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The Leica C-Lux mixes classic design with a modern zoom

Leica

Compact cameras with large sensors and long zoom lenses offer twice as many reasons not to shoot with a smartphone — and now that Leica is in the mix, style might just be another one. On Friday, June 15, the luxury camera company unveiled the Leica C-Lux compact with a 15x zoom, along with the Leica M10 Edition Zagato, a special edition variation of the company’s existing digital rangefinder-inspired by an Italian car company.

The Leica C-Lux mixes a 1-inch, 20-megapixel sensor with a 15x zoom lens. The Leica DC Vario-Elmar 8.8-132mm lens is the equivalent of a 24 to 360mm zoom lens on a full-frame camera, covering wide to telephoto in one compact. That lens has a maximum f/3.3 aperture at the widest and an f/6.4 at the far end of that zoom, while the sensor can push ISO 25,600 for low-light shots.

Leica says a quick 49-point autofocus system complements the compact’s 10 fps burst speed. A five-axis stabilization system is also built in, along with a set of smart automatic scene modes. For video, the compact can handle 4K at up to 30 fps, with a feature that also allows videographers to pull 8-megapixel stills from the footage.

But the C-Lux is a Leica — and the company is promising its usual luxury and style on the exterior. Selling in a Light Gold and Midnight Blue, the camera’s metallic body has a signature textured wrap around. Leica is also releasing a set of accessories designed to match, including straps and cases. The camera weighs 12 ounces with the battery included.

That body houses both an electronic viewfinder with full coverage of the photo and a 3-inch touchscreen LCD. Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are also built in for sending photos to a smart device.

The C-Lux mixes two of the features that are still keeping compact cameras around — a larger sensor and a versatile zoom lens. The mix has proved popular for cameras like the Sony RX100 VI and the Panasonic ZS200. The C-Lux enters the fray with a similar sensor but a classic Leica design, albeit without quite as bright of a lens compared to the RX100 VI.

Joining the C-Lux is a new design for the previously launched M10. The Lecia M10 Zagato, paired with a matching Leica Summilux-M 35mm f/1.4 ASPH lens, is designed in collaboration with automotive design house Zagato, a company that’s had hands in design from Ferraris to Aston Martins. With the mix between camera designer and car designer, the special edition M10 takes on an aluminum body with grooves replacing the usual leather grip. The all-metal design makes the special edition lighter than the original by about 2.5 ounces.

The included lens offers a similar build, along with features like a built-in retractable hood and a focus tab inspired by the “bubble roofs” from the cars.

Leica is known for their special edition cameras, but the Zagato is the first special edition for the M10 body. Both the camera and lens contain identical components on the interior to match the performance and image quality of the original.

The M10 Zagato only has 250 camera-lens kits available, making the price a luxurious $21,600 from Leica authorized dealers. The C-Lux sits at a more attainable $1,050 and is slated for arrival sometime in mid-July.

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