Leica V-LUX 40 Review
|Dimensions:||4.1 x 2.3 x 1.1 in.
(105 x 59 x 28 mm)
|Weight:||7.4 oz (210 g)
Leica V-Lux 40 Overview
Looking for a compact, travel zoom camera, and put a lot of faith in the legendary Leica 'red dot'? If your answer is yes, the Leica V-Lux 40 might be worth a look. Closely related to the Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS20 (aka TZ30), the Leica V-Lux 40 has similar hardware and software, but with a lightly restyled body. There are, of course, changes that could have been made by Leica that would yield differing image quality, but weigh that against the rumored cost, which is effectively double that of Panasonic's camera.
The pocket-friendly body of the Leica V-Lux 40 couples a 1/2.33-inch type, 14.1 effective megapixel, RGB-filtered MOS image sensor, and a Leica DC Vario-Elmar branded 20x optical zoom lens. In 35mm equivalents, the 40's lens provides everything from a generous 24mm wide angle, to a whopping 480mm telephoto. As you'd expect with this much telephoto reach, there's an optical image stabilization system included. Continuous shooting is possible at a rate of around ten full-resolution frames per second.
The Leica V-Lux 40's lens has a maximum aperture that varies from f/3.3 to a rather dim f/6.4 across the zoom range. The minimum focusing distance for the Leica V-Lux 40 is ordinarily 50 centimeters, but drops to just three centimeters at wide angle when switched to Macro mode. There's sadly no optical or electronic viewfinder; for framing and reviewing images and videos, the Leica V-Lux 40 opts instead for a 3.0-inch LCD display with 460,800 dot resolution, equating to approximately 153,600 pixels, with each pixel comprised of separate red, green, and blue dots. This panel includes a touch screen overlay, allowing the V-Lux 40'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 40 includes a built-in GPS receiver, allowing automatic geotagging of images with the location at which they were shot. It also has a 23-point multi-area autofocus system which also includes a single-point focusing mode. An AF assist lamp allows the V-Lux 40 to focus on nearby subjects in difficult lighting conditions. As with most digital cameras these days, there's also both face detection and tracking functions.
ISO sensitivity ordinarily ranges from 100 to 3,200 equivalents, with the ability to extend this as far as ISO 6,400 equivalent in High Sensitivity mode. There's also an Intelligent ISO function, which detects if your subject is moving, and adjusts sensitivity appropriately to gain a shutter speed to freeze that motion. Shutter speeds from 1/2,000 to 15 seconds are possible. The Leica V-Lux 40 uses Intelligent Multiple metering, with Center Weighted and Spot metering options available.
The Leica V-Lux 40 offers six white balance settings including Auto, Manual, and four fixed presets. A whopping selection of 17 still image scene modes let users tailor the look of their images and movies with a minimum of effort, and the Leica V-Lux 40 further offers aperture-, shutter-priority, or fully manual still image modes when more control is desired. There's also an Intelligent Auto mode, which can automatically select from a subset of available scene modes.
The Leica V-Lux 40 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 6.4 meters at wide-angle.
As well as JPEG still images, the Leica V-Lux 40 can capture movies at up to 1,920 x 1,080 pixel resolution or below, using either AVCHD compression for high-def movies, or MPEG-4 compression at any available resolution. Full HD movies are captured at either 60 frames or 60 fields per second from 60 frames per second sensor data, while 720p movies can be captured at 60 frames per second. At all standard or high-def resolutions, movies can alternatively be recorded at 30 frames per second. Additionally, the V-Lux 40 can record QVGA (320 x 240) pixel videos at a whopping 220 frames per second in High Speed Video mode. 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 40 stores its images and movies on Secure Digital cards, including the higher-capacity SDHC and SDXC types. There's also a not-so-generous 12MB 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 40 can also output high-definition video via a mini-HDMI connection, and is compatible with what Leica calls "HDTV Link", better known as HDMI-CEC. This system allows the connected TV's remote control to be used to navigate the camera's slideshows.
Power comes from a proprietary lithium-ion battery pack, and is rated as good for 260 shots on a charge to CIPA testing standards. The software bundle includes Adobe Photoshop Elements 10 and Adobe Premiere Elements 10.
Pricing for the Leica V-Lux 40 has not been disclosed, but is widely rumored at approximately US$700, and is available immediately.
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