Exclusive premiere: The full Leica X2 review

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This morning has seen a flurry of news: the M9 Monochrom first (with a useable ISO 10,000 apparently!), then the Hermes M9-P, the 50/2 APO-Summicron-ASPH (ouch what a price tag), and trailing, the X2 and V-Lux 40. I wasn’t lucky enough to go to Berlin, so reviews of the first items will have to wait a bit. But I did manage to get a final production X2 in advance. The full review follows. Note that you can click through all images to larger versions on my Flickr page – the link takes you to the image landing page, and then the magnifying glass icon or ‘all sizes’ will take you to the larger images.

Leica’s 2009 X1 (my review is here) was a modern throwback to the Barnack era in many ways – fixed focal length lens, very simple controls, and that ‘elongated cylinder’ look. In short, it was a handsome camera that was, and still is, capable of delivering outstandingly good images; the sensor actually outperforms the M9 at ISO 1600 and above, deliver lower noise. I owned one of these for several months and used it as my daily camera, until I was lured by the siren song of the (flawed) X100.

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X marks the spot.

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The new flash mechanism

However, it was crippled in a number of ways – the moderate f2.8 lens speed being one, but focusing speed being by far the main one. A firmware update improved things somewhat, and brought a much improved manual focus mode (driven off the rear thumb wheel) which showed both distance and an in-focus scale that varied with the aperture selected.

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Work in progress from above. Leica X2

The Leica X2 was officially launched in Berlin yesterday, along with a number of other products (which I hope to get my hands on soon); I’ve had a final production model for several days now, courtesy of Leica. It’s been enough time to shoot several hundred frames with the camera, get to know its quirks, and probe the elasticity of its files with every tool known to ACR and a Wacom tablet.**

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Lagerfeld-style cool. Leica X2

**A note and advance disclaimer on processing: I ran the X2’s DNG files through ACR 6.7 and CS5.5, using my normal workflow. I process every file as though it was a final client delivery or exhibition piece, and that means two things: firstly, I’ll use every trick in the book I know to maximize image quality, but I do that with every camera I shoot, so that’s consistent; secondly, I shoot with the end in mind, especially once I get used to the tonal response of the sensor. For this reason, please don’t ask for out of camera JPEGS or RAW files, that’s not the way I work because it isn’t representative of the end use of the equipment. Some tests – the noise comparisons, for instance – are direct conversions via ACR with no additional work done on them. Where this is the case, it’s stated. One final thing: after the D800E vs S2 review, I think it’s necessary to also add the caveat that my observations are based on looking at full size 16 bit uncompressed files on a calibrated monitor, which will necessarily give rise to different conclusions than if you just see the compressed web size JPEGs in the article.

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Taxi drivers (and dynamic range torture test). Leica X2

The first thing that strikes you is that it somehow feels better than the X1 – I am aware that this is a dangerously subjective comment to make – but the choice of materials seems a bit more solid; in fact, it seems like the camera has a bit more ‘stuff’ inside it. According to Leica, it’s about 30g heavier, which doesn’t sound like a lot, but you can feel it. It also seems like the body shells are a bit thicker, which contributes to the impression of solidity; the Leica X2 feels much closer to a mini-M than the X1 did. Perhaps it’s the black chrome and leather covers mine had. (I’m told it’ll also be available in silver).

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Fitting the frame. Leica X2

Now would be a good time to talk about improvements. This list is by no means exhaustive, but it’s what you’d notice and appreciate as a serious photographer:
– AF speed is a LOT faster
– The top plate dials are much stiffer, and now don’t rotate accidentally
– Greatly improved LCD; supposedly still the same number of dots, but side by side with the old X1, it seems a lot clearer and more fluid.
– EVF shoe, and matching tiltable EVF which has great resolution.
– Battery life is significantly better
– Burst mode is faster.

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Lazy observation. Leica X2

Let’s work down that list.

AF on the X1 was so slow that I’d use it only for static subjects, and zone focus the rest of the time. Not so here – it’s fine for casual snapshots, but like every contrast detect system, AF-C is best avoided. Even the best of the mirrorless cameras falls flat on its face (I’m looking at you, OM-D) – perhaps with the exception of the Nikon 1 system, but that’s cheating because it has phase detect photosites on its sensor. Subjectively, I’d say it’s definitely faster than my X100 was; about the same as my NEX-5 (sorry, haven’t used as 5N to compare) and similar to most of the Panasonic M4/3 cameras. Not as fast as the Olympus M4/3s, though. But just fast enough to stop you from feeling like you’re waiting for the camera.

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Clouds and angles. Leica X2

The best news, however, is that it doesn’t slow down much in low light; so long as there’s a decent amount of contrast, focus acquisition speed remains about the same. And unlike the X-Pro1 and X10, it doesn’t freeze the image when focusing – the view remains live, so you can see what’s going on in your frame. Interestingly, the ‘H’ (high speed settings that did freeze the image) options for AF and macro focus settings are gone; the camera is faster than the H options now, and it will automatically switch to it if required. Sadly 30cm remains the near limit, however.

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Images convert well to B&W, too. Leica X2

The X1’s LCD was pretty coarse; the X2’s is a significant improvement, but I don’t think it’s as good as say the Ricoh GRD IV – which has an amazing 1 million+ dot screen. Nevertheless, it’s now much easier to judge focus. Refresh rate seems to be a lot faster too; I’d say 60Hz instead of 30Hz. You can still use the optical finder if you want, but you’re still going to miss knowing exactly what the camera is focusing on; for the price and bulk, I’d much rather have the EVF, which is excellent. The fonts look grainy, but that’s only because it seems the UI designer didn’t specify enough DPI when encoding; the image itself is very, very fine indeed – you can’t really see individual pixels. It gains up well in low light, and isn’t too grainy.

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I did an experiment with the EVF out of curiosity – the plug looked like any one of the existing EVF plugs. Expecting it to fit my D-Lux 5 Titanium, I was surprised when it didn’t; but it did fit my Olympus OM-D and Pen Mini. Even more interestingly, it worked! Draw whatever conclusion you wish; it’s a very nice EVF all the same, and my preferred way of working with the camera. Oh, and it tilts, too, and locks securely in the down position (something not all tiltable EVFs seem to manage.)

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Through the keyhole. Leica X2

During the last few days, I shot over 500 frames with the Leica X2. With the X1, this would have meant two battery changes; I actually had three spares for mine, which would leave me with one left over after a heavy day of shooting. (I’m the kind of person who can finish off an entire EN-EL4a on a day’s assignment and add a five figure mileage to a camera in short order). The X2 showed half – that’s a pretty darn impressive performance, considering either the LCD or EVF were on the whole time, and I was using it frequently enough that it didn’t have time to slip into power save mode. It could be the effect of a more efficient sensor (the previous sensor was a relative of the one in the D90, which was notoriously power hungry in live view) or processing internals. This is on par with my current mirrorless long-life battery champ, the Pen Mini – which will easily hit a thousand frames per charge if used carefully.

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Artificial everything. Leica X2

Finally, if you’re a flash shooter, good news! The leaf shutter remains, which means 1/2000s sync speeds (unheard of for most cameras) and the popup mechanism has been redesigned. It looks a lot more complicated, but I suspect that this is actually going to be more robust than the old press-to-raise-and-lower design – I’ve heard a lot of complaints about it being easy to break.

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Untitled. Leica X2

You’ll notice I haven’t said anything about the sensor up til this point; that’s because you’re not going to notice it immediately upon shooting (duh). But what you will notice is an ISO 12,500 (no idea why it isn’t 12,800, i.e. double 6400) setting. It’s APS-C, so I didn’t expect it to be useable. What’s nice to report is that the new 16.5 MP CMOS used is class leading in every way. It even manages 5fps continuous shooting for eight frames, but the penalty is that you have to wait while the camera writes the files – it doesn’t seem to buffer in parallel. This is true whether you shoot one or eight frames. As for the sensor, I suspect we may actually have seen a relative of it before in other products, most notably one with three zeroes or an N in its name. This is a good thing.

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Obligatory night test shot. ISO 3200. Leica X2

Let’s get noise out of the way: it’s all luminance. Shooting DNG, with zero noise reduction, I’d happily use ISO 3200 with a bit of work; there’s a big jump in noise to ISO 6400, which renders that and the top 12500 setting strictly for those shots of the Loch Ness Monster assassinating JFK. Or perhaps they might work well for you if you like extremely grainy B&W conversions. Even with NR zeroed out in ACR, I’m seeing some smearing at 3200 and up, but it’s less obvious at the two highest settings because of the overriding luminance noise. You might be able to retain more acuity by shooting 1600 and underexposing a stop, then bringing it up again in the raw converter afterwards. It isn’t too bad, but you’ll notice it’s there. All in all, the Leica X2 is up there with the best of the APS-C cameras, and frankly feels like it would give my D700 a run for its money on luminance noise, but loses out on dynamic range. Pixel level acuity remains excellent, though some files seem to require an extra sharpening pass – it may be the effects of diffraction starting to creep in at f8 and up.

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Some noise crops follow below. Click on the links for 100% versions.
Crop one
Crop two
Crop three

The X2 seems to have its own color signature that is different enough from the X1 that my initial experiment to use the same ACR profiles was unsuccessful. It’s tonal map also doesn’t match the Ms; dynamic range seems to be somewhat bunched in the shadows (which I don’t see on the more linear-response CCD sensors in the M and S cameras) and the relatively low noise floor responds well to shadow recovery. If anything, the color is much closer to being ‘accurate’ than any Leica to date – the skin tones are great, at least in RAW. White balance is similarly excellent – I made very, very few corrections to color; this is highly unusual for my workflow. Have to watch the red channel closely though, it doesn’t take much to hit saturation. Note that neither display gives an accurate idea of exposure or color, though. Using the histograms is highly recommended.

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Pudu Plaza. Any photographer in KL will recognize this place. They’ll also recognize that the reds are both accurate and not accurate; they’re a little hot but the tone is mostly right. Leica X2

Although I’d never personally shoot JPEG with any camera, given the option – especially something whose files have as lot of processing latitude, like the Leica X2 – I know a lot of potential buyers might well do so, so I also had a close look at the native JPEG image quality. I’m pleased to report that it produces crisp, detailed files with very few artifacts; there are some customization parameters if you have a particular preference for how your files look. However, by default, the output is best described as neutral. Skin tones are still definitely better in DNG; there’s something about skin color that just seems out of gamut for most in-camera JPEG conversions.

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Yellow men. This color is accurate, and identical to the scene. Leica X2

A comment on file formats, and a gripe I had with the original X1 – I don’t know why the camera can’t write DNG only – you have to do DNG+JPEG, which seems like a waste of space and buffer. Still, for single frame shooting (I can’t actually think why you’d use bursts on this camera) there isn’t any noticeable penalty in operation.

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The fountain. Leica X2

There are a few other minor things that could be improved – as always. We can never have AF that’s too fast, or too continuous; in all fairness, this is a comment leveled at every camera, and the latter to mirrorless cameras in particular. The rear control dial is now far too loose and difficult to turn in single increments – especially when trying to apply exposure compensation. What would be nice is that when shooting, exposure compensation is the default setting like on the M9; but we’d definitely need a stiffer dial for that. The odd electronic stabilization ‘feature’ remains; I’d avoid it because it just gives me double images. A proper optical stabilizer would be nice, but at least we have the option not to use it.

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Yawn; just another camera? Certainly a very stealthy one; nobody once gave me a second look when I was shooting them. Especially if using the finder flipped up at 90 degrees. Leica X2.

I have a little beef with the top plate dials. On every other Leica, all exposure adjustments move in half stop increments/ detents. On the X1 and X2, you get whole stops for shutter speeds, and third stops for aperture – what’s up here? Size of the shutter dial can’t be a reason, because the M9 has more speeds and is the same size – and still gives half stop detents. I like the increased dial tension, but can we please have consistency in exposure increments?

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‘Hi, I’m doing a survey. Let me probe your brain for a moment.’ Leica X2

Finally, there’s the lens. It gives me mixed feelings. On one hand, it’s an excellent optic; the biting sharpness, excellent corner performance (it was after all, supposedly designed for full frame originally) microcontrast structure and general transparency which was one of the image quality hallmarks of the X1 is still there. On the other hand, it’s relatively slow at f2.8 – not a problem given the newfound low-light capabilities of the sensor; however, it doesn’t really allow isolation, and that’s one of the things people seem to expect from a Leica. Another stop – or even two – might make for some beautiful bokeh (I know I’ve seen it from the 24/1.4 Summilux-ASPH M, but then again that’s also a physically enormous and hugely expensive lens).

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Reflections. Some of you might recognize this building. Leica X2

Whilst the lens delivered almost perfect results from wide open on the X1, the X2’s slightly higher density sensor seems to be pushing the resolving power a little – images shot at f2.8 are definitely a little softer than f4; it’s almost as though there’s a slight AA-filter effect at f2.8. This is easily solvable with a second sharpening pass, and doesn’t seem to materially affect the microcontrast structure of the image. Thereafter everything is good until you run into diffraction, a hint of which is visible at f8 and obvious by f11.

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Yes? Yes? Not today. Leica X2

Technical improvements are all well and good for the spec sheet and marketing people, but where does this leave us in terms of real-world usability? The X concept was almost certainly conceived by a photographer; it’s a combination of M and point and shoot that should in theory allow anybody to create images with that ‘Leica look’ (which I think most lay people mistake for bokeh, but is actually a combination of that, color transmission, sharpness, focus transition and microcontrast – but let’s not get started here) with minimal fuss. It failed fundamentally because it was too slow to be useable. However, it did have one overriding redeeming quality – the image quality was truly outstanding.

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Untitled. Leica X2

The X2 takes the image quality even further, but more importantly now feels like a mature product. It’s a better distillation of the M gestalt, and definitely easier to use for the simple reason that it’s more responsive to shoot with. During the course of testing, I never felt like I lost a shot because the camera was too slow; I definitely did with the X1 and X100. There’s no single feature or area that makes you go WOW, but the combination of improvements makes it a very compelling little camera that just does its thing and delivers the most important thing – image quality – in spades. Here’s an interesting thought: if you shoot in low light a lot, you’ll probably want to get one of these instead of an M9 – the sensor is that good.

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The escape route. Leica X2

What does the future hold for the X system? Purely speculating, I think it’s unlikely we’ll ever see interchangeable lenses – it doesn’t make sense to develop new lenses given there’s already M mount, and M mount has a digital solution; the cost of developing an all-new mount and AF lens lineup is going to be pretty staggering, which would price the camera in M territory. Rather, that would make sense as a future evolution of the M line – something compatible with new autofocus lenses, as well as the older manual focus lenses. I can’t see how a rangefinder fits into this, though – the end product would probably be very Fuji X-Pro like, which overly complicates things and is far from the Leica design philosophy. But at the very least, I think the X2 needs a telephoto or long normal companion – this would be a killer studio camera due to the leaf shutter and high speed sync. And a pair of those would cover most travel photographers’ needs, without sacrificing image quality.

Time will tell. In the meantime, deciding which mirrorless camera to augment your primary system just got a lot tougher for us photographers. MT

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Review complete; happy hour. Leica X2

Addendum, 10.30am 11 May 2012: My sleep-depreived brain has just remembered there’s one thing I forgot to mention: movie mode, or the lack of it. Whilst this sensor must clearly be video capable to produce the live feed, Leica has chosen not to implement a movie mode of any sort; I personally don’t see this as as huge issue as I don’t do video anyway. In any case, the inability to easily follow focus is probably a bigger impediment for moviemaking than the fixed focal length. I’d see video capability here as a nice to have, but not critical. Besides, the V-Lux 3 and D-Lux 5 are much easier to use for video, if you must have a Leica. I’ll be sticking to my D800E for the few times I do need video. MT

The Leica X2 is available in both black and silver here from B&H and Amazon.

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Images and content copyright Ming Thein | mingthein.com 2012 onwards. All rights reserved

Comments

  1. Hello Ming,

    I was thinking about purchasing my first serious camera, either a new Leica X1 at a cheaper price than when it was first released or the new X2 ($280 difference). I came across your thread and this on the DP Review concerning colours:

    http://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/41771149

    How would you compare the two colourwise? I felt that the X2 had more intense reds (the parquet in the first shot) but yet more cool blues while keeping the warm reds and yellows? The X1 felt more like there was a yellow screen over the picture, such as in the coffee carton cup picture and the computer picture? Colours seem to be more intense with the X2, with the warmth of the X1 still there but better cool blues too? What would you say? And how does this reflect on skin tones?

    If I would like to produce some of the pictures I take onto 4×6″ films, would these cameras be fine?
    Thanks a lot. cheers:)

  2. Nikon Coolpix A or Leica X2?…………

  3. I have to ask, when the hell is Leica going to smarted up and hire you as their product photographer?! You have an uncanny ability to make me want to buy everything you take a photo of.

  4. Absolutely stunning photos Ming. Thanks for the great review.

    I have got a X2 after reading your review and have been using it for a while. Can I ask what is your image tone setting? Mine is set to vivid at the beginning but I soon found the colors are just TOO vivid for jpeg output – the colors can be described as fake and horrible. Now I have put it to natural and things get better. Another thing is I’m not too happy about the image quality. It’s not as sharp as I would have thought. Do you sharpen your images always? Thanks for your help, these are pretty n00b questions..

  5. It’s been six months since your review of the X2. I was wondering how you feel about the camera now. I’m an X1 owner (and also have the wonderful, if slow, Sigma DP1 and DP2 Merrill cameras) and can’t make up my mind if I should sell my X1 and upgrade to the X2 or not. I just need a “yes/no, it’s (not) worth the extra pixels, AF speed and better to use in low light”. Please help me, Ming! :-) Thanks.

  6. The X1 has less megapixels than the X2 which has 4 megapixels more. Does this make a difference in the final output of a photograph if the conditions are similiar. thks.

    • The sensor is better in every way – it’s a generation newer – so yes, you’ll be able to have another stop of useable high ISO, better color, and slightly improved pixel acuity. The biggest difference though is that the X2 is a much faster camera than the X1 – you don’t feel like it’s holding you up.

  7. Steve Jones says:

    The X2 is quality and I love the simplicity of the one lens concept…BUT. personally..I can only live with one lens if it does close ups.
    I think that’s where the X2 disappoints. Too bad.
    There are just too many fascinating small things in everyday life that beg to be photographed and part of the magic of photography is exploring small details, Would it be so hard for Leica to give their fixed lens a close up / Macro setting?

    • For it to do proper macro, it would have to have a lot more focus travel built in, that would make the thing larger and probably slower – in short yes, it would be harder. And the lens definitely isn’t optimized for close range performance. And 35mm is not really an ideal perspective for closeups either…

  8. if the lens become dirty,,how i clean without damage?

  9. Great web site. A lot of helpful information here. I’m sending it to several buddies ans also sharing in delicious. And obviously, thanks on your effort!

  10. Good review (even though I’m still confused if i have to buy this camera or not). In my personal experience, I have been seduced by the marketing gimmicks of Made in Swiss watches and have invested at loss a lot of dough. At the end of the day, I ‘ll bet my money on any Japanese timepieces for their sheer quality and robustness. Hence my reserve about “Made In Germany”.

    Your photos are just great. For this reason, I am curious when you say “firstly, I’ll use every trick in the book I know to maximize image quality”. What books do you you suggest ? KInd regards, Meyer

    • Thank you, Meyer. Put it this way: garbage in, garbage out. If the output file doesn’t have the right quality raw data for me to do something with in the first place, I can’t get the output I want. I put the raw files of every camera through the same workflow, i.e. I’ll sharpen, adjust contrast, color correct etc. But if there’s nothing to sharpen or the tonal response is hugely deviant in the first place, there’s not a lot I can do. Plus I have enough to do as it is without writing unpaid reviews of rubbish cameras, so it’s got to at least pass that filter to get into the review queue. Value for money is another question entirely, and one that can only be answered by the purchaser…

  11. Karthik says:

    Ming, Is the X2 weather sealed?
    Thanks

  12. Hello Ming,
    Very much enjoy all your reviews. Of the X2 silver and black bodies which do you prefer? Do you think the finish on the black will hold up to normal use?
    Thanks. Dennis

    • The black is anodized, so no problem. Silver looks much better in person – similar to the M9-P rather than the old gray paint finish of the X1.

  13. jehan belinge says:

    Thank you kindly for your review which was instrumental in my obtaining an X2 from the Canadian distributor. I bought the camera and accessories unseen and chose the optical viewfinder for personal reasons. With my 50 years background as an amateur photographer I certainly do not miss features that detract me from composing a picture or which will simply not be used ever. Rugged, versatile, yet discrete, it is precisely what I needed for my city safari outings.

  14. Hi MIng
    Having just come across your site after a link to the X2 review, I like it and your work very much.
    I have a GF1+20mm 1.7 and 14-140mm, and a Leica Digilux 2, but am quite tempted by the X2 as a smaller high quality general travel camera with the discipline of a single focal length. I especially like the Digilux 2 for its simplicity, without any extraneous gimmicks, like my first proper camera many years ago- a Canon AT1. Its a little bulky though.
    Do you think the X2 is a step up in quality or too similar to the other 2 cameras? I considered an M9 for a second, but can’t really justify the cost, and don’t want to carry £10,000 around my neck.
    I would appreciate any thoughts.
    best regards
    David

    • The sensor is definitely a step up. If you’d said GX1 or OM-D I’d say it’s better but not by enough to justify it; just remember that you’ll lose the flexibility of interchangeable lenses.

  15. Forget about the camera, forget about the review, I’m in awe of your photography! Both composition and “decisive moment” -wise, the photos in this review are awesome!

  16. Ming, well done review of the Leica X2. Would you please discuss the adaptability of a circular polarizer on the X2.
    Regards,
    Steve

  17. “But at the very least, I think the X2 needs a telephoto or long normal companion”
    Do you mean in an adapter form or did you mean for Leica to release say a focal length equivalent of say 50mm or 75mm (in Full frame) X2 alternatives.

  18. Excellent review, very informative and well written.

    Just a personal opinion : missing a shot with the X100 because of slowness means 90% of the time that the camera isn’t properly set up (energy saving modes on OFF, quick start, sleeping mode OFF, etc) and/or shooting rapid series of RAW photographs on a slow SD card (but the X100 is NOT an action-oriented camera anyway, it’s more of a portrait&landscape, reflective camera) .For most practical uses, the X100 is as responsive as any DSLR in the price bracket, be it regarding the time between starting up and shooting, or in shooting.

    Best regards!

    • Thanks. The issue to me isn’t startup/ shutdown time; it’s changing things in menus or focusing speed, and completely unusable manual focus.

      • Steve Huff liked the X1. He reports that the X2 was giving him blurry pictures unless he went to 1/100s. His few X2 pictures do look blurry. His X1 pictures were great. Did he develop shaky hands? Does the X2 have a problem with the shutter?

  19. Roland S says:

    Playing with the X2 for two weeks now I can agree with every single observation you did. For me the biggest surprise was that obviously more AA filtering is in the processing pipeline than in the x1 which I owned before. I did not expect this from a leica. However I was pleased to see that increased sharpening in Lightroom can overcome that effect without getting artifacts. So in the end showing progress in the sensor department. But also confirming how really good the x1 is here.
    In the sum it is a happy update for me. But I can also understand that people stay happy with their x1 if they are not dealing with moving objects.
    For me the Leica x is the perfect counterpoint of a fully featured camera system be it a dslr or a mirrorless. Here the beauty, silence and simplicity and there the complete versatility with thousands of options. Today I can go out with this tomorrow with that. It’s luxe to have both.
    Ming, I would like to thank you for your great work which you provide to us photo lovers (and photo gear lovers).

    • You’re welcome. I don’t know if it’s increased AA filtering or the higher resolution sensor showing the lens’ slight weakness at f2.8. I suspect it’s the latter because there’s a noticeable improvement at f4 – at least on my sample. Enjoy!

  20. Hi Ming, do you know which camera has the better sensor, the X100 or the X2? size wise they seem to be the same (APS-C 23.6×15.8mm) but the output from the X2 at16mp is more. I heard the X2 uses the sensor from sony. If the X2 has the better sensor, should yield better IQ than the X100. Thank you.

    • Hard to say. I personally prefer the X2, but it’s impossible to figure out how much of the resolution is due to the sensor and how much due to the lens since you can’t decouple them.

  21. Hi Ming, I have had the X2 for a few days now, the IQ at night is stunning, better than any compact I have seen. I played with the x100 and M5 for a little bit, the X100 was awfully slow (must of had the slow firmware) and plus it didn’t have an Automatic setting. They seem to be copying the Leica style and the “Made in….” part on the back. I loved the E-M5 for it’s fast auto focus and feel. The LCD on the X2 is not a problem which people seem to keep mentioning, it’s very clear and bright, not as good as the E-M5 but then I would rather have better IQ than better screen. Probably like watching a great movie in non-HD or slighty less interesting movie in full HD, I would go for the former. Fantastic review of this camera and best one on the web.

  22. Thanks, Ming. Love your reviews. The best I’ve seen on the net. I bought a Pentax K-01 with unbelievable IQ. Have you used this camera? I would like to know how you compare it to the X2 as far as handling and IQ are concerned.

    • Thanks Ron! I’ve not used it extensively but had a chance to play with one on several occasions. I prefer the X2’s ergonomics, especially with the EVF; the Pentax is just very odd in the hand. Feels a lot more solid than it looks, though – and very solid in general. IQ I would say is comparable, I believe they use the same base sensor.

  23. Thanks very much for the informative review and stunning photos. Like you I have a D700 and M9 for that low light capability, and just ordered the X2 for my son’s graduation present. He goes off to architecture undergrad this fall, and has been coveting (and skillfully using) the M9 for a year, usually with a Zeiss 35, so I figured this would be similar and a lot less expensive! :-) Based on the quality I see here, he should not be disappointed, and the physical size is campus friendly in that you can always have it with you, in the design studio, on location, museums etc. The only thing I am hoping is better than other retractable lens cameras (Canon G9) is that it lasts. Thanks again for your analysis.
    Charles

    • Great! I don’t see why it shouldn’t last, the lens mechanism seems a lot more solid than most of the other retractables I’ve used – there’s zero play in the extension.

  24. John Parkyn says:

    Ming… How does the X2’s EVF operate (behave) when taking vertical shots? Does the onscreen info rotate?

    Thank you. John

  25. Great review, excellent pictures. Like a breadth of fresh air a camera review made by an actual photographer and not a gear head
    So, it seems that the usability is finally there – i.e. The camera does not hinder the photographic experience in any way, unlike the x1 which had terribly slow af. Would you say this camera can be used for street photography?

    I know you said you found the x100 intolerable in its slowness and quirky operation. Are you talking about the x100 when it was first launched, or with the newer 1.20 firmware? I have one and the af speed seems pretty decent and very accurate with latest firmware – comparable to a panasonic gf1 maybe, maybe a tad faster, all i can say is that af doensn’t seem like a major problem now.

    I was torn between the X100 and the X1 (which is the one I really wanted), and I basically opted for the x100 due to having an EVF and having a faster AF – now the X2 apparently solved both those issues, so I wonder if it would make sense jumping ship to the X2, and finally testing Leica waters…

    So, basically I guess my question is: would you say the x2 is better rounded than the X100 (firmware 1.20) with regards to general usability and speed? How would you compare IQ between both (lens sharpness, flexibility to “play” with images in post production, image rendering)?

    Thanks for the great review. I’m liking your site a lot!

    • Thank you. I think you could use it for street photography with a bit of anticipation – much in the same way you’d use a M4/3 camera or NEX. But it isn’t going to be as instant as a DSLR with C-AF. You can of course always just use the MF distance scale and hyper focal.

      The X2 is much faster than the original X100 firmware, and about on par with the new 1.20 version. The menu is of course a lot simpler, and I (I’m going to get shot for this) think IQ out of the X2 is better. In fact, IQ out of the X2 is as good as I’ve seen from any APS-C camera, DSLR or otherwise.

      • Awesome, thanks for your reply. If its on par with the x100 and 1.20 firmware, then it finally is a “good enough” camera. And it is smaller and lighter than the x100 too. I’m really, really tempted by the x2. Would have to sell my x100 and a couple more things though. Damn, what an expensive disease this gear lust thing :)

        Thanks for your time! I saw we’re now flickr buddies! Cool.

  26. Georg Pollerus says:

    Thanks for the review, it’s very helpful. My X2 got delivered yesterday and I really like it a lot. IQ is very good, dynamic range is amazing and autofocus-speed has significantly improved. However I’ve one question: I love to take pictures of sunsets/sunrises or “shoot straight into the sun” for artistic purposes. I’ve never had any issues with my Canon DSLRs and also the test shots using the X2 are really gorgeous. Should I be worried of possible sensor damage though, as the X2 is technically just a point-and-shoot cam?

    • No problem – congratulations. I wouldn’t point it into the sun for too long, as the intensity focused through the optics onto the sensor could possibly damage it. But I don’t see anything wrong with a quick snap or two – I’ve been shooting my cameras into the sun as long as I can remember. Probably not good for my eyes, though.

  27. Hello Ming Thein

    Fantastic Review, gorgeous shots!

    I write you from Argentina.
    I do professional Photography and use the X1 since one year or so.
    I have acheived great results.
    What I most miss about the X1 (x2?) is a possibility to lock focus.
    I do peopleand & street photography and the fact that before every shot
    the camaera has to refocus is strange. (especially with the slow X1 focus)
    So, refocusing then reframing plus shutterlag and black-out time…
    takes so much time
    Maybe I missed something but I belive there is no way
    to lock the fuocus on the X1?

    Are on the x2 the operations more fluid?
    I see that focusing is much faster, but what
    about reviewing picutures, and general operations?

    Well, I’ d really love to hear your opinion.

    All the best

    Luca

    • Thanks Luca. There’s still no way to lock focus on the X2 other than by switching to MF – but this isn’t a one-button operation, it just remembers the distance last focused at. General operations and reviewing is a little bit faster, but still not instant.

    • Hi ming, very indepth reveiw of the leica x2. i had been toying regarding buying an x1 last year but held off because real time reviews such as yours are so incisive. going to buy my x2 from manchester leica tomorrow!

  28. The “Leica” viewfinder is indeed identical to Olympus VF-2. Leica gets the same units in a slightly different shape but otherwise identical and labels them as Leica. The VF-2 from Olympus works fine too on the X2. Also, the Olympus version sells for half the price the Leica version does. More proof that a lot of the Leica “prosumer” gear is shamelessly overpriced to subsidize that business.

    Honestly, if Leica is truly working on a mirrorless system camera alike to Fuji’s XPro1 or Micro Four Thirds, then I have no idea why you should buy this camera. In September, they’ll probably bring a system camera in smaller format with the same sensor, same contrast based auto-focus performance and the ability to use interchangeable lenses with true manuel focus.

    • I think the biggest reason would be price. I can’t see the mirrorless system – if there is one – being cheaper than the X2; there’s a huge gap between it and the M9.

  29. the x2 lens – is it made entirely by Leica or is it a panasonic lens with leica marked on it?

    • I was told it is almost the same optical formula as the 24/2.8 ASPH M lens, but a collapsible version – so it’s most definitely a Leica lens.

  30. John Parkyn says:

    By “close focusing” I don;t know if the reviewer is referring to macros or portraits or both.

    I have heard that the X1 / X2 are not macro powerhouses.

    • Macro. 30cm is fine for portraits, but if you get that close to a person with 35mm you’re going to have huge (and unflattering) distortion anyway.

  31. i just got leica x1 last month, but x2 is coming to soon now.. so hurt me lar!

    • This is why I always say just buy it, use it, and enjoy it. There will always be better cameras, but photo opportunities usually only come around once. Miss the moment and that’s it.

      • John Parkyn says:

        At the end of the 6th para of this brief look at the X2, the reviewer criticizes the cameras’s close focusing ability.

        http://www.pocket-lint.com/news/45688/leica-x2-pictures-and-hands-on-preview

        Ming, do you agree?

        ====

        Also, the X2 is advertised as being compatible with the SF24 and SF58 flashes. Is there any reason why the SF20 wouldn’t work with the X2?

        Thank you,

        John

        • Well, I suppose he was expecting proper macros because it was ‘compact-like’. I don’t think those tech sites review cameras well in general because none of them are serious photographers. However – I agree that the ‘macro’ capability is not macro at all. 30cm is the near limit and about the same coverage as an A4 piece of paper. I work in the 2:1 magnification range on an APS-C sensor, so this is merely ‘close focus’. I suppose they could give the X2 macro ability via an adaptor or a longer focusing helicoid, but you’d have to deal with firstly perspective issues, and secondly camera size.

  32. great agaain … but why no built in view finder? Silly Leica !

    • I’m not sure how they could have stuffed it into that design without sacrificing say the flash – personally, I’m fine with that because I never use built ins except to trigger slaves.

  33. I have the D-Lux 5 and am now looking for a progression. Your review suggests that this could be it. As an adjunct to my EOS 5D & 7D or just as a walk round in the pocket camera would you reccomend this. Image quality is all I am interested in. the rest you can sort. But if it’s not sharp you can’t do anything…

    • If you’re okay with the fixed 35mm lens, sure – image quality is great, and you can get some bokeh out of it – which is tough with the DL5. It’s very, very sharp, and the DNG files have plenty of latitude.

  34. how many stops ist the dynamic range of the x2 sensor? 13 stops or more?

  35. John Parkyn says:

    Great news from Germany… Apparently the Oly VF works on the X2:

    http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/readflat.asp?forum=1038&thread=41516521

  36. linnea11 says:

    One more question please Ming (and I thank you for your generous response to all askers). You make mention of 30 cm as a limitation for close-ups (if I understand correctly). One of the features I loved about the c-lux 3 was the Macro option. In reading reviews of the D-lux 40, it can shoot as close as 1 cm and provides greater MP than the c-lux. As lovely as the X2 images are, I would feel hobbled by an inability to shoot close-ups (and cannot afford, say, an M9). Might I be better off forgoing the X2 in favor of the macro ability D-lux 40?

    Thanks again, Linnea

  37. Dear Ming,

    on top of the Leica EVF, there are + and – signs. Is this for adjusting the dioptry?
    John

  38. John Parkyn says:

    Still on the topic of the viewfinder… Yup the X2 VF looks the same as the Olympus VF-2, but from the little research I’ve done the VF for the X2 will cost twice as much as the Oly. It’ll be good to learn if the Oly works on the X2.

    Here’s a pretty good Youtube video on the Oly:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PO3_R0hnS-k

    • I think the oly VF2 has the same panel as the one on the OM-D, which is to say its excellent. Can’t say if it’ll work on the X2 or not – I never bought the VF2 because it defeated the point of the Pen Mini.

  39. John Parkyn says:

    I enjoyed your essay.

    Re the accessories… A viewfinder is almost essential in bright light, but that large EVF is a brute. Pardon my ignorance, but what does the EVF offer that a simpler, less obtrusive finder doesn’t offer? What is the function of the tilt feature? I’m feeling lazy… Which non-electronic finder do you prefer?

    Do you use the optional handgrip? Do you think it provides an advantage?

    • Thanks John. The EVF is basically a small, eye-level version of the LCD – you can see what’s in focus, exposure info, make settings changes etc. Tilt feature allows you to shoot at odd angles, or waist level to be less obtrusive to your subjects. I use the Ricoh GV2 because I have one handy (compose with the inside of the 28mm frame lines yields surprisingly accurate framing for 35mm) but my favorite compact finder is the Voigtlander 28/35 mini-finder; unfortunately I sold mine some time back and have been regretting it ever since. As for the handgrip…I don’t bother.

      • John Parkyn says:

        So, do I take it Ming that you would be happy using the Voigt 28/35 on the X2 and that one doesn’t need the Leica EVF, or is it that one needs the EVF to check settings in bright light as the LCD is washed out?

        Are wearers of glasses at a disadvantage using the X2? I understand that optional diopters may be purchased (-3 to +3)… True?

        The Fuji X100, I believe, comes with built-in diopter control.

        • I’m used to using an external finder, so yes, I’d be fine with the Voigt. However, now that I’ve used the EVF, I much prefer it because I can actually see what’s in focus. Works fine with glasses (I wear them), there’s a diopter adjustment built into the EVF.

  40. linnea11 says:

    Ming, I thank you for this just enough technical detail but from the heart review and your luscious photos. Having used 35 mm for years, I splurged on a Leica C-lux 3 for my first digital camera over three years ago. Not a professional, I have had more fun with this precious little camera than I could have imagined (and, liberated from the constraints of film, put a ton of miles on it). I understand it is a ‘rebadged’ leica but the images were still amazing (and have done much to pretty up my blog). However, I am looking to upgrade and have been anxiously awaiting the rumored May 10 announcement of the X1’s successor. Point and shoot suits me just fine–I am looking for as little technical baggage as possible–but I also want incredible image quality. Leica already has my heart and your review and images just about have me convinced. Any last thoughts?

    Best,
    Linnea

    • Glad you enjoyed it – the X2 *is* the successor. Image quality is most certainly there, and it’s very, very clean and crisp at the actual pixel level; equivalent to the best of the APS-C cameras right now, and I dare say beating the D700 up to about ISO 800 or thereabouts even. The only thing you have to decide is whether the 35mm-only perspective is workable for you, as there’s obviously no zoom and no wide or tele converters, either.

      • linnea11 says:

        Actually, what some might consider a limitation, I don’t object to. I want photos that are as close to my natural viewpoint as possible–ie, little distortion and even rather flat in perspective. So–35 mm works for me. And hey, thanks for getting back to me so quickly.

        Linnea

  41. Also what is very useful on the X100 is that even in manual focus mode you can refocus using the AF by a push on the AFL/AEL button. I don’t see anything like this in the manual of the X2 and that is a pity, especially if the AF is better.

    • Sadly manual focus on the X100 is so slow as to be unusable, though. Agree with the X2 and quick magnification – it doesn’t exist.

      • You’re absolutely right. But using the manual focus mode and the AEL button to refocus means you can split the focus and shutter release operations, which is very convenient. You focus with AEL, then take 3 shots in the course of 2 minutes, then refocus with AEL, take maybe 10 shots in 30 seconds then wait for something to happen, refocus with AEL, etc.

  42. Duncan Kirkwood says:

    Hi Ming, Yes the X2 has the same poor 30cm macro focus as the X1… but … If you can source two or better still three ancient Leitz Elpro VIb close up lenses and harness them to the X1 via adaptors the combination will enable the following magnifications on the sensor:

    One Elpro VIb: at 10cm distance mag 0.2; at 25cm distance mag. 0.10 (distance being measured from front of the mounted Elpro to the subject)

    Two Elpro V1b screwed together: at 7cm distance mag 0.3; at 11cm distance mag 0.22 ( that’s approx 1/3 life size and 1/5 life size)

    Three Elpro VIb screwed together: at 4cm distance mag 0.4; at 7.7cm distance mag 0.3 ( that’s approx 2/5 life size and 1/3 life size)

    Surprisingly there is no vignetting when using three Elpro VIb screwed together on the X1 … but there is some pin cushion distortion. Sharpness is surprisingly high.

    Four Elpro VIb screwed together can also be used but they cause image vignetting and there’s no real gain in magnification compared to using three.

    The Leitz Elpro VIb close up lenses are over 40 years old but they are highly corrected 4.92 diopter achromats. Elpro 2 close up lenses are optically the same as the VIb but have a different thread ie a dual M55/M44 thread as distinct from Series VI . Elpro 2 types cost more on the used market than the Series VI types.

    Other Elpro c/u lenses are also available but their magnifications are much less than the VIb and type 2 eg:

    Type 1 and VIa: 2.51 diopters; Type 3 and VIIa : 1.66 diopters; Type 4 and VIIb: 0.75 diopters … none of these are worth using on the X1.

    The Elpro VIb being Series VI thread is usually available at a much cheaper price than the Type 1 with M55/M44 thread. I paid less than £10 each for my VIb Elpros.

    To attach the VIb Elpros to the X1 I used: Kiwi LA-49X1 filter adaptor tube , plus a 49mm to 52mm step-up ring. The first VIb Elpro was glued into the 52mm side of the step up ring … additional VIb Elpros were then screwed directly into each other.

    If you decide to try the foregoing you might be very surprised at the quality of the resultant images.

    I can Email you some X1/Elpro images if you wish to see them.

    Best wishes

    dunk (TZ UK)

    • Hi Dunk, sounds almost as convoluted as the setup I used to shoot watches with the M9-P, Viso, Bellows and other bits! The only problem I have with all of that is the distorted perspective and limited working distance of a 35mm macro. But if it works for you…kudos!

  43. A very interesting improvement over the X1 which finally, with its AF speed and extra f stops, is really usable. What makes me really unhappy is the MF wheel on the back of the camera. It was extremely unconfrotable and slow to use on the X1 and it is a shame seeing a comeback. Will always wonder why they have not simply put it around the lens.

    Aesthetics fail – which is pretty bad for something that is meant for people who appreciate beauty. The X1 was the sexiest digital camera around. The only flaw was the square external viewfinder, which indeed many replaced with the much more beautiful (and cheaper) round by Voitlander. Now, not only have they made an electronic viewfinder that is as ugly as death, but they have also managed to ruin the looks of the camera itself. No idea why a company like Leica has brain-dead designers like this.

    I am aware that is very subjective, but I admit that I would also love to see a less contrasty lens on an X camera. Something that goes more in the direction of the Leica M 50mm lens.

    • I have the same issue with the MF wheel. If you’re going to put it there, the Sigma DP- implementation with the distances physically linked to a position on the wheel – much like the shutter speed wheel – is much better.

      You don’t have to use the external finder. Having said that, whilst the M9 looks great, it’s an ergonomic disaster especially with heavier lenses. Really needs the thumbsup on the back to stop the whole thing trying to torque out of your hand.

  44. Great to read your review. I am new to Leica. What is the choice of X1 and X2 as a beginner? Any recommedation. Thanks.

  45. Thanks for the thorough review and great photos. I love the fact you consider final client delivery as the benchmark.

    • Thanks – if my clients are happy with the image quality, my job is done. Interestingly, I’ve actually never had a complaint regardless of whatever camera I used.

  46. Scrivo dall’Italia. Ho una X1 con mirino. E’ un mirino ottico molto luminoso. Imposto autofocus al centro e quando è a fuoco con la coda dell’occhio vedo la spia verde che si accende. Quindi ricompongo l’immagine e scatto la foto. Per il tipo di foto con X1 36mm non si sente la necessità, se non in rari casi, di avere un autofocus più veloce. Shutter 60 m/s iso 3200 e fa foto anche al buio. L’obiettivo è lo stesso, 12,5 milioni di megapixel in x1 bastano e avanzano per una stampa in A4. Perchè dovrei comprare una X2? Inoltre, senza lo zoccolo per l’EFV e con il mirino ottico montato è sicuramente più bella ed elegante.
    Quindi: stesso obiettivo, sensore molto simile (12,5 e 16,5 non fa differenza per stampe A4), foto stupende per entrambe (soprattutto con conversione B&W). Sinceramente, solo per la velocitò dell’autofocus, ritengo l’upgrade probabilmente di costo troppo elevato per i benefici reali. Amo le Leica. Ho un R8 e R6 e obiettivi veramente superbi. Ma stavolta aspetterò soluzione R o X3. Grazie comunque.

    • Ciao a tutti. Non ha senso di aggiornare la X2 se pensate che la X1 è già sufficiente. Non ho trovato la messa a fuoco X1 abbastanza veloce, ma l’X2 è molto migliorata.

  47. Great review!
    I often use manual focus mode with x1,
    Is there focus ring for MF on the lens or just the wheel on the back as x1?
    Is it much easier to get the focus with EVF?
    Thanks!

    • Thanks. It’s exactly the same as the X1. The EVF does make it a bit easier because the resolution is higher than the LCD, but it’s never going to be that easy because the lens doesn’t really have a very distinct focus transition.

  48. What about manual focus? The X100 is a nightmare in this respect. The speed at which the wheel responds obviously depends on the quantity of light. As a result if you use manual focus when it is very dark, it takes ages to move the focus distance from say 1 to 5 meters. It defeats the very purpose of manual focussing…

    • Same as on the X1. I wish they just put the distances on the wheel, like with the Sigma DP1/2. The in focus distance is shown with a green bar that varies in length with the aperture selected.

      • Haha thanks for your speedy reply but how was it on the X1 compared to the X100? does it depend on the ambient light or is it always the same speed? To me it’s a real problem with the X100 and the only reason to buy the XPro-1 would be to stick a manual focus lens on it!

        • Both were equally slow and unusable, to be honest. I preferred the X100 a bit because of the EVF, though. Both also depended on ambient light.

          The X-Pro has a very annoying habit of freezing when it focuses. To me, this is a deal breaker as quite a lot can happen in that moment while you’ve lost your view of the scene.

          • Thanks, that’s very disappointing. Sounds like a deal breaker indeed since my work is mostly in low light.
            I don’t know what the technology behind it is but it seems like the camera relies on the information provided by the sensor to assess the distance, very much like the autofocus. That makes the manual focus essentially useless since it is usable only as long as the AF is…
            Even if the X-Pro1 is also disappointing in low light, at least I guess the use of a manual focus lens (with an adapter) allows the user to circumvent this stupid process.

            • The good news, however, is that AF is much faster than before, and useable under all light conditions – so long as there’s enough contrast.

              • o.k. but also without AF assist? when photographing people in the semi-darkness flashing that AF assist light in their face is definitely a no-go… So I always have t deactivated on my X100.

                • I never use AF-assist. If there’s sufficient contrast it’s ok, but if it’s pretty dark and you’re hoping to use flash to provide all of the exposure, you’re out of luck. I think that’s pretty much the same with most contrast detect cameras though.

  49. How are you sharpening your images? On my calibrated IPS panel, they look oversharpened.

    • Not on my 27″ LED Cinema display. Could be some artifacts from the intermediate downsizing that flickr does. Look at the flickr original size.

      • I also noticed the sharpening. Checked the bigger sizes and it’s still there. This is on a calibrated NEC PA301W, btw.

  50. Well done Ming! Thanks for the Great pics, they are stunning…..
    Next week i will Decide if i will sell my Sony nex7 and swap (back) to the x again……..

    • Thanks John – I’d probably keep your NEX7, it’s a more flexible system and has the EVF already built in…I suspect the Zeiss 24/1.8 will be just as good by the time you stop it down to 2.8. And at least you have the option of 1.8, which the Leica does not.

  51. Georges says:

    Hi Ming,
    I am very glad that Leica is trusting in your creativity. The pictures you made with this X2 are great.Your are a great photograph !
    Best Regards
    Georges (alias Rangefinderuser on flickr).

  52. Ming – Excellent review and thanks for the wonderful pictures too! The B&W conversions on your site are superb. I like your reviews and appreciate your effort in producing the best quality pictures from a camera which show what it is capable of in the right hands, unlike some other reviewers/sites who are simply too lazy to do that.

    Having owned the X1 (now sold to fund my M9), I can say that it was the best of the best in that size/weight category. The near silent shutter and small size coupled with excellent imagery cannot be beat. I am sure the X2 is better.

    Also enjoyed your D800/S2 comparison.

    Now how about a M9/X2 comparison!

    Keep up the good work.

    – E

    • Thanks! I’ll be putting up an article on B&W conversions soon; had too many other things to get out of the way while I had access to the cameras.

      The X2 is definitely better than the X1. And it’s got much better image quality at high ISO than the M9; I’d use this one at 3200 without hesitation, and maybe 6400 with some work. The M9-P I limit to 1250.

      M9/X2: I can predict the answer now. The M9 will win below ISO 800. They’ll tie until about 1250. The X2 wins after that. M9 has higher acuity and more resolution, but also higher noise.

  53. As an owner of an X1 could you in all honesty recommend upgrading to an X2? Is it that much better because while I love your pictures they look on par with the output of an X1. I just find the lack of a built in EVF pretty offensive for the price they are asking (600 US for the plugin EVF!) especially with the existence of the X100. Who would want to pay 1500 more just because it has a red dot and get less functionality?!

    • Hard question to answer: does the X1 work for you? Do you find it limiting? If yes and no respectively, then don’t bother. If speed or high ISO bothers you but you like everything else about the camera, then go ahead.

      At web sizes, I can make anything look like anything – there isn’t a lot of difference between and iPhone 4 and the D800E :) Go by what I say as I’m looking at the full size uncompressed files on my calibrated monitor.

      You’d be paying for image quality, I think – we long ago passed the point of sufficiency with digital for 99% of users’ uses, so unless you feel that extra bit of IQ is worth it, you’re free to choose otherwise. I had both the X1 and X100, and frankly liked neither. But I found happiness in the Olympus Pen Mini, so who knows?

      • Me too. The new E-PM2 is a very responsive camera and the 16 megapixel Sony sensor rocks! I dear to say that it rivals many APSC sensors, even the ones found in the Fuji X100, X-E1. I use it in combination with the excellent Olympus VF-2 (it’s the same as the Leica view finder, but you pay less for it ha, ha!).

  54. Great review thanks Ming. My first thoughts on seeing the X2 were “are Leica not aware of the existence of the X100?”. Why no built in EVF for instance. But I have to admit the image quality from your photos looks amazing and the black and whites are stunning! How do you convert your b/w’s?

    • The image quality is better than the X100 – I owned one and shot with it extensively for a few months. I’m actually working on an article on B&W conversion – check back in a week or two :)

  55. Does X2 share the same body dimension as X1?

  56. Nice review. I’m in partucular glad to hear about how many shots you got out of the battery! That has been a major annoyance for me with most of the mirrorless cameras. I have the X100 and find the AF has improved a lot since in came out, while the X1 is still flawed. Curious about your findings regarding AF when comparing to Panasonic and Olympus. Never tried the E-M5 but I find the AF on the Panasonic cameras generally faster than Olympus, like GX1 vs. E-P3.

    How is the LCD? Is it fast navigating through the menu? I don’t neccessarily mind a lower resolution LCD if it so for a reason (lower power consumption?). I don’t expect Leica to be cheap and doing it to save money, but are curious as to why they decided to stick with it.

    • Thanks! The Panasonic definitely isn’t faster than the OM-D; that’s one of the fastest CDAF cameras I’ve ever used. It’s very, very subjective and tough to measure, but I think the X2 is fast enough. It’s not as fast as the OM-D, though.

      Operating system is responsive, and fast enough through menus. LCD spec is low, but you don’t see the individual dots – somehow it’s sharper than the X1, but not as sharp as the VGA models. I suppose they changed the pixel mask. No idea why – maybe nobody does a higher resolution 2.5″ or 2.7″.

      • Thanks! I know the OM-D/E-M5 were faster than the GX1, but I have only tried the other/older Olympus m43. With fast enough I take it it is faster than the X100 with the latest firmware update (which doesn’t miss that many times, but uses a “short time” to lock focus).

        I guess I will have to take a look at it before deciding if I should go for it. I don’t really remember how the X1 LCD looked in real life. And at least it’s not touch screen!

        • My biggest issue with the Fujis was the fact that it froze the LCD to find focus. In this time, many things can happen, and that annoying little ‘jump’ when it finally locks in just slows you down for that extra fraction of a second – enough to miss the shot frequently.

          I can’t decide if the X2’s LCD spec is a typo or not. Side by side, the X2 is clearly much better than the X1 which supposedly had the same number of dots; the resolution seems higher and the pixel mask is smaller. But still, it’s not really good enough when you consider the price of the camera – and the quality of the screen on cameras like the GR-Digital IV (1+ million dots!).

          Don’t knock the touch screen. It’s surprisingly useful on the OM-D; much faster to select a focus point than my D800’s joystick.

      • >Don’t knock the touch screen. It’s surprisingly useful on the OM-D; much faster to select a focus point than my D800′s joystick.

        The problem I have with touch screen is that I accidentially press it while carrying the camera. I also feel that it is less sharp than a non-touch screen, but I only have the GX1 as reference. I love the lock buttons-option on the X100 but the way the X1/X2 buttons are placed they seem less prone to push by accident. That’s a good thing!

        Btw, really like your blog. Hadn’t come across it prior to the X2 review!

        • Thanks – I update daily, so come back often!

          As for the touch screen, the OM-D at least will disable it if the EVF is active, so there’s no risk of a nose press. Also, it’s capacitative like the iPhone screen, so it *only* works with a finger and only for certain things – I feel the implementation is pretty clever, so there’s no risk of me accidentally prodding something. Or at least it hasn’t happened yet.

  57. Not only a very good review, also fantastic product pics of the X2.
    Mouth watering. Thanks a lot.
    GEO

  58. mikebirder says:

    Like your review Thks fellow Msian

  59. Is it possible to just use the original Oly EVF on the X2? Thanks for the review!

  60. “…but it did fit my Olympus OM-D and Pen Mini. Even more interestingly, it worked!”

    Funny, before I read that section of the review, I thought the Leica EVF looked very similar to the Oly VF-2 (I have one), even down to the placement of the button (and icon) that activates the display…and if it worked…well that confirms (somewhat even more) that they came out of the same factory…

  61. btw, does the X2 come together with the EVF, or is that an add-on accessory?

  62. Great review! I’m glad i bought a new cam yesterday before reading this, otherwise this review would have seriously given me a decision headache! :)

  63. i got my leica x2. it´s great.
    first shots that show the great dynamic of the raw are here on my site:

    http://www.janreiff.com/JAN_REIFF/Leica_x2.html

Trackbacks

  1. […] inherited the M240‘s thumb rest/command dial combo. It appears a little taller than the X2 due to the M-style stepped top deck, but now the flash and hotshoe/ accessory port sit flush with […]

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  7. […] sensor will be excellent, since it’s the same one used in the X2 and a whole host of other cameras like the Ricoh GR and Coolpix […]

  8. […] the X2 love? Been tempted by this little camera and the reviews make it sound like it just might just bridge the gaps I couldn't reconcile with the Fuji X100, […]

  9. […] Leica's 2009 X1 (my review is here) was a modern throwback to the Barnack era in many ways – fixed focal length lens, very simple controls, and that 'elongated cylinder' look. In short, it was a handsome camera that was, and …  […]

  10. […] Exclusive premiere: The full Leica X2 review […]

  11. […] a happy X user again! By the way, I like the black version more. Here are some more X2 reviews: Exclusive premiere: The full Leica X2 review – Ming Thein | Photographer Leica X2 review | from TechRadar's expert reviews of Compact cameras Leica X2 hands on | Stuff […]

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  13. […] 独家首映:Leica X2 完整评测 作者:Mingthein 中文翻译:Tsian @ Para Sempre […]

  14. […] release from Leica.Leica Camera presents a product description of the LEICA X2 on the website.Ming Thein was allowed to test the LEICA X2 as one of the first user and describes his experience in this […]

  15. […] Leica im Anhang.Leica Camera präsentiert eine Produktbeschreibung zur Leica X2 auf ihrer Website.Ming Thein durfte als einer der Ersten die neue Kamera ausprobieren und schildert seine Erfahrungen in diesem […]

  16. […] focus of Leica’s May 10 announcement landed in my hands a few days ago (not counting the X2, which was reviewed here); I suppose that Facebook post* might have done the […]

  17. […] Leica X2 Review → Posted on May 11, 2012 by Jorge Ledesma […]

  18. […] Re: X2 any thoughts?? Exclusive premiere: The full Leica X2 review […]

  19. […] Today’s post is a quasi-photoessay. I’ve decided to share some more black and white samples from the Leica X2; my full review of that camera is here. […]

  20. […] Ming, and his review and article about the Leica X2: here I agree with Bill, it’s not so much the camera I’m interested in, but […]

  21. […] Before everyone writes the X2 off as a yawn, as I also (nearly) did, it might be worth reading Ming Thein's review of a production model. Whilst not perhaps what we all would have wished for, it seems to me that […]

  22. […] Leica X2 FIRST Review and samples at blog.mingthein.com […]

  23. […] AW: X2 x2 Review: Exclusive premiere: The full Leica X2 review – Ming Thein | Photographer […]

  24. […] the jump to read the entire Leica X2 Review → Share this:TwitterFacebookPinterestStumbleUponDiggLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. […]

  25. […] primeras pruebas de los nuevos productos de Leica, ya están disponibles en la red:Primer Leica X2 review.Leica M9-M review con algunas muestras.Muestras Leica M9-M en la web de Leica (podeis descargar […]

  26. […] الصحفي والمزيد من المعلومات | الصفحة الرسمية | تجربة | نظرة […]

  27. […] That was fast! The new Leica X2 was announced today, and already there is a production model review by Ming Thein! […]

  28. […] Re: Official Leica Press Releases: 05/10/2012 Exclusive premiere: The full Leica X2 review […]

  29. […] zur X2… Hallo, hier gibt es einen schönen ersten Bericht zur X2. Exclusive premiere: The full Leica X2 review – Ming Thein | Photographer Grüße […]

  30. […] was fast! The new Leica X2 was announced today, and already there is a production model review by Ming Thein! This entry was posted in fixed lens, leica and tagged APS-C sensor, big sensor primes, leica x2, […]

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  32. […] Leica X2 review "I did an experiment with the EVF out of curiosity – the plug looked like any one of the existing EVF plugs. Expecting it to fit my D-Lux 5 Titanium, I was surprised when it didn’t; but it did fit my Olympus OM-D and Pen Mini. Even more interestingly, it worked! Draw whatever conclusion you wish; it’s a very nice EVF all the same, and my preferred way of working with the camera. Oh, and it tilts, too, and locks securely in the down position (something not all tiltable EVFs seem to manage.)" This is too funny! +$500 for the exact same VF…Leica is out of their minds. […]

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