Thursday, October 21, 2010

REVIEW: Panasonic Lumix LX5

Lumix LX5
The Lumix LX5 is the the highly anticipated replacement for the Panasonic Lumix LX3, skipping the LX4 altogether. I think it was because of the 2 year release difference. 

Please read on to see my take on this highly rated point and shoot for enthusiasts. 

puuffft  birthday boy
Being blessed with a wonderful girlfriend, she surprised me on my birthday with my new gadget, the Panasonic Lumix LX5!!! \:D/

LX5 vs LX3
I have had the chance to have both the LX3 and the LX5, so let's start off with some noticeable upgrades of the LX5 compared to its predecessor:
  • Longer Optical Zoom: 
    • From a measly focal length of 60mm to a very noticeable 90mm zoom. (2x to 3.8x in point and shoot terms). 
    • No longer makes the LX series a landscape only traveler's point and shoot! =)
  • Photo presets: 
    • A new 'My Color' mode with a selection of different preset effects. 
    • Currently my favorites are 'Pin Hole', 'Film Grain' and 'Silhouette
  •  A lot more Video functionality:
    • Manual exposure control! Heaven sent for the inner videographer in me!
    • Dedicated record button, no need to jog the dial to Video mode.
    • Ability to use the Photo presets to add the mood to the video. 
    • Allows zoom while recording.
    • Allows cutting of video clips in camera.
  • New sensor: 
    • Better photos on low light condition!
  • Better Auto White Balance performance:
    • Provides more realistic color management.
  • New Image Stabilizer:
    • Helps better with those hand held slow shutter shots or for taking steady videos
  • Higher maximum ISO:
    • ISO max raised to 12800
    • Not really recommended to use, as it will produce a lot of grain.
    • Still a good way to help getting those still shots on dim light conditions. (Grain > Blur)
  • Electronic View Finder:
    • Allows for an optional Electronic View Finder.
    • Not really that useful at the moment as the external viewfinder available is not that good. 
Here is another list of improvements in the construction.
  • A much wider leather grip. Approved by the butter fingered.
  • A dedicate video record button. See red button above.
  • A higher Flash location. Read somewhere that this help reduce pink red eye.
  • hot shoe cover. (No more searching for a Nikon hot shoe cover. :D) this also serve as the EVF port cover.
Lumix LX5 - Angled viewLumix LX5 - Flash
  • A new jog wheel replaced the toggle stick of the LX3 Making it a tad bit faster on  changing exposure settings. Unfortunately I can't say if it is an actual improvement as I would've preferred to have both. 
  • A dedicated quick menu button. for those... quick menu options.
Lumix LX5 - BackLumix LX5 - HDMI/USB port

Hands on Review:
The LX5 may not be as compact as some point and shoots out there but it exactly fills the gap between not wanting to lug around a 2 kilo DSLR and taking a pocketable instamatic.
The LX3 has always been dubbed as an enthusiast camera primarily because of the amount of manual control (exposure, focus) capabilities you can do with it. Now, LX5 will continue on carrying that mantle with a plethora of additional features to boot!
Here are some features that I have used since I got the LX5. Note that some is also applicable to the LX3. 

Macro management: 
One big benefit of having a P&S is the ability to shoot macro without needing to purchase expensive macro lenses. The LX5 has by far the closest minimum focusing distance of 0.4" taking you closer to where the action is. Note that the lens almost touches the subject so be careful of doing waterdrop shots. :p

Zoom zoom zoom:  
One of the few drawbacks the LX3 has is its very limited zoom range. I mean 24-60mm is ok, but it is a bit short if you plan on going to the zoo. The LX5 has added 30mm to the long end making it a good all around 24-90mm focal length.
But wait... There's more! Panasonic added the Extended Optical Zoom that extends the effective maximum focal length when you reduce the picture size used. Reducing the megapixel translates to a smaller sensor. Think a crop multiplier for DSLRs, smaller sensor bigger focal length multiplier.
Note that this is essentially just glorified cropping although without the use of post processing software.
You can read the other types of zoom (intelligent and digital zoom (which you should never ever use!)) by RTFM.
24mm, 50mm, 90mm
135mm, 171mm

My Color Mode:
There are days went I want to pour some creative juice but too lazy to go to Light Room or Photoshop. This is where the 'My Color Mode' comes in (denoted by the palette icon).
This mode has several photo presets for those moments where you want to be creative or just add a bit of mood to your photos. Panasonic has also added icing on top the cake by enabling the LX5 to shoot video in these presets. (For creating artsy fartsy indie film perhaps? :->)
film grain silhouetteDynamic Art - roof
 Sample presets from left to right: film grain, silhouette, dynamic art and my favorite, pin hole.

As an amateur videographer/editor, this part really shines in my book. Aside from the dedicated video record button that you can use in almost any modes, never before have I seen a very compact point and shoot camera that has manual video controls. 
In video mode, the LX5 is capable of using aperture from f/2 to f/f18 and shutter speeds from 1/8 to 1/20000 (yep that's 4 zeroes!).
Unfortunately though, it still inherited the vertical banding problem from the LX3 which,  by the way, is common for CCD type sensors. 

It's hard to be unbiased since I haven't tested the direct competition which is said to be the Canon s90 and the upcoming s95. But coming from the LX3, the LX5 sure is a worthy upgrade for the additional zoom alone. 
Before, I really felt limited by the limited (no pun intended) zoom range of the LX3, but now thanks to the additional 30mm focal length and the gimicky zoom features, I can say that this is a good traveller's point and shoot.

But this camera is still not for everyone though. If you are the type who doesn't like to fiddle around with camera settings or doesn't care less what ISO, shutter speed or aperture is, then the LX5 may not be for you. And even with the addition of the My Color mode, the LX5 still has less automatic features (HDR, color accent) than other point and entry level P&S. 
That being said, if you know your way around setting your exposures or are willing to learn the lingo of photography and are willing to shell our a bit more for your average point and shoot, then the LX5 is for you! ^__^
soccer boylook cat
honeycombhola back


  1. Makes me want to have an upgrade!!! I'm still in love with my LX3 though. Ayaw ko na mahawakan muna yan, baka matempt ako haha!

  2. hahahaha LX3 and LX5 compliments an SLR... yun na lang muna. :))

  3. Great review man! Glad I decided to buy one for myself!

  4. Hmmm.. I guess I should have one myself but I just don't have the dough.. I also want an iPod Touch.. ahhahaa..

    Great review dude.. Parang pro! :D

    Now my urge to buy a PnS just sky rocketed again! :(

  5. i tried both cam, i notice the fast focus of LX5

  6. How about the GF2? How does it compare? I'm torn between the LX5 and GF2. Mostly concerned about weight and zoom lengths. I want to ditch na my DSLR for this.

  7. Erm, I meant focal distance. Parang mas malayo zoom capability nitong LX5, noh? What do you think, Topeng?

  8. image quality wise, the m4/3s (GF2, Oly pen, Sony Nex) would beat the LX5 out in the sky because of the bigger sensor size. ^__^

    Although the GF2 is smaller and lighter than your average dSLR, you will still have the focal length zoom (and size) problem, you won't have a lot of lens options, unless of course the 14-42mm kit lens is enough for you.

  9. for SLRs, focal distance/zoom(on crop frame) will always be dependent on the lens.

    if you have a lens that has a max focal length greater than 90mm, then mas malayo ang zoom nito kesa sa LX5. ^__^

    ano ba current camera and lens setup mo?