Leica X1 Review
Note: Some of the tests in this review were carried out using firmware 0.73b (the final development version). Leica informs us that the differences between 0.73b and 1.0 relate only to 'bug fixes and performance improvements'.
If there's been one welcome development in 2009, it's the rise of relatively compact cameras with large sensors (i.e. APS-C, or the smaller Four Thirds size). For a long time Sigma seemed to be the only company willing to take a gamble on there being a genuine market for such beasts, starting with the slightly rough-and-ready DP1 (released in March last year), which was followed up by the much-improved DP2 earlier this year. But then Olympus launched its retro-styled Micro Four Thirds E-P1, Panasonic replied with the GF1, and into a sector which, if not yet exactly crowded, is at least starting to look like if can be described as 'burgeoning', there now comes the Leica X1.
The mere mention of the name 'Leica' causes certain photographers' hearts to beat just a little bit faster; this sole survivor of the once-mighty German camera industry is one of the very few genuine 'heritage' brands left. The company's long-running reputation for sheer engineering quality and optically-superb lenses is legendary - many a budding snapper has aspired to own a 'real' Leica, eventually. Unfortunately though, this quality is (inevitably) accompanied by heart-stopping prices, meaning such aspirations are often left unfulfilled for many years.
Perhaps with a mind to providing an 'entry-level' option that is more affordable and attainable, the X1 promises to make Leica's inimitable design and quality accessible to more digital shooters than ever before. It follows in the tradition of the company's premium compacts for 35mm film such as the CM, offering a fixed prime lens, analogue-style controls and premium build quality. Of course this being a Leica the lens is all - the Elmarit 24mm 1:2.8 ASPH is made up of 8 elements in 6 groups, and includes an aspheric element to minimize aberrations. It sits in front of a 12Mp CMOS APS-C (1.5x crop) sensor, giving an angle of view equivalent to a 35mm lens on full frame. Viewing is via a 2.7", 230,000 pixel LCD on the rear - there's no built-in optical finder.
The X1 has clearly been designed as an instrument for taking photographs, pure and simple, and features a pared-down, traditionalist design in service of that goal. Shutter speed and aperture are controlled by dials on the top plate, and all other major shooting settings are directly accessible from buttons on the back. This is a design that utterly rejects fripperies in the quest for uncomplicated functionality; if you're after an aquarium mode, HD movies or background music for your slide shows, you'll need to look elsewhere.
Of course the X1 is still a Leica, and so will not by any means be cheap, which means it's going to have to deliver some pretty compelling results to persuade the less-emotionally driven buyer to hand over the wallet-slimming sum of money required to own one. So let's take a close look to see what it can do, and find out whether it succeeds in this goal.
Leica X1 - Key Features
- Compact lightweight body with analogue-style control dials
- Fixed 24mm F2.8 lens (angle of view equivalent to 35mm lens on full frame)
- Program, Shutter priority, Aperture priority, Manual exposure modes
- Full range of manual controls
- 12.2 Mp APS-C CMOS sensor
- ISO 100-3200
- DNG raw format recording
- 15 Photographic tests (Lens)
- 16 Photographic tests
- 17 Compared to
- 18 Compared to (JPEG)
- 19 Compared to (JPEG)
- 20 Compared to (JPEG)
- 21 Compared to (RAW)
- 22 Compared to (RAW)
- 23 Compared to (RAW)
- 24 Compared to (Higher ISO)
- 25 Compared to (Resolution)
- 26 Compared to (Resolution)
- 27 Conclusion
- 28 Samples
|_MG_5100 by tim and jan|
from Welcome to the Saloon!
|The Grimm 11 year old by Ryan Gardner|
from Trick or Treat
|Heron with fish by APenza|
from A Big Year - birds
See some of the most iconic black-and-white photographs throughout history brought to life by a community of colorization enthusiasts and professional retouchers in the new book Retrographic.
Shopping for a photographer? Whether you are one yourself or not, chances are you could use some ideas. From stocking stuffers on up, we've got some photography gift suggestions for every budget.
We're counting down our top 10 most popular sample galleries of 2017. Drum roll please... the #6 spot belongs to none other than the Sigma 85mm F1.4 DH HSM Art.
Read the story behind this gorgeous wedding photo captured at Trolltunga in Norway by husband and wife duo Priscila Valentina Photography. The 14 hour hike in the rain that preceded this shot was TOTALLY worth it.
Go behind the scenes with filmmaker Nick Arcivos, who recently created a beautiful cinematic short film in Paris using only the iPhone X, a couple of gimbals, and a few lights. The results are very impressive.
A Bay Area startup offering a pay-by-the-photo camera service cleverly addresses the pain points photographers experience when they pick up their first DSLR. But can it survive the smartphone?
It's been a big year for software innovations, dual cameras and huge displays. Take a look at our picks for the top smartphone cameras and why we think they stand out.
We're counting down our top 10 most popular sample galleries of 2017. At the #7 spot is the ready-for-any-weather Olympus Tough TG-5.
By combining his skills as a time-lapse filmmaker and an engineer, Julian Tryba created this out-of-this-world creative 'layer-lapse' of New York City that alternates between night and day in time with the music.
Canon Japan's new lineup of novelty camera-themed gifts was just revealed online, including a lens mug and lens thermos, two retro camera-themed USB drives, and a picnic mat.
The Profoto A1 most certainly isn’t for everyone [...] But for those who are used to using the Profoto systems, and want something that pairs seamlessly with the strobes you already have, there is no better companion.
Fujifilm has asked a US district court to clear it of any wrongdoing, after allegedly being threatened with trademark litigation by Polaroid.
While a couple of our reviewers are out testing the Sony a7R III in Arizona, back in Seattle we slapped the camera in front of our studio scene to get a close look at its image quality. See how it stacks up against the competition.
We're counting down our top 10 most popular sample galleries of 2017, and the #8 ranking belongs to the Nikon D7500.
B+W has announced a new aluminum filter holder that offers three slots so users can use multiple filters at the same time. The holder goes with the 2mm thick 100mm square filters it launched earlier this year.
8K video is coming a lot faster than you think, and Blackmagic is ready for it. Meet the DeckLink 8K Pro, a new high performance PCI-E capture and playback card built to handle 'real time high resolution 8K workflows.'
"Glass is everywhere in photography. From Eugène Atget’s reflective vitrines to Lee Friedlander’s sly self-portraiture, photographers have long been in thrall to the visual complications glass can inject into a composition."
Former Apple Aperture lead developer Nik Bhatt has designed an iOS app called RAW Power that lets you edit raw photos from your professional camera using your phone and tablet.... color us intrigued.
Advertising photographer Blair Bunting got his hands on the new Microsoft Surface Book 2, and it blew him away. Bye bye MacBook Pro...
The OnePlus 5T retains many of the 5's features and specs, but comes with an edge-to-edge display and a dual-camera that is optimized for low light.
Sony's recently announced IMX461 backside illuminated medium format sensor will bring 100MP resolution and almost 2x the speed to the next-gen Fuji GFX and Hasselblad X1D.
With the ‘Rent a Hasselblad’ camera equipment renting program, the camera makers is aiming to give enthusiast and professional photographers easier access to its medium-format photography products.
They say seeing is believing, and that's exactly what happened when one DPR staffer took the Google Pixel 2 out for an afternoon shooting under challenging conditions.
We're counting down our top 10 most popular sample galleries of 2017. At the #9 spot we have the Fujifilm GFX 50S, a medium-format camera that took CP+ 2017 by storm.
Instagram is testing a new feature that lets you follow hashtags in addition to people, making it possible to keep track of your favorite #landscapes or #portraits without leaving your home feed.
Despite the gigantic volume of second hand film bodies in existence, it seems there is still a demand for new 35mm SLRs with a retro feel. The latest is a remake of the Ihagee Elbaflex from the 1960s, but with a Nikon F mount.
The Polaroid Insta-Share Moto Mod straps an instant printer directly to your Moto Z smartphone, so you can print your photos as soon as you've captured them.
The Mitakon Speedmaster 135mm F1.4 lens is being relaunched in 7 different mounts, including: Sony A, Sony E, Canon EF, Nikon F, Fujifilm G, Pentax K, and Leica L. Got an extra three grand lying around?
In January, Kodak announced it would bring back the beloved slide film Ektachrome. The timeline has been pushed back a bit, but Kodak says you can expect to purchase Ektachrome again in 2018.
Instagram popularity is threatening some of the most beautiful landscapes in the US, as hordes of 'nature lovers' trample over the same spots over and over again in search of the same exact shot.