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Panasonic LX5 - My ongoing review (updated 29/09/10)

Discussion in 'Micro Four Thirds' started by vincechu, Sep 20, 2010.

  1. vincechu

    vincechu Veteran

    Sep 14, 2010
    *In the process of completely rewriting and tidying up my review, as well as adding a few more photos - check back later :wink:*

    Hey everyone, I know a lot of people are interested in the LX5 and I just thought I'd share my thoughts about itin an on going real-life review. I'm going to do this casually and update when I can and add my additional thoughts

    Initial impressions
    When in store I played on one briefly before buying, and was delighted with the build quality (the LX5's [metal?] body feels solid) and classy and image quality (on the LX5's screen) looked very good.

    A little worry...
    When I got home and charged up the battery and fired a few test shots, I was very worried as I noticed pink/purple/green banding appearing on the LCD and in videos - it doesn't appear in still photos, so I returned my LX5 for another the day after for a replacement. However the replacement also did the same thing.

    I was really worried when I saw this banding and was pretty annoyed that a new camera at this price range had such a "flaw". But after a little research online and a call to Panasonic Support, it turns out this banding is normal for cameras with CCD sensors. The banding appears on the camera's screen when the camera is pointed at bright light sources (e.g. sunlight, and lightbulbs) and looks pretty worrying (but you get used to it very slowly). The banding appears in recorded video but not in still images, and is worse when a wider aperture (stopping down helps) is used or the stronger the light source pointed at.

    See more about the banding here: A Guide to CCD and CMOS Sensor Technology

    And a quote from the LX5 manual regarding the banding:
    I'm still not really happy about the banding, each time it appears on the LCD it's unnerving(? hope thats the right word to use).

    I'm not over the banding issue so why haven't I refunded or exchanged the camera then?

    Well I guess it's because I'm in love with it :blush: and it's like when you love a person, you might not like everything about them but you accept them with all of their good points and their bad points don't you?

    Fortunately with the LX5 there's a lot to love:

    1. Lens - The f/2 aperture helps a lot in lowlight and giving a shallow dof. Bokeh is very nice and smooth. The range 24-90mm equiv is fine for me, but others may find it limiting. I really like the wide end which I find useful for street.

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/48075884@N02/5006701926/" title="P1000053 by vincechu89, on Flickr"> View attachment 29580 "500" height="333" alt="P1000053" /></a>

    So smooth the keyboard's keys are smoothed out, nice rounded bokeh:
    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/48075884@N02/5006082459/" title="P1000049 by vincechu89, on Flickr"> View attachment 29581 "500" height="333" alt="P1000049" /></a>

    Wide angle:

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/48075884@N02/5006059537/" title="P1000013 by vincechu89, on Flickr"> 5006059537_6d9b310297.jpg "357" height="500" alt="P1000013" /></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/48075884@N02/5006668732/" title="P1000012 by vincechu89, on Flickr"> 5006668732_4bfe0fe802.jpg "375" height="500" alt="P1000012" /></a>

    2. Amazing macro ability, with the LX5 you can focus so close you're pretty much touching your subject with the lens, on paper thats a 1cm minimum focusing distance.

    The flower's about 1cm from the tip of the lens in these:

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/48075884@N02/5006103253/" title="P1000075 by vincechu89, on Flickr"> 5006103253_69e78695b6.jpg "500" height="333" alt="P1000075" /></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/48075884@N02/5006109089/" title="P1000075bw by vincechu89, on Flickr"> 5006109089_32699dd46f.jpg "500" height="333" alt="P1000075bw" /></a>

    3. Build quality

    4. Appeareance, very cool (kind of retro) looks - especially with a viewfinder, the 2 part leather case and the included leather strap!

    5. Flash exposure is good - it doesn't white out everything! and you can adjust it's power in menu.

    6. Accessory port for EVF - I'm a big fan of viewfinders and use one when available, great for use when looking at the LCD is difficult because of bright light which leads me on to...

    7. The LCD is bright, clear and vibrant - much better than others I've used...

    8. ISO performance - very good for a compact and it certainly comes close if not matches my old Panasonic G1 (which I've sold it so can't do any comparisons)

    Here's a ISO12800 Sample (note the LX5 drops from 10megapixels to 3 from ISO 6400 upwards):

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/48075884@N02/5010538862/" title="P1000036 by vincechu89, on Flickr"> View attachment 29586 "500" height="333" alt="P1000036" /></a>

    For my uses, small prints and viewing online ISO12800 from the LX5 isn't actually too bad ;-) I think in black and white the noise might actually look nice and add a grainy film effect.

    9. Built in creative options - Such as Pinhole filter and multiple exposure - some may find them gimmicky but I find them good fun.

    10. In camera horizon adjustment - I'm sure it'll come in useful in future ;-)

    11. Aspect ratio switch on lens barrel - makes changing aspect ratio really quick and I think this has made me think about which aspect ratio will help my composition have more impact e.g. landscape on 16:9

    Here's what I would change:

    1. The banding issue (surprised? :tongue:) 

    2. Jpeg colour output as standard isn't great - colours too washed out (a little desaturated and flat) for my liking and I find I often have to spend time adjusting colours in Silkypix.

    3. The LCD, whilst bright and vibrant, doesn't give an accurate rendition of the image actually taken. Specifically the colours look more saturated and brighter on the LCD, so when you view the images on the PC, they seem under exposed and the colours washed out.

    Examples of 2 + 3 (out of camera jpegs):

    The first 2 photos are what Standard film mode looks like on the camera's LCD screen saturated and contrasty), but were actually taken using Dynamic film mode and with +2 in Saturation and +2 in contrast.

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/48075884@N02/5009843905/" title="P1010018 by vincechu89, on Flickr"> View attachment 29587 "500" height="375" alt="P1010018" /></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/48075884@N02/5009845351/" title="P1010019 by vincechu89, on Flickr"> View attachment 29588 "375" height="500" alt="P1010019" /></a>

    The next 2 are out of camera jpegs set to Standard film mode - see what I mean about washed out colours (we all know how bright the red on a Coca-Cola label looks like on real life).

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/48075884@N02/5010452468/" title="P1010020 by vincechu89, on Flickr"> View attachment 29589 "500" height="375" alt="P1010020" /></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/48075884@N02/5009848181/" title="P1010021 by vincechu89, on Flickr"> View attachment 29590 "375" height="500" alt="P1010021" /></a>

    4. The selftimer button! I think i actually hate this :mad:  :) tongue:) . The LX5 has one touch buttons for selecting focusing point, movie, ISO and a function button which I have mapped to metering mode. Personally I honestly don't see the point in dedicating a button for the selftimer, I can think of other more useful things to have one touch access to (such as white balance, focusing mode, flash power compensation, highlight warning on/off and film mode). I mean is it me or is self time one of the lesser used functions of a camera? lol Please Panasonic let us change the function of the selftimer button in a future firmware update :wink:

    That's all I really have to say for now, if you have any questions or anything you want me to try out and report back on, let me know and I'll try to help if I have time.

    In the mean time a few more photos:

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/48075884@N02/5006119001/" title="P1000081 by vincechu89, on Flickr"> View attachment 29591 "375" height="500" alt="P1000081" /></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/48075884@N02/5006690432/" title="P1000045 by vincechu89, on Flickr"> View attachment 29592 "500" height="333" alt="P1000045" /></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/48075884@N02/5006071531/" title="P1000041 by vincechu89, on Flickr"> 5006071531_d74b5d38db.jpg "500" height="281" alt="P1000041" /></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/48075884@N02/5006094083/" title="P1000057 by vincechu89, on Flickr"> View attachment 29594 "500" height="281" alt="P1000057" /></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/48075884@N02/5006677614/" title="P1000040 by vincechu89, on Flickr"> 5006677614_c60fff1468.jpg "375" height="500" alt="P1000040" /></a>

    Update 29/09/10

    I've had the camera for another few weeks now, here are a few more photos with some more of my thoughts:

    The first set of photos of flowers are edited in silkypix, I love the DOF you can get from the f/2.0 leica lens.

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/48075884@N02/5016511504/" title="P1010059 by vincechu89, on Flickr"> View attachment 29596 "375" height="500" alt="P1010059" /></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/48075884@N02/5016510684/" title="P1010049 by vincechu89, on Flickr"> View attachment 29597 "500" height="375" alt="P1010049" /></a>

    The sky looks completely blown here, and it kind of is - the LX5 exposed the foreground and building perfectly at the expense of the sky, which in fairness was a very bright white/grey colour and difficult to get right without doing a HDR anyway.

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/48075884@N02/5015911123/" title="P1010048bw by vincechu89, on Flickr"> View attachment 29598 "375" height="500" alt="P1010048bw" /></a>

    The rest are out of camera jpegs, resized in Photofun. jpegs were set to "vibrant" in camera, intelligent resolution and intelligent exposure were both set to low.

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/48075884@N02/5034211609/" title="P1010118 by vincechu89, on Flickr">https://farm5.static.flickr.com/4104/5034211609_49d03acc12.jpg"

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/48075884@N02/5034835364/" title="P1010128 by vincechu89, on Flickr">[ATTACH=full]29599[/ATTACH]"500" height="375" alt="P1010128" /></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/48075884@N02/5034832478/" title="P1010112 by vincechu89, on Flickr">[ATTACH=full]29600[/ATTACH]"375" height="500" alt="P1010112" /></a>

    This one kind of looks like a HDR, but I think "Intelligent exposure" helped, this handy feature helps to increase dynamic range and you can set it to low, normal or high, in this case it was low.
    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/48075884@N02/5034204433/" title="P1010073 by vincechu89, on Flickr">[ATTACH=full]29601[/ATTACH]"500" height="375" alt="P1010073" /></a>

    A few lowlight shots in Birmingham - remember these are out of camera jpegs - noise seems very well controlled at standard setting and looks better than my old G1! The built in IS helped with the slow shutter speeds - these were handheld.

    ISO1600 at f/2.0:

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/48075884@N02/5034209553/" title="P1010111 by vincechu89, on Flickr">[ATTACH=full]29602[/ATTACH]"500" height="375" alt="P1010111" /></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/48075884@N02/5034830488/" title="P1010110 by vincechu89, on Flickr">[ATTACH=full]29603[/ATTACH]"375" height="500" alt="P1010110" /></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/48075884@N02/5034207635/" title="P1010109 by vincechu89, on Flickr">[ATTACH=full]29604[/ATTACH]"375" height="500" alt="P1010109" /></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/48075884@N02/5034828130/" title="P1010103 by vincechu89, on Flickr">[ATTACH=full]29605[/ATTACH]"500" height="375" alt="P1010103" /></a>

    ISO 800 at f/2.0 unless otherwise stated:

    The only time I've noticed lens flare out of around 250 pics I've taken with the camera.
    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/48075884@N02/5034827418/" title="P1010100 by vincechu89, on Flickr">[ATTACH=full]29606[/ATTACH]"500" height="375" alt="P1010100" /></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/48075884@N02/5034206907/" title="P1010106 by vincechu89, on Flickr">[ATTACH=full]29607[/ATTACH]"375" height="500" alt="P1010106" /></a>

    Comments to go with my update:

    1. I hope you can see how well the cameras metering system works - I'd say the majority of photos came out perfectly exposed without me needing to adjust things in camera to compensate. Of the few that were underexposed it was either the camera protecting highlights OR me being too lazy or in a hurry to make adjustments.

    2. I'm really liking the macro focusing capabilities of the lens - I think that in future when I get my SLR I won't need to buy a macro lens!

    3. The banding which you can see in liveview didn't actually bother me as much as I thought it would - I only noticed it shooting that bright blue sky with the church in the photo.

    4. I'm a bit of a newbie to photography - only been at it for 9months! If i were a more capable, more experienced photographer then I'm sure I'd be able to produce photos of an amazing quality with this camera! Especially if I can master post processing.

    5. ISO 800 and 1600 are both very usable, I used default NR with the out of camera jpegs and I was actually pretty impressed - the results are better (less visable noise) than my old Panny G1 with 20mm 1.7!

    6. Originally when I wrote the review, I complained that the out of camera jpegs were too flat, the colours not saturated or punchy enough, but after playing around with the film modes I think colours are good on "Vibrant" setting, and the camera allows you to adjust saturation and contrast to +2 or -2 in camera which really helps.[/COLOR]
    • Like Like x 9
  2. vincechu

    vincechu Veteran

    Sep 14, 2010
    Quick thought: I wonder if it's possible to create an in camera HDR with the multi exposure mode by setting the camera up on a tripod, setting the camera to 1 point AF and spot metering (so the metering spot follows your selected AF point), then taking the a photo metering on one point, then metering on another point(s) and taking another photo(s) then finishing and allowing the camera to combine the frames for you?
  3. Great intro to your LX5. Nice work and looks a cracking bit of kit!
  4. Herman

    Herman The Image Stimulator

    Jul 11, 2010
    The Netherlands
    Nice review

    Thanks for the ongoing review.
  5. BBW

    BBW Administrator Emeritus

    Jul 7, 2010
    betwixt and between
    Yes, thanks Vince, it's great that you're taking the time to share your observations with us all here.

    Have to say that one of your son peering at the race car is pretty darn cute! Is that with the pin hole mode?
  6. vincechu

    vincechu Veteran

    Sep 14, 2010
    Thanks everyone, the LX5 is a cracking piece of kit, and at the moment my only piece of kit. I've decided to wait for the d7000 or K5 for my next camera, but only after I push my photography to its limits with the LX5, and it's proving to be a very capable all rounder so far.

    BB: It wasn't the pin hole filter, I think the lighting just makes it look like the pinhole mode. I'll try and take a few photos using the various creative modes and upload later. oh he (Sammy) is not my son, I'm only 20 :wink: - He's my lovely nephew who has just turned 3 on Sunday :smile:
    • Like Like x 1
  7. vincechu

    vincechu Veteran

    Sep 14, 2010
    Noticed that battery life doesn't seem very long.. - but that might just be because I can't stop playing around with the camera at the moment! :tongue:

    Also a lot of people on review sites have mentioned they think the removable lens cap is annoying, but coming from the world of DSLRs I don't have a problem with it. Panasonic includes a lanyard string to attach the lens cap to the camera body too.
    • Like Like x 1
  8. BBW

    BBW Administrator Emeritus

    Jul 7, 2010
    betwixt and between
    Oops, sorry Vince - I keep thinking you're older than you are. At your stage that's a compliment.:biggrin: Actually, it's a compliment to anyone at any age, given the options of not getting older.

    As for that photo of your nephew, now I like it even more since it's your doing, not the mode's... :redface: That's my prejudice showing, though I'd definitely want to try out the different art modes.
  9. Djarum

    Djarum All-Pro

    Jul 10, 2010
    Huntsville, AL
    Really nice pictures. Keep em coming. I think the LX5 is a winner.
  10. christilou

    christilou Legend

    Jul 13, 2010
    Sunny Frimley
    What a great write up! You have a good style :) 
  11. This month's Amateur Photography magazine here in the UK has a full review of the LX5 and it gives it a great score. They even said it's "Currently one of, if not the best high-end compact camera available"

    Sweet eh!

    It would certainly go well with my GF1....Father and Son!:biggrin:
  12. BBW

    BBW Administrator Emeritus

    Jul 7, 2010
    betwixt and between
    Andy, repeat after me... I will not buy another camera...at least for this week. ;-) Do they have an online version of the article?
  13. Hi BB

    There's no on line article as people would read the website and not buy the mag but here is the site address: Amateur Photographer - news, camera reviews, lens reviews, camera equipment guides, photography courses, competitions, photography forums - Amateur Photographer - news, camera reviews, lens reviews, camera equipment guides, photography courses, compe

    Don't worry I'm not going to rush out any time soon to purchase my new baby, i want to get Photokina out the way and see what has been announced. Half the fun is looking!!

    Oh and... I will not buy another camera...at least for this week I will not buy another camera...at least for this week I will not buy another camera...at least for this week I will not buy another camera...at least for this week I will not buy another camera...at least for this week I will not buy another camera...at least for this week I will not buy another camera...at least for this week I will not buy another camera...at least for this week I will not buy another camera...at least for this week I will not buy another camera...at least for this week I will not buy another camera...at least for this week :biggrin:
    • Like Like x 1
  14. vincechu

    vincechu Veteran

    Sep 14, 2010
    Thanks for reading everyone :) 

    Andy - I just bought AP today and read the review. They got everything spot on.

    More of my thoughts: I find the camera meters very well, even in tricky situations, e.g. backlit situations and some awkward landscapes where the sky is really bright, with other cameras I've used I find the sky's normally washed out completely to keep the land properly exposed.

    I'll upload more photos when I can, but uni restarts next week and I've got work and to play a football match on Sunday, so will b busy :-(

    More on the banding issue: Photography blog has a video clip showing more of the banding issue I reported - so it definately seems this is "normal" for the LX5 and it's CCD sensor. I have to admit, i found it difficult shooting landscape with the banding appearing due to the bright sky when composing photos with parts of the sky in the composition but remember most importantly the banding doesn't appear in the final captured image just live view and movies.

    Photography blogs video: http://img.photographyblog.com/revi.../sample_images/panasonic_lumix_dmc_lx5_01.mov
    • Like Like x 2
  15. richie15

    richie15 Rookie

    Jul 11, 2010

    I have the banding on my d-Lux 4. This is only evident when the lens is wide open and the situation is to bright. I took this in to Leica who said that so long as the images are ok, then I should live with it.
  16. JohnKendrick

    JohnKendrick New Member

    Jul 9, 2010
    Thanks for the LX5 thoughts, Vince. My wife and I are in the market for a serious compact, to coin a phrase, that is more an "everywhere" camera than the GH1 we now own and the GF1 we are in the process of buying. Each of us wishes to have an interchangeable lens camera so it's not as if we can have an m43rds camera and a smaller sensor camera. But since even the GF1 can best be termed a large pocket camera, at best, we still need something smaller. Particularly as the camera fetish gets stronger grips on us.

  17. vincechu

    vincechu Veteran

    Sep 14, 2010
    Richard and Andy - The banding is normal, but nevertheless disappointing - good job most people who will be after this camera won't be looking to do video. IMO would have been the icing on the cake on a brilliant camera if the banding wasn't there.

    John - You're very welcome. I used to have a G1 but sold it to fund other gear for a trip which didn't happen in the end. The Panny micro four thirds cameras are brilliant though, and I'm strongly considering the GH2. But it seems for now the LX5 is all I need and portable - the micro four thirds cameras are smaller than other DSLR's but once you put a larger lens on it, it isn't really that portable anymore. I'd happily recommend the LX5 to you, but also take a look at the Samsung EX1 and Canon s95.

    More photos and thoughts on the LX5 on the way ;-)
    • Like Like x 2
  18. vincechu

    vincechu Veteran

    Sep 14, 2010
    The review has now been updated - see the 1st post, in navy blue writing
    • Like Like x 1
  19. BBW

    BBW Administrator Emeritus

    Jul 7, 2010
    betwixt and between
    Vince, thank you so much for carrying on with your ongoing review - and for being so well organized in your writing and editing on this thread. It seems to me that you are very happy with this camera and that your only caveat is regarding the video part due to the banding issues. Since I've never really used the video purposely on my E-PL1, but many times inadvertently:redface:, I don't have anything to base my remarks on accept what I come away with in reading...but I believe that all of the mu43 cameras have some issues with this banding as well, if I'm not mistaken?

    I didn't realize that your big trip had been cancelled and I'm sorry for you as I'm sure it was a disappointment. It does seem, however, that you're quite pleased about this camera and that's definitely a good thing to know.:biggrin: I hope you don't regret your sales...sometimes things have a way of working out for the best...when we least expect it. I'm hoping this is one of those times for you, Vince.

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