Leica’s new LUX iPhone app seeks to build a new generation of brand fans

Photo: Tucker Bowe Leica has launched a new LUX app for iOS that's ostensibly intended to reach longstanding fans of the brand and endear a new generation of shooters to the photographic aesthetic of the iconic German camera company – or at least a digital approximation of it. The app's proprietary image processing engine can apply film emulation presets to existing photos in a similar fashion to Fujifilm's popular offerings. Eleven so-called "Leica Looks" are included in the app at launch, such as Leica Standard, Leica Classic, Leica Contemporary, and Leica Black and White. However, the company says that new looks will be added every month. Though now available to a much broader potential set of consumers, Leica Look filters technically aren't new for the brand. The feature initially appeared in the company's Fotos app for owners of newer Leica digital cameras. Like other fully-featured third-party camera apps such as Halide, iPhone photographers can also use the LUX app's automatic mode, "Aperture Mode," and manual control modes to capture photos. Photo: Leica Aperture Mode is the most unique selling point of the new app. Seemingly like Apple's own Portrait Mode on steroids, the feature leverages Leica's image engine to emulate the bokeh and color of the brand's iconic – and for many, unobtainable – premier lenses, such as the Leica Summilux-M 28mm F1.4 ASPH, Summilux-M 35mm F1.4 ASPH, and Noctilux-M 50mm F1.2 ASPH. iPhone 15 Pro (Max) users can also access an APO-Telyt-M 135mm F3.4 emulation thanks to the phone's telephoto lens. There's also a pro manual mode, which allows advanced users to control settings, including exposure compensation, shutter speeds, ISO, white balance, manual focus, and Raw/ProRaw capture settings. You can also see a live histogram. While we haven't tested the app yet ourselves, at least some journalists, such as Antonia G. Di Benedetto at The Verge, who have had access to early beta versions, describe the app's processing features as hit-or-miss and the color filters in some cases as heavy-handed, at least for now. Like the built-in portrait modes on many premium smartphones, Leica's efforts to simulate bokeh and depth of field via software seem to struggle to produce realistic results under certain conditions. A free version of Leica’s LUX App is available from the Apple App Store with limited features, including access to five looks. Paying a monthly subscription fee of $6.99 or an annual fee of $69.99 unlocks all of the app's capabilities. Leica recommends using the app with an iPhone Pro 12 or newer.

Jun 8, 2024 - 00:30
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Leica’s new LUX iPhone app seeks to build a new generation of brand fans
Photo: Tucker Bowe

Leica has launched a new LUX app for iOS that's ostensibly intended to reach longstanding fans of the brand and endear a new generation of shooters to the photographic aesthetic of the iconic German camera company – or at least a digital approximation of it.

The app's proprietary image processing engine can apply film emulation presets to existing photos in a similar fashion to Fujifilm's popular offerings. Eleven so-called "Leica Looks" are included in the app at launch, such as Leica Standard, Leica Classic, Leica Contemporary, and Leica Black and White. However, the company says that new looks will be added every month.

Though now available to a much broader potential set of consumers, Leica Look filters technically aren't new for the brand. The feature initially appeared in the company's Fotos app for owners of newer Leica digital cameras.

Like other fully-featured third-party camera apps such as Halide, iPhone photographers can also use the LUX app's automatic mode, "Aperture Mode," and manual control modes to capture photos.

Photo: Leica

Aperture Mode is the most unique selling point of the new app. Seemingly like Apple's own Portrait Mode on steroids, the feature leverages Leica's image engine to emulate the bokeh and color of the brand's iconic – and for many, unobtainable – premier lenses, such as the Leica Summilux-M 28mm F1.4 ASPH, Summilux-M 35mm F1.4 ASPH, and Noctilux-M 50mm F1.2 ASPH. iPhone 15 Pro (Max) users can also access an APO-Telyt-M 135mm F3.4 emulation thanks to the phone's telephoto lens.

There's also a pro manual mode, which allows advanced users to control settings, including exposure compensation, shutter speeds, ISO, white balance, manual focus, and Raw/ProRaw capture settings. You can also see a live histogram.

While we haven't tested the app yet ourselves, at least some journalists, such as Antonia G. Di Benedetto at The Verge, who have had access to early beta versions, describe the app's processing features as hit-or-miss and the color filters in some cases as heavy-handed, at least for now. Like the built-in portrait modes on many premium smartphones, Leica's efforts to simulate bokeh and depth of field via software seem to struggle to produce realistic results under certain conditions.

A free version of Leica’s LUX App is available from the Apple App Store with limited features, including access to five looks. Paying a monthly subscription fee of $6.99 or an annual fee of $69.99 unlocks all of the app's capabilities. Leica recommends using the app with an iPhone Pro 12 or newer.