Leica D-Lux 4
Everyone asks me what I think about the Leica D-Lux 4, so I buckled to pressure and looked at one — for about three minutes at a camera store.
If you already own a D-LUX 4 or have your own opinions, exit this page now.
This page is for the people who asked my opinion, so here it is.
Now that we're friends, I was disappointed. If I'm going to pay for a LEICA, I expect that it will have the LEICA magic and just go.
The D-Lux 4 is a Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3K, but you already knew that. The Panasonic has the same LEICA DC VARIO-SUMMICRON f/2-2.8 5.1-12.8mm lens. (35mm equivalent 24-60mm). Everyone I know who owns one of the Panasonics loves it.
I expected this Leica-labled version at least to re-do the firmware with far more sensible operation, brilliantly simple menu design, and at least have the menus appear in the same font Leica uses on the outsides of their current lenses and cameras, but no.
The Leica D-Lux 4 is just another Oriental point-and-shoot with a horribly complex menu system that few people will ever figure out. It took me most of the time I played with the Leica D-LUX 4 just to figure out how to turn off the stupid beeps and fake shutter sounds. Someone gag me with a 135mm Elmar.
If Leica had anything productive to add to this camera other than relabling it in a buy-resale arrangement, there would be no stupid noises, and if it did make a fake shutter sound, it would have been that of the cloth focal plane shutter of a real Leica. That could have been cool, but no one bothered even with these simple things.
As a salesman at my local Calumet told me, this isn't a real Leica, and boy was he right.
Unlike my easy-to-use Canon point and shoots, the Leica D-Lux 4 has only two menus. This would be OK, except that each of these two menus is six pages long! Do you think I'm going to sit there and page through all this garbage every time I want to set something? Not on your LEICA I'm not.
Canon point-and-shoots have their menus split into obvious and relevant groups, so it's far faster and easier to find what you want.
Canon point-and-shoots often have great scroll dials, but this Leica has only tiny push buttons.
The D-LUX 4 has plenty of contrast and saturation settings, and lets you save sets of these, if you ever figure out how to do it. That's swell, but even better would be a single setting that looks great every time, like the VIVID setting on Canon compacts.
I'm sure that I could figure out all the menus, and I'm sure that there are some clever tricks to getting to important items faster, but why should I care? With a real Leica, there are no menus and I'll be shooting while you're still looking for how to format a new card.
You can see the details at Adorama's page on the D-LUX 4.
Other colors, like gray gunmetal metallic ("titanium") as shown above, and dark green ("safari"), come and go.
Should you buy one? Absolutely! Marketing arrangements like reselling Panasonic cameras is what helps Leica make enough money so that they can continue to develop fantastic new lenses like the 35mm f/1.4 SUMMILUX ASPH and 18mm f/3.8 ASPH for serious photographers.
Leica makes extraordinary stuff, and everyone deserves to own some. Sadly, this rebranded Panasonic Lumix isn't one of them.
Not that you can't make extraordinary photos with the D-LUX 4, and not that it's not a very nice point-and-shoot, it's just that it is not a LEICA. The Leica man has no use for the D-LUX 4.
If you want a LEICA, this isn't it. Shoot a real camera like the Leica M7 (or an M3) and great lenses like the 35mm f/1.4 SUMMILUX ASPH, or old lenses like the 35mm f/2 SUMMICRON from 1958-1969, and you'll know what I mean.
If for some reason you are constrained by price, then you should not shoot the LEICA. Shoot Nikon and be happy.
If you insist, and if $700 is your budget, I know I love shooting a Leica CLE and German 40mm f/2 SUMMICRON, which you can buy used for about that amount. Shoot a CLE and you'll experience photographic freedom; shoot a D-LUX 4 and wake me up if you ever get the camera set and ready to shoot.
If you want to stay purer for your $700, get any screw-mount Leica and a 50mm lens. Guess at exposure as true LEICA photographers do, or pop the Made-in-Germany Gossen Digisix meter in the LEICA's accessory shoe and you're all set.
If you're dying to blow a grand on something like the D-LUX 4 Safari set, put that same grand into an old M3, 50mm lens and MR-4 meter (or anything else Leica M) and you'll never look back.
Otherwise, buy a Canon (or Panasonic) point-and-shoot today (or an extraordinary $450 Nikon D40) and save your money for the day when you can enjoy a real LEICA.
If money matters, the Leica Minilux is an excellent point-and-shoot, which I prefer to the D-LUX 4, which sells for under $299 used.
Hey, you asked, and this is my opinion based on three minutes of fiddling.
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Thanks for reading!