Published on 21 May 2012

There’s still life in a decade-old camera

The Leica Digilux 2 was manufactured in 2003 and 2004. It has a sister camera in the Panasonic DMC-LC1 and, as with so many other consumer-oriented Leica cameras, Panasonic made the body and Leica made the lens for these cameras. The lens is a Vario-Summicron 7-22.5 mm f/2.0-2.4 ASPH, which corresponds to 28-90mm in the 35mm format. At 50mm, the lens has a widest aperture of f/2.1 and at 70mm the widest aperture is f/2.2. Combined with the Summicron lens, the 2/3″ 5MP CCD sensor is capable of capturing images of outstanding quality in JPEG or RAW.

This article compares the noise performance of the Leica Digilux 2 across its ISO/EI scale. It is not meant to be a review of the Digilux 2; for such please see the links after the conclusion. I am not ordinarily a pixel-peeper but, as I come from a film background, what is interesting with the Digilux 2 is that it covers the ISOs I would normally use with film. Though I have not shot film side-by-side for this test, a second purpose of it is to consider the Digilux 2′s performance in comparison with film, particularly black and white.

The images were taken in a daylight-lit room, which explains the slight variation in light between the shots. The camera – a Digilux 2 from the first batch in 2003 (serial no. 2990xxx) which has had its sensor replaced – was put on a sturdy tripod and the 2-second timer was used for each shot. The images were shot as RAW to circumvent the built-in JPEG noise reduction, which is particularly strong at ISO 200 and ISO 400. The lens was set to 14mm, which corresponds to 56mm on film. The exposure setting in Adobe Camera Raw was adjusted as necessary to compensate for the over- respective under-exposure and arrive at the relevant EI; no other adjustments were made. The images were then converted to JPEG and resized. The crops are 100% crops.

Part One examines performance at ISO/EI 100, 200 and 400. Part Two examines performance at EI25, EI50, EI800 and EI1600. In the conclusion I try to assess how capable the Digilux 2 is as a picture-making tool today. For a wealth of examples of the camera’s actual performance, visit the impressive, lengthy and infinitely rewarding thread at the Leica Forum.

Click on the full-scene images for full size versions.

ISO100 / EI100

ISO 100

ISO100 crop

ISO200 / EI100

ISO200 / EI100 crop

ISO400 / EI100

ISO400 / EI100 crop

ISO 200 / EI200

ISO 200

ISO200 crop

ISO100 / EI200

ISO100 / EI200 crop

ISO400 / EI200

ISO400 / EI200 crop

ISO400 / EI400


ISO400 crop

ISO100 / EI400

ISO100 / EI400 crop

ISO200 / EI400

ISO200 / EI400 crop


To Part Two

To Conclusion