Leica X Vario sensor review: Formidable low-light performance

By Kevin Carter - Thursday February 27 2014

Camera Review
Introduction | Leica X Vario: Excellent low light performer | Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1R vs Leica X Vario vs Nikon Coolpix A | Conclusion
Leica X Vario sensor review: Formidable low-light performance

Leica’s latest addition to the range of APS-C X cameras adopts a 16-Mpix sensor and useful 28-70mm equivalent Vario-Elmar zoom. Read on to find out how well it performs.

After the success of the APS-C Leica X and revised X2 compacts with their 23mm (35mm equivalent) f2.8 fixed lens, it was still somewhat surprising to see the firm launch the X Vario – an X derived body complete with a fixed Leica Vario-Elmar zoom. Although the 18-46mm (28-70mm equivalent) Leica Vario-Elmar ASPH has only a modest maximum f3.5-6.4 variable aperture, with 9 elements in 8 groups (with 2 aspherical elements) optical quality is promising.  As well as a manual focus ring (apertures are set using a dial on the body), it has autofocus using an 11-point contrast based (CD) AF system and can focus as close as 30cm.

Besides the zoom, salient features include a quiet electronic shutter with 30—1/2000th sec range and promisingly high flash sync (theoretically up to 1/2000th sec), high-resolution (920K dot) 3.0” LCD, albeit fixed, and continuous shooting up to 5fps. For the purposes of this review of course, we’re interested in the sensor. It’s a 16.2-Mpix APS-C size CMOS device with sensitivity running from ISO100 to a maximum of ISO12,500. The X Vario is also capable of capturing Full HD video but at just 30fps using the MP4 format.

Including the battery the camera weighs 24 oz (628g) and measures 5.24 x 2.87 x 3.74” (133x73x95mm). Along with the $850 premium over the current $1995 Leica X2, it’s available now in either black or chrome finish.

Key specifications:

  • 16-Mpix APS-C CMOS sensor
  • 18-46mm (28-70mm equivalent) Leica Vario-Elmar
  • 11-point CD-AF
  • 3.0" 920 K-dot tilt LCD
  • 1920 x 1080 HD video at 30fps
  • Continuous shooting at up to 5 fps
  • Built-in flash
  • Optional EVF

Leica X Vario: Excellent low light performer

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1R vs Leica X Vario vs Nikon Coolpix A

Conclusion