Leica has decided to take its famous red dot underwater with the launch of its first rugged and waterproof camera designed especially for outdoor use. The Leica X-U (Typ 113) is a fixed prime lens compact designed to be adventure-ready. In addition to a 16-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor and a 23-mm F1.7 lens, the camera is shock-resistant, dust-sealed, and waterproof.
The X-U joins Leica's X-series of cameras which pair a large high quality sensor with a fixed lens. However, this time around the new camera loses the typical retro Leica styling of cameras like the X Vario and instead looks like a slightly bigger and burlier sibling of the Leica T, but with a permanently attached lens.
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The photographic credentials of the camera include a 16-megapixel APS-C (23.6 x 15.7 mm) CMOS sensor which is paired with a Leica Summilux 23-mm F1.7 ASPH lens that delivers an angle of view equivalent to a 35-mm lens in 35-mm format. The camera has an ISO range of 100 to 12500, and can shoot bursts of images at 5 fps (frames per second). It also records Full HD 1080p video at 30 fps.
However, the X-U isn't only about image quality, most Leicas can deliver on that front. What makes the X-U special is its ability to take that high quality into situations where most other cameras, with the exception of action-cameras and devices like the Ricoh WG-4 or Nikon AW1, would fear to go. The ruggedized design of the X-U includes a sealed body with TPE armoring for improved grip, and a toughened protective cover for the rear 3-inch 920k dot LCD screen.
This all makes the Leica both dustproof and shockproof to falls from up to 1.22 m (4 ft). Meanwhile its waterproofing is rated to depths of 15 m (49 ft) for up to 60 minutes. While you're submerged, an underwater snapshot mode is said to make taking photos easier. The lens features an underwater protection filter and has a closest focusing distance of just 20 cm, there's also an integrated flash directly above it.
The camera measures 140 x 79 x 88 mm (5.5 x 3.1 x 3.4 in) and weighs 635 g (22 oz). Aluminum upper and lower plates, along with anodized aluminum top dials should ensure you still feel like you are using a Leica with familiar controls and handling, even if you're somewhere you wouldn't normally take a such a pricey camera.
The X-U will be available later this month priced at a typically Leica US$2,950. There will also be an optional Leica red floating carry strap available for $95, which is probably worth it to keep your investment afloat should you drop it in the water.
Product page: Leica X-U (Typ 113)View gallery - 8 images