Leica D-Lux 6: A Point-and-shoot “Professional” Camera

February 21, 2013 Donald Scarinci 14Comment

If point-and-shoot cameras were classified as “entry,” “advanced amateur” and “professional” the way DSLR’s are classified, the Leica D-Lux 6 is the top of the line “pro” model point-and-shoot.

Leica D-Lux 6 A Point-and-Shoot Professional Camera

Of course point-and-shoot cameras are all easy to use mass market cameras designed for people who just want to take a picture with better quality then their IPhone.  However, the D-Lux model, Leica’s only consumer camera model, is the carry around camera of choice for many professionals.

Brian Peterson, for example, keeps a Leica D-Lux with him at all times.  Peterson says it is more than just the Leica red dot on the camera that drew him to it.  It is the power of the D-Lux’s Macro capability that makes it a good choice for a small camera to carry around.

The Leica brand is exclusive and expensive.  All of their lenses are handmade in Germany with precision and they are known as the sharpest optics in photography.  The Leica D-Lux 6 has an approximate $700 price, which is double or triple of most point and shoot cameras.  There is little question that the less expensive Panasonic Lumix camera is similar to the Leica D-Lux and even made by Leica for Panasonic.

So, why buy the expensive Leica D-Lux 6 except for the prestige of shooting with the same brand as the great pre-digital era photographers like Henri Cartier-Bresson?

The answer is obvious when you pick it up and feel the strong build quality.  It is even more obvious when you take your first look at the picture quality—cameras are all about the optics.  In addition, the more you explore the intuitive interface and the extensive automatic picture modes; you just smile knowing that you get what you pay for.  This is an easy to use camera that takes sharp professional quality pictures and is well built to withstand heavy use.

If you already have the Leica D-Lux 5, is it worth upgrading to the new one?

The specifications and features show the enhanced quality of the D-Lux 6 from the previous model. For example, the D-Lux 6 is equipped with a CMOS (complementary metal-oxide semiconductor) image sensor versus the CCD (charge-coupled device) sensor in the D-Lux 5, resulting in better high ISO performance. The new model also features a high resolution, 920,000 pixel 3-inch LCD screen, compared to 460,000 pixels on D-Lux 5. Unlike the D-Lux 5, the latest camera has an aperture ring around the lens for quick, intuitive adjustment, stereo microphone with full 1080p video recording and built in spirit level to assure perfect composition. Lastly, the developers sped up the burst shooting for up to 11 frames per second.

The camera was also designed to be more “photography friendly” for those traveling with their Leicas. You may have experienced the frustration of finding your battery drained or your settings out of place because the sensitivity of your dials and buttons allowed you to accidentally turn your camera on. The D-Lux 6 model attempts to reduce these occurrences and is built sturdier and stiffer than the models that came before it. That being said, once photographers are ready to use the camera, the shutter button has been redesigned to for easier use.

The D-Lux 6 has an aperture ring to allow you to control the aperture if you shoot in manual mode or aperture priority or shutter priority mode.  This is a comfort food feature for DSLR owners and it creates a nice introduction to photography for casual point-and-shoot users.

Overall, the Leica D-Lux 6 is a substantial upgrade to the D-Lux 5. Similar to any camera purchase, however, it is important that consumers take their shooting needs, budget and proficiency with cameras into account before making an investment in a new product.  However, if you are in the market for a quality point-and-shoot, or if you have a DSLR and you are looking for a small carry around camera so you always have a camera with you then this is the one to buy.

14 thoughts on “Leica D-Lux 6: A Point-and-shoot “Professional” Camera

  1. Thank you for your excellent review.
    I have been using a Dlux 4 Leica for the last 3 or 4 years
    and have just bought the Dlux 6
    Prior to that however , I purchased the highly rated Sony RX100
    impressed by reviews plus the 20 pixels and large sensor.
    It took very sharp photos no denying ….most impressive and the super compact
    size of the camera was added plus.
    However, I did not feel comfortable with it and despite all its good points
    and after reading your review of the dlux 6, I sold the Sony and have happily returned
    to the Leica family. Whether it will beat the Sony in image quality I have yet to see,
    (I suspect it will be a close contest) but either way, I am pleased and feel very
    comfortable with my decision.
    I’d be interested in your thoughts comparing the two cameras .

  2. I read this review in early May of 2013. I am an analogue Leica user but unwilling to spend $7,000.00 + for digital M. I own the D-Lux 4 and D-Lux 5. When the D-Lux 6 came out I opted for the less expensive Panasonic version. I believe that this review, does not make it clear that the cameras are mechanically and build identical. There may be a software teak for the Leica, but it is not evident to me. The digicam lens is, as noted, spectacular. Except for the Leica cachet there is absolutely no reason to choose the D-Lux 6 over the LX-7 Panasonic. Resale value? That will be better- but after accumulating 23 digicams over 10 years- I’m apparently not selling anything. Comments not only welcome, but encouraged. (vroger@yahoo.com).

  3. The Panasonic and the Leica have many of the same parts, and there is no question that the Panasonic is a great point and shoot. Whether the speed and sharpness are the same and all the features are the same is something that you would know better than me because I’ve never used the Panasonic.

    As I said in the review, I shoot with Nikon. The Leica is my second camera and my”go everywhere” camera. It is the one I keep with me when I just can’t take the bigger Nikon so I never have to say, “I wish I had a good camera with me right now.” The Leica is a better than “good” camera and I can shoot RAW with it. While the Panasonic point and shoot might be good and it is certainly less expensive, the Leica is a Leica with the lineage and legacy of a Leica. The Panasonic is not.

  4. I have to carry a light weight, good quality camera with me. I have used the Panasonic LX3, and 5, and their original FX-01. I studied reviews and looked at both the LX7 and the D-Lux6. I chose the D-Lux6 and am very happy with it. Folks who look at my D-Lux6 photos are amazed at the quality and “look” of the photos. As much as I like the Panasonics, there is definitely a difference in the photos between the Panasonic and the Leica, and worth paying the higher for the D-Lux.

    1. Same optics, same sensor, same output files, built by the same people in the same factory. Great cameras. Buy the red dot for placebo effect or the Panasonic to save some money. Enjoy whichever you choose.

  5. John, you are right. The D-Lux6 is my first digital camera and I had the chance to try some before buying. The pictures out of the cam have a good quality and the colours are almost naturally. I took the Leica over the Panasonic for some reasons.
    1.) 3 year warranty and comes with Lightroom 4
    2.) I added the handgrip for better handling
    3.) I´ll add the panasonic viewfinder as my wife wants one
    4.) I would have bought a bigger camera but my wife wanted a smaller one.
    5.) One camera is enough in a household for amateur photographers.
    My friends and my wife like the look of the photos – that´s good.

  6. Thanks for the review! I am a keen amateur who wants a camera on me at all times!
    My needs list is:
    1 Carry on my belt all day every day.
    2 Superlative jpegs. I am very busy! Work as an IT contractor all day. NO COMPUTERS FOR RAW IN THE EVENING unless it is a super 1 in 1000 photo!
    3 Cover wide to portrait.
    4 See in the dark & allow hand held without flash.
    5 Minimal shutter lag.
    6 Have printed > 8″x10″ only once in my life.
    7 Razor sharp lens & no colour fringing.
    8 Minimal menu trawling.

    I am considering the Leica dlux 6 over the Panasonic only because Leica quality control on the frames shipped to Germany adds cosr with invisible benefits.
    I am told Leice reject 30% of sensors received for the M 240.
    Quality control is not cheap!
    Almost bought the LX7 yesterday. A cheap knockaround for everday eear on my belt?

  7. Would you be able to tell me how to get the pop up flash to fire. I have selected force flash in the menus and popped the flash up but it will not fire. Also the icon on the display shows the no flash symbol.

    1. You need to press the pup up flash so it pops up and then select force flash. If it does not flash, check to be sure you are not using automatic mode. Use program mode (“P”) instead. Program mode allows you to shoot in RAW and gives you some control but it is otherwise like automatic in that it will select the shutter speed and the exposure. Automatic modes takes control of the camera and does not give you any control of things like the flash.

  8. Two questions for any D-Lux 6 owners:

    1) Does the D-Lux 6 have much of a problem with red-eye? I’ve read a review of the LX-7 which mentioned that even with red-eye reduction, it cropped up.

    2) When you select different aspect ratios (4:3,3:2, 1:1), does the aspect ratio change on the view screen?

  9. Hey Guys,
    I see that this is an older thread but everyone seems quite informed so I’m hoping for a response.

    I’ve had a Dlux 4 for a few years. Thousands of activations and many stunning pics. But I am stumped by inconsistent sharpness. The sharpness is never way off but sometimes it is amazingly crystal sharp. I’ve duplicated the settings. tried on manual and auto focus, using tripod and various apertures but i can not figure it out.

    Every so often the camera will kick out a photo that has amazing sharpness. Most of the time the sharpness is B to B+. Anyone have a suggestion or share similar experiences?

  10. I have used my Leica Dlux6 for 2 years and the results are amazing I use the Leica picture printing service
    As an amateur I have been drawn with the goal of taking the sharpest picture as possible and for years I used a Linhof view camera with a 4×5 vacuum back taking shots at f 64
    Now I realize that I prefer pictures that are not as sharp like the Ilford HP4 graininess
    I do not get bugged down by spectacular anymore I adapt my photos to the limitation of the camera
    The Leica Dlux6 is build like a tank bury reliable with the EVF3 view finder it is easy to add filters with the adaptor and macro shots. The qualities of the prints are amazing
    Remember that technology in photo equipment can only go so far. If you take a picture with good amount of light then even a pin hole camera will produce good picture

    For portraits I use a hand held light meter

    I love the solid feeling of the camera as well as its weight this certainly does not have the feel of a toy
    The other Leica with larger chips area are too expensive and do not see a great difference in image quality and I understand that there are a lot of repair issues with the digital M

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