Review: Leica V-Lux 20

Sure, you like to travel and take photos, but with so many destinations how do you keep track of where you’ve been and what you’ve shot? The answer: Get a GPS-enabled camera that will geotag your photos for you. The Leica V-Lux 20 is just such a device, and it looks nearly identical to the Panasonic ZS7, which has similar sat-tracking capabilities.

We recently test-drove both of these cameras and could find only two real things to distinguish the V-Lux 20 from its doppelganger rival: the classic Leica badging on the front and the price. Yes, you’ll pay a premium for that red Leica dot on the hand grip: The V-Lux 20 retails for 300 bucks more than its Panasonic cousin. Otherwise the specs and performance are basically the same: 12.1-MP sensor; 12x optical zoom and, of course, built-in GPS.

Like the ZS7, the GPS feature in the V-Lux 20 will show you location names and nearby “points of interest” on the camera’s 3-inch LCD. Some of those points of interest may be of only passing interest (they were to us). For instance, our test camera kept telling us we were shooting images near the 190th Street subway stop. Wow. Really?

And like the Panasonic, this little Leica sometimes lagged behind in its geotagging, mapping images a step behind in our travels. On a positive note, it shared the fantastic, noise-devoid image quality with the ZS7 but was a split second (or two) slower to use. That shouldn’t be a problem, though, since your subjects will, no doubt, be so dazzled by that Leica logo on front they’ll hold their poses longer for you.

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