I’ve been travelling in India lately with this, Leica’s newest compact camera, the X1 – and loving it. Visually, the X1 is almost a reincarnation of Leica’s original Model 1 from 1925. I suspect that if you put an X1 in the hands of a photojournalist of the Cartier-Bresson ilk, they’d start clicking away without missing a beat.
The X1 just makes you want to take pictures. It is ultra-simple to use in its point-and-shoot mode. Its fixed semi-wide-angle lens is very similar to the human eye (equivalent to a 36mm in old, film money). The photos are also ridiculously good; they look every penny of the £1,700 or so you’ll probably end up spending – with accessories. The £245 external viewfinder is especially worth buying.
Laugh you might, but one of the things about the X1 is that it’s so sensual: I found myself fondling its gorgeousness. Seriously, you need to love the feel of a camera in your hand if it’s to become an extension of your eye. And while I don’t want to fall into marketing gloop, that’s exactly what the X1 becomes.
Buy one if you want the ultimate travel camera, but remember that it’s not overloaded with features – which is, of course, the point, but will leave you feeling deficient sometimes. You will occasionally want to zoom and be unable to. And in one of those cranky old Fiat taxis in Mumbai I felt the desire to shoot some video. Where was the video function? Try as I might, I couldn’t find it – for a very good reason: it doesn’t have one.