Leica X-E Typ 102 | The Classical X in 2019

Almost forgotten today, the Leica Typ 102 (X-E for short) hails as the very last of the Leica X series before it was quietly discontinued in favor of the Typ 113 X and later the Typ 116 Q (models with faster glass and obviously more costly in comparison)

I do not categorize the X-E with the Typ 701 T nor the Typ 7323 CL series as the latter two are interchangeable lens systems, moving away from the beautiful simplicity of the excellent compact fixed-lens cameras Leica used to make.

I am not going to do a technical review of the Leica X-E, and factually the X-E is actually a cosmetically updated model of the X2. And it is not difficult to find technical spec readings of the X2 or the X-E. If you need one, here’s one

Note that personally I have a soft spot for high quality fixed-lens compact cameras, having gone through to name a few, the Fujifilm X100, X100S, X100T, Sony RX1 RII, Fujifilm XF10, X70, GR II, X100F, Leica Q and Q2 and GR III and I have a very clear idea of what I want. (Links to my reviews on them by clicking on their names

First Impressions and about the Leica X-E

Upon holding the Leica X-E, what comes to mind is the extremely nice heft and build one has come to expect of a well-crafted camera. One will hardly feel the fragility associated with the GR. The attention to details is commendable, even with text etched in and painted over, unlike many of the simply printed on text of today’s cameras. 

On the top, one gets all the shutter speed and aperture adjustment dials, together with the shutter / on-off switch allowing one option between single and continuous mode. Exposure adjustment is done using the button on a the D-pad area together with every single other main function any person can need mapped to physical buttons. 

Yes, the X-E even comes with a built-in flash with a lovely menu system that once set correctly, will NOT have you needing to fiddle with it much and focus on framing the shot.

Frankly, I love a cleanly designed menu system and Leica and Fujifilm to me has the most well-designed menu systems with minimal clutter and logical placement of options. 

Lasting, how can one not speak of the glass mated to the sensor? The X-E comes with a 24mm f2.8 Elmarit optics (approx 36mm f2.8 due to the APSC sized sensor) which is renowned for its rendering abilities and sharpness and also used on the Leica X2. 

Handling, Using the camera with Samples

The camera takes about a second to power up and extend its lens, and of course one must remove the lens cap before this if not an error message reminding one to do so will show on the back LCD. 

Remember to remove and not to lose the lens cap! 

f2.8, ISO100, 1/2000s

After trying the combinations, a surprise is that the SPOT focusing is extremely accurate most of the time. Frankly, I wouldn’t be bothered with using the face detection on the X-E. Continuous shooting does work pretty well but there is a noticeable lag before you can do the next shot while waiting for writing to the card to be done. 

f2.8, ISO100, 1/60s

The sensor and optics render really well and one thing to note is, even in 2019 in the world moving towards 50 megapixels, the 16 megapixels output is still plenty. Even though my personal preference is working with the DNG files, the SOOC JPEGs are pretty neat. 

f2.8, ISO100, 1/100s

Autofocus speeds are pretty comparable to the one we get on the GR II or the X70 and there is very little hunting. Obviously, it will never be a Sony A9 level of focusing but to me, well, if you are into as fast as possible AF you shouldn’t even be considering the Leica family of cameras. 

f4, ISO100, 1/800s

f4, ISO100, 1/1250s

Colors render beautifully neutral and true to life, and the excellent optics ensure that flaring is kept to a minimum even when shooting directly at a bright source and details are well reproduced. 

f2.8, ISO250, 1/30s

The minimum focusing distance of 30 cm on the X-E also gives more flexibility in shooting, as opposed to the typical 70 cm to 90 cm on M lenses. Obviously, the very silent shutter (I can still haunted by how the Sony A7 shutter sound could wake up my sleeping kid years back) allows one to use this camera as it was designed to, as an unintrusive street camera compact enough to go anywhere and everywhere. 

f2.8, ISO250, 1/30s

Shot through glass (hence the color tint) f2.8, ISO100, 1/100s

f2.8, ISO100, 1/80s

f2.8, ISO160, 1/30s

f2.8, ISO100

f2.8, ISO100, 1/2000s

The X-E does a maximum shutter speed of 1/2000s, hence one does need to take note of overexposure when shooting at wider apertures in strong light. 

f2.8, ISO100, 1/100s

The X-E does not have an electronic (silent) shutter, but the mad thing is how close one can get up to a subject, grab a shot without the person noticing even when one is using a mechanical shutter.  

f2.8, ISO100, 1/60s
yes, the photo is blurred, but I like the feel of how the blur gives an added dimension to it. 

f2.8, ISO100, 1/2000s

f2.8, ISO100, 1/2000s


The Leica X-E is not a camera most people will seek out deliberately in 2019 or later, but those who own one and makes the effort to work with the camera will be able to see what is traditionally Leica, as opposed to the modern Leica nowadays (nothing wrong with either – just different philosophies I guess)

There are obviously faster and faster cameras with crazier and crazier megapixel counts (I do admit I thoroughly love using the Fujifilm GFX100 102 megapixels monster) but it is important to know that while some are in the race for owning the ‘best’ camera, I am more interested in using a camera that suits my preferences more. 

What will attract one to the Leica X-E is really the quality of this optical setup and how compact the whole setup is. (that’s 3 year old Lynn holding the X-E below), the slower autofocusing speed is something one needs to get used to but then that’s pretty all there is to it because the Leica X-E was never meant to be complicated, and designed well to do what cameras are supposed to do, to take pictures. 

Fujifilm X100F, shot in Pro Neg High film simulation. 

Thank you for reading.

8 Replies to “Leica X-E Typ 102 | The Classical X in 2019”

  1. Great commentary Keith. I have been looking to buy a Leica from the X series, and the X-E is among them.
    I tried for a few weeks the Leica Q, a great camera that produces spectacular images, even from someone like me, who is not a good photographer.
    Since then I knew I had to own a Leica, at least to capture my family vacations and get togethers. I bought a Leica C Typ 112. Yes, I know, its a Panasonic underneath and many chide it for that, but my God! The little camera punches so above its weight class, rendering some amazing shots, with that genuine Leica look. Of course, nowhere in the league of the Leica Q, but a worthy little sister.
    So that brings me to the Leica X Series. I want some more of that Leica, German-made goodness- the X-E is just that. I guess if you want a Leica, nothing else will do and the X-E seems just like the right ticket for someone on a tight budget,, with its lower, used market price tag. I say to the X-E, “Come to papa!”
    Really liked your commentary and your images are outstanding. Take care.
    -Joseph Trevino
    Southern Arizona, November 2019.


    1. Thank you Joseph 🙂 I started back then with a D-Lux too, the leica rebadged Panasonics and actually the images do turn out diff. Leica never clarified but I guess it’s image processing engines are diff while sharing the same sensor.

      The X series has largely been forgotten I guess, in the world of the Q and CL but as you rightly said, they still present great value for what they can produce through their leica made optics. Take care


  2. Great photos and write up Keith. Would you say this camera is still worth buying (used) in 2020? I currently use a Fujifilm X-T3 as my main camera but I like the look of this X-E as an everyday walkaround camera. I think it’s the simplicity of it that attracts me or maybe I’m just attracted by the red dot! I’ve always wanted a Leica but the Q is out of my budget. I currently have a Ricoh GRII which is a great little camera, how would you say the X-E compares to the Ricoh?


    1. Hi Nick, for starters the answer is actually yes to whether the X-E is worth looking at in 2020 but with a caveat, which is that the X-T3’s AF speed is gonna to be way faster than the X-E’s. It’s basically 473 vs 16 AF points. The X-E vs the Ricoh actually is a weird but interesting comparison , optics wise the X-E wins way outright but the GR II should still have relatively faster AF than the X-E. One thing I’ve learnt in my life is, we try to buy once buy right – I’ll hold off the purchase and save up for it instead of cycling through and possibly wasting money in the process. The quality of optics is possible the X-E’s key saving grace.


  3. Thank you Keith, I’m reading this now 2 years later, Aug 2021. I have an X-E, and I absolutely love it. I’m a working photographer and it is my go everywhere fun camera. I’ve come close to selling it a few times for something ‘better’, faster, newer, wth up to date features. But then I take it out, use it, and just look at it, and hell no, it stays right where it is.
    There’s another aspect I might mention, how I came about it. I bought its predecessor for a song at a pawn shop. It’s pop up flash would not stay down. I took it to my local shop (I live in South Africa) and they sent it to Leica, from whom I received an email in due course. The camera had been discontinued and they did not have the part required. But they were proud of their products so for a small fee they’d send me the updated, current version. Who does that these days?? Of course I jumped at the offer,now everyone thinks I’m well-off enough to own a Leica.
    Long story short: I can confirm everything you said about image quality etc. it’s a gorgeous camera that attracts attention everywhere, and works very well if you work within its limitations.


    1. hi Jeffrey, thank you for sharing. And wow, true to Leica’s standards, I am happy that they actually sent u a replacement 🙂 I do agree that even with the faster, ‘better’ newer models that we always seem to have, sometimes what is more important is a camera that we love to handle and I am glad to that you have found the X-E.


  4. How would you compare this to a Fujifilm X70, i terms of handling and ability to use as an everyday carry? I have a Leica CL as my primary camera, and I’ve tried the X70 (and XF10) as pocketable cameras. I like them in many ways but they’ve left me wanting in others – do you think the X-E could fill a similar role, or is it too bulky? To be clear, I’m looking for something to carry with me basically at all times, when I’m not out shooting with the CL in a more intentional way. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi! The X-E while compact and to be really fair, is much aged compared to a X70, down to the A.F speed, and also functionality.

      A Leica digital CL for sure is much more modern and a better choice than the X70 imo but it does come with a heavier price tag, and with it being interchangeable (you prob will end up with the TL18 since you mentioned carry at all times)

      If compactness and an APSC sized sensor are the priority , I’ll actually suggest the Ricoh GR III for you to look at too. 🙂


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