An instructor at the Leica Akademie, Oliver Richter is involved with courses focusing on picture composition; his main work, however, deals with all the outdoor workshops and experiential travel. Whenever he has a chance, he heads outdoors with a Leica S in his rucksack. But when he recently went on a hike in the mountains, he decided to exchange the S for a Leica V-Lux, to experience Leica’s new all-rounder in the field.
Q: How did you find the handling of the camera? For a compact camera, the V-Lux is rather large. Did that disturb you?
A: The camera is definitely bigger than its predecessor, but that’s because the sensor surface is considerably larger and there are more creative possibilities. For me, it wasn’t the size that was decisive, but rather the lighter weight and the range of its focal lengths.
Q: Where would you place the V-Lux’s picture quality? Do you think it belongs among classic compacts or is it more like a systems camera?
A: As far as picture quality is concerned it can, without a doubt, be classified like a systems cameras. Its performance is really great in both the wide-angle and the zoom ranges. The pictures can easily be printed in up to A2 format, leaving virtually nothing to be desired.
Q: For a Leica, the V-Lux is a rather unusual camera: a lot of features, many buttons, a large zoom – in other words, it’s not reduced to the essential. Did you find that unusual, maybe even bothersome?
A: I don’t think the V-Lux needs to be reduced to the essential, because Leica already has cameras like that. I see it rather as an all-rounder: lightweight, great range of focal lengths, various work programmes, and the photographer can decide what settings he wants to use. Consequently, the camera can suit beginners just as much as advanced photographers. I consider the V-Lux the perfect camera for when you’re on the move – outdoors to be specific: hiking, traveling, climbing, and so on. These are situations where weight and user-friendliness play a decisive role. When I’m climbing, for example, I often only have one hand free. Then I set it on aperture priority, open aperture, and use the monitor to take pictures; otherwise I prefer to use the bright viewfinder. And when my daughter’s with me and wants to photograph, she likes to look up the appropriate settings in the scenes menu and simply experiment.
Q: How easy was it for you to get used to the large range of focal lengths? Did it feel normal pretty quickly or did it surprise you constantly when you were working with the camera?
A: Seeing as I’m more of a wide-angle photographer and till now have mostly limited my travel equipment to a maximum of 180 mm in the zoom range, I found it surprising that you can get so much beyond 180. This was particularly helpful during our tour of the Arctic, because it meant I was able to get a couple of shots of polar bears. When you take photos from a boat, the long focal length is the only thing you can use to get closer to certain objects.
Q: Is it just chance that your pictures tend to be quieter and are not full of action, or is there something about the V-Lux that kept you from choosing moving motifs?
A: It’s more a question of chance. When I hike in the mountains I enjoy the quiet and the loneliness. The camera, with its fast autofocus and picture series function is more than adequate for moving motifs. However, I found the pictures in the fastest mode were practically frightening. It’s like the pictures learn to walk – and that’s not really my way of photographing.
Q: What did you like in particular about photographing with the V-Lux?
A: Apart from the aforementioned attributes as an all-rounder and a rucksack camera, it was the macro range: fold out the monitor and you get an exceptional glimpse into the world of macro photography, without having to bend down a great deal. You can take pictures from the perspective of a frog, without having to lie down in the wet grass – I was very grateful for that.
Thank you for your time, Oliver!
– Leica Internet Team
Read the interview in German here.