Leica Virgin by Stephen Herron

I’ve always wanted to own a Leica camera. They have been, for decades, the very epitome of high quality in photography. Their lenses are among the most highly rated in the world, and their design aesthetic is simple, clean, and attractive.

But their gear costs thousands of dollars Tens of thousands, to be honest. A good digital body with a couple of top lenses? You’d not have much change from $20,000. That’s a car, damnit.

However there are some cheaper options.

Say hello to my little friend, the Leica D-Lux 5.

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At about $300, this 6+ year old camera is a true compact point-and-shoot, with leica glass and Panasonic technology. Indeed, the guts of this camera are available as a much cheaper Panasonic model that came out at the same time.

Bear in mind that when it was released, it was an expensive piece of kit, costing well over $1200, a huge sum in 2011, especially for a point and shoot.

I’ve used it a bit, and I’m pretty happy with it. I need to keep remembering that it’s a micro four thirds sensor, so at 10Mp it’s just not going to be as responsive as my Fujifilm crop sensors. But the camera as some nifty features.

It’s got a slider switch that allows you to pick the image format, from 1x1, 3x2, 4x3 and 16x9. That’s nice, and really does make it easy to switch.

The internal “film simulations” aren’t bad at all, and I think that most shots could be used straight-out-of-camera.

I am not a fan of the “standard” look, as it seems to be a bit yellow-tinged, and even after correcting for it inside the white balance, it’s clear that I probably can’t trust AWB to get it right. Given how much I shoot in black and white, it’s hardy a big concern, and it’s very easy to fix in Lightroom.

Here’s a couple of shots I took with the Leica:

What do you think? These are pretty much SOOC using the Leica’s “dynamic black and white” setting. I’m pretty impressed with the shots, coming from a compact camera. It’s certainly good enough for me to keep it around. It’s small enough to put in a pocket, and it might end up living in my car pretty much full-time as a backup camera.

I am, however, eagerly awaiting some warmer weather so I can take it out and do some street photography around Cleveland. I’d specifically want to test it against the Fujifilm X100F, so look for that in a couple of months.