Leica X2 review

Build and handling

Even if the Leica X2 weren't carrying the famous ‘red-dot' logo, the camera would still be unmistakably a Leica. The metal top plate, black leather-effect body-wrap and simple lines show the lineage of the Leica X2, and again, it helps cement in our minds the expectations we should have of the camera.

Generally, the X2 is a very simple affair. On its top plate sit two control dials - one for the aperture and one for shutter speed - as well as the shutter button. The power switch is also on the top plate and doubles up as the single or continuous shooting mode selector.

On the rear of the camera is a fairly standard button arrangement, allowing direct access to white balance, ISO, exposure compensation, flash, self-timer and focusing modes. Although the buttons on the rear are nicely positioned, they are raised from the back of the camera and, for want of a better expression, ‘clicky' and ‘plasticky' when pressed. There is a lack of finesse when it comes to the rear buttons, which is in contrast to the otherwise superb build quality that distinguishes Leica.

All other settings are accessed via the on-screen menu, which is understated, to say the least. The 38 menu options are, in fact, all on the same single menu list. There are no submenus or different categories, just a list. This isn't the first time we have noted this on a Leica - the menu is basically the same as that on the M9, and while I'm not a fan of overworked, complicated and over-illustrated menu systems, a few subcategories would have been useful. That said, the menu's simplicity makes it easy to use and, anyway, the settings that are most commonly changed are found among the first dozen. I suppose my gripe is that when I am paying so much money for a high-quality camera, I want a menu that doesn't feel like an afterthought. Overall, though, the Leica X2 is a pleasure to use and has the ‘feel' of a film camera. 

Although it is described as a compact camera, the larger sensor in the X2 makes it bigger than most consumer compacts. This isn't much of an issue, however, as it will still fit into a large coat pocket, and it doesn't weigh enough to be burdensome when exploring a new city. In fact, the X2 has a point-and-shoot quality about it, especially given its fixed lens and simple control system. In many ways, the fewer options in terms of control offer more freedom to just get on with taking better photos.