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The Leica D-Lux 3 is one of three compact cameras I own. I also own a Sigma DP1 and a Canon G9 ( just recently updgrade to a D-Lux4). I have been using DSLR's since Canon introduced the D30 and I now use a Canon 5D but I wanted a camera I could carry with me all the time without having to carry a large camera bag, a bulky camera body and four or five lenses.

The D-Lux 3 has turned out to be one of those cameras. I don't really consider it a pocket camera because the lens does not fully retract into the camera body.  This makes it difficult to carry in my pocket but a small case on my belt is all I need to keep it with me all the time. Those looking for a true pocket camera might consider the C-Lux line from Leica.

I chose the D-Lux 3 because I desired a small camera with full manual controls and RAW capability.  I also really like the 16:9 aspect ratio and I choose to shoot in that format almost all the time with the D-Lux 3.

The D-Lux 3 was an acquisition that was also meant to test my abilities as a photographer with a non-DSLR camera.  I wanted to see if my abilities would be impacted in a negative way by the use of a point and shoot camera.  It's a cliche, but I've always said the ability to see the shot is more important than the gear you use to capture it. Of course, that's not totally true. Anyway, I wanted to see if I could produce images with a point and shoot camera that compared well to the images I have captured with my expensive DSLR equipment.  The results are quite positive and I offer them here for you to view.

Image quality is very good but not as good as that of the Leica M8. That is to be expected. Remember we are talking about a camera that costs a fraction of what the Leica M8 body costs. However; the D-Lux 3 is capable of producing very good images. 

If you just want to create snapshots, it's capable of doing just that.  If, on the other hand, you wish to create more artistic images, it is capable of producing some very striking images with good tonality and colors.

If you are doing Black and White conversions or shooting in Black and White mode, the resulting images do look very film like.

The image stabilization works quite well but I prefer using a tripod. There really is no substitute but when you don't have a tripod handy the image stabilization really helps.

The in-camera color effects are also quite good. You can use them or shoot with all settings set to standard and post-process in Photoshop or some other image editing program.

So, the D-Lux 3 might be said to have several engaging facets.  It can be used for snapshots, fine art images and it renders Black and White with very film-like grain/noise.

When you combine the images from the D-Lux 3 with post-processing in PhotoShop or LightRooom you can produce some pretty amazing images and prints.

To View The Images
Click on any thumbnail image on this page to view a larger image.   Return to this page by clicking on the larger image.

The Digital Darkroom
I am not one of those photo purist who insists that what comes out of the camera is the final image and should not be manipulated or enhanced in Photoshop.  In the day of the wet darkroom we played with chemicals, temperature, various paper types and filters and we cross-processed to achieve a certain look or style of photography.  We dodged and burned and tried every trick we could imagine to produce a unique and interesting image.  Today's digital darkroom is Photoshop.  I use it on every image I capture.  I sometimes shoot an image knowing what I will do with it in Photoshop.   The photo purist will argue that it is not true photography.  A hollow and totally false argument. We frame the shot, wait for the light, adjust for DOF, etc.   Whether we use filters in front of our lenses, exotic paper for printing or Photoshop.  It's all part of photography.  In the end, it is the appeal of the image to the viewer that counts. 

Post-processing is as much a part of digital photography as adjusting the ISO setting and pressing the shutter release.  Don't believe anyone who tells you otherwise.

I hope you enjoy my efforts with the Leica D-Lux 3.  I have found that with a good understanding of the camera, its capabilities and limitations, it consistently produces great images.

This Camera Was Sold  On February 17, 2009
I hated to see it go but the truth is that I had not used the D-Lux 3 since the D-Lux 4 arrived.  It's still a wonderful little camera, capable of amazing images but there is no point in holding on to something I no longer use.  I use my cameras, I do not collect them.  Better that someone gets the same joy I had with it than for it to sit on a shelf unused. 

Related Interest: 

Click here for my Sigma DP1 gallery
Click here for my D-Lux 4 gallery
Click here for my Leica M8 gallery

Jim Radcliffe
Dallas, Texas

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