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Author Topic: Leica X1 review  (Read 12084 times)
Nemo
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« on: November 03, 2009, 06:52:18 AM »
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The first reviews on production models will bring critiques and suggestions to Leica, and this may help them in developing the next firmware. I did play a bit with a pre-production unit some weeks ago. Hardware suggestions aren't practical at this stage, but software suggestions may improve the camera in key areas.

My main suggestion is an improved "shapshot" or "streetshot" manual focus mode, simple and fast: a button would focus at the hyperfocal distance for the aperture value selected. That's all. AF may be fast, but the problem is where is the camera focusing when you shot very fast in the street. The old method of prefocus to the hyperfocal distance may be easy to implement, fast, and very practical.

A button for this function may be difficult to implement, but Leica can add a new MF mode. I would name it "Hyperfocal MF", or something like that. It would be easy to use: the camera would be at the hyperfocal all the time, and you change the hyperfocal with the aperture wheel.

Sean Reid or Michael Reichmann may consider this suggestion and translate it to Leica.
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michael
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« Reply #1 on: November 03, 2009, 08:29:48 AM »
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Have you been reading my draft review  
« Last Edit: November 03, 2009, 08:31:48 AM by michael » Logged
Nemo
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« Reply #2 on: November 03, 2009, 10:14:09 AM »
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No, I didn't!  

I am happy we are thinking on the same possibilities... In my opinion, manual focus is the only serious shortcoming of this camera, and of AF small format cameras in general. The DoF markings of current rangefinder cameras (and manual focus cameras of the past) are very useful for really fast shooting with wide angle lenses... and there isn't an equivalent tool in digital cameras...
« Last Edit: November 03, 2009, 10:15:22 AM by Nemo » Logged
Eric Myrvaagnes
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« Reply #3 on: November 03, 2009, 11:34:53 AM »
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I would love to have the hyperfocus button on all my cameras! Great idea, especially for those of us with aging eyes that have a hard time with manual focus.
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #4 on: November 03, 2009, 03:53:14 PM »
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Quote from: EricM
I would love to have the hyperfocus button on all my cameras! Great idea, especially for those of us with aging eyes that have a hard time with manual focus.

If I am not mistaken, I believe that some Canon cameras used to have such a capability, but it was a bit difficult to access from what I heard back then.

Cheers,
Bernard
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A few images online here!
bill t.
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« Reply #5 on: November 03, 2009, 04:31:53 PM »
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I have tape marks on all my primes with the f5.6 and f8 and sometime f11 "hyperfocal" positions as determined by pixel peeping.

Although we have gained much from digital it is pity we lost reasonable manual focusing aids like split image and fresnel spots.

This X-1 looks like 21st century M2 + 35 Summicron, will this let me feel Hip again?
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c5gowin
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« Reply #6 on: November 03, 2009, 07:02:32 PM »
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Quote from: michael
Have you been reading my draft review  

I am looking forward to your review. I certainly don't expect Leica to get everything right first time out with the X1. I just hope they got enough right. Speed, image quality, and high ISO performance are what's important to me. I handled a pre-production X1 at PhotoPlus and liked what I saw - just didn't get to see enough (image files).

Mark Gowin
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stewarthemley
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« Reply #7 on: November 12, 2009, 03:07:20 AM »
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Michael, I just have to say how much I admire your review style and standards. (I don't give a sh*t if this comes over all creepy - it's what I have thought for a while.) Even as a life-long fan of Leica you are honest in your appraisal and call it like you see. I don't always agree with your findings but I have always respected your integrity and knowledge. Thank you for providing such a valuable service and long may it continue. And that's quite enough licking for one day.
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ErikKaffehr
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« Reply #8 on: November 12, 2009, 05:39:11 AM »
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Hi,

What's your definition for hyperfocal distance in the pixel peeping age?

Hyperfocal distance is based on an assumed circle of confusion. For 135 it used to be 1/30 mm. For APS-C that would be around 1/45 mm. Anything you would pixel peep having the CC of 1/45 mm would be terribly unsharp. The 1/30 mm was essentially based on small prints like 4x5.

With digital we both print large and do pixel peep. I had a related experience when I was shooting 67 on film. The DOF marking on the lens were simply unusable, the reason I bought the 67 was that I wanted sharper pictures then from 135.

I'm not against using hyperfocal focus but hyperfocal distance is based on a criteria. If the the criterium is choosen to wide most of the picture will be unsharp, if it's choosen to narrow we essentially end up focusing at infinity.

If we assume something like 6 micron sensors and 1/45 mm the COC would be about seven pixels across, thus a 12 MP camera would be reduced to something corresponding to a 0.3 MP camera!

Best regards
Erik


Quote from: Nemo
The first reviews on production models will bring critiques and suggestions to Leica, and this may help them in developing the next firmware. I did play a bit with a pre-production unit some weeks ago. Hardware suggestions aren't practical at this stage, but software suggestions may improve the camera in key areas.

My main suggestion is an improved "shapshot" or "streetshot" manual focus mode, simple and fast: a button would focus at the hyperfocal distance for the aperture value selected. That's all. AF may be fast, but the problem is where is the camera focusing when you shot very fast in the street. The old method of prefocus to the hyperfocal distance may be easy to implement, fast, and very practical.

A button for this function may be difficult to implement, but Leica can add a new MF mode. I would name it "Hyperfocal MF", or something like that. It would be easy to use: the camera would be at the hyperfocal all the time, and you change the hyperfocal with the aperture wheel.

Sean Reid or Michael Reichmann may consider this suggestion and translate it to Leica.
« Last Edit: November 12, 2009, 05:50:29 AM by ErikKaffehr » Logged

Rob C
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« Reply #9 on: November 12, 2009, 09:36:57 AM »
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Reading Michael's review, I find myself wondering how it can be that camera makers such a Leica, far from new kids on the block, seem to be unable to build a new camera from the ground up, and put there all the knowledge that they must, surely(?) have from their experience over the decades. Would it be asking too much to expect them to know what makes a small, simpler/cheaper camera useful?

For me, the first stumbling block is any system where you have to hold a camera out in front of you at arm's length to have any idea of what you are framing: it not only looks stupid, but apart from anything else, I need to wear glasses to read and would have to put them on when they would otherwise be unnecessary. Okay, you can buy a separate OVF, but if you admit it is required, why not just incorporate it in the first place? Pocketable. Does this have to be so literal a description and is it even that important to be able stick it in a small pocket?  I mean, are we playing at secret agents?

Perhaps the problem is something beyond the camera; perhaps it's Mercedes building an A Class, just something I see as a cynical struggle to spread the web for market share, the hell with the effect on the standing of the marque.

Rob C
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Robert Roaldi
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« Reply #10 on: November 12, 2009, 10:23:53 AM »
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Rob,

I'm with you on the optical finder. Many small film cameras of the past had optical finders, why can't they do it now? I am sure they can but they choose not to, and now millions think that holding a camera at arm's length is normal. I have the same reading eyeglass need, and I simply refuse to buy a camera without an optical finder. I don't care that it's not as good as a 100% finder in a top-of-line DSLR; that never bothered me before, it's a red herring.

I don't agree with you on the Benz A-series. There is nothing wrong with a high quality, quiet, and comfortable small car. It's a suspension and body design issue. No reason in the world why small(er) cars have to be noisy, cramped, or uncomfortable. The rear seat of my 1974 Fiat 128 had more butt and leg room than its contemporary American sedan competitors.
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Eric Myrvaagnes
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« Reply #11 on: November 12, 2009, 11:07:38 AM »
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Quote from: Robert Roaldi
Rob,

I'm with you on the optical finder. Many small film cameras of the past had optical finders, why can't they do it now? I am sure they can but they choose not to, and now millions think that holding a camera at arm's length is normal. I have the same reading eyeglass need, and I simply refuse to buy a camera without an optical finder. I don't care that it's not as good as a 100% finder in a top-of-line DSLR; that never bothered me before, it's a red herring.

I agree. but in addition, I would argue that the "holding a camera at arm's length is normal" idea is not only stupid for those of us who wear glasses, it also vastly increases wobble and vibration of the camera. With a decent optical view finder, the camera pressed firmly against my head, and the neckstrap wrapped around my right wrist so that it holds the whole head-plus-camera unit fixed in place, I can get the equivalent of two to three stops lower shutter speed usably. Holding the camera at arm's length thus wastes any benefit you might be getting from image stabilization.


I guess the so-called "live view" is okay for super quick snapshot, like "Ooh, that flower is a pretty color" that you will probably never look at again. But thinking of that way of shooting as "normal" is stupid, stupid, stupid, IMNSHO.

Eric

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BJL
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« Reply #12 on: November 12, 2009, 11:59:00 AM »
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Quote from: Robert Roaldi
I'm with you on the optical finder... holding a camera at arm's length is normal. I have the same reading eyeglass need, and I simply refuse to buy a camera without an optical finder.
For you and perhaps many other people with some degree of vision problems, composing two-eyed on a screen (LCD or old-style MF ground glass VF) requires holding the camera in an unstable position, arms away from the body, and so is a reason for you and some other people not to get a camera that lacks a one-eyed "peep-hole" VF.

But for a great many of us with good enough near-vision, a two-eyed VF screen can be used with the camera held quite securely, upper arms braced against body or such. What casual snap-shooters do is not a reliable indication of how a careful photographer will compose with an LCD screen. (By the way, I never press my SLRs against my face; one's head is usually a bit less stable than ones' torso, so doing so would probably make the camera less steady. And I have not encountered that advice in any book on film camera usage or in any photography course I have taken: I wonder if the "camera must be mashed to the head" idea has been created in response to the rise of LCD screen viewfinders?)


So can we please dismiss this idea that it is generally necessary to hold a camera shakily at arms' length in order to compose two-eyed on a screen?
« Last Edit: November 12, 2009, 12:00:43 PM by BJL » Logged
John Camp
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« Reply #13 on: November 12, 2009, 01:35:59 PM »
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Quote from: BJL
So can we please dismiss this idea that it is generally necessary to hold a camera shakily at arms' length in order to compose two-eyed on a screen?

When I first got an LCD-only camera, I tended to hold it out in front of me...like an eyepiece, actually. I put the camera between myself and the target, and it was a bit shaky. With a little experience, I found that there's no point at all in doing that. Perhaps one of the powers-that-be on this forum should write an article on the "new" proper way to hold an LCD-only camera. It would go something like this, I believe: prop both elbows against the bottom of the rib cage, with the top of the camera about chin height. Look over the camera at the target, and just before shooting, look down at the LCD to make sure the framing is what you want. And fire. I've found that with a little work -- very little work -- I can pretty much frame the target without looking at the LCD at all. For precise framing, I have to look down. I wear bifocals, and they work just fine for this. The camera is about as steady as a DSLR.

I shoot a D3 and D300 in addition to the Panasonic m4/3 cameras, and I think that the DSLRs might be just a hair quicker to shoot...but the difference is small. And there are benefits to the over-the-camera view, too - you're not looking through a tunnel, and you can see everything that's going on around the shot.

The thing about these arguments is that they tend to be extreme -- "I couldn't *possibly* use an LCD-only camera..." Well, sure you could. And probably pretty well, if you're any good with a DSLR. And vice-versa. It just takes a little work. *Very* little work.



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BJL
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« Reply #14 on: November 12, 2009, 01:56:46 PM »
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Quote from: John Camp
Perhaps one of the powers-that-be on this forum should write an article on the "new" proper way to hold an LCD-only camera.
I suggest that they invite you: Michael are you reading this? Because this is a fine first draft, matching my experience well:
Quote from: John Camp
prop both elbows against the bottom of the rib cage, with the top of the camera about chin height. Look over the camera at the target, and just before shooting, look down at the LCD to make sure the framing is what you want. And fire. ...
And that from a bifocals wearer, so maybe I should scratch my comments about the vision limitations of some photographers.

You got one point I overlooked: in some situations, like some people and event photography, it is great to be able to have you eyes away from the peep-hole, seeing the scene as a whole, talking with subjects maybe, coaxing the right expression and seeing it when it happens better than almost any VF can show it, or watching for something more interesting happening somewhere else in the scene, or someone about to walk between you and your subject. Or keeping a head's up for approaching traffic: I often want to stand in the road to get a good perspective.

But this involves relying on AF, which I suppose is another of those newfangled features that photographic technique ultra-conservatives do not like. For careful manual focussing instead, the advantages of Live View with magnification over any optical VF system is another subject ...
« Last Edit: November 12, 2009, 01:57:37 PM by BJL » Logged
Robert Roaldi
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« Reply #15 on: November 12, 2009, 02:07:03 PM »
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Quote from: John Camp
The thing about these arguments is that they tend to be extreme -- "I couldn't *possibly* use an LCD-only camera..." Well, sure you could. And probably pretty well, if you're any good with a DSLR. And vice-versa. It just takes a little work. *Very* little work.

That's quite correct. I should have said that I prefer not to buy "another" LCD-only camera (I previously said refuse to buy), but I have owned two and did get used to using them, it's just that I hated having to have my reading glasses with me all the time. I don't like it, but doesn't prevent me taking pictures with them. At the moment, the menus on the backs of my DSLRs use large enough fonts that I can get away not having my reading glasses with me.

Still, I don't see what's wrong with including an optical finder on smaller cams. There was a useful finder on my Olympus Stylus Epic and it was pretty small. Some small Sony digicams have them, so it's not like it can't be done. Now that Ricoh has physically separated the viewing lens and sensor from the controlling base and LCD, there may be shooting circumstances where it may be useful to go further and detach them completely, using a wired or wireless connection between the two. That's more or less how security cameras operate. Doesn't solve my problem though.
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Rob C
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« Reply #16 on: November 12, 2009, 04:05:02 PM »
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Quote from: Robert Roaldi
Rob,

I don't agree with you on the Benz A-series. There is nothing wrong with a high quality, quiet, and comfortable small car. It's a suspension and body design issue. No reason in the world why small(er) cars have to be noisy, cramped, or uncomfortable. The rear seat of my 1974 Fiat 128 had more butt and leg room than its contemporary American sedan competitors.


From that point of view, there is no argument, but it wasn't what I was implying, which is that for Mercedes to make very cheap products (relative to the range) when their reputation is built around being R-R, Bentley rivals, is bad for the image of the marque, nothing to do with the small product per se, just about how it might impact adversely on the whole firm. (Actually, the CEO of Merc was on Bloomberg TV today making projections about the A- and B-Class and replacements; the interviewer didn't seem entirely convinced either.


Regarding the posts about the finder system of the baby Leica: yes of course there are alternative ways of holding a camera with only a screen at the rear with which to frame and focus, but they are still nothing more than work-arounds for a missing, proper finder; magnifying your rear screen via a menu or anything else doesn't make much sense either unless on a tripod and with all the time in the day, in which case, if you have to cart a tripod, what are you doing with a tiny camera anyway? I know that there are always alternatives, but these are not the same thing as getting it right from that blank sheet of paper! Heavens, that little Leica screams street! to anyone who is listening - what an echo it turns out to be, and how far removed from its ancestors!

Rob C
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BJL
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« Reply #17 on: November 12, 2009, 06:06:20 PM »
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Quote from: Rob C
... there are alternative ways of holding a camera with only a screen at the rear with which to frame and focus, but they are still nothing more than work-arounds for a missing, proper finder; magnifying your rear screen via a menu or anything else doesn't make much sense either unless on a tripod ...
Have you actually tried a good LCD viewfinder system?

First, no menu diving is required on a good system: turning the focus ring can automatically give an enlarged view. My favorite approach is where the enlarged view fills only a central portion of the screen, still showing the outer parts of the full image in order to guide framing). Secondly, this can be doe just fine while hand-holding.

And in what sense is this inferior to using a TTL optical viewfinder (or in your prejudicial language, a "proper viewfinder"), which is incapable of such magnification? Using add on magnifying loupes is an inferior substitute for what I am tempted to call a "proper digital viewfinder", because the secondary image scattered of a frosted surface has far less resolution than the image provided by the sensor. And if the optical viewfinder is not SLR-style but instead the non-TTL peep-hole of some digicams and non-SLR film cameras, that of course provides no focus information whatsoever. Between that lack of focus information and inaccurate framing due to parallax and such, those are quite inferior to a decent LCD or EVF ... which is probably why they are ever less common on digital cameras.
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Ray
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« Reply #18 on: November 12, 2009, 09:03:47 PM »
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Quote from: BJL
For you and perhaps many other people with some degree of vision problems, composing two-eyed on a screen (LCD or old-style MF ground glass VF) requires holding the camera in an unstable position, arms away from the body, and so is a reason for you and some other people not to get a camera that lacks a one-eyed "peep-hole" VF.

But for a great many of us with good enough near-vision, a two-eyed VF screen can be used with the camera held quite securely, upper arms braced against body or such. What casual snap-shooters do is not a reliable indication of how a careful photographer will compose with an LCD screen. (By the way, I never press my SLRs against my face; one's head is usually a bit less stable than ones' torso, so doing so would probably make the camera less steady. And I have not encountered that advice in any book on film camera usage or in any photography course I have taken: I wonder if the "camera must be mashed to the head" idea has been created in response to the rise of LCD screen viewfinders?)


So can we please dismiss this idea that it is generally necessary to hold a camera shakily at arms' length in order to compose two-eyed on a screen?

BJL,
I think a bit of testing is in order here. Which is more stable, the head or the torso?

However, I immediately see problems. The results of any such testing could be wide open to criticism. Would the result of any such comparison presented merely be a description of the individual's competence with regard to torso or head method?

If the individual making the comparison has an agenda to prove the correctness of his previously stated position, in favour of one or the other method, then any unconscious weighting of the results is always open to criticism.

To overcome such potential flaws in methodology, may I suggest an international competition, fully supervised along the lines of the Olympic Games in order to avoid cheating, except the purpose of the event would not be to see who's the winner, but to see what proportion of participants produce sharper photos using torso or head method.

Our host, Michael, could be the adjudicator. (Just kidding, Michael. I know you have better things to do    ).
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Rob C
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« Reply #19 on: November 13, 2009, 02:55:51 AM »
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Quote from: BJL
Have you actually tried a good LCD viewfinder system?

First, no menu diving is required on a good system: turning the focus ring can automatically give an enlarged view. My favorite approach is where the enlarged view fills only a central portion of the screen, still showing the outer parts of the full image in order to guide framing). Secondly, this can be doe just fine while hand-holding.

And in what sense is this inferior to using a TTL optical viewfinder (or in your prejudicial language, a "proper viewfinder"), which is incapable of such magnification? Using add on magnifying loupes is an inferior substitute for what I am tempted to call a "proper digital viewfinder", because the secondary image scattered of a frosted surface has far less resolution than the image provided by the sensor. And if the optical viewfinder is not SLR-style but instead the non-TTL peep-hole of some digicams and non-SLR film cameras, that of course provides no focus information whatsoever. Between that lack of focus information and inaccurate framing due to parallax and such, those are quite inferior to a decent LCD or EVF ... which is probably why they are ever less common on digital cameras.



Aren't we talking about Leica? Isn't it supposed to be king of the heap? Why introduce alternatives to the discusion - they are not the subject. As for whether I have used screens on the back of cameras in practice: on both my D200 and D700 they serve for histogram purposes only, even though either camera finds itself on a tripod as often as not. However,  my grand-daughters use those silly 'stretch-arm' devices and I have sometimes taken snaps for them using said equipment. But then, they are as irrelevant to the discussion as any other camera - it's Messrs Leica under the 'scope; Messrs Leica and a blank sheet of drawing paper.

But Ray, I really think your competition has legs: many here would apply for a place at once!

;-)

Rob C
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