Digiscoping comparison between the Leica D-Lux 3 and the Leica C-Lux 2
Leica D-Lux 3 camera maximum zoom (telephoto)
This 15 mm of lens extension requires that the adapter be slid back when zooming to prevent the camera lens from contacting the eyepiece. The protective limit switch on the small motor that drives the camera lens assembly is designed to shut off if it strikes a foreign object. So use of the D-Lux 3 requires an additional field craft component to insure the lenses don't collide when zooming.
By comparison, the C-Lux 2 lens assembly extends to ~26 mm when first turned on (see below). However, as you run the zoom from wide (28 mm) to telephoto (100 mm) the lens assembly retracts ~5 mm and then returns to the starting point at max zoom.
Leica C-Lux camera at minimum and maximum zoom
Leica C-Lux 2 lens assembly retracts 0nly about 5 mm and returns to starting point
Since the lens assembly does not extend beyond its starting point, the C-Lux 2 camera does not require readjusting the camera adapter. This makes use of this camera simpler, quicker, and it eliminates the possibility of the two lenses contacting one other. The shorter lens assembly of the C-Lux 2 also seems to be less prone to shadowing and vignetting than the longer lens on the D-Lux 3.
Below are a series of test images shot with both cameras at comparable settings. For this test, I placed a soda can at a distance of ~12 meters and used a Leica APO Televid 77 spotting scope, 20-60x zoom eyepiece, and digital adapter 2. I've made no changes to the original image beyond reducing each in size to fit on the blog.
Image 1: Leica D-Lux 3 at 28 mm (1x) eyepiece at 20x. As typical when digiscoping with a wide angle camera lens and non-wide angle eyepiece (zoom) we see a strongly vignetted circular frame around the subject (if I'd used a 20x or 32x wide angle eyepiece this circle would be eliminated).
Image 2 shows the comparable settings on the C-Lux 2 camera (no zoom on eyepiece or camera). As expected the images are very similart although the circle on the D-Lux does appear larger.
image 3: D-Lux 3 camera at ~2x optical zoom, eyepiece at 20x
image 4: Leica C-Lux 2 camera ~2x optical zoom, eyepiece at 20x
Images 3 & 4 were taken at the point where most of the circular vignetting was eliminated near 2x optical zoom on both cameras. However, you will note more zoom was needed to eliminate the vignette with the D-Lux 3 (image 3), so the can appears larger. Also, there is more apparent shadowing in the corners of image 3 as compared to 4. So in conclusion the smaller C-Lux 2 eliminated the vignette quicker and more effectively.
Lux 3 offers a 35 mm equivalent of 6,720 mm (112 mm x 60x), and the C-Lux 2 only 6,000 mm, however you can see the effect of shadowing and the toll it takes on sharpness and color saturation. The truer colors in the C-Lux image (image 6) is typical of performance between these two cameras throughout the entire range of zoom. The C-Lux 2 seems to be completely devoid of shadowing/vignetting at any combination of optical zoom and eyepiece magnification. The D-Lux 3 seems to always show some shadowing at the corners throughout the range.
That said, I will continue to defend the D-Lux cameras as good options for digiscoping, and feel the resultant images I've taken over the past 2 years prove this. However, despite the lack of RAW and manual controls, I do find that I now prefer the ease/speed of operation and more consistent color the new C-Lux 2 provides. The fact that it is 2 ounces lighter, about 1/4 the size, and $100 less is just icing on the cake. Feel free to compare more sample images taken with both cameras on my wildlife image site: