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07-21-2008, 11:55 AM   #1
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Panasonic Lumix LX3

While not perfect, it sounds like the most promising compact yet.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3: Digital Photography Review

It may not have an APS-C sensor, but at 1/1.63-inch it is slightly larger than the average compact, and the lens is 24-60mm eqv. f/2.0! That is the perfect walk around range for street photography. I would have liked to have gone up to maybe 70 or 80mm, but to hell with it, the lens is f/2 and should have decent quality. The best part might be that they kept the pixel count down to "only" 10 megapixels. Hopefully it should produce good ISO 400 and usable ISO 800. However being able to shoot at f/2 will allow you to use ISO100 & 200 in situations most compacts can't.

I wish Pentax would have made it instead, but I'm just glad one of the "big boys" has now attempted to make a street shooter camera. I respect what Ricoh has done, but their noise level is just too much for me; and the Sigma DP1 is both too expensive and too slow.

I'm about 99% certain this will be my next camera.

Edit: Here's a link to a preview with samples if anyone is interested:
http://www.digitalcamerareview.com/default.asp?newsID=3580&review=panasonic+lumix+lx3


Last edited by Art Vandelay II; 07-21-2008 at 12:37 PM. Reason: Added Link
07-21-2008, 12:50 PM   #2
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Its good they added a hot shoe but I had hoped they would go with a bigger sensor. Pana has nice leica lenes but their sensors are notorious for being noisy. I had a 12x pana superzoom before, great lens, got a lot of good shots from that camera. When sigma managed to put the foveon in the dp1 I think pana should put their 4/3 sensor in a compact, the 4/3 would be perfect for it, being smaller than aps-c. Or even something inbetween.
07-21-2008, 01:33 PM   #3
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I totally agree, I've said in other threads I think the future of the 4/3's sensor is in prosumer point and shoot cameras. That said; I am happy that I have a cheaper alternative to the Sigma DP1 and Ricoh Caplio GX200 (as a former Powershot G2 owner I still don't acknowledge the G9 ). Assuming the LX3 has decent IQ and performance I'll have a $400 (street price) pocket camera with a fast wide angle lens. That will suffice for a few years until manufactures get in gear and start making 4/3rd's & APS-C size pocket cameras.
07-21-2008, 04:53 PM   #4
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Hi Art Vandelay II

It's been my regrettable experience to date that ALL of Panasonic's compact / bridge camera designs have suffered to a lesser or greater degree from atrocious noise, especially in the shadow areas of images. In a desperate attempt to disguise this unpalatable fact, their much vaunted "Venus Engine" has then usually been clumsily deployed in it's myriad incarnations, but this only results in noticeable smearing of fine detail, or "oatmeal mush" as one reviewer so aptly described the effect. As for their inevitable marketing blurb, claiming that:

QuoteQuote:
The Venus Engine IV provides superior noise control
QuoteQuote:
The LX3 is equipped with Panasonic's advanced image processing LSI, the Venus Engine IV. This high-speed high-performance imaging engine makes it possible to capture clean, beautiful, low-noise photos even when shooting at high sensitivity settings. Separating chromatic noise from luminance noise and low-frequency noise from high-frequency noise, and applying the optimal noise-reduction processing to each, the Venus Engine IV provides superior noise control and minimization of colour bleeding.
With due respect, what a total load of old hogwash......!

Fuji suffers in the same respect, even with their latest range of bridge-camera designs. As so many perceptive individuals have previously stated, cramming ever increasing numbers of pixels onto a tiny sensor is invariably a sure-fire recipe for disaster, especially where preservation of image quality is concerned.

For reasons that entirely escape my comprehension, the marketing department must obviously be obeyed at all costs, giving the impression that these clueless idiots clearly think that they know what they're doing.....NOT !
"More must automatically be better" I hear them cry, and so that's what the customer eventually gets, whether they actually need it or not !!

QuoteQuote:
In general, if two CCDs have exactly the same physical size but different pixel counts, the one with more pixels is not necessarily better – in fact, it's likely to generate more picture noise, especially in low-light parts of the image. This poor low-light image quality has been a source of great dissatisfaction for compact camera users.
Well, all I'm going to say for the moment is that if the new LX3 is any better (define better ?) in these two key areas than it's immediate predecessors, then as the original saying goes, I'll "eat my hat" !

Best regards
Richard


Last edited by Confused; 07-21-2008 at 06:11 PM.
07-21-2008, 09:31 PM   #5
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The venus engine doesn't really concern me. I shoot Raw mode in either full manual, or aperture priority 100% of the time. I agree; it's typically a waste of time to read too much into marketing hype, but I have hope shooting in RAW this camera will produce usable ISO 400. That will do until someone makes a quality APS-C pocket cam for under $500 (I'm guesstimating that will be sometime around 2013 at this point ).

But the design of this camera is what really has me excited. Looks like it's about the right size, it looks well made, has a real optical viewfinder add on and not just some worthless peephole like on the Canon G9; and external manual controls via the joystick. I'd prefer to have a scroll wheel like the Ricoh Caplio GX200, but unfortunately that camera's IQ just doesn't live up to the wonderful design; plus the only viewfinder option is that cruddy electric one.

Last edited by Art Vandelay II; 07-21-2008 at 09:45 PM.
07-22-2008, 11:12 AM   #6
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Hi Art

As if to underline my previous point, kindly take a look at the link to this review, which simply serves to confirm my original concerns. Just click on the three image links in the article below, to see what I was on about:

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3 preview with image samples - infoSync World

QuoteQuote:
The first shot is noticeably affected by noise, despite having been taken at ISO-125. Resolution is low overall and practically non-existent in the bricks underneath the bridge. (He ain't kidding either !) The second and third shots both fare better and are more in line with what we expected from the camera, but they're still far from exemplary.
Precisely WHAT do you think it actually IS that this latest miracle of modern whizz-bang technology appears to have captured ? Is it brick ? Is it mush ? I honestly dunno...answers on a postcard ! If you'll pardon the pun, it looks Leica a right load of old horse-s**t to me and that's putting it politely ! If this is what's currently regarded by Panasonic's PR Dept as "state of the art", then I'm afraid they've obviously still got a fair way to go yet, so let's thank our lucky stars for APS-C & FF sensors, as they're lovingly referred to !

Best regards
Richard

Last edited by Confused; 02-24-2009 at 05:44 AM.
07-22-2008, 07:41 PM   #7
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Yeah; I saw those infosync pics yesterday, and I've also seen pics taken at various other sites such as Digital Camera Review that look just fine. That said; I have not yet bothered forming an opinion on it's IQ yet. Firstly, every pic so far has been taken with a pre-production camera. Secondly, I have yet to see a RAW capture (I usually just ignore JPEG's in tests, they don't matter to me). Again; I'm not expecting SLR IQ; I have my K10D for that. I just want something that will fit in my pocket with good manual controls, an optical view finder, fast lens, and decent IQ. I'd love for this thing to have a 4/3's or larger sensor in it; but unfortunately our only option at the time is the Sigma DP1.

Pocket Lint also has an optimistic preview of it:
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3 digital camera First Look quick review
07-22-2008, 10:04 PM   #8
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Hi Art

Does this scenario feel familiar ?....

QuoteQuote:
As the ISOs start to climb, the noise reduction effects of squeezing 11megapixels into a small sensor take over and that watercolor look kicks in. There is significant bluish-purple fringing with the Fuji S100fs in all kinds of lighting [not just trees against the sky and other typical high-contrast situations]. I can get past this, but I can also see it in almost every photo and I can understand that it's a deal-breaker for many.
In Angela Nicholson's review of the Fuji S100fs in Amateur Photographer Magazine (17th May 2008) she states:

QuoteQuote:
In the past we have been critical of the aggressive approach Fujifilm has taken towards noise reduction, and high-sensitivity JPEG images from the S100fs have the tell-tale soft smudginess we have seen before.
Shots taken at high sensitivity that have been saved as JPEG's look very soft, and out of focus areas look excessively blurred. However, even images taken at ISO200 have noise visible at 100% on the computer screen in even-toned areas such as the sky.
Admittedly Fuji are not Panasonic, but even so the same rules generally apply and there is only so much that the manufacturers can do before the inherent weaknesses of such tiny sensors begin to make themself apparent. Unfortunately no amount of clever noise reduction software can disguise this fact, without creating visible artefacts or causing smearing of fine detail, as the sample image of the Brooklyn Bridge so clearly illustrates !

Best regards
Richard


Last edited by Confused; 07-22-2008 at 10:10 PM.
07-23-2008, 08:28 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Confused Quote
Hi Art
Does this scenario feel familiar ?....
Yep, that does sound familiar, but I've also seen pics taken with the Panasonic LX2 at ISO400 and exposed properly (not underexposed like that Brooklyn Bridge photo) that look far better. So I assume the LX3 at virtually the same pixel count will perform equally as well.

And again, you can stop posting quotes such as this:

"Shots taken at high sensitivity that have been saved as JPEG's look very soft"

I haven't shot a single JPEG image in my last 5,000 frames, and I'm not going to start anytime soon. I enjoy post processing in Light Room all most as much as I do taking the photos. It really reminds me of using the dark room back in college.

All that said; what alternatives do we have exactly? Fuji doesn't currently make a single pocket camera with the design and controls that I would want to use, and neither does Pentax, Sony, or Nikon. Canon has the G9, but the view finder is crap and it's already at 12 megapixels; which is obviously worse. The Ricoh GX200 is also at 12 megapixels (and $700). That leaves the Sigma DP1. However, less than stellar reviews of the camera functions plus the $700 price tag have scared me off.

So that puts the LX3 in a pretty attractive position at under $500 US dollars street price; and at the moment my only realistic option.

Finally, here is another LX2 ISO400 image that would make a perfectly acceptable 8x10 print. It may not be up to pixel peeper's standards, but hang it on a wall and 9 out of 10 people would have no clue what ISO it was taken at or what kind of camera was used. At some point any image is better than no image; and that's exactly what role this camera will fill for me. It would be on me when walking to work or while out to dinner...basically times when I don't feel like carrying my man purse around.
07-23-2008, 08:57 AM   #10
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well you can always go back and get the Ricoh GX100, that's not a bad choice at all.
07-23-2008, 11:45 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by vizjerei Quote
well you can always go back and get the Ricoh GX100, that's not a bad choice at all.
Not if you like to shoot RAW unfortunately. It takes 5-6 seconds just to write one RAW file to memory. I'm not someone that needs Nikon D3 speed, but one pic every 6 seconds is unacceptable. They supposedly fixed that issue in the GX200; but the GX200 is $700 and they bumped it up to 12 megapixels.

Ricoh Caplio GX100 Review: 3. Timings & Sizes: Digital Photography Review
07-23-2008, 12:17 PM   #12
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Hi again Art

I totally understand where you're coming from when you said:

QuoteQuote:
I haven't shot a single JPEG image in my last 5,000 frames
On the other hand I'm pretty sure that there must be millions of ordinary individuals out there who either haven't heard about RAW imaging or can't be bothered with all the hassle of photo editing, especially if they aren't particularly computer literate to start with. Believe me they still exist, but that's another can of worms entirely !

On another point, I'd dearly love to know if it's technically feasible or indeed possible to produce a top-end P&S with an APS-C sensor inside ? There are doubtless perfectly logical reasons why the major manufactures haven't yet done so, unless that would cut into the profitable revenue stream generated from existing sales of their DSLR's ? Answers anyone.....?????

Best regards
Richard

Last edited by Confused; 07-23-2008 at 12:24 PM.
07-23-2008, 02:33 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Confused Quote
Hi again Art
unless that would cut into the profitable revenue stream generated from existing sales of their DSLR's ? Answers anyone.....?????
I think you nailed it right there. If there had been a good APS-C small camera out at the time I bought my K10D I would have never gotten the K10D; or the expense and bulk of the lenses to go with it.

Some will say it isn't technically possible or it will be too expensive, but I call BS on both of those claims. Sony is selling their DSLR-A200 here in the US for $450 with a lens! So obviously APS-C sensors are no longer too expensive. Some say they couldn't make a pocket size camera with good controls; but before Ricoh made the GR Digital they made the 35mm GR-1.

Ricoh GR Digital review - LetsGoDigital

If you're like me and don't take a lot of telephoto pics I think something like an APS-C Caplio GX200 would be the perfect camera. Have you ever taken a look at Terry Richardson? He just uses cheap point and shoots. He even did a spread for the SI Swimsuit Edition.

Terry Richardson.com

Like they say, it's not the camera...
07-23-2008, 07:18 PM   #14
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The more I read the more I'm starting to be convinced it's going to be usable up to ISO400. According to this mini review the:
QuoteQuote:
Image quality was excellent, even at ISO 400 when most compacts start showing unacceptable noise
Panasonic has their official page up now. It certainly delivers the goods at ISO80 if nothing else:

http://panasonic.net/pavc/lumix/popup/gallery/models/lx3/P1010271.JPG
07-23-2008, 08:08 PM   #15
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Looks very interesting! Have the LX2 and dearly love it. Have never shot it above ISO 100. Do wonder if the LX3 is the same size of the 2 or bigger? The body layout is the same. Really like 16:9 aspect ratio and ability to shoot 3:2. New LX3 goes down to ISO80 vs 100 on LX2. Can't tell if zoom range is the same or not. They are giving 35 equiv. on Lx3 where the Lx2 lens says 6.3-25.2. No idea what the crop factor is on this sensor size.
The acc lens is interesting but it kind of kills the compactness of the camera. Still, very interesting camera.
thanks
barondla

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