Jun 112013
 
Image: Leica Camera AG

Image: Leica Camera AG


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…

 

Image: Leica Camera AG

Image: Leica Camera AG

Image: Leica Camera AG

Image: Leica Camera AG


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.

 

Image: Leica AG

Image: Leica Camera AG

Image:  Leica Camera AG

Image: 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.

May 232013
 

Leica today announced that it is going to add a new “family member” to the M line of cameras. They are teasing on their website and on Facebook with the image you can see below. A new Mini M does not come as a complete surprise but the timing of the announcement might have caught a few Leica followers off-guard.

The question is, what will the new camera have to offer? It is slotted right in between the full-frame M and the X2. This new Mini M could well be the highly anticipated APS-C version of an M-mount camera with Live View, maybe even featuring the previously missing built-in EVF (electronic viewfinder).

The OVF (optical viewfinder) would remain available only in the “big M” but all the M glass could still be strapped on. This is the most likely scenario although there are a huge number of Leica fans who would pray for a full-frame version of the “big M” with only the rangefinder removed in favor of a built-in EVF (see my report on the M Typ 240 for details on that). Either way, it should make the Mini M more affordable and it could serve as an ideal backup body for many.

Of course there is also a slight chance of the new Mini M appearing in the dress of the X2 with a fixed lens, APS-C and possibly a built-in EVF. This might not produce cheers all around but nevertheless it might put Leica back on track to counter the sales of cameras such as the Fuji X100s and Sony RX1. If it had the full-frame sensor of the M Typ 240 it too would be very well received (assuming it was priced accordingly). We will find out – in less than 3 weeks time…

Image: Leica Camera AG

Image: Leica Camera AG

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