on September 5, 2010
This camera is really fantastic and a nice upgrade from the LX3. That's not to say that everyone should upgrade, but I think there are some significant advantages.
For me, I really needed the additional zoom and was very excited to hear that this is exactly what the LX5 had, without sacrificing the f2.0 lens. My brother needed a new camera anyway and was happy to get my 2 year old LX3. (By the way that camera is in nearly perfect condition. Panasonic really build a quality product with the LX line and I think the LX5 is even better.)
Here are the major comparisons to the LX3. Decide if these are worth it to you:
- Better image stabilization. I am getting crisp photos at speeds as low as 1/10sec.
- Better sensor than the LX3. The colors are slightly more accurate and the auto white balance works better (I need to make less adjustments).
- Better low-light shooting. Perfectly usable up to 1600 out of the camera. Shots in ISO 3200-6400 can be used with some photoshopping. ISO 12800 won't be very good, but nice to have if you don't care about quality and just need a quick shot in the dark. With the LX3 I was getting usable shots at ISO 800.
- Faster autofocusing.
- Face detection.
- Autofocus tracking!
- Better processor. Faster startup and shot-to-shot time.
- Better battery life... this camera lasts almost twice as long!! And I always thought the battery life on the LX3 was already outstanding. I'm going on a weekend trip soon and feel confident that this will last the entire weekend without needing a charge.
- As mentioned, the added zoom is terrific. It's interesting to note that the overall size of the camera has remained roughly the same as the LX3 despite the upgrade.
- Easier to get into the film mode with the dedicated movie button. I've tested this a few times and it's very useful for quick recording.
- Better quality video. Uses the newer avchd codec, but you can always record in motion jpeg.
- More comfortable to hold and better build quality.
- Hot shoe, but I don't see this as a benefit to myself. The option to add an EVF or flash is nice, but defeats the purpose of keeping this camera compact. At that point you may as well get an SLR.
- Better control with the GF1 style click wheel on the back. Seriously, this is the best PaS camera in terms of usability. You literally forget about the controls. Really well thought out. The menus are similar to the LX3 and "just work". Really a nice interface and plenty of options to tweak.
- Improved screen. Looks better in the bright Singapore sun than my LX3 ever did. Wish it had more pixel density, but still looks great.
- Added 1:1 square format is really neat. Not a major addition, but nice to have. I really like that the LX-series has a dedicated image ratio button. Very useful and unique. (note: the LX3 has 1:1 ratio as well, with the latest firmware, but the LX5 has a dedicated hardware button for it).
- The lens cover needs to be built in. I really don't mind the one it comes with much, but there were lots of complaints about the lens cover on the LX3. Not sure why Panasonic chose to ignore these. I would definitely prefer not to worry about losing the lens cover.
- Should be a better panorama mode. I think sony's "Sweeping panorama" feature is fantastic. Panasonic should adopt something similar if they can. The current mode works fine, but could be improved.
Wish list for the "LX6":
- Larger sensor, like m4/3.
- Brighter lens, F1.7 or lower would be nice :)
- Built in EVF!
- Articulating screen.
- Built in lens cover.
- Weather sealed to make it even more durable against splashes and dust.
- Manual focus/zoom wheel that can be programmed like the canon S90/95.
I think adding these would make for a nearly perfect PaS.
Other cameras to consider:
Canon S95: I tried this camera out the other day and it's not as good as the LX5 in many ways, but does have a few advantages. Image quality on the S90 was not as good as the LX3/LX5. The LX cams are also wider at 24mm (I think the canons are 28mm). The jog dial on the back of the S95 is cool but since the camera is so small I found myself hitting it accidentally a few times and changing the settings. Can be kind of annoying, especially if you want to take a quick shot. The LX5 is also much nicer to hold and easier to dive into the menus as a result of the control placement. But to be fair, the Canon does start at a lower price point and is smaller. Assuming size and price are more important to you, I would say it makes for a fine choice. It's still better than most other cameras out there and also has an f2.0 lens. The addition of 720p on the S95 is nice as well (but doesn't allow for an AVCHD format, zooming while recording or continuous autofocus like the LX5). Also, having a programmable front selection wheel on the S95 is really smart and useful.
Canon G11: Not a big fan of this camera as it uses the same sensor as the Canon S90 and doesn't use as fast a lens. Lacks HD video recording and is more expensive. It's also larger and bulkier than the LX5. Overall I just don't feel like it is a strong competitor. The G12 will probably be something better to compare against the LX5 or any of the other cameras mentioned here. To the G11's credit, it does have an articulating screen and a view finder which is nice.
Canon G12: The G12 has since been announced and while it's surely seems like a nice camera I still think it's rather large and didn't add too many features to make it a good competitor to the LX5. It's probably still built like a tank, adds HD recording, but the lens isn't really that impressive to me. The LX5 matches it's zoom capabilities, but with a brighter/wider lense.
Olympus EP-L1: This camera is also a worthy competitor and has the benefits of a larger sensor and interchangeable lens. However, the build quality is not as good, the lens that comes with the EP-L1 isn't very impressive and it's a bit larger. You will need to spend some serious money on the 20mm f1.8 lens which makes this purchase almost twice that of the LX5. If you are okay with the kit lens this is a great bargain for just slightly more than the LX5.
Pansonic GF1: This was the most difficult decision to make for me. Relatively speaking, the GF1 costs slightly more than the LX5, but comes with a better lens (20mm f1.8) and is m4/3 like the EP-L1. While the 20mm kit the GF1 does take noticeably better pictures, I still ended up choosing the LX5. Why? The LX5 is still cheaper (the price difference does matter to me, it might not to you), has image stabilization (the GF1 does not) and it's substantially smaller. I like the GF1 and think it is tiny compared to traditional digital SLRs, but it's still not as convenient as a compact PaS like the LX5. Basically, I see myself taking the LX5 to more places and using it more in general. I think that beats out the image quality edge that the GF1 has.
Ricoh GR Digital III: Looks interesting and has a nice spec'd 28mm f1.9 lens, but is fixed (no zoom) and has no HD video recording. I didn't test this because I need zoom and HD recording, and it's also larger and a good amount more expensive than the LX5. I've heard the menu system on the Ricoh's is one of the best to use, but it seems to be targeted at a very niche audience.
Samsung TL500: Was really impressed and seriously considered this camera because I read about it having a f1.8 lens at 24mm! And it has a nice articulating AMOLED screen. I played with the camera a bit and was impressed, but it's larger than the LX5, doesn't have as good a zoom range and about 1/2 the battery life. I've also examined the TL500 image samples on the web and don't think they are good as the LX5. Low light performance is a little less impressive, but the LX5 just produces more crisp images with better colors IMO. This is comparing jpg's straight out of the camera, not RAW files. Lastly, there is no HD video recording (only does 480p). The price on this camera is great though and it looks and feels like it will last a LONG time. Great design here by samsung.
Sony NEX3/5: Gorgeous cameras for sure. First I've seen that come with a metal kit lens. This oozes quality and I really wanted to like these cameras. With the pancake lens they are fairly tiny and remember they use a full size APS-C sensor. Also, the NEX3 is not much more expensive than an LX5. I didn't purchase either for a few reasons. First, the flash isn't built in. You need to screw it on, which is annoying because it doesn't go on easily. It took me a few tries to get the threading to interlock. I don't take off too many points for this, because you can just leave the flash attached all the time. The biggest problem I have is the manual functionality and the firmware in general is lacking and isn't very fluid. This is also partially a result of the sparse manual controls the cameras have. It's hard to adjust any settings and really seems to be designed for users who want to just use the auto mode. This is completely OK, just not the camera for me. If you purchase this camera and intend to use the manual functionality (and don't mind digging around the menu a bit) I'm confident this camera will give you excellent results. You also get the great Sony "sweep" panorama mode I wish Panasonic would implement. And let's not forget the useful tilt screen. Out of the two, the NEX3 (the NEX5 adds 1080p video) is probably the most direct competitor to the LX5 in terms of price and could be a good choice for many people. Like I said, I really wanted to like these cameras, but the controls and software feel a bit like a rush job.
After weighing the LX5 against the competition I think overall it's the most balanced camera out there and a worthy successor to the classic LX3.
If you're willing to sacrifice some features and IQ, but need a cheaper camera with a fast lens and with smaller size go for the Canon S90/95.
The LX3 still competes with most of the cameras mentioned and is a terrific bargain. I'd definitely recommend looking into getting one if you're a bit tight on cash, but want a great camera that will last years and years.
If you don't mind being able to record video and are willing to sacrifice some IQ look at the Samsung TL500, it has even faster glass than the LX5 and offers some unique features like an articulating AMOLED screen. Overall an excellent value for what you get.
The Sony NEX3 produces great results with it's larger sensor and is an interchangeable lens system for a price that's very close to the LX5. But it lacks manual functionality and has an awkward to use flash component.
Finally, if you want SLR-like image quality and are willing to pay a bit more, look at the Panasonic GF1. The 20mm kit will take amazing photos but you get a less compact camera, no zoom, no image stabilization, and of course the higher price for a camera that's already about 1 year old.
Hope this was helpful.
I discovered that if you hold the "play" button while turning the camera on, it will bypass extending the zoom and go straight into picture review mode. Useful if you just want to look over some images without taking off the lens cap!
on September 5, 2010
Wow, I am so impressed by this camera! I am a professional photographer and have been searching for a quality point & shoot for casual use when I don't want to lug around my DSLR (Nikon D700 at the moment) but have never been happy with the compromises of a P&S. Some of the features that were most important to me for a P&S were:
- RAW files - LX5 can shoot RAW files to allow changing WB and giving maximum flexibility in editing images in my preferred RAW converter, Lightroom 3.
- Fast glass - f/2 lens!! Even at 90mm, it is still f/3.3!
- Wide-angle - 24mm (35mm equivalent) is awesome, the Canon S90 only goes to 28mm and most P&S no wider than 35mm.
- Decent zoom range - I wasn't interested in a 10x superzoom but wanted something at least to 70 or 80 mm. The zoom range of 24mm to 90mm is just perfect without compromising the quality and speed of the lens.
- Reasonable compactness - it is fairly compact without feeling like I'm handling a bar of soap. It handles well for a P&S and feels like a real quality piece of equipment. The controls are logically placed with controls for the most commonly used adjustments within easy and quick access. Not as pocketable as most compact P&S cameras, but has the best handling of a P&S I've ever used.
- Low light sensitivity - I almost never shoot with the on-camera flash, so low light sensitivity is really important to me. I've shot images up to ISO 1000 that clean up quite well in LR3. I even feel that ISO 1600 is usable in a pinch if you aren't going to blow it up too large.
- Manual controls - I love that I can set everything manually: aperture, shutter speed, ISO and the controls make it quick and easy to do so without digging into the menus.
- Sharp, high quality images - I have been blown away by the quality of the lens on the LX5. I've taken shots wide open at f/2 and was very surprised at the quality, and sharpness of the images. They seriously rival images from my DSLR with some of my pro f/2.8 lenses.
Some other things to note:
- Has effective image stabilization. I've taken sharp photos at 1/10 sec.
- Shoots 720p video in AVCHD
- Has hotshoe to attach an electronic viewfinder, flash, or radio trigger (like a Pocket Wizard)
- Has a small pop-up flash
- Has a removable lens cap that many complained about on the LX3. I actually don't mind since I am used to having to remove it with my DSLRs.
- Can shoot in a number of different aspect ratios: square, 4:3, 3:2, and 16:9
- Can quickly go from play (review) mode to shooting mode with a quick tap of the shutter release button
- Can add filters and lens converters with an adapter
- All metal body - it feels really nice in the hand
One thing I really wish it had was some way to remotely trigger the camera. There is no infrared shutter release or a manual shutter release available for it. It does have the usual timer mode.
I considered a micro 4/3 camera such as a Panasonic GF1 or Olympus EP2 but the size with the lens approaches that of the smaller DSLRs. I bought a Canon S90 but returned it because the handling was just terrible. It was too small, had no hand grip and had a finnicky dial. Also, the image quality and sharpness were not nearly as good as the LX5. I've only briefly borrowed a friend's LX3 but I didn't use it enough to provide a comparison besides looking at the specs and reading the reviews.
Overall, I highly recommend the LX5 if you are in the market for a serious photographer's P&S camera. No, it won't replace a DSLR if you need the ultimate image quality and speed, but within the context of a P&S, it fits the bill nearly perfectly for me.
on September 18, 2010
I said "Depends on What You're Looking For" because everyone has their own expectations and needs. In my case, all my DSLRs have been Nikon, and all my small pocket cameras have been Canon. I was in the market for a new pocket camera since my others didn't have optical image stabilization. So I bought another small Canon, and for some reason, just not as pleased anymore (I ended up giving to my wife and she loves it). I must admit I'm picky on quality of the image, high ISO capability, and having some control over camera setting.
A friend of mine had been looking at DSLRs, but bought the LX5 and asked what I thought about it. The more I reviewed and analyzed it, the more I liked it. So I bought one. It's close to a pocket size camera, but a little larger. Though the specs say 4.3 inch x 2.6 inch x 1 inch, that is true, but just for the body itself. The lens with lens cap adds another inch sticking out. So the body is OK, but a little bigger than I previously would purchase for casual carry around shooting. But, it's still not that large overall, and fits in jacket pockets, larger pants pockets just fine.
So after using this camera, I changed my outlook. Why? Because this camera met my expectations of high quality images, high ISO capability, and having control over all aspects (but I found automatic mode produces outstanding images also, so it's a win-win on this camera). This camera is the first compact I ever owned that produces superb images which I don't find myself complaining about. The images actually look like the original scene. Exposure control is excellent, focusing is accurate, images look great, and the camera is easy to use. For being picky, I really haven't found a complaint yet. Lumix did a good job on this one.
Even though this camera has a hot shoe on top for an external flash, I don't buy compacts for that reason, normally wouldn't care if one was there anyway. I would use my DSLR for that purpose. However, that's me, so I took my Nikon SB800 flash (which is 3 times the size of the camera) and stuck it on the LX5. I put the camera in Aperture priority mode, set the f/stop and set the flash accordingly. No problem. Everything worked very well. Though you can't expect to get a computerized camera to flash operation that a dedicated Panasonic flash would give you, it does mean you can use whatever flash you want on the camera and get good photos. (I posted one under customer images using the Nikon flash).
So it does depend on what you're looking for in a camera that suits your needs, in my case, this camera does excellent and very pleased with it.
on December 29, 2010
...the quality is completely inconsistent. I have now purchased four, count them: 1, 2, 3, 4 of these cameras.
The first one was returned because every image had a greenish yellow tint that was unnatural and could not be eliminated through white balance adjustment. So, I returned it and ordered camera number two. This one seemed to take great photos all around. However, the glass on the the lcd, within a couple of days, was loose and wobbled around. Strike two. Well, let's call it a foul tip. RMA. I ordered camera number three. This time, I ordered it in white instead of black, hoping maybe they come from different production facilities and may have different revisions of the build components or better quality control. Nope. Camera number three had exactly the same issue as number one - greenish yellow tinted photos. Returned. I just got camera number four. The pictures are outstanding, BUT it has the same issue as camera number two with the loose glass on the back. What gives? Seriously. This is ridiculous.
You'd think I'd just order another brand altogether. However, I've already tried the Canon S95, and this Panasonic blows it away. It's much much faster (what's the point of having a camera if you miss the shot because the camera doesn't react in time), the low light ability is far superior, the macro is wonderful, it can zoom while recording video, and the battery life is excellent. It has the potential to be a great camera, if only it was built better. I have issues spending $400 on a point and shoot in the first place, more or less one that is falling apart right out of the box. Arggghhh!!!
on November 13, 2010
I'm mainly an SLR shooter (Nikon D70, D200, D300), and I've been looking for a long time for an acceptable compact camera to have with me everywhere -- while walking, biking, on business trips, or even side trips on vacation when I don't want to lug around my SLR. With the emerging choices in micro 4/3 and the latest crop of "enthusiast" compact cameras, I figured it was time to make a decision. I have no regrets about choosing the LX5.
The two things that really stand out on the LX5 are the lens and the overall handling speed.
The lens is the real deal at 24-90 35mm equivalent and f/2-f/3.3. You won't find a better lens on a compact camera. I'm mainly shooting landscapes and static subjects, so the range is perfect. The optical stabilization works very well, and the fast aperture of the lens helps tremendously in low-light situations.
The overall handling speed stands out particularly against some of its compact camera competition. I was a little worried at first when I was doing tests and shooting RAW to internal memory, which is quite slow, but once I added a class 10 SDHC card, that concern vanished. Everything responds quickly -- switches and dials, the menu, and (of course) actually taking pictures. The Q Menu is a very fast and easy way to change settings. I always shoot RAW because I think the difference is worth it, and this camera can handle it.
Although I got the optional viewfinder, it's mediocre and the ergonomics of holding a tiny camera up to my face aren't as much like using an SLR as I thought they would be, so I might get rid of the viewfinder. Finding a spare battery for sale was also tough, but I did eventually find one in stock on Amazon.
Here's my assessment of the LX5 against other cameras I was evaluating at the same time:
Canon S95 - while the S95 is definitely smaller and a bit more portable than the LX5, I preferred the more serious feel of the LX5, particularly its grip. The much-discussed click wheel on the S95 I found to be overrated. Compared to an SLR rig, a small belt bag for the LX5 is portable enough. Viewing pictures taken by the S95, the lens didn't seem as good as that on the LX5 - more chromatic abberation (purple fringing) and soft corners.
Nikon P7000 - as a Nikon shooter, I really wanted to like the P7000. Ergonomically its functions are similar to an SLR, and it would have been compatible with accessories such as my Nikon flashes. On the other hand, how often am I really going to want a big flash on a tiny camera? The killer for me with the P7000 was the overall speed. It's sluggish. It responds slowly to various controls and has a well-known problem writing RAW files. These are things that would drive me nuts after an extended period of time. It also has a slower lens.
Canon G12 - I was only going to go with a larger camera if I got the P7000, so I never really considered the G12 seriously.
Samsung TL500 - might be the closest competitor to the LX5 in capabilities, but it was hard to find one to try, and I really had no use for the articulating screen.
Panasonic GF1 - would have been my first choice micro 4/3, if I went with micro 4/3. I didn't because zoom lenses are still big, even the Olympus collapsible kit zoom, and I definitely wanted a zoom lens. With a pancake prime the GF1 is almost as small as the LX5, and would have better image quality, but a single focal length is not compatible (for me) with a general-purpose camera.
Olympus PEN - just like the GF1, the lenses are too big.
Sony NEX - again, big lenses.
Nikon D3100 - I never seriously considered any of the smaller true SLRs. Even with the smallest lenses, they're a lot bigger than the LX5.
on November 7, 2010
Two years ago, I would have bet and lost a large sum of money that I would NOT own a Panasonic camera by 2010. I had been a Minolta man for 37 years switching my allegiance to Canon when on that sad day Minolta stopped its camera business. I take photography VERY seriously as a hobby and by nature do not like to compromise with the tools I use to create. Therefore, my cameras are sacred instruments...
Acknowledging that I was in the market specifically for an advanced and easily portable compact camera, I waited many months before finally choosing a replacement for my beloved Canon SX-20 after its lens was irretrievably scratched. During this prolonged period of time, I asked many, many questions of many, many 'experts'; read countless online & print reviews and made scores of trips to B&H Photo in NYC for hours of hands-on exploration of a large number of camera makes and models, before deciding to buy the LX5. I've only had the camera for three days and have taken just 200 pictures, yet I will not hesitate to state that the LX5 has already surpassed my highest expectations. In its brief time in my possession, the LX5 has become my FAVORITE ALL-TIME (set lens) camera to date.
Immediately I was positively impacted by the LX5's construction, which is simply immaculate -- built mainly from metal, it has an incredibly sturdy feel that is much more akin to an old school rangefinder than to all other sub-DSLR cameras today. This is undeniable.
As a Canon user, I immediately found the LX5 controls to be fully intuitive, although I must admit I'm still learning ALL of the menu controls as I crave manual control and creative flexibility! The LX 5 delivers on both points.
The f2.0 Leica lens is stunning and the pictures range from perfectly acceptable to superb, in my initial tests, up to and including ISO 1250 (with ISO 12800 max!). RAW format provides jaw-dropping quality and Panasonic's Venus JPEG engine maintains excellent quality. The LX5 has raised the bar to a level beyond anything I've ever experienced with ANY similar cameras available today.
And the LX5 fits in my front pants pocket, albeit not as well as the Canon S95 would if camera size had been my main concern.
I evaluated it's supposed "cons" and have no problem whatsoever living with its "lacking Burst mode"; the non-optimal electronic user manual and the lens cap (see the excellent lens cap solution towards the end of this review). As far as I'm concerned, I have not yet found any glaring problems or 'deal breakers'. For what it is, in it's specific digital camera niche, Panasonic friggin' nailed the LX5!
I'll see if, over time and in varying situations, my results fully justify these initial comments, but ultimately no matter the extent to which its perceived (but as yet personally undiscovered) deficiencies become apparent, I will be no less thrilled that I waited as long as it took me to find the EXACT functionality I desired in a digital camera.
If the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5 is seriously in your decision mix, I can guarantee that you'll NOT BE DISAPPOINTED with the LX5 and will MOST LIKELY BE BLOWN AWAY.
UPDATE, 11/14/10 -
I love my first pictures! If you're interested, there is a link to the very first pictures I took with my LX5 in the comments to my review below. I continued to be impressed by the LX5's lowlight capabilities as I prefer to use natural light whenever possible.
I have also discovered that not all LCD screen protectors are created equal and when it comes to the LX5, the best by far is the 14-layer GGS Optical Glass LCD Screen Protector: GGS Optical Glass LCD Screen Protector for Leica D-lux 4 and Panasonic Lx-3 Digital Cameras
UPDATE, 12/15/10 -
The ultimate solution to the lens cap inconvenience is the RainbowImaging Auto Lens Cap:
RainbowImaging Auto Lens Cap for PANASONIC LUMIX DMC LX5 LX-5 (Black), with a free lens pen
This item fully satisfies the overriding desire not to manually detach/re-attach the lens cap. Another testament to the LX-5's well-crafted design, the lens threads are concealed directly under the outer lens ring, which simply screws off, allowing the lens cap (and lens adapters) to be screwed solidly on to the camera.
UPDATE, 01/07/11 -
I adore this camera. I carry it in my left pocket at all times and have effortlessly captured some of life's great moments in vivid color and crisp detail.
UPDATE, 03/14/12 -
After over 10,000 pictures, my camera operates perfectly in every aspect. If anything, now that I know each and every feature and setting intimately, I have maximized my mastery of the LX-5. As far as wear and tear go, I have always treated my electronics as prized possessions. That said, with as much as I have used my camera the picture format/size designations on top of the lens ring (directly under the hot shoe) is worn and over time a couple of the designations have been scratched out from the camera rubbing against something in my backpack. Other than that, it is in absolutely superb condition.
What is now transpiring is that I am ready to migrate upwards to a camera that can give me substantially more quality and flexibility. So I have purchased a brand new Canon G1-X Canon G1 X 14.1 MP CMOS Digital Camera with 4x Wide-Angle Optical Image Stabilized Zoom Lens Full 1080p HD Video and 3.0-inch Vari-Angle LCD. My LX-5 will then be relegated as a secondary (and much more portable) sidekick to the G1-X. I guess it follows that in a couple of years from now, I'll dive into a high-end DSLR, with two backup cameras at my disposal.
Enjoy and savor!
on September 11, 2010
I used to own the LX3 and I am very impressed that this LX5 REALLY is a DIFFERENT camera. I sold my LX3 long ago, as in my case skin tones without a ton of fuss on the LX3 drove me crazy. Always had too much magenta (WEIRD purple)..even using raw I never could get accurate skin tones for the most part.
The LX5 seems to have much more accurate color..skin tones overall look near perfect now..dynamic range REALLY is improved and EXCELLENT for a small camera, Highlight clipping or lack of, is REALLY good on the LX5 for such a small sensor (vs a dslr micro 4/3/nex etc.
Battery life so far seems really great..another real improvement over the LX3.
A couple of cons are..indoors in low light..you still get too much noise for a $499 camera? Actually the LX5 is the best I have seen in a small camera noise wise...well actually maybe the S90 was a little cleaner. I think we have to face facts..you are NOT going to be in the same ball park as a micro 4/3 or the Sony NEX which is a full sized sensor..it's scientifically impossible..or so it seems.
"But" noise levels are very VERY GOOD on the LX5, just no where near what a dslr or NEX5, GF1 can output etc. I took a star off cause THEY advertise these small cameras like they are going to act like a DSLR indoors...it's simply NOT going to happen!
OVERALL though this LX5 is near amazing in what it can do..GREAT lens...I see little or no Chromatic aberration(Purple Fringing) and the lens seems to be very sharp corner to corner.
Now back to the title of my review. I also recently bought the Samsung TL500...and not too long ago owned the Canon S90 I can't comment on the S95.
The TL500's screen ABSOLUTELY looks WAY better, brighter, and more ACCURATE than the LX5's screen..especially indoors. Believe me I had both cameras side by side!
The fact that the TL500'S screen can be moved in any position just magnifies it's superiority. I didn't really believe the specs that the TL500'S 1.8 aperture would REALLY make things brighter using a lower ISO but it's true..I took at least 20 side by side pics...the TL500 lens definitely brings in more light at SAME iso. ALL that being said..I like the LX5 more as it seems much more refined...there is much more control..I love that you can choose isos like 320, 500, 640, etc. So the LX5 seems to be the slightly better camera if you want the MOST control..ala coming from a real DSLR.
The TL500 is pretty close, but has an overall ODD thing that SOME things..be it face detection for example may then block out 4-5 other features that are now greyed out, Besides being limited..you never know WHICH TL500 feature is going to knock out 2-3 other features you MAY want to access.
Well the point of all the TL500 features (in an LX5 review) are IF you can live with the fact that some features turn off when you turn other features ON, OVERALL to my eyes..the OVERALL output of these cameras are EXTREMELY similar. The LX5's pics look a bit sharper, better dynamic range, and highlights and shadow are superior..Slightly. But the TL500 can stand pretty much toe to toe with the LX5. TL500 is built like a TANK, LX5 is also very well built too..JUST not tank like. The "TL500 is currently $150 less"! hence my 4 stars here again.. The reason I sold my Canon S90 is I looked pink-ish in 90% of the photos..plus it had really limited dynamic range..and even with messing with exposure compensation way too many of my pictures had blown highlights...and too much purple fringing.
The LX5 to my eyes is nearly in a different league than the S90 hence I did not even consider the S95 as the S90 really turned me off (Just my opinion and the way I SAW the output).
If I had to choose ONE camera, the LX5 is the overall balanced BEST output winner here. That being said I plan to keep my TL500 and give it to my wife so I can still use it. :) It has an IT factor..it's DIFFERENT, you will fall in love with it's oled screen and it's construction. But when you are done PLAYING...and want the overall BEST pictures, I have to say the LX5 is the best pocket-able camera out there today (In my opinion)..by a small margin. As I wrote in my TL500 review, if you REALLY want small.the CANON S90 and even more with the S95, are TRULY pocket able and great cameras too, but blown highlights,Pink-ish skin tones, somewhat limited dynamic range will drive you crazy. The LX5 and TL500 with lens cap are just a bit larger..but I feel worth the extra inch and ounce or two.. Let me say though, These are just my opinions, and what my eyes have told me, perhaps YOU may see things a bit differently. No mater what I can't see anyone unhappy with the LX5, Just wish it were $100 less then it would be the true knock out king, dollar for dollar!
on December 9, 2010
Buying this camera involved the really hard choice between this camera and the also (apparently) excellent Canon S95. Both are 10MP compact cameras but the Canon is even smaller and lighter weight, so it begs the question, "Why buy this instead of the Canon?"
I often use my compact camera as a video solution too. While I have a nice dedicated digital camcorder (the Canon Vixia HF100), when I only want to carry around one camera and take lots of good quality stills as well as video, I need a camera that does both well. This camera has two things in particular that put its video suitability for me ahead of the Canon.
First is that it has a dedicated video button; mash the button, start taking video. No need to put the dial into some special mode before you can start shooting video. That makes it even more likely that you will take videos and you will capture the right moments when you do. Second is that it allows the use of zoom while recording video. The inability to zoom into something or out from something to capture the bigger picture is a crazy limitation that many compacts like the S95 and my older Lumix LZ10 have. Often it's to keep lens noise off of the audio on the recording but really, shouldn't that be my decision whether I'm willing to live with that or not. In the end, Panasonic seems to have settled on the compromise of just making the zoom be slower during video so you don't end up with lens noise.
Having just had the pleasure of using this camera for a five day vacation in New York City I can say that I am super pleased with the results. Low light results were fantastic for such a small camera. I basically left the flash off for the entire trip and got plenty of shots in restaurants, bars, stores, and even Radio City Music Hall that would have been a grainy mess with my old Panasonic Lumix DMC-LZ10 or I could have gotten OK with my Canon Rebel XT but I would have been lugging around something that was five times the bulk and twice (or more) the weight. This slipped nicely into the pocket of my coat and got me great shot after great shot. As some people wiser than me have said, the best camera of all is the camera you actually have with you.
Note how fast the lens is even at the top end of it's range: 3.3. That's as fast at the top end of its range as the kit lens that came with my Rebel XT is at the bottom of its zoom range and faster than the one on the Canon S95 at the top end of its range as well. That additional light helps make for better pictures.
Note: There are some caveats you should know. First is that there are some tools like Google's Picasa that do not support as of Dec 2011 the RAW image format of the LX5. Adobe Lightroom 3 had no problem with them though. Likewise the AVCHD Lite format it uses for recording video is not yet supported by all tools either. While I've been able to play all of the video with ease using VLC, I think if I needed to edit the video I'd have to first convert it to a different format before iMovie would be able to work with it. Also worth noting is that it is not a great pocket camera if your idea of a pocket is your jeans pocket. Because the lens is outside the body of the camera, it is bulkier than a tiny compact like the S95. However it is plenty small enough to fit easily in a jacket pocket, a purse, or just carry in your hand without ever being annoying.
on September 30, 2010
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5 10.1 MP Digital Camera with 3.8x Optical Image Stabilized Zoom and 3.0-Inch LCD (White)
I have worked with quite a few high-end point-and-shoot cameras during the course of a few years. This camera I feel I can give without hesitation 5 stars. I have nothing bad to say about the LX5. I am reviewing this camera from a layman's point-of-view and not a professional's. I am sure a pro will find faults. This is what I see. The Leica lens in the LX5 seems to produce much sharper images than the Canon S90 and G11. Strangely, the images also seem sharper than my Sony Nex 5. In fact, in some cases, the Nex 5's photos seemed disappointly soft in comparison. LX5 colors are perfectly saturated but not too much - just enough to make the image pop. White balance seems right on most of the time.
I recently took photos in the dark of amusement rides at a local fair. I compared the LX5 photos with ones I took last year with the Sony WX1 and what a difference! The LX5 on iA produced sharp, bright images with no noise vs. the WX1, which even with hand-held-twilight, had softer and more washed-out images but also without noise. (Of course, there is a big difference in camera prices, and the WX1 is still a decent camera.)
I also compared the LX5' s AVCHD video mono with a camera that takes 1080i with stereo. The LX5's color seemed more natural (no bluish tinge) and the mono, I believe, might have sounded better than the stereo of the other camera which lacked a deeper base.
The LX5 allows for many adjustments the photographer can make in both stills and video to suit his/her taste. The creativity is there with the LX5.
More expensive than the average point-and shoot but worth it for the great image quality!
on January 23, 2011
My background is with SLRs and DSLRs but I now shoot with digital "point-and-shoot" cameras almost exclusively; a Panasonic FX-01 with Leica-designed lens and shirt-pocketable, a Leica D-Lux3 made by the elves at Panasonic. Of retirement age, I shoot mainly landscapes, travel, people pictures. I live in Southern Arizona with lots of bright light.
The reasons why the Panasonic LX5 was my obvious choice for a camera that added features I was missing on my other two and had not found on any other camera on the market at the time of purchase (mid-September, 2010):
I had good experience with Panasonic digital cameras, their power management, and with Leica-designed lenses
For outdoor shots, an LCD viewfinder almost never works satisfactorily where I live, and the LX5 offers an attachable, variable viewing angle ELECTRONIC LIVE VIEWFINDER (DMW-LVF1) for less than $150 (street) that displays the LCD screen and can be easily switched back and forth with the LCD display. Since the viewfinder attaches to the hot shoe, an accessory electronic flash cannot be attached at the same time. However, the pop-up built-in flash still works.
The optical viewfinder (DMW-VF1) offered by Panasonic does not correspond to the actual image except in the wide angle setting.
A POLARIZATION FILTER has been the most significant image-enhancing feature I have been missing from my SLR/DSLR days, and its effect is not achievable in Photoshop. The LX5 offers a practical solution by means of a tube that can be screwed on to the base of the lens (DMW-LA6). It is long enough to allow for the zoom lens extension. It features a 52 mm diameter threat for attaching a circular-polarized filter or any other filter, as well as a wide-angle conversion lens.
Attaching and removing this adapter, or the electronic viewfinder, makes the camera system less convenient to use or carry, but I definitely want these two options and am willing to take the extra time or carry camera and accessories in a small bag when I am likely to use them. It's still much lighter than a DSLR. When I know I won't use these attachments, the camera is pocketable. However, I always carry it in a small bag for protection.
There is an ergonomic issue when using the tube plus pol filter attached and even, but to a slightly lesser degree, when they are not being used. With the principal controls (shutter release, zoom lever, mode dial) on the right side, and because of the body grip (protrusion) on the right forward end of the camera body, the camera wants to be held firmly with one's right hand and steadied at the left side. The gripping forces on the right side want to be counter-reacted by thumb pressure on the rear of the camera body. However, that is the area where all the control buttons are located. Bummer! With the tube plus pol filter attached, one needs even a firmer grip with the right hand since the left hand (fingers) are needed, at least temporarily, for rotating the pol filter. One should always use a lanyard for a small and expensive device like this camera, but that does not help much in finding a firm grip. When I take over the Panasonic design department we will work on that! In the meantime, make sure you use the camera Leica 18151 D-Lux 5 Digital Cameralanyard in case the camera slips out of your hands. I am willing to accept this design flaw, for now...
I display my images on a 22" monitor or on a 40" Sony Bravia hi-def TV. So far I have made "non-scientific" comparisons on these media with side-by-side shots taken outdoors in bright sunlight with the Panasonic-made Leica D-Lux3 (with a Leitz-designed DC Vario Elmarit) and the Panasonic LX5 (with a Leitz-designed DC Vario Summicron). They were comparable in quality. A friend of mine snapped a few shots inside my Starbucks in available light without the built-in flash, some with bright light from the windows. Result: a major WOW effect! Have not seen that quality on any of my other cameras. I am sure I will enjoy the lens' performance in low-light scenarios.
The AVCHD motion picture mode is of low importance to me. I had good experience with the Leica D-Lux3 at a house concert. I only wish Panasonic would offer an optional receptacle for a stereo mike.
Accessory electronic flash:
I am sure I will occasionally use the provided hot shoe with flash. I will probably use, occasionally, a slave to trigger an off-camera flash. I wonder why on expensive cameras such as the Leica D-Lux3 and the Panasonic LX5 a flash sync terminal could not provided.
Some make negative remarks about the clip-on lens cover on the LX5. An expensive camera deserves the extra step, besides - this cover comes with a lanyard! What did you do with your SLR or DSLR lenses?
The LX5 is a versatile and sophisticated camera. One must study all functions thoroughly. When I take over the Panasonic design department, the instruction manual will be more specific and will be in one language! I don't always travel with a netbook computer.
If one decides, after careful evaluation, the `extra' features (low-light, high-quality lens, life electronic viewfinder, attachment for pol or other filters) are a requirement, then the Panasonic LX5 with Leitz-designed Vario Summicron is a great camera.
Panasonic now (January 2011) offers this camera as Leica D-Lux 5 for $800 thru Amazon, and the Panasonic LX5 went down in price to $400. I recommend NOT to buy the Leica. I opted to buy the Leice D-Lux3 a few years ago over its Panasonic equivalent but nobody noticed the little red dot, not even in the motherland of Leica! It is a major rip-off, charging double for camera and accessories, just for re-labeling the identical hardware, in my humble opinion.
I hope this review is helpful.