Leica has introduced a new line of compact cameras with the unveiling of the Audi-designed Leica C. The new camera has been created to combine a sophisticated feature package with a small form factor. As such, it's the first Leica to come with Wi-Fi and NFC. And yes, the pocketable 12 megapixel shooter does bear more than a passing resemblance to the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LF1 it's based on.
Because the Leica C is a reworking on the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LF1, it shares its key specs with its less bling sibling. It features a 12 megapixel 1/1.7 inch (7.6 x 5.7 mm) MOS sensor, which is larger than normal for a point-and-shoot. This is paired with a Leica DC Vario-Summicron 6-42.8 mm f/2-5.9 ASPH lens, which gives a focal length equivalent of 28-200 mm in 35 mm format. It can shoot Full HD video and has a continuous-shooting mode capable of up to 10 fps.
The Leica C also boasts a 200K-dot equivalent electronic viewfinder which differentiates it from Leica's D-Lux and V-Lux offerings. This will be a welcome addition for photographers shooting in bright light, or those who just don't want to compose shots on the 3-inch, 921,600 dot LCD monitor. It also boasts integrated Wi-Fi and NFC allowing for wireless sharing of images and remote shooting with the Leica C Image Shuttle app (available for iOS and Android).
What Leica has brought to the table with the Leica C is the styling, which was done in collaboration with Audi Design. Luckily it's not of the overly garish Hasselblad Stellar and Lunar bejeweled and generally blinged-to-the-max variety. Instead the 103 x 63 x 28 mm (4 x 2.5 x 1.1 in) camera is available in two simple but stylish color combinations – gold and ivory, or dark red with black.
With buttons which are more rectangular, and a slightly altered body shape (particularly around the EVF), the camera looks considerably more stylish than the Panasonic it's based on, and almost reminiscent of a mini Leica CM. Our only niggle would be the loss of the rubberized thumb-rest in favor of a few (less comfortable-looking) vertical indents.
A series of Leica-branded accessories will also be released for the Leica C. These include standard-style cases (the C-Case), a rigid plastic and elastic silicone rubber cover which snaps into place (C-Snap), and a wrap which attaches to the tripod thread (C-Twist). Possibly telling us about the market Leica is aiming for with the camera, there is also a polished pouch bag (C-Pouch) and a clutch handbag (C-Clutch), which has a dedicated spot for the Leica C along with space for a smartphone and a purse.
The Leica C will ship with a copy of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 5 when the camera goes on sale in October for a price of US$700.