Saturday, March 12, 2016

Leica V-Lux Typ 114 Review

Leica V-Lux Typ 114 Review
March 2016, Carl Garrard
Leica's V-Lux Typ 114 camera has intrigued me since its release because I liked Panasonic's clone, the FZ1000 so much. For most, I presume Leica's V-Lux Typ 114 main draw is its companies uncanny customer service and extended warranty, as well as its included Adobe Lightroom software. For me however, the draw doesn't stop just there. There's no denying the Audi design's influence on its exterior- it's a prettier camera to look at than the Panasonic, and the Leica logo and name badge have this sort of impractical influence on pride of ownership. With that said there other reasons for me to review this camera for my own personal desires that I will discuss more in detail in this rather short review. My goal is to answer the questions we all have on the differences of this camera vs. its near clone, the FZ1000. Like you, I was curious as well and the information out there was all sort of spread out- so I decided to compile it for my readers.


Best Current Price - Leica V-Lux (Typ 114)


This review will not be as extensive as the Panasonic FZ1000 review I completed, rather it's a sort of extension of it simply because I'll be talking about the differences between it and the V-Lux 114 (which is how I'll refer to it in the rest of the review). Since I've already cited some differences that users normally read or care about, there's really not much more to note for those readers. Yet, there is one major difference and a few subtle differences that I've found that are definitely worth sharing for the curious crowd.

Lets start by removing the veil of mystery and rumors on the net about the differences. First of all, the V-Lux 114 has nearly identical firmware features as the FZ1000. I've read that some believe the V-Lux 114 lacks some of the features of the FZ1000 but this is almost completely false. All the software goodies you love about the FZ1000 are included in the V-Lux 114 minus what I'm showing in the list below.

There are some minor text differences/omissions too, but really that's about all in the firmware. Instead I'm going to argue that Leica's design differences make it a more refined camera to use as a stills camera especially, and that is that. The omission of very few features detailed below does not change my opinion here. As much as some tout they are the same cameras, they aren't.

Just as an Audi isn't the same as a Volkswagen, the Leica V-Lux 114 is not the same as the FZ1000. In fact I think that is the perfect metaphor to keep in mind as you compare both cameras.

Totality of Differences
Best Current Price - Leica V-Lux (Typ 114) 

  • Exterior design changes as a whole, and styling (Audi design did a better job)
  • Labeling of AF modes text position, w/t letters near zoom rocker on shutter release, red auto badge on the main mode dial, and cleaner font/text throughout the rest of the camera
  • Beefier more comfortable grip on the front, rear is cleaner and simpler, more room for the thumb as a result, bottom of the camera fits in the palm better
  • *Strap lugs are recessed into the camera- this is a huge benefit for comfort on the shooting hand*
  • Zoom rocker has a tighter more refined feel
  • Made in Japan exclusively
  • ISO values 12,500 and 25,000 vs 12,800 and 25,600
  • MP4 only vs AVCHD movie file options
  • Lack of wireless flash functions
  • Fit and finish is better on the V-Lux 114
  • Main mode dial and drive dial are thinner w/different knurl cuts
  • Button height and size is more uniform throughout the camera (gives a sense of simplicity and uniformity), example playback button is not green or indented
  • Lack of Wifi/4K and other labeling the FZ1000 has simplifies the exterior, frankly removes the annoying adverts that marketing insists on having on the camera
  • 3 Year Leica Warranty
  • Much better customer service experience
  • Included Adobe Lightroom
  • Overall a more professional handling and visual experience from packaging to shooting


Besides some very minor differences in packaging and labeling, this about sums up the differences between the two cameras (feel free to tell me otherwise). There are more differences than you might be led to believe just reading about on the internet, and I think that's because of some laziness on the writers part out there not wanting to take the time to note them. Actually taking the time to cite the differences in this review took about a half hour to an hour to compile- I hope this is a worthwhile article for you as a result.

Now lets get on with it further...



I'll be honest too when I say that the V-Lux 114 reminds me a bit of the Leica S series medium format cameras in its appearance, clearly Audi design influence is apparent in both models. In my opinion, I think the S model Leicas are the most beautiful cameras ever designed. So when I say the V-Lux 114 has a better exterior design... I mean, sure its looks are stunning, but there's some functionality built into its looks that does make a subtle but appreciated influence when using the camera too- just like how an Audi interior/exterior is more refined than a Volkswagen's.


Compared to the S-Model below and the V-Lux 114 above you can see how more cluttered the FZ1000's button and font layout etc looks in comparison- it's subtle yes, but to me its noticeable.


I don't like extra clutter for the sake of adding features to a list. I like clean, well organized, and well thought out camera designs. Any move in design to that direction I'm going to appreciate, so I think you can tell where I'm going in this review already. The subtle touches and polish are apparent to me.

While the FZ1000 is a camera mostly designed by Panasonic, and they've done a superb job in making this camera come to life, Leica has taken that design and nipped and tucked it just right to give it a more refined experience. Having the strap lugs flush with the body removes the most irritating design feature of the FZ1000 for me alone, and I'll be quite honest that can be a deal breaker for me. This is why I put asterisks next to this difference in the section above. It's huge to me.

Great looks but those pointy post lugs and fiddly d-rings are atrocious.

Isn't the V-Lux just handsome, clean? That grip is taller and thicker, great for bigger hands and more stable for long tele shooting.

My only two wishes is that Leica had taken it one step further and refined the menu system with different  Leica like fonts and organized it more. This is no slight on Panasonic, I think their menu is pretty darn good actually, but in the spirit of making the FZ1000 a Leica, they could have done that too which would have given the V-Lux 114 more individuality. Also, it would have been nice if Leica would have raw files saved in DNG format instead of the RWL format (code for Panasonic's format no doubt).

In terms of answering the question of differences in image quality it is a very simple answer: Panasonic's Jpegs are slightly different than Leica's. Panasonic's rendering tend to be more saturated and "consumery" whereas Leica's Jpegs tend to be more accurate and conservative (in line with the brands identity), i.e. professional. Raw files are the same. Period.

If you think there are any other performance differences, you'l be mistaken as well. Operationally, the two cameras are the same in write speeds and focusing speeds, all that good stuff. I did note that the Leica has an ISO 12,500 and ISO 25,000 setting vs. Panasonic's 12,800 and 25,600 settings, an oddity that Leica does with their ISO values, but there's no real appreciable difference there.

So in operating the V-Lux 114 I have to say it's a more pleasurable experience. I prefer the visual accents, grip, and flush mounted camera strap lugs to the FZ1000 hands down. Knowing that Leica has my back with the extra warranty and high level of service, is peace of mind and an added bonus that few camera companies can truly offer (Canon come to mind, they are excellent!). Lightroom is nice to have included too. Value is indeed in the eye of the beholder, but I'll make a clear case for the V-Lux 114's higher price below.

If you are trying to decide whether or not to get the FZ1000 or V-Lux 114 as your primary camera, I'd say that the extra price is worth it. If you already have a DSLR system or other main system in your arsenal, then perhaps the FZ1000 cost savings may be worth it to you. Without being able to handle the V-Lux 114 side by side against the FZ1000 I'd say consumers are missing out. Don't discount the V-Lux 114 because of its higher price, but also don't consider this review as direct advice to get one either. All I'm saying is you don't know what you may be missing if you can't try both out.

For me, I prefer the Leica V-Lux Typ 114- it's a silly naming convention but the camera is simply a better camera than the FZ1000 taken as a complete package. I feel much more compelled to use it vs the FZ1000 based on the flush strap lugs alone, and the rest is all icing on the cake. My FZ1000 is going bye bye now, and the V-Luz 114 is here to stay.

Gone too will be my Sony RX10 unfortunately because I can't own two superzooms with a 1" sensor. The Sony is going back because of two small reasons- there is no time-lapse movie feature, and the strap lugs continue to irritate my shooting hand. Call me picky but I've just got no patience for some design quirks despite the advantages of the Sony. All three are fantastic cameras, and its about personal preferences to me as an overall package. The Leica V-Lux Typ 114 simply beats them all.

Note, personally I feel strongly that I should have got the Leica to begin with because that was what my heart was telling me to do all along. Oh well, now there are three reviews on my blog, instead of one!

Be safe and happy shooting!
Carl Garrard

Best Current Price - Leica V-Lux (Typ 114) 


Technical Data

Product Leica V-Lux (Typ 114)
Order no. 18 193

Lens Leica DC Vario-Elmarit f/2. –4.0/9.1 -146 mm ASPH., 35 mm camera equivalent: 25 - 400 mm
15 elements in 11 groups (5 aspherical lenses/8 aspherical surfaces/4 ED lenses).
Optical image stabiliser OIS (Optical Image Stabilization).
Zoom Optical/digital/
intelligent
16 x/4 x/32 x.

Focussing
Modes Normal/macro.
AF Metering modes Face, eye detection, tracking, 49-area, 1-area (flexible/scalable), custom multi, pinpoint.
Focusing range
AF
AF macro/MF/
snapshot
30 cm/1’ (at 9.1 mm)/1m/3’3” (at 146 mm) to ∞.
3 cm/1 3/16“ (at 9.1 mm)/1m/3’3” (at 146 mm) to ∞.
Sensor 1" MOS with 20.9 MP (effective pixels 20.1MP).

Resolution
Still image 4:3 format: 4864 × 3648 (17.5 M) (L), 3456 × 2592 (9 M) (M), 2432 × 1824 (4.5 M) (S).
3:2 format: 5472 × 3648 (20 M) (L), 3888 × 2592 (10 M) (M),2736 × 1824 (5 M) (S).
16:9 format: 5472 × 3080 (17 M) (L), 3840 × 2160 (8 M) (M), 1920 × 1080 (2 M) (S).
1:1 format: 3648 × 3648 (13.5 M) (L), 2592 × 2592 (6.5 M) (M), 1824 × 1824 (3.5 M) (S).

Video NTSC Model
3840 × 2160 pixels, 30 p (4K: 100 Mbps/MP4) (sensor output is 30 bps) (AAC).
1920 × 1080 pixels, 60 p (FHD: 28 Mbps/MP4) (sensor output is 60 bps) (AAC).
1920 × 1080 pixels, 30 p (FHD: 20 Mbps/MP4) (sensor output is 30 bps) (AAC).
1280 × 720 pixels, 30 p (HD: 10 Mbps/MP4) (sensor output is 120 bps) (AAC).
640 × 480 pixels, 30 p (VGA: 4 Mbps/MP4) (sensor output is 30 bps) (AAC).
1920 × 1080 pixels, 30 p (FHD: MP4) (sensor output is120 bps) (High Speed Video).

PAL Model
3840 × 2160 pixels, 25 p (4K: 100 Mbps/MP4) (sensor output is 25 bps) (AAC).
1920 × 1080 pixels, 50 p (FHD: 28 Mbps/MP4) (sensor output is ist 50 bps) (AAC).
1920 × 1080 pixels, 25 p (FHD: 20 Mbps/MP4) (sensor output is 25 bps) (AAC).
1280 × 720 pixels, 25 p (HD: 10 Mbps/MP4) (sensor output is 25 bps) (AAC).
640 × 480 pixels, 25 p (VGA: 4 Mbps/MP4) (sensor output is 25 bps) (AAC).
1920 × 1080 pixels, 25 p (FHD: MP4) (sensor output is 100 bps)..

Recording file formats
Still image RAW/JPEG.
Video MP4. Recording time: max. 29:00 minutes.
Audio AAC (2 Kanal).

Exposure control
Exposure modes Snap Shot, P, A, S, M, creative video, C1 (custom), C2 (custom), scene guide, creative control.
Exposure compensation Increments: 1/3 EV steps, setting range: ± 5 EV. (+/-3 EV for motion picture).
Auto AE Bracketing 3, 5, 7 frames in 1/3, 2/3 or 1 EV step, max. ± 3 EV.
LEICA V-LUX (TYP 114)

Scene modes
Clear portrait, silky skin, backlit softness, clear in backlight, relaxing tone, sweet child‘s face, distinct scenery,bright blue sky, romantic sunset glow, vivid sunset glow, glistening water, clear nightscape, cool night sky,warm glowing nightscape, artistic aightscape, glittering illuminations, handheld night shot, clear night portrait,soft image of a flower, appetizing food, cute dessert, freeze animal motion, clear sports shot, monochrome, panorama.

Creative control modes
Expressive, retro, old days, high key, low key, sepia, monochrome, dynamic monochrome, rough monochrome,silky monochrome, impressive art, high dynamic, cross process, toy effect, toy pop, bleach bypass, miniature effect,soft focus, fantasy, star filter, one point color, sunshine.

Metering modes
Intelligent multiple, centre-weighted, spot.

White balance
Auto, daylight, cloudy, shade, incandescent, flash, 4 manual settings, color temperature (2-axis adjustable).

ISO sensitivity
Auto/i. ISO/80, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200, 6400, 12500, 25000* (*extended ISO).
(Changeable to 1/3 EV step).

Shutter speeds Still image:
Approx. 60s – 1/4000 s (mechanical shutter), approx. 1 s - 1/16000 s (electronic shutter).
Bulb: approx. 120 s.

Motion picture:
Approx. 1/30 s – 1/16000 s (NTSC model), approx. 1/25 s -1/16000 s (PAL model), approx. 1/2 s -1/16000 s. (Creative video M mode/MF mode).

Continuous shooting [ AFS] SH: 50 frames/sec*, H: 12 frames/s, M: 7 frames/s (with Live View), L: 2 frames/s (with Live View.)  (*Electronic shutter only).

Flash Integrated flash.

Flash modes Auto, Auto with pre-flash (red-eye reduction), Auto with slow sync and pre-flash, on, off.
Flash range 30 cm – 13.5 m (Wide/ISO Auto), 1.0 – 9.5 m (Tele/ISO Auto).

Self-timer 2 s/10s/10 s (3 images).

Monitor 3,0"(7.5 cm) free-angle LC-Display (921K dots), AR coating, field of view: approx. 100 %, wide viewing-angle.

Viewfinder 0,39" OLED electronic viewfinder, resolution: approx. 2,360,000 dots, aspect ratio: 4:3,
with diopter adjustment ±4 diopters, magnification: approx. 1.88 x/0.7 x (35 mm camera equivalent), eye sensor.

Microphone/speaker Stereo/monoaural.

Memory cards SD: 8 MB – 2 GB, SDHC: 4 GB – 32 GB, SDXC: 48 GB – 64 GB.
Interfaces Macro HDMI, AV output, USB (AV/USB multi), 2.5 mm for remote, 3.5 mm for external microphone.

WIFI: IEEE 802.11b/g/n/2412 MHz - 2462 MHz (1-11 ch)/WPA/WPA2/Infrastrukture mode/WPS/Wi-Fi button.
NFC: ISO/IEC 18092, NFC-F (passive mode).

Operating temperature/
humidity
0 – 40° C/10 – 80 %.

Rechargeable
lithium-ion battery
Voltage/capacity 7.2 V/1200 mAh (360 images, CIPA standard).

Dimensions
(W × H × D)
137 × 98,5 × 130,7 mm.
Weight 830 g (with battery).

Printer compatibility PictBridge, DPOF.

Scope of delivery
Digital camera, battery, battery charger, USB cable, neck strap, lens cap with string, lens hood, hot shoe cover, instructions, CD with instructions, guarantee card.
Software Adobe® Photoshop® Lightroom® (free license).







10 comments:

  1. German magazine Color Photo said : micro and macro sharpning are equal > most camera's have massive macro sharpning> camera is build on Leica spec's > smaller tolerance's..specialy the sensor!(tight selction)
    Thanks ,nice review!

    Regards

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks ... I like your review .. camera strap rings was my problem too .. you are straight to the point .. I like Leica ... I just bought V-LUX TYP 114 ... Have a lovely time ... with all my love .. Swami Krishna Gautam ...

    ReplyDelete
  3. MANY THANKS FOR YOUR REVIEW.I HAVE READ SO MANY REVIEWS COMPARING THE FZ1000 AND V-LUX TYP114 . YOU HAVE MADE MY MIND UP FOR ME ON WHAT CAMERA TO BUY NOW.I WAS IN TWO MINDS WETHER TO GET THE FZ1000 OR THE V-LUX 114 AND AFTER READING YOUR REVIEW, I AM NOW GOING TO BUY THE V-LUX 114.YOUR REVIEW WAS VERY PRECISE IN THE DIFFERENCES IN BOTH CAMERAS.ONCE AGAIN THANK YOU....

    ReplyDelete
  4. READING YOUR REVIEW HAS NOW MADE MY MIND UP TO BUYING THE LEICA V-LUX TYP114 CAMERA RATHER THAN THE LUMIX FZ1000.I WAS THINKING OF GETTING THE LUMIX FZ1000 AND HAVE READ MANY REVIEWS ON COMPARING BOTH CAMERAS, NONE OF THEM SEEM TO KNOW REALLY WHAT THE DIFFERENCES ARE, OR, TO GIVE MORE PRECISE DIFFERENCES. YOUR REVIEW HAS DONE JUST THAT.MANY THANKS AND KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thanks Martyn, how are you getting along with z leica? :)

    ReplyDelete
  6. Are there firmware updates for the Leica 114? Just ordered one and I'm trying to prepare for its arrival, but I can't find any firmware updates on the Leica site. Surely there are some after being out for several years now.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I think I answered my own question on the firmware update, there really isn't much in terms of updates on the Panasonic FZ1000 either. Mostly video tweaking items: http://av.jpn.support.panasonic.com/support/global/cs/dsc/download/FZ1000/

    ReplyDelete
  8. Well, I can also say: "Leica's clone, the V-Lux Typ 114".
    Who can judge which is the clone of the other?
    The two cameras are almost physically identical.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Good point Anonymous!

    It's however likely that Leica has Panasonic largely in charge of the design process, with collaboration from their own designers.

    ReplyDelete