Jump to content

Could the V-Lux 4 be what I'm seeking?


Recommended Posts

Advertisement (gone after registration)

I've been wanting something to take out for birding/wildlife and maybe eventually sports for my sons. I know a DSLR is the 'go-to' option but with my poor health I've been hesitant to go back to the weight of one. I've got a m4/3 in my cart at B&H right now but happened on the V-LUX 4 tonight. I had dismissed bridge cameras as poor substitutes.

 

However, the specs on the V-LUX 4 look pretty good. Would it be able to do what I'd want it for?

 

TIA,

TOny

Link to post
Share on other sites

I have an R8 & DMR back & a few lenses, a DL5, a D2 and now the V-Lux 4. The V-Lux 4 will seem to have a cheap plastic feel if one is used to heavier, metal cameras, such as Leica Ms & Rs, but that means less weight to lug around. The V-Lux 4 is even lighter than my D2. I do not find the feel at all offensive &suspect it will withstand wear and tear better than my metal cameras.

 

In 2005 I had the forerunner of the V-Lux 1 and used it alongside my D2 for a trip to India, leaving my film R at home. I liked the relatively light weight & small volume of the D2 and V Lux forerunner. Not long after I added the DMR to the R8 (a gift from my wife). This has the advantage of an exceptional optical viewfinder for really easy focus. I of course liked it but felt I'd miss the weight and space advantages of the other travel set.

 

In the fall of 2011 I sent my R8/DMR and 80-200 to Leica for service and they promised to have it back to me in plenty of time for a January trip to Antarctica and NW Argentina. They failed but let me borrow a V-Lux 2 which I brought along with my D2. You can see those shots on our site (www.barbara-and-stu.com) the vast majority of which are from the V-Lux 2. The weaknesses of that camera were some limitations with autofocus, nearly impossible to accomplish manual focus and inferior low light performance to my 2004 D2.

 

I had been carrying my D2 to work every day &when I had to send it in for service I bought a mint used DL5 to carry every day, and have been pleased with it in most ways.

 

Christmas day brought the V-Lux 4. It is the 2nd generation of CMOS sensor since the V-Lux 2, and in almost every way is a better camera than the V-Lux 2. Low light performance is better than the D2, as is high ISO performance. Auto focus performance is faster than the V-Lux 2, DL5 and the D2, and iis quite accurate, though in certain situations one needs to develop a technique to get the desired results – Shooting at wildlife through “windows” in leaves and branches can be difficult. But where the V-Lux 2 fell down shooting at an angle through glass (focuses on the glass instead of what is beyond) the V-Lux 4 works well, reducing the need for manual focus. Manual focus is easier but still difficult to do, but even trying to track birds in flight before activating the autofocus usually focused well on the bird.

 

For macro one should switch the lens to macro mode, but be careful not to zoom in too much or it won’t focus. This requires a minor balancing act to get optimum results, and often will also involve cropping when processing. Then remember to switch back to normal mode so that the autofocus doesn’t have to hunt through a longer range to achieve focus. I can assure you you’ll initially forget this if you get the camera.

 

With the DL5, the V-Lux 4 and the V-Lux 2 I find the diopter adjustment a bit too easy to unintentionally move, usually when putting it in and out of a briefcase or back pack. Less so with the D2, and never with the R8.

 

I usually only use my R equipment on trips since it is too big and heavy for casual use but it will sit on the shelf more now that I have the V-Lux 4. The D2 is still the better mega-stealth camera (shoot from the hip where photography is forbidden) since the V-Lux 4 uses a near IR beam to help focus in all but high contrast or bright light situations. The V Lux 4 is now my everyday camera. Even though I brought the D2 along as backup to Panama, I never used it. All the Panama shots on our site are with the V-Lux 4. As a caveat, I always do at least some post processing, regardless of camera, and the V-Lux 4 is no exception. I might be doing a bit more PP with it than with my other cameras, but the file sizes are so large I can also crop more if the subject is small and distant, as with many of the birds in Panama.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I haven't owned my VLUX4 as long as stuny has, but, so far my findings are consistent with his. It's a great camera!!

 

I'm not a professional photographer but I do own SLR equipment and wanted high quality images without the bulk of the SLR equipment. When I saw the VLUX4 specs, I thought there had to be something wrong - 2.8f across the entire range??

 

I got the VLUX4 with the following in mind:

 

- If this works out as well as the specs indicate (which I thought was highly unlikely), I'll keep it and sell off my SLR equipment to save space, bulk for cycle touring and outdoor activities (hiking, backpacking, camping, etc...)

 

- If it doesn't, I guess I'll be testing B&H's return policy...

 

I haven't formally put my SLR equipment on the market, but I have some interest from a few folks I've told so far...

 

The second battery is on the way.

 

It works quite well with the ipad camera connector kit as well, causing me to wonder how badly I need a larger memory card.

 

I'm very pleased with the images of the camera!!

 

I'm strongly considering a benro tripod, not 100% sure which one yet - may splurge and go carbon fiber....

Link to post
Share on other sites

I've had my V-Lux 4 for a couple of months and there is a lot to like about this camera.

 

I bought it really to update my ageing D2 whose auto-focussing I was finding far too slow and whose slow card write times likewise when trying to keep up with my grandchildren!

 

I would share the positive things said above, but feel that there are some drawbacks you might like to bear in mind.

 

Having a constant f/2.8 throughout the zoom range sounds great, but I find, not surprisingly really, a distinct fall off in quality if using this aperture at max zoom, which shows up as reduced contrast. Closing the aperture a stop or two restores the quality, but it is a little disappointing, given the hype and needs correcting at post processing.

 

Beyond 400 ISO noise becomes significant although even 800 ISO can be usable. Indeed there is noise at 100 ISO if you are looking for large prints. Again post can correct this up to a point.

 

I find good, even excellent results possible, but much more post processing is required.

 

None of this is surprising given the tiny size of the sensor and anticipating this I took along time deciding to buy. You will never, ever get the same quality from this sensor as you will from a larger one; it is no DSLR, or even m4/3.The trouble is I'm used to my M8 and still adjusting to having to work harder to get the results I need. And it makes the D2 seem an even more wonderful camera despite its age and drawbacks.

 

BUT is is small and light, reasonably quick and has that amazing zoom lens. We all know how big a 600mm lens is on an APSC or full frame DSLR. I also find myself using the video function more than expected and this looks really good on my HD TV.

 

It is a fun camera, great for family snaps and as Stuart has demonstrated, other things as well, but I'm still getting used to the compromises in sensor quality.

 

Tim

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 weeks later...

I've considered the V-Lux 4 long and hard over the past week and almost took the plunge. The main reason I didn't is the small sensor - the tiny size is bound to compromise image quality compared to eg 4/3 or M4/3 format. I need a reasonably compact camera with a Leica zoom lens for use as an 'event camera' which will give quality results capable of being cropped if necessary. I have an Olympus E-5 with a D Summilux 25/1.4 which gives superb results but a zoom lens would make the camera very much more versatile. For less than the price of a new V-lux 4 I can buy a used Leica 14-50 f2.8/3.5 Aspheric zoom ... and the lens is still available new for just over £800. I'm now contemplating buying the lens rather than a V-Lux 4; its tiny sensor size was really driven home to me after looking at some of the sensor size comparison charts.

 

http://www.google.co.uk/imgres?imgurl=http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/9/9a/Sensor_sizes_overlaid_inside_-_updated.svg/300px-Sensor_sizes_overlaid_inside_-_updated.svg.png&imgrefurl=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image_sensor_format&h=245&w=300&sz=20&tbnid=52Xxw4KrYEX1SM:&tbnh=90&tbnw=110&zoom=1&usg=__H5D8SooP8uN6nnhA45i3NST1qBI=&docid=uQLdVU9LaDJCLM&sa=X&ei=5eJGUbOmDOKb0AXu3oC4Cg&ved=0CEYQ9QEwBA&dur=509

 

The V-Lux 4 has a 1/2.3" size sensor - the smallest in the chart. I realise the camera is one of the best of its type especially with its phenomenal zoom range - but I would not need the 'long end' very often.

 

Best wishes

 

dunk

Edited by dkpeterborough
Link to post
Share on other sites
Dunk -

 

In that case maybe the D-Lux 6 with or without the EVF might be a good alternative.

 

I already have a D-Lux 5 which has been sent to Leica for service (dust on sensor) and which has a larger sensor than the D Lux 6 - so unlikely that the D-Lux 6 images would be better than those from the D-Lux 5. The D-Lux 5 is a fine camera but I prefer a longer zoom range - preferably on a larger format.

 

I did not fully realise just how tiny the V-Lux 4 sensor is until I saw the comparison charts.

 

I wish that Leica would consider a larger format compact zoom with shorter zoom range - with a 2/3" or CX sensor.

 

The superzoom concept might sell cameras but it only works with tiny sensors - sensors one size up from those used in mobile phones.

 

Best wishes

 

dunk

Link to post
Share on other sites
I already have a D-Lux 5 which has been sent to Leica for service (dust on sensor) and which has a larger sensor than the D Lux 6 - so unlikely that the D-Lux 6 images would be better than those from the D-Lux 5. The D-Lux 5 is a fine camera but I prefer a longer zoom range - preferably on a larger format.

 

I did not fully realise just how tiny the V-Lux 4 sensor is until I saw the comparison charts.

 

I wish that Leica would consider a larger format compact zoom with shorter zoom range - with a 2/3" or CX sensor.

 

The superzoom concept might sell cameras but it only works with tiny sensors - sensors one size up from those used in mobile phones.

 

Best wishes

 

dunk

 

the D-Lux 6 is a very very excellent kamera. the new i.zoom function are possible 180mm in a good quality. sample images: Flickr: kmhb2011's Photostream (I have also a D-Lux5 and a V-Lux3)

 

best regards

klaus-michael

Link to post
Share on other sites

I wish that Leica would consider a larger format compact zoom with shorter zoom range - with a 2/3" or CX sensor.

 

 

That is entirely in the hands of Panasonic, who design and build these cameras.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I wouldn't get too hung up on sensor size. I have a DL4 and two m43 cameras (G5, GF3). I have a number of lenses for the m43's, and I love the DL4 which I will never sell. But I bought the VL4 anyway and I'm glad I did.

 

Yes, the sensor is small, in fact it's the reason they were able to make the incredible lens that's at the heart of the camera. But keep in mind that though small, it is not crammed full of hot, noisy pixels. As long as you stick to 800 ISO or less, the shots come out pretty clean. Shooting RAW obviously improves them.

 

I bought the VL4 for the great lens. It would be pretty difficult, and very expensive to find a fixed 2.8 lens with anything like this range. For me it provides a single camera solution for light travel. I do quite a bit of motorcycle touring, have ridden in something close to forty countries. In the past I generally used the DL4, a great camera limited by zoom range. I'll be doing a ride and safari in South Africa later this year. I've been warned by several people not to try changing lenses when on safari; carrying multiple cameras is not really an option. The VL4 is the obvious solution.

 

I've had mine for only a few weeks but I am in no way disappointed with the images I'm getting shooting RAW and using LR4 to develop. I've also found the HDR and NiteShot modes to quite useful, especially when I'm without a tripod.

 

All in all I am very satisfied with this camera, it is all I hoped for: a single do it all camera that I can grab and go.

 

Alan.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Alan -I agree, and there are many examples of how well this camera does in my Panama wildlife gallery on our site. I too travel light (except when we are on SCUBA holiday) with carry-on luggage only. The V-Lux 4 plays well into this strategy. Of course I would never be without a backup camera on travels like yours or mine and strongly urge you to bring along your DL4 just in case.

 

Dunk - Alan wrote what I thought - Don't get hung-up on sensor size. Before you saw that chart you were interested in the camera. You might want to see if a dealer would let you borrow or rent a V-Lux 4 for a weekend. As long as you do your homework up-front to know how to use the camera you might be surprised.

Edited by stuny
Link to post
Share on other sites
I've considered the V-Lux 4 long and hard over the past week and almost took the plunge. The main reason I didn't is the small sensor - the tiny size is bound to compromise image quality compared to eg 4/3 or M4/3 format. I need a reasonably compact camera with a Leica zoom lens for use as an 'event camera' which will give quality results capable of being cropped if necessary. I have an Olympus E-5 with a D Summilux 25/1.4 which gives superb results but a zoom lens would make the camera very much more versatile. For less than the price of a new V-lux 4 I can buy a used Leica 14-50 f2.8/3.5 Aspheric zoom ... and the lens is still available new for just over £800. I'm now contemplating buying the lens rather than a V-Lux 4; its tiny sensor size was really driven home to me after looking at some of the sensor size comparison charts.

 

Google Image Result for http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/9/9a/Sensor_sizes_overlaid_inside_-_updated.svg/300px-Sensor_sizes_overlaid_inside_-_updated.svg.png

 

The V-Lux 4 has a 1/2.3" size sensor - the smallest in the chart. I realise the camera is one of the best of its type especially with its phenomenal zoom range - but I would not need the 'long end' very often.

 

Best wishes

 

dunk

 

Thank you for your suggestions and thoughts / experiences with the V-Lux 4. I have not ruled out a V-Lux and may buy a secondhand V-Lux 1 at a later date as it has a larger 1/1.8" sensor ie 7.18mm x 5.32mm compared to the later V-Lux models 1/2.3" ie 6.16mm x 4.6mm. Meantime I have just ordered a Panasonic L-1 with 14-50mm f2.8/3.5 lens which was listed for a reasonable £389 ... less than the £690 cost of a new V-Lux 4. For my purposes the Leica 14-50mm lens will be far more useful and when coupled to my Olympus E-5 should provide a good 'event' camera with Leica zoom lens combination. I could not have bought the lens by itself for anywhere near that price.

 

Best wishes

 

dunk

Link to post
Share on other sites
Alan -I agree, and there are many examples of how well this camera does in my Panama wildlife gallery on our site. I too travel light (except when we are on SCUBA holiday) with carry-on luggage only. The V-Lux 4 plays well into this strategy. Of course I would never be without a backup camera on travels like yours or mine and strongly urge you to bring along your DL4 just in case.

 

Dunk - Alan wrote what I thought - Don't get hung-up on sensor size. Before you saw that chart you were interested in the camera. You might want to see if a dealer would let you borrow or rent a V-Lux 4 for a weekend. As long as you do your homework up-front to know how to use the camera you might be surprised.

 

I have succumbed and just ordered a secondhand V-Lux 2 which was available for a good price.

 

Best wishes

 

dunk

Link to post
Share on other sites

Best of luck with it. You can see how successful it was for me two years ago. Almost all the photos on our site from Antarctica and northwestern Argentina are with a borrowed V-Lux 2. If you seem to have trouble with focus it is probably due to accidentally moving the diopter wheel. The camera wil still autofocus successfully even when the misset diopter makes teh viewfinder indicate otherwise.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 weeks later...

My first post and I wanted to respond to this thread since I own and shoot with one of these cameras. First, it is not the same as the Panasonic FZ200; this one renders those nice Leica colors. Second, you cannot judge the sensor size in comparison with other cameras. That would be comparing apples to oranges. This camera has to be evaluated on its merits. For example, you have a different depth of field with this sensor. What this means is that I can shoot at f2.8 in low light and get the same depth of field I would get with another camera at f5.6. I have never found the noise to be excessive and it cleans up nicely in Neat Image. The testers manually move the ISO over 800 and then agitate over the noise they see. I shoot with auto ISO and the camera has never shot over 400 ISO, even in the dark. I have a wonderful photo of a cathedral I shot inside in very dim light that I'll try and post. Meanwhile here are two photos from a recent trip to Prague. The second one was taken at night and handheld.

 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Jon, welcome to the forum and congratulations on showing us some fine examples of what a photographer can do with the V-Lux 4. The first one is really impressive. Even I could be tempted! Raw or Jpeg capture? Post-processing in Lightroom?

Link to post
Share on other sites

David, thanks for your kind comments. I was shooting in JPEG as I was just on vacation and was making some shots I wanted to email to my wife's family who had met us in Prague. I processed the shots in Lightroom 4, which came with the camera.

 

The camera has been a pleasant surprise in many ways. The build quality could perhaps be better (more solid). But it serves its purpose as a light weight walking around camera with a long reach. This is my first venture into the Leica world after owning pro Canon bodies and lenses and I hope to move on up the ladder. I've always been intrigued by that "Leica look" going back to the film days.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...