Leica adds silver to X Vario line-up

Posted on by Mike Evans

XV Silver.jpg

Nearly a year after the launch of the controversial X Vario, Leica has announced a silver version to tempt buyers. There is always a split among Leica users, half swearing by silver and the others demanding an all-black camera. I am always tempted by silver The M3, for instance, is probably the most beautiful standard camera design ever made and has been the template for countless rangefinder lookalikes over the years. But when it comes to the till I usually follow my heart to the all-black version..

The X Vario has been surrounded by strong opinions since the launch. The slow f/3.5-6.4 aperture is the talking point and the camera has been roundly condemned simply because of this apparent timidity in a world where a constant f/2.8 zoom is considered the only option. As a result, many who would otherwise have snapped up the XV have been put off by all the negative comments. They are the losers because this camera is capable of superb results. Leica sacrificed speed in order to achieve the best-possible image quality (comparable with Leica primes) in an acceptably small package. I covered all the pros and cons in my long review of the V Vario in January. It has to be said that most of the naysayers, whether within the Leica community or in the photographic world at large, have not owned or, even, exhaustively tested to XV. Condemnation is often based on the paper specification and has been reinforced by constant repetition. 

Steve Huff is not one of these. He has used the X Vario extensively and appreciates it for what it is. He stops short of a full recommendation because he believes there are several better and cheaper options out there (again, largely because of that aperture question), although all are interchangeable-lens choices rather than a bridge camera: The X Vario remains the only bridge zoom with an APS-C sensor. Prompted by the new silver XV, Steve provides his dream specification for design makeover which, he believes, would tick all the boxes: 

  • Add a built-in grip where the palm lands, something integrated and nice looking to keep with the style of the camera. In other words, keep it M like. Will help ergonomics with the big lens.
  • Make the lens a constant f/2.8 aperture and improve the sensor for low light.
  • Speed up the AF  - and by quite a bit.
  • Add a built in EVF of high quality, one of better quality than the EVF-2. 
  • Weather proof it, make it in black and silver from the get go and keep the price around $2199. 
  • Give it the M 240 battery if possible.

I can go with all that although, as I pointed out above, a constant f/2.8 lens would probably be unacceptably large and could even risk the impeccable image quality if not executed flawlessly. The one area where I do agree with him unreservedly is in his call for a built-in viewfinder. Leica lost an opportunity with the X Vario here. I hate composing on the screen and always feel I must use the bulky hot-shoe mounted viewfinder. It is an eyesore, slides off too easily and is also out-dated. It cannot compare with, for instance, the 2.4MP device in the Sony A7 or the latest Fuji and Olympus finders. If there is to be a successor to the XV I do hope Leica takes on board this argument, if nothing else.