepts, and I am not sure if an aps-c leica would be rational with all the effort they put to make a full frame body to their appreciated lenses line.
    Save the evf (and the price, lol) I’d prefer the fixed version.

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