And they’re pricey. The least expensive, the Ricoh GR, is still $797. You can get a pretty good DSLR and kit lens for that. You can get a very good DSLR for the money you’d pay for a Leica X2.
Shooters Check In
We found several pro photographers who are using large- sensor compacts and asked them about their experiences. Full disclosure: Because two of the camera models, the Nikon and the Ricoh, hadn't yet arrived in stores as we were putting this issue together, two of these shooters had inside connections with the manufacturers of their cameras, and some of their work is being used to promote them.
EJ Camp (ejcamp.com) is a New York City-based pro known for celebrity portraits, advertising work, and architecture, as well as land- and seascapes. She keeps a Leica X2 in her bag as she tools around Manhattan on a bicycle.
“Generally, I shoot my color photographs with a medium-format Leica S2 and my black-and-whites with a large-format Linhof 4x5 Master Technika,” she tells us. “Both cameras are considered very light and transportable for their size group, but neither fits into a shoulder bag easily.”
She chose the X2 because, she says, “as you can see from my choice of camera gear, I want the most image information possible for my photos. The same is true of my compact camera—although it would be more appropriate to call the Leica X2 a get-up-and-go camera, rather than a compact camera, because other than its size, it has very little in common with other compact cameras.”
Doug Menuez, also based in New York, is a documentary photographer who was commissioned by Nikon to do a three-day shoot of life in the city for promotional materials. Hurricane Sandy showed up precisely during that time.
“I always like to have a camera with me,” he says. “The biggest bummer with most small point-and-shoots is the files just don’t stand up if you want to make big prints. So it’s about being able to capture moments wherever you are.” Menuez also credits the plain, stealthy looks of the small camera with making it easier to approach subjects on the street—they aren’t intimidated by something that doesn’t look like a “good” camera.
Rachel Shaver is a newspaper and magazine photojournalist who now serves as marketing support assistant for Pentax Ricoh imaging and hence was able to try a GR before its official release.
“It’s so nice to be able to leave my DSLR at home from time to time, and just grab the GR and go,” she says. “I have taken everyday snapshots, portraits, landscapes, still life, and some lifestyle.”
Click for a larger version of our comparison chart