Leica D-Lux4 – A P&S camera for Street and Documentary?


The Nun

attachment1The idea of testing a Leica D-Lux 4 became a reality when Schmidt Marketing asked me if I would do a review on this premier point and shoot camera. Sure and what better place to test it than the PMPE2 in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

This is not a pixel peeping test. You can find lots of it on the internet…..here It is a hands-on test using the camera in real life shooting situations.

Like most point and shoot cameras of this genre, this camera boast a range of capabilities that even rival those DSLRs many times its price. I went through the operations manual, a thin booklet good for toilet reading. I was right, the camera tried to cater to most genres of photography imaginable from macros, landscapes, portraits, movies, street, and documentary to sports.

Sadly most these claims are just claims. I am an advocate of using the right equipment for the job. Hence, I would not embarrass the P&S if I use it to shoot landscapes when I know I have to compete with equipment like Medium or Large Format cameras, similarly with other genres of photography when the P&S would have to compete with sensor real estate. However, a P&S would excel in genres like candid, low angles and close-up (not macro) shots.

The doll

The DollOn the physical front, the design looked retro and the form factor fit the hand pretty well. It fits into the trousers pocket too. It has a 24mm to 60mm equivalent f2.0 – 2.8 Leica Vario Summicron lens – an impressive specification. It has a large 3” live view LCD screen, a good size for my failing eye sight.

The controls were pretty intuitive with the often used controls on the knobs and switches while the not so often used controls were in the menu. The metal body differentiated it from other P&S cameras. The built quality was refined, one would expect from a Leica.

While looking for the unique strengths of this camera, it dawn upon me that Leica has a long history of developing rangefinders for street and documentary photography. The famous names that brought us so many iconic street and documentary photos in the past included photographers like Cartier Breeson, Gary Winogrand, Elliot Erwitt and other names that you may care to add.

Leica has recently launched their M8.2 a digital rangefinder catering to this genre of photography. I believe this D-lux4 is no exception. Another toilet reading session later, I discovered that I was right. There was a hyperfocus control (under manual focus) on the lens where the aperture ring used to be. Setting it to this mode, the shutter lag was greatly improved though not up to their legendary Leica M standards.


The Kid
I relied on this mode most of the time in my walkabout in Siem Reap. I was pleasantly surprised by this capability as it is very difficult to find a good P&S camera for this genre of photography

What I like

a. Refined built quality
b. Outstanding lens quality
c. Fast lens f2.0 to 2.8
d. Good form factor
e. 10mp capable of recording in RAW mode
f. Good layout of manual controls
g. Hyperfocus mode

What I would like to have

a. Better ISO performance beyond ISO400.
b. Better dynamic range.
c. Longer battery life (I could manage to get about 300 shots per charge)
d. Side strap instead of a neck strap.

Other Photos

Hi thereCuriosity - Juxtaposition
Curiosity - Juxtaposition

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