It’s a bit early in the day to celebrate a best-of retrospective from Pixii – in the same way the alternative rock band Pixies did after a decade of work together with their Death to the Pixies album. But enough has gone on with this little camera since our earlier review to justify a second look at the French brand’s attempt to shake up a stagnant industry. Time hasn’t stood still at Pixii Central 🙂
Let’s briefly recap, write a quick TLDR; for those who discover this camera here and didn’t read our first impressions of it, some months ago.
Built from scratch by a French engineer, the first Pixii used a low-resolution sensor that produced stunning colours and tonal subtlety and packed it into a (superbly finished) solid metal body equipped with a ranger finder, no rear screen, and a Leica M mount. It produced gorgeous DNG files (yay Pixii, boo proprietary formats) and a shooting experience that eludes most modern competitors and their nuclear-station-control-room-type ergonomics. It also offered an app that could download shots onto the user’s phone more or less on the fly, less more often than more, at least initially. These were early days and the app did need polishing, although it opened up the road to easy online sharing and on the fly editing. Much like Zeiss’s ZX1, but placing responsibility for processing power firmly on the phone’s lap, not on the camera’s. And that was the right choice to make.
It earned very high praise from me, and severe criticism from those who can’t see past a spec sheet and a me-too attitude to “innovation”.
But it wasn’t without its foibles, far from it. In fact, there were plenty. Oblivious to the fact that good pixels matter far more than numerous pixels, many observers poo pooed the 11Mp resolution. Fair enough. It was on the low side if you ever needed to print large or crop tightly.
More problematic in my mind was the electronic internal bottlenecks that throttled performance and led to repeated, intense, buffering, even for non-sports shooters.
Then, there was the divisive – to put it mildly – decision of using a rangefinder in place of the now more traditional EVF. Where you landed on either side of that fence depended purely on your eyesight, experience and retro-aspirations, and still does. This author has no love to spare for rangefinders … They are the only thing that always held me back from buying a Leica camera. And I’ve never successfully shot with one, except for the Mamiya 7, which I still consider the best framing device ever (albeit for a limited range of focal lengths), larger, and easier to use than the smaller device used in this delicate little body. Still, others feel differently and there is a niche market for people wanting to shoot via a rangefinder.
On top of lending us Pixii the camera, Pixii the company had made us privy to a roadmap that we were asked to keep quiet. Although we had mentioned new sensors on the way, the rest of the very impressive projects on the timeline were described on a strict no disclosure basis, and still are.
But we can now describe what has been going on at Pixii during those months and evaluate whether the work and wait have been worth it or not.
Which brings us to today, and the 26Mp APS-C sensor responsible for all the photographs you see on this page 🙂
Being of an animist nature, when David Barth (fournder and tech leader at Pixii) mentioned a replacement sensor from Sony, one with high-pixel density at that, I felt my heart sink. Everyone in the market can boast 26Mp, or more, on an APS-C. It is no longer even cool. But only Pixii, Leica and a very few select companies can claim to produce files as gorgeous as those the early version churned out with regular nonchalance. And my past experiences in shaky colour management (putting it really kindly) with older generation Sony mirrorless cameras certainly didn’t make the idea of the switch very sexy in my mind.
But David assured me he’d be as diligent about colour management LUTs as he had initially and was confident he’d be able to recreate the same palette as in Pixii V1 with the high pixel count successor. Yeah right …
Turns out, he was right. And I was wrong. As you can tell by the largely unprocessed photographs on the top of this page, that dreamy pastel look is still there in abundance. But set White Balance to a standard daylight and hop onto the contrast slider, and those files can be made as neutral as any other.
IMPORTANT NOTE: The Pixii offers shooting profiles, sort of subtle colour presets you can use on the fly and in Lightroom. I hand’t noticed the camera was in Portrait mode, which gives skin tones a warmer tone, which is why some of the orange grasses can look a little pink on some photographs, as below. If you’re interested, I’ll publish some of the photographs below using other profiles in a separate post.
Let’s talk about white balance for a minute. Because the Pixii takes a very liberal approach at setting it, particularly in Portrait profile. Unlike some cameras who like to be warm or like to be cool, in a systematic manner, the Pixii will happily swing on either side of Daylight, but always with pleasing results, in my experience of a few days of ownership.
What do you think? It was early morning, with a grazing warm sun. But nowhere near as warm as the second photograph makes it look. Both work, but the first is closer to what it looked like at the time, brain-corrected.
Below, just a few minutes later, the exact opposite happened. The Pixii made the shot look warmer than the Daylight setting in Lightroom. But, here again, it works, and it requires a click to alter, with no breakup of the file. And here again, that’s how the scene looked to me. While most of the garden/horse scene was in the shadows and quite cool, the scene below was bathed in bright summery morning light, that felt warmer than it actually was.
Is the Pixii’s WB setting flaky and my experience of it too narrow to witness faults? Or has the team done a surprising job of setting WB at psychologically good point? I’ve no idea and will try to ask David. But so far, so nice.
If you’re familiar with audio and HiFi, you’ll understand the impact of a good DAC (digital to analogue converter) in converting bits from your streamer or CD into an analogue signal that actually produces sound through a loudspeaker.
And most people sum up the sound quality of a DAC by looking at the conversion chip inside it. Burr Brown, Sabre, ESS, FPGA … But a DAC is far more than a chip. Its power supply and its output stage have much more of an impact on sound quality than the flavour inherited from the conversion chip itself.
And the same goes with camera sensors. I should have known better than to expect 2010 Sony colours from a Sony sensor in a 2021 camera, since so much happens to the signal after it “leaves the pixels”. And just like great DAC companies can make any chip sing, Pixii sure know how to make that sensor sing. Colours are bold by default, in a pastel, yet believable way. And files are clean and robust enough to be altered to anyone’s taste.
The good news doesn’t stop there.
In my musical and photographic tastes, “naturalness” takes precedence over any other consideration. And one major stumbling block of mainstream cameras (even far more expensive ones than the Pixii) is highlight roll-off. Nothing screams digital louder than abrupt transitions from pale grey to pure white. It’s vile to look at and a cardinal sin, in my biased book of photography. Might as well use a phone.
The best target for detecting highlight breakup is an illuminated cloud edge. How often have we seen lovely landscapes underneath plastic clouds with pure white edges? And 5 grand cameras are routinely guilty of this. In my mind, you can just shove those pics right down the bin, whatever their pixel count or (pseudo) dynamic range. Here? Judge for yourself. As I said in my first review, the Pixii is better than my X1D in some respects. And highligh roll-off is one of them. Abfab.
Recreating an atmosphere is what matters most to me in colour photographs. And I’ve not yet used a camera that does this better than my old and cheap Nikon D80, in the right light. My digital memories of it in the hazy lake region of Northern Italy are simply unparalleled in my production to this day.
And I don’t think the Pixii beats it. But it sure comes close. Look at the shadows projected below the clouds, look at the clouds themselves, look at the gradual change in green colour as the hills recede. And this has been damaged slightly by wordpress … This is a camera that trained painters would adore.
It’s not neutral in this Portrait profile (again, my bad). I certainly don’t care. It looks gorgeous straight out of the box. And it can be altered to anyone’s taste if the standard dreamy look isn’t what’s desired. This is the road behind my house and it looks exactly like that (except for slightly more orange straw).
Bring on the milk then. Milk is where cookies crumble. And, sadly, there’s a fair deal of crumbling to be done.
I’ll start with the rangefinder. It’s not bad. But, to my eyes (literally), it’s not on par with the rest of the camera. And it’s certainly not for the aging reviewer whose otherwise extraordinary gene pool doesn’t include 20/20 vision. This chap, below, might be offended that I focused on his crotch, but his eyes were my target. And mine were the problem. Or could it be a focus and recompose issue imposed by rangefinders and which can be problematic with lenses with weird focal surfaces.
Again, that’s a personal thing. And photographers who like rangefinders are usually better at using them than me. It’s just something I can’t not mention in a review.
Then’s there’s buffering. Have any of you watched James “Captain Slow” May repeatedly moan “buffeting, buffeting” on one of his high-speed runs in a high-performance car? If so, you’ll have been prepared for the Pixii moaning “Buffering, Buffering” as soon as a rapid sequence of more than 6-7 shots is made (say, for a big pano).
This might not be an issue for you. Buffering never got in the way except when I tried to shoot two large panoramas, one immediately after the other. It’s something that needs to be mentioned here for the sake of honesty, though it will only irk a fraction of photographers. In Pixii’s defence, this will soon get upgraded, and Pixii’s great retrofit-upgrade policy future proofs early purchases in such situations, so that shouldn’t keep you away, if you require “fast shooting” capabilities (it is a manual focus rangefinder camera, please look elsewhere for 30fps 😉 )
So, brilliant imaging capabilities, up to snuff sensor, shaky (for now) internals. It can’t be all black and white, right?
Speaking of which … (see what I did, there 😉 )
Black and white conversions are the harsh arbiter of file quality. Blown highlights, muddy shadows, flaky tonal steps … all that may be able to vaguely hide undetected in a pretty colour file, but will come back to haunt the shooter as soon as heavily edited mono conversions come in to play.
And, boy, is this camera good …
This, above, is a torture test for real-life dynamic range. To get enough contrast for that 3D pop and enough tonal richness for a continuous tone from the shadow edge to the sun-drenched edge is spectacular indeed. I’ve no doubt some lab rat will test this camera in his grandma’s basement and will declare “oh it only has 12 stops of DR”. Please remember this photograph when you read/view that.
I’m not suggesting lab results lie. They only tell part of the story. As in my DAC analogy, some low bit count DACs leave high bit count DACs for dead after just seconds of listening.
The tone curve of film is far more gentle at the shoulders than what most digital cameras offer, so film often looks more natural than digital. I believe what Pixii have achieved through a well adjusted tone curve is a filmic look, without the pains of film processing. If you miss the grain, it can be added fairly convincingly in Lightroom. But no amount of massaging will recover a harsh file.
And yes, out of the box, those files can look unimpressive. Flat, even, to the initiated. But a tiny nudge of the contrast slider or the colour luminance sliders soon get you the look you want.
When Leica released their first Monochrome M jewel, it was met with some puzzlement because files looked flat straight out of the camera. But they contained impressive information and allowed extraordinary prints for the resolution.
If you’ve been waiting for a more affordable version of those lovely cameras and feel fearful of a full B&W workflow, I urge you to consider the Pixii as your monochrome steed. It really is wonderful for that application.
Above, contrast and clarity were pushed to bring detail into the shadows. Below, the same wall, under the same lighting condition was left more natural.
When a camera can do that, buffering and rangefinders are soon forgotten.
This, to me is the Litmus test. The question is simple: “Can my camera do that?” Trust me, in the overwhelming majority of cases, the answer will be a deafening NO.
The small development team at Pixii has prioritized this aspect of appeal over the usual quantitative nonsense. That’s as it should be.
Whether the camera, as it stands today, is for you depends on how much this image quality makes you drool. Memory makers will not care one bit, and they will miss the fast AF and high frame rates that guarantee the eye in focus when the 3 year old takes her first dive in the pool 🙂 And that’s how it should be as well.
It’s no secret that I love niche products far more than do-it-all plastic offerings. My vision of the world favours small companies of high expertise over behemoths that make us all fit into predefined slots to generate their billions. Of course, we’d be nowhere near this level of quality if Sony hadn’t revolutionised photography to sell millions of sensors and fund R&D, so I’m not being critical. I’m just happy that smaller companies are offering us a choice of how those great sensors get to be used.
I’m also impressed at the boldness of the Pixii approach to camera design, whether or not the rangefinder appeals to me.
When most people think of high-precision watches, Switzerland immediately comes to their mind. And yet, a town in Germany (Glashutte) has for decades knocked huge holes into that hegemony and companies such as A. Langhe & Söhne routinely produce some of the planet’s most stunning timekeepers.
Likewise, when you evoke luxury rangefinder cameras, the default location that comes to mind is Wetzlar. But Pixii is doing a sterling job of turning the world’s eyes Westward to Besançon, a Fench city rich in horological history and high-skill metal working.
The Pixii is easily one of the best built cameras I have ever owned or reviewed, Linhof, Leica and Zeiss included. The packaging is lovely, ensuring unboxing pleasure to new owners too.
Where the French challenger departs from its German inspiration is that it seems to have turned a more eager eye to the future.
It would be remiss of me to limit my coverage of Pixii V2 to this sensor upgrade, because the R&D has been hard at work on other topics that migh interest less ludditish populations 😉
OPTICAL NOTE: Up to above the sleepy cat, all photographs were made using the Voightländer 35/1.4. From sleepy Toffee down, they were all made using the Voigtländer 21/4. This was my first shoot with this lens. It is as remarkable as it is tiny. Very very very highly recommended !!!!
I’ll do my best to keep the rest of the presentation organised, but will be compelled to jump in with excited commentary about image quality here and there. My apologies in advance. But hey, this is about making images more than anything else, right? 😉
In the new A1571 (that’s the camera’s current official version name, I’ll call it V2) documentation features this AR viewfinder overlay feature. Essentially, Pixii have built the first rangefinder with dynamic info overlay. So, as you half-press the shutter release, you’ll see info such as exposure speed, ISO, focal length, space left (see below), exposure correction, a bit like a head-up display in a car. Or a military jet. I mean … that’s got to put a smile on your face, right?
One man and his passion 🙂 Predictably, David is a Porsche 911 enthusiast. Here’s a car that started life with the engine in the wrong place and, through sheer obstination of the design team, became one of the best sports cars on the road ever. On the right track, with Walter Rohrl at the wheel, I’m not sure Lewis Hamilton would fancy his chances, even given a wide choice of alternative challenger supercars.
So the Pixii is born with a rangefinder, which would never have been my choice, but David is making it more usable and pleasurable at every step of the road. Kudos, man! Stick to your guns and bring your vision to life.
Image quality interlude. Same scene, back lit and front lit. Are words even needed? (well, they are to explain why the second is blurred. I actually sneezed because of the sun, when taking it 😉 )
Another quirk inherited from Pixii V1 is internal storage of images. Here again, David could have backtracked under pressure but chose to double down instead.
So, as you shoot, an internal memory fills up. Initially, this memory was small (4Gb) and was all you had. Making the camera miserably impractical away from a computer. Now, though, two changes make it more interesting: first the internal memory can now be extended to 32Gb (and older cameras retrofitted), giving you 650 images in 16-bit uncompressed RAW, and 820 in compressed.
Secondly, the upgraded USB port (another novelty) now accepts a tiny USB 3 accessory that carries micro SD cards on which you can download / backup your images. That’s probably not the workflow busy pros will want, but it works beautifully and ensures you can leave home with a tiny and high quality kit. That pocketable self-sufficiency is furthered by the same multi purpose USB port which can be used to charge batteries (although those standard Sony items can obviously be charged on their dedicated external support). Battery life is … let’s say adequate (250 frames ?) but those batteries are cheap and tiny and this isn’t a camera for 2000-frames-a-day types anyway.
These include faster electronics. In particular white balance and exposure refresh rates. And a new compressed DNG format that’s compatible with Lightroom, the recommended PP tool for this camera.
There’s also a new battery lock mechanism which greatly improves on the previous one that relied on a coin to twist open. Very romantic, very impractical. No more 😉
And the architecture has been designed for future sensor upgrades! This first example has convinced me that this is indeed a realistic possibility. And not one to be sneezed at. When you change your $3k camera after 2 years, its value has dropped by at least half. Here, dish out a few hundred bucks and you have new sensor, new internals … That’s potential savings right there. And it’s environmentally sound. It should also ensure there are fewer used Pixiis on the market, thereby helping them keep their value? Just guessing, here, but it would add to the financial positives – and the image of luxury – of such an investment.
Some of you have been waiting for news from Sigma. You might want to look this way for an alternative proposition of equally qualitative priorities. You’ll likely love what you see.
For a more generic qualifier of the target audience, let me turn to the French word flâneur. This translates to strolling (stroller) with more elegant and poetic connotations. A collector of images.
Imagine the photographer with a beret if that helps mental focus 😉 But, more seriously, the build quality, the elegance of the image aesthetics, the self-sufficient body and minute lenses of stunning quality, the unhurried-but-efficient flow of image-making this magical little box of metal plunges you into … this all evokes artistic grabbing more than planned workshop with backpacks and sherpa. It is all effortless, soothing and gratifying rather than goal-oriented.
That obviously suits my style of shooting to a T and if my eyesight didn’t make your average mole pass for Hawkeye, it would be my camera of choice. When an EVF comes along, it might just become that.
And of course, those of a more frantic go-getter disposition will diss the camera with all their misinformed might. It’s not targeted at them. Does anyone look at beautiful Emma Watson in her tapis rouge dress at Cannes and comment how badly the fabric would fare in thorns on a hike in the lake district? Duh …
The fact is this camera’s arrival caught me at a busy time (what else is new?) and I used it for no more than 4 hours. In terribly difficult light. And I have many keepers to show for it.
That’s all the pudding a proof of concept needs.
In fact, if wonderful Emma and talented David agree, I’d like to push that dress analogy one step further. Switzerland is known for haute horlogerie. Paris for haute couture. I’d like to suggest that Besançon has now become a worthy center of haute photographie.
This update is meaningful. It gave us the the much needed increase in pixel count that the market expects and demands these days. More importantly to me, it brings proof that Pixii are serious about their extremely ambitious product timeline and retrofit upgrade scheme!
If this took the camera’s crowd-pulling abilities from the ground to the top of a high building, the next step in in the timeline is … the moon. This will draw a different type of folk and I hope to see it mature (and review it 🙂 ) soon. But this current iteration is now one many photographers could call home. Well done Pixii!
I was the first DSer to play with a Pixii. It incorporated plenty for me not to like. But, to my great surprise, it was (also) a revelation. The shooting experience was outstanding, demanding, yet so gratifying. Like the mastering of a thoroughbred sports car (more on that later).
But chief Pixii evangelist David Barth made a promise. What is not (yet) right, I will make right, and, not only that, I will offer an upgrade path to existing owners. I snarked, yeah, sure! And promptly thought about flying pigs. An upgrade path with retrofits. Not just firmware updates, but actual key bits of hardware. Pshaw! It had never been done, and, if true, it would be HUGE. An end to rapid obsolescence. An end to rapid loss in value. So huge that it might force others to match that. Including the premium-luxo brand that prides itself on its hold on that end of the world market. Pixii could change the market forever, if it delivered on its promise. Nah, it wasn’t about to happen. Pigs don’t have wings….
Ooops. This Pixii shows that, sometimes, the unexpected happens. Pixii delivered a vastly improved model (see above), AND AN UPGRADE PATH for existing cameras, AND a promise of more upgrades to come. Did I just see a flock of flying
And, for those in the know of Pixii’s plans, the future could hold more world firsts. But what is the point of buying a camera before it is a mature product, and a world-beater at that? Well, that is the second sea-change between the two Pixii. The first one was, at worst an oddball, at best a promise. This one is not. It is a product. Not yet perfect for most customers, but then neither was it designed to be. Not with manual focus and a rangefinder. But for some, as Pascal points out, very definitely a contender, and, in many ways, a unique one.
And that, for me is the major breakthrough Pixii have achieved. And here I will avail myself of the thoroughbred sports car metaphor once again. It used to be epitomized by Ferrari. Incredible V12 engines, gorgeous styling by Pininfarina, blistering speed for those who could master them. Wonderfully desirable, definitely unreasonable, very exclusive and hard to get. Fast forward to now. Ferrari make many more cars. They still dominate the category, but are no longer the most exclusive. For, beyond the “major” players in the category (along with Lamborghini, Aston Martin, McLaren), there are now smaller, even more exclusive hypercar brands, for those who want something different. Think Pagani, or Koeniggsegg, or the new Gordon Murray. Well, that is what Pixii have done. Created something different, and more exclusive than you know who….
And if you think that the Pixii with its APS/C and 26Mp isn’t exactly a performance demon (it is an IQ demon, though), pick your version of “classy, different, exclusive, that makes you work for satisfaction”. It could be a Donkervoort or Caterham, or, in a different market segment, a Grenadier as opposed to the perennial Land Rover…
My hat off to you, Monsieur Barth!
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#1266. Rethinking our perfect cameras
#1234. Seeking Growth in New Directions
#1210. News from Pixii
#1167. sPENTAX and RICOHlled
#1164. Leica M11: Salvatory catch-up or modernized gestalt brilliance?
#1087. High-end tussle (how how the four aces of photographic gear are being positioned)
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Pascal — Every single image from this camera is simply wonderful. If you were to mix thumbnails from this camera with those from other cameras in a Lightroom library grid (say 5 or 6 images per row), I guarantee one would be able to select the Pixii images correctly every time. The color management is outstandingly natural looking. (By comparison, I feel ill when I see a Lightroom auto white balance image such as the horse in the paddock.) The monochrome images are incredible. So many digital images seem “plastic” to me; these seem alive. What a find! Excellent post, thanks.
Thank you, Frank. I too believe the image quality from this quality will appeal greatly to discerning photographers. It’s a little gem, for those who appreciate quality over quantity. I’m glad you liked the post, and thank you for saying so ! 🙂
Thank you very much for this review. The images look fantastic, specially the B&W ones, the one with the trees is incredible.
I’m almost convinced the buy this camera – the 11mp of the previous version were holding me back to tell the truth – now all stars seems to line up and point to the “buy” button 🙂
Since there is no way to hold it in my hands before buying and because you were so lucky to try it, you could maybe comment on 2 “concerns” that I have
1) The viewfinder: How does it compare to a Leica viewfinder in terms of size ? Pixii’s max field of view is 28mm, that corresponds to a “normal” focal length (about 42 in FF terms), so it must be smaller to a Leica viewfinder, where 28mm is a wide field of view.
2) The electronic shutter: The v1 had a global shutter, this one not, so I’m worried about rolling shutter effect. How did the camera perform here ?
That are really my only “concerns”, not really concerns, but points I’m thinking about that I could easily have answered having the chance to hold one in my hands.
Anything else I really like, I like the form factor, the design, the whole philosophy of the project, the m mount, the images, just everything
George, maybe I can speak to the shutter question, the viewfinder one being more subjective.
The new shutter is electronic but not global, indeed. When benchmarking new sensors, we opted to enhance dynamic range and noise control in priority. Pixel count too obviously. The game changer for this new design is the fast sensor readout speed. With a sensor capable of 30fps+ at full resolution we are able to control the shutter side effects with fast moving objects.
This is similar to the design adopted by… smartphones in the first place, and by more “serious” cameras now like the Sigma FP. The higher pixel count of the Sigma slows it down proportionally though. Fuji would be a closer comparison for reasons mentioned above.
Of note: Pascal’s test unit had a rev. #1 board, lacking the additional RAM we use to allow the fast readout. Some artefacts are discernable in the second cart photo.
Thank you for taking the time to reply to my comment. Yes, you are right, there are no complains about rolling shutter on fuji cameras. Taking into account the faster RAM, that Pascal didn’t had in his test unit, I believe this won’t be an issue at all and no reason to worry about.
I really like the whole concept of this camera and – beside an qualities of the camera itself – I really appreciate the fact that one can directly communicate with the creators of it.
While I’m of course wishing you success and hope that Pixii will grow, I hope at the same time that you “stay small” in the meaning of mindset. Thats very important to us – the mortal customers – and I believe one more unique “fearure” of Pixii
Be sure that I’ll get back to you with some more specific questions. Since there is no way to see and touch it anywhere, thats the only way to get a “feeling” for it.
Reviews, like here on Dear Susan, help a lot in this direction
I will try to answer your questions here, but it’s probably best to write to the team via their website (they speak English), just to be sure. https://pixii.fr/home-page
1) Pixii only specify the Base Length (49mm) for their rangefinder, I couldn’t find information on the magnification. My guess is the Effective base length is around 30-35mm. That’s not as much as a Leica M (around 50mm) and particularly film-era cameras such as the M3, with its 63mm EBL. To be honest, I feel the rangefinder is the least impressive part of the camera. It’s not bad, just not very good.
2) The Sony 26mp sensor is well used in many APS-C cameras and I don’t think it ever called any criticism regarding rolling shutter. Unless you are aiming to shoot high speed objects, my guess is you’ll not have any difficulties here.
Please let us know if you order one 🙂
Pascal, you have just put me in a very awkward position. If you were the only other member of DS, I’m sure you’d forgive me for the thought first popped into my head. But I cannot insert it here, because I was brought up to show more respect for ladies, and that kills that idea.
Second thought then – enjoy!
Third thought – that’s the best ever photo of your swimming pool.
Fourth – range finders? – who cares! – you get used to it! – anyway I started out with range finder cameras – I must have had at least a half dozen of them. Besides, Leicas are still rangefinder cameras.
Fifth – and you are well aware that (like many others) I’m still waiting for SIGMA’s much publicised full-frame zillion-mega pixel Foveon sensor beast.
Sixth – perhaps less publicised – but maybe it’s time I came clean about this – I’ve had roughly two dozen cameras over the years – a clear indication that I love trying something new, something different. So as I scanned your images, I started to feel the old addiction juices flowing through my veins. The text didn’t help, either.
So now my wish list is a Z-8 with a rear screen like the one on the Zfc, the SIGMA that’s perpetually being put off to “next year”, and now – apparently – a Pixii. The queue is growing, constantly.
You can’t even put me off with those comments about buffering. If I wanted another cine camera, I’d buy one, and stop pretending that my workhorse was actually a cine in disguise. All that’s done, for me, is to drive the price of DSLR through the roof.
As far as panos are concerned, I’d rather have a pano head on my tripod. I do also shoot hand held panos, but not so rapidly that buffering would ever become an issue.
One thing that you didn’t mention – L mount lenses are now out there in busloads. THe L-mount alliance has seen to that.
Another is the fact lenses for this camera are smaller, lighter.
And you didn’t mention how small and inconspicuous the Pixii is. That, with the L-mount alliance lenses, might suggest a stellar future for it in “street”.
Yes, I think the Pixii is worth looking into if the Sigma doesnn’t show up. Sigma has released very interesting tiny cameras, particularly for cine, but the big Foveon seems to be a ghost. But the Pixii brings the sort of IQ you’d expect of the big Foveon.
If it wasn’t a rangefinder, I’d buy one immediately.
Wonderful images Pascal. The fact you were able to bond this way with the camera in only 4 hours of use is a testament to the consistency and improvement Pixii brought to us. The images stand well on there own and speak up for the camera.
When I read the announcement for the new camera I was pleased to see the improved storage capacity. Which was the big hurdle for me with the original camera.
Concerning the information about B&W jpegs being only 12 bit, for a jpeg that is fine. In fact for any B&W it may be fine if you are looking at the image and not the spec sheet. We need to remember that all Leica Monochrome cameras only provide 12 bit raw images. So the camera is already providing more raw bits than any other FF sensor if 16 bit color is really in the final image file. Which is a good reason to consider the camera on its own.
I’m looking forward to your next installment of images along with your thoughts on using the camera.
Thanks Paul! Yes, the internal memory is now very satisfactory and the whole camera plus a couple of batteries and lenses would fit in a tiny bag, for a very high quality self-contained package. It’s a very compelling proposition.
I think a lot of rubbish gets written about technical specifications. So when real ones are published, they seem quite underwhelming 😉 But I can attest that the real-life DR of the camera is very good.
The camera went back to its owners, so I won’t be able to publish more photographs immediately. But the camera is touring other bloggers and youtubers, so you can expect far more coverage elsewhere 🙂
Excellent presentation! Makes me want to see, hold, perhaps buy this camera! Did I somehow miss the camera details (picture of the camera, where to buy)?
All info and pictures of the camera are available in the pixii website: https://pixii.fr/home-page
Hi Orville, yes it’s a very interesting camera. As George writes, you’ll find much more information on the Pixii website. Do not hesitate to write to the team. They are a young enough brand to take the time to answer your questions in detail! All the best.
Feeling honoured and humbled. Above all, happy to see the camera sparking interest for its creative capabilities. Thanks for your words of appreciation for our work.
Thank you, David.
As I’ve told you privately, I’m not a big fan of the rangefinder. But everything else about the camera is first rate. It creates a lovely shooting experience and fantastic image quality. Congratulations and thank you 🙂
A positive and supportive article, for sure. Honestly, the images you have crafted using that camera and lens, well, they are, in my eyes ‘sweet honey dripping organic’ in both colour and monochrome – can’t find any other words. They are gorgeous. I’m smitten and getting close to lusting after one of these cameras, but I know that is not my reality.
Thanks Sean. You’re right, the camera isn’t for everyone, but those it fits are in for a real treat!
Lovely looking photos. If I were to get a second hand m10 here in Germany I’m only needing to add 500€ on top at the moment. How would you compare the two cameras?
Hi Keh, I’ve not used the m10 so it would be difficult for me to answer this. However, Adam Bonn owns one and has played a lot with my Pixii files so he might be able to answer you. You can contact him here : https://adambonn.com/ Hope this helps 🙂
I must admit…
A few years ago I drew up a set of specs for an APS/C M-mount camera which would be a rough equivalent of a digital Leica CL (the original film version.) The fact that this has actually come into the real world, and has this level of image quality is tearing me away from saving up for an M11.
Did you really get THAT MANY GREAT PICTURES in 4 hours? Would’ve taken me 4 months.
Which version of the Voigt 21 did you use, and how did you frame with the wide limit of the finder being 28mm?
Thank you Bob. I think the M11 will be a different type of beast, with huge resolution and many advanced features, plus extraordinary battery life, not Pixii’s strongest point. But Pixii are moving in an different direction to Leica and offering superb image quality and uprgadability.
Sadly, I can’t remember which version of the 21 it was, as it wasn’t mine, but it was a very good lens. For framing, I used all of the finder, not frame lines and it was fairly accurate. It did lead to a couple of misses, such as cutting the “wholes” in the cracked wall (in mono towards this end of the post” (the first of a series of 4 pics)
I do really want to support this effort. Would be very interested to get my hands and eyes on one
Bob, would you like me to put you in contact with Pixii ?
I have an M11 and yet reading these reviews and seeing the pictures has my finger hovering over the buy now button. I don’t like to buy things blind-so-to-speak without having handled the item. Yet one of the features I love is the rangefinder, the ability to take the pictures off camera to a USB-C chip and hopefully a Samsung or similar SSD. I wonder how my small Leica lenses will perform, 21 SEM, 35/50 Summicron and 135 Apo-Telyt.
Hi Stephen, it’s hard for me to say, not having used any of those lenses. But all of the photographs on this page were shot on 35/2 (top of the page) and a 21/4 (bottom) Cosina Voigtlander lenses. The 21 was particularly pleasing to my eye. The 135 might be difficult to frame, being equivalent to a 190 on the APS-C sensor. But Ralph Gibson seems to have much success using longer lenses on his rangefinder, so it’s probably possible, for the brave 😉 Cheers
Thanks for this article, and the previous Pixii articles. I am curious, did you always use the camera’s exposure readings?
The images though small (on my iPad) are nicely detailed. Did you use a tripod often, rarely, or at all?
Hi Jim, no tripod at all on these photographs. I let the camera expose all of those, having simlpy dialed in a -2/3 correction (I think) to protect the highlights in the harsh light. Compared to other cameras I’ve used recently, my impression is that the Pixii exposes a little bit less. On other cameras, it’s frequent for me to dial -1 or -2 stops and then correct in post, if needed.
The photographs are a bit bigger than displayed. Is there a way of viewing the whole file, on the iPad, not just the displayed frame? Cheers
Thanks for the insight. I probably need to view the pics on a desktop to see them properly sized. I should clarify that I use an iPad mini (way small). I can make the pic bigger with a two finger expand technique, but am unable to see the whole picture.
Jim, I’m happy to share a few files on a Google drive, if that can help. Cheers.
Thanks Pascal but no need. I’ll make do.