Leica V-Lux 5: a superzoom camera for explorers and traveling video shooters

The new Leica V-Lux 5 is, according to Leica, one of the most versatile cameras in its product portfolio. It’s a photo camera that also captures video 4K UHD at 24, 25 or 30 fps.

Leica V-Lux 5

The luminous 25 to 400mm zoom lens (equivalent to 35mm) f/2.8–4 ASPH on the new Leica V-Lux 5 makes it ideal to capture photo and video in low ambient light. Leica says it’s a superzoom camera for explorers.

The Leica V-Lux 5 is a photography camera, but it also does video, and it makes sense to start with the moving images, here at Provideo Coalition. The camera can capture video starting at 3840 x 2160 4K/30p: 100 Mbit/s all the way down to 1280 x 720 HD/25p: 10 Mbit/s. It does 3840 x 2160 4K/24p: 100 Mbit/s, just in case you ask. In Full HD it offers 60 frames per second, for flexible and adaptable filming, and gives users, says Leica, “enormous scope for the realisation of creative ideas in editing and post-processing.”

It the Leica V-Lux 5 the camera for all your videography? Probably not, but one has to remember that cameras always represent a compromise: you have to use them according to their specifications and fully understanding the limitations. This is not a modular concept like the recently announced Sigma fp, or a big Hollywood-style Sony VENICE; it’s a “bridge-style” camera as I would call it, or a point and shoot as the market prefers, that does not offer interchangeable lenses, but represents an excellent package for travelers or explorers, as Leica states. In the right hands, this can give good results. And its your chance to have a Leica at what can be considered an affordable price: $1,250.00.

Leica V-Lux 5

A sensor custom-tailored to match the lens

At the core of the Leica V-Lux 5 is a 1-inch sensor with a resolution of 20 megapixels, enough for high-quality detail-rich images. The sensor’s maximum sensitivity of ISO 12,800 further expands the photographer’s capability to shoot in any situation – even in the most challenging lighting conditions. A word of caution, though: at high  ISO grain or digital noise may be visible in your images, so count more on the luminous apertures of the zoom lens included.

A camera with a fixed lens has one key advantage over models with interchangeable lenses: the lens and camera are built to work together and there are, usually, no compromises. The V-Lux 5 sensor has been custom-tailored and calibrated to match its expansive zoom lens, ensuring an especially precise rendering of details and natural colors.

The Leica DC Vario-Elmarit 9.1–146 mm f/2.8–4 ASPH. lens of the V-Lux 5 (equivalent to 25 to 400 mm in 35 mm film format) delivers, says Leica, “outstanding imaging performance throughout the entire zoom range, whether shooting with macro, wide-angle, standard or telephoto settings”.  The focal range is shorter than some “superzooms” delivered by other companies, but is within what is usually needed by most people, and does not suffer of the problems and compromises of very long zooms in terms of detail and luminosity.

Shake-free stills or footage

The 25 to 400 mm zoom equivalent in 35mm) is a luminous lens, with maximum apertures of f/2.8 and f/4 for the respective extreme wide-angle and extreme telephoto settings. This means the camera is ideally equipped for capturing pictures and video in low ambient light. The presence of an integrated optical image stabiliser contributes to shake-free stills or footage too, even without a tripod. And as last resort you’ve the option to raise the ISO value.

To ensure that decisive moments are never missed, the Leica V-Lux 5 takes only around 0.1 seconds to focus sharply on a subject. Even when shooting in fast and dynamic situations, a burst rate of up to 12 fps ensures that photographers always have sufficient exposures from which to choose the best for their needs. Alongside innovative features like Post Focusing and Focus Stacking, the range of options offered by the Leica V-Lux 5 also includes useful functions such as Face Recognition or 4K Burst Mode.

To control all this you’ve the option of using the rear LCD or the EVF. With a resolution of 2.36 megapixels and OLED technology, the newly developed electronic viewfinder brings a higher contrast ratio and improved colour depth – while simultaneously consuming less power. In addition to the EVF, the back of the camera features a fully-articulated 3“ touchscreen panel. This is not only ideal for reliable assessment of images before and after exposure, but also makes it easy to shoot from unusual angles.

Charge the camera from a power bank

Leica is also accepting the reality of social media sharing, and the Leica V-Lux 5 is the first model of the V-Lux line that can be used with the Leica FOTOS App. With it, photos and videos can be quickly and easily transferred for post-processing or sharing in social networks at any time. But the Leica FOTOS App as other, I would say, more interesting features: after establishing a Bluetooth connection between the camera and an iOS or Android smartphone, the app can be used to change settings and remotely control the camera – particularly practical when it’s not within easy reach. The Leica FOTOS App can also actively export GPS positioning data from the smartphone to the camera.

Because this is a camera for explorers, and adventurers have, sometimes, difficulty getting access to power sources, the V-Lux 5 can be charged via a power bank, just like your smartphone – streamlining your travel.  This means that if you prepare beforehand, running out of power on your travels is no longer a problem, as the camera can be recharged via USB from all sorts of other devices.

Leica V-Lux 5

Sometimes, a Leica V-Lux 5 is all you want

A camera like the Leica V-Lux 5 can be the ideal camera for traveling, once you understand its limitations and advantages. With the DC Vario-Elmarit 9.1–146 f/2.8–4 ASPH. you are always prepared wherever your photographic journey leads you and life’s unexpected moments. Its vast focal range of 25mm to 400mm (35mm equivalent) caters to virtually all specializations of photography, and, I dare say, video.

The beauty of it is that you can experiment with bokeh, capture wide-angle, standard, super-tele and even macro shots – all without having to carry additional gear or spend valuable time changing lenses. Sometimes that’s all you need/want. With dimensions of 136.7 x 97.2 x 131.5 mm and a weight of 812 g (with battery), the Leica V-Lux 5 is a good option, if you urgently want a Leica for your adventure. The camera is available now! If it looks familiar, it’s because it is similar to the Panasonic FZ-1000 II introduced last February. If you love the specifications and do not need the Leica “red dot”, the Panasonic version costs close to $900.

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Journalist, writer and photographer since 1979, both print and online, with a vast experience in the fields of photography, software, hardware, web, aviation, History, video games, technology, having published content in almost all Portuguese newspapers…