Paying More for the Leica Name

In the article "Paying More for the Leica Name" the New York Times once again brings up the notion of Leica as a luxury brand, status symbol and a product with a premium price (sound familiar?). All they're missing is a celebrity connection. This time, the focus of their ire is the new Leica C (Type 112) and how it compares to the similar Panasonic LF1 upon which it's based. To be fair, they mention the fact that the camera comes with Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5 (which retails for $140 USD) and brings the difference in price between it and the Panasonic LF1 down from $200 to about $60. The Leica C also comes with a two year warranty and custom firmware. The Leica C is available in Light-gold and Dark-red now.


The new Leica C point-and-shoot camera has a restrained elegance and the Leica logo, which speaks to a rich heritage of imagery from photographic greats like Henri Cartier-Bresson.

But as with other Leicas, that heritage comes at a price.

Whether it’s worth that price is a tough call, because underneath that body by Audi and Leica logo is a Panasonic Lumix DMC-LF1, which sells for about $500 online — that’s nearly $200 less than the Leica.

Both cameras are capable of producing great images, sharing an f2 to f5.9 Leica lens and 7.44-by-5.58-millimeter, 12-megapixel sensor.

The Leica C doesn’t have the most intuitive set of controls, but once you get used to the menu system you can find scene settings for things like sports, night portrait and pets. It has a panorama setting for stitching together long horizontal scenes, and you can customize two scenes with settings you choose. There is an electronic viewfinder as well as a 3-inch LCD screen, so you can compose your photo by looking through a small eyepiece, which is useful in full sunlight.

A Leica representative said the main difference between its camera and the Panasonic was the firmware, which handles the images differently than the Panasonic, although it was unclear in what way (if you shoot in RAW format, which is minimally processed data, it shouldn’t make a difference). The Leica also comes with a two-year warranty.

Another element that muddies the water is that the Leica comes with Adobe’s indispensable Lightroom 5 image-editing software, which lists for $140 (or as an $80 upgrade from an older version). That puts the difference in cost between the two cameras at a more manageable $60.