Leica has built a name for itself in the compact market over the years with a handful of Panasonic rebrands -- these Lumix models come equipped with a matte black housing, Leica lens and that famous red dot, with the inflated price tag to match. With this latest batch of cameras, the company appears to be taking a more respectable approach -- at least with its high-end X2. But first, let's tackle the V-Lux 40. On the Panasonic front, this camera looks strikingly similar to the Lumix DMC-ZS20 we saw emerge after CES. Both cameras include 14.1-megapixel 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensors, a 20x, 24-480mm f/3.3-6.4 optical zoom lens and 1080p video capture. The housing has been modified slightly to include a recessed control panel, Panasonic branding has been removed and the Leica logo added. Such luxuries more than double the camera's price from $269 to $699. Ouch. You can pick up the V-Lux 40 beginning today, or you can grab two virtually identical ZS20s for the same amount, with significant cash to spare.
You may remember the Leica X1, but you probably don't. This $2,000 shooter was determined to be overpriced when it launched way back in 2009, and now the APS-C-equipped series has returned for a refresh. Dubbed the X2, this year's flavor ups the ante with a 16.2-megapixel CMOS sensor (boosted from 12.2) while retaining that beloved $2k sticker price. The compact all-in-one includes a fixed 24mm Leica Elmarit f/2.8 ASPH lens, which the company validates as a "classical focal length for photojournalism," and a 2.7-inch 230k-pixel LCD on the rear. There's also an option to add a Viso-Flex 1.4MP viewfinder with a 90-degree swivel function, along with a shoe-mounted mirror finder. The $1,995 camera's price tag may be tough to swallow -- but only until you discover the gratis copy of Adobe Lightroom in the box. Both the
ZS20 V-Lux 40 and X2 are available now. Snap past the break for the pitch from Leica.
Gallery: Leica V-Lux 40
Gallery: Leica X2