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Leica V-Lux 30 review

Verdict

A decent compact with nice design, bundled with excellent software. Not the best value for money, though

Review Date: 17 Aug 2011

Reviewed By: Dave Stevenson

Price when reviewed: £458 (£550 inc VAT)

Overall Rating
3 stars out of 6

Features & Design
5 stars out of 6

Value for Money
2 stars out of 6

Image Quality
4 stars out of 6

Although professionals are unlikely to break ranks from the twin photographic pillars of Canon and Nikon, Leica is a brand much-lusted over by the fashion-conscious. But, while its top-end model, the £5,000 M9, remains unobtainable to most enthusiasts, the V-Lux 30 gives those with shallower pockets something to aspire to.

Finished in metallic black, with perhaps the most prestigious badge in modern-day photography occupying the top left of the fascia, the V-Lux 30 is a study in understated design.

Leica V-LUX 30 - front

The 3in display on the back is bright and clear, and a touchscreen to boot, allowing you to select focus zones, zoom the lens and fire the shutter. The top dial scrolls through the usual options, including a fully manual mode, plus a custom mode that has three nested sub-modes, allowing you to quickly access groups of settings you use frequently.

It has plenty of photographic credibility, too, from the 14.1-megapixel CMOS sensor to its 4.3-68.8mm lens - 24-384mm in 35mm terms. The ISO can be set from 100 to 1600, although our tests revealed the upper reaches are best avoided.

At ISO 800, there’s plenty of chroma noise to deal with and images become extremely soft. Keep things well-lit, though, and the V-Lux 30 is a peach - the 16x zoom lens is beautifully sharp and image quality outdoors is excellent.

Leica V-LUX 30 - top view

It performs well, too. It was ready to shoot just inside two seconds and, against a stopwatch, shot at over 6fps at its top 3:2 resolution of 4,320 x 2,880. Drop the resolution to 5 megapixels and the V-Lux 30 shoots 38fps, and there’s a further 3.5-megapixel mode that shoots 60 frames in one second.

As sweetener for those reaching into their pockets Leica bundles both Photoshop Elements and Premiere Elements 9, which would otherwise set you back £100 (£120 inc VAT), but that doesn’t necessarily make the V-Lux 30 a good deal.

The camera is based on the Panasonic TZ20, down to the sensor specification, GPS chip, screen size and control layout, but the TZ20 will set you back around £230, some £320 less than the V-Lux 30 (or £200 if you factor in the Adobe bundle).

Otherwise, the only thing you lose is the prestigious Leica badge. The V-Lux 30 is definitely a decent camera, and the style-conscious will appreciate it as a way into Leica ownership for less than the cost of a family hatchback, but the budget-conscious will find more bang-per-buck elsewhere.

Author: Dave Stevenson

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User comments

The links at the bottom to the 2 shops take you to a Samsung TV on the camera !!!

By jason_blake on 17 Aug 2011

Expensive label

That tiny label is £320 more expensive than Pansanonic's label. There will always be people who value the label more than than the value of the product. Just imagine what you are getting for a £5,000 camera from Leica - surely not a larger label?

By Manuel on 17 Aug 2011

Free?

"Price when reviewed: free" - seems pretty good value for money to me!

By JohnAHind on 17 Aug 2011

Very Confusing!

Too many prices / wrong prices with this article.
When I was a kid lots of shops in the Edgware Road sold govt surplus Leica's as "ex-spycams", so the label -big, small or indifferent -but NEVER red - is a natural draw.

By milliganp on 17 Aug 2011

Absense of label?

Actually the Panasonic TZ range all have Leica labels - my TZ7 has "LEICA" on the lens surround and also the "L" badge on the body. (The lens is made by / designed by / maybe just badged by Leica.)
So what you are paying double for is actually the *absence* of the Panasonic label!
But I wonder: is the lens the same? The obvious way for Leica to justify the higher cost would be to use a higher spec lens than the one they supply to Panasonic.

By JohnAHind on 17 Aug 2011

It's *exactly* the same

Panasonic simply stick a different badge on the Leica variant.

By PaulOckenden on 17 Aug 2011

Exactly the same?

Don't think so, otherwise why would Leica bother selling them. I read that a key difference is for Leica cameras, Leica build the lenses, for Panasonic, Panasonic build the lenses. I have seen complaints on reviews about poor focusing on the Panasonic versions. Suggest a closer look is in order if a comparison is to be made.

By TechPC on 18 Aug 2011

Lenses

I've seen those rumours too, but I suspect that's all they are. The cameras come from the same factory (even Leica admits that). And if the lens on their version was 'special' don't you think they'd make a big song and dance about it?

I can understand people WANTING there to be a difference, when they've paid £300 for a red dot. Still, at least it's not in the same league as Aston Martin's Cygnet...

By PaulOckenden on 18 Aug 2011

OK Paul!

Do you know what the situation is with Leica and the lenses on the Panasonic badged cameras? Are they made by Leica or designed by Leica or is it just Panasonic paying Leica to use the brand?
I have to say I like the looks of the Panasonic version better - the Leica one looks plasticy. And I repeat, if you like the Leica badge, there are plenty of them on the Panasonic models too!

By JohnAHind on 18 Aug 2011

Badges

I think the gold L badge on Panasonic cameras probably stands for Lumix. My FP1 doesn't appear to have any Leica involvement (or implied involvement) in the lens design/manufacture but still has the gold L badge on it.

By ahar23 on 18 Aug 2011

Fashion conscious

Although I use Canon, I do have to take some exception to the quip about Leica being a brand for the fashion conscious.

Their lenses are indeed lusted over, not because they go well with a nice jacket, but because they are widely recognised as some of the very _very_ best in the industry.

They are the benchmark for small (35mm) format cameras.

Sadly, their cameras are still rather stuck in the 1950s, where perhaps they belong.

This re-badged, overpriced toy is about as far from a Leica as it's possible to get while still technically being a camera.

By PaleRider on 19 Aug 2011

Badge

What's in a name? This sort of things happens all the time in all sorts of industries from Cars to Fashion. People will pay a lot more for an essentially identical item, if it has the right label. If you have the courage not to care that other people are superficial enough to judge you by the badges stuck to things you buy, you have still have quality and save a lot of money. If you are badge conscious, you are going to pay a lot more for the things you own.

By Andrew99 on 22 Aug 2011

Lens manufacturer

As I understand it, a Leica DC lens is one where the manufacturing and QA are approved/certified by Leica, and where the test equipment used is manufactured by Leica.

By PaulOckenden on 22 Aug 2011

Leica or Panasonic

I found information about the Japanese made Leica lenses how these lenses take 40 minutes for each element to be
individually ground, polished and tested then the 1 to 4 coatings are added,(this camera has 14 lens elements) on
Lieca made imported machines, whereas the Panasonic models use mass production techniques on there own machines to
a (minimum) Leica spec but with there own coatings including the own brand Panasonic
Black Box Nano surface coating,parts and picture processing firmware (Panny uses its own Venus engine) for both have large
differences as do the CCD qualities and manufacturing tolerances the CCD's are made by different manfacturers the ones for
the Leica brand are all tested,differences in lens quality and coatings and firmware make the better colours and less
abberations @ wide apertures. The Leica comes with Adobe Photoshop Elements and Adobe Premiere Elements .plus second hand resale values are much higher for a Leica So there you have it identical apart from a "red badge" !!!! and street cred!

You can always tell a Leica ,By the way it takes pictures - and by the pictures it takes

By jamieboy32 on 16 Feb 2013

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