Panasonic DMC-LX5 Review

Posted by The A-Team on

LX5 Front © Panasonic

Since the launch of the LX3 nearly 2 years ago, enthusiast and professional photographers alike applauded Panasonic’s move to create a serious camera in a small package. The fast aperture, wide angle lens, larger sensor, and variety of external controls made it a top choice and complement to many a DSLR. Now, with the release of the LX5, the evolution of Panasonic’s premium compact camera continues. A few notable features which stand out from the previous model…

  • 24-90mm zoom
  • an improved hand grip
  • clickable control wheel
  • direct movie record button
  • 1:1 aspect ratio option

On the whole, we think these are wise additions to an already great camera. Many photographers felt limited by the 24-60mm zoom range, so the extra 30mm will likely come in handy. I know I really appreciate the 105mm on my S90 and it’s ability to get a nice tightly cropped portrait. The hand grip of the LX3 always felt awkward, so this is also a welcome change, and we can’t wait to get our hands on it. Every photographer who plays with shutter speed, aperture, EV, etc, will appreciate the control wheel. And for those who revel in movie making, the direct movie record button is nice. Finally, the 1:1 (square) aspect ratio is a historical standard, utilized by many medium format photographers in the 60s and 70s. There is something classic about a perfectly square image.

LX5 Rear © Panasonic

Coming in at $500, it’s not exactly cheap and many photographers will wonder whether they are better off with a micro 4/3rds cameral such as the Panasonic GF1 or Olympus Pen models. The divisions between compact, prosumer, and SLR cameras are becoming more blurred with each new release, and if you’re going to spend all that money, why not opt for a larger sensor with better performance in a slightly larger body at a slightly higher price tag ? However, smaller bodies and price tags are appealing for many reasons.

We’ve taken a look at the (pre-production) sample images from DPReview and most of what we’ve seen looks great: clear, sharp, and pleasing tones. And there are claims to improved dynamic range performance, which is always a good thing. However,  it’s obvious that you still can’t expect any miracles from a 1/1.6″ sensor, especially in low light at high ISO settings. Perhaps we’ve just never warmed to Panasonic’s default noise reduction settings, but we’re still not entirely impressed. There’s even a bit of debate as to which output is better, between the LX3 and LX5. Take a look for yourself at this ISO 1600 shot from the LX5 and make your own decision. Nevertheless, we think it’s a good decision that they stuck with the 10mp sensor, and this camera will likely be a hot seller with many satisfied users.

LX5 Top © Panasonic

It will be interesting to see how Canon responds with a successor to the S90, which itself was largely seen as a response to the LX3. From that model, whatever it’s called, we expect HD video, a slightly revised and more ergonomically friendly body (grip), and perhaps an improvement in high ISO performance, which itself was already pretty darn good. But unlike the S90, you can use our awesome range of products on the LX5 as it has a hot shoe. Either way, we welcome the addition of the LX5 to the ever growing family of premium compact cameras.

For more reading on the LX5, check out these links:

Panasonic – Official LX-5 product page

DPReview – Panasonic officially announces DMC-LX5 premium compact (images and first impressions)

Pocket Lint – Panasonic upgrades top compact to DMC-LX5

Electonista – Panasonic shows early with ISO 12,800 and 3.8x zoom

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