German camera manufacturer Leica has announced it has produced a waterproof, shock-proof and dust-proof compact camera that uses an APS-C sensor. The Leica X-U (Typ 113) joins the X family of compacts, but offers waterproofing to 15m / 50ft and a body that is designed to be used both beneath and above the waves.

The camera uses a 16.3MP CMOS sensor like the other models in the X series, but sports a 23mm F1.7 Summilux ASPH lens that delivers the same angle of view as a 35mm lens would on a full-frame camera. The lens can focus down to 20cm and features a flash housing directly above the axis of the front element that reduces the distance between the flash and the subject – which will be useful underwater, as illumination drops off quickly. The flash has a guide number of only 5m at ISO 100, and according to Leica has an operating range of 0.3-2m at that ISO setting. 

The camera shoots both Raw and JPEG files, and has a movie mode that records at 30 fps in 1080 HD resolution. When used underwater a press of the UW button activates Underwater mode, which adjusts the white balance accordingly and sets distortion correction to suit the conditions.

Leica says the camera was designed in collaboration with Audi Design, and that the top plate is made from high grade aluminum and the body coated in 'high-grip TPE armoring'. 

The camera is available now, and costs £2400 / $2,950. A floating neck strap is available for £50 / $95 and a wrist strap for £32 / $65. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think this is Leica's first ever commercially available underwater camera.

For more information see the Leica website


Press release:

Built for the challenge – born for adventure: Introducing the Leica X-U

New outdoor camera from Leica delivers outstanding picture quality in the harshest conditions   

Leica Camera has unveiled its first camera designed specifically for outdoor and underwater photography – the Leica X-U (Typ 113).  

Incorporating a fast Leica Summilux 23mm f/1.7 ASPH. lens (equivalent to 35mm in 35mm format) with underwater protection filter, and a large APS-C CMOS sensor, this fully waterproofed member of the Leica X family delivers images with exceptional brightness and clarity, even in the harshest of conditions.  

Created for the adventurous photographer, the Leica X-U allows the user to capture breathtaking underwater moments in perfect detail, at depths of up to 15 metres. Shock-resistant, dust-sealed and shatter-proof, this rugged camera is the ideal companion for any outdoor expedition or adventure – whether it’s action or underwater shooting, extreme sports, travel, architectural or landscape photography – and also offers video capture in full HD quality.  

Optimum picture performance is guaranteed, thanks to the cutting-edge technology the X-U shares with all models in the Leica X range. Combined with its professional 16.5 MP (16.2 MP effective) APSC CMOS sensor, the Leica X-U’s premium Summilux 23 mm f/1.7 ASPH. lens ensures natural colour reproduction and outstanding resolution, even at the closest focusing distance of 20 centimetres. Its fast f/1.7 maximum aperture also offers the freedom to explore the creativity of selective focusing. In addition, due to the camera’s excellent resistance to stray light and flare, the Leica X-U is the perfect choice for an extensive range of indoor and outdoor lighting conditions – at any time of day or night.  

Made in Germany in collaboration with Audi Design, the stylish yet minimal Leica X-U focuses on the essential features: simple and intuitive operation, as well as ultimate precision. With a top plate made from premium aluminium and high-grip TPE armouring, the body ensures exceptional usability, handling and durability, as well as water resistance to a depth of up to 15 metres.  

Designed to embrace the elements, and for the most ambitious photography projects, the Leica X-U incorporates a non-slip body, a toughened monitor screen cover, and a failsafe double locking system for the battery compartment and memory card slot. These robust protective features ensure that photographers can concentrate fully on their subject, with full confidence in the camera’s durability.  

Furthermore, the minimal, intuitive design of the Leica X-U puts the most important creative tools directly at the photographer’s fingertips. Aperture and shutter speed can be set quickly and easily using the straightforward, typical ’Leica-style’ dials, while a practical underwater snapshot button ensures the camera is ready to capture the wonders of the underwater world immediately – without the need to search through menus. Thanks to the camera’s high resolution three inch screen and a wide range of useful automatic features, it takes just seconds to find the precise settings the photographer requires to capture their decisive moment.

Additionally, with its anodised aluminium control dials and an integrated flash above the lens, the Leica X-U is a perfect example of exceptional quality and attention to detail.

For those on a challenging professional assignment or a magical holiday of a lifetime, important moments can also be recorded in full HD, cinema-quality video – with a choice of 1920x1080 or 1280x720 pixel resolution, at 30 full frames per second in MP4 format. And whether the footage is intended for a professional production or a home movie to share with friends and family, the Leica X-U delivers high quality results that perfectly capture that special adventure.

Leica X-U (Typ 113) specifications

Price
MSRP$2950
Body type
Body typeLarge sensor compact
Body materialAluminum
Sensor
Max resolution4928 x 3264
Image ratio w:h3:2
Effective pixels16 megapixels
Sensor photo detectors17 megapixels
Sensor sizeAPS-C (23.6 x 15.7 mm)
Sensor typeCMOS
Color spacesRGB
Color filter arrayPrimary color filter
Image
ISOAuto, 100-12500
White balance presets5
Custom white balanceYes (2 spots)
Image stabilizationNo
Uncompressed formatRAW
JPEG quality levelsSuper fine, fine
File format
  • JPEG (Exif v2.3)
  • Raw (DNG)
Optics & Focus
Focal length (equiv.)35 mm
Optical zoom1×
Maximum apertureF1.7
Autofocus
  • Contrast Detect (sensor)
  • Multi-area
  • Center
  • Selective single-point
  • Single
  • Continuous
  • Live View
Autofocus assist lampYes
Normal focus range20 cm (7.87)
Number of focus points11
Screen / viewfinder
Articulated LCDFully articulated
Screen size3
Screen dots920,000
Touch screenNo
Screen typeTFT LCD
Live viewYes
Viewfinder typeNone
Photography features
Minimum shutter speed30 sec
Maximum shutter speed1/2000 sec
Exposure modes
  • Program
  • Aperture priority
  • Shutter priority
  • Manual
Built-in flashYes
Flash range2.00 m (at ISO 100)
External flashYes
Flash modesAutomatic, automatic/red eye reduction, on, on/red eye reduction, long-term synchronization/red eye reduction, off
Drive modes
  • Single
  • Continuous
Continuous drive5.0 fps
Self-timerYes
Metering modes
  • Multi
  • Center-weighted
  • Spot
Exposure compensation±3 (at 1/3 EV steps)
AE Bracketing±3 (3 frames at 1/3 EV steps)
Videography features
Resolutions1920 x 1080 (30p), 1280 x 720 (30p)
FormatMPEG-4
MicrophoneStereo
SpeakerMono
Storage
Storage typesSD/SDHC/SDXC
Connectivity
USB USB 2.0 (480 Mbit/sec)
HDMINo
Microphone portNo
Headphone portNo
Remote controlNo
Physical
Environmentally sealedYes
BatteryBattery Pack
Battery descriptionBP-DC8 lithium-ion battery & charger
Battery Life (CIPA)450
Weight (inc. batteries)635 g (1.40 lb / 22.40 oz)
Dimensions140 x 79 x 88 mm (5.51 x 3.11 x 3.46)
Other features
Orientation sensorYes
GPSNone