I had always believed Leica cameras were over-priced and more of a "trophy" product than a truly functioning camera. Anyway at the recent "Focus on Imaging" show at the NEC I ended up in a discussion with two of the Leica people..and to cut a long story short I bought the Leica x1.
On my way home I was thinking "..why did I just spend so much on another camera?" I already own DSLRs and a couple of high end compacts, so in reality I didn't need another camera, much less one with an expensive red dot on it.
But moving on. I have as mentioned above a number of DSLRs and compacts, all of which have their merits and all of which give me some good results. That said, the one camera I love more than them all is my Leica x1! I would call it a "photographers camera" and by that I mean if you just want a point-and-shoot camera this isn't for you. You have to know what you're doing although of course you can set it to programme and still get some first class results, but take time to set it manually and you will see the difference.
Actually there are not that many controls within the menus and it takes very little time to master them (another plus point is the manual that comes with the camera is very straightforward and tells you all you'll ever need to know about the functions of the camera).
Anyway I still had some doubts until I saw some of the images I got with this camera - these are probably the best I have ever produced, even compared with DSLRs. I have recently taken to visiting old churches and shot both interior and exteriors using my Leica with some (for me) resulting superb images. I'm also getting more interested in street photography and my Leica is ideal for this as well - you can turn the shutter release to "silent" mode which attracts less attention. It's a great camera for street photography as it's not as potentially intimidating as pointing a large DSLR at people. It may not be the best suited for landscape photography, but then again I haven't really used it for this yet.
If I had any negative points about this camera it would be that it is easy to accidentally jog the aperture and shutter dials on the top of the unit. More resistant dials (not so softly turned) would be an improvement. The screen is not too easy to view in direct sunlight but you can overcome this by attaching the optical viewfinder which is sold as an accessory. I invested in this viewfinder plus the optional handgrip as I felt I was truly "buying in" to the whole Leica system. You also get a free download of Adobe Lightroom when you purchase one of these - this is a great editing tool!
In summary then I've become a Leica convert..buy this camera, learn to use it properly, see the results and you'll end up comparing every other camera you own or use to a Leica.
Yes, you pay a lot of money for that red dot, and the new Fujifilm x100 will have more functions, bells & whistles, but well, it won't be a Leica!
Update 25 July 2011
Since writing the above review I purchased the Fujifilm x100 (see my separate review on this) as, like so many others, I was overtaken by the hype surrounding this new camera. I have read the reviews on this Fuji here and on many other sites, in general it scores very highly. However I was disappointed with it and have now put it up for sale. Why? I read somewhere that this would be a "Leica killer" - well, it's not. I have become so used to the simplicity of using my Leica x1 that I found the Fuji more cumbersome to use. Let me clarify that - the Fuji has many functions which you can adjust, alter etc. but I'll use my DSLR if I want such variations. One of the clear advantages (for me) of using the Leica x1 is its real ease of use. I know with the superb lens quality I have a good chance of getting the image I want. In other words with the Leica if I was disappointed with the image it was in all probability down to me alone and not, as with the Fuji, spending enough time getting the settings correct. My feeling is however that the Fuji has likely caught the attention of the major camera producers who may just come up with something similar - and at considerably more attractive pricing! If this is the case, I think the price of the Fuji will drop considerably, so anyone really wanting to get their hands on one may be advised to hold off for a while.
On the other hand I think this Leica (as with all Leicas) will probably hold its value for the foreseeable future.