Myopia, LCD screens and Leica X 113

The Leica X series of cameras seems to be on the way out, whilst the T range may have some future, the sightly oddball X-U now remains the sole member of this line of APS-C sensor equipped fixed lens cameras. The closest Leica replacement is the Q, albeit at more than double the price.

Leica X typ 113 with EVF fitted

The X range has been around for about seven years, the original X1, launched at the end of 2009 and the X2 filled similar roles to the typ 113. The X Vario divided opinion and was the only APS-C fixed zoom lens camera produced, amazing that such a tiny company as Leica was breaking new ground but I think this model was somewhat overlooked. Unlike the T and TL, the X series was equipped with traditional manual exposure controls and a more conventional interface. To have produced four distinct models, plus the X-U and X-E offshoots over such a short 5 year life span was quite an achievement.

The Leica X typ 113 remains a bit of an enigma for me, I love the images it is able to produce, the controls are easy, menus sensible, it is a good size and I feel it was reasonable value for money. I generally dislike having a separate EVF (in this case, the Visoflex 020) and that for me is the greatest drawback. The Visoflex is a bit better than using the screen in some circumstances but is very bulky and slow to respond when first brought up to eye level. I have always bought Leica for lenses and simplicity and it delivers on those, but it is no Leica M.

Other large sensor fixed lens cameras continue to be produced by Fuji, Sony and others. The Fuji X100 series seems to have acquired something of a cult following with street photographers and I can’t help thinking that Leica missed an opportunity here, failing to develop and market the range for fear of diverting sales from the M rangefinders. I do know a number of photographers, like me, that really left Leica when they stopped using film. The Q seems to have been a huge success for Leica however it is not for me, irrespective of the price, over £3,500 now, its a less usual focal length for Leica at 28mm, with a fixed lens camera this has to be right and is not something most will compromise on. It is as heavy as (almost) comparable interchangeable lens mirrorless camera and lens combinations such as the Fuji X range, or higher end micro four thirds systems which is where I think X customers would now be looking.

The M system will continue to have appeal, albeit somewhat limited. Whilst lenses are still among the best ever produced in my opinion, reliability problems with digital M bodies and significant depreciation compared to what was experienced with film Leicas are factors here - an M10 cannot reasonably be expected to have the longevity of an M3 or M6, thereby justifying the large financial investment. With mirrorless cameras, Leica Ms are just no longer as unique in capabilities as they were in the days of film - and I say this is a Leica fan.

I think there would have been demand for a continuation of the X line. The Leica X 113 seems to have been a highly reliable product, testament to this is the fact it is still running on original v1.0 firmware. As my close-up eye sight now means I’m peering over my glasses to compose on the rear LCD, I need a viewfinder and the hunt for an alternative is on. Perhaps the forthcoming Leica 5370 will provide the answer?

[EDITED MAY 2018] Since writing this, I have moved across to Olympus OM-D cameras which are working great for me, read more about my thoughts in this article. I continue to use the X from time to time and would love Leica to tempt me back, but that’s another item for another day…

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