The Red Dot

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Wednesday, I received my new camera, a Leica D-LUX 3.

Choosing a new camera has been a long process, that has extended over almost 2 years. My initial thought was to continue with the next generation HD camcorder, as my daughter remains committed to her gymnastics and this device is good for catching action shots. However, while the technology has advanced to HD levels, I remained uncertain about the quality of still-shots at that level.

To obviate this concern, last April, I purchased a compact 3 mega pixel camera, as this resolution was approximately what I could expect from the newer camcorders. The results of this experiment were quite unexpected. Rather than being an assessment of whether the resolution was sufficient, I quickly became aware that portability was the key. This compact camera fit in my shirt pocket; no lugging around a large device in a large, bulky case. It was in fact quite liberating. That was the tipping point. I was convinced a digital camera with video capabilities, rather than the other way around, was the way to go.

Since early summer I have been monitoring the Digital Photography Review web site for new cameras as they come on to the market. They have an excellent search capability, as well as what appears to be a comprehensive list of cameras.

In late September I entered my search criteria (ultra-compact, 10mega pixels, image stabilization, format=RAW) and one camera was reported. Announced September 14, 2006: the Lieca D-LUX 3. I reviewed the features which included HD-level video recording and realized I was close to completing my journey.

I contacted a local Leica dealer, Photocreative, and spoke with Jeff, the owner of the shop. Jeff was a professional photographer for some 10 years, so his insight and perspective was helpful. One question remained: as the internals of the Leica camera are made by Panasonic, should I buy the corresponding Panasonic model or the Leica (the Panasonic is about $100 less). Jeff answered this way:

  1. The Leica has a better guarantee
  2. While the internals are mostly similar, with this model Leica has introduced some of its own processing logic to improve the resulting images.
  3. The casing for the Leica is better

And then he paused. “But most of all, it has the Red Dot.” So as not to sound silly or drunk from the consumption of kool-aid, this was immediately followed by an explanation: if you ever want to sell the camera it will have a better trade-in value.

So, there was a rationale to support the added expense. Done.

This is a classic-looking camera, with its black metal casing and large lens. It feels solid, it is very functional and the picture quality is excellent. You can get a sense of that quality in this and the previous two posts that include images taken with the camera. I say a sense as, due to size constraints, I am unable to upload the original image, rather I must upload a slimmed-down version.

My immediate plan is to work with the camera for a while to become familiar with its features. During this period I will limit the use of RAW format photography and work more with the JPEG images. Moving to RAW image processing will be part of phase 2.


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