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Home arrow Digital Camera Reviews arrow Leica > arrow Leica V-Lux 1 Digital Camera Review
Leica V-Lux 1 Digital Camera Review

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Digital Camera Review by: Katrina Putker

 

Let’s cut straight to the chase with the Leica
V-Lux 1: the quality of the workmanship and the sophisticated design of the camera are unquestionable. So too are the speed of the lens and its considerable 35-420mm focal range. But, at the end of the day, this unit isn’t without its faults: it’s quite expensive for a digital compact especially considering its equivalent competition and the over-use of noise reduction software in-camera softens images creating a somewhat ‘painted’ effect.

 

For some this will be welcomed but for others, impressive styling and a long list of features may not be enough to compensate for an overall lack of sharpness. As smaller images, the effect isn’t particularly noticeable but as you begin to enlarge or zoom in, an artificial smoothness does become apparent and a loss of detail, especially in the shadows, can occur.

 

Having said this however, the reproduction of colour in the 10mp V-Lux 1 is accurate, start up time is very fast and shutter delay is so minimal it’s barely noticeable.

 

The swivel LCD is an ingenious inclusion that opens up the user’s shooting possibilities tremendously. The 2-inch screen and its 180-degree swivel action (either horizontal or vertical) means you can hold the camera above your head, by your feet or at you hip and always know exactly what you are photographing. It completely takes the guesswork out of freestyle shooting that doesn’t always occur at eye level, which is a bonus for all creative photographers.

 

The V-Lux 1 kit comes complete with a: lens hood, 512MB memory card, battery charger and dedicated Li-ion battery, USB cable, AV cable, 143-page manual, and software (Adobe Photoshop Elements 4.0 and QuickTime.) It has 12x optical and 4x digital zoom along with optical image stabilization, which detects what Leica calls ‘jitter’ (camera shake) and compensates for hand movement when taking stills and video. The feature can be turned off although I’m not sure why you would ever operate without it. For movie mode especially it is an absolute must and proves very effective. And, just in case you’re not convinced of the difference image stabilisation can make, the camera will give you a demonstration!

 

16 different scene modes are available including: portrait, soft skin, scenery, sports, night portrait, night scenery, panning, food, party, candlelight, fireworks, starry sky, baby, snow and high sensitivity, meaning most situations are covered.

 

When focusing manually, a magnified preview of the centre of frame appears on screen and proves very helpful in ensuring correct focus is achieved. In some situations, auto focus may not operate correctly (e.g. in low light or scenes with minimal separation) in which case, this feature is much appreciated.

 

The V-Lux 1 is capable of shooting a considerable range of subjects from fine macro through to wide angle and super telephoto, and for a photographer that spends most of their time in the outdoors this camera will perform well.

 

Although marketed in the compact class, don’t take this as a literal description. At 14.1cm x 8.5cm x 14.2cm and 734g in weight the V-Lux 1 isn’t necessarily a unit that is easy to take with you everywhere. As mentioned, the quality of the camera body is undeniable and it certainly feels as though it would last a lifetime. The operation of the aperture and shutter speed wheels isn’t especially ergonomically friendly (at least not if you have smaller hands) and this is due also to the boxy design that remains a Leica trademark.

 

Options to tag your favourite images, create an in-camera slideshow or safeguard your photos from deletion are available as well as having a live histogram appear when shooting to ensure no highlights or shadows are clipped. Three of your personal custom settings can be saved to ensure that the desired recording mode can be quickly and easily set any time you pick up the V-Lux 1.

 

medal-gold-r.jpgThe power of the flash can be manually adjusted and its overall coverage is good. Sometimes, images shot indoors without the flash can appear muddy in the shadows and having to manually pop the flash when you want to use it may either be liked or disliked pretty quickly. The electronic viewfinder is surprisingly subpar for Leica: it is very difficult to obtain a clear preview and is quite uncomfortable to look through for any longer than a few seconds at a time. But with such a versatile swivel 2 inch LCD I would think most users will opt for this and leave the viewfinder for novelty use.

 

By and large, this unit is a good all-rounder with the all the stylings of a digital SLR. If you’re after a smart looking, durable and extremly well crafted 10 mega pixel digital camera with a massive zoom range then the V-Lux 1 is a very good choice.

 

Appearance rating 4.5 stars
Functionality rating
4.5 stars
Image quality
4.5 stars
Value for money 3.5 stars
RRP (AUD) 1,200
SPACER.GIF  
Effective Pixels 10.1 Million mega pixels
Image Sizes 11 Sizes
Lens LEICA DC VARIO-ELMARIT 7.4–88.8 mm f/2.8–3.7 ASPH. (equivalent to 35–420mm), 12 x optical zoom, focal length adjustment via zoom ring on lens.
Resolution Settings From 1600 x 1200 to 3648 x 2736 pixels
Manual Focus Yes
Auto Focus Yes
Focus Range [cm] 50cm to infinity
Aperture Priority Yes
Aperture Range
2.8 – F11.0 (wide), F 3.7 – F11.0 (tele)
Macro Yes
Macro Range [cm] 5cm (wide) / 30cm (tele) to infinity
Shutter Priority Yes
Shutter Speeds
60s – 1/2000s
ISO 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200
LCD Monitor Yes
LCD Size Swiveling 2.0" TFT color display with 207,000 pixels
Viewfinder Yes, electronic viewfinder with 235,000 pixels
Flash Yes, 1/250s sync
Hot Shoe Yes
White balance Choice between automatic for daylight, cloudy skies, shadow, halogen light, flash as well as 2 manual settings, white balance
fine tuning from -1500 to +1500 K in 150 K steps (also available with automatic setting).
Self Timer Yes, 10 and 2 seconds
Movie Options Yes, in 4:3 format choice between 848 x 480 pixels 30 B/s, 10 B/s, 640 x 480 pixels 30 B/s, 10 B/s or 320 x 240 pixels, 30 B/s, 10 B/s Limited only by memory card capacity, recording with audio.
Video Out Yes
Storage Type SD memory cards
Storage Included [Mb] Yes, SD memory card (also SDHC cards) and multimedia card (512 MB SD card included in scope of supply)
Image / Audio Formats RAW, JPEG (Fine/Standard), Movie: QuickTime Motion JPEG
Connectivity USB 2.0 full speed
Power Source Direct mains connector ACA-DC5 with power cord
Battery Options Lithium-ion rechargeable battery (710 mAh ; 7.2 V)
Dimensions 141mm x 85mm x 142mm
Weight 668g

 

 
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