After shelling out thousands of pounds for one, Leica owners often take better care of their camera than they would their own children, but the X-U doesn’t need babysitting.
It’s the first ruggedised Leica camera, meaning it can take just about any punishment you can dish out. Shock-proof, winterised and dust-sealed, with a toughened rear display and battery/memory card compartment fitted with a failsafe double lock, it’s ready for the harshest of environments.
It’s also waterproof down to 15 metres, but you’ll probably want to pick up the optional floating strap to go with it, so the camera doesn't end up on the ocean floor.
That heavy protection doesn’t detract from the trademark Leica looks, with an aluminium body shaped by Audi’s design house, chunky hand grip and a 3in LCD on the back instead of a traditional viewfinder.
Underneath, the X-U is practically identical to the Leica T. It’s got a 16.5MP APS-C sensor, paired with a super-fast f/1.7 lens. It’s not interchangeable, but the 35mm equivalent and fixed flash ring on the end of the lens should be well suited to all kinds of scenes and subjects.
It’ll shoot 1080p video at 30fps, but there’s no 4K.
You’d usually have to invest in a weather-sealed DSLR to get high quality shots in a rugged body, so the X-U is pretty unique. Nikon’s 1 AW1 is the closest competitor; it might have interchangeable lenses and cost about a quarter of the price, but it makes do with a 1in sensor.
That gives Leica the edge, but it’s one you’ll pay big bucks for. It’s going on sale later this month for a whopping US$2,950.