The Felix - The Leica X2


    The Leica X2 was Launched in Berlin on May 10th together with the M Monochrom, the 50mm APO Summicron M ASPH, the V-lux40 and the Leica M9-P Edition Hermes - busy times for Leica!

    You can imagine how excited I was when I was contacted by Maike Harberts, product manager for the X2, just after Christmas 2011 to see whether I would like to test the Felix for them (the code name for the X2). So, I have been involved in testing a prototype X2 over the past few months, and have been lucky enough to use it in quite a lot of different circumstances. Once again - this is really not a review - testing for Leica means that my duty is always to them, so that if I find something wrong with a camera, then I tell Leica - If I find something right, then I tell the world!

    However, there  have been plenty of independent assessments of the Leica X2 over the past few weeks, Some of which are linked at the bottom of this page. Hopefully you’ll find my experience useful as well.

    I have had the X2 in my jacket pocket much of the time since then - I thought that it might be nice for the purposes of this article to show some landscape views taken with the camera rather than the more traditional street shots of some of the reviewers.

Skiing with the Leica X2 ISO 100 f7.1 1/1250 Flaine France February 2012

Thorsten Overgaard’s Excellent Website

has a wealth of information about Leica cameras and lenses - and is always well written, entertaining and informative.

Steve Huff

Lots of cheerful and informative reviews of Leica gear and other relevant cameras.

The Luminous Landscape
Michael Reichmann’s wonderful website. Excellent articles and reviews.
Reid Reviews
This is a pay site, Sean has exhaustive reviews of both the X2 and the MM
Worth the $

The L - Camera  Forum

LUF is a must for any Leica aficionado.


Just the best place on the internet for civilised and intelligent discussion of all digital cameras

Leica Rumors

Read about it first here!

La Vida Leica

Dedicated to photographers passionate

about the Leica M.

Ming Thein’s X2 Review

I’ve linked to his X2 review - but the whole site is excellent and his 3 part

M Monochrom review is well worth reading

    As we’ve come to expect from Leica the changes from the X1 to the X2 are evolutionary rather than revolutionary. If you were expecting an interchangeable lens ‘do anything’ camera then this might be a disappointment; if, however, you’d enjoyed the X1, but were aware of it’s limitations, then the X2 could be everything you want.

    When the X1 was launched alongside the Leica M9 in September 2009, almost everyone was surprised, and there wasn’t much competition for a compact camera with an APS-c sized sensor. Now things really have changed, with direct competition from fixed lens cameras such as the Fuji X100 and the Canon G1 X and also with the new breed of interchangeable mirrorless cameras such as the NEX and Micro 4/3 systems. Competition can be a good thing - not only does it give one ideas and new perspectives, but it also educates the public in the possibilities that they may not previously have considered. At a first glance, the Fuji X100 seemed to many to be the camera that Leica should have produced, with it’s hybrid viewfinder and multitude of options, but when things settled down a little, many photographers found that multitude of options of the Fuji to compare less well to the simplicity of the X1.

Leica X2 ISO 100 f5 1/320 Picking the first Longjing Tea Crop China March 2012

The X2 has a number of fundamental improvements over the X1

  1.     A new 16mp Sensor with more resolution and better high ISO

  2.     A removable Electronic Viewfinder with 1.4MP Resolution which can be rotated by 90 deg.

  3.     Greatly increased AF speed (without the need to go from macro to normal mode)

  4.     Improved ergonomics (the top plate dials are stiffer and much less likely to be changed by accident)

  5.     Improved Flash mechanism (the new mechanism is both stronger, less likely to be raised by accident, and further from the camera)

  6.     Rear LCD - the new camera still has a disappointingly low 230,000 dot LCD, but the refresh seems faster and the screen clearer

  7.     Improved Battery Life - 450 exposures vs 260 in the X1 - however, the new camera seems to go on for ever!

  8.     An improved burst shooting mode and buffer (from 3fps to 5fps and up to 8 DNG+jpg in a burst).

The camera comes in a smart black or silver anodised finish, each with a slightly different black leatherette cover. The black X2 makes a perfect match for the M Monochrom!

Horse-Riding with the Leica X2 ISO 100 f5 1/500th Suffolk May 2012

    In actual use, the differences between the X1 and the X2 are really significant. The faster AF, and the better burst speed and general responsiveness means that there is really no waiting around - when you press the shutter you get the image. I’ve been taking the camera with me skiing - running and horse-riding, it slips easily into a pocket, and with the lens cap off it’s a simple task to grab the camera, switch it on and take shots one handed. It’s one of the very few cameras I’ve used which can easily and effectively be used with one hand. I’m not great on a horse, and my horse isn’t great for a photographer, but if I set the shutter speed to 1/500th, then even Sam can’t shake me! It might be nice to have image stabilisation, but under these circumstances it’s as likely to be subject movement which causes the problem. With the X1,one would often find that grabbing the camera hastily would rotate the top dials (and sometimes pop up the flash into the bargain!) then the autofocus might take some time to latch on the X2 is quite different - fast and agile and predictable.

    Of course, this is not how everybody is going to use the camera, but if it works under circumstances like these, then it’s going to work in any situation where you require a quick response to capture the decisive moment.

Leica X2 ISO 100 f8 1/160th Carleton Forehoe, Norfolk May 2012

    The image quality of the X1 was already fine, but the new sensor is a definite step up. It is not public knowledge which sensor Leica have used for the X2, but the great dynamic range and ISO characteristics are very reminiscent of the much praised Sony 16mp sensor to be found in cameras such as the Nikon D7000, Pentax K5 and other recent digital cameras. Suffice to say that ISO 3200 is excellent, 6400 perfectly useable and the highest 12,500 is possible in a tight corner!

Leica X2 ISO 100 f5.6 1/800th Gwynvor, West Penwith Cornwall 2012

    The New EVF2 for the X2 is a real help in bright light situations, and also when using the manual focus feature (the higher resolution makes this easier than on the LCD). It clips firmly into the body, and the camera is still easily pocketable, added to which the flash can still be used. The leaf shutter is almost silent, and provides flash sync speeds of 1/2000th second.

    All in all, the Leica X2 has transformed the great ideas of the X1 into a really useable and pocketable camera, which responds quickly, and reliably takes photographs in any situation where you might not be wanting to carry a dSLR  or a Leica M around with you. The interface is simple and delightful, and the operation is logical and straightforward, so that it’s obvious how to use the camera even when you first pick it up.

Leica X2 ISO 100 f5.6 1/60th Evening light, West Lake, Hangzhou China March 2012

Click here for larger examples and more images