Leica’s luxury cameras get rugged with the dust, water, and shock proof X-U

We never recommend taking cameras into harsh environments unless they’re made for them. Imagine the horror of dropping that pricey, unprotected DSLR on jagged rocks or getting it wet by the pool; if you’re carrying something like a Leica, you certainly don’t want to see that investment fizzle before your eyes. Now, Leica cameras are built to be sturdy, but they aren’t impervious to the elements. That is, until the arrival of the new X-U, the first Leica in a category known as rugged or tough cameras.

The X-U uses a 16.5-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor, and has a fixed Leica Summilux 23mm lens with a f/1.7 aperture and 35mm-equivalent angle of view. But what makes this $2,950 camera interesting are the rugged attributes: waterproof down to 49 feet (for an hour), shock-proof from 4 feet, and sealed to protect against dust, sand, rain, etc. The 3-inch LCD has a protective cover, the battery and memory card compartments have a double locking system, and the top and bottom plates and dials are made with tough anodized aluminum.

Rugged cameras aren’t new, but few have the type of specs – large sensor, fast lens (for sweet bokeh), contrast detect autofocusing, and, of course, Leica’s German engineering and design (in collaboration with Audi) – as the X-U. Nikon’s AW1 is perhaps the closest, but most rugged cams are typical compact point-and-shoots. The higher-end specs should help provide some great photography from places like deserts and oceans, and its rugged features allow photographers to go into those environments without cumbersome protective equipment. While Leica users tend to prefer manual controls, the X-U also has automatic functions; when you’re swimming underwater or going through a jungle, the last thing you want to deal with are settings adjustments.

The X-U has controls typical of advanced cameras, giving you quick access to shutter speed and aperture. There’s a sizable grip to give you a nice hold on the camera, and the flash is moved toward the end of the lens (how effective this will be, remains to be seen). The X-U can also shoot video, at Full HD or 720p, and up to 30 frames per second.

Expect this camera to ship later this month, however, specialty camera shops like B&H are already taking preorders. Check out these sample images.


Miss Black Friday but still need an Xbox? Walmart has you covered

Black Friday and Cyber Monday have both come and gone, but you can still save some cash on a new Xbox One bundle at Walmart. Both the Xbox One S and the Xbox One X are on sale now.

These are the best action cameras money can buy

Action cameras are great tools for capturing videos of your everyday activities, whether it's a birthday party or the steepest slope you've ever descended on your snowboard. These are the best money can buy.

Protect your new iPhone with one of our favorite iPhone XR cases

Apple's new iPhone range is the toast of 2018, with beautiful style and more power than you can shake a stick at. But beauty can often be fragile -- keep the damage to a minimum with the best iPhone XR cases.

The most common Xbox One X problems, and how to fix them

The Xbox One X is a brilliant console, but it's not without its issues, ranging from simple annoyances to severe hardware problems. Here are common Xbox One X problems and how to fix them.

Luminar’s new libraries don’t even need you to manually import images

Luminar 3's new libraries feature doesn't require importing -- images are automatically added after clicking on a folder. The long-promised libraries feature gives editors a Lightroom alternative with organization tools as well as syncing…
Emerging Tech

The best drone photos from around the world

Most of today's drones come equipped with high-end cameras, which are quickly revolutionizing the world of aerial photography as we know it. Here are some of the best drone photos from around the world.

MIT science photographer isn’t an artist, but her work could fill galleries

Felice Frankel is an award-winning photographer, but she doesn't consider herself an artist. As a science photographer, she has been helping researchers better communicate their ideas for nearly three decades with eye-catching imagery.

The best mirrorless cameras pack all the power of a DSLR, minus the bulk

Mirrorless cameras offer a lot of photography firepower, inside a compact body. Explore the best mirrorless cameras, from the pro-level to the beginner-friendly shooters, in this guide.

Photography News: Startup redesigns tripod heads ‘inside out’ for more flexibility

Well, this doesn't look like the ball heads that we've seen before. Instead of designing a tripod ball head with a small cutout, the Colorado Tripod Company created one with most of the ball exposed, allowing for more possible angles.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Folding canoes and ultra-fast water filters

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!

Leica targets street photographers with a pricey camera bundle

Described by the camera company as "your perfect companion in the city," Leica's Street Kit comprises a Leica CL camera body, a 23mm (35mm full-frame equivalent) F2 lens, batteries, a handgrip, and a black leather carrying strap.
Product Review

Meet Z6, the breakout star in Nikon's new mirrorless lineup

The Nikon Z6 is the sibling to the new mirrorless Z7 -- but for some photographers, the cheaper Z6 may be the better option. Read where the $2,000 camera beats the $3,400 one (and where it doesn’t) in our Nikon Z6 review.
Social Media

Snapchat facial recognition could soon power a new portrait mode, code suggests

Digging into Snapchat's code suggests a handful of upcoming camera features, including a portrait mode. The feature appears to use facial recognition A.I. to blur the background. The code also suggests an updated camera interface.
Social Media

#ThrowbackThursday is only the start: Instagram hashtags for every day of the week

Not getting your hashtag fill with #ThrowbackThursday or #ManCrushMonday? Here's a list of some of the more popular Instagram hashtags, so you can outfit your next post with the proper tag, regardless of what day it is.