Damn—you know, you stop paying attention for five minutes, and the news just steamrolls right over you. Apparently Leica has released a new camera, and judging from the price it must be a pretty significant product. Yr. Hmbl. Ed. is, however, woefully lacking in awareness at the present moment and will need more time to get up to speed. Is this the "mini-M" that was being bruited about a while back? That doesn't seem possible; this has a fixed lens. Hmm, well, I shall hand the matter over to the Staff.
Unless you want to explain it to me. What's all this, now?
UPDATE: Right after I posted this (naturally) I got the Leica Forum Newsletter confirming that yes, this is the Mini M. Except it's not—it's a Maxi X2, an APS-C fixed lens compact with a zoom. Amateur Photographer has a review. Me, I'd be looking a lot harder at the Sony RX1 for that kind of dough. But then, the Sony's lens is right for me, and others (so I hear) prefer a zoom.
More likely, I'd be looking hard at a Sony RX100, history having demonstrated that I'll most likely be replacing any compact camera I have within three years or so anyway. The RX100 floats a surprisingly large number of photographers' boats.
One correspondent sent a sarcastic fake announcement that said "Canon Announces Leica X Vario Killer," linking to a Canon EOS M ($549 with lens) and noting that it has "a higher-resolution LCD, longer zoom range, more megapixels on the same size sensor, faster telephoto end, interchangeable lens capability, and 1/6th the price." You do lose the EVF, but you gain interchangeable lenses and easy compatibility with Canon EF and EF-S SLR lenses. But don't write off the Leica too soon....
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Featured Comments from:
Harrison Cronbi: "Keep up, Mike. A fixed lens is the new interchangeable lens. Zooms are the new primes. You'll be aware by now ƒ/6.4 is the new ƒ/2. Pop-up flashes are the new optical viewfinders. Crop sensors are the new full frames. Premium compacts are the new compact premiums. And black is the new black."
Gordon Lewis: "Leica has apparently released a compact mirrorless camera with a large, slow, non-interchangeable zoom lens and no EVF for a list price of $2,850. A hood for said lens will be an additional $140. They should manage to sell at least a dozen of either one."
Mike replies: Methinks thou dost misunderestimate the magic of the marque.
Will: "I cannot see the viability of this product. It has a very slow and limited-use lens...a 28–70mm-e lens that's ƒ/3.5–6.4.
"Meanwhile, the Fuji X-E1 can be had for considerably less than half the price, with a 28–85mm-e ƒ/2.8–4 lens that can be removed and replaced with any of the other X-mount lenses. The X-E1 has proven itself to have a fantastic sensor, and that sensor is of a lower resolution by only two digits in both dimensions. Anyone that might be attracted to the Leica X-Vario would certainly also be interested in the X-E1 with kit zoom, and would get a much better camera for considerably less money.
"In fact, an X-E1 with all of Fuji's currently-available lenses is, right now, cheaper than a Leica X Vario. Oh, and you get a body-integrated EVF too. How did Leica look at the marketplace and think that this would be a viable product? After a year or so of reasonably good decision-making, this casts a rather dark shadow over the company's decision-making."
Mike replies: Or you could get a Sony NEX-7 with its kit lens, a comparative bargain right now at less than $1,100.
Rick in CO: "It was a ruse, that as Leica owner I was sorry to see. The 'new' camera is an 'X-Zoom,' certainly not a 'Mini-M.' I didn't think that Leica needed to play those games!"
Michael Matthews: "Well, here's one explanation. [Thom Hogan's analysis at Gearophile —Ed.]"
Ivan Muller: "Having used a Leica X1 almost exclusively for my personal images the last two and a half years I can vouch that in practice its much better than it reads on paper, and it introduced me to the world of 'zone focusing.' I hardly ever shoot wide open, so the new X Vario sounds quite interesting and I am quite sure it will be a very nice camera to use.
"But I also have a Canon EOS M with 22mm ƒ/2 now and I am growing fonder of it day by day...everything just works well, it interfaces nicely with all my other Canon stuff, it's build like a tank, and with my Leica OVF on top has become my new constant companion. The touchscreen is great and fast and hopefully some or all of the AF issues will be sorted by the end of the month. And yes I feel so much better using a camera that cost only a fraction of the Leica...but is its equal in so many ways and betters it where it counts...maybe not a Leica killer as far as image goes but certainly in everything else!"