Panasonic Lumix LX3 Review

After using Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3S (for Silver) for a while, I am impressed of its capability and quality.

Build Quality and Control
LX3 has very good build quality. It feels tough, scratch and the size is smaller and lighter than its competitor Canon G series. It fit in my winter coat easily. The silver version I have looks very classy and shiny.Like other advanced compact cameras, LX3 allow users to set aperture, shutter speed and focus manually. Like digital SLR camera, we have aperture priority (A), Speed priority (S), iA (inteligent auto mode), SCN (Scene selections), Movie mode, Automatic without flash (P) mode, two custom settings and off course full manual mode.

The intelligent mode (iA) is great to recognize the scene and adjust the setting automatically for us. For example, when I am shooting at night, the mode dial automatically adjust to night scene. The image comes up great without blown highlight unlike other entry level compact camera.

The other great thing the camera has to offer is the ability to choose aspect ratio for image and also video. For me it is a great creative tools for any photographers. The aspects ratio we can choose for image is 4:3, 3:2, and 16:9. For movie: 4:3 and wide screen 16:9.

Image Quality and Video Quality
The main difference between this camera with Canon G series or other compact cameras is the famous leica lens is able to go down to f/2-2.8. This big aperture ensure the camera to take picture in dim light with lowest iso sensitivities as possible. The result is cleaner look.

Even when I took picture in very big aperture of f/2, the depth of field remain very large. This is because the relatively smaller sensor compared to digital slr camera. I feel this is one of great advantage over digital SLR camera where the depth of field was so shallow in lower aperture lens. The lens is also wider than other advanced compact out there (24mm). It is superb for low light indoor large group picture.

In addition, MEGA OIS (optical image stabilization) help to combat hand shake. I am able to take picture without blur up to 1/15 shutter speed easily.

About the noise, The result is relatively clean up to iso 400 which is about equal to iso 800 in dslr camera. In iso 800, the noise start to be a problem. It is about equal to iso 2400 in dslr camera.

Regarding to movie mode, I haven’t try it extensively but looking at samples that other took, It was very clean and smooth. The built in microphone did the job well too.

The Downside
The not so good about this camera is the lens cap. Not like other compact, that have built-in lens cap. The LX3 lens cap could be annoying. Also some of the buttons and joystick might be too small for people with a large finger (fortunately I have thin and small fingers).

Built-in flash is provided but the result of the image with flash is not good. Luckily it has hot shoe for external flash.

There is no viewfinder (external viewfinder is optional but very expensive aprox. $140) but the hi-res 460k LCD screen are sharper than any entry-level dslr camera out there.

The last one is the zoom, it is limited from wide to standard length). So users that interested on taking picture from a far (wild life, airplane, candids) will be disapointed.

The RAW picture is not supported by major software such as Adobe lightroom or Photoshop just yet. Except the newest CS4.

In conclusion
This camera certainly is a very unique camera because it is superior for low light (compared to other compact cameras) and have a very wide angle (24mm) which is the best for landscape, large group picture and indoor.

For new users: if you love to take wide angle pictures and don’t like to take telephoto pictures then take this cameras. You’ll love it. It has many useful application such as family events, travel landscape and even macro.

For Digital SLR users and hobbyists: Because its portability, there is no excuse on not to take this camera around with you in anytime. You will be surely do not miss the moment. While the image quality is not up to par to digital slr camera with “PRO” grade lens, but this camera do produce sharp pictures for regular print or web.

In addition, for all users, the movie mode it provide will be very handy to capture some high quality video clip.