A Tribute to the Leica X
by Oliver Angus
I’m a 35 years old French man (so, I beg your pardon for my far from perfect English), and I’m fond of photography.
In January 2015, I went to my Leica Dealer, In Paris, Bd Beaumarchais, and I bought a Leica X, Typ 113 (who invented such a stupid name ? Hey, man, this is not a car, this is a camera !).
It’s a gorgeous camera, and I will show you, at the end of this post, my first pictures with it, but now, I would like to talk about my previous camera : the leica X1, and to pay tribute to it, in order to say « au revoir ».
I bought this tittle gem in september 2010, a week before the birth of my daughter (another gem, much more precious). Previously, I spend hours on the internet to choose the perfect camera for me.
At this prehistoric times, the choice was much more simple than today : I was looking for a light and silent camera, with a IQ as good as DSLR’s. And the X was the one. Quite expensive, that’s a fact, but similar to a DSLR, IQ speaking, with a good prime lens and much more desirable. 10 days after this purchase, my daughter joined us, and I started to take stills of all this precious moments which flew away so fast.
I took my X1 with me all the time, during holiday, of course, but also, during the week ends, when we went to a park or a playground, or even ay work. I’m not a materialist person, but each time it was a pleasure to open the leather bag of the camera, to turn the aperture ring and to shoot.
Steve recently talk about the X files « that no other camera has » and I can’t be agree more.
During all these years, I’ve read religiously Steve’s posts and reviews, but also Ming Thein’s ones, every day, and I’ve seen all these fantastic new cameras arrived on the market : the fuji X100, the Sony RX1R, the Nikon Df, the Sony A7s, and each time, I asked to myself, Isn’t it the moment to buy a new camera, faster and with a faster lens ? And each time, I answer to myself : yes, this is a nice camera, but I do prefer the ergonomic of the X, I do prefer the leica color rendition (than the fuji, for instance), I don’t need anything else than my 35mm, and even if it’s not able to shoot in the dark, this is not a real issue.
A lot of people talked about the lack of an OVF, but, to be honest, I don’t need one. I’ve learned to focus thanks to the screen, and for portraits, a lot of people are intimidated if they are shot through a VF whereas they are not if they see the eyes of the photographer.
In fact, it was not about reason, but about connection with the camera.
So I kept my X1, month after month.
But, with the time, the lens took more and more time to protract when I turned the camera on, and, honestly, my G.A.S was stronger and stronger.
I was considering buying a Fuji, and suddenly, the X arrived.
I’ve red Steve Review and I’am agree with the marketing flaw about the 1.7 aperture, but, the truth is : I don’t care.
Post scriptum : after 6 months of use, I’m as fan of the X, than I used to be of the X1. Maybe more, if possible. It’s one million times faster, and this is a huge improvement. The manual focus is easier to make. It’s even more gorgeous thank the X1. Any cons ? It’s a little bigger than the X1 and the color rendition, ooc in raw, was perhaps better in the X1. But as you can see, I rarely use color because, when I take my camera, I see the world in black and white (and greys).
Few weeks ago, Leica announced it’s Leica Q, which is basically an X, with a full frame sensor. It must be a wonderful camera; i have no doubt on this. But, for now, I’ve cured may Gear Acquisition syndrome. Can’t promise I won’t have a relapse in the future, but, before that I will enjoy my damn good X.
So long life to the X’s !
Here are some pictures with my Leica X.
A lot more in my Flickr : //www.flickr.com/photos/23366047@N07/
The Leica X is available at B&H Photo, Amazon, Ken Hansen or PopFlash!
I’ve actually been thinking about selling both my X and X Vario to buy the Q. I’ve test driven the Q on three separate occasions at Leica stores in San Francisco, Seoul and Los Angeles and am very impressed. Each time, however, I carried my X and used it alongside the Q.
While the Q is a definite upgrade in terms of handling (built-in EVF and improved controls) and obviously resolution, the differences aren’t that significant in terms of color accuracy and print quality at my preferred sizes (16X20 and smaller) and with my modest post-processing skills.
At 28mm the Q lens is sharper in the center, but a bit softer in the corners than the X Vario zoom at 28mm equiv. At 35mm crop the Q is very similar in performance to the X 113 and both are better than the X Vario at that setting (X Vario is best at 50-70 equivalent). At 50mm crop the X Vario crushes the Q, mostly due to having double the resolution from its larger sensor area (larger than the cropped area on the Q).
My overall conclusion? I really like the Q, but won’t buy one. I really like the X Vario, but will probably sell it. I just invested in the grip and finger loop for the X 113 and will likely keep it for a few years. Of all of the Leica compacts it is (for me) the best combination of cinematic rendering, low-light adequacy and of course, its paid for.
in the same boat too. still keeping my XVario even though i still feel the frustration when it comes to responsiveness. for me the Q could have been the ultimate camera, …. if it had been a real 24mp 35mm, and not a cropped 12mp option. despite the whole “Iphone is a 28mm” excuse, it is obvious Leica is simply too scared to release a fixed lens FF 35mm that would eat into the M sales.
see, the Q for me is the best proof that Leica is not wanting to propose the “best camera”.
it’s like if there was always a small thing that was off. this one flaw that always makes them imperfect. besides, from a marketing standpoint, it wouldn’t make sense 🙂
the one thing that ALWAYS makes me come back to Leica, is …. their menu system. i will always want to pay more for this invaluable simplicity.
Hey man! 28 mm versus 35mm? You shoot 28mm and after in your posttreatment you crop to any size? So whats the problem? OK, you set the camera in 35mm crop mode and ‘lose’ some Mp and so what? The quality is fair enough for most occasions.
More and more people today are accustomed to 28mm. Especially the younger generation (the smartphone people).
Leica doesn’t want to interfere the classic 35mm, 50mm, 90mm et cetera by making the Q with 35mm? I don’t think so. In that case, the are like the Porsche and its icon the 911 versus Cayman and Boxter.
Another make, Richo GR, used my many PROs as a backup camera, has 28mm and a build in crop mode 35mm.
Stick to the new Q and you will most likely become happy?
STIG PALM: the X1, X2, X, are all APS-C 35mm cameras. and surprisingly as soon as a FF is released, it goes straight to 28mm.
don’t get me wrong. i LOVE using 28mm. have been shooting with a Ricoh GRD4 and the Nikon Coolpix A for years. but they’re not in the same price range. and for me these were side cameras, that i would only use for a very specific street usage. not as a main system.
4k for a 28mm prime, i simply don’t know. the Q looks fantastic, but it’s simply too wide. but heck, who knows, if i have the cash, i might jump anyway! 🙂
Andrew: arg you’re right. 15mp and not 12. which is still slightly better. 🙂
I like 28mm, and the Q’s crop is 15MP, not 12 (not much difference).
For me it would be perfect if my X wasn’t paid for and good enough.
I too, stick with Leica for the simple menu system, otherwise I would save money and buy a Fuji. I will probably stick with my X as well (Georgeous IQ) and wait for the Q 35mm ……….me thinks it will be a long wait!
Thank you for a fine article and the lovely photos of your children.
I still don’t understand the needs of praising a camera, when it is obvious that the pictures are what matters, and you have interesting ideas and a real good eye for composition and execution.
I bet you could have done shots so nice even with my old and battered 1976 Olympus OM-1 film camera. 😉
Keep up with the good work!
You are wiser than me. Only Pictures matter, of course and I love some photos, by E Boubat, for instance, which are not sharp at all, and even a little blurred, but better than any pic I will shoot in my entire life. On the other hand, if you consider photography as an art, but also as a know how, you have to admit that tools (i.e Cameras) matter. And I’ve red a lot of famous photographers, such as Depardon, interviews speaking, with interest, of their cameras.
But, again, you are right and we spend to many time speaking about cameras and not enough time in the street with our cameras !
Fine images regardless of the gear used.
Very nice set of images, I especially like the people in the square with a bit of flare from the sun; very cinematic.
Thank you Andrew. I also like this one. It’s shot on the Red Square in Moscou : a fascinating place for those who are fond of photos.
I haven’t been there yet, but as half of my ancestry is Russian it is high on my list.
I was absolutely fascinated to read your camera story. Your feelings mirror mine about my X-Vario completely. I’m not a 35mm person (or haven’t become one yet!): 50 is more my style, but I am hugely admiring of your shots and composition with 35, your use of black and white (tho’ I love the colour and the symmetry of your last shot, too). Like the X113 getting slated at first for what it doesn’t do, that was the fate of the X Vario, too, at the outset. In use, one enjoys what these cameras can do! Merci beaucoup et meilleurs souhaits pour encore de bonnes images!
Hello John. That’s the point. These cameras don’t do everything. Their aperture is not extraordinary, they are not as fast as others, but what they do, they do it brilliantly.
And I’ve never used the X vary, but I’ve seen a lot of decry good pictures taken with it (from instance in Sparth’s Gallery). Enjoy your vario and take care.
Oliver Great work.I have been a fan of the x1since it came out never let me down, I liked it so much that i purchased a XVario the camera that the internet hates they do not know the fun and quality images they are missing. Keep up the great work Jim
Awesome images, awesome English, and the cutest daughter. It’s like looking at a professional magazine shoot.
Great little chat about your camera transition. As you know already, I’m a regular lurker of your flickr stream, not only because of the quality of your shots, but also because of your photographic philosophy. Your dedication to a single system is fascinating. And as a x1 user which transitioned to the xvario, I can relate!
Your have a gift for photographing children.
Hello. I don’t know if I have a gift (I don’t think so), but it’s a joy to photograph kids, because everything is so intense in their lives. When they are happy, it’s like a explosion of happiness. When they are sad, it’s like a tropical rain (and I dont take photos at these times, just try to cheer them up). And when they are serious, it’s like they are playing a chess world championship, even if the topic is to choose a pizza…
The sad thing is that it’s hard today, espacially for a man, to take pictures of kids playing in the streets. Parents are afraid or at least uncomfortable (and to be honest, I’m not sure I would be glad if an unknown man shoot my kids without asking. But if you ask, you loose the spontaneity…)
Whatever, thanks a lot for this beautiful compliment.
absolute beautiful portraits
a n d
by the way X is the camera! proportions, feel, function . . .
I think it is the house leica should develop on
Thanks Jeff !
WELL WELL WELL? Leica has by the new Q however cost the double versus X.
Lovely ‘live’ and free images ….. I have been using a Leica DL6 recently and it is another great camera from L … compact and not threatening :0
Thank you for sharing, Oliver. I wish I was more like you: one camera, one lens. But, hélas…! My favourite photo here is the one of the girl laughing. The one of the couple at night: that’s also very nice.
It is true that the X cannot see in the dark, but most cameras cannot. Most DSLRs cannot – even the most expensive ones. So, it’s not a big deal. The only camera that truly sees in the dark is the Sony A7s.
It is frustrating that Leica made the X1, then made the X2 which had almost no improvements. The X113 is great, I think, but Leica has, apparently, given up on making the world’s smallest APS-C sized camera. Well, that’s okay.
X2 had faster autofocus, a higher resolution sensor that was slightly better at high ISO, an improved flash and added EVF capability. Not insignificant considering they didn’t raise the price.
Finally! A positive post on the X. Beautiful series Oliver, you demonstrated what this much maligned camera is capable of. I too, have an X. It’s been recently to Chile and Cuba as primary camera. I have shot landscape, street, food, and portraits of members of the Cuban National Ballet. Very versatile, gorgeous files, and not once has the variable aperture issue made one whiff of difference. I have many wide open shots with gorgeous bokah. I have also utilized the pop up flash for fill when needed (dialed way back of course). …The Q is a step up of course (evf/full frame/fast af), but I think I’ll wait for the 35mm version (pleeeeese Leica!).
I recently took my M (and my M-E) to Seoul, Korea and also used the X as my primary camera. It is VERY underrated.
Thanks Ralph. That’s also why I’m so fond of the X : the 35mm allows you to shoot streets photos and landscape and Portraits, and whan you have (the opportunity) to travel, it’s a pleasure to put this camera in your bag. You know that you will come back with some decent pictures 😉
Your story reflects mine. I had tried different Canon cameras for years and they were fine but I didn’t love them. Then I found about the X1 and decided to take the plunge. It was one of the most transformative moments of my life. A camera is just a camera but for some reason that little point and shoot opened a door creatively. Before the X1 there were no no fixed lens digital cameras that could take portraits like the ones you’ve shown here. Thanks for sharing, you have great intuition with a camera in your hand and it’s nice to read about someone evolving with the system!
I could not agree more.
I love your pictures, Olivr. I look at the ‘Leica X Flickriver’ almost every day.
That first image is wonderful
It’s mostly because my boy is soon cute 😉
Sooooo cute (not soon cute)
I don’t think you’re missing anything (like the ‘Q’) because the X-113 is perfect – your photos prove that – the first, the portrait, is amazing.
Proof positive that it’s photographer not the equipment. I wonder what the results would have been with some really good equipment, thought out by a camera manufacturer whose first concern was the photographer and what really works well.
That sort of camera is exactly what he used.
Hello Victor. I’m fond of sarcasm and I like your post. But as you can imagine, that was even the purpose of my post, I think Leica is a wonderful manufacturer. Of course, they don’t do perfect cameras and you can find faster ones, fore instance; of course, they are very expensive : of course, they are sometimes limiting their new cameras in order not to compete with the M’s… but, come on, they know what they do and I’ve never seen cameras as desirable as theirs. And to me, it’s important, because it’s makes you WANT to take pictures with these cameras. I know that man can takes perfect pictures with other cameras and, for instance, I’m very fond of the Canon 5D mark 2 files, but this camera is to big to me and I can’t imagine myself pacing up and down the World with a 2 kilos camera on my shoulder. But that just my point of view and the more important is to find a system that suit you 😉
Hey man! Why do you make excuses for your English? It’s nothing wrong with it. Even many people born in the US of A or elsewhere cannot manage as you do. We readers are only interested in what you want to say here. Period!
Hello STIG, you’re damn right. But as every man working the the Law business, I don’t like when I don’t control precisely my words 😉 And my English is often broken and approximate.
I hope the people reading this realize that these photos look so great not just because you used a Leica X, but because you’re a skilled photographer who knows what he’s doing , has a great eye, and knows how to edit before and after the shot… I fully agree that the Leica X is an amazing camera. Thanks for sharing your work and insights with us.
Thanks a lot Rainer. You are right of course. But à good camera is a pleasure to use an it helps to make decent pictures !
Thanks. And Thank you so much Steve for publishing my post. To be very specific, my Leica X is Black, not brown 😉