When Panasonic released the LX3, I was one of the first people to sing its praises. It was an amazing camera for the money. It was one of the first compacts to skip the megapixel madness approach to photography and instead, it concentrated on low noise imagery.
Fast forward to late August, 2010. Panasonic has updated the LX3 and now releases the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5. Let’s take a look at the improvements.
The LX5 is a real step up from the LX3. The news is all good so far – especially the fact that it’s the same price now as the LX3 was back then.
Let’s look at the lens. The Leica DC Vario-Summicron F/2-F/3.8 lens is still there but now, Panasonic has corrected one of the LX3’s original shortcomings: The new camera features a lens with anof 24-90mm. The LX3 didn’t reach as far as some photographers would like. It stopped at 60mm so this is a big improvement. A 90mm F/3.8 is just about perfect for portraits and is a boost to the camera.
The sensor is nearly the same as the LX3 and that’s a good thing. The improvements come in larger microlenses the image processing. The onboard computer has been beefed up with a new triple CPU that is designed to offer the camera more dynamic range, less noise and more speed.
I also lamented the LX3’s lack of HD video. Since I shoot so much video now, it’s a given that I pay lots of attention to this feature on any camera. Here, the LX5 doesn’t disappoint.
At $499 it provides AVCHD Lite HD video. There are also manual controls over shutter speed and aperture, with the added bonus of being able to zoom while you’re shooting. The zoom while you’re shooting thing is very cool.
The camera has improved (or not) ergonomics – depending on your point of view. Panasonic made the camera beefier. For those who had trouble holding the LX3 this will be a blessing. For those who wanted a more stealthy, smaller camera – a curse.
I’ve only played with the camera for a couple of days, but the image quality appears to be fantastic for a compact camera. As always, when dealing with Panasonic, you have to worry about whether or not this camera will play well with the various post-processing software programs. The LX3 was incapable of working with Aperture and Capture RAW for a very long time due to the proprietary nature of Panasonic’s internal RAW encoder. That problem eventually led me to abandon the LX3 and move to the Canon G11 when it came out.
The LX5 is a great camera. In terms of how it stacks up against the Canon G12 and the Nikon P7000, the good news is all three cameras are superb, and if they were scored like Olympic skaters, only a few points would separate the best from the worst.