Saturday, January 8, 2011

My first real view of the Leica X1

I'm about a year behind with offering any sort of review of the Leica X1 then again I'm not a professional reviewer and as they say, "you pays your money and ya takes your chances".  In this case since you didn't pay anything you should have very high expectations...

I've written briefly about the Leica X1 and how it was my first exposure to Leica. I liked the little camera then and after today I find I still do. For the most part.

Nothing is perfect, not my Cambo WRS, nor the Phase One P45+ or for that matter my Leica M9. It would be a very dull boring world if everything was perfect. You get used to it and after awhile you overlook the little things that nagged you. I feel the very same about the little X1. It's not perfect but I'll live with the little nagging things that's come up with this mornings shoot.

What don't I like? Not too much. I don't like the fact that I can't shoot in RAW only. While I don't hate Jpeg I simply choose not to use it as a capture method. The X1 forces you to shoot a combination DNG/Jpeg. Just a waste of card space as far as I'm concerned.

I also found that the dials controlling the shutter and aperture can move without me knowing it. I had that happen this morning to both dials which resulted in interesting images.

100% crop
Third dislike is the LCD screen brightness or lack thereof. I had the screen set for the brightest setting and still had problems previewing the image prior to capture. The after capture preview wasn't much better. I will admit this was late morning and it was bright. I also remember having a similar problem with the Canon G9; I simply couldn't see what was on the screen if I wore sunglasses. And before anyone asks, no I did not have sunglasses on.

So there you have it, my top three things I dislike about the Leica X1.

Desert Panda
Dispite the above comments I still like the little camera very much.  I like this camera for what it is, a small lightweight camera that can fir inside a (large) pocket and capable of capturing images with Leica quality.  Will I use it to produce large landscape images?  No.  That's why I have medium format and the M9.  What I see using this camera for is a lightweight method of carrying around while we walk the streets of where ever we happen to be.  Likewise I see taking this into restaurants where I enjoy shooting at the hip so to speak.  I see this as the camera we'll take with us when we go into an area where you really don't want people to notice the camera and lastly I see this as a resident jeep camera for those times you say I wish I had a camera.

Once again I wish to thank my very good friend Dave Gallagher of Capture Integration who helps feed my camera addiction.   If you want a reputably, trustworthy camera dealer with great staff you can look no further.

All the images here are offered in black & white. I had set the "preset film" to B&W Natural which in turn turned the LCD to black & white. Not thinking or realizing I was taking 2-images for every shutter release I went about the shoot fat dumb and happy. It wasn't until I returned home to find that the 36-exlosures were in fact 72. Reviewing the images in CS5 showed the color DNG file and a black & white Jpeg file. I processed only the DNG files in CS5 using Nik Silver Efex Pro to produce the images I wanted.

I think a have a slight learning curve ahead of me...

Thank you as always for allowing me to share and please feel free to leave a comment here if you have any questions or comments.


Saturday, January 1, 2011

A Leica X1

My first exposure to Leica was a year ago while I was with Guy Mancuso and Jack Flesher of GetDpi. Jack & Guy had asked if I had the time to go with them as they traveled to the southeastern portion of Arizona in December 2009 scouting places for a future workshop as well as testing the new Leica S2. We met at the San Xavier Mission for a quick sunrise shot before heading towards Bisbee. I was fortunate to try the S2 and while I liked it I wasn't ready to hock the family house to get one. I remember stopping outside of Tombstone and Guy handing me a small camera asking me to try it out; it turned out being the new X1. Jack & Guy both had been busy trying out the S2 and hadn't had the time to try the X1 out very much. I remember having it for about an hour and liking it a lot - in fact much more than the S2. I got home much later that evening still thinking of the little camera. Thus began my quest for the perfect "companion" camera to my Cambo WRS/P45+ technical camera.

My research begin with the X1 which in turn brought me to the M9, the camera I ultimately bought thinking it would be the companion camera. Dave Gallaher, owner of Capture Integration was able to get me a M9 within weeks of my asking for it and I ended up taking that with me to Yosemite February 2010. It was in Yosemite that I quickly discover I made the right decision with the M9 also very quickly learning the M9 was in fact more a "partner" camera rather than a "companion" camera; with this realization at hand I put the thought of the X1 aside.

Fast forward to the end of 2010; I've taken the M9 on every trip we took and it fit the bill nicely. Then for some reason thoughts of the X1 began slowly creeping back. How nice would it to have a smaller camera with an excellent fixed lens that I could fit in a pocket as we walked around Jackson. Likewise how nice it would be when we return to Moab or Monterey.

Thoughts like these were running through my head as I called Dave to thank him for everything he's done for us this past year and wish him, his family and his staff a happy and safe New Years. I'm not really certain how the topic got around to the X1 but it did. Past experiences with ordering lenses from Leica has taught me that one places an order then waits. And waits, and waits. I remember asking Dave how soon he thought I could get a X1 if I ordered it now. Would I have it in time for our trip to Monterey CA and Yosemite the end of February or would we get it the day after we leave on our fall trip. I was surprised when Dave said he had 2 of them on his shelve. Long story short - Dave now only has 1 Leica X1 left on his shelve.

I'll have the X1 sometime next week and hope to be able to offer my thoughts and sample images shortly afterwards.

My recommendation to anyone who is looking for a Leica camera to contact Capture Integration. To the best of my knowledge Dave is a relatively new dealer for Leica and as such many Leica followers may not know of Capture Integration. Dave will of course set me straight if I've misspoken.

Sandy & I wish everyone a Safe and Happy New Years.


Heads up: Ken Doo, Dave Gallagher and I have been putting on what has been know as "Pigs In A Blanket" the past couple years in Carmel CA around February. This year is going to be slightly different as we're taking the Pigs on the road. We're thinking of a landscape shooting workshop in Monument Valley followed by the Slot Canyons of Page Arizona. This year will also be slightly different as we'll be charging a fee however the cost will include at least 2-tours, 1-in Monument Valley, the other to a private slot canyon near Page. We'll have plenty of toys to try out from Dave's closet as well as great instruction. We're also thinking of keeping this a small group. Please stay tuned here or on Ken's blog or Capture Integration's website for further details.