Leica X Vario: Firmware

Overview of Firmware Updates | Initial State | Firmware Update Version 1.1 | References

On this page, I collect information on Leica X Vario firmware updates and also discuss, how they respond to user complaints regarding camera issues and to suggestions for improvement.

 

Overview of Firmware Updates

At the moment, just one firmware update has been released:

 

Initial State

It is instructive to start with some information about the initial state of the Leica X Vario camera, which was in many aspects unsatisfactorily. You can find a list of design and functional issues on pages:

For a number of users, the main complaint about the Leica X Vario was that automatic focusing was too slow and imprecise. I prepared some pages on which I take at a closer look at the AF issues that my specific X Vario sample exhibits:

I adapted all the above pages to include the changes introduced with firmware update 1.1 (and will do so for potential future ones).

 

Firmware Update Version 1.1

The first firmware update for the Leica X Vario appeared on September 15, 2014 and has version number 1.1. According to Leica, it includes the following improvements:

Operational Improvements

Functionality Improvements

(Note that in the instructions Leica itself uses terms that do not comply with the manual. I also changed the text according to my understanding...)

For details, see the instructions for the firmware update (English).

Comments

File Date and Release of Firmware Update

The firmware update file has a change date of February 26, 2014, whereas the update was released on September 15, 2014 (at Photokina 2014). This time difference somewhat puzzles me and others. Moreover, at the beginning of the year, X Vario user XVarior who seems to have some connections to Leica promised an upcoming firmware update (he did so, among others, in a posting addressed at user barjohn who had several proposals for items to include in an update and was also dissatisfied with the state of affairs). After all, it looks as if, for reasons unknown to me, Leica was idle before releasing the firmware update, which indeed addresses mostly some of the initial complaints. In the end, I guess we will never know what really happened. At least, this update addresses a few complaints and offers some useful improvements...

About the Improvements

In the following, I briefly comment on the changes that firmware update version 1.1 brings to the Leica X Vario:

All in all, while most of the changes/improvements are useful, a lot of things are missing that various users have proposed for inclusion in future firmware updates. This fact makes it very plausible to me that nothing has happened to the firmware since the change date of the update file, that is, since end of February 2014..

See page Functional Issues for a list of proposals for future firmware updates (I adapted the page to the current state) - there you will find many useful things that have not been addressed by this update (including the "Auto Review" bug).

Up to now, I mostly used the first two new features of the firmware update (easier exposure compensation in "A" and "T" modes; INFO button for confirming settings). I found both useful - they definitely make interacting with the camera easier and more pleasurable.

Autofocus and Automatic White Balance Behavior???

Some users who installed the firmware update posted that they found an improvement in autofocus speed and accuracy whereas others denied this (including me). Since Leica did not mention autofocus in the instructions for the update, I simply assume that nothing has happened in this area. As of spring 2015, I still experience spurious AF errors within series of otherwise correctly focused images. I would regard this as a confirmation of this assumption. (For all camera brands, there is a lot of speculation going on about undocumented improvements through firmware updates. But why shouldn't a manufacturer list improvements when something was done and effort invested?)

For a short moment, I came to believe that automatic white balance (AWB) now leads to warmer images than before the update (I found that AWB leads to somewhat dull photos - missing yellow...). But after closer inspection, I cannot confirm this...

Installation

The firmware update file is offered by Leica as a ZIP archive. When you download the update from Leica using an Apple Macintosh, which I own, the ZIP archive is already decompressed and you will find a file named "XV-1_100.upd" in your Mac's "Downloads" folder. Just copy this file to the root directory of an SD card, insert it into the camera, and start the update process as described in the installation instructions. There you are told to turn the camera on while simultaneously pressing the INFO button. Well, it took me three attempts until that worked (I also removed the SD card, checked it in the computer, and inserted it again)! In the end, I do not know why the first attempts failed and why the third one worked... Maybe, it depends a lot on when and how you exactly press the INFO buttons while turning the camera on...

After the firmware has been updated, you are requested to "restart" the camera. But what does that mean??? I decided to turn the camera off and on again - and that seems to have worked...

Conclusions

This firmware update consists mainly of simple corrections (or "hacks") of the state of affairs, including the useful change involving the INFO button. I cannot recognize that there was a major rewrite of parts of the firmware, as would be necessary to improve the overall speed of the camera and/or autofocus speed and accuracy. Thus, while some users sent a big "thank you" to Leica for the update, I am inclined to be less enthusiastic about what Leica did. Moreover, the change date of the update file suggests that Leica even held the update back for several months.

Compared with what I have experienced with firmware updates from Ricoh (and others from Fuji), this update looks like a minimalist approach - so many opportunities for useful improvements (and bug fixes) have been missed...

 

References

 

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27.10.2015