I’ve been avoiding purchasing a digital camera for a long time, mainly because I’m a purist, but also because I like working in the dark room for hours with film and paper, coming out smelling like fixer and hypo. Besides those reasons, I already have a Canon F1n with many accessories to carry around and couldn’t see myself piling on more camera gear. Because I use a camera from 1978 (so says the serial number) none of the accessories that I already have will work on a modern digital SLR camera. And, since I would never give up my film camera for digital, it only makes sense to get a small PAS that I can take with me everywhere for quick and spontaneous shooting. But why give up professional features for a small PAS that takes pictures you’re disappointed with?
Well, more and more, as I’ve been taking pictures with my low quality camera phone, I’ve been thinking that maybe it’s time I find a small PAS digital camera. Leica’s D-LUX 3 digital camera is a small beauty with professional features and Leica’s standard of quality. It’s a simple to use 10 mega pixel PAS camera, with controls and features that the professional side of me needs.
For me, the biggest drawback in digital cameras has always been the optics (lens). Unless you’re looking for a large digital SLR it’s likely that you will end up with a camera with a tiny piece of glass. The smaller the glass in the lens, the less light passed to the CCD, which means in low light situations the camera has to compensate by digitally boosting the image, which results in grainy pictures and poor low-light abailities. Finding a small PAS with a large, high-quality, lens is fairly difficult.
Of course why stop there. Most PAS cameras give you images in the 3:2 format, which is what we’re used to for 35mm film, a film format created by Leitz Camera employee Oskar Barnack to work in his new invention, the Ur-Leica, which became the first 35mm camera ever. Today’s professionals expect more from a digital camera, and so Leica has delivered: the D-LUX 3 also takes pictures in 4:3 (standard for computer and television screens) and 16:9 (the standard for high definition, widescreen screens). A switch on top of the lens makes it simple to toggle between the aspect ratios.
Of course the D-LUX 3 is no Lieca M8 (and doesn’t cost $4500+ either), the image quality isn’t the same as what you’d expect from a SLR that costs several thousand, but since I’m not looking to replace my film camera this little treasure might be just what I’m looking for. Of course, until I have one in my hand, and see for myself the controls and image quality it’ll be hard to tell if this really is the PAS camera of my dreams. So, for now, I only dream. After all, I have still have to put some benjamins together first.