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Thread: Review of the Leica V-Lux 30

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    Default Review of the Leica V-Lux 30

    [May·2011] Leica announced its new digital compact camera – the Leica V-Lux 30. The new universal compact camera features a 15.1 megapixel sensor (14.1 MP effective) and a Leica DC Vario-Elmar 4.3 - 68.8 mm f/3.3 - 5.9 ASPH, equivalent to 24 to 384 mm in 35-mm format.


    Leica V-Lux 30

    The Leica V-Lux 30 has a near identical twin in the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ20 (Travel Zoom series), which was announced in Jan'11. Leica now pitches its stylish V-Lux 30 in the mix of travel zooms compacts, offering a very useful 24mm wide angle, 16x zoom range, AVCHD Full HD movie recording, 3" touch screen LCD screen, and built-in GPS, making a very compelling case for it as an ideal traveling companion.

    Highlights
    - Leica DC Vario-Elmar 4.3 - 68.8 mm f/3.3 - 5.9 ASPH (16x), with Optical Image Stabilization
    - 24mm wide angle
    - new 1/2.33" CMOS sensor
    - 1080i-AVCHD Full HD with integrated stereo microphone
    - new 3D mode (MPO format)
    - 3" LCD touch screen display (460,000 pixels)
    - integrated GPS function

    The Leica V-Lux 30 comes complete with Adobe® Photoshop® Elements 9 for still image processing, Adobe® Premiere® Elements 9 for video processing, and a 2-year international warranty. The stylish design of the Leica V-Lux 30, in elegant black matt finish complete with the Leica "red dot", can be further complemented by the optional Leica strong leather or soft leather cases (brown).
    Last edited by Cactus jACK; 9th June 2011 at 07:08 PM.

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    Default Review of the Leica V-Lux 30 - Specifications


    Leica V-Lux 30 - Top view

    Camera
    Lens: Leica DC Vario-Elmar 4.3 - 68.8 mm f/3.3 - 5.9 ASPH (equivalent to 24 - 384 mm)
    Elements / Groups: 12 elements / 10 groups
    Aspherical Lenses: 6 surfaces in 3 elements
    Optical Image Stabilization: Yes
    Zoom optical/digital: 16x / 4x
    Sensor: 1/2.33" CMOS with 15.1MP (effective 14.1MP)
    Metering modes: Face Detection, AF Tracking, multi points, 1 point, Spot, Touch Field
    Focusing range P/A/S/M: 50 cm (wide-angle) / 2 m (tele) - ∞, Macro: 3 cm / 1 m - ∞
    Shutter speeds: 60s - 1/4000s, (Starry Sky mode: 15s / 30s / 60s)
    LCD: 3.0” TFT-LCD, approx. 460,800 pixels, Touch screen functionality

    Resolution
    Still pictures:
    - 16:9 format - 4320 x 2432, 3648 x 2056, 3072 x 1728, 2560 x 1440, 1920 x 1080, 640 x 360
    - 3:2 format - 4320 x 2880, 3648 x 2432, 3072 x 2048, 2560 x 1712, 2048 x 1360, 640 x 424
    - 4:3 format: 4320 x 3240, 3648 x 2736, 3072 x 2304, 2560 x 1920, 2048 x 1536, 640 x 480
    - 1:1 format: 3232 x 3232, 2736 x 2736, 2304 x 2304, 1920 x 1920, 1536 x 1536, 480 x 480
    Movies:
    - 16:9 format AVCHD: 1080i: 1920 x 1080, 720p: 1280 x 720 pixels, Motion JPEG: 1280 x 720 pixels
    - 4:3 format: 640 x 480 pixels, 320 x 240 pixels
    - 3D: 1920 x 1080 (MPO format)

    Exposure control
    Exposure modes: Program mode (P), Aperture priority (A), Shutter Speed priority (S), Manual Setting (M)
    Exposure compensation: Increments: 1/3 EV steps, setting range: ±2 EV
    Scene modes: Portrait, Soft Skin, Transform, Self Portrait, Scenery, Panorama Assist, Sports, Night Portrait, Night Scenery, Handheld Night Shot, Food, Party, Candle Light, Baby1, Baby2, Pet, Sunset, High Sens., High-Speed-Burst, Flash Burst, Starry Sky, Fireworks, Beach, Snow, Aerial Photo, Pin Hole, Film Grain, Photo Frame, High Speed Movie
    Metering modes: Multi-field / Centre weighted / Spot
    White balance: Auto / Daylight / Cloudy / Shade / Halogen / Manual setting
    Sensitivity: Auto, iISO 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600

    Other Specs
    Flash Modes: AUTO, AUTO with pre-flash, AUTO with slow sync, On, Off
    Microphone / Speaker: Stereo / Mono
    Internal memory: approx. 18 MB
    Memory cards: 8 MB - 2 GB (SD), 4 GB - 32 GB (SDHC), 48 GB - 64 GB (SDXC)
    GPS: Geodetic Data System - WGS84
    Battery (Lithium/Ion): BP-DC7
    Dimensions (WxHxD): 104.9 x 57.6 x 33.4 mm
    Weight: 219 g (with memory card & battery)
    PictBridge: Yes
    Software: Adobe® Photoshop® Elements 9, Adobe® Premiere® Elements 9
    In the box: Leica V-Lux 30, Battery charger (Leica BC-DC7), Lithium-Ion Battery (Leica BP-DC7), Carrying strap, AV cable, USB cable, Software DVDs, CD with long instructions (PDF), Printed short instruction manuals, Touch Pen

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    Default Review of the Leica V-Lux 30 - Introduction


    Leica V-Lux 30

    [Compared to the Leica V-Lux 20] The overall look and feel of the new Leica V-Lux 30 is very similar to its predecessor, the V-Lux 20. Most of the changes are internal, of note are the increases in megapixels (12.1 megapixels -> 14.1 megapixels), zoom range (12× -> 16x), movie HD quality (720p HD -> 1080i AVCHD), and the new 3D MPO format captures. In terms of interface, the Leica V-Lux 30 has added the touch screen function to the large 3" LCD display.

    V-Lux 20 -> V-Lux 30
    12.1 megapixels -> 14.1 megapixels
    25 – 300 mm (12×) -> 24 to 384 mm (16x)
    720p HD video recording -> 1080i AVCHD video recording
    3" LCD display -> 3" LCD touch screen display
    nil -> 3D capture *new*

    Further, there are more subtle improvements as well, such as the increased maximum movie recording timings (60mins for AVCHD and 30mins for MOV) and improved burst firing performance (10fps for full resolution 14.1megapixel shots).

    The most obvious physical difference is the location of the 1-touch movie record button which has been relocated from the back of the V-Lux 20 (previously located next to the exposure button) to the top of the V-Lux 30, accessible by the shooting finger. This can help avoid accidents in starting a movie recording, when all you really wanted to do was to press the exposure button.


    Leica V-Lux 30 - rear view

    Unfortunately, lost in the mix, are the iso80 and Hi-Auto (iso1600-6400) settings - arguably, you may not be too keen on using the "emergency" Hi-Auto iso as the 2 additional iso stops would have resulted in the introduction of a lot of digital noise and lost of a lot of details (see ISO test). Also lost from the V-Lux 20 is the clipboard function on the mode dial, it has been replaced by the 3D option on the Leica V-Lux 30.

    [Compared to the Leica D-Lux 5] It is hard to compare the travel zoom Leica V-Lux 30 with the likes of the Leica D-Lux 5. The Leica D-Lux 5 has a larger 1/1.63-inch CCD (10.1megapixels) and a faster lens (f/2.0 @ 24mm) in the Leica DC Vario-Summicron lens 5.1 - 19.2mm f/2 - 3.3 ASPH (3.8x). So the Leica D-Lux 5 is built to excel in low light performance. However, the strength of the more compact and lighter Leica V-Lux 30 is in its 16x zoom and the flexibility and convenience associated with it, complemented with higher megapixels, full HD video recording, and GPS tagging, all in a stylish compact shell.

    As a side note, I really do like the use of the 3" LCD touch screen display on the V-Lux 30, not found on either the V-Lux 20 or the D-Lux 5. The touch screen is very useful notably for i) choosing focus point anywhere on the screen and touch capture, and ii) panning and sliding while reviewing pictures. Especially for panning, the touch screen is much more effective than the directional buttons.
    Last edited by Cactus jACK; 11th June 2011 at 01:02 AM.

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    Default Review of the Leica V-Lux 30 - Zoom & 3D

    [Zoom] The Leica V-Lux 30 fashions a 16x optical zoom lens in the Leica DC Vario-Elmar 4.3 - 68.8 mm f/3.3 - 5.9 ASPH, equivalent to 24 to 384 mm in 35-mm format. The range can be stretched further by a further 4x digital zoom that can stretch your zoom range to 64x. However, the better alternative in increasing the zoom range would be using the intellengent Zoom (or i.Zoom) which takes advantage of the intelligent Resolution technology to maintain the picture quality while increasing the zoom range to 21x (effectively approx. 423mm).


    Leica V-Lux 30 - 24mm (left/top), 384mm (right/bottom)

    Leica V-Lux 30 - 24mm

    Leica V-Lux 30 - 423mm 21x with i.Zoom (middle of the above 24mm shot)

    [3D] The new 3D mode is a neat little feature, which simulates the visual disparity of 3D lenses, such as the Lumix G 12.5mm f/12. The Leica V-Lux 30 takes a series of pictures as you pan the camera from left to right, and it will combine two suitable shots to form a “stereo image pair”, a left eye-right eye view as it were. The camera saves it as a 3D image in MPO format, as well as a Jpeg of the first shot in the sequence - 2-megapixel (16:9). However, you would need a MPO-compatible equipment, such as TVs and digital photo frames, and 3D glasses to view your MPO file.
    Last edited by Cactus jACK; 10th June 2011 at 09:27 AM.

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    Default Review of the Leica V-Lux 30 - ISO performance

    [ISO Performance] The iso performace of the Leica V-Lux 30 does well for a compact with a 1/2.33" sensor, and cannot reasonably be compared to other cameras with larger senors and larger photodiodes - as mentioend in the comparison wit the Leica D-Lux 5. However, the iso performance of the Leica V-Lux 30 is good up to iso400, which provides some scope to work in some lower lighting conditions. At iso800, while digital noise is still bearable while more obvious in darker areas, and the picture begins to loose details.

    Your milage may vary on the use of iso1600. At 100% view, digital noise has blurred a lot of the details in the picture, especially in the shadows. With that, the lost of details and contrast in the overall picture. But if you're just viewing 4R pictures or smaller, iso1600 still produces photos well within acceptable levels, except for some lost in contrast. See first 2 samples for comparison.

    While only iso100/200/400/800/1600 stops are available in the iso settings, Auto and iISO may choose 1/3 stops (e.g. iso320 / iso1250).

    Click on samples for 100% views.


    full view of iso100 (left/top) and iso1600 (right/bottom)


    crop of iso100


    crop of iso200


    crop of iso400
    Last edited by Cactus jACK; 10th June 2011 at 09:29 AM.

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    Default Review of the Leica V-Lux 30 - ISO performance (cont)


    iso800


    iso1600

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    Default Review of the Leica V-Lux 30 - Macro & O.I.S.

    [Macro] I have always enjoyed using compacts for the occasional on-the-fly macro shots of food, toys, keyboard, or just whatever is just in front of my when I'm bored. At the 24mm, the min. focusing distance is only 3cm away from the lens, at the 384mm (16x) - 1m. At 3cm, the details are clean and sharp!! To avoid handshake ruining the details in your macro shot, you can use the touch screen to choose the point of focus, and capture the shot. This prevents any shake due to the pressure on the trigger.


    Leica V-Lxux 30 - macro mode


    Macro mode at 3cm

    [O.I.S.] Optical Image Stabilizer - The OIS is a vital part of the whole V-Lux 30 package. It is particularly helpful when you're most susceptible to handshake, e.g. using the camera at the tele-end, macro, or low-light situations. Below are 2 shots at 1/5 (0.2) sec at 131mm (35mm equivalent) - the left w/o OIS, the right with OIS.


    no O.I.S. (left/top), O.I.S. on (right/bottom)
    Last edited by Cactus jACK; 11th June 2011 at 12:58 AM.

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    Default Review of the Leica V-Lux 30 - Menus & Scene Mode

    [Menus] The menus can easily be called up by pressing the middle button 5-button scroll set. The menus are well laid out and fairly intuitive. The quick menu can also be brought up (Q.MENU button at the bottom right) conveniently to change / select key settings such as ISO, AF mode, Metering mode, Colour setting, GPS settings, and aspect ratio.



    [Scene Mode] There is a host of scene modes available to cater to your creative flair. If you cannot recognise the various scene mode icons - do not fret, there is a marquee at the bottom of the screen that scrolls the description of the highlighted scene mode. Further, you can store your favourite scenes in MS1 and MS2 (My Scene) for quick access via the mode dial. There were 2 particular scene modes that I liked to toy with - pinhole and b&w grain.


    Leica V-Lux 30 - Scene mode selector


    Scene mode - pinhole mode (left/top), b&w grain (right/bottom)

    Sometimes, I will use Aperture priority when I want better control of the aperture setting and the ability to choose my ISO setting. But for the most part, I enjoyed using the intelligent Auto (iA) mode for the camera to do all the thinking work, and it does an excellent job in evaluating and choosing the correct scene with the intelligent Scene Selector - Portrait, Macro, Night Portrait, Night Scenery, Sunset or intelligent Handheld Nightshot.
    Last edited by Cactus jACK; 10th June 2011 at 03:33 PM.

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    Default Review of the Leica V-Lux 30 - Summary

    [Summary] The Leica V-Lux 30's 14.1 megapixels are plenty to work with, and the 1-touch 1080i AVCHD recording provides memories in high definition. The 16x zoom (21x with i.Zoom) provides convenience in covering amazing range in an instance 384mm (16x), 423mm (21x). The O.I.S. is another essential part of the overall package of the V-Lux 30, enhancing the shooting experience especially for tele-end, macro, or low-light situations. To round it all off, the touch screen and the GPS tagging are the finishing touches to this compact travel zoom.

    The Leoca V-Lux 30 slips in and fits nicely in the front jeans pocket, and starts up ready to shoot without much ado. The iA mode makes things very easy for the user - anything for quick snaps or more deliberate shots. The scene mode provides lots of additional possibilities if you care to explore, but I suspect hat the iA mode would satisfy most of the time. The V-Lux 30 makes a compelling case as a stylish and convenient travel companion.

    It is hard to fault the V-Lux 30 for not doing as well in low lighting situation than the larger sensored D-Lux 5, but you are also trading off 3.8x zoom with a whopping 16x. That's not to say that it cannot perform in low light, as seen in the hi-iso and slow shutter speed samples. It's performance is actually pretty good among the small sensor (1/2.3") compacts, and it packs in all the above features into a pocket sized compact!!

    A Matter of Perspective - As part of the samples, I just wanted to also bring across the point of what a super zoom can give you in terms of perspective - straight-on view vs a view from the bottom (looking up). Short zooms often don't have sufficient reach to take a nice tight shot of a building / statue, and the only option is to march on closer to it... to the foot of it and take the shot from the foot, looking up. This perspective would accentuate the foot of the shot, and pull in the elements tightly at the top. Super zooms can often provide you with the option to take a picture from afar, maintaining a more natural perspective of the subject.


    Difference in Perspective... these might not be the best examples, but you get the idea

    Samples

    iA, . 24mm, 1/500sec, f/4.0, iso100


    iA, 55mm, 1/1300sec, f/4.3, iso160


    iA, 423mm, 1/320sec, , f/5.9, iso100 - 21x zoom of above
    Last edited by Cactus jACK; 12th June 2011 at 03:40 PM.

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    Default Review of the Leica V-Lux 30 - Samples


    iA, 24mm, 1/125sec, f/3.5, iso100


    iA, 64mm, 1/100sec, f/4.5, iso100


    iA, 24mm, 1/60sec, f/3.3, iso320


    i.Macro, 24mm, 1/20sec, f/3.3, iso400


    b&w grain, 41mm, 1/2000sec, f/4.5, iso1600
    Last edited by Cactus jACK; 12th June 2011 at 03:32 PM.

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    Default Review of the Leica V-Lux 30 - Samples


    iA, 24mm, 1/60sec, f/3.3, iso320


    A, 28mm, 1/30sec, f/3.5, iso100


    A, 55mm, 8sec, f/4.3, iso100 - tripod


    A, 423mm, 3.2sec, f/5.9, iso100 - tripod, 21x zoom of above


    Night Scenery, 327mm, 8sec, f/5.8, iso100 - tripod
    Last edited by Cactus jACK; 12th June 2011 at 03:44 PM.

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