Leica has yet again done what Leica does and the results will no doubt split views between drooling adulation or cynical accusations of exploitation.
The controversial German optics manufacturer has announced the 'V-LUX 20', a 12.1MP digital compact camera with 12x optical zoom and integrated GPS for geo-tagging. It also comes with Leica's DC-VARIO-ELMAR 4.1-49.2mm f/3.3-4.9 ASPH. zoom lens with a focal range of 25-300mm (35mm equivalent).
Sound good? Well yes and no. As is always the way with Leica there is a huge premium associated with its products and also a great similarity to far affordable products. In this case the V-LUX 20 (left side, above and below) is for all intents and purposes a Panasonic TZ10 (right side, above and below): same chassis, same Leica lens, same 3in 460k monitor and same 720p HD video recording. In fact even the TZ710 is virtually identical to the earlier TZ7.
The primary difference between the V-LUX 20 and the TZ10? The former captures in Motion JPEG rather than the actually superior AVCHD Lite the TZ10 uses. Well that and an extra £220. That's right folks, the Leica V-LUX 20 has an RRP of £495 with an optional leather case priced at a further £70. By contrast, the Panasonic TZ10 can be found online for approximately £275 (case typically £10-15).
Of course Leica fans will undoubtedly say they can see benefits worth the extra money, but as our resident camera expert Cliff pointed out in his review of the Leica D-Lux 4, its version of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3, he could see no tangible benefits. So if you want to pay extra for the Leica name by all means do so, just don't pretend you're doing anything else...