I've used the Leica LUX app – my iPhone photos have never been better

This app is an iPhone photographer's best friend

The Leica LUX app on an iPhone 13 screen
(Image credit: Sam Cross)

When you think of the best camera brand on the market, it's fair to say Leica deserve a mention. The German brand is synonymous with high quality imagery, producing some of the finest and most sought-after bodies and lenses on the market.

I've been lucky enough to get hands on with both the Leica Q3 and the Leica SL3 this year, and the image quality from both has been astounding. We've also got the launch of the more budget friendly Leica D-Lux 8 coming shortly.

That's still a fair chunk of change, though. Fortunately, if you're an iPhone user looking to get some of that sweet Leica magic into your imagery, there's now a way. The brand has just unveiled the Leica LUX app, and I've been testing it for the last week to get a feel for how it works.

There are two levels to the app. Leica LUX Pro costs £6.99 per month, and enables access to the current range of 11 Leica Look profiles and five Leica lenses. That also enables full manual control over the exposure, focus and white balance.

There's also a free version of the app, though. That's the one I've been using. There, you'll get access to an automatic photo mode and an Aperture mode. You'll still find the Leica Looks on this model, along with emulations of three classic Leica lenses – the Summilux-M 28mm f/1.4 ASPH, the Summilux-M 35mm f/1.4 ASPH and the Noctilux-M 50mm f/1.2 ASPH.

The app defaults to producing HEIF images, though the automatic photo mode does give access to RAW image creation. That's true even of phones which don't offer native RAW support, like my iPhone 13. That's a neat addition.

How does the Leica LUX app work?

Of course, those three lens emulations can't actually affect the camera on the device itself, so how does that work? Well, as far as I can tell, it utilises the Portrait mode in the iPhone natively.

When you check the details of images in the gallery, they show as Portrait mode images using the 26mm lens on the device, irrespective of the emulation used. It seems logical to assume, then, that the app is putting it's spin on the base camera, likely with a combination of cropping and depth of field manipulation.

Is the Leica LUX app any good?

Of course all of that is worthless if the app isn't easy to use. Fortunately that isn't the case here, with a clean and clear user interface. You'll find a couple of quick access function buttons at the top of the display, which can be customised to suit your shooting preferences.

In the bottom right hand corner, you'll find a deeper menu system, which gives you access to all of the other features. In the middle, just above the shutter button, you'll find a spot to change between the different lenses.

The resulting images are truly stunning. There's a definitive Leica-ness about the resulting shot, which is exactly what you'd look for from the app.

I certainly had to do some learning – no more than you would with any other camera, though. Especially with the slimmer apertures, it can take a little work to make sure you have everything in focus that you need to.

On the whole, though, it's a really strong addition to any iPhone lineup. If you're a fan of the Leica image quality – or just a fan of great looking shots in general – it's a real no brainer. One thing is certain – with the promise of further updates and more lenses in the future, this is a really exciting app to keep in your phone.

Sam Cross
Staff Writer

Online news writer at T3.com, Sam has five years of experience in online and print journalism, with work featured in publications like Metro and Last Word on Sports. After years writing about music and football, Sam now turns his hand to bringing you news about new phones, smart home products, smart watches, laptops and TVs. Sam is a longtime fan and user of Apple products, including iPhones, MacBooks and Apple Watches.He’s also T3’s resident football expert, bringing you everything you need to know about the big games, including how to watch them. In his spare time, Sam is a keen guitarist, watch lover and (very) amateur golfer.