Panasonic LX5 no better than a joe average P&S camera?

I recently picked up a LX5. I'm about to return it and am hoping to get some feedback. I originally posted this on the sister site, mu-43. I already have a GF2. Sizewise, the LX5 isn't much smaller at all. Is there any reason to keep the LX5?

I've been trying out the LX5 I got. The buttons and dials all feel very nice and high quality. Then I looked at the pictures it took. They are nothing special. Just your average P&S shots. Yes, the bokeh does look better than at F2, but otherwise I was not impressed. As for that bright lens in low light. Once again, I'm not impressed. I sought out one shot to illustrate my disappointment. Here is a low light shot and the same shot using my Sony TX5. Both were 1/4 sec exposures and both were on automatic. The LX5 was at F2 and ISO 1600. The TX5 was at F3.5 and ISO 3200. The first image is the LX5, the second the TX5. I think they speak for themselves.

I had high hopes for the LX5 based on the glowing reviews. It does feel and look nice but in the end I prefer function over form.

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Julien

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Well the LX5 is a quality P&S, but it's a P&S. And a two-year old one at that.

I think your Sony has a BSI sensor. BSI raised the standard for low light performance on small sensors.
 

Ray Sachs

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you should be able to figure it out...
Neither of these are great cameras at high ISO. The LX5 has a larger sensor than the standard compact by a notable amount, but its still a small sensor. You won't get any bokeh to speak of except in macro mode. I never shot the LX5 above iso 800 and rarely above 400. That said, it, and the others in its class, offer a lot more control and more advanced features than a standard compact. In addition, you can shoot in raw, which gives you more latitude in processing than you'll get out of a tiny sensor shooting jpegs. The LX5 is not a DSLR and its not even an m43 camera, but its a pretty serious step up from a tiny sensor compact. Here are a few samples taken with it that I don't think I'd have done as well with using your average compact:

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-Ray
 

BBW

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I used to have the LX5 and got, I think, some great photos with it.

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I prefer my Fuji X10 for all sorts of reasons, however I did like that slightly wider 24mm lens. Really, the only thing I did not like about the LX5 were its color tones and its controls. It's a great small size, however. And both Julien and Ray have made very good points about the sensor size and the inability to go too high in the ISO range.

lenshoarder, welcome from across the hall - stop over to our Welcomes and Introductions when you have a minute, OK?:wink:
 
I had an LX5 and rated it quite highly but if you need high ISO then its sensor is a little dated now. I switched to Ricoh GRD series eventually but even with the GRD IV I seldom go above 800ISO. The LX5 is a decent all-rounder but it takes a little while to get the best from it.
 
Thanks for all the responses. It's not just the high ISO shots I find lacking, but all the shots in general. It doesn't seem to be any better than my 2 year old TX5. I was looking for a travel camera to use in lieu of a NEX 3 or GF2, but I think my trusty TX5 is still it. I think I'm going to go ahead and return it and use the money for a Panasonic 14mm lens for my GF2 instead. Overall it'll be close to the same size and the IQ is much better.
 
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I was thinking of getting a LX5 but also have the GF2 with 1.7/20 and 2.5/14 and i really could not think why i would need a LX5 when the GF2 is not much bigger and has better IQ. I am however going to be looking at the LX6 when it's released. It's supposed to have a 1" sensor so this will make the LX6 a really good travel camera/compact.
 

Ray Sachs

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you should be able to figure it out...
Thanks for all the responses. It's not just the high ISO shots I find lacking, but all the shots in general. It doesn't seem to be any better than my 2 year old TX5. I was looking for a travel camera to use in lieu of a NEX 3 or GF2, but I think my trusty TX5 is still it. I think I'm going to go ahead and return it and use the money for a Panasonic 14mm lens for my GF2 instead. Overall it'll be close to the same size and the IQ is much better.

Sounds like its not for you. If you only want one focal length, I don't think anyone would argue that you'll do better with a small m43 body and the Pany 14. If you want a range of focal lengths in a small package is where the LX5 and it's ilk make more sense.

-Ray
 

Ray Sachs

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you should be able to figure it out...
Ray,

I love the luminous quality of the top three. What did you do to these photos in post-processing?

- Jock

Thanks Jock. These were all done in Silver Efex Pro, but I'd only had the program a short time at that point and didn't know much about it, so they're pretty close to straight conversions without a lot of manipulation. The last of them was shot at the same time, but reprocessed more recently using the newer version of Silver Efex, and probably with more manipulation.

-Ray
 

BBW

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No, Jock, not straight out of the camera. I have Lightroom and must have used Silver Efex for the black and white one...but this was quite a while ago. And the same goes for me, I barely knew what I was doing...and maybe still don't.:wink:
 

bartjeej

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The backlit sensor in the Sony is supposed to be better at high ISO's, but I agree with you that you should be able to expect (much) better from the LX5.

What I find odd is that, with an almost 2 stop faster lens and identical shutter speed, you got only 1 stop faster ISO value for the LX5... that would suggest that either the Panasonic is overreporting its ISO values, or the Sony is understating it. Which makes it even weirder that the Panasonic's results are that much worse. Based on my EX1, I'd espect an ISO1600 shot to look more or less like the 3200 ISO shot by the Sony (these are 100% crops, I assume?).

One other thing I see is that with the TX5, all the bottles are in focus whereas with the LX5 the bottles drop out of focus very quickly. Of course part of this could be caused by the shallower DOF that comes with the lens at f2 (and the larger sensor), but could it also be that the focus was not at the distance to subject? None of this would explain the noise, ofcourse, but it might go some way to explain the difference in sharpness.
 

Ray Sachs

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you should be able to figure it out...
This is a lot of pixel peeping for a small sensor compact! I get a camera and shoot extensively with it for a few days and nights and start finding what its strengths are and what its limitations are. If the limitations are too severe, I return it. More often, I just learn how to play to its strengths. After a bit of shooting with the LX5, it became clear to me that I could shoot comfortably with it up to ISO 400 and could use 800 in a pinch, but wouldn't want to rely on it often. With the S90 I had before it, even 400 was pretty problematic. With the GRD3 I still use, I find 800 pretty workable. All use basically the same sensor, so go figure. With the X10, I can go to about 2500 in EXR mode and 1600 looks very very good, but its a bigger sensor with its own set of processing tricks (and tradeoffs). But looking at 100% crops from these little cameras is just asking for disappointment, so I don't. I look at the results as I would actually view them and decide what I can live with and what I can't. If it looks good when it fills my 27 inch monitor and looks good in a 12x18" print, I don't want to know too much more than that. All of the cameras under discussion pass those tests easily. That's the way I treat most cameras, even the bigger sensor ones - I only tend to look at 100% crops when I already know in advance that they're gonna be great and won't disappoint me. Looking at 100% crops from the X100 is just pure ecstatic reinforcement of my wisdom in buying that camera! Most cameras don't pass that same test nearly as well. So why take it - people don't look at photography that way...

-Ray
 

bartjeej

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^ that's good advice, however even resized to a more typical viewing size, it's not very convincing (although at ISO 1600 my EX1's jpegs would probably start to look watercolory due to noise reduction, and that shares the S90 / GRD sensor). Maybe the LX5's jpeg engine just isn't very effective at making higher ISO's look good?

I agree about 100% pixel peeping though, even when I'm using Lightroom to optimize a photo's image quality, I tend to look at things no larger than 50% unless I want to crop from them... but still you'd espect an LX5 to do better than a folding-optics Sony TX5:rolleyes:
 
Sounds like its not for you. If you only want one focal length, I don't think anyone would argue that you'll do better with a small m43 body and the Pany 14. If you want a range of focal lengths in a small package is where the LX5 and it's ilk make more sense.

-Ray

Oh, I defnitely want a small package with a range of focal lengths. The thing is that the LX5 isn't that small and I don't see what it buys me in IQ over my TX5 which is far smaller. Yes, I like the way the LX5 handles and like the amount of control it has but the IQ isn't better.
 
Before packing it all up for a return. I'd thought I would take a shot of the ISO res chart. Doesn't everyone have a 6' ISO res chart on their wall?

The LX5 does seem to have better resolution than the TX5. Especially at the edges, the TX5 turns to crap. Both are 10MP cameras. Both were shot at F4 at 1/50th. The first shot is the LX5.

I added shots from the GF2 and NEX 3 for comparison. Kit lenses for both. The LX5 holds up really really well compared to the GF2. Surprisingly, the NEX 3 looks really bad.

I'm just going to keep the LX5 for now. I only paid $205 for it. Even if I decide I don't want it in a couple of months, I should be able to get that back on ebay.

LX5
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TX5
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GF2
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NEX 3
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