Hands on: Leica D-LUX 5

I previously talked about why you should buy the Leica D-LUX 5 over the Panasonic LX-5. A review unit is being rushed to me from Leica, but I finally got the opportunity to try this little camera out. From my first impressions at Photo Plus Expo 2010, I think that it very well could be the best point-and-shoot I’ve ever used.

Quick Specs

– LEICA DC VARIO-SUMMICRON 5.1 – 19.2 mm f/2 – 3.3 ASPH

– Its 720-pixel HD-video function in memory-saving AVCHD-Lite format and optional accessories, open up a whole range of additional photographic opportunities for discerning photographers.

– 10 .1MP 1/1.63″CCD

– The D-LUX 5delivers images in 4:3, 3:2, 16:9 formats as well as 1:1, a particularly interesting format for creative composition, in both capture and review mode. The camera monitor has a wide viewing angle and a resolution of 460,000 pixels, displaying images in superb quality.

– Comes bundled with Lightroom.

– The LEICA D-LUX 5’s offerings are expanded by a range of optional accessories. The LEICA EVF1 electronic viewfinder is particularly useful when shooting under extreme lighting conditions. Mounted on the accessory shoe of the camera, it enables Live-View, a function that lets the photographer view the subject through the lens and assess the precise composition of an image just like when using a real system camera. The LEICA CF 22 accessory flash unit provides photographers with additional options for flash exposure and fill-in flash. A handgrip helps to ensure steady and safe handling of the camera. The optional accessories  also include a choice of bags and cases – ranging from an elegant leather case with shoulder strap, an ever-ready camera case with to a stylish, soft leather pouch.

Ergonomics

Holding true to Leica’s traditions of elegance and simplicity, the D-LUX 5is no exception to this particular characteristic of the company. The front of the camera is very plain and simple with really nothing more than that little red dot that everyone seems to be talking about. The back of the camera is also fairly simple although I will admit that it took me a bit of time to get over the learning curve. To be fair, I haven’t used one of these cameras since reviewing the D-LUX 4.

There are indeed new features like the back dial for one which is really impressive and useful as well as the electronic viewfinder. If I were to buy the camera tomorrow, I would not buy it without this little piece of electronic optical goodness. The resolution isn’t the greatest, but it is more than enough for the purpose of using a point and shoot camera.

The very nice thing about it is the fact that the diopter is adjustable. I know this has been available for some time but it really didn’t hit me until the expo started. I let me boss try out my 5D Mk II and he told me that my focusing was way off. Then he adjusted the diopter to his liking and it was all good and ready to go for him. If I ever purchased one of these items and then needed to loan it to someone for a second, they could very easily calibrate the diopter for their use.

The top of the camera is really very simple as well. Sure that mode dial looks like quite a bit, but I’d probably just leave the camera in aperture or manual. The shutter button is right next to the video record button and so is the zoom function. On the other side is the flash, which I’d probably never use with a camera like this.

Also on the top of the camera around the lens is the aspect ratio: which adds the new 1:1 square shooting functionality.

Autofocus

In my brief test, I only really tested the center autofocusing point. This may just be the fastest point-and-shoot I’ve used so far and may indeed be even a bit faster than the Panasonic GF-1 (reviewed here).

Yes, I never thought I would type that, but I also need to be honest with my readers. I was very impressed.

Menus

I asked the Leica reps if there was anything really special or new in the menu system; they said no. A really big difference between the Panasonic LX-5 and the D-LUX 5is the menu system though.

Image Quality

Sample at 12,800. Even on the back of the camera’s LCD, this looks pretty bad. However, it isn’t not usable with the correct processing but it will be difficult to do.

At lower ISOs it’s actually much better and the image quality is actually very solid.

See those glasses right next to the V-LUX 2? Those are mine. With the diopter, even a visually impaired guy like myself can shoot again.

You can get the D-LUX at Amazonand B&H.

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