Leica Digilux 2; A Super Smooth Operator
· 5 million effective pixels
· $1850 -- US
I was walking down the boardwalk
of a nature preserve in south Florida with the new Leica Digilux 2 slung
over my shoulder. It being the time of day when birders were thicker
than the egrets, I noticed quite a few eyes darting in the direction
of the camera. I assumed they were amused by such a short lens in those
telephoto circumstances, until one of the hardy souls said, "Hey,
it's a Leica." Yes, I nodded, but had to add, "Yeah,
but it's digital." That drew a few souls, who diverted from
the displaying giant blue heron (or whatever it might have been) to
flock around to take a look at this Leica rangefinder looking body with
the pixelated innards.
Reading The Light
Happily, there's an excellent
software bundle that comes along with the camera. Aside from the mentioned
SilverFast raw converter (which also includes an excellent Virtual Light
Table) there's ACDSee 6 PowerPack (Windows), lowly ACDSee 1.68 for
Mac (sorry Mac folks, ACDSee has yet to deliver the goods for you), Leica
USB Remote Control (for remote operation and interval timer) and Apple
QuickTime for the movies you can make with the camera (it's already
in Mac systems--this is for the Windows folks).
There are many, many more functions on this camera, outlined well but sometimes cryptically in the detailed instruction book. But let's face it--at about $1850 street price you're into this camera because of the Leica name and reputation for excellent lens quality and smooth operation. In that respect the Digilux 2 doesn't disappoint. It starts with the large LCD screen that not only reads out most if not all the pertinent exposure information but also makes viewing outdoors easier than most. It extends through exposure control where you can manipulate light to your heart's content. And it ends up with image quality that I believe rivals the 6Mp and early returns even on the 8Mp cameras we've looked at so far.
Are there any disappointments?
Well, the slow write speed is surprising, especially with raw files. And,
never having been a fan of EVF viewing anyway, the Leica electronic viewfinder
still doesn't convince me that it's a viable way to make critical
compositional decisions. True, in low light it is actually very good,
but get it outdoors and any contrast seems to get in the way of seeing
what's going on in the scene.