Leica X Vario Camera

Always take note of the equipment that the professionals use

Ray Massey, The Obsessive photographer, tells us why he loves his Leica.

I’ve been a photographer for a long time now, and I still love taking pictures, particularly when away from my commercial stomping ground.

One long weekend last Spring, I went to Paris to see friends and family.  I took along my DSLR and carried it around taking "snaps" as we strolled between exhibitions, restaurants, bars, parks and along the Seine, doing the sort of thing one does during a long weekend in Paris!    

By the third day I became aware that the Canon and lens on my shoulder was weighing heavily causing a gnawing ache in my already slightly twisted back.  Being in Paris, thinking about heroes like Cartier-Bressons, Lartigue, Doisneau, Willy Ronis etc, and in the mood for a bit of street photography, I promised myself I would get a new lightweight camera that would provide simple versatility, durability, a useable zoom and quality that I could print from; in short, a camera that I could love the way I loved my first ever lightweight, low maintenance 35mm Pentax S1A.

After listening to lots of geeks, doing lots of research and trials, speaking to friends in the business and borrowing various bits of gear, I still hadn’t found the perfect partner.

I know everyone thinks that photographers are minted.  Truth is, these days, we have "eaten the white bread".  There are more smudgers out there than you can shake a stick at; everything is “only for the web”: proper quality is rarely required.  So, disposable cash is a little short.

For this reason I hadn’t really considered a Leica; I’d never considered it for the workplace. For me, a camera is a device to stop the lens rubbing on the film (sensor).  Technical spiel doesn’t impress me, but good design, balance, feel, simplicity and intelligent navigation does. I took a deep breath, psyched myself up to deal with more geeks, and set off for my nearest “Red Spot” in Clerkenwell.  

Once there, I was so relieved to find humans offering a selling experience, second only to the Macintosh shrine in Covent Garden. I do understand most of the technical stuff but I try not to think about it too much. I was introduced to the whole range, but when I picked up the “X Vario”, it was love at first sight.  However, I was not enchanted by the digital screen on the back, and explained that I wanted a SLR.

Hey Presto! A small articulated pentaprism (EFV 2) was produced to sit on top of the camera. It can be used like an upside down periscope, and can adjust for my eyesight. The digital screen is so crisp, I can read the menus easily. The navigation is far more logical than the Japanese cameras. I was advised that in the price I could choose either a leather case and strap, or a two-finger strap the likes of which I have never seen before. I can literally wear the camera on one hand and feel like Edward Scissorhands.

Touching one obvious button switches the image and/or menu between the back screen and the eyepiece.  I was completely sold and never looked back. This camera is discreet, understated and unobtrusive.  Yep, there is a cost issue that I wrestled with for about two minutes, then I remembered a great line fed to me by an ex: “Ray, you wouldn’t want a cheap girlfriend would you?” She was right!

It took me a couple of months to bond with the X Vario, and like good music, the best takes longer to love. I will keep shooting all my commercial work on the usual Hassleblads, Canons and Nikons to which I guess I’m married for the duration.  But for sure, I will be taking my Leica X Vario for rather a lot of trips and weekends.



Category: Photography

Country of Origin Germany

Brand/Make/ModelLeica X Vario

Type: Digital Camera (Optional extras on featured camera: Hand Grip with finger loop, Lens Hood, EVF 2)

Year2013 to date

Why:  Icon of design and build quality. Large professional image sensor with high resolution 16+  megapixels. 

Website: www.leica.com