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Leica's new app lets your iPhone mimic its cameras and classic lenses

Leica's new app lets your iPhone mimic its cameras and classic lenses

Leica wants to get in on Fujifilm's film simulation hype, so it's bringing its own color profiles to iPhone users via a new Leica Lux app — with a paid subscription.

Leica Lux is a new camera app available on the App Store that features 11 color profiles (called "Leica looks") designed to match existing Leica cameras and classic film-inspired aesthetics. The Lux app can be used in a fully automatic mode, like Apple's own Camera app, but it also has an "Aperture Mode" that uses software to mimic the style and bokeh of several thousand-dollar lenses like the 1966 Summilux-M 35mm f/1.4 ASPH and the classic Noctilux-M 50mm f/1.2 ASPH.

If you use Leica Lux in free mode, you'll get five Leica looks and one lens copy. It costs $6.99 per month or $69.99 per year to unlock pro-oriented features like all color profiles, software lenses, and manual exposure control.

I've had a brief chance to use a pre-release beta version of Leica Lux on my iPhone 15 Pro, and early results seem mixed at best. The interface is well laid out with a streamlined menu system and lightly customizable controls that center cool features like exposure compensation and a live histogram. It's attractive — and reminiscent of Halide, another popular iOS third-party camera app. Leica Lux also sorts out photos downloaded from your Leica cameras, as I was greeted with some of my personal Leica Q2 images when I opened the in-app gallery.

Leica Lux adds some nice one-click-and-you're-done drama to images, though some of the "filters" are a little heavy-handed, which will surely polarize. Portrait mode/lens simulations are also largely hit or miss, and when they miss, they can miss badly.

Photos often have a very cut-out look that seems several generations behind Apple and Google's portrait modes - and Samsung doesn't have anything like it yet. I've also noticed that it presents some weird pixelated blockiness at the edges of in-focus subjects, but for now, I'll accept the app's beta status.

While the lens simulation is well done, you still have to deal with the fact that Apple's own software isn't always compatible with third-party apps. Leica Lux doesn't let you reverse a Portrait mode shot to avoid a generic-looking photo, as you can on Apple's own camera app. In fact, viewing Leica Lux photos in the iOS camera roll allows you to add Apple's own portrait and bokeh effects, a peculiar anachronism that's guaranteed to ruin any photo.

This isn't Leica's first attempt to make money off its loyal fans. For a while, it pushed features of its Leica Photo app behind a Pro-tier paywall, forcing photographers who transferred photos from actual Leica cameras to their phones to pay for things like Adobe Lightroom integration. Full details: I was working for Leica Camera USA at the time of the Photo Pro rollout, and I can tell you photographers were not thrilled. It didn't take long for Leica to change its stance and make all the features of its Photo app free again. Leica Lux, on the other hand, is completely new — well, mostly. Leica Lux previously debuted in the Photo app for owners of newer cameras like the Q3 and SL3, allowing profiles to be applied to photos transferred to an iPhone or Android device. What's really new in the Lux app is the lens bokeh simulation and the fact that you can Leica-fy your iPhone camera experience. There are some fun ideas and great designs here for Leica fans, but it'll take some effort to get the most out of it.

1 comment:

  1. Hairline cracks on iPhone and Apple Watch no longer covered under warranty, there is an easy fix for that
    I am not saying iphones are not good, to the contrary, but they are very very very overpriced...and extremely proprietary