Panasonic improves sensor for LX3 enthusiast compact camera

Improved noise reduction and better sensitivity should improve photo quality

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3 Panasonic

One of the main complaints with the Lumix DMC-LX2, Panasonic's enthusiast pocket camera, was the high noise level of its 10-megapixel sensor. So we're heartened that for its replacement, the LX3, Panasonic decided to stick with 10 megapixels and work on improving the noise profile instead.

According to the company, the new sensor has larger photodiodes, which boosts sensitivity by almost 40 percent--maximum ISO jumps a stop to ISO 3,200 from ISO 1,600--and the sensor has increased saturation by 35 percent. In conjunction with moving to the latest version of its Venus Engine imaging processor, which Panasonic claims provides better noise reduction, we should theoretically see better photo quality from the LX3. It should offer better performance as well: burst shooting, at least, has been bumped up from a rating of 2fps to 2.5fps.

A quick comparison:

 Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX2Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3Canon PowerShot G9
Resolution10 megapixels10 megapixels12 megapixels
Sensor size1/1.65-inch1/1.63-inch1/1.7-inch
Lensf2.8-4.9 28-112mm equivalent (in 16:9 aspect mode)f2.0-2.8 24-60mm equivalentf2.8-4.8 35-210mm
LCD207,000 pixels, 2.8 inches (16:9)460,000 dots, 3 inches (16:9)230,000 pixels, 3 inches (4:3)
Optical viewfinderNoneOptionalYes
Hot shoeNoYesYes
Max ISO sensitivity at full resolutionISO 1,600ISO 3.200ISO 1,600
Raw format supportedYesYesYes
Movie capture848x480 30fps, 1,280x720 15fps848x480 30fps, 1,280x720 24fpsVGA 30fps, 1,024x768 15fps
Pricing and availability$449.95; now$499.95; late August$499.99; now

The optional viewfinder for the Panasonic DMC-LX3
Optional viewfinder Panasonic

Other new features include the rather oddball ability to simultaneously capture photos in three aspect ratios (4:3, 3:2 or 16:9) and a film mode with various color and monochrome brand-emulating profiles. The LX2 lacks an optical viewfinder; for the LX3, Panasonic has taken a leaf from Ricoh's book and will be offering an add-on viewfinder as an option.

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