The new Leica V-Lux (Typ 114) has been hailed as a superzoom compact camera.
It is sometimes described as an ultra-zoom compact camera or as a
bridge camera because it bridges the gap between compact cameras and
Digital Life had previously featured a new group of bridge cameras
with fast lenses (lenses with big apertures), such as Casio's Exilim
EX-100, which uses a 28-300mm lens with a constant f/2.8 aperture
The V-Lux uses a 20-megapixel 1-inch CMOS image sensor with a Leica
DC Vario-Elmarit 25-400mm f/2.8-f/4.0 super-zoom lens. While it does
not have a constant f/2.8 aperture throughout, its zoom lens has a
longer range and its image sensor is bigger than that of the EX-100.
As the laws of physics dictate, a fast longer zoom lens and a bigger
image sensor add up to a bigger camera. The V-Lux looks and behaves
like a DSLR. It is heavier and bigger than some entry-level DSLR
However, none of those will be able to deliver the focal range of
the V-Lux lens. On its own, a fixed 400mm f/4.0 lens easily sets you
back $10,000 or more.
Of course, you pay a premium for the legendary Leica red dot, but it
is still well worth the moolah comparatively. Given the V-Lux's
capabilities, the camera is a relative lightweight at 830g.
The feel is rock solid. The nicely contoured rubberised front grip
accommodates all my fingers, to provide a good hold on the camera.
Button layout is well thought out with all the buttons easily
accessible to your fingers and thumb. Handling is top-notch. I fiddled
with all the settings with dead-eye accuracy and the camera responded
The shutter release sits on the lens zoom lever, which is near the
grip. This allows you to change the focal length and take a picture
Atop the camera sits a Mode dial, a dedicated video-recording
button, two Function buttons on the right side and a Drive Mode dial on
the left side.
The camera's back offers three more Function buttons, an adjustment
wheel and a clickable four-way directional pad, which also serves as
short cuts to ISO, white balance, Macro and Autofocusing (AF) Points
It lacks a second adjustment wheel for adjusting aperture or shutter
speed in Manual mode, but you just have to press the rear adjustment
wheel to toggle between aperture and shutter speed to change settings
For its class, it gets to work fast. Powering up takes a mere 1sec
and shutting down takes 1.6sec. Shutter lag is not noticeable.
Using an SD card with a writing speed rated at 45MB per second, the
camera captured 11 RAW images in 0.9sec before the buffer ran out.
Autofocusing is almost instantaneous and spot-on under bright
sunlight. However, at times, it was unable to secure a focus with a
bright scene which lacked any contrast, such as a white wall with a
white curtain. In dim lighting conditions with the AF Assist light
switched on, it secured a focus in about 1sec.
Usually, I prefer to have any sort of image stabiliser switched off,
as I find that the AF works faster that way. However, with a focal
length of 400mm, even the most minute movement will result in camera
shake if you are shooting at shutter speeds of 1/15sec or slower. When
I switched on the V-Lux's image stabiliser, the resulting images were
Image quality is generally good, with vivid colours, crisp details
and nice skin tones. Auto white balance is accurate under most lighting
While images might appear slightly soft at wider angles, such as
25mm or 35mm, they become sharper when you use focal lengths above
100mm. This is also the case for corner-to-corner sharpness.
Image noise performance is commendable. Images are clean up to ISO
1,600, when noise artefacts become visible. Details are slightly lost
when cranked up to ISO 3,200, but still good enough for small prints
and Web use. However, anything above that is not recommended.
This camera is able to shoot 4K videos (3,840 x 2,160 pixels) and
the quality is excellent with super-sharp images and non-overbearing
ambient audio. You can hardly hear the zooming sound of the lens.
The AF during video recording is also quick to secure a focus when
you move from one scene to another. It takes less than 2sec in dim
Battery life is average at about 360 still images on a single charge.
Image sensor: 20-megapixel 1-inch CMOS
Display: Tiltable 3-inch LCD with 921,600 dots; electronic viewfinder with 2,359,000 dots
Sensitivity: ISO 80-25,600
Shooting speed: Up to 12 frames per second
Lens: 25-400mm f/2.8-f/4.0
Weight: 830g (with battery and memory card)
Value for money: 3/5
Battery life: 3/5