With its 16.2-million-pixel, APS-C-sized sensor and fixed 18-46mm f/3.5-6.4 lens, is the Leica X Vario the camera Leica enthusiasts have been waiting for? Ian Farrell finds out. Read the Leica X Vario X review...
Leica X Vario review – Noise, resolution and sensitivity
These images show 72ppi (100% on a computer screen) sections of images of a resolution chart, captured using the 18-46mm lens set to 23.5mm and f/3.5 . We show the section of the resolution chart where the camera starts to fail to reproduce the lines separately. The higher the number visible in these images, the better the camera’s detail resolution is at the specified sensitivity setting.
ISO sensitivities from ISO 100 to ISO 12,500 are offered in the X Vario’s menu, which can be accessed quickly with a push of the ISO button. It’s nice to see an ISO 100 setting, as opposed to the ISO 200 minimum of the Leica M Type 240, as this gives a bit more flexibility. An auto ISO feature is available and nicely implemented, with the ability to set a maximum ISO ceiling and the lowest shutter speed that the camera should go to before raising ISO sensitivity.
Given the X Vario’s relatively small maximum aperture, it is important that it performs well at higher ISO values, and thankfully this is the case. As expected, noise becomes more evident as you progress up through the ISO range, but this is nicely controlled. Detail is still well resolved and there is no smudging or blurring. Noise reduction in-camera or with the supplied Adobe Lightroom software does a great job of cleaning up images while preserving resolution. Somewhere between ISO 3200 and 6400 is probably the limit of what we’d call acceptable, and that’s good going for a camera with an APS-C-sized sensor.
The X Vario’s oh-so-controversial zoom lens turns out to be an excellent performer. At whatever aperture or zoom setting it is used, images are sharp from edge to edge with very little in the way of fall-off or distortion, although perhaps with just a trace of barrel at the wide end of the zoom. Chromatic aberration is minimal, with only small traces of purple fringing near the edges of the frame in high-contrast situations.
Other zooms can match this quality, but only when stopped down and perhaps not at the extremes of their focal-length range. Being able to have the confidence that, no matter how you shoot with the X Vario, you are going to get great-quality JPEGs straight from the camera, is a big plus point.