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Leica D-LUX 5

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Leica D-LUX 5 Overview

Posted: 09/21/2010

Like the D-LUX 4 before it, the Leica D-LUX 5 is a fruit of the partnership with Japanese consumer electronics giant Panasonic Corp. Leica's consumer digital cameras generally mirror those released by Panasonic, and the Leica D-LUX 5 follows this trend as a rebadging of the Panasonic LX5 with the Leica variant following its announcement right on schedule, some two months after that of the Panasonic model. The Panasonic LX5 has been available at US retail since late August, and Leica's equivalent is expected to follow from October 2010. The Leica D-LUX 5 is externally very similar to the LX5, with the main changes being the product badging, a different software bundle, and the removal of the slightly raised hand-grip found on the front of the Panasonic variant -- although if you prefer a grip, you can buy one that attaches to the D-LUX 5 as an optional extra.

The Leica D-LUX 5 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 3.8x optical zoom lens with a generous 24mm wide angle. There's no built-in viewfinder, but an optional external optical viewfinder can be attached to the D-LUX 5's flash hot shoe. Of course, there's also an LCD display, with a 3.0-inch diagonal and 460,000 dot resolution, which has 100% coverage. The Leica D-LUX 5's lens has a maximum aperture that varies from a bright f/2.0 to f/3.3 across the zoom range.

The Leica D-LUX 5 has a 23-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 5 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 80 to 3,200 equivalents, with the ability to extend this as high as ISO 12,800 at reduced resolution, using pixel mixed readout. Shutter speeds from 1/4,000 to 60 seconds are possible, controlled automatically or manually. The Leica D-LUX 5 uses Multi-Field metering, with Center-Weighted Averaging and Spot metering modes also on offer. There are seven white balance settings including Auto, two Manual modes, and four fixed presets. A whopping selection of twenty four 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 5.

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 5 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 30 frames per second in QuickTime Motion JPEG format, or as 60p AVCHD Lite video from 30p sensor data. Below this resolution, the speed is fixed at 30fps, and only QuickTime Motion JPEG compression is offered. The Leica D-LUX 5 stores its images and movies on Secure Digital or MultiMediaCards, including the newer SDHC and SDXC types. There's also a useful 40MB of built-in memory. Connectivity options include USB 2.0 High-Speed, standard definition NTSC/PAL video output, and high-def Type-C Mini HDMI video output (although the cable for this is an optional extra). Power comes from a proprietary Lithium Ion battery, rated as good for 400 shots on a charge to CIPA testing standards.

In place of Panasonic's software bundle, which includes PHOTOfunSTUDIO 5.0 HD Edition and SILKYPIX Developer Studio 3.1 SE, Leica has opted for Adobe's Photoshop Lightroom.

Pricing for the Leica D-LUX 5 is set at around US$800, some $300 more than Panasonic's LX5.