We use cookies to provide you with a better experience. If you continue to use this site, we'll assume you're happy with this. Alternatively, click here to find out how to manage these cookies

hide cookie message
Cameras Reviews
15,669 Reviews

Leica X1 review

£1,395 inc VAT

Manufacturer: Leica

Our Rating: We rate this 4 out of 5

The Leica X1 is a beautifully constructed hybrid camera with a great quality lens, but is it worth the hefty price tag?

The Leica X1 is a beautifully constructed hybrid camera with a great quality lens, but is it worth the hefty price tag?

Leica is known for the exquisite craftsmanship of its cameras and for the hefty price tag that accompanies them. The story here is exactly that: the Leica X1’s knobs and dials recall a traditional Rangefinder camera such as the Leica M8 beloved of photo enthusiasts while the £1,400 price tag will be enough to make all but the truly smitten blanche. Quality costs, as they say, and we can’t help but admire how the camera body incorporates a disc-shaped flash that rises effortlessly when pressed gently.

We were also delighted to find the Leica X1 incorporates a 12.9Mp APS-C sized sensor. This sensor is as large as those found in most consumer digital SLRs. This proves the rule that the bigger the chip the greater the light-gathering property and the better the resulting images.

Despite a robust all-metal build the Leica X1 manages not to feel like a dead weight in the hand. It can be used in automatic mode as a point-and-shoot camera – though you’re unlikely to buy such a pricey and capable model for this purpose. Manual adjustments to shutter speed and aperture are made via chunky top plate dials rather than tabbing through onscreen menus. If you know what you want to achieve it’s fairly fast and easy to use. Most importantly, if you need the ultimate in picture quality, it’s worth spending the extra that the Leica demands to get it.

Panasonic Micro FourThirds cameras equipped with Leica lenses trumped close competitors in the Olympus' PEN range in past tests. Their pin-sharp detail and smooth film-like colour tones proved exceptional. The Leica X1 ramps up the effect still further. The results we got using it were stunning. Yes, it’s costly and – perhaps just as much of an issue for some – the 24mm lens on the front, (equivalent to 36mm on a 35mm camera), cannot be changed. But it’s a Leica lens, and that comes with its own cachet.

There are sacrifices to be made. The close focus distance is around 30cm and there’s no movie mode on the Leica X1.
 
Another disappointment is that while the 2.7in LCD is generous enough in size, its 230K dot resolution is no better than you’ll find on £100 snappers. Still as we’ve noted image quality is what counts and on that score the Leica X1 produces crisp results that are more life-like and less obviously digital in origin than we’re used to seeing. Just a shame you’ll need an account with Harrods – or Leica’s own Mayfair store – to be able to afford one.

NEXT: our expert verdict >>

Group test: what's the best digital camera?

Leica X1 Expert Verdict »

Leica X1 Scores 10.0 out of 10 based on 1 review
12.9Mp APS-C CMOS
Jpeg, RAW, RAW+Jpeg
36mm equivalent [fixed] lens
2.7in LCD (230K dot)
ISO3200
HDMI
USB
260 shot battery life
50Mb Internal, SD, SDHC
124x32x60mm
286g
  • Build Quality: We give this item 9 of 10 for build quality
  • Features: We give this item 8 of 10 for features
  • Value for Money: We give this item 6 of 10 for value for money
  • Overall: We give this item 8 of 10 overall

The Leica X1 is beautifully engineered, and enjoys solid yet lightweight metal construction. It has a great quality lens and is capable of delivering almost three dimensional lifelike images. So what's not to like? Er, have you seen the price? Also users are ‘stuck’ with the one lens.

  • Leica D-LUX 4 review

    Leica D-LUX 4

    Leica's D-LUX4 is a stylish digital camera for enthusiast photographers looking for something small yet feature-rich.

  • Fujifilm X-Pro1 review

    Fujifilm X-Pro1

    The Fujifilm X-Pro1 is a stunningly well built camera, with sn extremely high resolution LCD that will tempt those who may have been lusting after an even more expensive Leica rangefinder.

  • Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS3 review

    Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS3

    The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS3 is an 8Mp compact camera with a 4x optical zoom.

  • Sigma DP1 review

    Sigma DP1

    Sigma's DP1 is unusual for a digital compact camera, in that it has an APS-C-size sensor, as found in many digital SLRs.

  • Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ18 review

    Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ18

    An inexpensive high-end compact camera/DSLR crossover, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ18K offers an 18x optical zoom, a 28mm wide-angle lens, and a host of manual controls for a very reasonable price.


IDG UK Sites

Sony Xperia Z3 Compact review: A better deal than the Z3 and most smartphones

IDG UK Sites

Why people aren't upgrading to iOS 8: new features are for power users, not the average Joe

IDG UK Sites

Framestore recreates ancient China for Mr Bean's martial arts misadventure

IDG UK Sites

iPad Air 2 review: Insanely fast and alarmingly thin. Speed tests, camera tests and more