Friday, March 18, 2016

I Wanted a Digital Leica, So I Bought a Digital Leica D-Lux (Typ 109)

I love my Leica M3 and Leica M6 35mm film cameras, they are truly, legendary mechanical works of art. But secretly, I have always wanted a digital Leica.What has previously prevented me from doing so are 3 factors. 1) The Leica digital offerings that are any good are out of my price range, such as the M9 and M240. 2) I wasn't hot on the idea of a digital rangefinder and 3) The Leica digital cameras that were within my price range were not all that good and/or did not come with a EVF viewfinder.

I have been looking long and hard at the new, Leica Q. A 24mp, full-frame digital camera with a fixed 28mm lens. It looks amazing and the images I have seen are second to none. But it costs a whopping $4,200 USD. I opted for the Sony RX1RII and was able to find a used model for $2,800. I think the RX1RII is every bit the equal of the Leica Q, and I am content with my choice.

But that didn't quench my thirst for a digital Leica.

I'm surfing around eBay last night and stumble upon the Leica D-Lux (Typ 109). I had seen previous versions of the Leica D-Lux, such as the D-Lux 6, but this was the first time I had seen the latest version even though it was released in November of 2015 (normally I don't miss these things). And much to my surprise, there it is... a built in EVF on the back of the new Leica D-Lux!

Prior to this latest version, you were stuck with using only the LCD screen on the back of the camera, or purchasing an add-on EVF viewfinder which made the camera larger and took another chunk out of your pocket. In addition to the built in EVF, the D-Lux jumps from 10mp to 12mp and shoots video in 4k. Nice.

The Leica D-Lux (Typ 109) is priced at a very reasonable $850 - $1,100 depending on where you buy it. This is what got my attention. Finally, a nice Leica digital camera in my price range.

Leica works closely with Panasonic when it comes to sharing technical know-how in the production of digital cameras. In fact, they share so much that Panasonic offers their model known as the Lumix LX100 which is internally, identical to the Leica D-Lux (Typ 109). At least that's what "they" say. The Lumix is priced around $200-$300 USD less than the Leica. But what are the differences?

"They" say that internally, the two cameras are identical, in fact, the Panasonic Lumix LX100 sports the same Leica lens that is mounted on the D-Lux. But there are a few key differences which make the cost difference worth the stretch. Firstly, the Panasonic Lumix LX100 is made in China, while the Leica D-Lux (Typ 109) is made in Japan. Secondly, the Leica includes a 3 year warranty compared to the 1 year warranty with the Panasonic. Thirdly, the body design of the Leica seems to be of a better build with more metal than plastic compared to the Panasonic and lastly, the Leica D-Lux (Typ 109) comes included with a copy of Adobe Lightroom photo editing software.Which is really invaluable since Lightroom has gone to a subscription based pricing.

I have to admit, even though I was not able to afford the Leica Q that I really wanted, the Leica D-Lux (Typ 109) is a great compact camera that I know I will enjoy. The lens is a fast f/1.7 Summilux with a focal range of 24-75mm. The camera takes great photos that have that "Leica look" which simply can't be imitated due to the production techniques and properties of materials and glass that Leica uses. Their reputation is truly legendary for a reason.

Stay tuned to my blog for my photos from the Leica D-Lux (Typ 109), my order has been placed and my camera has been shipped. Should be here next week!

Leica D-Lux (Typ 109) images from Google image search.

Sample images courtesy of Jan Kopetzky from the official Leica page


  1. I love my Leica TYP 109 and and it almost a few years now. The optics are truly amazing.

  2. I have had mu Lumix LX-100 for about a year and a half now (it came out in 2014, not 2015) and it has been a wonderful camera. The amount of easy control that one has in the basic settings (shutter speed, aperture, focus, and ISO) are far beyond anything else in its class and, in fact, remind me of some of my favorite film SLRs.

    As I already had Lightroom, that was not a factor (the included SilkyPix software leaves a lot to be desired) and I found the build quality to be quite solid metal - the only plastic bit that I can comment on is the soft material on the grip area - a feature missing entirely from the Typ 109. Lens and sensor quality are fantastic. It and my Leica Typ 114 are my favored companions on a photo walk!