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Leica D-Lux 3 review: Leica D-Lux 3

Unsurprisingly, the D-Lux 3 performs similarly to the DMC-LX2, always taking a fraction of a second longer than I could spare when photographing animals and children. A 0.7-second lag in typical lighting is just a bit too slow, and 1.7 seconds in dim light is not as good as its twin. It takes 2.3 seconds between shots under the best conditions, and the flash recycling adds little overhead--a mere 0.4 second. Raw shooting takes a relatively slow 5.2 seconds between shots. And though the continuous-shooting speed is a decent 1.3 to 1.5fps, it can take only a few shots before stopping to process.

Shooting speed (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Typical shot-to-shot time  
Time to first shot  
Shutter lag (typical)  
Casio Exilim EX-Z1000
3.5 
1.8 
0.3 
Canon PowerShot G7
1.7 
1.5 
0.5 
Leica D-Lux 3
2.3 
2.7 
0.7 
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX2
2.2 
2.3 
0.7 

Typical continuous-shooting speed (in frames per second)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Typical continuous-shooting speed  

At least the camera's interface won't slow you down so much. There are a few settings which I'd prefer on the outside rather than in the menus--white balance, ISO sensitivity, metering, and autofocus (AF) mode spring to mind--but most shooting options can be accessed from the well-laid-out array of buttons, dials, and switches. You will want to skim through the manual, however, or you'll encounter some mystifying options. For instance, there are five different AF modes: nine-area, three-area high speed, one-area high speed, one-area, and spot. They're pretty hard to figure out from the icons if you don't know they exist. Thanks to the bright, large, 2.8-inch wide-aspect LCD, though, they're pretty easy to read. But no matter how good an LCD is, I still miss having an optical viewfinder.

At 7.6 ounces, the metal-clad, sturdily built Leica D-Lux 3 is no pocket lightweight, nor is it as light on your pocketbook as the DMC-LX2. But if you're looking for a compact camera that fits more comfortably in your jacket pocket than the smallest digital SLR will, it's an attractive alternative.

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