Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3

Advanced camera with 24mm wide-angle lens

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Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3
  • Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3
  • Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3
  • Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3

Pros

  • Good colour balance, low chromatic aberration, tonnes of features, wide-angle lens

Cons

  • Some oversharpening, expensive

Bottom Line

Panasonic's Lumix DMC-LX3 is an impressive high-end compact camera with a wide-angle 24mm lens and a host of manual features.

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Joining companies such as Canon and Ricoh in providing a compact camera for photography enthusiasts, Panasonic has come to market with its new advanced model — the Lumix DMC-LX3. It features a classy and slightly old-school design and a slew of features, including image stabilisation, manual shooting modes and multiple aspect ratios. This widescreen camera is sure to appeal to experienced users looking to upgrade or professionals after a portable unit as a backup.

Sporting a 10.1-megapixel sensor and a 24mm wide-angle lens, the LX3 is a fairly powerful little photography tool. The wide shots look excellent and should suit those looking to take panoramic landscape snaps. It doesn’t quite have the telephoto length of its predecessor, the Lumix DMC-LX2, but the width of the lens more than makes up for that. The camera also has the ability to shoot in 16:9 and 3:2 in addition to 4:3, making it perfect for owners of widescreen HD televisions.

We found the images captured by the L3 to be pretty impressive all up. They were crisp and sharp with excellent detail; however, Imatest did pick up a hefty amount of oversharpening. This was also evident in some of our outdoors shots, particularly in patches of dense foliage. Fortunately, chromatic aberration was pretty well controlled, with no corner softening and only minor haloing on high-contrast edges.

Colours were accurate and well balanced. Primary shades were almost spot-on, except for some slightly oversaturated reds. Exposure was also well handled, with detail well rendered in dark areas and only a little blowing out of bright areas.

Noise performance was about what we expected. Everything up to ISO 400 was usable and suffered only minor graininess. However, it took a sharp jump at ISO 800 and some detail loss became evident. By ISO 1600 pictures were a sea of noise and not really usable unless you’re happy making tiny fuzzy prints.

The speed of the LX3 was average. Its 0.09 second shutter lag is fine but nothing to write home about; the same is true of the 2.5 second start-up time. Shot-to-shot time was slightly better at 1.8 seconds, and the burst mode impressed us by capturing just over three frames per second.

What is really nifty about this unit is the huge array of features on offer. It has full manual shooting modes (program, aperture, shutter and manual) and the lens has an impressive aperture of f/2.0 at the wide end. It is supported by Panasonic’s Mega Optical Image Stabilisation; as usual it does an excellent job of minimising hand-shake.

For novice users, the Intelligent Auto mode makes a welcome return. It calculates the best combination of ISO, exposure, scene mode and picture settings and adjusts accordingly. While it may just be a glorified auto mode in some regards, it certainly produces good images.

As you’d expect, video recording is present — and it can be done in high definition. The LX3 can capture 1280x720 footage at 30 frames per second (unfortunately the QuickTime format is rather inefficient and footage takes up a large amount of space).

If you’re a fan of a slightly retro look then the LX3 should satisfy. It has a boxy black look with a tiny hand grip. It isn’t exactly petite but it’ll fit into a large pocket or small bag. We found it relatively comfortable to hold and quite sturdy, although depending on your grip the flash may get in the way. It has a lot of controls, which will be intimidating for some users. Once you get the hang of things it is relatively easy to use, however.

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