Leica X Vario: Introduction

Purpose of My Leica X Vario Pages | How I Became A Leica X Vario Owner | Now I Am A Leica X Vario Owner... | Would I Recommend A Leica X Vario to You? | What Other Users Say...

 

Purpose of My Leica X Vario Pages

My Leica X Vario pages are intended as an information source for existing and prospective Leica X Vario owners. However, there is no intention to offer a complete or even up-to-date information source, because I do not have the time for such a project. The focus of my pages is on presenting my personal experiences with this camera system and thereby providing one or the other useful tip for others.

 

How I Became A Leica X Vario Owner

There were long time rumors that Ricoh would let the GXR system die at some point in the future, even though still rumors of a new body, a better EVF, and maybe even full-frame camera units (especially for Leica M lenses) circulated in 2012. Ricoh hid more or less and my Ricoh contact vanished. In 2013, there were clearance sales of GXR modules in some markets, and many owners parted from their GXRs as well (while others made "bargains"...). Ricoh restructured its Ricoh Pentax camera division and teased its fans a little bit with the new GR (having an APS-C sensor, but labelled as a "Pentax" now) and with still listing the GXR. That's all I know...

Photo: Leica X Vario mint (2013)

At the beginning of 2013 I was more or less through with Ricoh because they supplied their loyal customers with absolutely no information. I have no clue anymore why, but at the beginning of 2013 I finally declared, "I will buy a Leica!" All the people around me were shocked, especially when I disclosed the price of the new, not yet available Leica M (Type 240 or M240 for short). For the first time, an M-type Leica could be equipped with en electronic viewfinder - a "must" for me (but a sacrilege for rangefinder fans...). In January 2013, I celebrated my brother's birthday in Ulm and went to Foto Frenzel in the city center to ask them whether I might have a look at a Leica M9. After a long wait they handed me an M9 over, although with some reluctance... I did not really like it then - and it felt way too large for me. An employee suggested that I also take a look at the Fuji X-E1 (I think ...), but we did not have the time for a closer look at the Fuji (we owned Fuji cameras in the 1970s). So I left the store with an M240 brochure, which I showed around to people at the birthday party. Since then I have been following the "original" Leica Forum (l-camera-forum.com) and the Leica forum at dpreview.com. Eventually, the M240 was released to the market (I think, it was in April 2013), but there were a lot of discussions about its image quality and other issues, including its low availability. Leica also had problems with the eyelets for the shoulder strap. The camera was available only in homeopathic doses anyway at the beginning...

In May 2013, Leica launched a marketing campaign announcing a "Leica M mini" for June 2013. Rumors ran wild, and many forum posters expected a cheaper Leica M with a full-frame sensor. But already the first "leaks" showed that something entirely different would come - which turned out to be true. When the new camera, now called X Vario (Type 107), appeared, a shit-storm pelted down on the camera from all the disappointed forum posters. Few posters dared to "out" themselves and reported that they had purchased the X Vario or even showed photos. Since July 16, 2013, I am one of them. Since the camera was sold for the same price everywhere at the beginning (and surprisingly, for Leica, was also widely available), it made sense for me to handle the camera before I order it and to buy it locally. I bought the camera shortly decided from a dealer in Heidelberg, that is, nearly locally. Well, I did not hold the camera in my hands for a long time, before I purchased it... It felt better in my hands than the M9 (or M240, respectively) and appeared to me like an M's size-reduced counterpart, but it still felt heavy... Actually, although based on an X type camera, the X Vario shares many design elements with the M series so that it indeed looks like a "M mini". The X Vario is, as the name suggests, a member of Leica's compact camera series (the X series) with a fixed lens. In the case of the X Vario, it is a 28-70mm zoom lens (f/3.5-6.4). Leica denotes the X Vario as the first and only compact camera with APS-C sensor and zoom lens. They seem to have overlooked the A16 camera unit for the Ricoh GXR ...

As I already own the latter, the question arises why I bought something more or less similar once again, especially since the Ricoh actually has the better technical specifications. My first answer to this question is that I wanted to buy a Leica this year and that I always wanted to "drive a Porsche" one time - so pure arrogance! The second reason is that while I was, apart from the slightly fuzzy corners, satisfied with the results of the A16 camera unit, I have always found the handling cumbersome and tedious because of the motor zoom of and focus. The X Vario now offered the option to go back to the "roots" and to be able to adjust many settings by hand and thus, more "directly". After the first months, I say that the X Vario's style of operation appeals to me and also invites me to more often experiment with the camera settings. Over time, these pages will provide more information about this topic, including comparisons with the Ricoh GXR A16-camera unit and the new Ricoh GR (unless I all of a sudden, I find a buyer for the A16 camera unit).

 

Now I Am A Leica X Vario Owner...

Since July 16, 2013, I am a Leica X Vario owner. I bought the camera together with the so-called "protector", a "half bag" made of leather. Soon after, I also purchased the expensive lens hood. The photo below shows the state of my equipment at the beginning of August 2013. For the current state of my equipment, see page My Equipment.

Photo: My Leica X Vario equipment (status: beginning of August, 2013)

In the coming months (and years?), I will report here on my experiences with the Leica X Vario (I kept my promise as you can see...).

 

Would I Recommend A Leica X Vario to You?

Definitely not - as least not as long as I do not know what your photographic and personal preferences regarding digital cameras are. I can only tell you what I like and what I like less or not at all. Nevertheless, I will certainly be able to say something in the future...

At the beginning of August 2013, a poster in the Leica forum at dpreview.com asked: Is X Vario worth that much money? I like to hear from users....

This was my reply to his question:

I simply do not know. "Worth" is like height, hard to estimate for humans... I bought the X Vario for a number of reasons: wanting to finally drive a Porsche (just before retirement), thinking about "toy problems" in order to divert me from real problems (which sometimes can make a lot of sense...), wanting something new (GAS) or just a change (the camera was absolutely not needed), wanting a camera that has a much more "manual" and simple handling, and so on...

And, of course, you need a wife that is generous and allows you to buy such toys...

And I received the following response from another poster: A refreshingly honest, and very human, reply.

Photo: My Leica X Vario after more than three years of use (December 2016)

 

What Other Users Say...

I prepared a page on which I list statements from other Leica X Vario users about the camera. I collected these statements from Leica forum threads in a random fashion - they are by no means representative.

See page What Other Users Say... for more information.

 

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08.12.2016