Leica X1 review

April 24, 2010

Overall Rating:


Leica X1

  • Star rating:



Price as Reviewed:


A compact camera from a prestige brand such as Leica always attracts attention, yet its APS-C-format sensor makes the X1 even more enticing. We review the Leica X1...

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Build and handling

The X1 is one of those cameras that brings a smile to your face when you first hold it. As it is made from metal, it feels built to last, with a comfortable, well-balanced and reassuring weight about it. It feels well made and the design links to the Leica M series are clear.

Although it has quite a minimalist look, the controls that enthusiasts demand are all present and within easy reach. Two dials on the X1’s top-plate, each with an ‘A’ (automatic) setting, allow the user to select shutter speed and aperture values. When ‘A’ is selected on both dials, the camera is set to program mode. Setting the automatic option on just the shutter speed or the aperture dial sets the camera to aperture-priority or shutter-priority mode respectively. It’s a simple and elegant solution that allows the photographer to set the exposure without the camera being powered-up.

Helpfully, the exposure settings can also be displayed on the LCD screen, so they can be viewed while the scene is composed.

Leica has continued the elegant design of the X1 on its rear, with a neat array of rectangular buttons to the left of the LCD screen and four navigation buttons to its right. The latter controls also provide access to the exposure compensation, self-timer, flash and focusing options.

These buttons are surrounded by a slim wheel that rotates to enable the user to scroll through the options displayed on the monitor. It’s much quicker to use than repeated button pressing.

When I first used the X1, I was concerned that there appeared to be noticeable shutter lag. However, after a little experimentation and alternating between manual and autofocusing during this test, it became clear that the delay between pressing the shutter release and the image being captured is the result of the camera’s often sluggish AF response and not shutter lag. My initial analysis of the situation was confused by the poor visibility of the screen in the bright shooting conditions.

The X1 is also sometimes troubled by slow processing and the LCD often displays the message ‘Data Transfer!’ for around a second after shooting, before it clears and another image can be composed.

  • AF Assistance: Yes, built-in lamp range approximately 3m
  • Built-in Flash: Yes – GN 5m @ ISO 100
  • White Balance: Auto, 5 presets, plus 2 manual, fine adjustment along amber/blue, green/magenta axis and Kelvin values
  • Viewfinder Type: Optional optical device
  • Memory Card: SD and SDHC
  • Output Size: 4272x2856 pixels
  • LCD: 2.7in TFT with 230,000 dots (approx 76,600 pixels)
  • White Balance Bracket: No
  • Sensor: CMOS with 12.2 million effective pixels
  • Max Flash Sync: 1/2000sec with built-in flash
  • Weight: 615g (without battery or card/s)
  • Exposure Modes: Program, aperture priority, shutter priority, manual
  • Power: Rechargeable D-LI50 Li-Ion battery
  • Lens: Leica Elmarit 24mm f/2.8 Asph (equivalent to 36mm on 35mm format)
  • File Format: Raw (DNG) + JPEG simultaneously, JPEG
  • AF array: 195 individually selectable points, or automatic selection of one of 11 points. These 11 points can also be grouped into 5 collections to target the focus area
  • Shutter Speeds: 30secs-1/2000sec in 1EV steps
  • Drive Mode: Max 3fps in Continuous High, for up to 6 raw (DNG), 6 JPEG or 6 raw + JPEG files
  • Colour Space: Adobe RGB, sRGB
  • Connectivity / Interface: USB 2.0 Hi-Speed
  • Compression: Two-stage JPEG
  • Exposure Comp: ±3EV in 1/3EV steps
  • RRP: £1,395
  • ISO: 100-3200 in 1EV steps
  • Focusing Modes: Manual or single-shot AF
  • DoF Preview: No
  • Dimensions: 141.5x101x70mm
  • Metering System: 256-area intelligent multiple metering, centreweighted and spot

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