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.