PIXII Digital Rangefinder Camera – For New Generations
PIXII Digital Rangefinder Camera - For New Generations
PIXII Digital Rangefinder Camera – For New Generations
PIXII is a French company founded by David Barth. The Company released its first APSC digital rangefinder in September 2021. PIXII doesn’t have any LCD screen and SD card slot, it is designed for the new generation. “Bridging the gap between authentic photography and the digital world” is their statement on the website. Recently Leica released their new flagship camera – Leica M11 in January 2022. But looking at the price tag probably not for everyone. For those of you who would like to begin with a rangefinder and looking for a less expensive rangefinder camera to play with, please continue to read this post.
I still remember the last digital rangefinder M mount camera manufactured by third parties (other than Leica) probably was the Epson RD1x which is still on my wishlist to try. I understand that there are many options out there to use EVF or Liveview to focus such as Sigma FP, Sony A7IV…etc. But I just love the way how simple the rangefinder coupling mechanism is because it suits my photography style to shoot at eye level through the frame lines in the viewfinder. Looking through the framelines simply just compose and click. I am more of a traditional guy but I do find that if my image was taken through an EVF or LCD Liveview, they just look different to me (just my personal preference).
Shape and build
The design of this PIXII is minimal, futuristic and gives you both digital and analog experience. There is no LCD screen on this camera and there is only one OLED screen on top which shows you shutter speed, file type and which mode you are using. The most attractive part of this camera probably is the space grey aluminium body. It matches perfectly with my MacBook Pro and won’t leave any fingerprints on it. The camera feels like a Leica M5 in size weighted at 460g including the battery, the ergonomy is somehow different and it doesn’t have any grip adding an extra thumb rest would be perfect. You can only connect your phone via their application from the app store or android play store to view your images and perform any camera firmware updates. The overall connectivity experience is faster than my Leica M10 with Leica App.
It is equipped with a 26MP BSI-CMOS sensor, BSI means back-illuminated sensor which increases the amount of light captured and improves its low light performance. The sensor size is an APS-C optical format (1.5 ratio to 35mm) for example when you use a 35mm focal length lens it will become 35mm x 1.5 factor = 52.5mm. From the images that it took, I thought I was using a Leica M9 because images were so vibrant and 3D pop. It doesn’t feel like an APSC camera except for the crop factor.
It only equipped an electronic shutter, speeds from 2s to 1/32000 (great for fast lens lovers to shoot at wide open during the day!!). But the trade off is banding or “rolling shutter effect” (see image below) due to rows of pixels being initiated or terminated as the electronic shutter rolls down the sensor from top to bottom. So this might be something you need to consider as a user whether you want to capture mostly still images or actions. Shutter button is shaped in a flat piece, I wish they could have made it pop out so that it was easier to press the shutter. Rolling shutter doesn’t have a huge impact on me since I don’t normally chase for split second images or street shots that require fast shutter speed.
Optical viewfinder with coinciding rangefinder (magnification 0,67X) for your reference Leica M6 is 0.72x. Independent LED backlit framelines for standard prime lenses: 28mm, 35mm, 40mm and 50mm which is quite easy to set in the menu. The frame lines are bright and clearly visible.
It has an accurate internal meter, they also added the lightmeter on its body to help users pre-determine the readings before capturing an image which I quite like and it is similar to how I did with my Leica M2 with an external Voigtlander VC II meter on top.
Storage and Buffer
It has 8G up to 128G storage space which is very sufficient for my photography style. Buffer is not enough to take continuous shots. I can shoot up to 3-4 images but if more than that, the camera will not let you take any. So this is something that bugged me when I was trying to capture a few more images.
The downside with the camera is the focusing patch. It is just a bit dim and hard to focus sometimes, especially in low light situations it is hard to tell whether I have accurately aligned the image in the small focusing box. The focusing patch is slightly smaller than my Leica M10 or Leica M2, just for your reference. I let another friend of mine try focusing with PIXII and he just found it perfectly fine. So I guess maybe I just need extra time to adapt to how it focuses.
I have updated the camera with the latest firmware. The top OLED screen is very stylish and reminds me of Fujifilm GFX100S. Overall menu and setting is quite simple. Connectivity on both phone and laptop is easy. It just took me a while to understand how to operate it. There are two buttons at the back of the camera body. A scrolling dial, menu selection button as well as a USB-C port on the right (wish the USB-C cover can be a little bit easier to put it back).
Amazing Colour Performance
First of all, I am a serious fan of Leica M9 because of its colour so I spent months trying to mimic the colour of M9 on my M10-P and everytime it just feels different. When I first connected PIXII and transferred those photos that I took with PIXII to my laptop, the colour from this APSC camera was pretty impressive. I thought I was using a Leica M9 camera and it got me hooked to keep on trying when and how it performs the best. In terms of colour profile (not an expert), it has a general blue tint, the skin tone a little bit pinkish and the overall image is seasoned with heavy magenta. This is exactly what M9 looks like and I often wonder if PIXII’s colour profile engineer actually loves M9 so much as well because they just did an amazing job to preserve details and colour.
I would say this camera performs extremely well during the day especially when there is adequate amount of sunlight. You can capture the atmosphere and details easily. Post-editing probably is something that I don’t particularly enjoy doing and this camera did the job for me. I found the camera profile of PIXII from their official website and used it in lightroom. All of the images in this post are with exposure adjustments only and applied with PIXII’s original camera profile. Just wish the official website can be easier to navigate to locate the camera profile.
The good thing about the camera is that you can either charge it with a proper charger or with USB type C cable, the only thing I don’t like is the cable cover. Battery is sufficient for a day but better to bring a spare battery with you.
Low Light and ISO Performance
I am not going to deep dive into technical aspects or comparison in each ISO speed versus certain camera since I am more of a practical guy. So one night I went out with Faith and I set the camera ISO speed at 6400, obviously the grain wasn’t as pleasant as the Leica M10-P however the grain structure is just fine and I think it is acceptable at 6400 but the amount of details that preserve under low light situations is impressive.
I think overall the camera is enjoyable to shoot since it doesn’t have a screen just like a Leica M10-D or Leica M2 where I only need to focus on what I see and keep the camera settings right. So it kind of fit my photography style that I don’t like to check the images very often but more to enjoy the process of making images. The only thing that I find it hard to use is the focusing that I mentioned above which is hard to tell whether it is in focus or not. I find the colour is truly amazing and I wish Leica could
Special thanks to Pandacamera HK for letting me try this camera. If any of you are interested in this camera and would like to know more about it. Comment below, send me an email or DM me @tahusa on Instagram.