I've pretty much hated every compact point-n-shoot I've ever owned/used/whatever. Why? I could write quite a bit on that subject. Let's just say none of them have met my expectations in too many ways. But that's all changed now. Recently, I picked up a Leica D-Lux 3. This little guy is an absolutely amazing example of ultra-compact digital camera technology in spite of it being released in 2006 and its technology being six years old. Those crafty German engineers! Day-am! (Admittedly, Japanese engineering gets some credit for this camera as well.)
Although my new Leica is used, I mean previously owned, it's in pristine condition. Better yet, I picked it up for a can't-say-no price! Sometimes, it pays to regularly peruse Craigslist.
While there's a very similar Panasonic version of this camera -- Leica and Panasonic partnered up to produce these ultra-compacts -- and the Panasonic LX-2 is a less expensive version of almost the same camera, the key word is "almost." I've done some homework on my little Leica. The Leica D-Lux 3 is smaller, lighter, has a better sensor, better glass, and is manufactured to tighter specs than the Panasonic. Because of those specs, for instance, the glass on the comparable Panasonic is ground robotically and simultaneously in batches. The lenses used on the Leica need to be ground individually, i.e., one at a time, because of the closer tolerances in the specs. More recent versions of Leica's D-Lux line have hot shoes, something I wish my little Leica had. It's not that I would want to attach a speedlite or other flash to it, but being able to mount a PocketWizard would be nice and occasionally convenient and/or fun.
I purchased the camera for less than a comparable, used, Panasonic version. Cosmetically, it is in mint condition. I'm not sure it was ever used before I got hold of it. It looks brand new. However much it was used, it was barely used, and I mean barely. So, in a sense, I got my hands on the red dot without paying the premium for the red dot. To be more specific, I paid $200 for it from someone who was very motivated to quickly turn it into cash. It occurred to me it might have fallen off a truck or been procured in some dishonest way but, frankly, the guy I bought it from didn't strike me as dishonest.
I just happened to be perusing Craigslist's photo gear ads (looking for nothing in particular) when the seller posted his advert for the camera. Had I not refreshed the page before logging off, I would have missed it. I called the guy within minutes of him putting it up for sale. Within a few hours, I met up with him at a nearby burger stand, inspected the camera, offered $200 cash, and he took it. (He was asking $260, itself a good price for the camera.) Whether you look on eBay or Amazon, a used D-Lux 3 will set you back between $400 and $600.
If any of what I just wrote sounds snobbish or gearhead-ish, and it probably does, it likely means I've been infected, to some extent, with red dot fever. I keep my newly-acquired little Leica in the glove compartment of my vehicle so it's always ready for spontaneous action. Photographer Chase Jarvis is fond of saying, "The best camera is the one you have with you." I tend to agree. But it sure doesn't hurt if the camera you have with you is a better than average camera, which I think this Leica qualifies as being, certainly amongst ultra-compact point-n-shoots.
Here's a shot of the lovely Persia from last year. I like her name which reflects her ethnicity. I like it so much better than if her name were "Iran," which would refer to the same ethnicity and place but wouldn't sound as pretty. (Sorry for the geography lesson. I don't mean to insult anyone's level of knowledge.)