The cat’s finally out of the bag, as Leica has officially unveiled what it has been teasing us with as a “Mini M.” The new camera, the X Vario, is a compact 16.2-megapixel shooter with an APS-C sensor and a built-in 28-70mm zoom lens.
If you’re wondering what makes it an M camera, it’s purely from a design standpoint. The German-made X Vario shares some traits, like the top plate that’s “machined from solid aluminum in the same process as that used for the Leica M,” dials, and leather trim. But in terms of specs, the X Vario couldn’t be any more different from the M; comparing the X Vario to the new X-series models from Fujifilm would be more apropos.
The lens has a maximum aperture of f/3.5 at the widest, but only f/6.4 when zoomed out to the telephoto end. There are various dials for selecting shutter speed and aperture values. While Leica touts a fast autofocusing system, you can also manually zoom and focus using the rings on the lens. ISO ranges from 100 to 12,500, and the X Vario shoots Full HD video at 1920 x 1080 at 30 frames per second. All your content can be viewed on a 3-inch LCD; an electronic viewfinder is optional.
If you’re feeling let down by the product or feel duped by the M marketing, you’re not alone. As Pop Photo says, “The M, after all, stands for Messsucher, which suggested it was going to be a rangefinder,” but image quality will be comparable to the smaller X2 instead. What we aren’t surprised by is the price, which you can preorder at B&H for $2,850.