Leica X1 Review

 
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  • X1 Overview
  • Design
  • Operation
  • Optics
  • Exposure
  • Performance
  • Specs
  • Samples
  • Video
Basic Specifications
Full model name: Leica X1
Resolution: 12.20 Megapixels
Sensor size: APS-C
Lens: Non-Zoom
(36mm eq.)
Viewfinder: LCD
ISO: 100-3200
Shutter: 30-1/2000
Max Aperture: 2.8
Dimensions: 4.9 x 2.3 x 1.3 in.
(124 x 60 x 32 mm)
Weight: 10.1 oz (286 g)
MSRP: $1,995
Availability: 12/2009
Manufacturer: Leica
12.20
Megapixels
Non-Zoom
APS-C
size sensor
image of Leica X1
Front side of Leica X1 digital camera        

Like Sigma's DP1 and DP2 before it, the Leica X1 couples a fixed focal length lens with a much larger image sensor than is found in the typical compact digital camera. The Leica X1 is based around a twelve megapixel CMOS imager which is similar to the area of an APS-C film frame - the same size as the imagers found in most low to mid-range digital SLRs, and just a little bigger than the 4.6 megapixel Foveon sensors used in Sigma's cameras. Unlike Sigma's cameras which capture full color information at every pixel location, the Leica X1 uses a traditional Bayer RGB filter to capture only one color at each pixel location, with the remainder interpolated from surrounding pixels. With a 35mm-equivalent focal length of 36mm, the Leica X1's lens sits almost precisely in the middle ground between the DP1's 28mm-equivalent lens, and the DP2's 41mm equivalent lens. The maximum aperture of f/2.8 for Leica's lens matches that of the DP2, and noticeably betters the DP1's rather dimmer f/4.0 lens. The Leica X1 can focuses as close as 12.2" / 30cm, the same distance as available in the DP1 and almost as close as the 11" / 28cm rating for the DP2.

The Leica X1 offers ISO-equivalent sensitivities ranging from 100 to 3,200, as compared to the Sigma DP2's ISO 50 to 1,600 and the DP1's ISO 100 to 800 ranges. Images are framed on a 2.7" LCD display with 230,000 dots of resolution - a little larger than the 2.5" displays on Sigma's cameras, but with the same dot count. Intelligent multiple, center-weighted or spot metering are available, and as well as shooting in Program mode, the Leica X1 photographer can opt for Aperture- or Shutter-priority or fully manual shooting. Autofocusing is contrast detection-type with face detection capability, and offers a choice of one or eleven-point AF with either standard or high-speed modes. Manual focus is also available. Eight white balance settings are available, including both Auto and two Manual modes plus five presets. A built-in manual popup flash offers both red-eye reduction and slow synchro modes, although the company hasn't published a specification for flash range at the current time, and there's also a flash hot shoe for external flash strobes.

One feature offered by both of Sigma's cameras that is conspicuously absent from the Leica X1 is a movie mode. The X1 records only still images, in either .DNG Raw or JPEG file formats. Images are stored in either 50MB of built-in memory, or as with the Sigma cameras, onto Secure Digital cards including the newer SDHC types.Connectivity options include high-definition HDMI video output (rather than the standard-def NTSC/PAL of the Sigma cameras), and USB 2.0 High Speed computer connectivity. Power comes from a proprietary Lithium Ion rechargeable battery, with a charger included in the product bundle. Unusually, Leica is offering a full copy of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom free of charge with the Leica X1, but without any physical media. Instead, customers must register their camera with Leica to gain access to a downloadable version of Lightroom.

The Leica X1 ships in the USA from December 2009, and pricing has not been disclosed at this time.

Print the overview page for the Leica X1 digital camera reviewPrint this Page

  • X1 Overview
  • Design
  • Operation
  • Optics
  • Exposure
  • Performance
  • Specs
  • Samples
  • Video

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