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Christmas Gift Guide

Noise

Noise, ISO 800

Raw vs. JPEG

LX3 vs. LX5

Raw vs. JPEG, good light

Distortion

Color

Color modes

Sharpness

Bokeh

While the LX5, with its updated sensor and image processing, has made some strides in noise suppression over the LX3, the in-camera processing and JPEG compression for low-light shots still leaves something to be desired. Note the yellow splotches on the text at sensitivities as low as ISO 80; interestingly, it looks like the system might be optimized for ISO 200, as that delivers the best results. Processing raw files of the same images, however, allowed for relatively clean and usable images up to ISO 800.
Caption by / Photo by Matthew Fitzgerald/CNET
Here you can see the culprit for those yellow splotches: a combination of poor sensitivity, noise suppression and JPEG compression in the blue channel (top).
Caption by / Photo by Lori Grunin/CNET
Here you can clearly see the difference between the JPEG and the raw. It's quite disappointing how bad the JPEG quality is in low light, especially once you see what's possible.
Caption by / Photo by Lori Grunin/CNET
One of the biggest enhancements over the LX3 is the improved white balance. However, that also makes the artifacts stand out a bit more.
Caption by / Photo by Matthew Fitzgerald/CNET
Though it uses a different sensor, the LX5 displays some of the same edge artifacts as Panasonic's Micro Four Thirds cameras--see how crunchy the JPEG version looks? (That indicates it's not a sensor issue, but a processing and compression problem.) But the raw version can yield extremely nice results.
Caption by / Photo by Lori Grunin/CNET
There's some asymmetrical distortion at the camera's widest 24mm-equivalent, but not a lot given the focal length. If the camera is performing automatic distortion control then it's built into the raw processing, too; the distortion in the raw and JPEG versions of this shot was identical.
Caption by / Photo by Lori Grunin/CNET
The color accuracy, even in the default Standard color mode, is very good--with the exception of that orange flower in the upper right, which no camera seems to be able to reproduce. The saturation is pushed a tad farther than I like, though. Still the images are quite pleasing.
Caption by / Photo by Lori Grunin/CNET
With the exception of Vibrant, which is bad in all cameras, Panasonic's color presets deliver subtly different results without wholesale hue shifts.
Caption by / Photo by Lori Grunin/CNET
At its best, which means macro distances, the lens delivers nicely sharp photos.
Caption by / Photo by Lori Grunin/CNET
Out-of-focus highlights are relatively harsh and polygonal.
Caption by / Photo by Lori Grunin/CNET
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