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Leica X2 Review

Leica X2 Review - Joshua Waller reviews the premium Leica X2 - the World's smallest camera with an APS-C sized sensor.

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Category : Compact Cameras
Product : Leica X2
Price : £1,575
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Features
Handling
Performance
Verdict
Specification

Leica X2 (3)

The Leica X2 is the latest serious compact camera from Leica, replacing the Leica X1, and features a 35mm equivalent Leica Elmarit f/2.8 ASPH. lens, 16.2 megapixel APS-C sensor, ISO100 to ISO12500, improved focus and is one of the smallest cameras available with a large APS-C sized sensor.

Leica X2 Features


Leica X2 (5)

The Leica X2 has the same lens as the Leica X1, and has an updated pop up flash compared to the X1, the X2 also adds a new accessory port on the back, to enable the use of an electronic viewfinder. The camera is available in silver and black as shown here, or as a completely black model.

Key Features

  • 16mp APS-C CMOS Sensor
  • Leica Elmarit 24mm f/2.8 ASPH. Lens, equivalent to 35mm
  • 2.7 inch 230k pixel screen
  • ISO100 - 12500
  • 5fps continuous shooting
  • Manual aperture / shutter controls
  • RAW Adobe DNG 
  • Pop-up flash
  • Flash hot-shoe
  • Accessory port
  • 450 shot battery life
  • Available in black or silver
Leica X2 Accesories: The Leica X2 has a number of accessories available for it, some of them are shown below, starting with the optical viewfinder (OVF) - a 36mm equivalent optical viewfinder, priced at £260.

Leica X2 Ovf (2)

Another option is the electronic viewfinder (EVF), a 1.44million dot screen viewfinder, available for £360, it tilts upwards and uses the same connection as Panasonic / Olympus Micro Four Thirds cameras, and the almost identical Olympus VF-2 will work on the Leica X2 as well, but is available for £176. Both feature a rubber ring and dioptre adjustment.

Leica X2 Evf (2)

The hand-grip adds a chunky grip to the front of the camera, without adding too much size onto the bottom. It's available for £92.

Leica X2 Hand Grip (1)

There is a leather case available in black for £110, or also available in brown for £135. This adds an improved leather strap with padding, although will only hold the camera on its own without any of the accessories shown above.

Leica X2 Leather Case (2)

Leica X2 Handling

Leica X2 (6)

Handling - The camera has a very solid feel, with a metal body and textured grip. The screen appeared quite sharp even though it's a low resolution 230k pixel screen, and it was possible to clearly see when the subject was in focus from the screen. The EVF with 1.44m dots is very clear and was a good experience with a decent refresh rate.

Leica X2 (7)

Design - The design of the camera is quite classical with a two-tone black and silver metal body, or alternatively an all-black model. Additional grip is available if needed with the optional hand-grip, although this blocks access to the bottom battery and memory card compartment and we found the camera was comfortable to use without the optional grip. The rear of the camera gives quick access to controls with dedicated WB, ISO, EV, Focus and Flash buttons, with the aperture and shutter speed dials on top of the camera. The on/off switch also acts as the switch to choose between single and continuous shooting. A focus assist light will help with focus in dark situations.

Menus – The menus are easy to navigate, as all the settings are listed on one big list that you can scroll down. There isn't any built in help, but most things are quite straightforward, and if not then there's always the manual. There is a menu option for Image Stabilisation, although this is just a digital version that combines two images. It's possible to setup 3 user profiles so that you can get to your favourite setup quickly. We found we didn't need to access the menus too much, thanks to the large number of external buttons.

Leica X2 (10)

Battery life
- Battery life is rated at 450 shots according to Leica / CIPA test results, we were able to take over 800 shots before the battery went flat.

Leica X2 (9)

Speed – We tested the camera's performance at focusing, shutter response, shot to shot time, continuous shooting etc and have posted the results below. To test this we took 6 or more shots and calculated the average, so that consistent results were produced.


Leica X2 Olympus OM-D E-M5
Shutter Response 0.05 <0.05
Wide - Focus / Shutter Response
0.45 0.125
Full zoom - Focus / Shutter Response N/A 0.2
Switch on Time to Taking a Photo 2.0 1.0
Shot to Shot (without flash) 1.7 0.3-0.4
Shot to Shot with Flash 1.7 1.5
Continuous Shooting (JPEG) 5fps (8 shots) 9fps (19 shots before slowdown)
Continuous Shooting (with Flash) N/A 1.4s
Continuous Shooting (RAW) 5fps (8 shots) 9fps (16 shots before slowdown)

Focus speed wasn't as quick as other cameras,although certainly reasonable, although at very close focussing distances the camera occasionally struggled, causing us to revert to manual focus to be sure of a successful shot, particularly for macro shots. Shutter response was excellent.

Switch on and shot to shot is a little slow, but continuous shooting is quick at 5fps for 8 shots. When shooting RAW there is occassionally a delay while the camera writes to the card, but this is less than 10 seconds.

Leica X2 Performance

Additional sample photos and product shots are available in the Equipment Database, where you can add your own review, photos and product ratings.

Leica X2 Sample Photos


Sample Photos - Flash was a little weak in our studio portrait with flash, but in darker conditions was certainly adequete for lighting up subjects. Colour is quite natural / nuetral with the camera, and for images with more pop, you can use the vivid mode or increase the saturation.

Leica X2 Lens test images


Lens Performance - Macro performance isn't ideal, with the camera's closest focusing distance just 20cm. Detail is very good, even with the lens wide open (at f/2.8), and images are very sharp when the lens is stopped down. Detail is good across the frame, and purple fringing and chromatic aberrations are low. The lens is resistant to flare, unless shooting directly towards the sun, when this can cause contrast levels to drop. Distortion is very low, with no signs of vignetting.

Leica X2 ISO test images


ISO Noise Performance - Noise is very low at ISO100 and ISO200. At ISO400 some grain starts to appear, although thankfully this is not the usual coloured noise (red, green, blue dots) or chroma noise that usually appears, this makes it appear very film like. At ISO800 this grain increases, although detail remains good. Detail is still good at ISO1600 as this grain increases. At ISO3200 the grain becomes more noticeable, but colour and detail is still reasonably good. At ISO6400 detail and colour saturation drops as the noise becomes quite dominant, although the camera still produces usable results. At the highest setting, ISO12500, noise is at its highest levels, however it still shows as grain, which means detail is still quite reasonable, and images should be useful if converted to black and white, or resized. 

Leica X2 White-balance test images


White Balance Performance - Auto White Balance (AWB) performance is excellent under tungsten and fluorescent lighting, with the tungsten preset giving very similar results. The fluorescent preset gives the image a warm yellow cast, and we found better results using the AWB setting.

Panorama mode - Panoramic mode is not available.

Leica X2 Digital filters


Digital Filters - Preset "Film" Colour modes are probably the closest the Leica X2 gets to applying filters to images, with the options of: Standard, Vivid, Natural, B&W natural, and B&W high contrast. You also have the option to set sharpening, saturation, and contrast.

Video - The Leica X2 doesn't feature a video mode.

Value For Money

There are a number of serious compact cameras, however a very small number feature an APS-C sized sensor, details can be found below:

Camera MP Sensor Size Lens Price
Nikon Coolpix P310 (lacks RAW) 16 1/2.33 inch f/1.8 4.2x £219
Olympus XZ-1 10 1/1.63 inch f/1.8 4x £260
Canon Powershot S100 12 1/1.7 inch f/2.0 5x £329
Fujifilm FinePix X10 12 2/3 inch f/2.0 4x £338
Nikon Coolpix P7100 10 1/1.7 inch f/2.8 7.1x £349
Samsung EX2F 12.4 1/1.7 inch f/1.4 3.3x £429
Panasonic Lumix LX7 10mp 1/1.7 inch f/1.4 3.8x £449
Ricoh GR Digital IV 10 1/1.7 inch f/1.9 28mm £449
Large sensor compacts:        
Canon Powershot G1 X 14.3 1.5 inch f/2.8 4x £449
Sony Cyber-shot RX100 20.2 1 inch sensor f/1.8 3.6x £515
Fujifilm X100 12 APS-C f/2.0 35mm  £599
Sigma DP1 / DP2 Merrill 15.3/46 APS-C Foveon f/2.8 28mm / 45mm £799
Leica X2 16 APS-C f/2.8 35mm £1499

You'll also need to buy a memory card and a case or bag to keep your camera safe and protected - have a look at our complete guide to camera bags.

Leica X2 Verdict

The Leica X1 was quite unique when first announced, as one of very few cameras available with a large APS-C sized sensor. This partly justified the high price of the Leica X1, however since then, there has been a number of new cameras, with large sensors, such as the Fujifilm X100 with optical/electronic hybrid viewfinder, the Sigma DP1/DP2 Merrill with 46mp Foveon sensor, as well as a number of mirrorless cameras (with practicallty all of them cheaper than the Leica X2). 

Undoubtedly the Leica X2 is capable of producing images with excellent image quality, with good colour, and excellent levels of detail and sharpness. The Leica X2 is also a stylish, compact, and extremely well built camera, and it comes with a free version of Adobe Lightroom, in a rather stylish box as well. However, it's quite clear from the price of the camera, (and the price of the Leica VF-2 viewfinder), that there is a lot of value placed in the Leica name. Whether that is something you are willing to pay for is up to you, and there are a number of people that are prepared to. If you do spend the money to buy the Leica X2, you'll be extremely glad to know that you're getting a very good camera capable of taking excellent photos. However, for most people the Sony Cyber-shot RX100 or Fujifilm X100 will do the job just as well, and for considerably less money. 

Leica X2 Pros

Excellent image quality - very sharp results
Extremely stylish camera
Excellent noise performance - very film like
Excellent build quality
Lots of external controls
5fps continuous shooting
Lightroom included
2 year warranty - UK includes 1 year accidental damage
Good battery life

Leica X2 Cons

High Price
Lacks video mode
Limited macro performance
Low resolution screen

FEATURES  
HANDLING  
PERFORMANCE  
VALUE FOR MONEY  
VERDICT  

Leica X2 Specifications

ManufacturerLeica
Lens
Max Aperturef/2.8 - f/16
35mm equivalent35mm
Optical Zoom0x
Image Sensor
CCD pixels16.5Mp (Megapixels)
Pixels (W)4928
Pixels (H)3264
Sensor TypeCMOS
Sensor SizeAPS-C
Sensor Size (width)No Data
Sensor Size (height)No Data
Aspect Ratio
  • 3:2
LCD Monitor
LCD Monitor2.7in
Screen resolution230k
Touch ScreenNo
Focusing
Min Focus30cm
Focusing modes
  • Spot
  • Face Detection
  • Multi
  • Centre
Exposure Control
Shutter speeds shortest1/2000sec
Shutter speeds longest30sec
Exp modes
  • Program
  • Aperture-Priority
  • Shutter-Priority
  • Manual
Metering
  • Centre-weighted - Average
  • Multi Pattern
  • Spot
ISO sensitivity100 - 12500
White balance
  • Auto
  • Manual
  • Outdoors/Daylight
  • Cloudy
  • Incandescent
  • Fluorescent
  • Shade
  • Flash
Exposure Comp+/-3
Shooting Options
Continuous shooting5fps
Video
Movie modeNo Data
Video Resolution
    Video FPSNo Data
    Stereo SoundNo Data
    Optical Zoom with VideoNo
    Other Features
    Image StabilisationNo
    Interface
    HDMIYes
    USBUSB 2
    Wi-FiNo
    Storage
    Card Type
    • SD
    • SDHC
    • SDXC
    File Type
    • RAW
    • JPG
    • RAW + JPG
    Power Source
    Battery TypeLithium-ion
    CIPA Rating450
    Box Contents
    Box ContentsBattery (Leica BP-DC8), battery charger (Leica BC-DC8), battery case, leather carrying strap, USB cable, lens cap, user manual.
    Dimensions
    Weight316g
    Width124mm
    Height69mm
    Depth51.5mm

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    Photographs taken using the Leica X2

    250Jam Session37In The ChurchThe Man On The Roof
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    Comments


    josa 2 25 Czech Republic
    10 Oct 2012 6:23AM
    ...a nice camera but overpriced...

    Join ePHOTOzine for free and remove these adverts.

    10 Oct 2012 8:15AM
    Did someone say G1X was expensive Wink

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