Review: The 2014 Leica X Typ 113

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Photokina 2014 saw the release of an updated Leica X model – the typ 113. I’ve decided to review it for two reasons: firstly, to make another attempt at overcoming my personal lack of enthusiasm for the 35mm FOV, and secondly, out of curiosity to see how good the new lens is – it’s now a newly-designed 23/1.7, changed from the previous 23/2.8 which I believe is a derivative of the M-mount design. The sensor remains the same as the X2 at 16MP, and APS-C. Finally, some design updates complete the package – leaving the X looking more like a mini-M than ever.

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As you can see, it’s grown in thickness somewhat, and the lens cap adds more. Outermost ring is removable and threaded, but we’ve yet to see any accessories from Leica to fit.

Curiously, as the M has evolved into its third incarnation in the digital age, it’s moved somewhat further away from the original design simply through virtue of an increase in size – the film Ms were very comfortable to hold and ergonomically sound, with the camera hanging off your fingertips and a thumb hooked into the wind lever. The newer Ms are significantly thicker in hand, and I feel really need a ThumbsUp (no wind lever) and probably also a handgrip to feel totally secure with – and this diminishes the size advantage somewhat. The X seems to have evolved to a size that fits the ergonomic niche previously occupied by the old camera; it’s the right thickness, and feels good in the hand – better with a ThumbsUp too, but still usable naked especially now that it’s 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 the deck instead of protruding.

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Design changes aside, it’s worth noting that the focusing ring from the X Vario has been adopted here – you get a distance scale, that brings up a magnified centre the moment it’s turned; there’s then a stiff detent after infinity to put you in AF mode. It appears to be fly-by-wire, but feels about as close to a mechanical ring as you’re likely to get, with hard stops at either end, and very fine distance changes possible. What it needs to make it perfect would be an engraved depth of field scale for zone focusing. However, combined with the other two rings to manually and instantly set shutter speed and aperture, this makes the X one of the few cameras you can set up and check at a glance without powering it on, to be instantly ready for the shot the moment you do hit the power switch. Even if you’re not shooting, it’s nice to have the settings you want dialled in. Finally, all rings have an A position – put the shutter dial in A, and you’ve got aperture priority; aperture dial in A and it’s shutter priority; both in A is program, and neither is manual – simple, and easily overridable. I really wish more manufacturers would adopt this approach for their serious cameras. I found myself using it mostly in two modes – either AF with centre point and spot meter, like I use my GR, or fully manual with zone focus, similar to how I used my M cameras.

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Between the ergonomic changes, software tweaks and undoubtedly some hardware ones, usability seems to have been improved by a noticeable margin. Even battery life seems to have improved – I was playing it safe since I only had one battery, but I’d get 200-250 without the 3-segement battery meter moving at all. The previous X2 fell just on the right side of ‘fast enough’; the X 113 moves that bar a bit further into the safe zone, but still feels a little laggy at times – not at all on menu operation, not so much on focusing (though the GR is still faster) but on shot-to-shot times; even if you have review switched off, there’s still a lag between shots as the camera gathers its skirts for the next run. You don’t get the bang-bang-bang rhythm that we take for granted with an SLR, or really appreciate with a compact (again, the GR does this very well). There’s a hair of shutter lag in there too, which can make it tricky to get images that require critical timing. I got used to it after a little while with the camera, but it might get annoying if you use multiple cameras.

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There are a few things that still need work: the body itself feels similar to the previous X cameras, though honestly, I’d like a bit more weight; my brain is expecting something of that size/bulk to simply feel a bit heavier. There are still some plastic parts that frankly feel out of place and cheap on a camera of this price – the port cover and battery door, for starters. The movie record button needs to be either much stiffer, or to have a little raised ridge to prevent accidental presses – it’s right next to the shutter, raised, and exactly soft enough to have the fleshy bit of your finger resting on the edge of the camera trigger it. I found myself with the camera unresponsive and recording several times, resulting in a number of missed shots. Better still, put in a software option to let those of us who don’t shoot video reprogram it to something useful – like metering mode, perhaps. In fact, all of the top panel controls could be a bit stiffer – the two dials move too easily, and there’s still no stiff detent between C and S drive positions on the power switch. Finally, please put in a way to remember the last used item on that very long (too long) scrolling menu…and a way to jump between zoomed-in images to compare.

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This pretty much ties up the last of the ergonomics/ usability section; let’s talk about the new lens. It’s a 10/8 design with a nominal maximum aperture of f1.7 and is called a Summilux, though this is deliberately restricted at close distances – starting from just 1m, reaching f2.8 at the 20cm near limit – and it of course never hits f1.4. I was told this was done deliberately to ensure resolving power stayed high through the entire focus range, but it might be a bit surprising the first time you see it happen. It is NOT the same as the Nikon macro lenses that do not close down, but report the true effective aperture at closer distances/ higher magnifications (“bellows factor” compensation). I suppose it’s a tradeoff for the additional speed, though the GR doesn’t need (or do) this, and focuses somewhat closer. The other tradeoff is a significant increase in size over its predecessor – note just how much thicker the lens is in the second image in the review; thicker even than the 2/35 ASPH-M.

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Focusing speed in low light is pretty good, actually – similar to the GR.

Performance is something of a mixed bag; the centre zones are always excellent, and even at f1.7 have the ability to clearly differentiate a subject into planes at middle to long distances – we’re talking ~20m here (assuming background at infinity), which is impressive for a lens with an effective focal length this wide. This only improves slightly as you stop down, simply because things are already so sharp in the middle to begin with. The corners and edges however are somewhat soft and have visible longitudinal CA (though not much lateral CA) until about f4-5.6 or so, depending on subject distance. Overall, the lens lacks the cross-frame consistency of the GR, but I think this is due to fairly strong field curvature on the X 113. It also doesn’t have the same clinical rendering, by any means; this is its strength.

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Though you might not get perfect corners wide open, the X 113 will deliver one of the most pleasingly cinematic renderings of a wide I’ve seen (however, the Zeiss 2/28 Distagon is still king here). It’s not any one property in particular, but a combination of color transmission, the ability to separate in the centre; the presence of flare (but gentle, not objectionably harsh) and fairly smooth bokeh. I like the way it renders, but it can be frustrating at time because I’m expecting a more clinical performance like the GR – it doesn’t do that, and that doesn’t always shoot the subjects I like to photograph. I suspect it’ll be very flattering for people, though. Finally, the lens also appears to be a black hole for light – it’ll just suck in everything, and seems to make light where you’d think there isn’t enough to hand hold. I suspect the T stop is extremely close to the numerical aperture, which is impressive.

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The sensor appears to be the same, or very similar to the 16MP Sony unit used in the X2, X Vario, GR, Coolpix A and a whole host of other cameras; I still think this is a solid choice because it’s a very capable sensor that balances resolution, acuity and noise very well. The 24MP APS-C offerings have not been convincing up to this point, and seem to all deliver fairly muddy results by comparison. The X 113 is now capable of recording HD video, though without a decent stabiliser (only electronic, which can and does create all sorts of interesting artefacts at times) it’s of limited use. A shame, since it has that excellent manual focus ring – which is great both for zone-focused street photography as well as pulling focus in video.

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What is a little disappointing is that Leica appear to have left the anti-aliasing filter in; it’s weak, but means that the images lack a little final ‘bite’ and the capabilities of that lens aren’t shown off to the maximum. I found this lens-sensor combination delivered very pleasing color even without profiling; I suspect this will probably improve further once Adobe puts out a native ACR profile. Monochrome conversion potential is not bad, falling somewhere squarely in the middle between the GR (outstanding) and Coolpix A (terrible) – a little dodging and burning is required, but for the most part, zones separate cleanly.

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Note cinematic flare. As you can see from this set, I was trying to make the most of it.

I came away from my time with the X 113 feeling a little confused: there are some thing about it that are really quite excellent, like the simplicity of the controls and the ergonomics; that manual focusing ring; the light gathering ability and rendering quality of the sensor, excellent battery life – and it’s a really, really handsome camera especially in the brown/silver combination. But there were a lot of other niggles that countered that: shutter lag, shot-to-shot lag, limited shutter speeds (1/2000) and no ND filter limiting use of f1.7 in bright light*. I’d probably buy one if I liked the 35mm FOV; I have to say that I’m much more comfortable with it now, but it still wouldn’t be my go-to choice.

*Fast lenses are best used pictorially to isolate and create some separation at distance, not to make a wall of bokeh.

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However, I’m not sure the upgrade is so clear-cut if you already have an X2; it’d make a nice pairing with an X Vario for a versatile two-body travel solution with consistent controls and some redundancy, but leaves me wondering where the X now fits between the T and M – personally, I’d rather have the flexibility of interchangeable lenses with the controls of the X, but I suspect that would kill M sales. I think ‘competent’ is perhaps the best way to describe it; and a better choice than the Fuji X100 variants because of the lens, ergonomics and file handling/workflow, unless you need the wide/tele converters. Perhaps what Leica needs to do is either offer said matched wide/tele converters, or take a leaf out of Sigma’s book and make a set of three with different focal lengths and matched lenses for optimum performance – there’s a hole for a longer (50mm+) fixed lensed, compact-ish camera which nobody makes at the moment; something you use with a bit more deliberation and don’t mind if it operates slightly slower simply because you expect to shoot a wide compact in a different way to a normal/tele viewfinder camera. 50mm X, anybody? MT

Thank you to Leica Malaysia for the loan camera. For more info, please contact
Johann Affendy at Leica Malaysia
. Additional images will be uploaded to this flickr set.

The Leica X Typ 113 is available to order here in black or silver from B&H and Amazon, as well as locally in Kuala Lumpur at the Starhill and Avenue K Leica Stores.


Limited edition Ultraprints of these images and others are available from


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


  1. I love my type 113. I was wondering if there is an after market EVF

    • Dave Seargeant says:

      Hi, Some Leica stockists still sell an EVF for it – makes the camera look a bit ugly, but works fine. Dave

  2. Dave Seargeant says:

    Hi Ming,
    I am thinking of buying one of these to complement my very old (sorry cannot part with it). Nikon D300s, of which I have a few lens’s for, of which I enjoy the 35m 1.8 DX for regular use and shoot in manual mode fairly often. What I want is something to carry around all day while on holidays, days out, and what have you. Have held the Pen F (didn’t like it, too many dials), same for the Fuji system. I like the idea of having a camera that I can control aperture and shutter speed on, like the Q and the X top 113, but have no experience. I also like the Leica philosophy for photography (although not managed to hold or use any of their kit), although I am planning to visit the Mayfair store in the coming weeks to have a look. The lack of EVF means little to me as currently supplement my D300s with an iPhone 6.

    Sadly I considered a Q, but that is beyond me for cost.

    So is this is an decent addition to my camera family? Or should I wait to see if it gets an upgrade?

    Kind Regards


    • I think the lack of viewfinder will get annoying. And the hotshoe add-on just feels flimsy. Unless you can get the camera very cheap, you’re probably better off with an X100 derivative or GR.

      • Dave Seargeant says:

        Thank you for your views, I will sit on it for now – more because a friend of mine has just got rid of his x100 for having some focus issue (this was despite having had every iteration of the camera). Although I will see if I can get a hands on with the GR.


  3. Hello Ming,

    You always mention you typically use compacts in this fashion:

    “I found myself using it mostly in two modes – either AF with centre point and spot meter”

    So, why spot always and not any other AF mode.

    Thanks in advance

  4. Curious to know if there is a depth of field preview button option if anyone knows? On the x100T, for example, you can program in a button and as you adjust the aperture you get a live view of the new picture. I’m assuming when you are seeing the picture on the Leica x it will be stopped down to the largest aperture?

    • From memory it will stop down after the half press to preview – at least that’s what my Q does…

      • Ah, that’s good then. I read the manual to check but couldn’t see anything. I like how they integrated that. The Q looks super sweet, I had a play in the Leica shop as well as the other compacts. I have to say I really like the tilting EVF on the X 113. I terms of the ergonomics I like it better than the X100T and for that reason I think I’m going to get one..

  5. Thanks again for your review. Recently, I’m looking for a new compact Leica. Do you suggest to buy a X-E (102 or X2) or X (113)? After your review, I think both have its own advantages. It’s hard for me to choose. Please advise.

    • Impossible to say without knowing what you want to do with it…

      • I want to use it for snapshots on family activities & family vacation (mainly portraits photo). I had a M8 before but sold it. I like to have like or close to M cameras quality photo but automatic focus. I want a lighter camera so that I can carry it around easily. Please advise. Thanks.

  6. Nice review, great pictures!

    I love this camera for the handling and looks, but I am not a pp-person at all. Can you tell me how the color rendation JPEGs are on this camera? (Heard something about Leicas jpegs, dead end boring and needs a lot of pp?). I like clean colours with some punsch into them. Thanks for a terrific blog!

    • Don’t know, I never shoot jpeg. Haven’t seen a single camera with native output I like.

      • Thank you for your answer. Fair enoght, I see your point. My concern is that it wont give great colours, for the money spent. Plus, unfortunatly I´m not that into PP.

  7. Stuart Rayson says:

    I wonder if they left out the anti-liasing filter so it doesn’t quite match the sharpness of the ‘T’ with the 23mm ‘cron attached…

  8. Thanks for all your effort,all things considered which would you choose,the X2 or the X ?

  9. Reblogged this on Eileen Lyn Wah.

  10. Alexander says:

    I would immediately by a 50mm X…….!!!!

  11. Monte Johnson says:

    Ming, I really like your honest reviews here. I always check when new cameras come out to see how they stack up to your testing. Many times it is hard to tell from web sites what the camera is capable of, here you get to see what they can really do. Being retired I will never own a M so I have looked at X2, but I would like to know image quality how it compares to GR for a lot less money. Thank you for your time to do reviews,

  12. And the “new” X-E? Basically it’s a X2, 500 dollars off, it’s more affordable! Although it is still expensive.
    Ok the GR is faster, but I did not hurry and then I don’t have 28 years …Looking Ming’s pictures taken by X2 and GR, are alway wonderful bat i do not know well the GR, in my region is not common.
    Dear Ming, maybe friends of Leica Malaysia could lend you a XE for a duel with the GR 🙂

    thanks and excuse me for my bad english

  13. Two things: the aperture behavior at close focus distance seems like a deal breaker to me. 2.8? That’s absurd. That means the lens really isn’t 1.7 at all. Sure, it’s 1.7, but not until you back up! The fact that Leica is vague in their response about this only speaks to the fact that they know this isn’t desirable or marketable. Sony, Fuji, Ricoh, etc all were able to work this out with their fixed lenses and Leica could have easily done the same. Second, they should have put an aperture ring around the lens. Again, Sony, Fuji, Panasonic, etc have done this. If Leica is supposed to be setting the gold standard, for the prices they ask, they certainly have more work to do. My .02.

  14. harold1968 says:

    Nice review. Very balanced. I was deciding between the Fuji X100T and this. On paper the X100T has the edge but in the hand the 113 is quite beautiful.
    However the thing I really like is the cinematic quality of the pictures you took above. They are really great. I think this camera must inspire you a little as well as producing results.

    • Thanks Harold. It seems people think I’m a paid pro-Leica anti-Fuji shill, so you might want to take it with a grain of salt 😉

      Cinematicness: in this case, a property of how the lens renders and deals with backlit flare (just enough to be atmospheric, but not so much to ruin the shot). Was the camera inspiring? I can’t really say; to be honest it felt too light in the hand and still too ‘digital’. It doesn’t have the synaptic responsiveness of a top flight DSLR (or even the GR), nor does it make you want to push yourself like medium format. I suppose it was there so I used it, but honestly, I’m not sure it’d have had as much show time if I’d had any of my regular arsenal along on that trip (I went for meetings, not to shoot). Maybe because I’m not a 35mm fan…

  15. Thanks for the review and the photos. I don’t find 35mm focal length easy to use, but I really like the results when properly used.

    Do you colour calibrate your cameras using checker charts? I’m getting frustrated with the GR output, though scrapping the Adobe default profile in favour of embedded profile helped a lot.

    • Yes, calibration is necessary – assuming your monitor is calibrated, then you can photograph a Passport under flash or daylight and create your own HSL defaults. I do this for all of my cameras for consistency.

  16. Seems like a very fair review from what I’ve read about the camera. Leaves you wanting to try one out, but with knowledge of its strength and limitations. But you make it very hard for some of us to indulge our GAS addiction when you casually note that one could get both a GR and DP3 for the same price . . . and it forces to me to remember that I already own both of those cameras already, in part because of your reviews of those two cameras. Frankly, I think GAS “window-shopping-only” is one of the joys of photography in the 21st century, even the 20th. Keeps you up to date with the latest developments. But again, nice to be brought down to earth and back to reality with a comment like “GR and DP3 for the same price.” The quality of the images of both cameras are outstanding, to say the least, and the using the GR extensively while on a trip to Hawaii is gradually getting me to appreciate what’s possible with a 28mm perspective and a great, high resolution image to work with afterwards. Like many who read this blog, I’m gradually shifting way from a single all-around camera with interchangeable lenses to a set of small, fixed/non-interchangeable lens cameras like the GR that take up the same or less space and weight than one lens. I like the versatility carrying a GR in my pocket, and then a DP3 or DP2 in a small bag, using whichever one fits the situation. Meanwhile, I really like the looks of the new Leica X and T . . . they really are beautiful cameras. Leica knows where it’s market is and how to satisfy it and still make a nice profit.

    • I think the challenge is that once you’ve been spoiled by ‘dedicated’ lens-sensor image quality – especially at the pixel level – it’s difficult to go back, even if you have more raw pixels. We are left challenged with no technical movements or longer lenses options though…

      • Yeah, unless like me–your reviews again?–and also have an Olympus M1 with the 75mm Olympus and 50-300mm zoom lenses for wildlife and related photography. Hmmm. And rain too, I suppose. Together, still less than a Leica M with one lens. Not sure about Nikon and all the same relevant lenses. But likely close. 600mm Nikon zoom lenses cannot be cheap. We are living in interesting times, that’s for sure.

        • They’re not, but the 80-400 AFS and D7100 is an interesting (and not that expensive) option for wildlife…and much better at AF tracking than the Olympus 🙂

  17. Thank you for the review .
    How do X files compare to T ?

    • Very similar, actually. They do use the same sensor after all…so if you want consistency and easy processing, the T/X2/X 113/ X Vario will yield fairly similar results because it appears the tonal response has been ‘tuned’ to be similar.

  18. Henning Kraggerud says:

    Hi Ming.
    You write DP3M is not exactly good for concerts, which most would agree, but using the Merrills as a combination of extremely good low iso color cameras and highly capable low light BW-cameras could be an interesting thing to expand the shooting envelope?
    According to Reid Reviews I think he rates high iso BW with blue channel conversion just 2/3 to a stop under Leica Monochrom in high iso (so probably better even than Ricoh GR)
    Have you experimented with this? Or your master printer friend WW maybe?

    • No, I can’t say I have. But single channel only B&W would mean that if you have little blue light – which is likely for most low light situations, that tend to be predominantly warm light – you’re going to have little exposure, which is not the true for the Monochrom or any other Bayer camera because it’s completely color-independent.

  19. Ming,
    Loved the photos of the camera, especially the second one. Stay on the watch that it doesn’t show up in someone’s product brochure.
    Highest Regards,

  20. Thanks for your another great review.

    When you, or others, say: This, that, or the other will “jeopardize M sales” as a rationale for Leica’s failure to do what makes sense with lower models, I believe you are correct; however, I cannot help but wonder: given the elevated price and prestige associated with the Leica M, what are the chances any lower priced camera, Leica or other brand, would diminish sales of M cameras. I mean, how many folks, normally predisposed to purchase an M, would go cheap and buy an X- no matter how good the X- instead of an M? My guess is that a more likely scenario would be M buyers purchasing a hyper-X in addition to their M…… You know! for use when they are slumming it.

    • You’re probably right. But I’m sure there’s a class of aspirational buyer who *wants* an M and is just about prepared for the price, but would rather have something a third of the (already very high) price…I’m sure it’s no coincidence that the design DNA of the compacts has been increasingly converging on the M ‘look’ for a reason.

  21. “I this lens-sensor combination delivered very pleasing color even without profiling; ”

    Correction needed.

  22. I hear a lot of photographers proclaim “I could glue my 50/1.4 to my camera!” but every time a manufacturer literally does it they use a 35 or a 28 equivalent. I would love to see more of these niche fixed prime cameras. Something with a fast, fixed 85/90e would be wonderful for portraits and sneaking into concerts.

  23. Interesting review, thanks. As owner of an X1 I do not think to upgrade (now), but if Leica would produce an add-on lens, a converter to bring the equivalent focal around 75/85 I would upgrade with no doubt. For my photography 35eq is ok for 70% of times (35 is the most used lens on my m7) but sometime (the other 30%) I would like to have something longer (full face portrait).

    • They put the screw threads in on the front of all the lenses, so one can only assume that was probably part of the original plan – or perhaps they’re only there for digiscoping?

  24. Rene François Desamore says:

    Il does not matter what camera you used. Your end result is always perfect. You should once review the cheapest camera on the market. I am sure you would produce stunning pictures with it

  25. Ron Scubadiver says:

    The real killer is typical Leica prices, $2295 for this in the USA.

    • Ah yes…’red dot tax’. You could get a GR and a DP3…

      • Ron Scubadiver says:

        How about a GR and a trip someplace? Fuji workflow is what keeps me from buying one.

        • That would work, too. And I agree, even with recent improvements to ACR…knowing that better results can be achieved from other cameras makes me not particularly excited…

          • Ron Scubadiver says:

            In a discussion at Fotozones some of the Fuji shooters were adamant about Fuji staying with its non standard sensor when it was suggested something based on the Sony 24 MP sensor (no AA) that is used in the D7100 and other bodies be adopted. I suppose it wasn’t invented “here”.

  26. Interesting review (as always) Ming. I didn’t know the sensor was the same as that on the tiny mighty GR (which I bought based on your review).

    One question: the aperture of f1.7 is useable on subjects at medium/close distance, like on a portrait for example? Thank you in advance and keep up the great work!


    • The camera actually limits maximum aperture to f2.8 at minimum focusing distance. This isn’t bellows factor effective aperture/illumination, but an engineering choice for quality (I was told after asking about the strange aperture behaviour). It would suggest that f1.7 would be pretty soft even if it was selectable (which it is not). As it is, f2.8 is acceptable at close distances but not great. Not as sharp as the GR, for instance.

      • Wow…peculiar design. At what point can you get f/1.7? Just one step away from the minimum distance?

        • About 1.2m, if memory serves me.

        • Taildraggin says:

          I don’t know of any >2.8 dedicated macro lenses (in Nikon, anyway). Perhaps Leica is removing the option (for poor performance) as they do?

          • That’s the answer I got. Not well documented so I initially assumed the camera was malfunctioning in some way.

          • Well, Olympus made at least three highly regarded fast macro lenses. A 50mm f/2 for both OM and 4/3, and a 90mm f/2 OM (that still regularly sells for well over $1000). I imagine the real reason that not many companies do it is because there’s no value at all in having a fast aperture at macro distances, unless you’re more interested in bokeh than an actualy image. I bet the f/2 aperture on the Olympus lenses makes them superbly versatile for other non-macro uses, though.

  27. Good review.

    Looks like a great camera and coupled with an X Vario, the combination would be an excellent travel “system.” In the future I would love to see Leica produce an X camera with a equivalent full frame fast 85mm lens or even a monochrom version, but right now the company seems to be making some really killer cameras and lenses.

    • A monochrome version would be very interesting indeed, but I suspect would seriously affect M Monochrom sales (remember, this sensor is less noisy than the 18MP CMOS) – or more likely the production costs for a small run without Bayer filters would be prohibitive.

  28. “and a way to jump between zoomed-in images to compare.”
    If it were similar to the M, my guess is that you can hold down the play button and use the command dial to scroll between images?

  29. Taildraggin says:


    “Though you might not get perfect corners wide open, the X 113 will deliver one of the most pleasingly cinematic renderings of a wide I’ve seen.”

    Isn’t this the most important thing about the camera (and Leica’s efforts)? (Wow!, no?)

  30. It’s laughable to suggest that this is superior to the x100s/t. No viewfinder, an aa filter and no better ergonomics than the fuji.

    • File handling and workflow on the Fujis lose them big points. Ergonomics are equally usable, and the lens is better. It isn’t perfect, not by a long stretch. But laughable? Have you actually used either?

      • I have indeed- the x100s and the x vario, which is close enough to the “new ” x for comparison of ergonomics.

        I haven’t used the new x yet, but then I don’t have a relationship with Leica.

        • Well, I’m certainly not paid to write nice things about them if that’s what you’re implying. And I’m quite happy to stop reviewing entirely, frankly, because it takes up time I could spend doing other things that would actually be profitable.

          I agree that the Vario is pretty close ergonomically. But if you have that, then you’ll also know that the X100’s manual focus ring is extremely fiddly to use and completely impossible to zone focus with, and the Vario is not…

          • The X100S improved manual focus considerably – it now feels nice, and is fast and accurate – it’s also possible to magnify the centre easily, and use focus aids like split image, or peaking if you want to. By all accounts the X100T is even better, with a magnified EVF in the lower right hand corner of the OVF, and a much improved EVF. It is still difficult to use for zone focusing without first bringing the camera up to the eye to see the focus scale, which is obviously not as good as having an accurate scale on the lens. I don’t understand why Fuji did not implement this.

            I’m curious about your comments about the lens though. At f2, the X100 lens is only good rather than wonderful, but from F2.8 on, it seems excellent. In what way would you say the Leica lens is better?

            • It’s actually a good question why nobody else implemented it – the fixed scale with hard stops plus auto position is probably the most useful implementation I’ve seen, though it needs a DOF scale engraved on the lens to make it perfect.

              The X100 lens has this odd sort of low contrast flare to it and a general lack of microcontrast/’bite’ until f4; it isn’t soft but just lacks separation and 3D-ness. The Leica has this even at f1.7, though the corners aren’t up to the centre. Personally, I’d rather have the latter because it gives me the option of more defined isolation at distance, but tradeoffs and personal preferences I guess…

          • Ming, I certainly enjoy and appreciate your gear reviews. You’re the main reason why a few years ago I decided to try m4/3 and I’ve been happy ever since. It is my main system now.

        • Taildraggin says:

          Rick: Please tell me you’re not an American.

      • CameraNerd says:

        File handling and workflow? Please explain.

        • Either you suffer poor ACR conversions with jagged artefacts on straight edges, or extremely slow and limited Silkypix. ACR does not handle the X trans pattern interpolation well.

          Workflow is the entire process of producing an image from planning and conceptualisation to capture and postprocessing and output. Most photographers do not think about this and thus you land up with inconsistent results or spend far more time in post than necessary. I don’t have that luxury of time, so workflow must be as efficient as possible without sacrificing quality.

          • I’m finding that the latest ACR does just fine on my X100s and X-T1 files. They look pretty good to me. I think things have improved a lot.

            • I recently tried it again, just to make sure I’m not imagining things, but there’s no way I can get the same level of pixel acuity as the Bayer cameras – pretty far off, actually, especially for heavily geometric subjects (which comprise a lot of my work). I agree that for humans it’s not as bad as it used to be, though – and under most circumstances, not much difference.

  31. Great article.

    I’ve seen that you’ve done a review a while ago on the Fuji X100 but haven’t done reviews on any of the X-Trans cameras. Is there a reason?

    • I reviewed the X-E2 and XF1. I won’t review something that doesn’t interest me or I can’t see using because I honestly don’t have the time; I’m a photographer, not a full time reviewer.

  32. I’m just not sure it would feel right without a viewfinder. Did you miss it?

  33. very nice blog

  34. Thanks for the review Ming. Very interesting read and wonderful pictures.

    I tried this at Photokina and was surprised about AF performance which was below the Nikon Coolpix A I had with me; in particular focusing at the difficult ceiling. Fortunately based on your review Leica appears to have bettered it.

    Anyone interested in this camera should really try it out with the grip and EVF. To my hands (which are around Worldwide average ISO standard man sized mittens) this is the second best compactish camera body ever (my somewhat unconventional choice for number one being the Ricoh 500G Wide).

    And the colour scheme of “DDR chic” [which was probably chosen to commemorate the 25 years anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall ;-)] is worryingly alluring even to my brown loathing eyes.

    Better start saving for that full frame version coming in 2020 or so…

    Regarding Sigma’s approach (I own all three Merrills and using the Sigma Photo Pro would – if I was not already bonkers – definitely make me crazy) I wonder if Sony could not do the “Ricoh” trick and create a faux 50mm on the RX1R by cropping the view. There should be enough resolution or…?


    • It was definitely faster than Coolpix A with initial firmware, not sure about the latest FW. Leica seems to have a history of releasing not-quite-ready-for-primetime prototypes into the wild though – between the first firmware my T had and the last, there was an enormous difference in focusing speed.

      I actually don’t think you need grip or EVF, but a ThumbsUp would definitely help.

      Faux 50mm? That would mean 16MP or so. Seems like a bit of a waste if you ask me…

    • RX1/R already does.

  35. Nice review and excellent images! Very enjoyable to read.

  36. Great review. Price-wise, don’t you think the Sony RX1R is a much better choice? And great point about a fixed lens 50. Maybe Sigma are onto something here.

    • No question, if you like 35mm. I’ll still take a GR because I’m a 28 guy…

      • Thank you for the wonderful review. You mentioned the X is a black hole for light. How would you compare low-light performance to the RX1R?

        • Haven’t used it enough to give a meaningful opinion, sorry. I would imagine the Sony’s sensor should be at least about a stop better, but some of that advantage will be given up in the lens.

  37. Martin L. says:

    Thx for the great review, Ming, one question remains: how does it perform compared to the GR in terms of SNR, DR and resolution? Between the lines, I read that you´d still prefer the GR regarding responsiveness and lens performance but what about, let´s say “sensor IQ”?

    • Sensor is pretty much the same except for the GR’s raw files still being easier to convert to a pleasing B&W – I put this down to whatever processing Ricoh is applying to the raw data or something in the DAC…


  1. […] or program shift. The lens continues to use the excellent system from the X Vario 107 and X Typ 113 – manual focus with automatic magnification if you turn the ring, with AF at a detent past the […]

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