The Leica C is a premium compact camera that was announced in September 2013. It has a large 1/1.7 inch MOS sensor, 7.1x optical zoom, full manual controls and RAW shooting. It comes with Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5, is available in light-gold and dark red for around £550.
Leica C Features
The Leica C has a 12.1 megapixel 1/1.7 inch MOS sensor - a larger sensor than you'll find on an average compact camera for better quality images. It has a 7.1x optical zoom lens, which has a maximum aperture of f/2.0-5.9 and is a 35mm equivalent of 28-200mm.
There is a snapshot (auto) mode, which automatically adjusts the camera settings for the detected scene. There are a number of scene modes which include HDR, night scenery, portrait and many more. For unique and creative pictures there is creative control, which includes miniature, impressive art, dynamic monochrome etc. There is also a panorama mode. You can also use the full manual controls to set the aperture and shutter speed.
The Leica C has built-in Wi-Fi to allow you to transfer your images and videos to smartphones, tablets and PC's without the need for cables. There is a free Leica C Image Shuttle app for iOS and Android devices. It also allows you to use your device as a remote shutter and geotag your images.
Videos are recorded in fulll 1080p HD with stereo sound and optical zoom.
Supplied with the Leica C is Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5 which can be used to develop your RAW files. You can also purchase a number of accessories which includes bags and cases.
The Leica C has a simple, yet stylish design. There's no rubber grip, but there are three grooves where your thumb sits on the rear. The front of the camera has a lens ring which rotates - this can be used to change your aperture and shutter speed, as well as select a different scene or creative control mode.
On top of the camera is a mode dial, on / off button, zoom rocker and shutter release. On the rear of the camera there is the 3 inch screen which has an excellent 921k dot resolution which is a pleasure to use when composing and viewing your shots. The viewfinder is a bonus for a compact camera and is good enough to use, helping to keep your images sharp when using the zoom. The LVF button is used to switch between the viewfinder and screen. Alongside this button is the Wi-Fi activation button.
Other buttons on the rear include playback, display, delete and function. The function button can be customised to a number of settings such as quality, histogram, metering mode and more. There is also a d-pad on the rear which includes a rotating wheel. The d-pad also offers access to macro mode, exposure compensation, flash, self-timer and continuous shooting.
The delete button also acts as a q.menu button. Press this and you can change the picture settings which are available for the mode you are in, such as white-balance and exposure compensation. You can use either the rotating wheel on the rear or the lens ring to adjust. For the rest of the camera settings you need to press the menu button on the rear.
The Wi-Fi is easy to use. We tested using an iPhone. You need to download the Leica C Image Shuttle app, activate the Wi-Fi on the camera and connect to its network with your device. On the iPhone you can then open the app, where you're then able to transfer pictures, geotag and use your device as a remote shutter. You can adjust the zoom, change settings and use the touch screen to set your focus point.
Battery life is rated at decent 250 shots according to CIPA test results. We took a number of shots to test the camera's responsiveness, from switch on to first photo, shot to shot, focusing speed etc. We take a number of shots and then use the average to ensure accurate and consistent tests, making it easy to compare with other cameras.
Wide - Focus / Shutter Response
Full zoom - Focus / Shutter Response
Switch on Time to Taking a Photo
Shot to Shot without Flash
Shot to Shot with Flash
Continuous Shooting - 2 fps (RAW)
Continuous Shooting - 5 fps (RAW)
Continuous Shooting - 10 fps (RAW)
Continuous Shooting - 2 fps (JPEG)
Continuous Shooting - 5 fps (JPEG)
Continuous Shooting - 10 fps (JPEG)
Continuous Shooting - 40 fps (JPEG)
Continuous Shooting - 60 fps (JPEG)
Flash burst (RAW)
Flash burst (JPEG)
All of the continuous shooting and flash burst modes record in full 12.1 megapixel resolution except the 40 fps and 60 fps modes which record at 5 and 2.5 megapixels respectively.
Leica C Performance
Additional sample photos and product shots are available in the Equipment Database, where you can add your own review, photos and product ratings.
Leica C Sample Photos
Sample Photos - Colour, exposure, and detail are all good, with the camera delivering reliable and consistent results. Flash performance appears to be quite good at lighting the subject, however red-eye was noticeable in a number of portrait shots, despite using the red-eye reduction flash.
Leica C Lens test images
Lens Performance - Image detail is excellent at both ends of the lens, with only a slight softening in the extreme corners. Purple fringing is evident in places, but generally well controlled. The lens has a minimum focusing distance of just 3cm which allows for macro shots with excellent detail.
Leica C ISO test images
ISO Noise Performance - Noise is low at ISO80, with a very slight increase at ISO100 and ISO200. At ISO400 there is another slight increase in noise, although detail is still good. At ISO800 noise increases and detail is slightly lost. Again at ISO1600 noise increases again and detail drops again, but results are still good. At ISO3200 there is a noticeable drop in detail. Noise gets quite destructive at ISO6400 and this setting is best avoided.
Leica C White-balance test images
White Balance Performance - Auto White Balance (AWB) performs well under the incandescent lights, there is a slight colour cast when using the incandescent preset. The AWB also takes a good picture under the fluorescent lighting, there isn't a fluorescent preset on the camera, but that's OK because you shouldn't need one due to AWB performing well.
Panorama | 1/320 sec | f/8.0 | 6.0 mm | ISO 80
Panorama mode - The panoramic mode automatically stitches the photo together as you pan the camera from one side to another. You also have the choice of filter effects. Detail is good and the images are well stitched.
Leica C Digital filters
Digital Filters - There are a vast number of digital filters available, with a number of them customisable. The camera records both the JPEG and raw file so you can go back to the original image if you don't like the effect. There are also a number of colour styles.
Video - Video quality is good with the camera recording full HD video with stereo sound, as well as optical zoom. The camera focuses quickly, and optical image stabilisation helps to keep the image steady, although for perfectly stable video a tripod is recommended, particularly if using the zoom.
The Leica C delivers good images, with bright saturated colours, along with a whole host of features, including excellent Wi-Fi control and sharing. The compact body fits neatly into your pocket, and despite the small size feels well built with quick access to controls.
The Leica C gives a good zoom range, with full manual controls and raw shooting. In addition to this the camera manages to squeeze in an electronic viewfinder, in a camera not much bigger than other models without any kind of viewfinder, although it is small, and some will find it difficult to use. The screen is very good, working well outdoors, even in bright sunlight when brightness is increased, leaving us wondering if the electronic viewfinder (EVF) is absolutely necessary. For those that are looking for a small compact with a lot of control and unique styling, the Leica C is recommended.
The Leica C gives a lot of zoom in a compact camera with manual controls and high image quality.
Leica C Pros
Excellent image quality Wi-Fi connectivity Panoramic mode with effects Dual-axis electronic level 10fps continuous shooting Great screen
Full manual controls and RAW shooting
Comes with Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5
Leica C Cons
Tiny electronic viewfinder Red-eye in photos with flash Short battery life