Is The Leica DL4 Different Than The Panasonic LX3?

August 20th, 2009

In response to my post on compact cameras where I was extolling the virtues of the Panasonic LX3 , NY photographer Peter Brandt, pointed out that he believes  the Leica D-Lux-4 is better than the LX3. Peter says:

“The Leica D Lux4 version is a little better. The Lumix is a copy of it. It has less barrel distortion in the 24mm setting. I’ve had great results with just a 400 ISO setting shooting available light. A lot of people recognize the Leica logo and comment favorably. I admit I have recommended it to R/E pros (appraisers and agents who insist shooting their own).”

The photo above is an interior shot that Peter shot with his Leica D-Lux4, hand held at ISO 400, in a concert hall designed by Frank Gehry.

Peter is not the first Leica DL4 user I’ve encountered that claims that there are more differences between the DL4 and the LX3 than the little red Leica logo. As of this writing the street price between these two compacts is around $200 USD (LX3 is ~$499 and DL4 is ~$699) On the other hand this article in FastCompany claims that:

“The Leica D-Lux 4 and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3 are effectively identical products differentiated solely by design. They have the same sensor, lens, LCD, housing material, embedded software, battery, and battery charger. Both take identical pictures.”

It’s hard to settle this issue without a series of comparison images. Fortunately, Ian Ho has done exactly that in his comparison of the DL4 and the LX3. There are two parts. Here’s part 1, and here’s part 2. I’ll leave the call to you as to whether there are differences in these images. I think if you are wanting to look professional the Leica logo is significant even if you can’t see any differences in the images.

Thanks Peter for raising this issue. I have both the DL4 and the XL3 listed in my compact cameras for real estate chart.

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9 Responses to “Is The Leica DL4 Different Than The Panasonic LX3?”

  • If they have the same the same Leica 24mm f/2 lens and sensor I can’t see how one can have more barrel distortion than the other?
    The GF1 looks promising as a step up from the LX3 ……

  • And the verdict is…no difference. Not the most rigorous comparison, but useful.

  • yup, the GF1 coupled w/ the 7-14/4 micro 4/3rds lens is high on my list of setups to get my paws on… someday.

  • The color processing is a bit different between the two as well as the menu layout. I’ve heard that the Leica menus are easier to navigate… The first difference doesn’t matter if you’re shooting RAW.

    When you overpay for something by $200 you have to justify it to yourself… Peter likes the cache of the Leica logo, which is acceptable in NYC where such things matter and it might actually be a worthwhile expense if your clients are at all pretentious. (No offense intended, but let’s face it, there are a few pretentious RE agents out there 😉

    Larry said:

    “I think if you are wanting to look professional the Leica logo is significant even if you can’t see any differences in the images.”

    I don’t think a pro photographer can possibly “look” professional in front of a client with a P&S, regardless of whether a P&S is enough for the job… IMHO, Larry’s last statement can only apply to agents shooting their own photos.


  • Thanks for the lens comparison. I’m always looking for lenses that can help in my hobby.

  • The lens prices are the always the hardest thing for me to absorb though. We need this real estate market to improve!

  • From what I understand about the Panasonic Leica lens are that they are actually NOT Leica lens at all, just Leica “approved” lens. Basically a lens with a Leica stamp on it. I’d be interested if anyone in the camera sales field could shed any light on this concept.
    I suppose the same thing goes for the Sony P&S that claim to have Zeiss glass…

  • The “Leica” branding for Panasonic is just the same type of marketing ploy Sony has used by calling their lenses “Zeiss” lenses. They’re just trying to associate their product with a higher quality brand image. Most all of the Sony lenses, from cellphone to P&S to inexpensive zooms carrying the “Zeiss” name, are made under contract by Cosina’s chinese factory. Only a few at higher prices are made by Cosina in Japan to slightly higher standards. Cosina is the same company that made/makes cheap lenses for Nikon and Canon. Chances are the 18-55 kit lens from Nikon or Canon comes from the Cosina chinese factory. Even the 50/1.4 being sold under the Carl Zeiss name at around $600, is made by Cosina and is simply a remount of an old design originally for the Contax 135 cameras.

    None of the Sony “Zeiss” lenses are actually made by the real Zeiss factory in Germany, and I’d be willing to bet one, that both Leica and Panasonic are made in the exact same factory using the exact same parts.

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