Leica V-LUX 20 Review

 
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Basic Specifications
Full model name: Leica V-LUX 20
Resolution: 12.10 Megapixels
Sensor size: 1/2.33"
Lens: 12.00x zoom
(25-300mm eq.)
Viewfinder: LCD
ISO: 80-6400
Shutter: 60-1/2000
Max Aperture: 3.3
Dimensions: 4.1 x 2.4 x 1.3 in.
(103 x 62 x 33 mm)
Weight: 7.7 oz (218 g)
includes batteries
MSRP:
Availability: 04/2010
Manufacturer: Leica
Full specs: Leica V-LUX 20 specifications
12.10
Megapixels
12.00x zoom
1/2.33"
size sensor
image of Leica V-LUX 20
Front side of Leica V-LUX 20 digital camera Left side of Leica V-LUX 20 digital camera      

The Leica V-LUX 20 is a rebadged variant of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS7, and like that camera, has a sensor resolution of 12.1 effective megapixels from a 1/2.33" RGB CCD image sensor. Leica has coupled this to an image stabilized, Leica DC Vario-Elmar branded 12x optical zoom lens with an excellent 25mm-equivalent wide angle. There's sadly no optical viewfinder, but this is perhaps understandable given the strength of the zoom. The Leica VLUX 20 opts instead for a roomy 3.0" LCD display with excellent 460,000 dot resolution on which images and videos are both framed and reviewed. The Leica VLUX20's lens has a maximum aperture that varies from f/3.3 to f/4.9 across the zoom range. The minimum focusing distance for the Leica VLUX 20 is ordinarily 50 centimeters, but drops to just three centimeters when switched to Macro mode.

The Leica V-LUX20 is the company's first camera to include a built-in GPS receiver, allowing automatic geotagging of images with the location at which they were shot. The Leica VLUX 20 has an 11-point multi-area 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, with Leica's implementation using the information to adjust both focus and exposure to properly capture your subjects' faces. The V-LUX 20 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 face in playback mode.

ISO sensitivity ordinarily ranges from 80 to 1,600 equivalents, with the ability to extend this as far as ISO 6,400 equivalent in High Sensitivity Auto mode. Shutter speeds from 1/2000 to 60 seconds are possible. The Leica VLUX 20 uses Intelligent Multiple metering, with Center Weighted and Spot metering options available. The 20 offers six white balance settings including Auto, Manual, and four fixed presets. A whopping selection of twenty eight scene modes let users tailor the look of their images with a minimum of effort, and the Leica VLUX 20 also offers aperture-, shutter-priority, or fully manual modes when more control is desired. A five mode flash strobe includes red-eye reduction capability, and has a rated range of up to 5.3 meters at wide angle, or 3.6 meters at telephoto.

As well as JPEG still images, the Leica VLUX 20 can capture movies with stereo sound at up to 1280 x 720 pixel resolution or below, with QuickTime Motion JPEG compression. The Leica V-LUX 20 stores its images and movies on Secure Digital or MultiMediaCards, including the newer SDHC and SDXC types. There's also 15MB of built-in memory. Connectivity options include a USB 2.0 High-Speed connection, plus standard definition NTSC / PAL video output. The Leica 20 can also output high-definition video via an optional HDMI cable. Power comes from a proprietary BP-DC 7 lithium-ion battery.

Pricing for the Leica V-LUX 20 is set at US$699, and the leather case will be priced at $175. By comparison, Panasonic's ZS& has an SRP price of $399.95. Availability is slated for late April 2010.

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