The first ever RAW review of a Leica camera. In fact this I the first time that I have ever really used a Leica. I was a bit apprehensive at first, I know the Leica name promotes a feeling of excellence but I also know that Leica cameras are extremely expensive and if you look at the feature lists with some of the current cameras they would be considered to simple. However that little red dot is acknowledge around the globe as a camera of the highest quality.
The compact X2 is not the ever so famous “M”. It is a high-end compact camera with a fixed Leica Elmarit 24mm f/2.8 ASPH lens. There is no zooming here. With a 16mp, APS-C CMOS image sensor, ISO 100 – 12500, built-in flash, hot shoe, accessory port and exposure modes that you’d expect to see on a dSLR (P, A, S, M) the Leica X2 is not your average happy snap camera. If you are looking for scene modes like Sunset, Aquarium, Night, Party etc…. I’m afraid you have purchased the wrong camera.
Another interesting omission is the lack of Video recording options, which only helps to secure the Leica X2 as a photographers camera.
One thing that does bug me a little is there is no viewfinder. I’m not really a fan of shooting using the LCD screen, however you can pick up an external viewfinder if your like me. The view finder options come in both Electronic and Optical varieties.
Leica X2 design and controls
I’m not really a fan of compact cameras, couple that with the expectation which follows the Leica brand, I was extremely interested to see how I would react to shooting with the Leica X2. I have to say I now understand what all the fuss is about.
The elegant design and beautifully crafted leather-style finish of the X2 has a comforting weight to it when you pick it up. Everything about it screams quality. The classic finish is reminiscent of the traditional Leica M-Design. The brochure says that “once held, even for a moment, it becomes difficult to put down”, and I have to agree with them The full meta chassis is reassuringly solid, and the leather finish is comfortable and provides a great grip to hold.
The dimensions are 124 x 69 x 51.5mm with a weight of 345g with the battery. It’s not to big and not to small, I was able to slip it into my jacket pocket without too much trouble.
The Leica X2 is the king of minimalism and functionality. On the top plate you have the pop-up flash, hot shoe, shutter speed dial, shutter with single and continuous focus, and finally aperture dial. These controls all follow the premium feel and finish of the Leica X2 and refreshingly enough they aren’t that easy to move which means you won’t bump them and change your settings accidentally.
On the back everything you could possible need is in easy reach. Not buried in menu systems that you need a map and compass to find. You have a button to play your images, delete/focus which brings up a menu to delete one or all your photos or if in a shooting mode will bring up your choice of 1 point, 11 point, spot and face detection focusing options. WB or white balance buttons works as expected, same with ISO, the INFO buttons allows you to change the screen information to just a rule of thirds gird, various information like battery life, shooting mode, focus mode etc… and finally no information at all. One thing what was missing was the ability to display a histogram.
On the right hand side you have a jog dial which helps move through images and menus, an EV+/- which works as is should, a timer, AF/MF and Flash along with the menu. The menu is probably the best I’ve come across, everything is in one long list. Ok on a camera like this is works very well there aren’t that many options but it makes it so easy to find something.
Shooting and Handling
Everything on this Leica works as you would expect. There were no issues with AutoFocus, although it isn’t as fast as some of the latest cameras like the OMD however it was quick enough even in some low light situations. I didn’t come across any focus hunting during my time with it.
The Manual focus takes a bit of getting used too, it works but it’s not great. Over time I’m sure I would get used to it but the Auto Focus works so well I didn’t really find a need for it.
Noise is controlled considerably well getting to the top end of the ISO numbers and things get a bit noisy however Leica’s noise doesn’t look that bad. It won’t be for some, but changing it to black and white and the image has a film grain feel about it.
One little niggle I have is the fact that You can only select DNG+JPEG Fine. as someone how always shoots RAW it would have been nice to be able to just select DNG instead of the extra JPEG file. On the plus side though if you buy the Leica X2 you get a free copy of Adobe Lightroom. I think this is a great move by Leica instead of packaging there camera with a substandard editing program / raw converter they have stuck to working on what they do best, making cameras and just packages their X2 with an extremely capable piece of software.
Took these on a short photo holiday we went on last week.
Verdict and Final Thoughts
I have to say I was impressed, this is a compact camera that I would be happy to carry around and use on a constant basis. If I hadn’t received it just before heading away on a little photo trip I probably would have given it a good run shooting some street. From what I can tell this camera would work extremely well, being so small and fast.
Interested in having a look or purchasing one for yourself. Head over to the Camera Electronic Leica X2 product page.
Image Source(s): Leica