For the past few years Leica has been wading into the point-and-shoot mass-market, where competition is vicious and where the company demands a pricey premium owing to its unparalleled brand. Is the good-looking, tiny C-Lux 3 worth it? Probably not: At $350 it would be superb. But at $600 it just becomes an overpriced plaything that gets smoked by better cheaper, shooters.
If looks don’t matter to you, then the C-Lux 3 definitely isn’t your camera; its best feature is the design. Sleek and simple with a polished fit and finish, it harkens to the brand’s no-nonsense, Teutonic roots. Controls are dead simple and intuitive. Meanwhile, performance is very solid, though not best-in-class: Shutter lag is decent; snapshots in good light look excellent; a clever burst-flash shooting mode means you’re less liked to get closed eyes and weird poses when you use the flash. And the wide-angle lens? A godsend when shooting landscapes.
Trouble is, you can get those features, performance, virtually the same design, and Leica glass to boot in Panasonic’s Lumix DMC-FX37. Overall, the C-Lux line is like a limo-riding supermodel with a sibling who’s just as lovely but still flies coach Our advice? Pick the cam that suits your lifestyle. Us? We’re flying coach.