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Leica V-Lux (Typ 114) Review | Photography Blog

Introduction

Ease of Use

Dear readers, there’s a rather large elephant in the room that needs to be addressed before we continue. The V-Lux (Typ 114), as with many of Leica’s sub-four-figure-price-tag cameras, hides a bit of a secret. Now that Leica makes the lenses for many Panasonic cameras, Panasonic returns the favour and lets Leica rebrand and restyle many of its cameras. Hence the V-Lux (Typ 114) Typ 114 is actually a Panasonic DMC-FZ1000, albeit with a slightly sharper look and that all important Leica logo. The jury is out as to what changes are made under the skin, but it’s safe to say that apart from subtle software tweaks, the two cameras are identical.

However, in this instance that’s no bad thing. Where many bridge cameras follow the ethos of ‘the bigger the zoom range, the better’, the FZ1000/V-Lux (Typ 114) Typ 114 offers just a 16x range. That still gives you a decent 25mm wide-angle coverage, but the 400mm-equivalent telephoto range is more modest. But unless you’re an avid wildlife photographer, this zoom reach will cover the vast majority of shooting scenarios, so it needn’t put you off.

Leica (ahem, Panasonic. How does ‘Leicasonic’ sound? ) hasn’t kept the zoom range low for the sake of it though. Having a gargantuan telephoto reach usually requires a lens the size of a cruise missile. The only way your average bridge camera can achieve this without resorting to such bag-busting bulk is by scaling down the sensor size in line with the lens, so a bridge camera of DSLR-dimensions is usually built around a tiny 1/2.3” sensor, such as you’d find in a regular compact camera, or even a high-end smartphone. The V-Lux (Typ 114)’s lens is the same physical size – if not slightly larger – than the 60x optics on many bridge cameras, but its restricted zoom range allows for a much larger 1” sensor. That’s almost four times the surface area of a 1/2.3” chip, but it also gives a native 3:2 aspect ratio that matches a DSLR image format, resulting in slightly wider images than the 4:3 output of a 1/2.3” sensor. But the main advantage with a larger sensor is image quality, as four times the sensor area means four-times larger pixels (compared to a 20MP 1/2.3” camera), in turn resulting in better light sensitivity and reduced image noise.

Leica V-Lux 40 Front of the Leica V-Lux (Typ 114)

Clearly Leica has built the V-Lux (Typ 114) with the right ingredients, but its recipe is slightly different than Panasonic’s. The V-Lux (Typ 114) is arguably a marginally more attractive camera thanks to more defined lines and slicker padding around the hand grip. Predictably this does compromise grip levels though, but given there’s so much camera to hold on to, that’s not a deal-breaker. The V-Lux (Typ 114) shares the FZ1000’s high-quality build, but it also inherits its bulk. At 136.8 x 98.5 x 130.7mm, it’s larger than the majority of bridge cameras, whilst its 831g ready-to-shoot weight is also heavier than many.

Control-wise, the V-Lux (Typ 114) Typ 114 is a dead ringer for its Panasonic twin. That means you get nice touches like a rotating lens barrel ring which can be used as a zoom control that offers more focal length accuracy than the zoom rocker around the shutter release. Flick a nearby switch and the same ring will also manually focus the lens, which is a far more ergonomic manual focussing solution than the button or dial-based systems used by many bridge cameras. The lens barrel is also home to a switch that’ll turn image stabilisation on or off, so again, no messing about in menus.

The V-Lux (Typ 114) is clearly designed to replicate a DSLR experience more convincingly than many bridge cameras do, and this extends to the twin dials atop the body. In addition to the conventional mode dial is a drive mode dial, where you can choose between single and continuous shooting, as well as activating the self-timer, exposure bracketing feature and an intervalometer setting that’ll capture multiple images over a pre-set duration to create a time-lapse.

Leica V-Lux 40 Rear of the Leica V-Lux (Typ 114)

Moving across the top of the camera, we find a proper hot shoe mount for attaching an external flashgun. The V-Lux (Typ 114)’s own pop-up flash is manually ejected using a small switch by the electronic viewfinder, so if the flash is down, it won’t fire unexpectedly.

On the other side of the flash is the main mode dial. The default automatic mode has two sub-options: Snapshot, and Snapshot Plus. Both facilitate the camera’s Defocus Control feature that allows you to artificially blur the background behind an isolated foreground subject to mimic the shallow depth of field of a larger aperture lens. But in Snapshot Plus mode the camera will automatically adjust the brightness and colour temperature of an image, resulting in more attractive but less accurate colour reproduction.

If you’d rather take more control over your photography, the V-Lux (Typ 114) has a Program auto mode that’ll let you adjust ISO sensitivity and white balance settings. It also opens up autofocus options, which include face detection, subject tracking, and a useful AF area selection setting. Raw capture is also revealed when in Program mode, as is RAW+JPEG recording. Naturally there are aperture and shutter priority modes too, plus a full manual mode. These work well, although with a minimum aperture of f/8, there isn’t much scope for smoothing water in daylight with long exposures.

Leica V-Lux 40 Tilting LCD Screen

The mode dial is also home to a dedicated movie setting, and you’ll need to select this in order to activate the maximum 4K resolution. Recording is limited to 1080p FullHD when in other modes, and can be started immediately using the record button next to the mode dial. Panasonic’s FZ1000 was the first bridge camera to offer 4K video recording, and with a 3840×2160 resolution, you’re assured superb clarity with a frame size equal to an 8.3MP still. However, a 100Mb/s data rate means a 16GB SD card will only be large enough for 20 minutes of 4K video, plus you’ll need fast memory rated at UHS Class 3 or higher to maintain a smooth frame rate. Strangely, the V-Lux (Typ 114) only records in the MP4 video format, whereas the FZ1000 also offers the AVCHD standard. This isn’t necessarily a problem though, as the MP4 file format has comparable video and sound quality to AVCHD, yet is more compatible with computer playback software and smart TVs.

The final four positions on the mode dial include a pair of user-customisable pre-set modes, plus a Creative Control mode containing 22 different filter effects (see the image quality section of this review for examples). You also get a scene mode setting which includes an automatic panorama function and a long exposure mode for shooting night-time light trails.

Customisation is a key aspect of the V-Lux (Typ 114) Typ 114, hence you’ll find five customisable function buttons dotted around the camera. These can be configured to operate many different camera settings, but weirdly exposure compensation isn’t one of them, and there’s seemingly no dedicated button to adjust this either. That’s because the unlabelled dial on the back of the camera is used for this function. Press it to activate exposure compensation, and turn either way to adjust. It’s an ergonomic system that works well, once you’re aware of it. Next to this dial is a DSLR-like lever for switching between manual focus, locked and continuous autofocus, and within this is an autofocus lock button.

Leica V-Lux 40 Top of the Leica V-Lux (Typ 114)

Dominating the back of the camera isn’t so much the LCD monitor, but the pronounced electronic viewfinder. This is a high resolution 2.36MP OLED device and it features an eye detection system that’ll automatically activate the EVF, as well as automatically focussing the camera. But it’s the quality of the viewfinder that impresses most. It’s significantly crisper and offers noticeably better colour accuracy than the EVFs on many bridge cameras, making it a genuine alternative to using the LCD monitor, not just a last resort for use in bright conditions.

The LCD is also excellent, and whilst its 921k-dot resolution is matched by many bridge cameras, its wide viewing angles and reliable contrast and colour accuracy are more comparable to a DSLR’s monitor. The screen also flips to face forward and gives 270° of vertical rotation for easy shooting from high or low angles. It’s a pity the screen isn’t touch-sensitive, but at least it nails the essentials.

One feature you do get is Wi-Fi connectivity. This works in conjunction with Leica’s Image Shuttle mobile app to allow image sharing and remote camera control. Connection is simple with an NFC-enabled smartphone – just tap it to the camera. Once connected, the system operates smoothly with minimal lag.

Leica V-Lux 40 The Leica V-Lux (Typ 114) In-hand

The Wi-Fi system’s simplicity also owes a lot to the camera’s clear menu interface. The crispness of the LCD screen sets off the simple menu style well, and together they make navigating the V-Lux (Typ 114)’s vast array of settings a much less intimidating task than it could be. Fortunately, setting the camera to automatic mode hides many advanced settings from the menus, making the camera less daunting to novice photographers. If you do want to have a good old root around as to what’s possible, take the camera out of auto mode and delve into the custom settings menu tab. Included on the eight pages of options are features like Zebra Pattern that positions lines over image areas prone to overexposure, and a focus peaking setting to illustrate which image portions are in focus. These are just a couple of functions that make the V-Lux (Typ 114) perform like a DSLR, and if you’re ever in doubt as to what something does, a scrolling info panel at the top of the menu describes it.

When it comes to shooting the V-Lux (Typ 114), it’ll switch on and fire a shot in under one second. That’s providing the lens extends to its minimum focal length though. Activate the Zoom Resume feature and your last-used focal length will be restored on start-up, which will add a delay if this was toward the telephoto end of the zoom range. But you’ll soon win back time with the camera’s Light Speed autofocussing. This is claimed to be 300% faster than the system used by the old Leica V-Lux (Typ 114) 4, enabling 0.08-second focussing times. Sounds good, and it works. Focussing is instantaneous in good light and only slows fractionally in dimmer conditions. Only in the darkest of scenarios will you have to wait up to a second for the camera to focus, but this is still a very impressive performance indeed.

Battery life is slightly less outstanding, but still respectable, with a CIPA-rated capacity of 360 shots. That’s 20 more than the comparable Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 can manage, despite it having the advantage of only having an 8.3x optical zoom range to power through. Our non-scientific testing found that after around 150 shots and plenty of menu navigation and set-up, the battery had lost just one of three bars, indicating the official capacity claims should easily be achievable in general use.

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

Sample Images

This is a selection of sample images from the Leica V-Lux (Typ 114) camera, which were all taken using the 20 megapixel Fine JPEG setting. The thumbnails below link to the full-sized versions, which have not been altered in any way.

Sample RAW Images

The Leica V-Lux (Typ 114) enables users to capture RAW and JPEG format files. We’ve provided some Leica RAW (RWL) samples for you to download (thumbnail images shown below are not 100% representative).

Sample Movies & Video

Product Images

Leica V-Lux (Typ 114)

Front of the Leica V-Lux (Typ 114)

Leica V-Lux (Typ 114)

Front of the Leica V-Lux (Typ 114) / Lens Extended

Leica V-Lux (Typ 114)

Side of the Leica V-Lux (Typ 114)

Leica V-Lux (Typ 114)

Side of the Leica V-Lux (Typ 114)

Leica V-Lux (Typ 114)

Rear of the Leica V-Lux (Typ 114)

Leica V-Lux (Typ 114)

Rear of the Leica V-Lux (Typ 114) / Image Displayed

Leica V-Lux (Typ 114)

Rear of the Leica V-Lux (Typ 114) / Main Menu

Leica V-Lux (Typ 114)

Rear of the Leica V-Lux (Typ 114) / Tilting LCD Screen

Leica V-Lux (Typ 114)

Top of the Leica V-Lux (Typ 114)

Leica V-Lux (Typ 114)

Bottom of the Leica V-Lux (Typ 114)

Leica V-Lux (Typ 114)

Side of the Leica V-Lux (Typ 114)

Leica V-Lux (Typ 114)

Side of the Leica V-Lux (Typ 114)

Leica V-Lux (Typ 114)

Front of the Leica V-Lux (Typ 114)

Leica V-Lux (Typ 114)

Memory Card Slot

Leica V-Lux (Typ 114) Battery Compartment

Conclusion

Recently the bridge camera sector has become a key battleground for manufacturers trying to carve a niche distinct from smartphones. Now that the latter can boast comparable image quality and pixel counts, cramming upwards of 60x optical zoom into a camera has been a marketing miracle. But, like the ever-increasing megapixel counts in compact cameras a few years ago, more doesn’t always mean better. Leica/Panasonic should be applauded for producing a camera that bucks this trend in favour of image quality. Losing some zoom reach may impact a few shots, but the improved sharpness, colour reproduction, dynamic range and reduced noise levels that the V-Lux (Typ 114)’s 1” sensor provides compared to a 1/2.3” device is noticeable in every shot.

And it’s not just image quality that sets the V-Lux apart. It’s also a pleasure to use thanks to a superb level of customisable control that can put an entry-level DSLR to shame, plus an electronic viewfinder that’s a genuine alternative to the LCD monitor, not just a token gesture. This all helps make the camera appeal to enthusiasts, but stick it in Auto mode and the V-Lux (Typ 114)’s superb autofocus and accurate exposure metering make it a completely dependable point-and-shoot companion. Its varied selection of Creative Control filters will also indulge your creative side, and if you’d rather do the post processing, then RAW capture is another plus point. Having 4K video recording may currently be less important, but it will become the new video standard, so even if you don’t yet have a TV or computer monitor with a 4K resolution, it’s nice to know your camera is future-proofed.

In short, the V-Lux (Typ 114) is a terrific camera. It manages to offer image quality to rival a compact system camera, but with a single, wide-aperture lens capable of a highly versatile focal range. Its main rival is Sony’s DSC-RX10, but the V-Lux’s zoom range is nearly double that of the Sony’s. That just leaves it to contend with the Panasonic DMC-FZ1000, which, at £750, undercuts the Leica by around £175, yet is essentially the same camera. However, it’s not quite that simple. Leica bundles the V-Lux with Adobe Lightroom, which at the time of writing will set you back £102.57 for a standalone licence. This closes the price gap to just under £75, but remember that the V-Lux also comes with a three year warranty, compared to Panasonic’s one year protection for the FZ1000. Given that many camera retailers will charge more than that for an extended warranty, the V-Lux actually makes good financial sense, should you want added peace of mind and not already own Lightroom.

The V-Lux (Typ 114) is far from cheap, and the only thing that comes close to the size of its price tag is its sheer bulk. Yet this needn’t be a big worry if you’re after a bridge camera, as they’re all rather podgy. The price is harder to shrug off, but you’ll have a tough job finding a fixed lens camera that offers such an accomplished blend of versatility, performance and image quality for less money. If you can afford a V-Lux Typ 114, you won’t be disappointed.

5 stars

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

Main Rivals

Listed below are some of the rivals of the Leica V-Lux (Typ 114).

Review Roundup

Reviews of the Leica V-Lux (Typ 114) from around the web.

Specifications

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