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New Digital Camera Takes the Field



New Digital Camera Takes the Field

Leica Digilux 4.3 Delivers

Text and Images by Michael Sheridan

February 2001


I had never attended an NFL game before. Sure, I watched a few Penn State games from the stands with my buddies, but never had my toes gone numb viewing a professional football game.
A few days prior, I decided to document the event, since the tickets were $50 a pop and the chances that I would spend that kind of money to watch a football game again were slim (my future wife had gotten the tickets for free from one of her clients). Since the new and improved Leica digilux 4.3 digital camera had recently found its way into my possession, so I decided to bring it along.
At first, I wasn't interested in the cameras vertical design, which is very similar to the Fuji FinePix 4700 Zoom. I'm generally used to the traditional horizontal shape of automatic cameras. But I found as I used the digilux — which was surprisingly light — that it rested comfortably in my hand. The black grip helps promote a steady grip.

The digilux 4.3 is an upgrade of Leica's prosumer digital camera. This new model features improved image capturing ability, as well as increased options making the unit more compatible with the professional's needs.
As indicated in the camera's name, the digilux is capable of producing images with 4.3 million pixels, according to Leica. This is possible with the unit's Super CCD system, which also enables formats up to 13x18cm to be printed with maximum sharpness. Leica also states that the CCD's design allows for very "natural and harmonious" color reproduction.
As I captured images at the Giants game, I found little reason to doubt this claim. The picture of the crowd gathered at the game (left) had very little noise, and sharp, crisp colors. While it was cold, the sun did peek out from time to time through the clouds, so no flash was needed.

One of the camera's highlights, especially when shooting images in different lighting situations, it shte ability to shift ISOs. Users are given a range from 100 to 800.

Manual Labor vs. Automation
The digilux opens itself up more to the professional used to control. Not only can the user adjust the ISO, but the flash intensity, white balance and aperture can also be altered. This ability allows the professional photographer to have more power over the resulting image. Or, if they so choose, they can allow the camera to do the work and simply snap away.

The Leica also features a 3x zoom with aspherical lenses. This allows the high resolution to remain constant over the entire focal length range (at 36-108mm, the focal length corresponds to that of a 35mm camera).
I was surprised how clear the image of the players came out (bottom). My experience using zooms on non-SLR cameras has been questionable at best. I'd learned to remain still and regulate my breathing, because if I wasn't perfectly still the image would blur.
That wasn't the case with the Leica. While I'm sure my rock-steady grip on the camera helped — okay, maybe not "rock" steady, but pretty close — the image came out much nicer than expected. This is clearly seen when looking at numbers on the players' jerseys.
For that image, I bumped up the ISO to 800 in order to capture the motion. The apeture was set at f2.8, with the shutter speed at 1/250.
In an effort to improve the detail, I set the white balance to "shade," which helped with the contrast.

Digital Video
Although I'm not sure if the video capability of digital cameras is very beneficial to digital photographers, many of the prosumer level cameras being released these days have the ability to capture small videos. This is primarily for people to create clips for the Internet.

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