Leica V-Lux 20 review

Leica V-Lux 20 review

T3 4
  • Leicia's V-Lux 20 looks great on paper with its 12MP and 12x zoom, but is it worth the premium price?

    The Leica V-Lux 20’s simple yet attractive metal body screams ‘serious photographer’. At approximately 103 x 62 x 33mm you could say it’s on the bulky side, but when you take it’s 12x zoom lens and built-in GPS into consideration, it certainly isn’t.

    Realistically, you can’t slither the Leica V-Lux  20 into your pocket, but if you’re a serious user you probably don’t care…In general, the body feels very well made and built to last, but we were disappointed with the cheap plastic switch used to close the battery in.

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    The camera feels built to be used, the design and layout of the buttons and controls is exceptionally well thought out - everything is exactly where you'd want it. The menu system is straightforward and easy to use: you aren’t faced with too many options on a single screen (it limits choices to five in fact) and the large screen makes everything very clear.

    Leica V-Lux 20: Sensor and lens

    The 14.5MP CCD sensor records images with up to 12MP resolution (select from 0.3, 3, 5, 8 or 12 MP via the menu system). You can also choose from three aspect ratios: 4:3, 3:2 or 16:9, which is a nice touch and you can still set the lens anywhere from 25mm to 300mm.

    The Leica V-Lux 20’s 25mm ultra wide-angle LEICA DC VARIO ELMAR lens with 12x optical zoom is brilliant. The 25 - 300mm range is incredibly versatile and will cater for almost all shooting situations and, even better, it doesn’t protrude especially. The 25mm focal length gives a very nice wide angle of view and the image works well. We can’t fault the lens.

    Leica V-Lux 20: GPS tagging and LCD screen

    Along with the desirable lens, the GPS tagging facility is another headline feature. It’s easily activated through the menu system and records the exact geographic coordinates where you take each photo in the Exif data, along with the local time at which you took the shot. If you're using the Leica V-LUX 20 abroad it will automatically adjust to the local time for you. It’ll display the name of the town, area and landmarks too (its landmark information bank is pretty big covering 500,000 points of interest in 73 different countries). It's a great feature, which is easy to use of and makes organising pictures easier too.

    The Leica V-LUX 20 has a 3-inch 460,000-dot LCD which is extremely bright and sharp, and its anti-reflection coating works well.

    The V-Lux 20 records Motion JPEG recorded in .Mov / Quicktime movie format. Motion JPEG is an older format, now often associated with cheaper cameras, although this format is easier to use than the newer, AVCHD Lite, which uses a lot less space on both memory cards and your computers hard drive, so this is somewhat of a surprising choice for such a high-end compact. Format aside, video quality is impressive and all of the features, including: 12x zoom, face recognition, image stabilisation and GPS, work with movie files too. Stereo sound is particularly good and there's a wind cut function, which really works. We like the dedicated move button on the back of the body too.

    Leica V-Lux 20: Picture quality

    The camera produces the kind of images you’d expect from a prestige brand, like Leica - punchy colours that are bright but still look realistic, not cheap. Contrast is handles expertly and, as you’d expect from a Leica lens, the autofocus and image stabilisation do a great job - all of our test pictures were in-focus and without blur.

    At ISO 80 and 100 noise is at a very minimum in the Leica V-LUX 20. At ISO 200, it becomes only slightly more visible and then becomes gradually more pronounced. ISO 1600 is the model’s highest ISO setting, where you can see a lot of noise and probably wouldn’t want to use, unless you really had to, although this nothing new in compact cameras in general.

    Leica V-Lux 20: Conclusion

    Stating how good the Leica V-LUX 20 is, in terms of value for money is difficult.  It retails at £495, yet the virtually identical Panasonic Lumix TZ10 costs around £270, making it a much better deal price-wise. However, if you’ve got the cash to spend, don’t write the Leica off. The V-LUX 20 will only be produced in small quantities, so will retain their value for much longer than most other brand‘s cameras and a copy of Adobe Photoshop Elements 8 (worth £77) for Mac or PC comes free. Lets not forget - you are getting a Leica: a brand many photographers aspire too.

    Ultimately, the Leica V-Lux 20 brilliant compact camera with a versatile super zoom lens, which produces superb photos and with built-in GPS that really works.

    The Leica V-Lux 20 is out now, find out more from Leica

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    SPECIFICATIONS

    Sensor: 1/2.33-type / 14.5 Total Megapixels
    Lens: LEICA DC VARIO-ELMAR
    Screen: 3-inches, 460,000 pixels
    Stabilsation: Optical Image Stabiliser
    Video: [4:3] VGA: 640 x 480 pixels
    Storage (card and internal):Built-in Memory 15MB, SD Memory Card, SDHC Memory Card, SDXC Memory Card
    Connections: AV Output (NTSC/PAL, NTSC only for N. America), mini HDMI, USB2.0 High speed
    Battery life: 300 pictures
    Weight/size: 103 x 60 x 33 mm/ 218g (with battery and card)

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    • http://media.t3.com/img/resized/le/xs_Leica V-Lux 20 front.jpg
    • http://media.t3.com/img/resized/le/xs_Leica V-Lux 20 three quarter.jpg
    • http://media.t3.com/img/resized/le/xs_Leica V-Lux 20 with case and strap.jpg

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