Leica X Vario: Options

Viewfinder Options | Protector | Lens Hood | Close-up Lenses | Straps | Bag

On this page, I would like to discuss optional accessories that you can add to the Leica X Vario - but only those that I own or considered myself.

 

Viewfinder Options

The Leica X Vario belongs to the (rare) category of cameras that offer an LCD screen and the additional option of using an electronic viewfinder, which is attached to the flash hot shoe. Wile the LCD screen is of good quality (900 K pixels), I belong to the rare species of photographers who prefer an eye-level viewfinder, be it optical (OVF) or electronic (EVF). I am used to this kind of viewfinder, and I also found that I can hold the camera more stable when pressing it against my forehead. An EVF also saves me from using glasses, which I find quite convenient. And last, but not least, I often use the viewfinder tilted 90 degree upwards...

You can either use the Leica EVF (Leica Visoflex EVF2) made by Olympus or the original one from Olympus (VF-2, see photo below), both offering a resolution of 1.4 Megapixels. This resolution is sufficient for me to use the EVF for manual focusing without activating screen magnification (which offers only poor image quality). On the negative side, you can recognize the pixels, and the colors are very dull (you can adjust them somewhat, but this did not convince me). The viewfinder for my Ricoh GXR offers a smaller image, has fewer pixels (900 K), but offers much more pleasing colors and does not show pixels. In the end, the Leica version seems to be better suited to manual focusing. You can find a comparison of both viewfinders on page Manual Focus Comparisons.

         

Figures: Views of the electronic viewfinder Olympus VF-2 (click images for larger versions in a new window)

In the meantime, Olympus introduced the VF-4 electronic viewfinder with 2.5 K pixels, but it will not find its way to the Leica M240 and X Vario cameras...

In the camera menus, you can set that certain information (menus, playback) is displayed on the LCD screen instead of the viewfinder, which may be handy at times. Regrettably, the LCD screen is fixed and not tiltable.

 

Protector

The protector is a half-case made of leather that, as its name says, serves for protecting the camera and for holding it more easily with the hands. It is available in two colors (cognac and black) and costs 90 EUR in Germany, which is quite steep in my opinion.

Figure: Leica X Vario with cognac protector, Olympus VF2-electronic viewfinder, lens hood and shoulder strap

Nevertheless, I bought the protector to secure the camera. I also found that I can hold the camera better with it. The small "grip" below the cut-out for the red dot seems to be of minor importance, but it isn't - it really helps.

Some X Vario users reported that the protector "protects" them from inadvertently touching the rear buttons on the left and the direction pad. I have to agree that it at least reduces the number of inadvertent button presses - probably because you hold the camera using the protector.

But I also have some gripes with the protector - read here.

 

Lens Hood

The X Vario lens hood is full metal and can be screwed on the lens (see photo above). Leica maintains that it "provides effective protection against contrast-reducing stray light and against damage and soiling of the front lens." It has a steep price tag of 90 EUR in Germany. Nonetheless, I bought it...

Note that in the meantime, a cheaper alternative to the original Leica X Vario lens hood is available. It looks nearly identical to the original one and is sold by enjoyyourcamera.com in Germany: JJC Aluminum Lens Hood for Leica X Vario - inkl. Lens Cap (ca. 36 EUR).

Actually, in line with other users, I could not find much protection against stray light. However, I found that the hood helps in the rain and protects the lens from rain drops... It also keeps you from touching the front lens (so that you do not need a protective filter - I do not use such filters because I want to keep the number of glass surfaces at a minimum). Other X Vario observed this, too...

Moreover, the cap fits so tightly that some users already feared that this would damage their camera. I found that after a while, the fit is no longer that tight and acceptable.

 

Close-up Lenses

The Leica X Vario is fairly good at taking close-up photos, offering at magnification of 0.2 at a minimum distance of 30 cm and a focal length of 70 mm (equivalent). You can increase magnification to 0.5 (or 1:2) or even 1 with close-up lenses.

After some experimenting with close-up lenses, I bought at first one, and later another Marumi +5 achromat. These allow magnifications of 0.4 (+5) and 0.6 combined (+10). For details on my experiments with different types of close-up lenses and achromats, see pages Close-up Lens Experiments - Summary, Close-up Experiments - No Lens, and Close-up Lens Experiments - Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.

   

Figure: Marumi achromat +5; it has a filter thread of 52 mm and required me to also buy a 43-52 mm step-up ring.

 

Straps

Initially, I used the leather shoulder strap that was provided with the Leica X Vario. However, I found this strap too inflexible (regarding the length), also wanted to use a wrist strap from time to time, and wanted to be able to easily switch between shoulder and wrist strap. One day, I stumbled across the Leash and Cuff strips from Peak Design - and that's my current solution. For details, see page Peak Design Straps.

   

Photos: Leica X Vario with Peak Design wrist strap (Cuff, left) and with shoulder strap (Leash, right) attached

 

Bag

At the beginning, I used my Orca bags, but they were not optimal. So I pondered, which bag to buy for my X Vario and some additional stuff. Some X Vario owners promoted the Ona Bowery bag, but it is expensive (125 EUR), and I find that its additional pockets for your purse and more are not secure. Another option were the recently introduced Tamrac Apache 2 or 4 bags (80 or 100 EUR), which offer many more pockets for additional stuff. However, I found it hard to judge the usefulness of bags from advertisements only...

In March 2014, I had the chance to buy a used black ThinkTank Retrospective 5 bag for my Leica X Vario equipment and some additional stuff (for example, binoculars, Ricoh GR, purse - but not all of this at once) - and I did so.

Here is an example of how I can fill the bag:

When I go on short trips in my vicinity, I usually carry the camera without any bag.

Reference: www.thinktankphoto.com/products/retrospective-5-black.aspx

 

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10.03.2016