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The LX5 has a compact--but comfortable to grip--body that feels solid and well-built.

Caption:Photo:Sarah Tew/CNET
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Back controls

The controls are 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.

Beneath the hot-shoe cover is another addition, the connector for an optional electronic viewfinder.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Sarah Tew/CNET
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Top controls

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.

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.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Sarah Tew/CNET
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Focus switch

If you're used to shooting with snapshot cameras, you may go nuts--as I did--looking for the macro and MF control, even though I'd been through it before with the LX3. It's a perfectly sensible location, but old habits die hard.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Sarah Tew/CNET
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