Leica V-Lux 30 looks nice, but don't look at the price

leicavlux30.jpg Leica's V-Lux 30 has a Vario-Elmar 16x zoom 24-384mm-equivalent lens, 1080i AVCHD video recording, a 3" touchscreen display, and integrated GPS. Out in June, it will be $750 and comes with Adobe Elements 9. The practically-identical but physically repulsive Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS10—God, even looking at it makes me want to vomit— is $400. [Leica]


  1. Funny thing is if you’re dumb enough to put it into the case with the lens extended (as the photo shows) they’re probably not going to honor your warranty for the broken lens motor or scratched glass…

  2. I love my Lumix. Amazing how such an ugly, ugly camera can take such lovely images.

  3. I have the previous model, the ZS7. I like it, but you can’t save pictures in RAW format. Looks like the ZS10 has the same problem. If you want to do much PhotoShop, you really want to work with RAW format.

    1. It’s not really a problem. Leica assumes you know how to photograph Therefore, you do not need RAW as some sort of safety net. Film was a lot thinner than a jpg. Seems these days we just ask too much out of everything. The camera is fantastic, and for this one $700 is a great price.

  4. If you are willing to spend $750 on a camera, why would you be buying a point and shoot like this one? For that money you could buy a superior DSLR, like the Pentax Kx (or any entry DSLR for that matter).

    And also, does anyone actually care what their camera looks like? All I see with any of them is chunky plastic and metal, it’s not as if any of them are made from hand polished mahogany.

  5. How much for just the case? Then you won’t have to look at the Panasonic all the time. Better for your stomach, and for your pocketbook.

  6. Is all the panasonic hate some sort of hipster in-joke or something? because I don’t get it, the two look basically the same to me.

    1. Apparently that little red dot makes all the difference between gorgeous and hideous. [shrug]

      Disclaimer: I own and love a Panasonic Lumix LX-5. I didn’t buy it for its looks, but I don’t think it’s any more or less attractive than other cameras… even the oh-so-trendy Leicas.

    2. Heh, I was wondering the same. The Leica is nicer, but the Panasonic is a perfectly reasonable piece of industrial design in itself.

      1. Of course Leicas always have been popular with the camera-as-design-accessory crowd, but at least there was some ground for hipster snobbery when their mechanicals and glass were unique to the Wetzlar nameplate.

        You can wear an M8 and still be a Leica snob, but snobbery resulting from wearing a rebadged Panasonic with a leather case is ridiculous.

    3. “Is all the panasonic hate some sort of hipster in-joke or something? because I don’t get it, the two look basically the same to me.”

      Thank you for expressing that sentiment, and pointing out the hipster nature of having such divergent feelings of love and hate for two very-nearly-identical things.

    4. Agreed about the hate thing and this one is hyperbole taken to a new level. They’re more or less the same, the only difference being the case. If that’s enough to turn your stomach then please never leave the safety of a dark room – the sights you’d see on your average street would paralyse you. And as others have mentioned, why spend all that on a compact? It’s insanity…

  7. Not seeing it. Both look like the current state of digital cameras. Not that the pana sets off my gadget fetish, but I’m not seeing any improvement in the Leica.

  8. Rob, if your upchuck reflex is so easily triggered as that, remind me never to sit next to you on a bus, OK??

  9. My point-and-shoot is a Panasonic (LZ-10 I believe?), and looks similar to the one you linked. I don’t get the hate, either. It has more words and labels on it, I guess? But I don’t understand what about it, beyond that, can be considered “ugly” or “significantly different than the Leica.” It’s no streamlined Apple product, sure, but NONE of them are.

  10. “God, even looking at it makes me want to vomit”
    Lemme guess – you’re one a them Mac people, arncha?

  11. Having owned a few Panasonics that had Leica dopplegangers, I’ll tell you that the Leica usually has *worse* ergonomics. The grips on the Panny’s aren’t great, but they’re always better than the Leica.

    I guess on a camera like this that doesn’t shoot RAW, you could argue there’s value in the Leica tweaks to the JPEG engine, but I think that just means you should buy a camera that *does* shoot RAW instead.

      1. Yup, your Panny is an LX, which Leica sells as the D-Lux line. This is a ZS (aka TZ), which maps to the V-Lux. No RAW in that line from what I can tell.

        I have both an LX and a TZ, and only the LX shoots RAW.

  12. $350 for the Leica logo. Have at’er, assholes. You should be much more concerned about what it can do than how it looks. Which, for the record is the exact same thing.

    The logo is a douchbag tax. I bought the black Lumix LX-3 a few years ago and my pal bought the Leica D-lux-4. Same difference. He nearly shit a brick when I told him what I paid for the same camera. He tried to tell me how his camera was a superior piece of technology, but when we pulled the spec sheet, they were virtually identical.

    Don’t be fooled folks, Leica and Lumix walk hand in hand. It just depends on your proclivity for outward display of material objects.

  13. Clearly there’s an Uncanny Valley effect at work- if a camera appears very similar to a Leica, without actually being a Leica, it triggers that weird shuddery reflex. Of course, you could always put one of those Avery red dots stickers on it, and that might make it possible to use without inducing nightmares.

  14. I knew this would involve a lot of people not laughing at a joke. Cue Foghorn Leghorn.

  15. Why do you think that’s an ugly imager? It’s kind of utilitarian looking sure, but not vomit worthy. I like my tools to do the job and really don’t care about their appearance.

    1. Panasonic basically repackage Lecia cameras as Lumix at half the price, but the Lecia following is so hardcore and dedicated (thanks in part to paying twice the Lumix price) that they violently defend any comparison at every opportunity. Otherwise known as the Mac effect.

      1. “Panasonic basically repackage Lecia cameras as Lumix at half the price, but the Lecia following is so hardcore and dedicated (thanks in part to paying twice the Lumix price) that they violently defend any comparison at every opportunity. Otherwise known as the Mac effect.”

        Wait – where are the half-priced repackaged Macs?

      2. Not quite.

        Panasonic and Leica have an agreement. Leica designs the lenses and Panasonic does the HW, they both also do their own Firmware.

        I am sure someone has figured out how to shoehorn the Leica FW on the Panasonic, though having a GF-1 I have little to complain about the PQ of what Panasonic does. The lens design is where it’s at most of the time anyway.

        Now if you excuse me, I need to go and scan some MF film.

  16. ouch. $130 for just the case? I’ll keep my $2.80 with freeshipping from Amamzon case :)

    1. Although conversely you could slip it into the pocket of your American Apparel hoodie.

  17. While the Lumix isn’t going to win any design awards, its functionality is excellent. And yeah the Leicas are expensive but people that love them seem to love them. Chalk it up to brand loyalty I guess.

  18. The best thing about ugly cameras is that you can’t take a photo of them.

    I have a ‘silver’ (i.e. grey) Lumix LX2 and it’s really quite ugly, but it takes fantastic pictures, even 4-5 years down the line.

    We just took delivery of a Lumix LX5 at work, and it is actually very nice-looking, as well as being an incredibly good camera.

    Apparently, though, Leica save the slightly better lenses for their own versions (LX5 = D-Lux 4). Plus, the Leicas aren’t going to depreciate in value so quickly.


  19. Rob the Snob, you are a name-brand-Sucka!

    The Panasonic is the identical camera, and at $341.99 (Amazon’s price right now) it is less than half the cost of Leica, with MUCH better ergonomics. But two, and mod the case of the 2nd one for less than a single LEICA.

    But what you are really saying is that you wouldn’t be caught dead with a product mass marketed under a well known name. Retailers say “Thank goodness for people like you.” It is an important part of sales to be able to sell the same crap at different price points with only superficial variations and differing labels. Their margins depend upon it.

    What you need to do now is go buy yourself some $1000 stereo speaker wires from Monster Cable.

    1. You’d need a telescope with the very best Leica glass to see how far over your head this post whooshed.

    2. That post was good. Too good, in fact, not to be immortalised in rap…

      Rob the Snob, you are a name-brand-Sucka!
      Payin’ for the Leica when the Pana woulda dunya!
      Just a red dot an a little bit-a letha!
      They saw yo ass comin from a mile mutha fucka!

    3. WHOOSH!

      That’s the sound of Rob’s original comment going so far over your head, the International Space Station is in danger of being hit by it.

      It is my sad duty to inform you that you have lost The Internet today.

  20. Unlike some around here, my sarcasm meter went off like mad… However, as an amateur photographer I *do* care about how my cameras look, and over the years I’ve avoided many things (cameras, specific lenses, and accessories) because of their looks.

    A huge number of things in the sub-pro photography world look silly or very amateurish, including most point-and-shoots, especially if they’ve got long, thin lenses. Like, er, certain other things, it’s the diameter of the lens that really counts both for performance and for looking cool.

    That means I’m not a particularly big fan of most of Leica’s stuff, too, as far as looks go. I realize the lenses are amazing, but in terms of design they don’t look that cool. When they slap Leica badges on point-and-shoots like this, it just makes things worse in my opinion – there are point-and-shoots with really nice industrial design (including certain other Panasonics even) but none of the ones Leica has badged can really claim that.

    Despite all I said, I don’t think anyone can deny that the M-series Leicas look awesome – it’s just that in my opinion nothing else they’ve designed (or slapped a badge on) comes anywhere close to that, and if you put one of those long, thin lenses on an M-series it looks really silly :) Also they’re not that much better looking than other rangefinders, most of which also look cool and cost a lot less money…

  21. Is there a technical, optical, performance reason to make the lens front look like a TV screen?

    Why can’t the front optics be nice and clean, glass?

    Any camera with that rectangular housing just looks cheap, pin-hole, disposable to me.

    1. Is there a technical, optical, performance reason to make the lens front look like a TV screen?

      Without examining the specs of the camera, I imagine there’s a leaf shutter that closes over the lens when it’s off. Since the leaves do not retract totally out of the way of the lens, you get a squarish opening covering the mechanism.

      Effect on image quality: probably makes an already slow lens that much slower …

  22. Awesome. All that black plastic, no viewfinder, auto-everything, great big horrible cheap-ass slow-as-shit zoom lens. A $200 powershot probably works just as well, only with more manual controls and a better-looking silver finish.

    I’m sure all the hardcore camera snobs would rather buy the Fuji X100, anyway. Compared to the V-LUX, it actually looks like a “real” Leica rangefinder, kinda-sorta works like one, and is even more conspicuously expensive. What’s not to like?

    1. I’m going to have to defend the X100 on the basis of the old-timey manual user interface, which has yet to be beat. Shutter speed here, aperture here; now go shoot.

      1. I hadn’t heard of the X100, now oh how I want one.

        Can’t count how many times I reached for the mode dial on my first DSLR to try and change shutter speeds.

        1. I have an X100, the design is nice but that wasn’t what made me buy it, the viewfinder and the ability to have knobs for everything did.

          There are quirks and I hope Fuji releases an update soon for the firmware, but in the meantime, you can see the PQ on my flickr stream.

    2. Awesome. All that black plastic, no viewfinder, auto-everything

      The body is metal, not plastic. It has full auto, program auto, shutter priority, aperture priority, and full manual modes. All the metered modes can be set to +/-2 EV, in 1/3-stop increments.

      Or put it in manual mode, and set whatever shutter speed and aperture you like.

      The SLR-snob’s habit of disparaging these little cameras as ‘point’n’shoots’ utterly misses their actual capabilities. These are not your father’s Instamatic.

      And it has a through-the-lens viewfinder – but it’s a 3-inch-wide LCD panel that shows you what your shot will look like before you take it.

      Yeah, it’s not an optical finder – that would be quite a trick for a pocket cam with a 16x zoom, especially if you prefer a through-the-lens view. The form factor requires occasional compromises.

      A $200 powershot probably works just as well

      But a $200 Powershot won’t have a 16x optical zoom (24mm to 384mm 35mm-equivalent) in a compact shirt-pocket form factor.

      Personally, I like having both a long tele and a decent wide-angle that fits in my shirt pocket. I own the Panasonic ZS-7, the predecessor to the ZS-10 that matches this Leica. I wanted a shirt-pocket camera that I could always have with me with a decently long lens.

      If I want to fumble with interchangeable lenses, I’ll drag out the SLR, sure – but, often, the best camera is the one you have with you – and these little babies take *much* better pix than a cell phone.

      1. All fair points! Sure looked like cheap plastic to me, but you obviously know your specs.

        However, your comment seem to be countering an argument (“this is crap, get a DSLR”) which I didn’t make, and didn’t intend to. I’m not above some equipment snobbery, but I certainly don’t think point and shoots are automatically worthless; I’ve made some of my favorite pictures with a not-quite-state-of-the-art-in-2003 A70, which had full manual controls, manageable shutter lag and very decent image quality.

        What I meant to be snarky about was the fact that this camera offers a terrible cost-benefit proposition compared to all the “sane” competition, including of course its Lumix brother sporting the exact same Leica lens and sensor (and how about this $300 Canon with a 28-392mm equivalent lens for your “what if I want a compact with long zoom” example?).

        And that compared to the highly desirable Fuji X100, isn’t even a particularly attractive option for the “value be damned, I just want the best at any cost” crowd.

        But it does have that shiny, shiny red dot.

  23. If there are so many people not getting your sarcasm, it means you’re doing it wrong. don’t blame the reader for bad writing.

    1. Actually, the less people that get it the better! A ratio of 10% gets it to 90% doesn’t is about perfect.

    2. don’t blame the reader for bad writing.

      On the contrary, blame the reader for not seeing that one. It was done to a turn.

  24. I guess people don’t look at tags, eh? Instantly gave it away as sarcasm.

    I wonder who had the absolutely moronic idea to market a rebadged shitty (yes, even more than usual) point-and-shoot as a Leica. How such crap can get a shiny, expensive red dot is totally beyond me. This must be hipster-appeasing, there is no other sane explanation.

    And now get off my lawn.

  25. Much like Apple products, great design always costs $300 more than crappy design. Life is full of tradeoffs.

    My mom actually has that Panny — it shoots remarkable stills and video for the price. If you really don’t want to carry around something that ugly, then it’s worth it to pay the extra $$ for the Leica.

  26. Hey, an uglier camera is less likely to be stolen. If cheaper too, and equivalent in capability, that’s the direction I’d go.

    I care about seeing through a camera, not seeing the camera.

    1. I would imagine Cayce would find the Leica worse: a brand whose authority has begun to buckle a little under irony, being applied to decent but relatively low-end gear which the public knows is available inexpensively under another marque. The Lumix is authentic, though it is far from the most blandly functional in the range.

  27. It’s remarkable how far Leica has fallen since the rangefinder days. Now they’re rebranding a point-and-shoot Panasonic camera.

    And with a CMOS sensor? Seriously? At that price? I don’t care how much noise reduction you do, and these cameras apparently do a *lot*, it’s still never going to match a CCD for low noise.

    1. It’s remarkable how far Leica has fallen since the rangefinder days. Now they’re rebranding a point-and-shoot Panasonic camera.

      Leica has two lines. The P&S ones designed by Panasonic with lenses by Leica and the Mx series and the S2 which is done completely in house.

      The price difference tells all, for the price of the S2 body you can buy a really nice car, if you throw in a few lenses you have the downpayment for a Vancouver house.

      The M9 is around $3K plus lens, so for around $5K (or the price of a Motorcycle) you can start shooting.

  28. Eh, when I first read the post, I thought, “Well, maybe this isn’t sarcasm and maybe it is.” If it wasn’t sarcasm, it was a really dumb sentiment, and if it was sarcasm, it’s just not that funny. OK, so it was sarcasm, whoop dee do. It was at least plausible that it wasn’t sarcasm, considering how many of the posts here consist of gushing over name brands and product design without any regard for price.

  29. I have a V-Lux and whenever I switch it off and the Leica logo appears on the screen, I’m glad I paid the extra. Shallow but true.

  30. The practically-identical but physically repulsive Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS10—God, even looking at it makes me want to vomit— is $400.

    Yes, the most important thing as all photographers know is how the camera looks. Who cares what kind of pictures it takes?

    But fear not. The Internet is here to help, there, this one should do it for you!

  31. I´m with glenblank. Got a DSLR, but sometimes you need a pocketable camera. Leica vs. Panasonic: Often you get additional software and bag for the extra amount you pay, so the deal may not be in your disfavor.

  32. In about two or three years there will be some demand for my Leica. Not for my Panasonic. Keeping in mind the price of the software it’s not as ridiculous as it seems to be.

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