Leica X Vario officially announced


Leica officially announced their new X Vario compact camera (a.k.a. Leica Mini-M). There are no surprises today - the camera is exactly what I reported three weeks ago. The price is $2850 (see accessories pricing here).

Unboxing video:


Press release:

New: Leica X Vario

The Highly Anticipated ‘Mini M’ Features Characteristics Reminiscent of the Legendary M-System

Solms, Germany, 11 June 2013: Leica Camera AG has unveiled the latest addition to its digital compact camera offerings and presents the Leica X Vario. Made in Leica Camera’s headquarters in Germany, the X Vario features a high-performance 16.5-megapixel (effective 16.1), APS-C format, CMOS image sensor, a zoom lens covering a range of focal lengths from 28 to 70 mm (35 mm equivalent) and Full-HD video recording capability. With several design and handling characteristics of the storied M-System, the ‘Made in Germany’ Leica X Vario offers great versatility and creative freedom.

The X Vario’s high performance image sensor is unusually large for a camera in its class. Combined with the Leica Vario Elmar 18-46 mm f/3.5-6.4 ASPH, it sets completely new standards for imaging quality in the compact segment with outstanding exposures in all situations. The Leica X Vario is the world’s first compact camera to combine a large, APS-C format, CMOS image sensor with a zoom lens.

From expansive interior shots, landscapes to portrait photography, the range of focal lengths offered by the Leica X Vario opens up entirely new horizons for creative photography. The camera’s versatility is further expanded by a new, 1080p Full HD video recording function that allows photographers to record memories at a frame rate of 30 full frames per second. The video data can be saved in MP4 format and uploaded directly to social media or mobile devices without any need for conversion. An integrated wind-noise filter that reduces undesirable noise guarantees crystal-clear sound recording.

The Leica X Vario’s wide range of camera setting options combined with its fast and precise autofocus offers even the most demanding photographers maximum creative freedom – for spontaneous shots as well as for carefully arranged compositions.

The Leica X Vario is distinguished by an intensely focused design concept. Its handy form, linear design and the premium materials used in its construction are reminiscent of the Leica M-System. For instance, the top plate is machined from solid aluminium in the same process used for the Leica M. This, in combination with its robust metal construction and premium high-grip leather trim ensures that the X Vario is a classic Leica camera in terms of both look and feel.

Further showcasing Leica M DNA, the X Vario features an intuitive handling concept with clearly laid out functions. The user-friendly operation of the menu interface guarantees rapid access to an impressive range of automatic and versatile manual setting options. Combined with the ease of switching between manual and automatic control, it allows photographers to concentrate completely on composing their subjects and choosing the decisive instant to shoot in any situation. The dials on the top plate provide grip when setting the shutter speed and aperture. Moreover, changing the plane of focus, the white balance, and other imaging parameters allows photographers to consciously influence the look or mood of their images. In Live View mode, the generously sized high-contrast, 3-inch monitor offers photographers complete control at all times and a detailed view– even in bright surroundings.




An extensive range of accessories is also available to adapt the Leica X Vario to photographers’ particular needs. For example, the Leica EVF 2 Viso-Flex electronic accessory viewfinder with 1.4 megapixels and a 90° swivel function is extremely helpful when shooting from unusual angles. An accessory handgrip makes it easier to shoot one-handed and provides a better grip. As with the Leica M (Typ 240), finger loops in three different sizes (S, M and L) can be attached to the handgrip, helping further ensure safe and steady handling of the camera. An optional lens hood ensures the minimisation of reflections and the Leica SF 24 D flash unit offers greater freedom for subject lighting.

Leica continues to provide a comprehensive range of superbly finished bags, cases and straps that complement the elegance of the X Vario: An ergonomically designed camera protector and an every-ready case in premium black or tan leather; wrist and carrying straps that can be combined with all Leica X and M cameras are also offered in untreated natural leather in black or tan. Whenever the X Vario is used with multiple accessories, photographers can take advantage of the system bag.

Included Software

Adobe® Photoshop® Lightroom®, a professional digital workflow solution for Apple Mac® OS X and Microsoft Windows®, is also included in the Leica X Vario package. This digital image processing software offers a wide range of functions for the management, processing and presentation of digital images. The software is available to X Vario customers as an online download after product registration.


Technical specifications:

Technical data(Last revised in May 2013 / we reserve the right to make technical changes) LEICA X VARIO
Lens: Leica Vario Elmar 18 - 46 mm f/3.5 - 6.4 ASPH. (35 mm equivalent. 28 - 70 mm)8 elements in 6 groups1 aspherical lens element
Aperture settings: 3.5 to 16 (at 28 mm), 6.4 to 16 (at 70 mm)1/3 EV increments
Focusing range: 30 cm–infinity
AF focusing: 1-point, 11-point, spot, face detection
Image sensor: APS-C CMOS image sensor with 16.5 MP (effective 16.1 MP)
Resolution: JPEG in 3:2 format: 4928 × 3272 pixels (16.1 MP), 4288 × 2856 pixels (12.2 MP),3264 × 2160 pixels (7.1 MP), 2144 × 1424 pixels (3.1 MP), 1632 × 1080 pixels (1.8 MP)DNG in 3:2 format: 4944 × 3272 pixels (16.2 MP)
Image data file formats: JPEG super fine, JPEG fine, DNG + JPEG super fine, DNG + JPEG fine
Exposure control
Exposure modes: Automatic programme (P), automatic aperture priority (A), manual setting (M)
Exposure compensation: Increments: 1/3 to 3 EV increments, 3 exposures
Automatic exposure bracketing: 1/3 to 3 EV increments, 3 exposures
Metering modes: Smart multi-segment metering, centre-weighted metering, selective (spot) metering
White balance: Auto, halogen, daylight, flash, cloudy, shade, electronic flash, 2 manual settings, manual colour temperature setting with fine tuning
Sensitivity: Auto, ISO 100, ISO 200, ISO 400, ISO 800, ISO 1600, ISO 3200, ISO 6400, ISO 12500
Shutter speeds: 30 s to 1/2000 s
Continuous shooting: 3 fps or 5 fps, max. 8 consecutive exposures with constant shooting speed in DNG + JPEG fine quality
Film modes: Standard, vivid, natural, b/w natural, b/w high contrast
Flash modes: Auto, flash exposure correction, red-eye correction, fill-in flash, slow sync, studio, 1st/2nd curtain sync
Hot shoe: Compatible with Leica SF 24D, Leica SF 58 flash units
Monitor: 3" TFT LCD with approx. 920,000 pixels, wide-angle field of view: 100%
Review modes: 16-thumbnail display, zoom review (16× max.), image rotation, deletion protection
Storage Media
Internal memory: None
Memory cards: SD, SDHC, SDXC
Interfaces: HDMI out, USB (USB 2.0 high speed), Leica EVF socket
Battery (rechargeable lithium-ion): Capacity: approx. 450 exposures
Dimensions (L × H × D): ~ 133 x 73 x 95 mm
Weight: ~ 650/680g (without/with battery)
Package includes: Battery (Leica BP-DC8), battery charger (Leica BC-DC8), battery case, leather carrying strap, USB cable, lens cap, user manual
Software: Adobe® Photoshop® Lightroom® (free download option after product registration)


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  • Corvi

    Thats it, im selling my remaining Leica gear. I dont want to be affiliated with that joke company anymore .. Its getting more and more embarrassing to own a Leica ..

    • Samuel

      Cameras like this fund the developement of whatever leicas you own.

      • Corvi

        My M6 was funded by cameras that actually had a use. So no. This doesnt fund anything. Now lets see if it has a major flaw like the 240 had and how many of them will be recalled by Leica, then the fail is perfect.

      • ProtoWhalePig

        Citation needed

  • Metapartikel

    dead on arrival…..

  • dannybuoy

    oh my god, this camera came out of nowhere. We weren’t expecting this!!

  • Camaman

    Leica is so far behind the curve on the market beat it’s not even funny anymore…

    – Naming it X for no apparent reason = 3years behind the curve.
    – Making it APS-C 1 year,
    – Ultra Slow zoom lens on APS-C = 2 years (cause Fujis is faster an interchangeable!)
    – No built in EVF = 2 years

    Does it have stabilization? No? then make that one = 10 years behind if it doesn’t.

    And i guess they were making fun of themselves releasing that M naming scheme as a rumor the were referring to…
    Only they didn’t play it for long enough for it to catch on an rumor sites grabbed the real thing to soon!
    What a joke on them!

    Way to go rumor sites!

    Oh and 1/2000 shutter? 30 years behind the curve.

    Although with a lens this dark i cant imagine a scenario you could actually need faster than 1/2000s
    Unless you are shooting at the Sun without a filter.

    • El Aura

      The Sony RX-1 (and RX-100), the Sigma DPs, and the Canon GX1 also don’t have a built-in EVF. Are they also two years behind the curve? Your definition of behind the curve for a camera A seems to be that no other camera in its class that was introduced before camera A has any (useful) features it (camera A) does not have. For a company to never fall behind the curve requires that all new features in its product class are introduced by them. And by definition only ever one camera can be not behind the curve.

      • Camaman

        That’s right.

  • demir

    Epic Fail by Leica

  • Genkakuzai

    Embarrassing, simply embarrassing.

  • Tofik


  • Tim

    “Yvonne Venegas investigates portraiture by taking pictures when the
    subject is not prepared and capturing moments that are seemingly a
    photographic mistake.”

    Good for her. If she did portraits that weren’t supposed to look like photographic mistakes she had no use for such a slow lens… 😀

  • Hasseleica

    What is the better choice… The Leica varioX or the Hasselblad Lunar? I’m so fickled that my silly mind can’t decide!!!

  • Arthur

    What a major disappointment. I really thought Leica had people fooled with that slow lens clever marketing campaign and they would bust out something worthy people’s money.

  • santxo

    All this time we were complaining how interchangeable parts of the M system wouldn’t be usable on the new camera… Well, don’t we feel stupid now: “wrist and carrying straps that can be combined with all Leica X and M cameras are also offered in untreated natural leather in black or tan”.

  • m pratt

    Leica has fallen very far from greatness with this release. There is no fit in the market for such a blah camera. It really has nothing going for it that many other cameras can’t do better (much better). For $1200, sure it would be somewhat reasonable, but not at the outrageous price Leica is selling it for. The lens – even if it has solid image quality – is slower than molasses and provides very limited creative options. Anyone who would buy this thing is nuts. Really. Want an entry digital Leica? Buy a used M8.

    • Giovanni M

      totally agree about entry M8. but then again, better still get an entry M6. for digital APS, move on to Fuji

    • El Aura

      With this yardstick the X1 and X2 are similarly blah cameras. Somehow I didn’t quite get the same hatred for those two.

  • Photographer1976

    This sure is a whining forum. Sad to see. Use your gear and take some really good pictures instead. Sure it would be better with 3.5-4.5 but it all comes down to usability. Boy are today’s customers spoiled brats!

    • m pratt

      Spoiled brats? Because we hope a camera maker known for great optics to actually produce something amazing? This camera is very limiting and almost comes off as a joke. There are point and shoots that have better features and lenses for a fraction of the cost. In the high end market, the Sony RX1 is miles better than this for slightly less money. Leica should really go back to making M cameras only and forget about these other cameras.

      • Photographer1976

        A joke? Will it only shoot out water when you press the shutter button? Cause that’s a joke to me. RX1 had no zoom lens, Nex lenses aren’t that good to be honest and the menu-system and handling (though great with dual input wheels) still falls quite a long way from what is really needed for taking pictures. Fuji has better lenses so that is a more fair comparison.

        • m pratt

          The RX1 has a wonderful Carl Zeiss f2.0 lens.
          Leica could have had a real winner with this camera but they have turned out a dud.

          • Photographer1976

            But that’s a fixed focal lens. Are your demands that high that you expect Leica to change the laws of physics? It has an APS-C sensor with a zoom lens that covers a great range for most situations. Canon GX1 is perhaps similarly spec’ed but its uglier, has slow autofocus and the build quality feels so-so.

          • Fuji has an APS-C 18-55mm f/2.8-4 lens which even has IS and I believe is smaller than this Leica Vario.

          • Photographer1976

            Hmm, you got me there, but still I think the outcry of disappointment here is a bit surprising given that all that has been presented is a sheet of specs. I thought the legitimacy of Leica lies in the user experience and not in the specs?

          • El Aura

            It is a bit longer/thicker, about 8 mm (ie, about 103 mm, lens + body) but the mount to display distance was estimated from images.

        • Clint

          Dude…it’s a $3000 camera…so yeah….given the ‘feature’ set it SUCKS! By the way, I take lot’s of pics and I’m just as entitled to my whiny opinion as you are to your (wrong) opinion. This is a gear site…get over it.

          • Photographer1976

            Well, no it doesn’t I would say. It has a big sensor an you get three Leica lenses in one lens. A Leica M with three lenses will obviously give better image quality and be brighter but will also cost at least three times as much as the X-vario

          • Dave

            “you get three Leica lenses in one lens.” …… Seriously? A zoom with craperture opening is a selling point because… well because it’s a zoom. What? This isn’t high end Leica glass. Maybe you just kept writing to irritate or entertain, but you lost everyone.
            This company doesn’t deserve to stay afloat – I wouldn’t encourage them anymore than we should encourage you.

          • jengerson

            “Craperture” FTW.

          • Aneem_m6

            This company doesn’t deserve to stay afloat? That’s a little harsh just because they came out with a camera you don’t like. There will always be a company with product that you’re not fond of. This camera is made in the same factory as the M cameras, I’m pretty sure the glass is more high end than other comparable cameras. I really think Leica just had a market for people who like the X2 but were looking for a zoom. I’m sure they told their engineers, make a zoom lens but it can’t be bigger than “x” size and the images from the camera have to meet “x” quality. With all the factors involved in making this lens, aperture seems to be what the trade off was for quality and size. That’s a trade off I would make, I would trade smaller aperture to have better quality and smaller size. You can’t have everything. This might be an outdated comparison, but Leica R lenses, most of them started at f3.5 or slower and were considered the best, still to this day. I know this is not an R lens and it’s a fixed zoom lens on a compact, but not all great lenses are the fastest. I don’t think they came out with a slow lens because they wanted it, I think it was the only choice they had.

            Either way, I would not get this camera because I’m not in the market for it and you’re right, the lens is too slow for my liking but that doesn’t mean it’s a crap camera and the company doesn’t deserve to stay afloat. As long as they continue to upgrade and advance their M cameras and lenses, I could care less about the specs on their compact cameras, it’s a different market for a different person.

      • El Aura

        You have to compare it to cameras in its class, which technically are APS-C cameras with a standard zoom. In which there are: the Fuji X-E1 + zoom (ca. 1.5 stops faster but also a bit thicker, ca. 8 mm) and any NEX with the conventional standard zoom (very similar size, NEX zoom a bit faster) and pancake zoom (much thinner). What you see from that is that the Leica is not really smaller than APS-C mirrorless and either 1.5 stops slower (Fuji) or 50% thicker (Sony + pancake zoom).

        The Leica will probably have a better lens but apart from there is no big functional advantage. In addition to this one can argue that no fixed lens zoom APS-C camera would make sense unless it reduces the thickness compared to the NEX pancake zoom noticeably.

  • MK

    Where the hell does Leica dig out these photographers?

    • kt

      Course they could have been on the waiting list for the 240…

  • lifesespresso

    Suddenly I felt Sony’s RX1 is so affordable…

  • Shawn Cyran

    Yea the resale value on my M8 will still be up there. Though I plan on keeping it for a while longer since this ‘thing’ they released today can not mount M lenses. My 5 year old Panasonic GF1 can mount M lenses and take video. Much better deal and it only cost 100 bucks today. Why oh why would anyone want to buy this thing!!

  • Shawn Cyran


    • Giovanni


  • Stuart E. McConaghy

    Leica: Not even trying anymore.

  • Nothing says “sucker” like the Leica X Vario around your neck.
    Available everywhere now!

  • Rory

    Heard the rumors? Get the truth.

    So I pretty much take that as Leica calling the site a liar except the site was telling the truth. Kind of insulting.

  • Tato

    F3.5-6.4, aps-c, 650g, no evf, 2500 €

  • john

    So what was “the truth”, that this camera sucks?

  • Argon

    It can still be a good product if they follow up with quality and variety of lenses, or adapter of some kind. So wouldn’t ditch it just yet.

    • m pratt

      It’s a fixed lens camera, no other lenses will be available.

  • djhonda

    What a freakin joke! Tango down…

  • kk

    with the M 240 leica once saied it’s their porsche 911… so what’s this now: cayenne, cayman… or something ‘stealthy’ even porsche doesn’t know? IT’S ALL ABIUT RESEARCH (AND CROWDSOURCING) LEICA!
    dear leica innovation directors, please start reading the blogs all over the globe – they tell you what they want to buy from you.
    sucess is that simple in the future (if you survive)!

  • Mardock


    That is all.

  • EHM

    Why are all you people whining about this Xvario?
    If you allready have a M9 or M240 you won’t need this one. People on forums where bashing the X1 (and later the X2) also, but have they ever used one? Well, I started with a X1 and it was a great camera. Later I bought an M9 and that’s a great camera also. But the M9 has it’s limitations also as every camera does. What works for one, doesn’t work for another. I also have a dslr for faster work and a Fuji X20 for a compact and fun camera. All the people do on these forums is nagging, nagging and nagging about a camera. Get a life.

    • CHD

      It’s a gear forum…to discuss gear…get over it. People are complaining because the camera is a joke. You don’t think so? Great, go spend $3000 of your money and maybe you’ll be one of 12 people who buy this thing.

    • m pratt

      And what are you doing? Complaining about other forum users. Most of us commenting are fans of Leica and are extremely disappointed with this release. It does not matter that most of us will never use this camera. The simple fact that Leica ignored its user base and obviously the entire R&D process when coming up with this camera should concern those loyal to the brand. If they continue in this manner, the brand will cease to exist.

  • Clint

    Well…on a high note at least the min shutter speed of 1/2000 shouldn’t be a problem given how slow the lens is….

  • sflxn

    I’m so glad Zeiss is a partner with Sony. No longer need to debate purchasing an M system from this joke of a company.

  • Dixon

    I was hoping they were kidding. I had hoped the rumors were false and that Leica would pull out a winner. At a constant f2.8 all around it might have a chance in this market but F6.4?? In Death Valley at high noon, maybe. But the light needed to shot at that aperture will also be too bright to see the screen so you must buy the EVF. Now we are talking over $3,000 for a fixed zoom. What happened to making tools photographers use for work? This is expensive jewelry.

  • sperdynamite

    I think that you people are confused. Leica does not make cameras for photographers any more, or even enthusiasts. The potential buyers of this camera care about being able to zoom, and that it’s got a luxury name and probably looks nice. To them this really will be better than a “pedestrian” G15. This is not for us. Even the M and S are mostly for the dubai crowed. Sure a guy like Steve Huff can put some scratch together and get a body and maybe a couple lenses, but a pro system? Forget it. Their target market is rich people. They are owned by venture captitalists, just like Hasselblad. Fuji is the new Leica.

  • yup

    Hey, it has free Lightroom! WOW!! And 450 exposures per charge!! WOW again! Oh, and 16 thumbnail display review + an awesome 680g weight…. OOPS… how will the little targeted rich Chinese man carry 680g!? Fail!

  • joey jo jo

    how embarrassing…

  • Arnulf

    Well, I stand corrected. I thought the lens specs was a joke, and I still think I’m kind of right 😉

    True enough, the image quality is probably very good and the few photos we’ve seen so far look pretty sharp. But my God, it’s kind of hard to see how this camera can be a success considering the insanely slow lens. Even Leica are depending on favorable reviews, and I’m not sure this camera will give them a lot of that. The lens is a really weak point, so weak that I think it might be a hard product to sell. The price doesn’t even matter that much. I for one couldn’t see myself buying this camera for any price (almost..), and I’m pretty much always very positive to the things Leica put out on the market.

    I’m puzzled. What were they thinking?…

    • Zivko Radovanovich

      “I’m puzzled. What were they thinking?…”

      Probably the same as those “clever” people behind the Lunar…

  • teej

    the one thing this camera has going for it, and the one thing that nobody here has mentioned, is that it’s actually a good looking, sexy camera. and i’m sure that was something leica was aiming for. unfortunate as it sounds, there is a market for this camera and i’m sure it will sell fine. it’s a zoom point and shoot housed in an M-like body with the all important leica red dot. there will be plenty of people out there, to whom $3k means nothing, that care more about image and style than the specs of the camera.

  • Pablo Ricasso returned

    Try to pocket that contraption…
    So 2500 Eur for a Leica made in Portugal?

    • JakeB

      Yeah, I also noticed that “Made in…” is now missing in front of “Germany”.
      For what we know it could be made in China ot Thailand or some place else.

  • mark71

    Wow. It’s just like a 3 year old entry-level Nikon/Canon with a kit lens that cannot be removed.

    • Genkakuzai

      And without a viewfinder ^^

  • Indeed, Fuji is the new Leica!

  • Les

    If this is a joke, then the joke is on the measurebators.

    Reminds me of when people thought that a stereo was better if it had a 15 band graphic EQ and a few hundred Watts of output. They “knowingly” laughed-off expensive stereos that had lower output few controls.

    This, like the X2 and X1, is a camera for people who like to take pictures. I’m sure you could save a few bucks with the counter-intuitive menu system of a NEX, or the “all sliders up to 11” sharpness of a Fuji. Why bother? You can save even more money by using your smartphone’s camera.

    One thing I’ve noticed about the X1 and X2 is that pictures taken with them are almost always good. The color is spot-on, contrast is right, the sharpening isn’t over-done, and, most important, the moment is happening. That tells me that people are using their cameras for something other than “tests,” and that the camera doesn’t get in the way of a great image.

    I think that everyone reading this has to find it funny that self-proclaimed “Leica fans” are shocked (shocked, I tell you!) that other companies offer cheaper gear and/or better specs. Did they seriously expect that Leica was about to have a change of heart and get into the “more buttons for less money” game? Really?

    • El Aura

      Yes, but in terms of lens and camera size, the Fuji X-E1 + 18-55 mm f/2.8-4 is only a bit larger but has 1.5 stops larger maximum f-stop and is in the central region at equal f-stops very good. Fuji just disadvantages itself with its artefact-rich sensor, Sony with its mediocre UI and Leica with its lens speed or size (depending on what you compare it which).

      The point is that in terms of easily testable and observable aspects the Leica might be somewhat better in some aspect (UI, lens & sensor quality) but worse in others (lens speed, compactness, changeable lenses, no EVF). Which means the price premium has to justify itself with nuances. But then the X1 & X2 also were built on nuances (better lens) vs. the Fuji X100 (larger, but faster and with the hybrid viewfinder) and the Sigma DPs (worse low light performance but very sharp images).


    Really embarrassing. But there seem to be a market for this, otherwise they wouldn`t make that crap – interesting.

  • As a long-time Leica Pro user (over 20 years) I have to say that if this reflects Leica’s DNA, I’m ready to jump into another gene pool.

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