Friday, June 28, 2013

Leica X Vario Almost Perfect for the Street

Shot with Leica X Vario @ ISO 1600 and 1/1600 sec F/3.5 at 28mm equiv

I've posted more street shots here.
My full review of the X Vario is here.

Some people feel that shooting with a Leica is like driving a Rolls Royce: mostly show and very little performance. However, I've found that shooting with the Leica X Vario on the street has been a surprisingly enjoyable experience. Let me explain. It's not that I didn't expect to enjoy shooting with this "mini M", but I didn't think it would actually help me become a better street photographer. What makes the X Vario so good? True manual control. Manual dials, manual zoom, manual focus lens. Without looking at a screen, I can see my shutter speed, aperture, focal length, and most importantly my focus distance. This is the key: a true manual focus lens, not focus by wire. This one feature has helped me get more shots more often.

I've realized while shooting with both the Ricoh GR D IV and Ricoh GR V, I actually missed less shots using the snap focus feature versus using auto focus. Yes folks, I stand by this statement. When shooting on the street, and trying to shoot quickly and discreetly, most cameras just can't focus quick enough, or will focus on the wrong object at least 30-40% of the time. Even face detection can't help, since only I know which person I want to focus on, and only have a split second to make this decision.

Shot with Ricoh GR D IV @ ISO 1600

When pre-focusing and having a good sense of the distance, I miss only 10-15% of my shots. This is what shooting with the Ricoh taught me as a street shooter, and what the Leica has helped me do so quicker. I can jump from autofocus to a specific scale focus distance in less than a second. I now know how far 1.5, 2, and 5 metres is. When I see a subject I want to shoot, I quickly set the distance, and as they approach I take the shot without even looking at the screen. This is how I got the above image, without looking while approaching my subject. Pre-set exposure and focus distance, snap! Perfect shot!

The X Vario's manual focus ring is a dream: its very well dampened, with the right amount of resistance. Why is this important? Because when I set it to 1.5 meters, it won't accidentally shift focus, as is the case with most SLR lenses. When turning the focus ring all the way to the left, it clicks into AF. It's that simple. no switch, no menu input, no buttons, no looking even.

Why is this almost a perfect street camera? You'll have to wait for my full review. I'll post it next week. No matter what your opinion is on this very expensive camera, if you like to shoot street photography, and you've used rangefinders with real manual focus rings and real exposure dials, you will enjoy shooting with this camera. No digital camera that I've shot with so far can adjust the most important settings faster and more intuitively than this camera. I don't want to return the X Vario now... What can I sell for $3,000?

I've posted more images of zone focused images here
Click here for my full review of the X Vario.

If you have any questions, feel free to leave one below. Don't forget to follow me on Twitter and Instagram. I often post different images on those sites.

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