Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX2 review:

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX2

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MSRP: $449.95
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3.5 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Great lens; nice design; lots of manual controls.

The Bad Generally soft photos; mediocre movies; no optical viewfinder.

The Bottom Line The Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX2 is a good choice for an enthusiast looking for a powerful camera that can fit into a jacket pocket.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

7.4 Overall
  • Design 8.0
  • Features 8.0
  • Performance 7.0
  • Image quality 7.0

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Just as Canon decided to drop raw-format support from its compact enthusiast model, the PowerShot G7, Panasonic comes along and decides to add that very feature to its G-series competitor, the Lumix DMC-LX2. It's just packed with other amateur-oriented features as well, including a variety of focus modes, all of the essential metering and semi-manual exposure options, a wide-angle lens, and an overstuffed information display.

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX2 also uses a 10-megapixel CCD as the G7 does. There's one significant difference in the implementation, however: the LX2's sensor has a native 16:9 aspect ratio instead of 4:3. To produce 4:3 or 3:2 aspect photos, the LX2 simply uses the relevant fraction of the sensor. This enables the LX2 to produce higher-resolution 16:9 images than would be possible with a standard 10-megapixel sensor. (It would require a 13-megapixel 4:3 aspect sensor to generate 10-megapixel 16:9 images.) Conversely, the resolution of the LX2's 4:3 images is only 7 megapixels.

Which all begs the question: what do we gain by jumping to 10 megapixels? These are extremely small pixels, which equal extremely high noise. Panasonic's noise-suppression algorithms work pretty well at high ISO speeds--400 to as high as 1,600--but at low ISO sensitivities such as 100, the images are quite noisy. The good news is that they print better than they look onscreen, though you'd be well-advised to avoid serious crops.

In all other respects, the LX2's photos are quite decent, with excellent white balance, exposure, dynamic range, and color saturation. There are few optical artifacts, most notably fringing, and though there's a bit of lens distortion at the wide end of the 28mm-to-112mm-equivalent, 4X zoom lens, it's relatively symmetrical and fairly unobtrusive. Movies don't quite measure up, though. They're full of compression artifacts, and you can't zoom while you're shooting.

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