Are lookaleicas now better than Leicas? Fuji X100s, Panasonic GX7.

 
All above - Panasonic GX7 Olympus 45mm f/1.8


All above - Fuji X100s

I wonder if anyone, in a blind test, could tell a Leica file from that of any other camera these days. Sharper? More colour depth? Obviously better image quality? Well, I'm pretty sure I couldn't and in many cases I may well prefer the non-Leica image. In my original piece on the Leica T, I wrote about the possibility of getting style AND content. Well lots of the first, but the second? Well not for me.

A non-M Leica that takes M-mount lenses without focus peaking, an ageing Sony 16MP sensor and forced touch-screen control with a screen that is seemingly no better than any other in bright sunlight hardly gets my pulse racing. What will Leica's middle-aged + traditionalist customer base makes of this? Will the young turks who champion camera tech., wi-fi and the like take out second mortgages and sell kidneys to buy the Leica T? Is this just a pretty ordinary 16MP APS-C camera in a show pony exterior? Well unfortunately that may be the case.

When the Leica X-Vario was announced, despite all the criticism, I knew I wanted one. It was right for me. And I liked the X-Vario, I liked it a lot, but now I have the Fuji X100s and I like that better. In fact a lot better. And Fuji make classy cameras and classy lenses that are every bit as good as the Leica M9, X1, X2, X-Vario and Leica lenses I've owned. And they don't cost ridiculous amounts of money. Hand made in Germany? Well OK, but Fuji seem to get the same quality machine made in Japan. And it costs a lot less. 

To justify their price Leicas have to be special, but it seems to me that the Leica T, despite it's superb styling just isn't that special. I know what this sensor is like and I've looked at the samples and they seem awfully familiar. Just like the X1, X2 and X-Vario. The point being that I can get that same quality elsewhere. Much as it pains me to have to say it, I think Leica have lost the plot. For whatever reason they seem to think that they have to compete with the likes of Sony, Panasonic and Fuji. 

And if they want to do touchscreen, wi-fi and all the other current camera tech. then they surely have to do it better than it seems the T can produce, because this is an area where Sony and Panasonic in particular are very strong. A shame, for a while there I was hopeful, but I suspect that my love affair with the red dot is distinctly cooling. And after reading the full specs yesterday afternoon I went out shooting with my Fuji X100s and Panasonic GX7 + Olympus 45mm f/1.8 and began to think the heretical. That lookaleicas are indeed now better than Leicas themselves. And I wouldn't have predicted that. Leica aren't the ones to aspire to anymore as far as I'm concerned and the more Andreas Kauffman drags them in the direction they are going, the less I like it. 

Will it be succesful? Who knows. However as far as I'm concerned there are much more interesting and useful alternatives. When I first saw the images of the Leica T I reorganised my camera shelf thinking of what I could sell to buy one. I even put a couple of cameras on ebay. Well those cameras are now no longer for sale and the shelf is back looking like it did before. And no one-piece aluminium body, no matter how sexy it looks, is likely to alter that.

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