Leica Digilux 2 Review
The Digilux 2 has that distinctive 'box like' appearance of traditional Leica film cameras of old. Looking back through the Leica catalog to me at least the Digilux 2 looks most like the 1984 Leica M6. The entire case is magnesium with a wraparound mottled soft rubber coating. This two-tone look is another Leica visual trademark, as is the red Leica logo and the thick typeset LEICA text directly above the lens.
Leica has pulled a very interesting visual trick with the design of the camera's lens which has the appearance of a removable 35 mm lens but is actually a fixed 3.2x wide angle zoom lens. It is a beautiful piece of engineering with a very smooth mechanically linked zoom ring (moving internal elements) and two other semi-locked smooth running rings for control manual focus and aperture.
The camera is strangely satisfying in its bulk, it's notably larger than most prosumer digital cameras and certainly heavier at almost three quarters of a kilo (1.5 lb) ready to shoot. The metal body, quality finish and weight tell you that this is a camera designed to last and that you're getting what you paid for, high build quality with high quality components.
Side by side
The image below will perhaps give you a better idea of just how large the Digilux 2 really is. On the left we have Canon's five megapixel four times zoom PowerShot G5, on the right the five megapixel three-point-two times zoom Leica Digilux 2. Weight wise the Digilux 2 is approximately 220 g (7.8 oz) heavier than the PowerShot G5. It's also worth noting how much larger the Leica lens (28 - 90 mm equiv., F2.0 - F2.4) is than the Canon lens (35 - 140 mm equiv., F2.0 - F3.0).
In your hand
Despite its weight and a lack of a defined hand grip the Digilux 2 still feels just right in your hand, the base tucks itself into your palm. There's something rather special about this simplistic box design which still provides more than adequate grip and user comfort. The large centrally mounted lens quickly becomes the natural place for your left hand to grip the camera.
The Digilux 2 has a large 2.5" 211,000 pixel LCD monitor, its large size looking actually fairly well in scale with the camera body. This is one of the best trans-reflective LCD monitor's I've used it works well outdoors in direct sunlight although loses some brightness if viewed from above. Leica could have improved this with a tilting LCD monitor although that would probably have compromised the body design.
This is probably the least 'Leica like' element of the entire camera, a video-camera-like electronic viewfinder which produces its image from a tiny high resolution (235,000 pixel) LCD display behind the eyepiece. As electronic viewfinders go this one has high resolution and good brightness. Driven by the same image as the LCD monitor it works well in good and moderate light, less well in low light. It's a pity Leica couldn't implement the ultra-sensitive black and white mode we've seen on Minolta digital cameras.
The battery compartment door is one of the few plastic components on the Digilux 2. It's opened by turning a small lever to the left and springs open on a metal hinge to reveal the battery which is initially held in place by a small grey spring clip.
Battery / Charger / AC adapter
The Digilux 2 has a 1400 mAh Lithium-Ion battery (BP-DC1-E) of a similar design to that seen in several other prosumer digital cameras. The battery is shown below beside Canon's BP-511. The supplied battery charger also doubles as an AC adapter, just connect the supplied lead and you can power your Digilux 2 directly without a battery. Kudos to Leica for providing both high capacity rechargeable Lithium-Ion battery and an AC adapter.