Monday, July 30, 2012

Quick thoughts between Leica X2 and Olympus OM-D

After having used my Leica X2 for a little over 1,000 photos and around 2,000 on the OM-D I have some initial observations between the two cameras. The Olympus is a technically excellent camera. It has great sharpness, responsiveness, autofocus, exposure and sensor noise. The Leica has excellent handling, portability, lovely files, exposure and good sharpness. I do want to point out that they are both inherent very different cameras. Designed for different uses, and aimed at different users. In my opinion, they are mutually exclusive.

In short, I find the X2 files a joy to process and finish. The colour, tonality and 'mood' have so much more life than the OM-D. The files with the X2 need less attention to get looking right. A curve adjustment here and there, some levels, and then the usual sharpen and noise reduction reviews. The OM-D tends to need more work to get the 'look' of the image. I find that the sharpness of the X2 is very good, but the OM-D (especially with the Leica 45mm f/2.8) to be just that much better.

On a day out with the family, which would I take? The X2. What would be in my go bag for every day photos? The X2. If I was going out for a night out, the X2. For me, I find the X2 a perfect match. For a photographic trip, I would consider the X2, and along with the OM-D mated with the 12mm f/2.0 and the 45mm f/2.8. Of which, it should cover me for most of my shooting needs. This all fits nicely into my Think Tank Restrospective 5 bag. The alternative would be the X2 and D700 with the Zeiss 100mm f/2.0 and Nikon 24mm f/1.4.

With the X2, there are two inherent shortcomings (that cannot be changed) and a few areas that can be improved with firmware. 

1. It doesn't do macro very well. On such a compact camera, surely it would've been easy to allow focusing down to say 15cm from the current 30cm.
2. It doesn't do a equivalent 70mm-ish FOV. Obviously no fault of the X2, but if Leica would introduce an X2 version with the longer focal length lens (and perhaps a wider one as well), it would allow people like me to build a system simply based on multiple bodies. No more lens changes!

If item 1 was to be addressed in the next version, and a new X2 released with a narrower lens, I think it'd be even better suited to me. Things I would like to see improved in the firmware;

1. Allow minimum shutter speed for Auto ISO to be set to 1/250, rather than just 1/30.
2. Allows the two dials to be customised to change EV, ISO, Flash ISO, etc. by the user.
3. Allow fro DNG only.
4. Buttons to be a little more response, especially the INFO button, when I am using the OVF, it sometimes takes around 1 second for the screen to come on.
5. Have a special screen display mode for when you are in OVF (as an option to no display) that will show all the critical camera settings (ISO, EV, WB, photos remaining, focus point, etc.). Even better would be to allow the photographer to select which ones to show.

Without sounding too poetic, I find that the use and results of the X2 to be have more 'soul' and emotional connection, despite it being noisier and not as sharp nor as fast as the OM-D; and for me, that   is why I think the X2 will be my long term photographic friend.

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