Leica T or Leica X Vario: An interesting choice
Since publishing my review of the Leica T last week I have been asked how the T compares with the X Vario. Several readers are wondering whether or not to sell their XV and buy a T.
The answer isn’t straightforward. If you take the T with the 18-56 Vario Elmar, it is a similar camera to the XV despite the gulf in approach to control. Image quality is all but identical—the X Vario is a star in any case—and the results will be similar. The X Vario has the advantage of being an integrated design. This brings the benefit of harmony between sensor and lens, something that is harder to achieve with an interchangeable-lens system. Furthermore, many photographers prefer the traditional M-like appearance (remember the Mini M campaign?) and controls of the XV.
But the T rewards with added flexibility and is likely to be a better long-term investment. The T's electronic viewfinder is superior, if a little bulkier. On the other hand the lens ergonomics of the Vario-Elmar-T are inferior to those of the X Vario's zoom. Ultimately, however, the XV remains a brilliant lens bolted to a camera that will become seriously out of date within a few years.
The T system ringfences your investment in lenses which can be used on future versions of the camera. By Leica standards, and considering the quality, the £1,350 asking price for the T body is attractive. If you need only a zoom lens, however, the X Vario is still a strong contender.
A new X Vario has dropped in price. Even Leica is offering up to £300-worth of goodies to sweeten the pill and some dealers are allowing additional discounts. Second-hand prices have fallen in sympathy to the point where a mint X Vario with a few accessories can be had for less than the cost of the T body alone.
At those prices, the XV is remarkable value for money and will save you at least 50 percent on the cost of a new T with the zoom lens. However, I oexpect secondhand prices of XVs to stabilise once the initial hooha over the T has subsided and prospective buyers realise that it has become something of a bargain. So buying a used XV at today’s bargain-basement prices could be a wise move.
If you already own an X Vario, as I do, the decision is perhaps a little easier. My main interest in an APS-C camera is not in using fast primes or M lenses, it is in the convenience that comes from having a go-anywhere zoom. At the moment I am still getting pleasure out of the X Vario. It performs as well as the T and Vario-Elmar-T so I feel no tearing hurry to upgrade.