Leica D-Lux 7 Compact Camera Review

Leica D-Lux 7 Compact Camera Review:

I know there are many who consider the D-Lux series of cameras just re-badged versions of their Panasonic cousins, and while there is some truth to that, there are some differences.  Plus, the D-Lux series does mean a lot to me.  My digital photography started off with a D-Lux 3.  I was a diehard film shooter that just didn’t want to switch to digital.  I was happily shooting with my Leica M6 and Mamiya 6 MF (man, I still wish I had that camera).  It’s funny because now I love digital :).  That D-Lux 3 played a crucial part because it was the camera that eased me into the digital world.  So, when a new D-Lux is released, such as, the new D-Lux 7, I’m always up to giving it a go, and seeing what has been improved.  Speaking of, the new Leica D-Lux 7 has definitely been improved but at the same time, I’m glad to see a lot of the features that were just about perfect, have remained in this new version. Let’s get started.

Leica D-Lux 7 Build Quality:

I have to admit I’m kind of like a kid in a candy store when a new Leica product arrives at my doorstep.  It could be a big ticket item like a camera or some small accessory like one of those cool magnifiers for the M.  I still get that feeling, and it’s something I definitely felt when I first received the new Leica D-Lux 7.  The price for this new model is $1,195, which is definitely not cheap but it also isn’t nearly as expensive as Leica’s flagship cameras.  After opening the box to the new D-Lux 7, I was greeted with a very solid and well-made camera.

↑ Leica D-Lux 7.

It’s a beautiful one as well; the chrome is a really a nice touch if you ask me, and I just love the clean lines. It has the red dot like many other Leica cameras but you definitely don’t need it to know it’s a Leica; Leica DNA is written all over it.  So far, it only comes in this one color but as some of you know, Leica has been known to make special editions of many of their cameras, so I wouldn’t be surprised if we see other colors in the future.  I know some may want black because it is more “discreet” but the camera itself is already so compact that it really doesn’t draw that much attention when you’re out street shooting, for instance.

I had a D-Lux Typ 109, and one feature I loved was the tactile controls, which I’m glad to say, are also on the new Leica D-Lux 7.  These controls aren’t just for show either.  They aren’t just there to make the D-Lux 7 look “retro”.  They fully work, serve specific functions, and in my opinion, the tactile controls are one of the main features that help distinguish the D-Lux 7 from the rest of its competitors.  Dials for the shutter speed, and EV compensation are on the top plate. The dials offer a nice firm feel as you rotate them to your chosen setting.  There’s also an aperture ring on the lens.  Tactile controls like this aren’t just a rarity in a camera like this but are always great to have on any camera because they fully involve the photographer in the photographic process.  I also find it quicker in general to make crucial adjustments in this way than going through a menu system, for instance.  Bottom line is, if you’re serious about your photography, these controls are great to have.  Of course, if you want to go full auto, you can do that as well.

↑ The D-Lux 7 has great tactile controls.

In addition to the controls, there is also a built-in 2.76m-dot electronic viewfinder with a large, 0.7x magnification.  It’s sharp, clear, and the colors are decent.  It’s great to use, especially during the day because lag isn’t really an issue, and it does offer a very natural and lifelike view.  In dimly lit situations however, it does get a bit grainy and there is a bit more lag.  Overall though, it’s great to have a real viewfinder on a point and shoot.  In addition to the tactile controls that I previously mentioned, the EVF is another great feature that helps make the Leica D-Lux 7 feel even less like a point and shoot and more like a “real” camera.  Shooting while having your arms extended, and looking through the LCD display is just not the same as using an actual viewfinder like the one on the D-Lux 7.

Speaking of the LCD display, it’s a 3″ 1.24m-dot touchscreen.  It does not swivel or flip in any way, which I actually prefer.  I’m not sure what a flip screen would do to the camera’s clean lines or even to its solid feel, and the truth is, I rarely use flip screens any way (I have one on my Fuji X-T3).  Still, considering what type of camera the D-Lux 7 is, I would imagine this being a small issue for some.  People are going to use this like a point and shoot; they are going to use the D-Lux 7 on vacation with their friends and families.  It will replace a camera phone for some, and for all these situations, a flip screen is more versatile.  But I imagine the flip screen would also make the D-Lux 7 larger, which is no good either.

↑ The D-Lux 7 has a decent LCD display but it is not articulating.  It also has a built-in EVF.

There are also a bunch of other features worth mentioning.  For one, the focus point of an exposure can be changed after shooting.  There’s also Focus Stacking where you superimpose several shots onto each other with different focus points to get a greater depth of field in macro, for instance. The D-Lux can shoot up to 11 fps.  The D-Lux 7 also has the ability to record in 4K at a frame rate of up to 30 fps, and 100 Mbit in MP4 and AVCHD-format.  Lastly, you can use the Leica FOTOS app with the D-Lux 7.

In terms of overall layout and design of the Leica D-Lux 7, you’re dealing with something that is clean and straight to the point in typical Leica fashion.  The menu system isn’t a killer to figure out, and the button layout is kept as simple as possible with no unnecessary extras.  Everything here is designed to keep you concentrating on the actual shooting, not the sometimes overwhelming electronic extras found in some modern cameras these days.

Any complaints about the overall design?  For one, while the camera looks great, I found it to be a little slippery at times.  You could purchase the Leica Handgrip but if you ask me, it kills the clean lines of the D-Lux 7.  Plus it costs $150.  I think Leica should’ve added the leatherette that is found on cameras like the M and the CL instead of using the matte/semi-gloss black.  In this way, the D-Lux 7 will still have that two tone look of its larger, and more expensive siblings but will also be less slippery.

I was also a little disappointed when I saw the inner barrel of the lens extend.  The inner barrel is black but the outer barrel of the lens is silver, which to me, takes away a little bit of the premium look of the camera.

Also, while the D-Lux 7 does include a flash, which is a great thing, I kind of wish there was one that was actually built into the camera only because this would truly make it an “all-in-one”.  But the viewfinder takes up the flash space, and it is much more desirable to have that built into the D-Lux.  I wasn’t a huge fan of those optical viewfinders you had to attach in the hot shoe on the older D-Lux cameras.  Plus, I also wouldn’t want the camera to be any larger, and the flash is very compact.

Lastly, the “A” button on the top plate isn’t in a great location if you ask me.  I accidentally pressed it sometimes when I was turning the camera.

Overall though, I am nitpicking as they say, and of course, I should since this is essentially a $1,200 point and shoot.  But besides these issues, I am very happy with the camera’s design and layout.  It’s an absolutely beautiful looking premium compact, and the tactile controls really give the Leica D-Lux 7 more of a “real camera” feel when compared to many of its competitors.

Leica D-Lux 7 Autofocus:

In terms of focus, the Leica D-Lux 7 is very quick overall for a premium compact all-in-one camera.  It can hunt a little sometimes in poor lighting but there’s nothing out of the ordinary here.  The focusing is also pretty accurate.  I don’t believe it’s the quickest in its category of cameras but it sure will get the job done.  I don’t shoot sports but overall, I had no issues with the autofocus.

Leica D-Lux 7 Image Quality:

As for overall image quality, I feel like the Leica D-Lux 7 really delivers.  Sensor wise, it uses a pretty large one for a camera in its class.  It has a 17 MP Four Thirds sensor, which can be found in larger, interchangeable cameras.  The lens is the same one from the D-Lux 7’s predecessor: the Leica DC Vario-Summilux 10.9-34 f/1.7-2.8 ASPH.  The 35mm equivalent is a 24-75mm, and for the most part, it’s a nice lens but the zooming is a little slow.  It’s great to have the large aperture though not necessarily for shallow depth of field shots but more for versatility in dim lighting.

↑ I took this image at 500 ISO f4 with the lens set at 10.9mm.

↑ This was taken at 400 ISO f5.6.  The lens’ focal length was 15.9mm.

↑ This was taken at 320 ISO f2.7 with the lens set at 22mm.

Images are very sharp, contrast is good, and the color rendering is very nice.  In fact, I really like the colors that come out of the D-Lux 7.  They are strong and vibrant but at the same time realistic, which I find very important.  The reds are particularly nice in my opinion.

↑This was taken at 200 ISO f8 with the lens set at 10.9mm.

↑ The settings for this image were 200 ISO f2.8 with the lens set at 12.5mm.

↑ Here’s a shot taken at 200 ISO f5.6.  The lens was set at 34mm.

While all the images in this review are processed from RAW files, it’s worth mentioning that the out of camera jpegs are phenomenal, so if you do not want to spend your time editing RAW files, you’ll still get great looking images straight out of the camera.  In addition to being a Leica user, I’ve also been using the Fuji X Series system since the original original X100.  As many of you know, the Fuji out of camera jpegs have always been excellent.  I feel that the OOC jpegs from the new D-Lux 7, while different, rival the Fuji stuff.  It’s all a matter of personal taste, of course, but that’s just what I feel.

↑ This was taken at 400 IS0 f5.6 with the lens set at 10.9mm.  I converted it to black and white with Camera Raw in Photoshop CC.  I actually convert most of my images now into black and white with Camera Raw or Capture One.

↑ Here’s a shot taken at 1600 ISO f4 with the lens’ focal length set at 15.9mm.

↑ This was taken at 800 ISO f4 with the lens set at 13.6mm.

As for image noise, the Leica D-Lux 7 actually does a pretty good job of controlling it considering its category of camera.  I’m sure the larger sensor helps in this area.  For the most part, files are very clean at 1600 ISO to 3200 ISO.  Files at 6400 ISO also hold up a lot of detail but expect more noise.  Still, files produced at 6400 are very useable.  At 12,800 ISO, noise is definitely more noticeable but files are useable.  I save 25,600 ISO for emergencies.  It can get really noisy, and some banding can occur at times.  In terms of overall noise and detail, the RAW files are definitely better than what you would get out of the OOC jpegs.  There is smearing and loss of detail in the out of camera jpegs at 25,600 ISO, for example.  So, if you know ahead of time that you’re going to be using higher ISO, maybe have the camera set to produce both jpegs and RAW files, so if you don’t like how the jpegs turn out, you can always process the RAW files.  Overall though, the D-Lux really does a great job at higher ISO for a premium compact.

↑ This was taken at 1600 ISO f2.8 with the lens set at 34mm.  The D-Lux isn’t going to give you crazy bokeh but still, I wanted to see the quality of the shallow depth of field.  Plus, definitely pretty clean in terms of noise for a premium compact camera.

↑ Here’s a 100% crop of the photo above.

↑Here’s a shot taken at 3200 ISO.  The settings were 3200 ISO f2.8 with the lens set at 34mm.

↑ Here’s a 100% crop of the photo above.

↑ This was taken through a window.  The camera settings were 6400 ISO f3.2 with the lens set at 10.9mm.

↑ Here’s a 100% crop of the photo above.

↑This shot was taken at 12,500 ISO 5.6 with the lens set at 10.9mm.

↑ Here’s a 100% crop of the photo above.

↑ Here’s another example taken at 12,500 ISO.  The rest of the settings were f2.8 and 22mm for lens’ focal length.

↑ Here’s a 100% crop of the photo above.

↑ Here’s an example at 25,000 ISO f2.8.  The lens was set at 23mm.

↑ Here’s a 100% crop of the photo above.

↑ Here’s one more example at 25,000 ISO f2.8.  The lens was set at 34mm.

↑ Here’s a 100% crop of the photo above.

Leica D-Lux 7 Pros And Cons:

Leica D-Lux 7 Pros:

  • Built well.
  • Beautifully designed.
  • Tactile controls that advanced photographers will appreciate.
  • In typical Leica fashion, straight forward in terms of overall layout and design.
  • Built-in EVF.
  • 4K video.
  • Quick autofocus.
  • Excellent image quality.
  • Decent high ISO images.
  • Compact all-in-one that’s great to carry with you anywhere.

Leica D-Lux 7 Cons:

  • A little slippery.
  • No flip display.
  • No built-in flash.
  • Zoom feels a little slow.

Leica D-Lux 7 Verdict:

For the days when you just don’t want to carry your big camera rigs but still want something that produces great images, and is versatile in terms of controls and functions, you’ll want a premium compact.  The Leica D-Lux 7 is a superb choice, and it would probably be my pick out of all the great models currently out right now.

↑ This was taken at 400 ISO f2.8.  The lens was set at 34mm.

↑ This was taken at 200 ISO f4 with the lens set at 21mm.

At $1,195, the D-Lux 7 is not cheap.  But then again, a lot of its competitors aren’t cheap now either.  The Sony RX100 VI sells for $1,198, and even the Panasonic LX 100II sells for $997.99.  If anything, one should also consider an interchangeable lens camera because in this price range, you could get a decent mirrorless set up, such as a Fuji X-T30 with say an XF 18-55mm for just $1,299.  The X-T30 will be better in versatility, and image quality too.  Of course, while the X-T30 is very compact, it’s not in the same class of camera.  It’s not an all-in-one premium point and shoot like the D-Lux 7 or any of its competitors, so it really isn’t even a fair comparison.  All I’m saying is you have a lot of choice in this price range.

↑This was taken at 800 ISO f5.6.  The lens was set at 10.9mm.

↑ This was taken at 320 ISO f2.8.  The lens’ focal length was 26mm.

For an all-in-one premium compact, I feel like the D-Lux 7 offers quite a lot.  It’s made well, it’s one heck of a beautiful looking camera, especially with that shiny silver, and even though it is technically a point and shoot, it has a lot of features an advanced photographer would want.  It has great tactile controls that in my opinion really sets it apart from its competitors, and the autofocus is quick.  It has a built-in EVF, and the image quality is excellent.  It even shoots RAW, so a photographer interested in really pushing their images has the ability to do so.  Bottom line is the D-Lux is a superb choice for the photographer who wants a all-in-one, go anywhere, premium compact.  I’d recommend it to anyone.

Thanks for taking the time to read my review!  If you’re considering purchasing the D-Lux 7, and my review helped you decide, please help support this site by purchasing from any of the links in this review.  It will not cost you anything extra.  Thank you for your support!

Leica D-Lux 7 at B&H Photo

23 comments… add one
  • inthedarkroom

    Amazing shots from a point-and-shoot! Your review covered all the bases.

    • Patrick

      Thanks inthedarkroom!

      Best,

      Patrick

  • I was amazed how your explanation of your first opinion about this tiny camera was quite like mine, particularly the fine sharp focus , and the hight standards of quality image . It Seems like a small full frame in a leica box sometimes for me , especially with great light conditions in street photography. Im a professional photographer who wanted something light and easy to hide , and thanks to that little sharp knife i made some shots inside Madrids Prado museum where is highly forbidden . What i surely like as you is the tactical mechanical use , really love that touch of retrò photography , in particular choosing to put iso function on the ring of focus to have all manual and perfectly in the hand . Incredible is at F4 the beautiful perfection of people on street environment , it is a really nice camera to have always with you , on sundays walks to capture best moments . I ‘ll do not recommend it for a trip in extreme conditions , better a fat reflex in that case like the old D300 .

    • Patrick

      I completely agree. It’s a very versatile camera that produces great image quality. It’s easy to carry around and be discreet with but at the same time, it offers mechanical controls that advanced photographers will appreciate. Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to leave a comment!

      Best,

      Patrick

  • Elderin

    Hi Patrick,

    i also find the D-Lux 7 very appealing. It is remarkable that not only the build, but also the image quality speaks Leica. Always a fan of the color scheme and overall visual impression.
    Could it be that the inside of the lens is black to prevent straylights ? I cant think of a lens that is not black inside. Or did i misunderstood something here ?

    • Patrick

      Hi Elderin,

      Good to hear from you. I don’t mean inside the lens; when you turn the camera on, the lens extends out. That part of the barrel that is extended (the outer portion) is what I’m talking about. When you look at the Gray Typ 109, that part of the barrel is silver as well. I hope this clears it up :). Thanks for stopping by!

      Best,

      Patrick

  • Elderin

    By the way i revisited your 50mm Summicron review because i now use this lens on the M10.
    It is the sharpest lens in my lineup and it renders beautifully on the M10. I mean it did on the M9 and M, too, but the sensor of the M10 is a perfect match. I believe the 50 cron would be great on the SL, too.
    Have you ever tried that ?

    • Patrick

      Hi Elderin,

      That Summicron is one of the best deals from Leica if you ask me. I still own mine because it was such a fantastic lens. I actually haven’t used my Cron on the SL yet though. However, now that you mentioned it, maybe I’ll go give it a try, and update my Summicron review :).

      Best,

      Patrick

  • Elderin

    Hi Patrick,

    you should do that.
    The results are so so good and quite different from what you get with an M9. I bet you will be surprised even though you already know that it is a very good lens. Have fun.
    Greetings, Elderin

    • Patrick

      Hi Elderin,

      I’ll try it when I get back from vacation. I know there are some that say it’s not aspherical or that it’s a 40 year old design but the optics are excellent…some of the best available. Maybe I can write something up as well. Should be fun :).

      Best,

      Patrick

  • Patrick Chan

    Hi Patrick,

    Thanks for writing a review on the lovely D-Lux 7! I have been waiting for your review & glad to see it finally came out. Besides the fast lens & build quality, the major factor that persuaded me to purchase the previous D-Lux 109 was the analog dials & controls. Sometimes I wish my lovely CL & the TL lenses are more analog! As the D-Lux 3 was your first ditigal camera, the D-Lux 109 was my first Leica camera. Despite having the same electronics as the Panasonic LX100, the jpeg color is different & it just feels better in the hands. If Leica didn’t come out with the CL, I would most likely get the new D-Lux 7. The D-Lux 109 introduced me to the Leica experience & it has been good so far. I am kind of hoping Leica will eventually come out with a smaller, full-frame interchangeable lens camera; similar to a Q2 that can change lenses & has both phase/contrast AF. I still need a full-frame camera for my landscape/nightscape & ocassional action work. I have been looking at the new Nikon Z7 as I have been a Nikon user since the film days. Well, enjoy your Caribbean vacation!

    • Patrick

      Hi Patrick!

      Thanks for taking the time to read my review, and apologies for the late reply! The internet wasn’t great. The Caribbean was incredible though…it was much needed, and thanks for the well wishes! I’m back now but I miss those beaches!!!

      The D-Lux Typ 109 is one of my favorite cameras. I had a grey one, and definitely regret trading it in a while back.

      The CL is another fantastic camera. In fact, I liked it so much, I didn’t want to send my review sample back. I found it worked great with M lenses too making it a nice alternative for those who may have difficulty focusing with an M camera. My uncle bought one recently, and even though I have my SL and love it, I have to admit that I am a bit jealous lol ;).

      I also agree with you that Leica should come out with a full-frame compact interchangeable lens mirrorless camera. But you should also give the SL a try :). It has become my favorite camera out of any camera that I’ve used, reviewed or owned. I use it on full shoots several times a week, and it’s one of the most reliable cameras that I’ve used so far. It’s also built like a tank, and the SL lenses are second to none. I seriously can not praise these lenses enough. I’ve only posted my 90mm SL review but have plans to post reviews for the rest of the lenses. Also, I recently tried the new Panasonic S1R and it’s pretty incredible. My guess is a lot of that tech will find its way into the new SL2 ;).

      Anyway, thanks for stopping by, Patrick! I hope to hear from you again soon!

      Best,

      Patrick

      • Patrick Chan

        Patrick, good to know you had a nice vacation!

        I did try the SL at one of the Leica stores in Tokyo two years ago. I was blown away by how good the EVF is and also surprised how light the SL is. However, all the SL lenses are big and heavy; also the SL still uses contrast AF. My main areas of photography are landscape/nightscape with some wildlife and action, and travel with a mixed of B&W, environmental portrait and cultural scene. My CL meets my needs nicely on the latter part, especially with M-mount lenses for B&W & portrait. I hike and sometimes climb a lot when doing landscape work, the SL lenses are just too big and heavy for me; in a similar way so do the new Panasonic S1R and its lenses. I used my CL at a concert in HK last summer, the contrast AF just couldn’t keep up in action shots.

        I will be on vacation to Asia soon, I have signed up for seminars/workshops in HK and Bangkok; and a 4-day photo tour at scenic Guilin/Yangshuo in China. I will really put my mind and CL to work this time! Take care and talk to you later.

        Yours Truly,
        Patrick

      • Patrick

        Hi Patrick,

        Yes, the SL lenses are very large lol. The body is okay like you said but the glass is heavy. You should give the S1R a try though. The AF is really, really good, at least with my initial testing. I’m assuming that the tech will go into the next SL. Also, the Panny lenses are a lot lighter than I thought they would be. I tried the zoom on the CL actually :).

        I hope you have a great time in Asia! Get a lot of great pics! I haven’t been to Hong Kong in years…would love to go again soon :). Take care and talk to you soon!

        Best,

        Patrick

  • Patrick,

    Thanks — I always look forward to reading your reviews!

    Quick background: I spent six weeks being dragged around my spouse’s old stomping grounds in Japan (she lived there for five years). Always on the go; I took the D-Lux 6 Typ 109 and am so glad I did — always with me, incredibly versatile whether we were inside a temple or in the bright sunlight. Only a couple of times I misssed having a bit longer lens. The flippie sde is that the 6 fit easily in my purse (as there’s always discussion of camera bags, I think we need to expand to include purses: this was the Ghurka Marley Hodgson 🙂

    Leading up to a question about the 7: many a time I’ve pulled great details from the shadows with the 6 at low ISO; I assumed it was the relatively large pixels on the sensor. The 7 has a greater density of pixels; I wonder how well it handles shadows?

    And a remark: wishing for a longer lens, I tried the Fujiyama 2.5x Teleconverter for the 6/7. You have to shoot at f2.8, though. In the center 1/3 of the frame, it’s remarkable; sharp as you could want, beautiful. Unfortunately, it falls off drastically after that, so I’d conclude it has a place, but only a limited one.

    Which leads up to the wishlist, especially after reading your reviews of the Pana-Leica lenses and the GX85. I wish I wish we could have the Digilux 6/7 body with the interchangeable lenses made by Pana-Leica. I wouldn’t trade in my M240, but I think I’d really have a lot of fun with that combo.

    See what your reviews did? sent me off the a happy camera fantasy land 🙂

    Best Regards,

    Kathy

    • Patrick

      Hi Kathy!

      It’s so nice to hear from you, and thanks for taking the time to read it! Apologies for the late reply. How’ve you been?

      I remember you mentioning Japan the last time we spoke :). 6 weeks…wow, that’s incredible :). I used to have an old girlfriend that lived there, and I remember visiting her for a whole month one time. I didn’t want to leave after :).

      Unfortunately, I did not do a comparison between the 7 and the Typ 109. The 7 was a loaner, and I had traded my Typ 109 in a while back, so it’s been a while since I’ve shot with it. With all that said, I shot with the D-Lux 7, and I didn’t once feel like anything was missing when compared to the Typ 109. I shoot in RAW all the time, and was very happy with the flexibility of the files. Yes, the 7 does have a greater density of pixels but it’s also about four years newer, and you know how fast tech evolves these days. If you’re considering trading in your Typ 109 for the 7 but maybe are also considering entering a new system (you mention the Digilux), it might just be worth it for you to keep your Typ 109, if you’re happy with it. The 7 is a great camera; there’s no doubt about that, and it is much improved but at the same time, I feel that the Typ 109 is good enough that if you wanted to, you could keep it for longer.

      This leads me to the Digilux topic :). Have you ever considered a CL? It’s not quite as versatile as say the X-T3 but it definitely has its own charms. Quite frankly, I’m in love with the camera, and I’ve wanted one since I reviewed it a while back but I can’t keep buying into more systems lol. I mention it to you because it’s compact, it’s an APS-C camera, it’s L mount, which means you can attach a bunch of different lenses to it, and you can use your existing M lenses (the CL works amazingly well with M lenses). Speaking of lenses, the ones for this system are superb. I’m currently reviewing the 55-135mm TL lens (on a loaner CL, which I don’t want to return), and it’s phenomenal. Lastly, the camera is compact.

      Also, that teleconverter sounds really cool. My brother in law owned an X1 a long time ago, and I forgot where he got the parts but he made some sort of teleconverter for it as well. It worked pretty good :).

      Great pics too btw! Thanks for sharing them. I love that train pic with the older gentleman sleeping :).

      Best,

      Patrick

  • It’s good to be back reading your reviews again. Actually after a long day, much better than a drink. Can cost more in the long run tho.

    So if I understand this, you went to Tokyo to see a girlfriend, then hung out exploring Tokyo together for a month. I can see how that’d leave a lasting impression. You do know some people might possibly be jealous, right?

    The pic of the sleepy gentleman on the train: the one I didn’t take was a young, attractive well-dressed woman lying in an alley early Sunday morning. We checked to make sure she was OK, but an older woman told us she was passed out from drinking too much the previous night, and she just slept where she fell. Sad but there is a strong drinking culture.

    Yes, my Leica journey did start with a Digilux 2, but then I made the big mistake of handling an M8 at an Austin store. What can I say?

    With the M8 and a summicrom 50, I wanted something a little lighter (with somewhat less expensive lenses); tried the Olympus Pen F, Fun, great selection of lenses — but I just cannot do PASM after doing M8.

    I’d been reading your CL material — honestly I can’t believe you give so much to your readers. And I have read that Leica’s L mount lenses are some of the very best around. But when I saw a minty M240 for around the same price — exit M8, enter M240.

    It’s keeping me busy: because of the M8 crop factor, I find I don’t really know what a 50mm frame is really like! I’m having to learn framing & composition all over again. Back to basics …..

    I think I’ll take your advice tho, keep the D-Lux 6 Typ109 until the 8 0r 9 introduces something spectacular.

    Best Regards,
    Kathy

    • Patrick

      Hi Kathy,

      Apologies for the late response! I wrote you a reply, and thought I sent it but I didn’t.

      Yes, I went exploring around Japan with my girlfriend at the time haha. It was actually a spontaneous trip; it was planned last minute, and I didn’t even know I was going to spend that much time there but I did. It was probably my most memorable trip anywhere. A lot of fun, and I got to see so many things. Surprisingly, while I took my camera with me, I didn’t even use it.

      So, you’re up to an M240 now, huh? That’s nice. I had the M240 for a long time. The 50mm Summicron is one of Leica’s best lenses as well. It’s ultra sharp, and easy to focus. I’ve own the Lux version for a while now but I can’t bring myself to ever sell my Cron. It was actually the first Leica lens that I bought.

      My Leica journey started when I was quite young…I was around 12. I was really into photography, and when my great uncle passed, he left his M3 to my dad. My dad was big into Leica as well, so he sent the M3 back to Leica to get it CLA’ed, and gave it to me to shoot with along with loaning me his 50 Cron. He already had an M6, so the M3 would’ve just sat there, if I didn’t use it. I shot with that set up for years non-stop. Seeing that I was so serious about photography, my dad would occasionally let me use his other lenses or even his M6 but basically, I used the Cron and M3 most of the time. It’s probably why the 50mm focal length is still my favorite type of lens lol.

      Anyway, I was able to save up money in college to buy myself an M6. The only lens that I could afford was the 50 Cron…well, it was between that or the 50mm Elmar, which I thought was so cool because it collapsed. Ultimately, I’m glad I ended up with the Cron because it’s optically a much better lens. However, the Elmar is one of my most desired lenses. Every time I go to Japan, it’s the only lens I look for :). I can’t bring myself to buy one, since I don’t need another 50mm. I just like looking at it, and dreaming of the day I might own it :).

      As for the CL, if you’re ever in the market for a smaller, autofocus camera, it is really good. The lenses are amazing.

      I can definitely understand you needing some time to get used to a 50mm after the M8. Just shoot as much as you can, and if anything, you can always crop a bit. In the end, you’ll still have more resolution than what you got from the M8 :).

      The D-Lux Typ 109 is definitely not out of date or anything. These days, cameras are so good that I believe you can keep them for longer. Maybe invest in a 75mm for your M, since that might give you a focal length closer to what you got with your M8 and 50mm ;). Have a great day!

      Best,

      Patrick

  • Apologies in return — grading final exams eats my soul, so I go offline.

    I think I can understand your first Japan trip. Spouse always says ‘pick any direction, start walking: you’ll see things you’ve never seen before’. You submerge & might never come up for air. You had the added benefit of romance.

    I’d probably skip taking photos if I didn’t have a voice in my ear saying ‘alwayscarryacamera.’ That’s what I love about the Typ 109 — fits in my ourse, or I can carry it in my hand for hours and hours.

    The main reason tho is that it operates just like my M cameras. I picked it up and knew exactly how to get what I wanted (well, not quite: manual focus is focus by wire, so there’s always a small overshoot. And once, taking a pic of Fuji-san from the shinkansen, I forgot I could push it to 1/16000 a second.)

    I’ve also gazed at the CL with lust in my heart. And seen those fantastic shots from your reviews. And And read of the ultra-high resolution of those next-gen lenses.

    What stopped me was an experience with m43 Olympus Pen F. I had fun with it and all those ‘free’ lenses (compared to Leica anyway) but I definitely did not have fun setting aperture by wire. I also loaned the camera to a friend; when I got it back everyhting had been reset & I had no idea how to use it. Ebay!

    I look at CL lenses and ask ‘so where the aperture ring, then?’ 🙂 🙂

    Your story about growing up with the Leica was really wonderful to read. Looks like your Dad was a very big influence on your life. Happy father’s day, then.

    But — You must know that phrase ‘born with a silver spoon in his mouth’ to mean ‘born to a wealthy family. So you were born with a Leica in your hand.

    But — and thanks for your advice on the M240 — just having a Leica doesn’’t make you a photographer. Looks like you put in decades of work to get where you are. No shortcuts — take photos, think about what you see. Take more photos.

    And remember this is supposed to be fun 🙂
    Best Regards,

    Kathy

    • Patrick

      Hi Kathy,

      I am so sorry for taking so long to get back to you! My site went down due to my hosting service having a mechanical failure, so I was offline for a few weeks.

      I wished I took pictures during that trip to Japan. I think I could’ve gotten some nice shots since my girlfriend at the time lived there. At that time, instead of using the D-Lux, I would’ve used the Minilux, since, if I recall correctly, there weren’t any digital cameras yet (wow, I feel old haha). I did own a Minilux btw, and loved it. The image quality was so good. I wish I never sold it.

      As for the Pen-F, yes, that camera can be difficult to figure out…mainly the menu system. I remember when I first got it, I couldn’t find how to even set the camera to RAW files (I was on the street at the time, so I didn’t have the instructions with me). So, I can definitely understand what you mean :).

      That’s one thing I do like about Leica cameras though. The menu systems are simple and direct, and all the cameras in general have some similarities whether it’d be controls or menu system. So, like you said, it’s not hard to go from your M to your D-Lux for instance. Even when I went from my M 240 to my SL, it wasn’t that bad. Yes, there are differences but it was pretty easy to figure out the SL. I didn’t even read the manual.

      I also know what you mean about the aperture ring. I grew up with M cameras, and other cameras I used during the film era all had aperture rings. It was something I had to get used to when I switched to the SL BUT you can always use M lenses on the SL and CL :). Still, it is something I do miss on my SL lenses.

      My dad was a big influence on my life. We like a lot of the same things that’s for sure :).

      As for the M3, I was very lucky to have had a chance to use that camera, and as you say, born with a Leica in my hand haha. I learned so much from that camera. At that time, the M3 was literally collecting dust and aging because no one had used it for decades. It actually was less money to get it CLA’d by Leica than to buy a kit camera at the time, so I was very lucky. My dad had a bunch of his own M lenses, and he was a user. The only lens that he never really used was his 50 Summicron, and it just so happens to be the widest lens that you can attach to the M3 without an external viewfinder. All the other lenses that my great uncle had looked absolutely new externally but because of the decades of storage, none of the glass was clean.

      That camera taught me everything. It was completely manual, so that meant not only did I have to adjust exposure and manually focus, I had to learn about lighting, since there wasn’t even a built in meter. I also had to learn how to make the most of it with one lens. I was young, there was no way I could afford to buy myself another with Leica prices lol, so I shot with the 50mm Summicron all those years. I guess it’s why the 50mm is still my most used focal length. I definitely was much more skilled in those days than now though haha. Nowadays, I depend too much on those electronics :).

      The M3 is something that I know I will never get rid of no matter what. It was my great uncle’s, and my dad had a hand in getting it back to good condition. It was my constant companion for years. It helped me learn photography, and grow this passion for it. It helped me grow a passion for Leica products. I’ve had offers, and it’s not a special edition or anything. To me though, it’s priceless.

      And thanks for reminding me this is all supposed to be fun :). I don’t know if you have Instagram or not but if you do, look me up. A lot of my new work is up there, and the reason I’m mentioning this is because for the last year, I’ve made a big switch to do more portraits/fashion/boudoir photography. I love the new switch; it’s so exciting in many ways but at the same time, it was a ton of work in the beginning (at one point I was doing two to three shoots per week, and I have to edit after). I’m still playing catch up to be honest. Once in a while I forget it is supposed to be fun lol.

      I hope to hear from you soon, and I hope you’ve been enjoying the summer!

      Best,

      Patrick

  • Hey, Patrick,

    I wondered why your site never loaded — I thought maybe my router speed. I’ve been reading about photographers who lost their entire stock in a fire, or WWII bombing. Or Vivian Maier at the garage sale. And here I complain about your site being down.

    I confess I had performance anxiety shooting in Japan: it just seemed how could I do anything that wasn’t trite & been done a million times. I got over it — I think being jet-lagged gave me that extra ‘who cares’ I needed.

    Got to admit the Minilux is cute — and you they’re cheap on ebay. It’s just — as with so much retro equipment — I bet the modern Fujifilm cameras are gonna be ten times better, alas without the memories. Still, look at the M3 must bring up ‘Wow, we had some amazing times together.’

    On going from M240 to SL — I wonder if the CL wasn’t like the training wheel version? I confess I had a fling with a Nikon D610 — more like a one-night stand — before I realized: too big, too bulky, too heavy. Much as I like what I see of the SL and those incredible lenses, I’m not woman enough to handle it. Though Nikon left behind a bunch of little lenses — like the Nikkor 105mm f2.5 — which are still remarkable on the M240.

    Growing up with the M3 and no light metering — you did learn the hard way, though I suspect that kind of discipline is what it means to become a professional. Tho I don’t have the years or the discipline, I’m beginning to get a feeling just by looking at hte light what the aperture I want is going to be.

    It is amazing how one lens can influence your whole career. On an M8, the 50mm is more like 70, and when I look through my D-Lux 109 pix, with all the focal lengths I could have, 95% are 70mm. I wonder if it’s like muscle memory — I know this focal length, I know what it can do, how to frame it. All of which doesn’t stop me from looking longingly at 28’s and 35’s.

    The whole ‘this is supposed to be fun’ probably doesn’t work so well since you do this professionally. I went to college in the 60’s so I could go all new age about it. Maybe doing what you did — switching to a whole new area — helps keep the passion and the fun alive. Except for the part about editing several hundred photos a week. Aren’t you glad you’re not using a 54 megapixel camera? Comes with free supercomputer.

    Thanks for the Instagram tip — and you very kindly have a link, or I would never have got there. Checking it let me find the range of of your work (no I’m not sorry; someone had to say it). Is the boudoir work most with women who want a professional photo for their bf (or gf in my case)? Or is there a mix of models what want something in their portfolios?
    If it’s non-model work, do you have to help them about posing?

    It’s all very odd to me (as in my wife telling one person ‘No, Kathy is not going to do a show for you. There is nothing she would hate more.’) Spouse & I were walking in the fashionable shopping area of town when I said, ‘Look at that women. I bet you anything she’s a model’ And she kind of looked at me and said, ‘Uh, honey? That’s Lisette, our next-door neighbor.’ (who actually was a model before becoming an M.D.)

    Somehow, the person got swallowed up by the model. Does that ever happen in your work?

    Cheers!

    Kathy

    • Patrick

      Hi Kathy,

      It’s great to hear from you, and yes, it’s just been a crazy summer.

      I get that same anxiety all the time lol. Every time I shoot, I feel like it’s been done a million times. There was a point when I was doing more reviews that it just felt so repetitive. I felt like I was shooting the same stuff over and over. It’s one reason why I went more towards portraits. You’re always meeting new people, and everyone has their own style, their own poses. If I’m doing street shooting, I usually go out with a friend. He was actually one of the readers here, and we became friends over time because he lives in NYC as well. Anyway, I find it actually makes me more creative because I guess it makes me see through his eyes. Plus, it’s just more fun, and I think when I’m more relaxed, I get better pics :). You’re welcomed to come along, if you’re ever in NYC!

      I haven’t kept up with the prices of the Minilux but if it’s cheap, you should go for one! The images were as good as what came out of my M6 at the time. Yes, the M3 always brings up great memories. If I were to buy another film camera though, I’d probably for for a Mamiya 6 again. I had one in the old days, and that was such a great camera. Medium format, rangefinder, compact, and great images. Quiet too because of the leaf shutter. With 12 shots, it really makes you think before you shoot. Some of what I think are my best photos were shot with that camera.

      I can definitely understand what you mean about the SL. Summers are not easy carrying around even just the body and 50mm Lux-SL lol. There is something that will always be special to me about the M. I can’t justify both for myself right now but maybe in the future, I’d like to have one again. It would probably be the Monochrom though. Love that camera. Have you tried it?

      As for learning without a meter, I couldn’t meter with just my eyes, if my life depended on it now haha. It’s like my lessons with French. I took 8 years, and I barely remember a thing haha.

      As for focal lengths, I always say just pick whatever you’re most comfortable with. There are certain “rules”. But those rules are flexible, if you ask me. For instance, I see some fantastic portraits where people use a 35mm or even a 24mm lens. I’m a 50mm guy, and I use it for nearly everything. I know a 35mm is more common but for some reason, I’m not as comfortable with one but I don’t mind something as wide as 18mm. Still, I look longingly at a 35mm sometimes too haha. Recently, I’ve been looking at lenses with a more classic bokeh. I ended up reading about the older version of the 35mm Voigtlander f1.4. So, I got the version 2 in to review (be up soon), and now I want one for myself haha. Also reviewing the 90mm Summarit, and writing an article about the 75mm Summilux (if you like lenses around this focal range, you HAVE to take a look at this lens), so you see? I haven’t abandoned the M system completely :).

      As for this being fun, it definitely still is. There are moments when it’s not so fun. Sometimes a person gets mad when you don’t agree with them on this site haha or a shoot just didn’t go that well, and you still have to edit the pics. But overall, I get to meet new people all the time, my office is either at home or out on the streets of NYC, and I get to create new things whether good or bad haha. Don’t think I didn’t try not to go down this path. I tried very hard to go a more traditional route. I’m a person that values stability, and consistency. I went to a high school that concentrated on the arts, so my thing was really sculpting. I got into most of my colleges that way but I quickly jumped to more traditional majors. After that, I went through tons of schooling for things that had absolutely nothing to do with photography. But at the end, I just was not happy. I’m definitely not that young anymore haha but there’s still a part of me that considers going back to something more traditional sometimes. I don’t know why. My parents actually felt like I shouldn’t have gone down the more traditional path because they knew I wouldn’t be happy, so it’s not like I felt pressured.

      As for the model work, it’s so different nowadays, at least from what I experience. Most of the models I’ve dealt with want it for their own Instagram or portfolio. For instance, I work with one who is currently looking to get agency represented, so she’s looking for a range of different stuff from fashion to boudoir. Some models will only do one type of genre. I have some for instance that will do fashion but no boudoir. Some will do swimsuit, fashion, athletic but no boudoir or boudoir but no swimwear lol. If it’s non model work, you have to help them with the poses sometimes. Some models are so naturally talented that I don’t even say anything. I don’t want to ruin the fluidity of the shoot. I know some people are really particular about poses but I’m not; I’m more trying to capture something a little more natural but that’s just me. I have so many more pics but I haven’t posted them. I don’t know why; my friends say I should :).

      Overall though, the shoots are very professional. We’re both there with the main purpose of getting pics. Even with the boudoir shoots, you don’t really think of it as a girl in lingerie, for instance. We’re both there to create a look, and that’s just part of it. With all that said, we still have a lot of fun. A lot of food is usually involved too :).

      My brain must not be working well, today haha, what do you mean by swallowed up by the model?

      The thing that I have to do right now though is really get back to this site. I tend to dive into things wholeheartedly, and I did that with the portrait stuff; it left me less time for this site but this Fall will be different. Have a bunch of posts coming up, and I’m going to stay consistent :)! Leica stuff too ;).

      Btw, it’s great to see your website! Thanks for including it. Your spouse lived in Japan for 6 years??? So lucky. I told you I went back last year right? I can’t even look at the pics without feeling a little depressed that I’m not there now haha.

      Best,

      Patrick

  • Yo, Patrick,

    Tokyo, lenses, modeling: quite a collection.

    You sound like spouse, with a daily ‘I miss Tokyo’ What we’re doing is going to YouTube and watching NIPPON WANDERING TV. This guy has an Osmo Pocket, which is 3D stabilized, and he wanders. Our area last trip was Shinjuku, we also did a bunch around Marunouchi, Nihonbashi & Ginza, so it’s fun seeing places we’ve been, Of course, then we pass a tendnon place, and get hungry; then everything is worse! Tho in NYC you could probably find something. In Austin, TX — nai. But — try the YouTube. See if it helps.

    I’d conflated your 1997/1998 trips into one, and I’m *really* glad you reminded me of the photos. The 21mm Leica Summilux opened my eyes to a whole new world — I thought 21mm would be all landscape stuff. Seriously — I have a whole new view of what these lenses can do!!! So serious thanks.

    Like you, I probably won’t be picking up the Leica — I retire in 2020, so a drop in income. Also we will return to Japan after the Olympics (spouse is serious about this) ; this time it will be 2months not six weeks. And the SE Asian equivalent of airbnb was a bit of a — ok it was a real disaster (tho a year later it has all kinds of funny stories, like when the police wanted to come in to see if our neighbors were dead. Then there was NHK film crew …). So — something more expensive.

    Which means I’ll be looking more 7Artisans 35mm, maybe their new 75. Than Leica. And I really appreciate getting your 7Artisans reviews — almost no-one is doing that. Tho — it feels like trading a Lexus for a bicycle 🙁

    You are lucky, to forget your business and walk around with a friend and a camera. Love to join you, but I hope to trade incredibly pricey Austin homes for a house in the forests of Washington State. That ought to give me a something very different on my OVF.

    I was surprised to hear your concern about ‘can I do this?’ Then I realized I’d been teaching about 35 years, dreading the beginning of each semester, before I picked myself up by the ears, shook me, and said ‘You been doing this 35 years. Do you really think there’s a situation you haven’t seen? can’t handle?’

    About your switch to models: so that means you have to maintain a safe changing room, and then a studio. Isn’t that a bit pricey in NYC? I bring it up because Spouse just closed down her physical office — all her profits were going to the landlord. Online from now on — which you can’t exploit!

    We talked about guessing the aperture — yeah, I can see that with professional work, you have to nail the shot. I’d read your reviews of the M240 (thanks again!) and I see you changed your mind about the EVF. So do you use that or light meters?

    If friends & colleagues have been encouraging you to post more photos, and it doesn’t interfere with your business .. then do it. People react so differently to a photo, and you never know what they’ll think. It’s like — if you know the Shakira song Estoy Aqui (or very unlikely Ferron Our Purpose Here). I like ballads with great beauty and a slight sadness. I picked out a couple of photos in your Instagram that gave me that feeling.

    Tho I bet the ‘come hither’ shots get a lot more likes 🙂 🙂

    Click!

    Kathy

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