Written on: 07/02/2009 by b6waf (18 reviews written)
Excellent image quality
Excellent build quality
Very fast lens
Very wide lens
Excellent user interface
Multiple aspect ratios
None worth mentioning
I am a very keen and experienced amateur photographer.
I bought this camera 2 weeks ago. I have taken 212 (serious) shots (i.e. not just snaps). I wanted a pocketable camera which would be a viable alternative to my DSLR when I want to travel light. I needed full manual control and first class picture quality.
Two months earlier, being a Canon DSLR user, I made the mistake of buying a Canon Powershot G10. On paper it was a fantastic camera but I was extremely disappointed with the image quality - great at low ISO settings but even at ISO 200 the image noise was unacceptable. Canon have crammed too many pixels onto a small sensor whereas Panasonic have openly admitted they have gone for bigger and fewer pixels, better quality.
The most important and most impressive feature of the LX3 is the very fast lens - there are very few (if any ?) compact cameras with an f2.0 lens. The significance of this should not be underestimated - it means you can shoot 1 or 2 stops faster than other compacts which means you can be using ISO100 where another camera might need ISO200 or ISO 400 for the same exposure. This alone guarantees you better picture quality, before you take account of the lower pixel density.
I could go into detail about how the controls work - but you can read this on www.dpreview.com. Suffice to say that as an experienced amateur photographer (30 years experience !) I find it user friendly, intuitive and a pleasure to use. More important is how do the pictures look ?
Today I went for a walk in snow and bright sunlight around Malham, N. Yorks. Very challenging conditions for a camera. I took the LX3 and my Canon EOS450D, another camera to which I would award 10/10. I was using my 10-22mm wide angle lens on the SLR ( £500, very highly rated lens). I took about 50 shots with each camera and compared them critically afterwards.
I was amazed. I REALLY could not tell the difference. I printed out 2 pairs of matching shots on A4 at high quality and asked my son (a keen photographer) and my wife (a keen critique of anything) to decide the best picture. My son voted 2:0 for the LX3. My wife voted 1:1 (could not really differentiate but was tending towards the LX3). I printed out a picture from the LX3 on A3+ paper and it was worth framing.
The lens is unbelievably fast. Every shot I took was at ISO80 whereas I had to push the SLR out to ISO400 for some shots.
So at ISO80 it SHOULD be good. What's it like at higher sensitivities ? Last week I took some shots in the snow in very low light (at 7.20am in February) at ISO400 and even ISO800 and I can only describe them as stunning.
I am trying to be as objective as possible and to find a fault with this camera but I cannot. The one thing I can't decide is whether to be pleased or disappointed that a £300 compact camera can match the quality of £900 of SLR kit, AND fit in my pocket !!
Buy one. You will NOT be disappointed.