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...


Like other compact digital cameras, the X1 has a contrast-detection AF system. This offers six modes, with three using a single AF point and two using 11, plus the now obligatory face detection AF mode. There are normal and high-speed AF modes for both the single and 11-point AF modes, but using the faster option effectively lowers the LCD refresh rate so that the displayed image lags significantly behind the scene, negating the benefits of using it in the first place.

In the 11-point modes the camera can either be left to select the appropriate point by itself, or the user can narrow the selection down by choosing one of five groups of points to be used. This is useful in quick-shooting situations, as the photographer retains some control over the location of the point of focus. Where possible, though, I prefer to use the normal single-point or spot AF mode, as they allow me to place the focus fairly precisely.

In good light, the X1’s AF system can perform well, but it is prone to indecision in anything less than perfect light. On a couple of occasions, it turned the AF rectangle green to confirm that focus had been achieved when the subject wasn’t sharp.

On several occasions I was unable to get the camera to focus automatically, so I had to switch to manual focus mode. Although the screen can be set to display an enlarged view of the scene, I found this was of little help as the low-resolution image doesn’t display sufficient detail for really accurate focusing.

Subjects closer than 60cm require the macro AF option, but this only goes down to 30cm, which is further way than we would expect for a compact camera, but respectable for a DSLR standard lens.

  • 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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