The new Leica C-LUX 3 is the latest fruit of an ongoing parternship with Japanese consumer electronics giant Matsushita. Leica's consumer digital cameras generally mirror those released under Matsushita's Panasonic brand, and the Leica C-LUX 3 follows this trend as a rebadging of the Panasonic FX37 which preceded its announcement by some eight weeks. Expected to arrive in stores this October just a month after its Panasonic sibling, the Leica C-LUX 3 is externally almost identical, with the main changes being the product badging and silver instead of black coloring for the body trim piece that surrounds the lens.
The Leica C-LUX 3 has a sensor resolution of 10.1 effective megapixels from a 1/2.33" CCD image sensor, and Leica has coupled this to an image stabilized, Leica DC Vario-Elmarit branded 5x optical zoom lens that offers a very useful 25mm wide angle - impressive when you consider that this is an ultra compact camera with a body thickness of just 22 millimeters. There's no optical viewfinder though, with the Leica C-LUX 3 including only a 2.5" LCD display with 230,000 dot resolution on which images and videos must be framed and reviewed. The Leica C-LUX 3's lens has a maximum aperture that varies from f/2.8 to f/5.9 across the zoom range.
The Leica C-LUX 3 has an 11-point autofocus system which also includes a single-point "high speed" focusing mode. As with many digital cameras these days, there's also a face detection function. Once detected, the camera then uses the information to adjust both focus and exposure to properly capture your subjects' faces. The Leica C-LUX 3 also has an implementation of autofocus tracking, which can monitor a subject as it moves around the frame, continuing to update autofocus as required.
ISO sensitivity ordinarily ranges from 100 to 1600, with the ability to extend this in High Sensitivity Auto mode (Leica's specs neglect to mention a maximum sensitivity in this mode, but in Panasonic's variant the limit is ISO 6400 equivalent). Shutter speeds from 1/2000 to 8 seconds are possible, controlled automatically. The Leica C-LUX 3 uses variable multi-field metering, with no other metering modes on offer. There are six white balance settings including Auto, Manual, and four fixed presets. A whopping selection of twenty five scene modes let users tailor the look of their images, useful given that there are no manual or aperture- / shutter-priority modes on the Leica C-LUX 3. A five mode flash strobe includes both red-eye reduction and slow-sync capabilities.
As well as JPEG still images, the Leica C-LUX 3 can capture 30 frames per second movies with sound at up to high definition 1280 x 720 pixel resolution. The Leica C-LUX 3 stores its images and movies on Secure Digital or MultiMediaCards, including the newer SDHC types. There's also a generous 50MB of built-in memory. Connectivity options include USB 2.0 High-Speed, standard definition NTSC/PAL video output. Power comes from a proprietary Lithium Ion battery, rated as good for 280 shots on a charge to CIPA testing standards.
The Leica C-LUX 3 is available now, for about US$599.