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!!
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.