Leica, once a camera manufacturer that made great tools for photographers and now little more than a boutique fashion brand catering to dentists, has just played a fantastic little joke on the world. It’s called the X-Vario, and it proves that Leica thinks you’re a sucker. Why? Because it’s a $3K compact.
The body is styled to look like Leica’s M cameras, which are indeed excellent, but out of reach price-wise to actual jobbing photographers ($10,000 without a lens). The camera itself could be pretty exciting: It has a 28–70mm equivalent zoom, plus real dials to adjust shatter speed and aperture (although the aperture dial isn’t on the lens). It has a big, 920,000-dot LCD, and a big APS-C sensor.
The problems are that a) the ƒ3.5–6.4 lens is a joke and b) there’s no viewfinder. To turn your X-Vario into a camera that you can hold up to your eye will cost you another $500, or the price of a good camera.
The maximum aperture of ƒ3.5 will not only make the camera rather poor in low-light situations, forcing you to select a higher ISO or just brave camera shake from the slow shutter speed (made worse by not having a viewfinder and therefore being able to steady the camera against your head), but it will preclude the lovely shallow depth-of-field beloved of the modern photographer who has been starved of selective focus by more than a decade of tiny sensors.
And ƒ6.4? It’s not even worth a comment.
This might all sound like nitpicking, but this is a three grand camera we’re talking about here. There’s no excuse for not doing it properly.
So, instead of buying this, I’d say you might prefer something by Fujifilm or Olympus. Maybe grab a Micro Four Thirds or X-Series body and use the leftover money to take a photo vacation. Or you could buy an adapter and use Leica’s truly awesome M-Series lenses on a proper camera.