Correct focusing is confirmed by a green led that lights up above the rear screen and that you only manage to perceive whilst looking through the viewfinder if the lighting conditions outside are not too bright. To check the light meter, you have no other option but to keep the LCD screen switched on.
Also available in black
Despite the recent firmware update Auto Focusing remains a sticky point for the X1. Based on a contrast detection system, like most compacts, the X1 provides a one or 11-point focusing modes, a Spot mode and, quite inconsistently with the general concept of the camera, a Face Detection mode.
Autofocus is generally good in normal lighting conditions but slow and erratic in available and low light, which is a real a shame. After all, the X1 features a large sensor, a maximum sensitivity of ISO 3200, a fairly fast fixed lens and available shutter speeds as long as 30s that would all contribute to this camera being an ideal night time shooter. There are also two high speed versions of the one and 11-point AF but they seem to interfere with Live View and do not seem to work very well in low light either.
The manual focus alternative automatically brings up a magnified view in the middle of the frame that you can then move around for accurate spot focus. Leica claims that version 2 of the firmware has addressed the time lag between the turning of the wheel and the focus adjusting speed, making the whole process faster and smoother but, in my experience, the system is still slow and fiddly to use.
For a fixed lens camera that borrows the looks and manual control of an analogue 35mm, I would have hoped Leica would found a way to implement a focus ring on the lens or at least provide it with a hyperfocal distance setting, that lets you bypass the focusing system altogether. Especially, as it’s not fast enough for moving objects and accurate focus is tricky to check because the screen is just not sharp enough.
In other respects too, the X1 is certainly no match for its competitors. Start-up times are good enough but shutting down is awfully delayed. The same applies to entering Playback mode and browsing through images. File writing times and shot-to-shot times are also slow, especially when shooting RAW. The X1 does offer an encouraging 3fps continuous shooting mode with a buffer size of up to 6 frames for both JPEG and RAW files but when shooting RAW the camera will lock up after the first burst of shots and not resume functionality for over ten seconds.
Next page: Imaging resource
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...