Leica D-Lux (Typ 109)
The Leica D-Lux (Typ 109) is a rather unusual camera. Thanks to a working agreement between Leica and Panasonic, it’s almost identical to the Panasonic LX100, one of our favourite cameras of 2014. There is a price premium to pay for the Leica model, but this also brings a three-year warranty, and Lightroom 5 is included on a disc in the product box.
For those unfamiliar with the LX100, the sensor is a Four Thirdstype; according to Panasonic, it’s the same 16MP sensor used in the Panasonic GX7, but it only uses a maximum of 12.5 million pixels (in 4:3 mode). As it’s a multi-aspect ratio sensor, 3:2 and 16:9 images use pixels that lie outside the area used by the camera in 4:3 mode.
This sensor is coupled with a new Panasonic Venus engine, which enables a native sensitivity range of ISO 200–25,000 (with expansion settings taking it to ISO 100–25,000) and 4K or Full-HD video recording. Like the LX100, the D-Lux has a Leica DC Vario-Summilux 24-75mm (equivalent) f/1.7-2.8 lens. As with the rest of the camera, although this lens has Leica’s name on it, it is actually built by Panasonic. The company has invested a lot of efort to keep size down while ensuring it’s a high quality optic.
Build and Handling
The D-Lux (Typ 109) is aimed at experienced photographers who want a high-quality compact camera that afords plenty of control. It doesn’t disappoint: it has a highquality feel, along with traditional controls (including a shutter speed dial, aperture ring and exposure compensation dial) to allow quick exposure adjustments. The aspect ratio can also be changed (between 3:2, 16:9, 1:1 and 4:3) using a sliding switch on the lens barrel, just next to the manual focusing/zoom ring, and there’s a switch on the lens to select focus mode.
Further good news is that the 2,764k-dot electronic viewfinder (EVF) is very good and provides a nice, clear view. It’s especially useful in bright conditions, where the 3-inch 921k-dot screen can sufer from reflections, as do most screens.
However, the front grip that’s on the front of the LX100 is completely missing from the D-Lux. This makes it feel rather insecure in your hand, especially in cold weather. There is an optional front grip available that attaches via the tripod bush, although this arguably spoils the clean lines of the camera.
Like the LX100, the D-Lux (Typ 109) produces impressive results. Images taken in daylight have lots of detail, natural colour and good tonal range, and distortion is controlled well. As usual, the highest-quality results are produced at the lower sensitivity settings, and the maximum setting (ISO 25,000) is best avoided.
Dropping down to ISO 6,400 results in much better images and, although we’d still recommend shooting raw files, JPEGs are suitable for making A3 prints. Ideally, it’s best to keep the sensitivity to ISO 1,600 or lower, where the image quality is very good, noise is controlled well and there’s plenty of detail.
Even in fairly low light, the D-Lux’s autofocus system manages to get subjects sharp quickly; it only starts to struggle in dark conditions. The general-purpose metering system does a good job, but it sometimes produces quite bright images. It can be beneficial to reduce the exposure by 1/3 or 2/3EV to get more saturated colours or to protect the highlights.
- Sensor Four Thirds type with 16.84 million pixels (12.8 million effective)
- Focal length conversion N/A
- Memory SD / SDXC / SDHC
- Viewfinder 0.38-inch electronic viewfinder with 2,764,000 dot
- Video 4K (3,840×2,160)
- ISO range 200–25,000; expandable to 100–25,000
- Autofocus points 49
- Max burst rate 40 frames per second with focus set at start; 6.5fps with continuous AF
- Screen 3-inch 921k-dot LCD
- Shutter speeds Mechanical shutter, 1,4000–60 sec; electronic shutter, 1/16,000–1 sec
- Weight 365g
- Dimensions 117 x 66 x 61mm
- Power supply Rechargeable Li-ion battery