Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5 review: Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5

Performance, though, is unquestionably better than the LX3, and fairly good compared with its competitors. It starts up in a fairly zippy 1.6 seconds. Focusing and shooting in good light takes about 0.4 second, upping to 0.8 second in dim light. Nonflash shot-to-shot time is much better than the other cameras we've tested so far: 1.4 and 1.6 seconds for raw and JPEG, respectively, jumping to a not-so-good 4.6 seconds with flash. Continuous-shooting frame rate outpaces its class, but at 2.6fps it's still hit or miss. It delivers better battery life than the others as well.

Shooting speed
Seconds: smaller is better
Time to first shot  
Raw shot-to-shot time  
Typical shot-to-shot time  
Shutter lag (dim)  
Shutter lag (typical)  
Canon PowerShot G11
2 
2.5 
2.5 
0.7 
0.4 
Canon PowerShot S95
2 
2.6 
2.3 
0.7 
0.4 
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5
1.6 
1.7 
1.4 
0.8 
0.4 
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3
1.9 
1.9 
1.9 
1.1 
0.6 

Typical continuous-shooting speed
(Frames per second: larger is better)

Physically, it's slightly bigger than the LX3 but still a good size. While it's not as tiny as the exceptionally popular Canon PowerShot S90/S95, it's still pocketable, and some complain that those models are too small. The LX5 has a compact--but comfortable to grip--body that feels solid and well-built. Beneath the hot-shoe cover is another addition, the connector for an optional electronic viewfinder. On top of the camera sits a hot shoe, power switch, pop-up flash, zoom switch, mode dial, and video record button. In addition to the standard PASM and scene modes, the LX5 includes two slots on the mode dial for custom settings. The camera also provides Panasonic's Intelligent Auto mode, which performs automatic scene recognition and optimizes stabilization, ISO sensitivity, AF mode, exposure, and red-eye settings. New to the dial is My Color mode, which provides quick access to various color-based special effects presets. Not sure that's really necessary, but the direct movie recording button is definitely a welcome addition. Though there are only two slots, the camera can store four groups of settings; one set gets slotted in C1, while C2 stores three. This is an interesting approach that leaves one preset instantly accessible, while switching among the others requires a trip into the menus.

  Canon PowerShot G12 Canon PowerShot S95 Samsung TL500 Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3 Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5
Sensor (effective resolution) 10-megapixel CCD 10-megapixel CCD 10-megapixel CCD 10-megapixel CCD 10-megapixel CCD
1/1.7-inch 1/1.7-inch 1/1.7-inch 1/1.63-inch 1/1.63-inch
Sensitivity range ISO 80 - ISO 3200 ISO 80 - ISO 3200 ISO 80 - ISO 3200 ISO 80 - ISO 3,200 ISO 80 - ISO 3200
Lens 28-140mm
f2.8-4.5
5x
28-105mm
f2-4.9
3.8x
24-72mm
f1.8-2.4
3x
24-60mm
f2-2.8
2.5x
24-90mm
f2-3.3
3.8x
Closest focus (inches) 0.4 2.0 2.0 0.4 0.4
Continuous shooting 1.1fps
frames n/a
1.9fps
frames n/a
1.1fps
n/a
2.4fps
4 JPEG/3 raw
2.5 fps
JPEG/n/a raw
Viewfinder Optical None Optical Optional OVF Optional OVF or EVF
Autofocus n/a
Contrast AF
n/a
Contrast AF
n/a
Contrast AF
n/a
Contrast AF
23-area
Contrast AF
Metering n/a n/a n/a n/a n/a
Shutter 15-1/4000 sec 15-1/1600 sec 16-1/5000 sec 60-1/2000 sec 60-1/4000 sec
Flash Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Hot shoe Yes No Yes Yes Yes
LCD 2.8-inch articulated
461,000 dots
3-inch fixed
461,000 dots
3-inch fixed AMOLED
920,000 dots
3-inch fixed
460,000 dots
3-inch fixed
460,000 dots
Image stabilization Optical Optical Optical Optical Optical
Video (best quality) 720/24p
H.264 QuickTime MOV
720/24p
H.264 QuickTime MOV
Stereo
30fps VGA H.264 MP4
Monaural
720/30p MJPEG QuickTime
Monaural
720/30p AVCHD Lite
Monaural
Manual iris and shutter in video No No No Yes Yes
Optical zoom while recording Yes No Yes No Yes
Mic input No No No No No
Battery life (CIPA rating) 390 shots 220 shots 350 shots 380 shots 400 shots
Dimensions (WHD, inches) 4.4 x 3.0 x 2.0 3.9 x 2.3 x 1.2 4.5 x 2.5 x 1.2 4.3 x 2.3 x 1.1 4.3 x 2.6 x 1.7
Weight (ounces) 14.5 (est) 7 (est) 14 (est) 9.1 9.2
Mfr. Price $499.99 $399.99 $449.99 $450 $440
Availability September 2010 August 2010 July 2010 August 2008 August 2010

You can manually toggle among aspect ratios via a switch atop the lens, while the switch for the AF, AF macro, and MF modes lives on the left side of the lens. Unless you have a specific target aspect ratio for your final photo and don't plan on using the photo for anything else, I'd stay away from using the switch, and crop the photos in software. The native aspect ratio of the sensor is 4:3, and anything else is simply a lower-resolution crop. At least Panasonic fixed the annoying conflict between the aspect ratio and movie settings.

The rest of the controls sit adjacent to the bright, saturated 3-inch LCD on the camera back. They're easy to feel and comfortable to use, but as with the LX3, the etched labels on the navigation buttons are hard to discern in low light. (They're Fn, ISO, self-timer and focus. Burst has moved off the delete button into the Quick Menu.) With the LX5, Panasonic has ditched the joystick in favor of a more traditional dial and regular navigation buttons. It has also gotten rid of the record/review switch; a now-standard toggle button is a much better solution.

The user-programmable function button can be set to one of many options, including film mode, quality, ISO sensitivity, white balance, metering, AF mode, intelligent exposure, and aspect bracketing. Film mode provides a variety of preset combinations of contrast, sharpness, saturation, and noise reduction settings, and you can save two custom sets. There's also a Multi Film mode, which saves three variations of a single photo with the three user-selected film settings. One notable capability the LX5 carried over from the LX3 is Pre AF, which locks focus when it senses the camera's at its steadiest. It looks as if the selectable grouped AF points has been dropped, though. The camera offers all the essentials, including optical image stabilization, as well. For a complete accounting of the LX5's features and operation, you can download the PDF manual.

Despite its shortcomings, notably its weak JPEG processing, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5 delivers an excellent all-around shooting experience--fastest in its class, full featured and capable of shooting some very nice photos.

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Where to Buy See All

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5 (Black)

Part Number: DMC-LX5 Released: Aug. 1, 2010
Low Price: $8.49 See all prices

Quick Specifications See All

  • Release date Aug. 1, 2010
  • Optical Zoom 3.8 x
  • Optical Sensor Type CCD
  • Sensor Resolution 10.1 Megapixel
  • Image Stabilizer optical (POWER O.I.S.)
  • Optical Sensor Size 1/1.63"
About The Author

Lori Grunin is a senior editor for CNET Reviews, covering cameras, camcorders, and related accessories. She's been writing about and reviewing consumer technology and software since 1988.