Leica X Vario Review

 
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Leica X Vario Performance


Timing and Performance

Mixed performance.

Startup/Shutdown

Power on
to first shot

~1.9 seconds

Time it takes to turn on and capture a shot.

Shutdown

~2.0 seconds

How long it takes camera to turn off before you can remove the memory card.

Buffer clearing time
5 seconds after 7 Large/SuperFine JPEGs*
Worst case buffer clearing time. -- This is the delay after a set of shots before you can remove the card.
11 seconds after 7 RAW+ LSF JPEG files*
*Note: Buffer clearing times measured with a SanDisk Extreme Pro 95MB/sec UHS-1 SDHC card. Slower cards will produce correspondingly slower clearing times. Slow cards may also limit length of bursts in continuous mode. ISO sensitivity and noise reduction settings can also affect cycle times and burst mode performance.

Startup time is a bit on the slow side for its class, though not too bad. Shutdown time is about the same. Buffer clearing times are fair with fast 95MB/s UHS-1 compliant card, however the buffer is shallow, fixed at 7 frames.


Mode Switching

Play to Record,
first shot

~1.8 seconds

Time until first shot is captured.

Record to Play

~4.6 seconds

Time to display a large/superfine JPEG file immediately after capture.

Display
recorded image

~2.1 seconds

Time to display a large/fine JPEG file already on the memory card.

Mode switching times are sluggish, particularly Record to Play.


Shutter Response (Lag Time)
Full Autofocus,
Single-area AF mode
0.299 second
Time from fully pressing shutter button to image capture, with the lens already at the proper focal distance setting.
Full Autofocus,
Multi-area AF mode
0.317 second
Time from fully pressing shutter button to image capture, with the lens already at the proper focal distance setting.
Full Autofocus,
Single-area AF mode
Auto Flash Enabled
0.425 second

Time from fully pressing shutter button to image capture, with the lens already at the proper focal distance setting, Auto flash enabled.

Manual Focus
0.143 second
For most cameras, shutter lag is less in manual focus than autofocus, but usually not as fast as when the camera is "prefocused".

Prefocused

0.040 second

Time to capture, after half-pressing and holding shutter button.

The Leica X Vario's autofocus and shutter lag times are a little faster than average for its type. Full autofocus shutter lag is about 0.30 second in Single-area (center) AF mode, and just slightly slower at 0.32s in Multi-area (9 active areas) AF mode. With the flash enabled, the X Vario's full AF shutter lag increases to about 0.43s to account for the preflash metering. When manually focused, the Leica X Vario's shutter lag drops to 0.143 second, and when prefocused, shutter lag is a quick 0.040 second.

Note that the camera does not have a Continuous AF mode.


Cycle Time (shot to shot)

Single Shot mode
Large/SuperFine JPEG

1.13 seconds

Time per shot, averaged over 14 shots, 5 seconds to clear.*

Single Shot mode
RAW

N/A

RAW only capture not supported.

Single Shot mode
RAW + LSF JPEG
1.36 seconds

Time per shot, averaged over 9 shots, 10 seconds to clear.*

Early shutter
penalty?

YES

Some cameras don't snap another shot if you release and press the shutter too quickly in Single Shot mode, making "No" the preferred answer.

Continuous High
Large/SuperFine JPEG

0.23 second (4.44 frames per second);
7 frames total;
5 seconds to clear*

Time per shot, averaged over 7 frame buffer.

Continuous Mode
RAW

N/A

RAW only capture not supported.

Continuous High
RAW + LSF JPEG

0.23 second (4.41 frames per second);
7 frames total;
11 seconds to clear*

Time per shot, averaged over 7 frame buffer.

Flash Recycling

3.3 seconds

Flash at maximum output.

*Note: Buffer clearing times measured with a SanDisk Extreme Pro 95 MB/sec UHS-1 SDHC card. Slower cards will produce correspondingly slower clearing times. Slow cards may also limit length of bursts in continuous mode. ISO sensitivity and noise reduction settings can also affect cycle times and burst mode performance.

Single-shot cycle times are slightly slower than average for a large-sensor fixed-lens camera, at 1.13s for Large/SuperFine JPEGs and 1.36s for RAW+LSF JPEG files. Shooting just RAW files is not supported.

In Continuous High mode, the X Vario captures Large/SuperFine JPEGs or RAW+LSF JPEG frames at about 4.4 frames per second. That's slow compared to most CSCs and DSLRs these days, but about average for its type.

Buffer depth for Large/SuperFine JPEGs and RAW+LSF JPEG files is the same, at a somewhat shallow 7 frames. Buffer clearing time is fair with our fast UHS-1 compliant SDHC card, ranging from 5 to 11 seconds.

The built-in flash takes 3.3 seconds on average to recycle after a full discharge, which is good.


Download Speed

Windows Computer, USB 2.0

13,601 KBytes/sec

Typical Values:
Less than 600=USB 1.1;
600-769=USB 2.0 Low;
Above 770=USB 2.0 High

Download speeds are quite fast, quick enough that you likely won't feel the need for a separate card reader, even with large memory cards. (Note that this test was performed with a SanDisk Pro 95MB/sec UHS-1 card: Slower cards would likely show slower transfer times.)


Bottom line, we'd characterize the Leica X Vario's performance as mixed. Autofocus and shutter lag are good for its class, however cycle times, burst speeds and buffer depths are mediocre, and some mode switching times are rather sluggish.

Battery

Battery Life
Good battery life.

Operating Mode Battery Life
Still Capture,
(CIPA standard)
350 shots

The Leica X Vario uses a custom rechargeable 3.7v 1600mAh lithium-ion battery pack for power, and comes with a dedicated battery charger. The battery is rated for 350 shots per charge using the CIPA standard, which includes 50% flash shots with the built-in flash. That's quite good for its class, but we still recommend getting a second battery for your X Vario if you plan any extended outings.

The table above shows the number of shots the camera is capable of (on a fully-charged rechargeable battery), based on CIPA battery-life and/or manufacturer standard test conditions.

(Interested readers can find an English translation of the CIPA DC-002 standards document here. (180K PDF document))

 

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