Fuji X100 vs. Leica X1 comparison review

There are many good Fuji X100 reviews online. In this post I will concentrate on the Fuji X100 vs. Leica X1 cameras comparison. Unfortunately, I could not publish this online earlier because I just got my Fuji X100 last week. You can click on most of the images for larger view.

General

I have already compared the Fuji X100 and Leica X1 specifications in details. In terms of size, the X100 fits better in my hands. It is slightly bigger (and heavier) than the X1 because of the built-in hybrid viewfinder. Both cameras have very similar buttons/dial layout and location, even down to the battery door :) The X100 has also some extra buttons for the various viewfinder options.

The aperture selector on the X1 is on the top of the camera where on the X100 it is located on the lens. The X100 has a dedicated exposure compensation dial on top. I wish Fuji did implement also the on/off switch with continuous and self timer selections the same way as Leica does. The mode dial on the back of the Fuji camera is small and very soft - it takes some time to get used to. The command dial and buttons on the back of the X1 are firmer which makes them easier to use (identical to the dial on the M9). The speed dial on top of the Fuji X100 is firmer (again, just like the M9). The speed and aperture dials on the Leica X1 are very loose and it is very easy to accidentally change the settings. It is almost like Fuji and Leica decided to provide only one firm dial on their camera - the X100 got the shutter and, the X1 got the command dial.

Few other observations:

  • Fuji found the possible worst location to place the LED light - exactly where one would place their thumb. The LED on the Leica X1 is where it is suppose to be - above the LCD screen.
  • A nice feature on the Fuji X100: when pressing and holding the DISP/BACK button, all sounds, flash and assists lights get disabled for discrete shooting.
  • When selecting a macro mode for example, the Fuji X100 resets the settings after the camera is turned off. Leica X1 keeps that macro selection even after the camera is being turned off.
  • Fuji X100 has one programmable Fn button.
  • Fuji X100 has an optional (and expensive) lens hood and a filter adapter ring.
  • The Leica X1 ISO selection includes the Auto ISO function, the Fuji X100 doesn't.
  • The startup time of both cameras is identical, but the Leica takes longer to turn off.
  • You can get a black Leica X1, the Fuji X100 comes only in silver.

Similar to the Leica X1, adding a ThumbsUp to the Fuji X100 will definitely improve the ergonomics of the camera since your thumb can accidentally press some of the buttons located on the back. The current TU-CSEP-2 model is a little bit loose on the X100 - hopefully Match Technical Services will come up with a new version specifically designed for the Fuji X100:

The Fuji X00 lens is made out of metal and it does not expand where the X1 is made of plastic and it expands after the camera is turned on (almost 3 times its original size):

Of course the most attracting aspect of the Fuji X100 is the hybrid viewfinder which can show an image preview right after taking a picture - no need for "chimping". The viewfinder can display a lot of information: framing guidelines, electronic level, distance indicator, histogram, aperture, shutter speed, ISO, exposure compensation, AE selection, flash mode, WB, jpg mode, dynamic range, frames count, image size, battery level. You can select and choose in the menu what is displayed in the viewfinder. Switching to EVF is easily done by turning the switch located in the front of the camera.

Menu System and LCD screen

I definitely like better the simplicity of the Leica X1 menu. The Fuji X100 menu has two categories: shooting and set-up menu and I am still getting confused where each setting is located. Merging both categories into one menu would simplify the navigation. The command dial options on the Fuji X100 (flash, macro, WB, drive) are set to disappear very quickly after you click on them and often the selection was gone before I was able to make my choice.

The 2.8 in. 460,000 dots LCD screen of the X100 is excellent, much better than the 2.7 in. 230,000 dots screen of the X1.

Fuji X100 menu Leica X1 menu

Autofocus

The manual focus of both cameras is equally useless (at least to me). The X100 and the X1 have a magnifier option and a DOF scale indicator, but I still find MF difficult and unreliable.

The Leica X1 has a louder AF motor.

When in autofocus mode, the Fuji X100 appears to be slightly faster in daylight and much faster when focusing in low light:

Sharpness

The sharpness of the Fujinon and Elmarit lenses (both Aspherical) is almost identical. At f/2.8 the Fuji X100 appears to be slightly sharper. At f/4 and above I could not see any differences (the examples below were taken from the center of a test chart @ 100% crop):

f/2.0

Fuji X100 @ f/2

f/2.8

Fuji X100 @ f/2.8

Leica X1 @ f/2.8

f/4.0

Fuji X100 @ f/4

Leica X1 @ f/4

f/5.6

Fuji X100 @ f/5.6

Leica X1 @ f/5.6

f/8.0

Fuji X100 @ f/8.0

Leica X1 @ f/8.0

100% crop

Those 100% crops were taken at f/8. Again both lenses have identical sharpness:

Original Fuji X100 image Original Leica X1 image

Fuji X100 100% crop

Leica X1 100% crop

Bokeh

Next two images will show you the bokeh of the Fuji X100 and the Leica X1:

Fuji X100 @ f/2.0

Leica X1 @ f/2.8

Light falloff (vignetting)

Leica has done a better job in controlling the lens vignetting:

Fuji X100 Leica X1

 

f/2.0


f/2.8

f/2.8

f/4.0

f/4.0

ISO performance

The ISO selector of the Fuji X100 lets you choose between L(100), 200, 250, 320, 400, 500, 640, 800, 100, 1250, 1600, 2000, 2500, 3200, 4000, 5000, 6400 and H(12800) where the Leica X1 choices are 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600 and 3200.

Next is an ISO comparison between both cameras. Fuji has definitely an edge when it comes to high ISO performance. In my eyes, the Fuji X100 @ ISO 6400 is identical to Leica X1 @ ISO 3200 (all samples 100% crop):

ISO 200

Fuji X100 @ ISO 200

Leica X1 @ ISO 200

ISO 400

Fuji X100 @ ISO 400

Leica X1 @ ISO 400

ISO 800

Fuji X100 @ ISO 800

Leica X1 @ ISO 800

ISO 1600

Fuji X100 @ ISO 1600

Leica X1 @ ISO 1600

ISO 3200

Fuji X100 @ ISO 3200

Leica X1 @ ISO 3200

ISO 6400 (only Fuji X100)

Fuji X100 @ ISO 6400

Auto Exposure

The Auto Exposure of the Fuji X100 is off sometimes - I believe that it underexposes images. The reason I say this is because I have previously compared the Leica X1 with the D300s and the exposure of both cameras is identical (and I know that Nikon does have a very accurate AE). Here are two examples taken in manual mode at 1/30 sec, f/8 (see more samples at the bottom of this post):

Fuji X100 at 1/30 sec, f/8, ISO 200 Leica X1 at 1/30 sec, f/8, ISO 200

And here is the the same shot taken with the Fuji X100 in aperture priority - the camera selected 1/13 sec shutter speed:

Fuji X100 in AE: 1/13 sec, f/8, ISO 200

Video

The Fuji X100 can record HD video (1280x720 at 24 fps) with stereo sound. Focus, exposure and WB are set automatically by the camera when in video mode. Before starting recording, you can set the aperture, WB, film simulation, exposure compensation and focus mode. There is also a 3x digital video zoom available that can expand the focal length to 105mm. The maximum recording time is 10 minutes. Video files are recorded in QuickTime format. Here is a video example - AF is very slow and there is plenty of "jello effect" when the camera is handheld.  The Fuji X100 doesn't have image stabilization, the Leica X1 has IS but it doesn't have video.

Aperture Priority samples

Since the Fuji X100 slightly underexposes images, I could not do any direct comparisons with identical shutter speed/aperture settings. Here are few examples taken in aperture priority mode (images were not post-processed in any way, just directly converted and resized from RAW->JPG in Lightroom 3, full size samples are available on flickr):

Fuji X100 Leica X1


B&W JPG

Some B&W jpg samples taken straight out of both cameras (all taken at normal settings):

Fuji X100 Leica X1

Here is a set of jpg files taken in vivid preset with both cameras:

Fuji X100 Vivid (Velvia) jpg setting Leica X1 Vivid jpg setting

In terms of close up, The Fuji X100 lets you take pictures at 10cm while the X1 minimum focusing distance is 30cm. Here is the same image taken at 10cm with Fuji X100 (Velvia jpg preset):

Conclusion

The Fuji X100 and Leica X1 are very similar and different at the same time. The Leica X1 is a more mature camera in terms of firmware stability. The Fuji X100 has several quirks that are widely discussed in various online forums. Hopefully Fuji will address those in future firmware updates.

Fujifilm had a very clear goal in mind when they designed the X100 and they knew exactly what their target audience would be. I believe the X1 product line would have been much more successful if it was designed around the "fixed lens, mini-M9" idea. Many people will pick the X100 just because of its resemblance to a Leica M. The hype around the Fuji X100 is a clear indication of the demand for simple classical cameras with good image quality.

Even with the recent X100 price increase (update: B&H price went back down to $1200), I would still choose the Fuji X100 over the Leica X1 (and I do own a M9 as well). My preferences are not just based on the price but on the "overall package". The Fuji X100 is a nice combination of a classical camera filled with the latest technology. The camera is small and has this "take me everywhere" appeal. The hybrid viewfinder is a great innovation and the ability to shoot HD video can be handy.

It will be interesting to see how Fujifilm will further develop the X100 line and whether other manufacturers will jump on the classical camera bandwagon. After all, competition can only be good for consumers.

Related links:

Please note that there could be a margin of error in some of the comparisons/tests mentioned in this post. Both cameras had the latest firmware version (v2.0 for the X1 and v1.01 for the X100).

This entry was posted in (LR) reviews, Leica X and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Trackbacks are closed, but you can post a comment.
  • broxibear

    Interesting piece.
    I read another interesting comparison between the X100 and GF1 a few days ago, I’ve posted the original French version and googletranslate as the image links only work in the original, well worth a look and read…

    http://www.michaelcarpentier.com/index.php/2011/fujifilm-x100-vs-panasonic-gf1-plus-cher-mais-bien-meilleur/

    http://translate.google.com/translate?js=n&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&layout=2&eotf=1&sl=auto&tl=en&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.michaelcarpentier.com%2Findex.php%2F2011%2Ffujifilm-x100-vs-panasonic-gf1-plus-cher-mais-bien-meilleur%2F

  • Mat

    Great review, I am also curious how Fuji and Leica will develop the X line in the future.

  • M!!

    very good comparison. all in all, it will be down in the hands of the photographer to feel and make use of each one, and to tell you which is a better camera.

  • http://flickr.com/vidaextinta Joaquim Prado

    Kind like Fuji bokeh, sharpness and noise performance but leica hands color and exposure better. But the color issue on the Fuji has to do with the exposure and taking a well exposure should do the work. also loved the velvia settings and color came out stunning! I would pick the X100 for sure.

    • http://leicarumors.com LR admin

      Yes, that’s exactly it. Hopefully Fuji will be able to fix some of those issues. I am really curious to see what the X2 will be like. Leica should have enough time to prepare – I expect the X2 to be announced next year at Photokina.

      • http://flickr.com/vidaextinta Joaquim Prado

        Leica should be more selective with their sensors choice.
        Also I would guess Fuji to refresh the X2 and X3 each with different focal length. I also think nikon is missing a nice opportunity with this potential market with this more simple and vintage look camera marketing. Nikon does have some remarkable models which people would be very pleased to have as a FF digital camera.

        • http://leicarumors.com LR admin

          I agree, the hybrid viewfinder and retro look is what makes the X100 so popular.

          • http://flickr.com/vidaextinta Joaquim Prado

            Yeah, and both manufactures (Fuji and Nikon) have enough technology to built a camera as good or better than a M9, specially Nikon with their wide range of F mount lens, and the new lens having auto focus internal motor should be no problem working on a FMDigital kind. pretty sure it would produce stunning images and perform as good as a M9.

  • iluvhatemail

    i still prefer the x1. i love fuji but thinking about the future im looking forward to buying the x2. there are dozens of cameras i would buy before the x100, including another fuji, the GW690

    • http://flickr.com/vidaextinta Joaquim Prado

      or the GX680III !! ;)

  • John Griffith

    It isn’t clear to me whether you used only OOC JPGs or RAW converted to JPG. If you have the RAW files, especially on exposure I would like to look at them as my test of my current X100 (not the one I lent Sean Reid for testing) seemed to be a pretty close match to a Nikon in exposure. That wasn’t true for the first camera.

    • http://leicarumors.com LR admin

      The only jpg files out of the camera are the B&W shots and the close ups, everything else was converted from RAW. I will upload the RAW files shortly.

    • http://leicarumors.com LR admin

      ok, here are the Fuji X100 RAW files:

      http://dl.dropbox.com/u/10069261/fuji-x100-raw-files.zip

      • http://iamphoto.ca Arash M

        LR Admin
        thank you very much for this write up.
        would you be kind enough to host the X1 files as well???
        that would be really great to see RAW side by side.
        thank you again
        am

  • fh

    Great and thorough comparison.

    The X100 does in fact have Auto ISO, but rather unintuitively, it is buried in the Setup > Auto ISO menu, rather than as a selection in the Shooting > ISO selection menu. Presumably, this is because Fuji thinks you will personalize max ISO and min shutter speed just once, however I think the “Auto” should be an option in the Shooting > ISO menu, rather than “On/Off” in the Setup > Auto ISO menu.

  • Nobody Special

    As a first generation product, Fuji did a better job. The Leica X1 is a nice camera but it needs improvements and one could assume that an X2 (if there is one) will be improved.

    • http://www.showperformance.com Chad

      I think that is an accurate statement. Thing is, it is also assumed that Fuji will improve both the X100 and subsequent “X” models. So where does that leave Leica in this category? I suspect that Fuji will move quicker to market with their cameras so unless Leica takes a dramatic leap forward (full frame anyone?), their “X”, at the current price point, will be relegated to an even smaller niche.

      • Nobody Special

        I agree completely. I think that for Leica to stay in the same market niche, they will have to keep the price the same or lower, and offer a more competitive product.

        Useability is something that goes beyond the – “it’s a Leica” – especially if the results are so close – the Leica isn’t unique enough. To me, the competition is between the Fuji and a Nikon D7000, again, two completely different cameras that offer more value for the cash in a quality package.

  • http://www.showperformance.com Chad

    The X cameras have the IQ vs size formula down. What they are both missing, in my opinion, is that immediacy of response that you get with a film “retro” camera. The X1 focuses slow but has a nice spartan, well designed menu system, while the X100 looks like it should be a performer but in application, tends to arbitrarily throw up roadblocks to speedy operation.

    Hopefully both manufacturers will improve in this aspect. Until then, I’m enjoying the hell out of the X100. As it stands, the X100 feels to me, more of a “classic” camera than the X1 in terms of its styling, build quality, tactile operation and impact on the market.

    • http://leicarumors.com LR admin

      I wish Leica and Fuji get together and work on the next X model :)

  • http://www.marksperryphoto.com Mark

    Absolute exposure and color are negligible differences if you shoot raw. And I don’t think with Aperture and Lightroom there isn’t much of an argument in favor of jpg in almost any situation.

    If Leica is determined to get 2 grand out of their compact line they should basically take an APS-C sensor, and a fixed manual focus lens with a rangefinder focus system. ALmost exactly like a Yashica Electro, or a fixed lens CL.

    • http://leicarumors.com LR admin

      Exactly my thought Mark, the X1 is a “point & shoot” type of camera and there are many of those out there, now if Leica make a small rangefinder with a fix lens, there is nothing like it on the market. Their concern is probably that it will cannibalize the sells of the M system – was this not reason why they canceled the CL years ago?

      • http://www.marksperryphoto.com Mark

        A fix 35mm f2 ~e lens should fix that, or even a 2.8. And keep it APSC to keep the costs down. I think the current gereration of cameras prove that there is no loss of absolute image quality with APSC over full frame.

        The M9 is the M9. full frame, whole range of M lenses and Zeiss and Voigtlander. I don’t think any fixed lens APSC camera could compete with what it offers.

  • demian

    I can’t take a camera, such as the X1, seriously without an (optional) lens hood; a lens hood is a must.
    I don’t believe that the X1 has Image Stabilisation!

  • Dougie

    It does have image stabilisation.

  • http://www.tulutudtegevused.eu Jaanos

    X100 manual focus you call useless is probably not meant to used alone ;)
    If you are in MF mode and you press AFL/AEL button back of the camera AF focuses subject less than with second and then you have freedom to fine tune focus with the focusing wheel on lens. It works also in both focusing ranges without need to switch “macro” as in normal AF mode.

    Hope this tip help against frustration MF mode can cause ;)

    • http://leicarumors.com LR admin

      Yes, but in that case you are still using the AF and then just manually re-adjusting it, which is hard to do on the small VF. This won’t be much helpful in low light situations.

  • ghyz

    Amazing review, very nice job. Thanks !

  • http://www.strutt.org Roy Strutt

    Great review – many thanks – I am keenly awaiting my X100 – I am a Leica M9 user but wanted something less valuable and more pocketable for day to day photography – looks like this is the one !

    • http://leicarumors.com LR admin

      Thanks Roy, I did not want to involve the M9 in the review, but you are absolutely right. Sometimes I do not want to carry over $10000 on my shoulder and the X100 is the perfect addition to an M9. I have already left the M9 + 50 Lux twice in restaurants…

  • Jonas

    First I have to mention that I like this comparison. It is not only text but in field pictures of both cameras, somehow confused me more. Because of the final decision to buy one, its more difficult when I like both. Probably I’ll wait for the next gen…

  • meekroard

    I’ve had both and sold one… the Leica. It’s a beautiful camera, luxuorious feel as a Leica should. The biggest let down was the screen – the only thing you have to rely upon for framing, focus, and playback. Such a wonderful (and expensive) camera to be let down by a primary feature.
    The Fuji on the other hand has been solid – the company is dedicated to the consumer – they updated corrections to the flaws and added a couple of features to a camera that has been superseded and out of production. The camera has given me some remarkable results. Fuji have my attention.

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