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One month evaluation: Leica X
Old 10-31-2014   #1
Godfrey
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One month evaluation: Leica X

After a month of using the Leica X typ 113 only, I pulled out the X2 for a few days. The X2, even with half case fitted, is noticeably smaller and a trifle lighter. The Voigtländer 35mm OVF fits it a bit better too. But then I picked up the X again and ... Ah, Satori!

Honestly, if your interest is in buying a digital M body on which you'll fit a 35mm Summilux and nothing else, buy the Leica X instead. Put the OVF on it, set it to Face Detect AF, and just go shooting. If you want to, fit the EVF for more precision in framing and exposure preview, etc, or just use the LCD for that. Despite the format and DoF differences, you'll likely find few differences in your photographs, you'll have spent a fraction of what the M+Summilux costs, and you'll likely carry the camera more as it is smaller and lighter.

Now, the negative side of the X after using it, using it as I would my only camera, for a month:

- I've completely given up on the GPS feature with the EVF until a firmware update. No matter how long I have the EVF fitted and the camera powered up, the GPS unit in the EVF never connects with the satellites or embeds other than all zeros in the EXIF data. If anyone else has see it connect, I'd be interested to know.

- I like the EVF, and find it occasionally useful. But, it adds a lot of bulk to the camera and tends to get caught on the bag as I take the camera in and out. It also consumes a healthy bit of battery power. I use it only infrequently as a result, preferring to use an OVF.

- My OVF for the X switched from the Voigtländer to the Leica unit. The Leica unit is easier to get my eye behind with glasses on and presents a larger, clearer image. But it's a bit wider apparent FoV, closer to the actual lens FoV, so framing with it is a bit more critical. In particular, you have to watch the 'near distance' marking at the top of the frame and make sure that nothing critical runs over that at any distance below 6' or so or it will be clipped out of the frame. Easy to get used to, but also easy to mess up occasionally. The Voigtländer 35mm shows a tighter apparent FoV (the lens is probably 15% wider coverage) so this rarely happens with it.

- All of the controls on the X take a very light touch. And despite the camera being a bit larger than the X2, it's a bit easier to accidentally press the menu button now and then. (Sorry Leica, but that should be the center button on the four way controller or a separate button in a different location; it's too easy to hit it by mistake and accidentally change a setting without even knowing which one you changed.) Ideally, the controls should all have slightly heavier springs and detents. When my Arte di Mano half case arrives, this will get better as the additional size of the half case and the finger rest it provides will let me handle the camera more easily without hitting buttons by accident. (That's what I find with the X2's A&A half case too.)

I didn't mention the other three bugs I found, but still ... that's a pretty short list of negatives; the positives are far longer.

I'm very pleased with this purchase. A small bag with it and the M4-2 + Color-Skopar 35mm lens will make a light, handy, digital+film traveling kit. :-)

G
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Old 11-06-2014   #2
Jubb Jubb
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Godfrey View Post

Honestly, if your interest is in buying a digital M body on which you'll fit a 35mm Summilux and nothing else, buy the Leica X instead. Put the OVF on it, set it to Face Detect AF, and just go shooting. If you want to, fit the EVF for more precision in framing and exposure preview, etc, or just use the LCD for that. Despite the format and DoF differences, you'll likely find few differences in your photographs, you'll have spent a fraction of what the M+Summilux costs, and you'll likely carry the camera more as it is smaller and lighter.
Buying the Summilux lens would hold its value, buying the X would not.
Also if the camera dies, so does the lens, whereas that won't happen with the Summilux lens...
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Old 11-06-2014   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jubb Jubb View Post
Buying the Summilux lens would hold its value, buying the X would not.
Also if the camera dies, so does the lens, whereas that won't happen with the Summilux lens...
I'm not concerned with value, I'm concerned with use.

I have not had a single digital camera die yet, even the ones I bought in 2002 and sold to friends along the way are working perfectly to this day.

I don't expect a Leica X to last for forty years, for sure. But then I paid less than a fifth the price I would have paid for an M plus Summilux 35. If it lasts six years, I'll have gotten the same or better value over time out of it, and I doubt I'll last another forty years anyway. ;-)

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Old 11-07-2014   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Godfrey View Post
I don't expect a Leica X to last for forty years, for sure. But then I paid less than a fifth the price I would have paid for an M plus Summilux 35.
And you didn't need to feed it film...
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Old 04-24-2015   #5
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Depth of field with the 23mm f/1.7 is about equal to a 35mm f/2.5 on full-frame. I happen to have both setups, the X and an M-E with a 35mm f/2.5 Summarit. The X is much smaller, lighter, closer focusing and of course automated. The M-E, well, its an M, with all of the pluses and minuses that being an M entails, including, but not limited to rangefinder focusing, lack of close-focus ability, lack of full automation and of course cost.

Both have their place. For dedicated photo excursions I prefer the M along with a 50mm lens, while for casual carry the X wins every time.
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Old 04-24-2015   #6
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My pleasure, Helen.

Half a year on, and I have to say I am as delighted with the X as much as I have been with the M-P more recently. They complement each other very well!

I've got the 'Lux 35 v2 for the M-P too now, a wonderful lens with amazing rendering qualities. Old style on the M-P, new style on the X. I be happy!

G
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Old 07-29-2016   #7
Ko.Fe.
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Thanks for this review! I was looking for real use review of X (113) and this is the one.

Quote:
Honestly, if your interest is in buying a digital M body on which you'll fit a 35mm Summilux and nothing else, buy the Leica X instead. Put the OVF on it, set it to Face Detect AF, and just go shooting.
Would you be so kind and share your experience for how fast focus-by-wire MF is and how it compares to classic M lens focus?
I also wonder if this camera gives clean color images at ISO3200-6400.

Thank you, Ko.
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Old 07-29-2016   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ko.Fe. View Post
Thanks for this review! I was looking for real use review of X (113) and this is the one.

Quote:
Honestly, if your interest is in buying a digital M body on which you'll fit a 35mm Summilux and nothing else, buy the Leica X instead. Put the OVF on it, set it to Face Detect AF, and just go shooting.
Would you be so kind and share your experience for how fast focus-by-wire MF is and how it compares to classic M lens focus?
I also wonder if this camera gives clean color images at ISO3200-6400.

Thank you, Ko.
You're welcome. It's a long time since I wrote the review and I still agree with most of what I wrote. More on that in a bit. The X typ 113 is quite a nice camera.

The lens' focus by wire is as close to a perfect manual focusing helicoid feel as any I've experienced. It's very smooth, with just the right amount of friction like a good Leica M lens is; AF is turned on by turning it to the infinity stop and then clicking it past a detent. ... Near perfect.

When focusing manually, either on the LCD or in the EVF, a central "loupe" magnified display appears which makes it very easy to lock in critical focus. Once you stop turning the focusing ring, the loupe disappears after about a second. The full FoV remains on the edges of the display throughout, so it feels much like using an M rangefinder but with a TTL electronic display instead of the split-image view.

With respect to image character and noise at elevated ISO settings, look here:
https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/...ise/index.html

That's the X2 ... same sensor as the X typ 113. The typ 113 has a better lens and, possibly, slightly quieter supporting electronics for a tiny bit less noise.

Regards the 'agree with most of what I wrote' part ... In the many months since I bought the X, I ended up buying a 1972 Summilux 35mm v2 anyway. Use on the M9 and M-P typ 240, it is simply a different lens, a different look, a different shooting experience. It cannot focus as close (1m minimum focus!), its sharpness wide open is nowhere near what the X lens is like, etc. Over time, since I swapped the M9 for the M-P in early 2015, I found myself using the M-P more of the time and the X less.

Then the SL arrived and much of everything changed. It became my "main system camera", the one I grab by default for anything serious, almost immediately. I found myself using the X very little after a couple of months, and the M-P almost exclusively with the 35mm lens (I've come to love the rendering of that old Summilux). I stopped using any of the 'advanced' features of the M-P, almost never put anything but the 35 and 75 on it. And the X sits most of the time.

Then the M-D typ 262 was released, and after some soul searching (and bank account rationalizing), I bought one. For me, the M-D with the 35mm lens is exactly what I wanted the X for originally, and I prefer its all-manual, no frills handling. Just turn it on and take pictures, done.

So at this point in time, the X has not degraded at all, but I find I prefer shooting with the M-D over the X or the M-P. I've decided to sell both, because I'm way over-equipped with nice cameras.

The X typ 113 is still quite a nice camera—smaller, lighter than the M yet with a solid, robust feel, and with more automation if you want it—and produces photos very well indeed.

G
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Old 07-29-2016   #9
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Thank you, Godfrey! I really appreciate the link to ISO test and detailed reply.
I understand why M-D is the winner

In my case I'm looking at M8 with one 28 lens shareable with M4-P or just X typ 113 which is suitable for scale focus or X2 which is most compact and has affordable third-party EVF...

One more question about X typ 113. How scratch resistant is the screen? I can't find any information about it. If it is regular or sapphire glass.
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Old 07-29-2016   #10
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Glad to help.

I am sure the X LCD cover glass is not sapphire or they would list that prominently in the specifications ... a sapphire glass cover is quite the expensive thing. I expect it is more akin to the high-quality, "gorilla glass" like LCD cover glass in the SL (about the same performance as sapphire but far far less expensive).

In any event, I've had the X typ 113 since they came out in late 2014, and used it extensively for many months. It's the kind of camera I put a Street Strap on, an optical viewfinder, and just sling over my shoulder and walk with. Despite this, there is not a mark on the LCD cover, just like with the SL LCD (now three-quarters of a year old with no special care at all). So I wager it's a very durable glass and nothing to worry about at all.

BTW, I would certainly go for the X typ 113 over the X2 given the choice if you like to manual focus the lens. I had the X2 prior to the X. The X2 is also a very good camera, with a very good (if not quite Summilux quality) lens. Its hallmark is compactness and light weight; it's very close to the size of a Barnack but much lighter. Manually focusing with it, however, I found frustrating because of the awkward thumbwheel control. Best manual focus practice with it is to zone focus because there's a distance meter with zone marking in manual focus mode imaged onto the LCD. But the X typ 113 is far superior in handling and the X's EVF is much higher quality.

G
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