Leica%20V-Lux.pngWith 10.1 megapixel image resolution,  a 12x optical zoom that reaches 420 mm, built-in image stabilization and top class optics, it’s no wonder Leica’s V-Lux 1 caught my eye when I went looking for a high-quality, all-in-one SLR alternative.

No, it’s not pocket-sized, but those compacts don’t boast a sophisticated  35 - 420mm zoom that can handle everything from delicate macro shots, to wide-angle views and super telephoto nature shots. Better yet, you can compose  through a full-sized viewfinder and use the swivelling LCD display for unusual or awkward perspectives.

Throw in the convenience of a pop-up flash, 16 custom functions for special shooting situations including video recording,  a choice of automatic and manual focus, exposure and white balance settings and its easy to understand its popularity. Add to that, the ability to record RAW images, as well as the usual JPEGs, and I couldn’t resist travel-testing one on a recent adventure yacht cruise.

The Good:

True to its name, the Leica delivered everything it promised - superior image quality, optimal sensitivity in low light conditions, the built-in convenience of a sharp  f/2.8 to f/3.7 image-stabilized zoom, accurate exposures, saturated colors, and well-balanced flash lighting.

The Bad:

In continuous-shooting mode, capturing JPEGs in bright light was reasonably quick, but in low light, or when set to RAW, the time between shots was slow enough to frustrate.

The Bottom Line:

This is a great all-round alternative for photographers who want to combine top-class optics, a powerful zoom and high resolution image quality with a convenient intelligent design. But, if you want faster raw performance, you’ll have to step up to an SLR.

Thinking of buying one? Don’t just take my word for it, be sure to read the user reviews posted  at www.bhphotovideo.com. Already have one? Use the Post-a-Comment link below to tell me what you think!

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Ellen Barone has been creating words and images for travel and tourism since 1998. She co-founded and publishes the group travel blog YourLifeIsATrip.com and is currently at work on her first book "I Could Live Here".