Sunday, 17 April 2011

I like-a my new Leica!

Honestly I resisted for months.  The beautiful D-Lux 5 was launched at Photokina last October and even though I was perfectly happy with my little Leica, news of the enhancements kept me poring over an unnatural number of enthusiastic reviews, JPEG comparisons and feature overviews until I caved in.  The final straw one when G came over from New York and extolled the virtues of an upgrade so eloquently and I suffered from massive camera envy. The decision was made - it just had to be mine!  My only fear, after extensive research, is that I wouldn’t be able to use any of my 46mm filters that I’d acquired for my beloved D-Lux 4 and would have to start amassing my collection all over again.  I suspected my Leica daylight UV filter, which gives the camera its eerie night vision goggles glow, would be almost impossible to scale up to 52mm, as I couldn’t find evidence of one even existing.  And the irony is that the difference in lens diameters between the two cameras is so miniscule and whereas the Lensmate extension tube was a straight 46mm, the new Panasonic one (Lensmate have sadly stopped servicing Leica D-Lux customers) I had to get for the D-Lux 5 is inexplicably wider at the filter end so my only choice was a 52mm-46mm step down ring.  Hence the front view isn’t quite as sleek as my old camera but at least I was able to recycle my filters. However saying that I had to experiment; I needed the thinnest step down ring I could muster as the first one I found impaired the images with a little vignetting when deploying some of the deepest rotating ring filters especially on close-ups.
Unusually for me I was persuaded to find a new home for my D-Lux 4, it seemed extra indulgent to keep both and really I want someone else to get the joy out of it as I have done so I packaged it up into its little silver box and bade it a fond farewell.
But I cannot possibly be sad; I have a new toy to enjoy.  And enjoying it I am, it’s only a few weeks so early days yet but I am totally loving the square (1:1) images, the firmer controls that stop the dial wandering to another setting without you realising, the extra oomph to the zoom, a more achievable bokeh effect and its love of the dark without necessarily having to crank up the ISO.  But I am sure I will have more delights to discover as I explore it further.
I was told I wouldn’t be able to protect it in my D-Lux 4’s black leather case but as I’d always kept a tiny spirit level in my hot shoe I had already pre-stretched my case slightly and it’s perfectly happy with the extra protuberant hot shoe of the D-Lux 5.  I can’t keep a spirit level there now but the new camera comes with its own hot shoe protector so that’s more than fine.
Every photographer I know has embraced Nikon, Canon and occasionally Pentax but I don’t regret taking my more svelte, Leica D-Lux route.  I am fairly sure I wouldn’t fare too well on a safari unless the wild animals were very obliging, and landscape photographers will still mock me.  But my, some say, quirky instrument of choice means I always have my camera about my person (and I don’t mean my camera phone) and all my accoutrements fits into the teeniest of Billingham bags when I come over all photographical, no nylon Velcro fastened turtle home rucksacks for me!     
Now off for more red dot snapping! 

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