Leica X1 Review

4.0
June 28, 2010 | Mark Goldstein |

Image Quality


The Leica X1 produced images of outstanding during the review period. Noise is very well controlled, not becoming obvious until the relatively fast speed of ISO 800 and then becoming progressively worse at the faster settings of ISO 1600 and 3200, which are still both perfectly usable. The X1's RAW files also don't exhibit too much noise, even before any noise-reduction processing has been done.

Chromatic aberrations were also very well controlled, with very slight limited purple fringing effects appearing only in high contrast situations. The 12.2 megapixel images were a little soft straight out of the camera at the default sharpen setting and require some further sharpening in an application like Adobe Photoshop, or you can change the in-camera sharpening level.

Macro performance is poor, only allowing you to focus as close as 30cms away from the subject. The built-in flash worked fairly well indoors, with no red-eye and adequate overall exposure. Anti-shake works very well when hand-holding the X1 in low-light conditions at slower shutter speeds. The maximum shutter speed of 30 seconds allows the camera to capture enough light for most after-dark situations.

Noise

There are 6 ISO settings available on the Leica X1. Here are some 100% crops which show the noise levels for each ISO setting:

JPEG RAW  

ISO 100 (100% Crop)

ISO 100 (100% Crop)

 
 
     

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

 
 

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

 
 

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

 
 

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

 
 

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

 
 

Sharpening

Here are two 100% crops which have been Saved as Web - Quality 50 in Photoshop. The right-hand image has had some sharpening applied in Photoshop. The out-of-the camera images are a little soft at the default sharpening setting. You can change the in-camera sharpening level if you don't like the default look.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)

   

Focal Range

The Leica X1's lens provides a focal length of 35mm in 35mm terms, as demonstrated below.

35mm

File Quality

The Leica X1 has 2 different JPEG image quality settings available, with Superfine being the highest quality option. Here are some 100% crops which show the quality of the various options, with the file size shown in brackets.

12M Superfine (4.86Mb) (100% Crop) 12M Fine (2.51Mb) (100% Crop)
   
12M RAW (17.5Mb) (100% Crop)  
 

Chromatic Aberrations

The Leica X1 handled chromatic aberrations extremely well during the review, with very limited purple fringing mainly present around the edges of objects in high-contrast situations, as shown in the example below.

Example 1 (100% Crop)

Macro

The Leica X1 offers a Macro setting that allows you to focus on a subject that is 30cms away from the camera when the lens is set to wide-angle. The first image shows how close you can get to the subject (in this case a compact flash card). The second image is a 100% crop.

Macro Shot

100% Crop

Flash

The flash settings on the Leica X1 are Auto, Auto+Red-eye reduction, Forced on, Forced on+Red-eye, Slow Sync., Slow Sync.+Red-eye reduction, and Studio first curtain. These shots of a white coloured wall were taken at a distance of 1.5m.

Flash Off - Wide Angle (35mm)

Flash On - Wide Angle (35mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

And here are a couple of portrait shots. As you can see, neither the Auto setting or the Red Eye Fix option caused any amount of red-eye.

Flash On

Flash On (100% Crop)
   

Red Eye

Red Eye (100% Crop)

Night

The Leica X1's maximum shutter speed is 30 seconds in the Manual mode, which is great news if you're seriously interested in night photography. The shot below was taken using a shutter speed of 15 seconds at ISO 100.

Night Shot

Night Shot (100% Crop)

Anti Shake

The Leica X1 has an anti-shake mechanism, which allows you to take sharp photos at slower shutter speeds than other digital cameras. To test this, I took 2 handheld shots of the same subject with the same settings. The first shot was taken with anti shake turned off, the second with it turned on. Here are some 100% crops of the images to show the results. As you can see, with anti shake turned on, the images are much sharper than with anti shake turned off. This feature really does seem to make a difference and could mean capturing a successful, sharp shot or missing the opportunity altogether.

Shutter Speed / Focal Length

Anti Shake Off (100% Crop)

Anti Shake On (100% Crop)

1/15 sec / 35mm

Entry Tags

compact, 12 megapixel, 2.7 inch LCD, manual, RAW, APS-C, CMOS, leica, 3fps, DNG, 36mm, Leica X1 Review, x1

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