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Leica's DIGILUX 3 digital camera. Courtesy of Leica, with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Leica's first DSLR revealed
(Friday, September 15, 2006 - 00:00 EDT)

Based on Panasonic's Lumix DMC-L1, the Leica Digilux 3 is the company's first digital SLR offering, compatible with Olympus' Four Thirds lens mount standard.

The Digilux 3 is quite an interesting SLR with a traditional - perhaps retro - styling aesthetic that the company says is the work of Berlin designer Professor Achim Heine. It is based around the same 7.5 effective megapixel Live MOS image sensor that first debuted in Olympus' EVOLT E-330 digital SLR, along with the mirror box unit from that camera (which combines a quick-return mirror, viewfinder, and AE sensor). Olympus' Supersonic Wave Filter is also included, making the Digilux 3 the second non-Olympus branded camera to include the feature which ensures dust will not be bothering L1 users.

The Digilux 3 has a shutter speed dial on the top of the body, and a bundled Leica 14-50mm lens offers rings to control aperture, focus and lens zoom. As with the EVOLT E-330 and DMC-L1, the Digilux 3 offers a Live View function that allows images to be framed using the LCD display, regardless of whether you're focusing automatically or manually. In addition, you can use the LCD display as a handy confirmation of focus via an enlarged view when focusing manually. The Digilux 3 offers a 2.5" LCD display with 207,000 pixels, at the high end of what's available on digital SLRs at the current time.

One other feature worthy of note is that the Digilux 3 offers a Secure Digital card slot, and is compatible with the FAT32 file system - meaning that Secure Digital cards larger than 2GB will be able to be supported. In addition, the Leica Digilux 3 supports the new SDHC (Secure Digital High Capacity) standard, which extends the maximum capacity to a theoretical 32GB (4GB cards being the largest available at the time of this writing, although 8GB cards should be available in the last quarter of 2006), with sustained transfer rates of up to six megabytes per second.

The Digilux 3 has a shooting speed of three frames per second for 6 Raw or unlimited JPEG frames. Focusing uses 3-point phase difference detection, and ISO sensitivity ranges from 100 - 1600. Shutter speeds range from 60 - 1/4000 second, plus bulb exposures to eight minutes. Metering choices are multi, center-weighted or spot, with the multi mode offering 49 segments when using the optical viewfinder, and 256 segments in live view mode. Connectivity includes both USB 2.0 High Speed plus NTSC / PAL video.

The Leica Digilux 3 is priced at $2500, with the price including a LEICA D VARIO–ELMARIT 2.8-3.5 / 14 - 50 mm mm ASPH lens equivalent to 28 - 100 on a 35mm camera. By way of comparison, Panasonic's variant sells with the same lens for $2000.

Leica Digilux 3
Leica's DIGILUX 3 digital camera. Courtesy of Leica, with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Click for a bigger picture!
Camera TypeSLR
Model NumberDigilux 3
Dimensions5.7 x 3.4 x 3.1"
145.8 x 86.9 x 80.0mm
Weight530.0 g
18.5 oz
Planned Price$2500.00
Image Capture
Sensor TypeFour Thirds Panasonic N-MOS
7.94 megapixels (total)
7.50 megapixels (effective)
Filter TypeRGBG
Aspect Ratio4:3, 16:9
Image Dimensions3136 x 2352 (7.4 megapixels)
3136 x 2080 (6.5 megapixels)
3136 x 1760 (5.5 megapixels)
2560 x 1920 (4.9 megapixels)
2560 x 1712 (4.4 megapixels)
2048 x 1536 (3.1 megapixels)
2048 x 1360 (2.8 megapixels)
1920 x 1080 (2.1 megapixels)
Capture SpeedContinuous: 3.0 frames per second
Image Preview / Review
ViewfinderYes, Eye level Porro Mirror type optical viewfinder
95% field of view
LCD2.5", 207,000 pixels
100% field of view
Playback Zoom16.0x max
Lens TypeInterchangeable Lens
Lens MountFour Thirds
Focusing System3 point TTL Phase Difference Detection with AF assist lamp
Manual Focus possible (0) steps
ISO SensitivityAuto, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600
Shutter Speed480 - 1/4000 second
Exposure ModesAperture, Shutter, Manual
Metering ModesIntelligent Multiple (256-zone in live view, 49-zone with optical viewfinder), Center Weighted, Spot
Exposure Compensation+/- 2.0EV in 1/3EV increments
White BalanceImage Sensor - Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Shade, Halogen, Flash, White Set 1, White Set 2, Color temperature setting, Manual
Internal FlashGuide Number: 10
Modes: Auto, Auto/Red-eye Reduction, Forced On/Red-eye Reduction, Slow Sync., Slow Sync./Red-eye Reduction, Forced On/Off
Range: 10 meters at ISO 100
Flash Exposure Compensation+/- 2.0EV in 1/3EV increments
Digital Zoom2x, 4x (live view mode only)
Self TimerYes, 2 or 10 seconds
Recording MediumSD/MMC
File SystemFAT16, FAT32
File FormatCCD-RAW, Raw, JPEG (EXIF 2.21)
VideoYes, NTSC / PAL switchable
ComputerUSB 2.0 High Speed
Battery TypeLithium Ion rechargeable
Battery Form FactorProprietary
Product Bundle
SoftwareAdobe Photoshop Elements 4.0 (PC) / 3.0 (Mac), Quicktime, USB driver
Battery / ChargerProprietary Lithium Ion rechargeable battery and charger
Flash Memory0.0MB
Digital Print Order Format (DPOF) compliantYes
PictBridge CompliantYes
Tripod MountYes, Metal
Remote ControlYes, DMW-RSL1 (Optional)
More Photos
Leica's DIGILUX 3 digital camera. Courtesy of Leica, with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Click for a bigger picture!
Leica's DIGILUX 3 digital camera. Courtesy of Leica, with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Click for a bigger picture!
Leica's DIGILUX 3 digital camera. Courtesy of Leica, with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Click for a bigger picture!
Leica's DIGILUX 3 digital camera. Courtesy of Leica, with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Click for a bigger picture!
Leica's DIGILUX 3 digital camera. Courtesy of Leica, with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Click for a bigger picture!
Leica's DIGILUX 3 digital camera. Courtesy of Leica, with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Click for a bigger picture!

Original Source Press Release:

LEICA DIGILUX 3: The digital system camera with traditional operating concept for individualists

Leica Camera is introducing the new LEICA DIGILUX 3 at Photokina in Cologne (September 26th to October 1st, 2006). The LEICA DIGILUX 3 is the first purely digital Leica mirror reflex system camera with exchangeable lenses, thereby opening up a third variety of free-standing camera system under the Leica name. As the first model of the new Leica D system, the LEICA DIGILUX 3 is fitted with a bayonet lens to the FourThirds Standard, the open systems standard for digital mirror reflex cameras. Together with the high-performance LEICA D VARIO–ELMARIT 2.8-3.5/28-100 mm ASPH exchangeable lens, this offers the photographer many possibilities for composition of individual pictures.

An integral picture stabilizer gives the user additional protection against camera shake, even under difficult lighting conditions. In the design and operating concept the LEICA DIGILUX 3 continues the concept of the Leica Digilux series: modern digital technology and an analog operating concept are combined in a classic camera body. The Berlin designer Professor Achim Heine is responsible for the clear modular design of the digital camera. Traditional operating elements such as an exposure ring on the camera and manual setting rings for aperture, zoom and focusing at the lens allow the LEICA DIGILUX 3 to be operated like an analog camera model, thus granting the creative freedom to work in the style of traditional photography.

“The LEICA DIGILUX 3 sets a new standard in the digital mirror reflex camera segment: traditional operating controls and highly modern technical equipment are united with classical values such as precision, outstanding picture quality and a clear formal language; offering in addition the creative freedom of a digital system camera. This makes it the ideal tool for demanding reportage photography“ says Marius Eschweiler, Product Manager for digital compact cameras at Leica Camera.

The LEICA D VARIO–ELMARIT 2.8-3.5/28-100 mm ASPH exchangeable lens comprises 16 lenses including three aspherical lenses in twelve groups. The maximum aperture of 2.8 it imposes hardly any restrictions on the possibilities for photographic composition. The high-performance optics give impressive reproduction of even the finest details and nuances, with minimal distortion and vignetting even at the shortest focal lengths. Further security for a successful picture is derived from the integral protection against camera shake (O.I.S.), which can be switched on and off at any time. This reliably protects against camera shake in all photographic situations, since small movements of the hand are systematically compensated. Whether at twilight, during indoor shots, for snapshots or in zoom operation – the result is always a sharp picture without the need for a tripod.

“ With the LEICA D VARIO–ELMARIT 2.8-3.5/28-100 mm ASPH, a wider target group of digital photographers can profit from the unique performance level of Leica lens technology. The combination of the most modern digital technology such as optical picture stabilization and a quick and precise auto-focus with the well-known outstanding Leica reproduction performance is almost revolutionary” says Marius Eschweiler.

The LEICA DIGILUX 3 is equipped with a 7.5 megapixel LiveMOS sensor for a real-time live photo function, outstanding picture quality and energy-saving operating system. To protect the camera with its exchangeable lenses against the dreaded dirt on the image sensor due to penetration of dirt and dust particles, it is fitted with an ultrasonic protective filter in front of the sensor. The picture signal processor of the LEICA DIGILUX 3 is also improved compared to the preceding model. The interaction of new sensor technology and the new picture signal processor ensure even faster image processing and storage within the camera, which is less of a drain on the rechargeable battery. Thus the LEICA DIGILUX 3 is quick and reliable in use, even in spontaneous moments.

In relation to color matching, contrast and picture definition, Leica Camera has developed its own profile. This is oriented to the picture characteristics that are well known to Leica System Camera customers from their use in combination with professional film materials and specialist development laboratories.

The large 2.5” camera display of the LEICA DIGILUX 3 has a resolution of 207,000 pixels, enabling it to generate an exceptionally brilliant picture, allowing the photographer to make a reliable and exact assessment of the picture composition both when taking the photo and when reviewing it.

The LEICA DIGILUX 3 is characterized by its clear and concentrated design. The straight-line layout and paring down to the essentials show the camera’s typical Leica lineage from the classic Leica viewfinder camera. The LEICA DIGILUX 3 offers clear functions and is intuitive and secure in use, thanks to its simple operating concept.

In addition to the optical viewfinder, the LEICA DIGILUX 3 is fitted with a real-time live photo function. This monitor preview permits a complete check on the exposure, white balance and other exposure-relevant parameters, even before taking the picture. In this respect the LEICA DIGILUX 3 occupies a special place amongst digital mirror reflex cameras. It delivers advantages which until now were restricted to compact cameras because of system considerations.

The LEICA DIGILUX 3 is supplied with a 1 GB SD card, a mains battery charger, a powerful rechargeable battery and a comprehensive software package (Adobe Photoshop Elements 4.0 (PC)/3.0 (Mac), Quicktime Movie Player ). Further accessories available include a spare rechargeable battery, a sporty and particularly hard-wearing neoprene case and a Billingham combination case.


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