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Leica's latest Panasonic clones

Leica's latest Panasonic clones

Anyone who's been following Leica's digital cameras probably knows that since the company works very closely with Panasonic to develop its cameras, it always has equivalent models in Panasonic's line. So it comes as no surprise that three of the cameras Leica introduced today are nearly identical to three Panasonic cameras that have either been announced or are currently on the market. The first, Leica's Digilux 3, is essentially the same as Panasonic's upcoming DMC-L1 SLR. It even uses the Four-Thirds lens mount instead of Leica's proprietary SLR lens mount. The second, Leica's V-Lux 1 is basically the same as Panasonic's DMC-FZ50. The third is Leica's D-Lux 3, which is nearly identical to Panasonic's DMC-LX2.

Aside from minor cosmetic changes, such as the distinctive Leica circular red badge and, in the case of the D-Lux 3, the elimination of the small protruding grip on the right hand side of the camera front, these new Leicas also use different processing algorithms than their Panasonic brethren.

The Leica Digilux 3 will be sold as a kit with a 14-50mm f/2.8 to f/3.5 Leica Vario Elmarit lens for an estimated street price of $2,500. The V-Lux 1 is expected to sell for $850, while the D-Lux 3 will carry a price tag of $599.