Leica V-Lux (Typ 114) Review

December 19, 2014 | Jack Baker | |
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Image Quality

Despite having the same pixel count as many bridge cameras, the far larger size of the Leica V-Lux (Typ 114)’s sensor means it can produce noticeably sharper images. That’s due to the higher light sensitivity of larger pixels producing less noise, which in turn improves detail retention. There’s still some minor grain noise visible in neutral tones and shadow areas of low ISO images if you really pixel peep, but we’re being very picky.

Whereas the image quality from most bridge cameras takes a turn for the worst at ISO800, the V-Lux (Typ 114) produces excellent results at ISO1600, and only at ISO3200 is there some colour speckling visible in shadow areas. Detail is still well resolved at ISO6400, but by ISO12500 the camera finally succumbs to grain and colour speckling noise, and it’s at this point you’ll need consider resizing the final image to hide some of the corruption. ISO25000 is very much a last resort, such is the considerable loss of detail through aggressive noise reduction processing.

Keep the sensitivity below ISO6400 and the camera produces exceptional dynamic range, even without using the dynamic range enhancement feature. Accurate exposure metering helps ensure even the brightest highlights are never blown out, whilst also retaining plenty of shadow detail.

The camera performs well optically too, with negligible distortion throughout the focal range and excellent corner sharpness. If there’s one flaw, it’s chromatic aberration. This is visible on high contrast boundaries, and sometimes more so than with similar cameras.

Overall the V-Lux (Typ 114) produces images that immediately impress with their punchy colour reproduction and dynamic range, whilst also having the clarity to stand up to close scrutiny. Its results are closer in quality to those from a DSLR than a conventional bridge camera.

Noise

The V-Lux (Typ 114) has ten sensitivity settings available at full resolution, ranging between ISO80 and ISO25000. These are selectable in 1EV and 1/3EV steps, and the upper limit that Auto ISO uses can also be user-defined. It’s strange that the highest ISO settings are ISO12500 and ISO25000, rather than the usual ISO12800 and 25600, but this follows the same pattern as the Panasonic FZ1000.

JPEG RAW

ISO 80 (100% Crop)

ISO 80 (100% Crop)

iso80.jpg iso80.jpg
   

ISO 100 (100% Crop)

ISO 100 (100% Crop)

iso100.jpg iso100.jpg
   

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

iso200.jpg iso200.jpg
   

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

iso400.jpg iso400.jpg
   

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

iso800.jpg iso800.jpg
   

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

iso1600.jpg iso1600.jpg
   

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

iso3200.jpg iso3200.jpg
   

ISO 6400 (100% Crop)

ISO 6400 (100% Crop)

iso6400.jpg iso6400.jpg
   

ISO 12500 (100% Crop)

ISO 12500 (100% Crop)

iso12500.jpg iso12500.jpg
   

ISO 25000 (100% Crop)

ISO 25000 (100% Crop)

iso25000.jpg iso25000.jpg

Sharpening

Here are two 100% Crops which have been Saved as Web - Quality 50 in Photoshop. The right-hand image has had some sharpening applied in Photoshop. The out-of-the camera images are a little soft at the default sharpening setting and benefit from some further sharpening in a program like Adobe Photoshop. You can change the in-camera sharpening level via the Picture Adjust menu option.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)

sharpen1.jpg sharpen1a.jpg
   
sharpen2.jpg sharpen2a.jpg

Focal Range

The V-Lux (Typ 114)’s 16x zoom lens covers a focal length range of 25-400mm when converted into a 35mm camera format. This can be increased to 32x using Extended Optical Zoom, but only by reducing image size.

24mm

400mm

focal_range1.jpg focal_range2.jpg

File Quality

The V-Lux (Typ 114) has three file quality options: JPEG Fine (8.5-10.5MB/image), JPEG Standard (4-6MB) and RAW .RWL files (22.5MB). You can also shoot RAW+JPEG Fine or RAW+JPEG Standard images, however RAW capture is not available when the camera is in Auto mode.

Fine

Standard

quality_fine.jpg quality_standard.jpg
   

RAW

 
quality_raw.jpg  

Chromatic Aberrations

The Leica V-Lux (Typ 114) handled chromatic aberrations excellently during the review, with very limited purple fringing present around the edges of objects in certain high-contrast situations, as shown in the examples below.

Chromatic Aberrations 1 (100% Crop)

Chromatic Aberrations 2 (100% Crop)

chromatic1.jpg chromatic2.jpg

Macro

A 3cm minimum wide-angle focus distance gives good scope for close-up shots. Some bridge cameras boast 1cm macro modes, however sticking such a large camera even 3cm from your subject is often too close, as it blocks a lot of light.

Macro

Macro (100% Crop)

macro1.jpg macro1a.jpg

Flash

The V-Lux (Typ 114)’s built-in flash includes four modes: Forced Flash On, Forced On/Red-Eye, Slow Sync., Slow Sync./Red-Eye. Our testing revealed that the V-Lux successfully avoids red-eye with and without red-eye reduction enabled. It does however produce minor wide-angle vignetting when shooting from a distance of 1.5m.

Forced Off - Wide Angle (24mm)

Forced On - Wide Angle (24mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64
   

Forced Off - Telephoto (480mm)

Forced On - Telephoto (480mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

And here are some portrait shots. As you can see, neither the Flash On or the Auto/Red-eye Reduction settings caused any red-eye.

Forced On

Forced On (100% Crop)
flash_on.jpg flash_on1.jpg
   

Auto/Red-eye Reduction

Auto/Red-eye Reduction (100% Crop)

flash_redeye.jpg flash_redeye1.jpg

Anti-Shake

The V-Lux (Typ 114)’s optical image stabilisation system does a great job of ironing out the effects of camera shake. These test shots were captured in dim conditions which required a ½ second shutter speed at ISO100. It’s no wonder the camera couldn’t quite capture a perfectly sharp shot when shooting this scene handheld, but activating the stabilisation system has made a huge difference.

Anti-Shake On (100% Crop)

Anti-Shake Off (100% Crop)
antishake1.jpg antishake1a.jpg

Night

With Handheld Night Shot activated, the V-Lux (Typ 114) quickly captures several exposures of a night scene and combines them into a single image with increased clarity and reduced noise. The end results are attractively bright and detailed, especially considering they’re often captured at ISO3200. Alternatively, you can switch to shutter priority mode and shoot a long exposure at a low ISO sensitivity, but you’ll need a tripod.

Night

Night (100% Crop)

night1.jpg night1a.jpg
   

Handheld Night Shot

Handheld Night Shot (100% Crop)

night2.jpg night2a.jpg

HDR

With this feature enabled, the V-Lux (Typ 114) will automatically snap multiple exposures when it detects a high-contrast scene and combines them into a single image with increased dynamic range. The effect can be subtle, depending on the conditions.

HDR Off

HDR On
hdr_off.jpg hdr_on.jpg

Creative Controls

The V-Lux (Typ 114) contains 22 Creative Control effects which are all previewed live: 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 and Sunshine.

Expressive

Retro
creative_controls_01.jpg creative_controls_02.jpg
   

Old Days

High Key
creative_controls_03.jpg creative_controls_04.jpg
   

Low Key

Sepia
creative_controls_05.jpg creative_controls_06.jpg
   

Monochrome

Dynamic Monochrome
creative_controls_07.jpg creative_controls_08.jpg
   

RoughMonochrome

Silky Monochrome
creative_controls_09.jpg creative_controls_10.jpg
   

Impressive Art

High Dynamic
creative_controls_11.jpg creative_controls_12.jpg
   

Cross Process

Toy Effect
creative_controls_13.jpg creative_controls_14.jpg
   

Toy Pop

Bleach Bypass
creative_controls_15.jpg creative_controls_16.jpg
   

Miniature Effect

Soft Focus
creative_controls_17.jpg creative_controls_18.jpg
   

Fantasy

Star Filter
creative_controls_19.jpg creative_controls_20.jpg
   

One Point Color

Sunshine
creative_controls_21.jpg creative_controls_22.jpg

Panorama

The V-Lux (Typ 114)’s automatic panorama capture is refreshingly good. It lets you stop panning at will, and leaves you with stitched images that are usually free from ghosting artefacts. They’re downsized to 1920 vertical pixels, but this is considerably larger than many bridge cameras can manage.

panorama1.jpg