Leica X Vario - Why the hostility?


Official announcement is just a few minutes away. 9:00 AM EST, and I've been looking at the reaction to this camera, which is universally hostile. I suspect mostly from people who would never have bought one in the first place no matter what the specifications. My favourite was 'Fuji are the new Leica!' Priceless.

Its a strange thing and it does happen everytime Leica release a camera. It happened with the M8, X1 and X2 and to a slightly lesser extent with the M9 and it seems large groups of internet chatterers can't wait to rubbish it. Its a bit like the rich kid falls over in the playground and everyone gathers around to give him a good kicking. Its an interesting phenomenom that people feel compelled to do this, and it puzzles me as to why.

Leicas are expensive, there is no denying that. But this camera is made in Germany by workers who expect a decent wage and live in a country where the cost of living is higher than many of the far east countries who churn out polycarbonate cameras by the container load. I have no doubt it will be well made and a step up from the X1 and X2, plus if its like other Leicas it comes with a 1-year unconditional guarantee and it has a free copy of Lightroom included. And yes it has the Leica name and the red dot. And that does have prestige and a value and if you buy a Leica, you buy that too. This means that if you resell it you won't loose a huge amount of money. The X2 is currently selling new in the UK for not much less than when I bought mine over a year ago. Everybody knows this and yet its still something to criticise. 

The image quality looks stunning from Jono Slacks jpg, samples and yesterday I had a look at my X2 files from last year and they are seriously good. Wonderful colour depth, sharp, clean and great at high ISO's. I expect that the Vario will improve on those. So whats the main criticism? Well it seems the long end of the zoom being f/6.4 is the main cause for complaint for those who aren't going to buy it. (and as I suggested never would anyway) So what exactly is the problem? Leica aren't exactly novices at making lenses, and if they feel the lens needs to be slow at the telephoto end then there is probably a reason for that. Leicas usual reason is to keep the quality of the image as high as possible, so I'm presuming that will be the case. We may get some explanation as to why its happened later today, we may not. But even so, not everybody wants to shoot their cat, their children dribbling food or their dinner in low light. Plus at the wide end its f/3.5, not that slow. I was looking at some shots I took with my X2 this morning inside a dark church, f/3.5 and ISO 1600 and after some raw processing, virtually noiseless. So at the wide end, the Vario will be not so shabby.

My final thought is that if you don't want to buy one, or can't, then why the need to to try and dismiss it as a failure? It won't be, it WILL sell well, because Leica know their market, and they don't make lowest common denominator cameras for people with lowest common denominator brains. They make prestige brand cameras for people who want that and are prepared to pay for it. They are after all a photographic / optical company and not a huge corporation who have to compete with the toaster, microwave and mobile phone divisions. If you buy a Leica you pay a premium for the name and you may buy one for all sorts of reasons, including the fact that it is a luxury, expensive brand. But then that happens with cars, clothes, perfume and all sorts of goods. Paying extra for a name is nothing new and I wonder how many people who rush to rubbish Leica are wearing designer jeans, drive a car with 'go-faster' hubcaps and drink beer that tastes like bat urine just because it comes from an exotic country and is 'cool'. If the official announcement answers a few questions I have about the camera satisfactorily, then I will order one. Lifes to short to bother about whether its value for money or to be sensible, and if it makes me feel good, I can afford it and the quality is everything I expect, then I will buy one without hesitation. And I will enjoy using it, and if people want to criticise then so be it. As far as I'm concerned its their loss.