• BKW ImageWorks

Gear Review: Leica Disto D2 Laser Distancemeter

The Scoop. Several months ago I received the Leica Disto D2 as a gift from a director friend of mine after ACing on her first feature. Until then I had been relegated to the analog world of measuring the distance from subject to film plane with my trusty Stanley FatMax. I had dabbled with a few low-cost, consumer-grade rangefinders that did not pass mustard for use on set for various reasons.

The Disto D2 has all the standard rangefinder features you would expect including options to measure from the front or back of the unit, buttons to add or subtract multiple measurements, calculate area and volume, and switch between imperial and metric units. The 2″ LCD displays up to three measurements, which is handy for multiple subjects. Its red laser dot is clearly visible up to about 30′ in a controlled studio setting.

The Good. The Disto D2 serves as an excellent, cost-effective alternative to Hilti‘s popular line of high-end rangefinders. Its sleek, low profile design, reliable measuring speed and accuracy make it a strong competitor in the rangefinder market. And it’s $180 price point makes it a very attractive option for newcomers and veterans alike.

The Bad. For exterior work in bright sun the visibility is reduced substantially and, thus, so is its usefulness. It is definitely designed for interior use.

The Wrap. The Disto D2 by Leica is an impressive prosumer-grade alternative to the popular line of Hilti distance meters. The simple, pocket-friendly design and mid-range price point make it a serious competitor, but its usefulness is definitely limited to the studio.

My most recent outing with the D2 was on a shoot for Sesame Street at their small, in-house studio with several characters from the show. Interestingly, the D2 struggled to capture a successful reading on characters with thick fur like Grover, but had far less trouble metering characters made with solid felt like Bert. The lesson: if you find yourself in a situation on set where you need to quickly grab the distance of Grover from your lens… aim for the nose!

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