Leica X2

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Review & Photos by John Snelson

On Friday night, I was out at The Valve Underground in the Agincourt Hotel at Central, roadtesting the Leica X2 for suitability as a concert camera, well really more of a gig camera, okay, a rock photographer’s special purpose shooter. This is a real tough test but not unusual conditions for we night hawks.

I was already confident that the Leica X2 would be an excellent outdoors, street camera – but was not convinced at max aperture of f/2.8, a 35mm lens, no interchangeable glass and no zoom, whether it would perform as a low-light shooter in smaller venues. I admit that I was lured being a poser myself {grin}, by the brand and reputation.

LeicaX2Now … the Leica X2 … the verdict in terms of suitability for this work and environment ?

  • One word – hopeless.
  • It’s a beautiful instrument, I love it – nice chunky minimalist controls, quality metal build in Germany not China – great no doubt for groups of people on the street in daylight or reasonable lighting conditions.
  • I took 444 shots in about 40 minutes. Well, no I didn’t actually, it’s just that the Leica X2 takes a raw DNG image and a JPG at the same time – you can’t just take a raw shot. Sorry, I mean the camera writes 2 files for each shot – I don’t think it takes two shots, but maybe it does, not sure about that
  • Major problem in low light is focus acquisition – it takes too long for the AF to gain focus – so long that the singer, drummer or guitarist has moved a lot from the time you squeezed the trigger to the shutter snap.
  • Battery life on the job was good. Upload speed to computer with a USB 3.0 cardreader was pretty quick
  • The SanDisk SDHC 16Gb 80Mb per sec card was only $38 from JB HiFi ($59 from Dick Smith) is great too.
  • File size written is about 25 Mb for the DNG raw files and 5-8Mb for the JPG files.
  • …. A_N_D …..
  • Even though I tried all combinations of aperture, shutter speed and ISO and still could not get enough light into the camera to get a good image … even at f/2.8, 1/125 sec, 12500 ISO and tons of noise, there is still not enough light getting into this camera to capture a good image. That is therefore a no-no when coupled with the very slow AF acquisition.

All up, it’s great point & shoot, street photojournalist compact camera and so it should be for $1950 from Paxtons … but no good for what we do here. Out of the 228 plus unique trigger activations that yielded 444 images (216 * DNG & JPG + 12 * JPG only) there are only 3 that I have been able to Photoshop from the raw DNG above. So, you get the gist here !

I took a few other shots around central Station which you can see here Paralysis Leica X2 … no flash, it’s a great camera for the City work even in street lights.

I may try the Fuji X100s tomorrow at the same venue. On the other hand, the posing snob affliction is kicking in … I D-Oooooo like having the Leica …. maybe a rethink.

My Nikon gear would have killed it by the way – if I had taken my

  • Nikon D4;
  • with a Nikon prime 50mm f/1.8;
  • the Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 zoom; and
  • the Sigma 85mm prime f/1.4
  • the oddment … Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 (it’s a DX but works as a wide prime at 16mm without vignetting)

That would have done the trick !