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Leica C-LUX 1 Digital Camera User Review
by Josh Dollins -  10/3/2006

The Leica C-LUX 1 is essentially a rebadged version of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX01. The ultra compact C-LUX 1 features a 28mm wide angle Leica DC zoom lens and a high sensitivity setting of up to ISO 1600. It also incorporates built-in optical image stabilization and is available in black and silver finishes. Aside from minor styling and bundle differences it is exactly the same camera as the Panasonic model.

leica c-lux 1

 

In the Box

The C-LUX 1 comes with a 64MB SD card for storage (that's about double the industry average but still not enough) a battery charger, a powerful battery (good for 320 shots), an AV, usb and AC cables. Software includes Quicktime and Photoshop Elements 4.0 which is a very nice piece of software when compared to what you usually get out of a camera box. High quality leather bags and an AC adapter are available accessories.

Camera Design

Design of this camera is typical Leica - simple and straightforward. Very intuitive controls with slightly rounded sides for comfort. It is made of metal, using high quality materials exclusively making for a solid quality feel. It is available in both black and silver finishes, complete with that legendary red Leica dot, and it looks fantastic. It's also incredibly small especially considering its large LCD of 2.5 inches. I was also very impressed with its weight - 4.6 ounces when compared to a similar Canon weighing in at about 7 ounces.

leica c-lux 1

Camera Features

The C-LUX 1 has a 6 megapixel sensor, the lowest in Leica's lineup. However, considering its class and price the resolution is just fine - it's a ultra compact point and shoot, afterall.  The fantastic Leica DC Vario-Elmarit ASPH lens provides a 3.6x optical zoom (28-102mm/f2.8-5.6).  Another nice feature that is becoming more common is image stablization to help prevent camera shake and blur of photos as result of this shake - it works really well. The 2.5 inch screen is also very nice. Its bright and clear and refreshes quickly enough that there is nearly no lag.

A 1GB memory card will hold about 334 shots at the highest settings or up to 1510 on the low end. The camera uses an excellent lithium ion battery with an estimated life of 320 shots.  I can't verify this but it was twice as good as my Canon SD500 if not three times as good. The camera boasts 14 feature modes, including a food mode! Flash wasn't particularly powerful at 13 feet but is fine for the most part.

Camera Performance and Image Quality

In everyday use the C-LUX 1 feels very responsive. Shutter lag is negligible (around 0.05 secs) as long as you either turn off the image stabilization or use Mode 1 (Mode 2 is activated when you press the shutter, and it doubles the shutter lag). Image quality is fantastic though I did experience some underexposure now and then and even though the image stabilization system is helpful it's not perfect. I didn't experience any color fringing which was nice. However, there was some noise, particularly between ISO 200-400.  There is no manual control of aperture/shutter speed!

Sample Images

lecia c-lux 1 sample image
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lecia c-lux 1 sample image
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Conclusion

Overall this is an excellent camera for anyone looking for a high end point and shoot to carry along day to day. Perhaps as a compliment to your M series Leica? It performs well, looks good and is easy to use. Its made well and has excellent battery life. It's an overall excellent camera.

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