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Leica V-LUX 30

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Lecia V-LUX 30 Overview

Posted: 05/26/2011

Based on the popular Panasonic Lumix ZS10, the pocket-friendly Leica V-LUX 30 couples a 1/2.33-inch type, 14.1 effective megapixel, RGB-filtered MOS image sensor, and a Leica DC Vario-Elmar branded 16x optical zoom lens. In 35mm equivalents, the V-LUX 30's lens provides everything from a very generous 24mm wide angle, to a powerful 384mm telephoto. When recording movies, a stronger focal length crop results in a 35mm-equivalent range of 29 - 464mm, still a reasonably useful wide angle, and an extremely powerful telephoto. As you'd expect with this much telephoto reach, there's an optical image stabilization system included, and when shooting movies, an Active mode allows a greater degree of correction. Continuous shooting is possible at a up to 10 full-resolution, fine-quality frames per second for as many as 15 frames, or up to 60 frames per second at reduced resolution.

There's sadly no optical or electronic viewfinder; for framing and reviewing images and videos, the Leica V-LUX 30 opts instead for a 3.0-inch LCD display with 460,800 dot resolution, equating to approximately 153,600 pixels, with each pixel comprising separate red, green, and blue dots. This panel includes a touch screen overlay, allowing the V-LUX 30's display to act as an input device, with a tap of the finger enough to set the point of focus and metering. The Leica V-LUX 30's lens has a maximum aperture that varies from f/3.3 to f/5.9 across the zoom range. The minimum focusing distance for the Leica V-LUX 30 is ordinarily 50 centimeters, but drops to just three centimeters at wide angle or one meter at telephoto, when switched to Macro mode.

Like the V-LUX 20 before it, the Leica V-LUX 30 includes a built-in GPS receiver, allowing automatic geotagging of images with the location at which they were shot. The Leica V-LUX 30 has a 23-point multi-area autofocus system which also includes a single-point focusing mode. An AF assist lamp allows the V-LUX 30 to focus on nearby subjects in difficult lighting conditions. As with almost all digital cameras these days, there's also a face detection function, with Leica's implementation using the information to adjust both focus and exposure to properly capture your subjects' faces. Going a step further than many cameras, though, the V-LUX 30 can also be programmed to recognize specific individuals' faces, and prioritize these over other detected photos when capturing photos, or search for photos containing a specific person's face in playback mode. The Leica V-LUX 30 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 1,600 equivalents, with the ability to extend this as far as ISO 6,400 equivalent in High Sensitivity mode. Shutter speeds from 1/4,000 to 60 seconds are possible. The Leica V-LUX 30 uses Multi-zone metering, with Center Weighted and Spot metering options available. The Leica V-LUX 30 offers six white balance settings including Auto, Manual, and four fixed presets. A whopping selection of twenty eight still image scene modes, and 18 movie scene modes, let users tailor the look of their images and movies with a minimum of effort, and the Leica V-LUX 30 also offers aperture-, shutter-priority, or fully manual still image modes when more control is desired. There's also an Intelligent Scene Selection function, which can automatically select from a subset of seven scene modes -- portrait, scenery, night portrait, night scenery, handheld night shot, sunset, or macro. In movie capture, there are four options for Intelligent Scene Selection -- Portrait, Scenery, Low Light, or Macro. The Leica V-LUX 30 can also capture 3D images in MPO (Multi Picture Object) format, by processing data from a number of sequentially captured images. A five mode flash strobe includes red-eye reduction capability, and when using Auto ISO sensitivity, has a rated range of up to 5.0 meters at wide-angle, or 2.8 meters at telephoto. There's also digital red-eye correction, and Intelligent Exposure, Intelligent ISO, and Intelligent Auto functions as seen on past models.

As well as JPEG still images, the Leica V-LUX 30 can capture movies with stereo sound at up to 1,920 x 1,080 pixel resolution or below, using AVCHD compression for 1080i and 720p, or Motion JPEG compression for 720p and standard-def movies. Full HD movies are captured at an interlaced 60 fields per second from 60 frames per second sensor data, while 720p movies can be captured at either 60 or 30 progressive-scan frames per second, and at lower resolutions, all movies are recorded at 30 frames per second. All movies include stereo sound. A Video Divide function allows in-camera movie splitting, letting users trim away the unwanted portions to keep just the parts of movies that they desire.

The Leica V-LUX 30 stores its images and movies on Secure Digital or MultiMediaCards, including the newer SDHC and SDXC types. There's also a not-so-generous 18MB of built-in memory. Connectivity options include a USB 2.0 High-Speed connection, plus standard definition NTSC / PAL video output. The Leica V-LUX 30 can also output high-definition video via a mini-HDMI (type C) connection.

Power comes from a proprietary BP-DC7 lithium-ion battery that is rated for 260 shots on a charge to CIPA testing standards. The generous software bundle includes Adobe Photoshop Elements 9 for still editing and Adobe Premiere Elements 9 for movies.

List pricing for the Leica V-LUX 30 is set at US$749 with availability starting in early June 2011. Leica is also offering two camera cases for the V-LUX 30: "a strong and resilient leather case and a soft leather case."