Leica X2 - "Review" concluded

Previous Leica X2 "review" posts.

 I have to say first off that I really like the X2. I like the way it handles, I like the pictures it takes and yes I like the way it looks. I liked the X1 too, but got very frustrated with the slow AF which caused me to miss shots, and the lack of an accurate viewfinder.

Those two issues have been addressed in the X2 and the AF is now fine for me. Some may find it still somewhat hesitant in certain situations (particularly low light), but I'm very happy with it. I also like the EVF very much and while the Leica version is somewhat expensive, fortunately its an exact copy of the Olympus VF-2 which works perfectly. I haven't had any problems whatsoever with that on the camera. I would also mention that battery life has been improved on the X2, though this could still be better and I think that the construction feels somewhat more robust than the X1, though I don't have that camera to compare it with.

Ther are two things I really like about the camera. Firstly the eye-popping colour and secondly the virtually silent shutter. The shutter is so quiet that outdoors I can only hear it if I put the camera right next to my ear. There is another virtue of the camera, though not one I would use a lot, and that is it has a really powerful pop-up flash. It really is a monster.

In terms of sharpness its right up there with its competitors, though some recent tests indicated that a Panasonic G3 / 12-35mm f.2.8 combination might just be a tad sharper.

However, this is pretty much splitting hairs. The X2 output is certainly very crisp and with the strong contrast and colour saturation the images have a real attention grabbing look to them.

High ISO performance is also very good. As with the X1 up to ISO 3200 is very usable.

I used to use my X1 for weddings and the X2 would be even more useful for that. 

However despite all of this where the X2 really triumphs for me is its simplicity. Any experienced photographer will have this camera set up and fully understood in about 10 minutes, without ever having to look at the manual.

The menu system has one page and just 36 items.

Buttons on the left and the control dial on the right are simple to understand and easy to access for the important functions.

Then there are the shutter speed and aperture dials on the top.

Set both dials to A and you have Programme Exposure
Select your aperture on the right dial, leave the left dial to A you have Aperture Priority.
Select your shutter speed on the left dial, leave the right dial to A you have Shutter Priority.
Using both dials gives you full Manual, with a meter on the screen or in the viewfinder to indicate over or under exposure.

Wonderfully simple, visual and easy to operate. 

Files are .DNG format and though there is no software in the box, there is a code for a copy of Lightroom that can be downloaded from the Adobe website. As I've said countless times, if Adobe software and raw file formats are good enough for Leica, why on earth do other manufacturers have to come up with their own inferior versions.

The camera is also small but with usable controls and of course is very light. (342g without the grip)

So is there anything I don't like?

Well the carrying strap is terrible and the holding lugs are too small. As you can see I've added two strap rings of my own so that I can use a decent strap. There is of course also the price! But thats about it.

In practice the camera is a treat to use. Obviously it has a fixed lens, so thats worth bearing in mind. Some may see that as a problem, but I like the discipline that imposes. And I have no complaints about its performance. And yes there is no escaping the fact that its expensive. And no that price is probably not justified. As ever with Leica you are paying a premium for a camera made in Germany at the Leica factory and yes you are paying the "Red Dot Tax".

Competition? Well the Fuji X100 is its primary competition. This is a cheaper (though not cheap) camera. As will be well known to regular readers, I have issues with Fuji, so I'm probably not the most objective person to give an opinion as to the merits of each camera. But for what its worth, I much prefer this to the Fuji, which I found complicated, slow to operate and somewhat "cheap" in its construction. Plus why have a copy when the real thing is available? And yes I do mean what you think I mean with that last sentence!!

So there you have it. Not a camera for everyone and far less versatile than m4/3, NEX and all the other CSC / Mirrorless / E.V.I.L cameras available. The X2 is certainly more a "super compact". The Sony RX100 is obviously some kind of competitor now, but in terms of using it the X2 is superior in every way, as far as I'm concerned. A camera as opposed to a gadget box. (Though to be honest a VERY impressive gadget box)

Regular readers will also be aware that the X2 pushes all my buttons, so again I would advise bearing that in mind when you read this. I'm predisposed to Leica and I'm predisposed to what this camera looks like, how it operates and the traditions that it embodies. Its not going to sell by the truckload for the simple reason that Leica can't make it by the truckload. Its priced out of reach of all but the most well-heeled point and shoot upgraders. You don't get a lot for your money, but then the less is more, minimalist Leica philosophy is exactly why I like it so much. Why I have to pay this price for a camera that takes out the fluff and makes the important stuff easy is beyond me. But I do. When I say its a "photographers camera" some might argue thats pretentious and condescending, and they may well be right, but then its my money and my life and taking pictures with the X2 strikes me as a good way to put both of those to good use.

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