- RSS Channel Showcase 8248470
- RSS Channel Showcase 7883701
- RSS Channel Showcase 3091709
- RSS Channel Showcase 2774700
The independent source for study and review of camera ergonomics.
|B Line D-Lux 7|
Leica and Panasonic have had a collaborative relationship for several years. Some lenses for Panasonic Lumix cameras bear the Leica label and some Lumix fixed lens camera models have been released with the Leica brand and sold through the Leica international network.
The latest of these to hit the retail shelves is the Leica D-Lux 7 which is made by Panasonic and is essentially a rebranded Lumix LX100M2.
There has been some speculation on user forums about differences between the Leica and Lumix versions of this camera.
I have both cameras and have identified several points of difference.
The most obvious is the price. Today the LX100M2 is listed by one well known Sydney camera outlet at $1300. The same outlet has the D-Lux 7 at $1850. The accessory handgrip which I regard as essential for comfortable and secure operation is $120.
This pitches the Leica at a 50% premium over the Lumix, with no deals or discounts as the Leica became available in Australia only three days ago.
What do you get for the extra outlay ?
Mostly cosmetic changes which I will detail below.
In addition Leica Australia offers a 3 year warranty and Leica Elements membership which the Leica sales person assured me would entitle me to a sensor clean once a year, even on the D-Lux which has a fixed lens.
After several hundred exposures and side by side testing of the two cameras I have been unable to find any significant difference in specifications, features, capabilities, image quality, lens quality or performance.
In particular I found JPGs of matched subjects to be identical in appearance at ISO 200 and ISO 3200 on my comparisons using the same subject, same exposure and controlled conditions.
I used Custom Photo Style: Contrast 0, Sharpness +3, Noise reduction -5, Saturation 0, for both cameras.
I used Custom Photo Style: Contrast 0, Sharpness +3, Noise reduction -5, Saturation 0, for both cameras.
Adobe Camera Raw does not yet support the D-Lux 7 .RWL files so I have no comment about the RAWs at this stage.
The EVF and monitor appear to be identical. I did find the Leica EVF required slightly different adjustments to suit my preferences but that may have been sample variation. Or maybe the Leica EVF setup is slightly different from the Lumix.
The Leica goes for a red border on the AF area, the Lumix has the usual yellow. In use I find the yellow slightly easier to see, but there is not much in it.
The menus have the same content but arranged by slightly different subheadings.
There are minor differences in the colors and style of the graphical user interface with the Leica going for red accents presumably to match the red dot and Lumix favouring yellows and other colors like purple. I prefer the Lumix style but there is no functional difference between them.
The D-Lux 7 without handle weighs 415 grams, with handle 485 grams.
The Lumix LX100M2 with attached handle, presumably stuck on with adhesive, weighs 420 grams.
Both cameras were weighed with filter, lens cap, battery and memory card in place.
The reason I bought the Leica is that it is sold without a handle. This enables the Leica accessory handle to be fitted. This is taller (63mm vs 47mm) and deeper (10mm vs 4mm) than the fixed handle on the LX100M2 and also adds 8mm to the height of the unit.
These figures might not sound like much to read about but the benefit of the larger handle is considerable.
It provides a much more secure hold on the camera. I can carry the camera by the handle which my desired practice. It gives a shutter button height of 75mm which is actually more than the Lumix G85 shutter which is 72mm above the base.
This allows my average adult male hand to get all four gripper fingers on the handle should I wish. In fact I usually tuck my little finger underneath but the height is there to use if I want it.
With the handle fitted the D-Lux 7 feels like a proper camera not a toy. It is a pleasure to use.
The only downside of the handle apart from having to buy the D-Lux on which to fit it is that it must be removed to change battery or memory card. It does have a tripod socket.
Now for the cosmetic stuff.
You can have the D-Lux 7 in boring black, but why would you when the more visually appealing black/silver version is available.
There is the red dot of course.
The D-Lux 7 has a different top plate with sharper edges. The EVF eyepiece housing is slightly different to match the top plate. The hotshoe cover is neater, hiding the rear end of the metal parts.
The shutter speed and exposure compensation dials are about 0.5mm taller and have vertical grooves, not the cross-hatch style on the Lumix.
The shutter button assembly is about 1mm taller and the zoom lever has more prominent vertical groves.
The markings on the dials are finer and black-on-silver. The exposure compensation dial on my copy of the Leica is a bit easier to turn which may or may not be an advantage. I have bumped it once while carrying the camera.
The left side of the Leica is different. It is rounded with no chamfer in front of the viewfinder. This adds 3 mm to the width.
The thumb support on the Leica is a slightly different shape and has a different surface texture.
The buttons on the rear of the Lumix are round, those on the Leica are rectangular. There are subtle differences in their height above the body.
The lens assembly, viewfinder and optics and baseplate appear to be identical.
The battery is labelled Leica but is likely a rebranded Panasonic item.
So that’s it. If there are other differences I have yet to find them.
Is the Leica version worth the considerably greater price ?
Of course not, the two cameras make identical pictures and are the same inside.
But buying a Leica is never logical.
I got mine for the handle. Well, that’s my excuse and it is nicer to hold and operate than the Lumix.
Anyway Christmas is coming.
The Micro Four Thirds system started in 2008 with cameras and lenses from Panasonic (Lumix) and Olympus.
Since then a total of more than 90 lenses for the M43 system have been released, from Panasonic, Olympus, Leica, Laowa, Sigma, Kowa, Cosina, Rokinon, 7 Artisans, Opteka and Tokina.
B&H in New York lists 13 super-wide and ultra-wide lenses available for the M43 system: 4 zooms, 3 rectilinear primes and 6 fisheyes. None of these has lens IS so they are best used on a body with IBIS.
|This is a heavy crop of the right mid section of the photo above showing the ability of the lens to hold detail in this difficult subject.|
The zooms are:
* Olympus M.Zuiko 7-14mm f2.8. This is the largest and most expensive of the group with the highest specification. The front element is dome type.
* Pana-Leica 8-18mm f2.8-4. This one is not quite as wide or expensive and the aperture is not constant but a standard 67mm filter can be fitted.
* Panasonic Lumix 7-14mm f4. This was introduced early in the history of the M43 system and is still available new. The front element is dome type. This is still a very good choice for an ultrawide zoom at a lower price/size/aperture point than the M.Zuiko f2.8.
* The subject of this post, the M. Zuiko ED 9-18mm f4.0-5.6 was released in 2010.
I think it is one of the best expressions of the original concept of the M43 system.
This was and I hope still is (although recent products make one wonder), for a camera/lens system which is small, light and moderately priced yet capable of making excellent pictures.
|Hand held Good detail, good highlight and shadow rendition, good rendition of details into the corners. It would be hard to improve on this with any camera system or lens.|
The M.Zuiko 9-18mm is the smallest, lightest and least expensive of the super wide zooms by a considerable margin.
The dimensions are diameter: 55mm length: 50mm bare, 60mm with front and rear caps, mass: 165 grams with caps.
The lens accepts a standard 52mm screw in filter.
It is remarkably diminutive for a superwide zoom and small enough to slip into a pocket or otherwise vacant corner of a small camera bag. It uses a collapsing barrel design to reduce size when not in use.
|Everything looks sharp and clear here, hand held.|
I wanted a compact, not-too-expensive ultrawide for the occasional times when I want to make a picture for which my usual lenses are not wide enough.
The M.Zuiko 9-18mm appeared to fit this bill so I bought one when it was on special.
I have to say some of the published reviews of this lens made me wonder if I was wasting my money.
I also noted some disparaging remarks about the lens on user forums.
Like all the other super/ultra wide M43 lenses the 9-18mm lacks an image stabiliser so is best used on a body with in-body-stabiliser [IBIS].
I have been using the Lumix G85 which has proven to be a good match for the lens. This camera also has a fully articulated monitor which makes it easy to check pictures in landscape or portrait orientation for accurate vertical/horizontal alignment.
|Hand held at 9mm|
Construction The mount is metal but the rest of the housing appears to be lightweight plastic. There is nothing wrong with this but I have seen reports that the twist-to-extend mechanism could be susceptible to failure. Whether this is true or not it would seem prudent to treat such a lightweight construction carefully. It would not be the first choice for professional or hire use.
Unusually the lens barrel extends most at the wide end and least at the long end.
Zoom and manual focus actions are smooth.
No lens hood is supplied in the box.
Resolution/sharpness My copy is very sharp in a large central circle, decently sharp at the edges and soft in the extreme corners. In the majority of photos this softness will not be evident or at least not problematic for the integrity of the image.
The best aperture for sharpness appears to be about 2/3 stop less than the maximum available at each focal length.
Looking at many photos taken in different situations I have been impressed by the sharpness and clarity of the images.
|Hand held, high subject brightness range|
Flare Ultrawides can be prone to flare but the 9-18mm is not.
Local contrast is excellent. The lens can clearly resolve high contrast edge details with no smearing or local flare.
It is possible to induce veiling flare with the sun or other bright light source at or near the frame edge but this is true of almost any lens.
Distortion On the Lumix G85 there is mild barrel distortion at the wide end. This is even in curvature so is easily corrected for architectural work in Adobe Camera Raw or Lightroom.
Color fringing can be seen in some high contrast situations towards the corners but generally fringing is not an issue.
Focussing One of the few potentially problematic issues I encountered with this lens is a tendency to misfocus when the AF area is placed over a part of the subject with multiple small specular highlights. I found it desirable to move the AF area off such subject elements for reliable focussing.
Close ups The lens will focus very close if desired, close enough for flowers certainly.
Low light One of the downsides of the diminutive size of this lens is the relatively small aperture. This is no problem outdoors or in well lit interiors but limits hand held use in dimly lit situations. This will not be an issue if the camera is on a tripod as is often the case for architectural work.
The other issue is that the range of useful lens apertures is restricted. Best sharpness is around f5-f7.1 and diffraction starts to impair resolution after about f8-f11.
Conclusion The M.Zuiko 9-18mm lens is better than its reputation might suggest.
Within its focal length and aperture range it can be used to make excellent photos capable of great enlargement.
I recommend this lens for the enthusiast Micro Four Thirds user who has occasional need of a superwide zoom.
Alternatives The other three zooms are larger and more expensive.
Most of the primes are fisheyes which have their uses but are not suitable if you want a rectilinear representation of the subject.
I have seen several positive reviews of the Venus Optics Laowa 7.5mm f2. This is very compact, rectilinear and can take a 46mm standard screw in filter, although there may be corner clipping unless the filter is very thin.
Overall sharpness is reported to be very high particularly in a large central circle of the frame.
Focus and aperture selection are fully manual. There are no electrical contacts.
It is a bit more expensive than the M.Zuiko 9-18mm.
But worth consideration I think.