Leica X Vario: An excellent performer
When announced, the Leica- X Vario received, perhaps unjustly, widespread criticism for the Vario Elmar’s ‘slow’ maximum aperture (f6.3) at long end. It’s of course just 1/3 stop ‘slower’ than f5.6, but it does serve as a reminder of the fastidious nature of lens selection. Despite that, the sensor in the Leica X Vario is an excellent performer, especially with regard to its high SNR. However, while the promising camera specification and the low-light performance may placate the critics in some way, at just shy of $3,000, the X Vario isn’t for everyone.
One of the problems with any comparison of the X Vario is in finding a direct competitor. In the table below it is shown alongside the Nikon Coolpix A, the Fuji X100 and the Ricoh GR. All are fixed lens primes while the final camera, the Sony NEX7, is an interchangeable lens design. All have the APS-C sensor in common.
DxOMark singles out the X Vario's ISO performance for special comment: "what really stands out is the sensor’s low-light capabilities. Achieving 1320 ISO, it’s ranked 28th in this category overall, and comes 4th out of the APS-C/H size CMOS sensors currently in our database."
As I found in my test of the camera, the X Vario shines in low-light performance and the magnificent 28-70 zoom, sharp throughout the range, is unique on a bridge camera.