Leica Digilux 1

From Camera-wiki.org
Jump to: navigation, search

Note: The 2002 Digilux should not be confused with the earlier Leica Digilux, which had a vertically-oriented body and a non-zooming lens.

The Leica Digilux 1 was released in 2002, and was the second digital camera produced by Leica. The original Digilux was developed in partnership with Fuji, while the Digilux discussed here was developed in partnership with Panasonic, whom Leica continues to partner. The Leica Digilux 1 is similar to it's Panasonic relative - the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LC5 - but there are differences.

The Digilux 1 is housed in a retro box that harkens back to the designs of Leica rangefinders, while the LC5 is a more modern casing, but the two share identical controls. An unverified difference is believed to be based in image processing, where the Digilux 1 performs less processing, resulting in colors and contrast that are more in line with the color and contrast expected from a Leica camera. The Panasonic DCM-LC5 performs post processing that increases contrast and saturation to create photos that are acceptable to the consumer market.

The camera was originally billed as a digital reportage camera. At the time, the Digilux 1 boasted the lowest shutter lag in comparison to other cameras in its class, and this in combination with its fast lens, made the camera suitable for photo reportage / photo-journalistic applications. It also boasted one of the largest screens of the time.

The camera has a Leica designed Vario-Summicron of f/2.0 aperture, and f/2.8 at maximum zoom of 3 x (33–100 mm in 35mm equivalent terms). Compared with modern compact cameras, which often have an f/3.5 - f/5.6 maximum aperture, this was a fast lens. The lens was built by Panasonic to Leica standards. and is also used on the Panasonic DMC-LC5, DMC-L40, Toshiba PDR-M70, and Canon G2-5, it is said that the lens is estimated to have accounted 50% of the total camera's cost. The sensor is a humble 3.9 megapixels.

A unique feature of the Digilux 1 (and Panasonic DMC-LC5) versus all other Digilux cameras, is that the sensor uses a complementary filter, CMYG rather than the RGB of later models. This filter had two benefits: The range of wavelengths of light captured by the sensor was much greater - it captures about 2/3 of the visible spectrum versus RGB which captures only 1/3 of the visible spectrum, so that the colors, especially reds and blues are more saturated. This is a benefit for landscapes especially. The second benefit is that the CMYG filter allows the passage of twice the photons, so that the camera is inherently 2 x more sensitive to light at the base ISO of 100 - this means that exposure times are half that of a comparable camera with RGB filter array.

Digilux 1 images are not noise suppressed as much as modern cameras, so can be necessary to use a noise suppression filter in post processing when shooting above the base ISO of 100. If this is done, then ISO 400 images can be quite acceptable.

On sunny days the light can be too intense for the camera, which has a minimum aperture of f/8 and a fastest exposure time of 1/1000 second, so it's useful to have access to a polarizing filter or a neutral density filter. The fitting of filters requires an adapter which extends the lens housing beyond the most extreme travel of the zoom lens (it's basically a metal tube with a thread on each end).

The Digilux 1 can be set to manual and Macro focus. It also has a built-in flash, which is good for fill-in.