Price (RRP): $895
Reviewer: Byer Gair
This Leica comes in black or silver styling. In the hand the metal-bodied camera is a featherweight, slim enough to drop into any pocket, easy to hold when shooting.
ItsÂ lens is a 3.7x optical zoom, stabilised with a well-tried, twin mode optical image stabiliser, developed by Panasonic. The camera is identical in build and feature list to Panasonic’s DMC-FX30, although some detail trim differs between the two marques – and of course the Leica badge is one of them.
The small matter of a $200 plus difference in price between the two models can be explained by the more expensive Leica C-LUX 2 bundling a 64 MB SD card and a copy of Adobe Photoshop Elements for both Windows and Macintosh computers. And I guess it gives you more bargaining power at the point of sale.
Although there is no optical viewfinder, the 6.4 cm LCD screen can handle most tasks. Welcome add-ons are two methods of improving the LCD display: one is useful if you want to hold the camera up high or very low for a shot and enjoy an improved display; the other is a big help when shooting in bright ambient light: the screen’s brightness can be raised by 40 per cent.
Picture power of 7.2 million pixels on the CCD has major benefits: the maximum mage size of 3072×2304 pixels will deliver a quality print of 35×26 cm in size. Movies can be shot in 640 x 480 SD (4:3) or 848 x 480 HD (16:9) resolution at 30 fps.
As befits earlier Panasonic compacts, there are few external controls, mainly the power button, zoom lever, mode dial, four way jog controller and so on. There are quite a few more options built into the viewfinder menu but these, like ISO setting, white balance etc, should not require frequent attention.
Speaking of the ISO setting, the camera can be ‘driven’ to shoot at ISO 3200, so shots in near-darkness are possible. The only penalty is noise in the image, so you may do better to shoot at a lower ISO setting and brighten the image in software. Just a thought!
I found the camera reasonably quick away from the blocks, and able to capture its first shot about three seconds after hitting the power button.
Fans of the Leica legend will be a little disappointed to find there is some distortion at both the wide and tele ends of the zoom. It just shows that even the photo maestros have to cut corners in the ferocious consumer market.
Having said this, I found the colour quality in images shot by the Leica was excellent and sharpness beyond criticism.
Many of you will buy the Leica C-LUX 2 because of the badge but you can be assured it is still a fine picture taker.
Once you’ve joined the elite band of Leica owners you can then enjoy the elegant range of accessories, extending from fine leather cases to the Leica Digital Adapter that affords the camera an extreme zoom range for keen birdwatchers and nature observers.