I'd been thinking about snagging a Panasonic Lumix LX3 until this WSJ trend piece spiked the already pricey, um, price over $500. But it's still way cheaper than Leica D-Lux 4, which is basically the same camera for $800. Why?
That little red dot with the word Leica etched inside. Everything else, Ken Musgrave says, is the same: "They have the same sensor, lens, LCD, housing material, embedded software, battery, and battery charger. Both take identical pictures." Yet, the Leica "is often described as taking warmer, smoother, somehow better pictures, which would be amazing given the technology is identical."
Update: A few commenters have pointed out that there are a couple minor but significant differences between the two cameras: They say the firmware is in fact different, meaning they process pictures slightly differently, giving the Leica slightly warmer colors, and that the Leica has a less reflective lens coating.
Even if you grant that the pictures the two cameras take aren't exactly the same, they are pretty damn close, as these excellent comparison shots show. Regardless of whether you think they're the exact same or just really close, Musgrave still raises worthwhile question about the power of branding and history on one's perception of quality.
The Leica is definitely a more beautiful camera, though. [FastCompany]