Since late 2009 I’ve been using a Canon 600D as my main camera. I’m by no means a professional photographer and I’m not trying to be. Photography is fun. I’m the kind of person who needs a focus when going out for walks or going on holiday. Photography gives me that focus I need.
Over the years, I’ve picked up a number of lenses and accessories and everything fits into the bag – and the bag is heavy. Don’t get me wrong, DSLR photography is fun, but carrying around the camera and lenses isn’t – sometimes I just want to take photos and not carry around loads of stuff. Last year I picked up a secondhand Sony Cybershot HX20 to use as a compact camera. It’s a good size and has plenty of neat functions and photos taken using the automatic mode generally come out pretty good. There were just two problems with it. Firstly, low-light photography resembled something taken on a £50 smartphone (and it didn’t even have to be that dark), secondly, choosing your own Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO settings is, in typical Sony fashion, a complete pain.
It was fairly spur of the moment like most of my technology purchases, but I decided to pick up a Leica D-Lux Typ 109, a camera with the same internals as the Panasonic Lumix LX100 including the excellent DC Vario-Summilux 1.7-2.8 micro four-thirds lens.
There were three reasons why I chose the Leica over the Panasonic:
1) The extra year warranty
2) The inclusion of Adobe Lightroom 6
In my opinion, the Leica looks nicer, especially in the grey version that I picked up. True, it doesn’t have the handgrip that the Lumix does and that is a slight inconvenience, but man this camera looks good. So, let’s talk about this camera and not the Panasonic.
In the box is a number of accessories, such as the neckstrap, charger, battery, USB cable and manuals. The neck strap is very nice, a slightly darker grey than the camera with the Leica logo stamped into it. For cameras like this however, I prefer wrist straps so I bought one from Peak Design which I’ll write a blog post about in the next couple of weeks.
This isn’t your typical compact camera, it’s slightly larger all the way around but the biggest difference between this and other compacts is the thickness of the fixed lens which does add some bulk to the camera. The weight is good though and it’s comfortable to hold using either a neck or wrist strap.
The most important feature for me is the way you adjust shutter speed and aperture. A ring around the lens for the aperture and a dial at the top of the camera for the shutter speed. Exposure can be adjusted using the second dial at the top, whilst ISO can be quickly adjusted with quick button press at the back of the camera. For me, having tactile buttons and dials to make adjustments to the image is a big plus point. Even with my Canon DSLR I had to press several buttons to change what I wanted. With the Leica, it’s just so quick and easy.
Another thing that can be adjusted is the aspect ratio of the photographs. It does this not by cropping the image but by using a different area of the sensor. This means consistent picture quality across all aspect ratios but the downside is that none of these ratios make full use of the sensor. When I initially bought this camera, changing aspect ratio was something of a gimmick to me, but having used this camera for several weeks, I can now see the full value and purpose of it. Changing the aspect ratio on the camera gets me thinking more about the composition of the photo and allows me to capture more inside an image. For example, landscape shots look great in 16:9 but shots of taller objects or buildings look great in 4:3 or 3:2. You do also have 1:1 for the Instagram fans!
There are three focus modes to select from on the side of the camera. MF, AF or AF (Macro). Both MF and AF work well. MF brings up a window on the LCD screen that allows you to make sure you are focusing on the object correctly. Macro mode isn’t so great. Quite often it struggles to focus on the right thing so I often resort to manual focus for very close-up objects.
Menus and buttons can be customized to suit your preferences and the process of navigating and changing settings is fairly intuitive.
So, the pictures. Overall, I’m happy with the picture quality. Images are sharp in bright light and in low light, photos are good up to 1600 ISO. I try to stay under 800 if I can though. As I said at the start, I’m just a hobby photographer, so if you want to have a detailed breakdown of picture quality, there are plenty of other good reviews to check out. Below are a few unedited photos I have taken with this camera. Click to enlarge.
Unedited Leica D-Lux Typ 109 Images
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