Leica has announced the X2, a 16MP APS-C compact camera with a fixed 36mm equivalent F2.8 lens. The camera is an updated version of its X1, with the biggest changes being the use of a 16.2MP CMOS sensor and the addition of an accessory socket for adding an optional 1.44M dot 'Viso-Flex' electronic viewfinder. An add-on handgrip is also available. Leica says it has improved the autofocus system (one of our biggest criticisms of the X1), but has retained the rather low-resolution 230,000 dot rear LCD. The X2 has a list price of $1,995.00.

The optional Viso-Flex is visually near-identical to the Olympus VF-2 viewfinder, which uses a full 1.44m dot Epson LCD panel, rather than the Panasonic LVF2, which uses a field-sequential display (updating one color after another), to offer the equivalent of 1.44m dots.

Andy Westlake has reported on the X2's AF performance, based on his use of a pre-production camera at Leica's press event in Berlin:

'Our initial impressions are that the X2 feels improved in a couple of key areas. Autofocus is rather faster, especially in low light, and while it may not match the very fastest around it should be fast enough for most purposes. The top-plate dials have also been improved, with more-positive click stops. The clean lines of the original are slightly spoiled by the top-plate 'hump' to accomodate the EVF port, but that plug-in 'Visoflex' viewfinder shoould make the camera far more useable in bright light.'

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Press Release:

LEICA X2: THE NEXT GENERATION OF THE LEICA COMPACT DIGITAL CAMERA

Solms, Germany (May 10, 2012) - Leica Camera AG presents the X2, a new addition to the X-line of compact digital cameras. Handmade at Leica’s headquarters in Germany, the Leica X2 features a new APS-C-format professional CMOS image sensor with over 16.5 megapixels (effective 16.2 MP). In combination with the high-performance Leica Elmarit 24 mm f/2.8 ASPH. lens, a classic focal length for photojournalism, this sensor ensures maximum image quality and sparkling brilliance. With its refined styling and high-performance technical features, the Leica X2 offers unsurpassed performance in a compact package.

The Leica X2’s autofocus system has also been enhanced, allowing the camera to adapt to all shooting situations with enormous flexibility and enabling fast, extremely precise and almost silent focusing. The camera’s profile is complemented by numerous setting options from full manual control to automatic functions and an intuitive handling concept. These features make the Leica X2 the ideal premium-class compact camera for discerning photographers who wish to concentrate completely on their subjects and appreciate creative and true-to-life pictures.

The CMOS image sensor of the X2 is unusually large for a camera in the compact segment. Despite its high resolution of over 16 megapixels, each individual pixel on the sensor is very large, allowing the X2 to gather more light. The resulting benefits include low image noise, a high dynamic range and accurate color differentiation. The crop factor of the sensor is 1.5 in comparison with 35-mm film format, meaning that the Leica Elmarit 24 mm f/2.8 ASPH. lens of the Leica X2 becomes a universal reportage lens with an effective 35-mm-equivalent focal length of 36 millimeters. This is considered to be a classic focal length amongst prime lenses and has captured innumerable iconic images. The moderate wide-angle character and natural rendition of dimensions by the high-performance lens of the X2 open up a broad spectrum of different options for capturing those decisive moments in outstanding, authentic and richly detailed picture quality.

As a result of its simple operating concept, the Leica X2 offers clearly laid-out functions and intuitive handling. At the same time, it offers an impressive range of automatic and versatile manual setting options. Thanks to the ease of switching between manual and automatic control, photographers can concentrate completely on composing their subjects and choosing the decisive instant to shoot in any situation. The dials on the top deck provide grip when setting the shutter speed and aperture. Moreover, changing the plane of focus, the white balance and other imaging parameters allows photographers to consciously influence the look or mood of their images. In live view mode, the generously sized high-contrast 2.7" monitor offers photographers complete control at all times and a bright and detailed view, even in strong light.

The features offered by the Leica X2 provide greater creative freedom and a wide range of photographic options. For instance, the Leica X2’s large sensor and fast lens make it ideal for shooting in available light. The camera also features a pop-up flash that can be activated whenever an additional light source is required. If more lighting power and flexibility are required, the accessory shoe of the X2 offers full compatibility with the Leica SF 24D and SF 58 system flash units.

The Leica X2 is characterized by clear lines and an intensely focused design concept. The linearity of its design and its compact, handy form are reminiscent of the Leica M-cameras. This, in combination with its robust, all-metal construction and premium, high-grip leather trim makes the X2 a classic Leica camera in both looks and feel. The camera is available in a discreet black or elegant silver finish.

An extensive range of accessories is also available to adapt the Leica X2 to each photographer’s individual photographic needs and style. A new offering is the Viso-Flex high-resolution electronic accessory finder with 1.4 megapixels and a 90° swivel function for shooting from unusual angles. Also available is a bright-line mirror finder that can be mounted on the accessory shoe and ensures a bright and clear view at all times, with no drain on the camera battery. An accessory handgrip increases the hold and stability of the camera and makes it easier to shoot one-handed. Leica continues to offer a comprehensive range of bags and cases: a premium-quality black leather case to match the elegance of the X2, an ergonomically designed camera protector in untreated leather, an ever-ready case in organically tanned cowhide to protect the camera during use and a system bag that offers more room for the camera and a range of accessories.

Adobe® Photoshop® Lightroom®, a professional digital workflow solution for Apple Mac® OS X and Microsoft Windows®, is also included in the X2 package. This digital image processing software offers a wide range of functions for the management, processing and presentation of digital images. Leica X2 customers can download the software free from the Leica website after registering their camera.

The Leica X2 is available now through Leica dealers including the Leica Store Washington DC. The optional accessories will be available after the market launch of the camera.

Leica X2 specifications

Price
MSRP$1,995 / £1,575 (inc VAT)
Body type
Body typeLarge sensor compact
Sensor
Max resolution4928 x 3264
Other resolutions4944 x 3272, 4288 x 2856, 3264 x 2160, 2144 x1424, 1632 x 1080
Image ratio w:h3:2, 16:9
Effective pixels16 megapixels
Sensor photo detectors17 megapixels
Sensor sizeAPS-C (23.6 x 15.8 mm)
Sensor typeCMOS
Image
ISOAuto, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200, 6400, 12500
White balance presets5
Custom white balanceYes (2)
Image stabilizationNo
Uncompressed formatRAW
JPEG quality levelsFine, Standard
File format
  • DNG + JPEG super fine
  • DNG + JPEG fine
  • JPEG (Super Fine/ Fine)
Optics & Focus
Focal length (equiv.)36 mm
Optical zoom1×
Maximum apertureF2.8
Autofocus
  • Contrast Detect (sensor)
  • Single
  • Face Detection
  • Live View
Digital zoomNo
Manual focusYes
Normal focus range30 cm (11.81)
Macro focus range30 cm (11.81)
Number of focus points11
Screen / viewfinder
Articulated LCDFixed
Screen size2.7
Screen dots230,000
Touch screenNo
Live viewNo
Viewfinder typeElectronic (optional)
Photography features
Minimum shutter speed30 sec
Maximum shutter speed1/2000 sec
Exposure modes
  • Program (P)
  • Aperture priority (A)
  • Shutter priority (S)
  • Manual (M)
Built-in flashYes (Pop-up)
External flashYes (with Leica SF 24D, Leica SF 58 flash units)
Flash modesAuto, On, Off, Red-Eye, Front Curtain, Rear Curtain, Slow sync, Studio
Continuous drive5 fps
Self-timerYes (2 or 12 sec)
Metering modes
  • Multi
  • Center-weighted
  • Spot
Exposure compensation±3 (at 1/3 EV steps)
Videography features
MicrophoneNone
SpeakerNone
Storage
Storage typesSD/SDHC card
Storage included110 MB
Connectivity
USB USB 2.0 (480 Mbit/sec)
HDMIYes
Remote controlNo
Physical
Environmentally sealedNo
BatteryBattery Pack
Battery descriptionLithium-Ion rechargeable battery & charger
Battery Life (CIPA)450
Weight (inc. batteries)345 g (0.76 lb / 12.17 oz)
Dimensions124 x 69 x 52 mm (4.88 x 2.72 x 2.05)
Other features
Orientation sensorYes
GPSNone

Additional images

Optional hand-grip and optical viewfinder  
Optional Viso-Flex viewfinder Optional Viso-Flex viewfinder