I’ve always been a fan of Leica’s D-Lux cameras. The above image was made while waiting for dinner at an Acapulco hotel, with fireworks going off during a Winter Solstice celebration. It was made with a borrowed Leica D-Lux 2 and an exposure of 15 seconds at f/4.9. This was part of a series of svelte, classy D-Lux cameras that were a joy to use. Recently I had a chance to try the latest model—the Leica D-LUX (Typ 109).
The Leica D-LUX (Typ 109) has a 12.8MP 4/3-inch CMOS sensor with an optically stabilized DC Vario-Summilux 10.9-34mm f/1.7-2.8 (24-75 mm equivalent) lens and an ISO range expandable from 100 to 25,600. The camera offers NTSC or PAL 4K video output at 30p or 24p, which can be saved as MP4 files. 1080p HD or standard definition video can be selected if lower video resolutions are needed.
It’s no secret that the Leica D-Lux is a fraternal twin to Panasonic’s Lumix LX100 and for the (approx) $300 premium the Leica delivers Leica-like cosmetics, a copy of Adobe Lightroom and a tiny Leica CF D flash that looks much like “Barbie’s own Leica Speedlight”—it’s that cute but does work. (My friend Mark Toal just told me the LX100 also includes the flash, my bad.) The LX100 has a built-in rubberized grip but Leica sells ($160) a better and removable handgrip. The metal housing is sturdy and elegant, with well-placed buttons and dials and weighs less than a half-ounce more than the LX100. The D-LUX feels solid and at 14.2 oz is certainly no lightweight.
Stills and video are saved to SD cards, including SDXC. Leica provides other sharing options with Integrated Near Field Communication (NFC) and Wi-Fi that allows for smartphones or tablets using the free Leica Image Shuttle app to capture pictures even while shooting video. The app can generate a live image from the camera and settings can be controlled though it as well. Images and videos can be played back on the camera’s large, sharp 3.0-inch LCD display or the camera’s bright and crisp electronic viewfinder.
Exposure modes include Program, Aperture-Priority, Shutter-Priority, manual, as well as 22 creative modes. Manual exposure set can be set via an aperture ring on the lens and a shutter speed dial “just like a real camera, Ma.” And that’s my overall impression of the D-LUX. It feels much like a ”real” Leica and acts like one too.
In Part 2, we put the Leica D-LUX (Typ 109) to work, post some images and give some hand-on impressions.