There’s something reassuringly retro about Leica’s latest high-end offering. In a time when smartphones are increasingly what we use to take our snaps on, it’s refreshing to see a design based on times gone by.
A desire to return to what are seen as simpler times is perhaps borne out by the success of the photo-sharing app Instagram which turns your images into Polaroid-style shots which look as if they were taken by previous generations.
But while Leica’s X2 may look like it belongs to a previous era, it’s picture quality is definitely of, or ahead of, its time. But coming in at £1,575 before you start adding any extras, you certainly pay to produce superb images.
Sporting a 16.1 megapixel sensor that is the same size of that in many DSLRs, Leica’s luxury digital point-and-shoot, which replaces the X1, definitely punches above its size.
One of its key selling points has to be its design. The X2 is aimed at camera connoisseurs who want to own something that is both different and instantly recognisable. And, given Leica’s illustrious past, it’s hardly surprising the firm would produce something which harks back to days of yore.
The first Leica prototypes were produced in 1913, unveiling a practical 35mm camera using standard 35mm cinema film. And with the stunning X2, Leica is sticking to its roots.
There’s a fixed lens, so no zoom. Instead, the Leica offers a Emarit 24m f/2.8 ASPH lens, equivalent to a traditional 35mm. And, while some photographers may see this as limiting, others believe the 35mm focal length is the most useful you can shoot with.
The 35mm is widely seen as the best match for street photography and it’s also been the focal length of choice for an endless list of top photographers. But, it is not without its versatility. The most famous photographer of all, David Bailey, even used a 35mm for glossy fashion shoots, giving them an edginess he became renowned for.
And the picture quality you get from a Leica is second to none. Renowned for making the world’s best lenses, the X2 is incredibly sharp, which is, or course, part of the reason it’s so expensive.
The X2 is not without its drawbacks though. You need to be around a foot away from your subject to focus properly and its 2.7inch screen is small by modern standards.
Having said that though, the X2 is sure to build up a loyal legion of followers. Steve Huff, who is known for his street photography, loves its predecessor the X1 because it is just like shooting in the “old days”.
Steve also believes shooting in 35mm is an invaluable tool for improving your photographs. “I truly believe that if you shoot with just a 35mm focal length for at least six months, your photography will improve and so will your knowledge of composition, reading light, and even your ‘vision’ will improve,” he says.
So, while the Leica may not be for everyone and the price point may make it inaccessible for some, it is highly desirable as a niche camera for those who are serious about photography.