Leica D-Lux 109
I’m going to tell you what is my experience with the camera, what are the alternatives, and if it still worth to buy it. So, let’s get started. Leica D-Lux 109 is Leica’s compact point-and-shoot camera that was announced back in 2014. It is an equivalent to Lumix LX100. Both cameras are basically same with Lumix being cheaper. You might be wondering why I am talking about this camera when it has been almost six years after it was released. To be honest, I don’t have any particular reason except I have been using this camera quite often lately. So, when you first buy this Leica, you are gonna get it in this medium-sized box together with a charger, neck strap, battery, USB cable, small flash, and actually a CD with a manual. Yes, it is so much 2014. So, as I said, 109 is Leica’s compact point and shoot camera. Overall, it is more in the premium category price-wise. However, when we talk about Leica’s premium compact cameras we usually talk about Q series. As I said in my M-240 review, I have started with Leica D-lux 109 since I really liked the design and it came together with a free copy of Lightroom. The Lightroom alone does not justify the price, even though I am still using it to this day since I don’t own more cameras, and I didn’t need to upgrade from Lightroom 6, which still saves me like 10 bucks every month.
As I said in my review of Summilux M, I think the best camera in my opinion is the one you enjoy shooting with and that is why I value the design of the camera a lot when you spend so much time or when you want to spend so much time with a camera. So let’s lets take a look from the outside. This Leica is equipped with fast f/1.7-2.8 DC Vario-Summilux 24-75 millimeter equivalent lens. Which is a zoom lens which extends out when you turn on the camera. It has one ring with aperture and one multifunctional ring that you can set in the menu for multiple things such as focusing, zoom or ISO. On the left side of the lens, you can set your focus to auto, macro or manual, which to be honest, you are probably never going to use since the autofocus is pretty good. On the top, you can set your aspect ratio to three by two, 16 by nine, four by three or square ratio for photography. You can record video only in 16 by nine format. On the top of the plate, you have a hot shoe where you can connect your flash or remote for external flash. Other than that, there is a dial for a shutter speed with an on and off button, exposure compensation and zoom together with the shutter button. I have to actually look into the manual since I had no idea what the other two buttons were for. It turns out the F button is there for filters and cannot be reprogrammed. The A button is for snapshot mode. Holding the button down will cancel any manual settings and turns the camera into fully automatic no matter what your shutter speed or aperture is. So what you notice is that things like shutter speed or aperture are located outside and need to be set manually. But that does not mean you can not be completely beginner since the camera offers automatic options for both settings.
On the bottom plate, you can find speaker for playback sound, standard tripod screw and battery door. The battery door actually has a small opening which can be used, for example, for battery with external charging. The only reason this can be useful I could think of was when shooting time lapses at night when you might be afraid of running out of battery and want to use external battery source. The HDMI socket on the right side lets you playback the photos or videos on your TV. Sadly, you cannot use it for charging or exporting the data. On the back side, you can find the EVF as well as the 3-inches LCD. With a resolution of 921,000 dots. The viewfinder has a resolution of 2.7 thousand dots. You can switch between EVF and display automatically or with a button. The quick menu button lets you set the things like file size or metering mode. There are four dedicated buttons for ISO, white balance, burst mode and focusing. In the middle is the menu button, which you control with the control dial. I will not go through all the settings options, just the ones that are more important for me. If you have any questions about my settings let me know in the comments. At first, the setting looks little overwhelming. But it all comes down to two categories. Pictures and videos. What’s great about the custom setting is that it lets you save three custom profiles, which seems to be the right amount for me. My custom setting for photography is pretty simple.
I do use constant preview and sometimes also monochrome live view, which sometimes helps with composition. I have the zoom resume function turned off, since I prefer to start with the largest view possible every time I turn on the camera. What is different for my video setting is that the live view is already cropped to 16 by nine, so I can frame precisely. What I don’t like about the video is that this camera only allows you to film for 15 minutes and then stops recording. Which is fine if you are only filming short scenes. However when vlogging or recording videos like this which usually take two or three times longer, then the video limitation is little annoying. Especially when you forget about it and find out after you finish your talk. As I mentioned, vlogging. It’s also worth the mention that the camera does not have a flip screen. Fortunately, Leica has an app called Image Shuttle for Remote Shooting and Filming. You can connect your smartphone to the camera, and there you can shoot, start and stop recording or change the settings. Just be aware of the lens, since the camera can lose balance when the lens extends if it’s not mounted properly. What I like about the camera is that the camera is actually pretty small and weighs only 365 grams. Which in comparison is about the same weight as 50 millimeter Summilux Aspherical which is just few grams heavier, but it’s just a lens. As for the accessories, what I think is a must have Leica’s auto lens cap. Here you have two options. 60 bucks for the original, slightly cheaper for Panasonic one and 20 bucks for an unofficial one. I got the Leica one used for about 30 bucks, and I actually think it is much nicer than the unofficial one. It’s just a shame it is that much more expensive.
Another thing I use especially for making these videos is the Parrot teleprompter, which allows you to read your script while looking directly to the camera. I would recommend it to anyone creating videos who is also using scripts. Just make sure to have the right size for the ring for the camera as I needed to buy an extra one for 43 millimeter screw. Now, lets look at prices and close competitors. When this camera first arrived, it cost around $1,200, with its Panasonic clone being few hundreds cheaper. Or you can say this Leica was a clone of Panasonix LX100. For the extra money, you got a copy of Lightroom, which cost around $100 at that time, and three years Leica warranty. However that was pretty much all. When you compare the D-lux and LX100, D-lux was more expensive just for being a Leica. So you pretty much pay for the difference for the design, and as I said earlier, for some it can be more important than for others. You can get it as low as $550, and I have also found one completed auction for about $430. That being said with that logic the Panasonic is basically same camera, and you will find it even cheaper. Then you have the next generation LX 100 II and D-lux 7. Now before the 109, Leica D-lux 6 was a very different camera. This generation was a big leap ahead with so many new features and new design.
That being said, when we compare D-lux 7 there are actually not that many improvements. When we compare both cameras, the bodies are basically identical. The biggest change probably being the resolution. They are both micro Four Thirds cameras, but even though 109 has 16 megapixel sensor, it only uses it to produce 12 megapixels photos, as the camera also only uses a section of the sensor. Don’t ask me why, that’s just how it is. D-lux 7 has 21 megapixels sensor, but produces 17 megapixels images. Now, for a daily use, I think the 12 is more than enough and even for prints for your family album. The cropping might be a problem. However, with the optical zoom, you can always do the cropping in the field. Both shoot 11 frames per second. Unlike 109, the D-lux 7 has a touch screen. Which I don’t think is really needed, but you know, it’s there. And finally the design. 109 was released in black and later with solid gray. And even though I really like the silver-black combination, when we talk about M series, I have to say I much more prefer the black 109. But I might be biased. All in all, I would say the 109 is good all around camera. So when you don’t need the latest greatest, like the Leica design and can find it for a decent price, there is no reason not to get it if you want to get a Leica. In case you want this kind of camera but you want to save some money, I would get the used Panasonic LX100. That’s cheapest you can get among these cameras. If you however prefer the silver black design and don’t mind the higher price tag, then go for the D-lux 7. And finally if you just don’t care if you have Leica and what this kind of camera, LX 100 II is a great choice. So I hope I have helped you a little bit deciding about your future camera. If you have any more questions feel free to leave them in the comments. Thank you for reading and I will see you next time.