After much pre-launch hype, Leica has unveiled an APS-C format compact camera with a fixed zoom lens u2013 officially called the Leica X Vario, but dubbed the u2018Mini Mu2019.

Trumpeted as the first compact camera to combine an APS-C sensor with an on-board zoom, the Leica X Vario features a 16.1-million-pixel [effective resolution] CMOS with a Vario Elmar 18-46mm f/3.5-6.4 Asph lens.

This is designed to deliver the 35mm viewing angle equivalent of a 28-70mm zoom and makes it ideal for ‘expansive interior shots’, as well as landscapes and portraits, claims Leica.

Leica bosses hope it will appeal to existing owners of M and S-system cameras, as well as new customers who might otherwise be tempted to buy a DSLR, for example.

The £2,150, black-finished, model carries the ‘heritage’ of Leica’s M family, according to a Leica UK representative at a pre-launch briefing in central London.


Read our Leica X Vario first look

See a range of product shots of the Leica X Vario

The camera’s ‘handy form, linear design and premium materials used in its construction are reminiscent of the Leica M-system’, according to Leica. The top-plate is made of ‘milled aluminium’, for example.

The Leica X Vario is also said to borrow its ‘intuitive handling’ from Leica M models.

‘The user-friendly operation of the menu interface guarantees rapid access to an impressive range of automatic and versatile manual setting options.

‘Combined with the ease of switching between manual and automatic control, it allows photographers to concentrate completely on composing their subjects and choosing the decisive instant to shoot any situation.’

‘New-generation’ image processor 

The Leica X Vario deploys the same sensor used in Leica’s X2 compact camera, yet delivers ‘cleaner images’ at high ISOs, according to Leica Akademie advisor Robin Sinha who has used the camera. ISO ranges from 100 to 12,500.

A Leica spokesman later explained: ‘The X Vario has a new-generation image processor which has improved and changed the general processing speed and the video shoot [ing] capability.

‘The ISO range, however, is the same as the X2 and the quality of images at high ISO [s] are similar.’

The newcomer houses an 11-point AF system, a 3in 920,000-dot resolution LCD monitor and full HD, MP4-format, movie recording.

Leica claims the X Vario can shoot a maximum burst of five frames per second, for up to eight consecutive shots (DNG and JPEG files).

The Leica X Vario is compatible with accessories such as Leica’s hotshoe-mountable electronic viewfinder, the EVF 2 Viso-Flex, which costs £380, and SF 24 D flash unit, priced £270.

An optional handgrip, designed to make it easier for users to shoot ‘one-handed’, for example, costs £100.

The Leica X Vario’s lens comprises eight elements in six groups, and includes an aspherical element.

Film mode options include b&w natural and b&w ‘high contrast’.

The Mini M is positioned above the £1,500 Leica X2 compact – which Leica describes as a ‘Micro M’ – and below the Leica M rangefinder, which costs around £5,100.

The Leica X Vario kit includes Adobe Photoshop Lightroom software.

To read Amateur Photographer‘s First Look, click HERE