Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5 Review
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5 is Panasonic's new entry into the compact camera market, and is marketed towards serious amateurs, and professionals. When we first looked at it, we were impressed by it's sleek, compact, "industrial style" appearance, and its lightness. This was certainly a well-designed camera that we would have no qualms carrying around day-to-day. Now the question is would the performance, features and image quality match up to our first impression?
First, the build quality. The LX5 may look like a sleek, unassuming camera, but it doesn't feel plasticky, or cheap at all. The grip is comfortable, and we could easily fit this baby inside our pockets, and whip it out in a second.
For those who've used the LX3, Panasonic made several improvements. This includes a better CCD sensor which produces better dynamic range, sensitivity and color saturation. The lens (Leica) is basically the same, but the zoom has been improved to 3.8X from 2.5X. We usually took more of our shots at 80mm, and full wide angle. We imagine that maximum zoom of 90mm may still not be enough for some people, depending on the type of photographer you are. The f/2.0 maximum aperture of the LX5 is one of the highlights, in our opinion. It lets in 2 times as much light as a f/2.8 lens, and 4 times as much light as a f/4.0 lens, making the LX5 excellent in dealing with low light situations. Lastly, Panasonic also improved the sharpness of the lens as aberration is decreased, and corner sharpness is increased from the LX3.Because of the new lens design, the LX5 also features a new Sonic Speed autofocus system, which decreases the entire autofocus cycle to just .3 seconds.
We played around with the controls and menu system, and were pleased at how easy it was to navigate around. On the back of the camera, you'll find that the joystick has been replaced with a jog dial instead. The slider for recording and playback that was in the LX3 is gone, and replaced by a single playback button now.
The menu system is pretty standard, and you'll easily get the hang of it in a hour or so. If you find a setting is too deep in the menu, you can always assign it to the custom function button located in the rear of the LX5. In general, you'll be able to "feel" your way around the LX5 with ease once you start shooting. However, we did wish there was a front control wheel that is present in most Canon cameras.
If you're an experienced photographer, the LX5 offers more than enough modes to choose from. In addition to aperture priority, shutter priority, manual, and program, there are also many scene modes to choose from. You can also customize your own mode as well for quick access to your preferred settings. You can also choose to use iA mode, which stands for intelligent auto. The LX5 will adjust the focus depending on the situation (whether it's macro, low light, etc).
Besides changes to the sensor and lens, Panasonic has also made the LX5 compatible with the same external EVF that is utilized in the Lumix GF1 camera. You can choose to use an electronic viewfinder, thanks to a hot shoe that is on the LX5. They also made the LCD anti-reflective, which worked in practice, as we were able to see clearly even with sunlight shining on it.
If you're interested in shooting movies, you'll be glad to hear the LX5 also lets you record videos in 720p HD using the ACHD Lite format, or Motion JPEG format. There's a dedicated movie button located in the top of the camera.
We liked the image quality the LX5 produces. Our photos turned out to be crisp, sharp with bright, natural colors. Over-saturation isn't a problem: the LX5 tends to downplay the colors, resulting in better clarity. In terms of noise, we noticed noise starting to appear when we hit ISO 400. But because of the good image stabilization, we usually didn't have to take high ISO shots until the lighting was really bad. If you're comparing the quality of photos at ISO 400, we'll say it's better than the majority of point & shoot cameras. You can go as high as ISO 12,800 in the LX5, but obviously noise becomes a serious issue.
The dynamic range of our photos were also pretty good, thanks to the improved image sensor. When we compared shots made by our LX5 to the LX3, we found the LX5 photos more pleasing overall.
Performance, based on our initial tests was good. It will certainly not be an issue because we didn't noticed it while shooting with it. Max. shutter speed is now 1/4000 of a second, compared with 1/2000 in the LX3. Burst speed is at 2.5 frames per second using full resolution for 5 images using standard compression, and 3 in fine.
Battery life isn't bad and has been improved over the LX3 as well. Panasonic rates it at 400 shots before recharging it. We didn't have a chance to take 400 shots to test this, but they're usually accurate.
There's a lot to like about the LX5. It's a compact camera that delivers better image quality than most P&S cameras, and comes in a sleek, stylish design. There's many improvements over the LX3 such as a wider zoom, and replacing the unfriendly joystick. There are certain gripes we have, but they are minor. We wish the LCD screen could be adjustable, for starters. But it's not a deal-breaker. If you own the LX3, we recommend upgrading if you have the money. But if your budget is tight, the LX5 may offer nothing "eye popping" to make the LX5 vastly superior to the LX3. At $499, it's creeping into entry-level DSLR territory.
- 10.1 megapixels
- 3.8 F2.0 24mm Leica Lens
- 3.0 inch LCD screen
- Record HD movies in AVCHD Lite
- Optical image stabilization
- Max video resolution: 1280 X 720
- Lightweight and compact
- Excellent design and controls
- Good image quality that beats most point and shoots.
- May not offer enough improvements over the LX3.
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5 is a sleek camera that makes for an excellent lightweight backup camera for prosumers, or a daily camera for serious amateurs. If you own the LX3, you may not be impressed by all the incremental improvements, but if you don't, the LX5 is a great buy.
Rating: 4.8 out of 5
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Prices last updated on: Mon, 24 Jan 2022 17:06:46 PST