Test: Just Leica Classic
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Autofocusing is a hybrid system combining external passive sensors with TTL detection. It can lock onto most any detail, even in low light and low-contrast situations, but it can take its time. Our lab timed the AF at about 1.5 seconds in bright light, and close to 2 seconds in low light-slower than most digital SLRs we've tested. Shutter lag is very low, though, at 120ms, so you can fire quickly after prefocusing. The burst mode fires at 2.7 fps, the total number of frames depending on resolution and quality level.
Manual focusing is another curious amalgam of old and new. The focusing ring internally focuses the lens with the AF motors. As soon as you nudge the ring, the central portion of the EVF or monitor is magnified to aid focusing. (And yes, it looks almost like the central rangefinder patch of an M-series Leica.) We found manual focusing a bit awkward, however, and think that a focus-confirmation signal would have helped.
The Digilux can capture in RAW format as well as JPEG at various compression levels. (RAW capture takes just under 10 seconds to write to the card, and burst shooting is disabled.) The included SilverFast software's RAW converter has many automated functions and presets working in a clean, uncluttered interface. Another useful camera feature is white-balance adjustment, which lets you fine-tune any white balance (preset or custom) by small increments for warmer or cooler tones.
In our lab tests, resolution results just made it into excellent, our highest ranking, on the strength of numbers more like those of a 6.3MP camera than 5MP. Color accuracy was extremely high, just short of excellent, and noise was quite low. Sharpness is aided by the DC Vario-Summicron lens, a 13-element optic with four aspheric surfaces.
There you have it: an excellent picture taker, and a refreshing change from the ordinary. But is it worth nearly two grand? After all, a fair number of 5MP advanced compacts can be had for less than a third of the cost of the Leica. And you can pick up any of several fine 6.3MP digital SLRs-with lens-for less. You'll have to decide for yourself if the sharp imaging, superb handling, intuitive controls, and bulletproof construction are worth the difference.
Oh, go ahead.
Spectacular fit and finish. Big, clear LCD monitor. Menus readable at arm's length. Real live built-in bounce flash, with adjustable output. Clearly marked, logical controls. Long battery life.
Fits no normal pocket. No manual-focus confirmation. No burst mode for RAW capture. For $1,850, a case is optional? No ISO higher than 400. Still an awful lot of bucks for a 5MP camera.
Download our Leica Digilux 2 Test Results
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