On this page, I collect some questions regarding the Leica X Vario. Please note that while Leica users may laugh at some of the questions, new owners coming from "ordinary" digicams may have their issues with handling a Leica, which is different in many ways... For the convenience of the readers, some questions may be redundant with items listed on my experience and characteristics pages.
For further questions and answers see also page Questions & answers for the Leica Vario X Type 107 compact zoom camera on leicarumors.com.
When you click the link that Leica provides for downloading Adobe Lightroom, you will be notified that you have only two attempts for downloading the software. My first attempt was very slow and got stuck after about 405 Megabytes. My second attempt created an XML error message. That was it! What could I do to get my free copy of Adobe Lightroom. Luckily, Leica sent me a serial number with each download attempt (the same in both cases). Therefore, I tried the following procedure: I downloaded a test version of Adobe Lightroom 5 (which was much faster), installed it, and entered the serial number provided by Leica. This worked! However, now Adobe sends me some advertising e-mails. Nevertheless, I informed Leica about the trouble I had, but it looks as if I will not get an answer...
"In practice" can mean a lot of things, of course. In my case, the Leica X Vario is equipped with a battery, an SD card, the EVF 2, the protector, the lens hood without cap, and the shoulder strap when I walk around with it. Our kitchen scale measures 760 g for all this with the Leica shoulder strap, and 772 g with the Peak Design shoulder strap, including two anchors.
There are probably several, but there is one, which looks nearly identical to the original one and is sold by enjouyyourcmera.com in Germany: JJC Aluminum Lens Hood for Leica X Vario - inkl. Lens Cap (ca. 36 EUR).
For JPEG images, the file size depends very much on the characteristics of the scene that you take a photo of. For example, a recent JPEG Superfine photo of mine with large more or less uniform areas has a file size of 4 MB. Typical JPEG Superfine photos, however, have a file size between 6 and more than 7 MB in my case. As a rule of thumb, the more details, the bigger the file size. (Original posting in l-camera-forum)
Reply: Thanks , you are right I have some files in Superfine JPG reaching 6.5 MB but never close to 8 and for sure never 16MP.
My reply to this: They are never 16 MB because JPEG is a "lossy" compression format. If you save an X Vario JPEG in TIFF format without any compression you will get 48 MB (3 * 16 because of RGB = 3 colors).
I just saved a TIFF with LZW compression (lossless) to get an impression of the gain and received 19 MB - but again, the compression depends on the scene. My largest JPEG Superfine files seem to take around 7.6 MB (just a quick-and-dirty inspection...). Typical "high quality" JPEG compression rates are about 1:6 to 1:10.
There is a very helpful thread in the Leica forum at dpreview, in which users post their tips and tricks for the Leica X Vario.
I received an email with the following question: "I am having some difficulty figuring out how to process the DNG files in Lightroom 5.6. I can't find any in-built lens correction profile for the camera. Am I missing something?" Since I do not shoot RAW and do not use Adobe Lightroom regularly (thus, I am not familiar with it...), I had to figure this out for myself. In addition, I own already LR version 6, but I think that there was not much change in this respect...
So I took a few photos in DNG format, imported them into LR 6, and went to the development module. There I scrolled down to the "Lens Correction" section, where I clicked the "Profile" tab. Initially, I thought that I have to check "Enable Profile Corrections", but that was not true. These corrections are only meant for the Leica M (and other Leica models) and Leica lenses - you can see this in gray on the following screenshot:
But this screenshot also points to the answer of the question: There is an "i" (info) icon at the bottom, telling that a built-in lens profile was applied (automatically). Thus, when you load DNG images from a Leica X Vario into LR, the embedded profile is applied to the images automatically. As far as I know, you can't even deactivate this, you would need a different RAW converter for this… Anyway, I somehow knew this, but wasn't sure - so I tried it out in LR...
If you click the "i" icon, a popup appears that tells more explicitly what has happened :
All in all, you need not search for the built-in lens profiles because they are already applied automatically.
I do not know of a remote release for the X Vario (it also does not have a thread for a cable release in the shutter button, as the Leica M offers). Therefore, I also do not have a better idea than the proposed one, namely to use the self-timer (usually, I'm too lazy to use it, though...).
On September 15, 2014, Leica released the first firmware update for the X Vario (version 1.1; the initial version was 1.0). X Vario user XVarior who seems to have some connections to Leica promised an update already at the beginning of 2014, but it took until Photokina 2014 to materialize (it has a file date of February 26, 2014...). See page Firmware for more information.
Go to this page on the Leica Website (US version): us.leica-camera.com/Photography/X-Cameras/Leica-X-Vario/Downloads (German version: de.leica-camera.com/Fotografie/X-Kameras/Leica-X-Vario/Downloads)
This question was asked in forums, but it looks as if there were no ways of finding this out (contrary to other Leica models....)
I determined the following maximum aperture values (equivalent focal lengths) for the Leica X Vario:
The LFI (Leica Forum International) magazine published MTF curves for the Leica X Vario in its issue 7/2013 (October 2013). Since these are copyrighted, I cannot show them here and only refer you to the LFI magazine. However, I found out that a photo of the respective magazine page was published in a thread about the Leica X Vario).
All I can say here is that the curves look unbelievably good and straight. Maybe they are somewhat "idealized" (they do not look like MTF curves from real lenses to me)...
Erwin Puts published lens performance data in his blog article Leica X Vario, part 1, particularly resolution values (in lines/mm) versus modulation for various apertures (f/5, f/8, f/16).
The lens (and the whole camera...) was also tested by the French photo magazine Chasseur d'Image (no. 357, October 2013) and by Sean Reid (I cannot re-publish the results here for copyright reasons; Sean Reid's site is a subscription site).
When the Leica T was announced, dpreview.com announced that they found out that, despite other information from Leica, the Leica T does correct distortion, vignetting, chromatic aberration, and whatever in software. This stirred up a huge discussion (or a can of worms as someone wrote). Nonetheless, this strategy was not new to Leica - the X Vario does it already (and some say, to a larger degree...).
As a result of the software correction JPEG images show very little distortion, vignetting, and chromatic aberration. The same applies to DNG (RAW) files when processed in Adobe Lightroom. Other raw converters, such as RawTherapy, do not use the correction information provided in the files and show the original photo wihtout any correction. Thus, if you want to see how a photo would look like without corrections, open a DNG file in such a raw converter.
Here you can see examples demonstrating the effect of software correction on distortion (K-Photo, l-camera-forum): www.l-camera-forum.com/leica-forum/leica-t-forum/330724-softwarekorrektur-raw-4.html#post2685524
The Leica X Vario has a "proven" 16.5/16.2 million pixels (total/effective), probably manufactured by Sony, which has a weak AA filter (contrary to the recent trend to do without such a filter). It seems to do well in high ISO (up to 800...1600, depending on your taste). ISO values of 3200 or 6400 can lead to acceptable results under certain conditions/depending on the use of the photo.
According to colonel (post on the l-camera-forum), the sensor "is a APS-C sensor that is known as an excellent ISO performer (Amateur photographer noted recently that ITHO its still the best APS-C sensor available) and, incidentally, the XV has the latest revision of it, and the weakest AA filter that has been deployed with it."
For in-depth evaluations of the sensor see here (below).
DxOMark tested the Leica X Vario (so they say...), but actually, they mostly tested the sensor. Here are the respective links to the test:
Apart from the "Off", 1, 3, 5 seconds and the "Hold" settings, there is also a "Zoom" setting for auto review, and I wondered what this means, because I could not find a description of it in the manual. Here is my "missing manual" description, that is, what I found out:
The insufficient processing power seems to cause that the whole image is shown for 3 seconds when the file format is DNG +Superfine; for JPG Superfine is is about 1 second. The magnified section is shown for about one second in both cases.
The auto review "Zoom" settings allows me - most of the time - to easily decide whether a just taken photo is out of focus or not.
Of course, I can press the "Play" button after each shot and enlarge the photo to check whether focus is correct. But this is cumbersome, and admittedly, I am too lazy for such a procedure. Here the "Zoom" setting of the auto review function comes in handy - at least, if you're not in a hurry.
I had a look into the manual and found the following:
RESETTING ALL MENU SETTINGS TO THE FACTORY DEFAULTS:
Select "User Profile" in the menu, and "Default profile" in the submenu.
Note: When resetting to the factory default settings, your settings for the date, time and language are not reset
All in all, I would conclude that both are indeed the same.
Long version of the question: When the camera is on, and I move it / rotate it say up or down, I hear a rattling / hunting noise. When I off the camera, or when the camera is on play mode (reviewing images) there is no noise. What appears to be the case is that the rattling noise appears to be the camera adjusting for focus (I'm guessing) but I have not noticed such noise before even when using the camera for a few months. Can anyone advise if this noise is normal and is also present in their XV?
I answer this question together with the following question.
Long version of the question: I'm not sure I would call it rattle, but my XV definitely makes some type of noise when I move the focus and zoom rings. When I'm outside I don't hear it much, but it was definitely the first thing I noticed after I turned the camera on for the first time. Moving the focus and zoom rings when the camera is off produces absolutely no noise. When it is on, it sounds like the camera is making hundreds of quick changes. Since I've never handled or seen another XV, I'm curious to know whether this is normal. Maybe I'm talking of something completely different than the OP.
First of all, both types of lens noises are OK - there is nothing wrong with the camera. In the following, try to explanations what these noises reveal.
If the camera is turned "on" and you do nothing except for pointing the lens to different targets, you can here a "rattling" noise. It is created by the iris blades (or aperture blades - or by the shutter, because it is a leaf shutter...) that move to adapt the brightness of the viewfinder image. You can see the blades move when you look at the lens while moving the camera.
When you look through the viewfinder and move the camera, you can observe how the image gets lighter or darker, depending on the target. This happens rather smoothly, sometimes, however, with a slight delay. All this suggests that there is an electronic gain control involved.
People with very good eyes might even recognize that DOF changes. However, I am not able to recognize this...
When the camera is turned "off," you hear only mechanical noise when you turn the focus ring. When the camera is "on" and you move the focus ring (manual focus) you can hear the "working" of the step motor, which moves one small lens element. I put the lens cap on the camera when checking this so that there is no confusion with the first noise. In autofocus mode, you can hear the step motor work, when you half-press the shutter button for setting distance and exposure.
These observations confirm that the X Vario lens uses a "fly-by-wire" mechanism for focusing, even though it may feel as if focusing were mechanical.
According to colonel/harold1968, the Leica X Vario's zoom works purely mechanical. An indication of this is the fact that the lens changes it length (a little) already when you zoom while the camera is turned "off." However, when I turn the camera "on," put the lens cap on the lens to avoid confusion with other "noise sources", there is more to hear than when the camera is "off." It sounds like something is being moved when the camera is "on," sometimes even with a little delay. At the end of the zoom movement, you can also hear the "rattling" noise of the iris blade, because the camera adjusts aperture for the viewfinder after zooming. Only lens designer Peter Karbe knows what exactly is happening...
An X Vario owner wrote in the Leica forum ar dpreview.com: Hi Gerd, Do you worry about the lens hood cover? Mine's tight and when I pull it off it pulls on the lens hood and thus the lens itself. I wonder about the long-term impact of that stress on the lens.
My lens hood cover is tight as well. At the beginning, I was really worrying like the poster. But with some usage the cover seems to get a little less tight - or maybe I got just more used to it. It seems to help a little bit when you turn the cover while pulling it off or putting it on. Anyway, I do not worry about it anymore... Maybe, a plastic cover would have been a better solution, but probably not for Leica...
Call the Leica service and decide for one of the following options:
I do not have any experience with the first option, and therefore cannot tell any details of how this can be done (perhaps you get an RMA). When the battery lock slider of my camera broke, I decided for the second option, inspired by a posting in the German X camera thread of the l-camera-forum (in German). This required some to and fro calling, because the person on the phone could not decide this and had to ask a technician - who eventually agreed that the part could be sent to me.
My repair was finally successful, but it had its pitfalls. Perhaps you better decide for the first option... For details see page Damages to the Camera.
You get the best sun rays, when you set or have the camera set an aperture of f/16. Usually, I therefore set the aperture manually to f/16. The rays are still acceptable if you go to about f/11 (or better, f/12), but no longer if you set an aperture of f/8. See page Sunrays with samples at different f-stops for illustration.
When I press the DELETE/FOCUS button in "PLAY" mode, I find only the two options "Single" and "All", but no possibility to cancel the deletion process. This is particularly annoying, when I pressed the button inadvertently or just for curiosity. How can I exit the "Delete" menu before deleting? Luckily, this is described in the Leica manual on page 162: Just press the DELETE/FOCUS button again.
This question and the debates about them seems to exist since the Leica X1 - and the X Vario and newer X models follow in this vein. Since I rarely use the RAW format (DNG), I do not know whether this is really a "big" issue (some users seems to view it as such...). But obviously, Leica seems so have good reasons to do it this way (although other companies offer RAW only option).
In a recent posting (October 2014), user mjh offered the following explanation: The JPEG stored alongside the raw file serves as a high-resolution preview so the camera doesn’t have to create it on the fly. The alternative would be to embed this preview in the raw file, to no obvious advantage.
User timde elaborated on this in a subsequent posting: Normally, when shooting "RAW Only" the camera will embed a low-resolution JPEG preview image into the RAW file. This is done to allow review on the LCD as a RAW file cannot be displayed itself. The benefit of using a higher resolution JPEG (RAW + JPEG) is the ability to review critical focus/exposure (histogram etc) and other things more accurately. The JPEG files are also smaller which is better for Wifi sharing etc.
By the way, I stumbled over the following thread Indistinct Ricoh GR raw image on LCD screen: Ricoh Talk Forum: Digital Photography Review. There you can see what can happen or how some users react, when it is the other way round, that is, when no JPEG is stored together with the RAW image (it's refers to the Ricoh GR, which also allows to store RAW+JPEG...). Quite instructive... (See also the Ricoh GR FAQ)
Several users reported that the pop-up flash is useful for brightening backlit objects (use manual flash activation for this). So far, my own attempts in this respect regrettably failed...
You cannot find it because there is none. You probably owned a digicam without a distance ring or with focus-by-wire? The Leica X Vario is different: Simply move the lens' distance ring to infinity ( if it is set to AF, turn the ring to the left just over the "click"). Note that you can do this even if the camera is turned off.
Note: The focus menu is accessed using the "Delete/Focus" button on the left of the camera back.
Focus set to AF
Focus set to infinity
The lens of the Leica X Vario does not have a depth of field scale. The easiest to calculate he respective would be to visit the DOFMaster Website and perform the calculations there. Admittedly, that is still a lot of work if you want to do it for several focal lengths and apertures. Since the Leica X Vario is not listed in the camera list, you should enter the circle of confusion (coc), instead. The usual value for APS-C cameras would be 0.025, but Leica write a value of 0.02 into the camera's Exif data (except for 18 mm, where it uses a coc of 0.019 mm). Do as you like - the former value provides a little bit more depth of field...
Please note that you need to use the actual focal length for the calculations, not the equivalent one (see the DOFMaster FAQ).
Don Fleming, the maker of DOFMaster lists the formulas that he uses for the calculations. I used these, too, to create a spreadsheet to perform all the respective calculations. See page Depth of Field Tables for calculations of depth of field limits for the Leica X Vario.
Note: I hit on a discusion in the l-camera-forum that DOF is different for digital cameras than for analog (film) cameras. According to an article, entitled Profondeur de champ et capteurs numériques (English version: Depth of field and digital sensors) that was cited there, the coc is to be calculated as the photosite size multiplied by a factor of 1.5 However, before I create new tables, I will first wait how this issue is further discussed in the above-mentioned thread...
For details, see my general page Calculating Hyperfocal Distance and Depth of Field.
The hyperfocal distance is useful for shooting with manual focus and aperture. When you set a lens to the hyperfocal distance, everything will be sharp from half the hyperfocal distance to infinity. Sharpness is defined by the circle of confusion (coc). It is typically set to 0.025mm for APS-C sensors, but Leica sets it at 0.02mm for the Leica X Vario(except for 18 mm, where it uses a coc of 0.019 mm).
The hyperfocal distance depends on three factors: (1) focal length (the exact length, not the equivalent length), (2) aperture, (3) circle of confusion.
You can calculate the hyperfocal distance for a given focal length and aperture using DOFMaster. Set the circle of confusion to 0.02 mm or 0.025 mm - as you like... (the latter provides more depth of field).
Please note that the values f/3.5 and 44.6mm are not available in DOFMaster.
You can also determine the hyperfocal distance by inspecting the Exif data using ExifTool. Please note that Leica assumes a circle of confusion of 0.02mm. The values listed seem to correspond to those calculated with DOFMaster.
See page Hyperfocal Distance for a calculation of the hyperfocal distance for the Leica X Vario.
The simplest way to achieve greater magnifications at close-up shots is to attach a close-up lens to the X Vario lens (43 mm). I know that you do not want to degrade image quality when you buy a Leica camera. But either you buy a very expensive (used) Leica Achromat, or you are content with a cheap close-up lens that may impact image quality - at the moment, there is no other choice.
Here are a few selected examples of what you can achieve:
|Object width (ca.)||120 mm||96 mm||60 mm||45 mm||40 mm||36 mm||31 mm||26 mm|
|Object height (ca.)||80 mm||64 mm||40 mm||30 mm||27 mm||24 mm||21 mm||17 mm|
*) focal length 70mm equiv., distance 30cm
In short, a +5 diopter close-up lens doubles magnification, and is about the strongest "recommended" choice. A +10 or two +5 lenses will give you about 1:2 magnification like a 1:2 macro lens.
For more information regarding the magnification that you can achieve with close-up lenses, see my close-up tests, which also show sample photos.
The Leica X Vario can focus most closely at a focal length of 70 mm (equiv.), which therefore is the ideal focal length for close-up photos.
In my own magnification tests, I found out that with manual focus, the minimum object size that fills the frame is about 12 cm x 8 cm (magnification = 0.2). X Vario user Firoze also made some tests on his own and found that when using autofocus the minimum object size is 10.25 cm x 6.8 cm (magnification = 0.23; he measured only the width), which makes a considerable difference. For details see page Close-Up Experiments - No Lens.
As Daniel Martin found out (inspired by the noises that the focus motor creates during zooming), you can focus manually at 70 mm (46 mm) and then zoom to the wide end without touching the focus ring. The results seem to be more consistent that those obtained by focusing manually at the desired (wider) focal length. For dertails, se page Manual Focusing.
Press the DELETE/FOCUS button for more than a second. Four
red arrows will appear, indicating in which direction you can move the AF
field with the direction pad (they disappear if you cannot move the field
any further in a specific direction).
To reset the position of the AF field, press the INFO button at the center of the direction pad. To return to the normal screen, press the DELETE/FOCUS button again.
Note that the changed position will be maintained if you switch between AF modes. The camera seems to keep the position even after it has been turned off. Only when you press the INFO button (or reset the camera completely) the location of the AF field is reset.
Also note that the LCD screen on the back will become active as soon as you activate the "move mode" and have an electronic viewfinder attached. The active view will switch back to the viewfinder when you press the shutter button or press the DELETE/FOCUS button again.
There are indeed no PSAM (or Tv, Ta, etc.) labels on the top dials of the Leica X Vario. But setting exposure modes is easy and logical:
Shutter speed priority
*) The red "A" label is hard to see in low light - green would have been a better choice...
In this case, the "internal" aperture setting is automatically adapted to the minimum aperture of the respective focal length. That is, if you zoom to 70mm, aperture is set to f/6.4. This is reflected in the viewfinder/LCD display.
This is another way to address the previous question. While the program automatic tends to select wide apertures, the simplest way to achieve this is to set aperture manually to f/3.5. The camera will automatically adapt the aperture value when you zoom to wider focal lengths.
This typically happens in low light situations where exposure times longer than the slowest shutter speed set for Auto ISO (in this case 1/30 sec) are needed. You can change the slowest shutter speed for Auto ISO to a slower value using the menu setting "Auto ISO Settings > Slowest Speed". You can also increase the maximum possible ISO value using the "Auto ISO settings > Max ISO" menu setting if you have not done so already. Thus, underexposure does not happen despite the camera being set to Auto ISO, but because of being set to Auto ISO...
Note: The slowest shutter speed was 1/8 sec for the original firmware and was increased to 1 sec with firmware update 1.1. The latter update also introduced shutter speeds faster than 1/30 sec (up to 1/1000 sec).
Probably it is easier to simply change ISO from "Auto" to a higher value (800...12.500) to prevent underexposure (if you have not already done so).
The Leica X Vario has a slow lens and no image stabilization (like many APS-C compact cameras). As a result, I had quite a few fuzzy shots during my first encounters with the new camera. And I asked myself what I can do to improve my success rate. I will devote a separate page to this topic, but for the moment, here is a short list of ideas: