Leica: the Rolls-Royce of cameras

The Leica D-Lux doesn’t come cheap, but this compact version is affordable and enjoyable, says Matthew Partridge.

Leica D-Lux7 camera

Even if you have no interest in cars, or don't drive at all, the words "Rolls-Royce", "Aston Martin" or "Bentley" will still conjure up images of luxury and refinement. The equivalent brand in the camera world is Leica. Some of the world's most renowned photographers count themselves fans, as does the Queen. Sadly, with even used Leicas costing several thousand pounds, Leicas are a luxury most of us aren't able to afford.

The good news is that there are Leicas you can buy without having to take out a second mortgage or sell a kidney the D-Lux range of budget Leicas, part of a collaboration with Panasonic. Its latest model, the D-Lux 7, is based on Panasonic's LX 100 Mark II, which was released last year. Technically, the D-Lux is a "compact" camera as it has a fixed lens and a slightly smaller sensor, though a bigger one than you'd typically find in many "point-and-shoot" cameras. For purists, this means it isn't a "proper" Leica, but it will be perfectly good enough for the rest of us.

The D-Lux 7 is compact enough to stuff in a coat or trouser pocket and the image quality is much better than you'd get on a smartphone. You can operate it in silent mode and with automatic eye-recognition, and it will produce compelling photos, even in challenging dimly lit environments. It also produces crisp videos at up to 4K quality. You can't connect an external microphone, but this isn't really a problem as the internal one is good enough for most uses.

Subscribe to MoneyWeek

Subscribe to MoneyWeek today and get your first six magazine issues absolutely FREE

Get 6 issues free

Sign up to Money Morning

Don't miss the latest investment and personal finances news, market analysis, plus money-saving tips with our free twice-daily newsletter

Don't miss the latest investment and personal finances news, market analysis, plus money-saving tips with our free twice-daily newsletter

Sign up

The camera also comes with a variety of filters and modes that you can play around with. The limited range of the lens (equivalent to 24-75mm) means that this is a camera to complement rather than replace a DSLR, but I enjoyed using it enough to buy a second-hand copy of the original LX 100 from eBay. The current model has slightly better image quality than the original Panasonic.

Leica D-Lux 7, RRP £995

Dr Matthew Partridge

Matthew graduated from the University of Durham in 2004; he then gained an MSc, followed by a PhD at the London School of Economics.

He has previously written for a wide range of publications, including the Guardian and the Economist, and also helped to run a newsletter on terrorism. He has spent time at Lehman Brothers, Citigroup and the consultancy Lombard Street Research.

Matthew is the author of Superinvestors: Lessons from the greatest investors in history, published by Harriman House, which has been translated into several languages. His second book, Investing Explained: The Accessible Guide to Building an Investment Portfolio, is published by Kogan Page.

As senior writer, he writes the shares and politics & economics pages, as well as weekly Blowing It and Great Frauds in History columns He also writes a fortnightly reviews page and trading tips, as well as regular cover stories and multi-page investment focus features.

Follow Matthew on Twitter: @DrMatthewPartri