Questions & answers for the Leica Vario X Type 107 compact zoom camera

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This set of Q&A provides some interesting information on the latest Leica Vario X Type 107 camera ($2,850.00), including answers to questions and concerns raised by several readers of this blog:

  • Is the Leica X Vario the official successor of the Leica X2?

No. Due to its very different possibilities in the photographic use the X Vario is the perfect addition for the X2. Both cameras will be offered in parallel in the market.

  • Do the X2 and the X Vario use the same accessories? 

The X2, as well as, the new X Vario offer a great range of technical and non-technical accessories. Due to the different shape of the bodies; the cases, the protectors and the handgrips are made to individually fit the different camera models. The electronic viewfinder EVF2, the Leica flash, the wrist straps, as well as, the neck straps can be used with both cameras.

  • Does the introduction of the X Vario have an influence on the M production?

The production of the X cameras takes place in a complete different production line and has no influence on the production output of M cameras.

  • What factors affected the decision to use the focal length of 28-70 and the f-stop range of 3.5-6.4? 

The doctrine for developing the X Vario was - as for Leica cameras in general – to realize the best possible image performance in a comparatively small housing. From an engineering point of view a lens is always the interplay between performance, focal length, aperture and mechanical size. With 28-70mm the focal length covers the most popular and most used by our customers. The aperture has a huge influence on the size of a lens.

The X Vario lens is designed to deliver the best image quality at any aperture and any focal length – so to achieve that and without getting a bulky lens, we decided to compromise in the best possible way and restricted the aperture range from 3.5-6.4. In comparison to comparable lenses of other systems the Vario lens is actually a relatively small lens.

Furthermore, the combination of the APS sized sensor with the Vario lens still offers the customer an enormous play with depth and field, as our dear customers expect from their Leica. The AF lens of the X Vario is actually a unique synthesis between tradition, most modern optical design and precision mechanics.

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  • What is the reason for the noise of the lens in AF mode?

The lens of the X Vario offers a great image performance. In order to gain that optical – without software compensation – superior glass and special single lenses had to be used. The inertia of these larger and heavier material leads to a slightly noisier sound while moving the AF lens groups.

  • Do the Leica X2 and the Leica X Vario use the same image sensor?

Yes. The image sensor of the X Vario and the X2 is indeed the same one.  The X Vario uses a new generation image processor – which improved and changed mainly the general processing speed and makes the video shoot capability possible.

  • Why is the body of the X Vario bigger than the one of the X2?

The X Vario has a very harmonic design. The body lens balance is very well proportioned. The integration of a high-resolution 3” display was very important to us. The Vario lens itself has a wider diameter than the prime lens of the X1/2. Both of these technical innovations had an obvious influence on the width and height of the camera.

  • What materials are used for the X Vario?

The X Vario consists of high-grade magnesium and aluminum. The top cover of the X Vario is milled out of a slid block of aluminum and is produced in the same production technique as the Leica M top covers.

  • Are the X lenses – X2 and X Vario - true Leica designs? 

Yes, the LEICA ELMARIT 24 mm f/2.8 and the Leica Vario Elmar 18 - 46 mm f/3.5 - 6.4 ASPH are real Leica lens that have been developed by our optics engineering and design team following the high Leica image performance and quality standards.

The LEICA X2 lens even gained a reference status in the compact class. Due to its absolutely professional-level imaging quality, leading stock image agencies (Getty, Magnum, etc.) have now approved the X2.

  • Are the X-Cameras really “Made in Germany”?

Yes, the Leica X cameras are manufactured in Germany. Of course, there are a few components, like the sensor, the monitor, and other electronic parts, that can’t be sourced from German manufacturers, therefore; we have to buy them on the global market.

  • Will there be an a la carte program for the X Vario?

The a la carte program for the X2 is very popular and successful. After an adequate introduction phase the a la carte options will be available.

  • For some technical details there are different data stated. Which are correct? 

The circular letter and the first print of instructions manuals contained some mistakes; this will be corrected with the first reprint. Please refer to the following technical data as the correct ones. Especially take notice of the changed info for the weight and the internal memory.

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Leica X Vario Type 107 specifications:

  • Sensor CMOS sensor, size APS-C (23.6 x 15.7mm) with 16.5/16.2 million pixels (total/effective), format aspect ratio 3:2.
  • Resolution  Selectable for JPEG format: 16M - 4928 x 3274 pixels, 12.2M - 4288 x 2856 pixels, 7M - 3264 x 2160 pixels, 3M - 2144 x 1424 pixels, 1.8M - 1632 x 1080 pixels, DNG: 4944 x 3274 pixels.
  • Video recording format  MP4
  • Video resolution/frame rate  Selectable 1920 x 1080p, 30B/s oder 1280 x 720p, 30B/s.
  • Internal Memory none
  • Lens Leica Vario-Elmar 18-46mm f/3.5-6.4 ASPH. (corresponds to 28-70mm in 35mm format), 9 lenses in 8 groups, 2 aspherical lenses.
  • Aperture range  From 3.5 to 16 (at 28mm) / 6.4 to 16 (at 70mm) in 1/3EV increments.
  • Image data file formats / Compression rates  JPG Superfine, JPG Fine, DNG + JPG S. Fine, DNG + JPG Fine.
  • Storage media  SD/SDHC/SDXC memory cards.
  • ISO Range Automatic, ISO 100, ISO 200, ISO 400, ISO 800, ISO 1600, ISO 3200, ISO 6400, ISO 12500.
  • White balance  Automatic, presets for daylight, cloud, halogen lighting, shade, electronic flash, 2 manual settings, manual color temperature setting, fine adjustment option for all settings.
  • Autofocus system  Contrast-based auto focus system
  • Distance setting range  30cm / 1ft (at 70mm focal length)  to infinity
  • Autofocus metering methods 1-field, 11-field, spot, face detection.
  • Exposure modes  Automatic program , aperture priority , shutter speed priority and manual setting.
  • Exposure metering  Multi-field, center-weighted, spot.
  • Exposure compensation  ±3EV in 1/3EV increments.
  • Automatic bracketing  3 pictures in graduations up to 3 EV, adjustable in 1/3 EV increments.
  • Shutter speed range  30s to 1/2000s.
  • Continuous picture series  3 fps or 5 fps, max. 7 pictures with constant frequency in DNG + JPG Fine.
  • Flash modes  auto, auto/Red-Eye, forced on, forced on/Red eye, Slow Sync, Slow Sync/Red eye, Studio
  • Flash exposure compensation  ±3EV in 1/3EV increments.
  • Guide number built-in flash unit for ISO 100, guide number 5
  • Recovery time of built-in flash unit  Approx. 5s with fully charged battery.
  • Monitor  3" TFT LCD, approx. 920,000 pixels.
  • Self timer  Delay time 2 or 12s.
  • Connections  Mini USB 2.0 socket, HDMI socket, special socket exclusively for external Leica EVF2 electronic viewfinder.
  • Power supply  Lithium ion battery, rated voltage 3.7V, capacity 1600mAh (to CIPA standard): Approx. 350 pictures, charging time (after total discharge): approx. 200 min
  • Charger  Input: 100 - 240V AC, 50/60Hz, automatic switching.
  • Tripod thread  A 1/4 DIN 4503 (1/4“).
  • Dimensions (W x H x D)  Approx. 133 x 73 x 95mm / 515/64  x 27/8 x 347/64in.
  • Weight  Approx. 594/628g / 22.9/24oz (without/with battery).
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  • dannybuoy

    My question would be: Why??? :-)

  • Stuart E. McConaghy

    Yeah, I bet a lot of people have been asking about an a la carte program…

  • fjfjjj

    Classy talk. I wish the camera looked as classy. The body and viewfinder are beautiful, but the lens looks like some plastic kit crap, even though it’s fairly rugged and well damped. For the Leica price, it does not deliver the Leica status symbol I expect. My X-E1 is cheap and goes with my Prada.

    • Sig Ninwith

      your taste in fake pradas match your photography

      • john

        How do you know what her photography looks like? Maybe it’s better then yours.

    • Helmut Hauser

      Fowl language doesn’t make you more attractive or your comments more convincing.

      • fjfjjj

        Fowl

  • Fanboy

    Just bought x vario, and happy with it…..after all it is leica….

    • yup

      Nice try!

    • Ramayana

      I think most people who have held and used it like it. Those who haven’t will make snide remarks like “Nice try”. :D

    • ahkai

      @Fanboy,

      Great work. I have read so many review on this new camera. It seem that those posted negative comments here and elsewhere were all looking for a Leica X Vario that can drive by itself, park by itself and also bring in their morning papers too.

      For those who think that this is not a worthy of a camera, move on. Go buy a Nikon or Canon. No one is stopping you. No body asking to look into this, or you are not happy because you always wanted a Mercedes Benz but only willing to pay for a Hyundai?

  • http://genotypewritings.blogspot.com/ genotypewriter

    “In comparison to comparable lenses of other systems the Vario lens is actually a relatively small lens.”

    What a load of rubbish. The 16-50 f/3.5-5.6 OSS on a Nex-3N is just around 60mm and the X2 is 95mm.

    • Pat Mann

      I’m reserving judgement until I know how comparable the lenses are in terms of resolution, lateral and longitudinal CA, field curvature, vignetting and distortion through the range. Correcting these things often means working with more volume in a lens, a challenge for ultra-compact lenses and the reason pancake lenses suffer compared to more conventional designs.

      The 16-50, for example, is known for severe barrel distortion at the wide end and extreme vignetting. Digital corrections of these design compromises result in loss of quality in the final image, with greater quality losses than lenses requiring less digital compensation. The Elmarit may be no better, but I suspect that it’s a pretty respectable performer on many of these attributes compared to the Sony lens.

      • http://genotypewritings.blogspot.com/ genotypewriter

        The issue is the use of the word “comparable”. It doesn’t take a genius to know that every lens/system will have various pros and cons. So looking at only the pros of the Leica and only the cons of the Sony doesn’t make a credible argument. If we were to turn the tables around and do the same, the 16-50 OSS is smaller, faster, wider, longer, is stabilised, likely focuses faster and is interchangeable too. So the fact remains… the 16-50 OSS is a comparable lens, in the very least, and it’s smaller.

        As for correcting things in software, again I see you’re being biased towards Leica. I’m assuming that you’re unaware of how the raw files from the M9 are not exactly raw. They are no purists.

        Also for the life of me, I can’t understand why people nit pick so much about the image quality of zoom lenses. Even the most professional of zoom lenses are fundamentally flawed. And these little cameras are made for portability… they’re not really meant for shooting billboard-sized prints that you can look at from a 2 foot distance.

    • Ramayana

      Get your facts right before you take a dump. 95mm includes the body. The X Vario lens alone is 60mm, or 75mm fully extended. The Sony is actually longer when fully extended.

  • Jojo

    Question – “special socket exclusively for external Leica EVF2 electronic viewfinder” – We know this Leica EVF is a rebadged Olympus EVF2 with
    the mounting pins and electronics presumably the same. People have confirmed the Oly VF works on the Leica X2. Will the Olympus EVF4 work on these Leica X cameras, or would this require a firmware upgrade?

  • Cris

    Just one thing, f/ 3.5 – 6.4. I try to get rid of this damn aperture range on my kit lens, why would I get a Leica like this one when the Sony RX1R has a 35mm sensor and a Zeiss 35mm f/2, for the same price???

    I am sorry Leica fans, this product has no meaning…

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