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Leica V-Lux 30 Digital Camera Review

Daniel Bell reviews the Leica V-Lux 30, a premium compact camera with 16x optical zoom.

|  Leica V-LUX 30 in Compact Cameras
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Leica V-Lux 30
Leica V-Lux 30

The Leica V-Lux 30 was released in May 2011 with a range of features that on paper make it appear to be an ideal travel super-zoom digital camera. The camera is Leica's version of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ20 with some subtle differences but costs nearly £300 more. Let's take a look to see if the Leica justifies its price of £550.

Leica V-Lux 30
Leica V-Lux 30

Leica V-Lux 30 Features

The Leica V-Lux 30 has a 14.1 megapixel sensor with a 16x optical zoom lens which is a 35mm equivalent of 24 - 384mm and can be extended to 21x with Intelligent Resolution. Other features include 10 fps continuous shooting at full resolution and 3D image capture mode. As well as using the buttons, the camera can be controlled via the 3 inch LCD touch screen.

The camera also has a mode dial which makes it easy to switch between the various shooting modes available which include P, S, M, A, Auto, 3D, Scene, My Scene 1 and My Scene 2. There are a wide range of scene modes available: Portrait, Soft Skin, Transform, Self Portrait, Scenery, Panorama Assist, Sports, Night Portrait, Night Scenery, Handheld Night Shot, Food, Party, Candle Light, Baby 1, Baby 2, Pet, Sunset, High Sensitivity, Flash Burst, Starry Sky, Fireworks, Beach, Snow, Aerial Photo, Pin Hole, Film Grain, High Dynamic, Photo Frame and High Speed Movie.

Ideal for those who shoot while travelling, the V-Lux 30 includes a GPS module which records the location and local time of pictures which is then stored in the images EXIF data.

Videos can be shot at full HD 1920 x 1080i AVCHD with the use of optical zoom and GPS data.

Bundled with the camera are two editing programs, Adobe Photoshop Elements 9 for images and Adobe Premiere Elements 9 for videos.

Leica V-Lux 30
Leica V-Lux 30

Key Features

  • 14.1 megapixel MOS sensor
  • 16x optical zoom lens (35mm equiv: 24 - 384mm)
  • Intelligent zoom extends the zoom to 21x at 14 megapixel
  • 3 inch touch-screen, with 460,800 pixels
  • Full 1080i HD video recording
  • P/S/A/M modes
  • ISO 100 - 1600
  • 3cm Macro mode
  • Integrated GPS function
  • 3D Photo shooting
Leica V-Lux 30
Leica V-Lux 30

Leica V-Lux 30 Handling

The camera is well built with a solid metal body and a good sized front hand grip, while the back has a raised bumps thumb grip that works well. To switch on there is a sliding switch on the top rather than a button which makes it less likely you'll accidentally switch the camera on. Other buttons include the mode dial, a video record button and an exposure button as well as the typical buttons found on most compact cameras. All this is packed into a camera that is small enough to be easily carried around.

The V-Lux 30's menus are logical and well laid out with colour coded sections. The text is easy to read and the options are easy to understand the majority of the time. Occasionally the scene modes can take a little longer to access as they are represented with small images, but text underneath explains what the modes do. The camera has a built in touch screen, and the icons are large and easy to use, however the camera also has a good number of buttons so you don't need to use the touch screen if you don't want to.

The battery has a CIPA rating of 260 shots which should be plenty for a day of shooting. The camera is ready to take shots 2 - 3 seconds after switching on and its focusing speed is excellent. The V-Lux 30 has a range of continuous shooting modes:
  • 2 fps AF-Continuous, 14 megapixels -  1.7 fps in testing
  • 5 fps AF-Continuous, 14 megapixels - 3.2 fps in testing
  • 10 fps AF-Single, 14 megapixels - 5.2 fps in testing
  • 40 fps AF-Single, 5 megapixels - 40 fps in testing
  • 60 fps AF-Single 2.5 megapixels - 60 fps in testing
  • Flash burst, 3 megapixels - 1.5 fps in testing
Leica V-Lux 30
Leica V-Lux 30

Leica V-Lux 30 Performance

The optical zoom provides a good zoom range. This is further extended using the "Intelligent Zoom" - this is intended to process the image, sharpening detail, however when viewing the images at full size, it's easy to see that it is using digital zoom and is simply providing an easier way to magnify an area (unfortunately at the expense of image quality). There is some purple fringing in the trees in the wide-angle shot, but it is well controlled. Colour reproduction is pleasing with excellent macro pictures possible, with a close focus distance of just 3cm.

Leica V-LUX 30 Lens test images

There is low noise at ISO100 and ISO200. At ISO400 strong noise reduction reduces noise, but also fine detail starts to degrade. Noise becomes much more dominant at ISO800. Then at ISO1600 the noise becomes really dominant, reducing detail and colour noticeably. Above ISO1600 the camera will switch to 3 megapixels and these ISO settings can not be manually selected, instead you need to go into one of the High ISO / Sensitivity scene modes to access them. These higher ISO modes are best used for resizing on the web.

Leica V-LUX 30 ISO test images

The following landscape images show the colour quality the V-Lux 30 is able to deliver. Portraits have pleasant skin tones and no red-eye.

Leica V-LUX 30 Scene modes

The following images have been taken using the lens at its maximum optical zoom.

Leica V-LUX 30 Sample Photos

There is no white-balance preset for fluorescent lighting - as you can see below it doesn't seem to be needed as the results using auto white balance under fluorescent lighting are excellent. In fact you get better results using the auto white balance under incandescent / tungsten lighting rather than using the Tungsten preset.

Leica V-LUX 30 White-balance test images

The creative modes can make some otherwise boring shots more memorable. The camera also has a number of colour modes, including: Standard, Natural, Vivid, Black & White, Sepia, Cool and Warm.

Leica V-LUX 30 Digital filters

Video Mode

The video quality is very good recording Full HD Video up to 29min with stereo sound and the optical zoom can be used while recording.

Value For Money

The Leica V-Lux 30 is available for around £550. As previously mentioned, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ20 has a very similar specification and is available for £250. Other similar cameras to consider are the Fujifilm FinePix F550 EXR priced at £229 with RAW support, the Sony Cybershot HX9v with 16x optical zoom priced at £299, the Canon Powershot SX230 HS priced at £265, and the Casio Exilim H20G available around £215, although it features a 10x optical zoom lens instead.

Adding to the value, the camera comes with Adobe Photoshop Elements 9 & Premiere Elements 9 which has an RRP of £117. The Leica V-Lux 30 also comes with a two-year warranty and one-year Leica UK Passport.

Leica V-Lux 30 Verdict

The 16x optical zoom lens with optical image stabilisation is very useful, with a wide angle view and detail is good at both ends of the lens, producing very good images and videos. The camera is very easy to use and feels good with a solid design. Yes, the camera is much more expensive than the very similar Panasonic Lumix TZ-20, but you are getting an a camera with a superb name, it looks classy and you get the Adobe software and two-year warranty.

The Leica V-Lux 30 has an excellent set of features, produces superb images and comes highly recommended despite its high price.

Leica V-Lux 30 Pros

16x optical zoom lens starting at 24mm wide
Good design and build quality
High speed shooting
High quality video with optical zoom
Built in optical image stabilisation
Great macro performance
Excellent auto white balance
Built in GPS

Leica V-Lux 30 Cons

"Intelligent zoom" is just another name for digital zoom
Strong noise reduction reduces detail at ISO400+
GPS use drains battery life
Quite pricey


Leica V-LUX 30 Specifications

Max Aperturef/3.3 - f/5.9
35mm equivalent24mm - 384mm
Optical Zoom16x
Image Sensor
Pixels14.1Mp (Megapixels)
Pixels (W)4320
Pixels (H)3240
Sensor TypeCMOS
Sensor Size1/2.33 inch
Sensor Size (width)6.08mm
Sensor Size (height)4.56mm
Aspect Ratio
  • 4:3
  • 3:2
  • 16:9
  • 1:1
LCD Monitor
LCD Monitor3in
Screen resolution460,800 dots
Touch ScreenYes
Min Focus3cm
Focusing modes
  • Autofocus
  • Face Detection
  • Spot
  • Multi
Exposure Control
Shutter speeds shortest1/4000sec
Shutter speeds longest60sec
Bulb modeNo
Exp modes
  • Program
  • Scene modes
  • Aperture-Priority
  • Shutter-Priority
  • Manual
  • Centre-weighted - Average
  • Multi Pattern
  • Spot
ISO sensitivity100 - 1600
White balance
  • Auto
  • Manual
  • Outdoors/Daylight
  • Cloudy
  • Incandescent
  • Shade
Exposure Comp+/-2
Shooting Options
Continuous shooting10fps
Movie modeYes
Video Resolution
  • 1920x1080 FullHD
  • 1280x720 HD 720p
  • 640x480 VGA
  • 320x240 QVGA
Video FPSNo Data
Stereo SoundYes
Optical Zoom with VideoYes
Other Features
Image StabilisationYes
Card Type
  • SD
  • SDHC
  • SDXC
File Type
  • JPG
Power Source
Battery TypeBP-DC 7
Battery Life (CIPA rating)260shots
Box Contents
Box ContentsCamera, battery charger (Leica BC-DC 7), lithium-ion battery (Leica BP-DC 7), carrying strap, AV cable, USB cable, Software DVDs, CD with long instructions (PDF), printed short instruction manuals, touch pen, Adobe Photoshop Elements 9, Adobe Premiere Ele

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Photographs taken using the Leica V-LUX 30

Me at midnight.

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30 Aug 2011 8:47PM
Like it's Panasonic sibling this camera gives you fuzzy pictures.
Why you highly recommend it puzzles me
franken Plus
18 5.3k 4 United Kingdom
31 Aug 2011 9:20AM

Quote: At ISO400 strong noise reduction reduces noise, but also fine detail starts to degrade. Noise becomes much more dominant at ISO800. Then at ISO1600 the noise becomes really dominant, reducing detail and colour noticeably. Above ISO1600 the camera will switch to 3 megapixels and these ISO settings can not be manually selected, instead you need to go into one of the High ISO / Sensitivity scene modes to access them. These higher ISO modes are best used for resizing on the web.

For the asking price you would expect a better performance

I suppose it would look good around your neck though?

Shcokete 10 32
1 Sep 2011 8:56AM
As with most of the non-SLR digital cameras there is no viewfinder and you struggle to see the screen in sunlight. I shall stick with my R8 - a proper Leica with film in it.
1 Sep 2011 8:58AM
1- Please tell me dear friends : is it worth to buy a Leica v-lux 30 or is it better to buy a Panasonic lumix tz 20 .I read everywhere that they are almost the same but the price of the leica is twice. I want to know that is there really a difference between them or is it a question of the name of the Leica company only?
2-If i buy the Leica can i enlarge my photos to 50 to 70 cms ?
3- Please give me your advices if you know a camera in this range.
thank you .
Shcokete 10 32
1 Sep 2011 9:22AM
Value? Well if you had an M9 you would pay more than 507 for a lens.
lemmy 14 2.9k United Kingdom
3 Sep 2011 11:42AM
The idea of including software in the price is a bad one unless you have a price not including the software. Even if I wanted to buy one of these, why should I pay for 2 pieces of software that I have no use for, since I already have better software than this on my machine.

This is a trend that magazine reviewers should be decrying. If they sold the camera with an optical finder included in the price, the magazine reviewer would ask why, when many people would not want it. But with software, it is seen as added value.

Any thoughts, Daniel?
12 Sep 2011 9:04AM
I think your comments on value for money are valid. We look at everything that comes with the camera to see if it justifies the price (if you got a free case, or a case and the camera cost 10 more than it would be added value). The extra software helps justify the high price for the Leica camera, but if you don't want it, then you've got the choice of getting a different camera. In other countries software bundles are quite common.
lemmy 14 2.9k United Kingdom
12 Sep 2011 10:59AM

Quote:The extra software helps justify the high price for the Leica camera, but if you don't want it, then you've got the choice of getting a different camera. In other countries software bundles are quite common.

With all due respect, you seem to have responded to my question with no thought at all. To say you can always buy another camera - a statement of the bleedin' obvious of ever there was one.

And what relevance does what other countries do have?

Did you ever work for the Microsoft Help Line? Wink

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