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Leica introduces X1, compact camera with APS-C sensor

Leica introduces X1, compact camera with APS-C sensor

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New-generation camera has built-in 24mm f/2.8 prime lens (36mm with 35mm multiplication factor)

By Adorama News Writer

September 9, 2009

Designed as an alternative for those who can't afford the M9, will the X1 attract a new audience for Leica?


Can't afford the $7,000 Leica M9, which was introduced this morning? Consider the $2,000 X1, which was Leica's surprise product in today's press conference. Featuring a built-in 24mm f/2.8 prime lens, giving 36mm equivalent coverage, the X1 offers full auto operation as well as full manual control for those who know what they're doing. The camera houses a 12-megapixel APS-C sized sensor with ISO range of 100-3200. While the camera lacks an eye-level viewfinder, an additional matching finder will be available after the camera arrives in stores in December. A 2.7-inch 270K pixel monitor offers live view, but can be turned off for more discrete use. Image files will be savable in RAW as well as JPEG formats; Adobe Photoshop Lightroom will be included.


The X1 joins the Sigma DP-1 and DP-2 as the only cameras with built-in lenses and APS-sized sensors. 


The X1, which will cost $2,000, will be available in December, by which time we hope to have a full hands-on review. It is shown above with additional viewfinder and handgrip.

For details and specifications, read the Leica press release:

The new generation:  LEICA X1 – Cutting-edge compact digital camera merges classic design with high-performance photography

Leica Camera AG presents a new generation of Leica digital cameras – the LEICA X1. The LEICA X1, made in Germany, is equipped with a CMOS sensor in APS-C format, similar to those used in semi-professional DSLR cameras. Together with an all-purpose LEICA ELMARIT 1:2.8/24 mm lens, the particularly large sensor for this class of camera offers outstanding picture quality that need not fear comparisons with professional cameras. In addition to its technical specifications and a broad spectrum of setting options ranging from manual operation to automatic functions, the LEICA X1 is an ideal companion for quality-conscious and creative photographers.  The camera’s compact form makes it a constant companion for spontaneously capturing the unique moments in life.

The X1 features a 12.2-megapixel CMOS image sensor; as each individual pixel has a large sensor area and receives more light, this guarantees low noise levels, a high dynamic range and accurate color differentiation. The crop factor of the sensor is 1.5 in comparison with 35-mm film format, meaning that the fixed-mount LEICA ELMARIT 1:2.8/24 mm lens of the LEICA X1 is transformed into a universal reportage lens with an effective (35-mm equivalent) focal length of 36 millimeters. This is a true classic among prime lenses and has captured innumerable iconic images.

”The LEICA ELMARIT 1:2.8/24 ASPH is a true Leica lens that embodies the terrific optical performance that is standard with Leica lenses . Its moderate wide-angle character creates sufficient distance when needed, but still allows photographers to get close enough to pick out specific details. This lens ensures that photographers won’t miss any shot, situation or detail, however fine,” says Peter Kruschewski, Product Manager Digital Compact Cameras at Leica Camera AG.

The LEICA X1 is characterized by clear lines and an intensely focused design. The straightforwardness of its design, with a focus on pure essentials and a compact, handy form, is strongly reminiscent of the legendary M cameras.  In combination with its famed aesthetic, the robust, all-metal construction and the tactile experience of its high-quality leather trim make the X1 a true Leica camera.

The LEICA X1 has clear, intuitive functions thanks to its simple operating concept. For uncomplicated photography, the X1 offers numerous automatic functions ranging from precise autofocus to automatic exposure. When set, these functions guarantee photographers perfectly exposed, sharp images by simply pressing the shutter release. This lets the user concentrate on the creative aspects of composition and framing.

Thanks to its numerous automatic functions, the X1 remains quick and versatile in any situation. Photographers have additional creative freedom with the camera’s manual control options - both aperture and shutter speed can be selected manually to influence the final image by using the dials located in familiar positions on the top deck of the camera. Even the plane of focus can be set manually, along with white balance and various other image capture parameters. In this way, the X1 offers photographers complete manual control of the creative process while simultaneously guaranteeing rapid reaction ability with its automatic functions when required.

The large size of its image sensor, a maximum sensitivity of ISO 3200 and its large aperture make the LEICA X1 an ideal choice for ‘available light’ photography when only the last rays of natural light are exist. Whether in adverse lighting conditions, or for conscious manipulation of depth of focus – the X1 offers numerous options for individual and creative composition.

The brilliant 2.7-inch display practically fills the entire back of the camera and reveals the finest details even in bright surroundings. The live-view function replaces an optical viewfinder and shows an accurate preview with all essential image information. Its “Live Mode” also makes the X1 particularly versatile for shots taken from unusual perspectives.

The LEICA X1 offers a comprehensive range of accessories that expand the abilities of the camera and adapt it to the photographer’s personal photographic style: a 36-mm bright-line accessory, for instance, can be inserted in the camera’s accessory shoe and ensures a clear view without unnecessary power drain. If required, the camera display can be turned off when an accessory finder is used. In this case, a prominently placed LED indicates successful automatic focusing. In addition to the LED, there is an accessory handgrip that aids the safe and secure handling of the camera. A comprehensive range of camera cases is also available: the ever-ready case offers sufficient room for the camera (with handgrip) and features a small case attached to the carrying strap to hold the accessory finder. The high-quality transport case offers perfect protection for the camera, while the attractively designed system case has space enough for the camera and all its accessories.

The LEICA X1 features a retractable flash that, in addition to simply replacing other sources of light, serves as a fill-in flash that can be synchronized to the second shutter curtain. If more power and flexibility is required, the Leica SF 24D and SF 58 system flash units are also compatible with the X1.

The LEICA X1 is supplied with a battery charger and a high-performance battery, and also includes a comprehensive software package. Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, a professional digital workflow solution for Apple Mac OS X and Microsoft Windows, is also one of the standard features provided with the X1. The software is available as an online download for all registered LEICA X1 customers. This also ensures that the latest release is always readily available. Adobe Photoshop Lightroom offers a vast range of functions for the management, processing and presentation of digital images, quite independent of whether the images are in space-saving and fast jpeg format or in DNG format to preserve all image information. If the images from the X1 are saved as raw data in the standardized and future-proof Adobe Digital Negative Format (DNG), Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, with its sophisticated and precise processing options, guarantees direct and extremely high-quality image processing with maximized image quality.

The LEICA X1 is available at authorized Leica dealers from December 2009. The optional accessories will be available after the market-launch of the camera.

Technical data        LEICA X1

Lens:    LEICA ELMARIT 1:2.8/24 ASPH.
8 elements in 6 groups
1 aspherical lens
Optical zoom:                No
Digital Zoom:                No
Focal Distance:            f = 24 mm (35 mm Equivalent: 36 mm)
Aperture:                F2.8 / F16.0 (1/3EV steps)
Focusing Area:            Normal: 60 cm - infinity
Macro: 30 cm - infinity
Manual Focus: 30 cm - infinity

AF Metering:    1-point / 1-point high speed /11-point / 11-point high speed / Spot / face detection
AF Assist Lamp:            Yes

Image Sensor:        APS-C CMOS sensor, 12.9 megapixels, aspect ratio 3:2
Camera Effective Pixels:        12.2 Megapixels
ISO Sensitivity:            Auto / 100 / 200 / 400 / 800 / 1600 / 3200

White Balance:    Auto / Halogen / Daylight / Flash / Cloudy / Shadow/ Manual 1 / Manual 2
White Balance Adjustment (2 axis)
Exposure:    Program automatic / Aperture priority automatic / Shutter priority automatic / Manual
Exposure Compensation:        1/3 EV step, -3 - +3 EV
Auto Bracketing:            1/3 - 3EVstep, 3 frames
Light Metering:            Intelligent Multiple / Center weighted / Spot

Shutter Speed:            30 - 1/2000 sec
Self Timer:                2 sec / 12 sec
Auto Review:                1 sec / 3 sec / 5 sec / hold
Film Mode:                Standard, Vivid, Natural, BW Natural, BW High Contrast

Recording Format:    JPEG, DNG
Aspect Ratio:                3:2
Image Size:    4272 x 2586 pixels (12.2M), 3264 x 2160 pixels (7M), 2144 x 1424 pixels (3M), 1632 x 1080 pixels (1.8M)
Image Quality:    JPG Super Fine / JPG Fine / DNG + JPG Super Fine / DNG + JPG Fine
Motion Picture:             No
Burst Shooting Mode:            3 fps / 2 fps
Max pictures in JPEG FINE + RAW: 6 pictures
Built-in-Memory:            Approx. 50 MB

Built-in-Flash:    Auto, Auto / Red-eye Reduction, Forced On, Forced On / Red-eye, Slow Sync, Slow Sync. / Red-eye Reduction, Studio First curtain / Second curtain can be set
Hot Shoe:                YES , Compatible with SF24D, SF58

LCD:                    2.7" LCD (230K Pixels) TFT
Field of View : approx. 100%

Playback Mode:    16 - thumbnail display, Zoomed playback (16x Max.), Image rotation(except RAW) , Protection
Recording Media:            Built-in Memory, SD Memory Card, SDHC Memory Card

Microphone:                No
Speaker:                Yes

Interface:                HDMI Output , USB (USB 2.0 High Speed, Mass Storage)
Power:                    Li-ion Battery Pack (Included)
Battery Life (Approx.)
(CIPA standard):            260 exposures
Dimensions (Approx.):        H 2.34 × W 4.28 × D 1.07 in
Weight (Approx.):            10 oz

Scope of delivery:            LEICA BP-DC8 rechargeable battery
Battery charger (LEICA BC-DC8)
Protective battery cover
Leather carrying strap
USB cable
Lens cap
Adobe Photoshop Lightroom (download option after product registration)


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