Gear: Leica C-Lux Camera Review

Gear: Leica C-Lux Camera Review

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One of the latest offerings by Leica is the C-Lux compact camera which features 20-Megapixel, 1-inch CMOS sensor. With the focal length range of 8.8-132mm (24-320mm as per 35mm format), this is a multi-purpose camera. You can shoot photos of multiple genres like street, portraits, landscape, wildlife, and events using the 15x zoom range on this camera by Leica.

Talking about a few key highlighting features, the Leica C-Lux allows you to shoot 4K video, shoot images at 10fps burst rate and has a sensitivity range up to ISO 25600.

Build quality and ergonomics

The moment you hold the Leica C-Lux in your hand, you get mesmerized by its looks and ergonomics. This camera looks and feels premium from the very first second you use it.

The grip on this camera allows you to use it for hours without sweat or pain in your fingers. The thumb support at the back of the camera allowed me to make a strong grip while clicking both photos and videos.

I like how Leica has made this compact camera ‘compact’ – making sure it is fully-loaded with the latest features. While the built quality feels sturdy, the camera weight is not very heavy.

Physical features

My favorite physical feature on this camera has to be the customizable ring on the lens. By default, the role of the ring is to adjust the focal length of the lens. However, you can customize it to control either the manual focus or aperture value. So if you frequently focus manually or shoot in aperture priority, you are going to love this feature. I shoot in aperture priority in most situations, and the ring helped me save time and effort switching between aperture values.

On the back side of the C-Lux camera sits the 3.0“ TFT LCD touchscreen and 0.21“ LCD viewfinder with diopter adjustment from -4 to +3 diopters. The touchscreen is responsive and you can touch-and-focus while shooting photos and videos. However, the viewfinder is something that did not impress me. It felt like there was light leakage from the sides which distracted my view.

There is a pop-up flash hidden on the top center of the camera, which can be used by merely sliding a physical key. The back panel also features three custom function buttons which can be used as per the user convenience.

Image quality

While this camera has a focal length range from 24mm to 360mm, you may want to know its performance at both ends. I found the images to be sharp and crisp between 24mm and 200mm, and it gets a bit soft beyond 200mm focal length. Nevertheless, while shooting in daylight, it gives incredible results even at 360mm. However, as the light reduces, the crispness becomes a bit average.

If you are someone who shoots more in daylight and you want a longer focal length range in your compact camera, this could be a great choice for you. The optics in this camera lens enables you to capture images with good color reproduction.

Low-light performance

The real test of a camera is when it gets used in low light conditions. I took this camera for a run at night and clicked some street photos. The ISO performance up to 1600 ISO is excellent considering it features a 1-inch sensor. But beyond 1600 ISO you will start noticing grain in your images.

I was shocked to see this camera perform brilliantly in low light conditions while shooting video. I expected high grain at ISO 800, but this camera worked like a charm even at ISO 1600. This camera is equipped to shoot 4K video at 30fps and 1080p video at 60 fps.

Monochrome mode

Leica is known to have one of the best sensors for monochrome photography. But is it any good in this, one of the most affordable cameras? I fell in love with monochrome photography the day I started using this camera. The monochrome images felt entirely different coming out of this camera; perhaps because it is my first Leica camera. This camera captures amazing contrast and dynamic range, as you can see in the image below.

Autofocus performance

Most of the time I used the touch-to-focus feature, and there is a reason behind that. Ideally, I use manual focus point selection, but after a few shots I could trust the C-Lux touch focus accuracy. The focus speed also feels quite fast without much focus hunting, even in low-light conditions. But when you are beyond 200-250mm in low light conditions, the focusing becomes slower, and the focus hunting begins.

Features

There are some useful features in this camera including Focus Stacking and Exposure Stacking modes. One of the benefits of using a small sensor camera is that you get to use some fantastic features. These two modes allow you to capture multiple photos and give you a final image using either the focus point of your choice to focus stack or combine multiple exposures to achieve a high dynamic range (HDR) image.

Moreover, if you are social media enthusiast, the C-Lux camera allows you to instantly transfer images and videos via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth with the help of the ‘Leica C-Lux’ app.

Final thoughts

Amidst so many options, why would you choose the US$1050, 20 Megapixel, 1-inch sensor Leica C-Lux compact camera? If you are a frequent traveler and wish to carry a camera that does most of the job for you, this may be an ideal choice. Also, if you want the ‘Leica’ branding and love clicking in monochrome, you may fall for this little camera. With features including 4k photos at 30fps, focus and exposure stacking, 4k video and that smooth custom ring, I would recommend this Leica camera.

What are your views about this compact camera from Leica? Would you go for it?

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Kunal Malhotra is a photography enthusiast whose passion for photography started 6 years back during his college days. Kunal is also a photography blogger, based out of Delhi, India. He loves sharing his knowledge about photography with fellow aspiring photographers by writing regular posts on his blog. Some of his favorite genres of photography are product, street, fitness, and architecture.