Leica V-LUX 40 Review

October 30, 2012 | Gavin Stoker | Rating star Rating star Rating star Rating star


The V-Lux 40 is Leica's premium travel-zoom compact camera, featuring a 20x 24-480mm lens, 14.1 megapixel high sensitivity MOS sensor, 1080p Full HD movies at 50/60fps, 3 inch touch-sensitive LCD screen and fast burst shooting at 10fps with continuous auto-focus. The Leica V-Lux 40 offers a 23-point multi-area autofocus system, A, S and M exposure modes, Intelligent Auto and a variety of scene modes, Intelligent Resolution function which digitally boosts the zoom ratio to 40x, 3D still images, and Creative Controls, HDR, Panorama Shot, Creative Retouch and Auto Retouch modes. An upgraded Light Speed auto-focus system, Venus Engine VI processor, and the POWER O.I.S. anti-shake system complete the headline specifications. The V-Lux 40 is available in black, brown, red, white and silver for £549.99 / $699.99 and is supplied with a comprehensive software package comprising Adobe Photoshop Elements 10 for still-image processing and Adobe Premiere Elements 10 for video editing.

Ease of Use

If you want to own a Leica camera with that famous red dot logo, then the V-Lux 40 is currently one of the least expensive ways of going about it. It's a premium-feel metal construction travel zoom, shorthand for the fact that it incorporates a very usefully broad 20x optical reach. Here that offers the 35mm equivalent of an ultra wide 24-480mm, yet within pocket sized dimensions.

This particular Leica offers a new 15.3-megapixel 1/2.33-inch CMOS sensor, which outputs 14.1 effective megapixel stills, Full HD 1920x1080 pixels video with stereo sound. Also on board are 'Creative Control' mode digital effects - such as the colour boosted Pop Art-like 'Expressive' setting - one of our personal favourites on dull days - plus built-in GPS antenna for tagging pictures with the location in which they were taken. As I live on a bend in the river, GPS units always seem to give the opposite bank as the location and so it is here - but at least there's consistency.

In stills mode on the Leica V-LUX 40 it's possible to zip from maximum wideangle to extreme telephoto lens setting in three to four seconds, so we were able to be lining up a wide variety of shots nigh instantly - a flexibility much missed if you then go back to using a standard 3x or 5x zoom on another camera. In video mode the zoom can also be utilized and adjusted once recording has commenced, thankfully. That said, adjustment response times when recording moving footage are more sluggish and steady to help minimize the operational buzz of the lens adjustments being picked up by the stereo microphones residing on the Leica's top plate. Again this is consistent with most snapshots in its travel zoom class.

If this all looks and sounds familiar that's because not only are the basics largely unchanged from previous iterations, but also that this Leica is to all intents and purposes a re-badging or perhaps more fairly 're-imagining' of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ30, part of a long tradition of Leica using the latter's electronics know-how in a trade for its own world-renowned optical expertise.

Leica V-Lux 40 Leica V-Lux 40
Front Rear

Over and above this, Leica is bundling Photoshop Elements 10 and Adobe's video package Premiere Elements 10 on CD Rom with the camera, to take some of the sting out of the predictably steep £550 UK asking price. By way of further differentiating it the camera also comes with a two-year warranty and one-year accidental damage cover, though we have to pay £63 or £80 extra if we'd like a classy leather pouch or case to go with it; on e isn't included in the box. Add in deliberately limited distribution for Leica products and a hand built, solid-feel chassis with serious looking matt black paint job and you have a prestige item sure to get any well-heeled photo fan emitting a little drool.

All the above being said, and eye-catching red logo aside, the Leica V-LUX 40 is more functional in appearance than sexy. It's boxier and less curvy than the TZ30 and rather wider at 28mm in depth than compacts with lesser zooms, even though it can still be handily squeezed into the pocket of your jeans for those spur-of-the-moment snapshots. And at the end of the day, despite a smattering of manual controls and custom modes, a rather pricey point-and-shoot camera is what the Leica V-Lux 40 is. Overall proportions are 105x59x28mm and it weighs a comfortable 210g, inclusive of battery.

While there is a handgrip of sorts, it's more fashionably flattened curve, the shiny surface of the camera meaning that fingers do still skate about on its surface. A square pad of nine tiny raised nodules falls under the thumb at the back to provide some degree of purchase, though we found our thumb more often resting on the switch for flicking between capture and playback modes alongside it.

The flattened handgrip does at least force the user to dig in their nails to form a hold, thus preventing fingers straying in front of the built-in flash positioned alongside. Next to this on the faceplate, and tucked close to the lens barrel - retracted within the body when not in use - is a small porthole housing the self-timer/AF illuminator bulb.

Leica V-Lux 40 Leica V-Lux 40
Side Top

The Leica V-LUX 40's top plate also features a recognizable array of chrome controls. We get a traditional raised shooting mode dial with program, aperture priority, shutter priority, and manual shooting options nestling alongside two user attributable custom modes, a 3D mode (results only viewable on a suitably featured wide panel TV), a collection of pre-optimised scene mode settings, the aforementioned Creative Mode option, and subject recognizing auto option. The action of said dial is stiff enough to accidentally avoid slipping from one setting to its neighbour when retrieving the camera from a pocket.

Large and obvious too is the raised shutter release button encircled by a lever for operating the zoom, complete with a prominently chunky forward facing lip that would give Mick Jagger a run for his money. To the right of this are two further controls: a traditional on/off switch - again stiff enough to avoid accidentally activating the camera when retrieving it or putting it away, plus, ranged level with the top plate's surface, a red record button.

In the expected absence of any optical or electronic viewfinder, pictures and video are framed up via the standard 3-inch, 4:3 aspect ratio back plate LCD, which here offers respectable if now unremarkable 460k-dot resolution, perfectly viewable in most conditions. Like its Panasonic doppelganger the screen is also a touch screen, though that isn't immediately obvious from the small operational icons displayed, or indeed the dimensions of the monitor itself.

Another thing the Leica V-LUX 40 has in common its co-development partner is the fact that, at the back, the Leica V-Lux 40 offers up a generous amount of physical buttons, pads, dials and switches alongside their virtual equivalent. The upshot is that you don't actually need to use the on-screen buttons at all if desired. That being said we consistently found that alternating between both 'hard' and 'soft' controls can work well in terms of speeding up access to essential functions - with virtual finger tap driven options such as touch shutter and touch focus literally on hand if you need them.

Apart from the switch for swapping between capture and playback - which, while practical, also means that a half press of the shutter release when in playback mode doesn't throw us back into capture mode - below we find a small button marked exposure/map and beneath that a more familiar four-way command pad with central menu/set button. Ranged around this at points north, east, south and west are settings for exposure, flash, macro mode and self-timer options.

Leica V-Lux 40 Leica V-Lux 40
Memory Card Slot Battery Compartment

Below this dial again are a separate display and Quick Menu buttons that will be familiar to any Panasonic Lumix user/owner. A case in point: press the latter and a toolbar appears across the top of the screen, offering manual adjustments including the likes of ISO, white balance and resolution. On this camera - as with those of its development partner - it's easy to get at what you need, making for a more 'fluid' handling experience. This Q.Menu also doubles up as a delete or 'back' button if in playback or menu modes respectively.

The base of the Leica V-LUX 40 meanwhile features a screw thread for a tripod positioned slightly off center and a catch protected cover for a compartment housing both battery and whichever capacity or type of SD media card you care to insert.

In terms of power the V-Lux 40 is driven by a rechargeable lithium ion battery that is, as is more often than not becoming the case for pocket cameras, charged within the camera itself, with just a USB equipped cable and mains plug provided. With a battery life of up to 260 shots from a full charge we didn't feel too short changed, as features such as integral GPS suck juice faster than a thirsty toddler. Which is pretty fast by any standards you'd care to choose.

While the left hand flank of the Leica V-LUX 40 - if viewed from the rear - is devoid of any ports or features whatsoever, the right hand side of the camera offers up a recessed lug for attaching a wrist strap, and there is a covered port for both HDMI and USB cable just below.

Overall the Leica V-LUX 40 feels well built if rather traditional and uniform in its approach. It looks serious and sophisticated - which somewhat belies the fact that it is actually an easy to use point and shoot camera. But what of the pictures produced? Do they transcend what a pocket camera is usually capable of or play true to form? Read on to find out.

Image Quality

All of the sample images in this review were taken using the 14 megapixel Fine JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 5.5Mb.

As you'd get from the V-Lux 40's Panasonic equivalent, colours are rich yet naturalistic straight out of the camera, though we did occasionally feel the need to enliven things further by reaching for the Expressive mode control, while the toy and mini (miniature) options are also great fun if used in moderation.

The compact gives a respectably consistent performance in most conditions, which is ultimately what you want from a camera that you can whip from your pocket for an instant snap when the photo opportunity presents itself. It's also much sharper than competing compacts when it comes to maintaining detail across the focal range, though inevitably there is still occasional softness when shooting near the telephoto end, and using the camera handheld. The V-Lux 40 further acquits itself well by maintaining detail into the corners at maximum 24mm equivalent wideangle setting. While the richness of imagery doesn't quite match the near DSLR quality of the likes of Sony's RX100 which field a larger sensor for the same £550 asking price, if it's not pin sharpness but scope that is your priority (the Sony fields a weedy by comparison 3.6x zoom), there isn't much to complain about here.

For low light shots, the Leica's slightly modest light sensitivity settings run the gamut from a standard issue ISO100 to ISO3200, which is not exactly over-egging the pudding. Though the ability to boost this to an equivalent ISO6400 – at a lower pixel count – is possible with the selection of High Sensitivity mode, located within the scene mode menu. Predictably you'll want to stick at ISO800 to avoid any noise entirely, but ISO1600 and ISO3200 setting are still reasonably usable in terms of sensor performance, with the image, though slightly grittier, not degrading to a disquieting extent.


There are 6 ISO settings available on the Leica V-LUX 40. Here are some 100% crops which show the noise levels for each ISO setting.

ISO 100 (100% Crop)

ISO 200 (100% Crop)


ISO 400 (100% Crop)

ISO 800 (100% Crop)


ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)


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)


Focal Range

The Leica V-LUX 40's 20x zoom lens provides a very versatile focal length of 24-480mm in 35mm terms, as demonstrated below.



Chromatic Aberrations

The Leica V-LUX 40 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.

Example 1 (100% Crop)

Example 2 (100% Crop)


The Leica V-LUX 40 offers a Macro setting that allows you to focus on a subject that is 3cms away from the camera when the lens is set to wide-angle. The first image shows how close you can get to the subject (in this case a compact flash card). The second image is a 100% crop.

Macro Shot

100% Crop


The flash settings on the Leica V-LUX 40 are Auto, Auto/Red-eye Reduction, Forced On, Slow Sync./Red-eye Reduction, Forced Off. These shots of a white coloured wall were taken at 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)

Auto/Red-eye Reduction

Auto/Red-eye Reduction (100% Crop)


The Leica V-LUX 40's maximum shutter speed is 60 seconds, which is great news if you're seriously interested in night photography. The shot below was taken using a shutter speed of 8 seconds at ISO 100. The camera takes the same amount of time again to apply noise reduction, so for example at the 15 second setting the actual exposure takes 30 seconds.

Night Shot

Night Shot (100% Crop)

Sample Images

This is a selection of sample images from the Leica V-LUX 40 camera, which were all taken using the 14 megapixel Fine JPEG setting. The thumbnails below link to the full-sized versions, which have not been altered in any way.

Sample Movie & Video

This is a sample movie at the quality setting of 1920x1080 at 25 frames per second. Please note that this 44 second movie is 99Mb in size.

Product Images

Leica V-Lux 40

Front of the Camera

Leica V-Lux 40

Front of the Camera / Lens Extended

Leica V-Lux 40

Front of the Camera

Leica V-Lux 40

Front of the Camera / Lens Extended

Leica V-Lux 40

Isometric View

Leica V-Lux 40

Isometric View

Leica V-Lux 40

Rear of the Camera

Leica V-Lux 40

Rear of the Camera / Image Displayed

Leica V-Lux 40

Top of the Camera


Leica V-Lux 40

Side of the Camera

Leica V-Lux 40

Side of the Camera

Leica V-Lux 40

Front of the Camera

Leica V-Lux 40

Front of the Camera

Leica V-Lux 40

Memory Card Slot

Leica V-Lux 40


While most of us wouldn’t normally dream of spending £550 on a snapshot camera – and doubtless there will be some in the Photography Blog readership spitting feathers, especially when the outlay could otherwise bag you a Sony Cyber-shot RX100 if you wanted to stick to premium compacts rather than DSLRs or CSCs - the boxy yet elegant V-Lux 40 will continue to win a select user base among Leica fanatics and those who want to stand apart from the crowd.

In fairness the zoom reach on offer here is much more practical for all its marvelous miniaturization than that found on an interchangeable lens camera or bridge model that could be bagged at a comparable price. And if all you are after is a ‘pocket rocket’ with a decent range of framing options for admittedly pretty good and moreover consistent snapshot photography, this will more than suffice. The Leica V-Lux 40 may well be the only travel zoom you may ever need, and looked at in that context the upper-end outlay makes a little more sense - as it does if you were thinking to invest in the bundled Photoshop software anyway. Leica is never going to appeal to everyone, but the V-Lux 40 is no disgrace and should very much see the brand holding its own.

4 stars

Ratings (out of 5)
Design 4
Features 4.5
Ease-of-use 4.5
Image quality 4.5
Value for money 3.5


Lens Leica DC-Vario-Elmar 4.3-86mm f/3.3–6.4 ASPH.
(24-480mm, 35mm equivalent)
12 elements in 10 groups (6 aspherical surfaces in 3 elements)
Optical zoom 20x
Digital zoom 4x
Optical image stabilsation Yes
Modes Normal/Macro
Metering modes Face detection, AF tracking, multi point, single point, spot, touch field
Focusing range  
P/A/S/M 50cm (wide angle) / 2m (tele) – ∞
Macro / Intelligent / Auto / Movie 3cm (wide angle) / 1m (tele) – ∞
Sensor 1/2.33” CMOS with 15.3 MP (effective pixels: 14.1 MP)
Still images 16:9 format: 4320 x 2432 pixels, 3648 x 2056 pixels, 3072 x 1728 pixels, 2560 x 1440 pixels, 1920 x 1080 pixels, 640 x 360 pixels
3:2 format: 4320 x 2880 pixels, 3648 x 2432 pixels, 3072 x 2048 pixels, 2560 x 1712 pixels, 2048 x 1360 pixels, 640 x 424 pixels
4:3 format: 4320 x 3240 pixels, 3648 x 2736 pixels, 3072 x 2304 pixels, 2560 x 1920 pixels, 2048 x 1536 pixels, 640 x 480 pixels
1:1 format: 3232 x 3232 pixels, 2736 x 2736 pixels, 2304 x 2304 pixels, 1920 x 1920 pixels, 1536 x 1536 pixels, 480 x 480 pixels
Movies 16:9 format AVCHD:
1080p: 1920 x 1080 pixels (max. 29 min per recording)
720p: 1280 x 720 pixels (max. 29 min per recording)
16:9 format: 1920 x 1080 pixels (max. 29 min per recording),
1280 x 720 pixels (max. 29 min per recording)
4:3 format: 640 x 480 pixels, 320 x 240 pixels (max. 29 min per recording)
QuickTime Motion JPEG (High Speed Video)
3D phot function 16:9 format: 1920 x 1080 (MPO format)
Exposure control Program mode (P), Aperture priority (A), Shutter priority (S), Manual setting (M)
Exposure modes Increments: 1/3 EV steps, setting range: ±2 EV
Scene modes Portrait, soft skin, scenery, panorama-assist, sports, night portrait, night scenery, handheld night, HDR, food, baby mode 1, baby mode 2, pet, sunset, high sensitivity, through glass, high-speed video
Creative control modes Still-picture modes: Expressive, retro, high key, low key, sepia, mono, high dynamic range, toy effect, miniature effect, soft focus
Review modes: Expressive, retro, high key, low key, mono, toy effect, soft focus, off
Metering modes Multi-field, centre-weighted, spot
White balance Auto / Daylight / Cloudy / Shade / Halogen / Manual setting
Sensitivity Auto /iISO 100 / 200 / 400 / 800 / 1600 / 3200
Shutter speeds 15s–1/2000 s, (Starry Sky mode: 15s / 30s / 60s)
Continuous shooting modes (Burst frequency: max. number of pictures / max. resolution)
2 B/s: max. number 100 / 14 MP max. resolution
5 B/s: max. number 100 / 14 MP max. resolution
10 B/s: max. number 15 / 14 MP max. resolution
40 B/s: max. number 50 / 5 MP max. resolution
60 B/s: max. number 60 / 3.5 MP max. resolution
Modes Auto, Auto with pre-flash (red-eye reduction), Auto with slower shutter speeds and pre-flash, On, Off
Range Approx. 60cm – 6.4m (W/ISO Auto), 1.0 – 3.3m (Tele/ISO Auto)
Self-timer 2s/10s delay
LCD display 3” TFT LCD, approx. 460,800 pixels
Touch Screen functionality
Microphone/Speaker Stereo/Mono
Recording media  
Internal memory Approx. 12MB
Compatible memory cards SD: 8MB – 2GB
SDHC: 4GB – 32GB
SDXC: 48GB – 64GB
HDMI Mini HDMI cable (type C)
AV OUT/Digital Digital: USB 2.0 (High Speed)
Dedicated jack (8-pin) Analogue Video/Audio: NTSC/PAL Composite (switchable in menu), Audio-line-out (mono)
PictBridge compatible Yes
GPS* Geographic coordinate system: WGS84
1 million Points of Interest
Operating temperature/
0–40 °C / 10–80 %
Battery (Lithium-ion) BP-DC7  
Voltage/capacity 3.6 V / 895 mAh (260 pictures according to CIPA standards)
Dimensions (W x H x D) 105 x 59 x 28 mm
Weight Approx. 210g (with memory card and battery)
Accessories and software
Adobe® Photoshop® Elements 10, Adobe® Premiere® Elements 10 (on DVD)
CD with full instructions (PDF)
DVD with additional map data
Printed short instruction manual
Wrist strap
AV cable
USB battery charger with cable
Lithium-ion battery (BP-DC 7)
* GPS tagging may not function in the People’s Republic of China and neighbouring regions. Satellite signal reception may not be possible, depending on the location. In such cases, the positioning data may be recorded inaccurately or not at all.

Your Comments

Loading comments…