“My First Leica!…”
I’ve heard people raving about Leica glass for years, and I’ve wanted a Leica M series rangefinder for as long as I’ve been serious about photography. Leica quality comes at a premium price, though, and I could never justify the cost.
I found a Leica Z2X at my favorite junk shop, mixed in with an assortment of point and shoots cameras, plastic giveaway cameras and 110 pocket cameras. The price? $4.99.
I did some digging around – while Leica is known for their rangefinders and lenses, and to a lesser extent their SLRs, they’ve made several point and shoot cameras. The Minilux seems to be the flagship of the P&S line. The C series are stylish, functional cameras, and the Z2x appears to be a Mini Zoom with a facelift. Many of the point-and-shoot line have the same “VARIO-ELMAR” 35-70 zoom lens. While the Leica snobs don’t consider Leica point-and-shoot glass on par with Leica rangefinder glass, I’m willing to take their criticism with a grain of salt. So, with minor cleanup and a fresh CR123 battery, I shot a test roll with it.
It’s big. Bigger than my “other” favorite point-and-shoot, the Olympus Stylus Epic. Too big for a pants pocket, small enough to fit in a jacket pocket or a cargo pocket. The viewfinder is big and clearly laid out. The camera has “passive” auto-focus, which was supposed to be a selling point at the time.
It’s solid. While definitely plastic, it doesn’t flex one bit in my hands.
The Z2X has a dizzying array of operating modes:
- Automatic exposure mode with flash
- Automatic exposure mode with flash & redeye reduction (pre-flash)
- Automatic exposure mode with flash and +2EV exposure compensation
- Manual flash
- Manual flash with pre-flash
- Manual flash with night mode
- Manual flash with pre-flash and night mode
- Flash off
- BULB mode (up to 30 seconds)
- Infinity focus and flash off
Type – Small film point-and-shoot camera.
Lens – LEICA VARIO-ELMAR 35-70 mm f/4.0 – 7.6 (7 elements in 6 groups). Lens cover automatically closes when camera is switched off.
Focus range – From 60 cm (24 in.) to infinity. Separate infinity focus lock.
Autofocus system – Passive autofocus, which meters exposure values when the shutter release button is pressed lightly and focuses when the shutter release button is fully depresaed. In poor lighting conditions the auxiliary AF light is automatically activated.
Exposure control – Automatic program mode, center-weighted integral metering with automatic flash activation in the automatic modes.
Memory – Focus is locked and metered value saved with continuous slight pressure on shutter release button.
Exposure override +2Ev, can be activated manually.
Meter working range (all data at ISO 100) Formodes with automatic flash activation or “ON” (manual flash on). At 35 mm focal length: from exposure value Ev9 (1/30 sec. and f/4.0) > Ev17 (1/300 sec. and f/20). At 70 mm focal length: from exposure value Ev11.6 (1/50 sec. and f/7.6) > Ev17 (1/200 sec. and f25). For manual “flash-off” modes or manual flash activation with long exposure, “SLOW/ON”. At 35 mm focal length: from exposure value Ev6 (1/4 sec. and f/4) > Ev17 (1/300 sec. and f20). At 70 mm focal length: from exposure value Ev7.9 (1/4 sec. and f/7.6) > Ev17 (1/200 sec. and f/25).
Shutter speed range – 1/4 sec. > 1/300 sec. “B” setting (up to 99 sec.)
Film speed setting – Film speed automatically set for DX-coded films from ISO 50 to ISO 3200. With film without DX-coding or with coding lower than ISO 50, the camera is automatically set to ISO 100. With films with coding higher than ISO 3200, it is set to ISO 3200. The settings are as follows: ISO 50, 64, 100, 125, 200, 250, 400, 500, 800, 1000, 1600, 2000, 3200.
Automatic flash – In poor lighting conditions the flash is activated automatically in the automatic program modes. Manual ON/OFF capability at any time. Additional manual flash activation also possible with long exposures (SLOW/ON). Pre-flash to reduce red-eye effect in automatic program mode and manual flash-on (ON, SLOW/ON). Flash range – (all data at ISO 100): At 35 mm: 0.6 > 5.1 m. At 70 mm: 0.6 > 2.7 m.
Viewfinder – Bright, clear real image viewfinder with markings for autofocus area measured, frame lines for close-range and panorama photographs (panorama adapter available as an accessory). Viewfinder magnification: 0.44x at 35 mm focal length, 0.74x at 70 mm focal length. Finder coverage 83% of film format.
LEDs – Red LED blinks when flash is being recharged and is lit continuously when the flash is ready to fire. Green LED blinks when the camera/subject distance is too small or when there is a risk of camera shake due to long exposure times. It is lit continously to indicate that focus and exposure have been metered or stored in memory.
Film transport – Automatic film threading and advance to first frame. Motorized advance after each exposure. Continuous shooting by holding down shutter release. Automatic rewind after last exposure. Midroll rewind possible.
Data panel – Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) indicates symbols/numbers for battery status, frame count (alternatively time count in seconds), flash and pre-flash activation, flash OFF and pre-flash OFF, long-time exposure, infinity focus lock, self-timer and exposure override.
Self-timer 10 sec. countdown; indicated by diode (LCD) on front of camera. Activated by separate button on the top plate of the camera.
Power supply – Long-lasting 3V lithium battery (CR 123A).
Camera on/off control – ON/OFF button on camera top. Lens travels to ready/trasport position. Camera automatically shuts off electronics after approx. 5 minutes (stand-by mode). Functions can be re-activated by touching the shutter release button, the zoom selector or the ON/OFF button.
Program modes – Automatic program mode with automatic flash – Automatic program mode with automatic flash and pre-flash – Automatic program mode with automatic flash and exposure override – Manual flash-on – Manual flash-on and pre-flash – Manual flash-on with long exposure – Manual flash-on with pre-flash and long exposure – Manual flash-off – Infinity focus lock and manual flash-off – “The ‘B’ is displayed on the LCD data panel if the light is too dim to permit exposure metering. Manual long-time exposure up to 99 sec. possible.” – Every exposure mode remains in effect until another mode is chosen or the camera is turned off. When the camera is switched back on, it automatically sets to “automatic program mode with automatic flash”.
Body – Metal housing available in black or natural. Side attachment for carrying strap or wrist strap. Tripod thread A1/4 DIN 4503 (1/4″).
Data back – Camera available with or without data back. Imprints the day and time, or date on the film. Quartz controlled clock and automatic calendar up to year 2019. Intensity controlled automatically according to film speed coding.
Weight – approx. 245 g / 448 g (without / with databack and without battery).
Dimensions (W x H x D) – 124 x 69.6 x 42.6 mm.
Era – 1997 > 2002 157,284 cameras – 39,989 with databack (Model S2X DB). 
A manual is available online at http://www.butkus.org/chinon/leica/leica_z2x/leica_z2x.htm