Jun 162010
 

The Leica V-Lux 20 Review

By Steve Huff

About 10 years ago I was sitting in my office saying to myself “Imagine if someone would create a digital camera with a 28-300 zoom lens built in and then have that camera pump out an insane 8 mega-pixels and shoot video. Not only that, make it to where it will fit in my front jeans pocket!”

Well here I am 10 years later with a tiny camera that has a 25-300 Zoom, pumps out 14+ mega-pixels, has 720P HD video built in with image stabilization and auto focus, has a built in GPS for geo tagging all of your photos, AND has every feature and gimmik that most consumers could ever want! That camera is the Leica V-Lux 20 and it’s the new compact point & shoot from Leica, which is result of their partnership with Panasonic (who has the similar ZS-7).

Charlie, the little bird that greets me every morning. I had the spot meter on here and accidentally metered the sky instead of the bird, but I liked the result anyway! This was shot at 300mm with the V-Lux 20.

The Features

The V-Lux 20 is packed with features that would seem to make for one hell of a camera. I same seem to because usually compacts end up being a disappointment to me in one way or another. They are usually plagued with low dynamic range, dull color, tons of noise at higher ISO and bad lenses.  The only compact that I adore these days is the Leica D-Lux 4, and a notch up from that one would be the Leica X1, but the X1 has an APS sensor for DSLR performance in a tiny body. But the V-Lux 20 has much more in common with the D-Lux 4 and I found that camera to be one of the most versatile and capable compacts ever so I was excited to see if the V-Lux 20 improved upon it, or if it was a downgrade in image quality and performance.

Before I get into all of that though, let’s have a look at the features of this camera. The blurbs below are from the B&H Photo V-Lux 20 page…

Simple, Intuitive Handling

Leica cameras set the standards for the best possible handling. With the Leica V-LUX 20, the ergonomically positioned and logically arranged control elements of the camera ensure intuitive handling of the camera even by less experienced photographers. A wide range of automated functions ensures simple, straight forward operation in any situation. At the same time, manual setting options for apertures and shutter speeds provide greater creative scope for more demanding users.

High-Performance Super-Zoom Lens

The lens of the Leica V-LUX 20 enables the user to use the enormous range of 25 to 300mm for both still and movie photography. For macro photography, extremely wide-angle views or zooming in on distant subjects – this camera captures amazingly sharp images across the entire wide-angle to telephoto range.

Optical Image Stabilizer

The legendary Leica image quality is enhanced even further with the optical image stabilizer (O.I.S.) that effectively compensates for camera shake to ensure razor-sharp pictures at all times, even in the telephoto range, in low light conditions and when you take quick snapshots.

GPS – Global Positioning System

The Leica V-LUX 20 has an integrated Global Positioning System for tagging purposes. This innovative feature records the geographical coordinates of the location and the local time of every picture shot and stores the information in the EXIF data of the image files. The GPS does not function in China, its neighboring regions and any place where satellite signal reception is unavailable.

Aspect Ratios

The camera allows you to choose between 3 different aspect ratios; 4:3, 3:2 or 16:9.

Movies in HD-Quality

The Leica V-LUX 20 has the 720 p HD movie function . Movies are recorded in MJPEG HD format and tagged with GPS data. To record a HD movie, all one needs to do is touch a button at the back of the camera. The LEICA V-LUX 20 integrates all the essential functions such as face recognition, automatic scene mode selection, and smart exposure when shooting in movie mode. The user can also zoom across the 12x zoom range while shooting movies.

Face Recognition System

The automatic face recognition system automatically adjusts focus and exposure to the faces in the scene, making it easy to get perfect portraits and group photos.

Direct Print Capable

Print directly to any PictBridge Capable Printer without a computer; the on-camera image editing features assure that you are able to create just the right image easily and quickly.

Adobe Photoshop Elements 8

The Leica V-LUX 20 comes with a copy of Adobe Photoshop Elements 8.0. This software package is easy to use while providing the complete image-processing solution. It provides fast and convenient media management and intuitive post-processing of photos and movies.

A mural shot in the evening. The color of the V-Lux 20 is vibrant but not overdone. Color was set to Standard +2

The Camera, The Design, and it’s Twin

The V-Lux 20 is a marvel of modern technology when you think about it. I mean, this thing is small! The first time I saw it I thought “No way in hell this thing can give quality images at 300mm, the lens is too small”. The design is clean, and very much like the D-Lux 4. It’s black, has the red Leica dot, and comes with a charger, battery and software all packed neatly in one of those cool little Leica silver boxes. The truth is that when I heard about this camera I dismissed it immediately thinking it would not be up to my standards of quality due to that mega zoom lens. Over a span of 2 weeks of shooting with it, the camera grew on me and I went from being cold to  warm on it, mainly due to that zoom!

The V-Lux 20 – slick, sleek, and SMALL – $699

The V-Lux 20’s twin – The Panasonic ZS7 – $309

As you can see, the V-Lux 20 is the identical twin to the Panasonic ZS7. Both share the same features and both are made in the same factory. The same thing with the Leica D-Lux 4 and Panasonic LX-3. Over the past couple of years I have seen arguments from those on the Leica side as to why you should buy the Leica and those on the Panasonic side who give reasons to buy the Panny (mostly because the Panasonic is cheaper).

In the case of the V-Lux 20 and Pansonic ZS7, there is a pretty big price difference between the two. The Leica comes in at $699 and  the Panny at $306. What? $306?? Yes, the Leica is more than double the cost of the Panasonic. So why would two cameras whose only differences appear to be the outer shell have such a huge difference in price? Well, there are a few reasons, and before I get to the meat and potatoes of this review I want to go over this because I am sure there will be comments here stating how dumb it would be to pay more than double for the Leica. It always happens, so here are the reasons to buy the Leica V-Lux 20 over the Panasonic:

  1. The Leica V-Lux 20 comes with a two year warranty. Camera breaks, just send it to Leica USA for repair. The Panasonic comes with a one year warranty. With my D-Lux 4, Leica extended the warranty to three years when I registered it. Not sure if they are doing that with the V-Lux 20 but they might be. If so, this would get you much more warranty time.
  2. The Leica V-Lux 20 comes with Photoshop Elements 8. The Panny comes with unknown (to me) software, and it is not Photoshop Elements 8.
  3. The Leica, to my eyes is more attractive with its sleek black body. Instead of the big LUMIX and HD AVCHD logos you just get the red dot. Clean and simple.
  4. Firmware. Leica writes their own firmware for the V-Lux 20 so sometimes we see a little bit better color and IQ from the Leica.
  5. Leica cameras have much better resale. Even the old  Digilux 2 has now become a much sought after camera while the Panasonic version, the LC1 has not. People are paying $1000 for a well used Digilux 2 these days. Yes, I have seen them go for that much recently.
  6. You gotta love Leica. They are a small company who take pride in their cameras and while this one was not made in Germany like their other cameras, it still has the Leica spirit and when you are shooting Leica you just feel good :) He he…
  7. If you have the cash, why not? If I had the extra money I would buy the Leica but I love Leica and love what they do and what they stand for. I am all for supporting their cause of creating superb cameras that other companies are afraid to produce.

OK, so how about some reasons to buy the Panasonic?

  1. It’s much cheaper.

That is all I can think of. The ONLY reason I would take the Panny version is if I needed to save money. Most people who want a Leica want a camera with the Leica name because it is known to many as “The Best”. Life is short and sometimes we gotta splurge a little. While I find it hard to justify the almost $400 price difference, sometimes you gotta go with what makes you happy, and the word “Leica” makes many of us photo geeks feel good.  With that said, I feel Leica should have released this one at a price point of $599, about $100 cheaper. We all know that Leica will always be more expensive than other brands, it is what it is and it has always been like that so this is no surprise and I think an extra $280 would have been plenty for the Leica name, the extra warranty and better software. BUT it is what it is and if you want Leica, be prepared to pay.

The first shot I snapped off with the V-Lux 20. Being a point & shoot it is very easy to pick up and shoot.

THE V-LUX 20’s PERFORMANCE

The HD Video

So, how does this little guy perform when out there taking images and video? Not so bad! This is no M9 or X1 as far as image quality but as far as super compacts go, this one is on par with most. This has an impressive zoom built in and the HD video is also pretty impressive. One thing the V-Lux does differently than the Panny version is the video. The Panny used AVCHD lite while the V-Lux uses MJPEG. Again, personal pref really but I find MJPEG a bit better while others think AVCHD is the format to use. The video on the V-Lux 20 is a nice improvement over the HD video of the Leica D-Lux 4. The audio, the picture quality, the AF, and the color has improved. I did not shoot any serious video with it but did shoot my Leica 35 Summilux un-boxing video with it. No issues or problems and the video and audio look better than it did with the D-Lux 4.

The Leica V-Lux 20 Promo Video


Zoom a zoom zoom..all the way to 300mm!

The V-Lux 20’s main claim to fame is its 25-200 Zoom lens. How useful is this? Well, in some circumstances it could be very useful. I wanted to show you a shot taken at 25mm and then the same shot at 300mm so you can get an idea of the zoom range of this camera. Excuse the boring subject but this is only a test shot to show the lens zoomed all the way out, then in.

Here it is early morning in my backyard (which needs some serous help) with the V-Lux 20 at 25mm, it’s widest setting…

…and here is the same shot at 300mm

Having this kind of zoom power can help out when you want to get that pic that just seems too far away with a normal compact. I have to admit though, when shooting the V-Lux 20 at 300mm it did not really seem like 300mm, but it is indeed 300mm. I confirmed it by shooting a 300mm lens on a full frame DSLR which gave me the same magnification. So it is now possible to have this crazy zoom power in your pocket at all times. The quality at 300mm is hit or miss though. You really need good light even though the lens has a maximum aperture of 4.9 when fully zoomed out. At 300mm, you need a high shutter speed to get a crystal clear shot. Hand movement, even with the optical image stabilization can screw up your photo pretty fast. Wide open at 300mm you can get some softness but overall it’s really really good, even at 4.9 and 300mm.

ISO

The ISO performance of the V-Lux 20 is average. Not great, not horrible, but average. I would not want to shoot it past ISO 400 as the colors get dull and the noise starts to show. With the aggressive in body noise reductions you get those wonderful smeared details. But again, this is typical with any pocketable camera due  to the small sensors inside. It’s unavoidable so not really something to complain about.

When a sensor is tiny it struggles to capture all of the available light and therefore we get higher noise levels. When a sensor is LARGE it can suck in loads of light and we get cleaner files, even at high ISO. I have yet to see a pocket point and shoot that can give clean high ISO results. Micro 4/3 is better but they are not pocketable.


Auto Focus

The AF is snappy and quick. No complaints here. Hell, the AF is faster than the $2000 Leica X1!

GPS

When this camera was announced Leica put up a nifty website showcasing photographers who were traveling and snapping pictures all over the world. They did this to promote the GPS features of the V-Lux 20. When you enable GPS on the camera every picture you take will be tagged with the GPS co-ordinates of where you shot it! Years later you can look back at your shot and know EXACTLY where you were. You could even use  those co-ordinates to go back to that location years later. Pretty cool feature to have. Would I use it? I don’t know. Still, a nice feature to have.

Image Quality

The IQ (Image Quality) of the V-Lux 20 is good. It’s not “HOLY SHIT” good, but for what it is, the camera does a great job. As I have already stated, this camera only shoots in JPEG mode so I see it as an amateur/hobbyist/housewife kind of camera for those who do not want to mess with RAW conversions and all of the tech stuff. Even though it only shoots JPEG, the quality is very good. Keep in mind that I am used to shooting my Leica MP and M9 and the V-Lux 20 is a MUCH different type of camera. Some may say the quality of the V-Lux 20 is amazing but when you stare at M9 files all day, any small sensor camera file be a bit underwhelming. But I have found that for a compact camera, the V-Lux 20 performs like it should. Dynamic Range could be better but with small sensors this has always been an issue.No new tale to tell.

Click on the image below for a full size out of camera JPEG. This was shot in full AZ sun at F3.3, wide open at ISO 80 and at the wide end of 25mm.

The lens does have a tendency to flare a bit if shooting into the sun at all, so be careful!

The Overall User Experience

So, how did I like shooting with this little mega zoom powerhouse? Well, compared to the M9 it’s a totally different experience so I had to get myself prepared by going into “Point & Shoot” mode, which was tough at first. I am so used to slowing down, composing, and being more careful with most of my shots. With a P&S, its so easy to fire away at just about ANYTHING so that is what I did! When it was all said and done I ended up really enjoying my time with the camera though a bit underwhelmed with its image quality.

As for the V-Lux/D-Lux debate, it all depends on what you want. The V-Lux series is all about big zoom. The D-Lux is more about having a faster lens. Either one would make a great pocket camera but the V-Lux 20 is smaller while the D-Lux 4 has the better quality lens.

The V-Lux 20 can do macro, it can get you the shots most P&S cameras can’t due to its 300mm capability, it has GPS capabilities and the HD video is really good for this size of camera. I really liked the camera but I am not buying one. Why? Well, I have too many cameras and already have a couple of compacts and super zooms are not my thing. Usually too much of a quality trade off.

Here I set the camera to macro and 25mm. The camera could have gotten even closer but the  glass was in the way.

Evening light – street vendor

Full mid day sun – My son shooting his Nikon

PROS and CONS of the Leica V-Lux 20

PROS

  • It’s SMALL. Quite a bit smaller than an Olympus PEN but feels nicely made.
  • It’s ZOOM! 25-300, very versatile.
  • It’s SILENT! Much quieter than any DSLR or M4/3 camera.
  • It’s HD! 720P video is actually quite good on this camera and has quiet AF while recording.
  • GPS! Built in, just turn it on in the menu system and your photos will be recorded with the GPS info.
  • Has all of the bells and whistles that I could care less about but they are there for those who do :)
  • The perfect vacation P&S camera.
  • AF seems snappy for a P&S.
  • The LCD is big and bright, nicer than the M9 LCD.

CONS

  • Lens is on the slow side from 3.3 to 4.9. The D-Lux 4 has an F2 lens, but no mega zoom.
  • IQ is good but not WOW good. Images are sharp, slight barrel distortion at the wide end, colors can be dull.
  • No RAW support, only JPEG.
  • Easy to get blown highlights but overcome by using center weighted or spot metering.
  • Lens will flare if pointed into the sun.
  • Better IQ can be had with the D-Lux 4

Who is it for?

If you are someone who is looking for a compact take anywhere mega zoom camera, the Leica V-Lux 20 should be considered. If you always wanted a Leica but think $7000 is insane for a camera, you can get into a V-Lux 20 for $699. True that this is much more than the $309 that the Panasonic version costs but this is Leica and that’s life :) The smooth sleek black body, the red dot, the longer warranty, the better software… Whichever version you choose, this camera makes for a wonderful all around “mega” point & shoot, especially good for travel and vacations. Can you do better for $699? Sure, but you can’t get anything as small, with that zoom range, with HD video and GPS for that price. The V-Lux 20 is a nice little “do anything” camera :) As for the Panasonic vs Leica debate, that is up for the buyer to decide but both are essentially the same camera as far as IQ and features go.

I will leave you with some images I took with the V-Lux 20 during my time with it. I ended up using spot metering the most as I found it gave me better control over exposure and avoiding blown highlights. You can buy the V-Lux 20 at B&H Photo or Amazon, and if you follow my links here to do so you are also helping to keep this website going, so I thank you!

Buy the V-lux 20 at B&H Photo

Buy the V-Lux 20 at Amazon

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  96 Responses to “The Leica V-Lux 20 Camera Review”

  1. Nice review as usual. Thanks!
    But honestly, for me at least, $390 for the little red dot that sometimes people say is nice and sometimes the same people is annoying and gets covered up?
    Thanks. But no, thanks. I’d probably go with the cheapo-Panny, as a poor graduate student I can use the extra $$$ for some better food…mmmmm

  2. Thanks for yet another good review! When I compare the images in this review with your Caribbean D-Lux 4 pics, I get the impression that the D-Lux 4 gives slightly more vibrant colors and a better contrast. I must say that what I see from the V-Lux 20 disappoints me a little. What is your feeling when comparing the IQ between the two? Doesn the D-Lux 4 have better optics?
    Thanks!

  3. Hello Mr Huff,

    A very nice camera, indeed, even if dpreview has tested the Lumix and a bunch of similar cameras to conclude that the Samsung HZ35W and the Casio FH-100 were superior. However, I would rather buy the Panasonic, save half the price and buy the new model in one year or two for the same total price as the Leica. Where is your credibility? I have been visiting your site for a long time and have to admit that you have changed since you switched to Leica. No doubt that the M9 is a unique Camera and that one might prefer it over DSLR. However, we are talking about a point and shoot here. The idea is to take pictures, not pretend to have a Leica.

    Mike

  4. @Ben-yep, the panny is a good bang for the buck, especially at $309! Not bad for the zoom range and HD video

    @Robert- yes i feel the dlux 4 has the better lens, no doubt.

    @Michael- hmmm, not sure what you are complaining about but first and foremost, I have been shooting leica for many years before I even started my original site. So I “switched” some 6 or 7 years ago and my site has been up about a year and a half or so.

    This was a simple write up on a camera I used for 2 weeks. I enjoyed it but did not love it, as stated. It’s a great point and shoot for those who want a point and shoot with all of the bells and whistles. You have choices, panny or leica. This review was foe the Leicester becase it is what I had here to test.

    So again, I’m a bit confused with your comment. Thanks for reading!

  5. Hello Again,

    I have to highlight the fact that I really enjoy your work as a street photographer. I am only surprised by your devotion to Leica. Gear is gear. It is the pictures that count. I will continue to visit your site because I also have a great interest in street photography and have a lot to learn about it. In that context, I would love to see more of your work on this site and discussions about street photography.

    thanks

    Mike

  6. In Steve’s defense, he pointed out repeatedly that the Leica costs twice the $$$ of the Panasonic.

    He does seem to push the Leica stuff very uncritically compared to everything else. He has a relationship with Leica that he presumably wants to protect. This is a problem everywhere, not just with Steve: it’s called “access journalism”. The manufacturers have an implicit threat: no good reviews, no more products to review. It’s a tough situation for any reviewer. Steve handled it his way.

    Steve could have simply given the camera a great review without pointing out the price differential. Instead, he spelled it out, several times, so that any adult could decide for himself.

  7. @Michael – so because I shoot with a leica I am “devoted” to them? I shoot leica because I get the most enjoyment and best results from the M9. It’s my fave digital ever. I also own and shoot with a Olympus epl1 which I love and we also have a few film cameras.

    So while I really enjoy my leicas the most, I shoot everything I can :)

    I am not rich, not even “well off” but I sacrafice other things to be able to shoot with a leica because photography is a passion of mine and I want a camer that I “click” with. The m series cameras are the ones I enjoy the most.

    As for the vlux 20, it’s a point and shoot but believe me, there are many out there who would prefer the leica for the name alone. It’s just how it is. Sure there are loads of options out there but ultimately people make up their own minds. I just write about my experience and feelings when I review a camera or lens. If I enjoy it, I write a out it. If I do not, then I don’t.

    Anyway, thanks for commenting, and visiting the site. It is really appreciated.

    Steve

  8. This is definitely a situation that I couldn’t justify paying 2X just for the red dot and a copy of PS Elements. I used to own a Pany TZ5 (two generations removed from the ZS7/TZ10). I really liked it for its versatility. After replacing it with a Canon S90 (much better IQ), I really do miss the superzoom and the HD video.

  9. Hello Steve,

    I don’t want to jam this forum with my comments and don’t want to offend you. I guess that I share your love for street photography and would do it with a disposable film camera if this is all I had (would rather use a M9 however).

    thanks and continue your good work

    Mike

  10. Hi Steve,

    Another interesting article. I don’t think the price premium is worth it for this camera. I also think there are other cameras with very similar features that could be considered given the price of either it or the panasonic. The Sony HSV5 (i think I got that right) is generally rated as a better camera I believe. Anyway, food for thought, and thanks for another great review.

  11. @Michael – no problem! Thanks again, and yea, I agree! I would also use a disposable (and I have) if I had nothing else!

    @Edward – Yea, kind of tough – $309 vs $699. Big jump there. Thanks for reading.

  12. Steve, I have the TZ7, the Panny model without the GPS and manual settings. But, at times the zoom + the Leica lens can do wonders.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/arucard/4320233011/

  13. I would look and feel like a fool paying that premium for Panasonic with a Leica brand name on it.

  14. you mentioned even wide open at 4 something its good, just to point out , stopped down any more then a tad and you will be hitting diffraction with such a small sensor, f5.6 to maybe f8 is the best your going to get and f8 is a possible not a probable.

    The Vlux 20 / zs7 geotagging works great btw, and it has a good face recognition software which could be great for those with a few kids. It lets you sort out by “jacob” or “sarah” so you can see one person. Anyways cool review, and I would get the LX3 over either but you dont get the zoom then.

  15. also, not to be a troll here but one small point i had confirmed by the panasonic rep for my sales area

    panasonic “leica” lenses are in any pany camera about 200 bucks and up. Its a name and not much else. They claimed someone from leica has to approve what there doing which im sure in part is the case but dont buy it for the leica lens. Its a panasonic lens, maybe a great panasonic lens though i dont know.

  16. Hey Eric, Panny makes the lens, of course. Leica helps in the “design” and Panasonic makes them. This info came straight from Leica. On the other hand, the lens in the X1 is made and built by Leica. The D-Lux and V-Lux series are all built by Panasonic.

  17. still a great little camera, and the geotagging works like a charm, tags not only cities but attractions in cities like “vatican, rome” or “Louvre Paris” . Very handy.

  18. If the Panny breaks, you won’t need the longer warranty, just buy another with the money you save by not buying the Leica. I love Leica, but these camera’s seem pointless.

  19. Steve, you wrote “I have yet to see a pocket point and shoot that can give clean high ISO results.” While of course there isn’t any such compact (if with high ISO we mean 800+), but have you tried Fuji’s F200EXR, with the EXR sensor? While the camera has a considerably slower lens, I find it produces considerably cleaner pictures that the LX3/D-Lux 4 – although only when staying at six megapixels. Also, it has that DR mode that extends dynamic range by reading out adjacent pixels at different speeds, which works really well. Maybe you should have a look at it!

  20. Nice review Steve…and yep, as you mentioned, the price difference between Leica and Panasonic is a lot, for me and many consumers I do think, it is to much “just” for the red dot.

    ;-)

    But personally I am not interested in this cam, I still wating (6. week right now) for my new 50mm Summilux for the M9.

  21. you moderated my comment. this far i thought you’re a nice guy. now i see that behind the smile your a publicity-monkey how can’t endure the criticism. congrats!

  22. Always dilemma when the review goes live :) can’t blame someone for having a soft spot for certain something. We all do, have we? What can you do if you believe that Steve is just a Leica fan-boy and full of crap? Nothing, don’t visit the website more and don’t bother posting. After all this is his personal website where he is entitled to express his personal view on the stuff he reviews.

    C’mon guys some of you are acting like you’re in 5th grade. Move on and enjoy the pics!

    PS: i surely would not spent this money on V-lux but i instead have spent a lot more for even older leica!

    Cheers
    Vlad

  23. […] we’re on the subject of pocket-zoom cameras, Steve Huff Photo has reviewed the new Leica V-Lux 20 based on the Panasonic Lumix TZ10 – it features a metal […]

  24. […] Pocket Zoom Reviewed June 17th, 2010 While we’re on the subject of pocket-zoom cameras, Steve Huff Photo has reviewed the new Leica V-Lux 20 based on the Panasonic Lumix TZ10 – it features a metal […]

  25. A nice review and some personal food for thought…

    I received my V-Lux 20 yesterday but it is still waiting in its box. Not sure yet if it will ever come out of it soon. My favorite cameras were a Leica MP and not to forget the Leica CM. I have nothing special with the Leica brand on forehand but it worked for me. For this reason alone I will defend and protect myself against the pricing discussion. Recently I had a holiday in Egypt and I took a Leica C-Lux 3 with me, leaving me Samsung NX-10 system camera at home. A first I was very unsure if this would work, the holiday of my life, with a ‘simple’ P&S as primary -and only- tool. However, the pictures came out perfect and (again) I asked myself why on earth I would use a ‘big’ camera ever again. The only thing missing was more control over contrast, sharpness, saturation and aperture.

    The V-Lux 20 has all that and together with my iPad it is all I will ever (?) need. For this reason I have abandoned RAW as primary shooting mode. The JPEG’s come out perfect as long as you do not pixel peep to the limit, make exposure mistakes, and as long as the lighting conditions are not too bad.

    So, thinking it all over while writing this, I think I will go upstairs in a minute to grab that V-Lux 20 and go out. Every camera is a compromise and I think this is a very good one.

    I can keep on whining that I do not have a Leica M8.2 (would love to have one) or the X1.
    Leica cameras have always brought me immense joy to use, regard C-Lux 3.

    Steve, thank you for the nice review, I am almost done with my doubts :-)

  26. Leica cameras have always brought me immense joy to use, regard C-Lux 3.

    Should read:

    Leica cameras have always brought me immense joy, regardless of being a Leica MP, CM, or C-Lux-3.

  27. @Michael @Steve I use a D-Lux 4 for street photography and think it’s just the most amazing compact camera. That little DC-Vario Summicron lens really delivers the most incredible images. As smaller cameras get more capable I often wonder if attitudes towards non-DSLRs will change.

    William Cheung, Official Leica Photographer, was a little surprised at how serious I was about my photography even though the only camera I own is a D-Lux 4.

    • thats because u have not really spend enuf time looking at IQ of images taken with bigger sensors. Once u done that, u should read between the lines of what Steve wrote when he said he spent time looking at M9 files.
      To sum it up, small sensors are a waste of time, so are compacts. U just don’t know it yet because u need to spend some time using APS-C sized sensor cameras and then…there is no fooling urself. There is just nothing serious about compacts.

  28. For me, I love taking photographs but a part of me also loves following the ‘state of the art’ which involves playing with new kit, buying and selling and trying different things. This following of the ‘state of the art’, together with taking photographs and pouring over photographs taken by the masters of light, composition and exposure and learning as much as I can… makes me happy. So I do it. Would I buy this new camera? No. Am I interested in what it does and what is coming next? You bet.

    Keep the reviews coming Steve.

  29. Shoot with what you like. The V-Lux seems like a pretty cool camera, even if it doesn’t shoot RAW. I prefer a camera that does, but that’s me. I like the features of this camera; the zoom, the geo tagging, and small size. I did hear that the video capabilities isn’t as good as the Panasonic twin model. Is that true? Either the Panasonic or Leica would be a nice camera. Cheaper to buy Panasonic, but like Steve said, the resale value is better with the Leica.

    Get what camera(s) you want. I learned the hard (expensive) way that if you don’t get what you want, you spend more for cameras that fail to measure up, only to end up getting the camera you wanted in the end or just spending as much money eventually.

  30. Steve, until you get the panny version and compare IQ and usability of the different firmware, you cannot definitively sat one is better than the other.

    But, I think your review makes a glaring omission. This whole category of P&S digicams changes *every* year. Product cycles are measured in months. To spend $700 on a camera with only a red dot difference from the panny suggests that people don’t ride that cycle and upgrade every year. We’re not talking about 35mm lux –> 35mm lux ii upgrade differences and $5k lenses. We are are talking about huge changes in the competitive products every 6-12 months among products that cost 200-300. You’d be a sucker to buy a $700 P&S just for a longer warranty. These thing don’t break, but, if they do, you buy a new, better one.

    Frankly, 2x price gaps with identical cameras for a longer warranty is a bizarro recommendation. This is a classic red dot review – buy it because it is a Leica. Have some journalistic integrity and show your knowledge. Get the Panny, do the comparison review, and then use the results in your article. There’s a reason why people PAY for Sean Reid’s research and you give your content away for free…

    Now, get back to showing more of your great 35mm Lux ii images :)

  31. @Efix – I heard about the Fuji but never tried one. Thanks for reading!

    @Michael – Good luck on the wait for the Lux. Hopefully it won’t be too much longer!

    @John Donovan – Unfortunately when you run a site like this you have to moderate some comments. When you call me names at attack me then yes, I will moderate. Your comment was wayyyy off base and just a simple attack. There was also no point to it. So I give a luke warm review to a decent camera and you say I am a publicity-monkey? Get a life dude…

    @Vlad – Thanks! Exactly! This camera will be for someone who A: Want s a”Leica”, B: Can only spend under $1k, and C: Wants a huge zoom compact. Sure the Panny is there and the better deal but there will always be those who want the red dot. For example, Leica sold tons of D-Lux 4 cameras at $600 and now they are still selling at $700 and they are selling BETTER than the LX-3 these days. BTW, I thought this review was “lukewarm” and I wrote what I honestly thought about it. But you can’t please everyone! Thanks again Vlad.

    @Armand – Thanks, you are not alone. There are many who own this camera and are enjoying it every day. It’s all about what gets you out there shooting IMO. If it takes this camera to do so and get you motivated, then it’s worth it. Have fun.

    @Ray – The D-Lux 4 ROCKS!

    @Stephen B – Thanks!

    @Elaine – Thanks for reading and the comments.

    @Tony – I never said the Leica is “better” – just said it comes with better warranty, software AND resale value. I also did not give it a “recommendation”. I do not do the whole star rating or wether it is or os not recommended. I just write what I felt about it. As I already said, this review was not a glowing review. Did you read it? It was the facts, including the negatives and the price differences. I state the IQ is good, but not great, its high ISO is not so hot over 400, the Panny is $300+less expensive, the lens is slow and you need quite a bit of light to get sharp images, etc etc. Thanks for the comment though. I also have to disagree on one thing. The D-Lux 4 has been out for a few years now and still selling well at it’s current price. The camera will still take gorgeous photos in 3-4 years so someone who spent $700 on the camera, they will be using it for many years to come. WHo says we have to upgrade cameras every year? This is what is wrong with digital photography today. People assume they have to upgrade every year. Today, cameras are good enough to last MANY years without the need to upgrade. I will be using the Oly E-PL1 for many years to come, it’s actually a little workhorse. But again, thanks for the comments.

    • The one thing to remember is that with any camera the user has to find the limitations and weaknesses of that camera and then work around those weaknesses. And it is the person behind the camera, more than anything, that determines how good the final product is. If you don’t know your equipment and its limitations, you are unlikely to get consistently good results. I’ve seen outstanding images come out of a cell phone camera (I know because I’ve gotten some myself) and I’ve also seen garbage come out of $20,000 digitals.

      I also have to agree that the public in general has bought into the “have to always have the latest” craze and it is really too bad. I have a friend with an 8 year old digital and she takes fantastic photos with it, and the main reason is that she knows that camera inside and out. She knows exactly what to expect of it in virtually all situations, and compensates for her equipment’s weaknesses.

      I’ve been using the V-Lux 20 for a couple months now for general outings and when I’m in the field scouting for photographic trips, and once I found the limitations of the camera, it has served me well.

  32. Who would have thought this little camera would kick up so much dust in the comments!!

    Interesting to hear about the video being better than the Dlux4, I have the LX3 which I LOOOOVE and really like the video (except the focus lock etc!!). I guess thats what a few years progress does.

    I was wondering why Leica feel the need to bring this camera into their stable. It does fill a niche hole, Leica fans get to continue to support the brand they love and hopefully it makes Leica money to put back into developing better camera like the M series. But it could also be argued that it dilutes the quality and uniqueness that Leica offer with their other cameras.

    If I had the money, it would be a nice feeling to own it over the panny, and they do hold their resale value too.

    As an owner of an M9, would you use this as a backup, or second camera at all, or would you go for an X1 or your trusty Oly?

  33. @Chris, yea, amazing what a little compact will do if I just say I liked it. Wow. Anyway, yes buying the Leica does cost more, and yes the Panny is the better deal but for those who want THIS camera with it’s zoom, video, etc then they have a choice. The Leica will in fact have a better resale value. We see this with the D-Lux 4 and the warranty/software/name adds to it’s value. So instead of wasting our energy moaning about it being too expensive or saying I lost my credibility by saying it’s a decent camera (which it is) why don’t we instead think about it as just another option for those who enjoy Leica? No, it’s not for everyone but I know of at least two people shooting with this camera and they couldn’t be happier. It all comes down to what YOU like and enjoy.

    This is not aimed at you Chris, just rambling! But would I choose this as a backup over the Oly? No, simply because I prefer faster glass and do not need the long zoom for what I do. I’d rather have the D-Lux 4 with its F2 lens and shorter zoom range though I really enjoy the video from the V-Lux. One reason why I said that the V-Lux would make for a great vacation camera.

    Thanks for the comment!

  34. everyone can say what they will but end of the day the panny version has been sold out in my area, pany cant send them fast enough which should say something to the quality of the Vlux.

  35. yeah, you’re an ugly monkey, ha-ha!

  36. Some of you guys are not getting it. Leica is an elite name. People who buy photographic prints are often impressed by brand. Steve put up some photos that could be sold. Let’s say that the Arizona Tourism Bureau (or whatever they call their tourism dept.) wants to buy a photo like the one of the Arizona sign. Let’s say that they ask people to submit photos for possible purchase. “Leica” is going to sound a lot more impressive than “Panasonic” because it is the name of a traditional, and well regarded, camera maker.

    On the other hand I wonder if there may be situations where a Leica branded camera might make one more a target for thieves simply because many assume that Leica=rich.

  37. Another thing. There is no reason to get nasty. This is a free site. It’s fine to disagree, but personal attacks aren’t fun to read and they don’t do anything constructive. When has a personal attack ever worked to really change anyone’s opinion?

  38. While I’m not sure I’d pay this much more for the red dot, it is much prettier than the Panasonic, and it will hold it’s value better, like Steve says.

  39. I loved your review of this camera. There are very few reviews available except for a few lucky Germans on YouTube. This may be the only chance I have of getting a Leica at a reasonable price.

  40. @Websurf90 – Glad someone liked it! Ha ha. Thanks for reading, and the comment.

  41. Steve, I feel for you on this. You must have just cringed knowing what was coming when you hit send on this one. I think you do a great job on your site. I think you are extremely objective when it comes to Leica. I bought the X1 despite already owning a G1 and reading your review where you said you would not be selling your Pen for the X1. I think the IQ on the X1 is much better then the M 4/3 rds and for me it is worth the price difference. It was not for you. Leica will sell loads of the V-Lux 20s because of the red dot. Leica could charge a premium to sell disposables if they put a red dot on them. If someone thinks that is dumb, don’t buy the camera. No need to get nasty with Steve.

  42. Hello guys

    I owned a D-Lux4 it took great pics and loved the quality of contrast and color. Then i bought a Panasonic ZS7 and was thinking i might get an upgrade cuz it’s the same camera as the VLUx-20 but was very disappointed with the quality overall. I am an amateur photographer by the way. The D-LUX4 was much nicer in quality. Can someone tell me why? Thanks :)

  43. Hey Tristan, I believe it’s all in the lens. The D-Lux 4 has a faster F2 lens that is NOT a super zoom. Usually, when you get into the mega zoom lenses the quality suffers. It’s a trade off between versatility and quality. Thanks

    Steve

  44. Thanks for the fine review Steve.

    The camera is intriguing given the big zoom range that retains true wide angle and decent quality throughout. I think Panny/Leica tripped in two regards: no RAW and a pixel density TWICE that of the LX3/DLux4 (24 vs 50 MP/cm2). Had they included RAW and spec’d a better chip they’d have my wallet open in a heartbeat.

    I do understand the cameras have different missions and this one impresses for what it is, but I’ll await the LX3 successor to see whether it’s a significant step forward from what’s presently my favorite compact. What would really cement it for me would be a connector for the GF1’s LVF1 finder. That would make the LX3 just about perfect.

    Cheers,

    Rick

  45. Thanks for this review. It would have been interesting to compare image quality of the Leica V-Lux 20 and the Panasonic TZ-10. Since the only difference is in the software and the body with the red dot, I guess that the difference in IQ is very small.
    For me, the price difference clearly speaks for the Panasonic. In Switzerland where I live, the Panasonic sells for 399 CHF. Photoshop Elements 8 sells for 109 CHF and for 49 CHF you can extend the guarantee of your TZ10 to 3 years -> Total costs: 557 CHF.
    The Leica V-Lux 20 sells for 750 CHF.
    Considering that the person behind the camera is the one who takes the picture, it would be an illusion to think that the Leica makes better pictures than the Panasonic. So I would buy the Panny.

  46. Oh! And one thing I wanted to add: While it is true that “real” Leica cameras, like the M-Series have an excellent resale price, this has not been demonstrated to be the case for the Leica branded Panasonic cameras.

    • But it has! The D-Lux 4 has a much better resale value than the L-X3 :)

      • Well, I checked on ebay (Europe), where I found no D-Lux 4 and two LX3 for sale, one was at a fixed price of 150 Euro. For the other, the present bid was 2 (two) Euro.
        I conclude that used Leica cameras are rather rare, and of course everything, which is rare, is expensive. So I admit that you are right.
        I still wonder if the resale price of a Leica D-Lux 4 or V-lux 20 remains stable in 5 years, as it is with the older Leica M Series or other true Leica’s.

  47. Why would anyone want to sell a D-Lux 4?! *gasp* :)

    • As a historical note, I got my LX3 in December ’08 for $400. For most of ’09 they were in short supply in the States and routinely sold for full retail: $500. (DLux4s went for about $600.) At any time during that stretch I could have gotten my money back, to the penny, which is very odd for a basically disposable piece of consumer electronics.

      Panny took a lot of heat for not keeping up with demand, but they had to have enjoyed having an unanticipated hit on their hands. Nobody really knows whether the shortage was intentional on their part (I doubt it) but it wasn’t until the S90 was released that supply caught up to demand and prices again softened. I’ve since seen them new for as low as $360 for silver.

      p.s. Does anybody actually use PS Elements?

  48. […] } I don’t think I wanna do a review for my V-Lux 20. Why? Cause I’m lazy. Just go to stevehuffphoto.com to read his comprehensive review. See […]

  49. Hi All,

    I bought this camera knowing that there is Panasonic twin.I have read lots of discussions about Panasonic vs Leica versions and too be honest I bought it because it is a Leica, its about the name and yes I do agree that the Photo Shop Elements and warranty does not justify the additional cost of the Leica.

    Leica knows that there is people out there like myself that would buy because of the name only. I guess its a matter of personal taste and affordability.

    @Steve – good review,I always enjoy reading your reviews.

  50. Thanks for a very helpful review. I adore my D-Lux 4 and rarely leave home without it although I was wondering about replacing it with the V-Lux 20 for the zoom capability. Your review has helped me decide to stick with the the D-Lux. I don’t want to lose the RAW facility (even though I don’t use it all that often) and if I really want to shoot at 300mm I’ll use my DSLR. My impression is that the V-Lux is more obviously a re-badged Panasonic than the D-Lux which to me is a camera with its own distinct character. Here in the UK the price difference between the V-Lux and the TZ-10 is around GBP200 which I couldn’t possibly justify particularly since I already have Photoshop Elements 8 and that part of the price would be straight down the drain.

    • I have a dlux 4 and I was also thinking of buying a vlux 20 for its zoom capabilities. I am also considering it because I would hope that the led screen would be an improvement on the Dlux 4 because I travel a great deal and in bright sunshine it is difficult to see. Would I be correct in this assumption?

      • @Toni, I’ve had mine for a little over a week, and I spent three days exploring Mauna Kea on Hawai’i Island (13796 feet) and although the screen was a little dark up there in full sunlight, I could still use it to compose the images the way I wanted them. Since I have no experience with the dlux 4, I can’t make a comparison with it. Perhaps find a camera store near you that has one and get them to let you take it outside in the sunlight and try it out.

        Out of the box I’m getting some very nice shots with it. I’m still tweaking settings here and there to get things exactly as I want them, but overall I’m quite impressed with it.

  51. Hi Steve. I was glad to find your blog and this review. I have been thinking of getting this Leica. I am a point and shoot photographer and I like food photography. I have seen examples of the Leica and the panasonic and I have to say I found the leica’s much clearer and sharper. I note most who have commented here are experienced photographers. I am not and have never used manual photography as I have never had a camera with the capability. This camera has. I will learn. The Zoom appeals to me greatly. The low light function appears to be excellent. I don’t know much about cameras so yes I could go for the panasonic but having seen what this leica can produce buying the cheaper option may forever disappoint and therefore maybe an expensive mistake. I have ordered this camera and look forward to using it. Thank you for this review from a very very amateur photographer :)

  52. purchased a V-Lux 20 and took pics with it yesterday. Impressive camera. I used the macro feature to shoot my wifes beautiful flower hanging baskets and experimented with the zoom. GPS was really cool, having ‘tagged’ our neighborhood name! Yes the Leica is more money. Its my first and I have owned plenty of Canon SLR’s, Cannon ‘cool-pics’, Olympus, Nikons etc. I have taken pictures for over 40 years and nothing comes close to this camera. I like how definate the buttons are. From the ‘Off-On to the selections of menus on the camera back. You sure can tell its german ingenuity/made by Panaasonic. I’m told that Leica brands get sent back to Germany for tweaking too. I turn the GPS to AIrport mode to turn it off so as not to drain the battery over time or take the battery out if not going to use it for a while. The leather case is ridiculously priced…..Not the camera. But got one just the same. I thought your review was honest, straightforward and to the point. Its nice to have lower priced option Panasonic. Screw the RED DOT panache. Its one hell of a camera!

  53. Steve: I love your reviews and professional evaluations. I need to purchase 1 point and shoot camera of the best quality. All options are open. Blending image quality, zoom and decent wide lens’, and low light quality hopefully be integrated into the mix. I’m considering the D Lux 20, DLux 4, Panny’s, and Olympus models…

    From your experience, can you provide me with a couple best choices? I’m leaning toward the D-Lux 4 or V Lux 20 . Thanks so much.
    Pete, Bethlehem, PA

  54. Arrived at

  55. […] anyone tried one, bought one…? In my travels I found Steve Huff's review of this camera here The Leica V-Lux 20 Camera Review | STEVE HUFF PHOTOS while I was initially reading his comparison of the Leica X1 review, and wondered if any of you […]

  56. Steve, can leica v-lux 20 take foto with clear at the front and blur at behind scene? sorry i do not know how to say it.

  57. i just bought panasonic tz10. but i love leica very much. i bought it because the salesman was telling me that they r the same features.but i’m a bit regret. perhaps i will go n exchange with leica. i love leica brand, design, n the case.

  58. […] SteveHuffPhoto.com – The Leica V-Lux 20 camera review […]

  59. I love my Leica V-Lux 20. It is a fantastic little camera.

    It was worth it to me to get a real Leica with the real red dot.

    I am extremely happy with it. If you cannot afford it then buy something cheaper.

  60. Great review, I always read the Huffs Leica view as I three. My last the X1, so it looks like I shall get the V-Lux20 to go with the V-Lux1. Keep up the great reviews Steve. Many Thanx. Steve in the UK

  61. I like your site and your reviews and its easy read by many
    myself i am purchasing D Lux 4 in 10 days ,
    regardless what many people say about Panasonic and leica , I agree that both LX3 and D lux 4 are similar cameras and I could summarise myself as follows
    1- if I am going choose between Leica D Lux 4 and Panasonic LX3 ——- then I go for Leica D Lux 4
    2- if I am going to choose between Leica V Lus 20 and Panasonic TZ-10 — then I go for Panasonic

    as a person I will go always for Leica and i can argue that Panasonic name is not made for the camera worls but leica does
    Panasonic make many other products other than cameras so if you care about the name then Leica is the brand to follow , , here you are buying a camera name and not a house consumer electronics product like Panasonic

    I have talked to the dealer in my area and they told me that they are expecting the D Lux 5 to be out soon

  62. Thanks so much for the review of the Leica V-Lux 20. I have been trying to decide between this camera and the Canon G11. I don’t like hauling my DSLR around all the time and would like something more compact. I just cannot get past the price on the Leica and can’t get past the 5X zoom on the G11, but love the feel of it and the retro look, not to mention I am a huge fan of Canon products. I do agree that resale value is a consideration though and in that respect, you really can’t go wrong with Leica.
    I find the reviews and feedback very helpful and really appreciate the info!

  63. Steve,

    Thanks for a great review of the V-Lux 20.
    I can now go ahead and order it from B & H Photo.
    I also read your excellent review of the Leica X-1.
    Best wishes,

    Silas Mathews(Mr)

  64. It’s very useful review, yoru information gave me the crystal clear understanding in what/who it is for Thank you so much.

  65. Hi Steve, thank you for your professional and personal review on the Leica V-Lux 20 – highly appreciated. It seems not go in my head why some readers attacking you personally for presenting your personal observations about this little magic box.

    I see the cost of a brand as a direct Earned Value for intelligent investment in Research & Development. The company Leica does not produce mass-market items – it is only starting recently doing that with help of a ‘Leica’ – admiring Panasonic. Most consumers do not understand that beautiful crafted mechanics like Rolls Royce cars (BWM), Leica cameras (Panasonic) , Herend Porcelan (no buyer yet) etc. went financially into underperformance and were bought by the economic successful companies. The pleasant side-effect is that we can continue to enjoy that everlasting quality craftsmanship… under their new bosses names. Obviously, the economics are against the Leica – and so many go for the Panasonic. It is, as rightfully pointed out, now up to the buyer’s choice: Leica or Panasonic. I decided to support that craftsmanship passion of Leica – that funds with that profit margin their existence. Otherwise, one day – we all have a Panasonic that has only the brand ‘Leica’ on the lens – without really having that craftsmanship…

    Cheers – Max

    PS: I finally bought today the Leica V-Lux 20 and concur with you observations, a nifty little thing to put in your pockets. Its just a lovely happy snappy camera. And I am looking forward to your next reviews.

  66. Steve…

    Many thanks for the very balanced review – order placed and eagerly awaited.

    James

  67. Hi Steve,

    As I’m looking at pictures of both the Leica/Panasonic models D-Lux 5 and V-Lux 20, I shudder to think that they might suffer the same fate as my beloved Lumix ZS-1. Purchased new 15 months ago, I was very happy with this camera. I handled it very carefully and never abused it.

    I was on the verge of going with an LX-5/D-Lux 5 when it began to malfunction. The zoom mechanism (which appears to the the exact same mechanism I’m seeing on those two models) sticks when zooming out (W). The little lever correctly springs back to center, but something inside thinks you’re still holding it off to the side. At that point the camera is locked up. Sometimes it will free itself up (after anywhere from 5 to 30 seconds or so) and sometimes you just have to power down.

    Lumix support says for $195.00 they will fix/replace it. Seems a bit steep for a camera that cost me $229.00. SInce I’ve babied this camera, I concluded that there were some possible build quality issues with this mechanism and I was concerned that the same issue may rear it’s ugly head with one of the other models that share this same mechanism.

    Instead of the LX5/D-Lux 5, I bought a Nikon D3100 instead. Loving it!

    Just wanted to share my experience. If you love these cameras, you might want to consider a service contract in case you experience the same problem as I.

    PS – Your reviews are very insightful. Thank you.

    rick

  68. Why not just buy 2 Panasonics and Photoshop elements 8 . You will have the exact same product (ecept fot the cosmetics) and will spend less money. I recently purchased one for $257.00 with free shipping from an established,reputable company!

  69. I’m looking for advice.

    I’ve been lucky enough to be an Leica R user for the past 20 years. I currently own two R8 bodies and four lenses: 35, 50, 90 and 135. The 50 and the 90 get the most use. The time has finally come to move to digital, and I’m looking for advice. With about $1500 to spend, what would you recommend? I’m a stickler for image quality, and I prefer BW to color, especially since the demise of Kodachrome. I’m seeking high quality images for miscellaneous family photographs, from vacation landscapes to annual birthday portraits to indoor action shots of my daughter competing at dog shows. Superzoom is not a necessity, as wildlife and and sports zooming (high-school stadium or bigger) aren’t priorities.

    Any suggestions? I’d be willing to sell one body and the 135 lens, but that will probably net $500 at most. So you might say my budget could push $2000, but I’d prefer to keep it closer to $500.

    I appreciate your honest, unbiased appraisals.

  70. OK, so how about some reasons to buy the Panasonic?

    1. It’s much cheaper.

    2. Multiple colors to choose from. It comes in the standard black that all cameras from the dawn of photography has come in. But the Panny also comes in silver, blue, red, gold and brown.

    3. The Panny allow video to be shot in AVCHD lite and MJPEG mode. The review leaves the reader thinking the Panny only shoots in AVCHD lite mode, which is an error in the review. AVCHD is H.264 video compression, as in your Blu-Ray disks. H.264 is a real benefit as it allows more recording time for the same about of storage bits with as good quality as MJPEG. MJPEG is past its prime. H.264 is now.

    4. You gotta love Panasonic. They are a large company who take pride in their cameras. Its nice to see a company that comes out with a product that every reviewer I have read gives the ZS7 a pretty nice review. Now we have Leica taking the same camera, sticking their name on it and selling it for twice the price. To me that lowers the Leica brand image. The Leica brand caters to the enthusiastic photographer. But the V-Lux 20 doesn’t offer anything you can’t get in the Panny, even less (no AVCHD). You think Leica would have offered some new feature to the enthusiast market, like RAW support. But no, they just add their name to the camera knowing their name on the camera will make them some bucks. Shame on Leica.

    5. If you work hard for your money, as most of us do, why not buy the Panny. You get a better camera (AVCHD video mode) and you can use the money you saved by not buying the V-Lux 20 to some better purpose.

  71. Let me continue to the list of reasons for buying the Panasonic.

    6. According to the V-Lux 20 user manual I downloaded off the Leica website. MJPEG video recording mode has a continuous recording limit of 2GB, which is 8 min 20 sec in HD (1280×720) resolution. The Panny also has this limitation in MJPEG mode. But placing the Panny in AVCHD mode you can shoot HD video until your storage card space is exhausted, your battery is exhausted, or the most likely reason, your shoulder gives out.

    7. As far as I can tell this camera is designed by Panasonic, manufactured by Panasonic, with some help in the design of the lens by Leica. I think its accurate to say when you buy the V-Lux 20 you are basically buying a rebadged Panasonic (yes I know it has some differences in the firmware, like the removal of AVCHD video mode). People go to a Mercedes dealership to buy a Mercedes car not a Ford that has a Mercedes decal glued on it.

  72. ok this camera take great picture in daylight .but in night it don’t take much good picture .

    but i do believe if you want a good picture at night you need a very powerfull flash which will also take your battery out quickly and it means less picture or video when in a party .

    and its really take bad picture if in front of the lens there is any light source .i think flash is not powerful enough to take good picture at night .

    anybody using sony cybershot how it take picture at night

  73. The luck and irony of life! After having said I wouldn’t pay the extra $ for the Vlux over the TZ, guess what I got for Christmas from my awesome GF? A VLux!! Totally stoked!! Woohoo!

  74. Steve, many thanks for your careful, thoughtful analysis, comparisons and insights. You have done a great job of comparing cameras….and addressed some of my questions when looking at Leica VLux, DLux choices. Indeed, these are high classes dilemmas to have, and I appreciate your honing in on a broad range of key issues that matter to photographers. I will be sure to inform B&H when I select the camera to buy of your help in the decision making.

    With best wishes for a good 2011 and look forward to reading more great reviews.

  75. Having had to deal with a wife who would pay twice the price for a “name brand” piece of jewelry over an identical looking “knockoff” , I would say Calling that model a Leica is like calling online classes going to college, the George Foreman grill a barbecue, or Cybersex making love

  76. Want to replace canon powershot with similar sizer compact.

    For best image quality, would you go with D-Lux 5, or the V-Lux 20. Don’t need all that zoom.

    Will buy through your site.

    Thanks

  77. Hi Steve,

    I do mostly travel photography and have been looking for a compact cam that will do justice to the amazing places and people i encounter. Lugging around an FX cam sometimes takes a toll on my back. My choices are the X1, d-lux, v-lux or should I wait for the Fuji X100?

    Thanks

  78. […] as with the V-Lux 20: the conflict if you could recommend it over the cheaper, nearly identical sibling, the Panasonic […]

  79. Great review! I need something like the V-Lux 20 which I saw today but should I wait for the 30 and pay more? I need the smallest camera possible (with good zoom, etc.). Also just read that the Panasonic ZS10 is the clone of the V-Lux 30 is that true? And are the actual lenses the same quality? Sounds like the 20 and 30 weigh almost the same and are almost the same size….Thank you! Pam

  80. I am thinking of this camera ONLY because it is a free gift offered from my company after 25 years, (27years now). My other choice is a Canon T3, which seems to be a good, but not outstanding, entry level DSLR, along with some cheap photo printer. I’m not professional as most probably are on this site, but with $200 more of my own cash, I could buy such a better entrance level DSLR. So I think I’ll take the V-Lux 20, despite it’s less than spectacular reviews I’ve read, and save for a better DSLR. Maybe the Canon T2i they offer me free at 30 years, maybe a clock. Am I stupid for picking this camera over a entry level mediocre Canon T3 for free? Time will tell.

  81. Maybe too expensive. Images lacks of sharpness and shows some digital sharpness enhancement artifacts. I would’t definetly not buy it.

  82. Okay here is my two cents, I really don’t know any of the camera technical jargon as most of the people here. But anyway I decided to buy a good camera this year and started reading reviews and landed on this site. First I have to say Steve I love your reviews very insightful. Because of that I bought the v-lux 40 sure it was more but wow the pictures are amazing. Besides I felt I was getting something of value are their cheaper cameras sure there is, But I wanted a Leica I heard that they were the best, so I said what the hell go for it. You only go around once and I am quite happy with my purchase, no regrets here. Thanks Steve your review of the v-lux 20 help me in making my decision.

  83. Thank you, I will buy the leica because of the red dot.

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