Leica D-LUX (Typ 109) - The 'Pocket Rocket'

This is the Leica version of the Panasonic LX100. There are some small differences. The Leica is more expensive, but comes with a 1 Yr. Passport unconditional, no quibble warranty, a 3 year extended warranty and a free copy of Lightroom. All of which added to the Leica name means it has a higher S/H resale value as I've found in the past with all my Leica gear. It also has an add-on handgrip which makes the camera slightly deeper than the Panasonic. So treat this as a review for the Panasonic LX100 as well.

First off let me say that both this and the LX100 are ridiculous cameras - ridiculously good! To see more on the Panasonic version check out these links.



Back to the Leica D-LUX (Typ 109) Here's a list of what I think are it's good (great?) features.

  • Absolutely sensational 4K video. 
  • 4K Photo mode - 8MP stills from the 4K footage. This is the same as on the Panasonic cameras that have it - It's also the updated version which Panasonic included in a firmware update
  • Multi Aspect sensor
  • Great stills quality at low ISO's
  • Incredible Leica lens. Small, fast (f/1.8 - 2.8 16-75mm - 35mm equivalent) and VERY good
  • Wi-Fi that works!! Leica have their own version of Panasonic's Image App and it's just as good. I have it on my iPad and CM1 smartphone. It's really useful, even allowing off camera zooming
  • Very sharp and clear built in EVF and live view screen
  • Wonderful little lens hood accessory (see below) As someone who is always losing lens caps this is a godsend
  • Add on flash included
  • Nice sensible layout and with the attached grip - great handling.
  • It fits into my Leica T (Typ 701) holster with the grip attached

So what are the downsides? Well the biggest one for me is that I may well have to buy a new computer!! The 4K footage is so good and exactly what I want currently for the expansion of my stock video shooting, but it's way less compressed than the footage from my Panasonic CM1 and at a higher bitrate and fps, that it simply doesn't run on my laptop at all. I can get seriously good 1080 HD footage from it (see below) but I'd love to be able to see and edit the 4K output because it's superb. So today, is another attempt to see if I can get something that works without bankrupting me!! I would also say that the Image stabilisation is OK, but nothing like the Olympus OM-D E-M5 II. If you want this for 4K video, I would definitely recommend a tripod. 

But overall this (and the LX100) for me are without doubt, the best hybrid stills / video compact cameras ever. Andrew Reid at EOSHD (see link above) described the LX100 as a pocketable GH4, and that won't get any argument from me. No interchangeable lenses of course, but that Leica lens is almost unbelievable. How they get the speed and quality from something that small is beyond me. This is almost the size of a m4/3 sensor after all. Imagine what a m4/3 12-37.5mm f/1.8-2.8 would look like. I bet it would be a lot bigger than this. 

The whole camera also works very speedily and very reliably. I haven't come up with any issues as yet. In short it's a little marvel (and it is small) but the power it has for stills and video shooting is incredible, considering it's unassuming appearance.

Some samples:-

The rather nice automatic lens cap. The Panasonic has this too.

Shot in 1080 HD. As you can see the footage is excellent. This was hand held. Not bad.

This is 4K footage edited down to 1080 HD. This clip was taken using my Panasonic CM1 smartphone controlling the camera via the Leica Image Shuttle App.

Above shots using the different formats, including a couple of 8MP 4K photo 'video grabs' Can you tell which is which? The three indoor shots at the bottom also show the benefits of the fast lens. All were shot at ISO 200.

So for how I'm currently working, this is a terrific camera. If I am going to carry a tripod for video, then the lighter the camera the better. So the Leica D-LUX (Typ 109) is ideal. I would also mention that tomorrow, due to a very good deal from one of the stores I buy from, a Canon G7X is arriving. No 4K but a 1" sensor and an equally remarkable lens. 24-100mm f/1.8-2.8 (35mm equivalent) And much as I like the Olympus OM-D E-M5 II and appreciate the video capabilities of my Sony FE cameras, if I'm going to be shooting a lot of video and carrying a tripod around, then these smaller lighter cameras are a better and less wearing alternative. My Panasonic CM1 is very good, but it has that fixed lens and I have to say the 4K output from the D-LUX (Typ 109) puts it in it's place. (If only I can get to see it moving without the stuttering!!)

So the Leica D-LUX (Typ 109) is truly a 'pocket rocket' and one of the most remarkable cameras I've ever used. As I'm sure is the Panasonic LX100. And for me, in the light of my previous article HERE this for me is where mirrorless really scores. To be honest I'm not that convinced by the DSLRing of the mirrorless concept. For me it's more about size and weight advantages and anonymity. I much prefer it if no one takes any notice of me when I'm working. So for me and what I do the D-LUX is just fine and I'm looking forward to seeing more of what it can do.