Leica The Leica X1 5 years on

Lawrence A.

Hall of Famer
Nov 8, 2012
New Mexico
Larry
My Leica X1 arrives tomorrow if all goes as forecast, and I'm quite excited. I've wanted one since the model was announced in late 2009, but never saw my way clear to getting one -- until now. The package should contain the X1 camera, Leica 36mm viewfinder (essential for me), 3 OEM batteries and charger, the screw-on adapter that allows one to use filters, a Leica SF24D flash, and a Leica ever-ready case - all for $700, which I believe is quite a good deal. Camera was described as in "like new" condition, and the seller has all positive feedback. (I don't much care for the ever-ready style cases, but I'll take it and store the camera in it at the house.)

I don't have the budget to shoot Leica M series cameras, but I've enjoyed shooting my former IIIB and my Bessa R. For film, my goal is to get an M body, since I can still shoot my screw mount lenses on it -- a 1952 Summicron 50mm that I like a lot, and a 1946 90mm Elmar, which is a very sweet lens. I don't think there is any compelling reason to retire them.

Meanwhile, I expect to love shooting with the X1 and its very nice lens. The kind of shooting I do rarely requires super fast operation, so I don't expect the typical complaints about slow focus will bother me much. If I need to do that kind of shooting, I have other cameras to do it with. But I shot a street fair with the Leica IIIb and the 50 Summicron and got lots of good shots, and that's not a kit designed for speed. Accurate auto focus in micro-seconds is nice, but it is not something I've ever felt I needed for the shooting I do. I've used the famously slow Sigma DP series cameras, even before the Merrril, and enjoyed them a lot. The Panasonic 20mm f1.7 never seemed particularly bothersome to me either. In fact I always felt the tumult around it's "slow focus" bordered on hysteria.

My handheld cameras through the years have mostly been Olympus, and I still use an OM-1 and 4, as well as a 35 SP, a truly wonderful camera with a 7 element 42mm lens that owes no apologies to anyone; it is fast becoming my favorite film camera. My E-M5 is my digital system camera and likely to be so for some time, though I'm becoming increasingly fond of fixed lens cameras, one of the reasons I got the X1.

All of which is a long-winded way of saying I'll be back with some photos from the X1 to put in the appropriate threads. As I said, I'm expecting a good time with this little gem.
 

BrianS

Legend
Jul 7, 2010
Congratulations on the X1, it is a very capable camera. Hard to believe that 5 years has gone by since the X1 and M9 came out. I still use my Nikon D1 for some of my repair projects.
 

Lawrence A.

Hall of Famer
Nov 8, 2012
New Mexico
Larry
Thanks all for your comments and insights. The camera did not arrive as expected today, but it is coming from the snowed in Boston area, so I have to be patient. My sister sent snapshot from the little house outside Boston where I grew up. All I can say is I'm Soooo happy I moved to the central Rio Grande Valley in New Mexico. Still hoping the camera will show up tomorrow. And I'm hoping I won't be taking snow pictures when I head to the Boston area in early March to celebrate my mother's 99th birthday.
 

asiafish

All-Pro
Aug 9, 2013
Bakersfield, CA
Andrew
Congratulations on the X1. I love the X series and while I own the delightful M Monochrom and Nikon Df (and a pair of film Ms), my X Vario is the one I usually leave the house with and I'm saving my pennies for an X2 for when I want to travel even lighter (I had one before, sold it up for the X Vario).
 

nippa

Top Veteran
Aug 7, 2010
Cheshire UK
Dennis
I think that you'll enjoy the X1 with its simple controls and a very sharp lens ; I still use mine regularly.

Back in 2011 , I bought a Fuji X100 thinking that it could replace the X1 having been swayed by the Leica nay sayers - but it couldn't.
The Fuji X100 is very nice but outclassed by the Elmarit lens for sharpness at all apertures and the ability to produce contrasty images that pop.

When it first came out different Leica Reps gave contrasting accounts as to whether or not the X1 had an AA filter. The images were so sharp that it seemed that there wasn't an AA filter ; if there is , it must be very weak.
However , when the X2 came out the images weren't quite so sharp and the blame was put on the new sensor (with hindsight the difference may have been due to a different AA filter) . Anyway the X1 always seemed sharper to me and I ignored the X2.

I see that you're getting a case. The Grey ERC is possibly the worst ERC I have.
It's awkward to use and the screw attaching it to the camera can work loose allowing it to fall to the ground.
The alternative Leica Transport case is too tight around the lens cap causing it to be prised from the camera every time it opened although it can be used without the lens cap.
Leica don't seem too good with accessories ; even your Leica optical viewfinder is Japanese made and not quite up to the quality of that on my old Dlux4.

One accessory I have fitted permanently is the auto lens cap by JJC ( ALC-X1 ).
That allows unhindered use of the Transport case but actually , the tiny camera is best used when just dropped into a pocket out of sight.

Weaknesses to look for are the flash retraction mechanism , peeling skin and sensor dust.
My own copy went back to Solms for the skin to be glued back after 12 month usage where the Leica workshop appeared to have done very little to remedy the defect.
Oh BTW , the LCD is very soft and needs a cover - mine was scratched by shirt buttons while hanging around my neck!

Good luck with the new camera : it's images can have that "Leica look" and it's still no slouch at higher ISOs
I've recently learned that by switching the Electronic Software Stabilising OFF you can get sharper shots so I now keep it off.
 

Lawrence A.

Hall of Famer
Nov 8, 2012
New Mexico
Larry
Thanks, Dennis. I do plan on getting the auto lens caps. I owned the Fuji X100, and I liked it alot. I sold it during a cash flow crunch, and I knew that the way X1 prices were falling I'd go with it when the time came. It's not that I don't like the Fuji; I think it is a great camera. I've just really wanted to get an X1 in my hands. Thanks for the tips.

Once again today, no delivery. It's coming out of Boston, and shipping has been whacked by storms. Tuesday should have been clear sailing and that would mean delivery tomorrow or Friday. After that I start to worry.
 

Lawrence A.

Hall of Famer
Nov 8, 2012
New Mexico
Larry
Well it got here today, around 4 PM. I did not have a lot of time with it, but got these two shots that I think can be made into something. I'm delighted with the the camera. Since it is dusty in these parts, I'll probably use the filter adapter and B&W UV in order to keep dust away from the retracting parts of lens, at least when I don't need the smaller profile the the camera affords.

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Lawrence A.

Hall of Famer
Nov 8, 2012
New Mexico
Larry
And a couple of more from my first day out with the X1. I couldn't find a generic black and white thread, so I'll put them here for now.

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and one in color - barely:
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Kookie B.

Regular
Dec 26, 2013
LA,

Glad to see that the X1 arrived safely and that you're starting to produce fine images with it. I'm confident you will get much enjoyment from your purchase. I especially like the results I get in B&W.

Kookie B.
 

Lawrence A.

Hall of Famer
Nov 8, 2012
New Mexico
Larry
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I"m loving this camera! I did get the JJC auto cap, and unless it's windy and the front element needs protection, that's how I use it. There's a depth to the files, a three dimensionality that draws you in. I don't think I'm imagining it, and if I am -- well, it works for me!

I also recently got the Panasonic version (LX100) of the latest, big sensor D-Lux. I think my search for a small zoom take anywhere is over for a while, and it's been ongoing for years. My system camera is the Olympus E-M5, which is very capable. I'd love an digital M some day, but that's down the road. I feel very well provided for with my present kit.
 
D

dalethorn

Guest
I remember mine. The sensor is good enough, but that prime lens is spectacular. It probably isn't possible for a zoom lens to be as good. The X1, M9, and S2 were announced at the same time in 2009, and all were breakthrough items, which was pretty amazing for one small company. Processing engines have improved a lot since 2009, and the LX100/D-Lux are great image processors, but the X-series lenses spell the difference between them and the D-Lux/LX100.

Here's my first shooting result with the X1 - wide open at night at ISO 1600, handheld at 1/8 second (nowhere to support the camera), so I took a dozen or more to get this:



And here's another X1 with better detail:

 

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asiafish

All-Pro
Aug 9, 2013
Bakersfield, CA
Andrew
I had an X2 briefly (same lens). I agree with Dale in that the lenses are spectacular, but not that a zoom can't be as good. The X Vario proves this. It isn't as good AND AS FAST, but it is definitely as good, if not slightly better.

Still, the X1 remains an outstanding camera today, just a frustratingly slow autofocusing one.
 

Lawrence A.

Hall of Famer
Nov 8, 2012
New Mexico
Larry
The lens really is wonderful, and despite the slow auto focus I love using this camera. A lot of what I shoot isn't going anywhere, and for stationary objects the x1 is a pocketable go-to solution. From an on-going project to document a local run down cemetery:

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BruPri

Top Veteran
May 11, 2011
Seattle, Washington USA
Bruce J. Pritchard
CONGRATS! I myself just picked up a nice steel/gray model. Sounds like you got a great deal seeing as they've included the finder! Whenever I use the X1 for landscape/cityscape, I put it in manual mode and set to infinity, fires immediately when not having to acquire focus.
 

Lawrence A.

Hall of Famer
Nov 8, 2012
New Mexico
Larry
Nice nighttime cityscape.

I haven't found the auto-focus a problem for the kind of things I shoot with it. For a landscape, your method sounds just about perfect. I don't do much street shooting, but I think the auto focus on this camera would work well in bright light, and I'd zone focus in a dimmer setting. Or just use a camera more suited to street. I love the camera. It is just so easy to use. Back to basics.
 

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