The new Leica camera proclaimed as „Mini M“ has finally been unveiled. It is called the Leica X Vario (also denoted as Typ 107). A big marketing campaign with teasers of a closed box opening a little bit further each time as the campaign unraveled created a lot of buzz. Loads of speculative threads appeared on the net and Leica fans got all excited.
There were great expectations that finally there would be a Leica product that could compete with the likes of the Fuji X100s or even the Sony RX1. There were numerous rumors and hopes went high. The “Mini M” might be full frame, incorporate a viewfinder and feature a fast fixed lens. None of that came true.
A strangely leaked iPad image with specs far ahead of todays announcement was seen as fake by many – because it did not seem possible that Leica might be sandbagging that much.
In my own article I spoke about the notion the “Mini M” could appear in the dress of a Leica X2 featuring an APS-C sensor. I never would have thought Leica might put a bulky and slow fixed zoom lens on the camera though. But as it turns out, this highly anticipated new Leica product seems to be just like that – no more nice prime. Maybe the new cam will appease its critics with outstanding image quality. It is supposed to have a newly developed 16,2 MP sensor. Will it be a gigantic leap in sensor technology with superior low light performance eliminating noise at high ISO settings like nothing we have seen before? Hmmm…
These are the basic specs of the new Leica X Vario
- 16.5 (16.2 effective) MP CMOS APS-C sensor
- Leica Vario-Elmar f/3.5-6.4 18-46mm (28-70 equivalent) fixed zoom lens
- contrast-based AF with face detection
- 3“ TFT LCD monitor
- 1920 x 1080 Full-HD video (30 fps)
- HDMI out
- Lightroom 5 included (free download after camera registration)
- price €2.450/$2.850)
- available in Leica stores from today
More detailed information can be found following the link to Leica Camera AG.
Good thing I still have my Fuji XE-1. It has a great 16MP sensor too. But it also features interchangeable lenses and a very nice electronic viewfinder plus image stabilization included in many of the lenses. I cannot imagine why anyone would choose the new „Mini M“ when there are cameras around that are quite similar in size with far better features and pretty much equal quality – at a far lower price. The Fuji XE-1 bundled with the excellent Fujinon XF 18-55 f2.8-4 R LM OIS zoom only costs around €1.299/$1.199). For the Leica you will have to pay almost twice that much (also consider the additional costs for buying the external viewfinder at around €400/$500 and the not included lens hood at €100/$140).
Opinions may vary and there may be people who appreciate such a zoom lens on a camera like that. The new Leica X Vario is quite good looking and it does indeed resemble the Leica M Typ 240 in a way. The build quality (“Made in Germany”) will most probably be superb too. Still, in my book this camera is a missed opportunity for Leica. It lacks a full frame sensor, a built-in EVF and a fast prime lens. If Leica had only incorporated one of these three features, the new „Mini M“ might have had a „raison d’être“ for me – but as it goes this new Leica camera is somewhat disappointing.