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

  • Joe Gaul

    The focal range is too short for a fixed zoom and the price too high for all but serious badge hunters.

  • P.B. Murphy

    I like the looks of this camera, and it’s appealling that Leica actually make it themselves, rather than it being a re-badged version of a Panasonic. It is disappointing, however, that the camera doesn’t allow lens interchangeability, especially for those who already own Leica M lenses. What might be better would be a digital equivalent of the old Leica CM, with a full-frame sensor that doesn’t put the cost out of reach, as with the M series, which is now more than twice as expensive as the old film versions. (This is probably an unlikely possibility, however.)

  • Ian Lloyd-Graham

    When you look at the price and what it offers,the Sony RX1 makes a better deal in every way.
    Dissapointed to see leica has gone with a polycarbonate body rather than all metal for that price so again we see a “Tarted up X2” in a bigger body that is trying to emulate an “M” and offers little more at a higher price point – not sure they have got this one right!

  • I candler

    Nice until you get to the lens, a fixed F3.5-6.4?? at that price bracket!!
    I don’t care if it does have the Leica name, its so slow that its beyond belief!!
    They’ve really missed the ball on this one.

  • Wilson Laidlaw

    As a Leica user for over 50 years and having had 8 digital Leicas, I think Leica have got it wrong with this one. I think they should have made a De-Luxe Micro 4/3rds with interchangeable Leica lenses. A lot of folks with Panasonic and Olympus cameras would then have bought the Leica lenses as well.

    It is just too expensive for a glorified, over-large point and shoot camera, with a narrow range, slow zoom lens. It is also too large for many ladies handbags, which I would guess is another target market. Sorry Leica, in contrast to my M240, which I love, this is a fail.

  • Phil

    £2150 for a slow zoom and a mediocre spec? Just because it has a red dot? My apologies Sony, I take back all I said about your RX1, perhaps it isn’t so badly priced after all! Leica just don’t get it. Unless of course, you have more money than sense…

  • John

    Couldn’t be more disappointed. Had naively got my hopes up for an affordable leica for my M-mount lenses. Sadly Leica has become far to expensive for what they offer (me). How long for Leica Mini M mk2?

  • David H. Miller

    Who needs it? It’s no M model, and basically redundant compared to other co’s cameras.

    Fuji continues the Leica tradition of viewfinder cameras. Leica wanders in the wilderness