The dials are designed in an old-fashioned way, with individual settings clearly marked, and cleverly replace the need for a PASM shooting mode selector. Exposure choices are made by combining the settings on each dial. For instance, Program will be selected by setting both the shutter speed dial and the aperture dial on the provided red A (Auto) while Aperture priority will be set by selecting the desired aperture on one dial and the Auto option on the shutter speed dial. The same applies to Shutter priority.
Easy access to shutter and aperture settings
The only complaint I have is that the dials don’t lock into individual positions making it easy to inadvertently change settings. In the top right corner of the backplate is a recessed dial that controls manual focus. Buttons surrounding the 2.7in display provide direct access to common functions including white balance, ISO and display info.
Other options, such as exposure compensation, flash mode, auto/manual focus and self-timer are controlled by a conventional four-way navpad, which is surrounded by a dial to scroll through the menu and zoom into images during playback. The Menu/Set button in the middle of the navigation pad brings up the easy, but completely disorganised menu.
Indeed, the menu has virtually no layout, being a single, extended list of settings that you need to navigate from top to bottom and vice-versa. Overall operation is quite straightforward but there are some annoying quirks. For instance, the delete button brings up two options, Single or All, and you can select the desired one by highlighting it. The problem is that Leica uses black as highlighting colour and grey/blue as background. I found this arrangement very confusing and ended up deleting some shots by mistake.
The screen has a resolution of 230k pixels which is average for a compact. Yet it is a major disappointment in a camera of this price as it appears much coarser than those mounted on cheaper models and, despite having five brightness options, it is highly reflective and difficult to use in bright daylight conditions.
The 2.7in screen is a bit of let down in terms of quality
For an additional £92 you can buy the 36mm Bright Line optical viewfinder, which fits into the X1’s hotshoe but, being quite bulky, greatly reduces the camera pocketability. Additionally the viewfinder does not display any shooting information, with the only provision being a white border outlining the frame. I found the framing aid not very precise with the alignment of recorded images differing slightly.
Next page: Sample Shots
Sadly your more likely right than not
I know it's Leica and they have a brand name to cash in on, but 1,500 for APCS camera?! Like frigging Hasselblad, £25k for a body and will it take better photos than a Nikon D3 or a Canon 1D? Well maybe but if you can't compose your shots, then no, you just get a better quality mess of a picture.
Sadly I can imagine most of these cameras will end up in some posh city camera shops being sold to people with way more money than sense and no idea how to compose a shot to save their lives.
If you go to DPReview and do a side-by-side comparison of the Fujifilm X100 with the Leica X1 (which you can do from the former's test), it's difficult to support the conclusion that the "easily delivers the best image quality in its category". At high ISO the X100 is surely a bit better and both cameras are rated highly for the lens quality (and the Fujifilm is a full stop faster).
Of course the X100 is physically a bit larger, but then it has a built-in viewfinder and something of a handgrip (both cost-extras on the Leica). With both cameras there appear to be quirks, and neither appear to be up with the best on AF, speed of use. Also both are expensive albeit the Leica hugely so.
Of course there will always be sold by the badge on a camera, and I suspect that is far and the way the most important issue when it comes to premium-priced products like the Leica. Until I see some direct side-by-side objective evidence under comparable conditions I'm inclined to think the Leica does not easily deliver the best images - if anything it's subtly the other way.
Nice camera, but..
it still looks designed to appeal to the shrill, gullible twats who buy anything with an expensive badge on it.
I am a Leicaman, but
this doesn't work for me. It seems to be the spiritual successor to the Minilux, a brilliant 35mm compact that was let down by reliability issues (you can still buy new boxed ones for a fraction of the original price because everyone's scared of the "E02 error" which costs as much to fix as another Minilux).
The main problems are:
1. The price. if you want digital, that's not far off a Nikon D700 with a 35mm lens (Nikon lenses being cheap as chips compared to Leica, and not significantly worse in quality). The D700 is, of course, full-frame which makes it a zillion times better for creative photography. You can blur the background properly and the huge photosites will give clean images at pretty high ISO.
2. The APS-C sensor. Good bokeh isn't going to be seen very often with a 24mm f/2.8 lens. With a FF sensor and a 35mm lens you can use bokeh a bit for creative effect, but even then you really need f/2 to reliably blur the background, unless you're very close to the subject and giving them a big nose as a result. Obviously APS-C is going to be better at high ISO than a little digicam sensor but not as good as a FF sensor.
A secondhand M6 (actually, I'd have an M2 at half the price) and a new Zeiss 35mm lens seem like considerably better value for £1500. OK, you have to load ithe M6 with this stuff called film, but if you want to buy into the Leica myth and lore, you may as well go the whole hog.
Another great review by Catherine. I'm starting to like her reviews better than DPReview's...