Leica Why I like my X1


Ottawa, Canada
I am writing this at the suggestion of BB. It is not a review. Rather it is my appreciation of what I like (and don’t like) about the X1.

Photography is a hobby for me and as such I want it to be enjoyable. The X1 makes it very enjoyable. It is small, light, quiet, easy to use and has superb image quality.

It is not perfect, nor is suitable for all kinds of photography. But as a walk-around, always-with-you camera it suits me fine. I carry it, when it’s not on my wrist, in a soft, padded lens case in my purse. Several of the early reviews felt you needed the additional hand grip to make it really comfortable to carry so I dutifully bought one. I used it for a week and decided I like it better without - but, I have small hands and felt that it only added weight and size. The one accessory I think is necessary is a view finder for use in bright light. That again adds a little weight and size but it’s a compromise I’m prepared to make.

The X1 can operate noiselessly if you want. Or, you can can have various confirmation beeps and simulated shutter sounds. I initially turned off all sounds but, I found it disconcerting not to know if the picture had been taken. So, I turned on the shutter simulation to low. I’m sure that no one but me can hear it.

I mostly use manual exposure. Aperture and shutter speed are set using dials on the top. ISO is set using a dedicated button on the back. There have been complaints that the dials are too loose and can be turned by mistake. I have not found this to be a problem. By using manual exposure I feel I have learned more in the last 4 months than I did in the previous 4 years when, for whatever reason, I let the camera make some of decisions.

I use AF because my eyes are not what they used to be and the camera does a better job than me at nailing the focus. In the reviews there are complaints that the focus is slow and while it is certainly slower than the G1 (my other main camera) I find it adequate for what I shoot. I sometimes use zone focus which leads to my major complaint with the X1. When it powers down to conserve the battery it automatically resets the focus to infinity when you reactivate it. Very annoying.

I shoot raw because I like the latitude it gives me in post-processing (done in lightroom). The dynamic range of the X1 is noticeably superior to that of the G1. I find the colours out of the camera are as I remember them. I went and looked at some jpegs and they looked reasonable but I never use them so can’t comment on their adjustability. This is one of the minor irritations of the X1 - you can’t shoot raw only.

I found there was real learning curve learning to shoot with one focal length (effective 36mm) and in the 9:16 aspect ratio. Neither of these were what I was used to but I’m getting better at it and I’ve enjoyed the process.

The major draw back of course is the cost. It’s expensive, especially when you add in a viewfinder and maybe the grip (and in Canada sales taxes). Is it worth it? For me, the answer is yes.
Great commentary. I have requested an RMA for my X1 and I'm sure that I will miss it. I liked its direct approach to controls and of course the design. The DNG files seem to have a lot of headroom for tweaking post process. Just not sure the value is there and I think my Ricoh GXR/A12 is better, only it is currently restricted to 50mm (with a 28mm due later this year). Still...
Thank you Kathy, your style is just what I was hoping for. Now I'll think will continue to dwell on the X1 even more. Eventually, I am sure I'll come up with some questions, but I have to say that I like what I hear and read. I really appreciate your taking the time to write your personal take on this camera.
Kathy and anyone else who has an X1 or has used one, can you tell me about this optional viewfinder? I'm not too familiar with optical viewfinders. I've read a bit about the Leica viewfinder and then I've also noticed some people seem to have found different Voigtlander viewfinders work as well and don't cost as much. Honestly, the only viewfinder I know about is the Olympus EVF, which is fantastic. And finally, do you only find you need it if you're in bright sunlight due the LCD's being difficult to see?
You're exactly right. You need the VF in bright light because you can't see the LCD. It slides into the hot shoe but has no electronic connection to the camera unlike the EVF. Using it has it's own problems. The framing is not identical to what is seen through the lens. There is a dotted line in the VF which indicates what will be lost in relation to the lens but it is approximate only in my opinion. You also can't see whatever information is on the LCD - eg the histogram and the current settings so its easier to shot over or under exposed. Any VF intended for use with a 36mm lens will work. I've tried both the Voigtlander and the Leica and I find the Leica brighter and more accurate but others disagree.

Hope this helps.
Kathy, I have just been looking through your blipfoto photos and you really need to share a few here - perhaps in one of the galleries or right here. I am very impressed!:bravo-009: I'm going to have to sign up for blipphoto so I can add my comments and see if it allows one to see the EXIF data. I wondered, for example, if your black and white shots were done in camera or post process?

I'd like to ask you - and any of the other X1 shooters who are out there, if my reaction to what I've seen is correct regarding the camera's ability to get good color. From soundimagesplus's RAW files they really are good and I know that is not always the case with certain cameras. Less is more in my world, as in the least amount of post processing the better. It seems to me that this camera offers that.
Thanks for your appreciation of my photos.

I find the colour out of the camera very good. I generally do some pp but, just because I like it. The black and white are usually converted in Silver efex pro. I haven't tried the in-camera b&w jpegs but I will just to see what they're like.
Thanks Kathy for your users comments on the X1. Unfortunately this camera was subject to much criticism way before it was available and that caused many to write it off as unsuitable. I have had mine for only a couple of months and can say that I am very happy that I did not write it off. I am using the 35mm voigtlander viewfinder and find it very workable (and necessary). Use of this optical viewfinder gets a bit tricky when the object being photographed is closer than a meter or so but one can get used to that, and most viewfinders give some small adjustment line at the top to help compensate. One thing I noticed in your comments however was regarding the aspect ratio of the camera. According to the manual (p.130) the sensor aspect ratio is indicated to be 3:2 rather than 9:16. Like yourself I also think the camera takes a bit of getting used to before one is comfortable with it. But then I come from a generation of fixed non zoom lens cameras. Apart from the viewfinder I added two things to make using the camera a bit more comfortable. One was a Giottos Shott Glass screen protector (SP8270) which fits perfectly and the other was a half case by Artisan&Artist which for me adds to the secure holding of the camera. I also feel that the color out of the camera is amazing. More comments from users of the X1 would probably be appreciated by those considering a purchase and I would hope to see more here. The answer of whether the camera is worth the pricetag is a very personal one. My answer also is Yes, for me it is!
Paul, thanks so much for adding to this thread. I am very interested to read and learn as much as I can from owners - in case you didn't realize this.;)

I have read that quite a few X1 shooters actually say that the jpegs are quite good and am wondering what you think, given your comment " I also feel that the color out of the camera is amazing."? I know many are RAW devotees, and I recognize that as well as the fact that RAW offers a greater latitude, but I'd like to hear and see what a properly exposed jpeg image is like. And of course, I'd like to see many more photographs with this camera, so I hope you and others will post some of your photos with this intriguing camera for our enjoyment.

Again, thank you for your input, Paul.(y)
I have not shot much in raw yet using the X1 because I am not that familiar with post processing and am waiting for Lightroom 3 as a download from leica. Attached are some jpeg images out of the camera with only some cropping. The colors are very true to the actual at the time of shooting. a couple were actually mid-day, not the best time to shoot flowers
X1 garden jpeg 14.jpg
X1 37.jpg
X1 38.jpg
X1 garden jpeg 16.jpg
Thank you Paul! Interestingly, Aperture 3 does support the X1 so I was able to import soundimages's RAW and did a little fooling around with them which was interesting. I'm used to the Olympus PEN cameras so I realize there will be color differences initially. I certainly know what you mean about the light at midday not being great for photographing flowers...and often find myself out early in the morning or more likely in the early evening or late afternoon.

It's funny but when I see these flowers, I have to remind myself that you're in New Mexico - Sante Fe, I know is not the desert.;) It's been too long since I've been out that way...as a matter of fact I hate to think how long ago I was out there. You've got a lovely garden!

Again, many thanks!
Paul, you are right. I should have checked my manual first.

I mostly shoot raw, but I went out the other (very grey) day and shot jpegs in high contrast b&w. No processing except some straightening and cropping if necessary.





I was trying to pick subjects that would test the dynamic range.
Christilou, did I forget that you had this camera? Super color! When you write that you these are jpegs from DNG files, I'm embarrassed to say that I am not 100% sure what you mean. Can you give me a little remedial help?

I think you're using Aperture 3, too, right?
I just meant that I did minimal pp in LR3 and transported them as jpegs. I'm probably much less competent than you in that department! I have given up with Aperture because I'm finding LR much more intuative.