The D-Lux 109
It is so easy for us photographers and filmmakers to get carried away with the tools we use rather than getting carried away with the subject matter we are pursuing. I used to regularly shoot Canon DSLRs, Sony cine type cameras and the occasionally RED camera. Sometimes I still use those tools. Are they amazing tools? ABSOLUTELY, but they can slow things down, require extensive rigging, and more times than not they can dampen the aura of a moment. In the work I typically do I am shooting on the fly and trying to capture moments that are not staged. When I point a camera at a person, and they see me I don’t want to disturb them. I also have to get shots while remaining unnoticed, which requires minimal rigging.
I have never encountered a camera that was so capable at taking amazing pictures, and filming than the Leica D-Lux 109. Per square inch the D-lux 109 packs more power than any other camera. The D-Lux is phenomenal!
My recent visit to the Coachella Valley Brewing Company presented the perfect opportunity to get some spectacular black and whites. I recently visited there, and the only camera I had on me was the D-Lux 109. So, I immediately got to shooting some shots around the brewery and then switched to free handing some 4k shots on the fly. The ability to pull a camera out like that and start shooting some really incredible material was extremely liberating!!
Not only is the D-Lux inconspicuous, and readily available, but it is also has a GREAT lens. I Love the f1.7 @24mm and the macro mode. The lens is sharp at all focal lengths and apertures.
Honestly the 4k out of the camera is just outstanding. Below is a frame I pulled out of the video once I had finished grading. Again, this not a photograph, this is one frame of video! I could make a nice print of this frame if I wanted to.
The video has low compression at 100mbps @4k 24fps, and since this is a Leica camera (yes, I know they aren’t made in Wetzlar) the color is lovely. Now, I don’t appreciate 4k for the immense amount of resolution it gives me, but rather for increase in bit rate, grading opportunities as well as reframing capabilities. The D-Lux’s settings do require some tweaking to shoot serious video. I messed with the Gamma curves to get a in camera flat-ish profile, and there are a few other oddities that are required to get the camera from being a “stills” camera to being somewhat of a cine camera. Below is a piece I shot in about 10-15 minutes, all by hand with nothing but my D-Lux 109.
I plan to use the D-Lux 109 for a lot more than just personal projects in the near future. I plan to use it in a couple up coming documentary films I will be heading up. The D-Lux will not simply be used as a B or C camera but as my primary camera. The 4k is absolutely lovely out of this camera and so is the color. Convenience, and great color when paired with a outstanding lens, and nice 4k for 1080 or 2k downscaling makes for the right tool for the job.
About the Author: Ben Carpenter is a photographer and filmmaker originally from the Midwest. Ben now resides in the Coachella Valley where he works as a sales representative at Camera West Rancho Mirage. Ben shoots a variety of films ranging from wedding and commercial films to documentary films in the southern California region. He also enjoys leading a variety of workshops at our Rancho Mirage store.