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Leica X Vario: Fixed f/3.5 - f/6.4 Lens on APS-C, no EVF

See Guide to Leica for more on real Leicas: Leica M Typ 240 and Leica M9 and lenses.

Leica has announced the new Leica X Vario, with a 24-70mm (equiv) f/3.5 - 6.4 zoom lens. The X Vario will no doubt sell in Leica stores.

The Leica X-System is defined by its high-performance, APS-C format, CMOS image sensor with over 16.5 megapixels (effective 16.2 MP), unusually large compared to other cameras in this class.

The Leica X Vario is the first compact camera to combine this professional sensor with a high-performance zoom lens, the Leica Vario Elmar 18-46 mm f/3.5-6.4 ASPH, which covers a range of focal lengths from 28 to 70 mm (35 mm equivalent). This combination is a world’s first and sets completely new standards for imaging quality in its class. The size and quality of the sensor result in low image noise, high dynamic range, and accurate color reproduction.

Image quality ought to be quite high given the very slow lens. An f/6.4 aperture at 70mm on APS-C is unprecedented (in a bad way), so image quality had better be absolutely first rate.

Leica X Vario specifications
Lens: Leica Vario Elmar 18 - 46 mm f/3.5 - 6.4, 9 Elements in 8 groups, 2 aspherical lens elements
Aperture settings: 3.5 / 6.4 to 16 (1/3-EV increments)
Focusing range: 30 cm–infinity
AF focusing: 1-point, 11-point, spot, face detection
Image sensor: APS-C CMOS image sensor with 16.5 MP (effective 16.2 MP)
Resolution: DNG in 3:2 format: 4944 × 3272 pixels (16.2 MP)
JPEG in 3:2 format: 4928 × 3264 pixels (16.1 MP), 4288 × 2856 pixels (12.2 MP), 3264 × 2160 pixels (7.1 MP), 2144 × 1424 pixels (3.1 MP), 1632 × 1080 pixels (1.8 MP)
Image quality: DNG + JPEG super fine, DNG + JPEG fine, JPEG super fine, JPEG fine
Exposure control
Exposure modes: Automatic programme (P), automatic aperture priority (A), manual setting (M)
Exposure compensation: Increments: 1/3 to 3 EV increments, 3 exposures
Automatic exposure bracketing: 1/3 to 3 EV increments, 3 exposures
Metering modes: Smart multi-segment metering, centre-weighted metering, selective (spot) metering
White balance: Auto, halogen, daylight, flash, cloudy, shade, electronic flash, 2 manual settings, manual colour temperature setting with fine tuning
Sensitivity: Auto, ISO 100, ISO 200, ISO 400, ISO 800, ISO 1600, ISO 3200, ISO 6400, ISO 12500
Shutter speeds: 30 s–1/2000 s
Continuous shooting: 3 fps or 5 fps, max. 7 consecutive exposures with constant shooting speed in DNG + JPEG fine quality
Film modes: Standard, dynamic, natural, b/w natural, b/w high contrast
Flash modes: Auto, flash exposure correction, red-eye correction, fill-in flash, slow sync, studio, 1st/2nd curtain sync
Hot shoe: Compatible with Leica SF 24D, Leica SF 58 flash units
Monitor: 3" TFT LCD with 921,600 pixels, wide-angle field of view: 100%
Review modes: 16-thumbnail display, zoom review (16× max.), image rotation, deletion protection
Storage media
Internal memory: None
Memory cards: SD, SDHC, SDXC
Interfaces: HDMI out, USB (USB 2.0 high speed)
Battery (rechargeable lithium-ion): Capacity: ~ 360 exposures
Dimensions (L × H × D): ~ 133 x 73 x 95 mm
Weight: ~ 650/679 g (without/with battery)
Package includes: Battery (Leica BP-DC8), battery charger (Leica BC-DC8), battery case, leather carrying strap, USB cable, lens cap, user manual
Software: Adobe® Photoshop® Lightroom® (free download option after product registration)


The value proposition

The Fujifilm X-E1 kit with five excellent and faster lenses can be had for about $2944.

  Leica X Vario Fujifilm X-E1
Price: about $2850
(~$3350 with EVF)
about $2990 with FIVE FAST LENSES
Resolution: ~16 megapixels ~16 megapixels
EVF: optional, about $499 included, built-in
Includes: body + fixed f/3.5 - f/6.4 lens
(no interchangeable lenses)
XE-1 +
built-in EVF +
14mm f/2.8 +
18mm f/2 +
35mm f/1.4 +
60mm f/2.4 +
18-55mm f/2.8 - 4 zoom +
Future? No lens options. Zeiss Touit lens line, others via adapters

Leica X Vario

Optional $499 EVF, but the Olympus VF-2 ought to work at less than half the price.

Had this camera been offered with the zoom and the promise of future prime lenses (interchangeable lenses), it might be justified. But as it stands, only diehard Leica fans craving red-dot status will find this combination of features.

Leica has missed the boat here: the real opportunity is for Leica to produce an APS-C interchangeable lens camera with a new line of Leica prime lenses.

But the camera that would have been exciting and interesting would have been this body with built-in EVF and a Bi-Elmarit 24/50 f/2.8 or Tri-Elmarit 24/35/50 f/3.2. Or similar.

Leica X Vario

Fujifilm X-E complete kit

With built-in EVF.

If Fuji can make an 18-55mm f/2.8 - f/4 for APS-C, why is it that Leica is offering a shorter range and slower speed 18-46mm f/3.5 - f/6.4 on the X Vario? Perhaps because the market is heading that way, and Leica has a way to boost sales in stores where customers don’t see cost as more than a transactional detail.

Fujifilm X-E1 with all the lenses


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