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

14 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

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