When you think of the affordable offerings from German luxury brands, the Mercedes C-Class or BMW 3-Series might be the first to come to your mind. Posh yet reasonable, these cars offer unparalleled automotive innovations without compromising on quality.

German luxury camera maker Leica also has such an offering up its sleeve, the Leica C-Lux. Priced at 85,000, the C-Lux is a very modern looking mirrorless camera with the classic Leica optics. But is it really a good buy? Let’s find out.

Design:

The C-Lux has a two-tone exterior made out of metal and a grippy rubber occupying the middle spaces of the camera. The angular dimensions of the camera along with the choice of materials give it a very retro look. The front of the camera features the lens and a multi-function ring surrounding it, the flash and the instantly recognisable red Leica logo.

The top of the camera is home to three dials—one for mode selection, one for zooming in/out with the shutter button and one for fiddling with aperture and shutter speed.

The back of the camera features a 3-inch TFT LCD touchscreen “monitor" with (approximately) 100% field of view, a 0.21-inch viewfinder with diopter adjustment (-4 to +3 dioptres) and navigation and shortcut buttons.

The TFT touchscreen is a bit dim, doesn’t reproduce colours accurately and doesn’t swivel or tilt, so I ended up using the viewfinder most of the times. I would have preferred a movable OLED screen instead of TFT.

I also loathed the button layout and the sheer size of them. There is very little travel, feedback and they’re just too small.

While there is no shortage of Fn keys lying around on the camera, Leica was a bit stingy to provide one for changing ISO—it is a crucial parameter of photography which requires at least 4 odd taps on the screen or navigation buttons and cannot be assigned even in the settings.

And while we are at it, you’ll be surprised to know that C-Lux shares a lot of its looks (and features) with the Panasonic Lumix TZ200, which costs about 20 grand less. Let that absorb in for a while before we move on to the next segment.

Optics and electronics:

Absolutely no compromise in this department—there’s a beautiful Leica DC Vario-Elmar aspherical lens with a focal range (35mm equivalent) of 24mm-360mm. The variable aperture values sit at f/3.3 at the wide end and f/6.4 at the telephoto.

Other mechanics include maximum shutter speed of 1/16,000 of a second (using the electronic shutter).

At the heart of the camera is a 1-inch MOS sensor with a resolution of 20MP and minimum luminance of 10 Lux, which promises good low light photography. ISO goes all the way up to 25,000 (which is not of much use, to be honest) and all the way down to 80. The camera is also capable of producing RAW copies of images.

In the videography department, the camera can record at up to 4K at 30fps or 1080p at 60fps.

Shaky hands? You have burst shooting at up to 10 fps.

Other features include WiFi and Bluetooth support, which allow you to connect your smartphone via Leica Image Shuttle app available on Android and iOS.

Performance:

The 1-inch sensor does very well in daylight, consistently clicking good shots—be it Auto mode or manual mode (the latter takes a bit of getting used to if you’re a DSLR user).

The 49-point autofocus provides a good area coverage and is quick to respond, but not eager like a sheepdog (which is a good thing). The focus shifting mode can be useful but is extremely sluggish to use.

There are two burst modes in this camera—mechanical and electronic.

The mechanical burst mode is the regular deal—10 photos are taken every second, and the screen goes blank for a fraction of a second between each shot.

The electronic burst mode essentially records the moment in a 4K video, from which you can select the perfect shot.

The nighttime photography is a hit and miss affair. Image quality takes a hit after ISO 1600 and after ISO 6400 considerable noise is visible.

Just like the images, video quality in daytime is pretty decent and so is the autofocus. Facial tracking works well, so your vlogs won’t have the focus dancing back and forth between you and the background.

The battery life is not bad. I was able to take at least 300 shots before it ran out of power.

The software experience was subpar, however. It’s slow especially when the processor is doing heavy weightlifting with focus shifting, burst modes, and basic image editing.

Verdict:

This is the camera for you if you want to be a part of a brand with a strong pedigree. The optics and build quality are strong winners but the software experience and ergonomics aren’t.

Moreover, there are several strong mirrorless contenders boasting a similar 1-inch sensor like the Sony A6500, Fujifilm X-E3 and not to forget Sony RX100M6.

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