Field Review: Leica D-LUX 5 (Day 2)

After realizing that the Leica D-LUX 5 is not an effective weapon against zombies, I quickly took to the streets to run from said zombies and test how it fairs for street photography.

In Hand

While using the Leica D-LUX 5 I found that using the camera like a standard point-and-shoot is actually very comfortable. For this reason, if a pro or photographer used to DSLRs can accept the fact that it is just a powerful point-and-shoot camera then they will have no problems. The body is very sturdy and it really feels that way. Granted, the body also feels very cold in cold weather because of the way it is constructed.

The camera easily fits into an inner pocket of a peacoat which is nice for when you’re walking out and about or even just with friends.

The only thing that is a bit annoying is the lens cap. I honestly wish that it were magnetic and that there was a plate of some sort attached to the bottom of the camera to keep in there. I don’t really like having it flail all over and ensuring that it is held in one place is a bit of a pain. As a constructive criticism, I do hope that Leica does think about this for the next model.

For street photography though, I’ve taken to holding it a totally different way:

– First I wrap the strap around my wrist 3-5 times.

– Then I place it in my hand in such a way that the top of the camera is supported by my fingers and my thumb is supporting the bottom left side of the camera.

– To shoot, I just use my method of imagining what the shot will look like from a different angle and shooting without looking through the viewfinder or screen. At this point I should mention that I did not get the viewfinder in as a review unit.

It’s a very unconventional method but I’ve found that I take some of my most interesting shots this way.

Focusing

Focusing is quickest I’ve found in good lighting and when utilizing the center AF point. When the camera is switched into a total evaluative mode, it can take a bit longer and even painfully longer in low-light. This performance is to be expected from a point-and-shoot.

For street shooting and when combined with my method, I’ve been very satisfied with using the center AF point. I just love the photo above. It tells us quite a bit. None of the lines are straight which helps to give a sense of the craziness in NYC. The woman’s ankle warmers were just amazing as is the design on her leggings. Plus she’s packing this huge backpack so she is probably a foreigner that is traveling through the area. The fact that we can’t see her face tells us that it could be anyone.

Then you’ve got the background that is in focus. The street vendors help to make NYC what it is. You can tell that it is NYC because of the teams listed there. The food listed shows the variety of ethnicities that help to make it the melting pot.

And then you’ve got people.

It’s such a complex shot and I love it to death. Sure one can go on and on saying that there are loads of technical flaws with it. Okay, I’ll accept that.

But show me something better. I used the D-LUX 5 to capture the moment. And you know what—the form factor helped. I didn’t want that front grip from the LX-5.

Oh by the way, walking up to someone and snapping a quick photo of them is so fun and discrete with this camera.

Image Quality

Images from the D-LUX 5 aren’t stellar but they aren’t terrible either. To be fair, I say this because I’ve only been using the Smooth film setting so far and converted these straight from RAWs in Lightroom 3.

If many of these were converted to black and white, one would probably fall much more in love with these photos. When shooting in RAW though, that is a bit useless.

All of these photos were shot in aperture mode on a very dreary day in NYC. For what it is worth, the colors can pop at times such as in the photo above. You’ll really notice this with the reds, purples and brighter colors of the spectrum.

As you photograph the darker and grittier colors though, those colors are indeed much darker and grittier than you see in real life. That said, I so far cannot conclude that the colors are lifelike.

Bokeh quality for a point and shoot is very nice. This photo was shot at F/3.3 while everything else was done at F/2. The background has some nice blur to it. And yes, I shot a similar photo with the M9 during my review.

While on the move, the image stabilization system is fairly decent. When standing still, there will be almost no way that I’ve tested so far to get a blurry shot unless it’s out of focus.

Because of these findings I can conclude so far that:

– If pros can accept the form factor, it will be a wonderful camera for them. Once again, we’re supposed to make the instruments work for us. Most enthusiasts and regular folk will be blown away by the quality.

– Colors so far aren’t the best but there is still more testing to be done.

– Focusing using the center point is excellent. This applies even to low lighting.

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Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.