Return to Boxed Light  
  Leica D-Lux 4  
 

My Photography with the Leica D-Lux 4
Jim Radcliffe

It's Here!
The Leica D-Lux 4 arrived on Tuesday, October 28th.  After several weeks of tracking down images on the web produced by the Panasonic LX3 and D-Lux 4 I finally gave in and placed an order for the D-Lux 4.  It was a bit of a bitter pill as Leica has seen fit to charge a premium for this version of the D-Lux line. The price of the camera is a bit outrageous when you consider the price of the LX3.. but, we want what we want.  I much prefer the clean lines of the D-Lux 4 to the LX3 and no matter what anyone says, the D-Lux 4 will have higher resale because of that little red dot and the "look" of the camera.

First Impressions
It's slightly bigger than the D-Lux 3.  It feels quite sturdy except for the side panel cover which is plastic and the bottom battery cover.  The bottom cover now sports a sliding latch as opposed to the sliding cover that the D-Lux 3 used.  The controls on top of the camera could have and should have been much better.  I would have preferred ISO and shutter speed and aperture controls on top of the camera rather than through the LCD menu.  The controls on top of the camera feel somewhat cheap and the mode control knob is very easily moved from one setting to another by accident.  It takes very little pressure to move the button off a setting.  This was bothersome on the D-Lux 3 and I thought they would have fixed this on the D-Lux 4.  The Canon G10 has the D-Lux 4 beat in this area. Better controls would have made that premium price a little easier to bear but it is what it is, according to Leica, Son of M8, along with a Son of M8 price.

The controls on the back of the camera will be familiar to anyone who owned the LX2 or D-Lux 3.  The LCD is large and the images look gorgeous on it.

Macro capability is greatly improved.  So much so that I will no longer need to use my G9 for macro shots. 

The faster lens and the sensor improvements have made ISO 400-800 quite usable.  From the few photographs I have taken so far I have no regrets in upgrading to the D-Lux 4.  It certainly could have been a lot better.  The lens cap is a throwback.  A built-in cap would have been better by far.  But it really boils down to the images and the D-Lux 4 delivers.  In my opinion, it out-performs the D-Lux 3 in every respect. 

I will not attempt to do a "GearHead" review of this camera.  Instead, I will post photos taken with it.  The old saying "A picture is worth a thousand words." still holds truth when it comes to cameras.

This first batch of photos is nothing special.  I've only had a few hours with the camera and I am still trying to digest what I have read in the manual.  Yeah, I know, guys don't read manuals.. but with this camera you must read the manual.  It has a lot to offer and you'll only discover all those features by reading the manual, a couple of times if not more.

I will be adding photos to this section in the coming days and weeks along with more thoughts on the camera. So, if you are so inclined, check back every now and then to see what I have done with the Leica D-Lux 4.

Jim Radcliffe
Dallas, Texas

Update: After One Week Of Use

I have no regrets in purchasing the D-Lux 4. The improvements made to the camera made it worth the upgrade to me. 

What I Like
I like the performance at higher ISO settings: 400 and 800.
I like the AF speed of the camera.
I like the 16:9 aspect ratio.
I like the colors the camera produces.
I really like the better macro capability of the D-Lux 4.
I like the new menu system.
I like some of the in-camera scene settings.. pin hole is fun as well as the BW combinations.
I like the hot-shoe, a welcome addition.
I like that you can use an adapter with this camera to use filters and polarizer, ND, etc.
I like being able to move the focus point around the screen to the desired location so that you do not have to focus and recompose.
I like the "look" of the camera; black and boxy.. a proper shape for a camera. 
I like being ignored when I am shooting because I look like a tourist using a point and shoot camera.

There is a LOT to like about the D-Lux 4.

What I Don't Like
Some of what I don't like, I have already mentioned above but I thought I would keep all my dislikes in one location in this section.

I hate the mode control knob. It is too easy to accidentally switch modes by just touching the control. Every time I pull the camera out of my belt pouch, pocket or bag I have to check the mode to insure that it is where I left it. This control really needs to be fixed.

The new focal length can sometime be irritating due to the lens distortion. Yes, you can correct it in Photoshop but I wish I did not have to.

I would prefer the ISO, Aperture and Shutter controls to be external rather than menu driven via the LCD.

I much prefer the battery / memory card locking mechanism of the D-Lux 3 to that of the D-Lux 4.

I dislike the lens cap. It should be built in so that you are not forced to remove it and attach it when using or not using the camera. The tether for the lens cap must be used or you will eventually lose the lens cap. The tether is annoying.

The size of the camera. I don't really dislike it but I sure wish it was more the size of the G9 or G10. Those of us with larger hands need something we can really get a grip on. The D-Lux 4 is pretty small and in large hands, handling it becomes a bit awkward.

The plastic door on the side of the camera for the connections really feels cheap. If you're going to pay a premium for a camera like this, how about getting rid of the plastic.

All in all there is nothing here that is a deal breaker. I won't talk about the price since we are dealing with a camera that bears the Leica name, more in spirit than in substance. I'll just say it's overpriced and leave it at that.

I've Seen Enough... The Bottom Line
The Leica D-Lux 4 is very impressive.  As I sometimes look at images taken with its alleged father, the Leica M8, I quite often see the D-Lux 4 producing images that are equal to and sometimes better than those produced by the M8.  Not always by any means but sometimes and frankly, that is enough.  Of course, maybe it's the owner of the M8 who is less capable than the camera itself. 

I know the M8 is capable of producing amazing images but so often what I see from the M8 is a bit of a let down.   I keep thinking that for a camera that costs a fraction of what the M8 body alone costs, the D-Lux 4 is quite outstanding.  Outstanding in what it offers in control and what it delivers in image quality and style.  As I said, I have no regrets in purchasing the Leica D-Lux 4.

Final Conclusion - July 7, 2009
After using the D-Lux 4 since October of 2008 I can say in all honesty that of all the cameras I own, it is my favorite.   

It is compact, I can take it with me anywhere.  It is quiet, even quieter than my M8.  It produces wonderful images, not as good as the 5D or M8 but for its size the images are amazing.  It is versatile, with zoom, macro, video and built in features to help photographers achieve the look they desire.   It is not perfect, a larger sensor would be great, but perfection is not possible and for what it is, the Leica D-Lux 4 is one of the best compact cameras ever made.

These are my opinions.  They carry as much weight as a grain of dust in the wind. - Jim Radcliffe


Related Interest: 
Click here for my Leica D-Lux 3 gallery
Click here for my Sigma DP1 gallery

Click here for my Leica M8 gallery

Click here!
Looking for Add-ons for your D-Lux 4? 
Click on the button above and visit the Lensmate site.  High quality stuff for your compact cameras.  I use their products and the quality is outstanding.

Get A Grip For Your D-Lux 4

I recently obtained the custom grip for the D-Lux 4 created by Richard Franiec.  I was afraid I would not like it before it arrived but then fell in love with the design and the quality of the grip.. but the main thing is.. it works!

My fingers fit the curve of the grip perfectly and it totally did away with something that has bothered me since I began using the D-Lux 4, "camera slippage". You see, I often use one hand to manipulate the DL4 for macros and other strange shots at weird angles. Before I used this grip the camera had a tendency to slip or twist a bit in my hand making it difficult to get the shot I wanted. I say hand (singular) because if you're going to one-hand the DL4, you will need this grip or the camera will slip. The ergonomics of the grip could not be better.. just perfect.

The build is a perfect match to the DL4 and it does not hinder access to the battery/memory card compartment like the Leica/Panasonic grip does. Click here to see more info and photos of the grip and to place an order.   He also offers a hotshoe cover and cable release adapter for the D-Lux 4.

Note: I am in no way affiliated with Richard Franiec.  I am just a user of his product who felt the grip far surpassed my expectations.

A Book You May Be Interested in:
Photographer's Guide To The Leica D-Lux 4.

Alexander White has written an in-depth book about the D-Lux 4 and offers it for sale online or through Amazon.  You can read about the book, read sample pages and order it online by clicking here.

Note:  I am in no way affiliated with Alexander White nor do I receive any form of compensation for this mention of his book.

The First Week with the D-Lux 4

November 1, 2008

November 2, 2008

November 4, 2008

November 9, 2008

November 16, 2008

November 15, 2008

November 20, 2008

November 22, 2008
On this day in 1963 President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas.  Forty Five years later to the second, I found myself on the very spot where he was killed.  I thought it worthy of some photographs.  I shot everything in color but knew I would be converting to black and white. These photos literally demanded to be in black and white.

November 28, 2008

November 23, 2008

November 29, 2008

 



To View The Images
Click on any thumbnail image on this page to view a larger image.   Return to this page by clicking on the larger image.

A Note About The Images
I post process all images in Photoshop CS3.  I tweak contrast and saturation.  I dodge and burn.  I adjust curves and I do BW conversions. I correct for lens distortion and more.  In short, I use a digital darkroom.  I am not one of those who believes that  what comes out of the camera is the final product.  There is nothing you can do in-camera that can not be done better and with greater control in Photoshop. The digital darkroom let's me do everything I used to do in the wet darkroom but without the chemistry, paper safes, print dryers, and working under red lights.  The bottom line is that every image you see here came from the D-Lux 4 and was post-processed in PS CS3.

January 31, 2010
I have not given up on the D-Lux 4.  I still carry it every day but since I have received the GF1 I have been taking every opportunity to become familiar with that camera.  Here are a couple from the D-Lux 4 taken not long ago.

 

December 1, 2009 - Back To My Old Ways
Now that I have sold my M8 I am back to using the D-Lux 4.  These are from half an hour in Williams Square in Las Colinas, Texas.  Home of the Mustang Statues.


Radio The Way It Was
I love old things.. old radios, phonogrpahs, etc. were at one time in my life a hobby.  I used to collect them.  I only have a few of them left.  This old Crosley Radio is one of the survivors.

Dead Fish
This is a rather gruesome looking shot but still, I like it.  A couple of dead fish trapped in the rocks of a spillway from a dam.

Into The Abyss
Forgive me for posting yet another picture of a frog but this little guy just begged to be photographed.  He looked like he was contemplating jumping into the abyss but was not quite sure about making that leap of faith.

August 26, 2009 - Texas Dawn
I love to watch the sunrise and this time of year they can be quite beautiful here in Texas.

An Old Friend Returns
A shot of a camera I bought back in 1966.  I thought it had been thrown away by my parents while I was serving in the military.

August  21, 2009 - Shoot Anywhere
You might think I took this in some dark old cemetery in New Orleans but that was not the case.

August 18, 2009 - Dawn At The Nature Park
I managed to get up before the sun rose this morning and made my way to the nature park in the dark.  Found a place to sit and waited for the light.

August 9, 2009 - Americana - The Diner
The Hulabaloo Diner sits off the beaten track in the little town of Wellborn, Texas.  It is one of the few registered, authentic diners in the state of Texas.  It was originally located in Albany, New York but was transported over 1850 miles to its present location when it was about to be demolished.  It is a 1940's DeRaffele Diner.  You can read the history here and watch the video here.

July 24, 2009 - Boredom & Accidents
Just playing with long exposures (one second) with the D-Lux 4 and it resulted in a photo that is far from perfect but still appealing, at least to me.  Still too hot to venture outside so I amuse myself with what I can find inside.

July 20 - Early Morning
It was cool enough for me to visit the lily pond in the park this morning where one of my old friends allowed me to get within inches of his resting place on the reeds.  I know you've seen shots of these frogs before but I never tire of shooting them.

July 7, 2009 - Garlic in BW

June 3, 2009 - Creature Day
Everywhere I went I saw creatures today.  From flys to frogs and butterflies to turtles.  The D-Lux 4 is great for macro/closeups.

May 6, 2009
Well, I finally made it out to the Pacific Coast.  I have a ton of photos from the D-Lux 4 but will only post a few of them here.  The D-Lux 4 continues to amaze me.  The files it outputs are good and I only shoot JPG with this camera.  Any of the photos below would have looked great at 13 x 19.

February 28, 2009
I've been busy getting used to my M8 but I have not and will not abandon the D-Lux 4.  I took it with me to New Orleans for Mardi Gras and will be posting photographs here.  Here are a few to get started.

January 25, 2009

January 23, 2009

It's amazing how a place can look so different at different times of the day.  The shots below were taken at the same location as the three birds shot  on January 17th.  I got up before dawn, drove to the march and wait for sunrise...

January 17, 2009

Inspired by photographs I viewed in a couple of BW fine art magazines.  I'm not saying this is fine art.. just my attempt at duplicating the mood of the photographs I saw using a Point & Shoot camera..

January 10, 2009

January 4, 2009

December 24-26, 2008
A Kansas Prairie Christmas

I spent the Christmas Holiday in Kansas at the home of my wife's parents.  It was cold, it snowed, and then, it warmed up.  Kansas is full of surprises for photographers.  You've just got to drive down a lot of back roads and be prepared to freeze while battling the constant wind that blows across the prairie or burn up and dodge tornados in the sprnig and summer.  So here are a few photographs from a less populated part of the United States.  I only had a few hours to shoot each day but I am happy with what I brought back.

December  19, 2008

December 13, 2008

December 4, 2008

December 3, 2008

December 2, 2008