Leica LUX: a professional camera app for iPhone

This post is by Jose Antunes from ProVideo Coalition

Leica LUX: a professional camera app for iPhone Get your iPhone to work as a Leica, that’s what the iconic brand promises to those using the Leica LUX app, developed by Norwegian company Fjorden Electra AS… that Leica acquired in 2023.

Leica Camera AG is strengthening its mobile business segment through the takeover of the smartphone photography startup Fjorden Electra AS, a process that started at the end of 2023, when the German company acquired the developer of solutions for smartphones. The strategic acquisition took place within the framework of the development of new business areas for Leica, as the company expands its presence in the smartphone business, through partnerships with smartphone brands and its own Leitz smartphone.

The business models of both companies ideally complement one another: Fjorden Electra AS brings extensive know-how in the development of apps and smartphone accessories, while the Leica Camera AG Mobile Imaging development team contributes its expertise in the areas of image processing and imaging quality.

The first clear sign of the cooperation is now available in the Leica LUX, the company presents as the first jointly developed iPhone photo app for professional mobile photography. The Leica LUX app brings the iconic Leica Look to the iPhone, as it enables Leica LUX enables iPhone users to immerse themselves in the world of Leica photography and lenses and create the Leica Looks with their unmistakable photographic aesthetics for the first time with an iPhone. The app addresses both experienced and entry-level photographers for everything from spontaneous snapshots to artistic photos.

Leica LUX: a professional camera app for iPhoneLeica LUX uses Leica color science

With Leica LUX, users can experiment with well-known Leica lenses without having to physically take a camera in their hands. In ‘Aperture-Mode’, iPhone photographers can take pictures with the characteristic signatures of a range of classic Leica lenses, among them, the Summilux-M 28 mm f/1.4 ASPH and the Noctilux-M 50 mm f/1.2 ASPH. Thanks to Leica’s proprietary image processing engine, which is based on machine learning and computer-aided photography, these lens simulations reproduce the unmistakable look for which these lenses are famed, including, of course, the characteristic bokeh effect. This means that an iPhone can also emulate photos with the unique aesthetic of the legendary Leica M lenses… according to Leica.

Leica LUX uses Leica color science to offer a selection of color gradations and film presets that emulate those of Leica cameras. These include options such as Leica Classic, Leica Contemporary, and Leica Black and White. When using the Leica Standard Look, the proprietary image processing in Leica LUX already displays colors and contrast differently and more naturally than the native iPhone camera app. With Leica LUX, the iPhone camera becomes the key to a world of powerful artistic expression, rich textures, and impressive nuances. Each Leica Look has been developed to lend the captured image depth and character.

Leica LUX features a powerful and intuitively usable automatic mode and also offers photographers creative freedom through manual control of important parameters such as exposure compensation or shutter speeds. This means that every aspect of a photo can be composed to reflect the photographer’s personal preferences. Whether used by an experienced professional or an enthusiastic amateur, Leica LUX is a tool that enables all photographers to capture professional images and simultaneously maximize their creative freedom. The unique feature: the app is regularly updated with new Leica lens profiles, Leica Looks and functions.

Leica LUX: a professional camera app for iPhone

Fjorden started in 2021

The new app was developed by Fjorden, a company that started in 2021, as its founder Victor Henning launched a first project in Kickstarter, with the world’s first pocketable, professional iPhone camera grip. Now Fjorden has officially became part of Leica, the iconic German camera manufacturer who pioneered 35mm film photography 100 years ago and have stood for optical and engineering excellence ever since.

Marius Eschweiler, Vice President Business Unit Mobile, Leica Camera AG: ‘With the takeover of Fjorden, we systematically press ahead with our strategic growth strategy and further consolidate our positioning in the smartphone photography segment. In the future, customers will benefit from the combined expertise of two innovation leaders who have bundled their core competencies to open up new creative capabilities in smartphone photography.’

Dr Victor Henning, founder and CEO of Fjorden Electra AS, adds: ‘Our vision was to bring more joy and professionalism to mobile phone photography. The iconic Leica cameras were role models in our development processes when it comes to functionality, design and haptics. As long-standing Leica fans, our team is eager to further develop this vision as a part of Leica and simultaneously benefit from the company’s technical and optical excellence’.

Leica LUX: a professional camera app for iPhone

First impressions are not good!

Leica LUX will be offered as a so-called ‘Freemium’ model: the free version of Leica LUX includes access to the Automatic Photo mode and the Aperture Mode, including emulation of the Leica Summilux-M 28 mm f/1.4 ASPH. and five Leica Looks.

Leica LUX Pro (from €7.99 per month) additionally enables access to manual control of the exposure, focus and white balance and the complete – and constantly growing – current range of 11 Leica Looks and five Leica lenses. The range of functions, including access to exclusive Leica content and events and a series of other functions, is being continually expanded.

Leica LUX is not available for Android so I’ve no way to try it, but the first comments online suggest that the app looks a bit like a beta version that still needs a lot of work to give you any Leica look. This means that Leica and Fjorden may well have to go back to the drawing board before asking for people to pay to get things like manual control of exposure focus and white balance… Still, if you’ve an iPhone and want to try it, it’s available to download.