What Does the New Leica X1 Firmware Update Mean For You?

Today, Leica issued a firmware update for the X1. Indeed, it is already quite the powerhouse of a camera that will powerbomb your wallet. Rumors were abound though that the Leica X1’s firmware update was perhaps to make it more of a competitor to the Fujifilm X100. So here’s the thing: we know how the X100 will function. Does the firmware update indeed make it more of a competitor?

According to Leica’s press release, the firmware update provides:

  • Improved manual focusing, with the focus screen showing the image based on an open aperture
  • More accurate manual focusing with finer steps, when scrolling slowly with the click wheel
  • Two manual focusing speeds for more accurate and faster manual focus operation
  • Manual focusing lock now available
  • Enlarged manual focusing scale display
  • Depth of field scale displayed in manual focusing mode
  • Manual focus settings retained in memory when camera is switched off
  • Improved autofocus speed in low light conditions and with low contrast subjects, in particular when shooting multiple images of the same subject
  • ISO setting displayed in Auto ISO mode
  • Improved JPEG image quality

So what do we get? It seems like there is mostly improvements to manually focusing, autofocusing in low light, improved image quality (which I’m not totally sure is possible without sensor tweaks) and…that seems to be it.

As it is, using the camera while manually focusing will be similar (though not spot on with) manually focusing a Micro Four Thirds camera of some sort. Of course, I know that you can’t focus via a ring around the lens. I did a hands on for Eric over at Photography Bay a while ago. In fact, the camera is much bigger and feels a bit like my old Leica CL.

In terms of ergonomics, the X100 has a viewfinder (that is both electronic and optical depending on the setting.) If you prefer to hold the camera up to your eye for focusing and for less camera shake, it seems like the X100 may be the go to camera for you.

Additionally, the X100 is built more rugged, and has a faster lens.

So why should one go with the Leica?

I’m not exactly sure at this point.

This isn’t a situation like the Leica D-LUX 5 vs Panasonic LX-5 or even the S95 vs the D-LUX 5. And though these smaller cameras are nice, the X100 and X1 are the perfect sized small cameras for street photography. In fact, those are the photographers that these cameras are directly targeting.

Sure, there is something very disarming about composing and shooting via the LCD screen vs a viewfinder, and the X1 forces you to do that. But there are many photographers out there that prefer to use the viewfinder instead.

What do you think? Do you think the X1 will stand a chance to the X100? Let us know in the comments below.

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Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.