The new Leica D-LUX 4 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 D-LUX 4 follows this trend as a rebadging of the Panasonic LX3 which preceded its announcement by some eight weeks. Expected to arrive in stores by the end of 2008 (its Panasonic sibling ships from September), the Leica D-LUX 4 is externally very similar, with the main changes being the product badging and the removal of the slightly raised hand-grip found on the front of the Panasonic variant.
The Leica D-LUX 4 has a sensor resolution of 10.1 effective megapixels from a 1/1.63" CCD image sensor. Leica has coupled this to an image stabilized, Leica DC Vario-Summicron branded 2.5x optical zoom lens with an impressive 24mm wide angle. There's no built-in viewfinder, but an optional external optical viewfinder can be attached to the D-LUX 4's flash hot shoe. Of course, there's also an LCD display - a large 3.0" type with a generous 460,000 dot resolution, which has 100% coverage. The Leica D-LUX 4's lens has a maximum aperture that varies from a bright f/2.0 to f/2.8 across the zoom range.
The Leica D-LUX 4 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 can then use the information to adjust both focus and exposure to properly capture your subjects' faces. The Leica D-LUX 4 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 3200, 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 60 seconds are possible, controlled automatically. The Leica D-LUX 4 uses Multi-Field metering, with Center-Weighted Averaging and Spot metering modes also on offer. There are eight white balance settings including Auto, two Manual modes, and five fixed presets. A whopping selection of twenty three scene modes let users tailor the look of their images without needing to understand the subtleties of shutter speeds and apertures. As well as these, for the creative types there are both manual and aperture- / shutter-priority modes on the Leica D-LUX 4.
A five mode flash strobe includes both red-eye reduction and slow-sync capabilities. As well as Raw and JPEG still images, the Leica D-LUX 4 can capture movies with sound at up to high definition 1280 x 720 pixel resolution. At the full high-def resolution, movies are captured at 24 frames per second; below this the speed increases to 30fps max. The Leica D-LUX 4 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 video output, and high-def component video output (although the cable for this is an optional extra). Power comes from a proprietary Lithium Ion battery, rated as good for 380 shots on a charge to CIPA testing standards.
On December 11, 2008, Leica announced a new titanium finish special edition version of the D-LUX 4. The D-LUX 4 Titanium will be on sale at authorized Leica dealers as a set together with a matching leather case, from January 2009.