Leica X typ 113 Review and Samples aka The Leica Lie

I’ve always been interested in the Leica brand — great reputation, good looks, but big cost of entry. I read about their newest X camera with a 35mm equivalent focal length (my favorite) and a bright aperture of f/1.7. I bought one based upon the specs and the Leica name.

Initial impressions:

  1. Feels and looks cheap and plasticky.
  2. The manual controls are not as manual as I would like. I would like more control over the shutter speeds — not these wide jumps from 1/30, 1/60, 1/125, etc. I would also like more control over the ISO, not just 100, 200, 400, etc.
  3. The live preview doesn’t accurately reflect the shooting conditions. I would like it to be a more realistic representation of what I’m shooting in regards to the exposure.
  4. Lens is sharp and images are cleaner than the X100S.
  5. The aperture is variable and isn’t constant — this is an annoying and not positive surprise. The closer the focus is to the subject, the aperture shrinks down to 2.8. That’s a big difference than the advertised f/1.7.
  6. Images are clean.
  7. Autofocus is reasonably fast and more accurate than the X100S
  8. Battery and SD card slots are less than desirable — it’s easy to put the battery in the wrong way, and the SD card removal seems to grab on the sides of the card.
  9. Lightroom 5.6 seems to oversaturate the DNGs and increase the exposure — I had to dial both of them way back to get a decent starting place for editing the images.

Anya’s 3rd Birthday pics

All of these are JPEGs straight out of the camera (resized for this blog). I shot these using the vivid mode in camera. I’m quite pleased with the image quality, the autofocus isn’t fast, but mostly adequate. Still, I would like more manual control with regards to f/stop, shutter speed, and aperture. Also, the lens almost always stops down to f/2.8 even though I have it set to f/1.7.

This is the second year that Vanessa and I have gone to the Northwest Chocolate Festival –http://nwchocolate.com/. It’s a great place to buy exquisite chocolates for less than you would pay online or in the stores. Chocolate makers from around the country come and bring lots and lots of samples.

We learned our lesson last year — stock up on enough chocolate at the festival to last you for a full year. Otherwise, you will spend even more at the store. Incidentally, the best place we have found to purchase chocolate in the Seattle area is a store called Chocolopolis —  http://www.chocolopolis.com/

I shot all of these photos with the Leica X typ 113. These are all the JPGs from the camera, and they are indeed lovely. The camera is fairly easy to shoot. Once you learn the handling of the camera and it’s quirks, it’s quite responsive.

My biggest complaint is that I feel Leica improperly calls the lens a f/1.7. It’s more like an f/2.x lens for pretty much everything I shoot. Most of these shots were fairly close range, indoors, and fairly poor light. I attempted to shoot most of these images at f/1.7. Only two of them were because the subject was quite a distance away from the camera. Most were actually shot at f/2.5 and f/2.8 even though I had the camera set to f/1.7. It’s very misleading and false advertising. Honestly, had I known about the variable aperture nature of this camera, I probably wouldn’t have bought it. To me, the lens — a Lieca, 35mm equivalent, with a fast f-stop of f/1.7, for the price, was going to be a winner, but that’s not really what you’re buying. Shame on you Leica!

I did happen to find in the manual on page 136:

“To enhance picture quality, the aperture setting is also corrected automatically between 2.8 and 1.7 in the close-up range, i.e. at distances of 0.2–1.2m to the subject.”

I didn’t realize I had to download a manual and read the fine print before buying a camera.

Leica Lied — Bottom Line. Goodbye X typ 113. The Leica Hype

The camera has been returned. For the kind of money that Leica charges, I expect them to be truthful with their specifications. You can see my Amazon review here.

I own a few prime lenses with apertures ranging from f/1.2 to f/1.4 from Olympus, Fuji, Canon, and Zeiss. In every single case, those lenses allow me to shoot at their largest f-stop. They are not variable in their aperture, they are constant. Leica is touted by many as being the “crème de la crème” of lenses and cameras — for the same price as the Leica X 113, you could get better lenses, bodies, and images from a variety of manufacturers. My recommendation — get over the Leica hype.

One thing that never ceases to astound me is the nonsense in online camera forums. There are so many brand loyalists, apologists, and fanboys that throw logic out of the window. Not only that, these trolls appear everywhere including reviews. Just a day later after I posted my review on Amazon, a troll had to post their opinion and their justified brand loyalist propaganda (“logic”). Notice the fanboy propagandist verbiage — “beautiful precision,” “obsessed with optical quality,” etc. (sigh).

Final words and “insightful analysis” — feel free to quote me:

  1. Very nice JPEGs out of camera
  2. Sharp lens
  3. Finicky controls
  4. Plasticy and cheapy feeling
  5. It’s really a variable aperture lens and should really be advertised as an f/2.2–2.8 camera
  6. Adobe Lightroom applies a crazy curve to the initial DNG that you have to counteract in order to get a good starting place
  7. Overpriced
  8. Consider other brands first — ignore the Leica name.
  • Leica clearly mentioned in their product announcement/brochure that the lens stop down until 2.8 when you move closer. Clearly. Still you said they were lying!

    • Thank you for reading my blog. I just moved it over to WordPress.com from Ghost.org and I am tidying things up a bit. Funny thing, this articles is already being viewed more than it had been, and I just moved it a week ago.

      Regarding your comment, it’s easy to say that now, but you’d have to go back a few years. That key detail wasn’t advertised, it was quite hidden, and quite disappointing. Now in retrospect, looking at the images they are quite lovely, but the camera is too overpriced for what you get – even today.

      If you look at my more recent posts, I have been using a Leica M262 and various lenses. It’s fun, it’s compact, and I like the results.

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