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Conclusion - Pros

  • Good resolution, clean images with few processing artifacts
  • Contrasty tone balance (black is almost always black)
  • Natural yet appealing color balance
  • Noise reduction works fairly well at higher ISO's although should be user controllable
  • Superb build quality, very tactile and ergonomic design
  • Familiar 'retro' design, Leica badge appeal
  • Wide angle zoom, very fast (F2.0 - F2.4)
  • Mechanically linked zoom
  • Unique manual control interface, very easy to operate
  • Excellent large LCD monitor works well even in direct sunlight
  • Histogram available in live view, auto review and play modes
  • Unique dual-position built-in flash
  • User programmable four way 'Function' menu
  • Excellent flash performance, especially in indirect (bounce) position
  • Very good battery life
  • Supplied battery charger doubles as AC adapter


Conclusion - Cons

  • Poor macro performance
  • No ISO 50, could have delivered silky smooth images with this option
  • EVF leaves a lot to be desired, purists will expect a quality finder
  • Camera locked while writing RAW images
  • Poor supplied RAW conversion software
  • Metering mode lever location troublesome, easy to knock
  • Poor performance from supplied SD card
  • Limited latitude of image parameter adjustment
  • No AF assist lamp
  • No fluorescent white balance preset
  • Disappointing automatic white balance in artificial light
  • Bulkier than the competition
  • Very high price


Overall conclusion

When you first handle the Digilux 2 you can't help but be impressed by its build quality and logical control layout. I'm quite comfortable stating that the Digilux 2 has the easiest to use manual controls of any current digital camera. This allows for quick switching into aperture priority, shutter priority or manual focus. It's clear that Leica has also worked hard to ensure the small details are as we would expect, from the weighty yet smooth motion of the lens barrel rings to the neat compartment doors.

Thanks to that mechanically linked zoom and quality feel to the other controls you quickly find a photographic flow with this camera, thankfully performance is fast enough to keep up although it's still not digital SLR fast.

Image quality was good, resolution as high as we would expect from a five megapixel sensor, the Digilux 2 tending towards a contrasty image by default, color balance was also good, accurate yet vivid enough to be immediately pleasing and usable. We were disappointed by the supplied RAW conversion software as it's clear that you can get more from the Digilux 2's RAW files, at the moment Photoshop CS appears to be the only sensible way to achieve this.

And now for the negative, this camera's primary problem however is its price, for $1800 you can get any other prosumer level digital camera (or two) or a six megapixel digital SLR and lenses. If it weren't for this camera's astronomical price I'd be more than happy to give it our 'Highly Recommended' rating, hence if money is no object and you like your brand labels go for the Digilux 2, if you're less brand conscious and want the same camera I'd suggest you take a look at the Panasonic DMC-LC1 (although that's still priced too highly).

Recommended

Detail Rating (out of 10)
Construction 9.5
Features 7
Image quality 8
Lens / CCD combination 8.5
Ease of use 9
Value for money 6

So which one should I buy? A question I get asked several times a day, and I wouldn't like to say. In a new addition to my reviews (after the amount of feedback I normally get) I've added a link to a specific forum in which you can discuss the review or ask me specific questions which I've not answered in these pages.

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yomasa
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