Sunday, May 9, 2010

My Gear, Part I: Leica DLux 4

In addition to my Leica M9, I use a few other cameras for different occasions.  This is the first part of "My Gears", let's start small with the DLux 4.

This is my default camera.  I carry my DLux 4 with me almost all the time due to its versatility and compact size.  I love its 24mm perspective, the useful f2.0 aperture, and a long battery life.  (In fact, the Panasonic LX3 can do equally good jobs for much less money, but more on that another time.)  Just to be clear up front, I do not shoot RAW with my compacts.  I like to keep things nice and simple with everyday camera.  With intuitive controls and simple operations, the DLux 4/LX3 just works.  It allows me to concentrate on shooting, rather than fiddling with the menu.

I use the DLux 4 when I don't want to carry a camera bag with me although it isn't quite 'pocketable.'  It can fit in my messenger bag on most occasion.  The macro mode comes in handy when I do those fun food shots (for memory purpose, LOL) and other things close up. The little joystick on the back comes in handy when I need to change a few settings from ISO, aperture, white balance, resolution and even exposure compensation. I'm not a demanding photographer who needs the best image quality from my compact.  A compact is a compact so don't expect miracles to happen from a compact.  Over the last few firmware updates, the DLux 4 / LX3 have improved its focusing speed, white balance accuracy, and a little more.  Hats off to Panasonic and Leica.

My DLux 4 is fitted with a custom grip after a few close-calls of dropping it.  I'd like to keep it small so the bulky OEM Leica grip was out of the question.  I also keep the Panasonic Lumix 24mm optical finder on all the time.  It's great for landscape framing (despite being slightly inaccurate), and especially helpful in low-light.  Holding the camera close to one's face is still far more stable than the now-popular-shoot-with-the-LCD posture.  The optical viewfinder let me do just that.  The Luigi's wrist strap is carried over from my LX3.  I find it very handy to keep the camera on my wrist, rather than around my neck, when I shoot.

If you are in the market for a compact that works well in full manual, full auto, and everything in-between, give the DLux 4 / LX3 a try.  Here are some of my favorite photos from the DLux 4.

I love the 24mm perspective.  This is a out-of-camera JPG in black & white setting with minor tweaks in level (by Aperture).  

This is a low-light shot at Disney's It's A Small World ride.  The optical viewfinder came in handy allowing a steady shooting position.  (Shot at 1/20 sec., f2.0, ISO400.)

Another example of a situation where the optical viewfinder can help steady the camera by holding it in a conventional way.  (Shot at 1/13 sec., f2.0, ISO200.)

The DLux 4 and LX3 are among my favorites when it comes to color reproduction.  This photo illustrates how well it renders different shades in one single shot.  More importantly, it's an accurate reproduction of the scene, too.  (Shot at 1/13 sec., f2.0, ISO200.)

Thanks to its simple custom white balance setting and macro mode, I use the DLux 4 extensively to photograph food (for personal reference).  In fact, I can probably start another blog on food alone.   

Another photo showing its macro ability.  Shooting moving subject close-up requires pre-focusing.   

Last but not least, the DLux 4 (Titanium Edition) itself with Panasonic's optical viewfinder, Luigi's wrist strap, and a custom grip.


  1. Where did you get the custom grip, and do you need it if you have the Luigi strap? How much was the Luigi strap?

  2. Hi ZenGirlie,

    Sorry for replaying so late. Work has been keeping me busy!

    The custom grip is from Richard Franiec:

    I've dropped my LX3 before so, I'm a believer in the wrist strap. It also helps when shooting with more than one camera, the DLux can be left hanging on my wrist.