Leica D-Lux 4 review
Review Date : Wed, 3 Mar 2010
Author : Mike Lowe
The Leica D-Lux 4 is a premium compact camera, with a wonderful f/2.0-capable lens. But with the prestigious Leica brand name setting you back some extra pounds, is the D-Lux 4 value for money? What Digital Camera's Leica D-Lux 4 review...
|Pros:||Lens quality, build quality and design, Raw shooting and Capture One 4|
|Cons:||Costly, limited zoom range|
The Leica brand is synonymous with photographic sophistication, and its most recent compact, the D-Lux 4, seems to tick all the right boxes to uphold that tradition. For those seeking an attractive high-end compact, this could certainly be the one - but is it worth its premium price tag?
Leica D-Lux 4 review - Features
The D-Lux 4's pièce de résistance is its high-quality wideangle 24mm Leica DC Vario-Summicron lens, with 2.5x optical zoom extending the zoom range to 60mm. On the inside the 10.1MP 1/1.63in CCD sensor is larger than those found in most compact cameras. This means each pixel is some 45% larger, enabling the Leica to gather more available light and, in theory, therefore produce higher quality, more detailed images with less image noise.
On the rear is a 3in 460K-dot LCD screen for live preview and reviewing of images and, thanks to 720p HD movie capture, any videos shot with the camera. It's also possible to capture Raw files and Phase One's Capture One 4 is included in the box for professional-standard post-production.
Although the particular model on test is the standard black, other limited edition ‘Titan' and ‘Safari' models exist with their respective titanised-aluminium and olive green finishes. Of course, you'll have to pay the extra for the pleasure of owning one of these. And so the Leica brand, like designer-labels the world over, is clearly built on an ethic that's as much about collectors' items and prestige for photo-enthusiasts as it is about quality and the final image; there's desire to buy into more here. The D-Lux 4 is, on paper, almost identical to the lower-priced Panasonic LX3, so what makes it worth the extra cash?
Leica D-Lux 4 review - Design
The D-Lux 4 is an undeniably attractive camera; its retro-styling is simple and elegant. Far from appearing ‘boxy', its striking appeal is further enhanced by AF and format ratio switches on the lens akin to the traditional aperture rings of cameras old. The exterior harks back to days gone by, while inside it's all up-to-date technology, processing, high-quality optics and easily navigable menus. With firmware 2.2, a new 1:1 format ratio feature is included, though the format ratio switch on the lens (featuring 16:9, 3:2 and 4:3 options) fails to provide a quick-select setting for this - which is a shame, but would require a whole new camera release.
Controlling the D-Lux 4 is easy thanks to the Q-menu toggle button and array of other quick-access buttons that feature around the standard d-pad control. The Q-menu doubles as a control toggle that can be used to thumb through options beyond the usual d-pad - some may find it a bit fiddly due to the small size, but it keeps controls immediately accessible. Menu systems are comprehensive yet simple, with most of the controls readily available without the burden of menu-digging. The focus control switch on the side of the lens - providing AF, Macro AF and MF options - also makes for nippy changes when in use. In addition to this, a new ‘lens resume' feature auto-recalls the lens' position and focal length, even after switching off - perfect for those who have a standardised way of shooting and don't expect to re-tweak upon a later power-up.