Field Review (Day 2): Leica D-Lux 4

As I started Day 2 of the field review, the Leica D-Lux 4 has been with me almost the entire day. It truly feels like a companion camera. I took it with me today to get some laundry done in my neighborhood and shot a couple of things as well. My thoughts and samples are ahead. And if you missed it, here’s Day 1’s findings.

The opening image was shot with the D-Lux very discretely. That’s the great thing about a premium point and shoot with an excellent lens: you can take good pictures discretely. The owner of the shop didn’t realize I was doing this. What made this even better was the fact that the camera is quiet and powered up and powered down very quickly. This is even with the lens cap on.

My time as a celebrity photographer taught me to shoot like that in certain situations with a Canon 5D Mk II. You keep your camera on and when the right people aren’t looking you quickly snap that one perfect photo then put the camera away to keep your discretion. The Leica D-LUX 4 is great for that.

What really adds to this is the lens. Despite the fact that it doesn’t zoom in very far, it starts at f2.0 at the widest and goes to f2.8 at the longest. If you’ve taught yourself to shoot with prime lenses then this will be very good for you. Further, if you’re a beginner learning how to become a better photographer, the lack of a long zoom will force you to get up close to your subjects.

I couldn’t help but want to compare this to the Canon S90. At trade shows and at B&H, the Canon reps know that I love to get my personal fondling time with that camera. The D-LUX 4 compares so much with the S90 and I’m going to be finding myself comparing the two often in my postings. So far, I like the lens of the D-LUX 4 more despite the fact that I think that the ergonomics on the Canon are slightly superior. However, the body of the Leica feels much more robust.

All photos were shot on Aperture priority. The opening one was at 1/30th of a second at ISO 320 according to the EXIF data. It was edited to add more clarity in RAW mode.

This photo was edited for white balance settings really. The Leica captured the photo with much more bluer tones but I preferred the look of this warmer version. It captures a good amount of detail for a tiny point and shoot. It was shot at 1/30th of a second and at ISO 230. Part of that may be having to do with the sensor size. You can take a look at that down below.

The D-LUX 4 has the same sensor (and is essentially the same camera and the Panasonic LX-3. A main difference I’ve seen is the Leica’s menus are laid out better. I’d be very interested to see Leica design a Micro Four Thirds camera of some sort although that probably doesn’t need to be done as the X1 is also a great camera. It has an APS-C sized sensor. As you can tell from that chart, that’s a large sensor.

This image was also edited in the same way that the preceding image was. At 1/500th of a second and ISO 80 at f2.0, this is a great image coming from a point-and-shoot camera. What also helped me were the guidelines that I talked about in Day 1’s posting. It works quite the same way that the rule of thirds works and despite the fact that most photographers like me may have it memorized by now it’s still nice to see it when composing.

What also really needs to be said is something that will add more to the fact that this can be a companion camera for a photographer. As a guy that shoots a full frame Canon 5D Mk II, I’ve become very spoiled with excellent L lenses and very shallow depth of field. The fact that I’m dealing with still a good lens (though not as high quality as a lens for a DSLR) and wide depth of field forces me to rely more on composition to create compelling work.

I usually shoot the style that Chris Weeks and other street photographers do: aperture wide open in order to isolate your subject from everything else. This has almost totally taken that ability away from me. Sure, you can get some nice depth of field, it’s totally possibly with this camera. But it’s much less, so it is forcing this photographer to do more with less.

And I like that.

More to come.