Leica V-Lux 3 camera with fixed 4.5-108 mm f2.8-f5.2 lens
The new Leica V-Lux 3 is a ‘bridge’ camera, meaning it sits between the compact and DSLR markets. It is a lightweight model with a fixed Leica 4.5-108 mm f2.8-f5.2 super-telephoto lens; this is equivalent to a 25-600 mm lens on a DSLR, and so very powerful. It comes with a 12.1 MP CMOS sensor, viewfinder and a flip/swivel screen, various auto exposure modes, full auto focus (plus full manual control in all functions) and an electronic shutter for continuous fast shooting; there is also HD video available at 1080p and 60 full frames per second. The model is very handily supplied with a software suite comprising Adobe Photoshop Elements, plus Premier Elements for those wishing to delve into the HD video side of the camera. The software is downloadable after registering the camera online.
The quality of this image of a Great Spotted
Woodpecker, taken using the V-Lux 3’s zoom at
maximum setting, was very impressive.
Photo by Steve Young (www.birdsonfilm.com).
I’d had no experience of this type of camera before, and it’s very different to what I’m used to. Sitting on a chair with the back door open, I took some tentative shots of the female Blackbird that comes down to feed on pears. The camera felt very strange to start with, but after a short while I began to enjoy using it. It was so light that I was hand-holding at 1/125th sec without too much of a problem, and when the light faded I increased the ISO to 800, balanced the camera on my knee for a lower angle and used the flip screen to focus with.
I visited my feeding station for a test shoot and to mount the camera on a tripod to give it a fair chance. The birds performed well, and so did the camera; zooming the lens was simple using either a lever on the shutter button, or a button on the lens itself. I was able to take scenic shots of the actual feeding station and then zoom right in to photograph a Great Spotted Woodpecker.
The auto white balance coped well with the changing light conditions. The exposure meter was very accurate, while the large flip screen was a joy to use – so much so that I found myself using this to focus with rather than bending my neck to look through the viewfinder. Back home, the images looked good on screen: contrast, sharpness and noise levels were all good. Although I could see differences when compared with my DSLR – as I would expect given the price difference – the photos were of a very high quality and looked good when printed.
It’s worth noting that the lens is fixed, so it’s not possible to add a converter to increase the focal power – what you have is what you get. But this camera and lens combination could provide an option for those wishing to take up bird photography who do not want to carry a heavy and expensive DSLR set-up around. It’s very easy to use, the quality is good and the price and software package are hard to beat.
|• 12.1 MP CMOS sensor
• 3" flip monitor
• JPEG, RAW, HD video
• Built-in flash
• Four exposure modes and three metering modes
• Two-year warranty, plus one-year Leica UK Passport
• Photoshop Elements and Premier Elements Software included on registration at www.leica-camera.co.uk
• Price: £690