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D-109 Not Up to Leica Standards


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My family has been in the photography business since 1950. I have used many, many different cameras. I currently own four Leicas (2 digital and 2 film) and a host of Leica lenses. Recently, I started using the D-Lux 109 because my D-Lux 6 was in for repairs to the zoom. After taking many pictures with the D-Lux 109, it is my earnest opinion that is just not up to Leica standards. The lens is not really sharp (no matter the settings or the f stop) and the auto-focus does not always work well. Hate to say it, but I am now in the market for a better camera.

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I know several Leica enthusiasts who prefer the D Lux 109 to the D Lux 6 and one friend produces A3+ exhibition prints with his D109. Both cameras are based on Panasonic models. Maybe you've acquired a faulty camera? Good luck with your better camera quest but if as dissatisfied as you appear to be maybe compare it to another D109 example? D 109 reviews suggest it's an excellent camera. 

 

dunk 

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I do not own a D109, but not all D109s seem to be made to the same standards.

There were some user reports on fuzzy photos at infinity, and user kmhb (see the German forum) had some issues in this respect. He sent the camera to Leica (as far as I can remember, for several times), but without real success. In the case that he reads my posting here, he may consider commenting on this in person...

 

Best regards, Gerd

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  • 1 month later...

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I ended up selling a Canon F1 and some very nice fast lenses for a D-109. I understood there would be a trade-off between size/weight and IQ. After much searching and deliberation I felt the attributes of the 109 outweighed the competitors and that included IQ.

 

I'm not blowing prints above A3 so can't comment about what happens then. A friend who is a landscape professional has looked at the images I've sent him and believes IQ is very good for such a diminutive camera.

 

What we expect varies individual to individual, but what I'm a little surprised about is that if you had tried the camera out and check IQ at that time why your problem was not noticeable then or if it was why you still bought the camera?

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My family has been in the photography business since 1950. I have used many, many different cameras. I currently own four Leicas (2 digital and 2 film) and a host of Leica lenses. Recently, I started using the D-Lux 109 because my D-Lux 6 was in for repairs to the zoom. After taking many pictures with the D-Lux 109, it is my earnest opinion that is just not up to Leica standards. The lens is not really sharp (no matter the settings or the f stop) and the auto-focus does not always work well. Hate to say it, but I am now in the market for a better camera.

 

 

OP appears dismissive of the 109 but does not state what steps (if any) he's taken to approach his dealer or Leica Camera to try and ascertain if his example is faulty. If his and his family's photographic experience is as comprehensive as he suggests then he and they should be aware that occasionally a 'lemon' squeezes through QA procedures … and that's one reason why manufacturers offer guarantees to keep customers satisfied. If customers fail to exercise their consumer rights or ask the manufacturer to honour the guarantee then they have not taken all reasonable steps to remedy their complaint. 

 

Other users' experiences of the 109 suggest it is an excellent camera. I examined a friend's (and forum member's) 109 yesterday and witnessed its output i.e. superb A3+ prints … all tack sharp with excellent tones … including ISO 1600 images. 

 

dunk

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Roger, I doubt you are normally given to make hasty decisions, but if you are - just pause for a moment. The D Lux typ. 109 is a highly regarded camera by many on this forum including me. Have you discussed your concerns with your Leica dealer? If not, I strongly suggest that you do so soon because you are missing out on potentially excellent performance. Please report back to us.

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I would echo the previous two posts.  It is a very flexible little camera that is easy to carry around so therefore is the camera I reach for first when I go out and with exceptional image quality.  Neither the focusing or exposure has ever let me down and I have been shooting with this camera since it was first introduced in the UK.  I recommend you have a word with your nearest Leica dealer.

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My friend, Chalkie Davies, bought a 109 last year as his first hand held camera in 30 years. He was the staff photographer at the NME and shot album covers for Bowie, The Specials, Thin Lizzy and many others. He then took over the Clinique account from a certain Irving Penn, when he moved to NYC. He used the 109 to photograph David Gilmour last September - his first gig in 35 years. His pics looked outstanding. I suspect that yours might be faulty.

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Do you own just the D Lux 6 and D Lux 109 digital Leica camera? And have you read the instructions properly? And by what Leica standards, particularly AF standards, are you judging the 109 exactly? If you only have two Leica compact AF digital cameras, neither of which is a pure Leica design, are you really qualified and sufficiently experienced to pass judgement? 

 

dunk 

Edited by dkCambridgeshire
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  • 1 month later...

The D-Lux (109) is definitely the best camera in this (panasonic) family (I own the D-LUX 3 and 5 as well). Specifically the usability concept is great. HOWEVER, the body/lens is wide open to dust. Just after one year of use I sent it to the customer service for cleaning. Never experienced this issue with the predecessors.

 

 

 

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Just about every digital camera is susceptible to dust, and that's a problem is you have to live with in a windy environment. With interchangeable lens cameras you can access the sensor to clean it. The only Leica compact that would be impervious to the problem is the X-U.

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Hi Roger,

 

About the 'Leica' standards ... to me, personally, this is not even a 'true 100%' Leica.

But nevertheless, I really love this D-109 so much!

 

I have read quite a lot assessments like the ones you make.

Problem with that, IMHO, is ... not sharp, not ... compared to what/which ?

This is a small, retro, versatile, even sub 1000 EUR/USD camera (in Europe anyway) and I have no idea

 which yet existing camera has all the incredible settings and features like this one.

I use the best RAW developers to get the most out of this camera and, yes, 

 the OOC output may not be near perfect, but this is all easily corrected in PP.

What is less easy to correct in post is lack of WA and low light capabilities, but this 109 sure is king

 in those departments (always for its size). 

Nevertheless this still remains a mere 10-13 MP camera (depending on aspect ratio) so resolution-wise (for e.g. the landscape shooter)

 there, indeed, are far better options at this price point.

 

I do not disagree with what you write, but this 109, to me, sure is nu dud.

 

High regards,

Stefaan

Edited by simfan
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  • 5 weeks later...
  • 3 months later...

The 109 is notionally similar to my Olympus OMD EM-1 with the 12-40mm ƒ2.8 lens. It's a fair size smaller, which makes it a better travel camera, and of course there are other differences, but I've used the Oly for a couple of years and love it. 

My 109 is a recent addition but so far in my testing it performs very well indeed, and I'm looking to leave the Olympus at home for my next trip.

I went out and fired off a few landscape shots - bitterly cold in Canberra, so I didn't get out of the car to seek a more photogenic site, but there's enough to get a good idea.

I set the aperture at ƒ8, focus length at 28mm (equiv) and let the camera set the other parameters on this lovely bright day. I brought along my Q for a test (hence the choice of 28mm). All images SOOC via Flickr:

First the 109, wide and then a crop of the distant tower:




Next, the EM-1, same deal:



And finally the Q, which is a full-frame camera:



The focus point was the tower in all three cases. Not a rigorous test - I didn't use a tripod, just braced the camera on the car window frame - but I think the 109 holds its end up just fine. Clearly the Q outperforms both, but if I'd opened the smaller cameras out their max range of 75mm equivalent for the 109 and 80mm for the EM1, that distant tower would be a lot crisper than the Q simply through there being more pixels in the zoomed image.

I'm extremely happy with my 109. At less than half the weight of the Olympus, it can produce images almost as good. In fact, as I gain more experience - I've only had it a couple of weeks - I'm sure I can get more out of it.

I think the OP must have a dud camera.
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A "real world" test. It looks good to me.

I have always found the Panaleicas to be excellent compact cameras.

OK, obviously not as good as a full frame Leica but more than adequate for most things.

It certainly appears that it may be a faulty camera.

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