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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Resolution, noise and sensitivity

These images show 72ppi (100% on a computer screen) sections of images of a resolution chart, captured using matching 105mm macro lenses. 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. As our resolution images show, the X1 is capable of resolving a lot of detail when images are saved as raw files.

Not surprisingly, given its APS-C sensor, it is on a par with many 12-million-pixel APS-C-format DSLRs.

However, when images are recorded as JPEG files the resolution drops considerably. In fact, the quality of JPEG images is quite disappointing, and given the relative convenience and wide compatibility of the DNG raw format, I would recommend that this file format be used for most occasions.

If JPEGs are required direct from the camera, the results are better if the sharpening is turned to its lowest setting, as in its default setting the edges of elements within the image are quite harsh and haloing is visible when shots are inspected at 100% on the computer screen.

The area between these halos is also rather soft and mushy. Incidentally, there is no option available to adjust the level of noise reduction.

Noise isn’t a major concern with images from the X1, even when they are taken at the maximum sensitivity setting of ISO 3200. Chroma noise is there in raw images, but it isn’t excessive and has a fine texture with no sign of any patterning or banding. High-sensitivity shots look good in black & white.

I also found that the image-stabilisation system, which operates at shutter speeds of between 1/4sec and 1/30sec, and sensitivities of up to ISO 1600, works well. It captures and merges two images automatically, with one being taken at a faster shutter speed to provide the detail, while the other, longer exposure gathers the colour information.

Barrel distortion is only just noticeable with close linear subjects and slight chromatic aberration is occasionally present along some high-contrast edges.

Image: JPEG images are darker than the raw files straight from the camera. Lighter parts of the sky in the JPEG version are also a bit cyan

  • 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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