• Price When Reviewed: £680 plus VAT

  • Expert Rating: We rate this 8 out of 10We rate this 8 out of 10We rate this 8 out of 10We rate this 8 out of 10We rate this 8 out of 10 We rate this 8 out of 10

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The 3.9-megapixel Digilux 1, Leica’s latest digital model, is large, built like a safe, and is costlier than competitors with lesser pedigrees. But then Leica is considered to be the Rolls-Royce of camera manufacturers. Note that this £800 camera isn’t all Leica. It’s the result of the company’s first collaboration with Panasonic (Leica had previously worked with Fujifilm). The unit’s body is bigger than at least a few full-size film cameras, and it has a collapsible, removable hood to shield the LCD screen from sunlight. The styling wouldn’t have looked out of place in 1956 – but this may lend the camera more credibility to professionals. The specs are impressive. The 3x optical zoom lens (equivalent to 33-100mm on a 35mm camera) is up to Leica’s usual standard, with the 4mp CCD delivering images up to 2,400-x-1,680 pixels in size. The Digilux 1 can capture images as close as 6cm using a macro mode, and ships with a 64MB SD media card. In our hands-on testing of a pre-production model, we captured sharp, elegant-looking images, with a wide range of contrast. The Digilux 1 can snap photographs very quickly, and has several shooting modes, including the standard aperture priority, shutter priority, and full manual, although you might also want to stop-down the aperture to something smaller than the unit’s minimum f8 setting. The camera is nearly useless in dim settings, because it has no infrared emitter or lamp to aid focusing. The 2.5-inch LCD screen is larger than average; but the hood, when attached, obstructs the display’s best viewing angle. And because the Digilux 1 has no exposure lock, users must resort to full-manual mode to maintain a consistent exposure. The Digilux 1 is impressive, and its brand may justify the price. But a few more options – such as an exposure lock and a focusing aid would be welcomed.