Leica Digilux 2 Review
In natural light the Digilux 2's automatic white balance performed flawlessly, however artificial light was another matter altogether. As you can see from the samples below in Incandescent light auto white balance delivered images with a strong orange color cast (it's almost as though it didn't even try to get close to the low Kelvin WB level) and while the camera's preset got us closer it was only with Manual white balance that we achieved a normal looking image. Testing auto white balance in in fluorescent light was very hit and miss, 90% of the time we got the green color cast image shown below, 10% of the time the camera recognized the fluorescent light and balanced correctly. Note that the Digilux 2 doesn't have a fluorescent preset (which is quite odd). Overall a disappointing performance from a modern digital camera.
|Outdoors, Auto||Outdoors, Sunny, Cloudy||Outdoors, Manual|
|Incandescent, Auto||Incandescent, Incandescent||Incandescent, Manual|
|Fluorescent, Auto||Fluorescent, Manual|
The Digilux 2 is unique in being the only digital camera to have a built-in double position flash unit, when opened the flash defaults to a direct (straight ahead) position, click it half way down and it tilts upwards at approximately 45 degrees to produce an indirect bounce flash. The camera recognizes the second position and gives the flash much more power to produce a softer better all-round illumination of the scene. As you can see from the samples below the results are very impressive, in both flash modes color and exposure are pretty much perfect however the indirect (bounced) flash has a much softer more natural look you only normally associate with an external flash unit. Kudos Leica.
|Direct flash||Indirect (bounced) flash|
Turn the shutter speed dial to the 2+ position and you can select exposures between 1/2 second and 8 seconds. There is a slight delay after exposures of 1 second or longer which indicates that some kind of dark frame noise reduction being carried out, although it's not another exposure of the same length. Results were fairly good, no visible 'hot pixels' but certainly some normal random pixel noise. Overall fairly good.
|Image thumbnail||100% crop|
|Manual exposure, ISO 100, 8 sec, F5.6|
|Manual exposure, ISO 100, 2 sec, F2.8|
The Digilux 2 has a minimum focus distance of 30 cm in AF Macro mode (or manual focus at minimum), this isn't particularly close by macro standards and means that the camera's macro performance could be described as mediocre at best. The optimum performance was of course achieved at telephoto although a frame coverage of 134 x 101 mm (5.3 x 4.0 in) is hardly macro.
|Wide - 365 x 274 mm coverage
7 px/mm (178 px/in)
Corner softness: Average
Equiv. focal length: 28 mm
|Telephoto - 134 x 101
19 px/mm (482 px/in)
Corner softness: Low
Equiv. focal length: 90 mm
Barrel and Pincushion Distortion
While the Digilux 2's lens did exhibit some barrel distortion at wide angle it's moderately low when you consider the wide field of view (28 mm equiv.) and compact design of the lens system, and certainly compared to other prosumer digital cameras with wide angle zoom lenses which tend to have an average distortion of around 1.3%. At telephoto we found no measurable distortion.
|Barrel Distortion, 1.1% @ wide angle||Pincushion Distortion, 0.0% @ telephoto|
Vignetting / Lens Shading
At maximum aperture and wide angle the Digilux 2's lens did exhibit enough lens shading to be visible in every day shots, stopping the lens down does improve things to a level where it's unlikely to be visible (but still high at 11%). At telephoto things improve considerably with almost no lens shading.
Our vignetting measurement is made by taking the average luminance value of the darkest corner of the image and comparing it to the average luminance at the center of the image, any difference greater than 15% may be visible in everyday shots.
Purple Fringing (Chromatic Aberrations)
At full wide angle and maximum aperture the Digilux 2 did exhibit some purple fringing on our test chart (although because of its limited macro ability the chart wasn't perfectly in focus). That said it's minimal and unlikely to be visible in every day shots. Despite searching through a few hundred shots taken in sunny weather we were unable to find any definitive examples of visible purple fringing. Overall a good performance here.
|Image thumbnail||100% crop|
|28 mm equiv., F2.4|
|32 mm equiv., F5.6|
|Devil Rock (Stuttgart, Germany) by cornissimo|
from Neon Signs
|Carla... by lickity split|
from Beautiful caucasian female faces
|Lunar New Year Fireworks by Michael L NYC 99|
|Vatican Basilica by wam7|
from Street lights
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