What is the Audience for the Leica X Vario?

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by carbon_dragon, Jun 11, 2013.

  1. What is the audience for this camera? I mean it's not an entrance into the mirrorless cameras since it doesn't have interchangeable
    lenses. My NEX-7 can use Leica M lenses, but this camera can't. My NEX has a very good 24MP APS-C sensor and even if this had the
    same, it probably will cost more than my NEX too? Tell me why on earth I'd buy this thing.


    I think Leica is terrified of producing a worthy mirrorless (EVIL) camera for fear of killing the M. Since people (like me) tend not to buy the
    M on it's merits anyway, not sure why they bother. When leica built the original 35mm Leica, it was taking a chance on a new kind of
    camera. Shame it doesn't do that these days.
     
  2. I reckon Leica is targeting the wealthy people who are not interested in photography, but want to take pictures with something other than their cell phones. They do not care for bulky SLR, and they do not want to carry a cheap camera.
    Hasselblad is entering into this "wealthy point-and-shoot" market with Lunar. Despite Lunar's higher price point, X Vario will probably do better because X Vario looks far more expensive than Lunar.
    I believe that Leica's product strategy and marketing are not communicating with each other very well. The marketing team mistakenly reached out to the photography enthusiasts, even though the product strategy team is trying to reach the wealthy individuals who want a "nice point-and-shoot" camera.
    Fuji cutting the prices of X-E1 and lenses in the US is likely not a coincidence. Given weaker yen, they must be trying to steal away those disillusioned Leica photography enthusiasts without significant loss in their profit margin.
     
  3. The "audience" that considers the Leica "Mini M", will then seriously consider & appreciate the Sony RX1 pricing & performance...
     
  4. Some very large part of the target "audience" for Leica has always been as jewelry (aka, bling) for people who do not want to be seen using some plebean camera. This applies to point and shoot as well as to larger cameras.
    These people want, and can afford, to have what is in many senses the "finest" of whatever they buy.
     
  5. Frankly, I think it was a fine idea, but they just couldn't deliver with the right lens apparently. The idea is a relatively compact camera with aps sensor with a fine feel and simple handling with one lens that you can do about whatever you want without any compromise in image quality. In other words, if making the lens fixed to the camera enabled them to offer say an equiv. 25 f2.8 to 75 f4 and a little smaller than what they have there that is essentially excellent at widest apertures, then they would have something pretty special. It would have to be better in other words than any body else's kit lens and smaller than anybody else's "high end" zoom. Of course I would then need to add the viewfinder, and all of it is too expensive, but what can you say about all that. Finally, if they could build a decent EVF into the camera I just described with the lens I just described, I wouldn't need much else ever....even if the af wasn't awesome...although that would be great too.
     
  6. I doubt it will sell very well. The zoom is slow and a VF (EVF type) is an expensive accessory. Although made of better materials and possibly a good performer, its appearance could be mistaken for a Panasonic-Leica point and shoot. Had they given it an interchangeable mount (with adapter possibilities), as do the Sony NEX offerings, it might have appealed to M users.
     
  7. "Veblen goods"?
     
  8. The idea of a APS-C sized sensor, a fixed zoomlens in a relatively compact body sure has its appeal. The price is silly moneym but the biggest problem to me is really the lens in the end... f/6.4 at the long end?
    For a lot less money, the Fuji X-Pro1 with the 18-55 zoom looks a whole lot nicer to me. But I guess I am in the wrong target audience. Like the OP, I have no clue who the right audience would be, though....
     
  9. The fuji Xpro1 is a fine camera at a much lower cost. The 18 -55mm fuji lens is a fine lens and is interchangeable with other fine fuji
    lenses. The Xpro1 takes Leica lenses. For those who want a mirror less camera it's a good choice. There are other good choices, eg
    Sony. You may prefer to pay for the Leica name but that is what you are paying for here.
     
  10. I will defend the X Vario, partly because I think it can prove itself and partly because I like to force myself to think differently.
    - Its construction is apparently no less sturdy than the M. The NEX cameras (etc.) are not up to that standard.
    - The sensor will possibly never see a speck of dust.
    - The sensor always knows what lens it's using and its output can be finely tweaked on the computer or even in the camera.
    - The lens may be slow, but it will more than redeem itself if it performs to an excellent standard.
    - It appears to have little of the gimcrack that infests most other cameras. I like the control dials - just like a real camera should have!
    - This could pave the way a new series of lenses: M zooms. Imagine, realistically, a 24-75/4 M with none of the distortions or aberrations that plague the Nikons, Canons and Sigmas of similar focal length.
    - This could be an excellent photojournalism tool. Sure, you could do great PJ with an iPhone, but small sensors don't give images that can be enlarged very much. Wedding photographers might like it, too. I suspect could successfully use it, but it would have to be supplemented with a camera that can accept a 200mm lens.
    - It could be seen as an ideal travel camera with the right compromises between size, image quality, toughness, speed and flexibility.
    - It's one object, not two. If you like the relationships between the compromises, you buy the camera and you don't look back. There is no question of which lens to take and which to leave behind.
    - This could be the nicest camera you can buy with a fixed zoom and a 24x16mm sensor. If it is, you'll have to base that on what your eyes see, not just on test measurements.
    - If the sensor does not have a low-pass filter in front of it, image resolution could be equal to that of cameras such as the NEX-7, based on past comparisons between the M9 and DSLRs with higher pixel counts. This has some beneficial side-effects such as providing equal effective resolution and/or sharpness in a smaller RAW file.
     
  11. Let's move this question in a slightly different direction. Why would someone buy X Vario over the D-Lux 6? The D-Lux 6 is considerably less expensive and more pocketable. As I understand it most people are not savvy about camera sensors and look at price and size when it comes to this type of camera.
     
  12. bms

    bms

    After having been very skeptical of this being a complete non-sense project, I second (some of) Karim's points. It seems very well made, and to my eye, attractive. Sean Reid's review, which is not going into image quality much, rave about the ergonomics and states that the lens is excellent but slow. The dimensions of the camera may have been limiting here - to keep it in the "X" size category and claim it's place among the "compacts". It is slightly wider then the OM-D and not quite as high, and I find the OM-D is a gem but its controls are crammed. My 12-35 mm f2.8 is very large, and that is for m4/3 so I think the zoom we all wanted on the X Vario would have been prohibitively huge.
    What puzzles me is that it is quite heavy but that probably speaks to the materials used.
    As others, I wanted them to make something exchangeable. Well, maybe next time.... For people that don;t care about price that much 9let's face it, the camera is cheaper than most of Leica's M lenses), this may be a good tool they can carry with them at all times. I am somewhat tempted, if it was not for thr hole that %2850 would leave in my checking....
     
  13. bms

    bms

    Why would someone buy X Vario over the D-Lux 6?​
    Interesting question - in a way they are similar in zoom range, fixed rear LCD, use EVF....... I have been a fan of the LX/D-LUX series, but image quality wise I don't think this will be a contest. And I would think (hope) that people spending $3k would know that (or its really just Leica bling)
     
  14. Steve, if Sony made a compact general zoom that was truly excellent wide open, then that would make the Sony 6 a more viable alternative, but they don't make that. Of course this argue hinges on the new Leica lens being really excellent at 28 3.5, and I have no idea yet. Still, I agree that the long end of f6.something is just too slow either way.
     
  15. While Sigma are launching f/1.8 APS-C zoom lenses (admittedly, whose performance are unknown), and when every kit zoom on the planet stops at f/5.6, an f/6.4 integrated zoom does seem to remove the point of having a large sensor. It looks awfully big for a compact camera, too - one advantage of the other fixed lens/large sensor cameras in that they actually fit in a pocket. Had Leica gone back to their 50mm roots and managed to integrate a collapsible lens (like the Panasonic 14-42 power zoom used on a micro 4/3 system), it might have portability benefits, but not with what they put on it. As for how good the optics are - and I'm sure they're fine - it's quite easy to make a lens that's decent at f/6.4. Making one that's good at f/2 is another matter, and where Leica have skills. Besides, f/6.3 and no stabilization makes this a daylight camera. As for ruggedness, the problem with a heavy camera with a big cantilevered lens is that it can put a lot of force on itself; my GF2/14-42 can whack into something quite hard and just bounce off, because it's light and plastic with not very much kinetic energy and there's no leverage on the lens. Even built like a tank, I'd worry more about this Leica. And I can afford to replace the GF2, of course.

    It's easy to criticize, but - other than the crowd who must own a red dot - it really seems like a camera that could have done either with a faster (even constant f/2.8) but shorter (both in range and size) lens, or a faster prime. As a mostly-Canon-and-Nikon shooter (with a rarely-used Bessa R), I'd love an M if someone donated one to me. This, I'd sell without a second thought. If they made one of these with a welded-on Noctilux, I'm sure they'd sell it for twice the price.

    Still, at least it's not as nuts as Hasselblad's latest. I look forward to the reviews - at least they're trying something different.
     
  16. David W. Griffen: What is the audience for this camera
    Alfred Schopf - I don't know, I don't know, I don't know, I use an X100s
    :)
     
  17. The target market is China where it's irrelevant that cameras with simliar performance cost less. In the Chinese market conspicuous consumption is as important as avoiding anything made in Japan or by a Japanese company. I expect it will sell well. I doubt I'll buy one.
     
  18. Nice list, Karim. Your brain has certainly gotten the daily workout that the expert's recommend, and I'm sure constructing this list was a lot harder than say, playing chess or proving mathematical theorems. May I suggest an exercise for tomorrow? Maybe something like "advantages of dial-up modems," or "why you should wear your eyeglasses upside down."
    By the way, I don't think your list is complete. You forgot "high price means less money for fatty foods and cigarettes," and "when you carry two, you won't have to remember which lens is which."
     
  19. bms

    bms

    I am the first one to denounce that Leica habit of creating collector 'bling' pieces that will never actually be used (just waiting for an Elephant Skin Golden M 240)....
    However, I still think this may be a useful camera. I don't think it's just for Chinese nouveau riche.... If Leica could have put a reasonably sized f2.8 to f4 zoom on there, they probably would have... at least they are not shy about charging people good money, so why hold back?
    What irks me a bit for what could be a useful travel camera is the poor bracketing function (3 shots max) and lack of IS. Or rather it has what Leica calls "IS""
    "With this function, the camera automatically takes two pictures in
    succession (the shutter noise can be heard twice). It then com–
    bines the pictures into one by digital processing."

    I mean, really ? :(
     
  20. Oh, go on then...
    - Its construction is apparently no less sturdy than the M. The NEX cameras (etc.) are not up to that standard.​
    It's heavy and its lens sticks out a long way. Turn around in a hurry so it swings into a door frame and it has a good chance of getting hurt, even if it's solid metal. As I said above, my GF2 and 14-42 are light weight and there's no leverage to do nasties to the lens attachment. (The GF2/14-42 aren't perfect - and I'm not saying they'd survive being sat on any better than the Leica - but they have advantages, especially that they're lighter and much smaller, and I can mount different lenses - or a telescope - on it. And there's a touch screen!) The front element is exposed to knocks. It's not impervious, however well it's assembled.
    The sensor will possibly never see a speck of dust.​
    Occasionally someone posts about a compact camera with dust on the sensor. This is a zoom with a moving (non-sealed) front end and a big sensor. If dust gets in, you can't get it cleaned easily.
    - The sensor always knows what lens it's using and its output can be finely tweaked on the computer or even in the camera.​
    Ricoh tried that argument. It turns out that a sensor is a sensor, and "tuning it to the lens" actually doesn't tend to make much difference - it just means your cheap lenses have to include the cost of an expensive sensor.
    - The lens may be slow, but it will more than redeem itself if it performs to an excellent standard.​
    Very few lenses are not "excellent" at f/6.4. For the price, it's going to have to be pretty special. Most kit zooms are actually pretty decent, since camera manufacturers rely on them to make their cameras review well. At the long end, the 18-46mm lens at f/6.4 has a 7.2mm effective aperture. That makes it slightly less capable of subject separation than a Panasonic DMC-LX7 (17.7mm lens, f/2.2 = 7.7mm). It's also less than a Sony DSC-RX100 (37.1mm at f/4.9 is 7.6mm) - and that camera has a higher resolution sensor and is tiny. (Personally I don't like the handling, but I admire the achievement.)
    - It appears to have little of the gimcrack that infests most other cameras. I like the control dials - just like a real camera should have!​
    Like a Fuji X100S? Except the shutter speed and aperture are both under thumb control (at least, I hope you can move them with a thumb and don't need a finger as well) so you can't balance them against each other like a Nikon with thumb and middle finger dials, or the Fuji with right/left-hand operation. Though you probably do need two hands to change the ISO, and it appears that exposure compensation involves a bit of juggling too, ideally without dropping the camera - though admittedly you can spend an extra £100 fixing the grip.
    - This could pave the way a new series of lenses: M zooms. Imagine, realistically, a 24-75/4 M with none of the distortions or aberrations that plague the Nikons, Canons and Sigmas of similar focal length.​
    The issues that can be mostly fixed in software, and that manufacturers are deliberately leaving in place in order to prioritize absolute sharpness? That's slightly devil's advocate - there's no substitute for good glass. But this lens isn't a 24-75 equivalent f/4. Starting at 28mm in a compact is a bit 2011, even before the aperture.
    - This could be an excellent photojournalism tool. Sure, you could do great PJ with an iPhone, but small sensors don't give images that can be enlarged very much. Wedding photographers might like it, too. I suspect could successfully use it, but it would have to be supplemented with a camera that can accept a 200mm lens.​
    Or a Nokia Pureview 808. That's facetious, the Vario ought to be better - but so would any of the compacts mentioned above. Would you really shoot a wedding with a compact camera? Without image stabilization and with a slow lens? Out of interest, anyone know if it has a leaf shutter? (The flash sync speed on some of the competition is actually a good reason for a fixed lens system.)
    - It could be seen as an ideal travel camera with the right compromises between size, image quality, toughness, speed and flexibility.​
    The compromises being that it's definitely bigger and less flexible than the alternatives; I remain to be convinced by the toughness (even if you couldn't replace other cameras several times at this price), Leica don't have a good record on speed. Of course, we don't know about image quality yet.
    - It's one object, not two. If you like the relationships between the compromises, you buy the camera and you don't look back. There is no question of which lens to take and which to leave behind.​
    I'm not going to dignify that with a response. Okay, I will: wouldn't you rather have one of the prime compacts rather than a zoom, by that argument? (Seriously, there are superzoom cameras. There are certainly cameras with a wider zoom range than this with a decent image quality and far more portability.)
    - This could be the nicest camera you can buy with a fixed zoom and a 24x16mm sensor. If it is, you'll have to base that on what your eyes see, not just on test measurements.​
    I've never believed in buying a camera based on what it looks like (sorry, Hasselblad), but I'm not going to buy that it looks nicer than an X100s, especially in black. If you mean image quality, it's the only camera you can buy with a fixed zoom and a 24-16mm sensor, so that's pretty safe. It doesn't mean you should. As for handling... well, I've mentioned a few concerns above, but I've obviously not tried one, so maybe I'm inventing problems that aren't there.
    - If the sensor does not have a low-pass filter in front of it, image resolution could be equal to that of cameras such as the NEX-7, based on past comparisons between the M9 and DSLRs with higher pixel counts. This has some beneficial side-effects such as providing equal effective resolution and/or sharpness in a smaller RAW file.​
    Sort of, yes. As is true of the Nikon, Ricoh and Fuji alternatives (without most of the colour aliasing issues in the latter case). Though by f/6.4 you're almost beginning to throw away resolution to diffraction. Now, it won't keep up with a D7100, but I'll admit that's a different class of camera.

    I'm actually not quite as anti-this camera as that all makes me sound, but I still remain to be convinced. I worry that it's a Leica for the sake of it being a Leica and nothing else (as Douglas suggests). If I see someone in the UK using a Leica rangefinder, I think a combination of "huh, expensive kit" and "that's probably someone who knows how to use their camera and who will spend money on the optics they want"; others may think "what a weird old camera". If I see someone with a Leica Panasonic clone, I tend to think they're mildly financially foolish or wedded to some JPEG handling. I don't think "wow, Leica, they must be affluent" - I try to hide my Nikon strap so it's less obvious that my camera is worth stealing, and have no truck with cameras looking expensive for the hell of it. If I saw someone with this camera, I'd probably think they were an idiot unless they really looked wedded to the handling. Though if they looked friendly, I might put on a friendly face and try to learn what I was missing.
     
  21. They forgot the viewfinder (again). Add the EVF and it's close to the price of a secondhand M9. For my money, Fuji are making the compact cameras that Leica should be making below the M series. Rework this into something a bit more like the X100s, with a built-in optical finder and a fast lens, and they might have something interesting and very marketable.
     
  22. For $2000'ish you can get a used M8 that is an APS-H sensor (only 10.1MP) and is a real M that uses real M lenses. I
    never understood the other X's either. And between the Sony NEXs, designed to use manual lenses very well and the
    Fuji mirrorless cameras it's hard to fathom. I'll bet a shoot-off between a Nex-7 with a Leica 35/2 ASPH against this
    camera wouldn't go well for this camera. And I'll bet the same would be true of the Fuji's.
     
  23. Agreed, David. The prices on the X2 are getting more (relatively) reasonable, but Leica basically have the problem that they're trying to make a compact camera, and they're not an electronics company. Neither are Nikon, which is why Canon keep outselling them in the compact market. They can't make it cheap or make the electronic interface easy to use, but there's a recession and if they try to make another RX1, they may not actually sell many. (I wonder how many Sony have shipped?) And people might notice how much Leica charge to stick an M mount on the back of their lenses instead of a whole digital camera.

    Unfortunately, Leica can't have that much to spend on R&D, and rewarming the existing (and some people seem to like it, even if I'm dubious) X1 design may be all they can do. But the X1 had a moderately fast lens and was actually pocketable; the Vario has neither benefit.

    What the market would apparently like is a big-sensor compact with a fast lens, that's still portable. Unfortunately, making it bigger and more expensive than a system that can swap lenses makes it hard to justify, and giving it less light gathering and DoF control than a small sensor compact removes the only benefit of the big sensor. At least the RX1 is small, even if it's silly money.

    But kudos to Leica for trying something, even if other manufacturers (with a faster turn-around) have got to what they probably should have been doing first. They can't just "me too". It's just a shame that the execution seems to have produced a camera that doesn't have obvious technical merits over the competition in any obvious area. Though I'm sure I'll be eating my words when the thing turns out to have some amazing secret sauce.
     
  24. " If I saw someone with this camera, I'd probably think they were an idiot unless they really looked wedded to the handling. Though if they looked friendly, I might put on a friendly face and try to learn what I was missing."
    Or you could skip the first step.
     
  25. It's for people who have an appreciation for the finer things, such as German engineering combined with Leica's legendary optical expertise. No doubt the haptics are top-notch, so that when one picks up the X Vario one will find that the shutter release is sharp as a trigger, placing the user into the mood of a hunter or an active sportsman anticipating the moves of the other players. (The XE-1 and 18-55 on the other hand are known to give no feedback, thus lulling the user into passivity, becoming a mere spinner of dials and wheels rather than the active driver of the car.) The X Vario is targeted to the sort of person who likes to enjoy a glass of Romanée-Conti (with a just splash of Diet Coke to make it palatable) while reviewing images on the 3-inch, 920k dot LCD by the fireplace in the evenings after a busy day of HCB-inspired street photography.
     
  26. Douglas: Alas, I am (mostly) human. Sorry, I was a little more aggressive than I meant to be (especially as someone who normally lives in other forums and floated past here to see what people were saying about this camera).

    That line was really in response to your argument for why people would buy the X Vario. There are many good photographic reasons to own all kinds of cameras. I own compacts, rangefinders, DSLRs, camera phones, medium format SLRs, film rangefinders, film SLRs, and I have an eye on both a TLR and a 5x4 (and I'd want a medium format rangefinder too if I thought I could afford one). They all have circumstances in which they'd be the right tool for the job, and I use them as such. I may have been picking holes in Karim's list of merits for fun, but I'm really not seeing the circumstances in which the X Vario is a better camera than a preexisting and appreciably cheaper alternative... Understanding that there may be something surprising that's not obvious from the specifications.

    I can kind of see the merits of the X1 and X2; if they weren't as expensive as they are, I'd not turn one down if it were dropped in my lap. I can certainly see the merits of the Leica rangefinders, even in this digital age; heck, I'd have an M7 instead of a Bessa R if I had infinite funds. I'm always happy to learn from what other people are using and how they're using it, because it will likely make me a better photographer (not hard) - or at least make me better able to help others.

    If the primary reason to buy this camera is to have been seen to have bought something expensive (using your argument; I'm not claiming this), I don't feel bad about doubting the wisdom of the person making the purchase. It's like buying a Smart car not because you want one, but because the parent company also owns Mercedes, and you want people to associate you with owning an S-class. Chances are that people will either have no idea what the camera is, or will know it's not an M rangefinder and dismiss it anyway. The middle ground who are impressed enough to go "ooh, Leica" without asking where the rangefinder window is must surely be pretty small. If you want to spend a vast amount of money on a camera that's not worth it, Hasselblad are trying to shift the Lunar, and for a long time Sigma would take your money for you. There are ways of spending this much money and actually having something to show for it. A used M3 and some low-end Leica glass, for a start.

    So, unless this thread can tell me what I'm missing, I'm going to wonder whether there was a good reason for someone to have bought this camera, or whether they bought it despite there not being a good reason. (I was going to say that doing something inadvisable doesn't make you an idiot. But... buying the wrong $200 camera doesn't make someone an idiot. Being talked out of X Vario money for the wrong camera might.)

    That said, Benjamin seems a) tempted, b) intelligent, and c) probably likely to be thinking about this on technical merits rather than to look rich, so I believe I should be looking more closely. Coming from a mostly-DSLR perspective, with some rangefinder use, the ergonomics don't seem to make much sense to me - but they're the same as the X1 and X2 (give or take the zoom) and some people seem to like them, so maybe there's a good argument for it. But I'm still struggling to find it better than its competition in any meaningful area.

    This doesn't mean Leica are mad, but it might mean they got this ready to market after the competition had moved in, and have to try to sell it anyway. Or I really may be missing the unique selling point. In which case, I'm genuinely happy to learn what it is.

    Michael: I do believe it'll have finely-tuned ergonomics in terms of the feel of the shutter release and the various knobs (and that people should be happy to pay a premium for this kind of thing). But I also think you can't adjust shutter and aperture without moving your grip, that if it had perfect ergonomics they wouldn't have to sell an accessory grip for it, and that a compact camera shouldn't be bigger than an Eos 100D. I've a great deal of respect for Leica's engineering, but - and I realise this may not be the right forum to say this - they don't do everything right. :)
     
  27. Andrew, I used to believe that Leicas are over-hyped, overpriced baubles purchased by fools who are are suckered into the brand, because the specs are so.... pedestrian. Until I actually used one.
    My college roommate had his dad's Leicaflex Standard: on the spec sheet it was hopelessly behind the times even when new, but when comparing it to my Nikon the sensory feedback and the richness of the chromes left me in awe.
    Same story when the school's security guard lent me his IIIg & 50mm Elmar. My first impression? The old fool expects me to be thrilled by this funky, hopelessly outdated, under-featured camera - so I humored him and took it back to my dorm room. Within a week it was my favorite camera and my Nikon - with its big viewfinder, TTL viewing and metering, long lens, interchangeable view screen and the option of adding a motor drive, was gathering dust. It changed my photography for the better too.
    What I learned is that spec sheets are a very poor way to evaluate a Leica. They're meant to be used, and that's how they should be evaluated: by using them. They work for some people, not for others and I no longer judge people for liking or not liking them. YMMV.
     
  28. The X Vario cannot be put in the mirrorless box because its not in that price bracket. A Leica purchase in not a technical or a practical one, but an emotional one.
    When the M8 came out it was bagged by the self-appointed experts. Pretty soon it was on backorder. The same with the M9 and the M. As far as Leica goes it never has to worry about finding customers.
    Many have commented that the lens is slow at f3.5 etc. With the technology coming out producing excellent images at very high ISO's, you don't need f2.8 or faster. It also means that the lens size can be kept smaller. And Leica fans are so because of their small but outstanding lenses.
     
  29. Douglas: I understand. In fact, despite my slight lack of tact (sorry, lack of sleep), I'm actually interested in this camera in order to understand what, if anything, I'm missing. I've briefly used an M3 and have rather more experience with my Bessa R (which means I know a bit about rangefinders, not that I claim they're equivalent). There are good reasons to use one, good reasons why the form factor is still popular, and there's definitely something to be said for the feel. It's not the camera for every circumstances, but any M is the camera for some circumstances, or at least a good choice. Given a new M, I'd use it, and I'm sure I'd love it. I did learn from using my Bessa. I learnt from using a Rolleiflex, too - but I can explain why it's the right tool for some jobs.

    With the X Vario, other than some tactility (at, I suspect, the cost of some slightly awkward layout; I'm sure X1/X2 owners can correct me), I don't see what it brings to the table that wasn't already there. This is my failing - apparently I don't understand. But it's not unknown for a company to release a product that actually has limited appeal (for example, the original pricing Nikon put on the V1), and it's also possible that this is one of these cases.

    Spec sheets, as you say, don't cover it all. But, looking at specs and with a bit of knowledge, I can see the "why" of an M. Here, I'm struggling, and I don't know whether it's the spec sheet or my knowledge that is the problem. I'd love it to be the latter, so I can learn (and because I genuinely wish Leica some success).

    Francisco: It's not the f/3.5 that bothers me, it's the f/6.4. The sensor, despite its larger size, is receiving less light than the smaller sensors in some premium compact cameras - not just per unit area, but in total. It is very likely that these compact cameras will be competitive in terms of low-light performance with the X Vario, and they can certainly produce the same effect on depth of field. A large sensor isn't magic if there's a slow lens on it. I get the desire to make it small, but it's enormous compared with "good image quality, good low light performance, good depth of field control, travel compact" competition that's much cheaper, let alone the more flexible mirrorless systems that are also smaller. I get the rationale behind buying an M. I get that you might buy an X Vario for the feel, or for the prestige of the brand, it just seems to be actively inferior - as far as I can tell - to much cheaper alternatives at the "job" that it's apparently intended to do; much more so than, say, an X2. Maybe I'm considering the wrong "job". With an M, you get a better experience (for some styles of shooting) for your money; I've yet to understand how you do with the X Vario.

    An M is an emotional purchase because you get quality and advantages for your (considerable) money and inconvenience. By comparison, I have a Nikkor 200mm f/2; it cost more than the X Vario, I probably don't need it (especially since I'm an amateur), it's huge and unwieldy... but what it does, it does astonishingly well, and I was prepared to pay the premium for it. I'm happy to justify paying over the odds for engineering in a way that I wouldn't expect to be a sensible trade-off for everyone. But I wouldn't have bought one if a $200 Sigma could do the same thing better and weighed half as much. I've yet to get the "why" here, and this thread hasn't educated me yet. If the only answer is "because it's a Leica", I'll happily ignore the camera. If I'm missing something, I'd like to learn what it is.
     
  30. bms

    bms

    Andrew, thanks for calling me intelligent :), but maybe I am not since I am indeed tempted. I profess to owning too many cameras than I can use, an M9 among them. I am currently rectifying the situation.... I have always been on the lookout for a camera that I can just grab and use. Currently my OM-D fits that bill nicely, so I don't think I'll be pulling the X Vario trigger anytime soon. As for the 14-42 Powerzoom mentioned above, its f3.5 to f5.6, very close to the Vario's 70mm equivalent /f6.4 at the long end and for a smaller format, I am GUESSING worse quality. I would not want to drop it either, even if its chances of survival are higher than a Summilux. For now, I shoot with my OM-D with a Pany 12-35 - that combo cost close to what the X Vario costs, arguably with a lens that is hard to beat and f2.8 throughout, but I am pretty sure the test will show that higher ISO would give the Vario the win.
    What draws me to the X? To a large part for me, it's not about the brand, it's about the quality. I have no doubt that the built quality of the Vario is excellent, but I admit it is a Luxury item - like driving a Mercedes S class (I am not) over a VW Bug (to pick German brands). Both get you from A to B and the VW no doubt has advantages (like gas mileage). But I don't think many would argue that the Merc is the better experience.
     
  31. Andrew has way too many (so many!) arguments against the X and all from just looking at the spec sheets. I think he "protests too much". While I do not feel the X would be for me and has a ridiculous price, I feel exactly the same way about the Sony RX1 and that has only a fixed focal length lens. As for all this pontification about how Leica will experience a loss on this camera and Leica can't do electronics etc.; my guess is that Leica pretty well know exactly how many of these they will sell and the price reflects this. They have been doing these non-M cameras for decades now, and I doubt they would continue to do this unless they know their market. I am sure some sell better, and some sell worse than expected, but this is surely normal business. If someone gave me this camera, I would be delighted - I bet it turns out great images despite being so bad it should only be consigned to the trash according to the "web experts".
     
  32. I bet it turns out great images despite being so bad it should only be consigned to the trash according to the "web experts".​
    No doubt it will be capable of excellent images. That's hardly the point. I can get quite decent photos with my smartphone too. Is Andrew protesting too much in thinking over $2000 for a camera with these specification is pushing it a bit? The fact that Leica will be able to sell them - and they will, no doubt - does that make it right pricing, or is it still overpriced for what it really is?
    Of course everybody is free to spend his money any way he wants, and if the tactile feel of this Leica is worth the money to you, by all means. Feeling good in the hand is a important point to a camera to me too, but in a triangle of price, feel and specifications, it does need to hit a sweet spot of what one is still comfortable with, no? Does this camera?
    For me, no way. If I'd had the money for this X-Vario, I'd put it in the bank, wait another year (or 2) and get a real M (second hand).
    With the technology coming out producing excellent images at very high ISO's, you don't need f2.8 or faster.​
    This argument returns too often in favour of slow lenses. And it's simply nonsens. Aperture is not just there to balance your shutterspeed. I want fast lenses to have creative freedom in choice of depth of field. F/6.4 on a APS-C sensor leaves little of that. So, we have a larger sensor that should give less noise and less DoF, but the lens makes me raise ISO to bring back the noise and I have loads of DoF... The lens really just eliminates the advantages of the larger sensor here. Now, why not get a D-Lux instead?
    Maybe I am completely off, but to me Leica is famous for fast lenses that perform exceptionally well at wide apertures. A Leica with f/6.4 is like reading about a Ferrari with a diesel engine.
     
  33. Benjamin: I don't doubt the X-Vario will be better at the same ISO (though the OM-D is pretty good), but as Wouter says you may not need the higher ISO on the Olympus because the lens is faster. I really won't claim that the Panny 14-42 power zoom is a match for Canon's latest 24-70 f/2.8, but it does make the camera portable. My concern with the X-Vario is that its style of camera (premium, fixed lens, big sensor) is suited to being portable, but also reducing depth of field and being good in low light. A reasonably large and slow zoom doesn't achieve that. A slower lens on a big sensor ought to be optically better than a lens used at a faster aperture on a smaller sensor... but it's going to have to be a spectacular difference when the mirrorless segment are cheaper, smaller and have more DoF control.

    Robin: It's only because I think I must be missing something, and I'm hoping someone will tell me what! Maybe it'll just be the "Leica feel", in which case so be it, but I'd like to know if there's more. I'm sure it'll take great images, but the specs mean that there are images that it can't take, and cheaper/smaller alternatives can. I'm not going RX1 shopping either, but it's appreciably smaller and lighter than the X-Vario, and nothing as portable can match the DoF control or low light performance - it's a camera which does something that the competition can't do as well (though there's plenty else that the competition can do better). I'm happy that it exists, even if I'm not saving up for one. Like a Bugatti Veyron. The X Vario feels like a Morgan, bought for the school run. With the the X Vario, even I would, currently, struggle to say to my wife "I need this camera for...", and that's unusual for me, so I want to fill in the gap (even though I greatly doubt I'll want one).

    I'm not confused by Leica trying to sell a $2850 compact camera (yes, it's Leica, they do that). What confuses me is that the lens seems to be too big to be pocketable, and too small to do its sensor justice, when there are, frankly, smaller cameras with bigger apertures. Maybe Leica were aiming for a niche, but it feels like it fell between two stools - which is why I'm trying to see if there's something I'm missing that justifies the trade-offs that were made. A preposterous premium for a slightly better camera is Leica's meat and veg; a big premium for a worse camera is different. The X2 is far more comparable to its competition, and therefore more understandable; with the X-Vario, I want to understand so that I can lust after it from afar, like the rest of Leica's line.
     
  34. bms

    bms

    Andrew, point well taken, this camera fits in my pockets as well as a 6x6 TLR :) .....
    Indeed, while I don't know much about camera development, it seems to me it would have been just a few steps to making this mount interchangeable, offering M and R adapters and everyone would be lusting after it. In fact, maybe that is the next step, but I won't hold my breath. Maybe that is what Leica was afraid off, or maybe they just wanted to make it as compact as possible... or, in a way, you can get an X-pro1 with an M adapter and have your AP-C "M" so maybe their research showed that there was no market for such a camera. But I am sure they did their homework, and as Wouter said, this camera will sell, at that price, to a specific clientele...
     
  35. Andrew, I have never used an X series body but I own and use a number of M series bodies. For most paid work, a lot of
    which is sports and low light my Canon DSLRs get used. That said I love the Leicas more and have taken many of my
    best images with them. There is a unique advantage to a rangefinder as you can shoot with both eyes open and with
    most lenses see outside the frame. The handling makes you more deliberate but you can do everything with your eye to
    the camera.

    What really makes the difference is digital - with a DSLR or CSR you are constantly messing with the digital bits. My only
    digital Leica (until my M240 arrives) is the M8. When shooting this. Camera you almost never play with the digital bits -
    you really only look at the screen to set ISO and format a card. There is no other digital camera I have shot where you
    can focus on the photography as clearly. I wonder if the X series bodies have this approach.

    In terms of a Leica zoom the R series lenses are great - I cannot wait to use my 35-70 F4 on the M240 - it is great on the
    Canon, better than the 24-70 F2.8.
     
  36. Agreed about the benefits of rangefinders, Philip (I do have, and use, a Bessa R). I'm all for the premium of a camera with better ergonomics; I shoot with both eyes open (less effectively, I admit) on my SLR, and having dials under my hand (as on my D800, say) mean that I absolutely don't want to take my eye from the finder mid shot; I'm really frustrated that Nikon keep having things like ISO and AF mode where I can't reach them in this way. If anything, the dials on the X series seem less ergonomic to me because I'd have to move my thumb between aperture and shutter dials to balance them - on my D800 one is under my thumb and the other under my middle finger (while my index finger is on the shutter); on an M or my Bessa, my thumb changes shutter speed and my left hand does aperture on the lens. Same for a Fuji, I believe. Still, people seem to get on with the X cameras and this wasn't changed between the X1 and X2, so I guess it's not the issue I imagine.

    There's a danger of assuming that cameras are better because there's nothing electronic to change during shooting. Having to use menus to change something during shooting is bad. Just having more functionality is not - if it doesn't get in the way of shooting, you can ignore it when you don't need it. I do spend more time in menus on my D800 than on my Bessa (obviously, since the Bessa has no menus), but only to do things that the Bessa can't do at all.

    Of course, with an M8, I'd not spend any time trying to select different AF or metering settings - but if I shot entirely in manual and centre weighted, I'd not touch those settings on my DSLR either. I suspect the options will be there on the X Vario - actually, I expect roughly the same menu structure as previous X cameras. I do expect it'll err on the side of getting out of the way, though, which is good. And, to be fair, I'm a fan of a manual zoom ring, which is missing from a lot of compacts. I'll look forward to reviews; maybe I'll stop thinking that they should just have cloned an RX100 and uprated the switch gear!
     
  37. Looks like an M1. I'd feel foolish aiming it at arms length wearing my bifocals upside-down. So I'll need the evf2 finder. But then I'm no longer in the audience.
     
  38. If you have too much money in your pocket and you want a great little small pocketable camera that's the RX1 right? If you want a Leica M because of it's user interface, quality, and picture quality, then you buy an M9 or M or even an M8. If you want a great successor to the M concept, buy a Sony NEX-7. Feels a lot like a rangefinder but it can use any lens and it's small and light.
    But this camera seems like it would only be attractive if it were a couple of hundred dollars. And even then I would rather carry the Nex with the 35/2 ASPH lens. That's a small, pocketable camera and the quality is great. It just seems like a camera that only makes sense if you have unlimited cash and MUST buy anything Leica produces. I'm sure it takes great pictures, but it doesn't seem like the best choice for anyone really.
    Leica needs to think EVIL -- Electronic viewfinder, INTERCHANGEABLE lenses.
     
  39. So I realise that a lot of it's because I've been ranting - and I'd not meant to be as negative as I've turned out to be - but I was expecting to feel more love for this camera here and on the web than I've actually seen. Maybe it'll be different when it's shipping and there are full user reviews, but I've rarely seen so much criticism without some corresponding interest - even allowing for some reserved detachment from Leicaphiles who don't feel the need for another flame war even if they're going to buy this. It may just be that my interpretation is filtering what I've read. I don't want to kick Leica while their PR department is down, but I hope there's a good message for this camera, because I don't seem to be the only one struggling to spot it. I genuinely want there to be something we're (almost) all missing, for the sake of engineers who probably worked very hard on this (rather than painting a Panasonic).
     
  40. I'm looking forward to seeing some images from the camera. I like my Leica IIIa with 50mm f3.5 Elmar. This could be the digital zoom equivalent maybe.
     
  41. By way of balance, Sean Reid has a public commentary on the X Vario on Luminous Landscape (as opposed to the review on his pay site, to which I'm not subscribed). The lens is apparently very good, and the decision not to put a faster lens on was dictated by not making the camera too big.

    Personally, I think it could be big if the lens was faster, or I think the lens could be its current speed if the camera was smaller; what they have is a camera which is too large for the purposes for which I find fixed-lens compact cameras useful, and too slow to be a substitute for a serious camera. Presumably Leica feel there's a sweet spot where I see "neither here nor there". But I'm a sample size of one, and I hope Leica did some market research, so they may be right.

    (Sean's article suggests that the negative response is because people were expecting a "mini M". For what it's worth, I was mostly oblivious to the rumours. I'm judging the specification solely as a compact on its own merits.)
     
  42. I know its a bit of a sacred cow to criticise anything Leica in the world but at (equiv) 50mm the speed is f5.1 sorry but no amount of patriotism to the brand can find that in any way acceptable for a standard lens equivalent focal length especially with no IS. Most small non zoom primes from Leica cost more than this so to say that its cutting edge image quality is a stretch. The test photos I have seen show corner smearing and excessive CA. Im sure it takes great photos, there are very few these days of the major brands that take poor ones but for the money this camera is not exceptional. Im confident an Fuji X-E1 with its 35 f1.4 or even its kit zoom at the same apertures will be the at least the equal of this. Its a beautiful camera body though, had it been a Leica equivalent of the X-E1 with built in EVF and accepted M lenses I would gladly have paid a double premium for it.
     
  43. James: I've been grateful that people on this thread have remained very realistic about the camera and not too "Leica fanboyish" - thank you all for being welcoming to someone who's only an occasional visitor from the SLR fora. But I don't know whether people are just being nice (and whether the Leica crowd is more mature than the Canikon brigade in this), or whether everyone is genuinely struggling to justify this camera! I look forward to the rebound against the negative reaction.
     
  44. bms

    bms

    In the end, I think Leica tried to make a camera that takes great images and appeals to many people (people who do not hang out here apparently). I think even they realized that many photo "enthusiasts" really do not want to focus manually and that their M system will always appeal to a small(er) number of people. They also realized that $3000 is not $8000 and that people who dream of owning a real Leica and not a Panasonic knock off may go for such a camera.
    What can only be lagging sales (do you notice that the camera is in stock basically EVERYWHERE) seem to suggest that plan has backfired, but who knows what goes on in the board room and marketing sessions in Germany? At least there is ONE new Leica camera in stock :)
     
  45. The test photos I have seen show corner smearing and excessive CA​
    I had a look at some sample images via Leica Rumors. They all look very, very good. Edges and corners were clean and sharp. No significant distortion except for perspective effects due to the lens not having the ability to shift. No visible CA. Purple fringing is very, very well controlled. Edit: note that the sample images were camera JPEGs. Imagine how good the RAW files will be.
    I wrote this above: "The lens may be slow, but it will more than redeem itself if it performs to an excellent standard." As far as I can tell, and pending further evidence, the camera completely redeems itself. Leica wins. I am tempted to buy one over a used M9. But let's just sit back, wait and see. I look forward to DPReview's opinion.
     
  46. bms

    bms

    I look forward to DPReview's opinion.​
    Hope they test it....
     
  47. Saw two sample prints at the Leica Store in DC today. They were, I think, 12x18. They looked great, extremely sharp. While I have wandered off into Fujiland now when it comes to digital, the lens on this camera can deliver the goods. As long as there is enough light.
     
  48. I am at a loss to understand Leica's thinking in terms of the design of this camera...
     

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