I took the Leica D-LUX (Typ 109) to some of my favorite shooting spots including the Hidden Mesa Open Space and O’Brien Park in Parker Colorado. I also shot with it here around Daisy Hill, especially giving the speedlight a workout using it as fill for some window light portraits of my wife, Mary.
The impression I’m left with is what a great imagemaking tool it is and how effortless it is to use. The shutter is amazingly quiet. The analog shutter speed and exposure compensation (my favorite) dials are enhanced by a real jumping-up-and down aperture ring but also analog controls for aspect ratio—instead of menu diving—because I love shooting 16:9 ratio images.
Where I’m a bit let down is the two buttons marked ‘A’ and ‘F’ atop the camera. The ‘A’ button engages “snapshot mode” which is just the automate-everything we’ve all come to know and hate as “green” mode. The ‘F’ button engages the love’em or hate’em Filter mode that lets you apply 22-different effects that I sorta like but I know that’s not a universally shared opinion. Tip: If you shoot in RAW+JPEG mode you get two files, one with the filter applied (JPEG) and one that’s in color (RAW) and unaffected by filter settings. I would prefer that the buttons were labeled 1 and 2 and functions could be assigned with a Custom Function menu.
Another analog control is the AF/MF button. Nothing new here you say, but Leica/Panasonic adds an AF Macro setting that lets you get so close that the lens is almost touching the subject. Check out the above two comparison images; the bottom photo was made at the top of this barn’s door.
And for available light portraits indoors or out, the little Leica CF D speedlight is surprisingly versatile. It only has on/off controls and an unlock button to let you slide it off the D-LUX’s hot shoe but by controlling output with ISO settings and shutter speed you can make it work for making flash portraits like the one shown.
The removable handgrip is an invaluable accessory and I would advise anyone buying the camera to get one, unless size is important. It adds little weight but makes the camera slightly bigger. Budget minded shooters might prefer the slightly more affordable Panasonic LX100 but if you don’t have a copy of Adobe Lightroom, the price gap narrows and the Leica’s resale value will be higher if you decide to sell/upgrade in the future. And it has three-year warranty. You can tell I liked shooting with the Leica D-LUX (Typ 109) and I’m guess you will too.
Along with photographer Barry Staver, Joe is co-author of Better Available Light Digital Photography that’s now out-of-print but new copies are available at collector (high) prices or used copies for giveaway prices—less than six bucks—from Amazon.