As Photokina takes place in Cologne every other year, it has a special importance for german manufacturer Leica. Therefore it is not a surprise to anyone that Leica chose to unveil many new products during the fair. This year is no exception with as many as 6 new products.
The Leica booth takes the entire hall 1 and is very spacious.
Even if you had no interest in the Leica products, you should keep time for the Leica booth as it features a huge gallery space displaying the work of many photographers.
Leica has several M products, including a new analog (yes, that means using films !) M camera and a digital M with no LCD (and no EVF either meaning you cannot check the image before you download the card ! ! !).
But, sure enough, my main interest when checking Leica products this year was to check the D-LUX ( type 109) which is the rebadged Leica version of the brand new Panasonic LX100.
Both bodies offer a similar size and layout but present nevertheless some obvious cosmetic differences. The D-LUX has no grip and a texture which makes it more difficult to know for normal male hands. The Panasonic with its small but decent grip offers in my opinion sits more comfortably in the hand. On the other hand, Leica has an option of adding a small grip which screws under the base. With the grip, I find the Leica more comfortable than the Panasonic. The Leica grip suggested retail price is 69€ in Europe
BUT, one should keep in mind that on these two cameras the compartment for the SD card and the battery is located at the base of the camera ; which means that when using the Leica with its grip, one would have to remove the grip each time the battery and/or the card need to be changed. In daily use , this is inconvenient and one has to decide which is more important for him or her.
As for the other differences between the two cameras I can count four :
- The Leica comes with a 3 year international warranty instead of one for the Panasonic.
- The Leica includes a license for Adobe Lightroom.
- The Leica RAW will be on DNG standard instead of proprietary raw for Panasonic.
- The Leica comes in black only (Panasonic has also a silver version).
Personally, the difference in the way the camera feels in my hands is more important than the other 4 differences mentioned above but the choice is yours. For my fellow Ricoh GR users, I will be posting an i age of the Leica D-LUX and the GR next to each other so that one can appreciate the size difference.
I did notice that while I was not allowed to take pictures on my own SD card on the Panasonic booth because of, you guessed it, the usual temporary firmware excuse, there was no such restriction at the Leica booth.
To say that the user interface of both cameras can be, cross that make that should be improved, is a kind understatement. There are several things that are less than obvious.
If you press by mistake the filter button (F button on the Leica) on the Panasonic or the ia button (both located on the top plate of the camera) chances are that you will no longer be able to change the iso.
There are also several issues about navigating through the supposedly “quick menu”. Having been spoiled for several years with my Ricoh GR cameras (famous for the quality of their user interface) I thought maybe I was being spoiled but none of the permanent staff at both booths were usually able to answer my requests.
As I have said many times over the forums, one can get used to pretty much any user interface when given enough time. Still, it is very important to make sure you can get by with the user interface of any camera you buy, ESPECIALLY if you are going to work with two or three different brands at any given time.
I am very tempted to buy one of these two cameras and I am quite certain that the image quality will be very good for what I expect to use the camera. But before I click the purchase button, I want to try both cameras with their updated firmware.
To summarize here are , for me, the most significant minuses of both cameras :
No possibility of a hood which is very useful considering how the kens extends
No built-in ND filter
Battery charger is way too bulky
User interface is very clumsy
REC. Button not customizable ( other than on/off )