The new Leica C-Lux travel-zoom digital compact camera is a rebranded version of the slightly cheaper Panasonic Lumix ZS200 / TZ200 model. The Leica C-Lux features a 15x zoom lens (equivalent 24-360 in 35mm structure), a 20-megapixel sensor, maximum ISO sensitivity of 25,600, a 3-inch touchscreen LCD, a built-in electronic viewfinder, 10fps continuous shooting, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, and 4K video recording. The Leica C-Lux is available in Light Gold and Midnight Blue priced at £875 / $1,050.

Leica C-Lux: Price

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Leica C-Lux: Ease of Use

Closely (and clearly) modeled on Panasonic’s TZ-series travel zooms, but with, additionally, that covetous red logo and the knowledge it’s been put together by hand, is Leica’s brand-new C-Lux small. As you’d expect, this is a premium snapshot model eminently suitable for those holiday breaks – and moreover any time you don’t desire to lug around that DSLR or compact system camera.

Obviously, being a Leica, that is at the luxury end of the market when it comes to pocket-sized snappers (part indicated by the ‘Lux’ in its name). Then there’s the fact the new C-Lux will set you back £875 if bought in the UK, as opposed to, say, around £730 for Panasonic’s nigh identical TZ200 model. Neither is inexpensive.

For that outlay, the Leica badged edition feels well built and solid when held in the palm; the gunmetal grey in appearance and black of our review sample – in fact, officially, it’s the ‘Midnight Blue’ option – additionally marking this one out as a serious proposition, actually, if the size and looks are what we’d normally watch as a £300-£400 snapshot.

Leica C-Lux: Front of the Leica C-Lux

The alternative color option to choose is usually Light Gold, while body pouches and wrist straps are available as optional extras. We prefer the look and feel of the Leica version overall when compared to the TZ200, particularly as regards the handgrip. Indeed, the front of the Leica C-Lux has a nice leatherette type surface finish, while a raised rubberized pad at the back provides a steady purchase point for the thumb of the right hand. Both help enable a firm hold when shooting handheld, particularly at the extremities of the zoom range where image detail tends to soften.

Speaking of which, helping the C-Lux market itself as a one-size-fits-all solution is the lens reach here. Its retracting 15x optical zoom stretches from an ultra wide-angle 24mm to a respectable 360mm at the telephoto end (exactly the same as the Panasonic TZ200). Attendant features tick the boxes for what we’d expect from a contemporary camera, too: namely a maximum 4K video capture at up to 30fps (from which 8-megapixel stills can be retrieved), 3-inch touch screen (nonarticulating) plus very respectable 10fps optimum capture rate. What will be bringing imaging lovers to the party right here however maybe the camera’s larger than average for its compact class one-in? the sensor which boasts a resolution of 20 megapixels – also going some way to justifying the price tag.

From leading the Leica C-Lux appears reasonably stylish if completely regular, that bright red Leica logo being the first thing you notice, apart from the lens itself, which is definitely encircled by a ridged control ring. As this is a Leica camera, unsurprisingly we get Leica optics too, here offering an aperture range stretching between f/3.3 and f/6.4. Lens and logo aside, on the faceplate we also get yourself a small porthole of a windowpane for the camera’s AF help/self-timer lamp.

Leica C-Lux: Top of the Leica C-Lux

Switch the Leica C-Lux on via the top plate lever that sits beneath the bottle top style shooting mode dial, and the camera powers up ready for the initial shot in just under two mere seconds, being the time it takes for the lens to extend from its dormant state to maximum wide position setting. With the lever for adjusting the zoom handily encircling the raised shutter release switch, the camera will take around four secs to glide from severe wide-angle to maximum telephoto. The other ‘key’ on the top plate is, in fact, a rotating control wheel for tabbing through onscreen menu settings, plus, with a flick of the thumb, providing a way to whizz through captured images in batches rather than one at a time. The fact that we have three circular handles on the proper hand aspect of the camera’s top plate (when viewed from the rear) – or four controls if you count the recessed button dedicated to shooting video clips – makes for a slightly active control panel – and one that momentarily throws people as to which one is the shutter release button in the event that you subsequently hands the camera to them to take your portrait.

The five pence piece sized shooting mode dial provides 10 selectable configurations. Alongside the familiar P,A, S, M modes, we get an Auto mode, a Colour effects mode, scene settings, a panorama setting, a custom mode and a manual video setting – through whatever placing you’re in, a press of the dedicated video button at the top plate will nonetheless instantaneously commence filming.

Leica C-Lux: The rear of the Leica C-Lux

With regards to the C-Lux’s core light sensitivity range and what advantages it provides for low light picture taking, this stretches from the standard ISO100 up to a manually selectable ISO12500, with both Auto and ‘intelligent Car’ as alternatives, though if you delve into the camera menus right now there is the ability to expand this to an equivalent of ISO25600, should you ever wish to do so. With results predictably resembling a crude color photocopy when this highest setting is definitely deployed, it’s debatable why you’d want to press the camera beyond its primary range, however.

The backplate buttons, as normal on a pocket small, are a little small – the fact that they are inlaid too means that, while it isn’t easy to activate them accidentally, they have to end up being pressed with a finger or thumbnail to put into action their various settings, which makes operation a little fiddly. Yes, there can be touchscreen access too, but right here also icons are obviously tiny with it, so it can take a couple of presses to arrive where you want to. If you want a pocket camera, it is not without compromise, obviously, yet equally certainly the positives of convenience and performance generally outweigh any gripes.

Leica C-Lux: In-hand

That said, because in most instances apart from very strong sunlight the larger (sadly non-tilting) LCD display screen is properly useable and adequate, in practice it’s easy to forget the eye-level viewfinder is there – or at least you find yourself intuitively switching between a single and the various other with barely a second thought. What’s pleasing here also is the actual fact that the camera’s LCD features what’s described as a special repellent coating that helps prevent fingerprints and smears (while not actually eradicating them entirely) so you’re not constantly feeling you have to wipe the screen clean. Put simply there’s less distracting you from your subject – and the reason you want to take a photograph in the first place.

Despite having an attention level sensor we’re also provided with a dedicated Live Viewfinder ‘LVF’ activation button, next to which is certainly one for raising the popup flash otherwise sunk into the Leica C-Lux’s best plate – wherein it is flanked by two pinprick sized holes housing the camera’s stereo microphones. It is only when the flash is elevated that obviously the available flash settings – including red-eye reduction as well as gradual synchro flash – become active. Similarly, if the flash is already raised, the camera won’t power off without it first getting returned to its ‘hidden’ (off) position within the camera’s top plate.

The other function buttons on the Leica C-Lux back otherwise create to take us straight to 4K photo mode – with the option of capturing in bursts or one picture – plus (Panasonic’s) Post Focus mode – where the options here are merely setting on or mode off. A third function switch provides a short lower to the camera’s crucial configurations – a ‘quick’ menu if you like. In playback settings, this key also multi duties as a delete button. Pressing this switch takes us right to ISO options, white balance settings, photo styles (including the popular vivid and two monochrome modes), along with autofocus mode, drive modes, direct exposure settlement (+ or – 3EV), and even the ability to call up a live histogram on display. All are very useful, as may be the short cut route to find them. We further get a dedicated ‘display’ key, a press of which either telephone calls up or turns off all the on-screen information, including a level gauge to ensure our horizons are direct or deactivates the display screen itself altogether. Despite the small buttons, the operation is therefore intuitive.

Leica C-Lux: Conclusion

Yes, is a lot to spend on a compact camera – it would alternatively buy a very decent interchangeable compact system camera or consumer level DSLR for example – even if you do get more ‘bang’ for your buck in the shape of a one inches sensor.

However, for the ownership of a Leica camera, it really is inexpensive and could even be considered reasonable, particularly when the very similar Panasonic TZ200 is a ‘mere’ £150 less. A sizeable monetary difference for sure, but maybe not enough to completely put you off going for the C-Lux and eschewing the closest alternate of the Lumix. We desired the implementation of the grasp on the Leica, for instance, also if the camera’s innards and specification is in any other case identical. Whether that small reality, the Leica badging plus the Ready Brek-like glow of pride the latter may bring is worth your purchase in the C-Lux is normally up to you.


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