Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5 Digital Camera Review
The LX5 is crammed with features that photo-savvy users will love, but performance runs hot and cold.
The Panasonic DMC-LX5 scored well in our resolution tests, but it couldn't quite compete with the other models in its price range. Sharpness was a particular weakness for the LX5—a weakness that this camera's target demographic does not easily overlook. The lens had very low distortion and solid performance in our chromatic aberration testing, but those two areas are not nearly as important as sharpness for most users. More on how we test resolution.
The LX5's Leica lens is obviously top-notch, exhibiting very little distortion at either end of the 3.8x optical zoom. This is one test where the LX5 outstripped the opponents: the Canon G11 and Samsung TL500 both showed significantly more distortion.
As you can see from the crops below, the camera displayed virtually no distortion, with the most distortion appearing at the widest angle setting. Even at 5.1mm, distortion was just 1.60%. The G11 had nearly 3% distortion at its widest angle setting, while the Samsung TL500 had 1.2%. The TL500, however, was also plagued by 1.8% pincushion distortion at maximum zoom.
The camera's sharpness was perhaps its most disappointing attribute. Compared to most point-and-shoots, the LX5 did very well, but compared to other high-end point-and-shoots, the LX5 just couldn't compete. The camera captured a maximum horizontal sharpness of just 1775 lw/ph (compared to around 2000 lw/ph for most of the competition). Vertical sharpness hit a maximum of 1721 lw/ph. These numbers were worse the further out from the center you got—and they aren't very good to begin with.
Again, compared to the vast majority of point-and-shoot cameras, these are still good results. But we're accustomed to seeing better from a $500 camera.
Chromatic Aberration (8.32)
The LX5 had about average chromatic aberration for a cameras in this range. The G11 and TL500 both had very similar scores, which is to say that all three cameras performed well in this test. You can see in the crops below that the LX5 had some very minor chromatic aberration along the outside edges of some photos, but it is very minor.
Quality & Size Options
The LX5 has far more resolution options than we're accustomed to seeing on a point-and-shoot camera... even a high-end point-and-shoot camera. For starters, there's a dedicated switch on the lens barrel of the camera that allows you to switch between four different aspect ratios: 1:1, 4:3, 3:2, and 16:9. For each of these aspect ratios, there are five or six size options available. For each size option, there are two quality settings: Standard and Fine. You can also choose to shoot in RAW, RAW + Standard JPEG, or RAW + Fine JPEG. All told, there are technically 115 different ways that you could shoot photos on the LX5.
Image stabilization is not at all a strong suit of the LX5. Rather, it's yet another area of performance where the camera is consistently surpassed by the competition. We were surprised by these results, especially given the strong showing from the lower level Panasonic ZS3.
The LX5 actually has three different optical stabilization modes: Auto, Mode1, and Mode2. We tested all three modes and found the OIS to be most effective when set to Auto mode. In auto, the LX5 showed an improvement of approximately 12.6%. In Mode1, this improvement decreased to just 4.84%. In Mode2, there was virtually no improvement at all. Of course, we used our standard horizontal low shake test to measure stabilization performance. It's possible that these alternative modes would prove more effective under different circumstances. More on how we test image stabilization.
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