Leica X2 pictures and hands-on

There's something about Leica cameras; it's hard to quite put a finger on it. So when Pocket-Lint had the chance to play with a brand new Leica X2 we rushed at the opportunity.

Announced last week, the Leica X2, which will replace 2009's X1, adds a new 16.2-megapixel APS-C sensor, among some other more subtle changes.

The fixed-lens compact has a Leica Elmarit 24mm f/2.8 ASPH lens, which equates to a 36mm lens in full-frame (or 35mm) equivalent. This medium-to-wide focal length is often touted as the perfect match for street photographers and the near-silent function makes it a discreet snapper.

From the outside, the X2 looks to be much the same camera as its predecessor. The body shape is one and the same, yet the leather-style grip has a different texture than before. The pop up flash is now activated from a switch to the rear, unlike the push-down and pop-up cylindrical flash found in the X1. A crucial change, which isn't apparent from just looking at the camera, is that the rotational aperture and shutter dials are now much stiffer - no accidental knocks will send your settings down the pan, a known complaint from existing X1 users.

Flip the camera around and the inclusion of a rear port means it's possible to accommodate a new electronic viewfinder in combination with the hotshoe. The 1,440k-dot resolution EVF2 will be sold separately for £360 at launch, and ought to tick a box with those looking for a finder that can relay camera settings and autofocus confirmation right back to the eye. But, if you're the more traditional type, then the 36mm optical viewfinder, priced at £269, may be more up your street - and ideally matched to a fixed lens camera such as this.

Despite apparent similarities to its predecessor, the X2 is the superior camera. An upgraded autofocus system is notably faster, now able to zip into action and identify a subject in a fraction of the previous time. However, the same optical construction - however grand - isn't capable when it comes to close-up focusing.

So how much will this slice of compact elegance set you back? A hefty £1,575 will buy either the all-black or mock-silver camera. Should you choose to add the optional grip (£92), leather hand strap (£25), brown ever-ready case (£135) and one of the aforementioned viewfinders then it'll quickly rack up to a yet pricier piece. It's enough to make any wallet ache.

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The price of excellence? Will you be upgrading from X1 to X2? Let us know in the comments below...