For a long time, the only digital rangefinders on the market were Leicas. Now there’s Pixii. A screen-less, APS-C sensor, “connected” rangefinder that’s quite a lot less cash than anything from Leica and comes from a startup company with ideas of disrupting the marketplace with something a little different.
I’ve had my Pixii for a good while now. I was one of the first people to try one, and have been an advocate of it since. I love what this camera brings to the marketplace, and moreover what it brings to the table for me. It’s also changed a lot as a camera since launch with a series of significant upgrades, so I thought it about time that I finally followed up my “primer” article with some more in-depth personal thoughts and opinions.
At the time I wrote that article, I was sharing photos of my Pixii on instagram and getting a lot of comments from people who had never used one – in fact never even seen one – and were picking the camera apart, declaring they would “rather buy” x, y or z, and that Pixii as a brand would likely fail. I’ll save you the rants about how frustrating I find that sort of response – especially the latter bit – but I do want to point out that nearly a year on from publishing the article, not only are Pixii still going, but they have just updated the camera with a series of significant upgrades, some of which are based on the feedback that us early adopters fed to them. I’m not saying this to be smug (much), it’s still early days for these guys – especially when you compare them to the likes of the big boys in the industry – but it is really pleasing to see a startup in this industry making a success!
It’s also pleasing as an owner of a Pixii. Since I recently received mine back from having these upgrades, I now have a camera that’s better than the one I originally bought without the expense of completely replacing it. It’s had a new sensor, a new USB-C charging port, now shows a wider range of information in the viewfinder and has had a fairly significant firmware upgrade that seems to have made it a lot more stable. It’s still the same concept, and still provides a very similar user experience to before, but now it just feels that little bit more compete as a camera. I will get onto these upgrades and what they mean for Pixii in a moment. But before I do, I just wanted to write something to tackle something of what I see as a creeping misconception about this camera, and indeed how I shoot mine as a camera.
The Misconception about Pixii
The problem Pixii have is that the camera they make isn’t really like anything else on the market. Of course, some comparisons could be drawn between it and the the Leica M10-D. But the M10-D is now discontinued, was around twice the price, full frame, doesn’t have the OLED screen on the top and – if my M10-P is anything to go by in terms of well it works the corresponding app – the connectivity isn’t as good. But apart from that, Pixii stands alone in the marketplace.
The issue with this is that it seems to need more explaining as a concept to people. This is why I wrote that primer article last year. I wanted to add to the explanatory narrative from a 3rd party perspective. Actually, a year on, I think more people do get it more. I see a lot less confusion on social media, and a lot more people showing interest in the concept. But there is still some questions out there, and it seems to me that a big chunk of this is down to this idea of it being a “connected camera”.
Always – but not all ways – connected
The more I shoot my Pixii, the more I find it makes sense to me. That said, I find myself falling into a user process that I differs a little from how I suspect at least some others photographers use theirs. What I think is relevant about this is that I imagine many see this camera as something of a one trick pony. A camera that’s designed to be used in one specific, prescribed way. It is after all so simple and so reduced in its core functionality, surely there’s only one way to use it…?
I had this perspective reinforced recently after I posted about it on instagram and I was asked a question about what happens if the camera and or app stops being supported. I think this is possibly a concern for some people. Pixii are a startup digital camera manufacturer – one of the only companies in the world that can call themselves that. They are pitching the camera as something very different to what else is on the market too, so what if the marketplace doesn’t respond positively to this and they they fail? How long will it be before the camera bricks due to a lack of app support?
The answer to that question is simple. Never. The Pixii camera isn’t reliant on the app to work. The app just adds another level of functionality. Without the app, the camera can just be used as a screen-less digital camera that can be connected to a computer as if it’s a normal hard disk drive to extract the photos.
This potential misconception about what Pixii is and does has, I believe, come about through the marketing approach Pixii take. For right or wrong, Pixii is largely touted as a “connected camera” that works with a smartphone. To some, this seems to imply that it somehow relies on a connection to a smartphone to function. The headline user experience is presented as such that you connect the Pixii to your phone, shoot images that are then beamed to your phone, allowing you to then share them from the phone (perhaps via a smartphone photo editor) to social media.
This, to a greater or lesser degree, I think, is David Barth’s vision, and because of that vision, it does make a lot of sense for the camera to be touted this way. But, despite this vision, and despite the limited core functionality of the camera, there is a little bit of a halfway house between the “connected” and not-connected ways of shooting it that I think is important to understand.
My Pixii Shooting Style
This halfway house is also exactly how I use my Pixii. I’m personally not interested in using my phone to edit photos beamed from the camera. It’s true that Pixii will beam DNG files, and that those files can be edited on the phone or tablet. But that’s not my workflow.
My workflow, be it film or digital, involves shooting the camera, putting the photos onto the computer, editing them in Lightroom, sharing them on Flickr for archival purposes and then eventually sharing them on my website etc. Of course, the bit in between pressing the shutter button and opening the photos in Lightroom is different depending on whether I’m shooting film or digital. But my choices within this part of my shooting experience are where I get a lot of the joy I do from taking photos.
When I shoot film, I like the fact that I don’t see the images there and then on the back of the camera. I also like the simplicity of the cameras. When I am shooting digital, I enjoy the immediacy of it, as well as getting something positive from the fact that I can see that I have actually got the shot that I wanted. I actually have no preference for one experience over the other, it completely depends on my mood. And this is where and why the Pixii works for me.
With Pixii I get pleasure out of the simplicity of the camera and the lack of screen on the back. The controls are very limited and, because it’s a rangefinder, it’s manual focus and either aperture priority or fully manual with a built in meter. When shooting it – but for the fact that it doesn’t really give any mechanical feedback like some of my favourite film cameras do – it feels like I’m shooting film. But, alongside this analogue-like experience, I still have the option to quickly preview my images to check for composition and exposure.
As soon as I switch a Pixii on it seamlessly connects to the app and every time I take a photo it beams a low resolution version to the phone. The result of this is that should I get that moment where I doubt or worry about exposure or composition, I can open the app and find the images waiting for me to inspect. This is the key part of the experience I find enjoyable. It really makes this camera feel like it takes a bit of what I enjoy about both mediums and puts them into one camera.
Of course, were I to feel inclined, I could later sync the DNG to my phone, edit and share it. Or I could ignore the photos on it completely and just come back to them next time I’m near my computer. But I don’t do either of those things, ever. I use it as I have described every time, as that is exactly what suits me, and is exactly the appeal of the camera to me.
Pixii offers me a halfway house between the “connected” headline function and features and a not-connected way of shooting. It also offers me a user experience that feels like a halfway house between digital and film. It doesn’t work for every shooting experience, but when it does work, it really feels like an enjoyable way to take photos.
So what about the upgrades? This article was spurred on by the fact that I received the upgraded camera back from Pixii and I wanted to help get the word out that it is now better than ever. And it is, definitely, a better camera than it was when I first got it. Just for reference, the camera is still just called Pixii, the upgraded version is just the “New Pixii” – or if you are going to be super geeky, this is the ‘A1571’ with the original being the ‘A1112’.
A New Sensor
The new sensor is possibly the biggest upgrade in terms of headline specs. It’s now 26mp – more than twice the 12mp sensor it came with originally. It’s also a bang up to date sensor from Sony that’s found in some other contemporary cameras. The result of that, is – unlike with the original camera – many users now won’t bump up against a lot of noise when shooting it in lower light as was the case before. Though, I should point out that it isn’t as clean of noise as some modern cameras, it does a plenty good enough job for me.
It should be said, it’s still an APS-C sized sensor which seems to rub a few people up the wrong way. But, personally, I’m not too fussed. Perhaps this is because I also have access to a full frame rangefinder, or perhaps it’s because I used to shoot an Epson R-D1 quite happily. Either way, I like the crop sensor. My little Zeiss 35mm C-Biogon is a great match to the camera in terms of the size. Cropped it gives me around a 50mm equivalent lens with a little more depth of field. Ideal for 50mm field of view snaps. I’ve also been using it with my Omnar 26mm f/6 which translates to a ~40mm with even more depth of field.
Of course, your mileage might vary, and honestly were it not for the fact that I also have a couple of other full frame cameras I might feel differently too. But having the Pixii as an option really works for me. Sometimes having more depth of field and smaller lenses with longer effective focal lengths just works, and Pixii feels like a camera it just works well with too!
A New Viewfinder
Next up is the new viewfinder. I’m actually not sure what they’ve done to it, technically speaking, but the frame lines are now brighter, there seems to be less internal reflections and the information displayed in the viewfinder is more useful. It now shows pretty much any info you want it to, shutter speed, ISO, exposure compensation, camera mode, how many frame you have left, and you can even operate and view the entire menu within the viewfinder should you wish. Shutter speed and ISO have been my choice for what info I like to have visible.
USB-C Charging and Connectivity
The final hardware upgrade is an upgrade from the previous USB mini port to a USB-C port. Actually, as I’ll get to in a second, this hasn’t been plain sailing for them, but I still much prefer it over the old style USB mini port which made the camera feel a bit dated to me.
The firmware of the camera has also been updated. Though, actually, they’re always updating it. I couldn’t count the updates I’ve done since I’ve had a Pixii in my possession. Perhaps not a surprise for a new camera from a new manufacturer…? The result of this is largely that the camera and app seems more stable in use. Sometimes before it would do odd things like shut down for no reason or the app would just refuse to communicate with the camera. These things just don’t seem to happen now. There are a few niggles, but I’ll get to those in a second.
More Consistent Exposure
One big factor in the firmware update – that’s perhaps also a product of the new sensor – is more consistent exposure. Previously, Pixii had a habit of throwing an exposure curveball at you maybe 1 in 10 frames. For no reason at all it would heavily overexpose. This doesn’t seem to happen any more either.
The Upgrades and Me
All of these upgrades have made a big impact on this camera. The USB-C means it just feels more compatible with my life, the viewfinder makes Pixii more usable, the sensor makes it more useful, and of course more consistent exposure is very valuable when you don’t have a screen on the back of the camera. All this adds up to a camera that feels more complete than the prototype and subsequent early versions that I shot before.
That said, actually, I didn’t really mind not being able to use it much in lower light before, but now I can, I must concede that I like the camera slightly more. I tend not to fuss about low-light capability with digital cameras much. I don’t shoot much in low light these days, and if I want to, I have other cameras (my Sony A7iii) that do a job so well that I’d just pick them over the Pixii anyway for the most part. But, it’s been nice not to have to think about the limitation as much. Especially as I’ve received the upgraded camera in the winter.
Still a few minor issues
For all this positivity, there are still a couple of issues I have with Pixii – though I should add, none of them feel like dealbreakers to me, especially given how I use the camera. Software/firmware first.
This is probably the biggest one. It’s also probably the one that frustrates me the most since I practically nagged David when it came to the USB-C port. Connecting to my Mac, for reasons that David has explained, but that I don’t really understand, about 30% of the time, it just deosn’t work. The other 70% it connects fine, but sometimes it can also take a moment to connect so that annoying issue where you pull out the connection just as connects happens. Then your back into the 70/30 will it won’t it connect issue. This is apparently just a Mac issue, and something Pixii are working on, so fingers crossed it won’t stick around.
Wifi Connectivity Issues
The bluetooth connection for beaming low resolution files from the camera to the phone works pretty flawlessly. Unfortunately, the wifi connectivity when on the go is a little fiddly. It will still connect to the phone via the phone’s hotspot, but it won’t connect as seamlessly as the bluetooth does. Obviously, this isn’t an issue for me, but for anyone wanting to shoot, edit, and share on the go, it might be a little more fiddly.
Colour & White Balance
Colour science is a big deal in the world of digital photography. A lot of people won’t ever have need to think about it. Shoot a Fuji, Canon or Nikon camera and you’re perhaps more likely to just get on with the colours. On the other hand, Sony… well, depending on the person, you might still find the colours out of their cameras to be a bit green. Pixii are also quite new to this colour science game, and sometimes it seems to show. They do have a few different colour profiles, that I must admit I haven’t tried properly yet, but on the standard profile I’ve been using I’ve found the colours can be a little oversaturated.
As an extension of this, I also find that the auto white balance can go a bit bonkers sometimes, and the sliders in Lightroom also don’t match up to expected values per the weather/lighting in the image For example, a lot of the sunshine shots here were set to ~10,000k and +80 on the tint scale out of the camera. The more odd thing is, they look quite nice for it…
I should say though, none of these colour “issues” have really presented me with a problem. Because I shoot DNG, I have found I can tweak the colours to get a result I am happy with. I’d expect the same to be the case for others too. Experimenting with colour profiles is also an option, but again, I haven’t explored that yet.
Edit: The day before publishing this, I mentioned to David that I was having some issues with colour. In response to this, he sent me a sneak preview of a “new standard” colour profile that at first glance seems to go a long way to fix what I have written in the above paragraphs. Rather than edit everything I’d written – not least because it was all true when I actually shot and wrote about my experiences – I have decided I will write a follow up piece sometime early next year about my findings with the new colour profiles when they are properly released. Here’s a version of the above image with the new profile this came with much more expected white balance numbers too!
I also have a couple of minor lingering concerns from my first interaction with the camera. The first is the RF patch. It’s actually pretty good, it’s just not as good as the RF patch in my Leica’s. It has a short effective base length and the secondary patch isn’t as bright as a Leica one. But, it’s better than every 1970s/80s fixed lens rangefinder I have tried, if that gives you a scale of quality…?
For me, I haven’t found this to be too much of an issue. I’m only shooting it with slower lenses, and mostly in daylight. Actually, ironically, I have found I can see the RF patch better in lower light, though that is likely just a product of subject contrast. One way or another, perhaps something to have in mind if you are expecting a Leica-quality rangefinder patch.
The Shutter Experience
My final beef is actually something that doesn’t bother me, but I can image that it would bother other people. The shutter button. This camera has no mechanical shutter, just electric. This does mean the shutter can fire up to 1/32,000th of a second, but it also means there is no feedback from the camera when you press the button. They have included a very subtle shutter noise, but it’s only really audible in quiet environments.
The button itself doesn’t give much feedback either – again, it’s just electric. It’s a bit like the shutter button on some compact cameras. There’s definitely a half and full press, but the feel of the difference between them is quite subtle. I am totally used to it now.
More Features I Really Like
Before I share my closing thoughts, it seems only fair that I should take the opportunity to warble on about some of the other stuff I really like about Pixii. This is the stuff that I have liked since I first tried it.
To begin with. Just look at it – it is a beautiful bit of industrial design in my opinion! It fits my design ethos – it’s not overly designed, but has enough about it to look really good. It feels good in the hand too. I have read some people commenting about the position of the shutter button being too close to the edge of the camera. In theory, I can see their point, but in practice, I never notice the issue at all.
And then there’s the fact that it does black and white DNGs. Of course this isn’t as pure as a Leica monochrom that can’t do colour, but it is a true RAW monochrome DNG that plays nicely in Lightroom. And regardless of the fact that the camera can do colour, there is still something a lot of fun about setting it to shoot knowing that the files you get can’t be reverted to colour. I find this especially fun in combination with that fact that the camera has no screen.
Simple Menu and Controls
And then there’s the menu system. One button, and one dial on the back, and it still manages to seem easy to use. Everything in the menu makes sense, and even the app interface is pretty good. I couldn’t begin to count the amount of times I have mentioned issues I have with cameras having too many buttons or being too complicated on this website. I love my simple cameras, Pixii is definitely a simple camera!
Ongoing support and updates
The final thing that I really love about Pixii is the updates. I’ve touched on this a few times, but even whilst I have been writing this, I’ve had a few characteristically enthusiastic text messages from David about stuff he’s working on.
And that’s not the end of it either, both short term and long term, firmware and hardware, David has plans. The Pixii platform, as they have proven, is upgradable, and there’s a lot to be said for that in a world where we are otherwise so used to just completely replacing our digital cameras every year or so.
Some Closing Thoughts
I usually title this section of my articles ‘Final thoughts’. Today I’m going with “closing thoughts” as I can’t see this being the last thing I write about this camera. This feels like an update article, and since I expect more updates will come, I expect I will be back with more to say. I know David has a lot of plans to still roll out.
This is a big part of what has been fun about shooting and owning this camera over the last nearly-two-years. It’s been a journey from beta testing, through owning a first version, through lots of firmware upgrades, to eventually now shooting an upgraded version of the camera.
Would I have recommended this path to everyone who has ever shown interest in Pixii? No of course not. David wouldn’t have had enough prototypes to go round for a start. There have also been a few ups and downs since the first version of the camera came out – nothing that Pixii haven’t fixed, but certainly some that might have frustrated one or two users. The random exposure issues specifically come to mind. It’s been a lot of fun for a camera geek like me though!
We seem to be through all that though now too. Yes, it’s still not perfect, but it’s possible to pick holes in most production cameras. On this website I have moaned about the fact that Sonys have too many buttons, the Fuji connectivity software doesn’t work at all, and for years their images didn’t really play nice with Lightroom. Then there’s the fact that Sigma make you use proprietary software, and don’t get me started on Ricoh’s build quality. The point is, no camera is perfect. Pixii, like all cameras has design choices that will put people off.
What makes it all the more interesting though is that unlike most cameras from most other brands, it makes no apology for what it is as a camera. Pixii doesn’t have a preview screen, it’s m-mount but has an APS-C sensor, and it offers this arguably completely unique middle ground between geeky and high tech, and yet somehow gives an almost-analogue feel when you’re using it. It’s a “connected” camera with its OLED screen and electronic controls, and at the same time, its manual focus and relies on a design of focusing aid that dates back maybe even as much as a century. In short, it is a bit crackpot, and it’s certainly very niche, but somehow it works. Somehow Pixii manages to bring a completely unique user experience to the table. And that’s where the appeal is for me. I enjoy the user experience for myself, a great deal in fact, but I also have a lot of respect for a camera manufacturer that is trying to break the mould!
More here – pixii.fr
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80 thoughts on “Pixii (A1571) Review – New Upgrades and Some Personal Experiences”
I have three problems with Pixii: it is out of my discretionary spending range, I have problems with the upgrade cycle (although the fact they will upgrade your existing camera is very good news) … and it’s APS-C.
The only one of these that matters or is unique to it is the last one. I’m not a ‘full-frame’ fetishist for digital cameras: APS-C sensors are comfortably technically better than the 35mm film I shoot most of the time, and in fact I bet micro-4/3 sensors are as well. And APS-C makes for smaller cameras which is good.
No, being APS-C is a problem for me, because it’s an M-mount camera. I’m not a very good photographer, so it’s taken me a very long time to train myself to ‘see’ with a particular (equivalent) focal length. That focal length is 50mm on 35mm film, mostly because I was lucky enough to own, from long ago, a Pentax MX with the spectacular 50/1.4 lens. So, today, I have, I think, 5 50mm M-mount lenses. And one 35mm which I never use. All of that, rather large, investment in 50mm lenses is wasted for an APS-C camera, asI discovered with my Ricoh GXR.
For me this would probably mean that, even if I could afford it I might not buy it. (Although just looking at it and the design ideas behind it … yes, I would).
But it’s clearly a very interesting camera indeed, and it’s great that someone is actually making a digital camera that doesn’t make me feel faintly nauseous (my usual response is ‘why are there 9,000 options of which 6,000 are video-related? why is there a special video button eating space on the top plate?’). Also great that it’s not spending all its time trying to look like a 1950s/60s film camera.
(What I want now is for these people to make one with the sensor from the most recent foveon cameras in: I’ve just given in and bought a second-hand DP2Q and it makes lovely images (and is a pretty camera), but the ergonomics are awful. Suspect that Foveon is now dead unfortunately as Sigma don’t seem to be making any more cameras with Foveon sensors in.)
Hi Tim, sorry brushing over everything else you said for a second, what’s your issue with the upgrade cycle?
Oh, sorry, that wasn’t specific to this camera, I should have said: I just find the idea of buying an expensive machine which will be obsolete in two years irritating. In fact Pixii seem to be handling this very well by being willing to upgrade existing hardware.
So, sorry, I clearly botched the wording: clearly should have read ‘… upgrade cycle of digital cameras in general’.
Ah ok, I’m with you! I suppose it depends on how you define obsolete. My view is that much of the obsolescence is actually an illusion driven by marketing. We don’t need the most modern features and specs really – especially not in a camera that makes use of things like manual focus lenses.
As for the apsc thing, for me it just becomes another choice. It’s not hard for me to imagine a 35mm lens behaves like a 50mm just with a bit more depth of field. As I say in the article, I actually find that bit more DoF useful sometimes. I guess it’s just a matter of perspective. Literally.
Tim, I have a very good news for you: that 35mm lens you are not using: it makes for an excellent 50 on Pixii!
I understand that: I’m a physicist and can do focal lengths. The point was that have five 50mm lenses, of which at least four are both interesting and reasonably different from each other. If I moved to APS-C I have … one.
I have difficulty with understanding your disappointment with Ricoh GXR m-mount when you wrote about 50mm lenses on it. There are plentitude of reasonable cheap small compact LTM lenses, be it russian, japanese or german that cover from say 15 mm upwards which would give you in APS-C terms 21mm FF eq, Yes it doesnt have ragefinder mechanism, instead you use peaking or zone focusing ( f.ex. fine Snapshot Scopar 25/4). As an a plus which I`m not sure Pixi has Ricoh GXR m-module sensor was specially tailored for LTM-M lense with microlens offset to prevent excesive vigneting. I must admit that after my 33/2.5 AF lensor broke down, I moved to Fuji X-E3 with their excellent Leica size Fujicrons as my eyesight isn`t as good as before and being streetshooter I like their fast AF but old GXR m-modules still sit on my shelve waiting for a ride.
I can’t believe you forgot about Epson! 😀
Forgot about Epson? Sorry, I don’t follow?
I think Mike is referring to the Epson R-D1 (crop sensor digital rangefinder with M mount).
Yeah, I mentioned the Epson in the article. I used to have one – in factI shot one for years. The APS-C sensor didn’t bother me much then either – I just shot my R2a when I wanted “full frame”.
I hope they succeed, but still have the same doubts I had before – especially M Mount + APS-C. You are almost forced to shoot in 50mm equivalent or higher, since most (widely available) 35 equivalent lenses are either rare or very expensive. The design is great and it‘s brave to do this, so good luck to the guys.
There’s a couple of cheaper chinese 28mm lenses from china. I have also used mine with the 28mm 3.5 voigtlander which worked nicely. As such, I’d sort-of agree, but I would say ~40mm or higher. Which is fine with me
True, 28mm lenses are available. Below it becomes difficult. I think 40mm equivalent is a great focal length, but having the option to go below would be great. What I don‘t understand – who came up with that name? It sounds like a toy camera for kids.
Here you go:
I think this is a very relevant point. Whilst I like the concept a great deal, I just can’t be doing with lenses as narrow as a 28 on APS-C. It’s very unfortunate that they couldn’t, at least have stretched the widest frame lines to match a 25mm ZM.
I think it’s great what they are doing with this camera and I also hope they make it. This camera would be absolutely killer if it was full frame and under $3K USD. Obviously it’s easier said than done.
Thanks for the great article. I have one question for if I would buy one now, and there comes another big ‘hardware refresh’: Did you send yours in, and they just replaced the internals, or did you get a completely new camera, and keep the old one? If it is an upgrade, will that also be offered to ‘regular people’, and what would the price for an upgrade like that be?
Yes I sent mine back for the upgrades and the same camera (with upgraded bits) came back.
It was offered to all owners, and actually in this first instance, the upgrade fee was waived as a reward for being an early adopter. The list fee was €1200, but yeah, none of us who committed to the camera early on paid this.
I couldn’t say if this will be indicative of the upgrade fee in the future, but this certainly seems to be the direction David wants to take with upgrades.
I really like the idea of the camera and I’d buy one in a heartbeat if it were more affordable. I understand that as a startup with limited resources it’s difficult to bring that price down. However, if they could deliver for around $1500 they would take the market by storm and establish a whole new digital niche. I imagine that price point is impossible to meet for such a small company though.
Great writeup. I get the concept of the camera and my shooting style is very similar. I have turned off the screen on the M9 ( not that it’s useful anyway ) and only look and process the pictures when I connect it to the computer. Which might be weeks so it often contains old photos I have forgotten about so it’s very similar to how I go about analog as well.
I can only echo what Tim said about the APS-C sensor. The crop is not ideal. I love 50mm lenses and 50mm on APS-C is not that. I have that issue when using M lenses on X-Pro1. You can use 35mm to achieve similar FOV but think of the bokeh! Ultimately what I’m trying to say is that if you have a good set of M lenses already, then switching to different format can be painful. And it can add to the cost as you might want some new lenses.
I also agree that having a Foveon sensor in a camera like this would be a dream ( that will never realise ). I have a DP2 Merrill and the results are amazing. The rest, not so much.
Still it looks like a very interesting camera and it definitely has a place amongst the other digital cameras. I wish I’ll get a chance go play around with one at some point.
I miss my m9. That’s another camera I’d love to be able to justify owning alongside my the others.
I would definitely buy one, for half the price though…
3000 EUR is a lot of money for a camera whose image must be very similar to that of Fuji’s current 26MP cameras (which likely have the same Sony-manufactured APS-C sensor). Compared to Fuji, you generally get a more stripped-down camera and, as the only real differentiation, a rangefinder instead of Fuji’s electronic and hybrid viewfinders. However, since traditional rangefinders lack focusing precision for such high megapixel counts [which is why Leica offers an accessory EVF for its M10 camera], I find this a rather dubious advantage.
What I also miss in the article: Since the Pixii has – like the Sigma fp – no mechanical shutter, doesn’t it suffer from rolling shutter motion warping when shooting fast-moving subjects, and from color banding artefacts when shooting in energy-saving light?
That really isn’t the only real difference though. That’s pretty much the whole point of my article. It’s so far removed from what Fuji do that I didn’t even feel like a comparison was necessary.
As for banding/rolling shutter. Perhaps, but within my shooting I’m yet to notice.
I think my main issue is the aps-c sensor and the widest frame line of 28mm…. The really issue is that is around 40mm so the for 35mm or 28mm you need an external viewfinder or to guess… I loved the Epsom rd1 and would happily go back to it but 5mp is a bit limiting and they are getting old….. I love the concept and was thinking of buying a used m10-d for similar money… but the Leica rf patch is better and full frame makes lens choice easier…. All of which makes the pixii are hard sell, which is a shame… I know they are slightly different in what they do, but this is a niche market and most potential customers probably have a Leica or it’s a choice between this and another leica
Hurray, finally another Pixii owner to talk to! I ordered mine shortly after the 26mp version came out, and given that my camera’s serial number is under 200, there can’t be very many of us…
I admit I had had considerable hesitation about investing US $3000 (a lot of money for me) on a camera based on a new concept and built by a non-mainstream manufacturer. Then I remembered I had felt exactly the same way in 2004, when I put up exactly the same amount of money for the then-new Epson R-D1. We R-D1 owners definitely had some ups and downs in the early years (often involving Epson service, or non-service)… but now, 17 years later and after a lot of other camera purchases have come and gone, I’m still using the R-D1 quite happily. It has staying power because it’s so straightforward, and I am hoping the Pixii will work out similarly.
Unlike you, I do use the connectivity features regularly — at least, I do when they cooperate! This is my biggest current headache with the Pixii. Even the Bluetooth connection drops fairly often, forcing me to re-start the iOS app, and the Wi-Fi connection (needed for downloading high-resolution previews and DNG files) isn’t very stable. Granted, some of this may be iOS 15’s fault! David Barth emailed me that the most reliable way to connect the Pixii to iOS is to use your mobile device in its hotspot mode… but I can’t try that because my iPad doesn’t support tethering and my iPhone is too old to run the Pixii app. Have you been using the hotspot technique, and does it work for you?
I must say that when it does work, connectivity is awesome. Unlike you again, I do fairly often want to take a recently-shot photo, edit it extensively, and post it onto social media right away. I’m impressed by the Pixii app’s ability to bring DNG files from the camera and send them to the Snapseed app, which has robust raw-file editing capabilities, and from there post them onto Instagram… while sitting in a café. I do wind up dumping my Pixii files into Lightroom eventually, but it’s nice to have an immediate-access option!
Also: I do shoot a lot in low light, and I’ve been impressed by what I see from the Pixii so far. My only reference point is my Fujifilm X-T4, and in the ISO 5000 – 10,000 range, I would say the Pixii clearly has an edge. Noise is definitely visible, but it’s less intrusive than from the Fujifilm camera, with smoother gradations and nice, open midtones.
Anyway, thanks for providing another Pixii viewpoint!
I really wish I hadn’t sold my Epson now!
As for connectivity. My Bluetooth works basically flawlessly. Even not using the camera for a few days, I just turn it on, it finds the phone, and starts sending the low res previews. But I haven’t had as much luck with the wifi – the hotspot doesn’t seem to play ball for me, so I have to connect it at home.
What’s you social media – I’d be interested to see some of your images? Especially the lower light ones.
Out of interest, what’s your thoughts on the apsc thing? Do you have another digital RF?
I’m really glad I kept my Epson. I wish the rangefinder/viewfinder in the Pixii were as good… although of course it’s almost impossible to see the 28mm frameline on the Epson, a problem Pixii has solved by using a lower finder magnification.
It’s interesting that Bluetooth works so much better for you. Are you using iOS 15, or are you still on iOS 14? There are LOTS of threads on various technical fora about Bluetooth problems on iOS 15; many of those threads include possible fixes, so I need to start working my way through them. I had thought of going back to iOS 14.8 to see if that helped with the Pixii app, but unfortunately Apple stopped signing (authenticating) the iOS 14.8 “backdate” file as of October, so it no longer can be installed. I will need to buy a new iPhone soon (carrier is dropping support for my old one to make way for 5G) so maybe the new models will be more Pixii-friendly! My current iPhone is too old to run the Pixii app, so I’m using the app with an old iPad, which I admit may be causing part of the trouble because of older Bluetooth hardware.
I can’t get the hotspot idea to work either. My best success so far when I want to use the Pixii with Wi-Fi when I am out and about has been to carry a small, battery-powered pocket router — mine is the RavPower brand and I have had it for years. It is about the size of a cell phone and fits easily in a pocket. I use the router to create a network and then connect both the Pixii and the iPad to it; the WiFi connection isn’t any more reliable than the one on my home network, but at least it isn’t any LESS reliable! With this setup the iPad can still use its cellular modem to connect to the internet, so I can still post etc.
The fact that I have been using this portable-router approach for several years with various cameras just highlights the fact that in-camera Wi-Fi has ALWAYS been a bit rubbish, hasn’t it? (I am a USA native but love the British expression “a bit rubbish.”) Every solution I have tried, even expensive ones such as the Nikon WT-4a external transmitter that I used with a Nikon D300 years ago, has been hard to set up and provides only lackluster reliability. The Pixii app largely solves the setup problem, but David Barth of Pixii pointed out to me that Wi-Fi is very sensitive to antenna orientation; this isn’t a big problem with a desktop or laptop computer, or even a phone (since you almost always hold it mostly upright to use it) but a camera must be the worst-case scenario, since you might hold it at almost any angle to frame a photo. The only solution seems to be to keep it close to a strong access-point signal, which is why I carry the router. Am still hoping for improvements, though.
Re the “APSC thing,” I got over worrying about alphabet soup years ago! The ~25x17mm sensor size is just another size as far as I’m concerned; like any format, it has a mix of advantages and disadvantages compared to any other size such as 36x24mm (which I refer to as “Simplex format” in honor of Albert Moses, who introduced the first commercially available 36x24mm camera under the Simplex name in 1914… sorry, Oskar!) My first digital camera, after many years of film cameras, was a Nikon D100; all the digital cameras I’ve owned since then, including other Nikons, the R-D1 (which was my primary camera for many years) and the various Fujifilm X-series cameras I use now, have all had 25×17 sensors, so by now it’s second nature to me to think of a 35 as a “normal” lens, a 28 as a moderate wide-angle, a 50 as a portrait/short-tele focal lengt, etc.
There definitely are advantages for this size. Compared to the Simplex format, 25×17 lets most rangefinder-camera lenses be a bit smaller (compare an M-mount 35mm f/1.4 to a 50mm f/1.4, for example) and provides a little more depth of field at any given aperture value — online pundits talk as if less DOF is always better, but let’s face it, when focusing via a rangefinder (especially at wide apertures and close distances) a little margin for error is often useful!
The only digital RFs I have are the R-D1 and the Pixii. I’ve also used the Fujifilm X-Pro 1 and X-Pro 2 (still have the latter) which have some similarities in that they have optical viewfinders… but they’re not quite the same as a real rangefinder camera. In my pre-digital days I used several Leicas, but ditched them because of their idiosyncrasies (e.g. got tired of holding the baseplate between my teeth when trying to reload on the run… once you’ve had to do that, you can never un-taste it!) so never had the motivation to expend vast sums to get into a digital Leica. Besides the digital Ms have usually stuck me as overpriced and underperforming vs. other cameras of the same era: the M8 was an obvious dumpster fire, the M9 was only a barely-extinguished dumpster fire, the M2xx cameras were awkward chonkos, and even the various M10 models seem like charmingly antique techno-laggards… plus I’d STILL have to hold the baseplate between my teeth! (The forthcoming M11 sounds better, but then they ALWAYS sound better until they actually appear, don’t they?)
Re social media, I haven’t been posting Pixii pics very aggressively, and I still consider my usage as being in the early test stage. However, we have a thread going on the Rangefinder Forum discussion board, on which I’ve posted a few links to images; one post of mine that links to some low-light examples is here: [if 35mmc’s comment s/w doesn’t allow links, you’ll need to go to RFF and look for the Pixii thread]
I also included a few sample images in a first-impressions review of the Pixii I did for my YouTube channel, although of course you can’t really tell much about images by looking at them on YouTube:
So why Pixii? In addition to the fact that it’s comparatively affordable vs. a new Leica digital RF… I also have a toehold in the hobby-electronics area, and the idea of a purely software-defined camera strikes me as something with exciting possibilities. I’m looking forward to seeing where it goes, even if the ride is bumpy (@#$% connectivity issues!) at first. Thanks again for your ongoing coverage of this company and camera!
Yes. Re. Lower mag/ebl- I have found myself much more readily being comfortable with the Pixii in good light, so it was interesting to see your well focused lower light images.
I’m on an iPhone 13 on the latest iOS. I’ve also not had any Bluetooth issues with this phone at all. Maybe I’ve been lucky…?
I do think David will get round these issues. One of the interesting things about this camera is the focus on connectivity. For the rest of the brands, it’s largely an afterthought. The Fuji software is laughably useless. The fact that he has got to a stage that it’s significantly better than most others I have tried is admirable, I think.
APS-C. I couldn’t agree more.
Though I must say, I loved the m9, and have little issue with the m8 either. The m262 was a favourite and I think the m10 is one of the best cameras ever made… but then, my teeth equivalent is my armpit, or just a pocket… so perhaps I just haven’t experienced that bad taste 😉
Rpf. I’ll have a look. I’d love to be a part of the conversation but my account – including everything I posted on there over a 10 year period was deleted by Mr Gandy… so I can’t… I broke a rule. Once. No discussion. I was out. Oooops 😐
And yes – here’s to the bumpy ride! If you want to chat more, happy to have a conversation on one of the messaging platforms. It would be interesting to discuss ongoing with someone other than David (not that I don’t like chatting with him – but another owner is a different perspective)
The same thing happens with GoPros connecting to my iPad, Leica TL2 connects to the Fotos app, and my iPad connecting to my Mac via Wifi so it’s not specific to devices per se. Rather, I think it’s the way that Apple handles ad-hoc Wifi. Despite this, it wouldn’t be a dealbreaker since you can get the low-res version via BT. If I want the high-res photos on a specific device I’d rather plug USB-C in and transfer especially with large photo dumps.
In case any prospective owners are using this thread as a buyer’s guide, I felt I should mention that iOS 15.2 was released Monday, Dec. 13, and at first blush it seems to have resolved, or at least dramatically improved, all the connectivity issues I noted in my other comments. Bluetooth communication now works without issue, transfer of HD previews is dependable, and downloading DNG files always works (although not always at the first tap of the “Load DNG” button.) If they hold up over time, these improvements should eliminate my main source of frustration when using the Pixii.
Hey Hamish – this is a really thoughtful, well written, balanced and useful review that you are probably pretty much uniquely placed to make. An added benefit is that regular readers of this site (or anyone new who cares to poke around it a bit) will know where you come from regarding cameras, and this helps place the review in context. I’m glad someone is making this camera, and glad that you are able to tell us about it in the way you have. Is this the camera for me? No, but guess what – given that I own maybe 20 cameras there are probably at least 20,000 that I did NOT buy. (Wild guess) The reasons I did not buy any of these cameras would not make compelling reading I’d suggest. If someone owns a PIXII and has an experience to share, a positive or negative comment to add, how it exceeded or did not meet their expectations, that’s good to read. I guess the, “Too expensive for what it is” , “I’d buy it if only it were full frame and cost half as much,” comments are inevitable but gosh, I feel as though I can crunch those numbers myself. It’s a bit mean saying this here on 35mmc because the community here is great; Imagine the 1500 flames you’d get on DPReview! Keep writing the good stuff.
For sure. I mean, I’d buy a Tesla if they were half the price and better built 🤷♂️
I hope my comment did not read like that: it *is* more than I can afford, but there are a lot of cameras in that bracket. And rendering a lot of lenses I own and like far less usable does matter to me (I don’t care about APS-C vs full-frame other than in that respect).
That does not mean it is not a fascinating idea – I think it’s one of the top two or three most interesting digital cameras I’ve ever seen – and it also does not mean that I thought the article was bad in any way, because it wasn’t.
Sorry if what I wrote read any other way.
Not at all. I thought your comment was much more nuanced and interesting, Tim.
In fact, very few people here I’m sure mean anything bad really.
Good day! Do you have a photo in comparison with the M10 nearby?
No direct comparison – what are you interested to compare?
Sorry, I mean just a photo of where cameras are next to each other) Size comparison clearly.
Ah ok, they are essentially the same size. You wouldn’t really be able to tell them apart in terms of size in a side by side
Thanks! I hope there will still be a digital rangefinder equal to the size of the “Barnack leica”.
When I first saw the Pixii the concept of no rear screen appealed but I was in the ‘It’s how Much?’ camp. But the price feels less of a mental barrier now, and just a budget issue, i.e. finding the money. And feels worth it for the simplicity.
I’m curious have you tried M39 lenses on it?
I’ve used my voigtlander 28mm 3.5 on it a couple of times, yes. I don’t think I’ve shot anything I’ve kept though. Is there a reason you ask?
I currently only have M39 lenses (and bodies), I assumed they would work but just wanted to confirm. Though it will be awhile before the budget allows and I should.possibly focus on getting some other lenses maybe first.
As others have said this is one of the most interesting digital cameras out there. I had faint hopes Nikon might do something appealing with the ZFC but it was not that interesting.
If you don’t mind a kibitzer… I’ve been using M39 lenses on mine quite a bit. I have a fair amount of Canon RF gear, and find that the 35mm f/2 and 50mm f/1.4 are good matches for the Pixii. I also have the Cosina Voigtlander 28/1.9 and their original 50/1.5, and these don’t work quite as well — the Pixii is fairly sensitive to “fat” lenses blocking the rangefinder window (which is unusually close to the lens mount) and with both of these lenses, the lens hood is large enough to cut off part of the rangefinder image. Of course this can be solved by removing the hood, but both of these lenses benefit from leaving their hoods on. The Canon lenses are slender enough that they have no cutoff problem, and both of them have nice optical performance — the 35/2 makes a really nice “normal” lens for the Pixii, and it’s absurdly tiny as well.
One thing to watch out for when adapting M39 lenses is that the quality of the adapter is very important. We Epson R-D1 early adopters went through this early on: Suddenly the market was flooded with inexpensive third-party adapters, and some of them were NOT accurately made. Leica designed the M3 body to be exactly 1mm thinner than the Barnack bodies so screw-mount lenses could be adapted… but I measured several genuine Leitz-brand adapters and found that their actual thickness was almost always 0.98mm or 0.99mm, presumably to allow a little clearance so the lens wouldn’t jam. Many of the third-party adapters I measured were 1.00mm up to as much as 1.05mm! This wouldn’t affect the focusing accuracy of a 50mm lens since that is the “natural” length for which the rangefinder is set up, but shorter or longer lenses definitely had accuracy problems with crummy adapters, and in many cases these were easily visible even on the 6-megapixel R-D1 — so you can imagine how visible they’d be on the 26-megapixel Pixii!
Really good to see newish entrants with a passion and vision for their camera. The step up from the previous model and in-finder data looks great. I’m looking forward to seeing the excellent VC 21/4 or newer 21/3.5 on this machine. The colours also look calming on other review sites, although this may be late afternoon sun in Tuscany.
One to watch….
I can’t remember how I found this article but I’m glad I did! I had forgotten about this camera. The new features make it something I would be interesting in buying for sure. That is despite the fact that the original camera had nothing appealing to me.
The APS-C sensor is a damned good idea. A lot of Leica lenses have terrible edge and corner performance on the 36mm sensor. That includes, surprisingly, the 75 Apo.
Subscribing to Reid Reviews is a must-do before even thinking of buying a digital Leica M kit, or even a Q2. If you think that automatic lens corrections are going to magically fix serious optical aberrations, you are probably still leaving coins under your pillow for the tooth fairy.
One of the first things I looked for in your photos was the rendering of fine details. From what I’ve seen of both the A7SIII and the A9/II, they are terrible landscape cameras. They render fine details like distant tree leaves very poorly (the A7RIII and IV, and the A1, are perfectly fine though). I would not want to shoot the A7SIII for the big screen, and I wouldn’t ever use the A9 outside its core competence (which it does better than any DSLR you could point to).
High ISO is not too shabby. I’m not expecting miracles from a high density APS-C sensor. My main cameras now are Olympus and the sensor is even smaller. I have no complaints. If you want medium format quality, buy a medium format camera.
I haven’t worked for a while, due to government restrictions, but my specialty is theatre photography. I eventually will be shooting stills on film sets, although that won’t happen for a little while. For years now, I have been shooting Sony APS-C with a 50-135 telezoom. I need the reach of the 135mm. Sadly there are no frame lines beyond 50mm. That is a shame because the electronic shutter makes this camera perfect for shooting rehearsals.
So the only real problem is the lack of frame lines beyond 50mm, and perhaps the lack of wide-angle frame lines. Everything else is either a bonus or a non-problem. I would go so far to say that I would be prepared to buy two of them, given that changing lenses isn’t nearly as convenient as zooming in or out.
I don’t know if you’re familiar with the Red Scarlet 3K? It was a prototype camera that Red was going to launch about ten years ago. It was an integrated camera, with an 8x zoom and a 2/3″ 3K sensor. The price was going to be US$3,000, and I was ready to buy one of these to use for some of my jobs, including theatre. For better or worse, this camera never came to pass. The Pixii at least exists!
P.S. Typo report here: “As an extension of this, I also >fine< that the auto white balance can go a bit bonkers sometimes"
This camera is definitely most suited to the 28-50/40-75 equivalent range. Fortunately for me, this is my preference.
What did you think of the distant trees rendering?
Thanks for the typo heads up!
As far as I can tell, the Pixii has no unusual rendering issues. It looks pretty darned good. I even don’t mind the noise at high ISO. It’s not anything that I would find off-putting.
Nice review as always. The “less can be more” idea of it appeals to me and in fact I found myself wanting to use my M8 more. The rangefinder experience, regardless of generation, has it’s own appeal to a lot of photographers, myself included. I must admit that the overall size, weight and lack of a screen at the back of the camera is a big part of the appeal. How much lighter / smaller does it feel vs your M?
One thing about APS-C (and I guess APS-H) is that there’s not a lot of compact lenses for those who want 35MM FOV equivalent or wider for that matter. I know you tend to shoot at lot of 50mm so the 35 Nokton Classic and the C-Biogon make for good matches with cropped sensors. What would be a good compact 35mm+ FOV lens choice for the Pixii? The Ultron 28v2?
I don’t think it is that much smaller than the m10. Though it does feel it because the lens I almost always use is so much smaller. It is lighter though – not hugely, but it definitely is.
I’m not 100% sure I know the answer to your latter question, but yes, I suspect the newer voigtlander lenses are probably the answer. I’m sue to review the new 28mm at some point next year – I’ve lined up the loan with the UK importer, I’ve just not got round to it. I will try and remember to shoot it on the Pixii when I do
Pixii doesn’t list the new model as having a global shutter anymore. How has that impacted photographing moving subjects? Do they turn into a stretched out jelly like mess?
Yes, it likely will do I suppose. I guess with all cameras, it’s about choosing the right one for the job. I’m not particularly worried about shooting speeding objects with this camera – it doesn’t feel like the sort of camera I’d choose for that, regardless of the type of shutter
I was concerned about this too, so before I bought the Pixii I made several tests using my Fujifilm X-T4, which has a similar electronic-shutter setup according to an email I received from David Barth of Pixii. (The advantage of using the X-T4 for testing is that it also has a mechanical shutter, so it’s easy to make comparison photos.)
I saw no problems when photographing “human-speed” subjects, such as ballet dancers executing rapid movements — no distortions of the feet or legs, for example. I also tried making panning shots of people running, and got only a small amount of “skewing” of vertical lines in the background — about 3 degrees, according to my measurements in Photoshop. Visually this is not much of a problem for people, since the background is blurred anyway… but if you often do panning photos of faster-moving subjects, you’ll probably be happier with a camera that has a mechanical shutter.
(Then again, some people like the skewing as an aesthetic effect, as in this famous 1913 photo by Jacques-Henri Lartigue: https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/283256 ]
Of course, subjects that move faster are more likely to cause problems — although are you really likely to photograph birds in flight or vintage aircraft demonstrations with a rangefinder camera and a short-focal-length lens? Still, if your picture happens to include something such as spinning propeller or fan blades, you can expect them to look odd. I did one test with the X-T4 in which I made my own “propeller” by hot-gluing a cotton swab (chosen as less likely to injure me if the whole thing flew apart!) to the shaft of a 9100-rpm DC motor. The mechanical-shutter picture showed the swab as both blurry and bent into a curved shape; the electronic-shutter version (at 1/32,000) showed it sharply but broken up into several individual segments!
Here’s the thing — some working pros will shell out $ for digital Leicas because they not only fit an ergonomic niche but perform at least competitively — in low light image quality, mechanical shutter to deal with banding, flash sync, and weird movement, etc — with their mainstream Sony Nikon Canon Fuji brethren. You pay more but you get a front line working camera. Your review explicitly says that’s not what YOU need and that’s ok, and I agree with you that it’s so great that a small company has taken this on. But — I’m not convinced — because I am a working pro and even though working pros who also use rangefinders and whatnot are a niche, we’re a potentially important one — 95% of digital Leica M users may be wealthy hobbyists, but it’s the remaining 5% of pros that still give the brand its allure and mystique — where is this going to come from for Pixii?
In my specific case I’m a decades long Leica M film user who was lucky enough in 2011 to be gifted an M9 by Leica when I was part of a project they sponsored — and despite that camera’s poor low light performance even against its own peers, I used it as a front line camera for 10 years, and only retired it when I could put the M lenses onto Sonys with the TechArts/Fotodiox-Pronto AF adapters.
There’s nothing in your lovely review that suggests that one could use a Pixii this way — it just has too many limitations even compared to a 10+ year old M9. For $3000 one can buy a used M242 or maybe even newer instead. And no I don’t agree that the Fujis are apples to oranges — that’s apples to apples — APS sensor compact interchangeable lens camera , the direct peers are Leica’s own TL and CL types, Fuji, smaller Sony line, Canon M, and now smaller Nikon Z line, formerly Samsung and Ricoh. ALL of those can mount M lenses with the resulting crop factor. ALL are a fraction of the Pixii price. The Fuji X-E series are small, deliver great image quality in almost no light. Ergonomically they are very similar to this — and I got my X-E3 for $450 used.
I really want to support a company like this and I am not poo-pooing their efforts at all … but I just don’t see how this would make sense for me or any other working pro, sadly.
Great article about it, when I first heard I thought that was going to be only a short affair, a review, a brand that will be gone or remain as it is, highly niche. Their team, is very special indeed.
I do have some questions: Why and when you would take this camera for a walk (over the choices you have) ? Is that possible to make interesting work pictures on it, specially for archival, marketing and publicity? Or would I find more interesting this kind of photos with Fujifilm and their film simulations, *having not owned a digital camera before? (In fact, only owned point and shoot Digitech Sony, Canon, Fujifilm x-40). I’d be interested to see how it performs with 28mm, some thoughts would be nice.
Apart from those questions, it is beautifully designed, a digital m-mount with aperture priority, a luxury found on the Hexar, I am comfortable with that experience.
I am very glad there is a smaller player in the market who is trying things that other major makers are not dare to try. And also hope there’s more actual digital range finder cameras.
I really did not like the first version. Pretty much because of the basic 12mp sensor. But the upgraded 2nd version has made me do a 180.
40mm is my favourite focal length, so I’m cool with using a 28mm lens for that.
I am curious as to your comments re the rangefinder patch. Any chance including some pics through the vf comparing it to a Leica?
Have you noticed any problem with the electronic shutter and artificial lighting? My FP produced pics with banding in LED lighting conditions.
Not so far, but I would imagine it is an issue
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I’m surpised the Leica CL is not mentioned in the article and the replies. If fitted with the m to l-adapter it will provide an almost comparable user experience with an excellent shutter button.
APS-C sensor with an M-lens is really nice on the street. The bigger depth of field will come in handy.
Maybe it’s just because I’m viewing smaller images on a computer screen, but they appear very smooth, like FF images. The color is a bit off but the images look clean. They remind me of the photos I got with the Canon 5D, which I still think is a viable camera even though only 12mp. I think this small camera with interchangeable lenses is interesting. I’d like to see where it goes. The images are very appealing. I’m very impressed with the high ISO image, looks really smooth to me.
Thanks Hamish, love your work, your passion for the subject, and the attention to detail.
Question, where do you hold or rest right hand thumb on camera back? Looks like controls and connector exactly where thumb would be. Yet you describe it as good to hold, first thing I saw was stuff, right where a thumb grip should be. (My main squeeze is a Ricoh GXR M Mount, very nice to hold with right hand, as you know)
My thumb just rests on the rubber USB cover – it acts as a little grip.
Can you go into more detail on how it does Monochrome images? I’m a big fan of Foveon for BW and feel the Foveon is an under-rated mono camera and handles tonality amazingly well if processed in the slow SPP. And since Sigma isn’t going to make an M-mount Foveon any time soon, I’d love to see what the Pixii does.
I love this concept! And so glad I ran across this camera. I’ll definitely be keeping it in the back of my mind as a second body. My perfect camera would be one that I wouldn’t be afraid to bring on a mountain bike ride. Compact, durable, simple. Something that you can throw in a bag and not worry about scratching or breaking it. A real reportage camera like the old film M-bodies.
For me redundancy and complexity on modern digital cameras really irks me. I don’t get all the extra buttons and screens (looking at you Sony!). Having a view finder and back screen boggles my mind. That’s why I went with a Leica TL2. Just a (touch) screen on the back and 2 dials, a shutter button, and on/off switch. Super simple. It also feels great in the hand as it’s machined from a block of aluminum. The downside is that fragile screen with it being prone to scratching and cracking if you’re not careful. Also the Leica TL lenses aren’t compact or notably fast. The TL 11-23 that I have on my TL2 has impeccable rendering but it’s comes at a cost. The lens is bulky and slow (F3.5-4.5).
Since the Pixii has no screen and just a viewfinder, there’s less to worry about. Put a nice compact M-lens (considerably smaller than TL lenses with all the autofocus bits) on it and you’ve got a great travel rig! Photo rendering seems to be very nice with excellent dynamic range. Despite the Sony sensor, it looks like Pixii’s processor is more Leica-like.
I’ve read that the build quality on the Pixii is excellent. How durable do you find it? Also since it’s electronic shutter do you notice any wobble or distortion? Have you heard any rumors of what’s next for Pixii? I’m really rooting for them to succeed and continue with this concept!
I like the idea, and I applaud their innovation, but not for me. I shoot 99% Voigtlander 21mm through 50mm, with the vast bulk with my ZEISS 35mm 2.8. I’d have to shoot with my 21mm to get a usable 31.5mm focal length, and it’s nowhere near the ZEISS in performance.
Make it full frame and I could be interested. I suspect most people with M-mount lenses will be in the same situation.
If you had to choose between the m10(p/r) and the pixii which would you choose now that you have experience with both?
I’m trying to decide which I should go for a first range finder. My biggest concern is I like shooting 35mm for family gatherings and documenting my toddler. Sometimes I cannot be very far away and 35mm on a crop becomes a big narrow for inside a home. I have the 21mm f4 but at f4 it makes it challenging to shoot indoors unless it’s very bright. I do have the voigtlander 28mm which is a great option but I kind of fell in love with the odd bokeh the 35mm Ultron gives you. The 28mm Ultron doesn’t seem to give the same look.
To be honest I rented the m10 and didn’t fall in love with it but it was just for a weekend. But I rented the m10m and I didn’t want to send it back. Wondering if maybe the m10r rendering would be more to my liking. I do really like the photo output of the pixii I have seen though. Just concerned about a 35mmish offering for an everyday/scenario lens.
This is a tough question. If really pushed, I would say the M10-P would sneak through. I use it more as I occasionally use it for work with my ZM Sonnar. A large part of this would come down to that particular combination, which I love. That said, I don’t find the Leica particularly inspiring or entertaining to use. It’s very much a tool.
The Pixii is somehow more fun to use. That said, I mostly just use it with a 35mm ZM C-Biogon which makes for a really small combo and because I’m not motivated to use it with wider lenses I don’t fall foul of your concern.
What was it about the m10m you liked so much?
Sorry I didn’t get a notification that you responded. I think black and white has a way of capturing emotion in photos especially when you are the one taking the photos. I had the m10m for a little over a week and I followed my daughter around that whole time. So I created some memories that to me sparks emotion when I look at them. I think because its BW only it really creates simplicity similar to film work flow (for me at least). I didn’t edit any of the files because I felt like the SOOC files from the m10m looked so good.
I actually purchased the PIXII and had it for 2 weeks. Unfortunately the camera I received had a rangefinder that was pretty far off and it was very hard to do any testing. I didn’t own the tools required to adjust it myself. I also had issues with the USB board not properly connecting to my computer or a USB drive. Given the (at the time) short return policy I opted to send it back for a refund. I did stop down a lens and shot that way a little bit. The colors were great though. It was hard to really test the sensor detail given my issue. I think I was just unfortunate with the unit I received. Others have not had the same issues as me.
Since then I purchased an m10-p and I really enjoy it. But part of me wonders if I would have been just as happy with the PIXII had I not had those issues. I think eventually I will give it another try because I do love the color output and the ability to switch and get BW raws is a great feature. I also enjoy the no back screen. It is really a film like experience in that sense. I think it would actually be a great companion to the m10 given the restrictions it imposes on you. I often shoot street and I think this camera is perfect for that. I never look at my photos until I get home. I don’t think I can completely forgo the back screen as its very helpful in environments like model shoots. I am not a professional though.
For sure, it’s definitely a good sidekick to a Leica. How are you feeling about the m10 – do you find it just works, or also inspires, just out of interest?
The camera looks definitely inspire me to take it more places (to be fair so did my x-pro3 as well as the PIXII). I find the rangefinder focusing to be very satisfying coming from fujifilm. I feel like I am taking less photos because it forces you to slow down and take more time thinking about the framing and camera settings. I am shooting more often but taking less photos in general. Maybe it is just me but I feel like the rangefinder view finder allows you to feel more like you are in the moment. There is no blackout and you are not looking at a screen.
The lens rendering has for sure inspired me to shoot more. I think my wife is sick of our impromptu photo shoots lol. I picked up an old summitar 5cm and love the images I get from that lens. The 35mm Ultron has a similar rendering. The greater detail the sensor captures also helps. On occasion I will get a SOOC jpeg that looks amazing, almost always by accident.
Hi Justin, have you ever seen this – https://www.35mmc.com/09/03/2015/the-offset-viewfinder-effect/
I have not seen that article before. It really gave me some food for thought. I haven’t been shooting photography very long (maybe 6 years). I started with a Pentax DLSR, moved onto Fujifilm and picked up a Cannonet for film a while back. That intrigued my interested in the rangefinder. I rented a Leica to see if it is even for me. After that I couldn’t put my finger on what it was that was so enjoyable but I also couldn’t let the feeling go. Your article describes exactly what I have been thinking. Instead of picking up the camera and determining my shot I often see the shot in my head and pick up the camera to capture the moment. I guess that is why I feel more present with the range finder. I didn’t think too much into it beyond the feeling I get. Lovely article, thank you for sharing it.
Cheers, Justin, I thought it might appeal. Ironically, I have hardly been shooting my rangefinders recently, favouring instead a little compact digital (believe it or not), but reading that back does give me the feeling I should pick them back up again.
Just like Hamish, I was happy to learn about the challenge that Pixii had taken on: creating an original M-mount digital Aps-C camera that was a new concept by itself and did not come from the usual manufacturers but from a bold new French one. Then I looked at the specs of the first iteration and its price and although I would have liked to materialize my support and acquire one, I decided to wait.
This new (second) generation, examined and assessed in detail by Hamish, brings several interesting improvements but… if described as “a lot more stable,” this implies that it still has got stability issues (exposure, colour), if it feels “a little more complete as a camera”, there seems to be room for improvement. The “limited core functionality” and absence of screen may still make it less versatile, usable and interesting than a cheaper Leica CL (APS-C camera with mechanical AND electronic shutter and back screen). The CL, although not a range-finder as the Pixii or the digital Leica Ms are, does not encounter any of the issues mentioned above). For a range-finder an M240 can be found for almost the same price as the new Pixii and offer its owner more possibilities. Regarding the pros and cons of a back screen, anyone can have camera with a back screen and decide not to use it, but needing one and not having one becomes an unsolvable problem.
In conclusion, I can envision this new Pixii as a fun and interesting alternative second camera for anyone already equipped with a more reliable go-to/primary one (especially if one heavily uses and relies on his/her camera for production and income), moreover one needs some $3000 to spare on what remains a surprising and interesting concept camera. But… how many potential buyers of the sort exist? Will this new iteration of this interesting and creative concept be enough to keep Pixii’s financial head above water?
What do you think Hamish?
Hmm… There’s a little bit of pessimism in your reading of the subtext there.
For example, I would describe the later versions of Leica Foto as “a little more stable”, but it still doesn’t function as well as the Pixii firmware and app when it comes to transferring images from a camera to a phone. The fuji software, by comparison, hardly functions at all in this regard. All things are relative, and very few things are perfect.
It’s also worth noting, especially when considering relative qualities, that the Pixii has just achieved a higher score on DXO than any of the Leica rangefinders so far scored. Not to mention the fact that Pixii is still in constant development with new improvements and tweaks being released regularly.
Also, your comparison to the CL might be relevant to someone who wants or likes a mirrorless camera, but you seem to be brushing over the fact that they are entirely different types of camera. And as for the M240. Great, but they aren’t new, take much less quality images (is you measure them objectively) offer an entirely different user experience and is a full frame camera. It’s not exactly comparing apples to apples is it…?
Until today, I had never even heard of the Pixii, and find it of immediate interest to me. It is knowing that the CFA is on the back of the sensor – not the front, making it a panchromatic monochrome sensor with benefits. I have in the past successfully practiced tricolour separation photography using RGB filters and Pan-F B&W film and gotten fantastic results, and have often dreamt of either having a monochrome Leica or one of my existing cameras converted to monochrome by MaxMax of New York, but this is a very different and attractive proposition. Perhaps this is something to be considered in terms of future updates.
Really tempting camera and brave someone is so brave to develop such a think out of the box camera!
One thing that is missing for me is the lack of flash possibilities.. I often use just a slight bit of fill in flash with most of my cameras.
Many don’t and some do always 😉 But the lack of flash limits the camera a lot in my opinion.