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Panasonic Lumix LX5 Digital Camera Review

Panasonic Lumix LX5 Compact Digital Camera with 10 megapixel sensor, and bright f2.0 lens reviewed.

| Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5 in Compact Cameras
Panasonic Lumix LX5 Digital Camera Review: Panasonic Lumix LX5 Front
The Panasonic Lumix LX5 is the 4th version of the "serious compact" camera from Panasonic, dating way back to the LX1, the LX2, and LX3 (the LX4 never existed due to the number '4' being 'bad luck' in Japan). As a competitor to the larger Canon Powershot G12 and Nikon Coolpix P7000, the Panasonic Lumix LX5 is noticeably smaller. However, to anyone expecting a completely pocketable camera may be disappointed, due to the cameras protruding lens, and while the camera will fit in baggy trouser pockets (but not jeans), the minute you put the camera in a case, the camera becomes much less pocketable. Anyone looking for a truly pocketable "serious compact" could look at the Canon Powershot S95, or Nikon Coolpix P300 instead.

Panasonic Lumix LX5 Digital Camera Review: Panasonic Lumix LX5 Front

Panasonic Lumix LX5 Features

The Panasonic Lumix LX5 is perhaps unique, in that the camera and sensor supports multi aspect ratios, and rather than cropping the picture, the sensor shape supports the aspect ratios to enable 10mp images at each size 4:3, 3:2, and 16:9. The camera also offers better low light performance, thanks to the f/2.0 aperture lens and offers 3.8x optical zoom (up from 2.5x on the LX3) - compare that to the more normal f/3.3 or f/3.5 on other cameras and DSLR kit lenses.

Here Panasonic explain it:
"Conventional cameras generally use almost the entire CCD area when recording an image. The DMC-LX5, however, employs a 1/1.63-inch CCD with a total resolution of 11.3-megapixel. Using only about a 10.1-megapixel area of this large CCD makes it possible to give three aspect ratios – 16:9, 3:2, and 4:3 – the same angle of view with lens settings from 24mm to 90mm"

Panasonic Lumix LX5 Digital Camera Review: Panasonic Lumix LX5 Top

Key Features
  • 10.1-megapixel High-sensitivity CCD (1/1.63-inch)
  • 3.8x wide angle optical zoom lens (f/2.0 - 3.3, 24-90mm in 35mm equiv.)
  • Optical Image Stabilisation POWER O.I.S. (Off / Auto / Mode1 / Mode2)
  • 3.0in screen with 460K dots
  • 1cm macro
  • 2.5 frames/sec Max. 5 images (Standard mode)
  • HD Movie in AVCHD Lite with Creative Movie Mode 1280x720 pixels at 30fps
  • Optical zoom available in movie mode
  • Intuitive Manual Control and Creative Option Featuring My Colour Mode
  • Optional optical viewfinder (OVF) or electronic viewfinder (EVF)
  • Film modes and RAW support
Panasonic Lumix LX5 Digital Camera Review: Panasonic Lumix LX5 Back

Panasonic Lumix LX5 Handling

The Panasonic Lumix LX5 feels extremely well built with a solid, and strong metal body. The buttons and dials have a high quality finish, with the buttons having a very pleasing metalic finish to them. The rubber grip on the front of the camera and the textured thumb grip further enhance the impressive build quality.

The much maligned joystick on the previous model, the LX3, has gone and is replaced with a jog dial – this has two functions – it can be pressed as well as scrolled, allowing you to quickly change options, for example manual focus or switch between altering the shutter speed and aperture in manual mode.

The controls are easy to use, with a large number of functions and options having a dedicated button, such as Focus, Self timer, ISO, Aspect Ratio etc, although the faint markings on some of the buttons may make it difficult to read the text, unless you memorise them with use. This is made easier thanks to the position of the controls and buttons being well laid out, and being easily controlled with your thumb. The options switches surrounding the lens fall easily to hand when using the camera with two hands.

Menus - The quick menu button allows quick access to the most common options, and lets you to set the film mode, flash setting, continuous shooting, metering, AF mode, white-balance, image size, video quality, and screen brightness. For more advanced settings you need to access the full menu, which is made up of seven screens of photo options, four screen of video options and seven further screens of setup options. The setup menu allows you to change the text size to Large or Normal, setting this to Large increases the number of screens to scroll through as less options are displayed on each screen. It's a shame there isn't a small option as well, as this would fit more options onto the screen. The large number of options could make the menus quite daunting to some people, but the large number of external controls means entering the menus is quite a rare occurrence.

Panasonic Lumix LX5 Digital Camera Review: Panasonic Lumix LX5 Bottom

Battery Life - The battery life is rated at 400 pictures (according to CIPA Standard testing). I found battery life to be less impressive, managing around 280 shots on a full battery.

Speed - Continuous shooting speed is 2.5fps, for 3 shots on JPEG Fine setting, or 5 shots on JPEG Standard setting, with the flash unavailable, unless you switch to the high speed shooting modes available in the scene mode. These allow high speed shooting, or alternatively high speed shooting with flash, however, the image size is reduced to 3mp. Shot to shot time is very good at 0.8 - 0.9 seconds between shots (AF, flash / review off), and with flash on this is slightly slower at 1.6-1.8 seconds between shots (but still very good). Focusing is very quick, although when the focus is switched to AF/Macro the focusing is a little slower. The camera takes 1.7-1.8 seconds to switch on a take the first photo (slightly better than average). Shutter response seemed excellent at roughly <0.1 seconds. Menus and playback were quick.

Panasonic Lumix LX5 Performance

Image quality is excellent - with sharp images from the centre right to the very corners of the image, the colour reproduction is accurate, and the camera produces slightly cool looking images on default settings. There are a number of options that can be altered including preset film modes, or you can customise sharpness, saturation, contrast and noise reduction.

Panasonic Lumix LX5 Digital Camera Review: Panasonic Lumix LX5 Sample Panasonic Lumix LX5 Digital Camera Review: Panasonic Lumix LX5 Sample Photo
Full optical zoom - Buildings
ISO80, 1/320, f/3.3, 19.2mm, (90mm equivalent)
Night Shot
ISO80, 6s, f/6.3, 5.1mm (24mm equivalent)

Dynamic range - The camera's dynamic range is decent, however exposure can occasionally overexpose the sky so some exposure compensation is recommended to avoid losing detail in bright clouds, particularly if shooting JPEG images. Detail is good in shadow areas and a lot of the image can be "rescued" afterwards in programs like Photoshop if images are underexposed.

The camera has a number of modes available from numerous scene modes, to intelligent auto (that also features back light compensation), and a creative dial position called "My Colour Mode" with high dynamic range modes (such as HDR, HDR art, and HDR black and white), all of them should enable increased creativity and dynamic range in photos. 

The camera provides impressive levels of detail in photos, and this can be enhanced further by altering the sharpness and contrast settings, altering the "intelligent Resolution" setting (it enhances edges for increased sharpness), or you can even alter the noise reduction settings. 

Panasonic Lumix LX5 Digital Camera Review: LX5 Wide-Angle Panasonic Lumix LX5 Digital Camera Review: LX5 Telephoto
Wide angle shot
ISO80, 1/500, f/4, 5mm (24mm equivalent)
Full telephoto zoom
ISO80, 1/800, f/5, 19mm (90mm equivalent)

The camera provides a very wide 24mm equivalent, and zooms to 90mm equivalent providing a useful zoom range with the emphasis on wide-angle shots. Image quality at any level of zoom is excellent.

Panasonic Lumix LX5 Digital Camera Review: Portrait Shot Panasonic Lumix LX5 Digital Camera Review: Water
Portrait with flash on
ISO160, 1/60, f/2.8, 13mm, Flash on
Water shot
ISO80, 1/320, f/2.8, 13mm

Under testing I very rarely noticed lens flare, if ever. The lens quality is excellent as you would expect with a Leica branded lens on a premium camera, and distortion was never noticed, or an issue in photos, the image quality from this camera is superb. The Panasonic Lumix LX5 is so good that Leica also sell their own version of the camera, the Lecia D-LUX 5.

ISO and Noise Performance
Panasonic Lumix LX5 ISO speed test: Click on the thumbnails for larger images.

Panasonic Lumix LX5 Digital Camera Review: ISO 80 Noise Test - Panasonic Lumix LX5
ISO80, 1/5, f/3.3, 19mm
Panasonic Lumix LX5 Digital Camera Review: Panasonic Lumix LX5 ISO Test Panasonic Lumix LX5 Digital Camera Review: Panasonic Lumix LX5 ISO Test Panasonic Lumix LX5 Digital Camera Review: Panasonic Lumix LX5 ISO Test Panasonic Lumix LX5 Digital Camera Review: Panasonic Lumix LX5 ISO Test
ISO100, 1/6, f/3.3 ISO200, 1/13, f/3.3 ISO400, 1/25, f/3.3 ISO800, 1/40, f/3.3
Panasonic Lumix LX5 Digital Camera Review: Panasonic Lumix LX5 ISO Test Panasonic Lumix LX5 Digital Camera Review: Panasonic Lumix LX5 ISO Test Panasonic Lumix LX5 Digital Camera Review: Panasonic Lumix LX5 ISO Test Panasonic Lumix LX5 Digital Camera Review: Panasonic Lumix LX5 ISO Test
ISO1600, 1/80, f/3.3  ISO3200, 1/200, f/3.3 ISO6400, 1/320 (3MP) ISO12800, 1/500 (3MP)

ISO80 - ISO200 results are very good with low noise, good detail, and good colour. ISO400 results are still impressive however, you do notice a slight reduction in image quality when viewing images at 100%. At ISO800 noise starts to remove detail from colour and edges as well as the rest of the image, and is particularly noticeable in dark colours. At ISO1600, due to more aggressive noise reduction, noise is less noticeable than at ISO800. ISO3200 shows excessive noise, and blue hot pixels, and is best avoided. ISO6400 and ISO12800 are only available with an image resolution of 3mp and are best used for use resized on websites.  

White Balance

Panasonic Lumix LX5 Digital Camera Review: Panasonic Lumix LX5 Auto White Balance Panasonic Lumix LX5 Digital Camera Review: Panasonic Lumix LX5 Incandescent Setting
Auto White Balance in Incandescent lighting
ISO80, 1/20, f/2.6, 10mm
Incandescent Preset, Incandescent Lighting
ISO80, 1/15, f/2.6, 10mm
Panasonic Lumix LX5 Digital Camera Review: Panasonic Lumix LX5 Auto White Balance Panasonic Lumix LX5 Digital Camera Review: Panasonic Lumix LX5 Manual White Balance Fluorescent Lighting
Auto White Balance Fluorescent Lighting
ISO80, 1/5, f/2.6, 10mm
Manual White Balance Fluorescent Lighting
ISO80, 1/5, f/2.6, 10mm

Auto white balance performance is excellent, producing very similar colours to the manual white balance mode. The results on auto white balance under incandescent and fluorescent lighting are slightly cool (blue) looking, and the manual white balance provide a more neutral result. The incandescent preset produces the warmest colours with a yellow cast.

Panasonic Lumix LX5 Digital Camera Review: Panasonic Lumix LX5 Macro Blur Panasonic Lumix LX5 Digital Camera Review: Panasonic Lumix LX5 Macro
Macro - showing background blur
ISO200, 1/60, f/2, 5mm
Macro - clock at closest distance
ISO320, 1/60, f/2, 5mm

Macro performance - Under testing the lens show quite strong barrel distortion when using the 1cm macro mode to it's full potential. This is to be expected, and this was not an issue in other photos taken at a more normal focus distance.

Compared to... 

Nikon Coolpix P300 Canon Powershot S95 Panasonic Lumix LX5
Panasonic Lumix LX5 Digital Camera Review: Trees Panasonic Lumix LX5 Digital Camera Review: Canon Powershot S95 Trees Panasonic Lumix LX5 Digital Camera Review: Panasonic Lumix LX5 Trees
ISO160, 1/1600, f/2.8, 5mm ISO80, 1/250, f/4, 6mm ISO80, 1/400, f/3.5, 5mm

Colours and contrast are the strongest on the Nikon Coolpix P300 and gave the warmest colours, however detail is best on the Panasonic Lumix LX5, closely followed by the Canon Powershot S95.

The camera records at 1280 x 720, at 30fps with optical zoom available. It records with optical image stabilisation, and there is an abundance of options are available when filming: contrast, sharpness, saturation, noise reduction, manual or automatic exposure, ISO, white balance, stabilisation, wind cut, to name just a few of the options. The camera records mono sound while a lot of competitors feature stereo sound.

Value for Money 
Competitors include the larger Canon Powershot G12 (with swivel screen), Nikon Coolpix P7000, Samsung EX1 (with swivel screen), and Olympus XZ-1, or possibly the more compact Canon Powershot S95 and Nikon Coolpix P300. Of these, the Olympus XZ-1 has the brightest lens, starting at f/1.8 to f/2.5 at full zoom, followed by the f/1.8 on the Samsung EX1 and Nikon Coolpix P300. The Panasonic Lumix LX5 sits near the top end of the scale for price, however it is one of the more compact cameras, and the most compact with a flash hot shoe.

Panasonic Lumix LX5 Verdict

The Panasonic Lumix LX5 is a great camera for anyone looking to develop their photography without the bulk, weight, and potential expense of a ILC system or DSLR system. The camera provides an abundance of options and controls, and more importantly expansion potential. You can use the flash hotshoe to drive slave flashes, add an optical or electronic viewfinder, and more. Image quality is excellent for a compact camera, thanks to an impressive wide angle 24mm Leica f/2.0 lens. The body of the camera is built to a very high standard, and the ergonomics of the camera are excellent.  
Panasonic Lumix LX5 Digital Camera Review: ePHOTOzine Highly Recommended
The Panasonic Lumix LX5 is a serious compact with excellent image quality and is a brilliant choice for the serious photographer.

Panasonic Lumix LX5 Pros
Excellent image quality
Excellent macro mode
Lots of options / controls
Wide angle 24mm lens
Aspect ratio options / sensor
Quick performance, especially shot to shot, focus, and shutter response

Panasonic Lumix LX5 Cons
Seperate lens cap
Quite bulky, protruding lens, can be difficult to find cases


The Panasonic Lumix LX5 won our "Editor's Choice" award in our recent comparison test of the Nikon Coolpix P300 vs Panasonic Lumix LX5 vs Canon Powershot S95.

Panasonic Lumix LX5 Specification

Price £366
Lens 3.8x Optical zoom, f/2.0-3.3, 24-90mm equivalent
Resolution 10.1 million
Sensor size 1/1.63-type / 11.3 Total Megapixels
Sensor type CCD
Max. Image size 10M 3648 x 2736
Monitor 3.0in TFT LCD monitor, 460000 pixels
Shutter speed 60 - 1/4000 sec
Focusing system Contrast Detect AF
Focusing modes Normal / Macro Quick AF On/Off (On in Intelligent Auto), Continuous AF On/Off / AF/MF Switchable, Manual Focus(Jog Dial), One Shot AF, AF Area Select, AF Tracking
File types Still Image: JPEG(DCF/Exif2.3) / Image with Audio: JPEG (DCF / Exif2.3) + QuickTime / Motion picture: AVCHD Lite, QuickTime Motion JPEG, RAW
ISO sensitivity ISO / 80 / 100 / 200 / 400 / 800 / 1600 / 3200 / 6400* / 12800* (* 3mp)
Metering system Intelligent Multiple / Center Weighted / Spot
Metering modes Program AE, Aperture Priority AE, Shutter Priority AE, Manual, Program Shift(Program AE mode)
Exposure compensation 1/3 EV step, +/-3 EV, Auto Exposure Bracketing: +/- 1/3 EV ~3EV step, 3 frames
Continuous 2.5fps
Image stabilisation Yes, Optical, Photo & Movie
Movie mode 720p, Optical zoom available, upto 29 minutes, 59 seconds.
Media type Built-in Memory (approx. 40mb), SD Memory Card, SDHC Memory Card, SDXC Memory Card
Interface AV Output (NTSC/PAL, NTSC), mini HDMI, USB2.0 High speed
Power ID-Security Li-ion Battery Pack (3.6V, Minimum: 1250mAh) (Included) / AC Adaptor (Input: 110-240V AC) (Optional)
Box Contents Camera, Battery Charger, Battery Pack, AV Cable, AC Cable, / USB Cable, Shoulder Strap, CD-ROM, / Lens Ring Front, Hot Shoe Cover, Lens cap, Lens cap string
Size 109.7 x 65.5 x 43.0 mm
Weight Approx. 271g with Battery and SD Memory Card

The Panasonic Lumix LX5 is available for £366 from Warehouse Express: Warehouse Express

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Photographs taken using the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5

Elegy in a country churchyardSheep looking a bit apprehensiveSitWoodland edgeOrnamentalLow Barns Triptych~ "The Winding Path"  {B&W Rendering}~ "The Winding Path"~ "Anne Marie"Rocks on the LochLived in feelBit of paradiseMy Doctors says; "I'm Too Tents"Tropical BeautyRocky Vale

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Micke Avatar
The two cons are easily solved:

1. Exchange the original Panasonic lens cap with the ALC-5B from JJC, which is easily available on E-bay for less than $20.

2. Get the Panasonic leather case, DMW-CLX5 (it's very good and also a bit expensive)
joshwa Avatar
The alternative lens cap is a great idea Smile but the case is £60-£75 compared to the more normal £15 you'd pay for a Lowepro case!
Fred_Bear Avatar
I agree that the JJC 'exploding' lens cap is great, and I bought a GUMP leather look 2 piece case on Amazon for about £10 so it looks nice and retro. I have been thinking about getting rid of my A55 and lenses, the weight and inconvenience is the decider unless you need the long zoom or regular low light photography. Carrying my LX5 for RAW quality and my TZ20 for any zoom needs is still lighter than carrying the A55 with just a 17-50mm lens, and are less likely to be a target for thieves (IMO). As a holiday/travel set up I think the LX5/TZ20 combo is great (and the TZ20 has GPS). But I do realise the A55 with decent lenses gives you things the compacts cannot, it is 'horses for courses'!

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