A friend of mine emailed wondering what camera I used and what my opinions of it are. My reply ended up being lengthy (for me), I’ll share it here as well.
I use a Leica D-LUX 3. It’s a point and shoot camera but has complete manual controls, so it’s fun to play with without lugging around a DSLR.Here’s the major benefits of the camera in my opinion:
- Shoots 16:9 (widescreen) images at 10 megapixel. Most cameras do 3:2 and photographers crop to get a 16:9 size.
- Has 3 LCD brightness modes, at the highest setting ‘high angle’ you can view the images even with polarized sunglasses on. Really beneficial when you’re on a glacier, water, or other bright area.
- Can shoot RAW format. It delays the shutter somewhat and takes a bit to write the file to disk, but not many cameras can do RAW in the D-Lux3 form factor. RAW is nice for greater control when post processing images. I’ve used it in makeshift studio stuff and when outdoors with a tripod to capture the perfect shots.
There are some drawbacks to this camera though:
- No viewfinder, I adapted fairly quickly to the LCD though. And with 10 megapixel you can always shoot from the hip and crop/straighten later.
- Noisy images at ISO400 and up compared to similar cameras. It’s not a great party camera or camera to use in dim lit areas for this reason. But as far as point and shoot cameras go the noise was acceptable for me.
- No hotshoe for external flash. This wasn’t a big deal for me either because the thing fits in my pocket, if I wanted a big flash I’d get a DSLR.
- Biggest drawback, price! The camera is about $600. After a case and memory cards I spent maybe 800 in total.
The good news is, if the camera sounds nice you can get the Panasonic DMC-LX2 and have the same camera. Panasonic makes the D-LUX 3 for Leica and the same camera for themselves called the DMC LX2. They are identical except for the outside, and the Leica is rumored to have some different image processing. I’ve seen shots compared and they look identical to me.
I bought the Leica over the Panasonic because I saw a case for the Leica that I fell in love with. http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/460663-USA/Leica_18669_D_LUX_3_Case_Brown_.html The Leica also comes with a 3 year warranty while the Panasonic comes with a 1 year.
The other camera I was evaluating was the Canon G9. It was similiar in all features except it was not widescreen 16:9 format. It’s also quite bigger, and wouldn’t fit in a pocket easily. But it does take better pictures in low light, and has a hotshoe.
If I was looking today I’d be interested in some of the water resistant stuff from Olympus. I always get worried about mine when climbing mountains but so far it’s done okay. I did have it freeze on top of Mt. Hood but it warmed up under my jacket and still functioned later.
I recommend the website www.dpreview.com, they have excellent camera reviews and a very handy camera comparison tool. Check out the ‘Buying Guide’ link on the site to access the comparison tool and also a tool to find cameras by selecting features that are important to you.
Hope this helps!