Here is a quick post by Ashwin Rao that I thought would be cool to publish this afternoon…
The Leica Look
So what is the Leica Look? Does it exist? Why should we care? I have debated, on my own and with others, just what this 3 word string means. Yesterday, when speaking with a pro photographer at a sporting event, he remarked, on hearing that I owned a Leica, that he had once owned an M3 and Summicron, and felt that there was something indefineable, some clarity or “glow” or what have you, that Leica lenses impart on the images its lenses see, somthing that makes the photo uniquely “Leica”. He currently shoots with Canon pro gear, as it suits his needs, but that misty far away look in his eyes suggested that he wished to have his M3 back. He went so far as to say that looking at a series of images, he could typically tell what images came from Leica.
Last night, on returning home, I grazed through some images taken earlier in the evening, and came accross this one (processed in Lightroom 3). There’s a certain roundedness, a certain 3 dimensionality, a certain sharpness in the focused areas and softness in the background, that’s hard to find elsewhere. By no means do I mean toi present this image as an example remarkable photography. Rather, to me, there’s something here in which I clearly see the ” Leica Look “….
This image was taken with modern glass, the Leica Summilux 50 mm f/1.4 Asph, on the Leica M9. It’s a well corrected lens, maybe the best 50 mm lens ever produced, though it was shot wide open (thus revealing some of its slight aberrations). By no means does this lens exhibit blooming, flare, or low contrast, all of which have been ascribed as imparting the “Leica glow”….rather, there’s something else here….
Anyways, I am surprised that, given the number of threads on this topic, that Leica hasn’t embraced this concept, from a marketing perspective, to sell more gear or to further impart the mystique that is so much of the Leica logos…What a catchy phrase, “That Leica look”, could be, when printed on a brochure. Maybe it’s our collective mass hysteria, or our subjective over-rationalization and over-dramatization to justify our expensive purchases….I have tried to see past these things, and still feel that Leica offers something unique, and it’s in the glass and how the glass interacts with film and the M8/9 sensors. It’s there, hidden in the details, yet so obvious that we are drawn to it…..right?
One added complication for me….I see the Leica look accross generations of lenses….I see it in the old Leica designs of WWII. I see it in Mandler-Era lenses like the summicron 50, Summilux 50 pre-asph, and the legendary 75 mm f/1.4 Summilux and 50 mm f/1.0 Noctilux lenses….I still see it in todays Peter Karbe-designed lenses….so despite different production methods, different lens designers, despite age, it seems that Leica continues to offer something fresh and unique…something that I finds gives my photography depth and meaning.
Sooooo, what do you guys think? Any thoughts? Any examples that you wanna share? I think that there may be a chance to come up with something need here, and hope you guys have thoughts to share…
I like your website and I read it everyday. Two months ago I went to India. It was my first trip with my Leica M9 I bought in last June. I hope you’ll like these three shots and others on my website here.
I hope you’ll publish it. It was an impressive trip with a stunning culture and photogenic people.
Modern life is wonderful isn’t it? Our cars have all the mod cons that make driving as convenient as possible; we can fit our entire music collection in our pocket; digital cameras are as good as can be (until next year’s models come out) and of course lenses are so well designed that some need to resort to studying the intricacies of MTF charts to pick a perfect lens from a popper.
But classics can be great – full of character, charm and less clinical. Driving cars without power steering and all the creature comforts that we have come to expect these days feels so refreshing and “raw”; iPods are great, but I do love the warm sound that you get from playing vinyl at times, and then of course I love the look you get from film taken with a Leica M using some classic Leica lenses.
Leica M2 with Summilux 35mm classic – great combo
The Summilux 35mm is just one of those classic lenses I enjoy using so much. This design lasted several decades (1961-1997 – most of them made in their plant in Canada), superseded by the Aspherical Summilux in the 90′s. The one I have was made after the slight revisions around 1967. For some Leica fans I know, this lens lives in the shadows of the 35mm Summicron (often given the label of “The King of Bokeh”), but then there are others who adore this lens for the unique way it renders an image.
Although it’s not merely as simple as that, there’s more than one reason to love this lens and another reason is the simple fact that this lens is so compact. The diminutive size makes this lens truly pocketable without making it look like you’re happy to see someone. Another plus is that you won’t get much viewfinder blockage, which is something that the latest Summilux-M 35mm ASPH will do.
Look, it looks quite little even on the M9!
“But how sharp is it?” – that’s the question on a lot of people’s lips when looking to purchase a new bit of glass. If you want stunningly sharp when wide open, then you better look at the Aspherical version as this classic version will not offer the same level of sharpness at f/1.4 as the current Summilux-M 35mm ASPH. It’s soft, but in a likable way. Kinda like creme brulee – soft, with a certain smoothness. It produces what some people term as “glow” or “Leica glow” if you will, which is a nice effect but not for everyone. Check the photo below for an example – I took this wide open at f/1.4, focused on my friend’s glasses frame (well, the edges of the lenses) – and you can see how his shirt has a slight “glow” to it and the bokeh is pretty pleasing.
However, the contrast is kinda low at f/1.4, but stopping it down to f/2-f/2.8 improves the contrast. Of course, stopping it down to f/2.8 greatly increases the sharpness throughout the frame also. At f/8 it’s superbly sharp even by modern standards, edge-to-edge sharpness.
I especially find the low contrast of the lens quite nice for B&W work
Bokeh – don’t we all love to discuss this topic? This lens does render the out of focus areas pleasantly although not perfect. Sometimes you get a little dot in the middle of the “bokeh balls”, which can be a bit distracting at times. But it does that beautiful transition from in-focus to the out-of-focus parts that Leica lenses do so damn well. If you want truly pleasing bokeh, stopping it down to f/2.8 makes things rather bokehlicious. This classic ‘lux has 10 aperture blades versus the 9 aperture blades of the ASPH version.
The closest focus distance of 1m can be limiting at times, unless you don’t want to get so close that you can smell what conditioner they use…
However, not everyone wants to stop it down to get what they consider “pleasing” performance. Also, something that might bug potential users is the 1 meter (3ft) closest focusing distance, which is often not close enough. A wide-angle like a 35mm pushes the subject away enough as it is, so sometimes at 1m it feels like you haven’t got close enough to the subject. Not an ideal lens if you’re sat at a dinner table taking photos, pushing your chair back so that you can get that shot, inadvertently causing the waiter to trip over and knock their teeth out in the process.
Suppose it’s better than the smell of feet. This was taken at f/4
Also, the “dreamy” look can be an acquired taste. Someone who is so used to driving a car with power everything is not going like driving a stripped-out racer and the same applies to someone who is so used to using modern lenses. Wide-open, the corners are a bit soft. Coma? Wide-open, yes. It’s not for those who like to spend time studying MTF chart that is for sure.
Nice and sharp at f/5.6
But, as Steve said in his review of the 50mm Summitar from the 1940′s, there is something about classic lenses and their “MOJO”, which I think this Summilux has by the bucketload. It performs nice on an M9 (note that Leica advise that some versions can not be mounted) as well as with a film M, in terms of economics and when I look at the results on my monitor/on the light table. Apart from the fact the excellent performance when stopped down and that it shows hardly any distortion, it has the ability to produce some very interesting shots in a world of clinical sharpness and that’s why it warms the cockles of my heart.
From Steve: Thanks Kai, enjoyed the article on this classic lens! BTW, for those who do not know, Kai is the guy who makes the killer videos for Digital Rev, and you can see themHERE. His M9 video is superb!
Because of your site I am lusting for a Leica M9 or a Leica X1.
Because of your site I am now trying to shoot my Nikon D90 and my Panasonic LX3 rangefinder style. Meaning I turned off the annoying beeping AF sounds as well as the LCD at the back of the camera and am now focusing manually.
Because of your site, I sold all my Nikon zoom lenses and have focused in Nikon Primes. I currently have a 24mm 2.8 (36mm equivalent), 35mm 1.8 (52.5mm equivalent), 50mm 1.8 (75mm equivalent) and 85mm 1.8 (127mm equivalent).
I wish I could afford an M9 or an X1. But being from the Philippines, multiply the current prices of an M9 which is almost $7,000(USD) by P43(PHP) and you get the picture : (
Two years ago I was excited to discover that a Leica D-Lux 4 was similarly made by Panasonic. Since I was saving to upgrade my Nikon D70 to the D90 I was again short for the elusive Leica brand. So I settled with the Panasonic LX3(after all it is “like a” Leica : ).
After discovering this site last year I am once again haunted by the Leica brand. Like everyone else here…I long to shoot with just one camera and two lenses…heck I will even settle for one… the 35mm Summarit. I do shoot professionally on occasion, mainly still life and portraiture. I am an AD man by trade. Lately, I am focusing more on my photography. I love street shooting which is probably why I am lusting for a Leica M9 or M8.2 or an X1.
While I don’t have the budget for the X1 I will try to shoot RF style with the gear that I do have. Recently, I bought an external VF for my LX3, a 25mm Voitlander and it has helped me compose well. Below are some shots I took(recently) with just the LX3 while on my honeymoon in Macau and HongKong.
I challenged myself to just shoot wide open at F2 at 24mm. As usual, the LCD was off as well as playback(after each shot). I will shoot for the day and review my shots at night. I guess in a way I was simulating shooting with film on a Leica RF.
BELOW, Title: On a gloomy day ( It rained on our first day in Macau)
This shot was a happy accident. I just wanted to get a shot of the moody rain with the bridge and some buildings on the horizon, when this man walked in my frame. Details: ISO 80, F2.0 24mm, Aperture priority, Panasonic LX3. Shot in color, processed in Photoshop and Silver Effects pro.
BELOW, Title: Waiting for the bus. (Hong Kong, Kowloon side)
My wife was shopping and I was bored. So I stood in front of this street and liked the perspective lines of the words “Bus Lane.” This is what I mean by focusing on composition. When looking through an external VF all that’s left is how to compose a scene. I enjoy this kind of shooting.
Details: ISO 80, F2.0 24mm, Aperture priority, Panasonic LX3. Shot in color, processed in Photoshop and Silver Effects pro.
BELOW, Title: Venetian Macau
Again, waiting for my wife while she shopped. This was at night so they turned down the lights to simulate evening light. There was a small spotlight at camera left and it gave interesting shadows on the people walking by. I like the way the LX3 handles lowlight. There wasn’t much post processing done here except convert to B&W using silver effects pro. I was surprised at the 3D or hdr(ish) effect of this scene. Tip always shoot in RAW and in Color. I like the option of converting to b&w later.
Details: ISO 400, F2.0 24mm, aperture priority, Panasonic LX3.
Hey guys! It’s getting super close! October 15th is almost here and that is the day of the first ever Steve Huff Photo NYC Inspiration Meet up/Workshop. Just sold the last spot but also had one cancelation today so there is ONE SPOT STILL OPEN for the 15th! As of right now, there will be 19 readers from this site who will be in attendance. If anyone wants the last spot, email me NOW!
For all of you who are attending, you were just sent and e-mail with details, information, and the order of events throughout the day. There will be a presentation or two, some discussion, lots of shooting, some critiquing and a live update to this site on the evening of the 15th where I will showcase the images taken from all of us during the day.
I will have some Leica gear on hand to try out and we will be shooting in the Time Square area and anywhere else that looks interesting. The theme is INSPIRATION and Street Shooting and I will personally be shooting with a Leica M9, a Panasonic G2 and maybe a film M as well. All cameras and all skill levels will be in attendance and it will be a great day for all of us!
I can’t wait to meet everyone! To those heading to NYC, I will see you soon!
Man oh man! The past few days I have been out of town in Chicago and shooting with a Panasonic G2 camera, which I is a camera I never thought I would enjoy for many reasons, but mainly due to its styling and form factor. Who would have guessed that after a couple of weeks with the G2 that I would grow to love it so much that I would decide to purchase it along with a 20 1.7 and 45-200 lens set! Yep, after two weeks of shooting with this camera and the two lenses I decided that I HAD TO HAVE ONE for myself. Now, don’t stop reading thinking this is a slam dunk for the camera because there are still some things I do NOT like about it and I will go over these things (see the “cons” section) in this jam packed review.
If there is one thing I enjoy it is writing about camera I really like, which is how this blog started almost two years ago with the Leica M8 review. I do not dig writing tech reviews on cameras that bore me, nor do I enjoy writing negative reviews on cameras that suck… and well..also bore me. Nope, I enjoy writing about cameras that I really enjoy shooting. The cameras that have character, a great usability factor, and put out really great image quality. The G2 is one of those cameras so this is why I decided to review it and write about it.
The Panasonic G2 is a mirror less semi-small camera made by Panasonic and it uses the Micro 4/3 format which is the same as the Olympus E-p1, E-p2 and E-Pl1. It’s also the same size sensor as the Panasonic G1, GH1 and the upcoming GH2 and they all have a 2X crop factor which means if a lens is a 20mm lens on Micro 4/3, that lens becomes a 40mm equivalent, so it is like using a 40mm in regards to magnification. This also means a lens like the 45-200 becomes a 90-400mm, which can be quite useful.
The G2 is an improved version of the popular G1 which lacked video. The G2 now includes 720P HD video capabilities and a new touch screen LCD. Micro 4/3′s has quite a few fans and probably an equal number of haters. The format has its fans because most of the M4/3 cameras are very small but put out superb image quality that is ALMOST up there with most APS-C DSLR’s. I SAY ALMOST because there are a couple of areas where the M4/3 format is lacking, and one of those is dynamic range. The other is high ISO noise.
Me, I have been a fan of Micro 4/3 since the start with the Olympus E-P1. There are those drawbacks though, like limited Dynamic Range (which can lead to blown highlights) and dodgy high ISO performance (usually up to 800 is good on M4/3) but with each generation of camera, Micro 4/3 seems to be getting better and better and for me, the G2 is probably the best of the bunch that I have tried to date. I just love this gorilla picture I snapped with the G2 and 45-200 lens, fully zoomed to 200mm and handheld at 1/15th of a second…
Panasonic G2 and 45-200 at 200mm – 1/15s, ISO 400, handheld, f/4.3 – Click image for larger and better version
This review will go over the cameras features, the cameras capabilities, and the cameras strengths and weaknesses. It will not include and B.S. charts, graphs or technical tests but will feature loads of real world photos shot with the camera and the Panasonic 20 1.7 and 45-200 lenses. The entire cost for the camera and these two lenses is UNDER $1300 and this gets you into a system that can produce beautiful photographs without breaking the bank, or having the weight of a large DSLR and pro lenses. I have to say, the little $250 Panasonic 45-200 is one hell of a lens for the money. It may be slow but its results are terrific. The shot of the gorilla above was handheld at 1/15ths at 200mm!! (which is the equivalent of 400mm on a full frame camera). Not bad huh?
I have read a couple reviews of this camera and as usual, came away disappointed in the reviews. Why? Well, why is it that most reviewers these days seem to rush out the review with mediocre images that look like they ran out in and grabbed some snapshots in one hours time? They then write a short review saying the camera sucks. Unreal. Are there any reviewers out there these days that care about TAKING PHOTOS and really pushing the camera to see what it can do? I put up my fair share of “snapshots” but when I write a review I usually have a couple of weeks of daily use under my belt. Usually. :) So do not expect this review to mirror all of the rest as this one is based on taking photos, not testing for sharpness and speed. Therefore, it may be a little more positive than others. When I snap photos I do not worry about the super geeky details, I just love it or I do not. If the quality is there, and everything else is there then I enjoy it. Again, if I try a camera that I hate, I usually do not review it or write that much about it.
Panasonic G2 with the 20 1.7 lens at f/1.7 – ISO 250 at 1/60s – Click for much larger version that looks MUCH better!
The Panasonic G2 and why to choose it over a cheaper G1
The previous model of the G2 was the G1 and I can honestly say that I never really owned that camera or used it for more than a couple of shots in a store. I always dismissed it as I was a fan of the Olympus PEN series for their cool styling and sleek bodies, but now the G2 has converted me to Panasonic and mainly due to the swivel LCD and the EVF, which really rock! I also seem to prefer the color I have been getting out of the G2 over the E-P2, which is saying quite a bit as Olympus are known for their color.
The newer G2 is not perfect though as it does not give you manual control over video like the higher end GH1 and soon to be released GH2 BUT it does record really good HD video as is, where the older G1 did not even do that. The G2 also has a new touchscreen control system which to many seems like a gimmick but I have to say that I used it several times over the course of the last two weeks. It’s awesome for focusing. It also uses the same 12.1 Megapixel sensor as the G1 so in theory, the IQ should be the same.
But the facts here are that the G1 is about $500 right now (if you can still find one new) and the G2 is $700. Why should you buy the G2 over the G1? Well, you shouldn’t if you do not want an HD Movie mode or a touch screen! Yea, save yourself $200 if you just want a really good camera that gives you DSLR quality in a MUCH smaller package. The G2 seems like it may have better dynamic range that the G1 but others have reported that the IQ is the same. I can not say as I did not use the G1 much at all. I can say that the G2 is giving me better IQ than the Olympus Micro 4/3 offerings, which is saying a lot as I really enjoy the E-P2.
Here are three shots I took in the Zoo with the 45-200 lens. The 1st at 200, the next two at 45…
All three shots above taken with the Panasonic G2 and 45-200 lens at 45mm, f/4 and ISO 100. The last one was converted to B&W using Silver Efex Pro. You can see that the Dynamic Range is limited with Micro 4/3 as his nose ended up blown out in image #2. Still, I like the image. Click on any of them for a larger view.
FEATURES OF THE PANASONIC G2
(taken from the feature list at B&H Photo)
Double Live View
Full-time Live View works with both the LCD and the Live View Finder. This means that, no matter which way you shoot, you see before you shoot how adjusting the exposure compensation, white balance, aperture and even the shutter speed will affect the image. On the G2, both the LCD and the Live View Finder boast true Full-time Live View capability. The Live View Finder has large, approximately 1.4x (0.7x in 35mm format), magnification and an approximate 100% field of view. This combines with 1,440,000-dot equivalent resolution to make it easy to get the exact image that you see through the lens.
3.0″ Free-Angle LCD
The large 3.0″ (7.6cm) LCD rotates 180° horizontally and 270° vertically, making it easy for you to capture dynamic shots from extreme angles without getting into an awkward position. And when the lighting around you changes, the LCD backlighting level automatically changes too, so you get comfortable, easy-on-the-eyes viewing at all times.
The Lumix G2 is the system camera with touch-control shooting. Just touch the LCD to indicate the subject, and the G2 focuses on it instantly. Choose from four AF modes to match the conditions. You can also operate the auto focus and shutter release at the same time with just a touch, for a completely new way to shoot.
Adjust Exposure Meter with a Touch
You can adjust the exposure compensation by sliding your finger on the aperture and shutter speed settings in the exposure meter shown on the LCD. The range in which appropriate exposure is not possible is shown in red, so you can intuitively grasp the corresponding aperture and shutter speed combinations.
One-Touch HD Movie Recording
The hybrid Lumix G2 lets you take both high quality photos and HD movies. You can shoot breathtaking HD (1280x 720) movies in AVCHD Lite (MPEG-4 AVC/H.264). You can record for a longer time without running out of memory because AVCHD Lite stores less data than Motion JPEG while maintaining stunning image clarity and detail. A dedicated button on the top lets you instantly start recording movies while shooting photos, without having to make any extra settings.
Motion Picture P Mode
Motion Picture P mode makes it extremely easy to shoot beautiful HD movies. You can freely set the degree of soft focusing in the background to capture rich, emotionally expressive HD movie images.
Intelligent Scene Selector
The Intelligent Scene Selector function automatically selects the most suitable Scene mode for the shooting situation you are in. These scene modes include: Portrait, Night Portrait, Scenery, Night Scenery, Close-up or Sunset.
This function recognizes the faces of up to three people that have been pre-registered in the camera, and displays their names on the LCD. The Lumix G2 then optimizes the focus and brightness of the recognized faces and captures them clearly and beautifully.
Touch the screen, and the G2 locks on and automatically “tracks” the subject as it moves. Once you focus on your subject, AF Tracking automatically and continuously tracks it and keeps it in focus, even if it moves, until you press the shutter release. This feature is ideal for shooting sports or fast-moving children.
In the Intelligent Exposure mode the camera can correct the brightness in parts of the image that are too dark due to insufficient lighting, backlighting or use of the flash.
Intelligent ISO Control
If the subject moves as you shoot, the Intelligent ISO control automatically adjusts the ISO sensitivity and shutter speed to help prevent subject blur.
My Color Mode
While taking photos the My Color mode makes it easy to capture creative images. Just aim the camera and select any of seven preset effects, including Silhouette, Expressive, Pure and others, while checking the image in Live View. The Custom setting lets you adjust the color, brightness and saturation to your liking, to further expand your creative palette.
The touch screen operation excels not only for shooting but also during playback. Users can touch one thumbnail viewed among many to quickly and easily see the full size of the desired photo. Also, to view images one-by-one, photos can be dragged across the screen to browse as though flipping the pages of a book.
HD Photos and HD Movies with Viera Link Networking
The Lumix G2 is equipped with an HDMI output terminal for direct transmission of digital image and sound signals. Just connect it to an HDTV using a single HDMI mini cable (optional). It’s also easy to enjoy slideshows in which both photos and movies are played according to the recorded timeline. If you have a Viera TV, you can control the camera’s playback functions with Viera’s remote control unit.
Videos with Sound
To complement its high-quality video capabilities, the LUMIX G2 features advanced audio options, as sound is recorded with Dolby Digital Creator (included) and an optional accessory stereo microphone can be attached. A Wind Cut function further enhances the sound as it helps reduce noise caused from background wind.
The Venus Engine HD II incorporates two CPUs. This not only boosts image processing speed, it also helps achieve an exceptional noise-reduction performance. Also, the two CPUs of the Venus Engine HD II allow long-time movie recording in AVCHD Lite while maintaining low power consumption. And the Venus Engine HD II features a new circuit that makes Intelligent Resolution Technology possible too.
Intelligent Resolution Technology
In iA mode, the Lumix G2 automatically identifies parts with outlines, detailed texture areas and soft gradation areas, and optimizes the edge emphasis on the outlines and detailed texture areas while using the Venus Engine noise reduction process to make the soft gradation areas smoother. You can capture stunning images with details you’ve never seen before in both photo and movie recording.
Dust Reduction System
If dust or other foreign matter gets inside the camera when you’re changing lenses, it could cling to the image sensor and show up as a spot in photos. The G2 helps eliminate this possibility by placing a Supersonic Wave Filter in front of the Live MOS sensor. Vibrating around 50,000 times per second, the filter repels dust and other particles. This keeps the image sensor clean at all times and eliminates the need for cumbersome maintenance procedures.
Lumix G Vario 14-42mm f/3.5 Asph./Mega O.I.S.
The Lumix G Vario 14-42mm f/3.5 Asph./Mega O.I.S. lens incorporates Panasonic’s Mega O.I.S. (Optical Image Stabilizer), using gyro sensors built into the lens, to suppress the blur caused by a shaky hand and make it easy to shoot clear photographs even in low-light situations. Adopting an inner-focus system driven by a stepping motor, the superior optical design realizes outstanding smoothness to support the high-speed AF (Auto Focus) system of Lumix G cameras.
Panasonic G2 and the 20 1.7 lens. I shot this as we drove by a church (I was not driving)
OK, so what do all of these features mean for me and my photography?
So let me talk about the features of the G2 that I like.
Double live view – Well, this feature is cool as it basically means you have TWO live views on the camera. One in the beautiful EVF and one on the swiveling swing out LCD. The EVF is brilliant and the only camera where I have seen better is on the new Sony A55 (review soon). I like how you can use the LCD and if you move your eye to the EVF the LCD turns off and automatically switches on the EVF.
Touch Screen – This may seem like a gimmick but it is actually useful. You can touch the LCD to set your focus point and even use it to focus and shoot. When viewing images you can swipe them Iphone style. Great addition to the camera IMO.
HD Video – The G1 may not give you total control over the settings with video like the GH1 and soon to be released GH2 but the video quality is very good (see my sample below) and the only complaint I have is that it records only in mono. For most users this is not an issue as for those who really want great video can move to a GH1, GH2 or something like a Canon 5DII. The G2 has very good HD video quality though.
AF modes and speed – The AF speed of the G2 is very quick and I have not missed any shots due to it being slow or sluggish at all. I am hearing the GH2 is twice as fast meaning it will be instantaneous. The G2 does good with AF and AF Tracking. No complaints!
My Color Modes – I LOVE the Silhouette and Retro color modes on the camera. The Silhouette adds some deep black and a rich color to the image and the retor setting gives your images a 70′s feel. Love them both!
Size and BANG FOR THE BUCK – You guys know I love Leica but I have to give credit where credit is due…this G2 is a FANTASTIC little camera and comes in at $6300 cheaper than a Leica M9 and $1300 cheaper than a Leica X1 which is much less versatile. As for IQ…the M9 beats the X1 and the X1 will beat the G2 but when it is all said and done, at the end of the day the G2 can get close and in some cases produce a nicer looking file than even the X1. With the 20 1.7 lens, the G2 is an amazing tool. I have gotten better images with the G2 and this lens than some of my M9 and 50 Summicron images.
Silhouette mode deepens the black and deepens up the color…
The color is bold and bright – G2 and 20 1.1 lens in Silhouette mode.
Feature wise, the Panasonic G2 has everything the average and even advanced hobbyist could ask for. It does have some weaknesses though so let’s get on with the review with some full size JPEGs, ISO testing and video samples.
The Camera in Real World Use
To some shooters, the #1 thing in a camera and lens combo is the sharpness. Personally, I feel sharpness is over rated and do not judge a camera by how many lines of resolution it can resolve. Some of my fave photos are unsharp and sometimes a picture that is too sharp can not only look harsh, it can be unflattering in portrait situations. The G2 and 20 1.7 lens is a “sharp” combo but it is not over sharp and at f/1.7 it is actually very nice. I reviewed this lens on its own a while ago (can see it here) on the Olympus E-P2 and loved it so I knew I would love it on the G2. This is my fave lens on ANY Micro 4/3 system camera. If you own a M4/3 ca,era, you owe it to yourself to BUY THIS LENS!
Panasonic G2 and 20 1.7 – Shot in Silhouette mode, then converted to B&W with Silver Efex Pro
Panasonic G2 and the 20 1.7
Panasonic G2 and the 20 1.7
FULL SIZE SAMPLES. Low ISO and high ISO…
Here are a couple of full size out of camera JPEGS you can download to check the quality. Keep in mind, these are JPEGS, just out of the camera. One is at ISO 100, one at 400 and the other at 1600!
CLICK ON THE IMAGE FOR FULL SIZE – ISO 100 – 20 1.7 at 2.2
CLICK ON THE IMAGE FOR FULL SIZE – ISO 400 – 20 1.7 lens wide open at 1.7
THE NEXT ONE WAS SHOT WITH IN CAMERA DYNAMIC B&W AND ISO 1600 – CLICK IMAGE FOR FULL SIZE
and a 100% crop
So to these eyes, ISo 100-1600 looks pretty damn good. ISO 1600 does get a little “mushy” especially as the light gets dimmer and darker but in most scenarios it looks really good. I shot hundreds of images with this camera over the last two weeks and not one of the images looked too noisy or bad in any way. For me, the ISO is fine and is all I really need in a camera. Sure, the crazy ISO of some of the newer cameras are great but usually this is never ever needed. The Panasonic G2 delivers great IQ at its base ISO and good IQ up to ISO 800 and even 1600.
The Panasonic G2 comes in Three Colors…Red, Black and Blue.
Yes, I am buying this camera for myself!
The Panasonic G2 is such a fun camera to use I decided to buy this one for myself to have on hand for those times when I need a DSLR style camera. I love the size (which is small), I love the build (which is surprisingly better than you would think) and I love the versatility with its video, interchangeable lenses, and DSLR type abilities. I touched on this in my Panasonic GF1 review (see that here) but when viewing images shot with the G2 I sit here and ask myself if these expensive cameras are really worth the money. This G2 is so good for the money that I HAD TO BUY ONE FOR MYSELF! The ease of use, the output of all of the JPEGS I shot, and the way the camera is made with the controls on the BODY instead of in the menus, and the gorgeous EVF made me jump. I considered waiting for the GH2 but it will be quite a bit more and from what I understand the huge jump in quality will be in the video and not so much in the image quality. The G2 is in the “sweet spot” of the Panasonic Micro 4/3 mount cameras. It is easy to use and easy to get great results. I will review the GH2 though…soon.
VIDEO VIDEO VIDEO!
How about some fun video? The first one is a commercial for the G2 by Panasonic and the second is a video I put together with some quick clips I recorded while in Chicago this past weekend. Enjoy!
Here is a cool TV commercial on the G2. Gotta love it!
and now some of my video samples from this camera…
THE PROS and CONS of the Panasonic G2
The Build and Size is just right.
The EVF is AWESOME and a step above just about anything else out there (besides the new Sony A55)
The Swivel out LCD works great.
The Image Quality is up there with the best of Micro 4/3
Battery life seems good, about 400-450 shots on one charge
Controls are on the body, not hidden inside of a menu
The AF is very speedy and fast and the AF tracking works well
Video quality is very good and has AF while shooting
There are some great m4/3 lenses on the way like the Voigtlander 25 f0.95 which on an M4/3 cam becomes a 50mm.
EVF/LCD switching via the eye sensor. Works very well.
Has a DSLR shape, though it is much smaller (may be a pro to some)
HIgh ISO at 1600+ can get a little smudgy
Dynamic Range is not as good as APS-C DSLR’s but it,s close
AF sometimes misses its mark
No Aperture control in video mode (though there is a “defocus” control in Movie P mode)
Only records movie audio in MONO. External Mic needed for stereo.
No 1080P video, only 720P
THE BOTTOM LINE CONCLUSION
Panasonic has won me over with their G2. The camera is nice to hold, nice to shoot and looks much nicer in person than it does in the photos online. It’s got a great build and the AF is speedy, the HD video is great (but not the best) and when the Panasonic 20 1.7 lens is attached it does a great job in all kinds of light. HIgh ISO is not as bad as it is generally made out to be and EVERY IMAGE you see in this review was shot as a JPEG. I did not shoot ANY of them as RAW so the JPEG engine is decent.
The G2 is a solid camera and would be perfect for the advanced hobbyist or even not so advanced hobbyist. I would not want to use it in a pro situation as I know that M4/3 is not suited for pro situations (I’ve tried) but for those who want to just get out and have fun shooting or even get serious shooting, the G2 makes for a kick ass camera that will give you some of the best quality of any Micro 4/3 camera available today. The image quality is superb up to ISO 800 and the color is also very nice.
If I had to choose right now as to what Micro 4/3 camera to buy it would be this Panasonic G2. Ive tried or owned them all and this is my favorite Micro 4/3 camera to date. Compared to the E-P2 and E-PL1 I like the G2 better for its swing out LCD, its super clear EVF, its faster AF and its IQ even seems a but richer. I also like the color modes of the G2 better than the PEN series. The RETRO and Silhouette are nice and they can even be used with video mode.
The Panasonic G2 comes with the 14-42 kit zoom but that lens did not seem to be that great. I can easily recommend the G2 and 20 1.7 lens as well as the 45-200 zoom. WIth that setup, you would have a very nice and small high quality digital camera setup. Truth be told, this is as much quality as 95% of hobbyists out there would need. I love the Leica M9 and X1 but have to give credit where credit is due… the Panasonic G2 is a winner IMO. The proof is in the pics, and I think the quality is damn good for the money that this kit costs. I enjoyed this camera more than the older GF1.
One more very cool thing with Micro 4/3 is that Voigtlander is now making lenses in the M4/3 mount and they will be releasing their 25 0.95 lens VERY soon. This will give you a 50mm equivalent lens for your M4/3 camera with a super fast aperture. Since i will be buying that lens, I will review it as soon as I get some use with it.
As for future Micro 4/3 cameras I will be reviewing the new GH2 next sometime in November. Until next time!
WHERE TO BUY?
I highly recommend B&H Photo for buying a Panasonic G2 and lenses. You can buy it in black, red or blue and they stock them all along with the lenses, the Panasonic 20 1.7 and the 45-200, which is a GREAT buy at $250. I have shopped with B&H for 14 years and LOVE them. If you use my links here, it helps to support this website, so if you do use them, I thank you!
I will leave you with more images from the Panasonic G2 and 20 1.7 lens. Enjoy! PS – These are all straight from camera JPEGS using various color modes of the G2. I dod not shoot RAW at all for any of the images. I kept it simple and the results were great.
HOW YOU CAN HELP SUPPORT THIS SITE TO KEEP IT GOING AND GROWING!
Remember, anytime you follow my links here and buy from B&H or AMAZON, this helps to keep my site going. If it was not for these links, there would be no way to fund this site, so I thank you in advance if you visit these links. I thank you more if you make a purchase! I have nifty search bars at the upper right of each page so you easily search for something at either store! I currently spend 8-14 hours a day working on this site and the only way that I can pay for it is with your help, so thank you! Currently my traffic has been increasing but my funds to pay for the site has been decreasing, so any help would be GREATLY appreciated!
Hey guys! I have been out of town in Chicago for the past few days so have not been able to update the site until today (due to hotel internet issues) but I have been out shooting with the little Panasonic G2 and having a great time with it. The review will be up on Thursday and there will be tons of images and samples and 100% crops for your enjoyment. I can safely say that the G2 has been giving me the best image quality of any Micro 4/3 camera to date (that I have shot with). Here are a couple images to get you warmed up for the review…
BTW, these images have NO PP! They were shot as JPEGS using the cameras built in “Silhouette” setting. This creates deep blacks, and interesting colors that I really like. In the review I will have images shot at all modes so you can see the differences. This camera is like a mini DSLR packed with great features and IQ. Its form factor may not be as cool or cute as the PEN series but it’s small, it’s fast and it’s versatile. But you may be surprised to read my thoughts on this camera….check back Thursday!
The Steve Huff Photo NYC Meetup Oct 15th 2010!
We have 19 attending the NYC meet up on the 15th and the date is rapidly approaching! I will be sending out an email on Wednesday night with details to everyone who is attending. I do have ONE SPOT left if there is anyone who wants to attend! It will be in the Times Square area and will be a full day of shooting, critiquing and fun! Email if interested…
With new cameras on the horizon I am looking forward to reviewing ALL of them so stay tuned for more reviews! The cooler weather is coming to Phx, AZ where I live so I will be getting out with all of these cameras much more than I have been lately. I WILL review the Fuji X100 as soon as it is available to review. I will also be reviewing the Canon S95, Nikon D3100, Nikon D7000, and the Sony A55. I have some cool articles on the way as well as the NYC meet up which will be posted live as it happens on the 15th!
As my grandfather always used an M-Leica for his family and landscape shoots, so i think thats the reason why I always was addicted to the brand Leica.
Unfortunately I had to sell my Leica R-System due to financial reasons, when I built up my house.
After a long stop a friend of mine brought me back to photography and I bought a D700 with all that professional zoom lenses available.
After some street and event shootings, I became tired to carry around such bulky equipment; specially after shooting one day with the 70-200 I really had pain in my shoulder.
So the equipment again starts remaining in the shelf (only the Digilux 4 goes with me instead), but still I was studying test reports in the internet about new lenses.
Somehow I discovered your side and your love to Leica cameras. In the meantime i am regular visitor of your side and happy that you brought me back to the roots of photography.
I sold all my Nikon stuff and get the M9 with some of the optics you reviewed on your side. Since two months the M9 is with me now and the time of snapping and pain is gone
(still you can do great snap shots with the M9 as well).
Today I love the size and the simplicity of this Messucher camera. In the beginning I thought the manual focus could be a problem with me, but after some practice, 98% of my images where in perfect focus.
(I never reached this quote with the D700).
This year I went to vacation with my family to Corsica. So the best chance to test my new M9. In order to keep my bag easy going, I just took the APO Summilux 50 and 21 with me.
I have already done some great shots with with 50, but the 21 was new for me (it just arrived 2 days before the flight). After some tests with the external 21 viewfinder in the garden
of my house, I decided to leave it at home. Don’t use it, your nose will be not in line anymore. After some time of practice you will know how to frame without.
Corsica is a beautiful island to discover, especially if you look through the bright viewfinder of M9. The decent and moderate look of the camera, you will give you a much higher chance,
to be part of the scenery. With any other SLR you are the photographer taking pictures.
Thx Steve, for your advise, to go for such a stunning camera like the M9.
I not regret one minute having my SLR stuff sold off.
PS: If you decide to post this story, can you please correct my poor english language :-)
All pictures with M9, APO Summilux 50 and 21 (mostly fully open), iPhoto and Aperture
Hello, fellow Steve Huff readers. It’s Ashwin, here again with something completely different than my typical M9 posts. While I have spent the past 4 years developing my love of the “rangefinder way”, I have been quietly enjoying the SLR experience from the sideline…literally. As some of you know, I came to rangefinders from the land of SLR’s and have gradually made the switch to shooting primarily with rangefinders.
However, there are certain genres of photography to which rangefinders are not suited. In particular, Rangefinders are not great when the subject one is trying to capture is moving fast in and out of a potential plane of focus. Further, rangefinders can’t really effectively reach to focal lengths beyond 135 mm (yeah, there is the Visioflex, but that’s a tool of some compromise on the M9 and best used by those very skilled with its eccentricities). It also may be argued that rangefinders are not the best tools to shoot at very high ISO’s. The Leica M9 maxes out at ISO 2,500, while most modern pro SLR’s reach beyond ISO 100,000! In genres of photography where such issues matter (reach, fast focus/autofocus, compressing a far away image, ISO’s high enough to allow one to freeze images in darker, artificially lit conditions), SLR’s reign supreme. In many ways, SLR’s (single lens reflex cameras) do very well at many tasks, and do those tasks easily. Because of these qualities and outstanding image quality, SLR’s are BY FAR the most popular cameras out there.
All of this has no bearing, really, on how I feel about rangefinders. For me, rangefinders are a perfect tool for capturing moments in the street, moments of daily life, and for travel. For me, I can use rangefinders to capture 80-90% of the circumstances I wish to photograph. Once one learns the rangefinder way, one becomes more in tune with one’s own photography. I far prefer this measured style of image capture to the “machine-gun” approach of SLR photography. That being said, I keep my SLR set up for one of a few purposes. Shooting sports is one of those reasons. So, let’s talk about that.
In my career as a l physician in sports medicine, I have had the unique privilege of being around sporting events all of the time. Heck, it’s my job, and over the years, friends close to me have come to realize that I could snag some pretty decent photos. It wasn’t long before I was toting my cameras to the occasional game, and now, I am regularly afforded the opportunity to shoot games along with the Seattle press core. It’s an exciting way to be part of the game, and I get to share my images with fellow staff, players, friends, and family. I only mention this, because it’s pretty easy to find opportunities to shoot sports. Simply get out to your local sporting event (think, high school football), and with the proper access (say, discussing matters with the school’s coach or athletic director), you can start shooting sporting events as well.
That being said, I have had the great opportunity to shoot sports over the past 4 years at an elite NCAA Division I school, the University of Washington. In fact, our current quarterback, Jake Locker, may well be the top pick in this year’s NFL draft. We have been national champions in Crew, Cross Country, Softball, and women’s volleyball in the past 5 years, and our basketball team also routinely gets into the sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament. I have had the opportunity to shoot all of these sports. And while I am known to many of you as a rangefinder enthusiasts, many of my colleagues have come to know me as the dude with the big cameras and big white lenses.
Speaking of white lenses, I have owned and continue to own a Canon SLR outfit. I have owned the 5D, 5DII, digital Rebel XT, and a 1D Mark III. I have owned many (? Most) Canon lenses, but currently only own my 1D Mark III a 70-200 mm f/2.8 L IS lens, 50 mm f/1.2 L lens (the most Leica-like rendering that I have come across for a lens in the Canon lineup), and a 135 mm f/2 L lens. I do own a 1.4 x tele-extender as well, to gain me some reach. I have sold off much of my Canon gear to fund the purchase Leica lenses and cameras, but keep my skeleton crew of Canon gear to shoot weddings and sports.
The images that you see here would be very difficult, if not impossible, to capture with rangefinders, but are really easily captured with the 1D Mark III and it’s 10 FPS frame rate and its strong high ISO capacity. When shooting SLR’s, I tend to use center point AF (not all of the 45-50 point focus that Canon and Nikon’s come with these days), because the center point is by far the most sensitive to rapid vertical and lateral movements. I also tend to shoot sports using the AI Servo mode, which adjusts to movements and tracks focus better in these circumstances. I tend to dial up ISO’s (1600 is typically my comfort level for the upper end of the ISO that I shoot), to allow for fast shutter speeds of 1/400 s – 1/1600 s, so that I can freeze action.
As you can tell, we are far out of rangefinder land. The rangefinder experience is far more careful and measured, while using SLR’s can have its own exhileration, particularly when viewing how one can freeze action with these cameras.
So will I keep my SLR set up? Yup. Even when I shoot SLR’s so rarely? Yup….Why? Because rangefinders have their limits. And that’s okay…they are not perfect for everything, and SLR’s are a very nice stop gap. Add to the fact that the 1D Mark III and my lenses are weather-sealed, and I have a kit that I can use for areas where I may not effectively obtain images with the rangefinder….
Hopefully, the images here will prove my point. You may notice that the style that I shoot with SLR’s is quite different than how I obtain images with rangefinders. I believe that this is in part due to my varying level of comfort with these 2 very different tools for photographic capture. Maybe even, the Canons entrust me with a bit of their soul, while Leica’s do the same as I shoot them. I don’t know, but whatever the case is, I will keep both kits to capture moments which rangefinders would otherwise struggle at.
Caveat….Shooting sports with the Leica M9
Okay, okay, so I have spent the past several paragraphs suggesting that SLR’s are far better suited to capturing sports than rangefinders. However, when pressed into service, rangefinders can be up to the task. One has to be careful, and up to the challenge. One cannot rely on 10 FPS, Image stabilization, weather sealing, and 300 mm focal lengths. One might have to pre-focus, and rely on rapid self-focus to achieve the effect. To this end, here are a few pics, taken by the M9 and 135 mm f/4 Tele-elmar (a 40 year old lens that I reviewed here earlier), at a football game this past spring.
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I know this site concentrates quite a but on Leica and the smaller mirrorless cameras that are flooding the market these days but over the summer I was able to use the AMAZING Canon 1DMKIV when shooting a week of the Seal tour in Europe. At the time, I was really into shooting the Leica M9 and Noctilux combo and shooting with the 1D was a bit foreign to me with its heft, size, and controls. But, within minutes I was comfortable with it and started shooting like a madman. If I was going to buy a pro DSLR, I would strongly consider the 1DMKIV even over the Nikon D3s. It’s a pro body through and through and lightning fast. The video is also pretty awesome, one area where Nikon still has yet to catch up.
This is not in any way meant to be a 1DMKIV review, as I only shot with it for 2 hours but I can say that this is one hell of a DSLR for those who need to shoot fast and get the shot. This camera is a powerhouse in it’s build, feel, and capabilities, no doubt! This camera is loaded with 16 megapixels, 1 gorgeous 3″ LCD, ISO up to 102,000, and a 10FPS burst mode. It’s also weather and dust resistant, shoots gorgeous HD video and has a 100% viewfinder! Yea, the 1dMKIV is a true pro machine. Slap on a lens like the 50L, the 85L or the 100 Macro L and be wowed. You will also be sore if shooting it for more than an hour but if you are in a pro situation, it’s not a problem :)
Here are a few new Seal images I found on my HD, all shot with the 1D4 and either the 100 MACRO or the 24 1.4.
Seal shot with the 1DMKIV – The AF is blazingly fast AND accurate. It was such a change from the Leica M I also used on this night. At first I did not like it but it started to grown on me and soon I realized how many keepers I was getting. This image was shot with the Canon 24 1.4II.
This night was very odd. The show started and the crowd wanted to move up to the stage to sing and dance and have a good time. Security tried to stop everyone from leaving their seats until Seal told Security to let them all up and have a good time. Here, a man rushed up and waved at Seal while Security was trying to get him back to his seat. Shot with the Canon 24 1.4 II lens.
The Exposure and color was usually spot on with the 1dMKIV and 24LII. Here I hung back a bit…
This shot was snapped with the new 100 Macro 2.8, which is a PHENOMENAL Canon lens.
Again, the 100 macro and yes, this shot was framed like this intentionally :)
If I were a pro shooter and needed a camera that delivered the good in AF, speed, and IQ as well as being nearly bulletproof, I think I would HEAVILY consider the Canon 1DMKIV. I have shot with the Nikon D3s but slightly prefer this 1.3 Crop sensor Canon. Im sure there are some of you out there reading this who own this camera, so if so, speak up and let me know how YOU like it!
As for Seal, his new Album was released this week and if you go to Itunes to download the Deluxe version you will not only get all of the songs but also 15 of my photos from the show which have been included with the music (in the deluxe version which is an Itunes LP format download). Seal 6: Commitment - It is a SUPERB album, go buy it at Itunes! :)
I immensely enjoy photography, but since it’s strictly an amateur hobby for me, I don’t spend much money on cameras, upgrades, editors etc… So I carefully research cameras before I make a purchase, which is only every 3 or 4 years. Then I buy something small & versatile, as we do a lot of hiking, backpacking & skiing. My rule is that it must be able to hang around my neck all day, or fit in my pocket without strain and deliver the best IQ for it’s small size. The Canon Gs have given me this for years.
You know a but is coming, so now the but part… this summer I re-learned a lesson, based on the ‘ole axiom we all know – the best camera is the one you have with you. Except what if the one with you isn’t a camera at all, but a freak’n phone? An iPhone4 to be exact. I brought mine on a ten-day vacation with my wife, backpacking and all.
It’s so easy to shoot with this thing, I found myself reaching for it despite having my Canon G7 close by in the other pocket. Not only does it take great pics, but you can turn on spot metering/spot focus, HDR, self-timer and more. Tilting the phone just a little bit up or down can completely alter the light balance in the shot for great creative changes. It’s crazy good and the wide angle is sweet. The JPGs are fine for modest post processing as well.
My wife Sara took this out of the car window driving through the Oregon drylands, east of Bend. The sepia treatment and graduated tint (to bring out the darkness in the clouds) were applied in Picasa. IPhone selected Metering Mode- average, ISO 80, exposure – normal, shutter – 1/1314.
This shows how well spot metering/focus works, accomplished just by touching the spot on the screen where you’d like it to be! I selected Metering Mode- spot, by clicking the screen showing the brightest spot of her cheek. The iPhone selected ISO 80, exposure – normal, shutter – 1/196. Look how I was able to get the setting sun lighting half of her face, exclude the light in the rest of the restaurant and how nicely the camera phone captured that soft light.
This is one of my favorite landscapes captured with the iPhone. I used a warmify filter in Picasa and denoised it in iPhoto after moving it the Mac. I exposed for the brightest clouds by clicking on the largest, whitest, brightest one (on the screen). The iPhone selected ISO 80, exposure – normal, shutter – 1/2011. I took the exact same shot with my G7, but actually like the colors better from the iPhone. It seems to be tuned for a warmer tint, which appeals to me more.
I have many more great iPhone photos, but haven’t put them online yet. I’m really amazed. My iPhone camera saw more action than my G7, I took about 600 pics in a week long vacation. And the iPhone photo IQ is so good, now my wife is considering getting one, just because of the camera.
So you want to shoot some killer creative images but do not even have a camera? All you have is your Iphone? Well, no problem! For $1.99 you can download “Plastic Bullet” and this app will transform your photos into unique and classic images (sometimes).
I have been shooting a ton of images with my Iphone lately and “Plastic Bullet” has been loads of fun. I have been using this app for a few weeks and at first I thought it was just an OK app. The more I used it the more I liked it and I feel its well worth the asking price of $1.99. This app can make your photos look surreal, or even “Holga” like. If you have an Iphone 4, this app now supports high res images so you can take the full resolution images and have Plastic Bullet process them into something cool. Basically, you choose an image from your camera roll and let plastic bullet show you variation after variation. You can keep refreshing the images until you see one you like and then when you do, just save it or email it or post it to your facebook! Its pretty amazing what our cel phones can do these days :)
Great app that is loads of fun and can make your Iphone images stand out from the crowd. You can check out the Plastic Bullet website HERE.
Here are a few samples…remember that you can use a new image or ANY other image you have on your phone. This is a great app and can give you some very cool results.
Hello to all! It’s Tuesday and as promised I am here with the Leica D-Lux 5 Camera review. I was lucky enough to get a hold of a review sample early so I have been shooting with it for a few days straight and I have been absolutely LOVING it. Many of you have been e-mailing me asking me if this camera, the D-Lux 5, is an improvement over the D-Lux 4. Well, good news is yes, it is! Bad news is that it will cost you if you want to upgrade! (but it is a step up in MANY ways). The D-Lux 5 is a little powerhouse of a camera and one that can go with you anywhere and give you fantastic results. It is amazingly versatile, and the image quality is superb for being a small sensor camera.
In this review I will go over the specs, the features, the good things, the bad things and I will also show a ton of image samples as well as offer a full full size out of camera files. So sit back, relax and enjoy this review of the Leica D-Lux 5! If you want to see my popular review of the previous D-Lux 4, you can do so by clicking HERE.
But Isnt This A Panasonic LX-5 In Disguise?
Many of you reading this will trash me and this review if I say ANYTHING positive about this camera. Why? Because there are many out there who bash Leica for “rebranding” Panasonic cameras with their body shell and logo and selling it at a $300 premium. I will say right now that if you want to save $300 and you want the same camera then you can easily buy the Panasonic LX5 RIGHT NOW for $499. You will get a one year warranty, you will get a different body style (with grip) and you will get lower end software. The Leica D-Lux 5 will give you different firmware, different body style and looks, a 3 year warranty, and better software. I am hearing Lightroom will be included, which is a GOOD thing.
So to those who will come here and comment and bash the D-Lux 5 because it is $300 more, know that you do indeed get MORE with the camera as well as the joy of owning a Leica :) I think the Panasonic looks great as well and the grip may be a benefit when holding the camera. But whichever you choose, you will get the same terrific image quality. Just choose based on your budget and desires :) The LX-5 is selling like hotcakes and I expect the D-Lux 5 to also sell VERY well.
Brandon with the D-Lux 5 – f/2.5 – 47mm – converted to B&W with Silver Efex Pro – Click image for larger version.
The Features of the Leica D-Lux 5
The feature list below was taken from the features of the Panasonic LX-5 but again, these are the same cameras, so the features are the same.
Large 1/1.63″ 10.1-Megapixel High Sensitivity CCD
The CCD produces high resolution, noise-less images even in high sensitivity recording and richly reproduced gradation in highly contrasted situations with the exquisitely wide dynamic range. Taking advantage of the high sensitivity CCD and the brightness of the lens, minimum illumination is as low as 3 lux in movie recording. Also, the maximum setting is ISO 12800 enabling shooting in extremely dark places.
The expanded dynamic range is made possible by the improvement of on-tip-lens design with larger light concentration and VCCD expansion while deepening the photo diode to manage richer signal more effectively.
24-90mm f/2.0-3.3 Ultra-Wide-angle Leica Lens
The lens unit consists of 10 elements in 9 groups with 3 aspherical lenses with 5 aspherical surfaces. Minimal distortion, high resolution, minimum artifacts such as chromatic aberrations, ghosting and flaring are the proof of uncompromising imaging made possible by a f/2.0 24mm ultra wide-angle Leica DC Vario- Summicron lens.
• The 24mm ultra wide-angle lens is rare on a compact camera. It gives you a wider range of composition possibilities. The super-high-quality Leica DC Vario- Summicron lens minimizes distortion at the wide end, so you can get stunning, true-to-life images with outstanding resolution and detail. The DMC-LX5 captures approx. 213% larger viewing space compared to that of normal 35mm cameras, and even approx. 136% larger compared to that of 28mm wide-angle lens.
• The fully open f/2.0 aperture lends a beautiful soft focus to photos with a shallow depth of field. It is especially effective for macro shots of flowers, insects, or intricate objects. This setting is also ideal for dimly lit scenes that require greater exposure, such as deep, natural forests, dimly lit historic buildings, and artwork displays. In addition, the DMC-LX5 lets you get as close as 1cm to your subject. The fully open f/3.3 aperture combines with the 90mm telephoto end of the zoom produces optimal portraits. The high resolution and excellent contrast also express fine details, with natural gradation for smoother complexions.
Thanks to intelligent resolution technology, the intelligent zoom is available which extends the zoom ratio by approx. 1.3x maintaining the picture quality when using the digital zoom. This means the 3.8x optical can virtually extend to 5.0x equivalent. Furthermore, the extra optical zoom function that extends zoom power to 6.7x by using the center part of the large CCD to bring subjects even closer.
The Step Zoom function, allows you to set the zoom to 24mm, 28mm, 35mm, 70mm or 90mm via the menu. This is like changing fixed focal length lenses on a D-SLR. Max. 800mm is available if combining the Intelligent Zoom and digital zoom.
MEGA O.I.S. with Intelligent ISO Control
Everyone has had an experience of taking a photo at night and hoping to capture all the memories and beauty, only to be disappointed at the poor result. Panasonic has worked on the low-frequency vibration hand-shake component, which is physically generated when pressing the shutter button or when shooting at night with a slow shutter speed. The POWER O.I.S. (Optical Image Stabilizer) nearly doubles the hand-shake correction power of conventional MEGA O.I.S. You get bright photos without blurring even from handheld shooting at slow shutter speeds.
Multi Aspect Ratios
Conventional cameras generally use almost the entire CCD area when recording an image. The D-LUX 5, however, employs a 1/1.63-inch CCD with a total resolution of 11.3 megapixel. Using only about a 10.1 megapixel area of this large CCD makes it possible to give three aspect ratios – 16:9, 3:2, and 4:3 – the same angle of view with lens settings from 24mm to 90mm (35mm camera equivalent). And rather than digitally producing “simulated” images, the DMC-LX5 captures the actual, real-life image for each one of the aspect ratios at the ultra-wide 24mm setting.
Aspect Switch, Aspect Bracket & 1:1
The aspect ratio can be changed directly with the aspect switch on the lens barrel from 4:3, 3:2, 16:9 and 1:1. The 1:1 aspect ratio is a unique square frame that adds to your possibilities. Aspect Bracket lets the camera take an image in all aspect ratios simultaneously, so you can choose the best one after shooting.
Venus Engine FHD
For the image processing, the DMC-LX5 features the Venus Engine FHD provides higher-speed, higher-performance while compiling the intelligent resolution technology. It enables the recording of beautiful photos and high-definition movies with higher quality signal processing. The triple CPUs in this imaging engine dramatically speed up processing while achieving exceptional noise reduction performance. The Venus Engine FHD’s excellent energy efficiency supports long-time AVCHD Lite movie recording, and allows the output of both images and sounds via HDMI.
Sonic Speed AF
The Sonic Speed AF system in the DMC-LX5 includes a higher-speed actuator, optimized algorithms and parallel software processing. The result is fast and accurate AF performance. You can quickly get moving subjects in focus, such as when you’re shooting sports scenes.
Fast Start-up & Short Release Time
The parallel processing of software resulted in ultra high-speed start-up and the shutter release time lag is as short as approx. 0.007 second, making it easy to capture sudden, spur-of-the-moment photo opportunities.
The advanced image processing technology “Intelligent Resolution*” is incorporated in the Venus Engine FHD for the D-LUX 5. With the Intelligent Resolution technology, 3 areas – outlines, detailed texture areas and soft gradation areas – are automatically detected and optimum signal processes are performed to each area. Apart from the uniform enhancement of sharpness, the innovative technology of Intelligent Resolution precisely performs signal processing pixel by pixel in the most effective way for it. As a result, images are naturally clear and crisp in both photo and movie recording.
High Sensitivity – Low Noise
The graininess that results from picture noise and the flatness that sometimes comes with noise reduction measures are major concerns when shooting at high sensitivity levels. The Intelligent Resolution minimizes noise to produce sharp, clear images.
Extended Battery Life
The energy-saving Venus Engine FHD image processing engine and the efficient, rechargeable lithium-ion battery work together to extend the shooting time. This lets users take approx. 400 shots on a single battery charge.
You can get original image data, recording the image directly from the sensor without any image processing. nary color separation performance.
Select the flash synchronization you want from 1st Curtain Sync. or 2nd Curtain Sync. This is effective for capturing nightscapes with a natural flow of light. You can adjust the intensity within a range of +/-EV 2 in 1/3 EV steps.
3.0″ 460,000-dot Intelligent LCD
The camera is equipped with a 3.0″, 460,000-dot Intelligent LCD with super high resolution and a wide viewing angle. The big screen reflects fine details, making it easy to check the focus before shooting. It also serves as a small photo and video viewer, allowing the user and friends to enjoy viewing the still and motion images together. Plus, adopting the High CRI (Color Rendering Index) LED backlight realizes vivid, impressive color reproduction true to the memory color that your eyes remember. The Intelligent LCD function automatically adjusts the brightness in 11 steps according to the shooting conditions. At the highest of these 11 steps, the LCD backlight becomes approx. 1.4 times brighter than normal. In addition, the AR (anti-reflective) coating LCD minimizes glare and provides clear images, for high visibility even in outdoor brightness.
Manual functions are the key to taking highly controlled and distinctive photos. Aperture-priority Mode lets you open the aperture up wide for stunning portraits with softly focused backgrounds. Shutter-priority Mode makes it possible to express the dynamic power of a flowing stream by slowing down the shutter speed. And Manual Exposure Mode gives you total control of special shots, allowing you to achieve a higher level of photographic beauty.
You can allocate frequently used functions to the Function button. Functions that normally have to be selected from a menu or switched can be assigned to this button for faster, easier operation.
The same way photographers select different films for their distinctive coloring and contrast, you can manually choose from 6 color types and 3 monochrome types － even when shooting movies. When shooting in black and white, the contrast, sharpness and noise reduction for each mode parameter can be customized in five steps and stored in memory. The same is true when shooting in color, with the addition of the saturation adjustment. You can make a total of 4,125 settings, and you can get the exact image you want.
You can set the ISO sensitivity to Auto, Intelligent ISO, 80, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200, 6400 or 12800 from the newly adapted ISO Button. When the ISO sensitivity step is set to 1/3 EV, the number of ISO sensitivity setting options increases, allowing you to make fine adjustments and achieve the level of image quality you want.
The 5 lets you snap off consecutive shots at approx. 2.5 frames per second even in RAW format. You can take a series of shots, then choose the one you like the best and delete the rest. You can also select High-speed burst mode or flash burst mode from Scene Mode.
The focus switch on the lens barrel lets you quickly change the focus mode between AF, AF-Macro or MF. The focus button helps to achieve finer focusing during both shooting and playback. During AF operation, it serves to activate the variable AF area, and during MF operation, it changes to a handy One-shot AF to provide initial focusing. During playback, this convenient and important function gives you one-touch zoom playback of subjects in focus.
Variable AF Area
You can select the AF setting from Face AF, AF Tracking, Multi-AF (23-area) or 1-area AF. With the 1-area AF, the position of the AF area can be freely moved. This is convenient when you want to frame a shot for a special effect, like focusing on a subject at the very edge of the frame. The AF frame size can also be selected from among Spot, Normal, L, and XL.
Continuous & Quick Auto Focus
AF/AE Lock Button
The 5 lets you get as close as 1cm to your subject. When the focus switch on the lens barrel is set to AF-Macro, or when the iA (Intelligent Auto) Mode is selected, Macro Mode is activated automatically. This is ideal for taking dynamic, intricate close-ups of flowers and insects, or for rendering artwork and handicrafts in spectacular detail and rich expression.
High-definition motion Movies in AVCHD Lite
In addition to Motion JPEG images, the 5 can record high-definition motion images in AVCHD Lite. This format features almost doubling the recording time in HD quality compared with the conventional Motion JPEG format.
The minimum illumination is as low as 3 lux thanks to the f/2.0 super bright Leica DC Vario- Summicron lens and the high sensitivity CCD.
Optical Zoom During Video Shooting
The DMC-LX5 lets you use the 3.8x (25-95mm in 35mm camera equivalent in movie recording) zoom for motion images. It takes you up close for nature, sports and other distant scenes.
Creative (Manual) Movie Mode
Apart from the movie recording capability of conventional digital compact cameras, 5 also features a Creative Movie Mode, which lets you set the shutter speed and aperture manually to make even more impressive movies. Changing the shutter speed brings special effects to movies, which is especially suitable for shooting fast-moving subject. The ability to control the aperture is convenient when there are several subjects at different distances and it is desired to have each of them stand out.
High Quality Sound
The 5 features Dolby Digital Creator to record high quality audio, so you can match your beautiful movies with outstanding sound.
The Wind Cut function is available to block out most of the noise from background wind. This gives you higher quality sound when taking images on breezy days.
So you have a D-Lux 4 and are wondering if the new “5″ is a better camera. Well, the quick and easy answer to that is “YES”. The D-Lux 5 is a definite step above the “4″ in quality and especially lower light shooting. The lens is now a 24-90 equivalent and we still get that gloriously bright f/2 aperture at the wide end. Image quality in brighter light has also been improved a bit and the color is amazing right out of the camera.
One thing I do not do in my reviews is get too technical. Why? Well, because there are tons of sites out there that show you the graphs and charts and test images but rarely do they have any good photography included in those reviews. They are also sometimes hard to read and understand for those who are new to photography. With a camera like the D-Lux 5 and the Panasonic version, the LX-5, I am expecting lots of newbies to be attracted to these “advanced” point and shoot cameras. So this review will be straight to the point and I will tell it like it is. I will also provide plenty of “real world” photos for you to view. Also, keep in mind every image you see in this review was shot as a JPEG as none of the software I own will process the RAW files just yet.
Below is a full size out of camera JPEG file. Just click it to see it!
“Kyle” – Leica D-Lux 5 – f/2.4 – 1/80s – ISO 125 – 44mm Equiv – Click for Larger or click HERE for FULL SIZE OOC JPEG
So the above image was snapped at breakfast one day at a pretty wide aperture. This is a straight OOC JPEG with no processing. I did end up doing some sharpening on the eyes and concerting it to B&W with Silver Efex Pro and am finding that the D-Lux 5 files react well to B&W conversions.
Probably why you see so many B&W images in this review! They look VERY good. Also notice I shot the portraits in the 1:1 square format, which is GREAT for portraits. Basically I zoomed in a little, set the aperture to its widest setting and focused on the eyes using the center point focus only. I find the center point to be the best way to shoot ANY camera. Just focus on what you want to be in CRITICAL focus and recompose while holding the shutter button down half way. Its the way I ALWAYS Shoot when using Auto Focus cameras.
The D-Lux 5 AF is FAST..faster than the $2000 Leica X1. It also focus closer than the X1 as well as shoots HD video! The D-Lux 5 is a deal at its price tag considering what it does. The Panny LX-5 even more so. In the real world, this camera makes for a great “all around” shooter. Snapshots, portraits, landscapes and yes, even lower light images thanks to the f/2 lens. It is a camera than can fit in your pocket though it is larger than other P&S cameras.
The Best New Features Of The D-Lux 5
if I still owned a D-Lux 4 would I upgrade to the 5? That is a tough one. The D-Lux 4 was/is a great camera but I have to say the D-Lux 5 would take my money due to a few reasons.
The new dial on the back – LOVE this and it was missing on the 4. Love how easy it is to change the Aperture in “A” mode.
The new dedicated HD Video record button – Just press it at any time to record HD video. The camera also will now AF in video mode and you can manually set Aperture as well as shutter speed.
Accepts the EVF though the EVF is not the best I have seen. I was a bit disappointed in it actually and it appears it is a rebranded version of the EVF that is available for the Panasonic GF1. Still, you CAN use it if you want, and many love using the EVF.
The new 1:1 format switch on the lens barrel! Love the 1:1 and its now easy to switch to that mode.
The new lens range of 24-90 is very cool. Still retains the f/2 of the D-Lux 4 and the lens quality is fantastic.
Improved high ISO. Yep, we now get access to those crazy high ISO levels of the DSLR’s. After 800 it gets dodgy but 1600 is usable (see test below)
Better battery life over the D-Lux 4
So for me, it is worth the upgrade as you are getting quite a few things that have been added or improved upon. Also, I am finding the IQ to be better, dynamic range to be better, and the AF to be faster. Lots of great improvements in the 5.
“Winny” – Out of camera JPEG – f/2 – ISO 80 – 24mm
“Ed” – f/3.3 – ISO80 – 90mm equiv
How About High ISO?
Small sensor cameras like this have a reputation for being a bit noisy, even at base ISO. The D-Lux 4 was good up until about ISO 800 when it started getting a little noisy and smudged. The D-Lux 5 has the ability to go all the way up to ISO 12,800 which is CRAZY for a small camera like this! Just goes to show that technology is continuing to improve these little “powerhouse” cameras. Below you will see a set of 100% crops from ISO 800 through 3200 and then two images – one at ISO 6400 and one at ISO 12,800. The only problem with the high ISOs at 6400 and up is that the camera reduces the resolution to almost nothing so shooting at these two settings are pretty much for “emergency only”. - Again, shot as JPEG in the camera.
BELOW: and finally, ISO 6400 and ISO 12,800 just as they came out of the camera. Click on any image for full size version…
BELOW: Here are two images shot at ISO 1600 – No PP, straight from camera using the GRAINY FILM preset…THESE ARE ISO 1600 STRAIGHT FROM CAMERA FILES!
The two images above were shot indoors and ISO 1600 did not seem to be a problem. I quite like the look. Keep in mind this is coming from a $500-$700 camera (depending on if you choose the Panasonic or Leica) and from a small sensor. Again, used the 1:1 format.
Quick Video Overview
Just a quick video overview – excuse the quality of this one – used the Iphone for it and not as happy with the quality…
D-Lux 5 vs LX 5 vs X1
I have already been asked this question about 20 times. I have already stated that the Leica D-Lux 5 will give you the same picture quality and features as the Panasonic LX-5 but what about the Leica X1 which is about the same size as the D-Lux 5 but $1300 more expensive? That is a tough one! Yea, it really is and the reason why is that the D-Lux 5 is $799, the Panny $499 and these cameras give you MUCH MORE versatility than the X1.
The only area where the X1 beats the D-Lux 5 is in high ISO and overall Image Quality though some will find the color and Auto White Balance is better from the D-Lux! I can not deny it, the X1 is one sexy camera. Sleek, beautiful, light and provides that “Leica Look” in a compact package. It does have its limitations though like slow/sluggish AF speed, a fixed lens and slow operation.
Here is a list of my thoughts on the D-Lux 5 vs the X1..
PRO D-LUX 5
The D-Lux 5 can shoot Macro, X1 cant.
The D-Lux 5 can shoot HD video with AF, the X1 doesn’t do video at all.
The D-Lux 5 is $799, the X1 is $1999.
The D-Lux 5 can use an EVF, X1 can not!
The D-Lux 5 has multi format shooting with 1:1, 4:3, 3:2 or 16:9 – X1 has one, 3:2
The D-Lux 5 opens up to f/2, the X1 max aperture is f/2.8
The X1 is gorgeous, made in Germany BY LEICA! D-Lux 5 is made in Japan by Panasonic (not that this is a bad thing)
The X1 is light and feels awesome while strapped around you, better than the D-Lux.
The X1 high ISO is cleaner and gives more usable files, no smudging like the D-Lux 5.
The X1 wil give you that “Leica Look” in your photos and the files are much hardier to work on if needed.
The X1 is 12.2 Megapixels, the D-Lux 5 is 10.1.
The X1 WILL give you better IQ at all ISOs from low to high, no question. BUT the D-Lux 5 is no slouch!
What About Bokeh and Shallow Depth Of Field?
One drawback of small sensor cameras is that it is VERY tough to get shallow depth of field (blurred backgrounds while subject is in sharp focus). It CAN be done with the D-Lux 5 but the only way to do it is to set the camera to f/2, which can only be done at its widest setting. Then you have to get REALLY close to your subject and focus. If you want to get shallow depth of field in a portrait with this camera then I would zoom out to 90mm, open up the lens to f/3.3 (the widest at 90mm) and snap. Your backgrounds will be slightly blurred but it also depends on how far away the background is from the subject. The farther it is away, the more blur you will get. So while it is a challenge, you can get some blurred backgrounds if you want them.
Full Size Samples
Click on any image for a full size out of camera sample JPEG.
Pros and Cons
Small compact size
Superb image quality at lower ISO’s
Does decent HD video with AF and direct record button.
Decent battery life
New 24-90 lens is a great all around range for shooting just about anything
Various modes and presets like pinhole, B&W film, etc.
Added 1:1 format on lens barrel for quick selection of the 1:1 format
New wheel on the back is a great addition.
Great color and AWB right out of the camera
Lens opens up to f/2 at the wide end.
Super fast Auto Focus
It’s $300 more than the Panasonic LX-5
Some slight CA can be found is certain high contrast situations
Hard to get shallow depth of field due to sensor size, but this is the same with all small compacts
High ISO above 800 can get a little “blotchy”
Can buy a starter DSLR for a little less, but totally different cameras.
My Final Word On The D-Lux 5
The Leica D-Lux 5 is a great camera. PERIOD. It is jam packed with every feature you could ever need and its image quality is splendid. No, it is not up there with large sensor cameras but this is a compact camera that gives some of the best quality I have seen to date in a camera of this size. I would take this of the Panasonic over any Canon P&S and any Nikon P&S - ANY DAY. Wether you go for the Panny or the Leica is up to you but both will deliver great results in good light or low light. The AF is fast, the color is superb, the customization is wonderful and the video is very good (though not nearly as good as DSLR larger sensor HD video).
The D-Lux 5 will be a hit for Leica just like the “4″ was. If the D-Lux 4 was the “Son Of The M8″ then what does that make the D-Lux 5? The Son Of The M9? Well, no. I would give that title to the X1 but the D-Lux 5 is a camera that I could enjoy as a take anywhere “all in one” tool when I just want to get some family snaps and maybe some video.
I took my old D-Lux 4 on a cruise and my results were fantastic with sharp, saturated images that were very pleasing to the eye. As long as you are not after shallow depth of field shooting like you would get with something like a Leica M9 and 50 Summilux, then you may just be thrilled to death with the D-Lux 5 or Panny LX5.
THE BEST PLACE TO BUY THIS CAMERA?
You can buy this camera at a number of places but I recommend B&H Photo or AMAZON as my #1 choices. You can also go through Ken Hansen or Dale Photo as they are also top notch. The D-Lux 5 is NOW AVAILABLE and in stock. The Panasonic version is also available now and can be found HERE at B&H or at Amazon HERE.
I hope you enjoyed this to the point review of the D-Lux 5. I enjoyed the camera and am sad to send it back to Leica today. I can easily recommend this camera for ANYONE wanting a take anywhere under $1000. In fact, it will beat ANY compact in its price range, period.
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It was a cold winter day and I was driving around rural areas with my 8 year old daughter looking for interesting things to photograph. It was sleeting when we crossed a bridge spanning a small river and I saw something unusual in the mist down stream. After zig-zagging down some back roads i came across what was once an old railroad bed leading towards the river. We left the car and proceed on foot through a field until we came upon the supports of an old trestle crossing the river. The river was swollen from days of rain and the water was undulating resulting in a frightening roar. I photographed the massive supports from several angles before deciding to climb one of them in the sleeting rain. My daughter, albeit scared, decided she wanted to climb up as well and I precariously helped her about 20 feet to the top. From there I took more photographs. Right when I decided that it was time to leave, my daughter stepped in front of me in line with the columns and assumed a posture/body language that caught my eye. I raised my camera and pressed the shutter. This was one of those quintessential moments when you KNOW you got the shot. A month later I came out of the darkroom with a huge smile on my face. I had captured something worthwhile.
Taken with a Minolta XD11 and a Minolta MD Rokkor-X 28-85 lens on Tri-X.
It wasn’t long after I took that shot (January I think) that a friend of mine introduced me to the world of Leica and I bought an M3 and a 50mm Summicron. While researching Leica gear I came across your site and I have since become an avid fan.
The following picture is from my first roll of film (Tri-X) taken with the M3.
This last photo was also taken with the M3 and demonstrates the amazing sharpness of the Summicron.
First, thank you… Your site has become a reference for me when it comes to talk about photography… So many great insights, from many interresting people, and such a huge reservoir of usefull informations! Congrats!
You are, also, the main reason why, six month ago, I spent my savings for a GF1 with a 20mm pancake… Since then, I never regret it.
So today I wanted to share this pic I took on a trip to Paris. It was ten at night and we were heading for a drink somewhere… The atmosphere was so special that I wanted to stuck it in the frame… It is logically called : “on the way for a drink”
(GF1, f1,7-20mm : iso 200-f1,7-1/60s : processed with Aperture and Silver efex pro)