Leica X-vario in low light



I write very little about the Leica X-Vario. Mostly because of the dismay about how Leica cameras and owners are commented about on much of the photographic internet. Why this is has always baffled me. There are more expensive cameras, and there are cameras that are much more associated with status. Show most people your Leica and they will wonder what you are using, however show them your big Nikon DSLR and they will undoubtedly have you down as a 'serious' photographer. Plus whenever Leicas get mentioned, there will always be some comment about their price followed by some denigration of those who buy them. The Sony RX1 + extras is more expensive than the X-Vario, but it gets a completely different response. No matter how much I could write about the superlative IQ of the X-Vario, the incredible high ISO performance and the build quality, somehow that doesn't seem to make any difference. The consensus is that its a rubbish, overpriced camera and I'm a tosser for buying it.

However yesterday it performed so well in appalling light, that I felt compelled to break my self-imposed embargo on writing about it. It won't make any difference to the huge anti-Leica population out there, but its worth making the points anyway.

One of the great things about the camera, and one that gets ignored in any review of it, is the built-in flash. Its a monster. Incredibly powerful. It can light up a huge room with no problem at all. Added to this are some in-camera options and some very well-thought programming that makes really natural fill-in-flash both easy and incredibly high quality. Below are some shots from yesterday, shot in very murky conditions. I've included the exif data so you can see what I was shooting.






As I said, these were shot in very dark conditions. I could barely see inside the old factory, lit with one bulb and the tractor in the shed was also very dark. The resulting pictures look well lit, but that was far from the reality. The balance with the outside daylight is pretty much perfect, and I didn't have to do any fancy calculations. I just set the camera to Forced Flash and it works out the exposure and ISO setting. I had the aperture set to f/8, as I wanted a lot of DOF, and as you can see the camera has selected some high ISO settings. However if you look at them closely, you will see that they are all very 'clean', with very little noise showing up. And yes they are small size samples but the full size 100% versions are the same. I was stunned by the quality of the tractor in the shed image, and I found it hard to believe that it was shot at ISO 4000. It is a superbly sharp and detailed image. 

The flashgun on the X-Vario is the best small unit I've ever used, and close to being one of the best flash units of any kind I've used. You can't bounce it, but that doesn't seem to matter, it produces really natural looking results without the need for bouncing or diffusing. Ever since I've had the camera its been what I've used in situations like this where I need high quality, natural looking, fill-in flash. Plus now I've had the chance to experiment with raw processing, the X-Vario produces the cleanest high ISO results I've ever used in a camera I've owned. Yes better than the Fuji X Cameras I've used and any of my Nikon or Canon DSLR's.

Of course all of this will fall on deaf ears and this post will I'm sure engender the usual comments that all my X-Vario posts do. Price and the 'slowness' of the zoom are the usual topics. I'm not even going to bother to write yet again about how good the IQ is, apart from mentioning it now. So I'll go back to m4/3 and Fuji X for the next group of posts, since that is what people want it seems. And I'll be continuing to use my 'secret' camera, but not writing about it much. I'm a great fan of my Fuji and Panasonic cameras, and the enthusiasm I put into writing about them is genuine. However my 'personal' camera is the classiest thing I've ever owned with a shutter button, but nobody wants to know. As I've indicated before, that doesn't really bother me. As I've said often enough, its the Leica haters loss.




All pictures in this post - Leica X-Vario

N.B. Bottom two shots, and the gnome picture at the top of the post are shot without flash.




N.B. to see more on the cameras and lenses featured in this post click on the relevant labels (tags and keywords) below.

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